Social Media + Innovation: When Is It a Business?

This Saturday, we attended the Cal Tech/MIT Enterprise forum about social media and innovation. The stand out speakers had to be Oliver Starr of Clean Green Guy and http://www.cleangreenguy.com and Oded Noy of Social Approach. A nice turn out for a sunny Saturday morning – we even spotted a frog at the Cal Tech lily pond!

Oliver is all about the people and not the numbers. As a long-time successful blogger, Oliver has had a history of providing engaging conversations. We must admit that his’ was the most interesting presentation we’ve seen in awhile! (You can try out this tool for free at Prezi). Some takeaways from his talk:

  • Focus on the individual
  • Expand your method of reaching out. Don’t just comment on the big blogs to self-promote, reply to other commenters and even visit their blogs
  • How can you use Twitter to add a personal touch? Comment, announce interesting events, give info and provide value

Eventually, Oliver would like to see more research about the new data gathered about social media. He predicts that location based social networks will expand and help people in their collaborative efforts. With more efficient tools, Oliver would like to see more spontaneous and integrated social gatherings. He likened it to going to a large venue and identifying the people with your interests. This way, you’ll be able to convene with them to have a more effective conference. Sounds like what we would all want and need, right?

Oded shared a similar point with Oliver as they both stressed the importance of a community of like-minded people. Oded brought us back to the days before technology when people would meet and talk over a campfire. Old school, I know.

  • Before: face to face interactions
  • Next: those with money (corporations) can buy a bigger platform to reach more people
  • Now: the internet has reduced the cost of self-publishing

The biggest question remains – how do you utilize social media to make money? Social media sites are a place for individuals to share in these conversations and seek out areas of their interest. It’s hard to say how and when you can convert this into $$$. All of the speakers on the panel agree that as much as it is cliche to say, “It really depends”, it really does depend on your individual situation. The sure thing is that once your social activity urges consumers to search and find your product/service, that’s when you acquire customers. That’s where business begins.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Where are the Greenbacks?

Saturday morning’s meeting at the Caltech/MIT Enterprise Forum featured the topic of New Media Revenue Models: Growing Greenbacks in the Digital Ecosystem. Although we wished there was a clearer focus on ways to actually obtain greenbacks (especially for smaller and start up companies), the keynote speakers, panelists and audience helped make it a very informative experience.

Where Social Media Fails
This topic came up and the panelists did a very good job of showing how and why social media marketing can fail.

  • Relevancy– Instead of spending millions on a Super Bowl ad this year, Pepsi has come up with a Refresh project, where users can vote to allocate funds to a certain charity. Although this is an interactive campaign promoting worth causes, Steve Banfield questioned its relevancy when tied back to Pepsi’s brand. For example, the current leader for the $5,000 block is a charity that will send girl scout cookies to overseas troops. What does this have to do with the Pepsi brand?
  • Keeping Momentum– When something goes viral, it can spread like wildfire. The I’m with CoCo Facebook Page has nearly 1 million fans. How do you keep your fans and followers excited and willing to participate? The momentum can’t and won’t last forever. Traditional marketing channels have years of research and tons of studies to go off of. While social media marketing is more of an experimental tactic that will take some trial and error.

Where Businesses Fail
In a classic episode of The Simpsons, Homer becomes a human guinea pig in testing experimental products for some extra cash. He tries an appetite suppressant that works surprisingly because it makes the person blind! Why crave food when you can’t see it?

Scientist 1: Who’s gonna buy a pill that makes you blind?
Scientist 2: We’ll let marketing worry about that.

Many companies, small businesses and individuals fail because they put too much emphasis on social media marketing. They begin to forget that it’s important to provide excellent products and services. Marketing consists of ways to make your product look good, BUT is it actually good? Consumers aren’t stupid and if you offer them shoddy stuff it won’t matter how many friends or followers you have. Chances are, you’ll end up on Consumerist and your bad reputation will follow you for years to come.
Bottom line: Always work hard to improve your goods/services and let marketing take care of the rest.

Check out some tweets on the forum and learn more about upcoming events here.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.