I’m taking a break from my normal corporate web strategy posts for today, instead want to introduce you to Ronald, who despite his mild mannered appearance really uses his passion and socila media tools to share it with the world. Frankly, I was inspired, and even more so that he responded to my email –and let me do an interview with him.
Ronald Jenkees (his blog) (see his YouTube Channel), who I found on my ‘recommended’ list on YouTube on an iPod Touch woke me up. He combined hip hop, jazz keyboard jams, synth and beats and a lot of heart into his music –a lot of it available to peruse on YouTube. I’m a former musician (played since 4) and am always inspired to see people follow their passions. Now with platforms like YouTube, the middleperson has been removed from discovering talent –the masses can self sort it out. He shares behind the scenes videos of the work in progress (this one splicing to genres), or this Guitar Riff with (2MM views).
I contacted Ronald, (who mentioned several times in his videos that he reads all comments) and knew I could get a few questions answered from him.
Jeremiah: Why music? What got you into it, why are you passionate about it?
Ronald: First of all, thanks a ton for the interview and good questions.
I got a toy keyboard for Christmas one year and actually played the heck out of it. Simple stuff, but I had fun writing little melodies. Later, in the 6th or 7th grade, I was given a Yamaha keyboard for Christmas (PSR-500). I bought it because it had lots of cool-looking buttons, but I discovered I could sequence beats and layer stuff with it. That same $500 keyboard lasted me until I was out of college when I could afford my Triton Le. My passion comes from the fun moments in music – when it feels right to hit certain notes.. When it’s groovin. That’s the stuff I like to share on YouTube.
Jeremiah: You combine your personal thoughts, as well as greet the YouTube audience, and give them encouragement and tips, many musicians just go ‘right to the jams’ why the extra personal sharing?
Ronald: It’s fun to connect with people rather than to just jam out. Plus, I’m very thankful for those that watch my videos, comment, email, and etc., so anything I can do to inspire people to have their own some simple fun with music, I’m all for it. It doesn’t take very many notes or technical skill to create something moving. Of course, practice and becoming a better musician in general helps to get those ideas out in the air, but all of that starts with very simple fun that anyone can take part in. I also think it’s really good for the brain and your mood.
Jeremiah: Did you have a music career before YouTube? Why did you post videos there? What has it done for you, did it spur on your first and second album?
Ronald: I used to make beats and silly raps and share them with friends on my website, but that was the extent of my music career. I actually studied tech in college and always did music for the fun of it (still do!). I started posting videos on YouTube just to entertain people – mainly my old college friends. Eventually I started posting vids of myself playing music. I guess it mixed well with my goofiness on camera, but mainly that combination of being entertaining and letting loose helped me to not feel like such a show-off. The YouTube audience is the only reason I came out with a whole album and am now working on a second.
Jeremiah: What has YouTube provided you that a record company, distributor, and marketers can’t? What advantages and disadvantages has this brought?
Ronald: YouTube is awesome for marketing. Whenever I upload a new video, 40,000 subscribers get an email notification. So that acts as my mailing list whenever I’m ready to share a new jam or some news.
As far as distribution goes, I use a company called CD Baby to get my stuff on iTunes and other digital marketplaces. I also use a store built by my friend and musician Brad (of BradSucks.net) to sell downloads and CD’s directly on my website (www.ronaldjenkees.com) using PayPal. It takes a lot of work doing shipping and customer service, but it’s AWESOME to be able take good care of your own fans and eliminate The Man in the process. The whole process of creation and delivery is very rewarding.
Jeremiah: What’s the next steps for you? Is this a full time job now? When are you going to tour? I’ll sign up for your San Francisco show!
Ronald: My main goal right now is to just continue writing new music and get done with a second album. I’d love to eventually do some music for some established artists (independently), and possibly do some soundtrack-type work. I don’t have a huge desire to hit the road doing shows at the moment. I feel like my time is best spent writing new music rather than traveling and performing, but that could change. I’m certainly not ruling anything out.
Jeremiah’s Bonus Question (added a few hours later, via email) I just had one followu p question. Is this your day job? Have you made a full paying career out of being a musician (and primarily using YouTube for Marketing?
Ronald: Awesome!! Yes, this has turned into my day job in the last year. Doing everything independently keeps you busy. Writing new music, working on old music, helping people get your music, signing and packaging CD’s, shipping, replying to emails/comments and etc.. I can easily work 16 hour days if I’m not careful, because it’s mostly fun stuff. I’m sure you can relate since you have a cool thing going right now.
Thanks Ronald, I just bought your first album on iTunes, enjoyed it while going on my walk, great energy, spurred on new ideas. I’m a fan, thanks for staying so open, transparent, and following your passion. I’m sure you’ll get a gig with established artists, your raw talent will take you far. It’s fantastic to see someone do what they love, and make it a paying gig.
Here’s an outro piece, an take on a distorted guitar, with improve
If you work at an online media company, or are a stakeholder for content on a corporate website, forward this to the decision makers and engage in an email or in person dialog.
How Media and Marketers are Missing an Opportunity
A few days ago, I embedded a slideshow of fantastic images from Beijing’s opening Olympic ceremony. An embed is code that I can easily paste into my blog post, and it will show media (such as a youtube video).
[The community will ‘scrape’ content that is valuable to them, often without attribution. Get ahead of their behaviors for your content and package it for them]
Essentially, The Boston Globe got ripped off, as they either paid for those photos, or sent a photographer out to capture the images. Photo ripping (or video, audio, or content on your webpages) isn’t going to go away, content on the web is distributed, and holding it close becomes more and more common.
Also, I do give Boston.com credit, the images they posted on their site shows them all on one page, unlike the annoying slideshows from other online news outlets that force you to click to see the next image. For Boston.com this has made it much easier for individuals to download photos and share without attribution, hence my call for them to get ahead of the curve.
Media and Marketers Should Provide Embeddable Content
Instead, The Boston Globe should have created the images in an embeddable media player or slide player that allows the images to quickly be shared from blogs, facebook profiles, and anywhere else those may talk about the Olympics. They should have links back to their site, give due credits, and even make a dynamic “learn more” at the end of the slideshow that they can change at will to recommend other content as it comes around. There are many widget developers that offer these services, that can also help content spread within Facebook and other social networks.
[Media Companies and Brands should Provide Content to Where Communities Currently Exist: Fish where the Fish are]
Attributes to Measuring Success must change
With the distributed web, measurement will need to change. For media companies (and marketers at corporations) hits, visits, and clicks are the most common way to measure success. This needs to go away, as these are not accurate attributes to measure as content flies around the web. Instead, they should focus on velocity (distance/time) as embeds fly and are spread to different sites.
All Content Should be Considered –although not all will be shared
Ever heard the phrase: “If you love it, let it go”? The same applies to corporate sites, who should repurpose presentations in Slideshare, and brochures and collateral in docstock, images in Flickr, and product demos in YouTube. The goal of marketing is to get the word out, so you best do it first, so you can at least have credit for brand attribution, as well as control to remove or edit it as things change. Remember, as a content provider, you should find the communities where they exist, and provide content to them: “Fish where the Fish are”
Get ahead of the curve and let your content be sharable, much of this is uncontrollable, you might as well lead this change, so you can at least track, edit, and manage how it’s dispersed.
The game is up, “Janet” is not an official Exxon representative
A few days ago, the Twittersphere was curious, interested, and excited to see a member of Exxon Mobil’s employee ranks to join the twitter conversation and engage in conversation…sadly, she’s not a real employee. You can see the fake Twitter account called ExxonMobilCorp
The mystery unraveled –in 3 days Shel Holtz was one of the first to discover this (update: he’s posted this thoughts), as he commended Exxon for their efforts, their response was “It’s not us”. The mystery continued to unravel as I received an email from the Houston Chronicle Press wanting to talk to me about what I knew (Update: The Chronicle’s story is now live) –the word hit mainstream analysts and press in three days, secrets don’t remain secrets for long in internet speed.
“Janet” has been posing as an Exxon employee, answering questions about the direction of the company, where philanthropy resources are being spent, and even responding (a few, which were very off-tone) about the Exxon Valdez.
A real conversation with Exxon
I spoke to Alan Jeffers, Spokesperson of Exxon Mobil a few minutes ago to get his side of the story, and to offer some words of wisdom, which I’ll share below. First of all, Exxon has been “brand jacked”, (and will now make the official punk’d list), they were caught off guard because they were not monitoring and responding to their own online brand.
Alan was forthcoming, honest, and appears to want to do the right thing, I posed a few questions to him, his responses in quotes:
What if this was an employee in a remote arm of the company, would it then be ok?
“It’s not really relevant, there are only people that are authorized and not-authorized, even people with the best intentions, may not know what the appropriate position is or the facts, we think that there’s a problem, as we don’t want to be misleading people and there’s a lot of errors what the person is posting even if it was something that had the best of intentions could be misleading.
It’s our perception that social networking is based on honesty, transparency and trust, it’s important that they become forthcoming about who they represent”
What message do you want to give to Janet the supposed company representative?
“Be forth-coming about who you are, it’s ok to be in support for or against something, but you should be forth-coming about your identity”
What lessons have you learned about monitoring your brands in social networks?
“We need to be diligent about what is being said about you, by you, and those pretending to be you”
I see a lot of opportunities for Exxon here, it’s clear the community wants to talk to you, you can roll with this by coming face forward:
“We’re going to examine what is going on, and if indeed if there is anything to do, I want to underscore we’re not trying to prevent anyone from going out. There’s lots of opportunities, we want to speak to people, and to learn what people think”
Alan and Exxon employees have a big opportunity at hand –once they’re ready.
Options for Janet
It’s also interesting that Janet tweeted this, just a few hours ago: “btw, @jowyang , thanks for that wonderful piece: http://tinyurl.com/6nol2e”. Janet, I highly recommend that you do one of the following: 1) Turn over the Twitter ID keys to Exxon, 2) indicate that you’re not an official representative. I see that you’re attempting to preserve the brand, but you can be a brand advocate to Exxon without attempting to pretend to be an employee –in fact, you may be hurting the brand. (Update: Aug 3, Janet has deleted that tweet thanking me and continues to pose as an official Exxon representative)
Lack of identity confirmation continues to plague the web
Identity is a serious issue on the web, we’ve no great way of confirming true profiles, therefore, going forward, before we can conclude a blog or twitter or Facebook account is official, we need to see trackbacks coming from the corporate site, or contact info and get confirmation.
Companies must monitor their brand
Brands should be monitoring the discussion and instances of their keywords in social networks –failure to do so results in becoming case studies.
An opportunity for the real Exxon to step forward
The power has shifted to those that participate, so while Janet may have achieved momentum by participating, further opportunity lies within Exxon when they’re ready to come forward.
The community (myself included) need to first validate identities
This fourth one, I just added. It was too easy for someone to assume a brand’s identity and we all fell for it, myself obviously. We need to first determine if these are the real employees and validate. I’m exploring some ways to do this, we’ll revisit this topic soon.
If you work at an interactive agency or at a brand that’s interested in marketing at social networks, this post is for you.
Agencies and Brands unsure what to do
I can see the deal now, and I’m sure many of you have been in these meetings (client or agency side). The agency knows the brand manager is familiar, comfortable, with traditional interactive marketing campaigns in the past. So, the agency comes to the table repurposing a successful microsite now to meet a “Facebook strategy”. The brand manager nods, signs off, and the agency gets to work. Weeks to months later, the campaign launches on Facebook, with many of the computer-to-human features that you’d see on a microsite but it doesn’t allow self-expression or the ability to share. As such, only a few folks show up, and it’s written off as a ‘learning experiment’ (corporate translation: fail)
[When it comes to social network marketing, many brands are deploying “computer-to-human” efforts, and therefore missing out on the true community features of self-expression and sharing that “member-to-member” activities provide]
Fail: many brands repurposing microsite strategies
In my recent report “The best and worst of social network marketing” most brands are doing it wrong. In fact, I’m hearing of more and more cases where interactive agencies are repurposing interactive marketing (human to computer) and go to brands (who don’t know what to do) and present a 6-7 digit proposal for a Facebook strategy. Unfortunately, many brands are spending a tremendous amount of resources and missing the most important opportunities. (Deloitte research also backs this up -WSJ)
Solitaire, a terrible party game
Have you noticed that the card game solitaire doesn’t make for a good party game? It’s the same thing when it comes to social networks. Social networks are about self expression, communication, and networking and sharing with others –it’s more akin to social card games like poker, gin, or even mah jong. The core elements of these games encourage sharing, trading, communicating with other players of the party.
Many brands are deploying solitaire games at a party, where everyone is already playing poker. The same concept applies to marketing efforts on social networks. In our research, many were developing efforts that was two-way between the brand and a single member (interactive marketing). Instead, brands missed the core behavior of member to member interaction between the community, therein lies the true opportunity.
Socialization, the missing link
What does this opportunity look like? Getting the members to self-express on your behalf, communicate to each other, and spread the brand values to their own network at a rapid pace. Social networking tools allow for rapid spread of information to ones network –providing they choose to participate in this behavior.
It’s interesting to note that the agency that delivered the only passing grade was Federated Media, who doesn’t come from the traditional interactive agency realm, but instead first with a blog advertising networks, and is slowly expanding into social marketing. Unfortunately, I’ve heard concerns from some that they may not be able to scale to meet enterprise needs that other large existing firms offer, so we’ll have to see if they can grow –while maintaining flexibility.
So, as you start to shop around for ideas to meet your objectives for your social marketing activities, remember that repurprosing the traditional microsites is missing out on the social behaviors that are native to social networks.
Understand the different forms of web marketing
Also, if you need a crash cours on the many different types of marketing available to you learn about the many forms of Web Marketing for 2008, the list grows every year.
It’s true, most social network marketing isn’t being done effectively, why? Many brands (and their agencies) are deploying “interactive marketing” (user to website) experience rather than relying on the tools of social networks “social marketing” (member to member). As a result, many brands are wasting their time, money, and resources to reach communities in social networks without first understanding that the use case is very different than a microsite campaign. Don’t just take my word for it, research from Deloitte also suggests the same –WSJ (link via Fabrice)
In this latest report, we created a scorecard (which you can use to checklist your own efforts) which amplifies the real opportunities of social network; the community themselves. This report is great for anyone brand deploying a social network marketing effort, or for agencies that are trying to enter this new world. Marketing efforts did best when the control was turned over to the hands of the community.
[We tested marketing efforts on Social Networks using ‘Social’ criteria (rather than traditional marketing tactics) that meets the needs of the community, sadly, only 1 out 16 brands passed]
We took a multi-industry approach, and reviewed 16 firms from four industries: automotive, media, technology, and consumer products. Sadly, out of this 16 contenders that were appropriate, only the BMW Series 1 received a passing grade, and half of the firms scored a zero or lower. We also tried to find examples in many social networks including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Imeem, and Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces. I was already asked on Twitter if there were B2B examples, unfortunately, we only found one that made the report, Microsoft Live Server.
Despite these dismal scores, there were some great examples such as the The Dell/Microsoft (Red) program provided a rich media theme that was easily sharable, Sony’s BMG page for Alicia Keys was personable and interactive, and Kraft’s DiGiorno Pizza delivered a unique interactive experience with its members. To improve social network marketing, brands must develop community-centered content and activities, measure success based on new criteria, and be prepared to participate.
If you leave a question on Forrester report page, I promise to respond to the best of my ability.
If you’re a client, you can download instantly, or if you’re not a client, you can purchase the report, and if you’re not fully satisfied you can return with no questions asked –we stand by our work.
Also, I propose we do away with the term “campaign” when it comes to social networks, it derives images of military movements, and short term commitments –exactly what not to do when it comes to communities.
Although some of them have changed since we first started to judge the 16 social network marketing efforts are:
Note: A passing score is a minimum of 8.
The whole process was a tremendous amount of work, we spent hours testing, reviewing, and compiling data, you should use this report as a benchmark and a checklist for your future efforts on social networks. It was a lot of work, but should really help you to all move forward and reach communities even more effectively.
Lastly, I use social media tools as a small percentage of my research methodology, for example, I asked the 12,000+ readers of this blog (and 9000+ on Twitter) to help define what they think are success metrics for campaigns, some of this was factored into the scorecard requirements. At Forrester we serve different roles, mine being Interactive Marketers, it’s also important to know the largest segment of readers to this blog are Interactive Marketers according to a recent survey. So I use the same tools that I cover, and try to practice what I preach. Last by not least, thanks to Christine Overby, Harley Manning, Sarah Glass and Scott Wright at Forrester for all their help.
Update: One brand was unsure of the scope of this research report. To be clear, this report encompassed only the marketing efforts on a social network. It does not include blogs, podcats, youtube, communities that a brand may create on their own site, or efforts within the intranet. Also, some brands may have had multiple marketing efforts on social networks, this report would have only examined and graded one.
(Above Picture: 22 brands provide schwag (real and useful products) to the Blogher pre party…imagine the marketing at the actual conference)
I just got back from the pre Blogher party at Guy Kawasaki’s house, even today, as I gave a social computing workshop, I heard from yet another brand that they are desperately trying to reach women bloggers. Why? Well first of all, many of them control the financial spending at the household (ahem, that’s true at my house) and they are also ‘creators’ with blogs, pictures, video and podcasts –they’re influencers. With so many brands understanding the new “Google” world, where influence can happen from digital creators, they do what they can to reach them.
I spoke to a few of the bloggers trying to find out what works and what doesn’t. One indicated that when brands pitch them, they should really read their blog to understand their editorial agenda. I talk to brands, and they think it’s a mob rush to reach these women, and therefore very difficult to get in front of them.
I was talking to many female bloggers and learned that one of the party organizers from Kirtsy that about 50 brands submitted schwag for this pre party (although as you see above, only about half made the bag). I took a picture of the good stuff that I brought home (for once, says my wife). Also, Blogher received $5 million in funding this week (update: read interview, link via Chris Bishops) to build an advertising newtork, and the Blogher conference will have about 1,000 attendees in SF, many having traveled all over the country.
Now despite the attention being given to this hot market, I see two major problems. First of all, this market is already getting statured by marketers pitching these influential women, secondly, some of them (as I’ve heard) are not fully disclosing how they recieve these products, whether or not they keep or give them away.
So my questions to you is this:
When this organic and natural market gets saturated from the many vendors pitching at them (would make Scoble blush) what impacts does this have to: 1) credibility of the women bloggers, 2) Effectiveness of brands trying to reach this inundated market? 3) If credibility and demand is reduced to this market, will it decrease their influence? How will they be able to maintain these levels? I think something has to give.
I certainly home someone reads my above questions at blogher to the female congress, it’s a real issue that I hope they address.
Key Update 12 hours later (a moment of clarity):
First, to be very clear, it’s not the character of the bloggers I’m challenging, it’s the economics of great demand for a limited supply, please don’t misconstrue this.
After a good night’s sleep (something I rarely get) I can see what’s going to happen now:
1) The opportunities for brands to get in front of bloggers to review products has become saturated, pitching to them has become less than effective.
2) Therefore, the advertising network that blogher, sugar, glam, or others puts forth where be where the excess demand goes, brands will simply pay to advertise their products on the major nodes of the network, based on other blog network models, there will be little trickle down for b-a list bloggers in this space.
3) The credibility of “blogger review” will be reserved for a few products, but the supply of excess product marketing demand will be alleviated through a blog advertising network.
History shows that marketers are great at figuring out avenues where there is less friction.