Videos With the Personal Touch

If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is an online startup-funding site. The official description is “a funding platform for creative projects.” It’s a chance to invest in projects and products for regular folks. You don’t need a ton of dough to participate and there are some very unique opportunities. Paticipants are given a chance to showcase their project or product and are allowed a certain amount time to reach their funding target goal.

One such project is Spark. The device they are looking to manufacture provides the ability to control lights via the internet. Think turning lights on and off with your smartphone or a light flashing when you receive a text message. While I had chance to meet the founder of this company, Zach Supalla, and was immediately impressed with him, what drew me to the project was the video they made.

Think about this, your company is given a short amount of time to convince someone, most likely someone who has know idea who you are, to invest money in your project. How are you going to find a way to tell your story…convincingly…quickly.

I think Zach pulled it off by putting together a video that accomplished many things in a short amount of time:

  • He showed his enthusiasm, knowledge and sincerity without doing anything fancy. No stunts, no comedy, just him talking to the camera.
  • He created a connection with the viewer by sharing a very personal story about his deaf father and the important role light played in everyday communication.
  • He didn’t get bogged down in the tech and spent his time more in the experience.

Zach also has a compelling demo set up to serve as s next step in using his device. It started with a lighting a light in their office via Twitter and now, controlling the holiday display at his house.

The next time you do a video in hopes of convincing someone…whether it’s to invest money, buy a product, or give you a call…think about keeping it real, personal and sincere. You’ll see some great results.

There’s Content and Then There’s the Right Content.

I was scrolling though my Facebook feed this morning…as many of us do…and noticed an update from a radio station that I use to program in Des Moines. It was what I consider a pointless status update, more of a commercial than an update really. I’m sure most would just scroll by or delete it. Being in the content building business, I headed to their page. Oh boy…

A quick bit of  background here: 95 KGGO is a Rock station that, over the past 35+ years has evolved into a Classic Rocker. They’ve always been a monster in the market and set the tone for rock in central Iowa for years. Personally, my 13 years there as Promotions and Program Director generate some of the best memories I have of my days “in radio.” Like many stations it has become less local and live staff has become scarce. I’m sure a favorite station of yours “isn’t what it use to be.” But this is not about whining about the “good ol’ days” of radio. The fact is, the way the business of broadcasting is done has changed. However, the need to build audience and create fans has not.

That brings me back to their page. It does little if anything to make anyone care about KGGO. It does little to tell me about what and who they are. It does little to make me love them. It does EVERYTHING to sell me something. And that is exactly why they are failing in taking advantage of Facebook as a way to create passionate, lasting fans.

I’ve noted the problem areas in the screenshot on the left. (Click on it to open a larger version)

  1. The ‘About Us’ doesn’t tell me about them. It offers a phone number that, when called, went unanswered. This station has heritage (note 35+ years of it above), is there really nothing you can tell me about?
  2. The “Listen Live” image/link takes me to a page that has no audio and no information listed. If you’re going to have a “listen” link there, I really ought to hear something.
  3. There is soooooo much content dedicated to “pimping” the station and contesting. For years, the effectiveness of “caller number nine” contests on radio has proven to be nil. Why would anyone think it would be great to promote it on Facebook?
  4. Holy crap! Some actual personality content. I love the South Park version of on-air guy, Clutch. There’s an actual attempt at interaction with fans. Sadly, it goes no further than one question. There’s no conclusion. The photo of the guy with the hat (on larger version) is hilarious. While I’m sure the first reaction by the station brass is that they would not like this guy to show up at a client. However, the thing to do is embrace him. Make this guy the Fan of the Week. Too much fun is possible here.

What kind of content creator would I be if I didn’t offer some additional ideas on what to post that someone would really care about, keep them coming back and (shocker) actually listen to the station. Okay, along with what I’ve already mentioned, here you go:

  1. Involve your fans. Why not check out some of the pages of your fans and share something they are sharing. Keep it light-hearted and don’t get personal. If their sharing a link to something the station is known for, share it. Don’t share personal tragedy or hardship. You want them to like you…
  2. More photos of events…with fans.
  3. Snippets of on air audio.
  4. Comments from the staff. In this case Bob and Tom, a syndicated show, isn’t in house and can’t comment on every affiliate’s page. But, they are commenting on their own page. Share it.
  5. Video, video, video! Create your own, share music videos, comment on Youtube.

So, who’s’ going to do all this? Start with the person that seems to have plenty of time to post ads and promos for contests now, but also involve everyone of the people at the station. They’ve probably got more ideas! By the way, have they all “Liked” your page?

Sadly, KGGO is not alone here. It’s a challenge each and every day with each and every project to keep fresh and compelling content coming. It’s not easy and it’s really not free but, it is worth it. so, Do it for the fans!

A Twitter Tale…From the Riverbank

No too long ago I was talking with Sean, at one of RemainComm’s great clients, about how to manage updates to Twitter. One of the strategies with this particular client revolves around thought leadership marketing. I wanted to share this analogy I used to explain how best to feed the stream with our relevant tweets.*

When thinking about how most use Twitter, consider this; A single tweet floats along the endless Twitter river while the follower sits calmly on the bank (at their desk or on the phone). Imagine if that follower happens to close their eyes for a short nap (works or takes a call). If you’ve posted three tweets in a short period of time, those three tweets floated by as they are blissfully slumbering. Of course, when they wake they can run down the bank (scroll through their feed) and look for what has already gone down stream, but they’re only going to run (scroll) so far. I believe there is a better chance of reaching them if one of those tweets floats by after they wake up (gets back to their feed). Then another floats by when they walk down the bank for home.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. For example, if you’re live tweeting an event or participating in a conversation. On those occasions the follower is sitting on the bank or standing on a bridge for the purpose of watching the river.
Bottom line: Spread out your tweets or use a scheduling function available on many management systems (Hootsuite, etc) to spread out the tweets. You spend the same amount of time posting but you get better results.

*This story inspired by Hammy and Tales of the River Bank

Expectations: DENIED!

My 11 year-old daughter asked me to “hurry up a little” as we drove home from her 3 on 3 basketball game where, I might add, she totally rocked on defense! But I digress… The reason she wanted to get home was to watch a new show she likes on the ABC Family network. If you have a tween or pre-tween you may know of the show of which I speak…Ruby and the Rockits. Yes it’s another ‘ordinary girl with incredible vocal talent living life where madcap situations arise each day with plenty of chances to sing a song’ premise.  Anyway my daughter liked it and wanted to see it.

I‘ve seen the show once or twice. Hey, who of my generation isn’t curious what David Cassidy is up to these days. In fact, Ruby and the Rockits gives you an update on all the “Cassidy boys” with brother Shaun producing and half-brother Patirck co-starring. (In the ‘old’ days, that would have been a lot of hair and hip-huggers…now, not so much.) Together with my expectations of a network with the name ABC ‘Family’, my impressions of the one episode I had seen, and the fact that the show rating was well within the parameters to avoid being block by the parental controls, I figured it a go for 11 year-old viewing. Um, yeah.

As I sat working on my laptop I was startled to hear a scene in which one of the younger characters voiced the line “ass-kisser” disguised in a sneeze. Huh? Not five minutes later another young character looked at the sneezing character and promptly shot a “bitch” across his bow. What the…? Hey this wasn’t what I had signed on for. Expectation: DENIED!

We’ve all come across these contradictions in brand on plenty of occasions. Remember the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction”. That brief bit of exposed portion of breast was extremely tame by today’s television standards. That it happened in the middle of a sporting event..the most watched sporting event…was what caused such a fuss. Expectation: DENIED!

Right now, in my town, an FM Talk Station that has positioned itself as the conservative talker, with a line up that includes Rush Limbaugh, has decided that it will not be a talk station on the weekends. Instead they will play classic rock instead. Again I say, what the…? If I were a conservative looking for a little solace while perhaps I’m out burying ammo on the weekend and I tuned to my stations and heard the rock band Rush instead of the right-wing Rush, I would be scratching my head and wondering what happened. And no letter from the Program Director posted on the website would make it clear to me. Expectation: DENIED!

These lapses in delivering on expectations by these media brands are sometimes mistakes but sometimes are purely driven by the hope of short term gain. ABC Family to appear to be hip and KTLK to maybe steal a rating point or two from the other rock stations…if only for the weekend.

This is what those that come up with these ideas like to position as “out of the box” thinking. This is more like short-term thinking.

Real brand pros look well past the next week, or the next quarter, or even the next year and remember that without the brand they have nothing that can sustain them for long periods of time. A brand will continue to pay dividends well beyond a tactic or a stunt. So every tactic or stunt must reflect the brand not contradict it.

What’s your brand? What are the expectations of your customer? Are you fulfilling them every single time your customer comes in contact with your brand? They should!

Vanity Inaction

So, I woke up all stressed this morning…I had fallen asleep and not been at the computer at 11:01pm (CDT) to get secure my name as my URL on Facebook. Wow, talk about Social Media guilt. As involved as I am in Social Media this is a big deal…or is it?

Since my PhilWilson and Phil.Wilson were already gone, I set about finding the next best thing…next best being the problem. No matter which one I checked on I was not satisfied. PhilBWilson? Nope, I never use the initial. Nah, sounds too URLy. meet.PhilWilson? Not bad but maybe a bit too George Jetson. Most of them just didn’t sit with me and many were just way to cutesy. Logically, I knew that the full name was key. Creatively, I knew I wanted to stand out.

About three hours into the search it hit me. What an incredible waste of time. I had locked on to something that in the long run was so incredibly trivial. You see, my Facebook page is the way I keep in touch with friends. It’s not really how I try to “further my brand” on line. Facebook is more personal.

Search wise, since I’m known as Phil Wilson on Facebook, I’m going to show up that way in search. If someone wants to find me on Facebook via my consulting, RemainComm, I show up on FB search that way and at the top of the page in Google search. Localtone Radio, a startup I’m part of? I show up third in FB search…behind our Facebook page and it’s creator and my partner Justin Grammens. That’s cool by me.

Any way the point is this. There are a bunch of Phil Wilsons in the world…many of them on Facebook. My vanity URL will not change that. My best bet is to try and use a word or words that might possibly help someone find me on Facebook. Something that will further my connectivity on the Social Web.

So what did I end up with? Well, a friend of mine, Meg Canada, upon meeting my family for the first time once said to my daughter, “We know your Dad as Philson.” @philson is my Twitter name and I use it for alot of account names accross the web. Why not use this Facebook thing as a way to tie Phil Wilson to that web persona Philson? Of course nothing is easy, and since “philson” was already taken (Yeah, there’s alot of philsons out there too.), I added a little “aka”. So the Facebook URL is

Is it the perfect “brand extension”? Maybe not, but it does accomplish something. And, more importantly, it gets the whole anguish of choosing a name behind me.

Now is there any way to get that three hours back?

Audience vs. Community: Which Way Are Your Chairs Pointing?

One of Social Media’s most prolific writers, Chris Brogan, posted a very interesting article today on Audience vs. Community. The distinction of the two continues to confound many. From PR firms,to agencies, to businesses to your Mom and Dad, are still trying to figure out the difference. And though Chris speaks from the standpoint of social media, that difference has been with us for years! He sums it up quite eloquently with this sentence:

The only difference between an audience and a community is which direction the chairs are pointing.

No longer are the chairs all neatly arranged in a row all facing a stage, on which stands a speaker. Nope, this new form of media has allowed those “butts in seats” to stand up and rearrange those chairs and talk with each other…while the speaker continues to talk from the stage. And that’s the issue we have faced for years as we address our audience or customer.Are we talking at them or with them?

This is not a new concept by any means. Humans would rather be social. Which would you rather do, play solitaire or poker? Go to a party or sit at home and drink? (If it’s the later, you may need to make a call or two.) Dine alone or have a barbecue? You get the idea. It’s the advent of better social communication, especially through internet technology and our always connected culture, that has brought it to the forefront for businesses, brands and people.

As Brogan points out, the importance of community to a successful music career has always been paramount. The fan is the thing! His analogy, “Think Britney Spears vs the Grateful Dead.” Fans, talking to other fans and together converting new fans, kept an entire legion of music consumers on the road for years…some even after the band stopped touring. Harley-Davidson has done the same, so much so that they were able to keep their community together through a period when the product turned to crap. Their “community” helped them survive, demanded a better product, and because HD listened, grew even bigger.

So which way are your chairs facing? Are you still standing on he stage talking at the audience or are you walking around the community and participating in the conversation…which is mostly about you? you? Most importantly are you listening to what they say to each other as well as what they say to you.

Amber Naslund points out in her comment to Brogan’s piece, “…you cannot *create* a community. It creates itself.” It should also be noted that community can fold up it’s chairs (destroy itself), or worse, throw the chairs at you (turn against you).

Signal Strength and Culture Change

Over the past week I’ve had the chance to have a few conversation with Gary Koelling of Best Buy and founder of, on the subject of business and social media (he also likes the term social technology). In fact you can hear one of those conversations as part of our weekly Minnov8 Gang Podcast. I speak with Gary about alot of things, but I was particularly struck by his thoughts on two subjects.

First, was that of “signal strength”.
(Ok, now you’re talkin’ a radio guy’s language.) As Gary was
whiteboarding away on the topic of reaching customers and fans he noted
how easy social media makes it to leap over so many steps and
interactions to speak directly with the customer. His comment, “Your
signal strength is much higher.”

That of course had me visualizing the good ol’ communication model that
was drilled into me for years. Any time you can eliminate static
between the sender and the real receiver (in that “medium”) the better. both are winners
when you can increase your signal strength.

Of course getting a business to remove the static that impacts signal strength is a discussion of business culture and it’s impact on the acceptance of social media. I’ve mentioned more than a few times here that there needs to be a shift in the business models of many companies, including as it pertains to the long tail, broadcast, and big brands.

In conversations Gary has shared with me many of the accomplishments and a few frustrations he has experienced over the years as he as tried to overcome established business cultures. In a nutshell he emphasized the need to be patient. Business has a long history of not really allowing the customer to directly influence how they do things. It will take time and many attempts at getting business to both accept new ideas and avoid falling back on “the way we have always done things.”

Patience is the key to social media in so many ways, including the patience a company need to have when building relationships. That doesn’t happen quick enough to impact your financials by the end of this quarter, or next. That’s a big change for companies, especially those in crisis, as so many are right now.

Gary pointed to this video as what Best Buy is thinking in this regard.

Clearly, Best Buy is making a move toward changing it’s culture and increasing it’s signal strength. It’s very encouraging and should be inspiring to other companies and business categories. (I’m thinking media…especially radio, where it’s all about signal strength.)


Brands vs. Fans

 Much has been made about “brand marketing” in the social media space. “Your brand has to be online!”, “My brand has a Facebook page!”, “Is your brand on Twitter?”. More and more I’m convinced this is short sighted.

Remember, the “media” part of social media is the channel by which communication occurs. The “social” is the people part, those that participate in the conversation. Neither of those parts say anything about a product or service. Why would someone want to follow Tide, Best Buy, Pepsi, etc on Facebook, Youtube or Twitter? Now, CEO Bob at Tide, Stephanie at Pepsi, or Barry at Best Buy? That’s another story! Those are people I can have a conversation with.

A recent quote in the this article really says it all, “Members of social networks want to spend time with friends, not brands.” Excuse me whilst I utter the proverbial “Duh!”

This again reinforces the overwhelming necessity of understanding the medium in which you are participating or working. Social media marketing follows a whole different set of rules than mass marketing. One of those rules is “It’s all about the relationship.” Brands in and of themselves can’t form relationships. Those people that are fans of the brand can and those that represent the brand can.

So, let’s amend the statements above: “A representative of your brand has to be online!”, “My brand’s community manager has a Facebook page!”, “Who evangelizes your brand on Twitter?”.

Bottom line: Brands in social media…no. People representing brands in social media…yes. (Of course, you need the right people or rather, fans!) As Ted McConnell, manager of interactive marketing and innovation at P.& G notes: “I don’t want to be best friends with a brand,” he said. “It’s just stuff.”