February 24 | Dave GibsonAt our recent Social Marketing Jam Session @ Propeller, we had a great crew of folks interested in sharing knowledge and learning about social marketing. We had an excellent panel that included myself, Chris Middings of Seventh Generation, Bob Kilpatrick of Seven Days, and Dr Elaine Young from Champlain College.

1. Targeting and Leveraging Influencers. Say you're a service organization (like us) that really wants to get Company X's business. Traditionally, reaching those people who actually made these decisions were well protected behind layers of defense. Now you can get on LinkedIn, search for the company name and find contacts to reach out to. You can learn what these people do, what they're interests are, and where they've worked before. Somewhere there is the seed for the conversation to get your foot in the door.

Say your a product company who wants to test a new product or message. If you have a Facebook page with Fans, you can solicit their input. That very act, includes them and says "we care what you think". Converting those influencers into brand advocates can become very powerful from a word of mouth perspective.

2. Transparency & Trust : You can only fake so many things, whether you're an individual or brand. All that well crafted marketing gobblygook your copywriter comes up with lacks depth. If you want to turn users of your product or service, to be more loyal or better, to serve as a brand advocate, you need to get real and reveal who you are. Here your employees can play a big role in revealing the culture and mindset.

3. Content : Video is the most effective communication tool, and creating this content is easier than ever before. An inexpensive video camera combined with iMovie and some creativity, can yield great results. It doesn't need to be slick. In fact, the more rough it is, the more credible it seems. See how Google uses video from desktops published to YouTube. YouTube and others make it super easy to share.

4. Viral Tools : Add This is a tool that is incredibly easy to add to any content, and even easier for visitors to user to share with others. In doing so, users tend to add their own comments. Those comments and the act of sharing serves as endorsements from a word of mouth perspective. Users who think of themselves as influencers, gain cred by first finding and sharing other's ideas and adding to them.

5. PR & Monitoring the Conversation : If you think "I don't have the time or resources to engage in social", then at the very least make it one person's responsibility to monitor the social airwaves. Chris Middings of Seventh Generation shared that he does this twice per day. In discovering an individual with a question about diapers, and answering that question, he brings a personal customer service level that likely turned that strengthened that relationship. Perhaps that person shares that experience or at least the answer to the question with others. The tools now exist to monitor the good and the bad. The rapid viral social world presents great risks to brands that are not listening, and great opportunity for those that do.

6. Customer Service : In a fickle time when price plays such a huge role in consumer decision making, showing that you're listening and responding to customer's needs can play a huge psychological role in not only keeping customers, but also giving them reason to advocate for you

It was very exciting to see the volume of interest in this subject. The questions that came from those representing for profits and non profits of varying sizes showed me that this is a very important and valuable marketing and PR toolset.

Our next jam session will dig in deeper into the PR and Monitoring side. We'll discuss the tools to use and methods of response. Can't wait.

Viral brand advocacy really seems like one of the huge take-aways of social. I also think the FUN aspect of these channels make it engaging from both the audience's perspective and the marketer's.

If you attended this event, share your thoughts. Here or also on our Facebook Page. Thanks.