Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm No Social Media Expert, But I Do Know This...

My name is Jack and I am not a social media expert.

A while back an article was making its rounds and a number of my friends forwarded it to me because I am their “social media” friend. The title of the piece was Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A "Social Media Expert" by Peter Shankman. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great article with a lot of valid points. I was getting those emails as a form of friendly ribbing from my pals who knew I was a social media guru, expert, consultant… or whatever other tag you wanted to slap on the end of that label. I never actually called myself that. Bottom line was that I was a working professionally in the social media space and often posting links, testing Facebook apps or sharing stories about different social media related topics. I was also always there to answer their social media questions so they naturally wanted to have some fun with me when they saw that headline.

The fact is there is an abundance of people out there calling themselves social media experts, gurus, super freaks, wizards and so on, and many of them are severely exaggerating their skills. Unfortunately, this is giving legit social media professionals and enthusiasts a bad name. So I wanted say a few words in defense of those who actually know a thing or two and are possibly getting a bad rap.

I always preface any presentation or consulting project by stating upfront that I do not consider myself an expert or a guru. However, I do have a background in the interactive marketing world and a lot of hands on social media experience with a wide variety of companies and industries. So I like to say I am no expert but I do know more than the average bear. (To borrow Yogi Bear's catch phrase.) And that’s why I can say that while you need to be careful about hiring a social media "expert", it may be a really good idea.

I work with several local small businesses on a variety of marketing and social media initiatives. Everything from setting up accounts on various social media platforms to coaching or even running their day-to-day activities. I have seen a lot of businesses bring in someone to help get them set up only to see their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or blogs eventually go dormant from neglect. I’ve also worked with a number of business owners who would love to integrate social media into their existing marketing efforts, but they have no idea what to do or the time to do the actual work. They have staff to manage, vendors to deal with and product to move. That’s why it’s a good idea to hire someone who knows what they are doing.

Sure, there are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there, claiming to be social media gurus. That's the point of that article. They retweet a lot of social media articles and maybe even blog on the subject, but do they have any real life experience… professionally or as recreation? If you want to know about social media, you have to actually do it. I am on FourSquare and Pinterest, not because I particularly like either platform, but I want to know how it works and get an idea of how real people use them. I produce, host and distribute video podcasts, so I understand how hard it can be to build an audience or to keep the content pipeline full. I have worked with Dressbarn on Facebook coupons and contests. I have taught store owners, real estate brokers and auto painting professionals how to engage with customers and provide valuable, compelling content. I’ve also taught them the difference between a personal and business Facebook page or how to create a personalized URL. I’ve helped claim a venue on FourSquare and I’ve engaged an unhappy customer on Twitter. Have you?

I’ve seen a lot of social media efforts fail because there was a novice at the wheel that did not have the time or a clue as to what to do. Or they didn't have the creativity and commitment to keep at it. These people need help from someone who knows what they are doing.

So yes, I will admit that there are a lot of things I don’t know. But there are a lot of things I do know too. You see, I get it. I understand how to engage and entertain a community online. I know how to turn a photo from my iPhone into an interesting Facebook post that gets a lot of Likes. There's "book smart" and "street smart" in social media. I like to think I am a little of both.

And I learn something new each day.

A lot of busy professionals out there need help figuring all this social media stuff out and there are legitimate people that can help. You just have to sift through the sea of posers before you find a keeper.

My name is Jack and I am not a social media expert. But I can help.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tasti D-Lite: Turn & Burn- Social Platforms to Establish a Brand's Voice

I had the pleasure and privilege to work with BJ Emerson of Tasti D-Lite and I wanted to share this video with you. BJ is one of the brightest stars in the social media arena and you can get a good idea why by watching this interview.

And I am extremely excited to read their new book when it comes out:

The Tasti D-Lite Way: Social Media Marketing Lessons for Building Loyalty and a Brand Customers Crave

The Tasti D-Lite Way: Social Media Marketing Lessons for Building Loyalty and a Brand Customers Crave

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lagniappe Defined - Purple Goldfish Project - Episode #2

We continue to revisit the Purple Goldfish Project video podcast. We had a lot of fun filming the series and concepts we talk about are more true now than ever. In this episode we define Lagniappe, the word that the entire project is built around. We also visit Stew Leonard's, one of the best examples of a company that gets it.

Here's how Wikipedia defines it:
Lagniappe - A lagniappe is a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase (such as a 13th doughnut when buying a dozen), or more broadly, "something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure."

Could this be the key to better customer relationships, more brand loyalty and increased sales? Tune in and find out. 

 To learn more, check out the book based on the project by Stan Phelps: What's Your Purple Goldfish? How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lan-what? The Purple Goldfish Project #1

As many of you know, I co-hosted a video podcast with Stan Phelps called The Purple Goldfish Project. I have always been passionate about great client relationships and exciting marketing, so it was a no-brainer and an honor to get on board with it.

The goal of the project was to gather 1001 examples of marketing lagniappe. The little something extra a business does to surprise and delight you. That way of going above and beyond that inspires loyalty and word of mouth.

The project was a success and Stan has even published a book called What's Your Purple Goldfish? How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth. It was an amazing experience to be a part of this grassroots effort. Imagine... over 1000 user submitted entries with proven examples of successful tactics for better marketing, customer service and sales. I certainly learned a lot and met a lot of great people along the way.

I have decided to post the episodes of the podcast here so you can catch up and find out just what a Purple Goldfish is, and how you can make your business into one. Hint... it starts by thinking outside the bowl.

You can find Stan's blog here. The project lives on, and you can learn about the next phase: The Green Goldfish Project.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Social CRM - It's All About Your Customers

Last night I was honored to be one of the panelists discussion Social CRM, along with Craig Lambert of The Lambert Group and Tim Lynch of FocusVision. The event was hosted by OMG, the Online Marketing Group. One of the most interesting things about this topic is that Social CRM means different things to different people. It all depends on who you are, what business you are in, what your goals are and most importantly, who your customers are.

I'll post a more thorough recap of the event, but I wanted to quickly get this picture posted today. The meeting was at the Stamford Innovation Center, which used to be the court house. As you can see, the panelists got to sit up at the bench. I felt a bit like Judge Wapner from the People's Court. Thanks to some dim lighting, a stoic set and some Instagram effects, we look kinda like we are running the Salem Witch Trials. Except I don't think they served beer at those.

That's Tim and I in the photo.