Tag Archives: Social Marketing

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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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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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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social media 101: sometimes the story is in the comments

I’ve been following Google’s launch of Google+ Pages for brands with some anxiety.  I envisioned Social Marketers everywhere flocking to Google+ and spamming my circles with brand promotions.

If you don’t think Google+ is big enough for that yet—citing it’s still in its infancy—learn your facts.  Google+ has acquired 40 million users worldwide since its launch in September—kicking Facebook’s launch on its proverbial ass.

The controversy surrounding the launch of Google+ Pages continues, and rightly so.  Users are freaking out.  These 40 million users left the brand spamming of Facebook to have a social network.

If you are a brand considering creating a Page, go for it, but tread cautiously.  The reality of social is that the story is not what a brand is telling you—and Mashable, Google, and any other news delivery systems are brands too—it’s in the comments of the ultimate end-user.  It’s the opinion of the audience.

Mashable just released the article, Want to Run a Contest or Promotion on Google+? Not So Fast.  Great article—definitely worth the read.  But the comments are far more relevant to me as a Social Strategist.  Here are a smattering of comments reflecting how people feel about brands in their Google+ space.

“I am already uncircling brands, they are saturating my stream and killing all the social aspects I have been enjoying. Cheesey competitions and granting permissions to view your personal data are so Facebook ;-)”

“I cant Stand contest and quiz crap! If your page and content therein isnt promotion enough youre doing it wrong.”

“Great move from Google, spammers will stay in FB.”

“I think that’s great, I get so many promotional tweets and fb posts sometimes I miss the stuff from family. I like just having information about a company without being smacked in the face with, contests and polls.”

“I agree with others that this is a good move. Contest promotions on the net were getting to be just ways of data mining, and not a way to engage your market segment. Maybe that option will happen in the future when Google’s had time to observe what works and what flops.”

And so on, and so on…

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Want to get radical? Stop applying 20th century principles (“product,” “buzz,” “loyalty”) to 21st century media

One of the biggest challenges I face in my day-to-day business is trying to help clients evolve their thinking.  I say challenges, but I mean frustrating-bang-my-head-against-the-wall-soul-crushing experiences.  It’s SO easy to think that a social media strategy is about joining social network sites as a clever way to push your same tired old junk.  And you’d be kind of right.  That’s exactly what a social media strategy is—because that is EXACTLY what most organizations are doing.  But PEOPLE, listen up!  It’s not about social media anymore—in fact, it hasn’t been for a couple of years now.

Almost two years ago, Harvard Business Media Labs guru and author, Umair Haque, wrote about this very topic.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, using social media in business is about developing the capacity to understand your organization’s role in society, and using that role in a more constructive way.  It’s about developing a social strategy first—which will then shape your business and marketing strategies.  Social Medias are just the tools—the assets.  A social strategy is about wielding sociality as a source of advantage.  The most basic social strategy is to help you and your brand to STOP being antisocial.  Umair is bang on.  In today’s social world, this is not radical thinking.  Evolve already.

I understand that it’s tough to embrace change.  There are no expectations that an organization is going to re-align itself to the 21st century on my command.  The reality is that the upper-echelons are in a “wait and see” mode.  Folks that have been in the marketing and business world for decades are stuck with traditional blinders on.  I have heard these same people exclaim in passionate battle cries that they get it.  But they don’t.  They don’t believe they are even wearing blinders.

I have also heard every excuse in the book—and more—about their experiences driving them, and how the real world “just doesn’t work like that.”  To them I say… pishaw!  Take your scared head out of your ego ass and let’s rock and roll this thing.  OK, so I don’t really say that—but I’m definitely thinking it while I stomp my foot and ball my fists.  How can I help you if you won’t help yourself?  It’s not imperative to make the changes at once—what is imperative is that you keep your eye on the ball and your nose in the game.  Take your bloody blinders off—it’s not personal.  I know you were great in your day, I know you know things, and yes, I know this isn’t your first rodeo.  What you won’t hear is that the rodeo is long over my friend.  Those horses have been dead for five years—dismount already.

I’m sharing Umair Haque’s article here.  He uses real phrases like “soul-deadening” instead of industry buzz jargon that makes you want to dig your eyes out with a spork.  You know the stuff—we’ve all sat through too many of those PowerPoint presentations.

“Using the social to “build buzz” and “push product” is about as smart as using a warp drive to visit your local Wal-Mart. Social tools today are used mostly as a new “channel” to push the same old useless stuff of the industrial era at hapless “consumers.” That’s meaninglessness at it’s finest. It’s the least productive — and most soul-deadening — use of a formidably powerful tool.’ – Umair Haque

“Social strategies are about reinventing tomorrow. Their goal is nothing less than changing the DNA of an organization, ecosystem, or industry. Want to get radical? Stop applying 20th century principles (“product,” “buzz,” “loyalty”) to 21st century media. The fundamental change of scale and pace that social tools introduce into human affairs — their great tectonic shift — is the promise of more meaningful work, stuff, and organization. Start with “the meaning is the message” instead.” – Umair Haque

Did I mention it’s time to evolve your thinking?

~uberscribbler

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The Social Media Marketing Lie

Social Marketing sounds scary—foreign even.  And it should, because it’s misleading.  The Social Marketers out there in the headlines are making up the rules as they go along.  The race to be the most influential expert in the Social Media industry is definitely on.  And honestly, if marketing folk didn’t hike up their bootstraps and hoof it in a new direction—they’d be quickly out of work.  It’s really not that complex.  Don’t believe all the smoke and mirrors.  There’s no magic bullet.  And—it’s not marketing.

Social Marketing is not about marketing at all—at least not in the traditional sense.  It’s about customer service—and marketing that service.  In order for a Social Media program to be successful, you can’t live in the house of marketing.  You can accessorize with marketing methodology such as campaigning, product sampling, and that sort of thing.  But the house you must live in needs to be customer service. 

The frontline of your organization is customer service—this is where your company becomes real to the public.  Engaging with the public shows them you’re real, it shows them a human face.  It puts you in the coveted position of confidant.  It allows you to listen to what customers are saying and keeps you pro-active and top-of-mind, all the while remaining involved with them.  More importantly than that, you’re building a community that allows customers to interact with each other and it is—in essence—a celebration of your customers.  It’s an everyday virtual customer conference.

It’s time to let go of traditional values and let the community and your customer service team market for you.  Teaming your marketing silo up with Social Strategists is setting your conversations up to fail—before they even begin.  There will be all sorts of head-butting, non-acceptance of key strategy elements, and downright refusal to play nice in the sandbox.  Your marketing team is skilled in traditional marketing and is an important piece of your business puzzle—just on a secondary scale in Social Media.   Customer service is built for listening and for scaling, and must be the starting point for any successful Social integration program.  If the program is to standalone, it can be effectively positioned—or repositioned—as residing between customer service and marketing.  Tearing down organizational silos could mean realignment of budgets and key management, but worth the reorganization to bring these departments together.  It will be a critical effort in order to manage Social Media after deployment. 

You will be managing the care of the public in a public platform.  Everyone will be watching; customers, potential customers, fans, your competitors—even your mom.  You need to put your best “face” forward.   Do you want to trust the customer service of your marketing team to make the decisions? Or do you want to rely on the skills and training of your dedicated customer service team to engage your audience?  It seems like a no-brainer.

Social media is not going away.  In fact, this is only the beginning.  Before long Social Media will be an integral and essential part of the business industry.  It will be as obvious and as necessary as email and paycheques.  You can stick your head in the sand and pooh-pooh the whole emergent phenomenon of Social, and you can go on believing that traditional values are hard-core and cannot be so easily torn down.  But, you’d be wrong.  You have to be open and adaptable to change.  You have to learn new tricks—no matter how old your dog is. 

As a leader in your organization, it’s up to you to make the tough decisions.  Board ego’s run deep, budgets are tight, and nobody wants to talk about change.  Ain’t that the way it goes?  All the excuses and reasoning in the world won’t change the fact that one day soon—in order to continue to compete for market—you’re going to have to implement a Social strategy.  Why not start embracing it now?

Start discussing strategies internally.  Conceptualize your organization in a conversation.  Align and arm your customer service department for the new program.  Ask for help.  Find reputable Social Marketing Strategists to consult with and build a rock-solid platform for your business to engage the world.  We are out there—and we’ll tell you the truth. 

Easy-peasy, right?

~uberscribbler

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