UPDATE 4/7/2009: Wow! I’m completely stunned. I feel played like an old violin by a master…and I mean that in the best possible way. Turns out this whole thing was an elaborate…hoax? Publicity stunt? Not sure quite what to call it. Anyway, turns out the folks at Buzzphoria have actually been planning this thing for more than a year. See The Buzzphoria End Game — We Are Our Own Best Case Study. I’ve left my original post below in its entirety. If you haven’t already, you really should read it first before jumping over to the link above. I’m looking forward to watching them unfold the whole story.
How NOT to Launch a Social Media Marketing Agency
In today’s HARO (Help a Reporter Out), the sponsor was Buzzphoria, a “social media marketing agency”. Here’s their ad, offering a “free social media reality check”:
Of course, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to ask him who it was. He told me it was Buzzphoria. I didn’t immediately place the name, but then he reminded me that they were this morning’s HARO sponsor.
OK, look…I know about “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” and all that. And I’ve certainly been there myself – my social media profiles aren’t all always current and my blogs don’t all have the latest plugins and other cool stuff.
But when you put yourself out there in front of 50,000 media-savvy people (HARO subscribers), you gotta at least have the basics in order. Buzzphoria doesn’t.
Buzzphoria, this is your social media reality check!
Let’s start with their home page:
“Buzzphoria is a global Internet marketing Agency with dedicated staff covering 23 countries…” That’s a pretty bold claim. Let’s find out more about them, shall we? Who are they? What are their qualifications? Let’s check “About Us”:
Social media reality check: Social media is about people. Your case studies sound very impressive, but if I don’t know who you are, if I can’t check out your background, and if you don’t name your clients by name, for all I know, it’s bullshit. I’m not saying Buzzphoria is – I’m just saying I don’t have any way to find out.
OK, so they’re a social media agency. Let’s see what their blog has to say. Hmm… wait a minute, where is it? There’s no content from the blog (or any other social media) featured on the home page. There’s not even a link to their blog, podcast, Twitter or anything else. And no RSS feeds either.
Social media reality check: Your front page doesn’t have to be your blog, or even crammed full of social media content, but a fundamental social media strategy is for you to make it as easy as possible for people to connect with you via social media. At a minimum, your home page should have at least one or two links where people can connect with you, a little bit of featured social media content and an RSS feed where people can subscribe.
So let’s go find their blog. Turns out it’s buried under “Resources” and then linked from there. Let’s see what’s on their blog:
I’m speechless. Jim had said it, but I found it hard to believe. They took the time to integrate it into the look-and-feel of the site, but they couldn’t manage one post?
Social media reality check: Your web site doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be kept completely up-to-date all the time. But when you’re getting ready to launch a big publicity campaign, you’d better get it up-to-date. People are going to come check you out. What do you want them to find? Nothing? Worse than nothing…something that makes you look at least a little bit foolish?
So back to the resources page. Hmm… this looks interesting… a list of social networking web sites:
Umm… none of these are hyperlinked. None. What am I supposed to do, copy/paste them into my browser?
Social media reality check: A resource is only a resource if it’s actually useful. Hyperlinking rules. If you can take the time to make a list of resources, you can take the little bit of extra time to make them clickable. Otherwise it’s just meaningless words.
OK, so I did a little more digging around and found out that Buzzphoria is actually a rebranding of Shazaaam Marketing & PR Specialists. And guess what? They have a blog!
It was started in October of last year (1 post) and hasn’t been updated since December.
Social media reality check: A dead blog is worse than no blog. Seriously. Update it or get rid of it. Also, if you want “street cred” in the social media space, you need some history going back farther than six months.
So enough about the blog. Let’s see what Buzzphoria is doing on Twitter…
I was torn here. I was really tempted to grab it, but finally decided against it. If they’re really social media savvy, they’ll register it themselves before someone else does. I mean, can you imagine if someone grabbed @Buzzphoria and did something like link to this post? If it happens, it’s not me, but I’ll laugh.
Social media reality check: Grab the IDs for your brands in all the most popular social networking sites. Even if you have no intention of actively using a particular site, control your brand presence there. CheckUserNames.com makes it easy.
I still have hope. Maybe they’ve at least been generating some buzz for themselves on Twitter?
Social media reality check: Participate before you publicize. A HARO ad shouldn’t be the first presence for your brand. Get engaged in the conversation and start building some buzz before you do your big official launch. Your friends and followers will then help support the launch by sharing it with their friends and followers. Why? Not because you have impressive anonymous case studies, but because they like and care about you and want to see you succeed.
So to all the folks at Buzzphoria – I’m sorry if this hits you hard. I’m not trying to be mean, and you all may be great at what you do for your clients. But right now, you’re certainly not looking the part. This is your social media reality check.