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My article on Twitter at INC Startup Blog

Start Up: A Twitter Success Story (How to Use Twitter as a Marketing Strategy)

Chances are, if you’re not an early adopter type, you may not have heard of Twitter, the online community that is a kind of instant-messaging social network. Users send updates of up to 140 character (about 2 sentences) out to their followers–people who choose to receive their messages–and read the messages of those they follow.

Read the rest at INC’s Startup Blog.

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My article in the NY Enterprise Report – Networking 2.0

July’s issue of NY Enterprise Report features an article I wrote, entitled Networking 2.0. In this piece, I describe how several firms are using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to reach customers, save time, and close sales.

Cut from the piece was my interview with Kevin Lee, Executive Chairman and co-Founder of, an online marketing firm. Lee uses LinkedIn answers to help him form ideas for his weekly column in as well as researching business ideas, including looking for consultative expertise. He posts questions, researching issues, and gathering expertise from throughout his network.

LinkedIn also has a facility for passing on job postings.  Lee’s firm hired several people this way, both from referrals and direct respondents to the listings. Since he’s got around 4000 direct connections, his postings get a wide dispersal.  Another advantage of using Linkedin over other Job sites has been that the “hit” rate on resumes is greater – fewer bad resumes to weed out. “You can also can see both their resume and their LinkedIn profile to compare them to make sure the person isn’t ‘tuning’ their resume too much for you.”

Lee is also interested to see who’s endorsed them, and might follow up if he knows an endorser. If the person had an endorsement with a fairly senior executive, that may be more valuable than what the endorsement said – Lee figures the existence of an executive’s endorsement is indicative of a person’s ability to create relationships.

I also interviewed author Shel Horowitz, who has written 7 books, including Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers. Not surprisingly, he’s found some very valuable ways to use Facebook, as well as Plaxo’s Pulse connection service, and Social Networks CollectiveX and Ning. His constant posting and cultivation of his social networks have lead him to a guest spot on a business radio show, discussions with a European meeting planner about speaking at his marketing conference in France and even an invitation to consider starting an East Coast office for a well-respected West Coast PR firm.

Networking 2.0 is the new reality. As I note in my article, “There’s no denying that face-to-face networking is still a powerful way to meet and connect with potential clients. But online social networking is becoming more and more useful for doing these same things and more.” How do you leverage both the online and in person networks you have to do business? Comments are open below.

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It’s not your “interactive budget”, it’s your Marketing budget

Though Cable TV has been around since the late 40s as a way to help programming get to places where broadcast signals don’t reach, it was in the early 80s that the popularity of Cable took off. The launch of ESPN in 1979, and Superstation TBS in the mid 70s that gave people a choice of programming different from the three major networks of the time. At this time, ad agencies who were progressive got their clients to dedicate a portion of their media spending to “cable” as opposed to broadcast TV.

This separation exists today. Many brands still allocate budget for commercial buys for cable and broadcast separately, due to the different characteristics of each. Broadcast cuts a wider path, where as cable networks tend to be much more niche targets. In today’s world though, where one can find much better stats about who is watching what, when, and where many brands are better of just being on specific shows, regardless of where they run, the distinction between cable and broadcast budgets seems quaint.

Not as quaint, however, as the distinction between the advertising or marketing budget and the ‘interactive’ budget. Today, interactive is a part of how a huge percentage of people are exposed to products, brands, recommendations, and especially content. Comscore says that almost 85 million viewers watched over 4.3 billion videos on YouTube in March 2008. That’s over 50 videos per viewer.Quite an audience for your ads. And they can be even more finely targeted than on TV. (Wait, you say, “I don’t see ads on YouTube!” I beg to differ.)

Sometimes the content is the ad, like “Will it Blend.” But, in a recent chat with a marketing firm executive, he told me how he has to beg clients to carve out ten or fifteen percent of their buget for “experiments” in “new media,” whether those experiments are streaming video, blogging, Facebook, Twitter or the like. There’s one strategy for marketing and another for interactive. To me, this means that companies are missing out on coordinated strategies and short changing some potential innovations.

A great example of a company that did a great, integrated job in the past few years was Nissan, when they integrated their product into the TV show Heroes. That previous like to the “heroespedia” (wikipedia for the show Heroes) shows how the car was in the show, integrated in the plotline. They also bought a lot of ads on the Heroes website. Whereever Heroes fans turned they saw Nissan. This isn’t a ‘conversation’ strategy, and it is not rocket science either. But it is an opportunity that required Nissan and their agency to work across what are often silos – the creative group and the interactive group and the media buying group.

There are opportunities for integrating the feedback and ideas already online back into company websites, and for providing an outlet for customers to communicate directly with product teams (as GM did when they invited bloggers to see the Volt at the NY Auto Show). But these opportunities may pass companies by if they continue to think of their interactive and their marketing budgets as separate.

I’m moderating a panel on Marketing Innovation at Supernova 2008 on Wed., June 18th (at 8:30am, try not to be late), on just this subject. Hope you’ll come and share your insights.

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Meme of the week – Blacklisting Bloggers and bad PR pitches

What seems to have come to a head over the last few days is the concept of Bloggers “blacklisting” PR firms that pitch them in a way they don’t want to be pitched. Gina Trapani of LifeHacker published a wiki listing PR firms that have spammed her with pitches. Suddenly, everyone’s taking sides over how to properly pitch bloggers.

Sidenote: the history of blacklists is much more serious and a heavier topic than is being given credit in all this banter about them. They’re an attempt at keeping people from acting in a certain way due to social and societal pressure, and they’re against the spirit of what I see as social media. Blacklisting spammers is, to me, appropriate, because they’re clearly flaunting law and culture. What I see many bloggers and PR professionals ranting about it not blacklisting but a lack of transparency and accountability.

Geoff Livingston seems do be quite reasonable in his analysis of the situation.

Nasty actions like publicly outing PR professionals and firms hurt real people. Bloggers (and some reporters) often act without professional ethics or thinking about how these acts affect others. I got one thing to say back to you: Take responsibility for your words and stop harming people.

Jeremy Pepper clarifies the whole Gina Trapani story, noting it was her personal email address being spammed. He also notes that junior staff at PR firms aren’t being trained and supervised not to make these mistakes. And, in typical Jeremy humor, he has a plan worth reading.

Jason Falls of Social Media Club Louisville notes that the bloggers themsevles need to be blacklisted –

I am saying that a journalist (or a blogger for that matter) who publicly humiliates someone just trying to do their job – even poorly – or goes a step further by declaring that person’s employer on a permanent banned list is performing the adult (though not mature) equivalent of Chris Hargensen ordering up buckets of pigs blood to be dumped on Carrie White at prom.

Jason makes a very good point. Not everyone at the firm that spammed you is an outright idiot. But just as we, as bloggers shouldn’t blindly blacklist PR firms, PR firms shouldn’t blacklist journalists.

Of course, Aaron Brazell is happy to be on a blacklist, because he doesn’t want to be pitched, unless a PR pro has created “some kind of professional rapport” with him. He also notes a possible solution:

I think it’s high time that the PR community finance the creation and support of a third party broker that would maintain the authenticity, privacy, trust and relationship with the blogging comunity. I’m talking about an OpenID sort of trust-based system that includes the trust-relationship management as well as a CRM tool/plugin-in for sending communications in a standardized way. This tool would provide the recipient a means of “opt out” as well as trust-based ratings, reviews, advocacy and management.

Aaron’s solution is interesting and thought-provoking. I’d like to hear more.

Jason Kintzler over at PitchEngine discusses some ways that PR professionals can more effectively get the word out including Social Media/New Media Releases, and remembering that news distribution can be effectively done via the wire services. Pitching to people requires a different tact.

Again, I go back to transparency and accountability. Sending an email to lots of people pitching something irrelevant is timewasting and is potentially asking for someone to ‘out’ your pitch. Contacting people in the way the provide for you, being clear about who and what you represent is clearly a way to get some respect.

Finally, I’ll publically state that I’m happy to hear a PR or Blogging professional’s pitch, via my email, or via the huge “Call Me” button I keep handy on the side of my website, as long as said professional has looked at my blog enough to know what interests me. I’m also on Twitter if you want to hit me that way.

UPDATE: Seems I missed something that helped start this whole thing, in which someone from Brian Solis’ team did something wrong, and Brian made an apology and some distinctions that are quite relevant.

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Leverage Virtual connections in real life, part 2

In this post on using “Live Connections to Leverage Virtual Connections to get new, important Live Connections” I wrote last month, I interviewed Chuck Hester of iContact.

Today, the NYTimes had the same idea. Congrats to Chuck on the great publicity – he does a great job on LinkedIn Live, and all his activities.