Category Archives: Social Media

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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I see dead people… with their QR code.

QR codes on headstones will link you to a Facebook-like page in a community of the dead.

Really.  It’s social networking for the dearly departed.

That’s kind of awesome, weird, brilliant and creepy all at the same time.  But I think the world might have gone just a little mad on Social and QR codes.

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Facebook to buy Instagram for $1-billion

Woah… a blog post from Mark Zuckerberg:

I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.

What do you think of that?

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eBegging—does your brand reek of desperation?

Do you keep asking your customers to Like or Follow you without giving them a reason to engage with you?  Do you know what that looks like to them?

Don’t get hung up on the numbers

How many followers do we have on Twitter?  How many fans on Facebook?  We need more fans—increase that number!  Go! Go! Go! 

Gah! Don’t be motivated by scalp count.  What’s the value of a Facebook Like if you have to ask, beg or bribe to get it?  This will build you a following of semi-interested individuals that don’t want to be bothered by you.  Is this a fundamental principle of your Social strategy?   Please no.   Don’t be that brand.

Even in the off-chance that you do convince them to Like or follow you, it doesn’t mean they’re going to read (or even see) any of your posts aside from the one that bought them.  That person just becomes a number on your wall.  Some of you may use these numbers as metrics to support the ROI of social to your company.  However, if I’m not reading your posts or engaging with you, should I be included in that ROI assessment?  I’m never going to buy—I’m just here lurking for free stuff.  You’re fudging your numbers to the C-Suite mister.

“Some studies show that a whopping 90% of Facebook users don’t return to a fan page once they click the Like button.”  – Mari Smith, Social Media Examiner

Do the work for the Like or Follow

Social media is the law of attraction versus interruption.  You attract others through your credibility, your honesty, your direct engagement, and your humanity. You demonstrate and bring value to the relationship.  Makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it?  OR you can continue to nag, interrupt and slam anyone who will listen with your advertising song and dance jazz-hands.

It all comes back to one simple principle.  The content you publish will attract the audience you are trying to reach.   It’s good content for the good of the people.  Offer solutions to questions and problems without openly pitching your business.  Show your expertise with relevant content.  Allow those already following to share in their communities—sending real interest back to your page.  Consumers are more likely to take notice of what you are doing this way.  Show them the credibility, honesty, humanity and direct engagement you have with others.  Be a giver and the fruits of your efforts will come back tenfold.

As with traditional marketing, exposure increases familiarity which in turn increases recognition with your brand or company.  You have just increased your chances of becoming top-of-mind when it comes time to make a purchase from a brand within your industry.

It’s time to stop begging for Likes and start delivering content that makes them want to Like you.   Then, and only then, have you earned the right to ask for anything.

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the content whisperer

Magazines were the original social networks. They filled a void for otherwise isolated individuals and the content transported them outside their community.   Brands promoted their products through this early network with static advertising placement that shouted “LOOK AT ME.  BUY ME.  LOVE ME.”

Early television formats featured someone standing motionless at a microphone telling stories.  Much like the technology evolution from radio to television, this print to digital content evolution has left folks standing around delivering static content in a dynamic environment.  Technology changes faster than corporate mindset.

Thankfully, the gap is starting to close and we’re seeing Brands and marketers leading with diversity in content innovation.

Social networks are about sharing.  It’s important to understand the distinction between sharing, and being shared with.  Value, not persuasion, is the core of the social sharing ecosystem.  Content must be dynamic not static—put the microphone down and put on your dancing shoes.

As a brand, providing value in content is about storytelling.  Storytelling is a long-standing tradition at the heart of all families, communities and cultures.  Effective and dynamic story-telling develops deeper, emotional connections that allow readers to be a big part of the experience.

So, how do you tell an effective story?

Imagine your brand as a big book of stories.  Each story must have your brands corporate message baked in (not obvious posturing), it must be relevant, timely, provide value, allow for consumer interaction, and be engaging.  You want your audience to turn the page and read the next story, don’t you?

With that in mind, let’s use Coca-Cola’s 70/20/10 content rule.  70% of your stories should be the low-risk, solid useful content your audience expects—appealing to all audiences.  20% of your stories should be higher-risk, solid useful content that is directed to specific segments of your audience—your loyal consumers.  The last 10% of your stories are where you can set your hair on fire.  It’s the content that reaches out to the edges, or comes at your idea in an entirely new way. Your audience might not be there yet or they might be right there with you.  It’s the crazy, never-been-done-before-and-might-fail ideas.  This is high-risk, but it has the potential to achieve the highest share rate and is also where your future 70-20% will come from.

Ultimately, content innovation is driven by the combination of old ideas and new configurations.  Readers don’t want to be told information in a static one-way drop.  They want to have a conversation about the information, be swept away into the information, they want to be affected and share that information within their own social circles.

Brand stories should be a distribution of creativity with a content excellence that would make a ruthless editor weep tears of joy.  You want to be dramatically different—not just noise in the digital airwaves.  But how many different ways can you do it?  The possibilities are endless!

A good example of a Brand leading their story through innovation is the grocery retail chain, Longo’s.   They are telling you their brand story—quite literally.   They are exercising their 10% and pioneering into new content configuration frontiers.  They are bringing journalistic blogging together with traditional publishing techniques for a compelling story that is fun, engaging, and worth the attention of their audience.

And hey, it can even be plopped into my e-reader with RSS.

This is an idea of brand storytelling through actual storytelling.  Check out Longo’s creative non-fiction brand story here.

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The spirit of 2011: how the world searched

What mattered in 2011? Zeitgeist sorted billions of Google searches to capture the year’s 10 fastest-rising global queries and the rest of the spirit of 2011.

Let’s make 2012 a positive, inspirational quest for knowledge.

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Chest bump the web—then high five your employees

Net policy or social media policy?  I hear both of these terms being thrown about as if they were interchangeable.  There is a difference.  There should be a difference.  The main distinction is the focus on what employees can do in the web world, rather than what they can’t.  An internet policy typically outlines employee internet use during work hours—and consequently the monitoring of that use.  A social media policy governs the individual interactions of your employees in the social sphere—as it relates to your brand—and can be much harder to monitor once an employee has clocked out and is operating in their own time.

There is a certain amount of trust, respect and responsibility that must accompany your employees when they venture out into the social web as a walking, talking, breathing, blogging extension of your brand.  Implementing a social policy—more like guidelines really—that impart the tremendous amount of social responsibility is imperative so that nobody ends up dooced.

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