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SocialStar #3! Michael Chin from Deep Focus

April 12, 2010

Wow!  Thanks for the great feedback on our Social Media Interviews!  Today’s featured guest is Michael Chin VP, Strategy and Client Services Deep Focus (www.deep-focus.net).

1. Mike, can you describe your company and role?

I work at an interactive agency in New York City called Deep Focus. We specialize in engagement-centric marketing, meaning we develop strategies and tactics that help our clients connect and have conversations with their customers, and vice versa. Social media has naturally played a large part in what we’re doing these days.

I head up our Strategy and Client Services departments. Together with our Creative, Technology, Media Buying and Planning, and Digital Communications and PR departments, we’re able to offer an integrated approach for our clients. I joined Deep Focus about a month ago from KickApps. KickApps is one of the leading providers of social software that enables brands and publishers to turn their web sites into social experiences.

2. Great and congratulations on the new role! What do you see as the 3 big opportunities for Social Media in this new role.

I believe that Engagement Marketing will ultimately become the central way in which brands communicate with their clients–it’s proving to be more effective and efficient than traditional marketing in many cases. Social Media has fast become a core to enabling engagement with customers. The challenge right now is that it’s still very new and we’re still learning about all the possibilities and limits, for example, as an industry, we’re trying to figure out how it scales and how to measure it.

As for the big opportunities for Social Media, I think that brands, and marketers, will begin to think much more strategically about how they’re engaging online with their customers and how they’re using social media. The past few years have seen brands dabbling with social media and there’s been a lot of experimentation. More often than not, you hear things like, “We need to be on Facebook,” or “We need to be on Twitter.”

Prior to that we heard things like, “We need a blog.”

Often junior members on their teams were assigned the task of setting up a Facebook or Twitter account, and no one bothers to ask the important questions of:

 – Why are we doing this?

 – How does this impact our business?

- What do we expect out of this?

Worse, the people at agencies or the so-called experts they hire don’t ask these questions or simply don’t have the ability to help their clients answer them. This year will see a big change in this as brands begin to dedicate more budgets and resources to social media and engagement marketing. It’ll be driven by the effectiveness that they’re seeing in early experiments by their own teams but they’ll also feel pressure from their competitors to do so.

Hopefully it will yield more creativity in the types of things brands do on the social web. Ideally we’ll see more sophisticated uses of some of the new features and functionality that larger companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google are introducing, but also from young and innovative startups. We’ll also start to see marketers realize that you can’t just re-purpose traditional marketing thinking on the social web. The smart ones will start to understand conversations work best and talking at customers rarely makes for a long and successful relationship.

The smarter ones will figure out how to do this well. This doesn’t mean that ‘advertising’ will go away. Quite the opposite. We just need to realize that advertising has it’s role and use it for it’s great at. At Deep Focus we’ve been able to use media planning and buying to scale much of what we on the social web. Yes, things can happen organically but you can also give it a shot in the arm. When done right, it’s a very powerful thing. A term that I’ve borrow from you actually is, “Perpetual Campaigns.” You used it in your presentation at one of the KickApps seminars that I organized.

That term perfectly describes the opportunity and the way people need to start thinking about marketing. Marketers need to treat communications with customers as a relationship and ongoing conversation and much as as one off campaigns. We’ve got to get much smarter about how we keep the conversation going, how one topic (campaign) rolls into the next. I think there’s a lot that marketers can learn from the media in this respect. We need to think of our campaign development in terms of editorial programming.

How do we keep our customers coming back to watch, read, play, talk, share, like, rate, comment, BUY, etc.? Our friends in the world of media have perfected this over the decades. We need to stop perfecting micro-sites and start learning about Perpetual Campaigning.

3. In your career, what are your top 3 social marketing tactics that you and your team have implemented?

a. At KickApps we built a community of users. In KickApps’ case it’s a community of web site developers. When done right, these customers become your most loyal customers that help you decide which products to place resources on, and they become a very important customer service channel. By being transparent with your customers in this way, you let them in and you start thinking about them as not just customers but members of your team.

b. Linking online and real world tactics and events. I’ve hosted and participated in lots of real world events that end when they’re done. I know that sounds silly but to me that’s a huge lost opportunity as a marketer. Extending that using social media has reaped tremendous benefits for me, even if it’s a simple blog or discussion board that you use to continue the conversations. The key of course is to keep the momentum going when there’s sdfsdsdfa lot of noise and competition for peoples’ time.

That’s where the editorial programming and thinking ahead of time plays a big part. It’s not just content though, it’s also activities–especially true when reaching consumers. Done right, it’s the ultimate multi-channel perpetual campaign. Reach people online, in real life, in their homes, out of home, etc.

c. This one isn’t a tactic that I’ve implemented, it’s one that I use as an example of to help illustrate the power of social media. Threadless makes and sells t-shirts that feature graphics and art designed by a community of artists. Their community of fans and customer vote on which shirts they like and Threadless produces the shirts with the designs that garner the most votes.

This is genius! They’ve never not had a hit product. The integration of social media, online community and product development speaks volumes about how businesses should think differently about customers.

Sandy, thanks for inviting me to this conversation. I hope you’ve found our conversation interesting

One comment

  1. [...] I got a kick out of Sandy’s headline. I’m probably as far from Social Star as possible. It’s extremely humbling to be interviewed by Sandy for her blog. [...]



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