Like every other piece of buzz, or most other buzz at least, SoLoMo is not the end all. You will still be able to market other ways but for the local business: the chiropractor, the real estate agent, the auto repair center, and other services offering services within a relatively narrow diameter – SoLoMo is now. Much like the yellow directories of yesterday SoLoMo focuses on local market areas with a higher transactional focus.
Breaking it down
Social is the first of the trinity of flavors. For our purposes, new media/online marketing, social begins online and ends in personal space. Sites like MeetUp and the horribly abused Facebook Events make it easy to plan and coordinate live events. (Yes, I know there are others – feel free to spam your own in the comments section.)
Twenty years ago when you applied for a business phone it took about a week for the yellow directory sales pitches to start. They would drop in, phone, send cards and letters, rinse and repeat. My very first purchase of a yellow directory ad just about made me regurge but I knew I had to have it back in 1980. In fact without a yellow directory listing back then if you depended on people who did not drive by your storefront, I was in the entertainment electronics retail business, you may as well put on a monkey suit and stand on the street corner … selling rocks.
The cost of my first add, a half-page, was $3700 for a year. It reached roughly 180,000 people in 112,000 homes if I remember right. It worked. Most of my business back then came from the yellow directory with my second amount from storefront advertising.
The yellow directory was, for all practical purposes, the top search engine of the day. It produced a significant amount of revenue for shops like mine, plumbers, lawyers, auto-repair, tailors, doctors, squirrel catchers, and many more. There was, however, a major catch: once that ad was printed and distributed it was set for the next 12 months. If you were specific about discounts or hours or special product offerings you better still be able to deliver.
Enter the digital age and live engagement
The ratio of use of yellow directory to purchase was in some cases staggering. Clients did not, generally, surf the yellow directory. Only when a real solution was needed do one look for the book and take a walk with their fingers. This point of need rendered a higher rate of return per “impression” than we generally see online today.
Social marketing is as old as marketing. In fact the world’s oldest profession depended on social connections to work. The idea that social marketing is new or was “branded” in the 1970′s is simply ludicrous. In fact Ben Hale, author of Prepare Yourself For Success, wrote that during The Great Depression he reigned as the number one salesman of Chevrolet automobiles because he went where the people were and socialized with them.
To those who don’t get Facebook, Twitter and others
Most of your competition is happy to hear you do not want to go where the people are. They are well pleased you find social sites on the Internet as a childish waste of your time. Your prospective clients who “live” there are also happy to know you feel that way. Times have changed, as they always do, and are still changing. As goes the old saying “you are either in the race or in the crowd”.
If you have enough friends you never need to sell anything
Sell, in this context, means spend your resources convincing someone to become transactional with you. When enough individuals trust you, your product, your service, and/or your company they will sell for you. Or at least market for you. It will still be incumbent on you to complete the transaction. With enough referral agents that generally just means taking the money and delivering the order.
More and more transactions begin with an online search
From stomach aches to concert tickets, air travel to cooking utensils, more and more people are starting online, generally with a Google search, to find what they are looking for. This type of search is not in itself social but it can lead to social and social means trust – or trustworthy information.
So you’re hanging out on a rainy weekend with nothing much to do but you have your guitar and you’d like to send someone special back home that addictive tune you’ve had in your head. Thing is all you have is your iPhone with it’s so-so audio. Then you remember you read this article on thekencook.com about a portable mini studio type device for your iPhone and you asked for it from your mom for Christmas and there’s a package you still haven’t opened (right, just play along) so you open it and inside there is a … iRig.
Within minutes you have use VocaLive, AmpliTube and iRig Recorder to create a rich, effects filled song you then set to a video which you upload to YouTube. Within hours a mega-producer named Simon something or other sees your video on YouTube and you’re on a private jet on the way to Atlanta to record your … again, play along.
We all see the complaints. Facebook makes changes without warning then suffers the brutality of the social network it supports. This event is generally followed by backtracking and scrambling to “fix what they broke”. Let children run a company, nation or social behemoth and that’s what you’re going to get: unilateral decisions that don’t work the way their inexperience believes it will followed by backtracking for one reason – saving face. It happens in politics, too.
Granted I’ve made mistakes and I am fully capable of making more. Inexperience has given way to crotchetiness (is that a word?) and low blood-sugar powered decisions. When faced with a larger scale decision than where to eat, however, I have enough experience that says, “get counsel, listen to other people, measure twice – cut once”.
If I ran Facebook it probably wouldn’t exist. But let’s say they called today and offered me the presidency with a $100,000,000 salary plus perks. I’d say yes then here are some of the things I would consider. What I am really after is what would you do?
No more surprise changes – everything would be beta tested by a wide slice of users similar to the way WordPress changes are proposed, debated, fine tuned, beta tested, fine tuned, debated, tweaked, then released. This may even include focus groups to read through proposed changes to policy and security measures.
Make privacy easier to understand and control – I know from having hosted Social Media Edge for the last 3 years privacy is one of the biggest concerns on Facebook. People really aren’t sure how to find the privacy controls and then navigate the obfuscated interface to fine tune privacy controls. Privacy controls could quickly and easily be made more navigable by even the most average of Facebook users.
Add the inverse of “Like” – you know you have seen things on your wall that you simply wanted to voice your opinion on without commenting when your emotion was not to “like” what was presented. Obviously someone very high up in the Facebook organization equated “don’t like” with “you’re not playing on our team because you’re a nerd”. Get over it, give the people a “Dislike” option.
Share the wealth – let users participate in a revenue sharing program by sharing the wealth from clicks or impressions of ads on their pages. It’s not that difficult. Call me, I’ll do it for you.
Require “Opt-In” for games and apps – instead of making the user individually block apps and games give them one choice to opt-out of all invites from any apps or any games. Would you invite someone to your house then set your laundry in their lap to have them fold it? If the answer is yes I don’t want to know.
Sell vanity URLs – the one thing I know most people would pay for would be vanity URLs. Sure, they are free right now but why? This is the one revenue stream that wouldn’t tick off the users but would still allow a major annual income. I would pay $5 a year to have a custom URL for my business pages. With 1,000,000,000 pages that’s, uhm, you’re to college kid – you cipher it.
Real customer support – want to be really different and really freindly? Have a team of thousands to answer stupid questions. Allow them to wait in a chat cue and give them ads to view while they are waiting if staff is not available. So long as the wait is under 5-10 minutes most people are going to be happier asking someone how to turn off SMS notifications than if they have to Google it and click on those Google ads while they are at someone else’s “I HATE FACEBOOK” site. (No brainer.)
Those are just some thoughts I have had. Like I said earlier what I really want to know is what would you do differently?
I’ve got a golden ticket. The nice part about this golden ticket, especially for search engine marketers, is the predictability it presents. Natural disasters, natural events like the death of a super-star, terrible accidents like the Challenger disaster, and similar events turn Google into a massive flurry of searches on those key words.
What search engine marketers should be looking for are ways to take hot search topics like those types of current events and leverage the results to their client’s benefits. Some say this is a disgusting approach when it involves human tragedy but the reality of it is this is simply a business technique that can be used to help the people personally affected by the tragedy. One example of so doing would be to place a donation link to a well recognized charity on the landing page. I digress, this is about leveraging something a little more capitalistic in nature: the Mega Millions lottery.
Mega Millions dominates Google search
Anyone who lives in an area where this government sponsored lottery is played knows as the lottery pool builds and the prize gets larger, such as the recent Mega Millions jackpot amount of $312 million dollars, the searches become more and more frequent. But there is an event even larger for related search terms: mega millions winning numbers.
There is a new annual ritual in case you have missed it. Because of, or thanks in part to, social media and the Internet Earth Hour has exploded onto the scene. With its beginning in Australia only four years ago Earth Hour is an event which occurs between 8:30-9:30PM local time by turning off all lights and as many electrical systems as possible.
Just last year on March 27 the largest participation of Earth Hour yet came to be. Over 128 countries and territories had participants including the darkening of many well known buildings around the planet. Much of this success is due to the vast amount of chatter, blogging and other social sphere attention given to the event.
Okay so I’m not a member of the convinced. I am also not a member of the unconvinced. I saw a “ghost” once and, though I know I saw something almost right in my face, I’m still not convinced of what I saw. Bigfoot, however, should have been captured by now. Seriously. I have my doubts about this footage because it doesn’t “look like Bigfoot”. Whatever that means.
The big question of the day is, “does Bigfoot have a Facebook page?” And the answer is, “Yes. Several.”
Interestingly there are two separate Bigfoot pages on Facebook with a total of about 33,000 fans. That means Bigfoot’s Facebook presence is worth more than mine and most of my clients. Be that as it may a friend wrote, “the color of hype is green”. So if Bigfoot is hype, and he is, why not shoot a “Bigfoot sequence” of video and use the hype to turn some green?
I find it interesting that in the minutes following the earthquake, even before the tsunami had made much progress on its journey, the news of the devastation in Japan was all over the social network. In fact one almost could not follow Twitter if the search term Japan were included. Now, just a couple of weeks later, a devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake has rocked Myanmar and the tweets can be counted by just watching them refresh.
There are 127,000,000 people (approximately) in Japan. In Myanmar there are roughly 52,000 – less than half. The number of US citizens in Japan compared to the number in Myanmar (the State Department still refers to it as “Burma”) is very lopsided. One, without too much research, can only imagine that is mirrored with other countries. Still, you would think at least a few thousand tweets would have been sent.
You have heard it, you’ve read about it, people who appear to know stuff have told you: the digital revolution is unwired and if you don’t feed it what it needs to exist it will move on without you. When is this going to happen? It’s already, almost, so last year.
We cannot imagine the resistance Alexander Bell experienced. I remember hearing old people talking about it back int he 60′s saying they thought the phone would be a huge invasion and some called it “the devil’s box”. Why do we always credit “the devil” with innovation? But I digress. Let’s look at communications changes over the last few thousand years:
When I was in communcations classes some 30 years ago we were told 90% of the advancements in communications had been made since 1900. The number today must be closer to 99% of the advancements since 1969.
Many humans are slow to embrace change. Those who are generally miss the opportunity to leverage the excitement of new chances. Now we all know not everyone can do everything. You can’t be a specialist at real estate and a social media guru and a web programmer and a mobile technology expert … the list goes on. You can, however, use the technology as it is made available to you as an “early adopter”.
The important reason to be an early adopter is because if you are a late adopter by the time you start using the old technology another technology has come into play and the old technology is dead. Why is this important? Be where your buyers are coming instead of where they have already been.
We know, now, after me being laughed and scoffed at by Mrs. Garner some 15 years ago, over 80% of all home searches are started on the internet. I bet if she were still in the business she’d have a website just like every other agent. But I wonder if she would scoff at me when I called to tell her she needs to optimze her website for mobile?
What does this mean, “optimize for mobile”?
Simply put a website created for display on a larger screen laptop or desk top computer is not going to present well on a smaller screen mobile device. The browsers, for the most part, are completely different, smaller in byte size and present the web pages in a different manner than when used on a computer. Even though mobile is new it is re-inventing a few wheels to make use of existing data in the new technology.