Archive for November, 2008

Social Marketing Scalability: Facilitation is the new Participation

November 26, 2008


A question came up on Twitter today, courtesy of @BethHarte: is social marketing scalable? Sure, it’s nice to interact directly with customers and prospects. But past a certain point, doesn’t it change from one-to-one into one-to-many communication? And isn’t that Old Marketing through New Channels?

I thought about the same question last week when reading the NY Times’ article on Girl Talk, aka Greg Gillis. His job: make people dance. He’s an enthusiastic participant, dancing and interacting with hundreds during the course of the night. But he’s entertaining thousands. Past a point, his participation doesn’t scale. How does the party keep growing?

Because he goes beyond participation to facilitation. He doesn’t just dance with everyone he possibly can. He creates an environment where everyone dances with everyone else. To coin a snowclone, facilitation is the new participation. As I tweeted to Beth, I can’t dance with everyone at the party, but I can throw such a great party that they dance with each other.

What does that mean for social marketing? Well, participation is still table stakes. You have to be willing and able to interact with your customers and prospects on their terms and platforms: twitter, blog comments and groups on social networking sites as well as your own platform (if you have one).

But you have to go further. What do you do to enable them to interact with each other? A good host facilitates communication by creating an environment conducive to it: social objects to discuss (music, art, anything), social lubricants where needed (alcohol or similar), seeding the party with people willing to talk. Are you setting up your social marketing program to get customers talking to and sharing information with each other?

I’ve got my thoughts but I want to know your thoughts: what platforms are good for this? What platforms enable participation but can’t scale to the next level without facilitation?

Photo by Gwen


Baby Won’t You Unfollow Me Down

November 24, 2008

I’m obsessed with Qwitter. Just not in the same way a lot of people seem to be.

Qwitter emails you when someone following you on the microblogging tool Twitter stops following you. It tells you who quit and what your last tweet was before they quit. Simple.

The response is not simple. I’ve seen a trend of Twitterers ‘announcing’ their unfollows. ‘Farewell, @personx, I daresay I shan’t miss you’ read a recent one. Why do they announce it? And why do they even CARE?

I asked the second question on Twitter and got three good answers:

  • To ensure bidirectional communication. These people use Twitter as a conversational tool and don’t want to shout at someone across the room who isn’t listening. Good etiquette online or off
  • To manage the stream of information. I use Twitter as ambient text radio. Information and links scroll by. I unfollow folks who don’t contribute content of interest to me. It’s very pragmatic
  • As a feedback loop. A spike of unfollows might indicate that you’ve offended people or are tweeting too much or too little. Numbers speak here; it’s not about any one person, but a change in volume

I’ve never seen a Qwitter attributed to politeness or pragmatism. Instead, it’s personal. ‘@personx can’t handle my politics/religion/sense of humor.’ Anything can be twisted to fit this. Someone unfollowed me after a tweet to @DeepEddy about George Burns and Gracie Allen. Let me make it fit each of those scenarios:

  • Politics: Gracie Allen ran for President in 1940. True. You qwit because you hate my politics!
  • Religion: George Burns played God in the 1977 movie Oh, God! Enough said
  • Sense of humor: @DeepEddy and I are probably guilty as charged, although I don’t quote Firesign Theatre as relentlessly as he does

Their reason for qwitting had nothing to do with the tweet. The last words in a relationship are rarely about proximate cause. They’re about divvying up the Marley CD’s, where to send the last paycheck or refund of the security deposit. You can’t analyze them and hope to understand what led to disaffection, job change or a move. Don’t try.

I’m not the only one trying to understand Qwitter. @astrout did an uttercast here, and @TWalk covered it in a blog post here. If listeners are leaving in droves (whether you’re on Twitter or speaking at a conference), that’s feedback from the universe. Use it, but don’t overanalyze or overpersonalize it.

Update: Forgot to include the Twimerick (coined right here as far as I know) that started this:

There once was a fellow on Twitter

Tracked his unfollows w/Qwitter

Thought the last twit

Was why they’d quit

It made him not better, but bitter

New Word: Meetingocracy

November 11, 2008

Meetingocracy: government of, by and for the meetings. Thought I’d share the word and idea.

Quality is a Light Switch to a Customer

November 7, 2008

2993752517_66a9b9ffa8That’s so important I’ll say it again. Quality is a light switch to a customer. On or off. It’s a binary condition, a coin flip. Heads or tails.

Quality is a probability to a marketer. Even six sigma – the apex of manufacturing quality – is based on the idea of managing down the number of inevitable defects. 99.99% uptime on the coffee shop wif-fi doesn’t impress the customer. They don’t recall the 9,999 times they connected flawlessly. They make their choice on whether to return based on the one time they didn’t.

No, it’s not fair. But fairness is irrelevant in life after ‘Candyland’. (And even there, I cheat. To let my daughter win. Don’t tell her.) Fairness is especially irrelevant in marketing. Marketing is a promise. Products and services keep or break promises. In marketing, as in life, keeping promises is everything.

As I write, I search for a Creative Commons-licensed image on Flickr to go with the post. Message: ‘Flickr has a hiccup. We’re looking into it.’ It goes away on refresh and it’s not a big deal. Thank you, Flickr, for calling it a hiccup and dealing with it instead of trying to explain it away. That’s light switch language, the language of customers, like the picture above by RayBanBro66.

The probability-based language of marketers, consultants and manufacturers comes off more like the ‘light switch complicator’ photo below by L Marie. Review your marketing materials and pay close attention to what you say about quality and how you say it. Which light switch are you talking to your customers about?