Storytelling is about advocacy – stretching the emotions…

If you have not laughed, cried, cussed, or just gotten plain mad…then you need to check yourself at the door. Storytelling is about believing in something…standing up and allowing the emotions, the passion of the story to dominate your ability to articulate.

To bear the burden of an emotion…the emotion of crafting a story…you must take a position. You must advocate and see the life of the prose through the eyes of the story.

It must stretch you, make you shift in your seat, keep you up at night, and help you question why you chose to explain this reality.

When we craft…we share…we share something inside that is dying to escape.

We advocate…because we believe the words we write, the images we capture, the sounds we produce…they will help those feel the inner advocate we strive to share.

When we find, craft, and tell stories…we are advocates for a theme that needs an audience.

It needs to make those who receive *this* message share the same reaction when you were struggling to bring voice to that very story. We want our audience to get mad, happy, cuss…shift in their seats, stay up at night…so they can continue the mission we set out to achieve…to advocate.

Good stories creates powerful advocacy…stories of sharing. That is powerful word-of-mouth. That is powerful storytelling.

Facebook Community Funnel – Capturing Digital Word-of-Mouth

I am always thinking through how to find new ways to share stories and funneling like minded people to your story. The digital road map is important, especially when you have many communities online and great stories to tell. The goal is get people to share…basically take part in digital word-of-mouth.

For the last few years, I had the opinion that you should always make your website your mothership…but recently I have really began reconsidering this opinion. For one thing, it is all about audience! But…the delivery mechanism/channel is always a part of this equation…which leads me broaden my opinion with some new options.

If you look at this diagram…you will see that the information and audience flow is to build communities based on content/information in your social/digital spaces…driving them to your mothership (website). This is a simplistic view of how a B2C organization can capture audiences, distribute information, build conversation, and drive traffic back to the mothership. But what and how is a traditional website really serving your audiences especially in the world of dynamic content?

I am finding more and more people are using social outlets as their mothership, to capture and engage audiences then direct them to a final destination for final information. But, if the final spot is your website…what are we doing to deliver the information that provides the return on engagement? Why not keep them in the dynamic content area, where the community is thriving.

Two years ago, Sally Foister of Greenville Hosptial System looked at me and said something that has stuck with me…every B2C organization should a Facebook presence. Five years ago, that statement was applied to every B2C organization should have a website. Now the trick is to drive traffic to a destination point that is not the end destination but a dynamic portal that continually engages the audience with some action.

We are going to see some interesting movement in 2012 especially with Facebook planning a $100 Billion IPO. Let’s consider some stats surrounding Facebook:

  1. 800 Million Users
  2. 1 Trillion Page Views
  3. October 2011 – Facebook reached more than half (55 percent) of the world’s global audience and accounted for 1 in every 7 minutes spent online around the world and 3 in every 4 social networking minutes. (via ComScore.com)

So instead of thinking in terms of driving traffic to one mothership…how about funneling traffic through Facebook. Basically use Facebook as the community funnel of information, capturing the audience in one dynamic, community driven hub.

So let’s look at some of the reasons, well I mentioned the statistics above.

First – One of the first reasons is the Timeline which has aimed to make Facebook the destination for all media. People are able to dynamically  post all types of media right inside the Facebook Timeline making it easier to interact with the media and the community that surrounds the person/brand that posts the media.

Second – The Insights area for brand pages. The Insights tool provides publishers who use Facebook plugins with analytics on how content is performing. Now they can see those analytics in real time. You can see how “Like” button’s perform and the interactions based on demographics,which may enable site owners to target specific audiences.

Third – The Ticker which is the update to the News Feed. This serves as a “real-time feed of activity away from Facebook. Taken in tandem, these updates indicate Facebook’s growing desire to be to discovery what Google is to search — that is, the market leader for the new dominant form of currency on the web.” Facebook does not want to be a creator of media, they want to be the ultimate curator of media.

Fourth – The idea of expanding Gestures. They want to expand the “Like” button to developers allowing them to create concepts like “Watched, ” Listened,” Read,” and other buttons. “These actions are the next step in integrating Facebook with every part of the web. It’s possible you’ll be able to click a Facebook “Challenge” button that would let you post a game challenge on your friend’s wall, or a “Cheer” button that would let you support your friends when they need it. And yes, you could theoretically create a “Dislike” button through Facebook’s new initiative.” (via Mashable.com)

So for this model of the Community Funnel to work, you have to build a solid Facebook Community, give the community a reason to engage with one another, invite more friends, and make it easy and for the community to talk about you online.

The idea behind the community funnel is to build solid communities outside of Facebook, drive the communities to engage in Facebook, and given them a reason to want to find more information inside your mothership (web properties). Twitter, YouTube, and E-Newsletters are entry-point communities that can expose individuals to content. Then you drive this community to engage with more like-minded individuals within your Facebook presence.

Links and references used in this blog post:




*** Image from MindFireInc.com

Why are we doing “Like” campaigns? Why?

I have one question…why must we do “Like” campaigns? Why?

Maybe I am little skeptical of this practice….but I have found more and more organizations creating “Like” campaigns for Facebook and that is it. So here is my next question…what happens after the people “Like” your page? Do you spend the same, if not more, time invested in the longterm conversation as you did trying to get them to click the button.

So many gimmicks,  so many ploys, so many promises, so many give aways…but what are people going to “Like” after the “Like” button is clicked? Are you going to push your marketing campaign, your consistent updates that bring no value you the feed? Or do you disappear once they do “Like” your page?

We work so hard on numbers…let’s get those numbers up. But what about the community and the long-term conversation. This is a social space right? Do you overload people with your updates that as soon as they “Like” they click “Hide” the next day?

“Like” campaigns are the same Opt-In campaigns for newsletters and blogs. Get people to give information or commit to receiving content.  But is your content “King” or do you build online relationships that lead to digital word-of-mouth?

Do you have a monthly or quarterly newsletter. How did you get the email addresses? So how many people open your newsletter emails? 30%, 20%, 10%, or even 5%? So why are you not getting a larger percentage. Why are the other 70% – 95% not reading? Are you just delivering content or are you engaging a conversation? The “Like” campaign is the same thing…we do everything possible to get people to “Like” our page but have a hard time keeping people engaged?

Yeah…Yeah…Yeah…I know there is case-study after case-study showing the success of “Like” campaigns. Just get them to “Like” your page and all is solved. But what happens after the “Like”? Do they hide you or forget about you? Or did they just “Like” you to get that 10% off coupon they might remember to use?

***Image from VerticalMeasures.com

word-of-mouth meet mass media

So I was talking with a friend the other day and she shared this story with me. Now for the sake of confidentiality, I am not going to share the name of my friend or the name of the company I am talking about. But, this is a great word-of-mouth story.

My friend works for a major organization, and they were getting ready to hire a bunch of new workers. So they wanted to use some “media” to inform the public about these new jobs to generate interest and find a big pool of applicants. So this organization advertised online with some television and other online media outlets with banner ads that click-thru to the online application process. They spent tons on money on the ads, radio spots, etc. to drive interest for the public at-large to go online and apply. My friend was not convinced this was going to generate lots of “leads.”

So, my friend took the time to make some small cards with with the web address. He took these cards and walked around the organization, passing them out. He gave them to the workers of this organization, asking them if they knew anyone that needed a job to give them this card. He passed out hundreds of cards to anyone inside the organization.

On the online application, he included a field that asked where they heard about this job. It listed different options including the news outlet’s web address, radio ads, tv ads, and also included if they heard from a friend who gave them a card. When they opened up the online process to accept the applications, the number one referral was friend who gave them a card. WOW…all of this mass media used to recruit, thousands of dollars spent on advertising to the masses, and the little cheap cards yield the best result.

Now this is not to say that online media, television, and radio is not a viable resource to spread your message. But here is a situation when someone, who is not a marketing person, took the time to go where the pulse of the people exist and empower them to share with their friends. Think about it, those people took their cards and gave to a friend…probably shared with someone who needed a job. Those applicants will probably retire at this organization…why. Because a friend referred them. The person sharing the card is going share with people whom they know. They are going to share with people whom they think would represent best their organization. Brand ambassadors and word-of-mouth….a powerful combination.

Word-of-mouth is such a cool thing!

Word of Mouth meet Technology – Brand Ambassador’s Badge of Honor!

At first look…this is a business card for someone who works for Kawasaki. But…look a little harder, look under the name. Yep, it is the name of a motorcycle….the Vulcan 2000. A Kawasaki Vulcan 2ooo. Hmm…what? I am confused a bit, well not really.

So let me set some context. I was over with my family visiting my grandfather, celebrating his 80th Birthday! Happy Birthday POP! As we were chatting, my Uncle Carroll handed me this card, yes the one in the picture above. I looked at it and thought, cool! Mind you, my Uncle Carroll has been working for Michelin North American here in Anderson for as long as I can remember. He is devoted to his job and the company that has provided the means to put food on the table and a roof over his family’s heads. Devoted. Well…to be honest, most of my family has been working for Michelin here in Anderson for a long time. My father-in-law just retired from Michelin after 32 years of service…WOW.

So I take this card and realize, my Uncle has just bought himself a new motorcycle. Now, a few years ago…my Uncle Carroll and Aunt Mary Joe (my Mom’s sister) decided to buy Harley’s after both kids were out of the house either married or attending college. A little empty nest present…a way to enjoy life after kids in the house. They have been devoted to their Harley’s…THEN one day, my Uncle Carroll showed up with a Kawasaki. Step back jack…that is like crossing over from Ford to Chevorlet. Those are “fighten words” in the land of NASCAR. I have seen people flip the bird to a driver going around a turn if they were driving the “other car.” Yes the middle finger for driving another car, another brand…WOW.

Well…my Uncle Carroll is proud owner of a new Vulcan 2000. I have no idea what a Vulcan 2000 looks…hell, I would have no idea the difference between this motorcycle and a Harley. I am just not in that world. But, my Uncle is proud…proud enough to go home one day and create a business card. One with his passion on this little piece of marketing. Yes, he found a simple template from Avery, downloaded the template for a business card, f0und a simple Kawasaki logo, used Microsoft Word, and created his little piece of marketing. Yes! An to top it all off, he is printing them and passing them out to his friends…not that Michelin business card that pays for that Vulcan 2000. Riding his bike is his passion and he has found a simple way to share it with his friends. Passion…Passion for his brand.

If you look at the card…you will see his name, his address, his phone numbers, even his email address. Most importantly…the logo of his favorite motorcycle brand and the name of HIS motorcycle under his name.  How would you like to have someone become your brand ambassador…love your product/service so much that they create a business card with your logo and share with their friends. Word of Mouth meet Technology! Passion for “his” brand” of motorcycles and specifically his choice of bikes from all the other models…Passion meet Brand Ambassador.

Now I can here all you corporate communication experts thinking, that is not how I want “our” logo to be mis-represented. This does not fit into any style guide and protected branded campaign. This might even be the wrong logo, and old logo, or the right logo but not the right medium for this type of distribution. This is when the control freaks of a brand should step back and be honored. Your brand is so powerful…with so much devotion, it is their badge of honor.

Communicating our story: What is our brand message?

How many freaking hats to do we wear? As entrepreneurs, business people, business owners, marketing professionals, whatever it may be…we wear so many freaking hats. With all of these social media technologies sprouting up faster than the hair on my face…we are constantly trying to figure out how we use them, for which audiences, and which brand.

Yep…these hats we wear…they are our brands. Really, think of all the brands we represent under our own umbrella? At any point in time, we are involved in at-least three to five different things where we have to take off one hat and put on another. Currently, I juggle four different hats…the company I am own (Bobby Rettew, LLC), the class I teach (Business Writing at Clemson), my personal life (home life, family, marriage, etc.), and the collegiate networking event I have developed (NetworkBash at Clemson). Each of these hats support the overall brand of Bobby Rettew. But each one of these hats, these brands are like subsidiaries of a bigger company umbrella.

Why is this important…as more and more communication tools emerge and social media technologies help us communicate…we have define & develop each brand so that we know how to communicate while we are wearing each particular hat (brand). You have to define the brand before you can figure out how to communicate the brand. So step back and think, what is the mission statement of each brand. Define it…when you put on that particular hat for that brand, what is your mission statement. Now the mission statement for that brand is more than just the mission statement of the company itself, but how you represent that company.

Example, let’s take Bobby Rettew, LLC for a second…it is one of the hats that I wear. Let’s write the mission statement for this brand:

1) Bobby Rettew, LLC is a messaging company that uses new media and social media to produce and distribute the message online.
2) Bobby Rettew is the principle owner of Bobby Rettew, LLC as a storyteller, message creator, new media producer, videographer, and non-linear editor while also handling all marketing and public relations.

So when I put on the Bobby Rettew, LLC hat…I am constantly trying to find new ways to market and spread the word about our services while servicing the clients that we represent.

Now….how the hell do we deal with all the ways we communicate for each brand…each hat we wear. I have to keep things separate to try to manage. For starters, I have separate email addresses for each brand, each hat that I wear. But hold on…there are so many freaking different ways to communicate..and so many hats…and so many audiences.

Well…each hat that you wear, each brand you represent has specific audiences and specific ways to communicate to those audiences. Using LinkedIn might make sense to communicate as I wear my personal brand but might not work while wearing my Business Writing at Clemson brand. We have to define each method of communication for each brand and how we use each method.

While I am wearing the personal Bobby Rettew brand, I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blog, email, video, and Face-To-Face. But each one has different communities, different ways we interact, and different ways we use that technology. BUT EACH IS DIFFERENT…and they are only ways we communicate.

OK…step back for one second because not all of these work for all communities! Not all of these work for all of your brands! Really…if Twitter is not appropriate…THEN DO NOT USE IT!

So, how do you figure this out? Get out a piece of paper and draw a triangle. Label each point with Purpose, Audience, and Delivery. Then above the triangle, write the word Context. The context is the brand you are trying to communicate. Identify the audience and the purpose of the brand…then list all the delivery methods (Twitter, Facebook, Face-To-Face, Video, Email, etc.) that would work to meet the audiences needs. Choose one, two, three, or all of the above.

Why am I writing this….because there is a lot of hype about social media technologies and they are growing not only in numbers but also market engagement. As these social media technologies grow, more groups are engaging from both an audience perspective and from and marketer perspective. Throw this in the bag of tricks with all the other tools that we as practitioners use to execute our strategies. It is becoming more and more important to identify why and how we use each tool to meet the audiences needs.

So many marketing professionals are starting to blend the strategies of one communication strategy to the next. Each communication strategy is not a one size fits all. This is evident in the increase spam we receive in email, less engaging Twitter followers, a Fan Page invite for every cause that has some sense of life, and blog after blog after blog entry that has no purpose other than just increasing the digital footprint.

Hello friends…did you know that print still works, television advertising is still affective, Face-To-Face is alive an breathing, and word-of-mouth is the most powerful of all. Each of these is a technology…each with an inherent purpose. So here is the real reason why I am writing this…we (including me) need to sit back and identify why and how we are using each of these technologies to meet the needs of the audience and the purpose of the brand. There is a fine line in capitalizing in a new technology when it is only a technology.

I am writing this to myself, to remind myself that I am a practitioner that represents the best interest of my clients and their brands. How are we helping our clients wear their hats, their brands, and communicate their message. If the hat fits and the megaphone is working….then lets communicate the brand. What hats are you wearing and how are you communicate those brands? I am not a brand strategist…I am just a professional communicator.