Marketing Innovation: How Networks are Changing Business

April 25, 2009 at 9:59 pm Leave a comment

Consumers are over-marketed-to. They have simply stopped listening, said Jason Mogus, CEO of Communicopia during Saturday’s Marketing Innovation: Using Social Media to Build your Brand session at SVN’s Spring Member Gathering.

Consumers are tuning out to traditional marketing yet at the same time, demanding more – video-3-00m-07smore empowerment, more stories, more quickly, from more voices. They seek meaning and authenticity and want more from us than irregular regurgitation of “polished” and perfect PR stories.

Jason moderated a diverse panel of SVN social media innovators (some of whom didn’t know they were!) who have each experimented and succeeded with social media in some exciting ways:

  • Michael Martin. Founder and president of Minneapolis-based Music Matters creates innovative campaigns and marketing initiatives to build brands for organic and natural food clients
  • Pam Chaloult. COO of Renewal, a collection of Vancouver-based organizations that fosters social change through a three-prong approach of investments, grants and collaborations
  • Andy Shallal: Founder of D.C.-based Busboys and Poets, a restaurant, bookstore and fair-trade gathering place for activists (social justice and peace)

Unsure of the impact social media can have for your company? As a socially-conscious organization here are some things you have to offer:

  • An inspiring vision and passionate thought leaders of the most important topics of our time
  • Authentic stories of action that you do (and are doing) every day; unlocking and sharing these!
  • Customers who love you and want to help, if you would only ask them
  • Involvement with a compelling movement, i.e. connecting a brand of “coffee” into bigger, more interesting and diverse “slow food” movement, of which a coffee company is a real leader
  • The world is looking for our leadership

What can you do? Get started with social media. There really are no rules and everything in this space is a grand experiment. Keep in mind some web best practices as you begin to wet your feet in social media:

  • Use your consumers – ask for help, ideas, and engagement, or they’ll go somewhere else.
  • Listen to what is being said. Who does listening at your firm? What kinds of questions do you ask? What do you do with the answers?
  • Tell real stories. Give a play-by-play of your many exciting projects and don’t be afraid to share your struggles and setbacks, people connect with real stories more than polished “it’s all good” press releases
  • Make connections and build your community online

Don’t be fooled. Launching an effective social media campaign requires a commitment far after your web site, Twitter account or Facebook page becomes active. It needs a strategy connected to your business goals, and it needs a team to give it life, listen and learn what’s working and what isn’t, and keep it evolving.

Michael Martin introduced his trademarked Effect Marketing strategy. That is, creating social impact to build brands. He’s used this idea to run campaigns with the world’s No. 1 green artist Jack Johnson, Go Organic!for Earth Day and CLIF Green Notes, which featured influential artists like Missy Higgins and Michael Franti.

The power of community can be used to quantify social impact, Martin said. You can use a small base of dedicated followers to inspire action, combine voices and influence the choices of an even greater community.

He left the audience with a final thought: “An individual action, multiplied by millions, creates global change.”

Venture Capitalist (and SVN Co-founder) Joel Solomon, whose story was told by Renewal’s COO Pam Chaloult, used social media to give a voice to Renewal, which previously operated largely behind the scenrenewal-funding-change-through-investments-grants-and-collaborationses. “We used social media to increase our impact and share more of our work with the world,” she said. Through an active blog, postings of public events and jobs from the community, an active Twitter feed, and a growing Facebook page, Renewal’s project helps surface previously hidden community connections.

And by telling stories about their own work and those of their investees and grantees, from across their network of connections, projects, and collaborations, Renewal has re-created the community of its real world activities into a multi-dimensional web site that reaches more and more circles of people who see it as the hub of an exciting community of leaders. This came in especially handy when former SVN’er Gregor Robertson won the mayor’s chair in Vancouver, and Renewal was identified as a key backer. The site brings great credibility to their work.

Andy Shallal has created a powerful restaurant brand by investing heavily in web and social mbusboys-poets-restaurant-__-washington-dc-__-shirlington-vaedia marketing, choosing to spend money there and no where else advertising wise. His site has literally every social media trick of the trade: an active blog with authentic stories and questions, upcoming events, 2,500 Facebook friends, almost 2,000 Twitter followers, and over 16,000 people on his email list. Added up, Andy’s virtual reach is about 100 times the physical capacity of his three Busboys and Poets restaurants. Busboysandpoets.com is so important to the business Andy has a full-time Web team that updates the blog and event news which fuel the site’s traffic, and he makes the time to update his blog regularly.

Shallal’s example may be one extreme. If you’re a smaller business and don’t have the time (or money) to launch an intensive social media campaign, there is still a lot you can do! Spend time understanding your audiences, getting clear on your goals, and watching competitors and collaborators in your space. Ask for lots of advice, and you probably need to hire someone who knows this field well to advise you. But test every idea against your strategy, start small, and build from success.

Whatever you do, approach social media with an open, learning mind. Listen, learn, and adapt is the social media mantra.

Entry filed under: Member Stories, SV Best Practices, Talks and Workshops. Tags: .

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