Ten Questions Not To Ask A Social Media Panel

Here’s today’s column, originally published in MediaPost’s Online Spin.

Ten Questions Not To Ask A Social Media Panel

Ever
go to one of those panels where most of the answers can be summed up as
"it depends," "not sure," or "we’re just not there
yet"? On one hand, it’s a great sign because it means you’ve stumbled on
an honest bunch of panelists. On the other hand, it doesn’t make for great
sound bites, until a
couple panelists talk about stomach ailments
and the
moderator quips about his fiancée
.

I
had a great time on a panel this week at OMMA Social, and even more fun
networking throughout the event, where everyone shedding layers at the
sweltering Yale Club made it feel like the Woodstock of Internet conferences
(no free love, though — just free crab cakes). My fellow panelists and
moderator were some of the brightest people I know in this business, but some
of the panels wound up addressing the same questions. To keep future panels
more exciting, here are ten questions you don’t need to ask other panelists
about social media, along with the answers you’re likely to hear.

1)
How are you measuring social media?

Likely
answers: "It depends." "It’s all about branding." "You
can’t use the same metrics as you do for other online media campaigns."
You can get a list of all the metrics panelists are tracking, but a panel won’t
have time to address what all of those metrics really mean for marketers.

2)
How do you determine the return on investment for social media?

This
goes deeper than the measurement question, but more from the angle that social
media marketing needs to impact sales. It can, and it is possible to develop
some ROI metrics, but if that’s the primary and overarching goal, then stick
with direct marketing.

3)
How do you make something viral?

Do
NOT use the V-word, unless you really want to hear Greg Verdino mention
throwing up in his mouth again.

4)
How do you plan social media campaigns?

Do
NOT use the C-word either. You’ll hear panelists (like Adam Broitman) mention
they don’t do campaigns; they do programs, engagements, or whatever more
creative but astute answer Adam said. Now, if only agencies can figure out how
to price lifelong social media initiatives, I can retire and devote myself to
my true passion: playing Mob
Wars
and MouseHunt
on Facebook (
connect with me there
and we can hunt gangsters and mice together).

5)
What are your best strategies for social media advertising?

More
good advice: don’t use the A-word either. Then you’ll hear all about how it’s
marketing, not advertising, even when you can advertise with social media, and
even when at the same event companies like SocialMedia.com are launching
initiatives to improve the effectiveness of social media advertising.

6)
With the rise of widgets, are Web sites dead?

No.

7)
What’s a friend worth?

Umm,
next. Really though, it depends on what you do with that relationship —
whether it’s just someone to add to your e-mail list, or you’re able to engage
in a two-way and multi-directional conversation.

8)
What’s the best thing about social media?

Listening.
On a panel, the first person who picks up his microphone will say it, and then
rest will either agree, or say a totally different, more verbose answer about
buzz monitoring, garnering consumer feedback, or some other spin that can be
summed up with one word: "listening." At OMMA Social, Dr. Augustine
Fou gets the credit for chiming in first on my panel; next time, doc, I’ll be
ready and waiting.

9)
What’s the point of (insert site, platform, or meme — Twitter, del.icio.us,
Facebook, LOLcats, etc)?

The
question’s fair, and panelists should be able to help shed some light on it,
but get a panel talking about why they love something like Twitter and they’ll
never shut up, each panelist trying to outdo each other with the impromptu
testimonial. You’re better off asking for a show and tell session afterwards so
you can figure out why you in particular should care and what it might mean for
your business and your customers.

10)
How can I get Joe Jaffe to speak at my next event?

This one gets asked at every panel, often by Jaffe himself, and if you
close your eyes, make a wish, and tap your shoes together a few times, he’ll
magically appear, and all your social media questions will suddenly be
answered. Then we can work together to figure out some new questions to ask
next time.

10 thoughts on “Ten Questions Not To Ask A Social Media Panel

  1. Hahaha you’re awesome. I’ve totally been in your shoes before. I’ve seen the same panel, heard the same questions. Funny thing is, I can answer 1-9 without “it depends”… But again, I’m part of the born digital generation while most panelists discussing social media are are a different breed of marketers – re-born digitals if you will. A Facebook friend to me means a lot more than to most people who didn’t have their drunken college memories massively distributed through their Facebook network since 2004.
    I can’t deliver views to a “viral video” the same way paid media can. But I can make people talk about it. I can tell a story and build relationships between people and brands. Marry that with functional, amusing, sexy, creative sponsored content, a deep understanding of connectivity within the social web, and a dash of the webby-techy stuff that we’re so good at and BAM! You got a social media “campaign” with that special sauce of viralness.

  2. 10 questions not to ask.. but the best part is these are the 10 frequently asked questions. The best way way to answer any of these questions is showcasing what can be done!!

  3. Great post David! I’m always surprised to hear the same questions that have been answered and published by various panelists on their blogs. Questions like #9 (What does x_site/service do?) are terribly incongruent with a supposedly interested audience who a. Could dig around before they attend the event of b. Have a laptop in the room and can find out themselves or even c. Ask the person sitting next to them. There is rarely a phase 2 in these conferences where the majority of the audience (comprised of brands asking how they can return with an insight on creating a social media strategy) is on the same page and they get the most of out of the panelist’s time and knowledge. If this list gets around, perhaps we’ll hit Phase 2: “I’m currently participating in Social Media and…”

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