Archive for "Online Marketing"

5 Reasons Every Thought Leader Should Be on Twitter Right Now

Branding, Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media Sep 01, 2015 2 Comments

So You Want to Be a Thought Leader, Eh?

You believe you’ve got something to say. Sure you do. And logically, everyone wants to hear it. So you want to become an industry thought leader. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Everyone’s doing it.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a thought leader. It’s not always driven by ego or self-promotion. Oftentimes you do have essential knowledge about your product or service that’s truly worth sharing with an interested community. So go ahead and take the step. But there’s one thing you’re going to need first — a Twitter account.

Faster is Better

In today’s modern digital age where instant gratification is a way of life, if you plan to make ground breaking waves in your industry, change the way the world thinks about your product segment, or you simply want to personally brand yourself, you need be on Twitter. If not merely to serve as a distribution hub for your blog posts, your Twitter account is what’s going to make you relevant with your audience.

Five Reasons a Twitter Account is Essential to Being an Industry Thought Leader

1. Twitter is Where All the Real News Breaks First

There’s no place on the web where news is released faster than on Twitter. For all the black eyes the sometimes misunderstood and often maligned microblogging site gets, Twitter has literally revolutionized the way we get information. As an aspiring thought leader for your product, your service, your industry, your company, or for yourself, a Twitter account will be your lifeline to the rest of the world.

As we all know, some of the most important stories of recent time were broken in 140 characters or less. There was the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals last Spring. Then of course there was this week’s Twitter-shaking report that Beyonce and Jay-Z were having a baby. Jimmy Fallon may have “broken” it best, on Twitter, naturally. Both stories sent the Twitterverse into a veritable tizzy. And if you plan to be a spokesman for your brand, your cause, or are seeking to position yourself as a resource, Twitter is your first best bet. You will, of course, need a blog, a Facebook page and other online resources as well. But you can start here.

2. You Have a Huge Audience That’s Ready to Listen

It’s been widely reported that Twitter has somewhere in the realm of 200 million registered users. This estimate varies depending on the source. But either way you shake it, it’s a whole bunch of people clamoring to listen to what you might have to tell them. According to Wikipedia, Twitter users send up to 155 million tweets a day (again, depending who you talk to). You might say that’s a hefty number of messages to compete with, but with approximately 40% of these tweets considered by a Pear Analytics survey to be ‘pointless babble’, your challenge becomes much less daunting. As an effective communicator offering valuable knowledge and insight, you should easily be able to break through the clutter while also having a built-in distribution hub.

3. Twitter is One of the Web’s Most Popular Sites

Alexa, the California-based web traffic reporting company and subsidiary of retail giant Amazon, ranks Twitter as one the Top Ten most visited sites in the world. If none of our other arguments convince you to get involved on the platform, that should.

A true thought leader needs to be where the action is, and Twitter is truly one of the “in” places. Estimates are that the site’s success is only going to increase over time. And considering they’ve not yet come up with a plan to make money but still remain a viable and hugely successful business, the likelihood of the site going away anytime soon is very small. Any thought leader considering it should get on board now, if not only to ensure you can still claim ownership of your own name, or some close semblance of it.

4. Journalists Are There Looking for You

The people who actually report the news are using Twitter to find the news. More and more, journalists are looking to Twitter to get ideas for stories, locate contacts to quote, identify current events to cover, products to review and conduct research on all the above. And Twitter knows this. The company recently released a user’s guide just for journalists entitled “Twitter for Newsrooms” that helps editors and reporters find their way around. The fact that you’re a thought leader for your industry and you need to reach out to reporters who are actually searching for you should tell you that you need to be on Twitter today.

5. Your Competition is Already Taking Over

While Twitter may be new to you, it’s not new to others in your industry. If you want to take control of the message and influence consumer perception of your industry or your brand, you’d better have a good handle on what your competition is up to. And you can find out on Twitter. Or, if you prefer, you can slog through endless pages of online industry publications to find out what the movers and shakers in your field are up to. However, it’s likely the news you find is going to be more “history” than “breaking,” as it takes 1000 times longer to write a 1400-word article than it does a 140-character tweet. And once your competition is out in front, you’ve got a long way to go to catch up.

How to Censor Your Social Media and Still Thrive at Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Online Marketing, Social Action, Social Media Aug 15, 2015 No Comments

Twitter, Facebook and Social Change

Recently we’ve shared some posts focused on how inventive marketers are using social media channels as a method to effect social change and generate awareness for cause-related efforts. Examples of these uses of Twitter and Facebook are numerous, read CreativeBurn posts How Twitter and Tats Will Change the World and Nikki Reed and MTV Want You to “Give-A-___” (some people don’t like us using the “S” word…).

But with the ongoing UK riots continuing, the discussion of how to control social media channels during times of civil unrest has once again been raised again; this time in Parliament. Which causes us to ponder the results of censorship activities in our social communities.

To Blackout Twitter or Not to Blackout?

English Prime Minister David Cameron recently raised the generally uncomfortable specter of censorship when he suggested that social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and mobile messaging systems could be faced with restrictions or blackouts during times of civil unrest when it has been determined that demonstrators were using such channels to communicate and organize. A few weeks ago, here in Chicago, it was reported that mobs of teenagers were allegedly using Twitter and other instant messaging apps to organize and coordinate en masse attacks on random citizens at high-visibility, high-traffic locations like the Michigan Avenue shipping district and the Chicago lakefront, the latter causing police to forcible close several Chicago beaches.

Social Commentary vs. the Common Good

The topic of censorship is that forever-cliched “slippery slope” to most in Western society where any talk of restricting individual rights is generally met with opposition. But where do we draw the line between the use of social media channels and potential censorship of our online communities? Is there a place where the so-called “common good” takes precedence over the passions of change seekers? Do we want to nurture communities while restricting the free exchange of negative ideas?

Is it Time to Censor Social Media?

While it’s not our intention to discuss politics, this idea of online community censorship is something worth talking about. As creative brand chaperones, social media gurus and community managers, our agency is keenly aware of the issues surrounding word-of-mouth marketing. And as such, we think it’s necessary to address the topic of censoring social media channels, while defining what this means when it comes to subjects of law, the general order of things, our society and our online communities.

Community Management is Not for the Weak of Heart

The concept of moderating communities isn’t a new one to anyone interacting with customers via either open social media channels or private online consumer communities. The potential for consumers to openly post unrestricted, unmoderated, unobstructed feedback strikes fear in even the most capable community manager. Grey Matter has worked on many social initiatives directly for our own clients as well as those of our strategic partners. And the decision whether or not to moderate — generally considered a “politically-correct” term for censorship — comes up often.

The threat of having potentially negative feedback posted by community members for all the world to see, is often a tough pill to swallow for those unfamiliar with social media. When discussing topics of negative feedback, we’ve seen the color drain from the faces of jittery clients and trained marketing professionals alike. Our professional counsel has always been to focus on the primary goal of the community. What is the true intent of your social media marketing initiatives? This should always be to champion open, honest and genuine interaction with members wherever you find them.

Censorship is Never Good Practice, Much Less Best Practice

There’s nothing that sinks the heart of a brand manager more quickly than reading a scathing review on Yelp or a brand-killing report of a customer service experience gone wrong on Google Places. No matter the situation you find yourself in, the most successful approach is to tackle the negativity head-on, in an open forum and resolve the issue to the best of your ability. As a general rule, we never encourage the censoring of member posts.

Negative reviews, less-than-positive commentary or other potentially damaging feedback should be viewed as an opportunity to change opinions about your brand. When members see you’re involved, that you engage unflattering issues directly and are actually working on real solutions, your respect level increases exponentially.

Negativity will happen. But never ever ignore this feedback or remove these posts, even if you have the ability to do so. There’s nothing worse than having an unflattering post languish unanswered; this is your opportunity to effect your own version of change. Even worse than that is having members read a negative post one day, then have it been silently “disappeared” the next. Don’t run your communities like a banana republic dictator. Such activities will kill your efforts faster than ice melting on pavement in Tucson in July.

Establish Rules of Engagement

Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule. Some include your taking action on personal attacks aimed at community members, or the use of highly inappropriate language, or the posting of patently objectionable or illegal material. A good rule of thumb in these instances is to ensure you handle these situations appropriately, while adequately explaining your actions to remove offensive materials or squash personal attacks. The more open you are with your members, and the more honesty you share, the more they will ultimately respect you.

Best practice to effectively manage a private community is to develop and post rules governing acceptable behavior. And outline the results or penalties for breaking the rules. Most people welcome these guidelines, and will likely help you police inappropriate activity. Everyone wants a safe, drama-free environment in which gather. It’s your role as community manager to give them the tools to do so.

If the Goal for Your Community is to Fail, then Go Ahead and Censor Member Feedback. You Won’t be Around to Have the Problem for Very Long

Long story short. For any brand seeking committed open, honest and genuine communication, negative feedback should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a deal breaker. While negative comments will happen, this is your chance to resolve any issues. Your community will see that you’re as invested in them as they are in you. Embrace the unflattering. And never ever ever ever censor your members.

So, to answer the question: How can you censor your social media channels and thrive at your word of mouth marketing efforts? You can’t. And you won’t. Choosing this plan will seal your fate, sooner than you ever expected.

A Crash Course in Social Media that’s Both Fast and Free!

Online Marketing, Social Media Aug 01, 2015 3 Comments

Figuring it All Out

Feel like the “Love Train” of Social Media has left you at the station?
Did the “Magic Bus” pass you by on the Information Superhighway?
Is Social Media just too much “Mystery Machine” for you to figure out?

Well, as you might expect, the Interwebs ain’t Al Gore’s Internet anymore. But, here’s a crash course on what you should be doing to understand Social Media Marketing today.

Beware the “Experts”

There are lots of agencies, organizations, “gurus,” “experts” and more that offer Social Media classes for a fee. Some are better than others. And, you can probably get the basics from these sources, if you want to part with some money. However, we’d recommend you turning first to the Internet where you can get the same info for free. Only invest in pay-for resources once you’ve decided the direction you want to take your brand.

1. Graduate from Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing University

While not exactly for those seeking immediate gratification, the Hubspot Inbound Marketing courses will take some investment — time. Sixteen hours of courses that provide the fundamentals of Social Media marketing and a basic understanding of all you need to get started. The course includes classes on social media, SEO, landing pages, design, and a whole lot more. Best of all, a degree from Hubspot University is 100% Free!

2. Read the Best Social Media Blogs

Take some time and poke around the old standbys like Mashable, Social Media Examiner and Techcrunch. (We like them so much they’re in our Blogroll over there on the right. —>) There’s going to be a lot of content on each of these blogs that may make some newbie heads swim. But if you can keep from drowning in info overload, let the more heady stuff wash over you’re more familiar with what you’re doing. Just keep digging. You’ll find loads of invaluable information that will get you on your way.

3. Watch All the YouTube Videos You Can

Yep. That’s right. Just sit back, relax and watch some videos. YouTube is a great source for commentary and opinion on what you should be doing. Again, watch out for the “experts.” There are lot of ‘em on YouTube. Use the social power of the site itself and stick with the highest rated videos. And you’ll be well on your way.

Social Media: Welcome to the Hotel California. You Can Never Leave.

Online Marketing, Social Media Jun 30, 2014 No Comments

When Good Brands Do Bad Things

Why is it that so many brands do such a bad job with their Social Media campaigns? I believe it’s STILL primarily due to a fundamental lack of understanding of the medium as well as the lack of available internal resources.

The best way to ensure your Social Media campaign will fail is to jump in without a plan.

Make a Plan

Social Media, oftentimes considered to be a “Free” form of marketing, takes a lot more time and energy to do properly than most companies expect. Sometimes considered “fun” or perhaps even frivolous, as we know Social Media (when done right) can be a very powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. But it’s a tool that requires a great deal of attention. This is primarily why most small to mid-size brands fail at their own Social Media campaigns — so much to do, with so little time, and with the responsibility for social efforts falling to someone in the organization who’s already wearing too many hats.

Look Before You Leap

Many of our clients look to us for insights and direction on their Social Media campaigns. Sometimes they’re convinced they just ‘need to be doing something’, but they just don’t know what it is. Other times they just ‘want to get in as they don’t want to get left behind.’ It’s the “Everybody’s Doing It” (EDI) Syndrome. A small bit of wisdom shared by my grandmother multiple times as I was growing up (and perhaps by yours as well), was the question: “Would you jump off a bridge just because every one else was?”

The answer was obvious to me at the time. That was before I learned about bungee cords and base diving. But, I think grandma’s words of wisdom still apply today for some brands considering Social Media as a strategy.

Quality Takes Time

When it comes to Social Media and our clients, our advice is yes, you probably should be doing it.  And that it should be based on your marketing goals and a number of other factors, not simply because of you’ve got EDI (remember grandma from above?).  But if you’re not going to do it, you need to be doing it right or you probably shouldn’t be doing it at all. (Which is probably something else my grandmother told me. I learned a lot from that woman…)

Many brands think they’ll just start Tweeting tomorrow.  Posting Facebook updates and getting new “likes” immediately.  Or that they’ll check in with everyone everywhere via FourSquare.  And it’ll be great fun.  And who knows, it very well may.

The “Fun” Doesn’t Last Long

Some brand managers may even try this themselves for a couple weeks, until the Real World of their day-to-day interrupts and the tasks are handed off to Gloria the admin. Generally this strategy works more or less for about six months.  It’s about that time when it becomes painfully obvious that Gloria isn’t doing her own job or she’s spending too much time tracking down answers from absent executives to questions that all your new-found followers are asking. It’s around the 180-day mark when reality sets in.  When clients come to the conclusion that this Social Media thing is not all the “fun and frivolity” they thought it cracked up to be.  And that it requires way more time and resources than they’d ever expected. That’s when my phone rings again and we step in to help them out with the management of their communities.

Own Your Own Brand Online

As I always say, it’s not simply about taking ownership of your brand online by securing your company name and those of your products at any one of the 100s of social sites currently running. (And there are more springing up daily.) Of course, you do need to take steps to get full ownership of your brand. This means establishing accounts at top social sites.  But you also have to maintain these accounts. Once you decide to get in you need to have a clear plan for your activities that extends beyond your honeymoon with Social Media.

There is No Checkout Time

Social Media marketing. A virtual Hotel California. Once you check in you must stay engaged with your customers, keeping messaging and involvement consistent. They are going to expect it. So, before you decide to make your Social Media reservations, make sure you have the ability to handle (either internally, externally, or more likely a combination of both) whatever comes. With Social Media done right, you can live it up with your competition; there’s plenty of room. :)


Top 3 Essential Blogs About Blogging to Read with Your Morning O.J.

Blogging, Online Marketing, SEO Aug 18, 2013 2 Comments

Sweeten Your Daily Blog Juice

Roll out of bed. Fire up the laptop. Grab a glass of O.J. while you wait for it to power up. Give the dog a pat on the head. And a treat (or he’ll torment you until you do…). Then read the following refreshing blogs each morning.


It’s no secret how much we appreciate the insights of this prolific thought-leader from the land down under. If you haven’t heard of Jeff Bullas, you’ve been living under a rock. He pounds away at the keyboard faster than Usain Bolt doing the 100 meter. And Bullas does it all while upside down! (Get it?)

Bullas’ prolific writings are Numero Uno Essential reading for anyone into Blogging, Social Networking, Personal Branding, SEO, Advertising, Digital Media, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Product Innovation, Trends. And the list goes on. And on. He’s quickly become the “Blentor” (Blogging mentor) of our staff. Bullas is a can’t miss morning read who seems to have harnessed time travel, sending predictive communiques back to us from the future. Or maybe that’s just due to time zones, the rotation of the Earth and when our alarms wake us up.


Kristi Hines is obsessed with Blogging and Social Networking! Which is by no means a bad thing. Hines shares daily insight on How to Blog, Social Media, Self-promotion, Photography and a whole host of other topics. She’s also got a great line-up of guest writers who help her out every now and then. For those non-morning-folk, a nice, bright sunflower welcomes you to her site. What’s better to brighten a day than morning orange juice and flowers? You can find Hines bouncing around all over the net. But the best place to immerse yourself in her unique brand of insight is at her blog Incidentally, the name “Kikolani” pays homage to her grandmother Akiko.


The name of Burke’s site is a huge misnomer. Shonali Burke is far from UNlyrical. While we don’t know if she can sing, she definitely has a way with words. Having worked in professional marketing positions in both hemispheres, Burke approaches Blogging, Social Media, and Online Strategy with a finely cultivated world view. As one of Twitter’s most prolific Tweeters, she offers a refreshing daily complement of strategy, humor and compassion. Before you finish off the pulp in the bottom of your glass, check out this outstanding blog at Waxing Unlyrical. You’ll be more than happy you did. It’s guaranteed to sweeten your day.