Strangers with Experience – the new friends?

Strangers with Experience – the new friends?
Heather Rubesch - Wed Nov 11, 2009 @ 04:46AM
Comments: 10

IMSThis is the final installment of Heather’s reflections from her experience at the Integrated Marketing Summit.  To see the other posts from this series look here.  To find out about the next IMS in St Louis on Dec 10th go here.  Heather hopes to see you there!

Virginia Miracle, SVP of Digital Strategy for OgilvyPR kicked off the IMS session on Social Media Best Practices with a definition for Social Media.  That definition is:

Social Media is a common term used to define a new set of web tools and platforms that allow users to share information, opinions, and experiences with other users.

 I got it….I love it…I totally see the value in theory but why is so much of the social media interaction I get complete and utter crap?  According to Miracle the pledge all marketers should take when developing a social media strategy for our companies and clients is that we won’t create social media driftwood.  Go into social media with a plan as you would any other marketing campaign and understand that you must feed and care for that effort if you want it to grow.  If your company loses interest or decides not to maintain your social media presence you must delete your accounts!  According to Miracle, old inactive accounts are worse for your reputation that having no presence at all.

Miracle suggests a three step approach for companies entering Social Media.  They are:

  1. Listen – spend some time observing the interaction that is already going on regarding your company, your industry and your competitors
  2. Plan – create and actual written plan on what you will launch when.  Maybe start with only a blog or only a facebook page as a first effort rather than trying to create a forum, blog and Twitter following all at the same time.
  3. Engage – create a dialogue with your following.  Be human and relatable.  Give more than you get.

Miracle suggests that every company should look at their Engagement Value which she defines as the value we can provide people so they will actually give a crap and want to spend time and energy with us.  As an example she mentioned a service LG Mobile provides called the Teen to English Translator.  This allows parents to input text and email lingo from their teenagers phones and get it back in plain English.  It also works in reverse if you want to send a text to your teen in their lingo.  LG asserts on the translator website that 4 out of 5 teens carry a mobile device and based on my own parenting experience 5 out of 5 parents are clueless about what teens are saying on them most of the time so this is a great way to engage parents of teen texters.

Finally Miracle talked about the credibility that users are giving to “strangers with experience” through Social Media.  As the holiday shopping season approaches I am particularly aware of my dependence on this.  I read product reviews from other parents and kids on all the items my children add to their Christmas list.  I find them particularly helpful in determining the age appropriateness of certain toys.  There isn’t a week that goes by that I am not consulting Wikipedia or Yelp for a suggestions or an answer.  I scored a recent business meeting by connecting with a man I have never met through our mutual LinkedIn connection.

Miracle also differentiates the public everybody can comment sites to the more closed message board, Yahoo Groups, moderated forums.  She gave an example of a client who wanted to tap into the opinions of those who are caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients.  Members of a closed community are much more likely to develop beyond the “strangers with experience” to a more connected state that I have dubbed “on-line friends with common issues”. 

Rebecca Butler Mona, Director of Web Marketing and Sales for IBM Software Group followed Miracle’s presentation and provided some powerful examples of how IBM is using Social Media in their B2B engagement efforts.  IBM hosts several large user conferences per year.  Additionally they have a presence at similar events for their business partners and industry events.  Mona’s team following the Listen, Plan, Engage model Miracle suggests had developed a year round strategy to keep event attendees connected and communicating with the IBM brand.

Mona’s team works with planned speakers for each event to ensure they are blogging and tweeting regarding their presentations well in advance.  They provide opportunities to subscribe to these feeds at the time of event registration.  Participants can submit questions and topics they would like to have presenters address before ever setting foot on the show floor.  Because participants feel they have contributed to the content of the event they are more engaged.  Live twitter updates continue through the event and follow up questions can be posed there or in attendee forums.

Because the Integrated Marketing Summit (IMS) practices what it preaches they also encouraged bloggers like myself to share content as I have in this series and several of the presenters from the event did so as well via their personal blogs and Twitter accounts.  As the IMS spreads out across the country I think a forum is likely the next step.  (Hint….Hint….Shawn and Elizabeth!)

I appreciate the opportunity to cover first IMS and hope the readers of this blog picked up some useful tips as well.  I am looking forward to attending the next IMS on December 10th in St Louis.

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