In this episode of the Roundtable, I’m joined by Chuck Hester to discuss three topics:
- The prospect of Twitter moving away from a chronologically-driven news feed.
- The real cost of inbound marketing tools.
- The impact of recent security breaches on consumer confidence in the cloud.
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Chip Griffin: Hi, this is Chip Griffin from Custom Scoop. With another episode of the Media Bullseye Round Table. I am pleased to have back at the table Chuck Hester as my co-host today. Welcome, Chuck.
Chuck Hester: Hey Chip, it’s always a pleasure to be at the table.
Chip Griffin: Well, as listeners know, this is the point in the podcast where I give my guest the opportunity for some shameless self-promotion. So, what would you like to promote today Chuck?
Chuck Hester: Well, the book is in progress, and that’s Social Media for the Rest of Us: A Boomer’s Perspective, and I’ve started to blog on that on LinkedIn, and talk about the experts, and folks and Millennials who believe they’re experts. And we’ve not got a Facebook page up, so if folks want to go over to Facebook and check out SM for boomers, that’s where you can find us, or just type in “social media for the rest of us,” you can find it there as well. And I’m doing a couple of speaking engagements coming up, but I’m mostly just settling into our new/old location in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Chip Griffin: Excellent. Well it is great to have you back on the east coast.
Chuck Hester: Indeed. It’s a lot easier for us to do these types of things now.
Chip Griffin: It is, absolutely. No need to worry about time zones.
Chuck Hester: Exactly.
Chip Griffin: Of course I’ve always believed that we should, or not always, but at least over the last 10 or 15 years, believed that we should go to one global time. Whether it’s Greenwich Mean time or something, because trying to figure out Daylight Savings and the difference between British Summertime and American Daylight Savings time and all that, it’s too confusing to me.
Chuck Hester: Yeah, indeed. Several of my Australian friends would agree with you on that one.
Chip Griffin: Excellent. Alright, so let’s dive right into our topics. The first one that we’re going to talk about today is a rumored, suggested, possible change in the Twitter algorithm that would move it away from being purely chronological as it is today, to being a bit more like Facebook. And this, I guess sort of came out because of a talk that Twitter’s CFO Anthony Noto did last week with City Group in New York. He suggested that there was perhaps a need for, as he put it, an algorithm that delivers the depth and breadth of content that we have on a specific topic, and then eventually as it relates to people. It sounded to me like this is an effort to expand the adoption and use of Twitter beyond the current universe. I think most people would agree that Twitter is most heavily used by media and celebrities and communicators, whereas Facebook gets used by frankly just about everybody. And I think Twitter’s envious of that.
Chuck Hester: Yeah, I know, I would tend to agree with you. I was going to say Facebook, including my mother-in-law. Actually, my now 88 year old mother was just put on Facebook because she’s got a smart phone now, which is kind of scary to start with. And you know, the other thing on that Chip is, because I’m listening to you talk about this is, 9 years ago, or however long it’s been when Twitter was, more like 6, right? But when Twitter first came out I would never think that Twitter would, number one they’d have a CFO, and number 2 that he’d be talking to City Group, but that’s kind of an interesting aspect of it. But you know I look at this and I wonder, so how different is that from the hash tag aspect. You know, I’ve got a really cool show I like called Longmire, which has been canceled, so we’re all doing a hash tag “long live Longmire” right now. And so you know you can follow the discussions based on topics through hash tags, that’s one thing. But the other part of that is the chronological aspect of Twitter has always been something I enjoy, and I really like. And that’s one of the things that I hate about Facebook with the new feed, is that sometimes I don’t see stuff, or I see stuff again that was posted a day and a half ago. You may be out reffing a baseball game on Saturday and I see it on Monday morning, so it kind of drives me crazy as far as that goes. I’m not sure this is a really positive things that’s going to be occurring.
Chip Griffin: Yeah, you know I can certainly see it both ways. I like the chronological aspect of Twitter, at the same time, quite often you end up missing something that you would’ve liked to have seen and you only find it through search. It’s one of the reasons frankly I use Custom Scoop, to monitor certain topics on Twitter so that I make sure that I see what I need to see on them. But at the same time, Twitter seems to be going through a phase now where it’s trying to become more and more like Facebook. I mean everything from their user interface and some of the tweaks they’ve made there, to being able to incorporate photos. I sort of wonder at what point are they going to do away with the 140 characters. It’s feeling to me like they’re just really grasping at whatever they can to try to increase usership, which of course, as a public company is sort of what they have to do. One of my beefs about the public markets these days is that it’s purely about growth, and it’s less focused on building solid, sustainable, profitable companies. And so as a social network you have challenge, right? Because once you’ve reached pretty widespread adoption you’re not going to grow your user base. So you then have to start getting them to do more. It strikes me that not all of the decisions that are going to be made are necessarily ones that continue to make it a better product, but make it a better business, which, it is what it is.
Chuck Hester: Well, and I’d argue too, we talk about that supposedly in the SAS world, where you’re looking at subscriptions, and how many users you have, as opposed to user engagement, which you talked about. I mean user engagement, and quite frankly, I’d rather have 25 customers that are totally engaged and upsell them, as opposed to 25,000 where only 5,000 are actually using the platform. So yeah, I think that Twitter to me, I’m sure in the back of what they do they have a game plan, they know exactly where they’re going to go. I hope. But frankly from a user perspective for me, changes in a platform that I use on a regular basis, and Twitter is one of my three major platforms, and sometimes comes in second behind LinkedIn, and sometimes comes in third with Facebook being second. I really don’t like change. I loathe change when it comes to change for change sake, or as you mentioned, change for business model sake. You’re forgetting, and Ted Rubin talks about this a lot, you’re forgetting the customer. You’re forgetting the user, the person that actually uses it. Put Jimmy Fallon and Kim Kardashian aside, and the day to day user who is out there to either promote their products, promote good business practices, blog entries, whatever it may be, it becomes much more difficult. And from a PR professional standpoint, we’re constantly trying to figure out how to keep up with the platform changes. That kind of drives me crazy.
Chip Griffin: Well, that’s, I think, a great segue. Because I think it’s important for us to think about how it is that, if this change takes effect, and I suspect that in some form or fashion it will, whether you have an optional approach, where you can kind of toggle between the two, or whether this becomes the default view or what, but it seems to me that as communicators we need to be thinking ahead to how we would deal with that. Twitter today from a communications standpoint is in large part a volume play. You just have to keep churning stuff out so that, sort of like the old fashioned news ticker that you and I are old enough to remember with the paper tape that, I remember sitting at a stock brokers office as a kid and watching that little ticker tape come through, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. But it’s all dependent upon what’s crossing the wire as you’re looking at it, whereas Facebook is not time sensitive. So on Twitter you have to constantly put stuff out so that if I’m looking at 2 o’clock in the afternoon versus 7 o’clock in the morning, I still have a chance of seeing your message that you’re trying to get out. Facebook ends up becoming a bit more of a quality play. You want to try to get things that are going to get shared, because particularly with the new pay to play type approach that they’ve taken to pages, that’s the best way to get organic growth. So as communicators, how do we cope with this? How do we deal with this?
Chuck Hester: Well, as I kind of bemoaned earlier, you really just have to constantly keep up with the changes and what’s going on. This podcast for instance is a good way of keeping up with that type of information as far as that goes. On LinkedIn and on Facebook in particular, I’m a member of a couple different groups that pay attention to that type of stuff. For LinkedIn for my practice, that’s one of the LinkedIn expert groups that I have, on Google Plus is the same type of thing. We look at the new changes and we knew about LinkedIn Publisher before they actually made the formal announcement we heard that they were coming up with this. So you really just have to continually pay attention, and I think you’re alluding to the segue, but the segue into that is being a marketer a PR person, a media person these days, it’s sweat. It’s sweat equity as far as what you’ve got going on. It’s intense to keep up with all of the different platforms and effectively market to your target audiences.
Chip Griffin: Absolutely. So the sweat equity part I think plays in nicely to the next part of the conversation as you alluded to. And this is a piece called “The True Cost of Inbound Marketing,” and it was by Jamie Bucciarelli, and I apologize if I’m mispronouncing his name. I think it was on Business2Community, although I printed this out to talk about it although I printed this out to talk about it and I forgot to include the header of the site.
Chuck Hester: Yeah it’s Businees2Community. I’ve got it in front of me.
Chip Griffin: Excellent. And so what he’s talking about here is that the software platform vendors who are selling inbound marketing solutions don’t tend to talk about all that’s involved after that initial sale, and in particular he sites content, people in resources, education, technology, and things like that. And this is something that I’ve been talking to my clients a lot about in my consulting practice over the last year and a half or so, because everybody hears about in-bound marketing, everybody hears about these marketing automation platforms and they just want to dive right in. And I always have to caution them. That’s great if you want to do that, but then you’ve got a lot of time and expense after the fact in order to use it well. And this is frankly something that we’re going through now at Custom Scoop. We’ve recently adopted Pardot as a solution for us, and it took many years before we finally took that leap, and I’m glad we have. We’re 2 and a half months into our implementation and I think it’s going very well, but it has sure been a lot of work. And it will continue to be a lot of work. People think marketing automation is “set it and forget it,” but who is it, Ron Popeil who used to say that, and that’s not something that’s really the case. So how do we think about those things, and how much of a risk is it for companies to just jump into these new platforms without thinking about the long term cost.
Chuck Hester: The analogy here, and he points out, and rightfully so, and it should be mentioned too that the company that he works for, and this an awesome content marketing piece because he worked for a company called Ramp Agency Services which helps in inbound marketing and they have a white paper based on what he’s talked about here, but one of the things he mentions, he says that the guys are selling the apps. Well of course they are because they’re sales people. They say, “hey, this is going to revolutionize your marketing departments and make it so much easier for you to do, when in fact I’ve used HubSpot, I’ve used Marketo, I’m familiar with those platforms, and they aren’t plug and play, they aren’t, as you say “set it and forget it.” It’s really a case of once you implement something like this, you have to have the time investment, resources, people to be able to do this, and it kind of dovetails with my next issue, where you can not say “okay, intern, guest what? You’re now in charge of HubSpot.” I mean that really isn’t going to be the case unless you send him to a HubSpot boot camp, which I would strongly suggest. They do a really good job on that. But that’s a time investment situation as well. So it’s not, like we say, a plug and play, if you will, it really is a situation where once you implement this, this is very similar to content marketing, where you say, “you know what, I’m going to put together a blog.” And now, oh, by the way, every week, once a week, twice a week, three times a week, whatever the frequency is, you’ve got to post something. Somebody’s got to write those posts, somebody’s got to promote those posts, and somebody’s got to get that information out. So it’s the fluff and flurry and the flash that everybody talks about when they talk about marketing automation. It is a lot of work. It really honestly is.
Chip Griffin: Yeah, and it is part of the content marketing spectrum, if you will, and I think that as we are thinking about communications today, whether it’s PR or marketing, or a hybrid of the two, so much is about creating content. The demand for content today is greater than certainly at any point in my career.
Chuck Hester: Right. Mine to.
Chip Griffin: And it’s a mix of things, right? Because you need to have some more long form content that perhaps you can use as gated content for downloads, you need to have the blog length content, but you also need to do copyrighting. A lot of this marketing automation is more copy written material, and that takes a different tone than a blog post, or at least it should. So all of these different things are requiring more time, more skills, and frankly more ideas. Right? I mean you constantly have that original thought to put forward so that your email doesn’t look like everybody else’s.
Chuck Hester: Well there’s a couple analogies here, Chip. I worked with an email contact company I-contact for several years, and everybody loved that platform. And email marketing still is thriving today, but the problem we would run into is that folks would sign up for our service and then they would say, “oh wait a second, I have to write that email newsletter? I have to compose it? I have to make it look good? I have to have subject lines, testing, all of [?] along with that?” And then the other analogy is when somebody puts together a LinkedIn company page for instance. There has to be consistent posts on those and discussions and things that go out. And a lot of people don’t really understand that when they engage with me to develop a LinkedIn company page. And they say, “okay, now what?” Well, guess what? Either you continue to engage with me or you find someone who can write that content. And as you said, it’s got to be snappy content and, the most important aspect of, and maybe it’s the counter intuitive on marketing automation, it has to be appropriate to the platform that you’re posting. I wouldn’t necessarily post the same thing on LinkedIn that I would on Facebook or Google Plus or wherever it may be, or in an email marketing newsletter. I couldn’t necessarily put my email marketing newsletter together and then just blatantly post that directly onto Facebook. Sometimes that does not work well.
Chip Griffin: Yeah, I mean it is great that we have all of these different platforms because we can borrow things from different platforms and reuse it. But they all do need a little bit of massaging. Even just when we put out a blog post out on Media Bullseye, we will promote it on all of the various social networks, but each message ends up being slightly different, either because the audience for us on that platform is a little bit different, or because the format is different, obviously on Twitter you’ve got wedged into 140 characters, but on Facebook and on others you can go out a little bit longer and so maybe tease the content a little bit better. So these are all things that you need to be thinking about. But then when it comes to using these paid platforms, which, let’s face it, they’re not cheap.
Chuck Hester: No.
Chip Griffin: I mean, even the affordable ones, you’re likely going to be spending at least 1,000 dollars a month on.
Chuck Hester: Right.
Chip Griffin: And that’s just in the software platform costs. And it can easily move up from there. So we’ve talked about the content side, we’ve talked about the software side, but the other is the implementation.
Chuck Hester: Absolutely.
Chip Griffin: I mean it takes a lot to implement the tracking code and the rules for the direct programs and thinking through carefully, “okay, if I’ve got multiple paths in for people into my company, I want to make sure I’m not sending the same email on two drip programs. So how do I skip one out into the other and when?” And these are all things that you need to very carefully consider as you’re implementing any of these more complex platforms.
Chuck Hester: Yeah we’ve been Mr. and Mr. Analogy today, but one last analogy on this, you know the old expression of “if you build it, they will come,” a better way to put it on content and market automation, if you build it or if you implement it, you have to do something with it. And that really is the bottom line on that, all the way down to resources. Who does this? Who develops the stories? Who comes up with the information? Who works the drip campaigns? All good, and like you said, you’re using a market automation program, I’ve used them in the past. I use them for clients. They’re great, but you have to go in there with eyes wide open that it’s going to be time and effort to make it work well.
Chip Griffin: Yeah, and as consumers or as purchasers of these products, we need to be thinking about that because the sales folks aren’t typically going to volunteer it.
Chuck Hester: No, of course not.
Chip Griffin: I’m really enjoying Pardot so this is not a knock on them, but in all of my conversations I had with their sales reps and implementation folks, none of them said, “by the way, don’t forget you’re going to have to create a lot of content to make this work,” or, “by the way don’t forget you’re going to need to invest some technical resources.” They demoed it, they talked about the glitz and the glamor and they talked about the success that you would have at the end, but that period between when you purchased it and when you started to see your sales sky rocket, that was the piece that tended to get overlooked. I mean that’s what salespeople do. I don’t listen to all of my salespeople’s conversations, but I’m assuming that they’re probably somewhat similar. Ours is not quite as much time investment as a marketing automation platform, but you still need to invest time into the Custom Scoop product in order to get the most out of it.
Chuck Hester: And you know the final aspect of this, with the article that we’re talking about, one of the subheads is the guys selling the apps are making promises, and the start of the paragraph says of course they are, they’re well trained salespeople. So that’s the bottom line on that.
Chip Griffin: Absolutely, so that’ll be the last line on this topic and we’ll move on to our final topic of the day. This is not a specific article here, but it’s a topic that I thought was important to talk about. In recent weeks we’ve had a number of stories that have, I think, perhaps impacted customer confidence on things like privacy and security when it comes to technology. One obviously was the very prominent story about the celebrities having their iCloud accounts hacked, and that really resonates with people, but then we also had –
Chuck Hester: I want to interrupt here for just one second Chip I just wanted to let you know those photos of me are fake. I’m sorry, anyway.
Chip Griffin: Yeah, I didn’t look.
Chuck Hester: Well I’m glad you didn’t, your eyes would’ve burned.
Chip Griffin: I saw Chuck Hester in the headline and I’m like, “nope, I’m not clicking on that one.” Anyway, but in addition to that we’ve also had the story about Home Depot being the latest large company to have a credit card hack. And this is not necessarily an online thing, but I think it feeds into the customer – consumer psyche about, how safe is all this? And I’m sort of beginning to wonder whether it’s going to impact the level at which people are adopting or continuing to use a lot of these cloud based services, which I think hold a lot of promise, and as communicators we all love. But are we running the risk that people are going to have some withdrawal from it as they sit there and worry about it.
Chuck Hester: Honestly it’s kind of the CNN syndrome as far as I’m concerned. It’s the story of the day, and then, I mentioned my mother-in-law is on Facebook, and honestly I think a week down the line she would forget about the issues of the cloud, and she’s going to continue to post what she’s going to post. I think that we as marketers and communicators and the folks that pay attention to those headlines and really understand the difficulties of the cloud and iCloud and everything else that goes on really appreciate that, but Joe Public does not. And while they’ll raise their hands and shout and complain, the bottom line is that they often forget that as I had posted in one of my blog posts on LinkedIn, the Internet is forever. It’s one of those things where people put things up, and they don’t think about it, and they think, “Oh, I’m on Facebook,” and this is a really good way to look at it. The best way to describe this is I just did on my podcast on FIR, Linked Conversations, I did an interview with Scott Monty that will probably come out this week. And Scott, former Ford social media guy, now working at, golly I just lost the name of the agency –
Chip Griffin: Shift Communications.
Chuck Hester: Shift Communications, sorry Todd, Shift and one of the things that we talked about was rented media. And that term necessarily people really don’t understand, and that basically means that I may post on Facebook, and I may believe that all of my photos and everything else that I’ve got out there, and all of the things going on are mine, when in fact if you read the terms of service, which nobody does except my wife, you don’t have control over your content, and you don’t have control over what you put out there. Anytime they want to, they can basically take those photos, and whatever it may be. And yes there will be an uproar from consumers and from users and they may change some things, but in the mean time, they own it. You’re renting the space in regards to Facebook, Twitter, and whatever it may be. And consumer confidence, sure, in regards to the cloud may erode some. Honestly, if I were to ask people today, so which large retailer over the Christmas holiday had a big issue with data breach, most people wouldn’t remember that it was Target necessarily. And so the Home Depot situation is going to fade away as far as it goes. So long story short is I don’t think it’s going to really erode consumer confidence in what’s going on, because quite frankly, and I always have to explain this term, but they’re ignorant. Ignorant doesn’t mean that you’re stupid, it just means that you don’t know, or you don’t care, or whatever it may be, but I don’t believe that it’s going to be something that’s going to stay on their radar.
Chip Griffin: Yeah and I’ve generally been of that same perspective, and I came from the world of politics as almost every listener, all 3 of them to this show know –
Chuck Hester: Four.
Chip Griffin: – four. Okay, excellent. You know every week we add a new listener, and this is going to be fantastic by the end of the year we’ll –
Chuck Hester: My mom’s listening.
Chip Griffin: – be up to like a dozen now. Anyway, and certainly in politics there were any number of things that we fixated on inside the beltway that never really hit the hard drive, as it were, outside of that. So I’ve generally been of that point of view, but even in politics, at some point, there are things that through the drip, drip, drip, start to accumulate and do hit. And I’m not quite there yet with these kinds of topics, but I do have some concern that we’re starting to hit that point where almost every week there’s some sort of story that makes general news. Even if it’s buried at the end of an article or at the end of an Evening News piece or what have you, and I’m beginning to have some concern that it may have an impact. And it may be that we overcome this by just having a greater level of security. And that as two-factor authentication takes greater hold, that perhaps that helps. Although none of these things are foolproof. So it’s going to be interesting to watch but it is something that I’m starting to have at least a small amount of concern about.
Chuck Hester: Oh yeah, and us as power users, if you will, that are out there on a daily basis and using this, you know I’m probably not as good as I should be but I’m better than most when it comes to security. And for my 19 year old daughter and 88 year old mother, they’re on social media, I try to pay attention to that kind of stuff. You know it was chilling to me, quite frankly, because Home Depot is one of the places that I go on occasion. And I go, “okay, so am I in jeopardy there?” But yeah, the additional security that’s coming in is great. But I’ll again be counter intuitive to that in regards to, yeah those hackers that really know what they’re doing, they’re a step and a half ahead of Lowe’s new security measures, and it really fascinates me to see that they’re able to do what they do. Who would’ve thought that mother Apple, with the iCloud, would have been vulnerable, and that one in particular more than the Home Depot I guess was one that I went, “wow, that’s really interesting because that’s the behemoth of, that and Amazon, as far as that goes, Amazon’s security tends to be really good, but they’re vulnerable. So yeah, you never know what may be occurring.
Chip Griffin: Yeah, and one thing I can tell you that has absolutely no security at all is this podcast. Anybody can listen to it. There’s no password. You don’t have to hack your way into it. And it will, I think, always be that way.
Chuck Hester: That’s a good thing.
Chip Griffin: Absolutely. Because we have to let those 4 listeners in. If we put up a bar, then we’d probably be back down to 1.
Chuck Hester: You’re down to 3 now because you mentioned something about no security whatsoever, so that guy that is security conscious has now unsubscribed to your podcast.
Chip Griffin: Well that’s okay. I’m completely confident that we’ll always have Brian Person. He is the one listener that I think I’ve had all along and doesn’t seem to go away.
Chuck Hester: Well then shout out to Brian then, for sure.
Chip Griffin: Absolutely. And maybe some week soon we’ll have an episode where I just trash him and see if I can get him to stop listening. Or if it’s truly impossible.
Chuck Hester: I think what you should do is just to bring him on the show, you know, just bring him on a regular basis. And then his friends will have to start listening too, and that might work out.
Chip Griffin: Well –
Chuck Hester: If he has friends – that’s a different issue.
Chip Griffin: Oh, see now you’re taking a shot early. I was trying to get for a future week. You jumped right in with that. No, Brian’s great. He’s been a guest co-host himself a number of times here and we’d certainly love to have him back here in the future. I know that there are some conversations about some podcasting activities of his own on the horizon, so I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to hear his voice again in the near future.
Chuck Hester: Absolutely.
Chip Griffin: But with that we have reached the end of this show because again, in addition to my focus on how many listeners we have, I am focused on keeping this show under 30 minutes, and so we will successfully do that this week I believe, even with the lengthy outro from Neville. Chuck, I really appreciate you taking the time to be my co-host this week, and I look forward to having you back at the table real soon.
Chuck Hester: Always a pleasure to talk to you Chip, take care.