This week I was very fortunate to participate in a panel put on by Ogilvy and the Black Ivy Alum League called Monetizing Digital Media. It was an intimate but very well attended event in Ogilvy’s new-ish building on 11th Ave, and both the panel and attendees were a great mix of age, industry, experience and background.
The panel was an hour long, and with five energetic panelists it zipped by without getting to most of the prep questions Nelly had sent us. I thought I’d post my answers in a few chunks to these questions for any attendees and anyone else are interested in continuing the conversation online.
Here’s the cast of characters, with bios pulled from their Twitter accounts. (Appropriate, no?)
Nelly Yusupova – Web Technology Consultant, Speaker, @Webgrrls CTO, @NYCWebgrrls chapter leader. @digitalwoman
Jason “Madho” Madhosingh – working with open APIs; awesome developers and mobile+online products for American Express. Looking to fund great ideas! my personal twitter is @madho. @AmExMadho
Jon Gelberg – Chief Content Officer at Blue Fountain Media, an amazing digital agency. Prolific writer, speaker and non-stop networker. @JonBFM
Bridgette Howard – Digital Innovation Lab & Global Mobile Marketing Team @ Ogilvy & Mather, Duke Alum, Bmore native, interior design junkie, part time hairstylist #parlorwestsalon. @parlorwestnyc
Maisha Walker – Internet Strategist and Eternal Questioner. @maishawalker (Also a columnist for Inc Magazine.)
Q: What are the keys to success in a digital world?
Same as everything else: consistency, credibility, and respect. (As the first person to answer the question, Madho made a great argument for how essential it is to understand a user/consumer’s mindset when they’re receiving your message, so I added “context.” Maisha said analytics were the key, and I would also agree with that.)
Q: The online world has fundamentally changed the way we should be doing business – true or false? Why? How?
False. Since the industrial revolution (I was going to say “always” but that’s not true), there have always been big impersonal businesses, values-driven mom & pops, and customers who share, recommend and complain. I don’t believe that because customer’s access to those businesses and each other has exponentially expanded means either has fundamentally changed.
Q: Can people make money with Social Media and can you give us specific examples or case studies?
(Maisha gave some excellent examples of restaurants and salons who filled up reservations by giving away incentives and posting open slots for reservations, and Jon talked about as a service provider you can up your game by blogging your way to expert status. Both are cheaper, faster implementation for old strategies.)
In addition to better ways to implement the tried-and-true, social media provides a completely new way to make money through entrepreneurship. Kickstarter and Etsy are probably surprising but excellent examples. Etsy allows ways for customers to socialize with each other inside the site and Kickstarter depends much more on Facebook and Twitter to share content. People from around the world are testing concepts, starting business and putting their for-profit projects up on these social platforms that allow their ideas to be discovered, interacted with and shared. By testing their ideas in a very low-risk platform, connecting directly to their customers gives them an incredible opportunity to launch prototypes directly into the market then refine and relaunch. I think that direct connection to your customers helps small and large businesses benefit similarly, in that social media allows for more intimate relationships between customers and businesses, allowing businesses to say “what if we did this?” and getting valuable feedback.
Q: How do you manage your brand on Social Media?
A combination of content planning/calendaring, constant monitoring, conversation, and inspiring customers to become brand advocates because their outreach is far more powerful than that of the brand itself.
Q: How do you measure success? What metrics do you look at? What tools do you use?
Metrics: size of following (and increase day over day, month over month), interaction, quality and sentiment of interaction, and the specific business goals of the client (i.e. ticket sales). I use Hootsuite, Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, and my own critical thinking ability.
Q: Time is the biggest challenge: Do you have any time management advice?
Planning, planning, planning! Calendar out everything in as much detail as you can stand with an eye towards getting assets you need from other people. Planning also means creating best practices so everyone touching your social media knows how to respond in certain situations instead of having to guess or ask someone else what to do. Scrambling around last-minute and firing off dozens of emails is the biggest time suck.. If you have a solid plan, you can spend a little time tweaking regularly and on a daily basis be responsive, not reactionary to your customers. And interns. (Nelly didn’t get to ask this question, but during Q&A a career coach asked how to handle the amount of time he spends on social media, which he found effective and time consuming. Maisha’s answer was after trying all the options, look at the numbers and only continue with the two most effective. She also said to get a virtual assistant, which I agree with.)