Scott Stratten on Twitter and “Unmarketing”

Scott Stratten (known as @unmarketing to his nearly 100,000 Twitter followers) is a music industry marketer turned marketing agency owner (or UnAgency, as he prefers to call it) who’s known for his candid, tell-it-like-it-is approach. Scott’s book, UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. has also appeared on numerous bestseller lists.

The Intuit Small Business Blog asked the president of UnMarketing about branding blunders, social media trends, and more.

ISBB: When it comes to social media, where do most brands go awry?

Stratten: Most brands drop the ball because they think social media is another channel to push out their bad advertising. Social media is a conversation, not a dictation. The issue is they see social “media” and they think they can just buy attention. It doesn’t work that way, and that’s why I love it. They can easily avoid it by realizing that social media isn’t a marketing tool. It’s marketing, human resources, customers service, and sales. It’s conversation about an industry, a brand, and issues. Stop looking at it as, “What is the ROI of social media for us?” They need to be asking, “What is it costing us not to be in the conversation?”

You mentioned in your speech at Adobe’s CEM event that you got your book deal because of Twitter. Can you tell us more?

Publishers want people with platforms. I’m not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m loud, I have a big soapbox, and people like to hear it. By building my platform on Twitter, they eventually heard about me and called. It also gives you an entirely different level of leverage when they call you instead of you calling them. Even better is the fact that I did an entire 30-city UnBookTour using Twitter. No cost to me or the Publisher (the awesome Wiley & Sons). Thirty people in 30 cities raised their hand and preordered books, flew me down, and put me up. Unheard of!

What are the five social media plug-ins or tools you can’t live without? Why?

If it wasn’t for mobile, I wouldn’t have stayed on Twitter. I currently use UberSocial on my Blackberry, the iPad Twitter app, and Tweetdeck on my desktop. They help organize and control the fire hose of information that comes out. I love the site TweetStats.com because it tells you how often you tweet, the type of tweets (replies, retweets), and who you talk with the most. I actually have a poster on my wall made of my most frequently tweeted words [see right] after 50,000 tweets as inspiration that was generated through TweetStats and Wordle.

What do you think will be the next big thing in social media branding?

I hesitate to talk about what’s next in social media, because we’re horrible at now. Brands keep running around like ADD-ridden squirrels trying to find the next shiny nut. Google+ will get big, Facebook will continue to evolve, and I’ll keep tweeting. Focus on making now better. Heck, focus on making your five-year-old website/blog better first!

In an age when customers run to social media instead of complaining to a manager about poor service or other issues, how can businesses succeed?

Listen. It’s so simple. You can use something as simple as Google News Alerts, all the way up to robust services like Radian6 and Vocus software to keep you right on top of virtual conversations; you almost know it before it’s said! We can get frustrated when customers don’t come directly to us, but people are passive in person and aggressive online. It’s the place we can vent to our peers, but instead of a bad experience leading to someone telling 10 others, they tell 10,000.

Did you have a strategy for growing your Twitter following or did it happen organically?

I didn’t really start to grow my followers a lot until January 2009. That’s when I decided to spend 30 days straight on Twitter. And I mean all day, every day. I tweeted 7,000 times and went from 1,200 followers to 10,000. But it wasn’t the volume of tweets that was key, it was what I said. Seventy-five percent of those tweets were replies. Even now, I’ve tweeted more than 75,000 times, 78 percent of them are replies. I say again: It is a conversation!

Anything else you’d like to add?

If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business.

About Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in writing about business and personal finance. Her articles have appeared in or on The Boston Globe, Dance Retailer News, GetCurrency.com, Mint.com, PARADE Magazine, WomenEntrepreneur.com, and other places.
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