Live from DMA 2011: Biz Stone, Gary Vaynerchuk and Larry Kimmel Talk Meaningful Marketing
"I believe in social media because it sells shit."
That's what an exasperated Gary Vaynerchuk dropped in the Monday keynote of DMA 2011 to the crowded grand ballroom of the Boston Convention Center.
The bestselling author of "Crush It! Why Now Is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion," "The Thank You Economy," and founder of WineLibrary.com and VaynerMedia had been describing what it was like trying to explain the ROI of social media to his more traditional, ROI-focused CFO. He talked about how he had tried to tell the CFO that you can't measure the ROI of many marketing channels, and she didn't accept that. He finally asked, "What's the ROI of your mother?" Because, Vaynerchuk said, "the way my mother parented and raised me had led to all of my ROI, but you can't quantify it."
To most marketers, and probably all CFOs, that's still not really an acceptable answer. But Vaynerchuk believes in social media because he's seen it move product and make money for his companies. In large part, that's because it helps him listen to his customers and react to them in real-time.
Listening and marketing in real-time was the theme of the keynote. DMA CEO Larry Kimmel started off by talking about the ability marketers have today to create special experiences because the data available now means you can know who your customers are, what your customers are doing and where they're doing it right now, in real-time.
If your company can harness that data in milliseconds, which is also technologically within marketers' grasp, you can do special things. He showed a picture of a skier flying off a jump and said, "I look at that photo and think, seconds before that skier takes off, you could sell him health insurance. Seconds later, you have no chance, or no desire."
But Kimmel also talked about how difficult this is becoming because, "Somehow as a marketer it's your job to manage the chaos" of marketing instantly in today's countless chaos of channels. But, he said, that should be the direct marketer's job. "The only people who should be running integrated marketing programs are those who really understand the data, understand customer-centricity and understand accountability. And that is us."
Stone and Vaynerchuk
Biz Stone, cofounder of Twitter, followed Kimmel in a live video broadcast from his home in which he talked about lessons he had learned in launching Twitter, seeing how companies first adopted it, and the development of what he calls "meaningful marketing," and then he and Vaynerchuk talked about the potential of social marketing in a moderated conversation.
When Stone first introduced the prototype of Twitter to his friends and family, the reaction was very much the same we all probably had when we first heard of Twitter, "Who would want to know what you had for breakfast?" The site looked useless, but Stone and his partners had become invested in it, so they kept working on it. Then at an early SXSW convention in Austin, Texas, he saw attendees using it "in the wild."
He saw groups leaving sessions en-masse as word of another, more interesting session spread on Twitter. he saw a guy tweet that he was leaving a too-loud bar for a quieter one where he could have a conversation, and 800 people showed up at that quieter bar. He saw what he described as "flocking," a simple communication medium that allowed its users to communicate with each other in very simple terms and coordinate and act as if they were one unit. And at that pint, it was a hit.
"When people first saw Twitter, a lot of people thought it was silly," responded Vaynerchuk. "I now firmly believe the greatest listening tool in the world is Twitter. Twitter Search is one of the greatest tools for marketing."
What makes it so great to Stone and Vaynerchuck is not that companies can get on Twitter and make offers to potential customers following them. What makes it powerful is the ability to listen to what is being said about your company, and to react to that and use it as an opportunity to show why people should be interacting with and buying from you.
This has been powerful for both Stone and Vaynerchuk. Vaynerchuk talked about a Wine Library customer who they checked out on Twitter and saw that he was a big Jay Cutler fan. So Vaynerchuk sent him an autographed Jay Cutler jersey as a thank you, and that won the company a lot of new business.
Stone talked about how JetBlue was an early corporate adopter of Twitter, but in the beginning only tweeted press releases. The Twitter users derided these, until finally a frustrated JetBlue representative asked "What do you want from us?!" And the community said, "That." The twitter community wanted to be asked what it wanted and to be engaged in conversation, not have press releases shoved down its throat.
The takeaway is part of a concept Stone calls meaningful marketing, and Vaynerchuk explains as communicating in context. As Stone put it, "Customers are seeking a deeper relationships." And that's something companies can tap into just by being nice.