This morning while I was trying to write up my MPDM recap and sound witty on Twitter, a courier knocks on my door and tells me he has a package for me.
Ok. He then explains that he has to deliver the package at approx. 10:00 am. No biggie, I'm still with him there. Then he gives me the clincher; he explains that he has two more packages, and that he has to wait till 10:20 am to give me the second one, and 10:40 to give me the final 'heavy' one.
A bit confused, I ask him if he can just give me all three now and he explains that he can't, he can't give me any of them before or after the set time. So he sits in my driveway for almost an hour, waiting to complete his deliveries, which he promptly and accurately did.
The materials came from a very large company, one that you have all heard of. And the included letter explains that 'You're part of a handful of digital and social influencers we're reaching out to regarding a multiyear, companywide transformation.'
Now obviously, this company did this because they want me to blog about the promotion itself. And I am torn on how to do that, because on one hand, I think that this company spent a LOT of money on this that could have been better spent elsewhere. But at the same time, this company is making their first steps into social media, and there will be growing pains for them, just as there were for us all.
So I applaud their effort, but am not sold on the execution. But that's ok, trying is the important part.
Here is what I would suggest for this company, and any big company that is thinking about spending a lot of money to connect with 'bloggers and social media influencers'.
1 - Don't. Sending bloggers stuff to get us to blog about it is soooo 2006. Sure it can lead to a ton of initial buzz, but if there's no followup and if the buzz doesn't lead to the start of creating connections with your customers, then it's still money wasted.
2 - Target your online evangelists before you target 'social media influencers'. I get totally wanting to reach out to bloggers to encourage them to write about your social media initiatives. But your online evangelists already have a built-in incentive to talk about you. They WANT to. And the size of their readership really doesn't matter, their wanting to promote you is what counts. If I had the choice between targetting 25 'social media influencers' that might blog about me, or 25 blogging evangelists that I *knew* would go gangbusters to promote me, I'm picking the latter every time and twice on Tuesday.
3 - Invest time over money. Don't just throw wads of cash at promotions that are designed to 'generate buzz' among bloggers. Instead, invest TIME in creating and strengthening connections and hopefully relationships with your online customers. There is a LOT of listening involved, especially at first. The conversation can happen later, after you have a better idea of what to say. Yes it will take time, and yes it will be a lot of work. And if done properly, will be worth every second.
Remember with social media you shouldn't 'focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate'. You want to use social media as a channel to better connect with your customers, as a way for you to better understand them, and for them to better understand you.
And I should add the caveat that the materials I received today are the first wave of apparently an ongoing 'campaign' as the company wades into the social media waters. So their coming efforts could be much more in-line with what I have suggested here.
What do you think? What would be your advice for any major corporation that wanted to start using social media?