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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Social Media Series: Lewis Green on Bridging New & Old

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

You don't need to meet Lewis Green in person to realize that he cares deeply and doesn't mess around. It certainly comes through on his blog, BizSolutionsPlus, and in any interactions you have with him. The founder and managing principal of L&G Business Solutions, a marketing and communications firm whose motto is "we grow business," Lewis believes deeply in values like integrity and service to deliver results. ROI is something he regularly addresses.

All of this must come from his 8 years in the Air Force. Or perhaps from being an 'accidental writer' as he describes in Diva Marketing's Blogger Stories: Lewis Green. Or maybe with having successfully reinvented himself multiple times as travel writer, editor, corporate management and entrepreneur.... Then, again, there's his recently published 5th book How to Grow a Business by Putting People First (AKA Lead With Your Heart) which discusses "how to bridge the gap between old and new and how to integrate media tools to create a dialogue that will engage people."

You can also find Lewis at Online Marketing for Marketers and Marketing Profs Daily Fix. A fellow contributor to The Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It?, his chapter is titled "What Does the Future Hold for Business Conversations?" The ending shouldn't surprise you given what you now know about him: "Real corporate value, real efficiencies, and real ideas that will affect the bottom line -- that is what businesses will need."

CB: Lewis, how/why did you get involved in social media?

Lewis: After moving from Seattle to Connecticut in 2003, I wanted to re-establish my company, L&G Business Solutions. With no professional network to tap in the Northeast, I figured the best way to promote my marketing and consulting business would be a blog. I launched the blog in 2005, with a goal of attracting customers to my business. Not surprisingly, I generated little traffic and few business leads.

Instead of giving up, however, I took the time to study social media, then implemented a detailed strategy for attracting and maintaining a solid readership base. As a result, I turned my blog into a major source of lead generation, triggering a 40% increase in my client base in 2007. That was the ROI.

However, along the way I learned about the value of a blog. My community of peers and virtual friends stretches around the world. And I have had the fortune to meet in person more than a few of these friends. The blog has both been profitable and a happy and mostly warm experience. The value of meeting interesting and smart people, learning from them and appreciating their lives would have made my blogging a worthwhile experience even had there been no ROI; however, without ROI I would not have achieved my original and continuing goal to use it as a lead generation and marketing/communications tactic.

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

Lewis: Social media and social networking are hard work. On average, I write four to five posts a week for my blogging, including contributing to Marketing Profs Daily Fix. In addition, I visit LinkedIn, Facebook and Plaxo Pulse several times a week and spend some time on Twitter every day. And while valuable time is directed to these areas and writing is never easy, even for an author and a former journalist and free-lance writer, the work is rewarding and enjoyable.

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

Lewis: Social media never causes me any dislikes but I am frustrated by those who see these tools as something special for the business world. Those of us who have worked in the various communications areas in corporations have seen tools come and go, and we have used them, abused them and disused them. That likely will continue with social media. At the end of the day, it won’t be those who talk about little else than social media who find the right uses in business for the tools; it will be those who try, fail and try again in a business setting to find the right strategies and goals for the proper use of the tools. And the goal won’t be conversation. What it will be is yet to be determined.

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?

Lewis: I would recommend the following:

Start small, perhaps with a blog.

Don’t create a department for social media. No business needs another layer.

Like all tactics, integrate social media into the plan of the departments in which the tactics will be used. Those departments likely will be marketing, communications (internal & external), retail, customer call center, etc.

Establish measurable goals, strategies to achieve those goals and measure, measure, measure.

Don’t listen to anyone who says social media can’t be measured for results. It can be.

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

Lewis: Inbound marketing and communications are the places to enhance conversations and build relationships with our best customers. When used with analytical and predictive software to listen and gather information about customers wants, needs, likes and dislikes, social media can be another way to produce wonderful customer experiences.

Thank you, Lewis!

Comments? Reactions? If the goal of social media isn't conversation, what do you think it will be? How are you using social media to produce wonderful customer experiences?

Previous posts in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old include:
+ Amber Naslund
+ Toby Bloomberg
+ Steve Woodruff
+ Ann Handley
+ Mack Collier
+ Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old

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Jeff said...

I'll stick my neck out, Lewis. I bet "the conversation" may not really be a conversation at all. Externally, it will be about (marketers) speaking only when spoken to. Being truthful about your marketing statements and being forced to back up claims. It will be about discovery -- of products and services that have, in reality, always sucked or always provided high utility and/or unique experience.

I agree -- with few exceptions, value extraction from "all things social" will come from fewer of the self-proclaimed experts.

Keep up the good work, Lewis. I'd like to amplify your recent comment (and will elsewhere):

"... we don't define functional areas by the tools they use. So in a literal sense, there is no such thing as social media marketing, although it can be a tactical effort within Marketing."

Like a breath of fresh air!

CB Whittemore said...

Jeff, thank you for sticking your neck out! In many ways, you equate "the conversation" with a strong service culture as we've not seen it before coming from marketers.

I also appreciate your amplifying Lewis' comment about social media being tools in service of marketing.

Thanks for adding your perspective.

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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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