What We Can Learn From Charlie Sheen

Admit it, you’ve been following the Charlie Sheen debacle.  Even those of us who don’t “do” pop culture have tuned in to see what will happen next.  I’ll admit it — I’ve followed the tiger blood-filled warlock on Twitter “just to see.”Back in December we talked about DecorMyEyes and their founder’s negative publicity campaign.  Charlie Sheen’s recently train wrecked life is, in a way, a bigger, louder version of the same strategy.  So what can we learn from Charlie Sheen? 

Publicity is publicity. When it comes down to it, if what you want is for people to know and remember you, how you draw their attention is irrelevant.  Good or bad, if your publicity is enough to draw the eyes of the world, you’ve accomplished your goal.

Negative publicity is more effective. At least when it comes to getting attention.  I guarantee you that more people know Charlie Sheen now than before his breakdown.  Recently Sandra Bullock has been in the news for donating $1M to recovery efforts around the world.  It’s a beautiful act for which she deserves recognition — and yet, had she been caught in some compromising position, it would be all over every news channel and media source and everyone in the world would know about it.  That’s just the way of the world.  People love to watch train wrecks.  Think about reality TV shows.  People don’t watch Jersey Shore because it’s quality entertainment.  Even with specific regard to social media, when a company accidentally sends out an unprofessional tweet, it’s all over the news — and gains them more followers.

Negative publicity will kill your business. Or will it?  When all this stuff with Charlie Sheen started happening, I thought, “That man will never work again.”  And yet, here he is with a new TV show in the works.  When it came out and was all over the news that Taco Bell uses questionable meat, I thought, “Surely people will stop eating there.”  But no.  As contrary to reason as it may be, it just doesn’t work that way.  Taco Bell is running a damage control campaign to recover from the debacle, and it’s working brilliantly.

But what does any of this have to do with building a business with customers who trust you and believe in your quality product or service?  Maybe it’s a tactic for you to try.  While I wouldn’t recommend it, I’d be interested to see the results.  More likely, though, it’s just good information about the way the world of publicity works!

What do you think — is Charlie Sheen’s train wreck of a life a true breakdown or a brilliant marketing ploy?  Would you ever use negative publicity to garner attention?

Why Should I Blog?

“Why should I blog?  Who reads blogs, anyway?” 

We hear these questions fairly regularly from our clients.  There seems to be a feeling that blogging was SOOOOO ten years ago, and that advanced social platforms have rendered it obsolete.  That is simply not the case.  In fact, blogging is more popular now than it was years ago.  Perhaps that’s because more people are online than ten years ago.  Perhaps it’s because the evolving and cutting edge blogging platforms — like Tumblr and WordPress — are exciting and fun.  Or perhaps it’s because through the years, people have realized just how useful blogging is.  In any case, we always suggest our clients use blogs.  Here are some of our many reasons.

  • Share your passion. You do what you do because you love it.  You’re passionate about it.  And blogging is an excellent way to share that passion.  Your passion will ignite your readers’ passions, and that’s all good for you.
  • Share your knowledge. When you create a blog and write about something you know, you are positioning yourself as someone who is knowledgeable about your industry or topic.  When you write consistent, solid blog posts that are interesting and accurate, you will quickly establish your validity as an expert.  And who would you rather take advice and buy things from — an expert or just some guy?
  • Attract different readers. Many blogging platforms — WordPress and Tumblr included — are actually a social network all their own.  That means people go to WordPress or Tumblr just to be on WordPress or Tumblr and browse around.  On these kinds of blogging platforms, you will get readers who otherwise might never have found you.  And, if they like what you have to say, many of them will visit your website or convert in some other way!
  • Create more content. All the content you create links back to you.  You might say, “All roads lead to Rome.”  Blogging is a great way to generate deep, interesting content.  Even SEO optimized content.  And all that lovely, juicy content is indexed and searched by things like Google.  So, blogging becomes yet another way that you can make yourself easier to find.  And that, in itself, is enough of a reason to blog!

Facebook Is Changing Again!

Yep, that’s right!  But, I mean, would the world seem right if Facebook wasn’t shaking up one thing or another every week or two?

As of last week, Facebook has begun rolling out the new Facebook Pages.  So what’s new?  And what does this mean for you?

The new Facebook Pages look quite similar to the new profile layouts.  You’ll see the now familiar strip of photos at the top of the page, as well as the navigation in the left column.  The layout isn’t the only thing that has changed, though!  Perhaps even bigger than the layout changes are the functionality changes.  By default, you’ll now receive email notifications whenever someone posts or comments on any page you admin.  Also — and this is the big one — you now have the option to use Facebook as your page.  That means you can go out into the Facebook world and comment on your friends’ statuses and anything else as your page, rather than yourself.  The opposite is true, too.  You can now comment and interact on your page as yourself, rather than your page.

While the new changes can be a little daunting, they’re actually great news for all of us who use Facebook Pages.  Why?  Because the new changes allow us to interact more like a person with a dynamic profile than a business with a static and separate page.  And, as we know, anything that can increase and improve our interaction in the social media world is good news for us!

The new Facebook Pages are rolling out gradually now and will reach everyone by March 10th.  If you’d like to switch now, just navigate to your page and click the button that appears to get the new layout and functionality.

What do you think of the new Facebook Pages?  Sound off in the comments!

We’re In Print

We were recently featured in TC Palm, a local paper here in Vero Beach, Florida.  The print and online versions of the article are different, so it’s worth giving both a read for the most complete picture of what we do and how we feel about online marketing

From the article:

With more than 75 percent of U.S. adults on the Internet tied to a social network, social technologies are changing the way consumers make purchasing decisions and how companies market.

“There’s so much that you can do online, you need to maximize your presence,” Garrett said. “In this digital age, websites are only half the battle. You need to also engage some of the social network sites, and also use email, newsletters and videos.”

Head over to TC Palm to read the whole thing.

How Long Is This Social Media Thing Going To Take?

Otherwise entitled, “Where Are My Sales Already?  Yeesh.”

We have the amazing opportunity to work with so many incredible clients.  It’s part of what we love most about this kind of work.  Many of our clients are new to social media, and so we’re often asked some variation of the same question:  “Just how long is this social media thing going to take?”

As you already know from reading our blog regularly (wink), 2010 was the first year business as a whole completely embraced social media, spending more on digital advertising than print advertising for the first time in history.  So, there’s a lot of hype about social media right now.  The rumor is spreading like wildfire that social media is the be all and end all, easy and free marketing technique that will not only save your business in this questionable economy — it will bring you lots of customers and big bucks while you just sit back and watch it all roll in.

While we are obviously the first in line to tout the benefits of social media marketing, those are not them.  It’s just not true that the simple act of creating a Facebook page or Twitter account is like a giant “ON” switch in the Cloud, opening the flood gates of effortless financial and entrepreneurial success.  Here’s what is true:

1) Social media and online marketing are just like any other form of marketing. Would you put a bare-bones advertisement in the newspaper, then proceed to sit by your phone waiting for it to work?  Absolutely not.  This is no different.  Social media and online marketing must be an integrated part of your overall marketing strategy, and they must be engaging.

2)  Social media is only successful if you act like you’re creating a real relationship with your consumers. Because, in fact, that’s exactly what you’re doing.  There’s a reason it’s called “social” media.  In real life, would you think it reasonable to meet someone in a public place for the first time, then expect them to immediately give you all their contact information, follow you around and be loyal to you at all costs?  No way!  It’s no different on social media, but if you’re expecting immediate results with minimal effort, that’s what you’re asking from your consumers.  Connecting with your consumers on social media is just like being in a real life relationship.  There must be a reason for you to connect to begin with, then you must prove that you’re an engaging, trustworthy and worthwhile friend.  That takes both time and effort.

3)  Trial and error are the only way to find your sweet spot. Every business is different, every market is different and every consumer is different.  So, the social marketing techniques that work for one business will not necessarily work for another.  It takes time to find the perfect online marketing recipe for your business, because you are unique.  You have to try one approach, give it time, measure results, then adjust your efforts…and then rinse and repeat until you’ve achieved perfection.

So, just how long will this social media marketing thing take, anyway? As a general guideline, expect your initial social media marketing efforts to take at least 6 months before you see any kind of response from your consumers.  Obviously, this number can vary greatly, and the more you promote your social media in real life to your current and prospective customers, the better.

Have you found these things true in your business’s social media efforts?  Let us know in the comments!

This Is Your Social Media Resolution For 2011

This time of year, the internet is rife with predictions and resolutions for the new year. There are so many out there, and so many good ones, that we haven’t felt compelled to repeat much of the information, choosing instead to share them with you via our Facebook and Twitter accounts. There is one resolution, however, that is so incredibly important, we wanted to not only repeat it, but highlight it for you, so you’ll implement it into your online marketing strategies this year. What could possibly be that important, you may wonder? Well, here it is:

Tell people about your social media sites.

When we are new to the social media game, it’s tempting to setup our social media sites, then sit back and wait for people to flock to them naturally, as we inevitably expect. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where myth wins over education for folks who are new to social media. While you will, of course, get a few followers naturally, you have to actively work to build the rest. If you’re one of our clients, we do much of this for you. But, just as social media is an addition to your marketing strategy and not the whole enchilada, building social media followers must be done offline, as well as on.

Think about it this way: when you built or commissioned your business’s first website, did you just put it up and wait for people to find it? No way! You told people about it. You put it on your invoices, letterhead, business cards, vehicle magnets, t-shirts, and absolutely any other place that came to mind. You have to treat social media the same way. To build your social media followers with quality and quantity, you absolutely must tell people about it in real life, every chance you get. That means, you put your Facebook and Twitter addresses on your invoices, letterhead, business cards, vehicle magnets, t-shirts, print newsletters and anywhere else that comes to mind. There’s no such thing as overdoing it, because the more people that see it, the more likely they are to follow you.

This resolution has an added bonus, too. When you tell people about your social media sites offline, or in real life, you will, for the most part, be telling people who are already customers and clients — people who already love you. There’s no need to sell to them; they will follow you because they already utilize your products or services. These same people will be a huge asset to you online, because they will be the ones with brand loyalty. They will be the ones most likely to share your posts and suggest you to their friends. And that, in the end, is really what the social media game is all about.

The Wrong Way To Do Customer Service — Or Is It?

DecorMyEyes uses negative publicity to build brandI read an article in The New York Times online recently (you can read it here) about a company called DecorMyEyes.  This company basically takes orders for high end, brand name glasses on their website, then finds them on EBay and buys them to fill their customers’ orders.  While this company has very few SEO efforts in place to promote their site online, you’ll find it very near the top of the organic search results when you go hunting high end eyeglasses.  Go ahead, try it.  Type “Christian Audigier” and “glasses” into Google and see what you come up with.  DecorMyEyes.com is the #5 result.

So, with very little SEO in place, what marketing strategy gives the company such fantastic results?  Apparently, the answer is negative marketing.  Vitaly Borker, owner of DecorMyEyes, offers exceptionally poor customer service, often involving threats of litigation and bodily harm.  Often, his customers seek resolution in online forums, such as GetSatisfaction.com.  And because there are so many irate people talking about his company online, his search results improve.  Yes — to the point of being on the top of the first page in Google’s organic search results.

It’s a really unbelievable story, and absolutely worth reading the NYT article — all eight pages of it — but it also raises some questions.  Is this a viable marketing strategy?  Is it sustainable?  In what ways can Google, Ebay, credit card companies, and others involved in this situation improve their services to better safeguard their customers?

UPDATE:  As of Wednesday afternoon (December 1st), Google has announced changes to its search algorithm, such that it will now take into account negative online merchant reviews in its ranking system.  What do you think of that?

I want to know what you think — sound off in the comments!

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