Tag Archives: twitter

Is Facebook Too Big To Fail?

Oh that’s just not possible you say. Facebook fail, no way. Just let your imagination go for a minute.

I don’t think any of us could have imagined the possibility of General Motors failing, or AIG, or Citigroup for that matter, all of whom benefited through the combination of The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). In all of these cases, it was deemed appropriate to step in with financial help because these companies were “too big to fail.” The great economic domino effect of their failures would have lead to catastrophic consequences.

Let’s face facts, humans make mistakes, and so do CEO’s. It’s not beyond the realm of “possible” to imagine a world without Facebook, where enough mistakes, bad investments, scandals, questionable IPO’s et cetera, cause this social institution to fail. Do you suppose the government would step in and help?

I don’t want you to get confused here, I’m not trying to be political as I’m really going in another direction which I hope to reveal shortly.

Millions of people spend hours and hours documenting, sharing, responding, ranting, posting, joking, pontificating, preaching, questioning, bragging and lecturing on Facebook. The number of personal images and videos put there is staggering. Some would say that this is a giant waste of time. Regardless, when you think about the fact that whole lives are being stored on FB’s massive server farms and that this may be the only place where those lives are documented, you can begin to wonder – If that’s true, a Facebook failure could in fact cause catastrophic consequences for some. Unless of course, they have a backup plan.

I was reading recently in the “AARP Bulletin” (yes, I am old enough to read this) about the need for Baby Boomers to embrace social media, especially if they are interested in looking for a job. They talk about a “digital footprint” which I thought was a great term, because it encompasses several social media properties, including your own personal website. The article suggests that this website have your name as the URL, like davidsoxman.com. And let’s face it, if you’re not out there socially, you look out of touch.

What does your financial advisor always suggest when investing your money, diversify? By doing so, you spread risk across multiple investment strategies and therefore reduce your exposure to the failure of one. I think the same applies to how you document your life experiences on the web.

There are many ways to memorialize the important events in your life and it doesn’t have to be all in one place, i.e. Facebook. Social media sites exist that cater to all kinds of interests and life styles. If your interested in a list, Wikipedia.org has an exhaustive list and even describes what they are about. Check it out even though there are some obvious omissions like Reddit, Stumble Upon, Vimeo and YouTube to name a few.

If the leadership of Facebook pulls off something really stupid and the company fails, and the government chooses not to “bail out” the social behemoth, by having your life documented across multiple online properties, you can reduce the risk that your life’s experiences could vanish with the unplugging of a server. Or, you could gamble that Facebook really is too big to fail.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


You’re Really Not Ready for Social Media, Are You?

The social media pig

There’s an old saying in the opera business, “Never teach a pig to sing because it will frustrate you and irritate the pig!”

I bring this up as I recently had the pleasure of talking with a company that provides professional services, specifically architecture, which has enjoyed a long history of providing innovative, functional designs and building planning for their clients.  They have enjoyed the luxury of great word of mouth referrals that have meant a continuing stream of business, which has fueled growth and provided good salaries for many employees.

This firm is now at a crossroads.  There is a concern that there are many opportunities, for which they are well qualified, that they are simply not hearing about.  There are deals happening that they aren’t aware of until an RFP goes out and they’re in the situation of bidding for low profit work, and as we all know, you can starve to death answering RFP’s.  They are significantly more successful when they can get involved in the early stages of planning, to be able to influence design and staging decisions in their favor.  What’s more, their pool of referred leads from existing clients is either not providing a sufficient number of high quality leads or that well may be starting to dry up.

Into this situation I introduce their website that is some number of years old, is primarily a static online brochure, is hard to navigate within and doesn’t provide easy ways to capture leads nor to encourage any visitor interaction.  Any efforts at search optimization are minimal at best.

Does any of this sound familiar?

In preparation for meeting with this firm, I was curious to see what kind of conversations from the architectural industry existed in the blogosphere.  Having looked at a number of aggregator sites, and doing some simple keyword search, I was able to conclude that there are ample opportunities for this firm to begin to become engaged in a dialog about their industry and for which they have a passion.  There are questions being raised and design theories being discussed that would enable this firm to present themselves as not only experts, but also as concerned professionals in the advancement of their art.

My biggest mistake was to use the words, social media.  The immediate response was, “Well, we’re not big believers in Twitter and Facebook, we just don’t see how those apply to our clients, what’s more, those involve so much time that the payoff is hardly worth the effort.”  It didn’t surprise me to then hear that the principals of the firm thought their website was just fine, that it was not really all that important and no money needed to be spent there.

I had one of two choices: try to teach the pig to sing or simply walk away.  I chose the latter.

I have found an interesting series of seven B2B case studies put into a well organized ebook by the good folks at MarketSherpa and available at Hubspot.  If you go to page 56 of this ebook, you’ll find a case study of a professional services firm, an accounting firm, who used social media and SEO to build a lead generation machine that drove direct sales.  In fact, they saw their website traffic increase by 68% and generate 10 to 15 leads per month!  The old website generated no leads at all.

You can choose to ignore what is happening in marketing right now.  You can say that it’s just not for you, and maybe it’s not.  But if there is a conversation taking place out there in your industry, and you’re not part of it, then you’ve lost a big chance to stand out.  You’ve also probably missed a great opportunity to grow your business.

Well, are you ready?

All my best,


The CMO Outsource

Marketing ROI: Is It All About The Low Hanging Fruit?

“I want the marketing dollars I spend to have an immediate impact.  I need to be able to see sales go up within the first thirty days or I’m unlikely to continue with it.”

“I’ve never been able to see how using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or blogging can increase the leads I receive.”

“Is there any way to get my phone to ring more?”

“I’m really only interested in going after the low hanging fruit, something that will pay for my efforts right away.  After that, I’ll figure something else out.”

We live in a world of instant gratification.  We learn to move on quickly if we’re not immediately entertained.  Wall Street demands quarterly results. If something takes too long, it’s just not worth it.

I have been accused at times of quoting Seth Godin too much.  I don’t really mean to other than I am a regular reader and I truly believe he is one of the innovative thinkers of our time.  So, please forgive my idolatry.

In “Driveby Culture and the Endless Search for Wow,” Seth poses the question of whether as marketers we should be focused on getting and measuring the number of eyeballs that view our content or whether we should be concerned about those people who have a true interest, who want to listen, who may actually become long-term customers.

I’ve always tried to emphasize to business owners that what ever marketing efforts are made, it is ultimately about sales and profits, otherwise why expend the energy?  And, I am also a proponent of prioritizing efforts so that at least you can garner the “low hanging fruit,” so you can see some immediate results.  But, I am also quick to point out that many other marketing efforts, especially those where you are trying to build a dialog, a relationship with people who can help spread your brand, people who will be your proponents, will definitely take time and patience. Sometimes a Return on Investment or ROI is not measured short-term in more leads or calls.

Do you agree?

Marketing Communications: Why Is Everybody Always Yelling At Me?

man with megaphone yelling

There they were, two kids standing toe to toe and nose to nose, with faces beet red, cheeks puffed out, sweat dripping from their forehead, fists clenched to their side, and even though they weren’t more than a few inches from each other, their voices were raised in a mutual fortissimo that could be heard a block away.  The idea, of course: Speak louder than the other guy and win the argument.  This scene is a very funny thing to watch because as we all know, it just doesn’t work.  A whole lot of time and energy gets wasted.  Sound familiar?

I talk with business owners who are just getting into the “social media” game and of course they will ask my opinion on what they’ve done.  Many get caught in the trap of not being able to step outside of the mindset that social media tools should be used for promoting the business, to help people understand what it is about their company that is better than anything else out there.  And this extends beyond just social media to most other forms of communication.  Websites, billboards, brochures, television spots, email all are used as just another method of repeating their marketing message only louder, more often, to more people and oh yea, did I say LOUDER.  It is very hard to break old habits but it’s an absolute necessity.

We are yelled at all day, from so many sources, all standing about two inches from us trying as hard as possible to get our attention by yelling louder than anyone else, yet the effectiveness of this diminishes with each passing day.  As a species, we are developing greater capabilities for ignoring the noise.

As Seth Godin says, “The goal shouldn’t be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people who choose to listen.

Here are some ideas that might be different:

  • Instead of telling someone about your product or service, ask them what they need or what is on their mind
  • Use Twitter, Facebook, your blog, your website, email, etc. to start a conversation
  • Stop promoting yourself
  • Invite comments, even if they disagree
  • Let people understand what it is about YOU that they might find interesting or be able to relate with
  • Build trust
  • Tell what is happening in your industry and what is your take on it
  • Mention interesting books, blogs or articles that you have read
  • Strive to give more than you get

What are your thoughts or what might you add to this list?

You’re Regulated – Control Your Social Marketing!


We are now several years into the maturity of social media as an accepted form of marketing as evidenced by Shawn Kincaid’s post regarding Twitter becoming mainstream.  Many other articles have been written about the dangers to your business of refusing to hop on the social bandwagon, including one I posted.

As marketers we know that one of the most powerful aspects of social media is the two-way conversation that takes place, the ability to “listen” to what is being said about you, your brand and your products.  Never before have companies been in such an enviable position of being able to directly respond to comments made about them.  But, with this power comes the cost of losing control over your brand and marketing, something many have real problems with.

This is especially true in industries that are heavily regulated, such as financial, municipal and as Brian Morrissey writes, pharmaceutical.  I have spoken with many business owners and business developers from these industries that face similar concerns about social media and how they can engage without getting themselves and their company in a lot of trouble.  I don’t mean to say that their concerns are unjustified, and I would strongly recommend hiring knowledgeable legal resources who understand these ramifications.  As Brian states, the penalty for a social misstep can even go so far as to having your key product or your professional license removed from the marketplace!

As such, since these industries must maintain a firm control over their social interaction, even to the point of hiding their involvement, they end up being on the sidelines watching the rest of the marketing world heading forward at warp speed and leaving them behind.  Their marketing is stuck in a serious auto-pilot.

What this tells me is that our regulators, the ones trying so hard to protect us, are seriously out of touch with reality.  The kinds of restrictions placed on financial, governmental and pharmaceutical companies, and their ability to stay current in their marketing, is stuck in the 20th century.

As we all know from the many stories of celebrities getting into trouble, what takes place on the Internet is so transparent that it would appear the perfect place to allow the kinds of open dialog that is the essence of social media.  Would it not be acceptable for regulated industries to have that same level of transparency and be able to enter into constructive dialog with their customers?  I think the phrase is “trust but verify.”

I’d love to know your thoughts.