You may have noticed a bit of a break in blogging here the last two days. That would be due to some time spent talking to a class of Internet marketing students at Ohio State and then heading on to SEW Live: Columbus to teach a morning training class on social media with Matt Bailey and then an afternoon of panels with other SEW Live speakers. It was interesting to get the perspectives that came from both groups and to spend a little time outside of the traditional "search conference" environment.
On Tuesday, Matt and I had the pleasure of guest lecturing for the Online Marketing class being taught by BizResearch's Laura Thieme at Ohio State's Fischer College of Business. It was interesting to see how the next generation is looking at things like social media and online marketing and to see how some of our assumptions don't always match up with reality.
A good example? Out of a class of about 30, only 4 or 5 had ever heard of Digg. (Though during our class break Matt spotted several of them hopping on their computers to check it out.) They all seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the need to carry the message subtly into the areas that people are already spending time connecting and communicating. I'd imagine that when you're talking to a group that was raised in the era of Tivo and iPods that deliver on-demand entertainment sans ads, they probably get it better than many in the marketing industry do.
The SEW Live event and morning training session also went quite well. It was a nice sized audience of highly engaged attendees that weren't afraid to jump in with questions and thoughts based on their own experiences. We worked our way through everything from what social media is to who uses it to how to creatively (and subtly) market through it and finally how to analyze and value it.
Unfortunately the word seems to be spreading online that both Matt and I have declared Digg "dead" and YouTube as "the place" to market. (Which is funny since I spent way more time waxing poetic about Flickr than any other social media site...) Neither one of those happened, but since word is spreading and most of the people reading this weren't at the show, I'll give just a quick recap.
Matt and I co-taught the morning training seminar on social media and social media marketing. During that class there were a few key points that we tried hard to make.
1.) While link bait and viral marketing are both popular ways to market via social media, they are not the same thing. Link bait is designed to drive links and nothing but links while viral marketing is designed to build brand and drive sales.
2.) Link bait sends traffic and links, but often has low engagement rates. That's ok, because link bait isn't about high engagement rates, it's about links. Conversely, viral marketing campaigns may not score as many links, but tend to more closely target the type of audience that is highly engaged and more likely to convert. Businesses need to know the purpose of each of these tactics and learn how to use them appropriately.
3.) Digg is not a marketing strategy. Success in social media is not "get your site on Digg and everything will be great." Instead, we pointed out the usefulness of Digg in terms of link bait, but how poorly it tends to perform in terms of engagement and conversion rate. Thus, we worked to make it clear that while Digg has it's place as part of a marketing strategy (especially if you are in the right vertical) it's just that, part of a strategy, not the whole strategy.
4.) YouTube did get brought up as one of many social media sites that we shared ideas for creatively marketing through. Then again, so did Flickr and MySpace and Facebook and MyBlogLog and a whole variety of other social media sites. The key here was helping businesses to understand that they need to learn how each "type" of social media site works and then plan their campaigns and their strategies accordingly.
5.) Overall the theme was that marketing is still marketing, we're simply finding new playgrounds to have fun in. The overall key point was that social media allows businesses to establish the relationships with consumers and thought-leaders to build the foundation for strong online branding and marketing. Creating passionate users by building solid relationships is the key to social marketing.
WebProNews was there to cover the event and has already posted some video interviews from the show.
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