New Rules of Social Media Expert – David Meerman Scott

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This is the third in the 3-part series of my interview with David Meerman Scott. As you know by now, David is the author of the number-one bestseller “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” (Wiley…published in 22 languages) and his hit new book “World Wide Rave” (Wiley).

David is an internationally recognized viral marketing strategist and speaker at conferences and corporate events around the world.

If for some reason you missed part 1 or part 2, please let me know and I will forward them to you right away.

David Meerman Scott: The EMSI Interview

Part 3

MF: David, I would like to ask you about video. What do you think the value of an online video is to creating a World Wide Rave?

DMS: I think they can be huge. Remember though, there are two main uses of video. One use of video is sort of something that might become a World Wide Rave. In other words, you post it on YouTube and then maybe people will talk about it. A great recent example that has all of the classic elements of a World Wide Rave is “United Breaks Guitars.” It’s absolutely fantastic.

Basically, “United Breaks Guitars” is a country music singer who is in a band called Sons of Maxwell. They’re out of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

And so this guy, Dave Carroll, looked at the window of the airplane on the tarmac and they’re throwing his guitar case and his guitar broke, a $3,000 Taylor guitar. And he tried for six months to get United to do something about it and they didn’t. So he decided he was going to write a song about it. And he wrote a song called “United Breaks Guitars” and in a week, it’s had 2.8 million views on YouTube.

MF: Wow — almost 3 million in one week!

DMS: It’s huge. So that’s one use of online video and it’s a fantastic way to get people talking about you. However, a lot of people underestimate the other great use of video. Video is a terrific element to help with the sales process. Imagine the effect of a compelling video on your website that people can watch while they’re investigating as to whether they want to do business with you. So let’s say you’re a professional services firm of some sort: doctor, lawyer, whatever it is. You can have a short video talking about you or your philosophy or some other element.

I went to a chiropractor last week, and he has a series of videos which he sends to his patients. He goes, “Okay, so for that back, I want you to do these exercises at home. I’m going to send you a link to a video on YouTube and that will tell you how to do it.”

So I think there are those two uses of video.

MF: Do you feel like a professional video company is appropriate, or not?

DMS: It can be but it doesn’t have to be. There are a couple of different ways to create a video. Of course, you can bring in the pros, but I don’t think it’s required.

I’ve personally done some great videos just using a $120 Flip video camera. I’m a huge, huge believer in the marketing use of a very, very simple video camera like the Flip.

But you can go all the way up to spending $100,000 with a professional firm to shoot a really slick video for you. It’s not really that big a decision point until you get a sense of what story you want to tell using video, who you’re trying to reach, and what that means in terms of how you need to create it.

MF: In your book there is a chapter entitled “Think Like a Venture Capitalist.” You wrote that the best way to begin a marketing initiative that has the potential to become a World Wide Rave is to think like a venture capitalist or film producer. Can you explain what you mean by that?

DMS: It’s a really quirky thing to try to come up with something that will potentially spread like wildfire on the web. So I recommend people to not think like a traditional marketing person.

A traditional marketing person says “I’ve gotta launch a book” or “I’ve gotta launch a product” or “I’ve gotta increase sales for the last six months of the year” and then do one big marketing campaign. This is not the correct approach when you’re talking about creating a World Wide Rave.

The right approach is to create 10 different things and hope that one or two of them become extremely popular…and you don’t necessarily have to put a huge amount of effort into each one!

Basically, that’s the way a venture capitalist invests in companies. As you can never know if a company is going to become extremely successful, venture capitalists invest in a bunch of different companies. This way they increase the odds of making money because hopefully one or two of them will either go public on the stock market or be sold.

MF: I couldn’t agree with you more. In the process of a world wide rave, is there a formula for how many posts or articles or updates somebody should be doing daily or weekly?

DMS: No, not really. Although I think what’s important is consistency. I think it’s fine if you only want to update your blog twice a month. It’s fine if you want to update your blog twice a day. But what’s not as appropriate is building up an audience based on blogging twice a day and then suddenly going to twice a month. People will think you’re dead.

So generally speaking, the more often you post, the more followers you will get.

MF: That brings me to another question, as CEO’s are so busy in today’s economy trying to keep their company alive, how do they keep up with the wave of the social media?

DMS: I don’t know that the busy CEO or executive has to keep up with everything. However, I think an executive or CEO needs to understand this. There are four ways that their organization can generate attention, and for decades companies have been generating attention using just three ways.

The first way is buying advertising: Yellow Pages, magazine, radio, television, newspaper advertising, billboards, trade shows, direct mail list, whatever. They can buy attention. The second way is that they can beg for attention with the media. They can hire a PR agency or use a team of in-house PR people that will get them media attention in talk radio, television or print. The third way that they can generate attention is one person at a time by hiring a big sales force and having them reach out to people, one at a time.

So for decades, those have been the only three ways that people can generate attention. Buy it, beg for it, or bug people one at a time.

What the social media and social networking sites do is that they allow companies for the first time to earn attention by creating something really interesting on the web. You can earn attention by doing a YouTube video, by creating a blog, by being on Twitter, by being on Facebook.

You can earn attention. And what CEOs and executives should understand is that there’s a fourth way now to generate attention that didn’t exist when they were coming up through the ranks. And they need to understand that there’s another way to generate attention, and it doesn’t always come down to hiring more sales people or spending more money on advertising or firing the PR agency and getting a new one. There’s this fourth way of generating attention, which is earning attention.

Related to that is another very important thing that CEOs and executives — all business owners, entrepreneurs, business people — need to understand. And that is that today people go to the web first when they want to solve a problem.

They don’t go to the trade show first, they go to the web first. They don’t go to the trade magazine first, they go to the web first. They don’t necessarily wait for a sales person to call them; they’re out searching themselves when they’re ready to buy something.

And what that means is that if you’re not out there, you don’t exist. And those two things that I just mentioned are converging now. Number one, more and more people are going to the web to solve their problems. And number two, companies have this unbelievably great opportunity to earn attention by creating stuff on the web.

Now what I see is that a lot of CEOs and executives just don’t understand that. Or if they know it, they don’t want to think through what that means for them. And that’s critically important. Does that mean you have to understand what Twitter is? Of course not. But you do have to understand that you can earn attention of people who are solving their problems by going to the web.

MF: David, the last question I have, and I think it’s really important for business, how do you see phenomena like the World Wide Rave changing the marketing and advertising industry as we move forward in business?

DMS: Well, I think that it’s a separate thing. And I’ve kind of said this now a couple of different ways when I was talking about how people go to cocktail parties. I think that public relations agencies are incredibly skilled at what really should be termed “media relations.” They’re really skilled at trying to get the media to write or broadcast about their companies or clients. And I think that advertising people and advertising agencies are really skilled at buying attention, placing ads or doing billboards, or whatever it might be. The skills that are required to be successful on the web are different. They’re the skills of content creation. And generally — although there are certainly a bunch of exceptions — generally, most PR people that I know and most advertising people I know aren’t good at creating great content of the sort I’m talking about.

Sure they’re great at creating pretty advertising, 30-second commercials, or display ads in magazines. Or they might be good at writing press releases and pitching media, but they don’t have the skills of being able to create a content-rich website for a company or being able to credit a 5-minute YouTube video or being able to create a Facebook presence necessarily. Now can they develop those skills? Sure. But I think that advertising is not going away. I think that public relations is not going away. I think direct sales is not going away.

Those skills will always be in demand, but there’s a new set of skills that are required to be successful with all the things that we’ve sort of talked about. And I think that the organizations and the agencies that are developing those skills are the ones that are understanding that it’s about content creation.

MF: Exactly. What I see is that it really adds so much value to a PR campaign. I can no longer imagine in any sense not having both. It adds great value to advertising and to PR campaigns.

DMS: They all come together. These things aren’t happening in vacuums. I would like to say that these ideas are unbelievably liberating and exciting for us as either business owners or marketers or communicators, we never really had these opportunities in the past. And it’s just exciting that all of a sudden we can create these exciting pieces. And again, it makes marketing and communications fun again. It hasn’t been fun for a while for a lot of us, and all of a sudden, it can be fun again. So it’s all good stuff.

MF: I can’t agree with you more. It’s been a wonderful experience for me too. Being a marketer and a communicator and a PR professional, I mean, for me, it just combines the best of all worlds.

~~ End of Interview ~~

Well, I found David’s remarks to have incomparable value. And from the feedback I’ve been receiving from part 1 and part 2, it seems that many of you have enjoyed this interview as well.

It has given me great pleasure to be able to share this with you, and I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t also urge you to read David’s recent bestsellers, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” (Wiley) and “World Wide Rave” (Wiley). If you found the information in this interview useful, you will love both these books.

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