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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Social Media Series: Chris Kieff on Bridging New & Old

This week's guest for Flooring The Consumer's Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old is Chris Kieff.

Chris Kieff represents a fascinating blend of sales and marketing, web design, SEO, PPC and social marketing with experience across a range of industries. In his current role with Ripple6, he interacts with traditional print and broadcast media companies, literally bridging old with new, via "a white label social media platform that integrates social media, content publishing, ad serving and social marketing with the industry’s only embedded word-of-mouth analytics tools." Examples include MomsLikeMe, the MixingBowl and MomJunction.

Chris blogs at the Ripple6 Blog as well as 1 Good Reason, his personal blog. He also contributed "The Secret to Conversing with Non-Humans" to The Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It? - the book that 237 authors from around the world collaborated on to benefit Variety, the children's charity [please consider buying the book]. This snippet from his chapter - "There are Non-Human Entities among us... They move amongst us quietly, unseen by most. However, they carry immense power. These things can make or break companies, individuals, and careers..." - gives you a feel for some of the wisdom and humor he brings to what he does.

C.B.: Chris, how and why did you get involved in social media?

Chris: I joined an advertising agency and as the Director of Online Marketing became responsible for promoting the founder’s blog. I started promoting the blog via social media and learned best practices. When I left the agency I started my own blog and started promoting myself as my personal brand. This allowed me to jump into Social Media with both feet which eventually lead to my current job as Director of Marketing with Ripple6, a company that builds social networks.

So now I get to spend my days using social media tools to promote my social media company.

C.B.: What do you like most about social media?

Chris: I got my job with Social Media. I was looking for full time work last summer. I had seen the job posting with Ripple6, and I’d sent my resume in but I guess it never made it past the screeners. However, I was on Twitter and sent a tweet about a job opportunity that had fallen through and one of my followers came back with “Hey we’re looking for a marketing guy.” I responded that I was interested and one thing led to another and I got the interview and landed the job. Without my social media contacts, network and activity on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc., I wouldn’t have this job.

Networking with friends and getting to know them is one of the great joys of social media. I don’t have enough of a social life IRL, but I can meet lots of good interesting people all across the globe via social networking. Socializing, just chatting and getting to know people is the real joy of social media for me.

C.B.: What do you like least about social media?

Chris: The potential for miscommunication is great. I have a dry sense of humor and I know that irony doesn’t translate well into the written form because you can’t easily portray the ironic twist in writing. In something like Twitter especially it’s a problem because you’re limited to only 140 characters. In business I see people become angry over an email when it’s simply that the person on the other end was being to brief and didn’t include the niceties they would have in ordinary speech. I see that as a problem with social media especially as more people are using chatting features like Facebook and Twitter.

C.B.: What 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users? What should they try? What should they avoid? Should they model themselves after specific companies?

Chris: I work for a company that creates white label social networks and we work with many traditional print and broadcast media companies. We’ve seen success where old media converts their existing subscriber base into online communities. In the past, online publications had seen a divergence between their online and off-line memberships with a low correlation of users of both formats. However we are seeing a convergence of these two audiences with many previously off-line subscribers becoming online followers of publications where they had only had off-line relationships before. With the struggles of many traditional media today their need to convert their offline audiences into online is stronger than ever. And the opportunity presented for them to do so is also tremendous. With this as a backdrop here are my ideas:

1. Create a site where your users will get to know you and where they can interact with you. Ideally this would be a social network (powered by Ripple6), but a good interactive blog is an excellent start.

2. Go where the reader is online, if your audience is on Facebook go there. If it’s primarily artistic types and therefore on MySpace then create a thriving MySpace presence. If you cater to business types make sure you have connections on LinkedIn.

3. Remember people want ROI on their investment in time. Ensure that all of your online efforts are aimed at creating value for the user- first.

4. Place the ROI of your site and your advertising revenue behind the ROI of the user (see #4 above). This is because we’ve become sophisticated consumers of online content. We all have ADD and you must place your visitor’s needs above your own because it shows when you don’t, and they’ll vote with their mice and click away.

5. Place an activity moratorium on your staff as they enter the social media world. We use a 30 day No Comments, No Posts moratorium on our incoming people to give them a chance to listen and learn before they dive in and start posting. This gives them a chance to see how it’s done and avoid some of the common newbie mistakes.

C.B.: Any other thoughts to share about the effectiveness of social media in forging stronger relations with customers.

Chris: Nothing in the world will form a stronger bond with your customer than if you can find a way to proactively find and fix a problem they are having. Think of it as when you are in a restaurant and the waiter notices your glass of water is getting low and brings you a refill without your having to ask. In a $100 per seat restaurant it’s to be expected, but in a diner that kind of attention will earn the server a nice tip from me. If you can find a way to do that online you’ve turned a customer into an advocate, and that’s the holy grail of online marketing.

Because that turns into word of mouth.

Thank you, Chris.

Comments? Reactions? Feedback?

How do you guard against miscommunication when you use social media platforms? How do you ensure you are delivering value for your users? What do you think of the notion of a "30 day No Comments, No Posts moratorium?"


How do you go about turning your customers into advocates?

For additional insights from participants in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old please visit The Entire Bridging New & Old Social Media Series.

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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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