Executive’s Guide to New Media-from Blogs to Social Networks
Executive Alert! I recently finished reading Read This First: The Executive’s Guide to New Media-from Blogs to Social Networks by Ron Ploof.
Like most books on Social Media, it’s a bit behind the times, but that is to be expected, as the time from concept to print is often longer than the shelf life of many Social Media initiatives and news items.
Now, I would like to be fair.
Since I have read a number of Social Media books, I already know a lot of this. The main thrust of this book is to get to corporate executive types. That is, this is for people who have no time, and little desire to actually learn much about Social Media, but they still want to be up on things. Okay, so far, so good. However, I think that the medium of a book is, perhaps, misplaced. After all, if busy execs are too caught up in other things to really get into Social Media, then how are they gonna find the time to read a book? And this is a short one — it’s only about 150 or so pages, but still!
Seriously, when I was doing rate analyses at a larger insurer, I was told to make them so short that the execs reading them wouldn’t even have to use their vertical scroll wheel (you’d be surprised what you can do with small print and graphics). And that was back in 1999. In the over ten years since then, muckety mucks have only gotten busier.
Be that as it may, it’s a fairly breezy read. Like I said, I know a lot of this stuff already, so to me it’s mainly skimmable, but it could be of use to a person with limited familiarity with them new fangled things like Facebook. I mean, it explains that Twitter is a microblogging service, etc. Certainly this is true, but I do hope that the intended audience for this book has read a few articles in the NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, The ABA Journal, Fox News, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, CNN.com or the like and so has probably already learned that nugget of information from one if not all of them.
For me, the most vital bit of information came at the end of the book (why is that always the case? For a book intended to be a cut to the chase for executives, putting this at the end is rather self-defeating). Essentially, it came in the form of an overall strategy, referred to as a New Media Plan, but really, this is decent advice for any sort of a corporate undertaking:
- Set goals with timelines – well, yes. It makes sense to not just go blindly into things, plus budgets and patience are not infinite. However, I would say, there often needs to be more patience with this type of marketing than one might think. Yes, it’s fast and easy to get things out there — but it’s often not so fast and easy to reap what you have sown.
- Develop a measurement plan – how else would you know whether anything was working? Ploof is careful to note that this might not just be raw numbers, and the items you’re measuring need to be germane. As in, if post a funny LOLcats Youtube on your site, you might get lots of hits but, unless you’re selling LOLcats tee shirts or the like, is anyone going to stick around and actually purchase your product? Plus, what if your market is B2C and only consists of five companies? Having three readers, and have them as major influencers in three of those companies is a home run, a rousing success, a touchdown, a hole in one, you get the idea and I’m tired of the sports metaphors. Having a million readers and none of them from the five all-important companies is one of those things that looks lovely on paper but means diddly.
- Create a Content Creation Engine – this is vital and it really needs more play, not just here, but anywhere. Creating a blog (like mine, even) means a commitment to the readership. It means, you intend to be there for the long haul. And so that means finding ways to get good content, make it, polish it, etc. For someone like me, I look for books like this, and news articles and other things that I think my readers might like and that fit in with my vision of Social Media marketing. For a large corporation like Coca-Cola, content could be generated in lots of ways – say, recipes, or commercial archives or news stories just to name three off the top of my head.
- Align with traditional marketing programs – absolutely. There should be a symbiotic relationship between the two.
- Participate within the community – this means, figure out (use Google Analytics for this) which key words your customers and readers are using to get to you, and use those same key words to go out into the ‘net and see what else it is they are seeing. Which blogs and communities are they getting to? Which Flickr photo streams? Which Youtube videos are up? Add comments, like on Facebook, etc. And do damage control if you have to — as this is a way to find the bad with the good, too.
- Learn how to help community leaders – which bloggers really get your company? Maybe you’re a role-playing game site and there are fan fiction writers – so, who’s really good? Who are your fans? The ‘net has a lot of positives with the negatives. It’s not all about putting out fires. It’s also about promoting the good stuff.
- Build your own online community – this can be through forums, it can be a Facebook page, it can be getting Twitter followers, etc. and,
- Analyze and Adjust – but of course! If you’re about to hit an iceberg, you might wanna change course.
All in all, it was a decent read, but the strategy piece at the end, for me, was the part that really made it worthwhile. Otherwise, I would suggest reading
Avinash Kaushik or Shama Hyder Kabani.