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CC Chapman – The Twitter 20 Interview on Telling Stories and Humanizing Brands

Authors: Jay Baer Jay Baer
Posted Under: Content Marketing
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cc-chapman-twitter-interviewCC Chapman is a lot of desirable things. A legendary podcaster that embraced that medium from its very earliest days. A grizzled blogger, with entries dating back to 2001. A co-founder of the buzzlicious non-traditional marketing agency The Advance Guard. A devoted father that doesn’t let the digital tsunami swamp his boat.

Between conference speaking gigs, CC participated in this live Twitter 20 interview on June 4, 2009. (To add to the techno-wizardry, CC was on the Acela Amtrak train from NYC to Boston during this interview).

1. @jaybaer: You’ve been in the content creation game for a long time. With the flood of new content, is quality going up or down?

  • @cc_chapman: SO much content means that naturally there will be a lot more great stuff, but of course it means more crap as well. The problem is that it is increasingly hard to find the really great stuff among ALL the noise.

2. @jaybaer: With your company, The Advance Guard, succeeding wildly, is it harder to create all the content that got you started?

  • @cc_chapman: Never enough hours in the day to get everything done that I’d like to & run @TheAdvanceGuard & be the family first entrepreneur that I insist on being.
  • But I believe that if you are passionate about something you will find the time and energy for it.

3. @jaybaer: How does The Advance Guard operate? How does it differ from most agencies? Do you have the secret sauce?

  • @cc_chapman: Well I’m not sure there is a secret sauce to the success of @TheAdvanceGuard, but rather I think we have a strong work ethic where we always make sure to educate our clients on the reality of the space.
  • We want to set real expectations rather than promises we can’t keep. Plus we never focus on tools. We focus on solutions and figure out the best tools for the job.

4. @jaybaer: Seems like everything you’ve done (personally and @theadvanceguard) is rooted in storytelling. True? Is that planned?

  • @cc_chapman: Well my biz partner @SteveCoulson has a degree in film and I have always been a big fan of storytelling so it is natural.
  • And everyone likes a good story and the medium allows for that to be done in such diverse and cool ways.
  • Brands can tell their story or empower others to help tell the story. That’s fun, cool and beneficial when done correctly.

5. @jaybaer: Social media is digital, but how important is it to combine offline and online experiences to build brands?

  • @cc_chapman: It is vital for success. No one lives in a 100% online world and limiting social media to only online is very short-sighted.
  • Successful marketing campaigns will mix mediums to reach the people they want to get in front of.
  • Maybe over-simplifying, but don’t forget to keep the word SOCIAL in solutions whenever possible.
  • And I think the definitions for what can be “social” in a marketing campaign is wide open for interpretation.

6. @jaybaer: Can all brands build communities of fans, or does the company itself have to be special?

  • @cc_chapman: I think any brand can build a community of fans, but it is more of a question of if the company’s culture can allow for it.
  • If customers love a product or service then they might want to interact with others who do too, but the company has to allow that community to grow organically and not try to force every twist and turn. Not every company is ready for this.

7. @jaybaer: You talk a lot about social media strategy and taking a long-term view. How long do you mean?

  • @cc_chapman: You can take a short term approach, but the minute you stop doing what you are doing it fades away.
  • We prefer to work with people who want to set 3, 6 and 12 months goals and develop an integrated strategy with their other marketing initiatives. When it is tied in with all marketing efforts we have found it always brings bigger results.
  • But as with a lot of things in life I don’t think there is any sort of perfect length.

8. @jaybaer: Interesting you mention integration. You partner w/ many other agencies on @theadvanceguard campaigns. Toughest part?

  • @cc_chapman: I think the hardest part is getting to the point where we are viewed as a partner rather then a vendor.
  • I don’t come from an agency background, but it seems that many agencies are scared to work with others and I’m a big fan of teamwork. We’ve had some great partnerships on campaigns and I hope we have many more in the future.

9. @jaybaer: Is social media for customer acquisition the same as social media for loyalty and customer service? 2 camps emerging?

  • @cc_chapman: Why do people seem to think that there is a one size fits all SM solution to every problem?
  • Social Media to be successful for any of those things has to be integrated into every level of the customer life cycle.
  • You can’t treat them the same, but you also can’t separate them into 2 different silos either.

10. @jaybaer: Is Facebook a place brands must have a presence? Your new white paper “About Face” is great.

  • @cc_chapman: Thanks. The whole team at @TheAdvanceGuard worked really hard on putting that whitepaper together.
  • I think a brand would be silly not to at least set up a Facebook page as beachhead to drive traffic to their main site.
  • But the question of how much time to spend there really depends on if their customers are there or not. That is the most important thing to remember. Go to where your customers are.

11. @jaybaer: How about FB Connect & social graph portability? Will we end up with our “friends” following us everywhere online?

  • @cc_chapman: I think FB Connect is going to be used for MUCH more then just following and commenting like it is right now.
  • I’m already seeing it used to pull photos and other data into video and soon video games. Personalization and staying connected with the people that matter most is going to get easier and lot more beneficial.
  • I think the problem right now is that that sort of interaction is spread across way to many applications and sites right now. As critical mass gets on 1 or 2 it is going to be a LOT of fun!

12. @jaybaer: You make more multi-media content than written content. Are YouTube and Flickr et al viable communities for brands?

  • @cc_chapman: Sure. Lots of brands have built communities on YouTube and have integrated Flickr into their campaigns.
  • Personally, I’d like to see photography used more now that everyone snaps so many pictures on their phones all the time.
  • Again, it boils down to if your customers are using those sites and technology or not, But I’m a bigger fan of companies using those technologies to add to their communities.

13. @jaybaer: Many SM mavens are prosumer photogs. You @briansolis, @davidalston etc. Why are new media folks drawn to an old tech?

  • @cc_chapman: You are calling photography “old tech?” It isn’t like we are shooting film or glass plates here my friend! *grin*
  • Photography is something I think many of us grew up with. The magic of taking photos is something that is hard to outgrow.

Note: Brian Solis DMd after the interview to say: I did it to document the rise of web 2.0 years ago. I taught myself to truly capture the essence of the people + culture behind it. 🙂

14. @jaybaer: You’ve done killer, innovative campaigns. How do you make non-traditional mktg feel authentic, & not like a stunt?

  • @cc_chapman: It is a fine line for sure and something that I think with any campaign we’ve been involved in we’ve been careful about.

15. @jaybaer: Some of your work involves influencer identification. How does that come together in the social media era?

  • @cc_chapman: Easy. A lot of hard grunt work in the trenches finding the right people. But, it is also about good old fashion relationships as well.
  • Getting to know so many people in this space makes it a lot easier to identify them as a fit for a campaign or not.

16. @jaybaer: In terms of the work you do (not as a citizen), is it a positive or a negative that traditional media is fading away?

  • @cc_chapman: I’m a big fan of innovation and I have no problem with the dinosaurs of traditional media dying off. That being said…
  • I like to look at it as the smart evolving and the dumb becoming extinct.
  • I love that the NY Times are realizing that they can be journalists across multiple mediums rather than just print.
  • And the Boston Globe is rocking it with The Big Picture. What we call new media today will eventually become traditional.
  • If you are not constantly evolving and innovating then you will fail. Game Over.

17. @jaybaer: Many brands are mulling podcasts, especially for B2B thought leadership purposes. Advice for them?

  • @cc_chapman: It still amazes me that brands have for the most part ignored Podcasting when it is such a great communication platform.
  • My advice would be not to get hung up in the technology and focus on where the most benefit can be found and then go after those spots. Podcasting allows for your message to be told once and shared over and over.
  • It always amazes me when I see eyes rolling when I talk about how podcasting can help a company when done right.

18. @jaybaer: How much does “humanization” of brands – making them about people not logos – impact brand preference?

  • @cc_chapman: Which would you rather talk to? A pretty picture or a human? I think the choice is clear.
  • And yet brands seem to have a hard time figuring out how to bring the human back into their brands. This confuses me.
  • People like to interact with people. Customers are people. Every company has people working for them. Hmm…easy math.

19. @jaybaer: People are struggling with how candid to be about themselves in social media. What’s your advice on opening the kimono?

  • @cc_chapman: Figure out how much YOU are comfortable with and that is the right amount of Kimono to open.
  • What works for me might not work for you. It is up for each person, brand and company to determine what works for them.

20. @jaybaer: Like me, you’re an indie music guy from way back. Top 3 bands we should be listening to right now, that we aren’t?

Many thanks to CC for a terrific interview. Tons of very interesting statements in here. My favorite was: “If customers love a product or service then they might want to interact with others who do too, but the company has to allow that community to grow organically and not try to force every twist and turn. Not every company is ready for this.”

How about you?

(photo by Loiclemeur)

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