Adding To The Noise

A critical view of new media, new technology and new marketing.


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Upcycling Content: Four Ideas To Repurpose Existing Resources For Social Media Updates.


Upcycling isn’t just for crafts or Pinterest. It is simply a concept where old products are given more value. Upcycling in social media it is a way to optimize your time and effort.

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Startup R3DNA recovers leather from salvaged luxury cars to be repurposed into bags, iPad covers and leather jackets.

Here are four ways you can reuse and repurpose for social media content:

1. Underutilized parts of your website. Are there valuable parts of your website that if you are honest with yourself no one really uses? Today people want content brought to them.

I used to work for a bank that had an excellent small business toolkit. It was valuable information from finance and HR to marketing tips. The problem was no one used it because they didn’t know it was there. How often do you surf your bank or other banks websites?

Our idea was to divide the long form website content into short chunks and push it out as small business tips on social media. Upcycling already created content to social can build awareness and drive traffic to the website, but it also helps build relationships in social media.

What valuable information is on your website or hidden in a brochure sitting on a shelf that you could repackage as valuable social media content?

2. Play By Play Of Live Events. Public Relations professionals have used events as a powerful publicity tool since the last century. Today you can multiply that power by bringing the event to many more than can attend in person.

For a regional airport client we planned a live contest where two local radio DJ’s flew to Chicago and back in one day. One took a flight from our local airport and the other took a flight from the farther big city airport. We demonstrated that you could save money, distance and time flying from our client’s airport when most people thought it was too expensive.

The airport received enormous buzz online as we updated Facebook, Twitter and UStream videos of each DJs progress. The event would have been successful with just the live reports on the radio, but Upcycling the live traditional media content to social media upped the awareness.

Do you have a live event coming up where you could up the exposure by reporting it on social media channels?

3. B-Roll Video And Photos. Producing a TV Commercial can take up to month and cost a lot of money. The average 30 second spot cost $350K. During a day long shoot you collect a lot of footage that doesn’t make the 30 second final cut.

Why not leverage extra footage as social content? A director’s cut, alternative version, or “making of” video can really draw fans. We all love to get a look behind the scenes. You could also share still photos online during the shoot via Instagram, Pinterst or another photo site for a sneak peak.

Either way you get more for your investment by upcycling video and photo content being produced for other uses. For more engagement you could even post different versions of the TV ad and have your fans vote on the final cut.

Do you have a TV or video shoot coming up that you can leverage as social media content? What about a still photo shoot?

4. Front Line Employees. Remember the small business tips for the bank example above? Our second idea was to empower branch managers to send out the small business tips via their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts as a way to generate leads for new accounts.

These managers were tasked with signing up new business accounts anyway. Why not give them another tool besides cold calls and post cards?

Unfortunately their response was that they blocked access to social media in the offices for employees. Some upcycling requires an open mind and may require some new guidelines such as an employee social media policy.

Is there a way you can upcycle your employees? Best Buy leverages their blue shirt in-store associates’ knowledge and down time to answer people’s tech questions on Twitter building awareness and goodwill for the brand.

Can you think of other ways to upcycle existing efforts into fresh social media content?

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Social Media: A Post-Control World


One of the main things I have learned working through the digital and now social media revolutions is that the truth, transparency and power of social media requires a fundamental shift in thinking for the marketing, advertising and PR profession.

Social Media Marketing

If we truly want to control brand communication today, we must be willing to give up control. Not an easy thing for human nature and professional disciplines that are taught and practiced in the very opposite manner. Pick up any Principles of Marketing, Advertising or Public Relations text and you will find the same – methods, strategies, and processes all designed to control the message.

Even with the advancement of the new discipline of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) all brand communication is attempted to be controlled an put into one unifying message across consumer touchpoints to combat advertising clutter and loss of mass media audience.

Maybe that is why so many marketers continue to shift resources to social media, yet admit they don’t know how to integrate social into their traditional efforts. But the consumer revolution is happening and consumers now have the influence of mass audience. When word of mouth gets super charged with social media, perhaps traditional is no longer an appropriate base from which to start.

As Seth Godin says, “Your consumers are talking about you whether you like it or not.”

Perhaps we are all looking at this from the wrong perspective. We shouldn’t be figuring out how to compartmentalize social media as a nice little addition to our current marketing efforts. Social is much bigger than that. Instead we should begin with social media and figure out ways we can integrate the consumer’s voice across the discipline silos of advertising, PR, and Digital and across the business unit silos of marketing, operations, R&D, customer service, etc.

Whether we like it or not we now live in a Post-Control Marketing world, a post Four P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) where our brands are no longer our own. Today we need to build brands around the consumer and the Four C’s of Consumer, Costs, Convenience, and Communication. This may seem like a small difference but as Carol Dweck has taught us, Mindset can make all the difference in the world.

A funny thing happens when you give up control, your product and service becomes better. Your customers help you create the products they want, the communications they’re interested in, freely share your brand messages and help you improve your service. Everyone gets more of what they want. The consumer is no longer a target to be conquered, but a business partner for mutual benefit. And in the end you meet and exceed the marketing and business objectives you wanted in the first place.

Are you ready for Post-Control Marketing? Do you know how to integrate social media for the consumer revolution?


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100 Insights For New Media Marketing


For my 100th post on this blog, I thought I would share all 100 insights in one place. Each listing is a link back to the original post.

Social Media Marketing Tips

100 Insights For New Media Marketing:

1. Is New Media Killing Traditional Media’s Star?

2. Are Bloggers More Sensitive To Spin?

3. Technology Makes Us Dumber, Less Productive And Stressed Out

4. Which Advertising Medium Is best?

5. Can Direct Response Be Creative?

6. Toyota Apology-athon

7. Why Does New Media Matter? Because United Breaks Guitars

8. The Last Thing We Need Is Another Blog

9. Walk A Mile In Zappos’ New Media Shoes

10. Tu Voz Rings True For Minority Marketing

11. More Information On Information Overload

12. Does Copy Matter Less On The Web?

13. Can The iPad Save My Newspaper?

14. Are You Ready For A Content Revolution?

15. Somebody’s Watching Me

16. Is There A Creative Process?

17. Is All Buzz Good And Cheap?

18. Brand Extensions Achieve MAXIMum Failure

19. Speak Softly And Carry A Big Marketing Stick

20. Is Facebook’s Privacy Policy Friend or Foe?

21. BP Can’t Get Beyond Petroleum

22. Are Mobile Ads Still Annoying?

23. Are Intellectual Property Rights Wrong?

24. EBSCO, Forbes, Time Open The Digital Divide

25. Yahoo Cheers Associated Content Acquisition–Society Jeers

26. Can Millennials Save Us Through Cause Marketing?

27. Creativity Beats Media In TV ROI

28. GM Recall Recalls Past PR Crises

29. Cause Marketing Or Crisis Response?

30. US Census: Bad Ads But Great Information

31. Where Is The Star Power In The Gulf Clean Up?

32. Cause Marketing’s Future Is Engagement Through Social Media

33. Churchill, TED And New Marketing

34. Blah, Blah, Blog: Why Companies Should Listen

35. Online Research: Temptations and Limitations

36. Does .005% Make A Difference? Ask Toyota

37. Can Marketing Statistics Improve Your NFL Team?

38. Celebrity, Media Outreach And Events Oh My!

39. Cable TV Decline: Media Planning Gets Tougher

40. Failed Test? Try An Ethnographic Study

41. Do We All Need Twitter Editors?

42. The Press Release, Blogger Outreach And SEO

43. New Media Needs A New Name

44. Public Relations Challenges For Non-profits

45. Three Is The Magic Number

46. Corporate Communications, Marketing, IMC, PR and Advertising. What’s the difference?

47. Which Social Media Conversation Are You Joining?

48. Earth Day PSA 2.0

49. Click Here: Digital Call To Actions

50. Measuring Print Response 2.0

51. Visual Continuity in Print And Digital

52. Brand Equity: Tangible Assets Are A Small Part Today’s Brand Value

53. Do You Have Social Media Fatigue?

54. Which Came First The Product Or Value?

55. Ride The Cluetrain To Five Easy Pieces: New Marketing Strategy For A New Digital Market

56. The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned in Marketing and Advertising

57. Social Media Is A Big Idea For Small Business

58. Cause Marketing to Boost Startups and Small Business

59. As Smartphone Ownership Crosses 50% And Mobile Ad Spending Jumps 80% Keep 3 Key Measures In Mind

60. Search Gets Social

61. A Dead Guy Is Following Me On Twitter: Signs Social Media Is Taking Over

62. Visual Continuity: Is It Always A Good Strategy?

63. Big Ideas And Big Results Don’t Need Big Budgets

64. Afraid of Digital? History Says Run To It, Not Away

65. Savages Movie Written With Fragment Digital Media In Mind

66. A Social Media Experiment: TDI Club Forum

67. Hallucinations Aren’t Contagious, But Social Media Is Real For Many Business Functions

68. Do You Look For Wrongs Or Rights? Stop Social Media Excuses

69. “Like” Is More Than A Facebook Icon

70. Forrester: Facebook and Twitter Do Almost Nothing for Sales

71. Communications: The Language That Drives Revenue

72. Brand Engagement Through The “Martydom Effect”

73. Super Bowl Ads: A Unique Opportunity for Undivided Attention

74. Fear Means Go: Stretch Yourself For Social Media Success

75. Successful Entrepreneurs Make Mistakes To Discover New Approaches, Opportunities And Business Models

76. What Do We Do With Out-Of-Date Advertising Professors?

77. Gen-Y Honda Student Campaign Gets Results With This Gen-Xer

78. A Text For That? App Hype Shouldn’t Discount Text Marketing

79. Trouble Harnessing Social Media? Relationships Can’t Be Automated

80. Can Retail Make Room For Showrooming?

81. There Are No Top 10 Best Rules for Social Media Marketing

82. Has PR Become An Unsustainable 24/7 Profession: Do We Really Need Social Media Mission Control Centers?

83. Do You Have To Be Active On Social Media? Do You Like Being Invited To A Party And Being Ignored?

84. Filling The Digital Marketing Gap 19 Students At A Time

85. Mom’s Don’t Tweet But They Do Watch The Voice And #VoiceSave Through Their Teens

86. The 12 Ways of Brand Community Value: My Year End Social Media Tips List

87. Research Says Add New Media, But Don’t Drop The Old: Study Of Over 400 Successful Marketing Campaigns

88. What Is Your Social Media BFF? 42% Of Adults Now Use Multiple Social Sites

89. Shakespeare Predicts Super Bowl Commercial Winners: Research Shows Sex And Humor Aren’t The Key, It’s Story

90. USA Today Ad Meter Super Bowl Results: Story Wins With Puppy Love And Others!

91. If You’re Simply Adding To The Noise, Facebook Will Now Turn Off Your Organic Reach

92. Airline Industry Has Highest Response Rate On Twitter And Facebook. What About In Winter Storm Pax?

93. Irony: Sharing Social Media About Spending Less Time On Social Media

94. 5 Ways Social Media Can Fuel Startup Success

95. 24 Hour Rule: What Harry S. Truman Can Teach Us About Social Media

96. Advertising Campaigns Are Dead: Brand Story Is The New Big Idea

97. Star Bellied Sneeches: Social Media Badges Can Save Companies Billions

98. Return On Relationship: Thanks Ted For Living It

99. Behind Amazon’s Pay To Quit Program: Happy Employees + Social Media = Real Value

100. 100 Tips For New Media Marketing


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Behind Amazon’s Pay To Quit Program: Happy Employees + Social Media = Real Value


On Friday it felt like every news outlet was writing about Amazon.com’s Pay To Quit Program announced in the annual report. Besides this immediate earned media attention, there is real value behind the program when we consider the social media empowered employee. Some simple calculations can show us what a happy or unhappy employee can earn or cost a company on social media.

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Jeff Bezos explains that Pay to Quit is simple. Once a year, Amazon will pay associates to quit if they are unhappy. The first year it’s $2,000 and it goes up $1,000 a year until $5,000. But the retail giant emphasizes “Please Don’t Take This Offer.” They hope associates will stay. Bezos explains, “In the long-run an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.” Bezos is famous for focusing on long-run returns over short term gain such as break even pricing on the Kindle, but when you calculate the value of employee social media use I believe there are some more immediate benefits.

Happy Employees + Social Media = Real Value

Amazon isn’t talking about front office employees here. As Techcrunch put it, “Developers wanting seed money as they run off to build their own startups are out of luck.” This is their fulfillment center employees. When most people talk about employee social media programs they might not have this in mind, but look at the latest social media use statistics from Pew Research. Some 73% of online adults now use a social networking site and 42% use multiple sites. Plus engagement is up with 63% of Facebook users visiting the site once a day and 40% visiting multiple times. The latest data also shows social media use cuts across a diverse range of demographics including age, education, and income. Front office or not, your employees are on social media and a full 40% of cell phone owners are accessing social networks on their phones.

Social Media Examiner predicted Employee Advocacy to be the #2 social media trend to watch in 2014. Each employee has influence through personal social media accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook that can be tapped to share the company’s messages and broaden reach. SmarpShare is a company focused on developing employee advocacy programs and they have provided a simple calculation of the value of social employees.

Look at how much social media platforms charge for clicks. Then look at promoted content that appears in the same area as messages coming from people, and use that as a measure of value. This isn’t actual business value, but it helps estimate potential. For example, LinkedIn charges $3 per click on a sponsored post. Using that, SmarpShare calculates the earned media value (EMV) of employee advocacy. SmarpShare has been measuring this value for over a year and found that one employee share generates an average of 6 clicks. This number varies depending on content, culture, and advocacy tools, but with Amazon surpassing Microsoft and Google to 110,000 employees we can estimate:

110,000 (Amazon employees) x 5 (shares per employee) x 6 (clicks per share) x3 ($ value per click) = $9.9 million EMV (even 50% participation = $5 million EMV)

Pay to Quit isn’t really new. It was invented by Zappos, now an Amazon subsidiary. We all know the Zappos social media story. As early as 2010 Zappos was using Twitter to build brand equity. The company has nearly 500 employees Tweeting. CEO Tony Hsieh was an early adopter of Twitter and encouraged employees to engage online openly during work as detailed in his 2010 book Delivering Happiness. According to SocialMention, today Zappos is referenced every 2 minutes, and positive sentiment is 9:1. Zappos.com also has a 65% passion rating, which means people are repeatedly talking about the brand over and over.

Will social employee advocacy work for everyone? Not if you don’t have happy employees and unfortunately most do not. A recent Forbes article reports 70% of U.S. workers don’t like their job – they are disengaged with work. Forbes contributor Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith says, “Disengaged employees can drag down others and impact everything from customer service to sales, quality, productivity, retention and other critical business areas.” What if those unhappy “disengaged” employees are actively engaged in social media? Suddenly, Jeff Bezos Pay To Quit program looks like a bargain.

I remember when a previous boss told us we better learn social media or leave. Yet at the end of the same meeting he said if he caught us on Facebook at work we would be fired. SmarpShare says there needs to be mutual trust between the organization and employee. The days of controlling employee actions in social media are over. Obviously, Bezos doesn’t want fulfillment employees posting Facebook updates all day long instead of packing orders, but with the right guidelines and program in place the ROI on Pay To Quit can be huge.


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Star Bellied Sneeches: Social Media Badges Can Save Companies Billions


If you have never read Dr. Seuss’ book, The Sneeches, it is definitely worth your time. In this kids book we get adult insight into human behavior. The Sneeches with stars on their bellies are special you see. They were better than the plain belly sort and had parties and picnics the others were left out. A simple thing such as a star can make such a difference, which brings me to support forums and idea communities. What will people do for a star?

Ideastorm, Dell, support forum, crowdsource, customer support, social media, Groundswell, Forrester

Li & Bernoff’s Groundswell tells us that the average call to a company’s call center costs $6-$7. Technical support calls are $10-$20. Way back in the early 2000’s TiVo noticed a consumer run TiVo Community Forum on the web. With no help from the company over 130,000 TiVo owners were solving each other’s problems. One user named “jsmeeker” had posted 44,000 times in 6 years.

Other company’s like Dell have started their own community support forums. Dell has been more intentional and is reaping the rewards. One user named “Predator” had posted 20,000 times answering tech support questions that were viewed over 2 million times. Considering the cost of call centers, this one customer saved Dell over a billion dollars in support costs. Dell wants to encourage more customers like this and has implemented a reward system so the most active members can earn their stars.

Dell Community Rockstars are nominated for their exceptional technical skills and willingness to help others. They also show leadership in the Dell community. What do they get? A star of course. The fancy star badge below. To be fair they also get some additional privileges and benefits including online and offline events and get to evaluate new products and services before others.

Ideastorm, Dell, support forum, crowdsource, customer support, social media

Dell community members give thousands of ideas and tech support for this star.

What else will someone do for a star? Help with new product development. Dell has also launched IdeaStorm to leverage the wisdom of the crowd to improve their products and services. IdeaStorm simply collects customer ideas in multiple categories from products to advertising and then the same customers vote on the ideas to help Dell identify the most promising. Since 2006, people have freely submitted over 20,000 ideas and nearly 550 have been implemented. What do they get in return? Points, votes and you guessed it, a star. Dell Rockstar badges also appear in IdeaStorm.

This is all well and good, but you may be saying to yourself, “Dell is a huge, well liked company. Of course, people want to contribute to them.” Don’t forget that Dell has not always been a well liked company. In fact, it used to be referred to as “Dell Hell” and is known for not listening to its customers as called out by Jeff Jarvis in his now famous “Dell sucks” blog post. The support forum and idea community are actually what helped Dell regain its customers.

Ideastorm, Dell, support forum, crowdsource, customer support, social mediaAs customer support moves further away from the phone lines, it’s become easier for frustrated customers to express that frustration publicly on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. As a result, more and more brand customer support forums are popping up. In fact, Forrester research has found a 25% increase in customer service community usage in the past three years. For the brands that embrace this change, customer service can move from cost center to a differentiator.

What can you do? Fire Pole Marketing says launch a brand community and give them something to display. They say, “Provide them with a plaque, certificate or similar item. Simple things like online badges or a certificate work wonders.” I agree and I suggest you use a star.

Can customer support and idea communities be a star in your company?


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Airline Industry Has Highest Response Rate On Twitter And Facebook. What About In Winter Storm Pax?


According to Socialbakers’ latest rankings, the airline industry has the highest response rate on both Twitter and Facebook responding to 76.4% of all in-bound questions on Facebook and 56.3% on Twitter. This compared to the average response rate of 40.6% on Twitter and 59.4% on Facebook. This sounds great until you need it.

Social Media, Customer Service, Airlines, Winter Weather, Delays, Cancelations

Airlines are the best in social media response.

Today I was to fly to Austin for a conference where my colleagues and I were presenting a paper on Facebook research. That was until Winter Storm Pax hit, which the Weather Channel says has “Paralyzed Nation’s Busiest Airports, Snarls Roads and Rail.” By Thursday morning, more than 5,800 domestic and international flights were canceled, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.com. Trying to call US Airways took about 8 attempts just to be able to get on-hold. Then after being on hold for an hour and 40 minutes, I thought I would try out the great airline social media response rate with the Tweet below.

social media, customer service, airlines, storm, winter, snow, cancel, delay

My airlines social media complaint eight hours ago.

Something we noticed when checking flights at our our airport and the connecting airport what that US Airways was keeping flights going into their hub in Charlotte on schedule, or delayed even while they were canceling in mass the flights out of Charlotte – people’s connecting flights. With turnaround times tight on a normal day, you know those people would not get out.

Why are they flying people to Charlotte only to strand them in the airport? With weather related delays and cancellations, most airlines have policies not to put you up in hotels. Those white rocking chairs in Charlotte are not that comfortable! So here it is 8 hours later and I am still waiting response. I even used their hashtag, so it shouldn’t be hard for them to find me.

Am I being unrealistic in my expectations? According to Social Habit data by reported by Jay Baer, 42% of consumers complaining via social media expect a response within 1 hour and 67% expect a response within 1 day.

social media, customer service, airlines, delays, research

Consumers have high expectations when it comes to social media.

Are consumer’s social media customer service expectations too high? Is this simply because US Air and American Airlines are in the middle of merging operations? Will I ever get to Austin?

UPDATE: I never made it to my conference. Fortunately another author on the research made it from England to present. Day 3 and still no response to my Tweet from the airline. It Looks like Winter Storm Pax won:

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If You’re Simply Adding To The Noise, Facebook Will Now Turn Off Your Organic Reach


One of my favorite bands is Switchfoot and their song “Adding to the Noise” is the inspiration for this blog. When I started it four years ago, there were roughly 200,000 million blogs and I couldn’t imagine why the world would need another one. I even wrote a post  “The Last Thing We Need Is Another Blog.”  Ultimately this question lead me to the debate between quantity versus quality. A recent Michael Stelzner podcast interview featured Jeff Goins, a successful blogger and author who had several blog failures when he was chasing subscribers (quantity focus) until he started a passion blog (quality focus) that now has over 200,000 subscribers.

Today Technorati indexes over 1.3 billion blogs and the focus on quality content has become more important than ever. For marketers this noise has been creeping up in another social landscape – Facebook. In August of 2013 Facebook revealed that “every time someone visits News Feed there are on average 1,500 potential stories … most people don’t have time to see them all.” By December 2013 Ad Age reported “Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads.”

The bottom line is that Facebook has changed its algorithm, formerly called Edgerank, and content from business Pages has seen a drop-off in organic reach. In response, Facebook is urging paid distribution for brands to get back into their fan’s News Feeds. Since the tweak some brands have reported as much as a 40% decrease in organic reach.

Facebook Drop Organic Reach

Decrease in organic reach from Edgerank Checker.

In the end, business may have to increase their Facebook spending to maintain or expand reach, but there could be another option. Switchfoot sings, “What’s it going to take to slow us down … If we’re adding to the noise turn off this song.” Perhaps we need another content revolution. If you provide content people want to engage with, not turn off, you will break through the noise. Brands could up their content game to emerge organically from the noise in users’ News Feeds.

But this revolution is fueled by more than quality content. It is also about quality time. Mari Smith, author of Facebook Marketing an Hour a Day suggests that marketers should focus more on community management. The more your fans like, comment and share your content, the more likely that content will show up in their news feeds.

It seems there is room for improvement in the engagement game. Social Bakers provides social media monitoring tools and has been measuring brand’s engagement levels on social networks. Their recent reports indicate that only 10% of brands respond to 85% of questions on Facebook.

Socially Devoted Brands on Facebook and Twitter.

Socially Devoted Brands data by Social Bakers.

A brand that steps up its engagement game could not only protect its organic reach, but also find a significant competitive advantage. We all love when someone listens to us. When your fans hear from you, their excitement will spread along with your reach and reputation.

Ted Rubin calls this a real Return on Relationship. Fight quantity (clutter & filters) with quality (content & engagement). With every post, update and comment ask yourself, “Is it adding something meaningful or simply adding to the noise?”