The title for the panel discussion was “Linked in – How to Increase Sales” however given all of our diverse backgrounds with using social media in all different ways, it quickly evolved into a broader discussion about how we use and recommend using social media for business.
Jeff had some great recommendations for finding the “pulse” of online conversations going on around your company online and using Google Alerts to find those conversations. Mike had a great analogy of how social media is really no different than going to a Chamber networking mixer. Cappy’s reminder that in social media you need to “give” if you want to “receive” to build a brand following falls right in line with Mike’s analogy too. Networking online using social media is virtually the same (other than the technology) as networking in person. It’s all about building relationships.
I’ve shared Mike Langford’s video recording of the panel discussion. Although the still on the video looks like I am about to break into song…I assure you that doesn’t happen. I wouldn’t torture my blog readers with my horrible singing voice. Enjoy!
In a great article recently published on the Online Video Insider by Eric Franchi, some great statistics and insight were shared which are particularly timely given Chrysler’s and General Motors’ recent bankruptcy announcements. Perhaps as they pick which road to take the companies future on they should reassess their level of participation in social media and particularly online video.
Here were a few of the highlights from that post for the automakers to keep in mind and my thoughts on these suggestions:
“83% of new vehicle buyers visit video focused Web sites prior to purchasing a car. This means 31% viewed videos on brand, product or company sites; 24% on auto-specific Web sites, 11% on YouTube; 7%, Yahoo Video; 7%, news sites; 6%, MSN Video; 4%, MySpace; 3%, Facebook; 3%, AOL Video; and 3%, other.”
These numbers from a recent Google sponsored study highlight a few really important factors that automakers need to keep in mind regarding online video and how viewers are searching and researching online. I’d be willing to bet that in a short amount of time YouTube, Yahoo Video, Facebook, etc. will garner a much larger piece of the viewership.
“Don’t skimp on production. A full one-third of auto shoppers watch the video content on the product site.”
So once you have the viewer engaged with a demo of the vehicle, why not lead them to other videos of the same vehicle they are looking at instead of (or maybe in addition to) pages of text information? Maybe it’s crash tests…shown from different angles? Maybe keeping something fragile like an egg inside safe during the crash? You can get really creative here but the object is to keep the viewer engaged and on your site.
Think about Blendtec and how they engaged their viewers by showing them real simple demonstrations of how their blender worked by blending ridiculously common things. Many of those interested viewers became brand loyalists for them.
“Investigate the broader video opportunity. Brand and auto-specific sites only make up slightly more than half of the automotive shopper’s online experience. Creating a presence on YouTube and other video destinations will help round out the plan.”
Why stop there? While video sharing sites like YouTube are a place that I think the automakers MUST have a presence, what about Facebook, LinkedIn or smaller automobile enthusiast user groups? The automakers could use these brand enthusiasts and interested buyers for research and development. They could find out what features and options people are REALLY looking for in a car. Let the group members participate in the design of new cars, show them videos of new concepts as they are created based on the group’s input and get feedback from the group. Imagine that kind of empowerment could turn them from potential buyers into the automakers brand evangelists.
David Meerman Scott wrote an outstanding post on marketing ideas for the automakers reinvention outlining 5 simple things GM could do to accelerate their hopeful rebound. I hope GM and Chrysler read his post because it had some great ideas. Automakers will be under a watchful eye with their marketing budget, so doesn’t using a tiny portion of their bloated television advertising budget to put a creative online video and social media plan together just make sense? Obviously I think so…what are your thoughts?
One of the things I like to do is go to LinkedIn and answer questions and take part in different discussions that are going on. It’s a great way as a business owner or specialist to show their expertise, take part in interesting conversations and build stronger networking relationships.
I recently was shocked to see people using the discussions on LinkedIn…to give a sales pitch. Some of them were advertising webinars but most were direct sales pitches starting with a question like Do you want to save your marketing dollars and revolutionize your online marketing? which after you clicked on it was a big sales pitch about how awesome this marketing firm is and how they will revolutionize your online marketing.
Out of the 20 “discussions” appearing on the first page, 18 were direct sales pitches either about events or services offered by these companies. The thing I really found disturbing about this was that it was a marketing group on LinkedIn. These are people that are supposed to help other businesses with communication and engaging online if the title from the above “Discussion Topic” is any indication. This may be a news flash but one sided communications are not discussions.
Having a discussion is all about sharing your knowledge, appropriate links and opinion with others. It’s about engaging. However using the discussion area as a personal bulletin board to advertise your services is not only tactless…it’s also destroying the art of conversation within your social media group. This comes down to moderation by the Group Owner to make sure that people are using the discussion area to actually have discussions and not diatribes about how great they are but think about this for a moment – if everyone within your LinkedIn group is shouting BUY FROM ME! YOU NEED ME! in the discussion area…who is left listening?
Instead of shouting how great you are, show it by engaging in meaningful conversations and letting your obvious expertise shine through. People probably aren’t going to hire you because you say you’ll deliver amazing results. They’ll hire you because through conversations and relationship building discussions you clearly show that you know your stuff and have built up the trust so they can rely on your brand.
What are your thought on this? I’d love to hear from others about their experiences and get a discussion started here about your experiences with this, how you’ve dealt with this or how you think this can be fixed.
I had the pleasant opportunity to be interviewed for a blog post by Danny Brown, the owner of Press Release PR, providing search engine optimized press releases and SEO-friendly content for the Web 2.0 world, and a vocal advocate of social media PR. Below is a snippet from his blog post with a link to the full interview on his blog. Enjoy!
Discussing Social Media with…Eric Guerin
A little while back, I sent out a request via Twitter asking if anyone would be interested in being interviewed for a discussion on social media. With the medium meaning so many different things to so many people, as well as how it can be used, I was interested to hear the views of the people I connect with.
One of the people I follow on Twitter is Marc Lougee (or @luge if you are a Twitter user) who is a director and film producer based in Toronto. I am a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe AND stop motion animation so when I saw that he had created a short film of The Pit and the Pendulum I was intrigued. When it came out on DVD I ordered it immediately and was completely blown away. The stop motion animated short feature itself was completely amazing and the addition of the interviews and the many special features really made this DVD special. I asked Marc on Twitter if I could interview him for my blog and he kindly obliged:
EG: Can you give a brief synopsis of The Pit & the Pendulum (for those who aren’t familiar with the work by Poe) and what inspired you about this story to interpret it into a short film?
ML: In the film, as in the original story, a lone prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition is tried and condemned to a horrible fate, which he can only imagine based on the rumors of the Inquisitor’s particular brand of awful. While he’s locked up in the dark, he wrestles with hope and faith as his captors ratchet up their efforts to unhinge him.
I was inspired to do the film, initially, with a phone call from Ray Harryhausen’s agent! I was literally just wrapping up a series gig, and looking at a break of a few months (over the summer!) so making a short wasn’t really on the plan. Until I got “The Call”.
Ray was keen to see a small-scale production of The Fall of the House of Usher (a classic Poe story well worth a film, surely), but Susan Ma (Producer on the Pit & Pendulum, and my lovely wife) and I worked out some numbers and had to break the news to Ray this was just too massive a thing to wrangle with the time and available resources. So, I pitched The Pit and the Pendulum, thinking it’s only a few walls, rats, a large Pit and some flaming fireboxes…what could go wrong? Two plus years later, we finally wrestled the beast onto a DVD with a lot of extras.
EG: That’s amazing that Ray Harryhausen was involved in the production of the film! I grew up loving his movies and being a huge fan of his work. What was it like having him as the producer of The Pit & The Pendulum and how much involvement did he have in your process?
ML: Working with Ray Harryhausen on The Pit and the Pendulum was literally a dream come true. If someone had told me with a degree of seriousness this might be coming down the road, I’d have fallen off my chair laughing. It’s like winning the lottery, for me; and considering I haven’t bought tickets, it’s that much more astounding.
Ray’s involvement was very much on the creative side; he had approval on everything, as one might imagine. If the stuff was lacking, in his eyes, we didn’t move forward until we got his blessing. Susan and I wouldn’t have it any other way, really. Ray cleared the designs, script, even the crew; we sent him bios and demo reels of the folks we were planning to work with on the project, a lot of the folks I’d been working on other series and films with in the past. It was a pretty amazing bunch of folks hooked up for this, so I was totally confident this thing would look and sound great, regardless of how badly I did my job! Ray was definitely hands on, in the sense he had final say over everything we did on the production end.
EG: The animation used in the piece is traditional stop motion animation and your style, set design and color scheme perfectly captured the impending doom that Poe so accurately describes in his story. Why did you choose to utilize this method to tell the story rather than computer animation?
ML: I’m a huge fan of stop motion animation, and the illusion of the human eye that’s inherent in the process- visual trickery is a blast to pull off when done well. I thought the medium, theme; story and style would all play nicely together on this particular project. Thankfully, there are lots of folks that agree (Ray included), and it worked out. As much as I like working on CG projects (and I’ve done a few- series, films, commercial spots, etc, as both animator and director), I see the various techniques as tools, as a method of getting the most important part told, the story. Without a strong story, and strong characters, there really isn’t much that will save the project. Of course one can polish a brick to high degree of shine, but it’ll always be a brick. So, the way we wanted to tell the story and Ray’s involvement, really dictated how we approached the film and the use of stop motion animation. Truth be told, my angle, and part of my pitch to Ray, was to add certain CG elements and cutting-edge digital visual effects techniques to the film, adding a level of mystery, or ‘how did they do that?” to the mix. There are a few elements in the film that are completely CG animated, but produced to be seamless, so to tell the story and not bring attention to technique itself. I feel various techniques and tools, used properly, will enable viewers to forget about the fact they’re watching an animated film and allow them to become invested in the characters and story. Stop motion animation and CG visual effects can work brilliantly together, giving us a huge range of possibilities. Mixing the traditional, old school with the new; that’s where some very cool stuff happens.
EG: I know that the musical score was done almost completely virtually over the internet. How much of the film collaboration was done on site at your studio in Toronto and how much was done virtually using the internet? What was that process like?
ML: Thankfully, we had the great fortune of having an excellent composer, Philip Stanger, who is the bomb. He’s extremely talented, has many years of experience and is the most amazing musician. When I had first met with Philip, I showed him the rough cut of the film, and almost instantly, he had the basic tune. This was before I had even got my coffee cup to my lips! Amazing. He was attuned to what we were looking for, and is a huge fan of Poe and Gothic music already, that it was literally instantaneous for him. Really, the process couldn’t have been easier, from that point on.
Philip, aside from being a brilliant composer, is also extremely tech savvy; so as he was in London scoring The Pit and the Pendulum music sending digital files to Toronto for work by our mixer, John, who then would resend them back to Philip for further work. With the time delay between London & Toronto, they were essentially flip-flopping day to night, so there was no real ‘down time’ in the process. Things went very smoothly with the system, so we had the music quite quickly.
I didn’t get the final files until I was in the final mix session for the film, where I heard everything layered in properly. I was totally blown away. The entire score was produced using digital technology, sampling, etc, as we had a very limited budget, so there was no ‘live performance’ recording. All digital, all the time. Philip just worked magic.
EG: One of the unique things you did for marketing and promoting the film was you were very active on social media networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. How did you utilize some of these social media networking sites for the promotion of The Pit & the Pendulum?
ML: My experience with promoting stuff I’ve worked on was primarily the festival route, or sending a lot of emails to friends and colleagues. This being fairly limited in scope and breadth, I got very interested in seeing what all that I might be able to do with social networking, Web 2.0, etc. I looked around for resources and eventually found filmmakers using the latest online gadgets, tools and techniques to promote their projects. Some of these folks were doing brilliant things, really thinking outside of the box, and I was totally intrigued. I looked at their approaches, modified and adapted them for my own ideas, and went bananas teaching myself how this worked. Dealing with the various tools, sites, gadgets, widgets, etc, I managed to see what was working or not working, and re-prioritized to using just what I thought was getting the most response. Hence, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, et al. Of course these are like saying social networking is ice cream, and the above mentioned venues are like flavors, so I choose to use what I liked, found easy to work with, etc. By focusing on the various sites I can handle technically (and with the shallowest learning curve), I spent more time learning the ins and outs, and how to maximize the potential of each. This might sound abstract, but it really comes down to my finding tools I liked to use, learning how to use them to maximum benefit, and going bananas working them to promote the film. One of the best aspects is they are all free, have huge audience potential, and allow a back & forth between the filmmaker and audience. Sharing, forums, feedback, it’s all there, so it’s quite a cool way to push your film project along to a global audience. One great resource has been Lance Weiler’s workbookproject.com. Lance is a genius with this stuff, and has a track record to prove it. Once he started up the ‘Project, he’s also been attracting other like-minded folks from all over the indie film sphere, all of whom have been using social networking to benefit the promotion of their films. If Web 2.0 is on your mind as a filmmaker: run…don’t walk over there- you’ll be happy you did.
How Marketing Firms, Designers and Business Owners Must Adapt or Risk Becoming Extinct
I was recently talking to a marketing firm that really doesn’t grasp the changing dynamic of the marketing environment online. They were still convinced that the best way was still the old way and they had little knowledge of email marketing, how to implement it and virtually no knowledge of how to utilize online social media. Which quickly made me realize that they must adapt and learn quickly or they may go the way of the dodo bird. Here’s why:
Think back to 1995…I know…I know it seems like a long time ago. I was just graduating from college with a degree in Visual Design. The college curriculum during the early nineties included very little computer design because…well…there weren’t many programs and most of the professors had no idea how to use the programs themselves.
Adobe software programs that are design standards today like Photoshop & Illustrator were in their relative infancy. The majority of our design work and training was still a lot of paste up, photocopying and layout done by hand, not COMPLETELY on the computer as almost all design work is done today.
The “home” computer was still relatively new as Windows 95 had not been released yet and most of our computer work was done in on-campus “computer labs” because few students could afford their own computer, much less the expensive software needed for design. The computers we did have in the computer labs were also notoriously slow. If you put a photo into the design you may as well ask the computer to slowly crash and die.
The internet was also in it’s infancy for the home user as most web browsers were released to the public in 1995. So there was NO training in web site design. Most web developers at this time coded HTML using text editors. Web site design was not done visually until 1997 with the release of Macromedia’s Dreamweaver program.
All right, enough waxing nostalgic. So what’s your point, is what you are probably saying now. Well I’m getting to that.
14 years ago it was a much different world
After college I learned much of what I know by taking classes, learning on the job and teaching myself in my spare time. So I was able to survive and thrive with my own business doing graphic and website design. That’s not to say I’m the cat’s meow of design. Eric Guerin isn’t walking around talking about himself in the third person. There are many, many designers that are far more talented than I am BUT I can say that a number of people I graduated with and who were in the design field in the mid-nineties are no longer. Why? Because they didn’t change with the times and adapt to the new tools emerging.
Which brings me to today
We are on the precipice of another landslide change in how people are marketed to and how they interact with brands. People want to interact with the companies and brands they are passionate about online. That’s why there are over 70 million blogs worldwide and counting. Email Marketing is one of the simplest and easiest ways to keep in contact with your customers and help promote repeat business. Over 390 million consumers are at least watching video clips and listening to podcasts on a weekly basis. Social Media websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter offer the business the ability to have individuals in their company interact with consumers and their brand identity on a 1on1 basis.
So the what is the moral to this story?
These social media tools are developing and growing in popularity at an alarmingly fast rate. If marketing firms, designers and even the individual business owner doesn’t take the time to educate themselves they could find themselves within a relatively short period of time falling victim to advertising natural selection.