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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Paul Chaney On Bridging New & Old: Social Media Series

Paul Chaney, Social Media HandymanThis week's guest for Flooring The Consumer's Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old is Paul Chaney.

Paul Chaney is without a doubt the Social Media Handyman. His approach is grounded in practicality and relevance to business. For example, did you know that Paul has served as Technical Editor on a number of For Dummies series books related to blogs and Internet marketing? And, a contributing writer to one of my favorite books: Buzz Marketing with Blogs For Dummies?

What caught my attention and imagination when I first 'met' Paul in 2007 - during Toby Bloomberg's Diva Marketing Talks Blog Talk Radio program - was his focus on encouraging Realtors to adopt blogging as part of their marketing strategy.

BTW, he contributed "Never Start Building Without First Counting the Cost" 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].

Paul definitely extends his 'handyman' approach to his day job as Internet marketing director for Bizzuka, a Web design and development company based in Lafayette, LA, where he incorporates new media marketing strategies and techniques into the marketing mix, with programs like User Friendly Thinking on BlogTalkRadio.

But, that's not all! Oh, no... There's more. Lots more!

Paul serves as president of the International Blogging and New Media Association (IBNMA), an organization dedicated to advancing the growth of blogging, podcasting and social media as an industry. He sits on the board of advisors for the Women's Wisdom Network, the Social Media Marketing Institute, and SmartBrief on Social Media. He is a feature writer for Practical Ecommerce magazine on the use of social media for marketing purposes and blogs for MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

AND.... his newest book about social media marketing, due out very shortly in September 2009 - and a must read for all of us - is The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media. [Note: Wiley, the publisher has made chapter eight, which deals with social networks and is titled Social Networks Strengthen Your Social Graph, available. Per Paul, feel free to download, read and share.]

C.B.: Paul, how/why did you get involved in social media?

Paul: Oddly enough I got involved in social media two times. The first was back in blogging's heyday. I've always been somewhat of an early adopter and started playing with blogs in 2003. I had seen Blogger prior to that (2001 maybe), but it made no sense to me at the time.

By the time Typepad was introduced, however, it began to click. Others in my field were experimenting with blogs and I could better understand the medium. Still, it was early. For example, I attempted to incorporate blogs into the organization I served as director of online communications, but it failed to catch on. We were using email marketing heavily and had begun to experiment with RSS. However, they weren't ready for such an open, interactive, direct form of communication so it never gained traction. In lieu of that, I started my own blog and began to write about all things Internet marketing-related.

Blogging released my inner writer and I found myself becoming almost addicted to the medium. I also found myself writing more and more about how to use blogs for business purposes.

In 2004, I struck out on my own, became one of a handful of business blogging consultants and set about to build what we now refer to as social capital. I helped start a blogging software company - called Blogging Systems - that targeted the real estate industry and co-authored a book on real estate blogging, Realty Blogging: Build your Brand and Outsmart Your Competition.

Somewhere in 2007, I sort of fell off the wagon, but only for a short time. I was watching the landscape change from an emphasis on blogging to what was being referred to as social media. It dawned on me that, unless I wanted to be a relic of the past, I had better jump back on the bandwagon and become familiar with this new publishing genre.

With the help of two people in particular, Ann Handley and John Moore, I reinvented myself and went from being the "blog coach" and became the "social media handyman."

While I still harken back to blogging's good old days on occasion, I thoroughly enjoy participating in this "terra incognita" that is social media, with a view toward proving its value as a marketing communications tool.

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

Paul: Connecting and interacting with people. Social media is the most human of all forms of marketing and I like the genuineness of relationships that can develop thanks to it. The best friends I have in the entire world came through social media interaction and I'm happy to say I've had the opportunity to meet many of them in real life.

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

Paul: I find many people are attempting to "game" it using direct response marketing tactics. They don't understand that the way you market in this genre is different than how marketing is done otherwise. It's less lead generation marketing and more an information sharing form. That's not to say leads can't be developed using social media, for certainly they can. It's just that it's not the fast road, but, rather, the high road. It's relationship marketing where trust is built over time. "Slow and steady wins the race" is the lesson of the tortoise and the hare, right?

Akin to that, people are adopting the toolset of social media without first understanding the mindset. Today, "markets are conversations" as the Cluetrain says. Therefore, participation is marketing , and not blatant ballyhooing. St. Francis of Assisi put it this way, "Seek first to understand, then be understood." That how social media marketing should be done. It begins with listening.

C.B.: How has social media changed how you interact with the marketplace as a consumer or customer?

Paul: Good question, because I'm not just a marketer, but a consumer as well. One thing that's changed is that I rarely purchase a product or service, even consider doing business with a particular brand, without first checking with my peers. Word of mouth recommendations are the most valuable form of marketing and I rely on it when making my own purchases.

Social media has put WOM on steroids. No longer is it a matter of checking with just a few close friends. I can glean the experiences of many people.

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?

First, understand that social media is not just a toolset, but has an underlying mindset. It's not just a matter of "how," but "why" as well. There is a reason universities teach theory and principles courses first before practicum. Social media has its own set of both and to be ultimately effective, one has to understand what those are.

Second, learn to listen before you talk. God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening is the new marketing. By listening, you hear what's being said, who's saying it and where the conversation is taking place. Listen for three things: Share of voice, tone of voice and trends over time.

Third, get a seat at someone else's table. By that I mean, once you've determined where conversations about your brand are taking place, engage consumers there. Two places where this is happening routinely are Facebook and Twitter. You cannot get past these two behemoths, especially if you're in a B2C environment.

Fourth, set a table of your own. It's not just a matter of going to sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or others and joining in the conversation. Start one of your own. If anything, the recent acquisition of Friendfeed by Facebook has taught us that it's good to have a place to call your own. For example, a blog can be your social media headquarters. If your consumer base is large enough, consider starting an online community built around your brand.

Fifth, measure the effects of the conversation. That's an unpopular topic among many in social media, simply because they have deemed it difficult to adequately measure the impact. I beg to differ. Social media marketing is still marketing and is, therefore, subject to the same statistical scrutiny as any other form. Also, software is being developed right now to make the job easier. Lastly, when we're talking about measurement, we're not meaning just quantitative, but qualitative as well. Some measurement can't have a number assigned to it.

Bottom line, the CEO wants to know the ROI of SMM! That's not going away whether we like it or not.

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

Paul: Simply, you'll never know how well social media may serve you unless you step into the water. There are many books available, including my own, that will give you all the information needed to begin the engagement process. Social media marketing conferences take place all the time across the country too. Those can be good venues for learning as well as networking with others. Jump in! The water is fine.

Thank you, Paul!

Comments? Questions? Observations?

What do you think about Paul's statement that "the way you market in this genre is different than how marketing is done otherwise. It's less lead generation marketing and more an information sharing form"?

I love his characterization that "listening is the new marketing" as well as the notion of setting a table of your own and getting a seat at someone else's table.

What caught your attention?

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

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