Tag Archives: Social Media Marketing

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

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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there’s a word for marketing in social communities… it’s called SPAM

Nobody wants to be spammed when they’re kicking back enjoying some social time.  And really, it’s all about the social time, isn’t it?

The term “marketing” developed from an original meaning, which referred literally to going to a market to buy or sell goods or services.  The vast majority of people still have this definition attached to the word.  It’s dirty.  It’s obsolete.  If you’re marketing to me—you’re trying to sell me something—even if you try to disguise it by giving it a fancy name like, “conversation.”  It’s spam-eting.  Only the marketers, themselves, will try to convince you that marketing has evolved into something new—something grandiose and powerfully necessary in the social arena.  And hey, I’m all for evolution and re-inventing yourself, but let’s call a spade a spade.  The truth is, if these marketers can hang on to the word, then they get to woo and wow you with a lifetime of experience in the field—even if the majority of it was spent “going to market to buy or sell some goods or services,” and it all happened long before Mark Zuckerberg was wiping his own backside.  Don’t fall for it.

Being authentic is the complete underlying message in a successful social strategy.  Stop listening to marketers telling you to market your brand.  Stop marketing.

Start engaging.

Be your authentic awesome self/brand.  Become educated in the ways of social communities and their various channels and platforms.  Respectfully seduce the distinct and recognizable personality of all things social media.  Speak the language.  Show your awesomeness.  Shout your awesomeness from the mountaintops—without actually having to shout your awesomeness at all.  Engagement offers your brand organic growth—grassroots style.

“When you do awesome things, it makes people want to share the awesome.”  That’s what un-marketing guru, Scott Stratten says.  And, he’s right.  Awesome is catchy.

It’s a completely new concept—well, within the age of social media—and actually, it’s really just a new spin on old-school word-of-mouth advertising.  Don’t fall victim to marketers pitching a blind social media campaign based on tired and dried-out analytics from some other brand/industry—on over-written PowerPoint slides to boot.  Find the influencers, the strategists, the ENGAGERS.  These are the people to help you position your platform.  THEY are the ones that will draw out your awesomeness and bridge you to your audience—to your untapped social community potential.

Do you want to know how it works?  Below is the link to the awesomeness example of a brand (Magnum Ice Cream) who went with an influencer (blogger, Scott Stratten) for the Canadian launch of their product.  Through a relationship built without expectations—the brand showed their awesome, allowing Scott’s excitement to leak from his fingertips to his hungry and unsuspecting audience.  The subtleties of authentic promotion in social media are far more reaching then some questionable sponsored post—especially when coupled with the awesomeness of the relations of the brand.  How do I know?

Last week I’d never even heard of Magnum Ice Cream.  And today, well, today, I put them in your pocket.  That’s organic reach for you.   Scott was right.  Well played Magnum, well played indeed.

Check out Scott’s story here.

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Filed under Social Media, social strategist

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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Filed under Social Media, Uncategorized, world news