How the Mormon Church Turned the “Book of Mormon” Into Roses: A Lesson In Marketing

mormon_rose“…there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

In 1890, Oscar Wilde wrote this quote in his classic book “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. The character, Lord Henry, says this to a painter when the painter expresses his desire not to show a painting. While this certainly wasn’t the beginning, one could say that this quote perfectly expresses the desire of most businesses and is just as true today as it was 124 years ago.

The goal of any business is simple: to be talked about. This includes all areas of public interaction including advertising, promotion, publicity, public relations, social media and reputation management. A story that illustrates a few of these involves the circus and an elephant.

“If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground this Saturday,” that’s advertising. If you put a sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity… and if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.”

To bring that story current, you could add:

As people start talking about the elephant trampling the rose garden, that’s social media. And, by apologizing and repairing the flowerbed of the mayor, that’s reputation management.

No matter which area illustrated above you are discussing, the goal is to get people talking about you. Sometimes, what they are saying is unflattering. In these cases, you have two choices, to address the issue or to embrace it. Most experts in publicity, public relations, social media and reputation management would advise that you address the problem in one way or another. Sometimes that involves telling your side of the story publicly. Sometimes it involves making the issue right for your customer. And sometimes it involves embracing it and finding opportunities.

When the creators of South Park released their uber-popular musical, “The Book of Mormon”, the Mormon Church had several options. They could raise a big fuss about it that probably would have assisted the musical itself in achieving more buzz and publicity. Instead, initially, they chose to essentially ignore it. In a great article by an Episcopal priest, she described how the Mormon Church, when confronted with the popularity the show had achieved, made the decision to use the show as a means of proselytizing. Missionaries began handing out books and pamphlets in front of the theaters. The Church itself began advertising in the actual playbills. And what they found was that theatre-goers were interested in learning more. Certainly the musical itself mocks their religion but they believe that it doesn’t matter which path a person takes to embrace their beliefs.

The Mormon Church realized that this musical attracted people that were more than likely not Mormon and didn’t understand their religion. Rather than sitting by idly and being the butt of this musical “joke”, they saw this as an opportunity to educate theater-goers and spread their message. And it worked. According to the article “street contacting” is one of the “traditional ways for missionaries to reach potential converts.” This practice is challenging and they might only give out a few copies of their Scriptures each day. When a couple of missionaries chose to hand out Scriptures in front of a theatre showing the musical, however, they gave out an entire box of books in under an hour.

Just as in Oscar Wilde’s famous quote, the Church discovered that having people talking about you is better than not having them talk about you.

In their story, after the elephant tramples the mayor’s rose garden, rather than trying to explain to everyone why the elephant was bad, they shared the beauty of rose gardens.

And more people stopped to smell the roses.

Don’t Schedule Social Media Posts for Business Pages!

whatever-clockYes, scheduling tools like Hootsuite, Buffer etc. make it convenient for you to make sure your social media presence has regular content.

I know… you’re busy and sometimes forget or don’t have time to post.

I don’t care.

It’s way too easy for businesses – especially car dealers – who find little time to pay attention to their social media networks to pre-schedule a bunch of posts and forget about it until the next month approaches and they need to fill up that content bucket with another month’s worth of posts.

I manage quite a few social media accounts for both clients and myself and very rarely do I schedule posts. Typically the only time I will is if I know I’ll be travelling on a certain day or otherwise unable to post. This never exceeds more than a day, however.

Here are a few reasons why I don’t believe you should preschedule posts…

  1. Social media is a dynamic conversation between you and your consumers (who are hopefully not in India).  Scheduling content does something that harms your business and social media marketing worse than anything else possible…. It disconnects you. If you do not pay attention to your social media accounts on a daily basis, you WILL miss opportunities to connect. You don’t script out and preschedule text messages to your friends, do you? The most important idea here is that prescheduling posts allows you to feel as if you’ve done your “social media” for the month and actually provides you with justification that it’s OK not to check your accounts.
  2. Chances are that your content will be old by the time it’s posted. Duplicate content – no matter how good it is – is destined to become part of the “..and others” section of a Facebook news feed (as in “Arnold and 10 others shared a link”). Not scheduling posts allows you to find recent content which makes it more interesting to an audience. If your content is 2 weeks old by the time it is posted, the chances that other people will already have shared it makes it less likely to be engaged with. This follows the “first to market” mentality. Always strive to be the first page to share content when possible.
  3. Edgerank is no more. Now Facebook’s algorithm takes into account 100,000+ factors when deciding whether to show your content to your audience. It rewards high-quality content that is unique and engaging. If you feel the need to share content that has already been shared, share it as a picture with the link in the picture’s caption. This will avoid you getting clumped together with everyone else that shared that content. Better yet, find the same content but via a different source (ie. link to the same story hosted somewhere other than the source that everyone else is sharing).
  4. Make it your goal to interact with people even if that means you go fishing… Do a Twitter search for your brand and find a tweet from a recent buyer of your dealership’s franchise… welcome them as a new brand owner, congratulate them on their new vehicle, tell them to have fun car shopping, retweet their cool picture of a car, etc. You can limit your search to a radius of your dealership so you will be interacting with people that matter… potential customers. They’ll thank you, retweet you and favorite your tweet. Take the time to thank your new followers. This is only possible if you’re paying attention and you can’t pay attention if scheduling content lulls you into complacency.
  5. Not pre-scheduling content also allows you to make sure that the content is posted correctly and timely in a manner native to the platform on which it is being posted. What if Twitter is down when your scheduled post is supposed to be sent? If you aren’t paying attention, it may never get sent. It also forces you to read it again which assists in identifying spelling errors. You get to see it go live and have a chance to correct it before anyone sees it. Your online image is just as important as your off-line. Make sure your posts actually post, are tailored for the network they are being posted on and look professional.

Even though I’m hyperactive on social media, I’ve found that not scheduling posts allows me to stay more connected and responsive with my audience whether I’m posting to my profile or posting to a client’s accounts. I can be reactive when needed and interact when people make comments – even if it’s simply “liking” their comment. That shows the person commenting that you’re listening and present which makes them more likely to comment in the future.

Don’t fall into the trap of convenience. You will sacrifice quality, lessen engagement and reduce the chances you have of showing up in your audiences’ news feeds. There’s nothing “social” about simply pushing content.

If you can’t be engaged in your own social media presence, how can you expect other people to be engaged with you?

Note: I have a few less reservations about scheduling content for your personal profile. It does allow you to share more relevant content without spamming your friends. My advice in this article mainly applies to business social media accounts. I rarely schedule personal updates and shares for the same reasons contained in the article but that’s just my personal preference.

Humbled at NADA 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 11.06.23 AMI’m not a social media guru, expert or anything resembling that. I would hate to have those adjectives attached to my name. Social media is all about engaging your audience and the reason that I believe I am successful at it is that, regardless of whether I am “doing” social media for myself or a client, I always… always… recognize and respond with any interaction. Whether it’s something as small as favoriting a tweet, or as big as writing an article… social media boiled down to it’s very basic is about interaction. If people are interacting with you, or your company, interact back. It’s that simple.

In my career, I’ve had the privilege of working with many prestigious companies with high visibility in our industry. I’ve just returned from New Orleans and the National Automobile Dealer’s Association Convention in which I handled pre-show and live social media for 12 companies. NADA marks the 15th automotive industry event I’ve conducted social media marketing for whether it was for the conference itself or for exhibiting or sponsoring companies.

Other than the fact that I get money for doing it (which is a great thing), the most rewarding aspect of any position is to get recognized by peers and industry influencers for a job well done. I don’t normally write self-promoting type stuff but I’ve simply been overwhelmed by the feedback I received from my work at the NADA Convention.

The funny part is that I don’t really consider myself a “vendor” per-say. I mean, I get paid for my services but when dealers (or vendors) ask me the inevitable “Who are you with?”, I simply reply “I’m with Arnold.” I love my job and get to meet and interact with tons of intelligent, smart and successful people in our industry from the entire spectrum – dealership personnel, dealers, vendors, members of the media, etc. – and because I’m not soliciting anyone, it’s always genuine face-to-face interaction.

My good friend, Kevin Frye, included me in his NADA video.

In their NADA recap article, AutoMotion featured some of my tweets intended to break up the monotonous “come to our booth” messages and introduce some entertainment into the Twitter feed. If we want dealers (or vendors for that matter) to recognize the value of Twitter, it’s got to be interesting when they look at it, wouldn’t you agree? (Check out hashtag #NADATips if you want to see some.)

DealerTrack‘s social media person (whoever you are) did a fantastic job interacting with people – including myself – at NADA with the @DealertrackDMS account.

Many local New Orleans companies also showed their social media savvy including what became one of my favorite spots – The Cat’s Meow – which I visited four nights including assisting in organizing an event for VinSolutions in 4 hours that saw over 200 guests attend. The Cat’s Meow was super accommodating on all of those nights as well as super interactive and responsive with their @catskaraoke Twitter account. It’s not often that you  get to meet the person who is actually interacting with you from a local establishment like this but I was able to on my final night out in New Orleans. Kudos to her!

I also got the opportunity to hang out with the AutoTrader.com and Haystak Digital Marketing team there one night and, of course, had to throw some shout-outs to them to the tune of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen on stage. [Here's a LINK to the video if you really want to hear me sing.]

The fact that many of us got stranded in New Orleans due to inclement weather presented PCG Consulting and Brian Pasch with the opportunity to provide a bonus educational opportunity to stranded NADA attendees that was given the name the “PCG Freeze Out” which I was fortunate enough to participate in.

I know I’m forgetting some people as I was fortunate to interact with a ton of people. Over the course of NADA, I was astounded by the response and stats from only my personal Twitter account @arnoldtijerina -

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 11.02.00 AM

but the most humbling feedback, BY FAR, came from long-time industry expert and insider, Cliff Banks, owner of The Banks Report (which you should subscribe to), when he tweeted this:

Thanks to everyone for all of their support. I truly enjoyed all of the interactions I had at the show whether they were as myself or on behalf of a client and I look forward to seeing everyone again at the next event.

P.S. And many thanks to Helion Automotive Technologies for the rocking caricature and to the NADA Convention for the $150 gift card to Mr. B’s Restaurant. My wife and her friend LOVED the dinner. I was too busy.. well.. tweeting… but appreciate it just as much.

Why No Social Media Vendors Exist In Automotive

Before you get all huffy (especially the social media vendors that may read this), I want to narrow my definition of “social media” for the purposes of this article down. Social media encompasses a lot of things but I’m specifically talking about Facebook and Twitter management.

There are not many people who would argue that, given the choice and means, any company has the ability to do their own social media better than any vendor. You know your company better than anyone. You have the access and availability to create instant, company-specific content on-site and all the content you need to do it.

That being said, if you find yourself either in a position where you don’t have anyone to do it in house, or you don’t have the time to do it yourself and you are considering outsourcing your social media, consider a few things.

Being familiar with many of the social media services directed specifically at the automotive industry, whether those services are from a company that only does social media or as a service offered by a vendor that has multiple services, in my opinion, there aren’t any social media companies and/or any true social media services offered by companies.

What, exactly, do I mean by that?

In my opinion, every company that exists and works within the automotive space that offers social media services are, in reality, offering content marketing services. The basic idea is that they will set-up and/or manage your social media properties and provide content for those properties on a daily (or less) basis. Yes, chances are that they will respond to comments left (hopefully) and engage with fans when fans engage with you. They may offer to help you grow your fan base and followers – some via methods with which I agree and some using methods which I think are idiotic. Keeping in mind that I’m only talking about Facebook and Twitter management (not reputation, location-based services, etc.) that typically encompass the scope of work.

Content marketing is NOT social media.

I’m certainly not trying to imply that there is no value in content marketing. There are lots of benefits to it especially with well run blogs with great, relevant content… but it’s not social media (at least as defined for the purposes of this article).

So, what is social media?

In my opinion, if someone says they will manage your social media properties, these are the types of things they should be doing:

  1. They should be optimizing your pages/profiles to achieve maximum exposure via search engines.
  2. They should be teaching you how and helping you grow your fan base organically through in store signage, marketing integration and other means in which to capture your existing customers.
  3. They should be providing fresh, relevant and timely content and posting this content to your properties on a daily basis.
  4. They should be creating, finding and seeking this content daily. Yes, every day. Not creating some monthly calendar of content 30 days in advance, re-using content amongst clients (whether they are geographically close or are competitors doesn’t matter)… and they certainly should not be using a “content library” of canned posts.
  5. They should be analyzing the performance of different content types on a daily basis and tailoring the content they are posting to what the page audience wants to hear, not what they want to tell them… on a daily basis.
  6. They should be available and ready to react almost instantaneously to any issue, event, request, problem, comment.. anything and everything… on a moment’s notice. If a customer tweets or posts a complaint, there better be someone to respond.. and fast. Not just between the hours of 9am and 5pm.
  7. Most social media companies are reactive in their engagement. Their engagement is in response to an action taken by a fan or follower. Social media companies should be proactive in their engagement. They should be seeking out relevant conversations happening in your market area (whether that’s by region, state or national) and trying to insert themselves into relevant conversations in a non-threatening and engaging way.
  8. Anyone that tells you that social media is all about branding and that “selling” shouldn’t and/or can’t happen is an idiot and you should run away from them. Bottom line is that everything you do – whether its traditional or digital advertising – is about selling your product or service. Sales can be, and are, made on social media all the time. Revenue is there. There is an ROI (albeit it’s hard to track). Anyone trying to convince you otherwise is setting you up for that future conversation where you say you’re not selling anything from it and they say social media isn’t about selling. I’m pretty certain you’re not in business to not make money.
  9. When people follow you on Twitter, they should be thanking those people and, if appropriate, following them back. In addition, they should be finding new and relevant people to follow on your behalf. On top of those two things, they should be identifying your influencers as best as they can (and that doesn’t necessarily mean the ones with the highest Klout scores) and seeking to engage with them.
  10. They should be using methods and techniques designed to maximize your reach on both Facebook and Twitter. There are many things you can do that are free. Some that cost money. There are some things that I believe are worth the money they cost and some that I believe you might as well be lighting your money on fire if you use them. Whatever the case may be, they should be including these in their offerings to you. They should be doing this in real-time as the situation warrants.
  11. They should be providing you with detailed analytics monthly including detailed Facebook reports, Twitter reports, overall performance reports, response times, interactions, and even be able to show you how your social media may have influenced website traffic (which it can, and is possible, if you provide your Google Analytics code to them). These reports should NOT be simply how many new fans/followers you got, how many pieces of content they posted and the engagement metrics associated with that content (likes, comments, shares, etc.)

How do I know that there are NO social media companies that do this? Well, I’ve talked to many of them. Heck, it was my JOB to research competitors. I also attend trade shows and pay attention.

The reason they don’t do it is that it is not a scalable business model. Bottom line. I get that and agree that it probably isn’t but that doesn’t mean they’re providing social media services.. they’re providing content marketing. That’s all well and good but let’s keep it real.

Just because doing it right isn’t “scalable”, that doesn’t justify calling your service something that it isn’t. Many dealers don’t “get” social media. Some “kind of” get it. The ones that actually “get it” will agree with everything I’ve just written (or at least I hope they will).

So, remember two things about your social media: First, that you can do it better than any vendor whether you believe that’s true or not and second, that, IF you’re going to outsource this to a company, at the very least know the difference between a company offering you social media and one offering you content marketing.

[Note: If you know of a vendor that does all of the things I described above and/or even more, I'd love to hear who they are.]

Are You Being Cheated By Facebook Promoted Posts?

Cheater

Let me start by saying that I’m a fan of Facebook’s Promoted Post feature in general. If your goal is to increase your Page exposure and reach not only more of your fans but penetrate their networks as well, I’ve found that they accomplish that goal. They are especially useful for smaller pages with a fan count under 1500 where the typical cost to promote a post will be in the $5-$10 range.

In the past, on a particular Page which has 164 fans, the options available for promoting a post were $5 and $10 with an “estimated” reach of usually in the 2,000 range for the $10 option. Considering that a typical Page post will reach an estimated 16% of the Page’s fans (in this case approximately 27 people), this is a considerable difference. This Page typically gets good engagement and has a slightly large reach per post – typically between 40-100 with some posts even reaching into the 700 range without promotion (although this is rare).

Recently, Facebook decided to increase the available options to Pages with a smaller number of fans. I noticed this and decided to try testing it out to see what the results were.

Here were my options:

Facebook Promoted Post OptionsAs you can see, the potential reach increased from a maximum of 2,000 I was offered previously to 17,000. I decided to take the plunge and test out the $50 option and let the ad run its course over the 3 days (which, in case you didn’t know, is how long a single post will run in a promotion) so that I could see what the results were.

Here were the results:

Facebook Promoted Post ResultsAs you can see, this is considerably less than the estimated exposure Facebook promised me in their “estimate” of between 9,100-17,000 for $50. In fact, this should have been the results if I had chosen the $20 option.

I find it completely unacceptable (and false advertising) that Facebook would deliver the post to about 33%-50% of the estimate I was promised for my $50. I have noticed this disparity in the past but since I’m working with some Pages that have a smaller audience and the reach promised was much less, the disparity between the “estimated” reach and the final number has never been that large.

Bottom line is that, while I still think Facebook’s Promoted Post (or Boost Post as they’re now calling it) option is a good value for exposure, I will no longer have any confidence in the “estimated reach” promised.

Yo, Facebook. You owe me $30.