Archive for Michael Stelzner

Do You Have a Content Marketing Strategy to Build Your Authority?

Content marketing strategy to build authority with GoogleHave you noticed that the Internet is all abuzz with stories and advice about content marketing?

Social Media Examiner convenes its Content Success Summit today, stamping content marketing with its imprimatur.

What is Content Marketing? Read More→

Snail Mail Isn’t Dead – Postman Delivers Invitation to Social Media Success Summit 2011

[tweetmeme]Imagine my surprise when I went through my regular mail and there it was — an actual postcard invitation to the Social Media Success Summit 2011. A hard copy invitation to an online social media event? Isn’t that a non sequitur?

I’ve written before that letter writing isn’t dead and this is another example. OK, it was a postcard, but you get the point. Of course, I’m receiving emails almost daily from the Summit speakers and Michael Stelzner, founder of the Social Media Examiner, and the primary force behind this summit and others he’s organized in the past. I attended the very first online Social Media Summit in 2009 and it was very enlightening.

I wrote to Mike to ask why he was using this delivery channel but he didn’t respond. Probably too busy. But I can take an educated guess.

Email Box is Stuffed

Our email boxes are overflowing with invitations to attend webinars, buy ebooks, check out the latest MeetUp, LinkedIn invitations and requests to Friend someone on Facebook and all sorts of other promotions. The social media chatter is becoming overwhelming. (If you received this post by email, thank you for opening and reading it).

So companies are actually going back to the future and contacting their target audiences by — regular mail. A new strategy! I don’t know about you, but my mailbox is pretty sparse these days. A catalog or two. But a letter or postcard? That really stands out from the crowd.

And I think that’s why the Social Media Success Summit 2011 organizers turned to snail mail. They want to get your attention. They got mine.

I sure hope Mike appreciates the free PR I’m giving him.

Is Viral Marketing Being Oversold When a Tweet is Only Retweeted 1.4 Times?

"Please retweet me, please!"

Please retweet me, please!

[tweetmeme]I must say I was shocked when I learned  that of all the billions of tweets out there, most are only retweeted 1.4 times.  Of course, this isn’t counting Ashton Kutcher and other Influentials.  I’m talking about the tweets of mere mortals like you and me.

I learned this at the Viral Marketing Meetup held in New York last evening.  The impressive roster of speakers included Duncan Watts, principal research scientist a Yahoo! Research; Tim Schigel, CEO of sharethis.com; and Erik Martin, community manager at reddit.com.   It was a heady session because all the speakers focused on the metrics – is the frenzy around viral marketing actually producing business and building brands?

Is word of mouth (WOM) being oversold?

The jury is still out, of course, because social media as a marketing tool is still in its infancy.

But Duncan Watts, a professor at Columbia University before moving over to Yahoo, is skeptical.  He discounts the notion that highly popular Influentials are any more successful in starting a trend than the rank-and-file.  In a Fast Company article from two years ago, he is quoted as saying, “If society is ready to embrace a trend, almost anyone can start one–and if it isn’t, then almost no one can,” Watts concludes.  This article is a good read and just as timely today.  (Not everyone embraces Watts’ points of view).

Watts backs his assertions with research involving thousands of subjects, conducted while he was at Columbia, which is how he learned that most of our tweets land with a thud.  No zipping around the world for our 140 characters.

Is Intel Building its Brand on Facebook?

Coincidentally, I also attended a webinar yesterday entitled “9 Companies Doing Facebook Right and What You Need to Know.”  The presenters were Facebook expert Mari Smith, and Michael Stelzner, white paper guru and founder of the Social Media Examiner.  Intel was one of the case studies.  It was all very interesting, but I had to ask myself, what is Intel’s Facebook presence doing to build its brand?   Is this viral marketing at its best?

Currently, the company is running two contests:  one in which Intel is giving away PCs to build its database of fans, and in the other aspiring Latin, Urban and Singer/Songwriter artists are invited to upload their best original song in the Intel “Superstars” Competition.  Fans vote for their favorites with cash prizes for the top 20 winners.

I’m not being grumpy.  I think it’s great that ordinary folks can win new computers and that the company is supporting emerging artists.  But I’m trying to see how these contests are helping a company that makes core processors.  I’m sure great minds thought up these promotions, so who am I to question them.

What I learned makes me wonder if we should retrieve old-fashioned mass advertising from the graveyard.  When big companies, as well as small ones, are huffing and puffing to attract customers one at a time through WOM, reaching a few million customers with a 30-second ad sure sound appealing.

If you need assistance with improving your viral marketing, contact me today.

Word of Mouth (WOM) is Hot. Or, the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing is the newest buzzword, so it seems. Michael Stelzner devoted a column to it in Social Media Examiner today when reviewing location-based social networks like Foursquare.  And no less an authority than McKinsey, the consulting firm, has carried two articles about WOM in recent months.

Social networks are providing a natural platform for marketers to try out coupons, contests and giveaways to generate buzz and sales. You’d think that they had invented something brand new.

Word of Mouth (WOM) the new buzzword

I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the woman who virtually invented WOM, or viral marketing, way before the Internet enabled legions of communities on Twitter and Facebook to spread news around the world at the speed of sound.

Viral Marketing

In the 1980s, Linda Pezzano got the assignment to promote an obscure board game, called Trivial Pursuit. Linda was a friend, and before her untimely death in 1999, she showed me a presentation that she gave at marketing forums about how she reinvented the way games are marketed through viral marketing. Selchow & Righter, which bought the rights from the Canadian inventor, couldn’t afford traditional advertising. On a PR budget of $40,000 (about $88,000 today), Linda developed a program that generated sales of 1 million sets in the first year – an astounding and unimaginable number – without a penny spent on advertising.

The Story of How She Did It

What she did then is commonplace now, so let me tell you the story of how she did it. Linda convinced the company to let her send the game to the 70+ Hollywood stars mentioned in the game, such as Gregory Peck, James Mason and Pat Boone who liked playing it so much they sent her letters of thanks, which she then proceeded to use in her promotions.

She also sent teaser mailings to 1,800 top buyers who would be attending the industry’s major trade show, the 1983 New York Toy Fair. Then she sent sets to radio talk show hosts and staged game-playing events at parks, bars, restaurants and ski clubs to get WOM going. The rest, as they say, is history, with Trivial Pursuit becoming one of the most successful board games ever launched.

I just want to point out that many of the marketing techniques in use today in social media aren’t new. We are standing on the shoulders of pioneers like Linda Pezzano, in viral marketing, John Caples in direct marketing, and Edward L. Bernays, long recognized as the “father of public relations.”  They achieved great things without the Internet, proving that original ideas are still the currency of successful marketing campaigns.