Virtually everything I read about social media and small business these days focuses on marketing and very little else.
Now, I get the fact that building your brand and generating leads for your business is important. No sales, no business. But if that’s all you use social media for, you’re missing out big time on the opportunity to enrich your mind with the myriad of stories, ideas, opinions and philosophies that experts, authorities, and thought leaders locally and overseas expound regularly via blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
Used properly — with passion and purpose — social media can help you professionally by broadening your perspective on a number of fronts, more so than at any time in our history.
Why? Because it’s never been easier to interact with thought leaders — to check out the links they share, read their blog posts, listen to their podcast interviews, or get involved in their conversations online.
While it’s incumbent on small business owners to stay up to date with what’s happening in their profession or industry, you will only grow as a professional by constantly expanding your horizons and challenging your thinking.
If you want to gain an edge over the competition, you really need to be in tune, not just with what’s going on in your industry specifically, but also with the business world generally. What are the thought leaders saying, what trends are bubbling under the radar, what are the new challenges facing companies, where is technology heading and what opportunities will emerging new media bring?
19 thought leaders
By all means continue to read the mainstream press, listen to the radio and watch television. But set aside part of your day to absorb the words and actions of people such as the 19 thought leaders I have listed here:
day it seems I’m interacting with senior business and communications
executives who have embraced the myriad opportunities flowing from the
growth of social media and its golden child, content marketing.
positive thing is this acceptance of, and enthusiasm for, the changes
brought on by the emergence of an ever-evolving new media landscape is
palpable and infectious.
many cases it’s not just about the technology but more so, what people
are doing with the social media tools - and the changes in corporate
behaviour required to ensure their respective organisations are relevant
to, and in-sync with, an increasingly social and connected marketplace.
executives I’m referring to range from CEOs and senior managers of
fast-growth companies through to heads of communications departments of
major organisations. I either work with them directly (in an advisory
capacity) or deal with them at business or marketing events, or via
social mediums such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
Bumper harvest of ideas
wide-eyed (but pragmatic) enthusiasm gladdens my heart. These people
are eager not only to learn but also put into practice the bumper
harvest of ideas cascading from a democratised and hyper-connected
marketplace that is increasingly being driven by the empowered many, not
the privileged few.
thing is these executives understand better than most that social media
is not just about Twitter and Facebook (although in many instances and
when used correctly, these platforms can be incredibly powerful).
are embracing the fact that today, companies need to be open,
transparent, informal, conversational and relevant - they need to add
value to the community by creating content that inspires, informs,
educates, empowers and/or entertains consumers, content that matches
customers’ needs versus always being in interruptive selling mode.
forward-thinking executives get it that marketing today - indeed, the
whole notion of doing business - is predicated on the fact it’s not
about them anymore, as has been in the past, but what’s in it for their
customers and stakeholders.
How can they, as custodians of their brand,
add value to the marketplace, how can they use social media and new
technologies to contribute positively to the lives of the people who
matter the most to the success of their business (or their cause or
issue if they’re a nonprofit organisation).
a definite flipside remains however - organisations that give every
sign they’re refusing to adapt to the obvious changes occurring in the
marketplace. You see it every day - companies missing out on massive
opportunities to add value to the community, to use content and social
to be interesting, relevant and helpful to customers, influencers and
me be clear: When I talk about using new media to connect with the
marketplace, I mean going deeper than just having a presence on Facebook
and Twitter. That’s the easy stuff (although, gobsmackingly, according
to a report half of the ‘big end of town’ in Australia still isn’t on any social media platform!).
sort of opportunities are we talking about?
How can companies take full
advantage of social media and online publishing tools to reinvent the
way they communicate with the marketplace and make themselves more
relevant to customers?
Community of fans and supporters
some of the things progressive companies in the US are doing - yes,
they’re proficient with Twitter and Facebook, that’s a given today - but
look at how they’re going about their respective businesses.
notice of the connection they have with consumers, and the effort they
take in building a community of fans and supporters of their brand and
what it is they do (and stand for).
HubSpot - baking social into everything it does, a truly social business.
Mint.com - helping customers by providing useful advice.
Firebrand Talent - thought leadership in the digital/marketing recruitment space (locally-based).
These companies represent the new breed - they're 'connected brands' that are using social media and online publishing platforms to deepen the relationship the relationship they have with the marketplace (and broader community generally).
And in doing so, they’re setting themselves up to succeed in a world that is evolving by the day.
(I wrote about the report here: Content Marketing in Australia Set to Boom).
Post Content Marketing World, ADMA joined forces with the Edge content agency to convene a roundtable to 'pressure test' the survey results and enhance the research findings. A whitepaper ('The State of Content Marketing') was produced with a view to sharing the key outcomes from the roundtable discussion.
Adam wrote the post because he was attending meetings where the topic kept cropping up.
The reason why there is so much debate about it is because there are so
many different types of people, of widely varying experience, who can
occupy positions with a social media remit, he wrote on his blog.
As many large Australian companies are starting to think more strategically about social media and its role within the organisation, it stands to reason this topic will continue to be the subject of much debate.
So I cornered Adam virtually while he was on holidays on the Gold Coast for a chat about this very topic. It's a super-meaty subject - we discuss each of the seven different types of social media consultant (listed below) - so it's a bit longer than my usual videos. But if you're interested in the space, I think it will be worth your time :)
The world is moving so quickly in terms of the
public’s dizzying uptake of social networking and new media technologies
that many company executives struggle to know where to look in terms of
trends and inspiration.
Of course when the business world experiences
tsunami-like change, such as what is occurring currently, companies keep
their eyes peeled: firstly to see what their competitors are doing; and
secondly to see what others in similar types of industries locally and
overseas are doing.
That’s all well and good, and it’s research that
needs to be done, but in today’s information-overloaded, hyper-connected
marketplace, it’s recommended to look even further afield for
inspiration and ideas.
May I suggest, in addition to looking at the usual
suspects in their industry, that companies check out what’s happening at
the smaller part of town, and then lower their eyes even further to
what a cadre of forward-thinking, high-profile individuals are doing in
their particular niche.
Because much of the action is at the
smaller-end of the market. Individuals (and small, nimble companies and
non-profits) are showing the way. Of course, it’s easier when you’re a
smaller operation to change tack quickly and morph to stay in-sync with
an ever-evolving marketplace, but that doesn’t mean bigger companies
can’t learn a thing or two from them.
Welcome to the world of the ‘micro maven’
I recently released a book called microDOMINATION that examines how
companies can leverage social media and content marketing to build a
mini-business empire about their personal brand, the central tenet of
which is based around the emergence of a new breed of creative
entrepreneur I call ‘micro mavens’.
Micro mavens leverage the power of the internet and
social technologies to build a global platform for their personal
brand; along the way they create sustainable business enterprises that
in most cases are virtual and can be operated anywhere there is stable
Some micro mavens, however, parlay their reputation
and brand equity into more traditional businesses with partners and
For example, retail liquor merchant Gary Vaynerchuk (pictured) built his
formidable personal brand off the back of a daily video blog called Wine
Library TV, which at its peak attracted something like 80,000 viewers a
day. Today, Vaynerchuk and his brother AJ run Vaynermedia, a brand
consulting agency that focuses on social media. Vaynermedia was founded
in mid-2009; it now has offices in New York and San Francisco and,
according to the company’s LinkedIn page, employs more than 200 staff.
Vaynerchuk is also a prominent investor in tech startups. In all
likelihood none of this would have happened had Vaynerchuk not built his
brand on a global basis using content marketing and social media.
Micro mavens operate at the ‘pointy end’ of
marketing and PR. The fact they can grow their profile and build not
insignificant-sized international businesses without outside investment
is testament to the smart way in which they operate.
Here are three lessons companies can take from micro mavens:
The combination of creating interesting and relevant content, plus
being active via social media, has huge potential and can pay major
dividends in terms of building trust, reputation and brand visibility. KEY TAKEAWAY: Put content marketing
and social media activity at the heart of your company’s public
relations and marketing effort; think ongoing and long term, not
short-horizon campaigns and instant results.
Growing and cultivating a base of fans, followers, advocates and
enthusiasts for your brand is one of the most powerful, not to mention
sustainable and cost-effective, marketing strategies available. KEY TAKEAWAY: Contribute in a positive way to people’s lives; add value
through being helpful and providing utility to customers versus always
going in for the (sales) kill.
Authenticity and a sense of openness and transparency are admirable
traits that people find attractive in a brand. KEY TAKEAWAY: Social
media has given companies the tools to be more ‘human’; put your people
front and centre, take customers ‘behind the velvet rope’ and give them a
glimpse inside your organisation.
Micro mavens are the product of today’s ideas-based
economy; they sit at the forefront of a global trend that’s building
momentum all the time. You could do worse than observe how they go about
their business and perhaps instil some of these learnings in your own
Before you start external communication of your new startup company, STOP!
Take a deep breath. Grab a Moleskine notepad, sit down and ponder a few things first.
You’re starting with a clean slate in terms of your marketing
communications. Whatever you do will set the tone, and before you know
it, if you’re not a little bit planned you might start throwing mixed
messages out into the marketplace.
This is not ideal — it’s a noisy world out there. Cutting through
with clarity is hard at the best of times, but more so if your story is a
I recommend spending a little time planning what I like to call your
‘Spheres of Conversation’ before mapping out and communicating via your
‘Spheres of Influence’. (These are the channels you will be using — we
will look at these in a future article.)
Remember: There’s no need to overcook things and draw
up some dense-looking strategic document that you’ll probably never end
up looking at again. The idea is to bring about some clarity in how you
will communicate your brand, and this can be achieved with just a few
sheets of paper. (Personally I like using an A3 sketchpad to plot and
plan such things).
Ask yourself: What conversations do you want to start, or be part of?
What hot topics do you want to ignite debate around? What discussions
do you want to lead?
What conversations (relevant to
your brand) do you want to be part of?
What debates do you want to
What do you want your brand to be known for?
Once you’ve got an idea of the substance — your story and the basis
for your content —I’m going to cover the channels you need to
communicate to your audience in this article.
I like simplifying things. It’s important to spread your thinking
across the multiple mediums available. You may refine your strategy
later, leaning towards one media versus the others. But in the first
instance, let’s look at the following:
Digital or Social Media: This covers all the
social networking sites we all know and love (Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn, etc.), podcasts, blogs and e-zines (electronic magazines) run
by online publishers or semi-professional enthusiasts. It also includes
owned media, such as your own website or blog, e-newsletters, etc.
Traditional Media: Newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines, whether commercial, government owned, or community based.
Live Media: A catch-all phrase for anything
considered ‘face-to-face,’ such as events (conferences, seminars, forums
and expos), whether you’re speaking or attending for networking
purposes. It also includes roundtable discussions, one-on-one coffee
catch-ups with influencers, webinars, Google Hangouts, etc.
Okay, okay - so this week's episode of THE CONNECTED MARKETING MINUTE clocks in at one minute AND 43 seconds - probably 'cos its a rant of sorts :)
In this episode I ponder the question:
Why is it that so many large companies and organisations are unwilling to connect with the community and marketplace in which they operate?
The opportunity to build rapport with people has never been easier, but some companies still insist on controlling the flow of information when it suits them, versus being constantly connecting with the community via storytelling and social interaction on an ongoing basis.
Be interesting, I say. Get out amongst the people and your organisation will be all the better for it.
Okay, off my soapbox now. Have a great weekend everybody!
I spotted this at Dymocks in Sydney the other day - a cross-promotion between two of my favourite brands: Moleskine and Evernote.
In a way, Moleskine and Evernote are competitors in that both brands are about taking notes and making sure you have somewhere to put all your ideas. But in a classic case of 1+1=3, they've joined forces to produce a special Evernote Smart Notebook.
The gist is this: You put your ideas, notes and sketches into your Moleskine notebook and then use the new Page Camera feature of the Evernote mobile app to store your work on your computer, smartphone and tablet device.
Plus ... each book comes with a free 3 month subscription to Evernote's 'Premium' offering.
Trevor Young has built PR Warrior into one of the world’s foremost showcases of what can be achieved at the intersection of public relations and social media.” - Brad Howarth, Smart Company, September 2011 More »