Archive for October, 2009

20th October
written by Rena Bernstein

Companies are in business for one reason only, and that’s to make money. Since methods for defining the true ROI of social media are still a bit fuzzy, some CEOs are getting frustrated at the time it takes to see results.

Social media has a reputation of requiring almost no investment to the point of being virtually “free”, but that’s not true at all. TIME is money. To give social media a real chance to succeed, it requires a substantial investment of time. Time to listen to the market, to develop strategies, to cultivate relationships to build trust and time to review incremental results and make adjustments. And we’re NOT talking about just days or weeks.

Social Media is a long term, ongoing process, not a project.

19th October
written by Rena Bernstein


I have read so many articles about the impact of Twitter on society and how it has “democratized media”, but I must say, I think that most of these guys have missed the big picture. As I speak to people that have tried Twitter only to walk away confused and  disappointed, I realize that Twitter’s greatest strength is lost on the masses.

Newbies open an account and begin following a few big media outlets, celebrities, or possibly a major brand or two. Many of these accounts are less personal and tend to “broadcast” instead of interact. These newbies often send out their first and sometimes only Tweet that says something like “OK, so I’m finally on Twitter. Now what?”. They hear nothing back and leave wondering “what the heck is everyone making such a fuss about”?

This “twit-nomenon” is reflected in a study by Sysomos Inc. (@sysomos) that revealed ” Only o.29% of all Twitter users follow more than 2,000 people, 92.4% follow less than 100 people and 93.6% of users have less than 100 followers”. What I take away is that people are treating Twitter like TV. They dial into a familiar channel (say the New York Times, Ashton Kutcher or maybe Barack Obama), then sit back and wait for a show.

The simple interface of Twitter is deceptive.

Twitter doesn’t easily give up the gold that lies beneath it’s surface. Finding this buried treasure takes some effort from the user and a little curiosity. What is interesting is that it’s first valuable asset has nothing to do with sending out Tweets or getting people to follow you. Yes, I love the interaction and two way communication aspect, but for a newbie, first there must be a sense of value.  Their initial Twitter experience should be about finding people worthy of following that offer personal value for them. They need to find and listen to the conversation before jumping into it. Then the value grows exponentially as you become involved, make friends, develop relationships, and share knowledge.

I’m a passionate sort of person and when I’m interested in a topic, I like hearing everything I can about it. I look for people that are both experienced in the subject as well as those that are new. Those that are the influencers, and those that are influenced. Of course there is much more to Twitter than listening.

One of the reasons people get caught up in this cycle is because of a  tool that’s overlooked: the unfollow button. Using it regularly keeps your stream clear of spam and annoying comments about who had what for lunch. I have seen how following fewer but more valuable Tweeple can dramatically improve a persons entire Twitter experience, leaving you much more time to interact with those you have chosen to keep.

Sure there are plenty of users with thousands of followers, automatically sending out hundreds of tweets a day, like the 5% of Twitter accounts that generate 75% of all tweets and racking up followers like trophies. But as far as I’m concerned, those folks have missed some of the best parts of Twitter.

Yes, Twitter is awesome for it’s two way interaction and communication abilities. But for me, the most priceless part is having an endless stream of customized and fresh material served to me, whenever I want it…..(now if only I could get my kitchen at home to do that for me).

Do you agree?

13th October
written by Rena Bernstein
Social Media & The Value of Listening

Social Media & The Value of Listening

We all know that a brand exists in the minds of the market. The overall impression your audience has about your product or service is the only one that counts. We also know that despite all our best efforts, a brand’s impression on the market is only partially within the control of it’s marketing team. Much of that impression has to do with external forces such as current events and competitor efforts.

Brand awareness is a valuable first step in almost any sales cycle. “While 80% of advertising and marketing professionals say they are “strongly aware” of their brand’s positioning, only 25% of them can clearly articulate their company’s brand position”.1

A well planned and executed brand strategy aligns a company’s corporate objectives with marketing, sales, customer service and R&D and has them all marching to the same beat. More importantly, it gives customers a song to sing along to as well. The problem is that very often, a company thinks they are delivering one message, but the audience is receiving something entirely different….and sometimes contrary.

Social Media is an important and easily accessible tool that allows a business to “play back” what their customers feel about their brand, whether they are using social media as a marketing medium or not. It’s also very effective to understand public sentiment regarding their competitors brand as well. It can easily determine if a brand strategy is believable and relevant to the market and if the message being received as it was intended.

Results from a listening program can and should be reflected in all media, not just Social Media. By utilizing an integrated marketing approach, these results can be reflected quickly across a broad range of media, reaching the widest possible audience and once again, aligning your brand strategy from the very top corporate levels all the way through to  your customer.

What do you think?

  1. Louws Management Corporation Survey, 2007
2nd October
written by Rena Bernstein

Rubicks creative solutionWith markets being so fragmented these days, and media always changing, why do some folks want to stick to the same old solutions?

As marketers, we sometimes make simple assumptions about how something should be done, where we should advertise, tactics that should be used, or targets that should be targeted simply because it was done that way before. Not only does this usually end up with an uninspired result, but it frustrates the people working on the project and the outcome is often less than predicted. This overly structured method eliminates any possibility of doing something better. Something unexpected. Or something that might be off the beaten path and could make a big impact just by being a little different.

I recently read an article on a blog called Leading Creatives written by Nigel Collin where he made a very interesting point that when you tell a creative person HOW to do something, the thinking and creativity stops and all your likely to end up with is an execution. And not a bit more than that. No passion, no dedication, no enthusiasm, and no creative solutions. Just execution.

Guidance, direction and suggestions are always great, just leave the door open to new possible solutions. Nigel suggested that the next time you have a marketing goal, don’t tell your team or agency HOW TO DO it, tell them WHAT YOU NEED TO ACCOMPLISH and you’ll get back more than you expected.