The Answers to the Questions Provide the
Pathway to Solutions, Relations, Markets and
Conversations Yet to Be Discovered
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 1
Table of Contents
What Is Social Media? ................................................................................1
Systemic Effects of Social Media ................................................................2
Is Social Media Strategically Relevant? ...................................................... 4
Is Social Media Relevant & Relative? .........................................................6
Where, What and Who?..............................................................................6
Does Where, When & What Matter?...........................................................7
Does “How” Come After “What?” ................................................................9
Who Owns the “How” Company?..............................................................10
How Much Does “How” Cost?...................................................................12
The Cost of How .......................................................................................13
Where Do You Find How? ........................................................................ 13
How Do You Learn How? .........................................................................14
Why Use Social Media?............................................................................ 16
From Advertising to "Convert-ising" .......................................................... 18
What Is Convert-ising?.............................................................................. 19
Do You Have Social Media Directions? .................................................... 21
About The Authors.................................................................................... 23
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What Is Social Media?
It seems that everyone is trying
to define social media and how
to measure its ROI.
I get asked “what is social
media?” from every client I
engage with. Everywhere I look
online, people are presenting
videos, presentations, white
papers and even books that
offer their spin on the definition of social media.
Since all this social stuff is fairly new and evolving, definitions change. So do people’s
perception of what it is. After reading, hearing and watching everyone’s definition, I
thought about their perspectives. Then I thought about whether these perspectives
effectively tell the story. Having something of a simple mind myself, I thought I’d try and
condense the definitions down to something I hope is useful for everyone.
Social Media Is What?
When you break it all down, “social media is communications.” Communications is
nothing new, except now the power of communicating has exploded with the
participation of hundreds of millions of people engaging in dialog one-to-one to
millions. If you haven’t noticed, there are over 200 million blogs, millions of YouTube
video, billions of tweets, millions of individuals connecting on social networks. What are
all these people doing? Communicating!
How Are We Communicating?
Social technology has simply accelerated communications. Before, people and
institutions relied on phones, email, television, radio, marketing material and advertising
to communicate. Now they all rely on this process called social media. Social
media is a communications process leveraged by technology.
Yet the old process of communicating has shifted to a process that provides reach,
richness, and affinity and enriched collaboration efforts. By the way, it is all
instantaneous with no delays. Plus it pulls people and entire markets into conversations,
instantaneously. How are we communicating? Instantaneously!
Simply stated, social media is a communication process that is revolutionizing
everything tied to communication; which, by the way, happens to be everything.
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The process of social media involves:
1. The use of technology
2. Identifying and providing valuable conversations
3. Distribution of conversations to appropriate and relevant markets
4. Methods and messages that create pull and engagement
5. Building and sustaining an audience of listeners (a.k.a. relationships)
6. Continually feeding the audience with conversational currency; value they can
Making Money from Communication
Besides the fact that everyone's trying to define “social media” it seems that everyone
wants a formula to define its ROI, as well. The simple answer to ROI is a question. Can
you create any kind of return on anything without communicating? The answer is
NO. Thus, the way you get an ROI from social media is to learn how to communicate
more effectively, efficiently, relationally and in human (not advertising or marketing)
Before you ask about what social media is or what the ROI is, ask yourself how you
have measured the value of communications previously. Your answer is likely “we
never have been able to."
The difference today is now you can measure the efficiency and effectiveness of
communications down to specifics like whom, what, when and its value is, moment by
moment. Communications is the essence of any economy. Like a bank, the higher the
rate of interest, the more currency we create from our conversations. However, this
currency is driven by the relevancy of our conversations and the use of said
conversations by the market of people communicating.
This "conversation" currency is like money in that if your conversations create a rate of
interest you are earning value created by the interest from people. The value created
begins with a relationship with the "market of interest." (The market of interest includes
people whom have an affinity and interest in your conversation.) Converting
conversations to money is the end result of effectively and efficiently managing
the process of communicating value to an audience.
Systemic Effects of Social Media
A systemic effect is when an outside or inside
influence changes the entire system. A system is the
collective processes that enable a business to
create, distribute, engage and transact with a
market. Market transactions come in the form of
communications, which in the end create a financial
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transaction, which is the fuel for every business.
In any “system” the effectiveness of the connected processes aimed at end objectives
determines the value of the final outcomes. Most businesses focus on outcome results,
transactions, and when the results don’t come...managers look for “reasons” why.
System outcomes can be influenced by numerous factors such as:
1. Competitor innovation that attracts the market
2. Cost of goods increases and shrinking margins
3. Employee turnover which fuels inconsistency and waste
4. Customers leaving due to dissatisfaction
5. Market shifts that you are unaware of and don’t understand
The #1 influence that is threaded through all five examples above is
If you're not listening to the market of conversations, you are missing strategic
intelligence that could forewarn you of the five factors listed above- plus many others!
When Connections within the System Disconnect
Every business relies on the efficient and effective flow of information. When the flow of
information slows down or breaks, then the cost increases due to delays, defects, and
breakdowns. This, in turn, results in time being robbed away from actual productivity.
Information flows through communications and those that communicate rely on the
accuracy and relevancy of what is communicated. Otherwise the wrong
communications drive the cost up and performance down.
Everyone knows what happens when a business doesn’t communicate (or
communicates the wrong thing) to their market. We all know what it is like calling a
business that we have bought from, only to be put on hold for more than 1 minute. Then
when (if?) we finally get a real person on the line often they are rude, indifferent and
worse provide no resolution to what we are seeking. These results are representative
of a “systemic breakdown” between a business and its market.
Social Media’s Systemic Effect
Social media is and will continue to create systemic change for any and all businesses.
Why? Because it is a new system of communications that connects people, customers,
suppliers, employees and entire markets. The effect is disruptive, instantaneous and
waits for no one. The impact of this new system of communications changes everything.
It turns old business models upside down and inside out. What you thought was
relevant to your business becomes irrelevant. What you thought was important
becomes unimportant. What you used to define as “your business” gets redefined.
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Don’t believe any of this? Then just sit and watch as markets get redefined, disrupted or
displaced by the influence of communications created by and for the benefit of any
market. In other words, the people who consume that which you’ve tried forever to
When communications shift, it changes everything because everything is tied to
Is Social Media Strategically Relevant?
As more and more organizations adopt the use of social
media, there is an obvious difference in perspective as to
whether social media is a strategy, a tactic or just
another set of promising tools.
Our perspective drives our actions, attitudes and
relevance of importance to our lives, our business and
entire markets. Strategic relevance is a higher priority
than tactical relevance. Finding things like tools has less relevance and thus does not
get thought of as "strategically important." Unless things are of strategic importance
they will not get top management attention and support, it will be delegated down.
Is Social Media of Strategic Relevance?
In a Business Week article titled “The Overlooked Side of Social Media” the
Corporate Executive Board said
“Most companies are embracing social media—but too many are wasting their
efforts through sloppy management”
More than 70% of companies are already using social media; many are planning
to increase their spending on social media across the coming years. Whether for
learning from customers, building their brands or a range of other hoped-for
outcomes, companies are clearly diving in.
Unfortunately, few have thought very hard about managing these initiatives. In a
classic case or “ready, fire, aim,” companies are committing resources to social
media efforts with very little process behind them. The result? A hodgepodge of
unrelated initiatives, wheels re-invented and resources wasted.
The Corporate Executive Board has found that the best companies recognize
that social media are just another set of promising tools and as such are to be
understood, mastered, and used efficiently as they journey into the space. That
journey has three stages:
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• Discovery: At this stage, the organization is just finding out about the potential
uses (and risks) of social media for its purposes and making initial forays. The
goal: understanding (”could this work for us?”)
• Experimentation: As an organization does more with social media, the
importance of learning efficiently becomes urgent. These bodies should develop
and steward a learning agenda for the firm’s efforts, using each initiative to
deliberately increase the institutional knowledge of social media use.
• Adoption: While few companies currently find themselves in this stage, those
that do loosen their managerial posture, moving away from oversight toward
The short story: Social media isn’t a fad about to fade away; it’s a good idea for
your organization to learn how to use it to your advantage. The best companies
will learn faster and get more out of social media by aggressively managing their
Just Another Set of Promising Tools?
In my humble opinion the Corporate Executive Board quoted above is misleading CEOs
by stating that social media are just another set of promising tools. Corporate
Executive Board influences what and how CEOs think and this statement discounts the
strategic importance of social media.
A tool is something you give to people to use for whatever purpose. A tactic is an
initiative aimed at producing a result. A strategy is the science or art of combining and
employing the means of beating competition in planning and directing organizational
efforts aimed at winning markets. Communications is the means of deploying sound
Social media is a system of communications. What and how you communicate to
suppliers, employees and markets is the science and art of using social media. If you
deploy the system of social media without first considering the strategic implications and
relevance to all stakeholders the “tools” may hurt your overall strategy. In other words,
as the Corporate Executive Board states “Most companies are embracing social
media—but too many are wasting their efforts through sloppy management.”
Not understanding or considering the strategic importance of social media is like saying
communications is not of strategic relevance to reaching our goals. In case you didn’t
know, what, how and whom you communicate with as well as the effectiveness and
efficiency of your communications have serious strategic implications. Don’t believe it?
Ask yourself how many strategies have failed because of a failure to
communicate effectively and efficiently. More than you can imagine!
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Is Social Media Relevant & Relative?
The power of social media rests in using it to
communicate content that is both relevant and
relative to a specific audience.
What Is Relevant & Relative?
Let's start with definitions so we can understand
the context of relevant and relative social media
1. bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent to your market
1. something having, or standing in, some relation to something else
2. existing or having its specific nature only by relation to something else
3. having relation or connection to your market
4. having reference or regard; relevant to your markets interest
Now given these definitions for individuals and businesses to create traction with their
social media activities, we MUST think about relevant issues and relative audiences we
want to reach. If we don’t, then all we’re doing is pushing out mass media that isn’t
relevant and relative to our audience. Sounds like a lot of people on Twitter and in mass
Where, What and Who?
In order to maximize the use of social media, one must first think about where, what and
who. Where, what and who are relevant to understanding the dynamics of your market
and how to create attention, attraction and an affinity to you instead of your competitors.
A few details to put things into context:
1. "Where" is an indication of location. Location is an indication of market
presence. Market presence is where you want to be otherwise you’ll end up
communicating to the wrong market. So where is your market? How can you find
them? Getting answers to these two questions takes knowledge of social
technology that will save you time and make you more productive. Where is very
2. "What" is an indication of interest. Once you found where your market is, then
the next step is to understand “what is the markets interest?” Interest is
reflected by traffic, readers and propagation of content that is in context to the
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market's interest. Knowing what is of interest to your market enables you to think
about what topics, conversations etc. you should create that pulls the market to
you and away from them, your competition.
3. "Who" includes the people you want to influence. Influence is and always will
be part of any effective sales process. However influence is no longer about
mass media rather about “social media”. To understand social media read
“Again, What is Social Media?” and hopefully this puts social media into context
that is relevant and relative to “how” you reach people and influence them with
relevant and relative content.
Where, What and Who are just the beginning stages of laying out an effective social
media strategy. Finding the answers requires thinking, use of the right technology and
the skills to do both. However, once you gain the where, what and who knowledge
(which is David Bullock’s expertise) then you have to focus on the why, how and when
(what I focus on). Unless you learn how to be relevant and relative you are likely to
become irrelevant and not relative.
Does Where, When & What Matter?
Social technology provides an abundance of data. The
data provides information, which can create knowledge if
properly applied to gaining new knowledge. New
knowledge can create new results if we apply theories
based on the knowledge gained.
Social media is a communications system, which enables
us to engage with interested markets. Markets represent
people seeking something, someone or some value that
helps them learn to achieve new results. The technology enables us to watch where
people are coming from, when they are coming, and what they consume. Given this
information we can gain knowledge as to where people found our conversation, when
they found it and what specific communications drew them to us. By assessing the
where, when and what we can apply knowledge to improve our communications and
engage a larger audience. Engaging a larger audience is an indicator of value, in terms
of conversational currency.
Where Do They Find Your Conversation?
Distributing your conversational content to specific markets is important because if
you're in the wrong market of conversations, you are not likely to create interest or
affinity to markets that matter. Finding where your desired markets are engaged is the
first step to “pulling” them to your conversation. I study my data daily. Do you?
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When Do They Engage?
Knowing when people find you - and from where - is important information that can lead
you to understanding where and when markets are seeking what. Knowing this helps
you formulate improved content that can pull more people to your conversation, thus
increasing the size of an audience, which increases relevant reach.
What Drew Them To You?
"What" is relevant because it is an indicator of interest and findability. An audience
interested in “what” you communicate provides you with opportunity to add value to
what an audience may be seeking to find, if they can find you.
Adding value to an audience is the basis of establishing a relationship based on
knowledge. Knowledge shared is an attraction, which creates an affinity, and
subsequently a larger audience. Why? Because one person in the audience has similar
affinity to others who are likely seeking the same knowledge.
Knowledge shared is valuable because it helps others gain something they didn’t
previous have but were seeking.
Besides “Where, When and What,” the Question of “How” Matters Most
Knowing how to do anything is the most important knowledge to acquire, before you can
do anything well. Knowing something that you didn’t previously know requires the
acquisition of new knowledge. New knowledge doesn’t come from past experience;
rather it comes from new experiences, new relationships and the learning that is gained
from both. Providing people with knowledge they seek is the means for establishing a
relationship based on value sought and found.
Regardless of what you sell or what business you are in where people will find you,
when they find you and what draws them to you is vital to formulating, improving and
distributing more value that will draw them back. Pushing yourself into where people
are at when you want to isn’t what “pulls” people to you. Rather it “pushes” them
away from you.
Gaining new knowledge from the data and information afforded to you can help you
learn new knowledge that will pull your market to you. Eventually your audience just
may end up transacting with you based on the value you’ve been providing.
Transactions come from conversations that demonstrate and add value. Social media
affords you the reach and the data to learn, from information, on how to apply new
knowledge. What matters more than where, when and what...is how. Get it? We will
examine how next.
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Advertisers and marketers seem to ignore the value of new knowledge and keep doing
what they’ve always done. Instead, they keep pushing their useless information that has
no context to what is relevant and relative to specific audience new interest.
Does “How” Come After “What?”
Social technology offers individuals an array of places to establish one's presence in the
market of conversations. These places, whether it be a blog, a social network or an
established community, are “what” more and more people are learning about and
Once people and organizations hear “what” it is and “what” it offers they first jump into
whatever network they are most aware of (i.e. Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter). Next
follows a natural question of “what is this and what do I do with it?”
"What" is Always the First Question
In the numerous presentations I have given to audiences all over the consistent, the first
question is usually “what.” “What” is usually relative to the following issues:
1. What networks should I join?
2. What should I include in my profile?
3. What is the difference between Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter?
4. What kind of content should I create?
5. What tools should I use?
6. What is important to do first?
7. What are other companies doing well?
8. What revenue can I create from what?
9. What is social media?
10. What should my company do?
The answers to these "what" questions represent a desire to learn “what” to do.
However the knowledge of "what" is only the first stage of learning and, while important,
"what" is not the most important.
“What” is Important but “How” is More Important
People spend a lifetime learning "what." Education teaches us what knowledge is
required to pursue a profession. A profession requires specific knowledge that, when
applied, creates value for the employer, the market and the individual. Those that
exceed in their profession learn what knowledge they need but more importantly learn
how to apply the knowledge to create more value for the market, which wants their
knowledge and is willing to pay for it. You may have learned the “what” that is
required to do certain things, but how you use what you learned is the difference
between success and failure.
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When people learn “what” all this social stuff is (and learning "what" is never-ending) the
knowledge of “how to use it” to reach specific objectives isn’t something that can be
learned quickly or by copying what and how others use it.
“How” Requires New Knowledge
Learning “how” to effectively use social technology isn’t about the technology. Rather it
is more about a new system of communications, human behavior and communicating
value (knowledge) that an audience is seeking. The knowledge of “how” is a process of
discovery that changes frequently. Knowledge isn’t static and neither is human interest.
The “what” questions are usually followed by “how” questions which commonly include:
1. How do we reach specific audiences?
2. How do we track interest?
3. How do we attract our customers and prospects?
4. How do we create good content?
5. How do we know if we are doing the right things?
6. How do we know if we are doing things right?
7. How much time does it take?
8. How do we turn these efforts into revenue?
9. How do we keep up with all this stuff?
10. How much does it cost?
Since “how” is the most relevant issue to the use of “what,” everyone wants quick and
cheap answers. It took most professionals four to eight years to acquire the “what”
knowledge needed to pursue a profession. It takes the rest of your life to learn “how” to
apply what you learned and create new knowledge that creates the value that serves
your market, your family and yourself.
To learn “how,” you need to find the knowledge and the people that know “how”
to apply it. They are few and far between.
Who Owns the “How” Company?
As indicated previously “how” is more important than
"what." If “how” were a company, it would be a
company whose only product or service was
knowledge. Knowledge rests between the ears of
every human being. Thus every person is in fact
their own “how” company.
Every company has people aimed at “doing” what
the executives think they are qualified and should be
doing. The performance of any company is driven by
“how” well they produce, distribute, communicate
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and perform for the customer. The best companies know “how” to create an
environment that attracts the best people who know “how” to do certain things better
than others. Thus the quality and performance of a company is directly related to “how”
well people are enabled to do what they know “how” to do best.
An organization is a collection of people whom know “how” to do things well and how to
do the right things together seamlessly. An environment that doesn’t enable people to
do what they know “how to” well and instead enables others to do things and do the
right things together is a company whose performance is questionable.
How is Your “How” Company Doing?
Individually we each own our own “how” company. “How” well we are doing is directly
related to what we know and “how” we apply what we know to increasing value for
someone or many. The value of what we know is directly related to "how" well we are
learning to know more about how we do and what we do that improves value to people,
processes, products and services. Ever notice that people always want to know
“how” others were able to do something, achieve something or overcome
something? The reason people what to know “how” is because knowledge is attractive
and represents economic gain, recognition, benefits and improvement in everything.
Old vs. New “Hows”
Experience teaches nothing without theory. Practice makes permanent, not perfect. If
you haven’t noticed technology is changing daily and subsequently accelerating change
by those who believe (theory) that they can create something that previously didn’t exist
but if existed would add lots of value. The current accelerated adoption of social
technology only fuels the masses to believe (theory) they can do what never before has
been done.” And they are doing it. It’s evident by others using the knowledge contained
in conversations and applying it to solving old problems or creating new markets.” This
represents new “how” replacing old “how”.
Your “how” company increases in value based on learning and adopting a new “how”
ahead and before other “How Companies.” When another “How Company” creates a
new "how" that replaces the old “how” then your value becomes old and useless.
Because "how" is all about “how” to use or create things that add more value, more
productivity, more knowledge and subsequently more revenue.
If you believe (theory) that you know “how” to create more value than others by doing
things better then apply what you know “how” to do and never stop learning “how” to do
it better. Then, and only then, will your “How Company” increase in value.
By the way, learning “how” to do things better comes from communications and
communicating. Wonder why social media adds value to learning the new “how?”
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How Much Does “How” Cost?
If you haven’t noticed - many businesses are seeking help
aimed at jumping into the social media craze. Some businesses
are hiring “social media experts” while others are engaging
social media consultants. Some are turning to their existing PR
and Marketing firms and asking them to get their business
engaged in social media. Many, while deciding to jump in,
always ask “how much does it cost?”
Cost is relevant to value gained. In the world of social media,
value can be measured but value cannot be created unless you
have the knowledge of “how” to create value.
People spend years and tens of thousands of dollars in school
gaining knowledge. Then they go into the market and have to
learn “how” to use the knowledge they gained. Gaining
knowledge and using it are two totally different things.
When it comes to “how” to effectively use social media, there are thousands of
individuals who have the knowledge as to “what” it is and “how” it works but few who
know how to use it effectively.
Why is this true? Because the body of knowledge relative to using social media is still
young and changing daily.
When medical students finish their education they typically go into “internship” under the
guidance of those who have learned “how” to use the knowledge they gained effectively
and efficiently. Time, experience and new knowledge gained is the pathway for interns
to become worthy of “practicing medicine” on their own. Once on their own, they still
have to keep up with new knowledge in their field or they become obsolete in practice.
Crazed for Knowledge?
The word "craze" means a short-lived popular trend; a fad, and/or wild and uncontrolled
in behavior. The markets seemed to be “crazed” over social media and that is why
many discount it as a fad. The urgency to have presence in the space also shows signs
of “craze” to do something and find somebody who can do it.
Wanting knowledge of something that seems to be attracting everyone is
understandable. However, knowledge of “what” social media is vs. “how” to use social
media effectively are totally separate bodies of knowledge and again each is changing
daily. Try asking any business executive “What is social media?” and “How should
we use it?” and you’ll get different answers every time. Try asking the same question
to the current population of those who claim they know and you, again, will get different
answers every time.
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The Cost of How
Knowing how to use knowledge is worth a lot more than simply having knowledge.
When business managers ask “how much does it cost” the answers, like the definitions,
are all over the place. Cost is relative to value. Knowing what social media can do
and knowing how to do it are two different value propositions. Knowing where your
market is and what it desires doesn’t mean you know how to reach them and produce
that which they desire.
The Corporate Executive Board said “Most companies are embracing social media—
but too many are wasting their efforts through sloppy management” More than 70% of
companies are already using social media; many are planning to increase their
spending on social media across the coming years, whether for learning from
customers, building their brands or a range of other hoped-for outcomes.
98% of online advertisements never get viewed by the audience. That means you
wasted 98% of your time, energy and efforts because you didn’t know how to create an
engagement. Now are you satisfied with how things are working for you?
You can’t define hoped-for outcomes until you are able to define what something or
someone can do for you and your organization. What is followed by “how” is the
knowledge to know how to create specific, not "hoped-for" outcomes.
Where Do You Find How?
When you want to find something, we use search. The
results are always relevant to what you typed in for words
that reflect what you are looking for. When you type in
“how to use social media” you get 239,000,000
references. This many references is indicative of how
many papers, people, videos and post have been written
on the subject of “how”. The problem is that most of this
content says the same thing.
How is always in demand especially when things are in a
constant state of change. Change disrupts how old things
are done and forces us to learn how things are done
now. The problem with social media is that now things
change constantly at the click of a mouse.
So the question remains “Where do you find how?”
When you look up the word "how" in the dictionary, it provides the following definitions:
1. In what manner or way; by what means:
2. In what state or condition:
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3. To what extent, amount, or degree:
4. For what reason or purpose; why:
5. With what meaning:
6. By what name:
7. By what measure; in what units:
Now these are words to define the word “how” but the relevant definition is to know
“how” to apply knowledge to something so in doing so it creates more value than the
previous state or condition.
As previously discussed, social media is a communications system which enables that
which you communicate in order to attract an audience based on the value of what you
communicate. The system has massive reach and efficiency over the old system if you
know “how” to use it effectively. The system has real time statistics that can be used to
verify whether your communications and what you were communicating was effective.
The problem with this new system is that there are no manuals to reference the needed
knowledge to understand it in its entirety. Rather, the knowledge rests in the minds of
those using it regularly and creating the most value.
Finding those who use it and finding those who use it effectively can be something of a
challenge. The first challenge is finding a reference point to that which you seek. Then
finding the right answer or right person can be a daunting task.
Many are able to show you how the technology works. Few are able to provide you with
the knowledge of why and how people use the technology for specific business
objectives. The irony is that you can find “how” by using the technology to find the
knowledge and the people behind it. However, most of what you’ll find is people copying
methods of others, which in turn will produce the same results as others. Consider
than 98% of those using it aren’t producing relative and relevant results...because
they don’t know how.
How Do You Learn How?
While everyone seems to be rushing into using social media
for whatever purpose, the constant question people always
ask is “How” to create something with it. Subsequently there
are thousands of people “pushing” out advertising messages
claiming they “know how”.
Since the market is still very immature, individuals and
organizations jump into the process following, and in most
cases copying, “how” others are using it. Here is the problem
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It doesn’t produce any more than others have already produced.
What Are Others Producing?
I’ve done a simple analysis of “how” the bulk of the market is using social media. This
study is based on an assessment of 8,000 followers on Twitter, over 10,000
connections on Linkedin and Facebook and a sampling of brands who have engaged in
this process we call “social media”. Here are my findings:
1. 94% are using social media to “push out” old messages trying to catch someone
in a transaction.
2. 95% of the brands are simply using social media to “push” out their offerings,
sales and marketing messages with little if any human interaction.
3. Of over 8,000 followers on Twitter 96% of the communications have no relevancy
to anything relative that would “pull” a market to them for whatever purpose.
4. Of 50 groups I am a member of on Linkedin 95% of the group discussions do not
represent new knowledge, new insights on new methods and more specifically
“how” to create innovation and differential using social technology.
5. 100% of the offerings I found proclaiming “how” to use social media effectively
were in context to use of the technology, not “how” to engage and build an
audience that “sticks” and leads to “convert-ising”.
So with this data I asked myself “how” do people and institutions learn “how” to create
new value, conversational currency, and ultimately new transactions that motivate
others to share why the new value created is better.
Where Can We Find “How?”
To properly answer this question we have to ask another question. The question is
“what person or organization has captured “how” to do anything better and
where did they find the knowledge to do so?” Now take a minute and think about
“how” you would answer this question.
The first part of the question “what person or organization has captured “how” to do
anything better than what the current market produced?” The answer leads us to
recall industry leaders who have created new markets with innovative products and
services. How did they do this? With the knowledge that lies between their ears and
the input from people who believed in their vision of what could be done (but wasn’t
currently being done) and if done would satisfy a market yet in demand!
The second part of the question “where did they find the knowledge to do so?” The
answer is that these people didn’t find the knowledge to do so. Rather, they created it.
What? Yes, they created new knowledge, which lead to new innovation in products, and
services that filled a market demand that their application of the new knowledge
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 15
Back to the Question of “How?”
“How” to use anything effectively comes from learning what is currently working and
why. Then it's about applying creativity and knowledge aimed at how to make things
work better than the current methods. Learning what is currently working is readily
available for those willing to read and listen to those using the current methods for
whatever purpose. Applying creativity and knowledge to make things work better than
the current methods cannot be copied or found because it doesn’t exist until somebody
creates it and uses it to produce better results than what the current market produces.
So how do we learn “how”? We can create it or copy it. Which produces the
results you want?
Why Use Social Media?
Besides answering the
“What and How” of social
media, many business
leaders are still at the
fundamental stage of asking
Why? This very question
begs another question. Have
you been paying attention
to the marketplace?
OK, so they say yes then
they say "It seems
everywhere I turn I am hearing about social media but I still have the need to
understand why are businesses using it and why is it creating so much attention."
The answer to why is related to “how and what” a business does to engage in market
relations with the aim of creating an opportunity for a transaction. Why do businesses
exist? Primarily to create value, attract a market who wants the value, and engage that
market in transaction. However, the “how” of doing this has changed from “push
marketing” to “pull marketing” via relevant and relative conversations that attract the
market you seek to you.
Why and What Others Will Tell & Sell You
There are a lot of people tagging themselves as social media experts, gurus and
“certified specialists”. Most people saying so are individuals and organizations who
offer “basic skill sets and copy methodologies” which in the end will get you lots of
the wrong connections, lots of the wrong followers as well as a bad reputation in the
marketplace of conversations.
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If you think about the real reason “why” you really need to engage in social media it
boils down to forming the right relations and doing so the right way.
Social media isn’t effective if you use it to simply “collect” people so you have large
numbers. Collecting connections and followers is a numbers game and it is very easy to
do so. However, just collecting people doesn’t mean you're creating valuable relations
that are relative and relevant to your business. Just “collecting people” means you’re
likely to end up with a lot of spam mail filling up your social networking accounts or
spamming your blog post. Do you outsource your conversations? Unlikely (and
highly questionable!) so why would you hire a social media expert to do that for you?
The Real Reasons to Use Social Media
There are dozens of reasons but we’ll keep it to the top ten.
1. You will find whomever you want to do business with somewhere online.
2. You will find whatever knowledge you need about any market or any person
3. You can reach your market by simply engaging in the right conversations with the
right people. This is more effective than advertising.
4. If your business can’t be found, isn’t engaging with the market or worse yet
ignoring the market you are not likely to be creating transactional opportunities
while your competition does.
5. Communications is a system to leverage your organizations ability to
communicate with your market. Social media is the new communications system.
6. Social media saves time and money if you use it right, for the right things.
7. If you learn “how” to use social media correctly then you’ll understand “what”
your market is looking for and “where” they are looking. You’d want them to look
8. “When” your customers and prospects are engaging about you, your industry or
your products and services - you need to be there listening. Otherwise how will
you gain the necessary market intelligence, be enabled to respond or even be
aware of problems or needs. If you are not present when and where the
conversations are occurring you are basically out of touch with your market.
9. Communications is about reach. Communicating is about relational dynamics
between people. Social media provides the means to effectively communicate
with your market. However, this time you're communicating in human rather than
10. If you are not communicating (listening first, initiating second) then how in the
world do you expect to create relationships with people and businesses that may
want the value you offer?
When people need or want something in the old days they’d look up information in the
yellow pages. Today people turn to search engines to find what they want or need.
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 17
When people are looking to purchase something they want and need, more and more
they are going online to find out what other people think or say about a product, service
or brand. The relevancy that influences people’s buying behavior is other people’s
conversation, including yours. That is, if they can find your conversation and if it
provides value people are looking for.
To sum up: For many, the Web isn’t a place to look for information, it’s the only place.
Now do you know why?
From Advertising to "Convert-ising"
The word irrelevant means no
connection to a person, place or
Dictionary.com defines it as not
relevant; not applicable or
pertinent. Sound like many of the
ads “pushed” in your face, online
and off line?
Social media is ripping the
advertising industry wide open.
With online click through rates
running less than 2% and off line
methods running 1-4% the
audience is learning just how
ineffective and irrelevant the old methods are. At the same time the industry will argue
with these numbers to justify these old methods. I think Einstein said “insanity is doing
the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Wouldn't you say that
believing in the old methods is insane?
Advertising or "Convert-ising"?
When people needed or wanted something, in the old days they’d look up information in
the yellow pages. Today people turn to search engines to find what they want or need.
Each day on average Google gets used 235 million times. While at the same time,
advertising online gets little if any attention and less than 2% clickthrough rates.
When people are looking to purchase something they want and need, more and more
they are going online to find out what other people think or say about a product, service
or brand. In other words, after they have found something they continue to “search” for
conversations that are relevant to their desire to buy something. Thus the relevancy that
influences people’s buying behavior is other people’s conversation.
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 18
Convert-ising is a lot more effective, efficient and relevant than irrelevant
advertising. Why? Because people conversing don’t “push” intrusive information into
the space of conversations. Instead, their conversations about anything and everything
are what pull other people to those conversations. People trust people, not institutions
Why Is Advertising Irrelevant?
Stop and think about the wasteful methods deployed by advertisers past, present and
moving into the future. Think about the cost of this waste, beyond the advertiser's
wasted spending. Cost of our attention, our time and yes, even our own productivity.
Don’t think so? Think about it.
1. How much time do we waste watching a TV ad that has no relevancy to our
2. How much attention and space is wasted pushing advertisements on the web
even if Google Ad sense promises relevancy?
3. When you want or desire something do you sit and watch/read advertisements or
do you search for what you want and need?
4. Do you think that we as consumers pay for the waste built into the old methods?
$1.5 trillions globally. Sounds like a government spend on pork barrel projects.
How do you like that affinity and image?
5. How long has the advertising industry been drinking its own Kool-aid? Forever!
And on top of all this, the advertising industry thinks that people are loyal to brands!
The only context of people’s loyalty to a brand's product is whether the product does
what is expected or more and the price reflects the experience and the service (value)
from people within a brand, which a relational experience. The only loyalty a brand
can instill is if it is loyal back to its customers.
Just maybe it is time for leaders in the advertising industry to convert their old methods
to the new method of convert-ising. The technology to do so exists today and it is
relevant to rate of return, rate of interest and ease of use by and for the benefit of
people. You know - those folks whose expenditures have enabled you to continue
to advertise the old way.
What Is Convert-ising?
From the early 1920’s mass media has emerged as
the dominant method for brands and merchandisers to
“reach” their audience.
Mass media denotes a section of the media
specifically designed to reach a very large audience
such as the population of a nation state. The term was
coined in the 1920s with the advent of nationwide radio
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 19
networks, mass-circulation newspapers and magazines. Since there was no way for an
audience to engage in dialogue over this method, there has been no feedback or
interaction until now.
Now with the emergence of social media the audience is expressing its dislike of mass
media and a preference for “social media.”
Any Evidence that Advertising Doesn’t Work?
Well, consider the data:
1. 1-3% Return from traditional mass media methods
2. 96% of online ads never get “clicked”
3. 98% of actual sales come from referrals
Josh Berhoff from Forrester says: “Marketers don’t understand channels where you
have to talk and listen at the same time. The marketing industry’s idea of two-way
communications is to put an 800 number or a web site address in an ad and take
OK, we’ve already seen this, we already know this. So what is the point? The point is if
you already know this, why haven’t you changed your methods to “convert-ising?
What is convert-ising?
Convert-ising is simply tapping into the marketplace of conversations and engaging in
those conversations with the aim of creating an affinity to what interest people. What
interests people? There are a ton of topics that have an affinity to any product or
service. And there are millions of people discussing those topics. The transformation for
marketers and advertisers is that while your product or service may not be the topic, the
topic may in fact have relevance to your product or service performance. Still don’t
Zappo’s conversations were not about shoes rather, about service and how they stand
behind that which they sell, no questions asked. Zappo’s sold more shoes just by
engaging in dialogue around service which just happens to be relevant and relative to
people buying shoes.
Convert-ising is engaging with people where they are, what they are discussing and
when they are discussing it. The relevancy of any product or service is people's
experience, people’s interest, and if you can engage at those levels you are convert-
ising. The difference is you are not selling rather you are conversing with value that
relates to people's need rather than your need to sell.
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 20
The opportunity for the Advertising Industry is to create a new image, a new method
and capture the value which can be pulled from convert-ising. The value of
conversational currency is a lot more than the value of advertising. Get it? No? Well,
then continue doing what you’ve always done and get less than you’ve always
Do You Have Social Media Directions?
The word "directions" means several things
including: guidance or supervision of action or
conduct: an explicit instruction: the line or
course on which something is moving or is
aimed to move or along which something is
pointing or facing: a channel or direct course of
thought or action: the art and technique of
directing a group of people to accomplish an
The marketplace is filled with thousands and
thousands of individuals, organizations,
products and services all claiming to help other
people and organizations with directions on how
to use social media. The problem is that not
all directions will take you to the place you
want to go.
Where Do You Want to Go?
Many businesses jump into social media without knowing what they want to do, where
they should do it, who they want to reach, how they will reach them and why the
market may choose to engage with them.
Instead, too many businesses simply look at social technology as just another channel
to “push” out offerings hoping they will catch a few transactions. The market fails to
recognize that 96% of all online advertising doesn’t get the audience's attention and
thus no engagement is accomplished.
In order to get anywhere efficiently, people and businesses need to first know
(knowledge) of “where” they want to go and “how” (by what methods) they will get
there. Today the marketplace of conversations is “what” attracts the masses to the
medium. Why? Because conversations offer new knowledge, sharing and relevant and
relative content that the market consumes and uses to create value for others. Today’s
road map of social media contains networks (roads to travel) and content (the vehicle)
to take you “where” you can engage your market. However, like in the physical world,
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 21
the quickest way to get somewhere isn’t always the obvious route. Unless you’ve
“traveled the territory” the shortest routes won’t always show up on your “goggle maps”
if you know what we mean. Distance on the internet is irrelevant. Time and productivity
are elements you must know (knowledge) “how” to use in your favor. Consider:
1. It is easy to build thousands of connections or followers but not so easy to build
relevant and relative relationships unless you're providing content that is in
context to your market's interest.
2. You can spend hours doing the wrong things and doing them wrong only to
waste time and productivity.
3. You can write great content but if it isn’t showing up “where” your market is, it
won’t produce the results you want.
4. “How” to use social media isn’t about the technology. Rather, it is about where,
when and what conversations add the most value to your market.
5. If you don’t know “why” you're using social media then there is no need to have
clear directions aimed at taking you somewhere. A system without an aim
6. Understanding the lay of the land, the roadblocks, traps, traffic patterns, new
roads and where they take you is something that requires knowledge and
wisdom. Copying and following doesn’t require either.
There Are No Quick Answers
Most business leaders want quick answers. When is comes to effectively using social
media to accomplish specific objectives to get you where you want to go, there are no
quick answers. Rather, there is only knowledge to either find or create. You can find
knowledge within the marketplace of conversations. You can also take existing
knowledge and create new knowledge which in turn will pull the market to you. Either
way it takes time, talent, and knowledge to find the answers... to the questions...
that relate to the directions you need to follow ...to get to where you want to go.
To follow the emerging directions and learn how to map your own, join us at
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 22
About The Authors
David Bullock is President of White Bullock Group, a
business development firm. He also is a Senior
Consultant with Social Media Directions.
David is a degreed mechanical engineer with a
thorough understanding of process control. A switch
to sales resulted in over $100 million worth of goods
and services sold in a seven-year period.
David has created very effective combination of
processes that lead to increased sales by up to 300%.
His unique approach and proven success have made
him an authority among internet marketing and
business development experts.
David is co-author of Barack 2.0, a case study of
Barack Obama’s successful use of social media during
the 2008 presidential campaign. This book has been
added to the curriculum at the Wharton School of
David is highly regarded as a professional speaker and consultant. Clients include
Black Enterprise, American Express, Lending Tree, RIM Blackberry, and a variety of
community-based business organizations. You can learn more about David at
davidbullock.com and via LinkedIn.
Jay Deragon is a Senior Consultant with Social Media
His professional career includes providing strategic
management consulting practices for Fortune 500
companies as well as local small businesses. He has
consulted with numerous industries spanning over 25
years of professional experience globally.
His current professional endeavors are all centric to the
disruptive nature of the social web. He writes at
Relationship Economy and provides social media strategic
services to businesses large and small.
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 23
He is co-author of The Emergence of the Relationship Economy” released in
January of 08 and can be accessed here.
The book was a collaborative effort with three other authors, Scott Allen, Carter Smith
and Margaret Orem and the forward is written by Doc Searls, co-author of The
Cluetrain Manifesto. Doc Searls is a Berkman Fellow and co-author of the business
best-seller "The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual."
Jay Deragon has also written a second book titled “Socialutions: The Emergence of
New Management Methods.“
His blog, The Relationship Economy, is rated within the top 150 blogs rated by
Advertising Age. He is an international speaker and has conducted in excess of 100
seminars on a variety of topics.
His formal education started at the University of Maine with continued education at
Dartmouth College, Penn State and the University of Wisconsin. He has certification as
a Certified Quality Engineer, Quality Function Deployment, Advanced Risk
Management, Statistical Process Control, Hoshin Kenari, D.I.S.C Instructor,
Organizational Dynamics and Strategic Planning.
To learn more about his professional life you can review his Linkedin profile here.
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Social Media Directions Page 24
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