Earlier this week my friend Michelle Tripp, blogger/CD/social media consultant asked how Mullen assesses talent when we hire people to develop strategy, content and online presence for our social media clients.
Specifically, Michelle wondered if we’d starting using tools like Klout to evaluate someone’s online presence, influence, and community engagement, and if not, did we have a formal approach to determining someone’s social media skills? Apparently, Michelle has clients who are starting to check candidates’ Klout scores before hiring them.
Anyway, the answer is we don’t.
While Klout is a pretty cool tool, and will no doubt evolve, it appears to emphasize the impact of one’s “push” content on Twitter and Facebook – reach, influence, re-tweeting. But it can’t identify the rest of the qualities – conversation strategy, flexibility, timeliness, and authenticity – that a smart agency or brand should look for in a social strategist.
Obviously there is no magic app or metric to determine whether someone will be good at all the skills you need to them possess: add strategic thinking, creativity, familiarity with tools, writing, blogger relations, and a knack for collaboration to those mentioned above.
Being on Twitter, having a large following, writing a blog, and generating content for one’s self may be a good sign that someone gets how social media, content and distribution work. However, I have met plenty of candidates who were brilliant at promoting themselves and creating a personal brand but would have no clue how to generate ideas for a client. I’ve also encountered people who were great at knowing how all the platforms worked, but had little or no talent for determining the best way to use them strategically or creatively when challenged with a specific assignment.
Today, everyone in our business should be social. They should have an online presence, a community, and a basic familiarity with the popular platforms. They should know the protocols and acceptable practices for each, embrace virtues such as transparency, and understand how a brand has to behave when it’s earning attention versus buying it. But even that’s not enough.
What we inevitably look for in our social influence group are smart, talented people who have all of those qualities but are then experts at something –strategy, analytics, SEO, blogging, story telling, video content. More importantly we try to make sure they possess a clear sense of how their particular skill contributes to a larger platform or campaign.
Yes we’ve hired social media strategists or practitioners who were early adopters of Twitter and had amassed thousands of followers — people who had Klout, if you will. But we’ve also recruited people who were masters of technology, tools and SEO techniques. We’ve brought in journalists for their writing and story development skill. We’ve even grabbed participants out of the Ford Fiesta Movement, knowing they could create content across all media. In every case we opted for talent first, then focused on whether they could be essential members of a larger social team.
I guess in the end we don’t care what someone’s Klout score is. We’re more interested in whether they can have an impact on everyone else they work with and the clients who depend on them.
What about you? Have any tactics for determining social media prowess and skill?
image by thekenyeung
I give Kevin Roddy a lot of credit for coming out and declaring that creative directors might actually be clueless when it comes to creating ideas for the post digital age.
In a guest column in Ad Age, Roddy suggests that traditional CD’s may still know a great idea when they see it, but he questions whether they can inspire or conceive complex digital ideas if their real comfort zone is in the media of TV, print and radio.
BBH New York’s CCO goes on to suggest that advertising creative directors whose experience comes from old media story telling should “admit that they don’t know enough about technology and start asking for help.
“Take down the walls and ask other people for suggestions about how to make the work better,” he smartly suggests.
I’m in total agreement with everything Kevin says. But I might go one step further. Knowing how most traditional CDs, writers and art directors work, I can confirm that there’s still a tendency among many to generate ad “ad idea” first and then go seek out their digital counterparts who might “make the work better,” to use Kevin’s words. In fact plenty of creative technologists will tell you that the question they usually get is, “Can you build this?” When the question they want to be asked is “What should we build?”
Kevin’s right that those of us who grew up on the traditional side of the business need help with the new complexities of technology. But we should make sure we get that help before we have an idea.
In fact we should be aggressively and proactively learning as much as we can about what’s possible with mobile, geo, APIs, social media and the very latest technology before we or anyone on our team closes the door to go and concept. Better yet, the people we concept with should be the techies themselves – creative technologists, UX professionals, social media enthusiasts.
I once had a CD tell me that he didn’t really need to know technology because, “No matter what I think up there’ll be someone who’ll know how to build it.” True, but my question back to him was, “But if you knew what was actually possible, wouldn’t you think up even more interesting ideas?”
Thanks again to Kevin for admitting and reinforcing what we all need to do. Let’s just make sure we get the help he recommends first. Then we can brief teams, look at ideas, and know we’ve picked the best one.
It’s that time of year again. When we start thinking about Austin and ribs and digital friends and panel nerd badges. But first, we have to take care of business and do our job influencing, or at least commenting on, the submitted panels and talks.
Granted there is no shortage of great panels up at SxSWi this voting season. In fact there are more than I’ve had the time to plow through. So, just in case you’re in the same over extended situation, I thought I’d share a few that Mullen colleagues and I have either submitted or been invited to join in hopes that they meet with your approval and ultimate vote. Of course, in the spirit of honest engagement, don’t vote for anything you wouldn’t actually want to attend. I’m not a big fan of the popularity contest approach to anything.
Ad Agencies Need A New Mindset To Survive
Submitted by me: read more and vote
If the advertising agency is to survive in an era when the reigns of media have been transferred from a few professionals to 2 billion individuals, it will have to revamp its entire way of thinking. The mindset will have to shift from thinking about target audiences to communities. Strategy will require more insight about a consumer’s relationship to media and technology rather than just how she feels about the brand. The team will change entirely to include production, mobile, and experience design in addition to art and copy. And the consumer will play an active, rather than passive role, in the creation and sharing of everything. What does an ad agency have to do to survive? What are the practices it must unlearn? What new skills will it require? This panel, comprised of agency leaders, each in a different stage of evolution, will explore the challenges and offer ideas.
Radian6 and Mullen Hijack the Superbowl
Submitted by Christian Madden: read more and vote
In 2010 (and again in 2011) Mullen and Radian 6 turned the Superbowl, an old media event, into a new media event. With a simple website, a hashtag, and real time sentiment analysis, Brandbowl2010.com analyzed Twitter conversation to rate the game’s commercials in real time. Find out how sentiment analysis can fuel a creative idea and how an analog event can be converted into a digital experience. It’s a model that anyone can replicate.
Augmented Reality and the Launch of the Olympus Pen
Submitted by Michael Bourne: read more and vote
Augmented reality usually sucks. But this example is pretty good, (note it was done by Mullen). The agency, Total Immersion and Wired collaborated to create and run the first ever augmented reality camera demo. What were the challenges in creating a fully functional “digital” digital camera that shot videos and still images using a computer webcam and what did WIRED learn in the process of activating the creative in its first iPad edition? Interested? Give this panel a vote.
Beyond Mad Men: Are Traditional Agencies Dead?
submitted by Ross Kimbarovsky: read more and vote
This is a great topic. The old models are dying fast. If you don’t believe it just look at newspapers, magazines, and any of the traditional media (though it appears TV numbers are still up.) There are too many options for marketers and advertisers to be found, to engage, to generate and own their own content and to sell. There are also new options for how to source ideas, talent and crowd participation. Social media and crowdsourcing work hand in hand leading the change. We still don’t know the real impact of either as no one can predict the future. But it appears after a brief year or two of argument and debate that they are both here to stay. So you can fight it or embrace it. Hoping this gets in.
Agency Structure: Where Do We Fit New Creatives?
Submitted by Rachel Mercer, VCU: read more and vote
The students at VCU brand center have invited me and Ben Malbon to join this panel. As I’m a huge supporter of the 20-something crowd, I had to say yes. Plus we need to hear the new voices coming up. In their words “As new technology continues to intimidate unprepared agencies, this panel will bring together industry powerhouses to discuss the value of being agile in a changing media and social ecosystem.”
Generation C (for content): Changing the future of business forever
Submitted by Sherry Lowry: read more and vote
Forget about Gen X and Gen Y, it’s all about Gen C — the Content Generation. Business is changing and content is becoming king. Gen C understands this; Gen C is both audience and media, focused on creating, sharing and participating, versus promoting, interrupting and selling. Best of all, Gen C isn’t defined by age but by ideas — it’s 20-somethings working alongside 70-somethings. (Yup, we’ll have some on this panel.) Leading edge companies know it’s about collaborating, not competing, and Generation C brings that to the table. During this inter-generational panel, you’ll learn why age matters less and content is the new currency.
Some others I hope get in
Ladies Claim Digital Strategy is the New Creativity
Submitted by Ana Andjelic: read more and vote
Fear and the art of creation
Submitted by Jonathan Fields: read more and vote
Are thinkers and makers mutually exclusive?
Submitted by Trevor Eld of R/GA: read more and vote
Community Thunderdome, Branded vs Unbranded: You Decide
Submitted by Mike Arauz: read more and vote
The power of what we won’t wear
Submitted by Heidi Hackemer: read more and vote
Panel about nothing (that you don’t care about)
Submitted by Mike Schneider: read more and vote
This one is really interesting. Live, real time, interactive, audience decides on the topic.
If you’ve been here this week you know the story of my dripping hotel room ceiling and my frustration with Marriott’s initial response. But I’m pleased to report the story has a happy ending for all involved.
For starters, the ordeal gave me a brilliant opening to a speech I was making to Sears HC the next day. Perfect timing for a talk titled “The End of Us and Them,” and the thesis that media is now in the hands of two billion amateurs rather than a select group of privileged professionals.
I opened with a photo of the ceiling, thanked Sears for putting me up there, and then proceeded to reveal the early morning Tweet stream along with a video I’d shot and edited on my iPhone that morning calling out Marriott. (Truth be told I didn’t actually post the video on Youtube, but faked it in my presentation to make the point.)
Needless to say it got a great reaction and emphasized that in an age of social media, when consumers control both content and distribution, all brands need to learn a different set of rules and behaviors.
Anyway, the rest of the story worked out well on a number of accounts, too. When offered free nights and points by the Marriott (nice of them) I told them, “no thanks,” and instead requested a public apology on Twitter and a comment on this blog. The point wasn’t to embarrass anyone but simply to get the hotel to admit its mistake, acknowledge my frustration, and turn the entire mishap into a conversation from which people could learn.
It appears to have worked. The comment stream on the last post is a rich one. It questions whether one’s social footprint influences the response that they get from a brand. It reveals disappointments with service in general. It earns Marriott credit for engaging. And, perhaps most importantly, it shows that a blog post that exercises a little restraint, replacing the venom-filled rant with some productive advice, gets a slightly better reaction that one that simply vents.
Furthermore, the hotel actually suggests that there’s room for improvement in both customer service and employee responsiveness. We may even see a guest bill of rights.
Lance Misner, the manager of the Marriott Hoffman Estates, has become a reader of this blog, a Twitter user, and maybe even a convert to social media’s potential for learning, engaging and marketing.
Here, in fact, is what he’s had to say in response to my last post and his own exposure to the story playing out in the social space.
“Let me say first of all that I do not know anything about Twitter so if I sound ignorant I am. I signed up myself in order to publicly apologize. I hope that worked.”
“There are some incredible things going on in the business world as it relates to social media. This has been a real wake up call, I need to embrace these concepts and find opportunities to further market our property. In fact I am looking forward to showing your blog at my staff meeting on Tuesday.”
“I would love to pick your brain as this old dog needs to learn a few new tricks. I hope your presentation went well at Sears and if you are home, or wherever you are tonight, I hope you are able to get some rest.”
I supposed I should add that Lance also threw in a bunch of points and an upgrade to the big suite next time I’m in town.
We should make our issues public.
It’s smarter to offer suggestions than criticism.
We should welcome any brand or individual who tries to learn and engage.
If we want brands to deliver better service, it’s partly our responsibility to guide them there and hold them to it.
This just in: Just as I was about to post this, I got an email and phone call from Marriott headquarters letting me know they plan to use this as a learning and training experience. Not sure if it would have generated that kind of response if it weren’t posted, blogged and tweeted about, but that turns out to be just one more reason that consumers should wield their new power and brands should heed it.
Finally I made it clear to Marriott that I hoped no one employee would be called out, but that it the entire incident be turned into something positive.
OK, so maybe it’s not your fault that my hotel room ceiling leaked all night long. Though the fact that there was already a stain in the same corner of the room suggests you should have known about it. But what doesn’t really work for me is the response that I got when I called in the middle of the night. It went something like this:
“We’re sorry, the hotel is totally booked there’s nothing we can do.”
Really? Nothing you can do? How about a real apology? How about an offer of five free nights at any Marriott in the system? How about setting up a bed in a conference room? They’re not full in the middle of the night. Or perhaps it doesn’t really matter to you. After all, you’re full. Business is good. What do you care if you lose one customer or have an occasionally unhappy guest?
Well I think you should care. Because not caring is the beginning of the end. And whether you believe it or not, no business these days is indispensable.
My suggestion is this. Develop a customer bill of rights if you don’t have one already. Post it at the front desk. Place it in the rooms. Train your employees in what says and what it means.
1. We guarantee your satisfaction.
2. We guarantee your room will be clean and that everything works: the clock, TV, lamps, bathroom.
3. If for any reason your stay with us was unsatisfactory we will make it up with comparable accommodations on us.
4. We will take any complaint and suggestion seriously and respond as quickly as humanly possible.
5. We encourage you to Tweet, blog, and post images and video of anything you find below standards or unresolved.
The last point is to me the most important. It acknowledges that Marriott recognizes it lives in an age of social media and expects to be held to even higher standards as a result.
What do you think? Do brands have to be even more responsive when all of its customers can create, share and disseminate opinions and reactions?