Social Media is Innovative Marketing that Adds Great Value to your Business

Part of my role as as Social Media specialist is to curate content for my clients and myself. I look at a lot of content every day — some of it on social media and some of it on business. I am always searching for the common ground between the two.

Because I come from over a decade of  Sales experience in Toronto I love to read about sales and see how it relates to Social Media. In fact, I used to make the claim that having a person who knows about sales manage your social media was an real advantage and still believe that social media that incorporates both sales and marketing insights will be all the stronger for it.

A blog caught my attention this weekend with a quote from Peter Drucker and his approach to business. It quoted him saying

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

I had never read this quote of his before and was blown away how he says that marketing and innovation create RESULTS, all the rest is costs and  by the last line in which he states that Marketing “is the distinguishing unique function of business”

Recently I burned through yet another client who decided that “social media” was just not that important and so they decided to terminate my contract. Why? Because I have the that attitude, when I take on a new client that they had better make a commitment to their social media for at least one year or I don’t even want to get started with them. This particular client began to question the value I was working to create and my attitude, after one month of managing their social media. It was barely time to let the ink dry on the contract, get their accounts set up, determine the tone of their market conversation and find the content that was engaging!

Ironically the client was a technology start up out of Calgary that began with no perceived need for marketing whatsoever!  They quickly found out that they would have to have a marketing person on board and a plan in place or “investors” would not even talk to them. So they hired an “old Media” marketing person who knew nothing about the new “social media” stuff. A smart move for a business model that relies on online subscriptions for sales revenue…

Don’t even get me started on how it all played out after they hired me on a short term contract. All I can say is that their marketing manager was hoping that social media might be a silver bullet to drive traffic to their site –overnight —-as they were unable to get even 10 hits to their site in a month after trying some old media marketing tactics. Of course I told them from the start that it would take time to build the value that would generate sales online. I am not going to go into the details but I was all over a month after I started — because their fearless leader thought it would be smarter to invest their assets elsewhere and cut the social media “expense” entirely…


Which brings me back to the quote by Drucker. He says that it is either one or the other to create results and SALES. You either Innovate or you Market. Preferably you do both. If you are not innovating — then you better be creating value for your product or service through marketing! Since very few Canadian businesses that I have dealt with actually innovate —  most copy the US market or their Canadian competition and on top of that, as a rule, they don’t market much either, I often wonder how they hope to compete for the consumer’s dollar and attention in the days to come. Even if they do marketing– it tends to be all old media stuff — that one way push marketing aimed at an audience that has for the most part, tuned out and moved on to social networks, preferring a new type conversation, a type of marketing that allows them to “interact” and communicate with a brand or company that they are interested it. On top of it all since so many Canadian small and medium sized businesses are short sighted and risk adverse, they are, as a rule, not about to innovate with respect to their marketing strategy.  Embracing and then focusing on mastery of social media is for the most part non existent.

By its nature social media is innovative. It is a new medium that allows those who are creative communicators to easily innovate and hence, to add value to a business in a way that they have never been able to do before.  That in itself, one would think, would be reason enough to give it a concerted effort to push forward.

Clearly most Canadian business owners are not reading Peter Drucker. I am not sure they are reading thought leaders on business intelligence and instead have become terribly complacent — asleep at the wheel of a big oil rig — thinking that the Canadian resource based economy will carry us into a sustainable future on a planet that is, in fact, currently dominated by technology innovations in internet communications. We have seem more social, political and economic change over the past decade as a result of the internet and Web 2.0 then in we saw in the last 100 years and yet Canadian business thinks that everything will remain the same when it comes to the ways in which they can create value for a potential client and then, for their bottom line.

The status quo that make up the majority of Canadian Business owners, especially in Alberta – don’t like to think about the idea of using disruptive marketing like social media to add more compelling value. Take out the word “compelling” and replace it with the social media buzz word, that means about the same thing , the word “engaging”. If you know anything about social media you know where I am heading with this one. A word of caution to all business owners who decide to stop their social media before it even  a chance to enrich your business. What is the real COST of stalling your chances of sustainable growth through new sales revenue via online marketing in 2013?

Re-Imagine. The Power of the Personal Brand.

Let me begin by saying that I love the new WordPress blog interface that I accessed via the new home page. Sweet. Looks and feels alot like Tumblr and yet I am glad I do not have to post only in that totally crazy mad world of the Creatives – I can still remain respectable and hire-able by posting to Word Press. 🙂 Thanks WordPress for being cool and creative and for still seeing the creative writing on the wall!

It has been a busy summer. mostly doing websites and managing some social media properties. As of late I have been away on yet another one of those client journey’s. It was the classic scenario. To begin they love that I am so creative and want to know what I think—even went so far to claim that they are “obsessed” by me. Not a good sign as obsession leads no good… but hey for the first few weeks I felt like I had just won a shot at the Olympic good metal round in Fencing, my favorite sport, and that someone was actually listening to what I had to say!  Then suddenly the honey moon was over and I am assigned to what feels like the position of “employee” as all my creative ideas are swiftly, with no explanation, swept under the carpet and we return to BUSINESS AS USUAL — even though we have not signed anything to that effect and I have from the start been no other then what my Twitter Profile states.

In an effort to cheer myself up I set about to read some good inspirational stuff on my iPad about what I do best  –which is communications. Early this am I came across a post that lead to an app for a guy who claims to be a MEDIA Futurist. Excited not so much by what he had to say, I am sure I have heard it all before after all I have been in this game for a hell of a long time now, both on the technology, creative and sales side and adore McLuhan but rather by the his method of engaging me I proceed to the Apple Store for a download. For me McLuhan, is still my main media man for 100 years after his birth he is one of the few intellectuals who gave credit to artists saying “I learnt everything I know from the Poets and the Painters”.   AMEN.

Anyhow, I downloaded Gerd’s app onto my ipad so I could experience my first personal brand app, that was the coolest part and I made mental note to blog about it later as it had the same mind blowing effect as a good cranial adjustment — waking up some nerve endings which have fallen asleep in the race to please offer appeasement.

So the guy is named Gerd Leonard — not an American as one would expect but a European – as all white people are anyhow…..a German actually – who lives in Europe, who of course, lived for some time in the United States and advocates – god forbid, some green solutions– probably a fan of that guy who wrote the book called The Solar Economy back in the day.  Thankfully, in the video I watch on my ipad app Gerd talks only about Media Ecology so I don’t have to worry about the thought police knocking at my door…

Alas I am trapped in Canada, a nation of bean counters, who simple don’t get what it is to be Creative when it comes to business —-even though they do try on occasion, which typically means paying lip service to some tired old ad agency in Toronto who still advocates a mix of media even as Gerd speaks to me via his personal app loaded onto my ipad in a You Tube Video posted at his channel about “The Future of Technology”.  He is cool school and apparently advises large fortune 500’s in Europe about change and employs 25 “Change Agents”. While I do feel a connection with him thanks to social media my ipad craps out half way through his talk due to a bad Bell connection.  While feeling uplifted I am quickly forced to go back to the reality of the day, one spent in a country where the dominant network does not know the works of Marshall McLuhan little lone some dude named Gerd who has his own ipad app and recommend that we all  “RE-IMAGINE”. One can only re-imagine what that means for the Future of Canada,eh?

UPDATE: Just went to like Gerd on FB and see that three of my Facebook Friends also like him. Surprise, one is Canadian – Don Tapscott, whose own writings are greatly influenced by McLuhan.

Chris Voss is drowning in the Red Ocean of Empire Ave

Last night while curating content on my ipad I came across a post on Empire. Eager to learn more on this fascinating virtual social stock market game I clicked on the link. What I found was not positive but rather a rant on how Chris Voss feels he is being treated by the moderators of the Chat Rooms of Empire Ave.

Personally I have never been a fan of chat rooms as I am too buzy minding my own business — if you know what I mean. While I do participate in the odd chat, like one last night organized by @mqtodd on Empire called #EAvchat which was about Tips on Tumblr – it must be highly focused so not to waste my time as my goal is to learn something new and maybe share something that I know…

Apparently Chris waded into some Empire chats and was not well received by the moderators who he says are biased – and being the big heavy weight that he is — in the role of a “serial entrepreneur” turned social media guru — he claims that he encountered the “dark side” of Empire Ave.

Well – Duh!

A few thoughts bubbled up in my mind after reading his post.

1. “Money & Friends don’t Mix”.
This is what Chris says.. I have no idea how many times he repeated this in his blog post – but I find this a very odd comment in the context of Empire Ave which is:
A. a GAME and
B.a SOCIAL media game.
Anyone who has ever played a game of monopoly with family members knows that it can lead to some very hard feelings – whether the money is real or not. As for friendships….games typically dictate that the strongest, fastest and or smartest will prevail based on the rules of the game – which have been set by centuries of conditioning in which military strategy has ruled our culture. From there was incorporated into business practices and now Chris is on Empire doing something that someone does not like. While the game maybe new old mindsets prevail—for most it is and always has been —about WAR.

With Empire Ave however, since it is a SOCIAL game – luckily, there is more than one to play- that’s what makes it so intriguing. Further, based on your goals you are either winning or loosing. The big difference is this – because it is social it is open ended. It is not just a “shot em up game” where winner takes all. One can dominate a leader board, say marketing, but not the entire network. Sounds like Chris got shot at a couple of times – and it hurt —but maybe he should have adopted a different approach – my guess is a soft sell might have been better received — as most users on Empire are not hard core “start up leaders” but folks who are looking to simply socialize, engage, share and have fun!

2. With respect to the MONEY issue (real and fake)
I think Chris suffers from what is known as the Sunk Cost Bias. A classic error in decision making – he sunk money into the game…REAL money… ouch…and now he feels he is not getting ROI. He feels that he is loosing although his share is 150 plus eaves – triple to my own, but he continues to play regardless…. Go figure.

While most of us play with the fake money we earn from making good investments in other people and use their dividends to buy more – he actually bought some attention with cold hard real world cash. Personally – I invest in Creatives, Social Biz and Good IP and hold for the long term. I briefly considered investing in Chris but decided not to as I felt that he is the kind of guy that would not reciprocate – any time soon – for 3 reasons – 1. He would not think that I can advance his position so he would not give me the time of day writing me off as being too artsy or some such stereotype. OR he would see me as being some sort of competition as we both have business offerings that have to do with “social Media”. 3. His website is in serious need of a make over — it is cluttered with ads and posts and no white space. What happened to Web 2.0 style?

3. Social Media Clowns
IF, as Gary Vee says, 99.5% of social media experts are clowns then where does that leave Chris? Working in a medium that is so new and which requires a new way of thinking on how to communicate in personal and business relationships can Chris say he has mastered the game of Empire Avenue after a few months and try to rewrite the rules on ETHICS?

Which leads me to the reason why I think Chris is swimming in a sea of red when he should be using the blue ocean strategy. The best strategy for a long term win on Empire comes from the book called BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY -How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant”. It is summed up as

“Winning by not competing: a fresh approach to strategy”.

Red oceans are all the industries in existence today—the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of existing demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities, and cut throat competition turns the red ocean bloody. Hence, the term “red” oceans.

Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today—the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid. In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. Blue ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored. Like the “blue” ocean, it is vast, deep, powerful, in terms of profitable growth, and infinite”

Over 1 M sold - a must read for Social Media Experts

Wanted: More Social games for change!

This video came into my stream via the Saatchi – Saatchi today! Love it! Thanks Michelle. So fitting that your interview came via the Saatchi Empire as we a have a long history together with respect to “ideas that change the world” – one that dates back to 1998 when I saw an ad in WIRED for a competition that invited Creatives to submit their ideas for the Award for Innovations in Communications. I did and I was short listed….the rest is history…

For this reason I find this interview on Social Games fascinating! So glad to see this form of gaming is finally starting to gain world wide attention! A different kind of game – for sure. Over a decade ago I was waiting around for “girl’s games” to happen and they never really did, while doing so I played Rich Dad’s Cash Flow Game and was intrigued by Farmville – but it was not till I found EMPIRE AVE with its social aspect that I found a game I really love! While your level of participation on Empire Ave directly affects a change in your stock price – for better or worse – and can also effect your influence in a vertical – (on an Index) it does not focus on social change per say.

The idea of playing games to create real change is very appealing and a path that I that I cannot wait to take my social media clients down… With a background in animation and new media, my ability to create characters, personas and tell stories will be a great asset in providing insight. Combine this with my skills in social media engagement and now we are talking Back to the Future.

If I had the power to wish myself to be anywhere right now it would be at this event in NYC. Maybe next year… In the meantime I better dust off my old sketchbooks and revisit my drawings for games designs…

Today was the first day of the Games for Change Festival in NYC! Al Gore spoke and said : “games have clearly arrived as a mass medium.”

“Games for Change is the leading global advocate for supporting and making games for social impact”. Often referred to as “the Sundance of Video Games”, the Games for Change Annual Festival is the largest gaming event in New York City and the only international event uniting “games for change” creators, the public, civil society, academia, the gaming industry and media.”

To all the organizers and participants keep up the high levels of engagement for change!

McDonald’s Ad Of Peace Sign-Cow Is ‘Udderly’ Confusing

What an udder bag of confusion this McDonald’s Ad is! Talk about mixed messages! and totally UGLY to boot —–this ad really makes me wanna….. eat meat….lo­l….why–­- it Looks like my own fingers!..­.Uuuk —–canni­balism anyone?!

Having studied media arts for over 30 years— but never having been apart of the Advertisin­g industry– thank God —-it never fails to amaze me that everyday Ads seem to get uglier and uglier in the 21st C in order to get attention. This one takes the cake. Total turn off in so many ways makes me wonder if MacDonald’­s hires only agencies who are the media ILLITERATE­! Wonder who the agency of record is on this one? Not people who SPEAK the visual language for sure.

Clearly they do not realize that the online/soc­ial media consumer is way beyond this sort of thing– This is such an old media tactic- shock and awe – a war strategy..­.wrapped up in appropriat­ion of the 60’s peace symbol as a lame attempt to???? ——coul­d they be trying to undermine the animal rights people?? This ad is an insult to the intelligen­ce of the media literate in so many ways it is not funny…AK­A 1950’s . #fail #timeforso­mesocialme­diastraigh­ttalk
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

What does it mean for Business to “GET Social”?

Is there some sort of conceptual idea behind this question? Yes, there is an idea that one either gets or not. Let me attempt to briefly explain the hidden ground of social media. After posting my last blog back in April I got very busy with some personal matters and started work with a new client who has American businesses interested in their Social Media Solutions. What a difference it is speaking to American business owners over Canadian ones with respect to their social media plans. Canadian business owners still don’t see why they should “Get Social” and since they are not prepared to explore the economic theory behind it is more about education than doing — making for long sales cycles — while the social media world continues to evolve at breakneck speed.

Clearly, most they don’t get it. Refining my pitch and presentations to Canadian business owners recently has really made me think about what it is that they do not “get”. At the end of the day it is this. They do not get the quantum shift that occurred back in 1998 based on the idea of a new networked economy replacing the existing one. I remember reading Kevin Kelly’s book New Rules for the New Economy at that time and It changed the way I thought about the future. Ironically Google was just starting out on its journey to make a business model based on the user at the centre and a wide distribution of it applications. Now 13 years later Google rules search and its only competition in the Web 2.0 space is FaceBook – the world’s largest social media network. Yes, the word is NETWORK.

Guess what– that future is in full effect right NOW. While sorting out old papers and notes last weekend I came accross a single sheet from a sketchbook on which I had written a short version of Kelly’s 12 rules for the new Economy, 13 years ago. It was like unearthing an ancient text. Now – if I could only find business owners who will take the time to study this book, make a list and memorize it like I have — then perhaps we would be speaking the same language. Until that day, most Canadian busineses will continue to stay on the surface never going deep enough into the foundations of social media to justify investing —instead dreaming of the “good old days” when they could get return on old media advertising, dismissing social media as a fad that will soon be replaced by another one. Those who just don’t “get social” probably are not going to become social anytime soon. To demonstrate how social media is leaving it mark on all – including big companies like APPLE I found this blog post yesterday that makes suggestions regarding companies that need to get social. Imagine the nerve of suggesting that Apple “Get Social”……lol…..

Forget Facebook & Twitter-Small Canadian Businesses are still waiting for Google

Today is Google’s day! When I re-branded myself last fall (2010) as a SEARCH & SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIST after 10 years as a Sales and Marketing Consultant with a background in New Media I thought long and hard about my offering and arrived at Search & Social Media. For me it was never an either/or scenario like so many of my peers….rather it was about helping small businesses with the Social media basics and working over time to develop an online marketing strategy that embraced both Search & Social Media.

Since then I have heard very little talk about Google in my discussions with clients about my services. Those who are savvy are fascinated by social media and then shocked that I would actually charge anything more than minimum wage for my services for engaging, listening and monitoring their social media pages. This of course following their confession that they have no time or inclination or skills to engage online themselves – but admit that there is “something happening there” that they need to pay attention to, but they cannot identify what. It is called a new way to communicate, people. IBM calls it Social Business – it requires experimentation, investment and williness to take a business risk and exhibit leadership. The banks call it Innovation – but will NEVER lend to you, so I feel your pain–they will continue to hoard their funds and look to small business to mortgage their house instead…. A real catch 22, eh??

No sense dilly dallying over the Economics of the old school media world — I then move on to talk about Twitter or Facebook and there is more shock when I tell them that Facebook is “the” space in which to build a community or customer service portal – but since one needs to drive potential clients (traffic) to the FB page and engage them to like it before you gain access to their news feed the suggestion that they invest in online advertising in the form of Google AdWords goes over like a lead balloon even though I tell them it is a great idea as the typical user is actively seeking information on select keywords and the potential for a good lead or purchase is much higher they clutch their hearts and ask how much THAT is going to cost? I say the more you spend the more leads you get. Sales 101. In the sales world we call this a qualified lead. I see their eyes glaze over as they long for the day when they could hire a sales rep based on commission only. It is a different game online – they call it Marketing something that small business never really did. So, even though Google ad leads are much warmer than Facebook ad leads – at least for now….they don’t get it…

Over the last few days Google has re-positioned itself. Now that Larry is at the helm announcing that they will embrace social media, synchronizing themselves with the consumer who are currently using Facebook and Twitter type tools to connect with friends, family and oh yeah — ambitious innovative businesses…. They will also reach out to specific markets in an attempt to meld Search & Social Media with a new product called Google PLUS one.

What really hit home for me today is the fact that they will focus on the Canadian market as they have long identified it as being underserved with respect to the number of small businesses who do not even have a website. Some 1.2 Million — who are doing what? — “waiting for Godot”….

Note: A Tragi/Comedy in 2 ACTS

Having worked as an Account Executive some 13 years ago selling the “concept” of having a website to small businesses I have been down this road before. After the tek crash of 2000 I had to sell a lot of stuff besides “technology” but it allowed me to hone my sales skills and learn the sales process like the back of my hand. So now here is the Sting – about a month ago Google ran an ad on Craigslist (for FREE) for Sales Reps and I applied cause hey small biz is simply NOT getting it in spite of my brilliant White Paper download entitled – A 21 C guide to Online Marketing for Canadian Business.

Living in the most expensive City in Canada while waiting for the Search & Social Media Boat to come in is no JOKE. I have been literally and figuratively treading water for 13 years!

Reflections by Robert Freeman

Treading Water

Now I am going under and the only offer I have is to work for a Chinese Insurance Start Up company in a Management role….yes, Toronto is all about BAY Street. So I bit the bullet for the second, yes second time and applied to Google in the most creative manner I knew – I submitted my white paper as I never graduated with a MBA, a high GPA in the USA. I am Canajun, eh?
Did I hear back from Google? Of course not. Having a background in ART and Media and high-tech sales, excelling in B2B business skills that are very attractive to Chinese Entrepreneurs in Toronto is NOT what Google is looking for….

Pray tell, what might they be looking for? A piece of the Canadian small business market for sure. What could I possibly know about those 2.2 M small business owners mindsets? Google is proposing that they will assist small Canadian businesses set up their websites. Good Luck and Heads up guys as you will be competing with the high school kid who does it for fee in his basement….lol. But seriously, may the force be with you – because the sooner you get em set up the better for the both of us. In the meantime I am going to continue to educate and hold the hand of the small business owner who does not understand why they should pay a professional any money to set up their Social Media channels. AMEN.