Category Archives: Social Media

Do you have the C-Factor? An open letter to the C-suite on being Social

SOCIAL: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE C-SUITE

[Re-printed with permission from the author, Dave Taddeo. A CEO who “gets” it.]

WHAT IS SOCIAL?

Social is this thing that people use to communicate and share. It started with Friendster only 10 years ago and eventually many other sites started popping up.
People share all kinds of things including what they are doing at any moment, photos of friends, family and events, and videos. Keeping in touch with (and track of) more friends than would normally be possible, is now possible. Sharing status updates and other kinds of media with more than a few (or hundreds or thousands) of people at the same time with the ability for all those people to comment and give their input became ‘valuable’. All the information about people and what they share and with whom became a goldmine for marketers. Especially when they share their opinions, photos and videos about your product and/or services. Instantly. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week.

SOCIAL. MARKETING.

Social marketing is when your marketers put your ads and information on social websites.
Wait. Let’s go back for a minute.
Remember when the marketing team at your company sent out flyers house to house and had newspapers and magazines print ads and delivered and sold to poll-generated demographic communities? Those newspapers and magazines told you that a certain number of people not only saw your ad, but read it and they charged you based on that certain number of people seeing your ad and reading it. Newspapers and magazines based their numbers on circulation. The higher the circulation, the more they can charge you based on that certain number of people seeing and reading your ad. How many times did someone in the C-suite at your company ask the newspaper or magazine how certain they were that people saw and read your ad based on circulation number? This is a well-developed advertising model going on several decades. Sixty or seventy years worth of printing and distributing. What’s to question? Maybe, ‘How many distributed copies of your publication were looked at before they were dropped in the recycling bin? Are you charging me too much? Show me the numbers.’
Back to the present.
Now you can budget your marketing and ad dollars and know it is targeted to people who consciously stated they are interested in your product or service. You can pay to have an ad shown to a person who is actually interested. You can also decide to (only) pay if someone consciously clicks on your ad and brings them to your site or a promotional web page. You know your marketing and ad dollars are being spent on real potential customers. As newspapers and magazines phase out of existence, your marketing and ad dollars should shift substantially to where your real potential customers are.
Now that you’re doing that, you need to serve those real potential customers where they are and how they’ve become accustomed to being served. Take the marketing out of ‘social marketing’ and get social. Take a second and go back and read the last 2 sentences of the first section.

“Especially when they share their opinions, photos and videos about your product and/or services. Instantly. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week.”

This is fundamental. Make no mistake about it. You need to be there to be a part of it lest it takes on a form of it’s own. This is not easy. It may even be a bit scary. You need to engage a community that has risen around your product or service in a professional, yet complementary manner in which the community behaves. This is completely different from printing an ad, hoping someone sees it and is compelled to purchase your product or service, and if customers need help providing a phone number in which they call, follow the automated instructions and wait for someone to speak to them about any issue they may have.
Take a few minutes and come to the realization that the ad and phone call model is cumbersome and upsets your customers when all they want is what they’ve become accustomed to; quick and easy communication where they already are – social. They want to do that with you. Badly.

GETTING SOCIAL

How do you get social? The way social is done is upside-down to the old ad and phone center model you’re used to. Contact the experts. Find a company or contractor to set you up and inform you of what to do and how to move forward. They know what social is. They’ve been doing it for a long time, not only as a service they provide to companies (including your competitors) but also in their spare time for themselves (as themselves) with their friends and families and followers.
This costs money. Real money. But you cannot afford to not be social. Your customers and potential customers now require it. Getting social is the future for your company. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.
Think about it. If a potential customer has a question about your product or service, or has a problem with your product or service that can be rectified with a question posed to a customer service rep from your company, which company do you think will win that customer’s/potential customer’s loyalty or next purchase? The answer is very easy. The company that can get the information to the customer/potential customer with as little ‘friction’ as possible. More and more customers/potential customers are spending more and more of their time at their keyboards. More and more device (electronic gadgets) and TV manufacturers are working hard so that you can put your ads and customer service where your customers/potential customers eyes already are. Make it ‘frictionless’ (easy) for your customers to contact you. Put yourself right in that line of sight.

SOCIAL. MEDIA. MARKETING.

Social media marketing are 3 different things, so stop putting those 3 words together in one bastardized term.
Marketing you should already know. Leave it to the marketing department. Get some marketers who know how to bring your product or service to the ever-evolving internet (including the social websites). Find a company or contractor who follows and knows the varying websites and trends. Once again, they are the experts. They know what’s going on online as it changes day-to-day.
Media is just that. Media. Photos, videos and commentary about your company and it’s products or services. The ever-active 24/7 presence of the global internet means you have to provide as such.
Social is the new tricky thing you have to adapt to. You have to be there, but how do you get there? Do what you do best and leave social to those that know it and live it.
Successfully putting the above mentioned 3 things together is how you become successful. Placing videos or photos (media) promoting your company (marketing) where your customers are (social) is new and essential for your success. It’s the undeniable future.
Getting social and adding your marketing and media is a very large and complex endeavor. It develops and evolves every day to something different from what it was the day before. The players can change just as quick. To be a part of social, which is essential, you have to make sure you have good people doing it for you.

ROI

First let me ask you when the last time you asked your customer service management what the ROI is on what they do? It’s a stupid question. Serving your customers to satisfaction has no ROI. It’s just I(nvestment) in your product or service. It’s I(nvestment) in satisfying your customers. The R(eturn) is return customers.
Investing in social is investing in your company. Getting social with your customers lets them know you’re there and ready to be… well, social with them. Marketing and adding media while being social with your customers is the ultimate trifecta. Being social means talking to customers, listening to customers, solving problems for customers, marketing to customers, sharing media with customers and last but not least, having fun with your customers. This costs money. Real money. The return on your investment in getting social is karma. You can’t count the profits based on being part of a community where your interactions define who your company is and what your company does. And please please please for Christ’s sake, please stop looking for a defined percentage increase in profits next quarter based on how much money you spent on good social services last quarter. Your return is karma and that takes many quarters. You have to earn that karma by being there for your customers where they are time and time again from here on out.
You want to know numbers just like you wanted to know the numbers from the newspapers and magazines. But you have to know this is different. The old ‘place an ad and get the made up circulation numbers from the printer’ model doesn’t apply anymore so don’t try to make it apply. Getting social encompasses much more than having a ‘certain’ number of people seeing and reading your ad or marketing campaign. Your customers can read and then re-post your copy. They can comment on it and share it with others, many others. The 24/7 viewing, re-posting and/or comments cannot be held to the same accounting standards as that ‘certain’ number of people who saw and read your print ad that they could not view, copy and share and/or comment on. This is new. It’s still in development in an ever-developing social space. How much do you value a re-post? A comment (positive or negative)? Having your media available to the world 24/7 regardless of when you provided it? Stop doing the math for a minute and start gathering statistics. Gather statistics over a quarter, 2 quarters, a fiscal year, two fiscal years… then look back and see how things are going and start building a model. You need the data. You already have the data for print ads. Before asking for your ROI get some data so you know what you’re actually asking for.

JUST DO IT RIGHT

You’re in the C-suite because you bring a certain skill and value to the company you work for. Unless you are a part of the C-suite for one of the websites where your customers are, then leave it to those that know how to get your company social in one of those sites. The social company or contractors you obtain social services from (be it social, media or marketing, or all 3) provide their services because they bring a certain skill and value to their clients. Take some time and do your due-diligence and choose a social service provider that you believe will fulfill your company’s needs being social.
You don’t have a choice. You have to get social. It’s the way the world is going whether you like it or not. Do your job and pay attention, but do it right. Leave it to the experts and rest assured knowing you don’t have a choice.

Thank you for your time.

Dave Taddeo, CEO, Coaters Tech
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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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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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Brand storytelling goes Hollywood

When you’re competing with the entire world in digital content, the only way to rise to the top is to be authentic, creative, and powerful when telling your story.

Canon took on Hollywood to help tell their story.  Canon users submitted photos, eight were selected as finals, and Canon challenged legendary film producer, Ron Howard,  to create a short film based on the photos.  The result was a campaign that captivated Canon users and inspired their creativity and imagination to contribute photos, and also to become a part of something seemingly unreachable—Hollywood.   Pure gold.  (The power of the Internet.)

Emotion affects consumer behavior, marketing 101, right?  If you tell a great story that evokes great emotion, you are imprinting your brand in the minds and hearts of your consumers.  They will feel connected to you.  They will share.  Your community will grow.  You will rise to the top.

Digital storytelling is an ideal method of escaping the sales & marketing punch that brand communities always seem to feel like they’re dodging.  And they are.  You’re guilty of pushing sales down your social channels, admit it.  You may think you’re clever about it, and you may pat yourself on the back about being some sort of stealthy social marketing ninja, but your community is smarter and more socially savvy than you think.  If your motives aren’t true, they will know, and they will move on to another brand who is.

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Sometimes you need to take on the Old Spice guy

On social media, brands don’t simply have personalities; they have relational personalities. They interact with customers, but also with each other. There’s a fine line between appropriate wit and train wreck, and most brands keep their voice small, safe and politically correct to avoid crossing that line. But for those who consistently get it right—the entire world is your audience.

How Taco Bell shows personality and brand cojones on Twitter:

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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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