Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Marketing is NOT Dead. It's Just Goes By A Different Name

There are so many articles, podcasts and chats lately proclaiming the “Death of Marketing!” or “Marketing is Dead!” Rest assured, my marketing cohorts, marketing is very much alive and in my opinion, enjoying quite a resurgence, if not a bit of rebranding.

Have you ever hated the name your parents gave you? I did. I grew up as an only child and looked for community and comradery and a large group to belong to for much of my childhood. Admittedly, this carried into many of my early adult years as well, as I struggled to find my identity. I eagerly searched through magnets and souvenirs to find something with my name on it to proudly take home with me, often to no avail. “Lucy is an old lady name!” I’d complain loudly and often. Then there was my last name. Two long names hyphenated into one. It never fit into Scantron boxes and I rarely could find myself on lists, never knowing “which last name” I was filed under, as if it were indeed two more names, rather than the one long one that it is. I yearned to change it, later on in life taking the initials of my “two last names” and spelling them out phonetically to create a new name for myself.

We are doing the same thing to marketing. While Millennials appear to think they’ve reinvented the wheel, discovering a “whole new way to market!” the truth is, they’re simply renaming what we’ve always done. Does marketing now sound more hip? Maybe. Are the new names a new way to connect? Absolutely. I believe that inherent to each of us, is the internal desire to ‘be a part of,’ and while I also believe we can and most often do enjoy what makes us each unique, we really want to find our tribes. Social media does this for us – it gives us a way to connect to like-minded people that we never would have been able to find without an unlimited expense account to travel the world and spend time with as many people as we could possibly see and talk with. Instead, we now have the opportunity to connect with all of these people in real time, with no distance felt between us. Renaming “older marketing” processes is yet another way to connect with each other. As each new term becomes the buzzword of the day, people hashtag it out and find others using the same language we now do. While I’m not a fan of all the new terms, I do not think they’re ‘bad,’ or shouldn’t be used. Marketing is all about speaking to people in THEIR language, how THEY want to be spoken to, and if it’s through a new word, it’s our job as marketing people to adapt to the changing landscape.

Here are some examples:

1.      FOMO is the new envy: Without a catchy acronym, FOMO is nothing new. Aristotle described it. Kant wrote books about it. Even the Book of Genesis names envy as one of the 7 Deadly Sins. FOMO is just more fun to say, and if you look at the word itself, FOMO simply looks better than envy, as we have come to associate envy as something ugly. Interesting to note - I find people are very reluctant to share their feelings of envy, perhaps because they feel they will be judged if they exhibit this character defect, yet everyday on social media, people proudly proclaim their #FOMO for people, experiences and situations. Don’t believe me? Check out the tweets associated with the hashtag. Then google #envy and noticed the marked difference.

2.      H2H is the new 1:1: Confession – I’m not a huge fan of the term H2H. I feel like it is a bit offensive – after all, I’m already human, and I only know how to communicate with other humans, so to tell me that there’s this new way of doing business or conducting my personal life in a “human to human” fashion, makes me feel as though I’ve previously been incapable of speaking to people. I also find it a tad demeaning, in that it ‘assumes’ a lack of intelligence when looking at brands that (for example) tweet. I’ve been in brand marketing for just over 15 years. I’ve been a consumer of brands for most of my 36 years. I don’t think there’s ever been a second where I misunderstood that a tweet, or a commercial or an ad from any brand came from the logo of the brand. Inherently, I just knew that someone BEHIND the brand was speaking for the brand. Example – I have worked both in-house for brands from the startup phase to multi-million dollar companies. I have run their social media. Whether I was tweeting from my laptop or my cell phone, I, as a human, was writing the correspondence. While my goal was always for everyone seeing my content to know that it was Lucy writing it, (until the communities got to know me personally) I think everyone still figured out that a human was somewhere out there, actually writing or typing out each letter in whatever they were reading. It has been a long time strategy and tactic of marketing to try to speak to smaller groups if the brand wants to be able to truly have an open back and forth conversation with them, to introduce, talk about or answer questions about their product. It’s been referred to as 1:1 Marketing, and I still relate to that term more.

3.      Social Listening is the new paying attention: If you work in branding or marketing, I believe you’ve always done this to at least a small extent, without having a term to easily describe the process. Social listening refers to looking at and identifying what is being said about a person or product or brand on both the internet and in print (and definitely via WOM, but unless it’s searchable, it’s hard to find mentions of something as it leaves peoples lips). It’s becoming increasingly more important to spend more time giving social listening credit. How else will you know messaging resonates within your community and is reaching the right consumer at the right time? You just can’t. If you delve into your community and have open honest conversations daily with them, they will tell you everything you need to know.

4.      IRL is the new um…it’s ALL IRL: Full disclosure: I don’t really “get” IRL. As opposed to WHAT? What’s the alternative to living IRL? I’m real, therefore my life is real, right? If it’s referring to in person vs online, what I do online and the people I speak with are still also living their lives IRL, so unless I’m missing out on a whole new universe that others are enjoying, I’m going to keep living my life in IRL, and hope you are too, because otherwise I don’t know where you are!

5.      Transparency is the new being who you are: I started smoking when I was 17. I was scared to death that my mom would find out, so I hid my cigarette pack in what I thought at the time, was a most brilliant hiding spot – underneath the driver’s seat in my car. You know what comes next – she found the pack. She was more upset that I wasn’t honest with her than she was about the idea of my smoking (don’t get me wrong, she does NOT in any way condone smoking). She said “Be who you are. If you smoke, then be honest that you smoke.” The first part of that has stuck with me to this day, and while some days are easier than others to outwardly be who I am, that’s what transparency means to me.

Are there any terms you aren’t familiar with that you’d like to see added to this list? Do you find yourself frustrated by the “rebranding of marketing as we know it?” Let me know in the comments, or send me a tweet @lucyrk78 and let me know your thoughts!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Social Media SOS!

People love to chase the next new thing. In terms of marketing and social media, this can get a bit overwhelming. Every week there is a new tool, new platform or new technology that marketing managers and those who work in social media are told WILL be the “game changer. Adapt or die.”

How many times a week do you get a message or email or text or worse – an auto-DM saying “Follow me on Twitter! Let’s connect on LinkedIn! Are we Facebook friends yet? Have you seen my Pinterest page? I saw that on Instagram!” Most recently, it has been “I’m Meerkatting (yes, it’s become a verb, while Periscoping hasn’t, probably because it sounds a bit creepy) come watch me cook dinner/sit in my room, answer any questions…”

Not sure if you suffer from Social Media SOS? Some of the symptoms look like this:

1.      I’m going through my day, answering emails and doing what is right in front of me, when two co-workers walk by my desk laughing and talking. I can’t just sit here, I must find out what they find so funny!

2.      I spend more time on social media looking down at my phone than I do with friends outside of my social media groups. I can’t be torn away – what if a new platform comes out?

3.      I love my job. It’s fulfilling and there is room to grow. But let me take some time to check out Craigslist…maybe there’s something even better out there….

What are the motivations that fuel our wanting to be involved in everything? Here are a few that I believe feed into Shiny New Object Syndrome:

1.      We all want to be early adopters. Does it make you feel “cool” or “more in the know” to find something before any of your friends? Do you like to be the one to introduce the next new thing to your group? That’s not always a bad thing. Branding-wise, it can give you an edge up on your competition to introduce something that hasn’t previously been seen or tried or thought of. In today’s world, where a brand’s timing is becoming increasingly more important than some of their strategies, early adoption may be the difference between a brand staying relevant and a brand that watches this new world passing them by.

2.      FOMO. Many people are just not satisfied much of the time. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is so 1999, but FOMO really means the same thing. It’s the idea that everyone else is having more fun that I am, everyone else is part of something that I’m on the outside of….in one word? FOMO = jealousy. For brands, this is a huge opportunity and also a huge risk. The opportunity lies in how well you can foster feelings of FOMO within your community and the risk arises when people begin to eschew your brand as being too selective and exclusive (another word that can be both positive and negative for brands)

3.      The oftentimes misplaced “celebrity” we place on “Influencers:” The word “influencer” has changed as of late. It used to mean someone that incites people to make a change. While it still means that in today’s social media landscape, it has also become a bit adulterated. Influencers have also begun to be people with lots of (for example) Twitter followers, that others engage with in hopes of being noticed by the “influencer” and mentioned by them, to grow their own follower number. I see many people not just suffering from Shiny New Object Syndrome, but having a full blown case of it. “I HAVE to be involved in (insert any shiny new object here) because (insert any social media ‘influencer’s’ name here) is doing it and if I talk about, they’ll talk about ME!" Not the ideal or clearest of motives. IMO, if you're doing anything to "become an influencer," #youredoingitwrong.

Once you get over the initial excitement of the latest shiny new object, it still goes back to marketing fundamentals. Is this really right for YOUR business? Not every new technology or social media platform is one size fits all. It’s generally not even one size fits most. “New” isn’t a synonym for “better.” While Social Media SOS might be a new buzzword, you still have to ask yourself the same questions you always have: How will this help my community? Will this move the needle and impact sales?

I am not suggesting you try to shy away from this completely. I also don’t suggest that you attempt to completely cure yourself of SOS. It can work to your advantage. If you don’t test each shiny new platform, technology piece or tool that comes out, how will you know what WILL work for you and your business? As marketers, it’s our job to be open to change and constantly adaptable. It’s our responsibility to try out, test and play with each potential game-changer, so we can add it to our arsenal when that pot of gold does arrive.

Do you have a case of Social Media SOS? Has it helped you find something that has grown your business? Or…has it divided your time into too many segments to actually be able to focus? Comment below and let me know!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Value of Twitter Chats Part II: Bringing Online Offline

I’m a huge fan of meeting people I only know online, offline. Not long after joining Twitter for a beverage brand I was working on, I thought it would be great to “surprise” (not truly a surprise, since I planned it) to fly into cities where we had a large community and take people out to brunch in large groups. I was behind a brand logo, but really got to know people and though it’s been a couple years now since I ran that specific Twitter handle, I still am friends with many people around the country from that community to this day.

I recently heard someone say that “TweetUp” was an “outdated term.” I don’t see it that way. In my opinion, it’s truer to the actual act than the newer term “#ConnectIRL.” I feel “#IRL” is more outdated. For those of us that make our living via social media, how is online not “real life?” Periscope and Meerkat have shown us that our real lives are now up for public consumption. Each day there are more and more ways to share everything you do at all times throughout your day…during your “real life.”

Depending on how much time you devote to social media sites like Twitter, which is my favorite both personally and professionally, the more you begin to develop very deep relationships. There are those people that you meet and feel an immediate connection with. You click with them and feel you’ve known them for years, which makes sharing things and transparency even more enjoyable and easy. Because I feel like these people are close friends, I want to them see them face to face. I want to watch their expressions as they tell me things I’ve previously only been able to read. Twitter conversations often become phone calls and it only follows that a TweetUp would be next.

In school, we were able to make friends without trying. We were constantly surrounded by other people that were doing the same things we were. So where do adults go for that? I follow people on Twitter that have the same interests I do, that tweet about things I’m interested in, or tweet things I learn from; sometimes for work, sometimes because they make me laugh, sometimes because they give me inspiration. Through Twitter, I have the opportunity to make friends with people that I know have things in common with me. It’s much better than meeting someone at a bar. “YOU drink? I drink too! We have SO. MUCH. IN. COMMON.” Until we sober up. When I was drinking daily, I would wake up after a night out with so many pictures of myself with random people I was “so excited to meet” the night before, only to delete them. I don’t know these people. I’ll never make plans with these people. How many times have you gone through your contact list, only to delete people you don’t remember putting into your phone, having met them during a night at the bar, realizing you haven’t spoken to them ever again?

In the past month, I’ve planned two TweetUps – one in my hometown of Chicago and another in my adopted hometown of LA, where I spent 10 of the last 12 years. There exists a huge contradiction inside of me. I’m oddly as much of a hermit as I am an excitement junkie. People are often surprised to hear that, as I’ve made a career out of field marketing and PR, and have always found energy in connecting people to one another. It’s true though. In Chicago, everyone that attended were people I’d never met outside of Twitter. In LA, it was a mix of friends I haven’t seen in years and friends I was yet to meet, after solely knowing them through Twitter chats. Both times, what was planned to be 1-2 hour dinners, ended after 4. Did I think I’d end up hanging with everybody I met after the TweetUp? Maybe. I try not to go into anything with preconceived notions, preferring to just live in the moment and enjoy my time. If it’s awful, it’s 1 hour out of your life. You can get through anything for an hour, right? If it’s a great time? You never know what these relationships will mean down the road. TweetUps help the world feel a little bit smaller, a little more intimate.

I’m heading to San Francisco for 10 days, the last two weeks of May. Soon, I’ll begin going through my Twitter lists to see who I know there, and what the best date is for them to meet for dinner.

Los Angeles TweetUp @ The Federal Bar

Chicago TweetUp @ Hubbard Inn

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Value of Twitter Chats Part I

Twitter for me is like that old friend that you can go years without speaking to, but once you reconnect, it’s as though no time has passed at all. Twitter was founded in 2006 and I started my first account on August 28, 2008 with the tweet “figuring out this new site!” Though it was for a brand (@onecoconut), it was also my own personal Twitter account. H2H before it was the buzzy trend term it is today? Nah. Much more of a case of A) me having no clue what I was doing and B) my having no clear boundaries between my life and my life at that job, and C) my letting that job completely become my identity.  I ran that account until January of 2013 and to this day, tweets still come into it that begin with my name. Sometime in between I started my current account @lucyrk78 for myself, but never truly nurtured it or looked into the importance of it outside of having fun, following celebrities and people I knew in person, looking for jobs and finding pictures for my next tattoo. I participated in a few Twitter chats throughout the years, but never realized until a few months ago that chats happen every single day on the hour.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, Twitter Chats have changed my life. They’re addicting too, and each morning as I look at my schedule of what chats I want to participate in that day, I can’t help think of the scene in Fight Club where they’re going through their schedule of meetings and picking out who will go to which meeting each day.

Twitter Chats are just like life. There will be people in them that you absolutely fall in love with and there will be others that bring no added value to your life. There will be others that truly want to help others and there will be people that just want to sound important and gain a million followers. I surround myself with people in the same way online as I do offline.

What makes me loves Twitter Chats as much as I do?

·        Networking: I cannot stress enough how important and precious networking is to me. And not in the sense of “What can (insert the name of anyone/everyone you know here) do for me?” but in the sense of waking up every day and thinking “How can I be of service? What can I do to help you today?” The more people you know, the smaller and warmer and more inclusive the world gets. You are able to do and accomplish and see things beyond your wildest dreams, and get the opportunity to help other people do and accomplish and see and be a part of things beyond THEIR wildest things. This is where the only selfish part (at least for me) comes in – HELPING OTHERS FEELS GOOD. If this seems naïve or altruistic, I understand. I have been burned numerous times, wanting to see the good in everybody. I haven’t let myself become jaded, but I also don’t want to realize that some people network purely for the good of furthering themselves. I hate that cutthroat aspect of networking so admittedly, I tend to dismiss the idea of that with people I’m surrounded by acting that way. Twitter chats open you up to the possibility of meeting more people than you ever could by simply living offline – and there are people you will meet that feel and live the same way you (I) do, and will enrich your life and your business in ways you couldn’t have possibly imagined. Travel for work? Have the time to travel for fun? How great is it that Twitter chats allow you to meet people from all over the world that you can then meet in person as you travel? The networking doesn’t end after the hour of the Twitter Chat. Relationships take time online just like they do offline – find people in your chats that you’d like to speak with outside of just the chat. Remember, Twitter is open 24/7!

·        Small Business Marketing (SMB): While not restricted to small businesses in any way, Twitter chats are great for smaller businesses to include in their marketing mix, as you don’t need the massive budgets larger companies enjoy.  Twitter chats are 100% free and open to anyone that can follow a specified hashtag. There are over 600 chats each week, so it will take some time to sift through the offerings to find the ones that speak specifically to your business, your target and your community.

o   Becoming a Human Business: If you are joining Twitter Chats from “behind a logo,” it’s taking a first step in becoming a humanized brand. There’s much more to do, but it’s a start. If you are able to speak with people as the person actually doing the tweeting, honestly and with transparency (not in a jumble of corporate speak), then people will be more drawn to your brand. Consumers want (and deserve) more than just a great product. They want (and deserve) a great company. Who you attract to your business through Twitter Chats depends on your ability to speak to people as though you were tweeting from your own personal account. You can be professional while maintaining all the things that make you a cool person to be around. No one wants you joining their Twitter Chat just to hijack it by constantly selling to them and pitching them.

·        So. Much. Learning: Fully being present in Twitter Chats allows you to learn so much. You have people sharing their thoughts, best practices, and what’s gotten them as far as they have in life from all over the world. Not only do you have the opportunity to share things you’ve learned with others, but others are sharing that same knowledge with you and it’s invaluable. In each hour during a chat, you are also learning how to become better at Active Listening. Unless you go into a chat thinking you know everything and are only there with something to prove (hint hint, it won’t prove anything except that you’re not someone people want to be around) you have the chance to be a part of great debates and sharing of knowledge where you can truly learn hour by hour. And for free!

Perhaps cliché, but you truly do get out of Twitter Chats what you put in.

Part II of this post is: Why I Like To Bring Online, Offline.

Do you have any favorites throughout the week? Tweet me and let me know which ones!