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January 08, 2009


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Excellent post Paul. Not surprised to hear this. I very much agree with Beth as well. We've seen a number of instances where traditional agencies hire a 20-something out of university, paying them terribly and expecting them to be the "social media guru" for the agency to stick in front of clients just because they use Twitter and are on Facebook.

In the end, the client gets no value and the agency suffers for it. We've pulled Twitter use by some clients who tried it but found no value - they expected millions to "follow" them and start buying thinking it was "just another marketing channel" where it isn't.

Great thoughts.

Paul Chaney

Agreed. The Internet, especially this new jangly-dangly version of it called the Web 2.0 (sorry MENG members) is not a channel. It's an environment. Social media (again, my apologies for use of term) is not merely a toolset, but a mindset. If you can't learn to live in the mileau that is the social media sphere, you don't need to go there.

The thing that causes me the most consternation is that many companies, ad agencies, PR firms, etc. that could utilize this stuff well don't end up doing so for one very simple reason -- lack of education.

They need someone to teach them why and how, someone who has learned by doing. My mission in 2009 is to somehow reach that group (the non-koolaid drinkers) and help them get it.

Rebecca Levinson

It's about having conversations, real conversations with your clients. It's about being social. The "SMM" factor could and should translate just as easily to your online forum.

90 percent of my business comes from my blogging and social networking efforts. Is it because I call myself an expert. No, it's because of my consistency, content, and above all, my ability to carry a 2 way conversation.

That we should all be conversational and listen to the consumer. That's a goal that every business, and really every consumer, should have in 2009 and moving forward.

Paul Chaney

Common sense and wisdom are characteristics of your approach Rebecca. Thanks for reminding us that this is not stuff that requires a PhD in marketing. As you say, "having conversations" is what its all about.

Arthur C. Van Wyk

Marketing is the influence of opinion through content. What form the content takes is immaterial. How the influencing take place as well.

Social Media is so new and so ever-evolving, it will take someone like Beth a while to really pin it down. In order to really tap into how much the paradigm has shifted from textbook marketing one need to be involved and get your hands dirty. Sometimes you might even have to unlearn what you've learnt to really appreciate social media as a marketing discipline.

David Meerman Scott and Seth Godin have both done this. They were both marketers before there was social media.

David Ogilvy had this same problem when he first started out. It was difficult for people to grasp what he was about. Today he is known as the father of modern advertising.

As long as there'll be paradigm shifts, there'll be resistance.

mack collier

"Social Media is so new and so ever-evolving, it will take someone like Beth a while to really pin it down."

I will agree with you that SM is ever evolving and changing, but Beth is one of the few people that's really immersed in this space and knows what's happening, and WHY it is happening here.

If I needed someone to create a new blog or Twitter presence for me, you can better believe that I'm contacting Beth WAY before I contact Seth. Why? Because while Beth has a community of several thousand followers on Twitter, Seth isn't even on there. And while Beth has an engaged readership that routinely leaves 40-50 comments on her blog posts, Seth doesn't allow comments.

I'd rather go with someone that's actually using the tools and has a proven track record of success with them.

"In order to really tap into how much the paradigm has shifted from textbook marketing one need to be involved and get your hands dirty."

Which is exactly why Beth is an expert in this field. You should really be following her on Twitter (@bethharte) and reading her blog, The Harte of Marketing.

Beth Harte

@Paul, thank you so much for featuring me in your post and for the chance to be on User Friendly Thinking...it was fun & great to discuss marketing and social media! :) As for the MENG survey, I think a lot also has to do with being frustrated. The good corporate marketers know what needs to be done (I've been in their shoes), but there's a lot of internal education that needs to be done. So the executives are getting pressure from the outside (customers) and inside (employees) and their hands are tied by lawyers and risk aversion.

@ArthurVanWyk, "Social Media is so new and so ever-evolving, it will take someone like Beth a while to really pin it down."

Hmmm, perhaps you should know me before making a blanket statement like that. With over 14 years of corporate marketing, PR and communications experience and almost half involved in social media, I really don't think I need to roll my sleeves up any higher. To clarify my post title (in case you didn't actually read it), it wasn't a question. It was meant to be sarcastic to elicit conversation...and with 60 comments I'd say I was successful. I find it ironic that you mention Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott as examples of unlearning marketing to implement social media. Neither of them engage in conversation (Seth doesn't even allow comments on his blog) and both use Web 2.0 tools for traditional marketing.

Paul Chaney

Mack, while I don't know the details, I do know that you served as a "mensch" for she and Amber Naslund. Someone the other day say you "discovered" them. (Not sure who it was.) Regardless, I know you had a major influence, and for that, you deserve a blogging goodwill ambassador award.

Paul Chaney

One thing I've learned about you Beth, is that you can be feisty! :-)

mack collier

Paul I didn't 'discover' Beth and Amber, but I was lucky enough to start reading their blogs before most knew who they were. I immediately saw that both Beth and Amber's writing was amazingly effective, their blog looked better than many that had been blogging for years.

I knew what was going to happen, now you have Beth launching her own consultancy, and Amber being named Radian 6's Director of Community. Neither has happened by accident, and Beth and Amber will definitely be pushing social media forward in 2009. Anyone that cares about this space and 'what's next' would be well-served to pay VERY close attention to both of them. Of course I'm telling you nothing that you didn't already know ;)

Paul Chaney

Totally agree. While not suggesting my radar is as keen, when I started reading their posts it was obvious these two would be shining stars, and look at what has happened. Makes one wonder how many more are out there yet to be "discovered."

Beth Harte

Paul, Mack, um, thank you?! I feel like two Southern gents just battle over my virtues! LOL! :) Yes, Paul, I am feisty...especially when someone makes insinuations about my experience without even knowing me. Thankfully it tells more about them than me. ;-)

And to set the record straight for all those people out there who think I was 'discovered' or popped onto the social media scene as if by some miracle I ask only one thing...Please do not discount my experience or hard work, it's really not fair.

Paul, as I mentioned to you the other day I have used social media tools for over 5 years (if you count bulletin boards, my experience goes back to 1996). I have been involved in many social networks/communities and I even had another blog before The Harte of Marketing. And yes, none of you knew me...but does that mean it doesn't count? Perhaps that's why my efforts seem so effortless?! But don't be fooled...I work very hard and I spend more time and effort on networking and blogging than the average marketer/PR or communications person would ever consider. What can I say?! I am passionate about my career...it's who I am. :)

As for Mack and Amber (and Connie Reece, Sonny Gill, Frank Martin, Tim Jackson, Ann Handley, and many more great folks...), we met on Plurk and spent HOURS getting to know each other. While everyone else was on Twitter battling a whale, we were on Plurk having great discussions, debates and informational conversations (PlurkShops) around social media. Imagine that?! A community somewhere other than Twitter! :) Teasing...

Amber Naslund

I have to chime in here and agree with Beth on one point.

Thanks so much for all the kind words about my blog, my work in social media, and I'm beyond gratified that people are finding value in the work I'm doing.

But like Beth, I'm not here by accident, and I didn't just launch a blog and get "found", though of course I appreciate the advocacy and encouragement of the many great people like Mack and Beth I've met along the way. I've been working in the online space for years, going all the way back to 1995 with bulletin boards and "journaling" and carrying through my years of non-profit fundraising online, volunteer community building, and later in corporate marketing and communications. All in all, I've been working in the online space for over 10 years, and to Beth's point, just because I wasn't "known" doesn't mean I wasn't working hard at it.

The point is that while my community is very precious to me and I treasure the relationships I've built, I've worked hard to be successful at this, and it's not by accident. I've spent my career doing the real work and finding practical solutions to apply to business. I'm immensely grateful for the time and attention that people give my blog, but to be truthful, I'd be doing this stuff anyway even if no one knew who I was. It's about driving and evolving business by tapping the power of these mechanisms, and that takes time and dedication. Never let it be said that success in social media is only a matter of being seen by the right people. It's about results.

All told, I'm most grateful than any recognition I might have can be put to good use by a marketing and communications professional that's somewhere in the trenches trying to figure all this out, without any glory other than the success of their business. It's the passion of seeing other people succeed that drives me every day.

Paul Chaney

Regardless of how long any of us have been in this space, one thing is clear. There is a new breed of social media practitioners making their appearance on the stage. Amber, both you and Beth are among the cast. It's great to see you begin to take on some leading roles too. I'm in the wings cheering you on!

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