One thing I’ve learned about social media marketing over the 12 years I’ve been a consultant: Everyone wants to know what the next big thing is going to be.
At the moment, “the next big thing” = Clubhouse.
Clubhouse is the audio-only app that’s really taken off since May when it launched–especially in the tech/angel investor space. Clubhouse boasts a modest 600,000 users, but that number seems to be growing as of late (it’s tough to find real-time numbers on Clubhouse).
It’s also actively recruiting and attracting many creators and influencers, as this New York Times article explains. Right now, there’s money, there’s influencers and, there’s a growing (albeit smallish) audience.
So, is Clubhouse “what’s next?”
Maybe–but, probably not.
Audio is increasing becoming a medium more people are interested in. According to Edison Research, 55% of Americans have listened to a podcast. And, podcast listeners have grown almost 38% in the last three years. Not to mention tech like Siri and Alexa, which is growing at a slower rate, but is being built into things we use everyday (phones, cars, etc.).
And, it does provide an intimate setting that other social platforms have really gone away from. You can sit in a room with celebrities like Tiffany Haddish and talk directly to them. The intimacy of the audio conversations does have a strong pull for folks–especially those who want to interact with CEOs of tech and smaller firms.
Finally, it’s easy. Like really easy to just jump in and listen to a conversation for a few minutes at a time. And, at a time when many of us are at home with our ear buds in 24/7, that’s a big factor.
On the other hand…
It’s not at all obvious, right now, how brands would participate. Maybe they won’t participate at all. Maybe it will be like LinkedIn where company leaders participate vs. a “corporate account.” This seems to be up in the air right now–I haven’t seen any “brands” out there.
Also, much like Snapchat and Insta Stories, this content is ephemeral. There’s no “long tail” here. Once the content’s spoken, it’s gone. There’s no capturing this content and repurposing it on other channels. There’s no SEO value. It’s real-time content–and that’s it. I’m not sure what metrics companies would even track–because you know they’re going to want their metrics.
Finally, many of the rooms I’ve seen so far seem to be either entrepreneur-focused (the awful “Hustle Room” for example–insert barf emoji here!) or topics that brands probably wouldn’t want to be involved with (“If you Wake up Early on Saturday, your Friday was washed up”). What I don’t see, so far, are rooms where brands could add real value–rooms around thought leadership topics for B2B brands or topics around food, for example. They may come, in time, but so far I don’t see much of that.
One last, and important, point I’d like to make here: I know audio is hot. I know everyone is listening to podcasts now. But, I can’t escape the gut feeling that this is all just a bit overblown. The notion that somehow audio is going to become THE preferred medium in 2021 seems a little crazy–especially as we see platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Insta continue to flourish. Video and visuals are still pretty damn powerful. I just don’t see a big percentage of people flocking to an audio-first platform where it’s tough to establish any kind of long-term credibility. Because, keep in mind, that’s a big part of this, too, for many people. “Going viral” on TikTok is a big reason many use it. Getting subscribers on YouTube matters to a lot of people. And, getting “likes” on your post on Insta is a big deal to some. None of that really exists on Clubhouse. I think that matters in today’s day and age when seemingly everyone is seeking internet fame in one shape or form.
For now, in January 2021, I’d say Clubhouse is one of those apps to kinda keep your eye on (passively), but for most brands you probably don’t have to start developing a “Clubhouse strategy” just yet.
This post has become an annual tradition. A ritual I now go through to identify 15+ folks I’d like to share coffee with in the year ahead. I’ve been publishing it now for six years (here was the first post) and it’s been a fantastic way for me to meet new people in the worlds of PR, marketing and social media.
But, before we get to the 2021 list, we need to look back at my 2020 list and see how I did. Now, 2020 was an odd year obviously–especially for coffees. But, I made due. I had some virtual coffees. And, I had some in-person, socially-distanced coffees (over the summer and fall). Let’s see how I did:
Folks on my list I did have coffee with in 2020:
Megan Tuttle, Cambria
Sofia Horvath, Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota
Katie Berry, US Bank
Erin Noel, American Cancer Society
Stephen Dupont, Pocket Hercules
Katie Radecke, Andersen Windows & Doors
Kelsey Dodson-Smith, Cambria
Laura King, CorTalent
Unfortunately, I missed the following folks in 2020:
Amber Campeau, 3M
Chris Carpenter, Medtronic
Aaron Grote, Great Clips
Dobby Gibson, Land O Lakes
Isaac Risseeuw, Minnesota Orchestra
Dustin Smith, Polaris
Alison Kaplan, Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine
Now, I also met up with some great folks who weren’t on this list, including:
Wendy Wiesman, Wiesman Experiences
Krissy Sommerstad, Wonderstad
Dave Schneider, Red Wing Shoes
Nate Knox, 3M
Stacey Rammer, Medtronic
Fernando Vivanco, TE Connectivity
Sarah Shehata, First American Title
Beth Thompson, RSM
Melissa Gilman, Land O Lakes
Elise Bartlett, Frame
Brett Boyum, Uponor
Emily Negrin, Inari
Angie Lindell, Cargill
Scott Broberg, Fast Horse
Matt Davies, 3M
Emily Buchanan, Buchanan & Co.
Gino Giovannelli, University of St. Thomas
Jay Olstad, UHG
Christina Palladino, Park Street Public
Overall, a pretty good wash for me in 2020. Keep in mind, these don’t count more informal coffees I had with folks I already know pretty well. Catch-up coffees, I call them. But, if my math is right, that’s 27 new people I met via coffee–IN A PANDEMIC YEAR! I don’t know about you, but I consider that a win!
Now, as I look ahead to 2021, the first quarter of the year will be tough. In-person coffee meet-ups will be hard to do. But, I bet things will open up a bit, starting as early as April. I don’t plan on resting on my laurels though. I hope to schedule a number of virtual coffees in January, February and March. I see a big networking year ahead!
Building this list is so much fun each year. I really try to come up with a mix of folks. Some of these people I’ve wanted to get to know for a long time. Others are brand new to me. Some are senior-level. Others are more junior. Some work for big companies. Others work for smaller orgs. It’s the mix that I love!
Here’s my people-I’d-like-to-have-coffee-with-in-2021 list!
Kristina Wright, Thrivent
New Year. New Job for Kristina! And, I’m excited to hear all about it!
Brian Grace, Nationwide Insurance
Brian’s one of those people I’ve “known” via social media forever–since the early days of Twitter. But, as far as I can recall, I’ve never had a chance to meet or chat with him. Now that he’s not in Minneapolis, that’s tougher. But, there’s always Zoom!
Patrick Strait, Patterson Companies
Although Patterson was a client for a few years a while back, I didn’t have much cross-over with Patrick. He was a relatively new employee at the time, and I didn’t have a chance to connect with him. Time to change that!
Kelsey Soby, CH Robinson
You might recognize the name–Kelsey used to be a media personality with FOX-9 locally. And, unbelievably, she’s now been working for the “dark side” for 5+ years now! I’d love to hear about her (relatively) new role at CHR and look forward to hearing about how she’s transitioned to the PR world.
Gabriela Lozada, MN United
I “met” Gabriela in the pandemic year, but never had a chance to actually meet and chat with her. I’m looking forward to hearing about what it’s like doing PR for Minnesota’s fastest-rising sports franchise!
Sara Fossen, Rosedale Center
Tried getting her on the podcast in Dec./Jan., but I’m sure holidays got in the way. I’ve long been intrigued by some of the work Rosedale is doing with influencers and social media. Time to hear it from the person who’s responsible for it all!
Aaron Grote, Great Clips
Lone hold-over from my 2020 list. Get it done, Arik!
Andrea Yoch, Andrea Yoch & Co.
I first “heard” about Andrea on Twitter, as she regularly interacts with some of my favorite radio personalities of KFAN’s Power Trip Morning Show. In fact, some of them are clients! She seems to work in sports and entertainment PR–a world with which I am unfamiliar. Seems interesting.
Sarah Edwards, Some Great People
I’m intrigued by Sarah Edwards. Definitely not someone that’s had a traditional career path in our industry. But, someone who’s on the cutting edge of what brands are doing with influencer marketing (including her work with Rosedale Center). Again, I’m intrigued. (PS: I LOVE this photo!)
Cece Porter, Fast Horse
“Met” Cece virtually recently via my Zoom background post. So, I discover she works at Fast Horse. She recently moved to Denver (I like mountains now that I ski!). She also volunteers with AdFed. And, I come to learn, she’s also a Tommie! Seems like this is someone I should know!
Laurel Hood, Weber Shandwick
I’m generally curious about people who make career decisions that go against the grain. Moving into the agency world after years on the corporate side at Target and Abbott certainly qualifies. So, naturally, I’m interested in meeting this current Shandwick employee.
Jennifer Zick, Authentic Brand
Much more on the marketing side than most I know. And, to be honest I’m shocked I haven’t bumped into her at some kind of industry event over the years. But, it’s been interesting to watch her build her Authentic Brand over the last 3+ years. I’m interested to hear more about that journey.
Julie Elapano, Sleep Number
Even though I worked for Sleep Number as a consultant for a whopping 10 years, I had little crossover with Julie. But, I’ve heard very good things from the people I know at Sleep Number. We tried to get together in 2020, but it just never happened. I’m redoubling my efforts in the year ahead!
Kirstie Foster, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota
Kirstie seems to one of those leaders who flies under the radar–but one that you always hear good things about from the people who worked for her. My podcast co-host, Kevin Hunt, worked with her for years and raves about her. And now friends like Laura Hennen work for her and also say great things. I’m hoping to see for myself what everyone loves so much about Kirstie.
Nadine Babu, Babu Social Networks
So much to talk about with Nadine. And again, it’s hard to imagine we haven’t already met. We’re both social media consultants–and have been for a long time. We’re both Gopher rubes. We’re both adjunct professors. I mean, this coffee could be a 3-4 hour deal!
Gail Nosek, Minnesota Department of Nature Resources
Another person on this list with a new job. And, another very interesting new job, at that! I’d love to hear more–especially since I’ve become such a huge fan and proponent of our parks and the North Shore over the years!
Alyssa Derby, Ecolab
Admittedly, I’m cheating a bit with this one. I was all set to put Alyssa on this list anyway, then, as fate would have it, we connected before I published this list. We’re set to have coffee next week. I’m still counting this one though! And, I can’t wait to chat with Alyssa (she’s also going to speak at my UST class in May).
I have a theory I want to test with you today: I think there’s a segment of our industry that completely detests–and doesn’t trust–the current influencer culture.
Note I said “segment of our industry”–I think this is a generational issue.
More clearly stated: I think most people under, say, the age of 40 get that influencers can and in many cases, should, be an important part of a company’s PR and marketing strategy. But, those over 40 (and especially those over 50), not so much. In fact, I would suggest many of these folks continue to think that influencer culture is a joke.
Before you dismiss that theory, let’s take a look at a few stats.
First, PR Week and Cision recently released their 2020 Comms Report which shared the following stats:
- When asked how much of your current engagement efforts are focused on mainstream media vs. influencers, 74% of respondents said mainstream media and just 26% said influencers.
- When asked which group had the single biggest impact on consumer behavior, 26% said mainstream media while just 6% said bloggers and 6% said micro-influencers.
So, judging from these stats, clearly PRs are putting much more emphasis on mainstream media vs. influencers in 2020. It’s not even remotely close.
OK, so PRs focusing on mainstream media. Let’s look closer at that current environment. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, only 49% of the American public trust the mainstream media in 2020. Less than half!
According to Pew, U.S. newspapers have shed HALF their newsroom employees since 2008. And, we’re seeing more community and local newspapers close shop every day. Locally, here in Minnesota, we’ve seen a number of community newspapers close just this year. And, if you’ve read the St. Paul Pioneer Press recently, you can see that newspaper is on its last legs.
Judging from these stats, we can safely say the media is getting smaller and there’s less trust in it than there was a number of years ago (sadly).
Meanwhile, on the influencer side, these are the stats we see:
- 37% of consumers ages 35-44 have been influenced to purchase a product or service on TikTok
- 27% of consumers have been influenced to purchase a product or service on YouTube
- 24% of consumers have been influenced to purchase a product or service on Instagram
Keep in mind, these are stats showing PURCHASE DECISIONS influenced by influencers. When was the last time you saw stats around purchase decisions based on media placements?
This is what’s not adding up to me.
Influencer stats we see say they’re impacting actual revenue. They’re making a difference. Big time. Meanwhile, media relations efforts are tough to track–and have been for years. Trust in the media is almost at an all-time low. And, the mainstream media landscape is shrinking by the day (while the influencer landscape is bursting at the seams).
Yet, many more PR folks seem to put a lot more stock in mainstream media efforts vs. influencer marketing.
Does that make sense to you?
The only thing I can come up with as to why this is happening: The Boomers (who still control the purse strings) are relying on what they know–mainstream media relations.
They still trust the media. They know how the media works. It’s what they’ve known for 30+ years.
Meanwhile, influencer marketing is uncertain. They (largely) don’t know how it works. They rely on younger teammates for direction. And, they are probably reticent to sink budget into something they know little, or nothing, about.
Hence, the theory.
Does it check out? What do you think? In particular, I’d love to hear from some Boomers on if this tracks. Keep in mind, I’m not saying all this to take shots at Boomers. I have my doubts about the influencer culture as well, and I specialize in social media marketing! I’m merely making an observation–and I’d love to hear other perspectives.
Learn from Walmart: 4 social media governance best practices to reduce your risk of “going viral” in a bad way
You may have missed it, but Walmart’s social media team got itself in a bit of hot water last week when someone inadvertently tweeted a personal opinion from the corporate Walmart handle. It was a response to Rep. Josh Hawley from Missouri around his stance on voting against the Electoral College.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) December 30, 2020
This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen. And, it won’t be the last. Because many companies simply don’t have good social media governance guidelines in place. In fact, I’m surprised we don’t see a lot more of this!
Companies (especially big, publicly-traded orgs) should be a LOT more careful when it comes to their social media governance. Here’s just a few ideas that can help mitigate a whole lot of unnecessary risk:
Limit the number of people with access to your usernames and passwords.
In general, I feel like a lot of companies are far too loose with this. They give access to far too many people internally–people who certainly don’t need the keys to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They give username/pass info to agencies in many instances–and then never change the passwords! If it were my team, the number of people who had direct access would be very, very small.
Change passwords quarterly
This might be a little aggressive, but you’re trying to mitigate needless risk, right? At the very least, I’d change them bi-annually. Again, too many people have access. If you change the passwords often, that limits that access. And, by the way, too many people have access that no longer work for you–we’ll get to that one in a minute.
Only use social media tools for publishing and responding
This is probably a big reason we see some of these gaffes. If you’re using a tool like Spredfast or Sprinklr, it’s tough to publish from your personal accounts once you’re logged in under the corporate accounts. On the other hand, if you’re using the Twitter interface, I could easily see how someone would think they’re posting from their personal handle only to find out they tweeted from the freaking Walmart handle! It can happen–very easily. Stick with the publishing tools and most of that risk is mitigated.
Clean up your admins and editors twice a year–at minimum
Another common occurrence–you’re an agency vendor and you start work with a new client to help them with social media. You work on the account for a couple of years, helping them publish on Facebook, Twitter and Insta. Then, you decide to take a new job. You leave the agency. But, you still have the client’s access to their social channels! You’re still an editor on their Facebook page! You still have the credentials to their Insta page in your phone. HUGE RISK! By taking a half hour to simply review who has access to your social media accounts twice a year, you can squash this risk very easily. This is a no-brainer that, in my view, very few orgs probably do.