In this post, I discuss some highlights of an interview I had with the fantabulous, highly popular and gorgeously talented singer/songwriter Kina Grannis. What does this have to do with social media, you say? Actually, it has everything to do with grassroots marketing, with social media and being… well, “real.”
You may have only just recently been introduced to the beautiful talented Kina Grannis. Perhaps you’ve seen her YouTube video In Your Arms, which is rapidly approaching 4 million views! Recently, Kina appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show and was featured in In Touch Weekly. She’s won numerous awards including MTV O Music Award for Best Web-Born Artist & Doritos Crash the SuperBowl contest.
Here is my social media discussion with Kina:
KBJ: Kina, thanks so much for joining us. Let’s start at the beginning. What made you decide to get online in the first place?
Kina: I had MySpace, but to be honest, I don’t think any growth ever came out of having the MySpace. But, the first really useful one I started was my YouTube channel. At the time, I didn’t know it was going to be such a powerful tool. I just started it because I was in that contest (the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest), and I wanted to give people a reason to come back every day to vote. I decided… to put up a video every day. Then… [the audience] can come back and watch a new video each day. I kind of got started like that.
I was doing probably half originals – half covers. Pretty quickly, I realized that somehow people were getting to my music that I did not know. So, YouTube is where the most organic growth came from, because people can accidentally find you if you’re doing cover songs.
Then there is a very human aspect to YouTube… when you are talking, being yourself and explaining your story. People really connect to that and feel like they know you as a person and they’re with you and working on your side. I found that the people that were coming from the YouTube to my website were really involved and really believed in me, not just a fan of music. Facebook came around later and [I] could actually use it to help keep people’s attention. I think it’s a good way to collect, but Twitter…I think between Twitter and YouTube, those are the two most powerful ones for me.
Like you were saying in our conversation earlier, talking with people is incredibly important but you can’t just start talking to people and make people appear. You have to find the people and I found them on YouTube. I can talk to them via Twitter. That’s where I can have discussions and have people vote or do Q&A sessions and things like that to really connect with them. I think those two are definitely the strongest for me.
KBJ: Okay. So where do you think your Facebook page comes into play? Do you just have it because you’re supposed to?
Kina: Well, I would say it’s really important. I guess Facebook and Twitter are kind of similar in that some people will be on Facebook all the time. Some people are tracking their Twitter all the time, so when I update people I update on both. A lot of people respond on Twitter, and a whole bunch of other people respond on Facebook… that’s a job, I guess. My part is a little harder because it’s more difficult to respond to each person individually. You can send a private message but it’s not…
KBJ: Yeah, it’s hard to interject into the comments, right? They’re set. Most people like that. Most typical users on Facebook like the fact that it’s threaded so they can see the conversation in one place, but to individually respond to people, it doesn’t make sense the way Twitter does.
Kina: Exactly. I’ll attempt to sometimes. I’ll post a comment and I’ll be like: @Megan: Thanks. @Timmy: Cool. I’ll be there in August. But it’s kind of crazy looking.
KBJ: You mentioned covers so I want to ask: You said it’s a really powerful thing to do covers. If somebody was getting started and they’re just starting a YouTube channel and trying to get their music out there, would you think it’s a good idea for them to do covers? Can you explain more about why you do covers on your YouTube videos?
Kina: I definitely think it’s very important to do covers. A couple of reasons from my perspective: Number one, it’s a great way to keep challenging yourself. Whenever I do a cover it’s: ‘Okay, here’s a song that has nothing to do with me and it’s produced with whatever crazy production it has… how can I make this mine?’ It’s a good challenge and I’m trying to find more sound and trying to make other things sound like that original song and connect to the audience like that song did. It’s a good challenge musically.
But other than that, if you’re just putting up original after original after original, even if you brilliant, people are still not going to find it. It’s unfortunate but people aren’t searching on YouTube for random song names to see who’s out there or up and coming artists. They’re searching what they’re hearing on the radio and if they come across you, it’s because of that original song. But then, they like you for you and then they go and listen to your originals and they like your originals. That’s how you really find people.
KBJ: I think that’s brilliant because I work in an industry where we’re always telling people to be relatable and to think like the customer even if we’re trying to sell a YouTube video or something besides music. For me this is a hard and fast example of you thinking like myself and the other people that buy your music. It just proves a point that is hard for people to understand. Say you’re trying to sell bandanas or you’re Joe’s Coffee Shop–How can Joe’s Coffee Shop be successful on YouTube? It really is to ‘think like your customer’. But how do you actually do that? This is a perfect example. I’m just kind of geeking out on that from a strategy perspective.
Kina: (laughs) Yeah, it’s definitely a cool thing. It’s unfortunate because you do eventually get some flak for it. People will comment: You’re selling out. You did this cover. Why do you need covers? You should just do originals…blah, blah, blah. The thing is the people who have supported me for two or three years will now comment back and say: ‘I love Kina’s originals. That’s why I support her, but I would never have known about her if I didn’t find her Regina Spektor cover.’ So, it’s definitely powerful…
KBJ: If you know how “search” works on YouTube, it’s a fairly easy thing to understand why that would be so powerful. Considering the way both “search” works and the way “related videos” work, it makes a huge difference.
I don’t know if you even have a comment on it or not, but a lot of what we’re seeing right now is this exact process as a result of the Rebecca Black video. People started creating covers of her video to try to get subscribers, basically capitalizing on this exact process that we’re talking about.
Kina: Yeah. I’ve definitely noticed that. It’s in the same way that any huge song on the radio can get people views on YouTube for doing covers and whatever is going on socially whether it’s the double rainbow or socially viral videos, right? This is my world so it kind of takes over everything, but it’s like the Rebecca Black thing exactly. It becomes a huge Internet thing and everyone says: Okay, need to make a video [on this topic] if I want to get views.
KBJ: Maybe if I was a musician I might really want to do a cover or if I was a videographer I might really want to do a cover just because it’s funny, but I think it’s more about the strategy of trying to get attention than it has to do with trying to making a parody of somebody.
Oh and here’s just kind of a fun question…have you ever been Rickrolled? Speaking of Internet memes?
Kina: I actually haven’t. Is that still going on?
KBJ: It’s happening with QR codes now. Do you know about QR codes?
Kina: Oh. That’s hilarious.
KBJ: My friend, Ori, was doing that the other day and I’ve seen some other people doing it: Scan the code! Everyone is so excited about scanning codes now. Ohhh, where is it going to take me? It’s the perfect little thing to go Rickroll people.
Kina: That’s so funny.
KBJ: It’s funny that no one’s ever Rickrolled you. I’m going to have to remember that and see what I can do about it.. So what would you tell a new musician, a new artist, or a new songwriter that wants to do their own thing? Let’s just assert that you felt strongly that they had talent or that they needed to get their music out there. What would you tell them?
Kina: I guess the first thing would be to cover all your bases and get a YouTube, get a Facebook, get a Twitter, and a MySpace account…and whatever other ones you want to get, but those are the main four for me….just so that anyone that could be looking for you can find you. Then I would say to get on YouTube and start posting originals and covers as often as possible. Make sure that the songs are ‘yours’ and be as genuine as possible. I think it’s really powerful to talk in your videos so that people know that you’re a real person and you’re willing to share what’s going on with them as a part of the conversation. So be real. Be genuine and then utilize that on all the other networks. On the updates keep the conversation going whether that’s letting them know about new videos you put up or just engaging them in what you’re doing and asking them how they’re doing. I think it’s a get out there and give as much content as possible. Be genuine and connect.
KBJ: That’s awesome. Thank you. Now that you’ve gained so much popularity, do you have an issue with volume in that you can’t reply personally to everything? How do you handle that?
Kina: Yes, that’s been one of the harder things. On Twitter, I try to respond to everyone. Some days it will be four days late. But when you get into all the Facebook messages and all my accounts and MySpace and emails, it gets to a point where I can’t get to everyone. It does really bother me because one message is as important as another, but if I did answer everything I would have to stop being a musician. I wouldn’t have time to write and do videos.
KBJ: Yeah, and that’s the reason that they’re writing you. Well, it is a testament to the power that you have moved people with your music. You are a real person so they feel like they’re going to get a response. That’s what I thought when I emailed you. Oh, probably her publicist or somebody else is going to get this. But then I actually got a response from you and it was really awesome. So you just deal with it as best you can, or do you have people that help you with that kind of stuff?
Kina: I have some sorting going on. I have my inquiries at my Kina Grannis email so that goes to me and my manager to address business-related people asking about a show or a CD or whatever. As far
as all the other messages, I do my best. I have my iPhone on me at all times. I can scan them really easily on the go. I’m constantly looking through them and marking them as unread in hopes that later I’ll be able to go back and respond. But if it’s something really pressing or really moving, I’ve seen it and I try to respond to it first.
KBJ: Correct me if I’m wrong,but the whole Justin Bieber effect…that’s what everybody is looking for now…that they’re going to get on YouTube, build a following, and then they’re going to get signed by a major label. I think you have chosen a different path with it. What you are doing is so real.
I thought it was really cute in one of your videos where you’re: “Oh, so go buy the CD.” I also love the video where you’re unwrapping all of your presents that people have sent to you because that’s one more way of making people feel like they’re part of the conversation. It’s as if we’re there with you on Christmas while you’re opening your gifts, which is not something we really get to do but we have the virtual experience of it.
One of the things I’m always harping on people on is in social media we say: Don’t sell stuff; just be you. But when people love you and your music, it would be natural for them to want to go buy your CD or download it. Do you think you’ve been able to grow organically because you have such a solid fan base and because you’ve so well connected with your fans?
Kina: I don’t think the end goal ever needs to be a label nowadays. There are many ways that labels can be extremely helpful and for the right person a major label could be great. For another person it could be the worst thing ever. I don’t think the label should be the goal. I think the goal is just to have the tools and use them to find your own following organically and not about hoping some day to get this big giant company to shove you down people’s throats. It’s going to be something that lasts because people know you, care about you, and want to support you.
KBJ: Perfect. That is a perfect note to end on. It’s not about the big payout at the end. It’s literally just about being you, connecting with people and creating relationships. Whatever the end goal is, positive things will come from it if you’re just a real person and you simply engage with people. Yes, you have a message to share. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.
Kina: You’re welcome.
Alas, when it comes to social media and the subject of marketing, what are they but tools and methods for communication attempting to reach out, connect and engage with an audience (and maybe get someone to buy, depending on your goals). While there are many methods for conveying information such as video and images on the Internet,much of the way we correspond on the today is through writing. Today, I interview esteemed writer Dave Kravets about the importance of writing in how we bond, relate and engage on the Web, particularly with social media. Dave writes for the infamous Wired Magazine and writes his own wildly satirical and journalistic blend of untruths and tall tales on his website, TheYellowDailyNews.
You can also follow Dave’s adventures on Twitter @dmkravets
Frankie: Dave, you’re a Senior Writer at the famous publication, Wired Magazine. Can you tell us a little bit about your history in the field of journalism? How did you ended up at Wired?
DK: I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years. I was the legal writer for The Associated Press in San Francisco, when Jerry Brown, the attorney general, hit me up to become his press secretary. I took the job. Lasted just a few months. I wasn’t cut out for politics. I then got a job at Wired.
Frankie: 25 years is a lot of writing. I remember seeing some of your AP articles in the San Francisco Chronicle. You are also the creator of TheYellowDailyNews, (www.theyellowdailynews.com) which I’m sure readers get a pretty good laugh. It seems as if you take current events and make them a play on politics, technology, media and religion. Can you tell us what that’s about?
DK: TYDN is basically my version of the Onion. It’s basically a site of commentary under the guise of fake news.
Frankie: TYDN is great! I can’t wait to see some of your new stuff. What is your take on the impact social media has on writers? Has it saturated the medium with everyone writing articles and blogging these days?
DK: Social media has had a few impacts in my view. Many of the young writers have taken it and made themselves part of the story, and have become more about “look at me” instead of “look at what I’m writing about.” That galls me. On the other side, social media has some benefits, if used in a tactful way, such as having a dialogue with your readers.
Frankie: Right. Dialogue let’s you know you’ve connected with your readership and didn’t bore them into drooling on themselves. How did you learn to become adept at the craft of written communication? Does it matter whether someone has a formal English and writing education, or can an OK writer become a good writer with a sort of learn-as-you-go experience?
DK: I have a degree in journalism, philosophy and a MA in political science. The best writing experience is via writing. However, in my business, I view the writing aspect as less important than the actual news-gathering process.
Frankie: That is interesting. Though, not necessarily journalism, I can see how the “news-gathering process” is important for anyone who writes blogs and articles. Well-researched written guts mean the writer actually made credible strides in creating content, rather than spouting off without anything to support their writing.
It was recently reported that most mainstream media outlets use social media as a one-way a broadcast tool for people to consumer and do not engage readers. In a way, this makes sense, since journalists are tasked with reporting the news as opposed to acting as opinion columnists soliciting feedback. Yet, do you see a change in the future in how media outlets will respond to and even interact with their audience through social media? Or, will mainstream media seemingly always continue to use these platforms as sort of a glorified RSS feed?
DK: I think the mainstream media will continue to use social media as an RSS feed. That said, there’s tons of other new media out there, that are now becoming the traditional media and are engaged with their readers.
Frankie: We know that marketing with social marketing consists of various types of multimedia such as photos and video, but mostly it’s about the written word with posts, blogs and articles that communicate to audiences. For those that manage social networks for organizations, or even small businesses handling their own social presence, how important do think it is to have a grasp on the art of writing?
DK: I think the art of writing is not as important as engaging with your audience. If you have their respect and ear, they won’t care as much about any physical writing shortfalls. People love to engage on social media, that’s the whole point of it.
Frankie: With our short attention spans and gluttony of information flying by on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, how important do you think it is for the writer to create headlines and articles/blogs that stand out?
DK: Obviously, if you don’t have anything to say, there cannot be any engagement because nobody will come to you to engage. Clearly, one must draw in people for such engagement. Depending on your business model, crafty headlines and stories are needed. The stories don’t have to be written masterfully as much as they must be interesting or entertaining to draw the reader to you, so you can engage with them.
Frankie: That’s something I wholeheartedly agree with. As you say, find an angle. Are there any authors or journalists, even other writers that inspire you or give you inspiration with their writing?
DK: Hunter S. Thompson has been my most influential writer. He’s crazy and deep down, I am too.
Frankie: HST was an amazing writer. I’m just now getting into how wildly he crafted words together in such strange ways, but allows the audience to make the connection.
Gonzo! What advice would you give to those starting a business or who are managing a client in the world of digital marketing where the written word is a major player in the success or failure of that operation?
DK: Don’t try to fool your readers or clients. They’re not dumb. Cater to their needs and engage with them. No hyperbole.
Frankie: Dave, thank you for your time. I look forward to seeing more of your articles in Wired and especially on TheYellowDailyNews.
DK: Thank you Frankie!
I had the opportunity to interview John Morgan, author of Brand Against the Machine: How to Build Your Brand, Cut Through the Marketing Noise, and Stand Out from the Competition (affil link) and get his candid opinion on some of the most popular questions I get asked from Social Media Managers on branding.
A bit about John: John Morgan is known as the Chuck Norris of branding. With his popular blog (www.JohnMichaelMorgan.com) and being an in-demand public speaker and consultant, he is a globally recognized authority on branding and digital marketing.
I hope you have as much fun listening to the interview as we did recording it! That being said, we have a couple of disclaimers before you click play:
STEP 2: Email your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org to get access to all the goodies!
STEP 3: Go enter our Twitter contest by heckling someone and use the hashtag #batm (You should probably mention me in your tweet @katebuckjr so I know you were entering our heckling contest!) I’m picking a winner on Wednesday afternoon!
Q: I’m getting a lot of pushback recently regarding ROI and the amount of time it takes to see it. What do you normally say to that? The client we discussed has and issue with that, too.
kbj: We’re talking about relationship building here. Has the client ever asked someone to marry them on the first date? Their date would think that’s ridiculous! They also probably don’t appreciate people on the street passing out flyers, right? You have a split-second of meeting them and already, they are selling to you!
It’s the same thing with social media. You have be smarter and think longer term. If the client can’t wait, then they shouldn’t be in business at all – in my opinion.
It’s about building relationships and that takes time, online or off just plain and simple…
This isn’t everything I have to say about this conversation, but it is my most immediate reaction (read: rant). There is so much more to social media than ROI, not that there shouldn’t be any… but you have to focus on the other parts FIRST to actually get the ROI.
What are your thoughts? What is your response to this kind of push back?
Running a successful social media manager business means that building a wide and extensive client base is an integral part of the program. While making use of the referrals from your clients is a great way to get started, it can’t be the only avenue that is used. Thankfully, the World Wide Web provides a number of different ways to get your message across.
Make Use of What You Know
As a social media manager, you know about or have access to just about every one of the most popular social media sites. So why not make use of them for your business? Having an up to date and topical Facebook fan page or profile can be a great way to get your brand out into the web.
Make sure that you make use other sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn, too. There are a number of software programs available that allows you to update your various social media outlets all at once, making is very easy to keep with the online conversation.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to get detailed information out to the public about your services is through a dedicated blog. In a few paragraphs you can provide more insight, and more detail into what you can do for your potential client than anywhere else.Having a description of your services, testimonies, even your expert advice on the latest and greatest in social media in one location can be a great marketing tool.
Your clients, and soon your potential clients will know that your blog is the resource for information and insight, and of course, help when they need it. So take the time to write a quality blog, and contribute to it regularly. Then, spend some time linking and promoting it throughout the Internet.
Don’t Be Afraid to Step Out and Upwards
While the world of social media and blogs are a great way to self-promote, never be afraid to get help from those around you. Local newspapers and online magazines are always looking for topical interview subjects, and with the chaotic nature of the social media world, your expertise is likely to be in prime time demand.
Watch your twitter accounts, and keep abreast of what is going on in the world. Chances are you’ll be able to find another opportunity for exposure. Take what you apply to your clients and use it to find your next one!
A number of brick and mortar businesses, both large and small are beginning to see the advantages of having an online presence including social media. Thankfully for your business, these companies often need guidance on how to handle the dynamic changes of the social media world.
So how should you approach these potential clients that are just now venturing into the online world of social media? There are a number of different methods, but one of the best places to start is in your local neighborhood. The local stores, restaurants, and even the local non-profit groups are great places to find your next potential client.
For example, the next time you go in to have lunch at your favorite diner, stop by and compliment the owner or manager on their service or food. When they request that you tell your friends about the place, mention that you will, on Twitter or Facebook. If they mention that they were thinking about doing something with Twitter or Facebook, you have your opening to make the connection.
Also, remember that the fine art of networking isn’t just about meeting others during marketing meetings. It’s about meeting and getting to know people on their own level, in their own comfort zone. Instead of focusing on the numerous marketing or business opportunity meetings, try attending meet-ups or social gatherings for clubs, or interest groups.
Groups such as the neighborhood gardening club, or the local historical society can also be great places to find someone that could use your services. It’s a good idea to start with groups that interest you. The natural interest and enthusiasm that you show will go a long way.
While it is important to cultivate your offline client base, it is also important to make sure that you don’t neglect your online one. The Internet is one of the most diverse places in the world, and any social media manager would be a fool not to make use of it.
A great place to start is by choosing to follow people or pages that have showed an interest in what you do. Also, don’t be afraid to make online friends with people that you could potentially come in contact with. The Facebook friend finder is a great tool for just this purpose.
These are just a few ways that you can help to diversify your client base to include both online and offline customers.
Ahh, the honeymoon. That time when you and your significant other are so blissful, not even an ultra-Grande cup of Starbucks Chocolate Double Shot Mocha with a hint of whipped cream could overcome. Hey, guess what? A honeymoon happens in business and on the social web.
I’m not talking about marrying one of your fans or followers and flying to Bora Bora. I’m talking about the 3R’s of branding.
The best time to attract 3R’s are in the ‘honeymoon phase’, right after you have provided such superb service, the client cannot help but promote you.
There are two key facets to this. First, do not hesitate to ask for one of the 3R’s placed on your blog or other social media tool immediately after you have a satisfied client. Next, you must be sure to provide a method for the client to do this in an area that can be seen by others. A “Like” on Facebook is a start, but doesn’t provide the clout a comment on a blog, wall post or tweet might have.
Ideally you might syndicate a rating, review or recommendation throughout your social media realm by responding with great gratitude. It also never hurts to ask for a testimonial to be placed on your own website.
The best branding you will find will come from others and the best time is during the honeymoon phase.
Get enough of those and you might well be on your way to Bora Bora.
We typically love our family and friends. Sometimes we like their Facebook posts emails and tweets. We are so profoundly intrigued by some posts that we don’t hesitate to respond with witty, fun, sarcastic, lame and sometimes hilarious comments. But, let me tell you this wildly un-profound thought…Our friends and family are quite possibly the worst at social branding.
Your friends and family aren’t concerned about social reputation in the way your business is. In your attempts to brand your business on the social web, your reputation and credibility are a direct reflection of your brand. We often times want to cut through the clutter of baby videos, last night’s dinner and how importantly tired your 21 year old sister might be after a night of partying on a Monday. We try to get attention by using creative titles, ‘Never Seen Anything Like This…’ or ‘You Asked For It And…’
What’s in a name?
The key in this part of social branding is not getting attention for attention sake. The key using the social web as a marketing tool begins and ends with providing value. Most of us have the attention span of a gnat and will ignore most anything that doesn’t automatically grasp our interest in the value the content might provide.
If you are finding your messages are not being opened, posts and tweets not being read, it’s time to examine your social branding and re-tool the message so that it provides instant value in the shortest amount of words possible.
It might be a stretch to say that social media can make you smarter. However, you can be a smarter social media marketer.
One of the basic tenets of marketing is that you cannot manage what you cannot measure. This applies to social media marketing. Traditional marketers complain that social media cannot be measured and does not equate to point-of-purchase sales. Yet, measurement tools are becoming more and more sophisticated, taking social media from a PR and customer service focus into a more legitimate marketing tool. There are dashboards that allow you to monitor the conversation about your brand across the social web.
Creative web-based business tactics can link online purchases to social media. Think of how you might add a new or repeat customer into a sort of social CRM. Other tools allow you to listen in on conversations via keywords automatically. Remember that active listening, is one of the key factors that help brands engage on the social web.
Pretty soon, it is my guess that listening tools, CRM and point-of-purchase measuring tools using sophisticated algorithms will be available to marketers everywhere. Yet, if you are thinking your social media assistant can benefit you by making you smarter, ask him or her to research and utilize these tools. After all, without some sort of measurement, aren’t you really flying by the seat of your pants?
When it comes to using social media to market products and services, too many people focus all their attention on the strategy and don’t consider the necessary tactics involved in maintaining and using these tools day-to-day. I’ve seen many businesses create beautiful strategies, but failure to implement and execute the tactics and develop objectives, leave these businesses at step one.
There’s something to be said for jumping in and getting your feet wet. After all, we all have to start somewhere, right? That’s where outsourcing can help you. There seems to be some sort of connotation it’s bad for business to outsource social media marketing. I’m here to tell you, that connotation is wrong.
Why do I say that?
1. Time is money and your time is better spent engaging prospects and customers.
2. You will be able to focus on the overall strategy rather than performing constant maintenance.
(Remember, if you’re using social media the right way, you’ll have a myriad of tools to maintain.)
3. Your “inbox” is always full. Without assistance, that inbox, literally and figuratively, is now spilling over. An assistant expertly trims down your inbox for you.
4. A social media assistant will get your message into additional channels you don’t have time for or don’t know about.
When you think about social media in the business context, the analogies of why to outsource and hire a social media assistant are very apparent. Most organizations have a customer service department and personnel to handle customer service issues. Many organizations hire an outside agency to develop their advertising. Mike Rowe (Discovery Channel) doesn’t work for Ford and the E*Trade baby wasn’t created by someone at E*Trade. Hiring the right personnel to manage the details saves both time and money; however, it also helps your organization bring in more money. It really comes down to communication.
The problem business owners and organizations have with outsourcing social media is the need for control. Successful use of social media marketing is not about control. The only thing you control is the message. If your message is great, your prospects and customers will respond and your focus will need to be on engagement, not filtering SPAM, managing applications or the time consuming aspects of maintaining a social profile.
In upcoming blogs, I’ll expand on this notion of control, maintenance and communication. Taking the time to get the right people doing the right things, makes everything more efficient.