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If you haven’t heard the news, Apple just announced the iPad – a tablet device to really complement the iPhone and laptop/desktop. This post is not an analysis of the features/functionality, but rather my thoughts on how we as marketers can learn from their marketing.  But, to see a ton of posts on this go to Alltop, or see the full keynote here.

I was following as much of this as I could on Twit.tv where they had more than 100,000 following their live audio (and sometimes video) feed. The truly remarkable part of this annoucement was the viral nature of this. No press release was put out, but rather rumors emerged on the Web all the way from early 2009 on what this product would look like and have for feature/functionality. There was HYPE!

The announcement was not mind blowing. Some were dissapointed by lack of features such as not having a camera, mic, and multi-tasking, but all of those that I talked to said they would still buy it. Apple did an incredible job by embracing bloggers. They gave press passes to bloggers, which in turn they knew would “live blog” about this – I was also following 5 or so live blogs to see who could get up coverage faster. Engadget and Gizmodo actually went down a few times due to the amount of people viewing their site. And twitter, well that was a lost cause with more than 1,000 posts every few seconds.

The lesson for us all – success does not lie only in the press release. By embracing the Web and inviting bloggers to your events can turn into a huge Web event and free promotion of your product. In doing so, you find the true evangelists that will hype the product, even if there is a bit of disappointment in the final product.

Now I know we all do not have the luxury of being an Apple, but we still can take some of the success of this announcement into our practices when announcing products. Anything in the tech space can be ground breaking, and hype can be built on the Web around it –  the key is finding true evangelists on the Web to talk about it.

I’ve been putting off a new post for a while now and was inspired by this post from Jeremiah Owyang on “Community Manager Appreciation Day”. Within the organization where I am employed the community manager role has evolved as an essential role with our launch in 2009 of an external community for clients. Even more, I read about it every day thru Twitter, Friendfeed, articles from major publications and the blogs of those that have evangelized and basically created this space we call social media.

At the end of 2009 I carefully aggregated perceptions and predictions on what would happen in digital/social space in 2010. Social network aggregation and growth, video, and mobile were the key trends that I found. Although I do agree, I’ll put my bets on community building online (via paid community platforms).

Community building can be looked at a few ways. There are external communities that are housed on networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, but I see a big play in the organizationally created community. This would be something on a community platform such as Jive, KickApps, Telligent, and Awareness (to name a few). These types of communities can be structured to meet every organizational goal, which is something not easy to do on a “free” social network. They can be used internally and/or externally.

Home-grown communities can be driven from key initiatives in the organization through the collaborative nature of these platforms. If it be to drive sales, deliver thought leadership, customer support, consulting, or just giving a platform for customers to talk to one another, these platforms will be able to support it. Even better, you will have all of the activity on one dashboard, tailor promotions around one community (rather than multiple i.e. facebook, linkedin, etc.), and more importantly, moderate [and in a way] control the message – at least this is the tactic you can take to get executive buy-in.

When making this move it is essential for organizations to designate a community manager to be the “go to person” in building out  more communities within the organization – did I say that these platforms are very scalable! In talking to colleagues from various industries, I am seeing the creation of one community spark ideas and interest from many business units and groups within the organization that may have shyed away from the original idea of talking to customers online. And a community manager can facilitate all of this giving best practices and leveraging one platform across the organization.

The role is real and essential to build the proper roadmap and strategy for the entire online community involvement of the organization. I put my bets on seeing more and more community manger roles evolve for both internal and external roles. What are your thoughts?

My last post was about terrible customer service I experienced at Golf Galaxy, where I was a very loyal and frequent customer. I gave it two weeks to see if I would get any type of contact from Golf Galaxy, but did not get anything. What I did get out of it was the satisfaction of finding out that this has happened to many other people. Many of it through the Web (comments on FB, email, etc.) and also through interaction with friends and family. One of my biggest accomplishments out of this was having one of my friends (who buys new clubs every year) react by saying, “Wow. I have had decent experiences there but nothing great. Looks like I won’t be going back now….ever.”

But through this experience there are some key takeaways that we can all take when it comes to your brand being exposed negatively on the Web. And let me get this straight, my experience was not like many recent ones that were just huge (Dominos, Motrin), mine was very small in Web proportions with having just over 400 people view my post, 4 RT on Twitter, and 12 comments (FB and email). But here is the deal, this is thousands of people being exposed to this experience. Not all will change their minds and stop shopping there, but a few will.

The biggest thing that brands are having issues with on the social Web is listening. Obvsiously noboby was listening on the Web for Golf Galaxy two weeks ago when this post came out. If they were listening they could have joined the conversation by commenting on the blog, sending me something on twitter or facebook, or direct messaging me via twitter or email. If they would have done so acknowledging the situation and apologizing I would have wrote a post about how good they were at listening. And even better maybe would have given Golf Galaxy another chance in the future. Instead, they have lost a customer (hopefully hundreds!) for life.

So what should they do to prevent this in the future. Just a few thoughts:

  • Start a twitter account and listen. Search golf galaxy every day to see what people are saying. Also use this account to put out sales or coupons (much like the emails that they send).
  • Start searching the Web for blogs that talk about them and join the conversation.
  • Start being social on their own. Align social tools with marketing objectives.

Good luck.

The Situation

I have been a big time golfer (well atleast the interest level is huge) for my whole life. I spend money on the newest clubs, balls, even biodegradable tees! It was time for new grips because the cord (style) grips that I had were just not cutting it for me. So, I went to Golf Galaxy where I always buy (in this case bought) all of my golf necessities.

The Story

Monday 5/4/09 – Go to Golf Galaxy in Brookfield to get new grips. At the end of last year I had them put the Winn G8 on my 4 iron to test it out over the winter and see if it is what I wanted to switch to for all of my clubs. The test went good so I decided to switch to this grip. I went into the store and proceeded to the grip area. Went back and a guy was back there gripping a club. He was doing it for an elderly man who was trying to create some conversation with the employee – the employee wasn’t having it. Replied with one-word answers basically blowing the old man off. To be honest, don’t even know if the elderly man needed a regrip but really was just looking to  have some good golf conversation.

So I went and looked at grips. The G8 was advertised but did not have any grips for sale in the “bin”. I looked around and waited for the employee to finish the regrip. He finished and I asked if they had any G8’s in. He replied, “I don’t think so.” I asked if he could check “in the back” and he replied that they were all out and didn’t sell them anymore. BUT they were advertising them so that was a little sketchy.

Being open to other options I began asking questions. “Is this one like the G8?” “Is this one firm or soft?” “I don’t want a cord, so can you tell me which ones are opposite of that?” The response that I got was basically that it was a personal preference/he didn’t really care to help. Yes, I know it is a personal preference but you are paid to give me information! So we went around and around, basically I felt that the dude just wanted to go back for a cig break or think about his broken dream of being on the tour and now stuck in Golf Galaxy. So I found the Winn DSI. Nice grip but the display wasn’t on a shaft. Asked him if he could put it on one and employee said “no”. Ughhh.

You are probably asking now, “Why in the world did I even stay after this?” For me it’s all about loyalty. I have been loyal my whole life. Loyal in my job, loyal to my friends, girlfriends, and to my favorite stores. So I gave them a chance. I ended up getting the Winn DSI and had them put the grips on. I asked when I could get them and he said by the weekend. 7 days for 10 grips? Come one now! The guy was being a jerk. I tried to engage in conversation about a course that he and now another employee were talking about and they blew me off.

So I got an estimate for the work. I know it is an estimate and they can change it – yes I get it. But the guy’s estimate was only for the labor of 2 grips plus price of 10 grips for a total of around $65. I really thought he was hooking me up for being such a terrible help, but turns out he was just incompetent and couldn’t figure out how to work the computer. So I signed and left, asking to have the grips by the weekend and they said hopefully it could be done. 9 out of 10 times I would have brought up the mistake. But in this case he ought to be doing me a favor anyway.

Wednesday 5/6/09 – Early! Got an email the grips were done. Sweet, thanks buddy for coming through. I’m busy with softball the next few night so go in Friday. Go back by the club repair area and there is nobody around. Stand there for a good 4 or 5 minutes and two employees walk by but don’t acknowledge my existence. Awesome… Then the same guy comes back. Thinking he may have had a case of “the Mondays” during my last visit I give him a chance.

He walks up I say, “What’s going on man?” He blows me off…”Last name?” Really? After not helping me you have to be a huge prick. So I tell him my last name and look and the estimate is change to $90 (from $65). I say to him that the estimate was $65 when I signed on Monday. He replies that he screwed up (no “sorry I screwed up sir”) but just a non-genuine answer. So I say that the original was $65 that I signed and I shouldn’t have to pay for his screw up (in a very NICE way). He says he screwed up and I have to pay it, end of story. I come back and say that I have been coming here for at least 5 years and should not have to pay it. SIDE NOTE – if you know me, I am not cheap. Have never been cheap. But after how I was treated at Golf Galaxy I think I should be compensated for terrible service and shouldn’t have to pay for someone’s screw up.

So this guy then has the nerve to say, “So lookin’ for a freebie. I get it. You can go to the manager and try to get your freebie.” Basically saying that I am cheap. Golf Galaxy employees are now calling their customers (loyal customers) cheap! As you can imagine, I am furious. Just furious. So I go to the manager. Instead of apologizing and saying “Sir, I’m sorry that we screwed up but we cannot do anything about it,” he ends up telling me that the work was done and I have to pay it. I tell him that I don’t care about the money part, but the service was terrible. Even go on to tell him that his prick of an employee was unhelpful and extremely rude. He has no answer, but he can give me half off the difference ($10). I even said I would never come back again and he could still do nothing! Ohh, and still no apology on their mistake and his employees terrible service. I leave in frustration.

The Loss

I have been going to only Golf Galaxy for everything like I mentioned. Even have forwarded sales via email to friends, coworkers and family. Not any more. I am finished at Golf Galaxy for life.

My estimated future purchases and projected revenue lost for the next 40 years. Sorry Golf Galaxy but I’m going elsewhere.

Irons (new every 5 years): $1000 x 8 = $8000

Driver (new every 3 years): $300 x 13 = $4000

Woods/Hybrids (new every 3 years): 3 clubs x $200 each = $7800

Balls (5 boxes year):  $40/dozen = $8000

Total Estimate: $27,800 – this does not include shoes, gloves, tees, bags, and clothes – all bought at Golf Galaxy in the past.

The Power of Social (social experiment)

RT and pass this along. Let’s see if I hear anything from Golf Galaxy. I will update the post if I do. Twitter tag: #antigolfgalaxy

In these tough times there is absolutely no reason NOT to go out and build your personal brand. You need to absolutely kill it when it comes to your own representation. For ways to do this go to a post from last month on growing your network. I saw this opportunity to kill it on twitter the other night. I was relaxing and watching Scarface when I got a message that @Scobleizer is now following me. Are you kidding me! If you have no idea who Robert Scoble is, you need to start at Web 2.0 101. This guy is one of the most profound gurus in the space.

See, I took like 15 days or so off of twitter due to a ridiculous span of working my tail off and now have come to the realization that I need to take advantage of this opportunity. And taking advantage in no means is about  just posting more STUFF, which unfortunately  on twitter there is just a lot of STUFF, but it is about posting content that can build a relationship with a top guru in the space. And when I say stuff, I mean irrelevant information from individuals which I think actually builds the character of the tool itself – don’t take it out of context, twitter is awesome. It brings collaboration and socialization together. You can gain knowledge from others while also learning about them. Their travel, their habits, their personal experiences.

You know some say they have those life changing moments when they have a near death experience. Mine came with a simple email notification of a new follower. I gotta step my game up and kill it. I need to contribute content to the masses that is new and worthwhile. Crush it as Gary V would say….haha dude is another guru when it comes to the space.

Are you concerned about your job? Or do you want something even better? There is one thing that you can do to make yourself ready for a change – build your online network.

In times like these, it is essential to build your network online. Start making virtual friends with those in your field all over the world. Here is a list of some necessary steps to take online.

  • Go to Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Bebo, etc. and build your network of friends
  • Go to these social networks and join groups that surround your profession and PARTICIPATE
  • Participation is key. Be active and be well known and thoughtful
  • Join FreindFeed and subscribe to top professionals in your area (and me if you want!)
  • Join Twitter and follow top thought leaders and professionals in your area (@samsova)
  • Find top bloggers in your area and put them into an aggregator (like myyahoo.com) and learn
  • search for free or cheap events in your city

The biggest thing to take out of this is to build YOU online. Understand how people follow one another and how to be followed so that you are well know. Start a blog, contribute to a blog (comment). Be thoughtful. Just participate.

Hopefully taking some of these actions will help you understand more what is going on in your profession and will open up opportunities in these tough times.

It is interesting how people associate things like work and sports with the term WE if they truly feel part of it. A few weeks back I was in Minnesota visiting some friends that I have not seen for years and really noticed this when everyone started talking about their jobs. Most people worked at places that nobody has every heard of (one being Fiserv) and it was interesting to see the difference in descriptions of the organization. The big thing was the use of either “WE” or “The company does….”

So for example, one friend said, “I work at xyz company. We are the biggest manufacturer of nuts and bolts in the world with over 50,000 clients worldwide.” Where the other one said, “I work for abc company. ABC is the second largest publisher in the nation.” The big difference was WE. The people who used the term WE were truly engaged in what there company did and cared. They felt part of it. It was more than just a pay check and a 9-5. For the other example, you could tell that it was just a job for them. They really weren’t brand ambassadors. I sure wouldn’t work there or believe much by the way he talked about the organization.

People do this with sports too. I had a huge debate with a friend in college when I started talking about the Brewers baseball team as if I was really on it. “We will go to the world series this year.” When you are a true fan you are a brand ambassador for that team.

So the big question is do you use WE when you talk about your company? Are you a true brand ambassador? If not, it may be time to start doing or get out.

Implementing a social media strategy in the enterprise has been something that I have been working on and passionate about for almost two years now, and I really think that explaining the basics of Web 2.0 and social media has been the toughest thing in my young career. I write this series of posts based on my experiences in the enterprise and with folks in the industry that have also shared their experiences.

Rule One – Define the “old school” tools in social media

Basically, define what you have grown up with – like a blog, podcast, vodcast, forum, wiki, social network, etc. You wouldn’t believe how many executives asked me if by creating podcasts we had to buy all of our associates iPods to view it. Could you imagine the numbers going through their head! Crazy, yes…but understandable. If you are a Gen Y-er, then you probably at least know a few of the terms, especially a blog since you are reading this! But think about the older generations. You need to clearly set definitions for how you will refer to these tools in YOUR organization. So in my case, I nixed the whole podcast term for now and have referred to our online videos as – “online videos” because everyone gets it – and because I define a podcast or vodcast as something that is downloadable to an mp3 device and we have not taken it to that step yet. Truely baby steps.

The biggest thing about this generational gap is the adoption of this technology. By confusing or making it unclear what tools you are planning on using in your strategy, you will miss the boat with those that have no clue. If you make it clear of what you are using and keep it basic, easing the older generation, you are bound for more adoption and success.

When most of us give presentations, we naturally get butterflies before we deliver to any size audience. Eventhough we have prepared and practiced and “know our stuff” we still have that natural fear – Our natural fear of speaking in from of an attentive audience – all eyes on you, right…

Well the game has changed big time with crackberrys and iPhones basically in pocket’s reach of all of your attendees. Now, presenters are going to have to keep their presentations so interesting that they keep the eyes on them…instead of one’s portable device.

Over the last year I have been to a respectable amount of conferences, have been in numerous presentations, and have even been giving my own presentations to groups ranging from 1 to 125. The one thing that I have noticed is the number of people that are checking email during the presentation – I am even a victim of it. I was at the Online Marketing Summit last week and saw this first hand. Overall the conference was good, but there was one presenter that was just so damn boring that I had to pull out my blackberry (like everyone else!) and check my email. In a way I felt bad, but I was paying to see her speak and even more – giving up valuable work time to see it. And obviously everyone in the room felt the same!

So here is the scoop. If you are planning a presentation in the near future, it has to be interesting enough to hold your audience. Less text, more videos and photos. If you are talking about a Web site, go to it and give a quick demo. Embed some videos or have an entire slide with just a photo that your discussion will be revolved around. The old days of text-heavy presentations are done. If you are going to take the time and/or money of others to hear you speak, do it right or you will be talking to a crowd focused more on their email or the Web than with what you have to say.

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