Burn the Ships, Touch the Burner, and Behave Like a Baby

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend “Building Trust in a Connected World”, a social media summit put together by the folks at the Women’s Tech Council in Salt Lake City. There were three speakers – Chris Brogan, Julien Smith and Mitch Joel.

While there were some technical issues at the venue and the seats were super uncomfortable, the speakers more than made up for that with their humor and the things that they shared with the group.

Many people have probably heard Mitch Joel’s theme of “Burn the Ships” before. What was interesting to me is how he spoke about us really needing to rethink what marcom looks like in this new online marketing / social media channel.

Other interesting tidbits from Mitch Joel:

  • 81% of holiday shoppers last year read customer reviews.
  • A negative review of a product can actually convert more quickly to a sale vs. a positive review.
  • Especially those working in B2B, should be focusing on who they are getting their message to and not how many. Mitch targets the post on his blog to the six CMOs that he needs to contract with his marketing agency. The fact that others read his blog is an added bonus, but it’s those 6 CMOs that really matter.
  • The average online video is over 4 minutes.
  • Brands must become publishers.
  • While the Bible has been tied to the industrial revolution, it also changed how people could publish their thoughts to the world.
  • Social media / olnine marketing should be a question of “with” and not “instead of” … you need to add it to your traditional marketing channels – not replace traditional marketing.
  • One of the best quotes was one that Mitch related about the definition of “bounce rate”: I came, I puked, I left ….
  • If people aren’t talking about your brand, you need to start the conversation. And if no one is commenting or reading your blog, you need to find the top 5 blogs in your industry and actively comment on those blogs.
  • Another great quote: “Don’t write checks with social media that your website can’t cash.”

Mitch was followed by Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents. One of Julien’s main themes was that we have to be willing to take risks. As children, we would test things out and some of those tests were good and some of them weren’t. The way we learned that a red hot burner was not and not to be touched was by touching the burner getting hurt.

Other points:

  • It used to be that to get your message out, you had to invest in huge amounts of infrastructure and that you needed a really expensive “toy” to create a channel. Today, having a channel and getting your message out requires virtually no infrastructure and most of the infrastructure out there is free.
  • A great example of someone who created his own channel is the person running the Twitter handle @shitmydadsays. He did it just to be funny and now has over 1.3 million followers and is working with CBS on a TV show.
  • “We laugh at simple things, and simple things bring us together.”
  • Build a network before you need it. The worst time to be building a network is when you’re in a crisis situation or need to get the world out.
  • Studies have shown that the closer you are to the center of your network can determine your happiness.
  • You must consistently work on building your network. Build your tribe around you.
  • It’s all about building social capital and creating a “church” of shared interest.
  • Be part of every conversation. It’s easy to find people with similar interests via search.
  • Insider language allows you to get into people’s heads right away and build the pillars of a relationship. (Julien did a great job of relating this to hidden secrets into video games.)
  • Every time you create an emotional response, people remember you. Break the pattern. Do things like posting silly dogs on things.
  • Internet allows you to monetize (and measure) the translation of social capital into actual profits.
  • You need to avoid risk and fear and influence your network to do the same. Become the “lead goose” and people will follow.
  • People are never going to need more advertising. They do need more connection and community.

The final speaker of the morning was Chris Brogan. I’ve met Chris before and heard him speak, and he had a lot of great things to say at this event. Chris spoke a lot about the value of human business where we value the relationship we’re making more than the actual transaction. He started his presentation with relating people back to babies. Babies have a way of experimenting with life where they will try something, and though they will often fail, they will try again. Sometimes they will get frustrated and when they’ve reached the point of needing help, they ask for it by crying or whining. As adults, we often do the opposite. Instead of experimenting with things, we often start whining and crying for help right away. We need to become more like a baby and be willing to experiment with things from the beginning and be willing to fail. We need to stop crying and whining for help the first time something goes wrong.

  • Email marketing is not evil. Bad email marketing is evil.
  • Chris has a 78% open rate on his emails. You need to be providing subscribers information that they want.
  • Stories sell things in a way marketing copywriting won’t.
  • Chris promotes other people’s work on Twitter 12x more than he promotes his own.
  • “You can’t buy into a relationship … you can’t buy into trust.”
  • We buy from people we like and feel we know.
  • You need to find the social networks where you’re going to find value. You don’t have to be on all of them.
  • Small, online communities are going to be where things get done in the future. (Chris started up Third Tribe Marketing to help connect marketers in ways where they would feel comfortable sharing with each other.)
  • Building a web presence is an asset — it earns you money even when you’re not there.
  • The opportunities out there are huge, but you have to be willing to experiment and try.
  • Mobile marketing is what’s next — design for mobile (especially your email messages).
  • Chris also talked a bit about how the next wave in technology needs to be devices that recognize when we’re there. A public toilet recognizes our movements, but our iPad doesn’t yet.

After Chris was done speaking, there was a Q&A with Chris and Julien (unfortunately Mitch had to leave to catch a flight).

  • Someone asked a question about how to get started on social media, and Chris mentioned trying things out on a pilot basis. Do something for a couple of months and see if it adds value to your business. If it does, keep going. If it doesn’t, move on to something else.
  • Julien mentioned again that we need to be able to embrace the uncomfortable and push past the pain. We need to listen to what our “future self” is telling us and be stuck in our “current self”.
  • Chris’ blogging tip: Make sure to have an about page that actually tells who you are and includes a picture.
  • Julien’s blogging tip: Make blogging a priority. It might take a sacrifice (giving up going out for a night), but it’s important to do.

Other recaps: