Casting Your Net and the Beauty of Fish

fishing fleet In The Undiscovered Country of Presence Management, I set up the concepts your company will need to consider before stepping into online presence. In this post, let’s cover first steps, actions, and how to keep the presence network alive and tended.

The Beautiful Feeling of Concierge Service

Let’s start with @AFinnie (or Ann Finnie to her fans). Ann is part of communications for HP, you know, the computer company. I met her at Gnomedex last year (one of my favorite conferences of the year). She was so personable and such a great brand ambassador for her products.

Just now, I asked Ann a question via Twitter. Truly, I could have googled it. (Have you seen Let Me Google That For You?) But I asked Ann. I wanted to know about the DV2 laptop, after @PatrickMoorhead from AMD mentioned that it was a sweet laptop.

Ann got me information, answered a few questions, and made me feel well-tended. So, what was that? Customer service? Sales? PR? Kind of all of them, right? It was concierge service, truth be told. Ann made me feel special, answered my questions, and left me with a positive experience. Concierge service. Think about that.

If your prospects (I’m considering a windows laptop, so I’m a prospect to HP) and existing customers feel well-treated with simple information requests, how do you think that warms them up for the rest of the experience?

Setting Out Into Dark Waters

But maybe this isn’t a good example, because I know Ann. I also know folks at Dell, Apple, and pretty much any other tech manufacturer I might want to know. What if you’re someone looking to build presence in social media, but are handling more “cold calling” opportunities, such as someone listening for opportunity? If you were going out to fish, you’d use some maps, some range finders, and other tools to determine where the fish are biting.

Listening helps. I covered this yesterday. Listening tools help you find them. But I could write every day about listening and it wouldn’t be enough. So, let’s say you’ve decided your people might be on Twitter. For instance, I was looking into something for a company who cares about the health of your lawn. I typed in the simplest term into Twitter Search and got these results for the search “lawn.” Not a bad start.

Should you jump in and start selling your stuff? HELL no. I cover that here when I explain Conn Fishburn’s phrase, “bring wine to the picnic.” Let’s ease into first steps.

Tending Nets

The sexiest kind of online presence is a relationship that feels like it’s there for me when I need it. I like that @JetBlue and @WholeFoods are here for the long term, and not just to promote a campaign. Further, companies like Whole Foods keep a blog. So does Ferg Devins at Molson.

John Andrews from WalMart isn’t on Twitter to sell me something. He’s there to show that WalMart has a face. I connected with John a lot during the Arkansas Ice Storm, which was another chance to see WalMart in its role as first responder to disasters.

Explaining this to the mother ship is tricky. It’s important that companies understand that these channels must be tended and not just used as sales pipelines, should they choose to have a Twitter or Facebook or blog or even just a commenting presence. Time spent talking with @AaronStrout about the Red Sox and barbecue isn’t time wasted because he’s not pushing Powered down my throat.

It’s the number one premise of my upcoming book with Julien Smith: Be there before the sale.

Fish or Cut Bait

Where’s the value in this? There are some ways of thinking about the return on investment with regards to this. You can look at things like “reducing acquisition cost” and “reduce cost per caller” for call centers. You can find metrics like “improved organic search” for blogging, and “higher percentage of warm leads handed off” for a sales cycle. It depends how you want to work it all out. (Don’t you hate “it depends” answers?)

How long should you engage in a presence effort? Here’s a tricky one to consider: if it’s successful, the answer is, “for as long as there’s something coming back from the conversations.” If the project isn’t successful at all, how do you exit gracefully? What if you build a Facebook group and no one comes or participates? Do you just leave it there like yet another cyber ghost town? I say no. But how do you extract gracefully?

You don’t. You send a quick “So long and thanks for all the fish” message to people who are part of that community, mention that you’re still available online in X,Y,Z places, and you move on. Board up the doors and windows. Get the property off the web, if you can. If not, 301 redirect (ask your web team) the pages, and call it a day. Think of it as a party foul, where you just politely get things back on the rails. There are other efforts to be had. Don’t see it as failure as much as an adjustment of strategy (wow, did that ever sound political!).

The Best Fish

The most beautiful “fish” in the world are those that thrive and sustain your village while you let them maintain their own ecosystem. In this case, I mean that your efforts in presence building and community management should be sustainable. Don’t over-fish. Don’t underfish and starve your village (company). Realize that this expedition is a privilege and that you have to come back with something or the boats won’t be able to pay for themselves.

How do you do this? Look more for gentle opportunities than forceful levers. Look for conversion points that bring your business objectives forward, and move those opportunities ahead while leaving the rest of the fish to thrive in your system. Oh, and don’t forget to feed the fish. If you’re responsible for their environment, give them “food” every day, in the form of helpful information, useful materials, or whatever is the most feasible fish food.

Parting Notes Before Sailing Home

You know the old saying, “Give a man a fish, and then he has smelly hands. Teach a man to fish, and he has good reason to learn how to lie.” (Or something like that.) I’m a big fan in teaching people how to fish. I don’t think this kind of work belongs in an external organization, at least not in the long term.

This means, if you’re thinking that this chore belongs in your agency, I say no. That’s like being invited to chat with Britney Spears, and finding out you’re talking with her assistant. Oh wait, that’s how Britney does it.

Presence chores belong at home. Should you have guidance? Yes. Should you get some hand-holding when dipping into the social media waters? I say yes again. Is this something that should be on-boarded back to your inhouse communicators (and by that, I mean the people your customers/audience want to hear from)? Yes. As soon as possible (measured in months, like 2 or 3 at most).

Is presence a required element of social media for all businesses? No. Not at all. Nothing is a required element for any business without consideration and alignment with your strategies. If your company is selling roofing, it might take forever to find people on Twitter and Facebook. It’d be a lot cheaper to buy ads in newspapers and buy better spots in the Yellow Pages. Like all things, there’s a strategy to it.

In all things, your mileage may vary. I may have left something out. Let me know what else I can help with. And thanks for your attention. This was a long post.

Photo credit tony the misfit

ChrisBrogan.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Become a StudioPress Affiliate

  • Pingback: The Undiscovered Country of Presence Management | chrisbrogan.com

  • Brenna Sowder

    Chris, This is a great post and a super analogy. Fishing is something that takes every bit of care and dedication one possesses (and a perhaps a bit more grit and salt than this analogy carries) — an online presence needs tending! Even if it can’t happen every day or in every way, each brand adviser should keep this story going: it’s about interaction and that “concierge” service you mention above. When you post or respond, make it count! And when you’re not posting, don’t just walk away — listen, monitor and move to catch those fishes. Thanks for bringing me back to the docks for a moment with this analogy and being so spot on about it :)

  • Brenna Sowder

    Chris, This is a great post and a super analogy. Fishing is something that takes every bit of care and dedication one possesses (and a perhaps a bit more grit and salt than this analogy carries) — an online presence needs tending! Even if it can’t happen every day or in every way, each brand adviser should keep this story going: it’s about interaction and that “concierge” service you mention above. When you post or respond, make it count! And when you’re not posting, don’t just walk away — listen, monitor and move to catch those fishes. Thanks for bringing me back to the docks for a moment with this analogy and being so spot on about it :)

  • http://blog.timandren.com Tim Andren

    Nice analogy Chris. I also like to use the analogy of sailing. A good social media presence can be like charting your course for where you want your company to grow with your sails ready – your connected crowd can propel your business forward with strong gusts of interest that a standard campaign alone could never generate.

    I’ve done a fair bit of fishing in my life and can find many great parallels when compared to the subjects of social media marketing. All great fishermen know a great deal about their environment, the fundamental reasons why fish bite among other things. They can look at all these factors and intuitively predict where the fish will trend and when.

    Sailing and fishing. Sounds dreamy.

  • http://www.asthemoonclimbs.com Mary H Ruth

    Chris, this is a fabulous post! Guess I should have known you are a poet.

    BUT, I object to “If your company is selling roofing, it might take forever to find people on Twitter and Facebook. It’d be a lot cheaper to buy ads in newspapers and buy better spots in the Yellow Pages.”

    Is the online advantage only for white collar peeps? No,no,no,no,no. That denies the value completely. Local brick and mortars, just as much as anyone, need to adapt the web to their uses, and figure out how to make it work.

    Online marketing takes longer, maybe, but only at first. With consistent attention (as you say), it’s far more productive, even for roofers.

  • http://blog.timandren.com Tim Andren

    Nice analogy Chris. I also like to use the analogy of sailing. A good social media presence can be like charting your course for where you want your company to grow with your sails ready – your connected crowd can propel your business forward with strong gusts of interest that a standard campaign alone could never generate.

    I’ve done a fair bit of fishing in my life and can find many great parallels when compared to the subjects of social media marketing. All great fishermen know a great deal about their environment, the fundamental reasons why fish bite among other things. They can look at all these factors and intuitively predict where the fish will trend and when.

    Sailing and fishing. Sounds dreamy.

  • http://www.asthemoonclimbs.com Mary H Ruth

    Chris, this is a fabulous post! Guess I should have known you are a poet.

    BUT, I object to “If your company is selling roofing, it might take forever to find people on Twitter and Facebook. It’d be a lot cheaper to buy ads in newspapers and buy better spots in the Yellow Pages.”

    Is the online advantage only for white collar peeps? No,no,no,no,no. That denies the value completely. Local brick and mortars, just as much as anyone, need to adapt the web to their uses, and figure out how to make it work.

    Online marketing takes longer, maybe, but only at first. With consistent attention (as you say), it’s far more productive, even for roofers.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    @Mary – you raise a good point. It’s not a white-collar only thing, but the adoption is certainly on a curve. That’s just trends and observation. Local restaurants, say, use the web products like Yelp and blogs to improve their online presence.

    But if the buyers aren’t exactly there yet, I wouldn’t make it a big part of the mix.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    @Mary – you raise a good point. It’s not a white-collar only thing, but the adoption is certainly on a curve. That’s just trends and observation. Local restaurants, say, use the web products like Yelp and blogs to improve their online presence.

    But if the buyers aren’t exactly there yet, I wouldn’t make it a big part of the mix.

  • http://crittjarvis.com Critt Jarvis

    > Look for conversion points that bring your business objectives forward

    Exactly. I’ve just come home from the second day of an intensive training program: to manage a store operation for Cumberland Farms. What’s so cool, for me, is that as a vertically integrated company, our organization is chock full of opportunity to meaningfully deploy a set of tools which could enable conversation points, taken directly from Cumberland Farms’ mission statement and desired goals, that support our business objectives.

    Internal communications? You bet. Integrated marketing? Yes, of course. But for me, personally, a passion for community presence. *That’s* corporate responsibility, yes?

  • http://crittjarvis.com Critt Jarvis

    > Look for conversion points that bring your business objectives forward

    Exactly. I’ve just come home from the second day of an intensive training program: to manage a store operation for Cumberland Farms. What’s so cool, for me, is that as a vertically integrated company, our organization is chock full of opportunity to meaningfully deploy a set of tools which could enable conversation points, taken directly from Cumberland Farms’ mission statement and desired goals, that support our business objectives.

    Internal communications? You bet. Integrated marketing? Yes, of course. But for me, personally, a passion for community presence. *That’s* corporate responsibility, yes?

  • Ritsa Magiannis

    Poetry Chris… Thanks for making it so easy for me to get what you’re saying. Now just have to sell in the gentle approach to the accountants. :)

  • http://pmerrill.com/ paul merrill

    I struggle with the person vs. corporate presences on Twitter. I haven’t figured it out yet. (Posts like this one keep me thinking!)

    I went to @Katadhin’s Twitter page & saw a bunch of updates that were tiny details on his travels. That may be interesting to his family, but it wasn’t to me.

    I follow someone via my personal Twitter account if they have useful tips (@jowyang) or are interesting (@GeekMommy).

    I do appreciate the human aspect to a Twitter feed, but it can get too much like the proverbial “I’m going down the hall to visit the bathroom” kind of thing – no matter whether it’s a CEO that is talking or Josephine Everywoman.

  • http://www.giannii.com Giannii

    Testing Tweetbacks on ChrisBrogan.com

  • dkreitzberg

    Great posts which presents a clear vision of how to think about, and become engaged with, social marketing without getting lost in the clouds. The distinction between conversation and marketing, the concept of slowly getting your feet wet and having someone help you rig your lines (but you're the one who ultimately needs to fish) were all important take-aways.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Chris,

    You are rocking it with this segment! Really polished insights, totally worth reading and sharing.

  • http://www.keithburtis.com Keith Burtis

    Chris, this is a great post. It truly applies to us that are working in the sandbox rather than just playing in it. You know I am a long time reader of your blog, and I see daily the number of comments you get. A while back I commented on your “train ride” post. While well written and thought out like all of your posts it was not chest deep in strategy. (It got at least 60 comments)

    Posts like this really get past what I like to call the fluffy stuff on top of the cake, yet it seems to get much fewer in comments. Of course I'm sure there will be 100 comments here tomorrow and I'll be eating my shoe, but I am finding the same to be true on my blog. Chat about twitter and avatars gets massive comments, but really dive deep and it tends to get less engagement.

    Lets keep stretching this thing. Thank you for your mentorship.

  • http://www.premiersocialmedia.com AnaRC

    Amazing post Chris! I am sharing it with my readers not only for the great content but also because of the poetic approach.
    I also think that a company should have a clear goal and target in place before they jump into Social Media. Results can be tangible and there are many tools to measure them. This should be the case specially if the initiative does not come from the CEO or a Board member. I've seen too many cases where the company has a great start but management does not get it. The often think that is a waste of time and resources. So a clear strategy is key.

  • http://1to1media.com Marji Chimes

    It seems like the fishing analogy has a lot of fans this week. Have you seen Jeremiahs storyboard http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/04/21/s
    Maybe it is because it is spring.

    Chris thanks a million for all of your incredible insight. You challenge us to be smarter and more creative every day.

  • DebLawrence

    Thank you for your insight. The emphasis on relationships is key. I plan to share with some of my colleagues.

  • Erin

    I appreciate all that you do Chris! Thank you for thinking these things through so thoroughly and sharing it all with us. Your blog is the first one I check every morning.

  • Pingback: Internet presence for brick-and-mortar businesses | Consider This …

  • westerad

    Chris – Great couple of posts on strategy and implementation of social media for business. This is what a lot of our clients are looking for but they have no clue how to start of even where to begin. So they are looking for us – their agency – to advise and assist.

    A little back story, we are a small, second generation family owned advertising agency that works regionally from Iowa with several larger small business clients (around 100 employees or more) with a couple larger fish as outliers. As I said above, most want to start leveraging social media but don't know where to start. I have outlined a plan of implementation that is a lot like what you mention (2-3 outposts to start – blogging + facebook + twitter or youtube or some combo based on the business). But again, when I present they often say – “Good. Go and do it. We are too busy selling cars or [insert industry task here] to do this plus we don't have the people that know how.” So I am somewhat reluctantly kicking off programs as these clients that I hope to “teach them to fish” in the near term as I believe that's how they will truly reap the rewards.

    Having said all of this – we are not a traditional 'agency' either. We work very closely with our clients (some of which we've had for over 25 years) so we really function as off-site marketing for several of them. I am rambling but thought you might like to hear a small implementation story from the small biz trenches of Iowa.

    Cheers,
    Nick Westergaard, Westergaard Advertising
    @westerad | nick@westerad.com

  • http://www.netwitsthinktank.com frank barry

    “Tending the nets” … good way to think about the traditional “add value” thought. It seems this really comes down caring about what your doing and the people in your community.

    @Chris … i see you added DISQUS comments to your blog recently. Cool. I'm curious as to why you added/changed from the other way?

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  • http://www.netwitsthinktank.com frank barry

    Another thought …

    When does it make sense for a company/nonprofit to 'jump-in' … ?? I know strategy, thought, planning, goal setting, etc… all is need and has it's place, but sometimes people need to “just do it” right? When does this approach make sense?

    Or, when does it make sense for a company/nonprofit to start blogging or using Twitter (or what ever else makes sense for them) without shouting out that they are there … but just softly jumping into the game to get their feet wet, learn, develop a voice/strategy on the fly?

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    Hi Nick- I love your model. I think that more “offsite marketing departments” are going to be the way things roll in 2009 and into 2010. Your plans make sense to me. : )

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com tom martin

    Chris,

    As usual a great, informative post. BUT, I do have a challenge with one of your points.

    “This means, if you’re thinking that this chore belongs in your agency, I say no. That’s like being invited to chat with Britney Spears, and finding out you’re talking with her assistant. Oh wait, that’s how Britney does it.”

    Companies should worry less about where their SM person sits and more about who that SM person is. Your comment implies that corp side marketers are better suited to be the ongoing voice of a brand online than their agency counterparts. Why would that be true for more than a single moment or small grouping of moments in time?

    Ann, John and all those other folks you can talk to — they aren't the brand. They're temporary stewards of the brand. If they follow the path that statistically most folks follow with regard to job/companies held in a lifetime, they'll move on. And if they're smart, they'll pass your tended relationship to their successor. But there will be a successor.

    Regardless of where that person sits, you're talking to Brittney's assistant. Because Britney doesn't exist and a real, physical manner. She's a phantom tended to and made real by her assistant.

    Which brings me to the second half of my point. Your comment seems to suggest that corporate brand managers are better versed in the brand. That they have longer brand histories. And that they are better brand stewards? Sometimes yes, but sometimes times no.

    The truth is, Brand Managers change as often and sometimes more often than agency folks. As do the folks that manage almost every aspect of brand marketing today.

    Case in point.

    After Katrina I returned to TM Advertising (Dallas) and took a long-term project on the American Airlines account while I figured out my next move. TM/AA is where I cut my teeth after college. It had been almost 12 years since I worked on the biz. When I went over to AA for my first meeting, not a single brand manager was there from my first tour of duty. Not one.

    But on the agency side of the table, 3 of the 4 senior account folks were the same (including the 2nd in command), the lead creative team (writer/art director) was the same, and the lead Interactive guy was the guy that hired me in 1992.

    TM had far more institutional brand knowledge then their client counterparts. These clients had read the files, but their agency partners had written those files. So I ask you, if AA started a SM program right now, where should that SM person sit? Agency side or client side?

    My point: the day of the corporate man is over. People in marketing switch positions all the time, whether they are client or agency side is really somewhat irrelevant if you ask me. What matters is, does the person get SM, do they have deep product/brand knowledge, and are they in a position to converse and respond to consumers in real time. If that can only happen with folks that sit inside the company, then so be it. But to issue a blanket statement that says they have to sit in the company or they somehow can't be “the real brand” is incorrect and an unfair slight to agencies that are doing SM for their clients, some quite well. IMHO

    Anyhow, my 02. Keep up the great work.

    @TomMartin

  • Pingback: Internet Marketing, Strategy & Technology Links - Apr 23, 2009 « Sazbean

  • Pingback: Do companies really need PR anymore? — Shooting at Bubbles

  • Pingback: Why should I buy your company? — Shooting at Bubbles

  • Pingback: Success Circuit » Blog Archive » Looking Back Through Week 16

  • http://toddrjordan.com/thebroadbrush tojosan

    Good read as usual. How long is a great question. Not long enough or available enough is so often the answer companies take.

    Where or where is PepsiCo for example. They are slow to respond and not very engaging. If anything they should be leading the charge to get folks talking about their products organically instead of coming up with a lame Pepsi Throwback ad. (Wolfman Jack that guy isn't.)

    Where's the on the ground approach of SxSW? They were there, in person, delivering, sharing, and talking about their products. What are they doing now?

  • http://www.blackchiropractic.com.au Dr David Black

    Nature's gifts must not be plundered.
    Dr.David Black
    http://www.blackchiropractic.com.au

  • http://gadgettechblog.com/ Gadget_Blog

    Great post, really help me alot. Thanks.

    Cheers,
    gadgettechblog.com

  • http://www.tbcco.com/commercial-wheelie-bin-cleaning.htm commercial bin cleaning

    test

  • Pingback: Why business do not collaborate « Fredzimny’s CCCCC Blog

  • http://www.hipfiles.com/ Mimi

    what a nice way to explain the strategy to be used in social marketing

    http://hipfiles.com

  • http://www.hipfiles.com/ Mimi

    what a nice way to explain good strategy to be used in social media and marketing :)

  • http://hsb.usana.com/ skin care

    Yup,My desire is for more concise explanations of what’s going on. While it can be tough to do politically, that is what gives me the best experience as a user.

  • http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=usna nutritionals

    I admire the time and effort you put into your post. I wish I had the same drive :)

  • Pingback: Most Overused Business Analogies…EVER! | The Curbside Marketer

  • http://patrickmitsuing.com/Blog/?page_id=15 usana

    wow great post. im just getting back into fishing this past summer and looking up great things about it…finally went fishing with my dad and caught a jack fish with another fish in his belly not quite digested yet. But you seem very passionate about what you write about with great knowledge. thanks for the words of wisdom…

  • usana_business

    wow great post. im just getting back into fishing this past summer and looking up great things about it…finally went fishing with my dad and caught a jack fish with another fish in his belly not quite digested yet. But you seem very passionate about what you write about with great knowledge. thanks for the words of wisdom…

  • http://patrickmitsuing.com/Blog/?page_id=15 usana

    wow great post. im just getting back into fishing this past summer and looking up great things about it…finally went fishing with my dad and caught a jack fish with another fish in his belly not quite digested yet. But you seem very passionate about what you write about with great knowledge. thanks for the words of wisdom…

  • usana_business

    wow great post. im just getting back into fishing this past summer and looking up great things about it…finally went fishing with my dad and caught a jack fish with another fish in his belly not quite digested yet. But you seem very passionate about what you write about with great knowledge. thanks for the words of wisdom…

  • http://www.ateshaliyikama.com Kocaeli halı yıkama

    Thank you really worked this admin