Tag Archives: Social Media strategies

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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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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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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