Last group of AMA Webinar questions answered

Here is the final set of responses to questions that time didn’t permit me to answer during the AMA Marketing Seminar on Oct. 15. Each of these permalinks is tagged “AMA” so you can easily group them together. Thanks again to everyone for coming and for asking such great questions.

Q: Chris asks, “Do you think this will impact corporate cultures? And how?”

That’s a big question, but I’ll try to summarize. One enormous impact of new media will be to force companies to be more open and transparent about their activities, motivations and mistakes. Once customers began talking to each other and sharing their experiences with your company, you have very little control over those conversations. It’s going to be a lot harder to hide your blemishes and to keep secrets.

Already, many marketers are finding that their carefully managed product rollout plans are sabotaged by bloggers who get their hands on secret information. I believe that businesses, particularly large ones, are going to have to learn to live in a world where information can’t be covered up very well. This will force them to be more transparent with their constituents about their plans. That won’t be easy for everybody.

Internally, I expect social media to flatten corporate cultures. Communication within most companies has traditionally been controlled from the top down. But once individuals have the ability to speak freely with each other, those lines become much fuzzier. In most companies, this will be a good thing. However, a company that values a strict hierarchy will be challenged by this. They can refuse to give their employees blogs, but they can’t prohibit their employees from communicating off-hours via blogs or social networks. Again, this won’t be easy for everybody

Q: Viktor asks, “Will passionate social media users get paid at some point in time?

A: Many of them are getting paid now. For example, I spoke in my presentation about Adrants, which is a one-person operation that is generating good cash flow from advertising. Many models are being developed to reward bloggers for their hard work, although in reality very few people can make a living in this way. I expect that a small minority of people will be able to make decent income as new influencers, but only a very tiny number will become wealthy from it. These are niche markets, after all.

Q: S Law asks, “How do organizations and businesses engage bloggers to get that positive word of mouth?”

A: Much of my book is about this, so I’ll refer you to that, or to other books I referenced earlier, including Naked Conversations by Scoble and Israel; Marketing to the Social Web by Weber; What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting by Demopoulos, The Corporate Blogging Book by Weil; and The New Rules of Marketing and PR by Scott.

To summarize, though, you need to take the following steps:

  • Get to know which influencers matter in your market;
  • Read or listen or watch what they’ve been publishing and learn what their passions and biases are;
  • Engage in conversations about topics of mutual interest. Don’t try to sell to them, though;
  • Provide interesting and valuable information that they can use to further their interest and create new content for their sites;
  • Invite them to become involved with your company as an adviser, reviewer and/or media representative;
  • Show your gratitude. In most cases, this doesn’t mean paying them so much as treating them as insiders and respected advisers. Although t-shirts are always welcome!

Q: Erika asks, “Have you looked at social influencers in the healthcare provider community? What is the prevalence there?”

A: It’s very difficult to estimate numbers for any topic because of the large number of spam blogs. All the services try to filter out spam, but none succeeds very well.

Technorati lists nearly 5,000 blogs as being about medicine in some capacity and 2,000 as being about healthcare, although in reality the numbers are much smaller than that. There does appear to be quite a bit of healthcare information out there. For example, a Google blog search on “diabetes” turns up several thousand posts in the last day, and the top few hundred look legitimate.

In general, people use social media for topics that matter deeply to them, and there’s no question that medicine is one of those areas. If you try searching the two sources I mentioned above, you’ll pretty quickly get a picture of what’s being said out there.

Q: Scott asks, “How do you weed out fake comments, possibly from the company or someone that is one-sided?”

A: Most blogging services offer the option to screen comments. This requires a little extra effort on your part, because you must go in and look at each comment individually before approving it, but this is necessary in some cases because comment spammers tend to send a lot of their trash to certain blogs.

There is no way to verify a person’s identity when they post a comment, other than to verify e-mail addresses or search for their name. In general, you need to use common sense and make sure that comments don’t betray a bias that could

be driven by competitive issues.

I should stress, however, that you don’t want to suppress legitimate comments just because they’re negative. People expect to participate in the discussion, and as long as their words are reasonable and not profane, they should be allowed to do that. If you start censoring visitors, you will quickly hear from people about it, and often in public places. Don’t get into blogging if you’re not able to stand a little heat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.