If a German B2B Toilet Manufacturer Can Get A Million YouTube Hits...

So can you!  That was my favorite sound bite from a presentation I went to last week with at Harvard Business School with David Meerman Scott, author of New Rules of Marketing and PR, and Tim Washer, the head of social media productions for IBM.  Both of these guys have impressive bios, so I won’t attempt to recap every minute of the two-hour event.  Instead, I’ll boil it down to my four favorite quotations.  You've already seen number one.

2. "On the Web, you are what you publish" – David Meerman Scott

Marketing is all about attention, and you have to earn it.  This is a shift from the traditional methods of getting attention: buying ads, pitching journalists, and selling.  All of these still have a place, but earning attention means publishing, which many companies aren’t used to.  One great tip was that vendors should create "secondary offers," that follow something of value that’s free.  For example, instead of requiring an e-mail address before sharing a white paper, companies should think about providing the first white paper for free and offering a second paper at the end, once contact details are given.

3. “Social media is for stories not brochures." – Tim Washer 

In social media, good stories often trump precise messaging and targeting. For example, the best viral videos may not be the most on message; it's okay to be creative and out there.   

4. “Be like the Grateful Dead” – David Meerman Scott

One of the reasons the Grateful Dead were so successful was that they allowed people to record their concerts.  No other band would do this, and they were wildly successful in selling out concerts while everyone focused on records.  Success in social media requires that you relinquish control – or, perhaps more accurately, stop trying to control – your message, and your content.  For most companies, this is the hardest part.  

David suggested a new way of thinking about social media, that I think helps ease this fear.  When we talk about traditional PR, we talk about campaigns.  The word “campaign” is a war metaphor. You have one shot; you win or lose.  For social media, a better analogy is VC investing.  VCs invest in a large number of start-ups, knowing that most will fail.  The payoff comes when a few do okay and one has a killer exit.  The companies that are successful with social media are the ones who are willing to fail.  You can ask 20 people to twitter, create six videos, and put up eight e-books.  They won't all be blockbusters, and some of them will probably fail miserably, but one or two big successes can pay off. 

Oh yeah, and the German B2B toilet manufacturer?  Here’s the "Say no to dirt" video:

Contributed by Catharine Morgan.  Follow her @c_morgan -----