The Gong Blog

Richmond BizSense and SM, a missed opportunity?

I have a great deal of respect for Aaron Kremer on a bunch of levels. 

As an entrepreneur he took the ultimate risk.  He saw a town hungry for a new source of daily business news and went after it.  He bootstrapped an online news site, Richmond BizSense, went head-to-head with the Times-Dispatch’s “incredible shrinking business section,” and now claims more than 3,000 daily subscribers with a goal of more than doubling that number.

As a PR guy looking for a place to pitch local business stories, and as someone who cares deeply about the success of the greater Richmond business community, Richmond BizSense’s success is very important to me.  And it should be very important to others who share in those aspirations.

It also took some guts when he recently admitted to the hundreds in attendance at the Social Media Club Richmond meeting that he didn’t use Twitter and wasn’t quite sure about its value.  Sort of like eating a porterhouse while a the podium of a vegan convention.  Not many friends are made.

To his credit, he quickly got a Twitter account @akbizsense (103 followers as of this post), offered up a guest column spot to 93 Octane’s John Lindner on the importance of Twitter, and dispatched reporter David Larter to write a series of articles on social media, one on local marketing firms, and one on folks participating on social networking in Richmond.

While the reporting has been solid, my fear is there is an opportunity being missed.  These social media roundups have been done before by other news organizations, most recently by the Times-Dispatch.  What is really missing is a story on whether social media really works as an addition to the marketing mix.

Richmond BizSense has a great opportunity to do the quintessential story on social media. 

A story about themselves. 

Kremer has admitted publicly that they are later than most to the party and they are clearly trying to catch up.  Why not dive in full force and chronicle those adventures.  Report the good with the bad.  Use social media as a reporting tool as others have and also as a business tool to try to grow the subscription base.

And report about it along the way.  Tell the story of a small business that is adopting social media and whether it works (or doesn’t).

That is the story I would like to see, and the type of journalism that online outlets like Richmond BizSense can provide that others can’t.  

What do you think?

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Jon Newman

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6 Comments

  1. Todd Feldman

    Beyond his reactive response of realizing he perhaps (maybe) missed an opportunity, time will tell if he immerses himself and his team in the technology. The worst thing any organization can do, now more than ever, is to ignore the behavior of their audience and how they get and consume information.

    Media pubs (or any company) that can adjust and shift with consumer behavior should survive. Those that don’t may meet a less than desirable fate.

    I heard last week’s #SMCRVA meeting was great. Sorry I missed it.

    -Todd Feldman
    @ToddFeldman

  2. Jeff Kelley

    Fully agreed.  It’s a great online publication but some of their views toward social media, particularly coming from something that is Web-only, sound like they’re coming from an “old media” type.  Ever since hearing Aaron speak (and again, not to disparage Aaron) at the social media club event thsi month, I’ve been describing BizSense as “only using the hammer in the toolbox.”  As in, there’s plenty more he could be doing online to connect to his audience, as you see a.) Jason Roop at Style doing, b.) Ryan Nobles at NBC12 doing, and c.) absolutely no one at the Times-Dispatch doing.

    Aaron claims to be “against” social media, and yet, he’s running a Web site and sending out a daily email. Which is a form of, yes, social media.  He has RSS feeds, and there is a Facebook presence (which could be larger), he’s listed in Google News…all of which is social media.  I’m not saying Twitter is the last wheel in the Richmond BizSense cog (or is it “cog in the wheel”?), but there are a number of other channels he can be using to get his name out.

    One of Aaron’s main claims against using social media was that there was no return on investment from using it.  Perhaps not yet in monetary value, sure; but in building relationships and your personal or business brand…priceless if used properly. 

    Again, Aaron, keep up the good work.  And beware the Social Media Experts.

  3. Spingirl

    Jon – couldn’t agree more about missed opportunities.  Love Bizsense as it gives me a round-up of business news in the area and other interesting links.  But they missed the mark on this one.  Also want to make a follow up comment to Jeff’s about the generally perceived lack of ROI – I would argue the opposite; social media can demonstrate ROI – maybe not when in the form of meaningless tweets or comments, but a carefully thought out strategy can be tied directly to sales more so than broadcast marketing.  Social media (particularly Twitter and Facebook is a form of permission marketing – you know who your fans are and can target very effectively).  With branded apps (online and mobile) brands can direct fans and drive sales.  Beyond that there is value in simply having a conversation with communities built around brands.  Don’t companies talk to customers/prospects/ others today without each and every interaction resulting in revenue?  Is there no value in talking and more importantly listening to your audience?  Hope Bizsense explores these and other areas in greater depth

  4. Kendall Morris

    Great observations Jon!  As a subscriber to Richmond Biz Sense, I value the information it provides on a daily basis.  I also attended the SMCRVA event where Aaron Kremer was a speaker and I offer kudos to the organizers for ensuring a variety of view points on the panel. 

    My connection to Richmond Biz Sense was strengthened upon having the opportunity to talk to Aaron Kramer following the SMC event.  Why, you ask?  It is of great value to me to know the type of person who is behind any business I support, be it my news service or my grocery store.  I am not satisfied with simply getting fresh fruit. I want to know that I’m shopping in a store that supports the community, their employees and the communities where the fruit is grown.

    This is one of the great values emerging media provides.  Clients are no longer satisfied with a basic website that talks “corporate speak” and gives them basic information such as hours of operation.  Now clients also want a personal connection with the businesses they frequent.  There is no one tool that accomplishes everything but as technology improves, we can strategically utilize great websites, print, and emerging media to make the most impact for our businesses.

    This is where Aaron has a great opportunity to utilize emerging media and strengthen his connection with his readers.  I’d venture to guess that some of the results may surprise him and encourage him to dig a little deeper into the possibilities.

  5. Aaron Dotson

    Having been interviewed for the article, I, too was disappointed that it did not address some of the ROI factors mentioned by Spingirl and Jeff Kelley above. In fact, the majority of the time spent in our conversation was about examples of clients we have worked with that have used social media successfully, backed up by specific numbers that demonstrate its real power.

    I remain a firm believer that social media should not be entered into without first developing a strong strategy that aligns with a larger marketing plan. When developed in this manner, it is extremely compelling—and I and many other marketers have the numbers to prove it.

  6. Chris Miller

    I like the tone of your observation Jon… It’s open, inviting, and truly though provoking. 

    On one hand, does it really matter if a ‘publisher’ uses one specific social media tool (Twitter) or not?  I say ‘No’ it’s just one of many choices available. 

    In fact, I’d like to invite you to personally speak to them (in your own voice/video) on their front page by sending them a ‘Jon http://www.bubblecomment.com message , or direct http://www.bubbletweet.com in your own voice and see if they communicate back.

    Disclaimer:  bubbletweet/bubblecomment was created in part because of conversations & consultation I had with CEO/Founder Kevin Sherman, however I do not currently personally benefit financially from it’s use.  I just like the service for one-to-one communication or visually inspired posts.  I would have used here, but am on my iPhone.

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