If you’ve ever wondered how to harness the negative-leaning energy of online communities for good, how to target your Facebook ads so folks click them on purpose, or how you should actually be measuring the success of your social media marketing, watch and listen to the webinar below. If you’re more of a visual learner, the entire webinar is transcribed below.
Thanks again to Jason Falls for an hour full of fascinating case stories and hilarious antics.
Eric: All right. Hello everybody. My name is Eric Boggs. Welcome to today’s show. Jason, you there? Hello, Jason Falls?
Jason: I’m here. Sorry.
Eric: No problem. Welcome, ladies and gents to No BS Social Media. Joining me on the call is the uncanny Mr. Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer.
Jason: I’ve been called worse.
Eric: He requires no introduction. My name is Eric. I’m the CEO at Argyle Social. We develop social media marketing software. You can learn more about us at ArgyleSocial.com. We’re going to spend the next 40 to 45 minutes or so talking about social media and talking about bullshit, of which Jason is one of the finest peddlers I know.
Jason: No dude, I’m the peddler of the no bullshit, not the bullshit.
Eric: Oh, I get it now. I get it. Jason wrote the book No BS Social Media, which is really, really good. We’ve done a number of webcasts with Jason. We’ve hosted him to give a talk down here in Durham, North Carolina at Argyle headquarters. I’ve seen him give talks around the country, so we are super-stoked to get some of his time today on the webcast.
A few housekeeping notes. We’re going to do Q&A at the end of the call, so feel free to send your questions in via the chat. You can go to meeting or you can tweet your questions with the hashtag ‘nobull.’ I think there was a little bit of outside chatter on the hashtag, but that’s okay, we’ll drop them out.
We’re recording the show, so we’ll send a follow-up email probably later this week, maybe early next week, depending on how quickly we can button it up. We’ll send it to everyone that registered, so you can forward it to your friends and colleagues and anyone else that may be interested in taking a look.
Before we get too deep into the show, a couple of quick commercials. The first one comes from me. The second one comes from Jason. I wanted to remind everyone of the Social Pros podcast, which is a podcast I do every week with Jay Baer of Convince & Convert, who is also a very good friend of Mr. Falls. Jason’s been a guest on our show. He was on a couple weeks ago and talked about cloud and secret government conspiracies and all sorts of interesting things. The concept of Social Pros is interviewing real people doing real work in social media. You can see some of the brands we’ve featured and some of the people featured there. Check us out at ar.gy/podcast or on the iTunes store.
I’ll let Jason do the next quickie commercial. He’s got lots of really cool events coming up.
Jason: Sure. I was a guest on Social Pros obviously to bring down the quality of the guests on that. Even it out a little bit and make it more realistic.
Yeah, so Explore, it’s Social Media Explorer’s signature event. Our next one is in Minneapolis, August 16 through the 17th. Portland and Irvine, Portland, Oregon and Irvine, California, are coming up as well. We want you to check those events out.
You can go to the website GoToExplorer.co and register for Minneapolis if you’d like. We’ll have registrations for Portland and Irvine up there at some point.
We’ve got a really unique approach. We dive into social media marketing from a 200, 300 level and above. It’s not a lot of 101 stuff. We bring brands and experts to the table throughout the day and speakers. A lot of fun, and so we’d love to see you there.
Eric: Yeah, Argyle sponsored Nashville. We’re sponsoring Minneapolis. Nashville was a ton of fun. I can only imagine that Minneapolis will be just as much fun.
Jason: Yeah. Jay Baer, by the way, will be our opening keynote in Minneapolis. We’re going to have some fun. We have a fireside chat that’s like our lunchtime thing where I interview someone. For Minneapolis, I have somehow talked Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian, into being our fireside chat guy. Bob has been a skeptic, critic and naysayer of social media over the years, so that’s going to be a fun 30 minutes.
Eric: Awesome. May their battle become legend. That’d be cool to see.
Jason: Good deal.
Eric: Let’s jump into the show. The stuff we’re going to talk through today is a modified version of some content that I’ve seen Jason deliver. It includes some thoughts that we’ve been working on here at Argyle.
We do a lot of these webcasts that are data driven and scientific and study-based. This one is going to be more of a radio talk show rant. I’m here to tell you that there is no one better in the business at the radio talk show rant than Jason.
We’re going to talk about debunking some social media myths, which Jason’s book, No Bullshit Social Media, is all about. I’ll kick us off, Jason, with the social media kumbaya chant that we’ve all heard so many times. That is that to be successful in social media, you’ve just got to be human. You’ve just got to be approachable. What do you have to say about that?
Jason: First of all, I would say that’s a really nice best practice. I would say that you definitely need to pay attention to that sort of philosophy. There’s a lot that you can do in marketing in general and a lot you can do in social media marketing where you can automate things, where you can absolutely just flat-out advertise. We’re going to talk about an example of that here in a second.
There’s a lot of that traditional world that all the social media evangelists have been bashing for the last 10 years. There’s a lot of that traditional world that you can still do and be successful. Advertising still works. Certain social advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn and so on work as well.
I know there’s the big kerfuffle recently over GM pulling their Facebook ads and sticking with all the free stuff. That’s one example. I actually heard somebody in an ad agency tell me last week that they were probably not going to do Facebook advertising anymore because GM pulled their advertising. My response was, “You’re an idiot.” If you develop your social advertising campaign well, targeted at your audience with the right messaging, etc., it actually can be successful.
One thing that I think gets a lot of people up in arms, especially the social media purists, I have a lot of arguments with Scott Stratton about this a lot, is automation.
I automate probably 50% of my tweets. I actually use Argyle Social for that. Eric’s not paying me to say that. I actually do use Argyle Social. I do. I actually will sit down for 30, 45 minutes every morning and find the really good articles from the day, all the blog posts and websites that I like to read, and I will queue them up in Argyle Social’s Hopper feature to share throughout the day in a timed chain, a drip campaign if you will.
It appears as if Jason Falls is on Twitter all day sharing all this free content, when in actuality I’m doing a webinar with Eric, I’m in meetings, and I’m doing client work. It allows me to have a presence on Twitter and supply really, really good content to my audience without having to camp out on Twitter all day.
Eric: This argument there Jason is you’re not being human, you’re not being approachable, it’s just unnatural to do that.
Jason: Right. That’s what the purists would say. To them, I say, “Au contraire.” Throughout the day, I will take five and ten minutes between meetings and phone calls and whatnot and I’ll go look at my Twitter stream. If anybody has asked a question, or if they said, “Jason, you’re a moron,” or, “Hey, that link didn’t work,” or something like that, I’ll fix it or I’ll respond or I’ll call them a name back or whatever I need to do. I’m there. I’m responsive. The intent, I think, is what you have to think about. If your intent is to automate everything and never respond, yeah, I’d say you probably aren’t going to be really successful in the social world. If your intent is to just be generous with what you share, make relevant offers to relevant audience members at relevant times, but then also be responsive and so on and so forth, then you don’t have to be human all the time.
Eric: Let’s dig into this a little bit. I know you’ve got a great story that features someone that’s really close to you.
Eric: It relates to this idea of you have to take that next step beyond just being human. Sometimes you’ve got to sell a little bit. At least you’ve got listening a little bit. Talk us through this. This is the story of your mom.
Jason: Yeah, that’s my mom. That’s Sarah George. She’s in Pikeville, Kentucky, little small town, 7,000 people or so, nestled in the mountains of Appalachia where the Hatfields and McCoys are from. I’m born and bred and raised hillbilly redneck.
That’s my mom. A couple of years ago for Christmas, she asked for a remote car starter. For those of you who live in warm climates, you probably don’t know what that is. If you don’t, think of the Volkswagen Darth Vader commercial where the little kid’s standing outside waving at the Volkswagen and the dad pushes the remote button and the car starts running. That’s what a remote car starter is.
In the winter months they’re very handy because you don’t want to go out, sit in a cold car and freeze your butt off. My mom wanted one. You can buy them and have them installed in any model car, really. She wanted one for Christmas. Being the dutiful son I sent her a check and told her not to call until Thanksgiving.
She’s got this money to go get the remote car starter, and this time last year, back in 2010 I guess, so I guess it was two years ago. . . No, it was 2011. January 2011. She is sitting in her little home office getting ready for work, and she realizes it’s 15 degrees outside. She’s like, “Man, I haven’t installed the remote car starter yet. That sucks.” Before she goes to work, she checks her Facebook page and she sees a post from the next gentleman you’ll see. His name’s Greg Tackett.
Greg Tackett also lives in Pikeville, Kentucky. He and my mom are acquaintances. They don’t know each other really well, but it’s a small town. People there generally will friend each other on Facebook whether they know them very well or not. Greg actually runs a car audio/video customization shop in Pikeville. He posted that morning on Facebook, on his personal Facebook thread, not his brand page like the purists tell you that you have to post the commercial messages over there. He posts on his personal Facebook thread, “Stay warm with your remote car starter this week at Greg’s Custom Audio Video Car Stereo.”
Now, all the social media purists, if they were dead, they would have rolled over in their graves, but they’re mostly not dead. They’d be up in arms and say, “Oh, you spammer, bad person you.”
How do you think my mom responded? My mom responded with, “Can I make an appointment for Thursday?” If you go back and look at that one thread that Greg posted on his personal Facebook page in the news stream of all of his friends, there were like 12, 13, 14 people that said, “Damn, I want one of those.”
He posted a relevant message, “I’ve got remote car starters,” to a relevant audience, people who were in the 15-degree weather in and around Pikeville, Kentucky, at a relevant time, in the morning when they’re cold, they don’t want to go out and freeze their ass off starting the car, at a relevant time and in a relevant place, in Pikeville, Kentucky where it’s cold.
He hit the relevancy bull’s eye. Time, place, audience, message. If you go back and look and add up all the totals from the people who said they were going to come in and get remote car starters, he probably made about $4,000 off that one Facebook post.
If you want to tell me that you can’t advertise on your personal Facebook page or you can’t leverage your personal social networks to be successful in business and so on and so forth, I’m going to call bullshit on that because Greg proves us absolutely wrong or proves the purists wrong on that. He did it and did it well.
Eric: Yeah. That’s one of many, many stories that come from small local businesses like Greg’s and also big organizations that ask for the sale. I guess when you think about the premise of starting this thread is, “Hey man, you’ve just got to be human and be social.” I think there is a lot of truth to that, but you’ve got to drive business and you’ve got to ask for the sale. This is a great story that illustrates that.
Jason: Absolutely. I think what a lot of people in the echo chamber of the social media marketing world don’t remember and don’t understand is 97% of the businesses in the United States are small businesses.
The people that don’t live on either coast or don’t live in Silicon Valley or Austin or Boston are actual, real people who have real jobs and real expectations and interact with advertising and still watch television and so on and so forth.
They see advertisements and/or messages from people like Greg Tackett and realize, “Hey, that guy sells something that I might need. It’s okay for him to remind me from time to time that he sells that because at some point I’m going to want it. When I want it, I’m going to go buy it from him because I trust him and I know him.”
Obviously, Greg has to walk that balancing act of not being too spammy. People in Pikeville, Kentucky, this small town, they know Greg, they probably went to school with him, they probably know his parents, they understand he’s got a wife and kids to feed, and they know that he’s just trying to make sure that they know he’s got remote car starters.
The next example that we’ve got for you is even better. You’ve just got to engage. You have to join the conversation. Well, here’s an example of someone who called me when I found out I was writing this book called “No Bullshit Social Media.”
If he had an iPhone he probably cracked the screen dialing the number so hard. He was so excited to talk to me. He said, “Jason, I don’t have time to join the conversation. I don’t have time to engage.” This guy’s name is Jim Olenbush. He’s a realtor at Cantera Real Estate in Austin, Texas.
He said, “I don’t have time for any of this. I have time to do one thing and one thing only, and that’s sell houses because I’ve got to put food on the table for my family.” Jim’s a smart guy and he knows that these social channels offer opportunities to reach audiences in unique ways that he had not been able to do before.
Here’s another great advertising example. Jim sells houses, right? He gets up in the morning and he reads the Austin Statesman. He reads a story one day of a 500-person company relocating to Austin, Texas. He says, “Okay, I’m going to use social media to market to this group.”
Remember, the purists say you have to join the conversation. Jim goes to Facebook. He doesn’t go to Facebook to play Farmville. He goes to Facebook to take out an ad for real estate in Austin, Texas. He targets that ad at people who work at that 500-person company. That night, when they log into Facebook and they’re telling all their friends, “Hey, my company is relocating to Austin. I may have to move,” what do they see? Ads for houses in Austin, Texas.
He didn’t give me success metrics from that particular campaign, although he did confirm that he sold several houses to employees of that company. He did give me one really important success metric to a similar campaign. Same scenario, wakes up in the morning, reads the paper. Drug violence in Mexico is forcing affluent families to immigrate to the United States.
He goes to Facebook not to play Mafia Wars. He goes to Facebook to take out an ad for affluent housing in and around Austin, Texas. He targets that ad at people who make a certain level of income or more, who live in and around Monterrey and Mexico City. Facebook’s big in Mexico too.
He sold several houses using that campaign. He spent $400 on that ad campaign. The first house he sold in that ad campaign, he sold for $1.1 million. I don’t know what you know about a real estate agent’s commission off of a sale of a house, but the commission of a sale on a $1.1 million house is a butt load more than $400.
He never joined the conversation. He never posted a Facebook status update. He never said, “I sell houses,” on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else. He just took out an ad and reached a social audience in a unique way because the network provided that ability to hyper-target.
For those people who say you have to join the conversation to use social media in the market, you have to engage your audience, again, we say that’s bullshit.
Eric: The commission, 3% of a $1.1 million transaction is $33,000.
Jason: Yeah. That’s a little bit more than $400. That return on investment. . .
Eric: That’s an 83X return.
Eric: I’ll take me some of that. That’s a really cool example. This guy doesn’t work in a marketing department, he doesn’t work in a big organization, but he was really clever and really thought strategically about how he can leverage these social tools to move the needle for his business.
I don’t know that people really, truly understand the opportunities out there with social advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook. It is so hyper-targeted, it’s unbelievable.
Jason: Somebody told me the other day social advertising only works if you use it to give crap away. To that person I was like, “No. Maybe that’s the only thing you’ve been able to do to get it to work. If that’s the case, I would suggest you hire a better copywriter or you hire a better art director.”
If you have a compelling image and a compelling headline, social advertising appears on the page just like other advertising. Granted, 100% of the people that see the ad are not going to click on it. Some people are conditioned to not look at ads. I don’t look at ads.
I’m an ad guy. I’ve worked at ad agencies before. I love the advertising business and I think advertising can be really, really compelling and fascinating. I subscribe to like six magazines every month. I look through magazines on a regular basis. I promise you I’ve never laid eyes on a print ad. I’ve never looked at one.
When I’m reading a magazine, I’m purposefully looking for the editorial content. I don’t look at ads. I really don’t. I probably go past ones that have scantily clad people in them. Our brains, our human, animal brains are wired to look at naked skin. That’s why sex sells.
You see even for a man or a woman in a bathing suit, our human brain says, “Hey look at that.” I even skip over those, even ads with those. I just don’t look at them.
Eric: Oh now, Jason, be honest.
Jason: If I’m going to look at that I buy different types of magazines.
Eric: Fair enough.
Jason: All right. We’re getting really off-color here.
Eric: Fair enough. There was another comment I was going to make, but I lost my train of thought when you brought up booby magazines.
Jason: I didn’t bring up booby magazines. I just said different types of magazines.
Eric: Let’s go to our third example. This is the same tone of engaging and joining the conversation. The realtor case study, this guy made no attempt whatsoever to join a conversation or engage with fans or followers. He just got really clever about using social advertising as a business play.
Tell us the story about the Fiskateers. This is a fascinating story of a niche company.
Jason: Yeah. There are two case studies here. The one case study is the naysayer thing is you can’t measure the ROI of social media because Fiskateers did. I’ll tell you a little bit about that.
Really quick, let me give you the first case study. The first case study is a word-of-mouth marketing case study. Fiskars is a scissor company. They make crafting scissors. In 2006, I think it was, they worked with Brains on Fire, which is an agency down in Greenville, South Carolina, a word-of-mouth marketing agency. Very good folks.
They basically said, “Hey, we want to find a way to engage our audience online and cultivate a group of ambassadors and loyalists who we can tap into for lots of different things, not only selling more products, but helping spread the word about our products, etc. etc.”
They did all this research and they realized at the time that there were all these forums and message boards about scrapbooking and crafting. That’s going to be your hyper-scissor user, or hyper-user of scissor.
Eric: Power users.
Jason: Power users, exactly. These are the people who are going to pay a little extra for a really nice pair of scissors. That’s the point. That’s what Fiskars produces.
They looked at all the online options back then and they realized that the world of scrapbooking in 2006 was mean. You would log onto these message boards and people would post images of their scrapbooks or their designs or whatever, and the comments thread would be like, “That’s ugly. You can’t cut straight. You’re a bitch.” It was incredible. The scrapbooking world had gone gangsta apparently back in 2006.
What was interesting though is that Brains on Fire and Fiskars looked at this and realized this is an opportunity. This a market need. What scrapbookers need is a safe haven. They need a place to go where there are rules against being an asshole.
They created the Fiskateers, which is an invitation-only crafting ambassadors’ website. You have to be invited to it, so there’s accountability. You have to put your name and your email address and all that stuff in there. The community holds you to a higher standard there. You can’t be mean. If somebody posts something and you don’t like it, you’re supposed to just ignore it or whatever.
What the people do there is they share their ideas, their designs, their pictures and so on and so forth. They have this wonderful, vibrant community of people who just love arts and crafts and scrapbooking and so on and so forth.
It’s a branded environment. It’s a Fiskars environment. They did not pull these people into the community to sell them scissors, although certainly they do offer them products and services within this community. What they do is they use Fiskateers as a place to get insight into how their consumers use their products and what they think of new product features. It’s a research and development function for the company.
The first case study is building the community, finding a market need and filling that need, and having a word-of-mouth marketing community. By the way, the success numbers, I think their six- month goal for this community was to have 2,500 members. They exceeded their six-month goal in 24 hours.
Eric: Oh, wow.
Jason: They opened the door and, because there was such a market need for this safe haven, it exploded. There are over 8,000 members now. They’re probably creeping up on 9,000 at this point. They’ve got this community of people who love scrapbooking and who use their products and give them really good product feedback.
The R&D case study here is their research and development department within their own building in Wisconsin used to have white meat paper on the windows. They wouldn’t let their own internal people see what the R&D team was doing.
Now, the R&D team sends prototypes of new products to members of this community and says to them, “Film yourself cutting with these scissors and tell us what you think about it. Don’t send it back to us. Post it in the community so everybody can see it.”
They basically have used this as a cultivation mechanism to get feedback from their audience. They started looking at how much money did we spend on R&D in 2005? How much money do we spend on it now? Then they also realized when they started to do PR outreach for new products and services and trade magazines, which I didn’t even know there were scrapbooking trade mags, but I guess there are.
Eric: Of course there are.
Jason: When they started to do that outreach, they realized all the people they were reaching out to were members of the community. They realized, “Wait a minute. We’re spending all this money, time, energy and PR. We don’t have to anymore because they’re all here.” I wouldn’t recommend cutting out your PR budget to most brands, but in this scenario it worked out for them.
They started looking at how much money did they used to spend on PR and now how much money do we spend on it? What they did is they put pencil to paper, and they figured out that year after year, the Fiskateers community has an over 500% return on investment for the company. They’ve measured it to the actual dollar sign. They won’t give me the actual dollar sign, but they said it’s about a 500% return on investment every year.
What they spend on the community versus what they get back in not only selling products and services on the website, but money they save on PR expenditures, money they save on R&D expenditures, and certainly new products that they sell because of that R&D. They’re able to calculate all that.
There are a lot of people out there that say, “You can’t measure the ROI of social media. It’s all touchy-feely. It’s about building relationships. You can’t measure that.” Of course, to that we say, that’s bullshit.
Jason: There’s your last bull picture I think.
Eric: It is. These are really nice photos.
A couple thoughts popped into my head. One, you talked about people being really mean versus people being really nice. There was a great video interview on Slate.com today with an executive from Tumblr.
Tumblr is an enormous website, but they don’t have nearly the troll and flaming problem that a site like YouTube does because Tumblr imposes some identity restrictions. It’s more difficult to be anonymous.
This Fiskars story aligns to that in that when you ask your customers to be a part of the community and they represent their true selves, you can alleviate a lot of the risk associated with that, at least in terms of people being nasty or mean about things.
The other thing that came to mind was we talked about engaging in conversations and trying to be plugged in. That only matters if you’re plugged into the right ones.
This Fiskars study is an amazing example of that because they aggregated their most important constituency. They got them in one big, virtual room and now they’re hanging out. It sounds like the R&D guys are just pinging them with questions and sending them stuff. This is a conversation that’s definitely worth engaging in because it’s all the right people.
Jason: Yeah. Fiskars obviously have some other presences on social media. They have a Twitter account. It’s not a highly engaging Twitter account. I think they have a Facebook page. Again, not an overly impressive corporate case study of a Facebook page, although I’m sure it serves a purpose for them.
It’s because they focused their energy on where they get the most return out of it, which is this private network that they’ve built for their followers. They don’t really need to be on Twitter. They are and I’m sure that serves a purpose, but they don’t really need all these mass social networks and mass exposure. The really important people are really close to them already.
Eric: Somebody tweeted something that scrapbooking is enormously competitive and women will hurt you over paper flowers.
Jason: This is why I don’t hang around women with scissors.
Eric: Yeah, man. Don’t go to Michael’s on a Saturday morning. It’s like competitive yardsalers, I guess.
Jason: My wife runs a stich ‘n’ bitch group in Louisville, which if you’re not familiar with stitch ‘n’ bitch, it’s when people get together and sew, needlepoint, quilt, and whatever the hell else they do in those things. It’s like scrapbooking only with yarn. When they’re doing their crocheting and stuff, they have needles. When my wife hosts these stich ‘n’ bitch things at our house every now and then, I block out time to go sit at the bar or something. I don’t want to be at the house with women with needles. That’s scary.
Eric: Certainly you are not a party in those conversations.
Jason: I’m not. The point is they stitch, they crochet, they needlepoint, whatever they do and they bitch about their husbands, or at least that’s what my wife says. I’m sure she has plenty to bitch about.
Eric: Those are three really good examples of the purist kumbaya statements that really need to be grounded in business, grounded in reality. These stories that you’ve given, Jason, are really good examples of that.
It imposes the theme that we’ve thought up for this conversation. Social media is magical and mysterious and it’s done great things for so many people and so many businesses, but it only really works when it’s grounded in goals, it’s grounded in business objectives, and it’s grounded in measurement.
I know that you’ve devised these key social media business drivers. Can you very quickly talk about how you map these, what these mean in terms of the social media marketer? Then we can separately talk about how they map to some sort of measurement.
Jason: Sure. These are the seven business drivers. Eric Decker is my co-author of “No Bullshit Social Media.” He and I map these out. Essentially, if you’re sitting down to come up with a strategic plan for social media marketing, these are the seven choices you have for the goals.
In my mind, goals are very broad based. My goal for social media marketing might be to enhance my brand or make more people aware of it. It might be to build community, it might be to drive sales or leads, etc. The strategic planning process, to me, after the goals is to get down to the objective level, which is where you get really specific.
For communications objectives, you need a deadline, a target audience, and an expected level of attainment. You write out objective statements which might sound something like, “We want to drive $50,000 in sales from Facebook by the end of the year.” Your target audience is people on Facebook, your deadline is the end of the year, and your expected level of attainment is $50,000.
From there, you develop strategies and tactics that then ladder up and accomplish those things. When you’re sitting down to do your strategic planning, these are the seven major goals, these are the seven major business drivers, that social media can push for your business.
I think enhancing your branding and awareness is the first one. I think probably a quick example of that would be… I think most people know what that is. You just want to make more people aware of what you’re doing. I think that’s what a lot of large brands use social media for.
Coca-Cola doesn’t sell cans of product on Twitter. They want to engage their audience to make sure Coca- Cola’s top of mind when you are going out to lunch and you’re going to select whatever beverage you want to select.
Protecting your reputation actually has two applications here. Number one, you can find people talking about you and inject yourself into conversation hoping to mitigate the bad or amplifying the good to make sure that the online status of you and your company is positive.There’s also the technological side of that, where social media now has so much more impact on search engine results that if you’re not doing the right thing in both search engine optimization, SEO, and social media, you may not be ranking number one for the search terms. You deserve to rank number one. You need to protect your search reputation as well.
I think everybody knows what public relations is. PR’s got a number of fingers, media relations being the one that’s most popular. The great thing about social media tools like blogging and social networks and YouTube and so on and so forth is it gives us the opportunity to be our own media outlets and take the traditional media out of the equation. We can talk directly to our audiences if we do it in compelling ways.
Building community. Like the Fiskateers example, you can use social media marketing to build a community of advocates that you can bring very, very close to the vest for your company and communicate directly with them, use them to advocate and so on and so forth.
Customer service, I think everybody understands the Comcasts, the Dells, the Southwest Airlines of the world that monitor online conversations, looking for people who are complaining about their product or service and saying, “How can I help?”
I think customer service is where I almost always recommend to companies and clients. You’ve got to start there. If people are talking about you online and they’re really pissed off that you’ve done something wrong or they didn’t have good service at your store, then you don’t want to let that snowball, get out of hand on the web.
Facilitating R&D. Again, that Fiskars example is another example that crosses over into that area. You can actually ask your customers what they want out of your product or service, what they think about new features, etc., and get intelligence without having to spend a ton of money on market research.
Driving sales and leads is the one that everybody wants to talk about. That’s the obvious one. I’d like to put this in social media context though. If you sell products online, which not everybody does, but if you do, then you want to be able to set up tracking codes and whatnot using tools like Argyle Social that allow you to say, “Okay, we got this many visitors from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or our blog that purchased products. Therefore, those outreach efforts are driving X amount of revenue.”
You can actually see a dollar sign return on your social media activity. If you don’t sell products online, then you need to plug in some sort of online lead generation mechanism so that you can do the same exact thing.
For instance, Argyle Social, I use your software as an example. If you’re selling software and you need a mechanism online like a white paper or, hey, like this webinar, where people have to register and drop their name and their email address so you can then input them into your marketing funnel and your lead generation system.
Mathematically, you can look back and say, “It takes us 1,000 leads to get 100 qualified prospects to get 10 customers.” You can go back and put a number on what is a lead worth? If you do a lead generation tool like this and use those URL tracking devices and whatnot, you can go back in and say, “Every time we get someone to register for this webinar, that’s worth $1.57 to us. We’ve done the math and we know that eventually that’s going to lead to 10 customers.”
Eric: You’re preaching to the choir, man. That’s something that we have seen work very well for us at Argyle and for our customers. The key with a lot of these… We’ve skipped ahead a little bit. We’ve got these seven concepts that you can use to anchor your social media programs to some sort of business objective.
These seven concepts you can map to some sort of financial outcome at some point. Following this thread on driving sales leads and driving revenue, it’s often indirect. When you invest money in search advertising, people search for Fiskars scissors. I’m looking for them. Oh, here’s an ad for them. I’m going to click on this ad and then I’m going to buy. It’s a very clean, intent harvesting transaction. Social does not work that way. It’s an intent generating, an intent cultivating channel.
A lot of the outcomes that you’re driving with any of these seven strategies are often going to be second and third degree. It’s going to take time for them to develop. It’s not always a very clear measurement path.
Jason: True. When it comes to that question though of ROI, I challenge that question a little bit because I don’t think that’s the right question to ask. Partly because of what you’re saying, that there are several generations of method that have to happen before you can really know comprehensively what social media does for your business.
I want you to look at these seven business drivers for a second. Here’s what I know about ROI. As one of our listeners here pointed out and tweeted a minute ago when you were doing your quick math. I’m not a math person, but here’s what I can tell you about ROI.
It’s an accounting metric, a financial metric, and it takes two numbers, how much money you made and how much money you spent, and it plugs them into an equation. In order to get ROI, you have to know how much money you made and you have to know how much money you spent.
You take how much money you made and you subtract how much money you spent, and you divide that by how much money you spent and get a percentage. If it’s over 100, you have positive ROI. If it’s under 100, you didn’t make as much as you spent. That’s what I know about ROI.
Now I want you to look at the seven business drivers here and tell me which ones of these are measured in money. In order to know your ROI, you have to have two numbers. How much money you spent, which you can measure really easily. Then you also have to know how much money you made.
My argument on the question of what is your ROI, what’s the ROI of social media, if your goal is to enhance the awareness of your company for your product and your service, do you measure that in dollars and cents?
Think about it this way. If I’m in a meeting and the CEO of the company says, “Hey, Jason, tell me the status of the branding and awareness project,” don’t I sound stupid if I say, “$57,000?” The goal is not money. The goal is awareness.
What you have to do is you have to map your results, your measurements to your goals. If your goal is to protect your reputation, you don’t measure your reputation in dollars and cents.
Now certainly there are going to be lines that blur a little bit. Protecting your reputation is ranking well in search results. If you rank well in search results, you can map revenue from people who click on them and come through and buy. There’s a little bit of cross-pollination, yes.
Eric: I think it comes down to a resource question a lot of times. Look at a company like Fiskars that has resources. They have people. Presumably those people are pretty smart. You even mentioned the value of the community that they built. They can wrap a number around that.
It’s exactly like you described. It’s like, “Well, our community gives us this, which gives us this, which gives us this thing that’s a number.’ It is often two or three steps removed.
I agree and disagree with what you’re saying a little bit. I think smaller organizations need to focus on very simple, trackable, repeatable programs and metrics. For larger organizations, that have resources and people, I would challenge you to try to map all of these to some sort of, at least approximate, figure for dollars.
Jason: Sure. Absolutely. If you’ve got those resources, especially if you’ve got that Milton inside your company that’s just an anal retentive spreadsheet crazy person that can sit down and connect those dots, go for it. Hell, if you could measure it instantly, go for it.
The practical nature of our world though is that most organizations aren’t that robust or don’t have Milton the red stapler guy who can do that for you. You have to be practical, which is why I say instead of asking the question of what is the ROI of social media since only a couple of these… Facilitating R&D can be measured in dollars and cents because you can put a new product in the marketplace and measure your sales. Sales and leads obviously are measured in dollars and cents.
The rest of those top five are measured really in, what I would call, intangible ways. I think the question you need to ask, instead of asking what’s the ROI of social media, is what do I get in return? What you get in return might be better search engine results, lower cost per lead, more online media coverage, and all these things you see here on your screen. Faster response times, better customer satisfaction scores. Those are all beneficial to your company. Those all mean something to your company. You want all of those things. They’re not measured in money. Fair?
Eric: I think that’s fair. That definitely is the No BS approach.
Jason: Believe me, the cool thing about that question too though is that. . . We’re going to get to the tree-huggers and hippies thing in a second. The question about that return, what do I get in return, is money is still included. You can still measure money as a return, but you’ve got to think about all those other things too, because they might be what you’re trying to get.
Here’s the hippie and tree-huggers spiel. Don’t get me wrong. We don’t mean this in a derogatory manner. Eric Decker and I consider ourselves to be social media hippies and tree-huggers.
Eric: I think anybody that’s on this webcast to some degree is a little bit of…
Jason: What we mean by that is I believe in those philosophical tendencies that as a best practice, not as a rule, as a best practice, you should be human. You should engage. You should join in the conversation. You need to hold hands in a circle around the campfire and sing kumbaya with the customers. You need to build relationships.
Those are all good things to do, but you can’t do those alone. If you do those alone, you’re a hippie and a tree-hugger in the social media world sense. You’re not worried about measurement, you’re not worried about driving business, and you’re not worried about planning things strategically. You’ve got to do both.
I’m a hippie and a tree-hugger philosophically, but I’m a businessperson from a practical nature. You’ve got to combine those two. That’s what the no bullshit line of social media is. Let’s hug all the trees we want. There’s nothing wrong with that. I want to do that, but we also have to measure this. We also have to show return. We also have to account for what we’re doing in this space and get something out of it.
I like Jay Baer’s line for companies. “We have to stop doing social, we have to start being social.” You do need to have conversations with your customers. You do need to sit at a table without an agenda with your community and be responsive and participatory and so on and so forth.
Doing this, becoming a social entity, you start to hear that phrase social business. “Are you a social business?” As we use social media marketing and as we become more accustomed to balancing the hippie and the tree-hugger side of things and the business side of things, we start to evolve into a social business whether we know it or not.
Here’s my definition of the social business. Let me show you Pikeville, Kentucky, which is my hometown. End where we started. This is where my mom lives. This is Main Street looking from the city park, if you care.
I grew up here. When I lived here with my family, I lived there until I was 18 years old. We didn’t buy our cars from GM or Chevy. We didn’t buy clothes from JCPenney or Target. We didn’t buy insurance from Progressive, Geico, Allstate, or State Farm. We didn’t bank with PNC, Wells Fargo, or Bank of America.
We bought our clothes from Jerry. We bought our cars from Terry. We bought our insurance from Sharon. We banked with Danny. Those four people that I dealt with and my family dealt with sat within four rows of my family at the Pikeville United Methodist Church, which is that brick building on your left.
That’s what being a social business is. You’re not a brand, a logo, a company. You’re sitting at the table, in the pew, or at the cocktail event with the other people who are your customers and you are being social with them. You’re a part of the community. You’re an equal player in that. You’re a stakeholder.
That means you give and you take. You participate and you listen. That’s what ultimately being a social business is. If we can all think of our businesses in that context, then we won’t just be social and media marketing people. We’ll be social businesspeople.
Eric: That’s a really cool story. It makes me think about the friends that I’ve made and the networks I’ve built over the past few years in the social media space. All these people worked for organizations or they worked for agencies or clients. I never really think of where they work. I always think of the person.
That, to me, is like another manifestation of what you’ve described. You’re not thinking about buying a Chevy. You’re thinking about going to see Terry at the car lot.
Jason: Exactly. I bought a Volkswagen Jetta three or four years ago, almost four years ago now. Bought a Volkswagen Jetta. I did not buy it. . . I thought about this a second ago so I could spit it out now. I bought it from a place called Bachman Volkswagen here in Louisville. I don’t think of it in that context. I bought it from Joe Thompson. Joe’s my dealer. He’s the guy who sells me my car. That’s a great example. He’s a car salesman, which car salesmen get a lot of crap from people in the sales world, but Joe…
I’m in a test drive in a Volkswagen Jetta. Joe’s saying, “Here’s what I like about the Toyota Camry. Here’s what I like about the Honda Civic. Here’s how this compares to the Ford Fusion.” He’s giving me this assessment of all the cars I’m thinking about buying. I’m thinking, “I don’t even care if I like the Jetta more. I like him.” He hit it out of the park for me. I love my Jetta too, by the way.
Eric: That’s cool.
We’ve got about 12 minutes. Before we start getting swept away with lots of really good questions, I want to thank you, Jason, for taking the time to do this. This is a great conversation as always.
The stories that you’ve got around your personal experience growing up in this social business microcosm of Pikeville, Kentucky and some of the customers that you work with is very, very cool and, I think, applicable for big businesses and small businesses.
Jason: Thank you. Glad to do it, man. Any time.
Eric: All right. If you’ve got questions, tweet them up. Hashtag will be “nobull,” #nobull.
One of the first questions comes from an Argyle customer named Alison Carlman. Alison works for Global Giving. Little mini-plug for the next webcast we’re doing in a couple weeks, she’s going to be joining us for a non-profit webcast May 31st. If you’re a non-profit person, we’re doing a broadcast specifically about non-profit stuff next week. We’ll tell you all about it.
She asked this thoughtful question about traditional marketing as it relates to social media. I presume that she’s thinking around ad buys and community building. You can either take forever and try to build a community, you can just throw money at it with advertising, or you can throw money at an agency to build your network. Is that a trade-off that you see or is there a balance there?
Jason: I do think there is a balance. Again, I believe advertising does work. If you want to reach 50,000 people with a message by Monday, take out a TV ad. Don’t Twitter unless you already have that network built in.
I think advertising does work. I think it supplements social media in a great way. I love the fact that there are lots of companies out there on TV, print, outdoor using Facebook and the Twitter logo, saying, “Follow us on Twitter,” or, “Like us on Facebook.”
The problem with most of these organizations is they’re not telling me why. Why should I? What am I going to get out of it? What’s in it for me? If you can use advertising to compel people… Hey, we want to build 10,000 people on our Facebook page, then let’s take out some ads and let’s reach out to the mass audiences the way we know how. Let’s say, “Hey, we’re doing really cool stuff on Facebook. Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s what you can get out of it. We would love for you to like us there.” You’re going to get a bigger audience faster that way than you are nurturing it along in the social area only.
The danger zone in the area where I think people get a little sideways is when they throw money to an agency or one of these social media tools. I mean that in the sense that they are platforms, but tools in the sense that they’re just a tool, like people being tools, right?
There are some tools out there, both human and technology, that say, “Give me $10,000 and I’ll get you 100,000 Twitter followers.” Anybody who’s selling a number of followers or fans is using some sort of gaming the system technique or fabricated method to just get you the numbers.
They’re not getting you quality, they’re getting you quantity. It’s much smarter to focus on your own advertising and your own audiences and say, “Hey, we would like you to come over and join us on Facebook as well because we’re doing something cool there,” than it is to just collect people.
I can promise you that most of the people that have a high volume of Twitter followers, especially in the marketing space, have somehow gamed the system, and 30,000, 40,000 of them are spam accounts that are just follow back accounts and they don’t actually mean anything.
That’s something that I’ve never done. I’ve never been interested in it. I don’t want 100,000 followers. I want 25,000 really good followers. Be careful there.
Eric: Yeah. @ShawnGraham, when we were talking about hippies and tree- huggers, said he was hula hooping and eating granola.
Jason: Nice. I bet he knows how much he spent on the damn granola, so he’s smart.
Eric: He is a smart guy. He’s a smart guy.
Matthew from CroatianSports.com wants to know what’s the worst social experience you’ve ever had. Probably shouldn’t name names, but off the top of your head.
Jason: I’m going to assume he meant social media experience, because the worst social experience I ever had goes back to junior high and I’m not repeating that story.
The worst social media experience I ever had, I think the one thing that comes to mind for me, and I’m not going to mention the names because it’s a little unfair and I think I was a little unfair to them back in the day.
A couple of years ago, the bank that I was using for my business, I was having some real problems with their corporate policies and how small businesses were treated. My local people here in Louisville were doing a really good job of trying to help me, but they were getting some crap from the corporate people that I didn’t really approve of and think was cool.
Being a social media guy, I reached out publicly and said, “Hey, can you guys help out?” Crickets. No response. This was early on in the social media world. Not a lot of banks had policies. They weren’t really responsive so on and so forth. I think I was a little unfair to them publicly by basically complaining about the fact that they didn’t really care about their social customers.
They did, but they just didn’t have the mechanisms and the policies in place to feel good about reaching out in a public way. I think they’ve gotten a lot better since then. It was a really, really bad experience. It was early on in the space, and so in all fairness to the bank I won’t mention who they were.
It was just an example of a business that was based on policy and legal concerns and whatnot that was just ignoring the online [inaudible 53:02 to 53:05] situation, not as a social media person, a marketer or a blogger or a guru or a whatever the hell you want to call me.
I was looking at it was this company was hurting my business. I was dissatisfied and they didn’t respond. They lost my business.
Eric: Several more questions. Let’s see how many of these we can answer. In your opinion, how important is offline to social success?
Jason: It’s critical. I can promise you right now without me going to conferences, reaching out, shaking hands, meeting people in person, I would have about a tenth of the followers that I have on Twitter. I would have one one-hundredth of the influence that I have in the space. Everything I’ve done has been grip and grin in real life.
Eric: I’ll actually add to that sentiment. Over the past several months, I’ve become much more willing to hop on a plane.
Jason: Yeah. It’s not just the personal branding side of things too. It’s for your company as well. If you are dropping the ball when people walk in the store or when people interact with you in real life, you can have the greatest Twitter account in the world, you’re still going to suck.
Eric: Here’s another question. Terms of service, platforms, modes of doing business, this world of social media changes really, really quickly. Does this ultimately mean that all brands are going to have to have an agency or have to have a full-time, powerhouse social team?
Jason: I don’t want to say all because I just don’t know that there’s ever going to be an all or nothing approach. I think there’s always going to be businesses that just don’t need social, especially when you get into really, really small businesses. The guy who cuts my grass? He doesn’t need social.
The way he acquires customers, when he started cutting my grass, three of my neighbors asked him if he would cut theirs. I’m like, “Here’s your Facebook strategy, dumbass. Go cut somebody’s yard for free.” That’s how you do it for him. As he scales, obviously that changes. I wouldn’t say all or nothing. I think for bigger businesses, medium to large businesses, you’re probably almost always going to need, yes, some sort of social presence, some sort of person within the company that’s keeping a mindful eye on these networks and how people use them and the policies that change.
Somebody’s got to be staying on top of that for your company, absolutely, if you’re a medium to large company.
Eric: You just answered this a little bit. For tips about breaking through on social in industries that have little to no users, I think the example is thermal valves. I think you maybe just answered that a little bit with the guy that cuts the grass.
Jason: Yeah. Sometimes you don’t need to, but if you see potential there, then the great news is that the first person through the door is going to be the biggest. Some industries out there that you’re looking to become Mr. or Ms. Social in is going to need their, for lack of a better term, Chris Brogan, right? They’re going to need the pioneer that takes that industry into social. Be that. Make that your personal brand and see what you can build.
Eric: We talked a lot about B to C. Any quick thoughts about B2B myths or B2B truths from your experience?
Jason: I think the biggest thing for me, and I’ve had some B2B marketers tell me that this is a naïve way of looking at it. I don’t know that I agree with them, because I’ve used this philosophy with a couple B2B clients and it’s worked.
My attitude on B2B and the myth that I found out there on B2B is that B2B’s different. I don’t think it is different. You do not buy or sell to or from a logo or a building or a company. You buy or sell to or from another human being, the purchasing officer.
Your goal then in social is to be social with purchasing officers or CFOs, or whoever the person in those B2B organizations are that actually sell something or buy something. You’ve got to find where people like that are.
It’s better to finding your target audience, not necessarily saying, “Oh, I have to market differently.” Ultimately, you’re selling to a person. It’s P2P marketing, not B2B marketing.
Eric: It’s 1:58. I know people probably have to get rolling to their 2:00s. Last question for you, Jason. What is your scrapbooking strategy?
Jason: My scrapbooking strategy? At present, I have a personal blog and I use Instagram a lot. How about that?
Eric: Fair enough. No scissors involved, no bitchy, catty, can’t cut in a straight line stuff?
Jason: No, man. I am a big fan of other people’s art and I will never criticize that. I am not going to call you an evil bitch for not cutting straight.
Eric: Awesome. Let’s close on that. Jason, I really appreciate your time, man. This is a ton of fun. There was some good stuff in here. Everybody, thanks for tuning in. We’re going to package this up and send you a follow-up email with the deck and the recording in the very near future.
We’ll talk to you again soon. Thanks, Jason.
Jason: Thank you. Thank you all.