Enterprise content marketers are making a huge mistake with Facebook

A survey of Inc. 500 companies shows the first decline in corporate blogging since 2007. Many are switching their content efforts to Facebook. Big mistake, as Janet Meiners Thaeler
points out in the post linked above. I agree with everything she says.

And here’s another way to think about it; Facebook is a valuable channel, but it’s not the Internet. It’s a walled garden, as we’ve come to call it. If you put your content solely on Facebook, you’re saying, “I don’t want my content on the Web, just this one place that can only be found one way by one group of people.” (Even if there are 800 million of them.)

As Janet suggests (and many of us have been advising companies for years), publish to your blog, then share the link in all your other networks.

As long as people still search the Web, a company blog should be at the core of your content strategy.

Maybe it’s just time to look for a new job.

pushing a boulderI spent the last two days at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston. As always, it was an excellent event filled with great information and smart people willing to share their experience and expertise. In addition to leading a workshop and participating in the final wrap-up panel, I volunteered to do some “one-on-one therapy” sessions with conference attendees on the topic of enterprise social media structure, policies and integration (you know, the stuff we write about in The Executive’s Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy).

I spoke with half a dozen folks and was happily surprised at how far along they were. A year ago, many of the conversations around enterprise social media were pretty basic: Who should “own” it? Do we need to be on Facebook? But these folks came to me with very specific questions about staffing, generating and sharing content, tracking results and other nuts-and-bolts stuff. It was great fun.

I also spoke with several very smart folks who I really couldn’t help very much. Everything I suggested, they’d tried. They were intelligent and adventurous and read the right blogs and the right books and went to the right conferences. We struggled to come up with ideas to address their particular problems. In the end it came down, essentially, to “I work for a company (or a boss) that just doesn’t care or get it no matter how much I show them what our competitors are doing, or what the industry best practices are, or the conversations about our brand we’re ignoring.”

What do you do with that?

I know a lot of people in the enterprise social media world who have pushed similar boulders up similar hills and had great successes. They are people whose names you may know, and a lot are mentioned in our book, like Zena Weist and Bert DuMars and Nichole Kelly and Chris Moody and Lee Aase. (And some of them have changed jobs since the book was published.)

If you’re the person inside your company who has been pushing the social media boulder up the hill, I want you to know three things:

1. There aren’t many people like you.
2. Eventually the people standing in your way will know you’re right.
3. You are more valuable now than you’ve ever been.

It’s up to you, obviously, to decide how much boulder-pushing you want to do. Maybe you like your boulder. Maybe you like your hill. Maybe I’ve taken this analogy too far.

But if you’re beating your head against a wall and feeling like you’re failing, I’ll bet you’re not. You may think you’re doing it wrong, and I promise you, you’re not. If you’re thinking you could finally break through if you just worked harder or smarter or longer, that’s probably not it, either.

Maybe it’s just time to look for a new job.

image by Krikit

Stop boring your customers

There’s a pizza place in my town that does a TGIM pizza special on Mondays. Great idea. I’ve always wondered why we celebrate Fridays when they don’t need anything more to make them special. Of all the pizza specials that are offered every week, this one stands out, because it’s different.

What can you do that’s unexpected, meets a need and delights people? Sure, that’s a broad and by no means original question. But narrow it down to social media. What are you doing now? Is it a surprise and a delight, or are you doing the same thing all your competitors are doing?

Take off your sales and marketing hat and put on your normal person hat. What do you want from a company with whom you have a relationship? What’s the one blog, Facebook page or Twitter feed you would miss the most? What real value are they giving you? What do you have that would be equally valuable to your customers?

Image by Matt Watts

Five steps for getting started on Twitter

I got a lot of positive comments on my Four Step Plan for Getting Started in Social Media. It reminded me that people are at all different levels of knowledge and interest in social media. When you spend all day thinking about it and using it, it’s easy to forget that lots of people still want the basics.

So, here are some basic steps for getting started on Twitter:

What Twitter is good for

• Many of the advantages of blogging in a short, quick format.
• You can support your other communications channels and activities by promoting them on Twitter.
• Hashtags allow you to gain a presence in and around events, conferences and issues.
• Twitter search can show you who’s talking about what.
• It’s still a relatively small community in many professions, allowing you to make connections.

What Twitter is not good for

• Twitter is a tool, not a strategy.
• You have to be interesting to get followers; it’s not the place for heavy-handed sales pitches.
• It’s a firehose, and it’s getting worse. You need filtering tools to find the value (TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop, Hootsuite).

Getting started on Twitter

• Create an account, using your real name, and set up your profile.
• Use the search function to find people to follow in your industry, and follow who they’re following.
• Get to know the standards of the community and the way people use it.
• Think about all the useful and interesting information you encounter every day.
• Start contributing.

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog

Killing the myth of corporate perfection

The Boy and the BlackBerryRecently I speculated about the future audience I’ll be talking with in 20 years. Despite being someone who thinks on a daily basis about communicating as a brand, I think that mindset is on the way out. I don’t mean we shouldn’t have brand standards and think about how our communications reflect on our company, or try to have consistent messages and useful content. I mean that in 20 years, the idea of a company will be completely different.

My father’s generation responded well to the idea of a corporate entity. And no wonder; the military/industrial complex had just defeated the Nazis. What was good for General Motors really was good for America. They still firmly believed you could work for a corporation your entire life and the corporation would take care of you. My generation knows that ideal is nearly gone. My son’s generation will probably see it as quaint as dial phones.

Each succeeding generation has responded differently to the idea of corporate perfection. Will future generations respond better to brands, or to people? At the Society for New Communications Research’s NewComm Forum, Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu from Clemson gave us the results of her survey of college students and how they relate with brands on Facebook. The gist: “Being friended by a corporation is creepy.”

People these days react poorly to “Mistakes were made” and positively to “We screwed up.” Why? Because we can relate to other people screwing up, because we’ve all screwed up. And we can forgive that. Maybe we expect companies to be perfect, but we expect people to be human.

Todays kids won’t expect everything to be buttoned down and perfect. The cracks and fissures won’t put them off. It’s the cracks and fissures that will convince them we are real people they can trust.

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog

Guiding principles for social media

  • People are talking about SAS online whether we are there or not. It’s good for SAS employees to participate in those conversations provided we do it in a way that is respectful of the standards of the online community, follows the Social Media Guidelines & Recommendations, the Online Conduct Guidelines, and behavior and computer use policies.
  • We trust SAS employees to represent SAS online in a professional manner, the same way we trust them to do it in the real world.
  • Don’t talk about customers, partners or vendors, reveal private or proprietary information, intellectual property, pricing, details of customer installations or anything else that could harm our business or business relationships. The exception: You can link to content on sas.com that references customers, like success stories, press releases and videos.
  • When you participate in social media, you are speaking for yourself, not on behalf of the company. Be sure to make that clear. And know that you are responsible for your actions.
  • Talk to your manager about your social media activities, what you’re doing, how it relates to your job and how much time you spend doing it.
  • Open communication among employees, customers and the community at large will inevitably lead to some uncomfortable moments, but we can deal with those, and the benefits far outweigh the risk.

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog