His article was about how social media isn't that important... in the scheme of things... in most people's lives. And that the people living in the social media world need to remember that.
A specific paragraph in his post inspired me to echo his sentiments:
I met a master salesman this year who sells products that cost more than double my annual salary. He's reasonably new to social media and the web, but he could teach me more about qualifying, prospecting, nurturing, and closing a sale than I could about blogging.
I totally agree with Chris. In most people's worlds, social media doesn't impact them. It probably won't impact them significantly for atleast another year or so, even if they adopt use of it today.
If they don't adopt now, though... when their buyers become the 25 year olds of today, they'll be in trouble then. But right now it's not that important.
What is important is that smart people like the salesman mentioned above adopt and use these sites and technologies and can teach us how to apply hard won business lessons to them.
There are many inexperienced "entrepreneurs" that I know first hand, who seem to be jumping on the bandwagon of social media, trying to make a quick buck. They'd be served well if they took the time to learn that their MBA and youthful energy will be unlikely to deliver them Zuckerberg status. They'd be well served by learning how to "help people solve real problems" and "to act always in the best interest of their clients" like I'm sure the salesman mentioned above knows how to do.
Unlike the other tools, Twitter grader has a leaderboard which shows the highest scoring users. Of course, it's only evaluating the users that have evaluated their Twitter profile via Twitter Grader. But, as of today, that's atleast 20,420 people, including Barack Obama, who comes in at #1 right now.
Dharmesh is hard at thought about how to help small businesses and marketing professionals leverage the social mediasphere to market their businesses more effectively.
There are some new features in the main HubSpot software which help businesses improve their blogging (Blog Analytics) and identify social bookmarking entries (HubFeed) that are related to their products and services (so they can participate in the conversation). I've started using these tools to generate greater returns on my time spent blogging and leveraging social media sites.
Twitter Grader is more of an experiment at this stage. And probably more of a "we think it'll be cool" application than anything.
However, any thoughts about how Twitter Grader could help a company better leverage Twitter are welcome. HubSpot is listening.
One of the most important elements of Flickr's early success was its incredible engagement with its users. Flickr management spent what might have seemed like a totally unreasonable amount of time welcoming new users to the site, participating actively and promptly in forums and highlighting the best photos uploaded.
That kind of engagement can turn passing early adopters into ongoing community stakeholders and advocates. It's something that any startup could benefit from emulating and a role we're seeing formalized in an increasing number of companies hiring community liaisons.
Referrals & Brand Searches - Your best marketing is happy customers. In my previous company, after a few years of working at it, 100% of my business came from referrals. Customers have the ability to sell your services for you because they have little to no selfish interest in you bringing on new clients. So, when they recommend your product or service to a peer, they're not only establishing that you're credible, but trustworthy. The trust implicit in their relationship with the prospect they're referring is transferred to you.
There's an old saying that says it's hard to predict referrals. It's also expensive to build a brand (although fairly easy to measure brand awareness). However, I'd argue that if you're doing the right things for your clients and you're truly a stand for their success, it will happen. On the web, you can accelerate the pace by entering the conversation, setting the precedent for receiving referrals by giving them and by generally making yourself available to speak with new people whether there's an immediate direct connection between their need and your service or not. Practically speaking, I recommend starting a blog and reading these tips on using a blog to improve your sales process and how to use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website.
What are you doing to:
ensure your clients' success?
refer business to your clients?
facilitate connections between your clients who'd benefit from knowing each other?
give your clients the tools to talk about you to their contacts online?
ensure that your clients are referring people to you online and these referrals are receiving vip treatment?
acknowledge the customers that refer you business?
Is this stuff part of your customer on-boarding process? Are you rewarding your account managers who excel at fostering mutually beneficial interaction swith and among clients and generating referral business?
Below is a concrete example of a social banner. It's an ad, presumably sponsorable by a company seeking to spread the word about its new-found greenness. So, without further ado, here's a our user violating, privacy busting, all your data in a social banner, banner!
Blog Reader: "Umm...wait. Is this a trick? My data has to be in here somewhere. I know! It's hiding under the alien! Oh, no. That's silly. Wait! You pulled my facebook interests to stereotype me as a certain type of user, thereby populating the buttons with choices that would appeal to me, thus increasing ad CTR!"
As Winnie the Pooh would say, "Oh bother."
Your data isn't in there. Not at all. But, let's say you do opt to share why you're green with your friends by clicking on a button. This is what your friends would see, except replace this dude's picture with yours.
Blog Reader: "OMG I'M IN THE AD! You mean when I choose to share why I'm green with my friends, my friends will actually see it?"
It's rather difficult to share something with your friends when we can't tell your friends the thing you wanted to share. So, yes, that's precisely what we did.
As you all know, I'm a big beliver in putting the "social" in marketing. In fact, my own blog has evolved to mostly a networking tool where I'm highlighting my clients great writing and the activities of other people that interest me.
This is the first time I've seen "social" applied to the advertising unit. And I think it's very significant. And almost genius in its simplicity and obviousness.
The other day, a prospect asked me what the average annual revenue of a HubSpot client is. I said "I have no idea". I also asked why she asked. Since this was over email, she hasn't answered yet.
I should have answered. "It's rising."
I was talking to Frank Damelio this morning and this is a paraphrased quote of what he said to me: "I'm really excited for you Pete. Over the years, it's been great to have someone like you to share stories with as we've both built our businesses and learned hard lessons. And you are working on the cusp of something huge and I can tell based on how things are going for you and your excitement, that you're really in a good spot. And that all of the things you've learned, you're putting to good use and really helping a lot of people.
Previously, large businesses had access to the capabilities that HubSpot provides. But, now it's possible for every small business to afford these tools. And business is going to increasingly be initiated online at Google, blogs, LinkedIn, etc. And you are positioned to really help small businesses make the transition. No matter whether it's a hair salon, a tire repair place, or whatever, they're going to need someone that can give them the tools and guidance to switch from old ways of marketing to using the web to attract prospects to them. The web is where their customers are looking for someone like them. They need to be there."
Frank's right, though. This stuff is now affordable for small businesses. It's less about the dollar investment. It's more about whether they can spend the time and whether they have the aptitude to pull it off. It's not rocket science. But, it takes committment.
It's amazing to think that we've had a part in helping this business grow their business. It's amazing to think about the fact that 46 new clients signed up last month to embark on the same process. The impact that we'll have on their business and their lives is awesome. We're putting people in control of their marketing, something that has been pretty much a guessing game for more than a century. I think it's a high point for the direct marketing business. Now, it's possible to not only measure things, but engineer, predict, and improve with instantaneous feedback. I'm pretty sure that Gutenberg didn't think that would ever be possible when he invented the printing press.
The Worcester Business Journal ran an article about online advertising the other day quoting 3 local marketing agencies about online advertising.
The majority of the article quotes Laura Briere, owner of Vision Advertising, which is good. Laura actually knows her stuff quite well. Not as well as she thinks she does, but if I had to pair someone up with a local full service marketing agency who gets the web, Laura is a good bet. She doesn't make the mistakes that marketing agencies outside of Central MA stopped making in 2001. (I haven't used Laura myself so I don't know what she does and doesn't know. But, on the surface, she's dangerous with this stuff.)
I am sure this problem is not unique to Central MA. But, if marketing agencies want to stay relevant they better learn how to shift their thinking of "how do I spend my client's advertising budget effectively?" to "How do I do things that generate a predictable and measurable ROI for my clients by generating leads that turn into business for them?"
If the WBJ wants to provide informative articles about online marketing to their readers and help Central MA businesses really leverage the web effectively to grow their businesses, they should look for some more experts past 495. Maybe even hire an online marketing expert to do the writing. This is such an important thing to get right for the future of the region's business health.
It's been awhile since I've ranted or called anyone out. Sorry, in advance, for those that I've offended. You deserve it, even though it should be privately directed.
I'll be returning shortly to educational blog posts about online marketing and my networks' activities.