Monday, April 02, 2012

7 Hot Social Media Trends: Mari and Guy Webinar Highlights

Last week I treated myself to a fairly juicy social media webinar (this is a link to the replay) courtesy of Mari Smith, one of my favorite Facebook resources, and Guy Kawasaki, who I had the pleasure of seeing Live last spring during an "Enchanting" presentation at Santa Clara University.

As is to be expected these days, the first part was educational, focusing on, of course, "The 7 Hottest Social Media Trends," followed by a relatively unintrusive sales pitch for a new course they are offering together called "Social Midas." While I didn't rush to register for the class due to a variety of reasons, (wasn't sure it was covering new items I didn't know about already), I did find the webinar a good review of some of the latest trends out there, and I was impressed that apparently there were over a whopping 1,000 participants on the call. Mari and Guy have an easygoing style of relating to one another and to the audience, although I do feel that Guy seemed a bit casual for the task at hand (he admitted to being introverted and not wanting to be bothered with apps like Foursquare), while Mari seemed more structured and polished.

So, here at the 7 Hot Trends according to Mari and Guy:

1. Big Brand Bypass
These days, relative "nobodies," can easily be the new somebodies, as buyers can go directly to producers with no need for a middleman. Guy and Mari highlighted that it's a common misconception that we aren't supposed to promote ourselves. Of course we are, it's just a matter of finding the right balance and providing great content as well. Most people are willing to accept a promotion or two from what they consider a content rich resource. That's why content marketing is such a big deal lately, and probably why I got at least 5 email offers last week for books on content marketing! It's the most subtle form of advertising you'll find.

2. Humanize to Monetize
Random acts of kindness (or not so random, as it turns out) are essential to effective social media marketing, particularly in customer service. Examples such as Zappos, Starbucks, and Ford, were used to illustrate companies who excel in customer service. Airlines are a biggie, and Guy was entertaining as he recounted that he always only flew United, until he met Richard Branson and was personally asked to please fly Virgin. Now he does, so there you go. Peter Shankman's (HARO) Morton's Steakhouse story was also recounted. That was the famous story from last summer where Peter tweeted how great it would be to have a steak upon landing from his trip, and lo and behold folks from Morton's appeared on the tarmack with the aforementioned steak. Is it the greatest customer service story ever? Maybe, maybe not, but it's certainly a "meaty" story.

3. Cause-Based Consumers

There is a growing concern for environmental and human rights causes among consumers, and brands are catching onto that by pairing their marketing and profits with cause-related giving. We were reminded to review our ABOUT pages for including information about charities and organizations we support, and also not to be gratuitous about it. "Make sure you still have a great product," Guy said. "Don't just be into a cause because it looks good, or you won't be perceived as transparent."

4. Super Social Status

When quantifying social media results can sometimes be a challenge, so many of us run to the numbers game for validation, which is why popular scoring sites like Klout are so big. While this is important, it's good to focus on a reach you are comfortable with and not be obsessed with number crunching and celebrity status. Apparently, there are stories of companies checking on customer Klout scores in order to assess the priority in which their complaints or comments are answered. Hmmm.

5. Awesome vs. Flawesome

No one likes typos, but these days it's more important to be out there then to be perfect. Research has shown that 68% of consumers are more likely to trust a brand when they read both good and bad customers comments. Sometimes, showing how you handle difficult customer situations can work nicely for your brand and actually improve your image. Guy recounted the famous FedEx incident in which a worker was videotaped throwing a delivery around. But the company made it right, highlighting that they themselves were using this as a case study in training for what not to do. The recent Jet Blue pilot incident, that had just happened that day, was also mentioned. How will Jet Blue handle this one? United, as guy pointed out, published a blog post highlighting how the guitar incident was "unacceptable." This was the famous incident that went viral in which a band's guitars were thrown around on the tarmac.

6. Mobile Is Very In
Mari spoke about how mobile gadgets were outnumbering computers, and how crucial it is to optimize our websites for mobile. One of the latest trends are proximity shopping apps that know when you're coming down the aisle, and send offers to your phone, to the effect of: "Buy Me!" OK, that may be a bit much, but in these days where retailers are competing for every dollar, it's not hard to believe that this kind of technology would be on the rise, along with Amazon-style customized offers based on previous purchases, and customized user profiles for almost every app and purchase.

7. Privacy Paranoia
Potential employers asking candidates for their Facebook passwords is just one recent example of how privacy really is no longer, and we have to be careful about what we post online. Having passwords that are too long to remember easily, is one way to ensure the privacy of your account. And one key tip that bears repeating, even if you've heard it a hundred times: Don't post anything online that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the newspaper, or that you wouldn't want your family to see. Makes sense.

Other trends I would add to this list include photo based marketing such as Instagram, and Cloud based solutions such as Dropbox, Boxnet, and Evernote, for file and image sharing. I don't think the music world is far behind, as last night I learned about a cool program called SoundCloud which I'm going to check out shortly. Who knew Chris Brogan wrote music?

So, what say you? Do you agree that these are the 7 hottest tips,
and what would you add to the list?

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