BlogWorld Expo Recap: Day 3

October 17, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Ah, the third annual BlogWorld Expo has come to a close. And it’s sad. However, there were some stellar sessions today, so check out the coverage below. Here’s a bit of what you’ll learn:

  • How Punky Brewster ruined my morning
  • Why Jermaine Dupri rocks
  • How to build influence
  • Who’s forced to sign an NDA because Fortune 500s don’t want the association
  • How to connect with your people

Fun stuff, right?

The “New” Celebrity

So, pretty much the only reason I dragged my butt out of bed this morning was to see Punky Brewster speak on her use of Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in how she uses Twitter, but I have all this great Punky material saved up. Sadly, she canceled because of “childcare issues” [no, really] so I got up for no reason. These bags under my eyes are dedicated to you, Punky.

Punky flaked, but the show went on as Anthony Edwards, Robin Antin, Matt Goss and Jermaine Dupri all talked about their use of Twitter. If you want the super Cliffnotes version: Jermaine NAILED it, Anthony was adorably nerdy, Matt was just nice to look at and BlogWorld did everyone a favor when Robin’s mic suddenly “stopped working”.

Jermaine was the standout (to me) for most of the session. He commented that when Twitter and YouTube came out, it completely cut out the middleman. If someone on his team is telling him that his album isn’t doing well in New York and he goes on Twitter and sees people in NY raving about it, he knows that person is out of the loop and he fires them. Social media has put him in direct connection with his fans. It’s about going back to your core and selling directly to your fans. It’s NOT about follower counts. He doesn’t need a million followers because he can’t talk to a million people in a day. That number is for press. If you’re going to use this, you have to use it. He uses Twitter to engage in conversations with fans and finding out the real resources about his business.

Everyone talked about using Twitter as a tool – whether it’s a tool for entertainment or a tool for a more meaty purpose. Matt said its okay when people use Twitter as a tool for being silly because life is serious enough. Taking anything too seriously will kill it. Anthony is a fan of the meaty stuff. Helping people feel connected to other people is what gets him excited about this medium.

Brian Solis moderated the session and noted the rash of celebrities getting off Twitter. Are they missing out? Jermaine said that they definitely are. Anyone that is getting off Twitter was using it wrong. You have to control it. If someone starts asking him about Janet Jackson, he can block that person. He gets to control what gets at him. Robin said it’s about developing a thicker skin. Apparently lots of people want to get at Robin. I didn’t even know who Robin was. Apparently she “invented” the PussyCat Dolls. Maybe that means people want to get at her in a violent way? Brian said that people don’t want to be fans anymore. They want to appreciate people on a human and peer level and feel appreciated back.

At the end of the session, Anthony Edwards showed off his his first tweet (made this morning). We all “aw’d”.

Honestly, I was really impressed with Jermaine and Anthony’s views on all this. It felt like Robin and Matt were thrown on last minute to replace Punky Brewster and I didn’t personally feel as if they add much. Especially since Matt only follows 22 people on Twitter and uses it to talk AT people, not TO them. Even if he’s DMing people who reply to him (which is what he claimed on Twitter when called out), he’s still giving them no way to engage with him. Twitter fail.

Measuring and Building Online Influence

Deflated from the morning’s lack of Punky, I thought I’d go learn how to be influential so that I can let people down too. [Sorry. I’m still bitter.] Tasked with showing me how to do that were Micah Baldwin, Tristan Harris, Todd Vernon.

What is influence? It’s when a person or thing influences another person or thing. It’s singular. If you’re influential, someone did something because of something you did.

The three components of influence:

  • How large your audience is
  • How much of that audience actually listens to you
  • How often are you interacted with?

It takes a long time to establish yourself as someone that’s credible and that can be trusted. Todd actually believes that you can’t build a brand. [Dude! My job!] The best brands are out there through some sort of behavioral thing. It’s the meta data that people process. I’d agree with that. The thing is, it’s the brand responsible for releasing that meta data so…control, right? Influence is about trust and trust is about consistency. If you’re a dick all the time, people will trust you’re a dick. If you’re helpful, they’ll trust that too.

About halfway through the session, Micah noticed that the Twitter comments about the session weren’t too friendly and asked if we were getting what we wanted. Everyone yelled, “no”. Apparently, the audience came hoping to learn about ways to get people to spread your influence FOR you. We quickly switched gears.

If you want people to toot your horn for you, you have to give them a reason. Make great content – whether that’s text, video, audio, etc. Pick a subject and pick an angle about it. There’s no easy way to get people to link or listen to you.

Use your blog (or whatever medium your most comfortable with) as the center of your universe and then put stuff out on other channels that drives traffic back to it. It helps people trust you and makes you more influential when people are seeing your name on a bunch of different social media channels. Your brand does not live on your blog. It lives everywhere. Participating in different channels helps people get a full picture of who you are and using credible media makes you look more credible. I’d like to say that this is why I Twitter the way I do.Micah noted that there’s a difference between influence and traffic. Just because you get traffic doesn’t mean you’re influencing people to do anything. Transparency is the tool that you have that other media types don’t have. Don’t dismiss it.

Social Media Marketing For Small Business

My second to last session of the day was led by Nelly Yusupova where I got to listen to her talk about how small business owner can get a grasp on social media.

Nell stated that the individual is at the center of the social media revolution. Kind of like how “you” was Time’s person of the year, I suppose. People want to connect a certain way and it’s changing how we do business. The most important question in social media is whether or not you’re listening. You have to listen first before you get involved. By listening you’ll get to learn the tenor of the conversation is, what the protocols of the specific groups are, etc. Learning that lets you know how to conduct yourself. It will also show you who’s who in the community. Through social media a SMB owner can find out how to package services, how to deliver them, etc. You just have to ask.

Nell offered up some quick Listening Tools. I linked the only one you probably haven’t already heard of:

  • Google Alerts
  • Addictomatic: Creates a buzz page on any topic and pulls info from a bunch of Web, blog and video sources.
  • Google Reader
  • TweetDeck or Seesmic
  • Social Mention

The tools help you figure out what the community is talking about so that you can engage and participate. That’s how you’ll add value to the community, show people you care, deal with business issues, build reputation and build your credibility. Even if you’re not going to engage right now, you need to secure your brand name. She suggested using NameChk, but we obviously prefer KnowEm. It offers way more options for businesses. And that’s not even an affiliate link.

Once you’re listening and engaged, define your goals. If your goals are done right, they’re measurable. Define your business goals AND your social media goals and work out a way for them to interact. Decide where your target market is and then join those communities. Find out who the influencers are and then figure out how you’re going to engage them.

Social media from a business perspective is outreach. It’s your “pre-sell” stage. Instead of cold-calling, it’s now relationship building. You tell people about your products, you evangelize your products and you pre sell them. Social media is the feeder to your site or blog. If you’re trying to raise brand awareness, measure the frequency of mentions, whether they’re positive or negative, and the context of the mention.

Some time management tips:

  • Start slow
  • Go Niche
  • Link your accounts
  • Schedule your social media time

Influencing the Micro Audience

This was really good. An hour with Loren Feldman.

All of Loren Feldman’s videos have less than 1,000 views. But it doesn’t matter because he still has influence. He’s had more than 1,000 people come up to him and say they love his work. It’s not possible that every person who has ever seen one of his videos is in the room. That alone tells him that numbers are shit. They don’t tell the story.

Micro audiences let you connect on a much more intimate level. The power of that is exponential. He’d rather have one Missy Ward than10,000 people he doesn’t know and who don’t have the potential to garner attention from others. It’s the same dynamic where 20 percent of your customers are responsible for 80 percent of your business. If you only had those 20 percent, you wouldn’t be any worse off.

Loren doesn’t know why he has influence. He figures his audience is made up of upper-level, confident, not politically correct people prone to having a good time. He’s square with people and he’s entertaining. He has a background in standup and that’s helped him be quick on his feet and do well in this space. Personally, I’d say Loren has influence for two reasons

  1. He knows how to connect with the right people.
  2. He’s relatable

Connecting with the “right” people: Loren can call any CEO in the country and they’d take the call. He uses his shtick to attract the “right” people to him. Yes, he burns a lot of bridges by having a mouth on him (don’t we all. Oh, just me? Okay.), but the silver lining is that when the phone rings, people are pre-qualified. He doesn’t have to sell. He works with Fortune 500 companies because they know he’s the best. They may make him sign an NDA because they don’t want to be publicly associated with him (heh), but they know he’s the shit.

He’s relatable: People are captivated by Loren and his shtick. It strikes a chord with people who are tired of people saying how wonderful things are. He likes to tweet late at night that he’s hungry. It’s a shtick but everyone relates to that. If you involve people with your craziness, they become invested. People want to go off but they’re scared about losing business or people thinking they’re a dick. People live vicariously through him. If he starts the ball and takes the grunt for being the bad guy, it’s okay for people to pile on.

Biggest lesson: You don’t need to have a large audience to have influence. Popularity and influence are NOT the same. Each of us has a micro-community. Having a big audience is great but if you’re not connecting and no one is engaged, who cares? The real benefit to the micro audience is the connection, the attention, and the relationship that it offers.

Loren also talked a lot about companies wasting their time in social media and how people don’t want to become friends with brands. If you’re a brand entering into social media because you think you should, don’t. Use social media to share coupons, the secure your name and scoop up the SEO benefit. Don’t use it to become “friends” with people. People don’t want to be your friend. They just want you to make good products.

And with that, I’m headed to the airport for a red eye back to Albany. I mean…after the In N Out run, of course. Lates! :)

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