Time Traveled

Notes from a social media Cyrano.

Time. A noun. Verb. Adjective.
We don’t have time. Oh, we’ll make the time.
We spend time, save time, buy time.
Are we living on borrowed time? People give us their time. Really?
But we took the time. Will I be on time? Well, at least, we made good time.
What time is it? In real time. Oh, time’s up. Is it all a waste of time?

All in good time.
But time waits for no one. Time marches on.
What’s time does it start?

Time’s ticking away. Time flies.
Time sensitive, stamp, warp– crunch.
Is it good timing or bad?
Oh, there’ll come a time.
It’s just a matter of time. Time after time. Any time at all.
Somewhere in time. They didn’t get there in time.
Is time on our side? Is there enough time?
If you could just save time in a bottle. . .
Time isn’t holding us; time isn’t after us.
But, we’re running out of time.

Does anybody really know what time it is? Is time an illusion?That’s exactly what I hear all the time.  

Time is on my mind—can you tell? It’s front and center as I face the half-century mark in a matter of weeks, in fact. Somehow 50 years on this earth is poignant and powerful—especially since events of the past couple of years have completely taxed my resilience, heart, faith and very existence. I keep thinking there is something on the other side this personal and professional chaos— a sort of rebirth or even anagnorisis, as the protagonist might have in ancient Greek tragedy. You know that frightening feeling when you get swept away in a wave at the beach—and for those few harrowing moments in time, seemingly suspended, you have no idea which way is up, nor if you will find your way to the surface?

Age 50 would be a more than poetic time to find my way to the surface, don’t you think? Gandhi discovered at 50 his real mission in nonviolent resistance, and Cervantes was older than that when he began his career as a novelist. As Nietzsche said, “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”

Speaking of time, it’s been a long time since I wrote my own blog. Funny how it works—when you develop an expertise, especially a non-traditional one, you often end up doing it for someone else. I write for others now. I guess you could say I’m a ghost blogger – a sort of social media Cyrano. It’s an interesting role to play—creating the authentic voice of another—in particular a business—a bit like acting. The goal is to humanize the corporate persona in a social media stratosphere. Gotta admit that it’s a challenge managing the tightrope of “corporate transparency”—kind of an oxymoron–and the real time attention required in the brave new world of instant gratification.

In the early days of advertising, businesses traded money for exposure, and today, in the new media world, we trade money for time. Real time.  Some tasks are automated, but it’s difficult to automate authenticity.

In fact, so many of my clients say, “I just don’t have the time for this.” And they are right. It’s like living a double life—the online persona and the business pro.
But with more than 600 million Facebook users,  somebody has time!

So really, it’s not about time.
It’s about the value of the experience–and the joy. It’s about connection and the fun.  A recent poll by Priority Management, Inc. had an answer.  In a lifetime, the average American will spend:

• 6 months sitting at stoplights
• 1 year looking for misplaced objects
• 2 years unsuccessfully returning phone calls
• 7 years waiting in line

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that a sense of belonging is just above safety and security. And, the irony is – we can’t self- actualize alone. So, enter social media. Even if it’s electronic, it’s human connection and the ability to feel part of something. It’s a new kind of relationship reality. So, I guess time is not as important as choice.

It’s about choices we make. Personal choices. So many choices, and just where does the time go?

WordPress Wisdom: 2010 in review

How cool! The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 19 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 58 posts. There were 74 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 6mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was June 23rd with 64 views. The most popular post that day was The Price of Friendship?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were linkedin.com, facebook.com, elainegantzwright.com, twitter.com, and socialfuse.net.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for social network movie, elaine gantz wright, the social network movie, the price of friendship, and gartner hype cycle social media.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

The Price of Friendship? June 2010
7 comments

2

The Social Network: Living Out Loud October 2010
13 comments

3

About April 2009
1 comment

4

Will Social Media Make the Grade? February 2010
1 comment

5

What’s the Next Layer on the Stack? November 2009
3 comments

Thanks, WordPress . . . appreciate the cool metrics.  To you, my charming reader, I thank you. Looking forward to continuing the conversation in 2011! What topic or question is top of mind for you this year?

Want to boost your blog? Register for Breakfast and Blogs, a very social session with Elaine to find out. Start off your New Year with real social media sizzle.  Thurs., Jan 13  — 9:30 a.m.– 12:00 p.m., $10 at La Madeleine Preston Forest.

Elaine Gantz Wright is a social media coach and consultant — providing the practical tools and action plans you need to survive and thrive in the brave new media world. She is a listener, writer, blogger, speaker, actor, and mom. Contact her ellagantz@sbcglobal.net.

What’s to Like About Facebook Business Pages?

Elaine Gantz Wright is a social media coach — providing the practical tools you need to survive and thrive in the brave new media world — listener, writer, blogger, speaker and mom. Contact her ellagantz@sbcglobal.net

What have you always wanted to know about social media but were afraid to ask? Register for Breakfast and Blogs, a very social session with Elaine to find out. Start off your New Year with real social media sizzle. Email or comment to reserve your place. First 10 are FREE and $10 after that – Thurs., Jan 13 or Fri. Jan. 14 — 9:30 a.m.– 12:00 p.m. Location details in Dallas to come. Join me at the B &B.

I never thought I would be part of the blogging brigade— leading the social media charge. “How did I get here?” as David Byrne one asked. For heaven’s sake, I ran computer programs on punch cards in a box. I trie dto make some semblance of sense of those bleeding lines of purple Fortran code on the never-ending accordion-folded pale green and white-striped paper—in the bowels of the Vogelback computer cave at Northwestern. I remember thinking, “Geez, I’m a theater major. How will this stuff ever have a practical application in my life? I guess my life has been more Lennon-esque – what has happened while I have been busy “making other plans.”

But it’s still a hard place to be–as so many are still generally nonplussed about the power and process of integrating this brave new media communication phenomenon into their customer/donor-development strategies. “The moment we are living right now, this generation, represents the largest increase in expressive capability in human history, ” proclaimed NYU media guru, Clay Shirky, also a former theater major.

It’s hard to completely comprehend the full impact somewhere in time (more great music, sigh), but I predict this period in communication media innovation will assume milestone prominence in retrospect-–similar to the era of the printing press, the telephone, photography and motions pictures. Shirky continues, “A revolution does not happen when a society adopts new tools. It happens when a society adopts new behaviors.” Can you imagine life without the mobile phone?

So, as we begin to navigate and maneuver the tools that are quite literally redefining our relationships and behaviors, here are a few solid ideas for making the most of on of your core social media tools–your Facebook Business Page. Like it or not, Facebook is the new black. Remember, to maximize effectiveness and results you should carefully customize this list for you and your distinctive business objectives:

1. Create a personal service “direct line” to the brand and paint a personality that differentiates your business.
2. Respond to your customers quickly and personally to create authenticity and loyalty.
3. Provide notice of special events – with the ability to catch RSVPs—photos, videos and after-party conversation.
4. Post quizzes: In addition to providing fantastic engagement opportunity, your page is also a rich research resource. What’s your personal style? Why do you support programs to help the homeless? What three things mean most to you in the world?
5. Present special offers – one-day-only deals, Facebook-only bonuses, “Like” incentives.
6. Register for preferred customer email and coupons.
7. Create participation and passion around your preferred cause – feature the link on your page.
8. Post how-to videos, which might be a little wacky or unconventional – to ignite viral sharing.
9. Photos,photos, photos. Tag, tag, tag.
10. Subscribe to the tip or quote of the day – stat on homelessness, inspirational quote, green tip, how to tie a scarf, etc.
11. Feature links to blogs related to your business/organization – enhancing authoritative rank in organic search.
12. Sell gift cards – online with PayPal transaction.
13. Secret sales – “Skip lunch” or “Mimosa Mondays.”
14. Enter a contest to go to Vegas with our BFFs.
15. Highlight your customer of the day – tell the stories.

The list goes on – and the very best possibilities relate to your particular mission or customer, depending on your individual objectives.

Start writing down ideas, and watch how they be gin to flow . . . and join me at the B&B on Jan. 13 or 14, 2011!

Conducting Your Social Media Symphony

Elaine Gantz Wright is a speaker, writer, and social media strategist. Contact her at elgantz()yahoo.com.

A client  told me last week that he hired us to “do” social media so that he would not have to be involved.  What!? Really? Would he ever consider having a storefront without a sales staff? This is the essential conundrum we have been wrestling with in recent weeks.  Businesses, particularly small businesses and nonprofits, are running lean and over-tasked—especially in this rocky economy. Therefore, it’s difficult for many of them to even conceive of adding a litany of new online tasks to their already maxed-out agendas.

And yet, a thriving, organic social media presence is critical to practically every business’ success in our new-media marketing universe.  From texting to tweeting, we recognize the value of involving customers and empowering word of mouth online, but the question is — What is the best way to get it done? How do we manage it all?

It seems to me it comes down to two options — coaching or doing. Should you hire a coach or consultant to train you and/or your employee(s) to blog and work the key social media platforms? Ideally, strategy and daily activity must work in concert to achieve best results.  A post here and there does not a social media campaign make.  The other option is t0 hire someone outside of your organization to “handle it” –posting, responding, blogging, monitoring, driving, and analyzing.  What is most productive?  How will you optimize ROI? How will this outside person or team integrate with yours and the unique needs of your operation?

Here’s the rub — we are trying to force social media into a traditional public relations and advertising paradigm.   Hire an agency; produce some ads; run the ads; hope for good response, and move on to the next campaign. However, social media defies the typical one-way, sequential marketing communications models. It requires ongoing attention, 360 degree tending, focused involvement, authenticity, transparency, systematic monitoring, creative energy, and a real persona. Thus, we need an entirely different delivery system and process. But what will that be? How does that look — parsing together so many pieces:

1. Blogging
2. Promoting your blog
3. Driving and participating in conversation on your blog
4. Commenting on other related blogs
5. Monitoring and responding to Tweets
6. Tweeting and responding with value opportunities
7. Driving Twitter crowdsourcing campaigns
8. Facebook product launches
9. Facebook “like” campaigns
10. Facebook applications and lead capture
11. Driving Facebook conversation
12. Integrating social media in email and website
13. Promoting social media connection in your store.
14. Rewarding Foursquare or Facebook checkins
(Just to name a few.)

Of course, the program will vary in size and scope –whether you are Best Buy or Frank’s Nail Salon, but the realities of execution  may not be that different. For many retailers, it’s all about customer service – an inside team that monitors and responds to customer comments and complaints. For others, it’s about launching new products via Facebook, for example, or running limited-time discounts and deals. Regardless of the content or appeal, the relationship-building objective probably surpasses the importance of the final tallies of coupons redeemed or contests entered. It’s not realistic to think you can have a “social media department.” It should be woven in to the fabric of your operations.

So, maybe we need to think of “doing” social media more like conducting an orchestra in real time, as opposed to, say,  downloading a series of iTunes.  An orchestra needs a conductor to keep time in real time, indicate when to come in and when to stop – or know when to staccato  or to legato. Like an orchestra performance, a social media campaign can be led by a “conductor.” But for maximum effectiveness, the organization’s actual players (the musicians) should be directly involved in making the music. They listen to each other, sense the audience’s reaction, drive the melody, layer the harmonies–and know the score.

What do you think? How are you managing you social media efforts? What has worked and what has not? What are your biggest challenges? Share your stories.

50 for Facebook

Elaine Gantz Wright is a speaker, writer and social media strategist, helping neighborhood businesses expand word-mouth-marketing exponentially–driving referrals, repeats and revenue.

I love working with small businesses. Their drive, energy, creativity,  spirit and commitment are remarkable–day after day after day. Working in a small business, myself, I appreciate the essential magic of clarity–that is, precisely understanding your value proposition, product and unique benefit.

That’s why I need your help. My goal is to develop the quintessential checklist of social media action items for small business. I read recently that social media is not a money problem. It’s a question of time, and I want to help businesses define social media in terms of opportunity cost. What constitutes the best use of time, engagement and conversation?

We’ll start with Facebook and move through the major platforms. Please review the list below, and add your comments–pro or con with anything I might have missed. I’ve compiled thinking from the likes of Brogan, Falls, Jantsch, and Qualman, but I am interested in your thoughts. What has worked best for your business? We want to know. In fact, I’d love to interview you about your experience. Email me at elgantz()yahoo.com.

Facebook

1.       Create Facebook business page.

2.       Calibrate wall settings  to display posts by you, all comments, and posts by friends.

3.       Monitor daily.

4.       Deliver prompt, personal response to all comments in your brand voice.

5.       Approach social media as a continuous process that requires regular attention.

6.       Content: Keep your page updated with compelling questions and fresh content?

7.       Photo :  Adding your logo as a photo to your Fan Page helps brand your Facebook Fan Page and can bring more awareness to your brand.

8.       Fan your own Fan Page and suggest it to your Friends list.

9.       Engage in conversations.

10.   Message fans regularly but not excessively  to keep prospects, customers returning to the site.

11.   Post Contests , Polls, and Surveys.

12.   Allow fans to Vote on products, events, etc.

13.   Post one-day-only specials.

14.   Promote nonprofit opportunities.

15.   Feature customers  and how-to videos.

16.   Promote submit-a-photo campaigns.

17.   Gift-card purchase promotions online.

18.   Publish product-related quizzes.

19.   Co-promote coupons with surrounding non-competing businesses.

20.   Create and invite friends to “Events.”

21.   Tag your customers in business photos.

22.   Encourage sharing: Provide free information and encourage others to share it– engaging new potential customers and tapping the power of bloggers with high readership and a large number of Fans.

23.   Offer tangible benefits to fans, such as exclusive deals and complimentary items, sneak preview, for advice that is unique to your business.

24.   Developing custom Facebook applications that are attract your target customers. For example, Static FBML (Facebook Markup Language) allows you to add custom HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) to customize your page.

25.   Launch and test Facebook advertising campaigns.

26.   Since Facebook is set up to tie your personal profile to your business page, update the privacy settings on your personal profile to ensure you don’t have any potentially embarrassing content visible to business contacts?

27.   Use Facebook tabs to add more content to your Fan Page. Changing these settings by checking or un-checking a box on the Edit Page section of your Facebook Fan Page.

28.   Events: Let your fans know about upcoming promotions, sales and other events.

29.   Links: Make it easy for users to see your business’s main website, partner business, newsletters, nonprofit association or other value-added information.

30.   Images: Visuals are at the top of the online interest pyramid.   Showcase products, tout events, and highlight customers.

31.   Reviews: Encourage fans to leave reviews about your business. This can be a good tool to interact with your customers and hear honest feedback. Monitor this closely and respond immediately to any negative feedback.

32.   About :  Provide useful information to describe your mission and who you are. List other ways people can connect with you (main website, blog, and social profiles you maintain).

33.   Video: Appealing videos can really help keep your content fresh and interesting so Fans will come back to your page and share your content/brand.

34.   Display exclusive discounts to your Facebook Fans in tabs.

35.   Provide helpful information about topics that are on the mind of your ideal customer. Include intriguing details about your products or services, but don’t get too “salesy.”

36.   RSS (really simple syndication) feeds from your Blog(s) and Twitter® account—automatically inserting the content from your blog posts and tweets into your Facebook page.

37.   Constant activity on your Facebook page to help your Fan Page rank higher in organic search engine results.

38.   Vary Content.

39.   Post Facebook stream widget on website.

40.   Create an internal (staff) blogging/social media policy.

41.   Make friend suggestions on behalf of new members.

42.   Fine-tune you email notification settings to manage inquiries and comments on the go.

43.   Advertise inside social games.

44.   Put your name on virtual goods.

45.   Launch your own branded game.

46.   Sell (or allow customers to earn) Facebook Credits (the social network’s virtual currency) as gift cards at brick-and-mortar stores.

47.   Gain exposure through Facebook’s new “Like” page browser. Likely to be part of the on-boarding process for new readers.

48.   Facebook-first product reveals—2011 Explorer. And new product creation—Vitamin Water.

49.   Corporate e-commerce —  Disney pre-sales of Toy Story 3 tickets and Mark by Avon product sales.

50.   Cause marketing – such as Kohl’s Cares Facebook initiative to give away $10 million to 20 schools; nearly 2 million Facebookers voted for their schools.

Share your thoughts. . .

6 Ways to Make Your Neighborhood Your Business

Elaine Gantz Wright is a speaker, writer and social media strategist, helping neighborhood businesses expand word-mouth-marketing exponentially–driving referrals, repeats and revenue.

It’s ironic to consider how we have come full-circle –from the vast global frontiers of the wild and woolly worldwide web to the intimacy and personalization of going local.  Does this mean the bloom is off the rose for our passionate love affair with the cavernous, impersonal box store on the edge of town? Are we heading back the personal service of Mr. Drucker the general store? Can’t help but thinking of Dorothy’s iconic line –“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

As we return to our own backyards, we have a remarkable opportunity to use the newest communication tools to create this new personalized customer relationship. It’s time to put the social in social media– in a way that produces tangible results for neighborhood businesses and independent merchants. Here a six things you should do right now:

1. Build an organic online hub – a socially empowered website
Your website is more than just a static online brochure. It is the center of your customer-generating universe. Think about its connections and ability to attract and refer. Incorporate a blog, social widgets, easily sharable content, compelling visuals, video, clear calls-to-action, contact forms, site analytics, best-practice search engine optimization (SEO), links to your social media profiles—and a fresh, updated design.

2. Create your business’ awareness and revenue generating social ecosystem.

Create and energize three branded platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla — and depending on your business, your choice of YouTube, LinkedIn or Flickr. Manage , monitor, engage, and respond. Learn the basics about using Facebook —creating pages, managing privacy, encouraging conversation, posting, creating quizzes, inviting fans, messaging fans, promoting the page, etc. If you don’t do anything else, think of this as your golden triad:

  • Facebook
  • Blog (Subscription/email)
  • Multi-Media (in-store and online – video, audio, photography, print)

3. If you have an email list, optimize, segment, and grow it.
And if you don’t, start it today. Think of your email address as direct path to your prospect or customer—another essential ingredient in your social media marketing mix. It’s your own CRM (Customer Relationship Management System)—a customer “intelligence base” that you can use to segment, target, and attract—in conjunction with your website and social media platforms.

4. Frame an integrated promotion plan

Create promotion in-store and online promotions and associated materials to capture prospect and customer email addresses, as well as drive Facebook engagement and You Tube, Flickr and/or Linked In participation. Leverage this affinity, along with email campaigns, to help increase repeat business and referrals through:
• Special, private events
• Quizzes
• Contests
• Polls
• Voting
• One-day-only specials
• Cause marketing opportunities
• Customer spotlight and how-to videos
• Submit-a-photo campaigns
• Gift-card purchase
• Co-promotion coupons with surrounding non-competing businesses

5. Train your customer/client –facing staff.

It all begins and ends with outrageously good customer service. Make talking about Facebook a priority. Make it part of your customer banter and in-person relationships. Work from the inside out; make the social media message more social, and watch the referrals flow. Coach your staff on how to manage your business’ presence enterprise-wide in an authentic, human and engaging way.

6. Claim Your Business of Google

This will instantly improve your Google search listings, and/or locate you on Google Maps, which gives help make finding you much easier—on and offline. Next, you may want to consider a listing on Yelp (primarily restaurants, but now expanding to travel, leisure and entertainment). You might even consider placing posts and/or ads in Craigslist, so that people seeking out your services on that site would know how to find your physical location.

Do you have a question about neighborhood marketing?

Is social media the new job one?

Elaine Gantz Wright writes about optimizing social media, life, and spirit. Hire her: elgantz@yahoo.com.

Erik Qualman waxed rhapsodic about Ford’s strategic and systemic embrace of social media when he spoke at the Social Media Club of Dallas.

“The good companies,” Qualman surmised, “know a sound social media strategy is much more than having a Facebook page or setting up a Twitter account. The good companies know that social media has to be integrated into everything that they do – it’s a part of their overall strategy since it touches every facet of the business.” He went on to say in an interview on Clickz that ford changed not only the external perception of the brand—but the internal culture of the company. However, the Facebook numbers are hardly in low gear – 156,738 on Ford and 25, 416 anticipating the exclusive Facebook launch of the “new” Explorer.

Qualman praises  Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, for driving the change, and I certainly agree—understanding from the top down is critical.  Qualman says that car companies typically spend 10 percent of their marketing dollars on digital initiatives. Ford shifted its percentage to 25 percent digital. And its stock has increased from $1.5 to $11.  This reallocation of funds appears to be a trend.  A business I was visiting with this week said their national enterprise cut their $12 million print/television/radio budget to $1 million—and it’s now all digital!

Earlier this year, Jeff Bullas talked about Ford’s phenomenal social media savvy. Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford, said his “Jewel in the Crown” is the Ford Fiesta Movement that involved selecting 100 socially vibrant individuals who received the European version of the Ford Fiesta to drive for 18 months prior to its release in the USA. He truly harnessed and leveraged word of mouth.  He “knighted” key influencers and empowered them to lead the Fiesta crusade.  It’s all about raw, authentic, unedited (or routed for corporate approval) emotion and passion.

The Inside Job

Still, this is social media as promotion and marketing.  Now, I’m wondering about those integrated, internal systems. It’s one thing to create a dialogue with your market—but quite another to configure internal business processes and/or culture around social media.  I suspect this will evolve less rapidly.  I have experienced the birthing pains in my own practice. At The LTV group, for instance, I was retained to build a social media ecosystem to help drive REO Expo attendance, but now that my “special assignment” is complete, I wonder how they will cultivate the landscape in terms of strategy and function moving forward.  I certainly contend that any business needs more than one or two people off “doing social media” in the corner.

Dealer’s Choice

Operations become even more complicated in the car biz—something I have experienced firsthand.  As a Ford customer, myself, I recently took my 4-year-old Escape to Park Cities Ford in Dallas when my check-engine light began to glow. Unfortunately, I had an extremely disappointing experience with the service department, so I decided to test the much-ballyhooed customer service power of Twitter—and tweeted my dismay.  I also emailed the appropriate person at the dealership. I received a reply within 48 hours from the corporate customer service but nothing from the Park Cities folks.  I was impressed with the timely, friendly corporate tweet. I provided the VIN number and explanation, as she requested. Meanwhile, I needed to repair my car, so I took it to Westway in Irving, and the difference was night and day. They exuded honesty and proposed only necessary repairs. I tweeted my glee, too.

When days went by, and I heard nothing, I followed up with Ford corporate. The original tweeter was on vacation, and they lost track of the string.  Plus, I was told the corporate customer service folks can report the issue, but they have no control over the actions of the individually owned dealerships. Outcomes may vary.

Hmmm . . .isn’t that where the rubber meets the road, Ford?

I guess it’s one of those “process” issues that still needs to be ironed out to bring the social media loop—full circle. It’s complicated, indeed.

Now, I’m interested in how businesses of all shapes and sizes are weaving the threads of social media into their daily operations—internal and/or external. Or, should we say, the new “working  inside out”?

What are you doing that’s working? What’s not? Comment below or email me at elgantz@yahoo.com. I’d love to talk with you about it.

The Price of Friendship?

Elaine Gantz Wright writes about optimizing social media, life, and spirit. Reach her at elgantz()yahoo.com

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive.” ~Anäis Nin

Place on the Pyramid

When you Google “Facebook friend value,” the results are as myriad as searching for Obama. From .37, to $1, to more than $100. But really, what is the price of friendship, it’s true value— and what about it’s cost?

Clearly, we are still grappling with defining the intrinsic value of social media—trying to make a tangible assessment, a dry measurement, but it still eludes us. It’s “like trying to put spilled Jell-O back into a bowl with your bare hands,” as my dear friend Joe Teague used to say. The range of responses to the Facebook question embodies this challenge somehow, but I believe this conversation still misses the mark.

I loved what media guru (social and otherwise) Erik Qualman sought to qualify rather than quantify the role of social media in his live presentation to the Dallas Social Media Club last week. (#smcdallas) This is an interesting foil to his previous messaging. You’ve probably seen his seminal, statistics-sprinkled videos about social media. In socio-psychological terms, he posits that social media falls very near the base of Maslow’s famed “Hierarchy of Needs”—just above safety and security. According to Qualman, social media behavior fulfills our basic need for a sense of belonging and connection. Isn’t that priceless?

Still, his stats are staggering—here’s my top-ten list from the latest video:

1. Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30.
2. 96% of them have joined a social network.
3. Facebook now tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S.
4. Facebook added over 200 million users in less than a year.
5. iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.
6. We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is “How well we DO it.”
7. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females
8. Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé – some universities have stopped distributing e-mail accounts—
instead they are distributing: eReaders and iPads.
9. Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate
10. The ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years

So, one particular exploration of Facebook friend value caught my attention recently. Research firm Synapse has determined what the average Facebook friend/fan is worth — $136.38. They calculated this amount when they questioned 4,000 fans of 20 of the top brands on Facebook — including Nokia, BlackBerry, Victoria’s Secret, Adidas, Nike, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and McDonald’s — asking why they were fans of those companies or brands and about their past and future purchasing behavior. Other key findings include:

• On average, fans spend an extra $71.84 they would not otherwise spend on products they describe themselves as fans of,
compared to those who are not fans.
• Fans are 28 percent more likely than non-fans to continue using a specific brand.
• Fans are 41 percent more likely than non-fans to recommend a product they are a fan of to their friends.

You might be saying, “Hey, those companies are all retail, consumer-facing. What about B2B?” And you would be very astute. That’s true. It’s a little easier to connect revenue to engagement around sales of cell phones, underwear, tennis shoes, and food. But, the formula holds for other scenarios. My own experience with the REO Expo is a case in point. We managed to reach and even surpass our attendance goal of 1,500 earlier this month through a strategic, integrated cultivation of our target business audience, using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, focused professional communities, and email marketing promotions.

To paraphrase Erik Qualman, change is the only thing that’s certain about today’s social media landscape. So, refresh, regroup, and eat your Wheaties.

In the meantime, how would you calculate the value of a friend?

Making social media sing with REO

Elaine Gantz Wright writes about optimizing social media, life, and spirit. Reach her at elgantz()yahoo.com

I have been on a unique journey that has definitely been broadening my horizons— drilling deeply into a real-estate-publishing niche focused on REOs—that’s “real estate owned” properties (not the eighties pop band) that have run the foreclosure gauntlet and are back in the hands of the financial institutions. This is a growing byproduct and reality of our struggling economy, which was so crippled by the once reckless heyday of sub-prime mortgage lending.

Yes, I guess one might say there in a murky dark side to this world—all the financial loss, property vandalism and deterioration, hassle, anger, anguish, shame, and lives in upheaval. But as there is a yin to every yang, REO sales actually provide a glimmer of hope for devastated neighborhoods and broken dreams—the promise of asset managers and investors who are committed to win-win-win propositions which involve neighborhood transformation, green renovation, and helping people live without the oppressive burdens of back-breaking mortgage obligations.

That’s where the REO Expo, June 6 – 9, and the Open Door Institute, a vibrant community for REO professionals, come into play.

I joined the mother ship, The LTV Group, about a month and half ago to develop a social media marketing strategy for the REO Expo and other corporate entities down the road. Other core businesses under the umbrella are REO Insider magazine and HousingWire magazines and LTV Creative. It’s been quite a ride—working with a talented and energetic bunch of folks, as well as a target market with a fiercely persistent, can-do work ethic. We are less than two weeks away, and the registration momentum continues to build. Here are the basics of the case study—with updates to follow.

REO Expo 2010: Social Media Strategy

Objective:
Maximize registrations for REO Expo and simultaneously—expand membership in the Open Door Institute, a new community for REO professionals, requiring dues ranging from $595 to $2995.

Key tactics:
• Driving consistent conversation and engagement activity on Facebook, Twitter, REO Pro Ning community, Linked In, and blog response. Monitor, engage, converse, and respond. In a little over a month, the Facebook fan (or like) page is more than 425-strong.

• Building a complete social media “ecosystem” across all marketing communications channels—with social media group icons inviting engagement on all outgoing emails, materials, and the REO Expo website.

• Launching a “Share Your Story” contest. The winner received free REO Expo registration, a 3-night hotel stay at the conference, and an invitation to the private reception with Emmitt Smith. The two runners up won free registration. We had some very disturbing REO tales, indeed, and interestingly, the site that provided the most involvement was Linked In—through postings on the various subject-matter interest groups.

There were many stories of persistence, accomplishment, and cast-iron stomachs, but our winner, Nelya Calev of Seattle, wove a particularly disconcerting yarn. You can read the whole story on REO Insider blog. Here’s an excerpt:

“Our guys re-keyed the house, and I went to take pictures for BPO. And as I was walking down the hallway when I saw F*&K . . . (name of the bank) written in large letter on the wall and punched holes next to it. Not a big deal, so I take pictures. There was spilled paint on the tile floor, fire place, and carpet. No biggy, right? I walked in to the master bedroom and he had little girls underwear framed on the wall . . . What kind of sick person does that? It scared the crap out of me . . . I went downstairs and he had a picture of . . . “

OK . . . I think you get the picture. Not for the faint of heart, right? She goes on to say she had to deal with crazy neighbors approaching every buyer and scaring them off. He had to babysit buyers and the buyers’ agents to get it sold.


And I thought I have had a colorful career!

The Campaign Results so far:
1. Registrations have increased almost twelve-fold since launching an integrated social media, e-marketing, and traditional materials/word-or-mouth marketing campaign a little over a month a ago—meeting and even surpassing expectations.
2. Open Door Institute Membership has almost doubled in the same time period.

Registration is online at www.REOExpo2010.com. Be sure to sign up sooner than later, because attendance is capped and the free classes that we’re being offered through the Open Door Institute and Default School are filling fast.

There’s more to come, and we will keep you updated. Or, why don’t you join us? For now, it’s time for me to fly . . .

Making It

“Our most important decisions are discovered, not made.”
– Anne Wilson Schaef

Not too long ago I saw duct-tape marketing guru John Jantsch speak at the Social Media Club of Dallas. I really do admire these entrepreneurial guys in the social media marketing space who have managed to morph their marketing savvy and strategy into an actual, lucrative businesses. Chris Brogan wrote something recently in his blog about a tangible tool called “booth tag” by Bill Finn —sort of a social media commodity that impressed him as a proof-of-concept for trade show interaction.

“Marketers are service providers. They make
things that stop the moment they stop (normally).
Yes, they make ads or whatever, but those
are in service of other people.”

Brogan is right on target here. Monetizing services is tough. It’s really only sustainable if the service in question enjoys a very high perceived value, and the gigs keep coming. Attorneys and doctors have managed to ratchet up the hourly rates historically, but even they are feeling the pinch of the limping economy. I have come to believe that so much of business and even success, in general—is directly related to “discovering”—a precise brand of enlightenment that allows one to see when and how to leverage an idea, product, relationship, or service into a broader application. It’s a canny awareness that positions you at the right place and right time with the right preparation. It may even be unconscious. Theologian Frederick Buechner talks about this on a much deeper and spiritual level. “Listen to your life,” he counsels. “See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. For in the end, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

We all tend to go through our moments, our days, or months, and our years—and sometimes, even our lives on auto-pilot—numb to who we are and disengaged from our own realities. We become so caught up in “doing” that we often stop “being.” Only when something major, even cataclysmic, occurs that rattles us to the very core do we start to examine our raw, vulnerable, exposed souls in the harsh light of the storm’s aftermath or in the ongoing tumultuous sea of stress and upheaval. Then, we may ask, “Who am I?” “What am I here to learn?” “How is this series of events informing my journey?” More important, “What the heck should I do now?” “How can I make the money I need to support my family and still care for critically ill parents?” These are all understandable questions, but it’s frightening to feel so uneasy in your own skin at such a seasoned age—when you are supposed to have it all figured out. What’s that schmaltzy song about clowns—“Isn’t it queer? Losing my timing this late in my career. . .”

Socrates said, “Beware the bareness of a busy life.” How timeless is that? How apropos for 2010. And how easy it is for feelings extreme loneliness to engulf us in the waves of hubbub and chaos—even with so many well-meaning people around. There always seems to be so much to juggle, so darn much that demands our attention—especially as a single mother of two teenage boys (one college-bound, I hope); a herder of a dog and two cats; a niece of an 86-year old infirm aunt, who is all alone; an ex-wife, still engaged in an awkward tango—and the daughter of two recently incapacitated parents. The sandwich generation, a double-decker, and I’d definitely say I’m in a bit of a real pickle.

Back to the paying attention part . . . Just where do we start? How should we be? How have you handled the most difficult transitions and challenges in your personal or business life—as individuals, as family members, and as communities? How did you get through? How can we support each other in these difficult times when the path seems so unclear and the outcomes so murky? Share your thoughts.

Elaine Gantz Wright writes about social media and self-discovery. Contact her at elgantz()yahoo.com.