September 06, 2011

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Jerry Lewis' Social Media Legacy Along with the French, but unlike the current MDA Board, I love Jerry Lewis, not only because he’s an incredible comic but because he is the original social media marketer. Consider these four important legacy lessons. Create Own-able, Original Content. The schmaltz, the cheesiness, the kids in wheel chairs, the has-been performers singing long-forgotten big-band songs, the B rolls of guys in white coats holding test tubes, the drum rolls and the tote boards that conjure up the ghost of Ed McMahon, the lame local anchors and the tear-wrenching appeals all signal Labor Day and MDA. Jerry has consistently used original content to claim significant year-round mind space and to drive a singular and differentiated brand message. There are thousands of charities and thousands of celebrity do-gooders, but there’s only one Jerry Lewis and his kids. Make a Personal Connection. We all genuinely know Jerry. He’s been a part of our lives since the 1950s. There was a great national catharsis each year as the telethon kicks off that focuses on Jerry. It’s about his humanity, his health and his connection to all of us. Jerry made person-to-person connections on one-to-one and one-to-many scales. But even before he created a Facebook page or a Twitter account Jerry was engaging us by leveraging his comedy antics and by singing those signature songs – “Smile”, “What the World Needs Now” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Jerry understands, maybe better than anyone that people buy people. Emotion, humor, shtick, flattery and frank talk were the tools of his trade; exactly the tools that resonate with social media audiences. Persistent Positioning. Jerry and MDA staked out a position and delivered on it and raised more than two billion dollars to fight muscular diseases. MDA owns Labor Day. There was nothing better and nothing more reliable and nothing more comforting than watching Jerry, on the 190 stations of the Love Network. The predictable and familiar parade of firefighters, convenience store owners, letter carriers, realtors, oil companies, Harley Davidson executives and other random sponsors presenting those over-sized checks at random moments during the Labor Day weekend was a unique customer experience. Jerry understood that Brands must plant your flag and stick to it. Marketing fads come and go but audiences rally to the familiar. Network Your Networks. Jerry and MDA put together an incredibly potent series of partnerships and alliances that consistently deliver results. The lesson is -- connect the dots. Use your networks to extend your reach, frequency and engagement with your customer base. Don’t be bashful about mashing things together or cross-pollinating ideas among your allies. So this Labor Day remember Jerry, whose 44 year run was cut short by some combination of illness and MDA regime change. I’ll be thinking of Jerry no matter what appears on the truncated telethon slated for September 4th. Happy Labor Day.
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Stop the Fan Frenzy! Many clients are obsessed with attracting more and more Facebook fans. And even clients with modest goals still want to clobber their competitors by amassing more fans. Yet in terms of relationship building and even in terms of reach and frequency the fan frenzy is a total fake out. Some “brands” naturally attract large followings. Facebook itself has 52 million. Musical artists like Eminem and Rhianna are at the 45 million plateau with Gaga hot on their heeds with 43 million and Bieber not too far behind with 35 million. Even dead Michael Jackson has 40 million Facebook fans! Coke, arguably the best-known consumer brand on the planet, leads all brands with 34 million. But does it make any sense for brands to spent time and treasure chasing these leaders? The short answer is … no! Here’s why: Fans aren’t a measurement of anything but a random click. Most people hit the “like” button in a moment of enthusiasm but never return. A majority found your page because you were giving something away for free. Most people sign up looking for deals and offers. Most nevernotice the tabs you’ve built out. You don’t know who they are. Fans are mostly anonymous. Within the fan base are brand loyalists and advocates, customers, prospects, passing coupon whores, people with questions, random visitors, occasional buyers, haters, employees, stock holders, journalists and 7-year old kids. Even if you are deploying the early stage social CRM tools, its hard to figure out who your fans are, what they want or how best to engage them. For most of us it’s an iterative game of trial-and-error. Most fans don’t interact with the page or the brand. On average 30% or less are actively engaged – entering the page, commenting, liking content, posting or responding – each month. What looks like a million fans are really 300,000 actives. Not all fans see your brand’s posts. Facebook filters what fans see using the EdgeRank algorithm. On average 9% or less of a brand’s fan base sees whatever you are posting. Now you’ve gone from a million to 300,000 to 27,000; a really steep fall off. Fans are not a proxy for either impressions (reach) or frequency (post viewings) because both are significantly degraded by the operating mechanism built-into the Facebook platform. It's more important to get your message through to fewer people than to have a big number that never hears from you. So what’s a marketer do to? Love the fans you’ve got. Focus on crafting and benchmarking messages that provoke interaction Measure engagement rather than gross fan numbers Shape and feed an on-going conversation on customer terms Resist the impulse to randomly give more stuff away.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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