Internationally-known internet marketer, blogger, and consultant B.L. Ochman has the ability to help clients move their business into the online marketplace – and then to make a success of that online business. Not only that, she’s created some online best-sellers herself! In a recent interview, she talked about a few of her favorite projects.
UV: You have helped worldwide companies like IBM and Budget Car Rental develop and succeed in their social media campaigns. Are the problems that huge multinationals face the same as those that a 20-year-old hopeful web entrepreneur would have to deal with too?
No not really.
Large multinational companies have huge marketing budgets compared to 20-year-old hopefuls. The goals are the same because they want to protect their reputation and have engagements with their clients. But, the way that a big company has to go about it is different because they are generally so siloed. So, my work to IBM, and so on, has been to interrupt those siloed to get people to talk to each other.
For example, when I went to a very large publishing company, I found that there were different people handling different PR in different divisions who have never met. They were essentially working on the same projects with different budgets & tools. Once they were introduced to each other, they were able to pool their resources and learn from each other this resulted to an ongoing open communication.
In a big company, I always start from the bottom-up. Learning what everybody’s level of understanding is of social media and marketing in regard to their jobs and responsibilities helps me formulate recommendations for changes. I love with working with entrepreneurs because they’re more likely to be open-minded and willing to experiment.
Getting everything done in bigger companies is really challenging. If you work with small companies or you work with entrepreneurs, you can get things moving quickly.
UV: Part of public relations is knowing how to make a quick and successful connection with each client so that you’re communicating with them directly (or at least give them the impression that you are) and that means knowing the right words to use. What new vocabulary skills do online entrepreneurs need to develop to really get the most out of social media?
They need the willingness to put in some time. Communication is a must in social media since it is the new customer relationship marketing. But there’s no magic quick way to establish traction and interaction in social media.
The first thing that I have to explain to every business I work with, is that social media is not advertising and not a broadcast medium. Everyone should be willing to create actual relationships by having conversations. I use the 12-to-1 rule: twelve times you help other people, provide information that is useful for them and one time you promote yourself.
I teach people it is more than telling people what you want to tell them. You have to tell people things that they will want to share. What companies and individuals share are quite different from each other. And I strongly advise my clients not to include press releases in their blogs or social media posts. When did anyone ever share a press release in social media – unless they were making fun of it.
“Don’t forget you have a day job.” I believe Cisco was the first company to include that statement in their social media policy. If you go rogue on social media, there are consequences for that. The thing that every company needs, both large and small, is training on how to use social media.
One client said they don’t care whether it’s bots that are following them on Twitter as long as they get big numbers. What is the point of that? I told them that I would rather have engagement with 100 real people than a thousand who are spammers and bots. I zap the bots and spammers every day in my Twitter account and in the ones I run for clients.
UV: What’s the story behind the name of your website “What’s Next Blog”?
I had a print newsletter called “What’s Next”, it was a $350 a year subscription public relations newsletter with thousands of subscribers. But, as soon as I saw the internet (which was around 1995), I was so seduced by it and that I moved my newsletter online. I started blogging in 2002.
That absolute minute that I could have a blog on WordPress, I started What’s Next Blog. In my experience, the more you give, the more you get back. I don’t worry about giving away with information because information does not mean anything until it is shared.
Also, I just love to write. What’s Next Blog is just my way of sharing the information I know to my readers and subscribers. Research and writing is fun for me.
UV: Another website you started, Pawfun.com is for pet lovers, so you probably have pets of your own. What motivated you to create this website?
I actually have a dog and a cat, and I adore them both. Pawfun is more of a hobby.
I started Pawfun.com 8 years ago and the idea originally was to help people create t-shirts with pictures of their pet. However, once you own a t-shirt with your pet’s photo, when will you buy another? So, it wasn’t really a sustainable business. People can use the interface to make e-cards with pictures of their pets and send them.
UV: Finally, we have to ask the logical question: What’s next?
In addition to adding video to your marketing mix, it is definitely paying attention to the new Google AboutMeProfile. Google for some reason has named your profile “AboutMe” even though there is a long-term website called “About Me”. I wrote a blog post explaining it http://www.whatsnextblog.com/what-you-must-know-about-google-about-me-profile/
So now, it is Google About Me and that is where your real Google profile is going to reside. That profile is going to be part of every Google platform that you use, whether it be Youtube, Google Play or any Google platform. Whatever platform you use, that bio will go with you. That bio also will have an impact on your search optimization. That is definitely what’s next, along with Snapchat, Vine and Facebook livestreaming.
Everything that Google do is an experiment. Therefore, we should always keep an eye with their updates.
B.L. Ochman is a uniquely experienced digital pioneer who has been helping blue chip brands incorporate social media into their marketing strategy since 1996. She blogs at What’s Next Blog, co-hosts and produces the award-winning Beyond Social Media Show podcast and contributes to AdAge DigitalNext. On Twitter, she’s @whatsnext.
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