What Makes Real People Care About Your Social Media

What Makes Real People Care About Your Social Media

Andy Sernovitz, CEO of SocialMedia.org, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss the core elements of a successful social media community.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Narrowing Your Social Media Community

As a business, you may find it easy to fall into the mindset of trying to reach everyone. After all, you have a great product, so shouldn’t you try to reach as wide of an audience as possible?

A wise marketer, however, understands that this is not the case, and in fact, the path to growth and success lies in identifying and targeting your specific, ideal customer. The same is true when it comes to a social media community. Andy Sernovitz of SocialMedia.org believes that a truly great social media community should explore only a small number of topics so that members can go in-depth.

No matter the subject, if you are starting or managing an online community, narrowing your focus will ensure that your members can go deep on the topics that matter the most with others who share their specific concerns.

In This Episode

  • 05:50 – How SocialMedia.org went from being the “Blog Council” to being an all-encompassing community for social media professionals.
  • 09:14 – Why a good social media community requires management.
  • 16:19 – Why deep social media communities need face to face interaction.
  • 17:36 – How SocialMedia.org has evolved as social media has drawn larger budgets and more focus from corporations.
  • 21:39 – How the ethics of advertising have evolved with social media.
  • 24:53 – Why social media and word of mouth are not the same thing.
  • 29:44 – Why story is so crucial when the quality gap narrows among competing products.

Quotes From This Episode

“For a community to have longevity, it has to be managed.” — @sernovitz

A great community needs narrowness. That means fewer topics and similar people, so you're having deep, rich conversations about fewer things. Click To Tweet

“Social media is a tool, a way to deliver a message. Word of mouth is a bigger idea that sits on top of it.” — @sernovitz


See you next week!

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Episode Transcript

Jay Baer: 00:00 Hey everybody, it's Jay Baer from Convince & Convert, joined as always by my special Texas friend, he is from Austin, he is the executive strategist for Salesforce marketing cloud, it is Mr. Adam Brown. Hello, my friend. Adam Brown: 00:11 Hello, how are you, Jay? Jay Baer: 00:13 I am spectacular, and this was such a great episode. We were joined, as you just heard, by Andy Sernovitz, who's the CEO and founder of SocialMedia.org. And I love what he said in that little clip about authenticity. And look, fundamentally, everybody on social media has the same challenge, which is how do you use social to get people to pay attention to you? And yeah, to some degree it's a creative exercise, but I loved what Andy talked about in this episode about having a deeper meaning, about having a rationale, the theory of the firm, Tom Webster would call it. And boy, this was really an episode worth spending some time with. Adam Brown: 00:50 It is, and I really appreciate Andy's perspective on all this. I've known Andy for nearly a decade and a half, Jay. I know you've known him for almost that long as well. Andy, from where he sits with the Blog Council, which became SocialMedia.org, really sits in an interesting position, and what he talked about here, and what he talks about further in podcast, around authenticity, and, Jay, around kind of that double meaning of the word social, of social as we typically talk about being social media, but social as it relates to activism, as it relates to community, as it relates to philanthropy and all of those other things that have to take ... the brand has to use to propel themselves further here in 2019. Jay Baer: 01:33 If you want an episode about how to caption your Instagram photo, this is not the episode for you. If you want an episode for why we're all here, and what is the meaning of social media, and what is the point of this work, this is the episode for you, Andy Sernovitz from SocialMedia.org. Before we jump into it, wanted to thank Andy and his team at SocialMedia.org for being sponsors of the Social Pros podcast. As you'll hear us talk about a little bit during the episode, the SocialMedia.org community is extraordinary. Adam's been a member in two different times. I've actually spoken there as well, one of the few people from the outside who have been allowed to address the group. And the way it works is that it is a collection of people who manage social media at some of the biggest brands in the world, and it gives them an opportunity to interact, to answer common questions, to share knowledge, to really build a community. So, many of you listening meet this test. You run social media at some of the biggest brands in the world, that's why this show exists. If you're not part of SocialMedia.org, you should really think about that. Adam, you've been there, what do you think? Adam Brown: 02:37 It's a great organization, and as Andy speaks to here in this podcast, the organization has evolved. It is certainly about those tactical and technical trainings. When something goes wrong on Facebook, or the Facebook algorithm changes, you have a network of people that you can talk to immediately, as Andy talks about, when, as you know, the CMO is walking down to come to your office for an answer about something. No, and it ... but there's that, and then there's this other kind of more professional level of training. As we all matriculate and move up in our respective organizations there's a need for us to have kind of professional executive management training and peering. And that, again, is one of the great aspects of this community that Andy and his team has created. Jay Baer: 03:19 They don't let just everybody in. Adam Brown: 03:21 Nope. Jay Baer: 03:21 It's very curated, as we talk about in the episode, but go to SocialMedia.org/SocialPros, social media dot organization slash social pros, to apply, and we've already had many Social Pros listeners take advantage of that and apply for membership, so thank you for doing that. So, give that a shot. Before we get into the show I want to thank Adam and his team at Salesforce for putting together the new State of Marketing report, it is unbelievable. The interviewed 4,100 marketing leaders from around the world, which is an unbelievable research accomplishment in and of itself, and this thing is full of data that you need to make sure that you are on track in 2019 and beyond. It talks about the impact of customer experience on marketing. It talks about the role of social, how that's changing. Talks about the impact of AI and machine learning in 2019. It is a barn burner. I want you to download, and so you will remember the URL to download it, I've created a very special bit.ly. It's bit.ly/JaySays, bit.ly slash Jay Says, J-A-Y-S-A-Y-S. Go do that as soon as the show is over and get yourself a copy of the Salesforce State of Marketing report. Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear from our friend, Andy Sernovitz. Andy Sernovitz, CEO of Board.org and SocialMedia.org, author of the seminal book, Word of Mouth Marketing, my friend, and a benefactor of the show now, welcome to the Social Pros podcast. Andy Sernovitz: 04:49 Very excited to be here after all these years, it's good. Jay Baer: 04:51 I know, it's ridiculous that we haven't had- Andy Sernovitz: 04:53 [crosstalk 00:04:53] Jay Baer: 04:53 ... you on the show. We just waited for you to be sort of an eminence grise or whatever, and then we'll bring you onto the show. Tell ... Now, we've been talking, Adam and I have been talking- Andy Sernovitz: 05:02 You called me gray, I just, I know what eminence grise means. Jay Baer: 05:05 I know you do. I know you do. Adam and I have been talking about SocialMedia.org on the show now for, I don't know, three or four weeks, something- Adam Brown: 05:11 Yep. Jay Baer: 05:12 ... like that, and encouraging our listeners who run social media at large brands around the world to consider joining SocialMedia.org. Now, you've been actually running the organization in some form or fashion for how long now? Andy Sernovitz: 05:26 12 years. Jay Baer: 05:27 Has it really been 12 years? Andy Sernovitz: 05:29 It was originally called the Blog Council- Adam Brown: 05:31 Blog Council. Jay Baer: 05:32 Yes. Andy Sernovitz: 05:32 ... because social media was not a word yet [crosstalk 00:05:35] Jay Baer: 05:34 Was blogging, yeah, that was it. Yeah, wow, 12 years. And Adam, you were part of the organization back in those early days when you were just a child. Adam Brown: 05:42 Just a child, and I'm barely out of [crosstalk 00:05:44] Jay Baer: 05:44 You had to have a permission slip from your parents to join the Blog Council. Adam Brown: 05:47 That's right to go ... especially to go on the field trips with Andy. Jay Baer: 05:50 Yeah, very true. And so, all this time, obviously in different iterations, changed the name, SocialMedia.org of course now covers a lot more ground than just blogging, it's really end to end social media both on the proactive marketing side, the reactive social customer care side, et cetera. It has become, and has been for a long time, really, the preeminent place for big time social media managers, social pros if you will, to interact with their peers, to learn from one another, to have that safe place, if you will, to talk about common issues. My question, and I don't think we've ever actually had this conversation, Andy, is did you foresee this being an issue way back then, 12 years ago, that they, these people are going to have to have a community in which to solve common problems? Or, sort of, what was the catalyst that made you want to go down this road. Andy Sernovitz: 06:43 That's a good question, and there's one big idea that has been around long before we ever did this, which is that some jobs are really hard, and some jobs are even harder inside big companies. So, the idea that you've got this new phenomena of social media that floats between marketing, and PR, and customer service, and technology, and it might be outsourced, and in source, and your CEO cares, and your CMO cares, and just all these unprecedented problems, rules change every day, tech changes every day. Your boss reads a column or hears a podcast, and suddenly there's a hot new thing, and next thing you know you're well considered plan goes out the window because your boss' daughter's best friend has declared the new hot trend. So, it's just hard to win, and there's so many resources, like this show, as how to be great at social media. And we address a slightly different question, which is how do you run a great program. And that's different. That's a managerial question more than a social media question. Jay Baer: 07:52 Yeah, more of a process and organizational question more so than a creativity and execution issue. Do you feel like we are, in 2019, living in a resurgent era for community in general? Like, my observation is that people, our peers, are gravitating toward Facebook Groups, and that sort of small group interaction, in ways that over the last three, four, or five years they haven't. I almost think about the nature of community as a roller coaster, right? It was everybody's interested in community, and then it was more audience, and now it's community, and then it's audience. It feels like a sine wave, or maybe I'm just interpreting something that's not there. Andy Sernovitz: 08:33 And do you mean community for social pros, or do you mean for our customers? Jay Baer: 08:38 Well, I think it's hand in hand. I think both. That today ... I've had a number of people that you know, and I know, Adam knows, people who have been guests on this show, have said to me, either directly or indirectly, the only thing I care about, when it comes to Facebook, are groups. Andy Sernovitz: 08:54 Yeah. Jay Baer: 08:55 Now, that's not a thing somebody would have said a handful of years ago. And so, that idea that maybe smaller is better, maybe curated is more useful, maybe a cadre of people who are in a similar circumstance, like what SocialMedia.org presents, is where you really pull improvements out of the air. Andy Sernovitz: 09:14 Community is a big word, and sometimes it means, like, literal, structured, community online and off, sometimes it means trade association. It's also used in a more BS way more and more these days, like conference pass is now called a community membership, but what you get is you go to the conference. So the word's being stretched a little bit. But I feel like a community, like bringing people together, is there's only two of the social platforms really feed that, and that's LinkedIn and Facebook, because posting is what Snap or Instagram are all about, isn't bringing people together, it's more public- Jay Baer: 09:52 Aggregating eyeballs, sure. Adam Brown: 09:54 Right. Andy Sernovitz: 09:54 But if you want to have a conversation, you know, that fundamental idea, then there's this interesting spectrum. You know, you can go from big tech support community where all your customers are doing Q and A, all the way up to a really small shared professional community. You know, we've got this challenging role, and we want to work together to figure out how to make that happen. So, that kind of community does ebb and flow, because they're easy to start, especially on LinkedIn or Facebook, you can create a group. They start fast, everybody joins, and there's this core group. Then they get broader, and they get ... in terms of topic, and in terms of membership. And they tend to get more junior. Then they get all the way down to just where sort of random hangers on. Then they hollow out, and the original people who had a complex or sophisticated question and relationship, they have moved on. And then everybody else was hoping for the answer, but the people who have the answer were sitting in that centerpiece. So, I can talk a lot about community, because I do that all day, but the secret sauce is, for a community to have longevity, it has to be managed. Like, there has to be a real staff, either long term semi permanent volunteers or ideally a paid staff, and there have to be membership standards. And if you don't lock down who the community is for it always spreads out and dilutes, and then falls [crosstalk 00:11:27] Jay Baer: 11:27 It'll find its level, and the level will always be the lowest common denominator, right? That just ... It has to be that way over time. Andy Sernovitz: 11:34 Yep, and that's that sine wave, they start, then they hollow out, then the next one starts, and they hollow out. And then, in the background, there's a handful that just have some level of permanence, and usually it's because there is infrastructure or management behind them. Adam Brown: 11:47 Andy, you've hit on a couple things that Jay and I often talk about on the show, one being that when people come on the show as guests working for one corporation, they inevitably within the next year go find another job. And I think that's something that you see with all of your membership. And I'm curious, now having done this for 12 years, at least for the transition from the Blog Council to SocialMedia.org, we can talk about some of the other councils here in a little bit, I'm curious about the evolution of both the member, kind of what they look like, what they know, what they do, what keeps them up at night, and how SocialMedia.org has had to evolve as well to provide different services, different support, different community over this nearly a decade. Andy Sernovitz: 12:33 Yeah, so it's very interesting, and some of the ideas have stayed exactly the same all the time, you know? If you're running the program there's these questions of internal politics, and getting buy in, and support, and recognition. There's how do I staff it? What do I in source? What do I outsource? And these are conversations that we've been having since '07. So, those are ... those have never changed the whole time. And even when the media changes, you know, social media is radically different, there's still this question of oh, crap, what's the next Snapchat? Do I have to do it? Is it going to matter? Or if it matters, who do I hire? And all that. So that's all just ... has never changed. Teams are evolving. So now you've still got ... you know, all org charts have a little bit at the top. So, those how do I lead questions at the top are the same handful of people, but now instead of managing three people, they're managing 30 or 50. And so, it's a very different kind of experience. So, we think focus is important, so SocialMedia.org has stayed ... is the only group for that top little chunk. And there's probably a lack of resources out there who are mainstream social teams, you know, this podcast being one of the few, but there's not a great group you could go join if you're on a big social media team that helps you do that. But then, what we're also seeing is now social is getting specialized in different industries, so we have a group where it's only social media leaders at hospitals, where every single member runs the social program at a big hospital. And their stuff is 50% exactly the same as social media at a big brand, but 50% radically different, because, you know, someone tweeting pissed off about Mountain Dew and the new flavor is not the same as someone tweeting from the ER if they need [crosstalk 00:14:30] Jay Baer: 14:30 Yeah [inaudible 00:14:30] and obviously regulatory considerations as well. Are you going to create a SocialMedia.org adjunct for other industries, like financial services, higher ed, et cetera? Andy Sernovitz: 14:42 Yeah, so it's interesting, so the hospitals group is doing really well, SocialMedia.org Health, so they're in their third year. We created a group called SocialMedia.org Talent, which is for the people using social for recruiting. And what's interesting there is their use of social is very different than social media for brand marketing. A good example of that is how different the metrics are. So, like in a recruiting environment, you don't have long term followers, because people follow you while they're looking for a job, and then they drop when they either get the job or they don't get the job. So, you've got to fight for the same resources with totally different metrics. So that group, we formed a separate community for them, and they have a different tool set, so it was ... it was social media became a smaller percentage of the conversation. So we moved the name over to the talent marketing board. It's how are you using digital to promote people wanting to work at your company, which is a wholly different question than social media for brand or social media for hospitals. Jay Baer: 15:47 I was just going to say, we've had a couple of great episodes on this show on that topic, Carmen from Cisco, Vanessa from Hilton, and a number of other leaders who are really terrific at using social to become employers of choice, generate more resumes in tight labor markets, et cetera. Andy Sernovitz: 16:02 Yeah [inaudible 00:16:03] I talk about all of our communities, because [inaudible 00:16:07] been more to share this idea that a great community needs narrowness, you know, that fewer topics, similar people, so you're having deep, rich conversations about fewer things. Jay Baer: 16:19 One of the things I've always thought is really interesting about SocialMedia.org, and your variety of other boards, is while these issues are about social media, it says it right in the name, that in person events are a huge part of how this works. I know Adam has spoken very highly about the events. I was one of the few people who have ever been allowed from the vendor side, as a consultant, to attend one of your events. It was an extraordinary experience. I find it interesting that a community that is about social media is so driven by face to face interactions. Can you talk about that? Because I think some people will find it a little bit ironic. Andy Sernovitz: 16:57 Community is not Q and A. We're not trying to build a document or gather knowledge, that you can get from Forester or Gardner or something with that information. You know, a community is building relationships with people. And then, really, the full sentence should not be community, but it is community of support. And you can't share, or you won't share, deeply, you won't share the hard challenges, you won't talk about how you really solved a thing, until you've sat down for a meal and eaten with somebody, and you really know you can trust them, and they're going to be there for you, and you're going to be there for them, and that happens in person. Adam Brown: 17:36 One of the things that was interesting to me, Andy, has, having been a member twice, was while the organization kind of pays for the membership to SocialMedia.org, it's really the individual, the practitioner, that's getting a lot of the benefit from it, from personal growth and opportunities. I'm curious if you've seen any evolution in that as companies continue to grow, and as social media practitioners continue to move up, kind of, in the ecosystem, you know, the senior social person a decade ago was probably at a manager level. But to your point, now you've got people at VP and SVP roles with teams of 50 or 100 people, and also dealing with paid social budgets of millions, or tens of millions, in dollars in the largest organizations. How has that changed the charter of SocialMedia.org for the personal and professional growth? Or is it kind of as you said, it's becoming less about, for some of those practitioners, the social media tactics and strategies, and more about how to become a better effective executive, how to become a better manager of those people who are doing those activities? Andy Sernovitz: 18:44 Yeah, it's a good question. And really, this theme that we're talking about here is ... you know, this how is the job changing, and how do you support people in that changing job, is what's really interesting. If you had asked us five years ago what is the benefit of being part of a leadership community, we would have said great information from people who have got jobs like yours. And the second thing we would have said is confidence and credibility, you can team up with people like you and figure out if you're doing the right thing, and a community of support, you know, the emotional support to do the job. And that was a focus that's very much about loneliness. Like, this is a hard job. Today it's much more actionable answers, same idea, like, good advice from people who have done this before, but then I would say leadership support is what we talked about next. How do I run this giant program? Because now I'm leading it, I'm not just doing it. And we talk much more about risk avoidance, not in the I'm scared to do something, but in the idea that there are now, as you said, millions of dollars at stake, giant teams, lots of people with their finger on the tweet button, and global brands. And so, the risk profile changes as it gets bigger. So, this is a different conversation in how you support a leader running this. It's moving up and more complicated. I mean, one of the things that we see a lot is, you know, let's say hypothetically you wake up one day and ... Here's just two fun examples, and one is you wake up one day, your Facebook numbers have crashed. That means one of three things, you screwed up, your agency, your Spredfast or Sprinkler, who's ever in the middle, screwed up, or Facebook changed the algorithm. And you need an answer to that question within 10 minutes, because the CMO is walking down the hall and she's about to pound on your door. And so, yeah, we provide a conduit where you can say, “Has anyone seen anything weird with your Facebook numbers?” And you need a confidential group where everyone can say oh, yeah, we're all seeing it. And then it's ... it's not me. I'm good. And then the other thing that still exists all the way back to the early days is the unknown, you know, the unprecedented situation, and those still just keep, you know, hitting us in the face like a big fish. They are just ... It's been about two years now, but when the President-Elect Trump tweeted that Boeing's airplanes were too expensive, and they suck, then whatever he said, no president had ever called out a company by name at all. And so, now, if you're sitting there at Boeing thinking, uh, we're off the map, and everybody else at a big brand is thinking, uh, we're off the map, and I need an answer to how do you respond before the CMO comes down the hall and says, “Who the hell is running social media, and what do I do about this?” So it's a different level game at this point. Jay Baer: 21:29 Well, the good news is the president now calls out brands every day, so we've got a basis of comparison now that everybody can draw from. Andy Sernovitz: 21:37 We've done this now, a few times, yeah. Adam Brown: 21:39 I think a big part of ... of that, and even kind of the example you used for Boeing, and Boeing being the first certainly made it an awkward position, is around ethics. And certainly, 2018 has been a year where social media and ethics have been very much in the mainstream news, as we've seen the challenges and issues with Facebook and other social media properties. As SocialMedia.org, in a way, is a trade organization, you know, you are being kind of tasked upon and called upon not just to kind of have that confidential group where people can talk about, “Oh, crap, what happened last night? And are you seeing the same thing?” But also to kind of represent the industry as a whole. And I'm curious if you could talk a little bit about how SocialMedia.org has had to kind of rise up to be able to handle things like that? And also, if you could put your thinking cap on, and your fortune teller hat on, what do you think 2019 is going to bring as it relates to ethics in our space? Andy Sernovitz: 22:34 So that's a big question. So, first I'll clarify, we're not a trade association in the sense that we're a community for our members to help each other, but we don't represent them, and we don't set policy. So we're not taking any stands on behalf of the industry, and- Jay Baer: 22:50 You're not marching on Washington? Andy Sernovitz: 22:52 We are not marching on anything whatsoever. I think that's an interesting side note in terms of build a good community. You know, when you add advocacy to the mix, now you limit the number of companies that will be able to join, or able to participate, and suddenly it's a Washington office question. And so, it gets more complicated when you add that element. So, for us it was pure how do we support the leaders independent of where their companies are? Now, with that said, and what Adam's talking about, and something that the two of us have been talking about now for, hell, 17, 18 years, you know, long before social media, this idea of word of mouth ethics, and then social media ethics, and that topic, which I'm a rabid purist on this idea, that you can't use these tools to deceive. So if we get into personal life regrets, I mean, we were out there as early as '07 saying social media disclosure has to be absolute, and brands are the ones who write all the checks. I mean social media's funded, at some level, in the end, by the ads that pay for everything. And if brands push the envelope on social disclosure, and normalize the idea of hidden messages, we are going to corrupt this medium, and it's going to hurt us all. Now, what I could not have predicted five years ago but came to be is we ... not only did we normalize lack of disclosure, and we used marketing and tried to make it look like social media, that morphed into a multi billion dollar native advertising industry, which is now not advertising looking like social, it became advertising looking like journalism. And then that became normalized and accepted, and that directly led to, in my opinion, the politics problem we have now, where fake news, and we don't trust the media. Of course we don't trust the media, we spent $10 billion over 10 years to say anyone can buy a story, and we made that just part of everyday life. So, we lost that fight, and now everyone's paying that price. Jay Baer: 24:50 And now everybody on Instagram is trying to sell you a teeth whitener. Andy Sernovitz: 24:53 Exactly. Jay Baer: 24:53 One of the things that we talked about, Andy, when I interviewed you for my book, Talk Triggers, is ... and I think you are the best in the world at this rant, so I'm going to give you a chance to re-rant here on the Social Pros show. Andy Sernovitz: 25:04 Which rant will this be? A [crosstalk 00:25:05] Jay Baer: 25:06 Yeah, go through your rant Rolodex. No, it's- Andy Sernovitz: 25:11 We had the ethics rant, and now we'll do this one? Jay Baer: 25:12 No, this one is the tendency of many people to believe that social media and word of mouth are the same, that if you are good at social, that invalidates the need to be good at word of mouth. And that is wrong, and dangerous, and foolhardy in a lot of ways, but I'd like you to talk about it, because I've heard myself say it too many times. Andy Sernovitz: 25:36 Cool, and I love this topic. Social media is a tool. You know, it is a way to deliver a message. And it's a really powerful tool, because it's a way where anybody can deliver a message. Word of mouth is a bigger idea that sits on top of it. Word of mouth is this idea that if you give people a reason to talk about you, and you make it easier for that conversation to take place, your fans will support you, and rally to you, and bring all their friends to do business with you. Or, if you're awful, it will help your fans hold you accountable- Adam Brown: 26:11 Clear. Andy Sernovitz: 26:12 ... critics hold you accountable for not being good. So, word of mouth is this great idea. So, as a word of mouth marketer, you've got really clear goals, who is going to tell their friends about you, and how are you going to make it easier for them to talk, and what are they going to talk about? You know, those sort of three things, and I call them talkers, topics, and tools, and you've got Talk Triggers, and we have versions of the same ... They're all Ts, that's the most important thing, there's a T in every one. When you get to talkers, topics, and tools, who's going to spread the word, what are they going to talk about, and then how are we going to help them share it, tools are a distant third, and the tool has to be dictated by who's talking and what they're saying. So, if the word of mouth campaign is we're selling something to new moms, the talkers may be daycare teachers, and then the topic is how this makes something easier, and then the tactic might be sampling the daycare centers. And social never comes into it, so if you're starting with social, or, “I want a viral video,” you're starting at the wrong end of the road map. Jay Baer: 27:12 Yeah, you have to have a story that people want to tell first, and social may be one of the places that story is told, but there's a lot of great word of mouth successes that are barely, if ever, talked about in social, but still are really effective at storytelling, and creating customers through customer conversations, and it's not ... You know, what I always say is that ... is to say that word of mouth and social media are the same is like saying that a toothpaste tube and the toothpaste inside are the same, right? One is a container and one is the ingredient. Andy Sernovitz: 27:43 Yeah, that's good. Yeah, the hot story coming out of CES right now, the first one I've seen, is this company that has this machine that bakes loaves of bread, you know, live ... like, it's about the size of two refrigerators and it's a whole bakery popping out fresh loaves of bread. And it is not a social story, they launched it with a trade show booth and a press release, but it's super shareable, and super cool, so it's spreading fast. So, you know, an Instagram post isn't the same as walking up to a machine that smells like fresh cooked bread, and they're handing out samples. And arguably the fact that it is so not a phone or digital gadget, and they dropped it in the middle of a consumer electronics trade show, that's exciting. BreadBot, that's what it's called. Jay Baer: 28:29 BreadBot, all right, we'll look that up. Make sure- Andy Sernovitz: 28:29 [crosstalk 00:28:29] Jay Baer: 28:29 We'll link it up on the show notes at SocialPros.com. BreadBot, that's a good name. Adam Brown: 28:32 But Andy, even to use BreadBot as an example, it is a compelling story, it is shareable, and we could dissect that if we wanted to. But to get back to your three Ts, that T for topic, I think, is shifting, and it is evolving. You know, the traditional call to action that we are all comfortable with a decade ago isn't quite as effective anymore. And one thing I've really been interested in what you're doing is around that social activism side of the story, the topic, and really how you're also approaching your organization, that social in your world, Andy, kind of has two meanings. One, there's the social media side of social, but there's also the social activism, the social community, the charitable philanthropic side, and how important that is, both for the charter of your organization, but that's also something that seems to be very much resonating with audiences right now. You can't just talk about your product, and you just can't talk about how it makes a better loaf of bread, you've got to talk about that social aspect. And I'm curious how you bring that into your org, and how you bring that into your communities that you grow there at SocialMedia.org. Andy Sernovitz: 29:44 Think of it, if we go back to an ... a big picture mini rant, you know, we all saw as paid search marketing, and SEM, and pay per click, and all this stuff sort of grew, it really pushed us to metrics based advertising, because you can throw money in the machine, and so much comes out, and you can try 80 keywords, and 80 taglines, and the best one comes out. And we're squishing the creativity out of the process. Now, that's the other ... that's one extreme, and the other extreme is hey, what if there was a commercial of a car driving on a mountain, and that ... the other end is a lack of creativity in TV advertising, because we're still running the commercial of the car driving down the mountain, or the truck towing the thing. You know, put the thing in the bed of the pickup truck and see how fast it goes. So we're in this wide swing, and then what's now dropped in the middle of this is we all have good enough stuff, like, it's all just fine. All the phones do the same exact thing, and all of ... You know, if you want a product to solve a problem you will go on Amazon, and you'll get it, and it will work. So, the quality gap has gone away, and everything's sort of good. So how do you make a story? How do you make people pay attention, or connect with you in some way? And that requires some kind of community, or meaning, or purpose, or some higher level feeling that says this matters to me. And that has to have some level of authenticity behind it, that has to have some kind of ... something more than I make a thing and you can buy it. I mean, going back, Seth Godin, early, you know, viral marketing talk, being good enough as table stakes. You know, now you have to be remarkable, and remarkable means something worth remarking upon. And that's the hard part, because you got to be different, or special, or whatever. So, the hot one now are the Away suitcases, the Warner B. Parker of suitcases. And the thing that make it remarkable was a battery charger, a phone charger, built into the suitcase. And, you know, that's not that big a deal. Like, everyone has a phone charger. Jay gave me one a year ago, so I have a phone charger. I didn't need it bolted to my suitcase, but there [crosstalk 00:31:52] Jay Baer: 31:52 Get some duct tape. Andy Sernovitz: 31:53 I got some duct tape, stick it on the outside. So, I don't know that's exactly what you were asking, but this idea that there has to be something more than I'll give you the stuff you paid for, that's not a very exciting message. Jay Baer: 32:05 Yeah, it's an emotional need, and that emotional need, it's certainly, oftentimes, about the product, but it seems that the organization, and what that organization or company is doing, needs to make me feel better as a consumer. If all products are generally a commodity, if all products are generally the same, I'm ... as a consumer, I'm going to go with the product that comes from the company that's doing something a little bit different, a little bit special. And I think that's a distinction, and I'm curious how social media, in your opinion fits into all that, telling that story of the behind the scenes, of why the executives of this organization are nicer than the executives at another organization. Andy Sernovitz: 32:48 Yeah, it's ... What social does is it lets you rally humans around an idea, because those ideas that come out of the marketing department are never going to be fundamentally credible, but a crowd of people are. So, let's look at the puffy ... micro puff winter jackets that everybody has right now, and you can get Patagonia at one end, that's the most expensive, fanciest little puffy jacket, and Amazon has a generic one for 30 bucks, and then, you know, Uniqlo has their no logo one in the middle, but they all look exactly the same, and they do the exact same thing. But if you go with the high end you have Patagonia and North Face, they're making pretty much the same product, same quality level, both great brands, but Patagonia has got this world of social good, you know, deeply embedded in their story, which wouldn't matter if it was a press release. It does matter that it is repeated, and amplified, and shared, and spread through social, through photos, through consumer stories, and then, sort of, that consumer belief in the bigger message then loops back to the store, the online store, because you read the reviews. The reviews don't say this was a good jacket. The reviews say, “I buy this jacket because of,” and then it says the manufacturing thing that uses less resources. Now you're seeing the word of mouth cycle. So, social media is part of it, but so are reviews, and so is traditional messaging, and it comes back to those Ts. You know, in this case the talkers are motivated consumers who have a passion around a certain thing, then the topic is we're greener, to shorten it. And then the tools are, in some ways, full court pressed from the company. Everything about their website is about the green, not the products. And then push it through every channel 'til word of mouth kicks in and it starts getting amplified in every way. Jay Baer: 34:36 Yeah, I think it's interesting- Andy Sernovitz: 34:38 [crosstalk 00:34:38] Jay Baer: 34:38 We're at this place where the tools are less effective, in some cases, right? Because we've got to reply on paid social instead of organic social in some cases. And so, I feel like we're at this era where topic is actually taking precedence in a way that it wasn't in the past, that people are saying look, we've got to take more of a stand, because that gives us more amplification. Yeah, you look at the ... look at Nike, right? You took a brand that's a very broad brand, that really hasn't been massively overt about social responsibility, or taking a stand, really, on anything over time. And now, they've decided to say all right, let's put a topic out there that we can call our own, and that will help us sell more stuff. And so, I think we're going to see a lot more organizations this year, and in the years to come, saying okay, look, if we're going to try to be all things to everybody, that doesn't break through anymore, so we have to be something really important to a smaller group of people. And actually, Mark Schaefer's new book is about that, it's called Marketing Rebellion. He'll be on the show in three or four weeks and we'll talk about that more in depth. But I think we're really at a watershed moment here where people are going to say look, what are we ... why do people care about us? And making good products ain't enough. Andy Sernovitz: 35:48 Yeah, and, you know, 10 years ago we would have had a similar conversation that says, you know, good enough is just table stakes, but now we could take what you said to the furthest extreme, which is Amazon wins product. Like, they will make ... or Walmart too, you know, they will make a fine product, and they will sell it for the best price, and nobody else wins that game, and- Jay Baer: 36:08 Yeah, I think it was a marketing decision 10 years ago, now it's an existential decision. Adam Brown: 36:11 Good point. Andy Sernovitz: 36:12 Yep. So, yeah, so if you're going to go put pictures of people all in the same black puffy jacket all through social media, and it's just a social media campaign, you could not tell, from an Instagram square, which jacket is made by who. Product doesn't get you there, so it has to be who's going to follow me, who believes, why do they believe, you know, why am I special, and is there either a meaningful purpose difference, is there a meaningful social difference, is there a meaningful ... an emotional difference, or is there a true community? And if you can deliver any of those, you win, because someone else can always replicate the product. Jay Baer: 36:49 And if you're looking for a true community, and you are a manager of a social media program at a large brand, you absolutely, positively need to be part of SocialMedia.org, Andy's fine organization that Adam and I talk to you about here every week on the show. Andy, we're going to ask you the two questions we have asked every single guest here in more than nine years on this program, 350 episodes, or whatever the number is. First question, what one tip would you give somebody who's looking to become a social pro? Andy Sernovitz: 37:15 The one tip for someone who's a social pro is it's all about the real people, you know, get them talking about you. Jay Baer: 37:23 Yeah, and the real people are actual customers, right? It's not so much let's get a Kardashian, it's get people who actually have experienced your products and services. Andy Sernovitz: 37:31 Yeah, you can pay and put a whole lot of stuff out there, and you can do ... you can do advertising on social media [inaudible 00:37:37] advertising, and it's leaving most of it on the table- Jay Baer: 37:40 Well, and as- Andy Sernovitz: 37:41 ... you can create an army of fans, you win. Jay Baer: 37:43 As we've said, advertising is a tax paid by the unremarkable, which is the greatest Robert Stephens line of all time. Last question for Mr. Andy Sernovitz, CEO of SocialMedia.org and Board.org, author of the great book Word of Mouth Marketing, if you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be, my friend? Andy Sernovitz: 38:04 Today, Marc Benioff. I would look at the ... you know- Jay Baer: 38:09 Adam, send a note- Adam Brown: 38:09 That's right. Jay Baer: 38:10 ... make this happen. Andy Sernovitz: 38:12 Yeah, I didn't even make that connection, but I look at, you know, Salesforce, and we've been a customer since '04, but it, at some level, is boring stuff. It is a database. But then, when you look at 170,000 people coming to a user conference, that ... I think Salesforce is as big a deal as Microsoft was to PCs. Like, they have created community on a scale that no B to B business, I think, has ever done before. And it's real, and it's real people coming together because they couldn't imagine running their business any other way. And that is way beyond the product, and that is very much about what they have achieved with the humans. Adam Brown: 38:54 It's that other side of social that you just articulated, Andy. Andy Sernovitz: 38:57 Yeah, it's community. Jay Baer: 38:58 All right, well we'll make that happen. That's a doable proposition. That's going to be Adam's to do list is to get Andy on the phone with Mr. Marc Benioff, co-founder of Salesforce. Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a super great episode. Thanks so much to Andy and his team for being a benefactor of the Social Pros podcast this year. We really appreciate your partnership, my friend. And, as I mentioned, every single episode, going back to the very beginning of this show, is available at SocialPros.com. You can get all the stuff, recordings, transcripts, links, some sort of video of a BreadBot, perhaps. We'll work on that, it's ... yeah, it's going to be scent-a-vision, it's going to be extraordinary. Adam and I will be back next week. Got a bunch of great guests coming up, Mark Schaefer, as I mentioned. Seth Godin's on the show in a week [crosstalk 00:39:42] Adam Brown: 38:58 Another mention today. Jay Baer: 39:42 Yeah, we got all kinds of stuff happening here on the Social Pros Podcast. So, on behalf of Adam Brown from Salesforce marketing cloud, and best friend of Marc Benioff, I am Jay Baer from Convince & Convert, he's Andy Sernovitz from SocialMedia.org, thanks, as always, for listening to what we hope is your favorite podcast. Tell your friends. This has been Social Pros.  
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