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Turner Broadcasting To Buy BleacherReport.com

Money to Burn

Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) is rumored to be in talks to buy BleacherReport.com for $200 million. The two companies are not commenting but sources close to deal, including the website AllThingsD, are reporting that the framework of the deal is in place and due-diligence has begun.

The Bleacher Report raised $40 million in venture capital since its inception in 2007. The site is primarily made up of user-generated content. It’s the user-generated content that has Bleachers Reports competitors crying foul, saying the sites contributors borrow content already released. The argument is weak. Twitter breaks news about 15 minutes ahead of the AP. Social networks are the hub of user generated content. YouTube was full of user generated videos when it was bought for billions.

Bleacher Report has done a great job at adding relevant content at a rapid rate. The contributors have helped propel Bleacher Report to over 9 million uniques per month. In 2010 the company generated an estimated $5 million in revenue. The year over year growth has slowed a bit to an estimated 8% from 2010 to 2011. In 2011 the company hired Rich Calacci away from CBS Interactive and he transformed the sales almost instantly. His team is on pace to bring in over $30 million in ad revenue from partners such as Red Bull, Muscle Milk, Pizza Hut and more.

Bleacher Report is selling at a premium, even for a sports based platform. Compare the potential sale to AOL’s purchase of HuffingtonPost.com for $315 million. At the time of the sale to AOL it had 25 million uniques per month and was doing just over $30 million in revenue. The Huffington Post was considered a prestigious website with real reporters and it’s user generated content is generally contributed by celebrities.

Many are asking why TBS is being so aggressive with its valuation of the Bleacher Report. TBS will likely use its vast resources to enhance the BleacherReport.com traffic. There is no question that TBS is seeking to replace the over 9 million unique visitors its ad network lost when they lost Sports Illustrated this spring. TBS is also losing PGA.com at the end of 2012. Bleacher Report saw its competitor MMAJunkie.com and Big Lead Sports’ sales to USA Today Sports Media Group. Leaving Bleacher Report as the only independent website on ComScore’s top 10.

We see a trend in journalism. The barrier to entry has never been lower. User generated content is the fuel for the World Wide Web. We have operated a user generated fan driven content website for years. We were punished by a major movie studio for most of those years until last year they announced they were launching their own user-generated content fan site.

The new online media properties seem to tout their in house publishing technologies almost as much as the content they produce. Bleacher Report is not the only user generated sports platform. Vox Media, a venture-backed startup, operates the SB Nation sports blog network

Add up the pieces – revenue potential, the loss of Sports Illustrated web traffic, PGA.com relationship coming to an end, a powerful publishing platform, and a core base of passionate contributors and the deal starts to make more sense for Turner than it might at first look.


Content is not King

In the Media world the saying goes “Content is King”. The idea is: build it and they will come. Yet the kings of content, the movie studios, lose huge sums on most projects. Why? If asked most successful business people they will tell you success is a blend of hard work, luck, and controlling the controllables. Movie studios are well run corporate machines, their workers work hard, and management controls what it can. But they’ve lost control of distribution. At one time, movie distribution meant one thing: movie theaters. Own the theaters, and you control distribution. No longer. The battle is what happens with the content once it is released.

Distribution has never been so easy and the trends in technology suggest it’s going to get even easier. But across the world, content creators are filing for bankruptcy. And it’s not just movie studios, all content creators are struggling. The content creation business under assault from all quarters.

Two industries were the big winners in the Dot Com Boom and Bust. Porn and Gambling made huge sums and increased their market share while others floundered. Today, the Gambling companies have largely been shut down by the US Government and Porn is having to reinvent itself. Lack of control over their content has pretty much destroyed the Adult Industry. And you would be hard pressed to find anyone on Capitol Hill pushing for Piracy law revision for them.

You used to hear adult film stars say porn was a vehicle to launch a mainstream career and some of them actually accomplished that goal. Today most performers use the industry to subsidize their income. It is well known that many in the adult industry now derive their income from hooking and use their porn exposure simply as advertising.

Female performers have seen the pay decrease from around $3000 a scene (naughty time) now earn closer to $650 per scene (still good money if you are doing what you love). The male performers now earn about $150 per scene (I know some of you are saying where do I sign). The decrease in earnings is a direct result of the piracy, ease of distribution (DIY), and the low barrier of entry that allowed for mass-quantity and low quality films that flood the net. Yet the amount of Adult Production studios has gone from the hundred to just a few remaining production companies.

The adult industry business is on the verge of extinction. The blame? The same thing that gave the industry it’s prolific rise, The Internet. The Internet makes controlling content next to impossible. Even mainstream creators of content are struggling. The advertisers that pay for some of the content creation are struggling. The non-internet based distribution platforms tap into the Internet and give the target consumer the ability to buy the content and watch it when they want without commercial interruption. Devices like Boxee, Ruku, Apple TV and others allows the target consumer to stream the content they want when they want it.

Choices, on top of choices: you do not just have the ability to watch it when you want or how you want, you can also watch what you want. You prefer BBC to CBS? No trip to England required. Want to see a guy do the Cinnamon Challenge? Content creation and distribution is cheaper and easier than ever before. There are 60 hours videos uploaded every minute on YouTube alone. There is more content added to the Internet in a day than the average person will be able to consume in a lifetime. And the trend is accelerating.

What we can learn from the changes is that control is king. If your content becomes a part of a Peer to Peer (P2P) platform. If you cannot control and protect where it goes or get paid when it goes you lose.

A decent digital video camera costs under $150.00. Most Televisions sold today, come with the ability to watch YouTube and other user generated content. Most cell phones, tablets and computers come with the ability to shoot, edit and upload content.

Those numbers are a fraction of the budgets of the major production studios. Lionsgate who by all accounts is considered to have “modest” production budgets, is spending $80 million to make ‘The Hunger Game’ movie series (just over $15M per movie). While most would view a $15 million dollar investment that has already returned over $400 million a wise investment. When you are up against the commoditization of content it only takes a few misplaced $15 million dollar projects to sink a company.

So the creators are finding creative ways to protect themselves. You don’t have to look much farther then the UFC to see how creators of content are using both new and traditional ways to distribute their media. The parent company Zuffa, is a leader the legal fight to fight piracy or control where their content ends up.

Lionsgate pre-sold ‘The Hunger Games’ international film rights before the film was finished. Many view this as a risky venture, surely they could have got more based on the success of the movie right? Wrong, there is even less control in the International market. It is better to lock in a set amount Vs. running the risk of not ever really knowing what you made. The success of the first movie will drive up the International pre-sales in the future. Plus do not forget the global merchandise opportunities that come from a successful project like ‘The Hunger Games”. Building on the Hunger Games success, Lionsgate, through acquisitions, built a library with over 13,000 titles — which generates $150 million in annual cash flow.

Lionsgate will continue to produce content for the various platforms that the consumers are gravitating towards. Yet, to truly control the content you need to own the platform and be able to monetize the platform. Just look at the adult industry and the lack of control of the platforms used to distribute their content. They have zero control and their industry is dying. The barrier of entry has become non-existent. They are not using 3-D (most are not), 15 million dollar budgets or best selling books to help sell their content. Bottom line, Control is king.

Jason Genet


Facebook Changes and How They Affect Things You Like

facebook_logo

If you have been following the Ingrained Media or have been following Facebook news that is not IPO related then this may not be news to you. However, if you have not read our Facebook blogs then now would be a good time. The one thing that seems to be certain about Social Media, is that the networks seem to come and go.

Despite knowing this information, these facts never seem to stop the major brands from pouring tons of money into building brand value on networks that have limited lifespans and that they do not own. The good news for these brands is that spending money to promote your Facebook page just became a requirement. The news coming from Facebook is that reach is more important than Likes. They are no longer pushing your content to those that like your page. Users will have to find your your page and check it or, and this would make the Shareholders happy, you can now promote your message. That is right, if you think your message needs to reach the people who like you, Facebook has provided you the ability to promote that message, for a fee. Yes, you have to pay to do this and the amounts that you will pay and the amount of people you can actually reach, all vary by the actions of those who follow you.

Yes, that means that Facebook is requiring users to be social. For the lurker you either search out the content, subscribe (which is getting harder to do) or hope the brand will pay to push the message to you, if you are not interacting you will not see the post. Facebook wants Brands pay to promote their message and thus increasing a brand’s exposure and decreasing the value for the visitor the Brand is desperately trying to reach or connect with.

Here at Ingrained Media we have been saying this for the last few years. Reach is the most important factor on Social Media. If Brands were running analytics they would have already seen that their actual reach vs the amount of people who follow or like is extremely low. Unless the Brand is engaging with the followers and providing unique content the actual reach has limited and return on investment is low. Paying to promote Tweets or FB messages can be effective but if you are not extracting the relationships then I see no value.

Pretty much every television commercial or print ad has the Brand’s Facebook page. The Brands are paying money to tell people about Facebook or Twitter. They are asking the consumers to follow them (some are) but now Facebook is telling you that you have to pay to reach them. So for those brands that have millions of Likes that were created by contests, unique content, engaging with the fans or followers or by the commercials promoting the brand’s Facebook channel, you now have to pay to communicate. Sure the user signed up and said let’s engage but Facebook wants to be paid for that. If Sally the home baker with just over 1,000 friends wants to tell everyone of them about her home bake sale on her Fan Page she will have to pay.

Social Media was supposed to be this great equalizer, right? Yet the big brands have the big numbers and mom and pop still have the smaller number of fans or followers. What exactly is Social Media then? It is an indicator that people like to connect with like minded people on the net. This is not anything new, but the Brands continue to look for some magical solution to connect and engage with the consumers. They want to build brand loyalty and reach their target consumer. The consumer has become more elusive and advertising to them is less about see my brand and more about connect with my brand. For the small to medium size businesses Facebook ads would be a better solution vs paying to promote to people who may or may not be engaging with you.

Connections are lasting engagements. If that is the true goal why in the world would you spend any money to build these engagements on platforms that you do not own, control, or fully understand? Those that were successful and played a role in building Facebook’s almost billion users, they would like to thank us by charging us to communicate our message. No thanks.

Brands need to be looking at these social media platforms like ripe hunting grounds. They can be a great source of things you need but they do not last forever. Make sure that you are investing in building your own platform and use Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and any of the other popular social networks to target your potential consumer and extract them to your own platform. Invest in building great content on your own platform and use these third party social aggregators to identify the people you want to reach, pay to tell them about your network. A place where they can come and hang out with other like minded users. Think of it like a virtual rewards program. If it is worth doing it is worth owning. By building this platform you can control the controllables and your investment into your own social media content.

For some of you that might not be feasible, maybe you have limited resources or time. Maybe you are a small business or a local brick and mortar. My initial reaction would be if you fall into this category then do you really need a Facebook page for your business? Just because the brands you know are doing it doesn’t make it right (as we mentioned above) and even if it was effective for Wal Mart why would you assume that it will work for you? Could you service 1% of Facebook’s members if they decided to purchase from you? Of the almost billion users of Facebook how many of them would actually be your customer? You could still have your own social community but if you were not interested in that approach then you should be looking into Geo Social solutions. Such as Yelp, Fourquare etc.. These networks are much more community based and your time spent connecting on them will have a direct impact on your business.

If you are a Fan of pages and want to have the content pushed to you, there are a few things you need to “try” and do. I use the word try because Facebook has been doing different things for different users a lot more frequently. This means you may not see the promote button or be able to subscribe to a page. Here are some tips:

1. Find a page you’ve “liked.”
2. Hover you mouse over the “Liked” button. Which may or may not work.
3. Try clicking the “Liked” button. That also may or may not work.
4. After clicking “Liked,” try hovering over it again. This may or may not work.
(Sensing a theme? Access isn’t consistent…nor intended to be easy, I have a feeling. Please keep trying.)
5. Once you (finally) get a drop down menu, confirm “Show in News Feed” is selected. In theory, this should put all more posts from the page back in your newsfeed.

Even doing the steps above won’t guarantee that you get to see what your favorite brand or celebrity post on their page. The new Facebook algorithm is designed to push content to those that are truly interacting with the brand. Liking the page is not a “true interaction”, subscribing to the page will not be a “true request”, Facebook’s algorithm will determine what you see on your page no matter what you ask for or request. If you are a Facebook lurker and do not interact with the page you will not get the feed on your timeline. Unless the owners of the page pay Facebook to feed you the post. So ultimately the brands will have to pay to inform you or you will be required to interact with the page to get the information automatically.

The saddest part of these changes is that they are not ways to increase the value of the community but to increase the value of the company. Facebook has to answer to its shareholders and is expected to earn money and show that it can be a viable business. Up until this point the money had been made off the traffic. Now the traffic will have to participate and the brands that helped create that traffic will have to pay to communicate.

Jason Genet
CEO of Ingrained Media


Social Media Marketing, Nothing In Life is “Free”

Today everyone is conditioned to get communications in real-time.  Parents do not leave notes for their kids anymore, they just text them.  Want to know what your kids are up to, just take a peek at their Facebook page.  More Brands are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to connect with their target consumers than ever before.  Some brands even feed their third-party social media content to their commerce or corporate websites.  Some brands have even gone as far as having “social communities” built into their corporate sites.  What happens to those when something goes wrong?

Imagine if your customer service issues were posted for the world to see?  What happens when your Brand is involved with a global crisis?  You have already made the commitment to engage with your consumer, and even if you do not engage, your target consumer is using social media and likely talking about you.  When you begin to use Social Media tools you are hoping to increase your brand equity.

While not all businesses are Social Media savvy and some have even opted to not participate, the brand itself can have it’s brand equity and virtual footprint affected or altered forever with or without their involvement.  Today’s media outlets are less about spin and more immediate reporting of issues with the fact-finding coming afterwards.  So what should you do when your brand, product, or service comes under attack?  Putting your head in between your legs and hoping it will go away simply will not work.  You need a plan or a team in place managing your social media so they can handle these issues as they arise.  Your Brand, Executives, and Brand Equity is all at stake.

A great example of how social media can alter a brand is British Petroleum or more commonly known as BP.  Everyone knew of BP as a major petroleum company servicing our need for fuel.  That was up until the oil spill in the Gulf and the subsequent mishandling of the crisis.  Greenpeace was able to turn to the Internet and affect BP’s brand equity forever.  A simple search on Google images for “British Petroleum” returns a lot of imagery and none of which are the Company’s logo.  They are all negative images dedicated to BP’s oil spill.

These images are a permanent part of BP’s cyber footprint and no matter what they do this event will follow them.  A great comparable would be a Google search for Exxon Mobile.  You will not see the same negative results, but the two crises have similar issues and the main difference is the lack of social media platforms when the Exxon crisis took place.

While these are extreme examples, it clearly shows the power of social media and how not having a plan for crisis control is a recipe for disaster.  Nestle is another top brand that mishandled it’s social media and they did so on a platform in which they had no real control or value of engagement.  So their risk out weighed the reward.  As consumers toyed with the logo, the Nestle Moderator fought back, eventually forgetting he was representing a Brand and was soon insulting the very same customers his Brand wanted to attract through social media.  Again, a lack of planing or understanding leads to negative brand equity.

Remember that by joining in social interactions, you open yourself up to hearing the way others see your brand.  Unlike a forum on your website, you have a lot less moderation and protection.  You are giving up Brand Protection for real Brand Interaction. Since you are giving up some control of your brand for this direct engagement, you need to establish a plan for when things go wrong, and to be honest they almost always do.

Make sure you have a clear Social Strategy and make sure it is not about “making sales.”  Social Media is an extension of your web presence, but it is an organic extension that you can moderate yet can not control.  You need to have policies in place for Human Resource issues, Marketing Issues, Brand Integrity and Customer Service issues.  Make sure you (as we have discussed previously) know your target consumer and where they are.  Reach them and communicate with them the way they want to be communicated with (text, email, etc).  This identification can save you thousands in wasted ad spending and enhance your social engagements.

Have a plan for the positives and negatives.  Be prepared.  Know that brand haters are out there.  Tech savvy companies have “allegedly” hired paid posters that attack the competition on Social Media.  Be honest with your followers and understand that emotion can rarely be read through text, especially when text can be limited to 140 characters.  If you have established an engaging relationship with your desired consumers, they can help fight back during these attacks.  What Greenpeace accomplished with BP was done with 2,000 followers.  BP could have aligned itself with “green” social influencers once it embarked on it’s social media campaign.  This would have at least shown the perception that they had a goal of being environmentally focused.  In the event of a crisis hitting they would have had a track record with the same people Greenpeace used against BP.  Having no plan is largely what led to certain failure for BP and it’s online image.

Be responsive and not offensive.  You can not avoid some crises so do not try to change the tides, simply explain your position in the crisis and follow your plan.  Not every issue requires a response and sometimes due to legal issues you cannot respond.  Sometimes your response can fuel the fire.  These are all issues that need to be discussed in the planning stage and coordinated with your Social Media Team.  The Team should never interject their personal views into your Brands position.  They are not speaking as Social Media Manager Jeff Black, they are speaking as the Brand and what they say or do will affect your brand equity.  The best place to start is to hear, investigate, and elevate issues that begin on Social Media.

You must remember that you should be engaging and speaking with your consumer on a personal level.  You need to treat every follower like a customer.  Never insult your followers.  If you are going to censor posts on your site you need 24/7 monitoring and the deleting needs to be handled quickly and according to your plan.  If you do not have anything nice to say do not say anything at all.  Last but not least, you cannot please everyone in real life, and when people have a certain anonymity they tend to be harder to please.  Some comments are okay to ignore if you know they are not factual.  It could be a competitor drawing you into a heated conversation.  If you are angry, have another individual not in the “fight” read your response, or just do not respond at all.  You must stay positive and instill the positivity into your timeline.  You set the tone and if you are angry or bitter your followers will see it and react .  As they say on the Internet ‘don’t feed the “trolls”’.  It is also important to remember that when you are given suggestions, thank the person giving you the suggestion.  Even if the suggestion is not helpful, this is a meaningful engagement and your potential consumer walks away thinking that this Brand listens to it’s consumers.

Finally, remember that having a Facebook Page does not make you social.  As a matter of fact, take a look at MySpace for what Facebook could look like in the future.  Engage with your target consumers on your own social platform.  Use Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter etc to find the consumer but try to bring them to your own platform.  So when you engage you get contact information and the ability to interact without the third-party influence of these other social platforms.

Jason M. Genet


Social Media for Events

As a Dad I can’t remember how many birthday party invitations my kids received or handed out over the years but I know it was a lot.  Some of them were written by the parents and others in that famous kid penmanship that even makes pharmacist’s take a double look.My wife is a big Save the Date kind of gal and yet it seems that the days of paper invites and RSVP’s are becoming relics of the past.  The web and specifically Web 2.0 has change the way people plan events and get the word out.

Social Media is making it easier then ever before to plan, promote, and reach the masses or just your family and friends.  Social Media allows individuals to communicate information rapidly and adjust this for any unforeseen issues.  You do not need stamps, envelopes or smoke signals to get the word out anymore.

Social Media also allows you to engage and involve those who can not make the event and also allow them to still share and participate.  You can share photos and videos of the event as it is happening and share stories online after the event.

Social media can make the planning process smoother by leveraging digital word-of-mouth. Here are some tips for best results.

Establish Your Event-Related Channels

The months and weeks before your event is a critical promotional period. Use every social media channel at your disposal to get the word out about your event.  If it is a private event make a group and keep it exclusive or if it open to the public encourage them to share the event.

You can encourage people to share information on the event in return for small rewards. For example: “Share this event with 20 friends for 10% off your admission.”

If you have your own social community or use third party applications the process is very similar.  One thing you should know about adding events to your own site is the SEO reward that comes with events.  Search Engine Crawlers love relevant and timely information and events are almost always indexed higher then blogs.  If you have your own social community or website we recommend using this this as the hub for the event.  If you do not, consider Facebook and Twitter as your next best solution.

Start by creating an event page on Facebook and an event hashtag on Twitter, then create an event blog where you’ll post updates about it (new speakers, registration discounts, etc.). Make sure your Twitter hashtag is specific to your event or organization, without being too long.

Once you have your channels established you have to begin to feed them.  Populate them with content.  Make sure your event content is relevant to the event.  One common mistake is if you have a Mixed Martial Arts event populating the channel with MMA specific content is a road for failure.  The content is not original, is not relevant to your event, and will detract from it.  If it’s a social event, post video or music clips, create a pre-event contest, or connect event-goers through interaction and games.

For a social or community event the content should be engaging, fun, and shareable in order to drive word-of-mouth interest. If the event is more corporate in nature, offer fans and followers sneak peeks at topics to be discussed, or special pre-conference articles and presentations.  Keep the content about your event and what you are promoting.

Provide Incentives for Viral Marketing

Participation is key to your success.  The social community sites we build come with a built in “Event” tool.  This allows you to RSVP, share, promote and comment.  Make sure you are being responsive and relevant with your postings.  We can then push the event to any number of Social aggregators like Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon and many more.

No matter the platform or approach if you are a corporation or public event that is trying to attract eyeballs and attention to your event offer fans and followers special discounts or content. Incentivize people to register for the event, offer them early-bird discounts, invites to pre-event parties, or other rewards.

Make Registration Social

In the social communities we built Event sharing, inviting and RSVP’ing is all built in.  If you do not have a site that has this built in you can use a social registration service like EventBrite, which not only makes registration easier and more streamlined, but allows attendees to share their event activity with their friends. Other popular social event invitation platforms include Plancast and Twtvite. Most of these services are highly integrated with social networking platforms and can be configured with user caps and privacy options.

Use Location-Based Services and Check-in Rewards

Geo-location sites let you set up a page with rewards including badges, coupons, specials, or gifts. These location based services are easily integrated with other social networks such as Facebook, FourSquare and Twitter, so check ins will be shared with larger networks. When attendees come to your event, you can reward them for checking in at different stations, panels, or activities. Rewards such as free tee shirts, a gift card, or other small incentives can be redeemed after the show.

This helps you and those around you find you.  They may not be interested in attending the trade show you are at but if they know you are their and interacting they might just stop or check in.  This gives you a great chance to convert non-event attendees to visitors.

Bring your Event to Life With Social Media

This is one of those areas that is often missed.  Why are you at the event?  The answer should be it is for a good person, cause or business.  Any of those are worth promoting.  We live in a digital world and there is no reason to limit the event to the attendees.  One of the best ways to have more people at your next event is to have them talking about your event.

Why not capture your event as it unfolds and share it on your social community and push it out to sites like Twitter and Facebook.  If you do not have your own community contact us and in the mean time start using Twitter and Facebook for these feeds.

You can also encourage your attendees to share the events happenings as they unfold.  It is important that you encourage them to use your hashtag.  You can bet they will be Tweeting if it is a failure so encourage them to share it if they are enjoying themselves.  make sure you have someone from the host side on their Social Media Channels Tweeting and reading tweets.  Respond to problems.

Example: We were in Vegas for a fan meet and greet.  My client had to make a flight so eventually we have to cut the line off so we could get to everyone that was in line.  One of the clients fans was upset and in tears about missing out on meeting the client.  They Tweeted and because we were monitoring the channel  I was able to see we had an upset fan and sent someone to find them.  We were able to connect the fan and client and issue resolved.  I am not saying we would have lost that fan but I am saying we were able to make a meaningful engagement because we were monitoring the event.

Use a photographer and let your attendees know they can get the pictures from your social community or your social channels.  This will encourage them to come to your site and view the picture.  It will also increase the likelyhood of them sharing your event and the photos.

An active Twitter stream during your event not only engages participants in real time but also allows people who could not attend to get a feel for the sessions and topics being discussed. Some event organizers set up a huge screen behind speakers to display hashtagged tweets in real time. But again, this can backfire if the tweets become negative or go off-topic. All that interaction can derail speakers as they try to respond in real-time to all the “interference.”

This is why it is critical to have your team monitor the channels and interact or even lead the charge on interaction.  The @UFC channel on Twitter does a great job of engaging the fans and promoting the events beforehand, during and post event.

Include Non-Attendees

The goal of every event is to have happy attendees and hopefully be able to do the event over and over again.  The best way to “grow” the event is to include those not in attendance.  This is where your future growth will come from.  Plus there is absolutely no reason to share the event as it happens.  As mentioned above the majority of your attendees will be connected to one or more Social Media Platforms during your event.  You can and should try to own and direct this interaction.

There are some great tools that will allow you to livestream during the event using Facebook or UStream so fans can follow along online. Facebook enables you to store this stream so that people can watch it after the event proper. You can also create a YouTube channel for the event to post videos before, during, and after. Encourage non-attendees to ask questions through Twitter or Facebook during the event and answer them live.

The communities we build are fully integrated with all of these platforms and can support or host a livestream.

Extend the Shelf Life of Your Event, Even When it is Over

Your event doesn’t have to end the day it’s over. Social media can keep the momentum going for many weeks and months afterwards. On your blog, post a “wrap up” of all the key highlights. You can add links to presentations, key learnings, and other downloadable documents. Of course, you’ll want to post photos on the blog and on Facebook, and continue tweeting about the event even after it’s over. You can post thoughts, ideas, or links to longer articles that might be of interest to those who attended.

Another great way to keep your event from fading fast from people’s memories is to create ways for attendees and other interested parties to continue socializing, discussing, or debating topics covered there. Do whatever you can to keep the conversation alive.

I am sure a lot of you have been to fundraisers where they have the step and repeat and a house photographer that gives you a card for redemption of the photo later on in the evening.  Give that person your Social Channels address’s and let them know where they can find the videos, pictures and share stories from the event.

Post event contest are great too.  you can do contest like share your favorite story and the best commented or most shared content gets a prize.  Just be creative and let the attendees know that you are capturing the memories and where they can find them.

Use Social Media Metrics to Measure Success

Consider using online surveys to ask attendees for feedback on panels, venue, speakers, topics, and other facets of the event. Facebook polls are fun, easy ways to get quick responses and feedback from attendees.

Be prepared for honesty. If someone has a negative comment to share, make sure to address their comment or concern and store the information to improve next year’s event. Lastly, pull total social media stats from sites like Search.Twitter.com and Social Mention, or set up Google Alerts ahead of time. If the results are positive, don’t be shy about publicizing some of these metrics to highlight the reach and impact your event had.

This is another area where your hashtag or using third party social platforms like UbberTwitter or Hootsuite give you easy tools to track tweets and mentions.  Many of them are offering Social Media Analytics too.

HASHTAG

This is not a game that your hippie parents played while attending Woodstock.  This is an easy way to make your event come up on searches.  It is essentially Twitters answer to tags like you see on Flickr.  A hashtag can be any word or combination of words.  As an example #UFC would help my tweet show under searches for “UFC”.

Be Real and in Real-Time

Social media is your ability to be the source.  Your target audience is likely using social media right now.  You just have to engage with them and be real.  We have addressed this in some of our other blogs.

Make sure that you are posting in the real-time.  If you are hosting or attending an event make sure you post your opinions and experiences.  As you see things happen comment and share.  This will increase interest int he event and in you.

Jason Genet
http://www.ingrainedmedia.com


Social Experts or Snake Oil Salesmen?

We’ve received quite a few emails about our Facebook blogs, so we wanted to expand upon some of those thoughts. Please feel free to comment or send us an email about your thoughts.

The fact is Facebook is a 500 pound “Gorilla” and most people know of it or have an account. So essentially, it becomes the easiest target for companies and brands to focus on. The job of “social media manager” is one of the fastest growing new job postings. University of Southern California is even offering courses and degrees focused on this new phenomenon. Agencies all over are working overtime to create new divisions focusing on social media. Pretty much every brand has a social media “expert” to assist them in this new world of social media.

The “affiliate marketing” experts are now touting their social selling skills and as this new market emerges, the so called experts seem to be more like job seeking opportunists rather then social media experts.

This group of newly employed “experts” continue to spout off about engagement on third party social platforms like Facebook as if they are Mark Zuckerberg’s first cousins. They are the same ‘experts’ that lead brands to the social graveyard called Myspace.com. They claim that these engagements are meaningful and encourage these brands to spend their hard earned money to help promote a third party application. Billions of dollars are being spent to gain a “like” and resulting in tons of free exposure for the brands like Facebook. Where is the ROI? They are merely telling brands what the brands already know (that Facebook is popular) and that social media marketing is an emerging but necessary market.

As we have discussed in our previous blogs, people (the brands target consumer) use social networking and specifically sites like Facebook to connect with friends. There was a time when you could not even join without a connection within the network. Now that it has grown, the brands and their experts see Facebook as the holy grail of social media marketing.

Facebook is essentially web 2.0’s version of email You do not need to send emails through email clients. You can share, connect or find your friends, colleagues and family. It is an easy way to stay connected and communicate with the people you want to connect with. No email address changes or loosing the phone number. Just type in their name and Facebook will give you numerous ways to connect. Most consumers do not seek to have these kinds of relationships with brands. They are interested in brands providing them content, information, contests and so on, but a meaningful friendship is not what they are after. If you are a brand and not an athlete or celebrity, the actual engagement ration on Facebook for brands is close to zero percent.

People aren’t involved with most brands’ fan pages, even though on a daily basis a large percentage of them are involved in connecting with the brand. The problem is the “real” engagements and the feedback provided is normally one directional. This is not engagement, but more like a new form of email spam. When the engagement is real Facebook provides no real way to engage the users back. Ultimately, what little success you will find can backfire. The consumer will feel ignored.

People tend to forgive the celebrities for the lack of response. The celebrities tend to be forgiven based on the sheer number of fans they have commenting. It would be humanly impossible to engage with 50 Cent’s 12,000,000 Facebook fans. He offers his hard core fans his own unique social network that has over 540,000 active members (www.thisis50.com). To me, this group is far more valuable to 50 and his endorsed brands. He can directly communicate back and forth with his fans. The engagements are real. He can monetize thisis50.com and owns it rather then being a passive participant on Facebook.

There are too many people and groups on Facebook and making lasting and meaningful engagements is next to impossible. Facebook and sites like it offer the users of the site a tremendous platform to stay connected and communicate. It just does not mean that all of its users will “like” you or even be your target consumer. Social media is like having clovers in your lawn. They look cool and you hope to find a four leaf clover but they are not necessarily good for your lawn.

I always try to get our clients to visualize social media as a virtual social gathering. If you had a gathering with 12,000,000 people, it would be chaos. Even 500,000 could be chaotic so brands have to remember that they are going to be at the center of the conversation. So building your network needs to be balanced with feeding your network content and meaningful engagements.
Brands should, however, focus on Facebook advertising. The cost to advertise on Facebook is very affordable and very effective. Since Facebook revolves around socializing, those conversations create the ability to target conversations and interest. Facebook users tend to list their likes and dislikes and Facebook advertising can effectively help you find your target consumer. Targeting is the smartest ad expenditure brands can make. Niche advertising networks like MMAAdnet.com are one solution; contextual based targeting is another. Each are very effective and remove a lot of the mystery involved when advertising on or off line.

Brands SHOULD have a page or at least a group or two established on sites like Facebook. They should use these platforms to help find and potentially extract this consumer from being a passive friend to a truly engaged consumer. At the very least, Facebook and third party social media platforms offer “free advertising” for brands.

Build a realistic plan, assign realistic goals and go. If you are using it correctly, social media will tell you where to go and what to do. You have to listen to the consumer. If your expert has advised you to focus solely on Facebook and suggests hiring staff to manage the comments and tell you what you should be sharing, you might need a new expert. There is no magic to social media marketing. It is about engagements and providing feedback in a timely manner.

You can have your own thisis50.com style site with an iPhone app for under $5000. You and your team can manage this and all of your social platforms through your cellphones and desk top. I guarantee you it is not Weird Science or even Sixteen Candles. It is just communication with the very person you are willing to spend tons of money to understand what they like and want. Save your money and time and just ask them.

Jason Genet

IngrainedMedia.com


Henry Cejudo

Henry Cejudo CeWHOdo

Cejudo Captures Gold

You might not be a fan of Wrestling if you do not know who Henry Cejudo is. Either way, please keep reading as this blog is relative to any sport and athlete.  Henry won the Olympic Gold Medal in the sport of Wrestling at the ripe age of 21.

Being the youngest Olympic Gold Medalist in USA Wrestling History was quite the accomplishment.  His Olympic run was your typical underdog story.  He came into the Olympics seeded 16th and even lost his first period of his first match.

In the sport of wrestling, especially at the elite level, losing the first period can sometimes mean losing the match. Again in the quarterfinals and the semifinals Henry would go on to lose the first period and was forced to rally back to victory.

Henry went on to win his gold medal match and the gold medal.  Henry’s personal struggle and life story made this unbelievable accomplishment even more amazing.

Henry was one of the country’s most decorated high school wrestlers.  He won State Championships in two states (AZ and CO) and was the ASICS Wrestler Of The Year. He was also the first high-schooler to win U.S. Nationals since USA Wrestling‘s formation as the sport’s national sanctioning body in 1983.

Henry’s youth was another tale of overcoming accomplishments.  He was born in the late 80’s in South Central Los Angeles, California.  His parents were undocumented Mexican immigrants.  Henry’s father was a frequent long-term visitor to many of the California Prisons.

Henry’s mother did what she could to provide for her six children and worked numerous jobs to provide for her family.

Henry’s family eventually settled in Phoenix, Arizona which was just a hotter version of the bad neighborhoods they had lived in the past.  This is the basis for a story that many lead to tell from behind the walls of America’s prisons.  Some could say he was destined for failure.  Henry found wrestling and began to devote himself to the sport.  Henry used the sport to build an opportunity for himself and his family.  Henry and his brother dominated the sport of high school wrestling.

They were so talented the national developmental freestyle coach for USA Wrestling invited both Angel and Henry to attend the resident freestyle program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.

The fact that Henry essentially raised himself while his mother worked and his father paid his debts to society lead to the fact that Henry’s education was nowhere near the college level.  Making it to the Olympics without college wrestling is the route less taken to say the least.  Had Henry’s chosen sport been Basketball or Football he would have been on a full ride to any NCAA Division I powerhouse and playing in the NBA or NFL today, he is simply that good.

Henry took second at World’s losing to Matt Azevedo but came back the next year and won the spot on the 2008 Olympic team.  This is normally a spot reserved for NCAA All-American’s and Champions.  Henry would secure the Gold Medal in storybook fashion.

Henry was the poster child for the 2008 Olympics during his time in Beijing and when he came back to the US.  He appeared on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, CBS Early Morning Show, ABC’s Nightly News, Oprah, and many more.  For a short period of time he was an International Star.

I was sitting one row ahead of him when he and his posse rolled into a MMA fight in Phoenix.  Most everyone knew who he was and a lot of kids were coming up asking for his autograph and he was even announced as being in attendance by the promotion.  He must have had 12 to 15 people with him, who all seemed to be catering to Henry.

Henry was living the life of a rock star.  Everyone wanted a piece of him and “just a few minutes of his time”.  It seemed like wrestling finally had a star.

Now, fast forward to 2011 and we are beginning to approach the 2012 Olympic Games where Henry is again just one of many wrestlers in the 55 kg division competing for the one spot at the top.  In the last 4 years we have seen All-American Wrestlers become Champions and millionaires in the sport of MMA.  We have seen Wrestlers become the dominant force in the fastest growing sport in the world.  Wrestling programs at the College level are under attack and stories like skipping college to pursue the Olympic Gold may become the only option.  The PAC 10 Conference is shrinking and NCAA Division II powerhouses like Nebraska have been eliminated.

Pac 10

Wrestling is one of the few USA Olympic sports that still uses true amateurs when competing.  Something the Eastern European countries stopped doing long ago.  Athletes like Henry need to find ways to earn a living and remain relevant for 4 years before then hoping to secure the single spot on the Olympic team.

This may be the very reason that wrestling is considered a “poor mans” martial art.  It also is likely the same reason the sport of wrestling is failing to thrive while wrestlers are able to use wrestling outside of the sport the thrive and earn a living.  My very own brother has spent 20 plus years of his life sacrificing his time and efforts for about $2,800 a year.  The Athletic Directors pay by season so it doesn’t seem as bad but any Wrestling Coach will tell you it is a year round commitment.

Why is USA Wrestling so anti-MMA?  Everywhere I go I see BJJ gyms and MMA gyms opening in the same town where the Wrestling Programs are on life support.  What was the plan with a guy like Henry?  Obviously the USA Wrestling program knew he could win or they would not have even invited him to Colorado.  Once he made the team and won the spot on the ladder, why not market him?  When he won the gold and had all of the press and momentum, why not market him?

Instead they let a rising star succumb to gravity.  Imagine an athlete like Henry competing in MMA.  His wrestling skills alone would place him at the top of the 125 pound division.  Then you take his story and his Olympic notoriety and he is everything the UFC was hoping for in a Cain Velasquez.

Imagine a wrestler like Henry after he has learned to contend with punches and submissions.  He would be an elite Mixed Martial Artists and his participation in MMA would allow him to earn a living, promote USA Wrestling and make him a more complete athlete when the Olympic Games come around in 2012.

Instead Henry Cejudo is just another great Wrestler having to earn every inch he gets.  He has to work harder and train harder than any other athlete in the world and all for a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent our Country for free.  USA Wrestling needs to embrace MMA if it expects MMA fans to embrace Wrestling.  MMA is the NFL for Wrestlers.  MMA makes it possible for guys like Henry to continue building his brand outside of Olympic Trials and The Olympics.

If not MMA, what is the plan?  There is an extreme lack of follow-through in marketing and little to no plan exists to keep amateur wrestlers who earn a place in the spotlight relevant.  From Henry’s posse to USA Wrestling, they all have to take responsibility for Henry’s lack of exposure.  If he happens to win another Olympic Gold, will we see even less than we have seen since 2008?  Maybe USA Wrestling is waiting for Henry to save a baby from a burning building while overcoming the obstacles in his life and winning the US Olympic Gold.

No matter what the platform or stage, athletes and their posses need to find a way to stay relevant and engage with people of the sport.  Do not expect those around you to do so because you are the current flavor of the week.  You worked hard to earn this opportunity, make sure you have someone working hard to make it last.  Do not become a Henry CeWHOdo.

Olympic Gold Taste So Good!

For my wrestling readers, please do your part to support your local wrestling tournaments and teams.  Give back to the sport.  It needs you now more than ever.  One of the greatest and oldest sports in the World has played a large part in building one of the fastest growing professional sports in the world.  There has never been a better time to support Wrestling and Wrestlers.  USA Wrestling works for you.  They could not exist without your contributions so make sure you let them know you want more for the sport and the athletes of the sport.

Jason Genet

http://www.ingrainedmedia.com


Brands Struggle With Social Networks

Like Me, Like Me, Like Me!!!!

Pretty much every ad these days has some sort of Twitter or Facebook tie in. This week on the Howard Stern Show you could hear the crew discussing who is “Verified” and who is not, who had how many followers etc. My own company started dedicating space on our Athletes banners and websites to Twitter and Facebook..

So there is no wonder why Twitter and Facebook are some of the fastest growing Social Networks. Brands are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on promoting their Brand on Facebook and Twitter. Some campaigns are fully dedicated to increasing Facebook “Likes” and engaging with their target consumer.

That really is the beauty of Social Media. Long gone are the days of waiting on data and feedback from focus groups or retailers. You can engage with your consumer and be on a direct one-to-one relationship. This will revolutionize the way products come to market and how brands develop their strategy.

There are a couple things that Brands need to consider. These are not your typical Social Media pitfalls or even typical Social Media thinking. The facts are pretty hard to argue and the solutions are actually fairly inexpensive and the average business owner or executive can run these tools.

The first thing to remember is history has a history of repeating itself. When was the ast time you logged into your Myspace account. Myspace is on it’s proverbial death bed and if it was not for the Music and Entertainment industry it would likely already be dead. What we can learn from Myspace,com is that even Social Media giants can tumble. Social Media has to universe connected and when they move they move in herds.

So what becomes of your Facebook investment when the herd moves? You really not have collected any critical contact data and you cannot be sure that you will be able re-connect with them when you move to the new platform. So will the money spent be totally wasted?

The bigger concern is that Twitter and Facebook are so big that no matter what percentage of the total users you engage with there is a greater number of consumers that your alienating. What I mean by that is studies show that the young consumer and future consumers are turned off my brands in Facebook or Twitter.

According to a new report from Forrester Research;

“just 6 percent of 12-17-year-olds who use the Web desire to be friends with a brand on Facebook, despite the fact that half of this demographic uses the site.”

Among Web-connected 18-24-year-olds, that figure doubles—meaning that 12 percent of that demo feels okay with befriending brands—though the vast majority of young adults are not, per Forrester.

Even scarier for brands: Young people don’t want brands’ friendship, and they think brands should go away.

“Many brands are looking to social media as a strong digital channel to communicate with these consumers, since it’s where 12- to 17-year-olds are spending so much time,” wrote Jacqueline Anderson, Forrester’s Consumer Insights Analyst, who authored the report. “But research shows that it is important to consider more than just consumers’ propensity to use a specific channel. Almost half of 12- to 17-year-olds don’t think brands should have a presence using social tools at all.”

To arrive at these conclusions, Forrester surveyed 4,681 Americans aged 12-17 on the Web in September of last year.

So what should brands do? We have several solutions that we offer our clients. They solve allow of the problems listed above and at the same time tie into these very important Social Communities. We cover over twelve Social Networks and Share services and at the same time we engage directly with the small percent of consumers that want to be involved.

You can also use Social Media as a tool for extracting information. Not necessarily by blind engagements on Twitter or Facebook but by listening. Don’t push your message listen and ask questions. Show the consumer via your products and ad messages that you hear them.

With over 74% of 12-17 year-olds using social networks you can be certain that social networking will continue to be one of the biggest platforms used by your target consumer.

Jason Genet
President
Ingrained Media

http://www.ingrainedmedia.com


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