Category Archives: social strategist

Looking for awesome? Rent ME!

It’s that time again. Time to roll up my shirtsleeves, wipe the sweat from my brow and hit the pavement internet looking for work. My six years of agency work is almost done, and in another month, I’ll be flying solo. And broke. Possibly homeless. (Don’t tell my kids.)

Unless, of course, there is someone out there who would like to pay me a comfortable living just for being awesome. Anyone? I am awesome, I promise. Even when I’m sleeping. Sugar daddies welcome. Well, without the sugar… or the daddy bit. Just send me your money.

In addition to writing, editing, social media consulting and the other shameless credentials I’ve noted below, I can also walk your dog, buy your groceries, give you a massage (I don’t touch feet), build you a deck,  teach you new cuss words, pour concrete, punch bees, mow your lawn, taste-test meals sent from your enemies, plant your garden, build you a lego village, change the oil in your car, sing you to sleep (although my fees for that one are particularly steep),  alphabetize your canned goods,  yell at your children (I’m highly skilled at this), blow up balloons, and internet stalk your ex’s new partner.

Please tell your friends, family, neighbours, co-workers and all the strangers you pass on the street. Together we can end this insantiy and I can get back to writing my novel with peace of mind. I’ve grown accustomed to my house and I would like to stay in it.

catherine2_web_censored

 

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Filed under Social Media, social strategist, social writer

The high cost of interracting with customers online

If you’re running a business and don’t know anything about Social Media, first, who are you? How can that be? Second, don’t be fooled into thinking you can “get by” with little-to-no budget for content, strategies, and social CRM. It’s a big job, and you will fail faster than you will succeed. And failing is sticky in social networks. What’s your reputation worth?

hire a professional

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Filed under Brand Storytelling, Social Media, social strategist

Outsouring is NOT a dirty word… but EGO is.

toon_119But it has been getting a lot of press lately.

Outsourcing is a part of business. A necessary part of business, no matter what business you’re in or how big your business is. It’s socially responsible, both domestically as well as globally. Outsourcing to technology has been a part of all of our lives for a long time. Computers, bank machines, and more recently… web/mobile apps—anything that makes our lives easier and gives us more control.  And we’re OK with that. So, why do we have prejudice against a call centre that’s off-shore? Yes, there may be a language barrier, and yes, it’s frustrating when employees aren’t empowered to help us. And yes, change can be scary, but, why do we act like the sky is falling if our employer exercises their right to manage their business to stay competitive in a global marketplace? I’ll tell you why.  Aside from a subconscious and deep-rooted prejudice, it’s all ego.   It’s a blatant selfishness that shows up in the form of passionate desire to protect our ass, job and what we believe is our basic entitlements.  And that’s not entirely a bad thing, it’s just that it’s not your employers responsibility to offer you these securities. That’s YOUR responsibility.  If you don’t want to be replaced, be irreplaceable.

Ego for an employer can come in the form of motivators like power, status and greed. And even if they are sound business decisions, I’m not suggesting that there aren’t employers out there who mis-manage and perpetuate the anxiety of unemployment by running around with secret information that they don’t communicate. I’ve been there. I’ve sat in a room with HR and VP’s as they’ve delicately pushed an envelope across a table to me.  Five minutes earlier I was obliviously sending a fax. (Remember those?) And now they’re throwing money at me to go away quietly. I had no idea it was coming. There was no communication. I was shocked, angry, and took it deeply personal. 15 years later I can tell you that moment was pivotal in my professional (and personal) life. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. It opened my eyes to the control I had of my own life. And prior to that moment, I never would have had the guts to leave. I was a prisoner of an imaginary job security that was directly tied to my mortgage payments and the well-being of my family. Today, I realize that there is no such thing as security. Not in business, or in life. We captain our own ships. For good or bad. Ans a job does not make your family happy… YOU do.

captain of ship

Regardless of what side of the leadership fence you sit on, I encourage you to arm yourself with knowledge.  You need knowledge to sail, otherwise you’re just adrift. And what better way to do that then to listen to industry leaders giving you the straight goods on what outsourcing really means? Not just information relevant to an employer or employee, but also to our economy—domestically and globally. You may be surprised at what you learn. True context in any argument eliminates a certain amount of ignorance.  Wouldn’t you rather operate from a place of knowledge? I do. And even though outsourcing information may not impact me directly at the moment, as a business owner, it’s MY responsibility to have all the information I need to sail… whether I plot that course or not.

If you’re in the Toronto area, I recommend attending the CORE conference. It’s a great way to gain reputable insight. Coming up on November 5th, 2013, this conference puts outsourcing under the microscope. You’ll hear speakers the likes of Don DrummondPeter Bendor-SamuelRima ShouliJim Graham, and Dr. Ron Babin giving you information that will keep you better educated, better informed, and better prepared.

core

What you do with that information is up to you. That’s the beauty of owning your future.

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Filed under social strategist, world news

Managing Social Media: In-house versus Outsource

Nothing gets the social media communities more kicked up then the debate over whether businesses should absorb social media internally or outsource (outhouse?) the entire thing to an agency partner.

I have heard all arguments for the merits and limitations from both sides—and most agencies will offer very passionate and unsolicited argumentative advice that the only sensible thing to do is outsource your entire process to them. I’m sure they’ve told you this—they are the social media experts after all.  And why wouldn’t they? You are their next business opportunity.

But why does it have to be an either/or decision?  As a Social strategist—I aim to educate, offer fresh ideas, and then leave the tools behind with the door wide open.  Maybe it’s the philosophical in me… you know, the whole teach-a-man-to-fish thing.

I understand the real-world limitations. Not wanting to divert people from their existing responsibilities, or even having to hire new staff. I can empathize with learning curves, and I certainly don’t expect busy professionals with (already) full workloads to invest the kind of time and money that I (and other colleagues) have done into learning about social media, or to be anything close to as engaged as some of us are on a daily basis. And I can even appreciate old dogs not wanting to learn new tricks.  But I believe the merits outweigh the limitations in this debate—primarily in opportunities alone.

The opportunity exists for you to really own your social media investment. Own the strategy, own the day-to-day learnings, know how to handle the tools, and learn first-hand from your mistakes. Your customer is not out-sourcing their role as your consumer, and they are engaging and connecting in the social web at unprecedented rates. Don’t risk becoming less connected with your customers, own the behaviour insights that only familiarity will give you.  Your company can’t afford to be headed in any other direction—no matter how practical the limitations of in-house may seem to you.  It’s time to learn and lead.

This is where it doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. Investing in a Social Media strategist up-front can make all the difference for long-term Social Media implementation. Strategists can teach you the tools, train your team members, and make recommendations as to which core processes should be managed in-house. Strategists help with the plan and execution—in whatever capacity your business needs.  Learn how, when and where to fish.

Keep that strategist in your pocket and put yourself on the path of practical learning and enriched understanding.  Today’s business environment is socially connected—who’s telling your brand story?

Need more info? Contact me at catherine@uberscribbler.com.

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Filed under Brand Storytelling, Social Media, social strategist

What does social media success look like?

The success of any social media program is irrevocably tied to the initial expectations of the program.  What did you think was going to happen?

“We’ve integrated the Social channels & Social personality into our everyday business and we’re now seeing unprecedented positive service sentiment and we’re very happy with the steady (organic) growth of loyal and engaged followers over time.” – said no client EVER.

Having a clear formula for success up-front is crucial to your expectations. And having clear expectations up-front is crucial to your success.  But this is not the chicken or the egg.  Expectations can come in many shapes and sizes. They are very complex and multi-faceted. Here is my top 10 list of expectations that MUST be internalized or the overall perceived success of your program will be decreased significantly.

Expectation #1:  Your entire decision-making team must ALL have the same expectations and the “buy-in” needs to be top-down.

Expectation #2:  You need to work hard to be relevant. This is not the Field of Dreams—you must do more than build it.

Expectation #3:   Be more concerned with measurable engagement than the number of followers.  Vanity metrics is good for your ego, but is not sustainable and can be manipulated in the bottom line.  Seek to win consumer trust and brand advocacy instead.

Expectation #4:  You must provide customer service in social channels with a purpose and commitment that may leave you vulnerable and transparent. Be accountable, timely and consistent with your community.

Expectation #5:   Keep evolving. This space is dynamic—changing constantly.  Take risks in new channels and with new creative brand storytelling angles. Stretch outside your comfort zone, there are no hard and fast rules. The worst that can happen is nobody joins you. Go ahead and blaze some trails.

Expectation #6:  The size (number of followers) of your current social communities is NOT the size of your engaged audience at all times.  If you have 10,000 followers on Facebook, I assure you that they are not all collectively holding their breath until you release your amazing $10 off coupon.  Refer to expectation #2.

Expectation #7:  You MUST advertise your Social presences (online and off) if you want to jumpstart your community numbers. It doesn’t matter what you have to say or offer if nobody is there to hear you.  On-going advertising is worthwhile to COMPLEMENT organic growth and raise awareness outside your established communities.

Expectation #8:  Social Media is not an overnight success. Be patient. Your success will be determined by your audience sentiment (they will tell you if you have a successful Social program) and not your internal measurement. Traditionally, majority customer sentiment determines a brand’s service quality—and this tradition has not changed.

Expectation #9:  Establish trusted brand partnerships that will keep you connected to Social/Digital trends and strategies in order to keep you evolving. Adopt Social policies internally and train team members in best practices and engagement philosophies.  People say and do stupid things online, and your employees are people.

Expectation #10: As communities grow, so will the number of hours you need to commit to maintaining them. This is where things really start to get interesting—and consequently where most brands abandon their social ship citing budget restrictions.  Momentum is key. Don’t let your mouth write a cheque that your actions can’t cash. (Yeah, actions isn’t what I was thinking either.)

With a base understanding of realistic expectations, you can start to formulate what success will look like to you. Set goals, use benchmarks, and try and have a little fun.

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Filed under Social Media, social strategist, social writer

Add Social media strategies to your organization’s change initiatives for a more effective CHANGE

What is CHANGE?  Ask my friend Jim Graham at Felix Global, he knows all about it and shares it with you personally here.

How can Social Media strategies improve communication during an organizational CHANGE?  Here’s the top five:

1 – It provides a dialogue instead of a monologue.

2 – It provides a real-time transparency which builds trust.

3 – It empowers customer and employee  involvement through personal discussion. It’s people communicating with PEOPLE.

4 – It provides consistency in message with ONE dialogue to customers and employees.

5 – It’s low up-front investment, lower on-going maintenance and communication costs, and completely measurable.

Today’s environment of constant change means more than just mergers and acquisitions.  It’s the changing of platforms, communications and traditional business ideals.  Social media introduces community, transparency, authenticity, real-time responsibility and organic growth.  The one thing that hasn’t changed is the basic principle that “business strategies must be founded in PEOPLE, and the RELATIONSHIPS they create.”

Give your community the power to promote the CHANGE happening inside your organization themselves. It’s a good change.

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Beware—vanity metrics is a social media marketing meme

Most people don’t get social media.  Social Media marketing is about relationships first, selling second.

It’s a tough nugget to swallow, especially when the pressure from the c-suite is asking for the ROI.   Social media is not just a bolt-on tool or marketing channel with tried-and-true metrics.  It is fundamentally re-defining the relationships between consumers and brands.  Social media integrates PR, customer service, human resources and marketing into the digital space.  The social presence defines the brand–whether you choose to believe that or not.

The challenges lie in measuring and feeding the Social success back into the traditional measuring tactics.  It’s a square peg in a round hole.

Most organizations struggle with this concept because they don’t know what Social success looks like.   (I have sat in a long list of boardrooms and witnessed many interested organizations be led astray by the misinformed marketer who is in the business of inventing business—for themselves.)  This is the unfortunate validation of vanity metrics that perpetuates the meme.

Focusing on vanity metrics (numbers of fans, followers, likes, etc.) is the quickest way to watch any social media program tank before it even grows legs.  I’m not suggesting that they should be ignored, but they don’t represent reality and can easily mislead a brand in gauging meaningful performances in these channels.

The number of ‘followers’ you have does not make you better than anyone else. Hitler had millions, and Jesus had 12.

Focus instead on actionable metrics such as engagement and share of voice, which are currently the two major trending metrics for measuring success in social media.  Determine your piece of the total conversation pie and set realistic benchmarks to increase that percentage.  Track and measure that growth.  And then do the same for your competitors.  You can’t control what you don’t measure, and you can’t measure what you don’t understand.

When you prioritize the wrong measurement tactics, you’ll get poor results and squander your resources all because you’re either a) reaching for a recipe that doesn’t match up to your business objectives, b) getting bad advice from a social media “expert” or c) you’re trying to impress your boss.

Cultivating a loyal, quality audience who opt-in is much more effective than pushing strict marketing objectives in a ‘spray and pray’ philosophy.  You may have initial success with numbers, but the program will not be sustainable.  Invite Social Media into all corners of your business and build a strategic plan from the inside-out.  Be realistic, be honest, and set social and digital goals that you can measure.

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Filed under Social Media, social strategist, Uncategorized, world news