Baseball Clubs Using Social to Engage Fans and Doing It Well, Very Well

Major League Baseball Embracing Twitter and Facebook – NYTimes.com.

I’m not a huge baseball fan, but this is a great piece on how the Chicago Cubs are using social media to engage their fan base, not by just offering great deals but providing content that is relevant to them. The money quote is:

“If your focus is revenue and your content reflects that, I don’t believe that’s a wise strategy,”   said Kevin Saghy, adding: “That’s not why people are there. They’re there to converse. So we’ve taken the other approach where it’s definitely a priority for us, it’s something we track, and I can say from 2010 to last year, as we got more involved and offered better content on our platforms, we quadrupled our revenue. So we’re up about 300 percent.”

Should your intern run your social media? Maybe not.

When I was in Austin at the SXSW conference, I heard the fabulous communications expert, Peter Kim. In addition to other social media stories of a “fail,” this one was his best.  So when I saw this on his blog today, I had to replay here. It’s just too good to miss. You can follow him on Twitter, @peterkim.

Here’s what “fail fast” looks like

Earlier this year, Chrysler made a bold statement to the world, airing the Imported From Detroit commercial during Super Bowl XLV in February 2011. The ad created buzz in the ad world, political circles, and the entertainment industry, while helping drive a 191% increase in month-over-month sales of the Chrysler 200, the car featured in the ad. Unless you hate America, it’s hard not to feel proud of the United States and one of its core but beaten down industries after watching the full two-minute spot.

A month later, this tweet publishes one morning from Chrysler’s official Twitter account:

@ChryslerAutos errant tweet

Auto blog Jalopnik broke the story and here’s what transpired in rapid succession:

  • @ChryslerAuto tweets “Our apologies – our account was compromised earlier today. We are taking steps to resolve it.”
  • post to the corporate blog clarifies that an agency was responsible for the tweet and the employee responsible for the action was terminated.
  • News breaks that Chrysler fires their social agency of record.

The root cause here might have been technology failure, user error, lack of process (publishing) control, and/or temporary lapse of cultural connection.

Within the 48 hours, an iconic brand gets a black eye, an agency loses a major account, and a person gets fired: nothing good for those directly involved. So where’s all the praise for failing fast? 

The answer is there is none. This mistake could happen to anyone, but most likely to someone who much younger, and a little less experienced with your brand, your audience and your goals and objectives for your mission. So I ask you, would you let your intern run your social media campaign? Maybe not.


Don’t Overlook the Power of the Phone

The new Broadway musical Sister Act has found its social media groove. It has more than 55,000 Facebook “likes,” 1300 Twitter followers, 30,000 YouTube views and a set of apps.

But as The New York Times reports, there’s just one problem.  “Ask Broadway insiders how many tickets have been sold as a result of all this social networking, and the look on their faces reads, ‘Server Not Found.'”

“You hope these sites generate good word of mouth,” said Sister Act director Jerry Zaks, but the the “best measure of our popularity and financial return is group sales.”

And according to the article, group sales are driven largely by the tried and true method of sales agents working the phones. The agents work from decades-old databases of church groups, schools, businesses and clubs and work these contacts to make sales.

“This is a relationship business and I can trust Stephanie [my sales Representative],” said one ticket buyer who sends 35 groups a year to Broadway. “I don’t know who is on the other end of a Twitter or Facebook account saying such-and-such a show is good.”

Though Broadway tickets sales are far removed from the nonprofit world, I think there’s a couple takeaways here for nonprofit leaders. First, it is important to have a robust social media presence in order to generate word of mouth and exposure for your cause.

But where Broadway excels, and most nonprofits fall flat, is the next step. Following up personally with potential supporters by phone and making the sales pitch. I’ve been amazed how many organizations fail to take this crucial step in their fundraising, awareness and advocacy efforts.

For example, a nonprofit with whom I work was organizing a fundraising walk. More than 4,000 people had participated in previous years, but had not registered for the 2011 event. But instead of setting up volunteer- or staff-led phone banks, or even paying someone to call, they relied exclusively on social media and email. Result: Money left on the table.

“Facebook and Twitter are great tools,” said Stephanie Lee, President of Group Sales Box Office said, “but the buzz from all these shows can be deafening.”

While decidedly unsexy – the Times calls them “version 1.0” on Broadway – the company’s communications plan is clearly working. Ticket orders were up 43% from last year, a track record of success few nonprofits or businesses can match in this economic client.

Do you need help reaching your audience?  Contact Joseph LaMountain at joseph.lamountain@gmail.com or 202.288.5124 today.

Paper Still Packs a Punch

What is it about paper these days?

Every semester I review and grade marketing and communications plans that rely almost exclusively on Facebook and Twitter.  A friend in direct marketing tells me that more and more nonprofits are forgoing the use of direct mail.  Many retailers are suspending their mail-order catalogs and only selling through their website.

I’ve long felt that paper doesn’t get the respect it deserves.  And a recent message from an old friend confirms that view.

Andy Hilt and I worked at the American Diabetes Association in the 1990s.  In 1999, we organized a petition drive and collected more than 3.15 million signatures.  In recognition of their support, we sent an Advocacy Achievement Award on parchment paper to everyone who submitted 100 or more signatures.

Fast forward to 2011.  Andy and his mother were eating lunch at Slack’s Hoagie Shack in Springfield, Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago.  And posted on the wall, near the cash register, was a framed copy of the Advocacy Achievement Award we presented to Barbara Fine of East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.  Twelve years later!

Think about the number of times that award has been viewed since it was issued in 1999!  If Slack’s Hoagie Shack averages just 100 customers a day, that means the award (and our message about finding a cure) has been seen more than 435,000 times.  I’m sorry, but Facebook and Twitter just can’t compete with those numbers.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that marketing plans completely forgo the use of social media and online marketing.  But if you’re really interested in organizing an effective marketing campaign, you can’t ignore the power of paper – posters, brochures, notecards and more – to reach your audiences.

Going Beyond Friends and Followers

US Online Consumers & Where They Spend Their Time

In Alexandria, Virginia we have been discussing  whether to add days (2 days) and time (30 min.) to the school year and school day.

With such a small amount, some parents would say “What’s the big deal?”

But the smart ones in our community asked the right questions:

  • What is the objective of the additional time?
  • What research or models are you using?
  • What are the pros and cons?
  • Is this beneficial for all our children? (Elementary vs. Secondary)
  • And how do we measure the success?

What is interesting is that these are the same questions we need to ask non-profits, or any organization for that matter, that wants to begin a social media strategy.

  • What is the objective?
  • What  models should we use? (Who has done this well?)
  • What are the pros and cons?
  • Is this of value for our audience?
  • And how do we measure the success?

Too many people look at their friends on Facebook or Followers on Twitter and call it a day. And in reality, the ultimate measurement is whether you have convinced that Friend or Follower to “take action.”  In other words, did they download the petition? Did they buy the book? Or did they send a Letter to Editor?  In order to measure social media’s efficacy, and whether you are getting your money’s worth,  you have to track whether the desired action is achieved.

I am a panel liaison next month at the SXSW 2011 conference in Austin and one of the panels is going to be: Measuring Social Media – Let’s Get Serious.

Here are some of the questions they will answer:

  • How can I quickly get started with social media measurement that actually works?
  • What are some of the tools available to me than can make it easy to track my campaigns?
  • Is it really possible to figure out the ROI of social media marketing?
  • Millions of people talk about my company online, how do I figure out which conversations matter?
  • I don’t have the resources to track and measure everything – what should my priorities be?

It should be a really interesting discussion and go way beyond “Friends” and “Followers.” I will make sure to report back.

Here’s Why No One Visits Your Facebook Page

I have a great friend who is super smart.

Her name is Jacquelyn Kittredge and she trains organizations on how to optimize their Facebook strategy and create awareness. In her post, The 5 Biggest Facebook Page Mistakes, she discusses something you may not know:

Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what appears in each individual’s news stream. If you fail to interact with your fans, you will literally disappear from their news stream.”

This is why when I went to speak with one nonprofit today, the director was clearly discouraged. He said because a staff member had gone on leave, no one had had time to manage their social media.  As a result, the organization had not posted to their blog, Facebook page or Twitter feed for 60 days. As a result their website  traffic was down, their call-center volume was down and they could not understand why their recent advocacy efforts with greeted with a “ho hum” response.

Now they know.

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