Category Archives: Social

The “Problem” with Facebook

I just read another short article about how online advertising is destroying planet earth. This time it’s focusing on Facebook. The article posits that “Facebook Can’t Be Fixed” without “completely gutting its advertising-driven business model”.  The premise sounds good, but it just doesn’t make sense.

Facebook’s Problem is not Monetization

It sounds good because it’s easy to scapegoat advertising in general, and it’s even easier to connect with readers who think the web should be advertising-free.

But the author never bothers to explain why Facebook’s advertising-driven business model is a deal breaker. He just banks on the premise that everyone hates advertising enough to agree.

So the statement’s validity is a given with no further explanation, and no apparent need for justification.

In my opinion, Facebook does have problems (don’t we all?). But it’s advertising format is probably one of the least of them. At least with Facebook there’s a reasonable use of data gathering to show relevant ads (and not too many). So I strongly suspect that most users won’t find ads to be the most bothersome thing about it.

Here’s a short list of the real problems that Zuckerberg may be facing (in my opinion) that can be addressed to improve Facebook. Teaser alert: committing existential suicide by gutting its ad-driven revenue model isn’t one of them.

1) Facebook is getting creepy. When synthetic programmed responses try to have an interpersonal relationship with me, it’s annoying. When “Facebook” talks to me, saying: “Hi (firstname). We care about you and we want you to … ”

STOP! … Please …. I’m not 9 years old, and I don’t need my social media platform anthropomorphized into my personal, platonic  digital friend … who “genuinely cares about me”.

We all know that Facebook wants to monetize our personal data and relationship activity, and that’s a given among mature adults (the people with money to spend from ads). So please tone down the idea that we actually feel nurtured by programmed responses. If Facebook’s data assumptions are telling Zuckerberg that more than 51% of ad-revenue-producing users feel good about being nurtured by A.I., I stand corrected. But I still think the majority find this creepy.

2) User content is downright frightening. We all know the feeling. Moderate, tolerant people who thought they knew and liked other moderate, tolerant people are finding out that their friends are emotionally challenged, completely illiterate, class discrimination extremists, racists, extreme left socialists, right wing nationalists, narcissists, obsessive-compulsive – you name it.

Facebook as a social “shock therapy” platform can’t be sustainable long term. I’ve noticed the “changes” in posts. Maybe having topical versions of Facebook could help. One for “the beautiful people”, one for stalkers, one for political activists, etc…

3) Facebook is getting a bad rep. It’s reputation as a “dopamine-driven engagement trap” is getting increased awareness and this does not bode well for users who eventually read about (and can understand) the psychology of Facebook addiction. This is a tough one and may require a serious PR effort to combat. I see a lot of reduced usage by friends who are more likely to be exposed to this material (myself included) but I don’t think addictive personalities can break the habit just by acknowledging “step one” (admission). If Facebook just admits to reality, in the right format, it will do wonders for this roadblock.

And there you have it. Details aside, these three problems are what I see as the toughest to resolve and most damaging to the long term sustainability of its engagement model. They have nothing to do with advertising. There’s a bunch of little things like irrelevant notifications (why notify me every time a friend joins messenger?) that could amount to “death by a thousand cuts” but they are either a subset of the big three, or too few (or too minor) to matter. I think those will be addressed accordingly.

But again, the charge that “You cannot fix Facebook without completely gutting its advertising-driven business model.” is just another broad indictment of capitalism on the web. If Facebook is guilty, so is Google. Neither of these companies has a bottom line in revenue growth or stock price (with Google more time-tested) to justify such a baseless claim.

Finally, when you consider the incredible amount of business you can potentially generate through Facebook without spending a dime, a paid ad here or there is a very small price to pay.  As revenue models in advanced economies continue to shift, the opportunity to create targeted audience groups and sell to them (the right way) is a huge free opportunity that is so inherent to the platform, Facebook would probably never charge for it (only to boost it).

Since most people don’t “get it” (inherently understand the power of audience segmentation / relevance) they will pay for these “boosts” – in essence letting Facebook broaden their reach beyond their friend network. And that’s a sustainable model for now, and probably for a while. Though it’s surprising how a friend network can expand through “similar interest” groups. Now the glue is “common interest” more so than acquaintanceship.

Facebook’s big threat is greed (isn’t everyone’s?). If they in fact eventually find a way to charge for what is free today – if they somehow manage to monetize groups for example, it will be the beginning of the end, a.k.a. “move over MySpace. Hello, whatever’s next”.

Has Facebook been TRUMPED?

You know how this post is going to start right? You’re either ONE OF THEM, or ONE OF US!

Well … this may not be quite what you expect. I recently read this article at the HUFFINGTON POST written by Derek Powell nearly a year ago. He then made the claim that people who complain about political postings on Facebook are “part of a problem”. And the problem, he infers, is “complacency”. That’s right, back in February of 2016 he made the argument that people who criticize political postings are just too invested in the status quo.

Has Facebook been Trumped?

I can’t help but to wonder how Derek feels about the subject today.

Less than a month after the election of a new President and newly forming cabinet, the tone and frequency of political posts (in my feed at least) have changed quite markedly since a year ago.

It has really been surprising to see certain people making some very strong accusations and insulting remarks about political opinions or policy decisions that are very heated and oppositional right now. Probably a good deal more so than in 2016.

Maybe it’s a sign of Constitutional freedom and Democracy that political debate is alive and well, uncensored and quite vigorous in America, even if it is a little bit messy.

But … I have to say … folks who post really mean and nasty things, almost daily, are a bit annoying whether you’re invested in the status quo or not.

To turn down the volume a bit, and think logically for a moment, it’s hard not to conclude that either these folks are 1) absolutely sure that every friend in their feed agrees with their political views, or 2) anybody that doesn’t agree deserves to hear the opposition to their beliefs. I mean …  I’m trying hard to escape from that conclusion, but … there it is.

Politics does involve beliefs and values – just like religious, or cultural beliefs. And different people have different beliefs. And one would think people could respect each others beliefs within their own social network. Otherwise, I’m back to the paragraph above this one, scratching my head again.

We all know that people with like beliefs feel comfortable being together in a group. That’s why there are churches, synagogues, clubs, political groups, business associations, alumni organizations and so on. We know from the name and type of group we join what the group stands for, and what it does not.

I think it’s also quite important and socially beneficial if these groups can get along and respect each other (or if they can’t, at least stay out of each others way).  Otherwise, we’ll have open confrontations between them – which we sometimes do. And when that happens, I don’t really condone the violence – which by the way usually starts with accusations. It escalates from there.

There ARE political forums on the web. They are a natural fit for political discussion. The audience there knows what to expect just like a person joining an organization does. A person joining Greenpeace does not expect to attend a meeting dominated by board members of British Petroleum. If that were to happen, I suspect the membership would quickly be canceled.

Likewise, when I joined Facebook, I did not plan to be bombarded with confrontational political rhetoric.  If friends within our social networks cannot tolerate opposing views or beliefs, then I would suggest that they are limiting they’re social interaction to people who only think like they do.

We may be comfortable having only like-minded friends, but debate which reveals opposing points of view and different beliefs can be interesting and even enlightening. It certainly deserves to be approached respectfully and considerately on Facebook.

After all this IS our social network. I leave you with this quote:

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
Audre Lorde

A Yuletide Story

I recently picked up a few items at the Bradfordville TARGET, and while at the checkout stand, a surly looking woman began inching her cart in front of me. “I’m with him,” she said, nodding to the empty handed fellow in line in front of me.

A Yuletide TaleI yielded my basket of 4 items to her overflowing shopping cart, then proceeded to another, slightly longer line, where the patron just ahead of me seemed annoyed by the crowds. The poor young girl behind the counter had the most pathetic look on her face as she wished her customer a “Happy Holiday,” then turned to greet me with that same sad smile …

Unfortunately, the episode above seems pretty typical of this year’s holiday season. Maybe it’s the divisiveness of recent political events. Maybe it’s something else. In my case, I’ve had a miserable, lingering flu. I was shopping for a Christmas tree a few days earlier, and trying to decide on one – but I just couldn’t find anyone who seemed interested in helping me.

Later, as I continued shopping for presents, people looked so sullen and  distracted. Common courtesies and holiday cheer seemed absent. “Nyquil must be a powerful depressant,” I thought. But really, things can’t be this bad all around.

Determined to get that tree, I went to another place on a different day. A fellow there greeted me – a little shyly at first – but it was a start. And then something clicked. I realized that no matter how lousy I felt, the only one who can really change the mood around me is ME. And I hadn’t forgotten how to do that. By the time I bought that tree, I had three people laughing and smiling about the simple act of buying a Christmas tree. I left there with high spirits and happy people who felt better for having met me.

So back to that TARGET incident in the beginning of our tale, which took place the day after we trimmed that wonderful tree. When that cashier turned to greet me with that sad smile and asked, “Did you find everything you needed?”

“I certainly did,” I replied boisterously, “and thank you for asking!” I beamed out my biggest smile as I made a brief but whimsical remark about my purchases – then wished her a heartfelt “Merry Christmas!”

On another shopping trip, as I neared the checkout line with my buggy full of gifts, a fellow with only two items in hand stopped as we approached together, expecting me to whirl ahead, and instead I smiled and made a broad gesture, inviting him to go first. He thanked me, twice, and the cashier wished us both a Merry Christmas.

There’s something about being cheerful during the holidays that lifts the spirits, above and beyond all else. It doesn’t take much to make a real life Dickens Christmas Carol come true.

I hope you’ll spread merriment and good cheer this holiday season, especially when others around you seem to have a heavy heart. I know that if you do, you’ll feel magnificent. Together, let’s spread tidings of Peace on Earth and Good Will to All.

Merry Christmas!

A “Push or Pull” Perspective on Social Marketing

Not long ago, I wrote about the marketing limitations of Social Media. Today I want to note certain advantages of Social Media.

But first, let me tell you what inspired this post.

A fellow technology professional that I’ve known for years (and partnered with on occasion) has developed certain niche applications for very specific vertical markets. These niche applications are quite useful when understood and applied. But they are so innovative and unique that few if any prospects would ever search for them on the web.

I’ve written about this phenomenon in the past, citing Daniel Burris’ “New Golden Rule”.

Give your customers (and prospects) the ability to do what they can’t currently do, but would want to… if they knew it was possible”.

The above referenced applications do exactly that. The problem is – prospects don’t search for what they don’t know is possible – so search engine marketing can present some real challenges here.

But targeted B2B marketing, to the degree that LinkedIn provides, at least gets our message out to that niche market, right down to the niche persona. So LinkedIn may offer an advantage over search marketing in this regard (as well as in filtering out undesired prospect types).

Then we have Facebook. While it will never have the reach of the wider worldwide web, it does an incredible job of local marketing for the business owner who is actively social by nature,  but doesn’t have the logistical means to talk his or her venture up to 10,000 locals in a week. Facebook marketing can do that.

Push or Pull Marketing
Push out a targeted message when you cannot “pull in” an existing intention.

To recap from my earlier post, Social Media is still a “push” vs. “pull” medium. By this, I mean that you are pushing your message out to an audience vs. the audience searching for your product or service.

While you can limit search marketing geographically, you cannot target your message to a specific social network or business niche persona with the effectiveness of Facebook or LinkedIn. So … credit given where due … social marketing strategies have certain advantages over search marketing, despite the incredible reach, popularity and success of “inbound”  marketing.

We hear a lot about “inbound vs outbound” marketing in the digital space, but “push or pull” predates “online” by centuries. For example, when a consumer visits a mall intending to buy a sweater, he may enter a clothing store with no direct marketing enticement at all. You could try to “push” a pair of pants on him, but you’re more likely to ring up a sweater, since that is what he was intending to buy. His intention “pulled” him in of his own accord.

Search engine marketing is so successful because it replicates this long standing “fulfillment of intensions” online.

But it cannot fulfill a “really useful unknown”, and it cannot raise awareness of a business “you’d choose to buy from because of the owner’s good standing in your community”  – not like social media can.

Digital marketing offers a platform for every situation. Good strategy is the deployment of the right platform for the situation that fits it best.

The Limitation of Social Media

Will social content ever be able to compete with well optimized landing pages for search engine position? Not any time soon in our opinion, due to the massive growth and meandering of tweets and posts.

Limits of Social Media

This is why well optimized blog posts differ so much from social media. They are easily  index-able (partly due to their permalink structure). They usually contain much more relevant content than a tweet or post. And finally that content is published on platforms which facilitate keyword optimization.

While social media giants seem to be creating their own “web within the web” frame of reference, including their own internal search engines (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) relevant search results are limited to their own domains. Facebook does offer outside search results through Bing (but that’s an entirely separate matter).

With Facebook, post addresses are somewhat convoluted and not SEO friendly. Facebook does occasionally index and return individual posts (even to users not logged in) but these have little chance of competing with well optimized content from relevant site pages.

Generally speaking, you cannot create a static, indexable permalink from content that does not have an address (like social likes or replies). Just this year, Google and Twitter revisited their “deal” to have Google index the Twitter feed. But as this article indicates, it may be a while before tweets rank well.

We do see some LinkedIn Pulse artcles being indexed due to their post-name default link structure, and the general business type length and structure of certain posted content. We think that LinkedIn has a good chance of competing with “average” page content, and may set the search friendly mark for social a bit higher.

Social media, as it exists today, does not appear to be trying to replace the utility of the broader search engine universe.

As an adjunct to other web-based marketing tools, social content has a long way to go before it begins to compete with the search results of well optimized page or blog post content.

We should understand and view social media as the very useful tool for “immediate impact” and “targeted distribution” that it was designed to be. In a world of constant, rapid change, social media is the utility of “real-time, right now updates” for a given audience that is a bit more intimate than “the world at large”.

Search engines on the other hand index content that is available to the global audience outside the social network’s circles. They capture updates of page content –  but keeping up with Social tweets and posts may be too much for even Google to handle.

Even if the search engines chose to index all that explosive user-generated content, from adolescent teens to recipe posting Grandma’s, would they really want to with PPC being their lead revenue source?

Social media has its place in the world. A good place indeed. But it also has its limitations. The key to social media is to understand both its utilities and its limitations – leverage the strengths, and don’t fight againts its weaknesses.

Social Marketing: The Customer Success Program

Some B2B technology and consulting companies are beginning to see the power of social marketing, not as a means to an end (the social networks) but as the end itself (positive customer engagement).

They realize that it all began with the power of the “customer testimonial”.  And they understand that when that testimonial went from “static” to “interactive” (via social networks) that it became much more credible, because it was so much more genuine coming from customers themselves, in a real-time format.

For many companies, it stops there, and becomes a never-ending effort to keep up with the social network’s ability to monetize their use of the means … while never quite realizing the end.

Social Marketing - Your Customer Success ProgramFor other companies, the end is more clear: It’s not about us, and how great WE are, it’s about the positive outcomes we enable for OUR CUSTOMER’S.

THAT is what customers are buying: a cost-justifiable end result, like revenue growth, or positive investor relations, or enhanced recruiting power. Providers are just the means to those types of “ends”.

It’s Not About YOU – Social Marketing is About The Successful Outcomes You Enable.

While searching for social marketing or customer success programs you’ll find collaboration and customer care apps, even online community builders which are designed to help you refine customer engagement.

But if you’re already a successful solution provider, then you’ve already enabled customer successes. Social marketing can be used very effectively to “co-market” those successes.

While most companies praise their own “Unprecedented 3rd Quarter Growth”, or their “100% Migration Success Rate” or their “100% Customer Satisfaction Ratings” , some companies are engaging with their customers post acquisition and asking, “What did we help you to successfully accomplish?”

Of those companies, some are busy growing and nurturing their own proprietary customer communities and inviting their prospects to join in the conversation. In so doing, they won’t have to risk having their own customer’s voices “throttled back” by a third-party social network, monetizing their “fan feed”.

Those companies won’t run dry on their blog post or PR wire or newsletter content, as long as they find ways to reward customer’s for authoring the best marketing content they could ever hope for – true life testimonials coming from their own customers about the successes they’ve helped to enable.

Are YOU ready to be THAT company?

If so, then your next press release is all about your customer’s incredible 3rd Quarter Growth, or 100% Success Rate (and of course the byline shows it’s coming from you).

You have all that great content, coming directly from your customers, through your own CUSTOMER SUCCESS PROGRAM, which rewards them for many things – among them, the best article submitted to you each month about what they accomplished by being your customer. And of course they’ll agree to make that story public, because you’re  co-marketing their success, which positively reflects back on you.

And that’s just good marketing: subtle, humble, social, and all about your customer’s success – not your own, even though you’re showing (not saying) that your own success is measured by that.


(This article covers one of 4 core concepts from a consultative review of a global platform modernization company’s marketing plan. To implement a Customer Success Program for your organization, feel free to contact me)

B2E Tech-marketing: 4 ways B2C Buzz Can Cloud Your B2E Strategy

Do you ever get the feeling that the  majority of available info regarding digital marketing seems geared toward B2C strategy?

Despite all the buzz,  not all digital marketing takes place in a B2C or even a generic B2B context.

B2For business to enterprise (B2E) technology marketing, I’d like to share some ideas regarding strategy. And accordingly, we’ll deal with the potential hazards of allowing B2C groupthink “buzz” to creep into your B2E strategy.

Here are four hazards that immediately come to mind:

While “brand” is the holy grail of marketing, I tend to downplay the importance – and the mystique – of branding in B2E tech-marketing.

If we were marketing a new type of tasty, yet nutricious, sugar free candy to all the moms and kids of the world, it would serve us well to become the next “Kleenex” or “Band Aid” equivalent for the candy industry.

But when you’re marketing a ten million dollar radar jamming system specifically to the U.S. Military Defense Industry, being the “household name” in that field is somewhat a wasted effort.

True, these two examples represent the farthest of extremes, but branding should vary proportionately between the two.

This is not to say that differentiation from your key competition can be the hallmark of a focused brand strategy, and something you’ll want to articulate. But very specific, high dollar, consultative tech solutions for a limited audience of large enterprise prospects does not require the typical “brand reach” of a broad B2B or B2C scale.

With B2E, your SEO / SEM targeting is based on quality, not quantity. Your target enterprise prospect is much narrower than the typical consumer or business.  So if the question is posed, “Why do new visitors exit our website so quickly,” maybe what we should really be asking is, “Are the right visitors leaving too soon?”

All kinds of people visit websites every day for all the wrong reasons. When a visitor can be tracked back to an organization that is “close” to being our target enterprise, but would really be better served by another provider, we WANT them to exit early,  otherwise pursuing them is a waste of time and effort for Sales.

So it’s extremely important in B2E tech marketing to have very specific (longer tail) keywords in order to attract the right, high quality prospect. This means multiple specific ads for each pain point or desired outcome, and specific landing pages for each.

According to Market Sherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified.  With B2E we can expect qualification to be lower yet.

Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research estimates that only about 5% of marketers use a full-featured marketing automation solution. B2E marketers should certainly comprise much of that 5% for the express purpose of attracting and engaging the right kind of prospect, and not the broader target that even typical B2B’s try to attract.

In B2C strategies, we tend to use Social Media more than email targeting due to the consumer appeal of social, and the obvious problems of consumer email marketing.

With generic B2B marketing we tend to reach out to a decision maker via email based on matching the nature of the product to the departmental need and solution.

With higher ticket B2E tech-marketing, multiple decision makers are usually involved, since the CFO is crunching numbers, but the CIO must be comfortable with the IT impact as well.

According to Sirius Decisions, the average sales cycle has increased 22% over the past 5 years due to more decision makers being involved in the buying process. That trend is economically driven and with high dollar technology sales, it’s even more pronounced.

High relevance email campaigns with automated triggers tend to work much more effectively for the collaborative decision sale than social media. But this is not to say that social marketing is not useful in B2E, only that it’s not as effective as inbound and email, and it’s best when used differently.

Speaking of Social Media for B2E being “different”, consider that a whopping 96% of marketers using Facebook measure number of fans and followers. 89% measure traffic, 84% measure mentions, 55% track share of voice, and 51% track sentiment (source: Awareness, Inc.).

Are any of these metrics useful for the B2E marketer? Somewhat, but B2E social marketing should measure interaction with qualified enterprises much more than measures of one-way content ingestion or sharing from the source. That’s a little harder to measure.

By following key enterprises and choosing relevant posts in the company feed  to comment or share in a collaborative way, you begin to establish the peer to peer rapport and partnership relationship that defines the consultative approach moreso than the typical B2B “customer > vendor” or B2C “producer > consumer” relationship.

That strategy also keeps you informed of posts relevant to qualifying and better understanding the enterprise’s milestones, relationships and social interactions.

So much is written about digital marketing from a B2C perspective. Maybe too much. I hope you got something of a different perspective here, especially of you’re a B2E marketer.

The Age of Individual Empowerment

As a wireless industry veteran from the dark ages (circa 1990), I have often mused over the incredible journey I embarked upon during the infancy of the portable cellular telephone experience.

Wil Martindale
The McCaw Era

My co-workers in those days, now a circle of close friends for over 20 years, fondly reminisce from time to time about what we refer to as the “McCaw Era“.

I think this will be looked back upon by future generations as the beginning of an age of technology that forever changed humankind, moreso than the light bulb, the motorcar, or the television set.

But there was something else developing during this era. The personal computer.

It was difficult to distinguish back then which would be more transforming – the personal computer or the portable cellular telephone -because during this time the industry was already predicting a convergence of the two. And we assumed that the broadcast networks would also be a big part of this convergence.

Yes, telephones, televisions and computers would somehow merge into one device – we were sure of that. But though I can clearly remember the industry articles and predictions, I also remember that none of us (and I’m sure my McCaw Alumni will agree) could quite articulate just “how” this would evolve.

As I think back to those days, I remember envisioning a future where content was pushed out to us, the way it always was, through the traditional cable and radio channels. And so in our minds, we were all seeing a future of miniature radios and TVs combined into our cell phones.

And yet, we somehow couldn’t seem to get too excited about that, because frankly there really wasn’t anything “cool” or compelling about that idea which matched the hype of the industry’s (somewhat inarticulate) vision of the coming convergence.

If only we had understood the what the term “personal” computer would truly come to mean.

I’ve told this part of the story several times over the years, but it’s only recently dawned on me what was missing in our vision back then – because it’s taken more than 20 years to actually realize what that vision is today.

In essence, the big difference between the future we imagined and the future that became today’s reality is the element of personal empowerment, or the empowerment of the individual.

Little did we imagine back then that it wouldn’t be the broadcast networks pushing out their content to us, but rather, WE would be the authors of rich content, sharing it with each other.

Who among us could imagine back then, that we could capture an incredibly personal moment in time: our newborn baby’s first giggle, a puppy’s funny mishap, an incredible moment in a trip to a foreign land, and instantly share it as a high definition image or video to our circle of friends?

It’s the individual empowerment of personal technologies such as these through our social networks that drove the vision of a future which we couldn’t imagine back then, yet we take for granted today.

For those of you old enough to remember, and not young enough to have “never known” what the future would bring, I hope I’ve shared as much of an “ah hah” moment for you as it was for me.

It is an incredible time to be an individual, in this age of individual empowerment.

Can Relevance Become “The Box”?

As a marketing professional, my LinkedIn account serves up lots of relevant information about topics of interest to me on LinkedIn Pulse, which is home to lots of well written and informative articles on the subject matter pertinent to my profession.

The emails I receive (from HubSpot and others) and the various news feeds served up to me on digital media platforms are very customized and relevant to me. The information comes from people like me, with interests like mine, on topics we all have in common.

Relevance SquaredIt almost seems as if my entire online world is about nothing but (1) digital marketing, (2) leadershp and innovation, and (3) social media.  And it seems like everyone else  in the world is highly interested in these same three topics, above any and every other topic of interest in the entire universe.

Of course, this is all just a byproduct of choosing to follow those three topics (and spending a lot of time on LinkedIn). But it’s not just LinkedIn. There are information gathering robots among the various social and search networks that analyze my online actions, the sites I visit, the articles I like and the people I connect with.

From this activity, network intelligence creates a profile for me, and serves me the content it thinks I’m interested in, based on what I’ve shown it I’m interested in.

In a single digital age buzzword, we call this “relevance”.

Two aspects of the relevance “feedback loop” I am  somewhat apprehensive about are information overload, and groupthink.  And we could group these two together, since they are so closely related.

I love PULSE for example, however the trend toward groupthink  for a hot topic like “culture” or “innovation” is palpable. Once an insightful article is written,  it starts trending and we have three or four more articles per day trying to compete with some new spin on corporate culture or innovation –  until it finally just wears itself out.

It seems as if  many authors and commenters are looking more for affirmation and self promotion than constructive contribution. So by adding to a trending topic, I suspect they feel they’ll have better success with that. This isn’t exactly new. We are all “trend hopping” in a sense for “likes”,  and have been ever since online affirmation became the new currency of our monetized digital  world.

This is not to say that counterpoint doesn’t emerge,  only that it is often in the form of mean spirited and confrontational comments, as opposed to disruptive, yet constructive ones – unconventional and truly creative thinking (while remaining civil) which clears a path for new ideas and true innovation.

Yes, the relevance of the content I have unintentionally immersed myself in is definately on point. And if relentless repetition were the key to understanding it all, I’d be well on my way.

But the dangers of normalcy bias, groupthink and social norming are increasing, and the inspiration for new ideas is on the decline.

We shouldn’t underestimate the value of disruptive thinking, even in today’s “digitally transparent”  age (which of course governs the conversation through “social correctness”). We don’t have to be confrontational, just innovative.  

Disruptive thinking has been the basis for so many great inventions and new ideas in our modern age, we’d be foolish to abandon it just for the sake of relevance.

It is the unepxected, outside our comfortable world of preferences, that helps us to learn and grow, and, to use a somewhat over-used term these days, “think outside the box”.

The digital world we create for ourselves by teaching A.I. to serve us only what we prefer becomes the box of our digital age, when we let the trending groupthink build walls around our own sense of discovery and  innovation..

Social Selling to the Next Level

As a sales and marketing professional for over 2 decades now, I’ve seen technology change the dynamics of selling over the years (as many of us have) and am constantly refining strategy.

And I think that companies may fall into several camps when it comes to positioning their sales teams to take advantage of certain new opportunities.

One of the things that a good marketer is constantly doing is research. Researching markets, trends, industries and companies is a far easier task today than it was 15 years ago, due to the ubiquity of the world wide web, and the many ways to provide and extract information to and from it.

I think that the top salespeople in higher level B2B industries are also very focused these days on researching prospects with this new ease of information access. When they are supported by a marketing department that is also on this page,  the synergy is there to implement an “intelligent marketing” (IM) strategy.

The question here is: What value does an IM Team bring to prospective companies that do not have a stong marketing program themselves, beyond the traditional goal of qualifying and selling their product when there’s a good fit?

Before you say to yourself “none”, consider the following:

Part of the consultative process that the best sales professionals are immersed in as part of their IM strategy is to truly understand the products and/or services that the prospect delivers. This isn’t a new age concept. It’s more so the old adage of “getting to know one another, to see if we can do business”. It begins with pre-call research, and continues through consultative meetings.

Connecting ProspectsIn that process, both the sales professional and the prospect fully understand what each respective company does much more so than any marketing department for either company could ever hope to convey through any other means of communication.

That said, even though the roles are not traditionally established, both companies are probably better qualified to “sell” each other’s products or services than they think.

As the title of the article refers to “social selling,” one must grasp that more in life is “selling” than we sometimes think. And some of the very best salespeople are not trained salespeople at all. They are merely advocates for a product or service they believe in, based on their heightened level of understanding.

After all, isn’t that the great sales utility of social media? You’re customers are “doing the selling” by giving you great reviews?

Now we (“we” being seasoned sales professionals) have all had that one great customer over the years who keeps feeding us leads. Sure, that person is more inclined to see the benefits of that relationship than your “normal” customer.

But what have you (“you” being that great salesperson) done to:

1) return the favor, and
2) set the tone up-front for that possible 2-way relationship

Now at this point, we need to stop and consider that some companies will consider this kind of relational strategy to present conflicts of interest, but as I said, the dynamics of sales and marketing are changing. And social media of course is just a part of that change.

Let’s take a real life example. In our sales and marketing intelligence gathering we come across a prospect who is a patent holder of a unique technology that we have fully researched and understand.

Later, we read an article in a trade magazine (from a another prospect’s website) about a growing trend in another part of the world that looks like it could be accelerated with this new technology. And this prospect is a global distributor of parts that provide critical support for this growing trend.

Does knowing what these two distinct companies have to offer one another bring value to both relationships? Does this seem like an excellent opportunity for an introduction?

So now, when we ask the question:  What value does an IM Team bring to prospective companies that do not have a stong marketing program themselves … are we on the same page here?

But again, this type of relational selling is not really new age, rather social selling has “come of age” in the era of social media.

And, of course, best of all, there is no better salesperson than a customer who “does not sell”. That is simply a byproduct of the well known adage that, “People love to buy, but hate to be sold to”.

One parting comment. The theoretical example above is taken from a true-life scenario, and that patent holder has developed an entirely new vertical market for that rapidly growing trend.

Which of course would make both companies more profitable, and able to purchase the products and services we were initially approaching them about, with much greater ease.