Having spent the last few days in Dallas I am ready to go home. Don’t get me wrong. Dallas is a nice town. The Inbound Marketing Summit put on by New Marketing Labs’ Chris Brogan was great. Here’s why I need to get out, though. You see, I am a New York Giants fan. Although I only told one person on my entire trip of this fact, I suspect that Dallas Cowboys fans have some powerful social network that is at work behind the scenes. They know I am a Giants fan and they don’t like it. My plane can’t get off the ground fast enough. It’s not safe here for people like me.
As for the Inbound Marketing Summit? Great event. The two day program was rapid fire and full of relevant information about Internet marketing for all skill levels. Of course, the emphasis was on social media. Honestly, would you expect any different from a Chris Brogan event?
Here’s just a few themes and highlights from the summit:
- Online Reputation Monitoring and Management – While Andy Beal has known this for a while the rest of the world is starting to discover that this discipline is quickly becoming required over previously just being desired. Once any company or organization gets a taste of what is being said about their brand on the Internet, they realize that they can’t continue to go about business with their heads in the sand. They need to be aware of these things at the very least. An increasing number of larger companies are dabbling in the discipline. It appears that the majority of these are still viewing it with a “crisis alert” mentality but there is a growing awareness that a continual “ear to the tracks” for what is being said about your brand (and your competition’s brand) is absolutely essential for success both on and off line.
- Listening – This basic tenet of social media was pounded hard by most speakers and for good reason. The takeaway for social media is very similar to the age old guideline followed by good sales people. It goes like this; you have been given 2 ears and one mouth, use them in the same proportion. You should be listening at least twice as much as you are talking. No one cares about you or your product features unless you are addressing their needs directly. How do you understand their needs? Listen. If you are doing all of the ‘social’ in social media you probably need to shut up for a while and listen.
- Time – The reality is that social media, as a full time exercise, is time intensive. It requires serious time commitments. Brogan put the number at 2 to 2.5 full time employees or an equivalent (which equates to roughly 100 man hours per week) are needed to truly be ‘engaged’ if you are a larger brand. What about for the little guys? It still takes a lot of time but their resources will determine how involved they can get. Fortunately, most agreed that you do not need to be in every social media outlet at all times. If you are not where your customers are then why are you doing it?
- Many in social media are winging it – Well, not completely but pretty darn close. Wildly successful social media practitioners in the corporate world like Whole Foods and Humana admit they are winging it to a degree. They admit this because they know that change in the social media space occurs at such a rapid pace that there is no other way to go. How do you know if something is right unless you give it a shot? Sure there is planning but only after much experimentation to uncover what deserves planning / resources and what doesn’t. In social media it seems to be better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission (that’s another old selling axiom – are you seeing a pattern here between great sales ability and social media?)
- With time comes confidence- Southwest Airlines has been in the social media game for quite some time and their confidence shows. One statement that was indicative of real intentionality regarding social media and specific activities was by Paula Berg, Manager of Emerging Media for Southwest Airlines, who alluded to the social media drills that they conduct to see how quickly they can react to certain situations. I would like to see one of those. She also stated that they put a significant amount of trust in their employees to do the right thing and represent them well unlike recent events like the Domino pizza debacle. Paula’s grasp of the importance and impact of social media to Southwest was very evident and there was a very obvious reason for it; she seems to genuinely love Southwest Airlines. As a result, her activities and presentation of the brand in social media outlets is effective because it is founded on her passion and the passion of those who help.
- Measure it – Sure everyone complains that social media is hard to put metrics to but guess what – you gotta try. Mike Moran emphasized the importance of doing your social media and Internet marketing activities so that people are eventually guided to measurable events. Mike’s point is that Internet marketing isn’t any different than the traditional marketing that has been going on for as long as people have had something to market; it just now takes place on the Internet. As a result, don’t get too hung up on the tools and technology but rather what they achieve. Being cool is one thing but being effective is a complete other area. Being cool makes ‘friends’ while being effective makes careers.
Well, there was a lot more to talk about. The two days were just filled with great information and nice people. Next stop is Boston in September. Are you going to be there?