Category Archives: brand communication

Social Media Posting vs. Winning Brand Preference

Are you just aimlessly posting or are you working to drive brand preference in your social marketing efforts?

brand preferenceLet’s be clear. The objective of social marketing is to create brand preference such that when individuals are ready to make a purchase decision in the brand’s category, they repeatedly prefer your brand. Brand preference can be measured by a Social Brand Index that considers awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. (Note – I developed and use the Social Brand Index when working with brand clients.) Social marketing success is measured by the degree of brand preference you capture. You need to “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like” before you start your social strategy, plan, execution, and collection of data.

So if you are responsible for your brands social presence, recognize that each posting is a small opportunity to create brand preference. Many can come up with a cute or humorous post, but how many can pull together a social presence that:

1) creates continuous brand preference, and
2) integrates across all other company activities?

Let’s take these one at a time. First, what does it mean to create brand preference via social marketing? It means that

• every posting,
• all the listening on brand social platforms and elsewhere in the digital space,
• every piece of content production,
• every digital conversation, and
• all promotion opportunities

are aimed at

• influencing positive brand perception,
• brand loyalty,
• brand love, and
• growing word of mouth marketing for the brand.

How many social effort areas are truly choreographed to accomplishing this? While social marketing posts must by timely and spontaneous (real-time marketing), opportunistic content and postings must still be aimed at achieving and deepening brand preference. Before you post something, simply run a litmus test … Ask, “Is this post aimed at further creation of obtaining brand preference?” This is what I mean when asking what the difference is between social postings and creating brand preference.

But the social marketing effort is not done there. It must be integrated with all other company areas that affect and touch the target audience … That would most likely be the entire company. Remember, the job of social marketing is creating brand preference. Thus, social marketers must collaborate with direct marketers (advertisement, promotions, PR, email, event, SEO, display, etc.), executive branches, customer service, and all other support services. The collaborative nature with other functional areas in the company must be give and take. That is, social marketers must deliver target audience information and perception to the company as a whole as a function of social listening. Social marketers must also capture activities (plans, strategy, stories, programs, thought leadership, etc.) from the extended company functional groups that should be shared to the target audience to help shape brand preference.

Far too often, brands take on social marketing because they think it is a must for their business without understanding what the objective should be and how to measure the results. From a strategic perspective, this means developing a plan, activities, and metrics that will yield true brand preference. From a tactical perspective this means stopping for 5 seconds before posting to ask, “Is this post incrementally helping to yield brand preference.”

Brand preference is established by having (at a minimum) a satisfactory product/service, but that offering is then supported by unwavering commitment to the buyer. Social media is a prime opportunity to demonstrate target audience commitment. In social marketing, the commitment shown by production of superior content (valuable information and/or entertaining media), listening and taking action on applicable posts on a variety of platforms, and engaging in conversation with socially active users (especially influencers).

What are you doing in your social marketing activities to create brand preference?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, customer relations, marketing, social marketing, social media, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Content Marketing – A Must for Marketing Communications

Everyone is talking about content marketing like it is the new messiah of marketing. Hasn’t marketing communications been producing content for years?

Marketing communications are messages and related media used to communicate with a market.” The key point of this definition is “communicate with a market.” What type of communication grabs the interest of the market? The behavior of today’s consumers and b to b targets dictates that the communication must evolve and change. As a function, marketing communications can no longer simply rely on press releases, corporate styled marketing brochures and web presence, and pitching their goods to media outlets. Yes, these are still important activities. But if you look at the way most are attracted to information about products and services, brand marketing communication needs a new approach.

Content marketing has become a must for marketing communications. There are those that say say mar comm people have been producing content for years and that is true. But the stylization of the content they have produced is corporate speak and insufficient. Audiences are not motivated by this flavor of content and do not react to produce desired business results. I will get to the change required in a bit.

If you believe that content marketing has been around for years consider what others are saying. Forbes asks the question “Is Content the Future of Marketing?” And another recent article claims “Content Marketing Goes Mainstream.”

So let’s just agree that content marketing has been around for some time, BUT requires a dramatic change if brands want to provoke desired outcomes and measurable results that contribute to their companies’ KPI (key performance indicators). As I have said for a number of years now, brands need to think and produce like a publisher.

What is Your Story

This exact mentality was captured well in an article in AdWeek titled “Genuine Brand Publishing Needs to Trump Generic Content Marketing.” There is some great advice provided there. They state, “The first step is to switch the language and change the content marketing moniker to brand publishing. A valuable piece of brand content doesn’t exist in a vacuum, despite what some publishers would have you believe. In fact, content is an effective medium for brands because it maps back to a broader narrative—the story a brand is telling about itself.”

The story – this is the key change. A brand story is not product speak. We see brands getting caught up in this mistake over and over again. And marketing communications must stop this approach because it is turning off their audience more than turning them on.

When you think of brand stories, think about how people use your product/service. How did the brand get it’s start? What are the people like that manufacture the brand and bring it to market? What stories do your users want to tell? Let them tell their stories. How is your brand supporting a particular community? What are special rituals within your company? These are the types of stories that resonate with today’s audience.

If you want to keep your brand top of mind of your potential marketing, tell great stories. Doesn’t everyone want to hear a great story?

How high can you reach? How far can you see? How big can you dream?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Aim for Earned Social Media

Brand LoveIf you are a marketing professional or student, you have probably heard of “earned media.” Earned media is a powerful aspect of a marketing plan. “Earned media refers to favorable publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising, as opposed to paid media, which refers to publicity gained through advertising. Earned media often refers specifically to publicity gained through editorial influence” (Wikipedia).

Well over two years ago, I covered the importance of “Integrating Owned, Earned, and Paid Media.” That article is the most visited post on The SocialSteve blog. Here, I want to cover something as equally important – capturing earned social media. I am kind of surprised that earned social media is not a prevalently used term. I’ll define earned social media as favorable publicity gained through word of mouth referrals by objective users of digital and social platforms.

When it comes to earned social media, don’t believe the hype. Go with empirical data. One of the most telling statistics I often highlight in presentations is that there is “71 percent more likelihood to purchase based on social media referrals.”

When people think of social media engagement, they most often consider conversations on their social channels where users are “talking at them.” But “talking about them” on non-brand digital assets may be even more serving to companies’ bottom lines as depicted in the statistic above. Thus, marketers must aim to win earned social media.

There are a number of ways to motivate earned social media:

1) It all starts with having a great product or service. To quote the cliche, “you can’t put lipstick on a pig.”
2) Produce content that is not about your product or service, but delivers valued and entertaining information to your audience. People often refer and share great content.
3) Reach out to influential users and bloggers and give them something they value. Don’t push your product.
4) Actively participate in communities and forums relevant to your product/service.
5) Search for people “talking about your brand” and engage with them. Thank them … Thank yous go very far.
6) Ask people that have told you that they have had a great experience with your product or service to share it with their friends, family, and colleagues.
7) Run UGC (user generated content) marketing campaigns.

The overall best way to win earned social media is to show sincere care and appreciation to your audience. If you have the right mentality and follow the tactics highlighted above, your loyal customers will become your most powerful marketing and sales team.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, loyalty, marketing, owned-earned-paid media, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

This past week my son turned me on to an awesome Facebook page – Humans of New York … maybe the best Facebook page I have seen.

Before I share with you why this page is so great and what you should learn from it, let’s quickly review some Facebook fundamentals. Most people focus solely on Facebook “likes.” Likes by itself is not telling. You need to look at the “talking about this” parameter in conjunction with “likes.” Facebook defines “talking about this” as

the number of unique users who have created a “story” about a page in a seven-day period. On Facebook, stories are items that display in News Feed. Users create stories when they:

• like a page
• post on the page wall
• like a post
• comment on a post
• share a post
• answer a question
• RSVP to a page’s event
• mention the page in a post
• tag the page in a photo
• check in at a place
• share a check-in deal
• like a check-in deal
• write a recommendation
• claim an offer

The reason why “talking about this” is so important is that it basically defines how many Facebook users see the brand’s posts on their newsfeed. Thus, I always emphasize that the percentage of likes relative to the number of talking about this is the Facebook metric you need to look at.


Now, back to Humans of New York. To start, look at the number of likes and number of talking about this. 1.5 million likes and 600K talking about this. 40 percent of the “likes” are “talking about this.” I have never seen this high of a percentage. As a comparison, entertainers run about 20 percent and commercial brands run about 1 to 2 percent.


The magic of Humans of New York is pretty simple … great photographs and great human interest stories. So while Humans of New York is not a commercial brand, I still believe that marketers can learn much from their approach. Marketers – understand their content strategy. Pictures and human stories are most compelling to digital and social audiences. Find a way to humanize your brand. Feature the people behind the brand, the company team. Highlight the loyalists and the people that support your brand. Open your digital channels to UGC (user generated content). Brands’ Facebook presence must be more about people and stories than product push.

I do realize that Humans of New York is not a commercial brand where their success is measured by units sold. Granted, they have the luxury of posting whatever they want without concern for sales. But brands must have this mentality on their social channels as well. Let me put it this way … Marketers, don’t you want your posts to make it to your likes newsfeed? Don’t you want your audience to love your posts and engage? Don’t you want your brand to stay top of mind?

Make It Happen,

Footnote … While I am an experienced marketer that stays current on new and trending digital environments, it was my son that alerted me to Humans of New York. I constantly talk to my kids about their digital and social experiences and preferences. Even if you are an experienced marketer executing you need to learn from the people shaping the current and future behavior of digital usage.


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, digital media, Facebook, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Why Don’t We Re-launch Social Media Marketing as Relationship Marketing

Social media marketing is still so misunderstood. Executives see a strong wave of people using social media and determine that they need to launch a social media program. But this approach is flawed for two main reasons. First, social is not a program. It needs to be a long-term commitment. Second, your target audience does not want to se selling on social channels. They consider social platforms to be a place where they engage and interact, and get information they value. Furthermore, if a brand does nothing but sell on their managed social channel, they are not likely to gain much traction and engagement.

Thus, I recommend that you re-launch your social effort to be a relationship marketing long-term commitment. Yeah, I know … I am wordsmithing here. But maybe calling your efforts relationship marketing is what you need to reinforce to your entire organization what needs to be done, hint what success looks like, and drive the correct execution.

In my article last week, I suggested that the objectives of social marketing are:

1) To get in front of your target audience and establish interest, value, trust, and interactivity.
2) Generate brand preference.
3) Provoke referrals and word of mouth marketing.

relationshipThe reason why I stop short of aiming for additional company goals (such as sales) is driven by recognition of what users want from their brands in the social space. It is almost like brands need permission from an audience to “participate” in social channels. If brands do not play by their target audiences’ rules for engagement, they will be ignored on social platforms.

So lets talk a little about brand relationships for a bit. Relationships take time to mature and grow. As in one’s personal life, brands need to recognize this. Thus brands must be committed to a long-term social commitment. And why are strong relationships important for brands? Simply put, strong brand relationships define long-term sustainable success. Relationships that create brand loyalty and brand advocacy. And if you can get your audience to truly love your brand, they will do just about anything for you. They will be your greatest advocates. If your loving customers and advocates market your brand (word of mouth) you have the strongest and most authentic form of advertisement.

You would be amazed at how simply changing the labeling of social media marketing to relationship marketing adjusts and realigns your use of social channels to focus on what needs to be accomplished to drive successful results. And while I concur that all marketing efforts need to deliver value to a company’s top line revenue, I would argue that the way to get there with social media is not by aiming for direct sales. It is almost exclusively geared at relationship building. After all if you “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like” you will be committed to strong relationship building. Now all you need is to make relationship marketing part of your strategy and tactics. Don’t fake it …

Make it Happen!
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, customer relations, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

The Plight of a Customer Centric Company

Let’s face it. Brands have lost some degree of their perceived position as a result of social technologies that allow the target audience to strongly affect brand reputation. More than anything else, social media is the motivation for companies to change and truly be customer centric. The true substances of companies are unveiled. People see the difference between what companies say and what they do. And at the same time, there is an abundance of companies claiming to be customer centric while only giving it lip service.

Customer Centric

To start, a customer centric company must have complete empathy for the target audience. This means that you need to understand everything about your audience … what motivates them, interests them, turns them off, and causes them to take action. And once you understand this, you need to determine changes required in your company.

Let me give you a simple example. For a longtime, I worked for various technology companies as a traditional marketing executive. I found that most technology companies suffer from what I call “technology testosterone.” They all would claim, they are bigger, faster, stronger, more secure, and claim other technological superlatives. One company claimed they had the greatest SSL (secure-socket-layer) technology. And they probably did in fact have a great SSL technology. But the main target audience for this SSL offering was financial institutions that look to purchase payment card authorization solutions. You see, too much of the company focus was on “what they did” as opposed to “the solutions they offered their customers.” In a customer centric organization it is all about what you do for your customer as opposed to your offerings. Yes, this is a small variance of go-to-market positioning, but the nuances affect brand perception and success.

While brand positioning is important to becoming a customer centric business, it is only a start. Maybe the strongest example of a customer centric business is Amazon. Jeff Bezos’s declares that is “the most customer-centric company in the world.” Is this lip service? Consider all of the following points:

• Amazon determines their customers needs, and then works backwards to deliver solutions.
• In the beginning at Amazon executive meetings, there was often a chair left empty and unseated. This is symbolic of the ever-present customer. Now specially trained employees represent the customer, called “Customer Experience Bar Raisers.” “When they frown, vice ­presidents tremble.”
• Bezos requires that mid-level meetings include one person serving solely as the customer advocate. This person has the power to veto actions that undermine customers’ interests.
• Amazon reorganizes often. The reorgs are always done so with a focus to better serve their customers.
• Bezos requires everyone on staff to be able to work in the call center.
• Bezos states, “In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.””
• Bezos vetoes snarky ads that mock customers.
(Sources – How Great Leaders Communicate and Amazon Technology – Jeff Bezos Gets It)

The points above briefly highlight what it takes to be a true customer centric company. Amazon is a great example of a customer centric company. They walk the walk as opposed to talk the talk. The result, the most successful online retailer. I expect Bezos to take The Washington Post and revamp success solely driven by a keen focus on the audience. Don’t expect this to happen overnight. Bezos is willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time only to ultimately change the way business functions in the most successful way.

Social media is the current rationalization for evolution to becoming a customer centric company. I got involved in social media early on because I follow customer behavior to influence my marketing approach. I did not get bullish on social marketing because of hype. I follow the audience actions and act accordingly. Learn to follow your audience and fully act accordingly. Audience behavior is very important in the marketing of your brand, but that is not enough. You must allow customer opportunities, issues, and solutions to drive your company organization and actions. Traditional company organizations must change and inherent silos must be dismantled. True leaders will recognize these fundamental success criteria and change the DNA of their company. Are you ready?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, leadership, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

End of the Brand Websites?

For the past couple of years I have been hearing many people state it is the end of the brand website … I could not disagree more! I see proclamations like

• The end of the website due to the rise of apps
• The end of the website due to the rise of mobile devices
• The end of the website due to the collapse of civilization

as stated in an article I read this week. This mentality is completely backwards.

For far too long, marketers have regarded websites as a place for purchase first and information second. Yes, a website should be a place for commerce, but it needs to be a source of content first. Content that provides entertainment, subject matter expertise, and information. The content needs to be crafted such that it promotes the brand’s target audience’s lifestyle.

Let me give you an example to start and then I will come back to points of consideration. Look at Red Bull’s website – they have nailed it. Yes they could try to sell Red Bull on their site, but their audience would be completely turned off by that approach. Instead, Red Bull uses their website to be a media company. They understand their audience and give their audience content they want. Content on extreme lifestyles of adventure, motor sports, biking, skateboarding, snowboarding, and music. They do not push their brand, but they sell a brand lifestyle. This reinforces the position of their brand and the feeling they want their target audience to have about their brand.

Now Red Bull does take my point to an extreme. I think it is worthwhile to have some brand soft sell on the website – coupons, sweepstakes, ecommerce – but all of these marketing touches should not overload the web content and overtake website real estate.

Many digital marketers focus on their brand’s play on social and mobile marketing. There is definitely a need to have strong brand presence in these digital areas because of today’s audience behavior. All marketing efforts must be driven by target audience actions and motivations. Now at the same time, we want brands to have a core, consolidated portfolio of content and information availability.

Almost one year ago, I wrote an article on the importance of content on a brand’s website. I brought up this concept of a content hub. Your brand website should include this content hub, and the content hub should be a primary part of the website. Then, social channels, mobile, and apps should be used to reference the content, proliferate the content, and to engage with the target audience.

core content

I argued that while social marketing is not about direct sales, certainly we do not want to miss the opportunity for sale conversion if the reader has that interest. Having the content directly on the site where there is also product information and ecommerce creates increased consideration and sales opportunities. Social marketing and the wide spread use of mobile should be used to leverage the brand content and direct people back to a place where all content resides. This approach allows the audience to see the breadth of valuable content provided by the brand as opposed to simply putting content in social postings. The audience will gain an appreciation for the breadth of content and spend greater time on the website. This may result in greater brand preference and ultimately greater loyalty and advocacy.

As an audience gains appreciation for the brand content, they should be able to use the brand website as a utility for purchase as well. Include ecommerce and shopping cart technologies on the website, but once again, do not hog up website real estate. Yes, I understand this is a brand’s primary interest – to sell. But we must be cognizant of audience motivations or lack there of. They do not want a hard sell.

Gain trust and reputation. Then make it easy to purchase. Your brand website design should be driven by these objectives, in that order.

The end of the website – definitely not. But rather I see the stylization and utility of brand website needing a dramatic change.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, content marketing, marketing, mobile, social marketing, social media, website

Social Media Marketing and Its Relevance to Sales

social salesWhat is social media marketing’s role in sales? This is the real question company leaders want answered. Last week I wrote an article, “Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway” which touched on the subject of social marketing’s relationship to sales. Judged by the amount of discussion and misinformation generated, especially on the LinkedIn CMO Network Group, it is necessary to take on questions of social marketing and relevance to sales directly.

First, let me state that it is pretty much impossible to measure direct results of social marketing on sales. That is because most of the channels used for socializing a brand are not owned by the brand. If I post something on my Facebook page, or tweet something on my Twitter page, and it states something like “love my new ‘brand-name’,” that post can be monitored, but not pixelated or cookied to capture further actions. Yes, there are quantitative marketing mix models that attempt to isolate marketing channels to assess product sales lift, but most of the accurate models are cost prohibitive to use.

If you really want to understand the relationship of social marketing and sales, you must be more of a psychologist than a marketer. Human behavior … that is what needs to be evaluated. How does the audience react to brand posts and socialization? There is a direct correlation to continuous active following and future sales.

So let me give you an example. A while back, I did some social marketing for a well-known women’s magazine. The sales department “packaged in” a Facebook post from a deodorant company that simply said “keep dryer …” The audience went ballistic. They were appalled at blatant advertisement and selling on a social channel. Direct selling on social channels often produces the exact opposite of the marketers’ objectives. It turns off people.

But smart marketers know how to subtly sell on social channels. Think of it this way … use social to sell a customer experience. A customer experience that delivers value to the target audience. And when you consistently deliver value over time, you do not win a sale; you win a loyal customer that often becomes your advocate as well.

In the past, I have defined that social marketing should NOT be measured in sales or conversion. It is measured in awareness, consideration, loyalty and advocacy. Awareness and consideration as pre-sale attributes. But the post sales attributes of loyalty and advocacy are much more important for long-term sustainable business. And this is the true power of social marketing.

So here are some takeaways on social marketing relevance to sales:

1) You cannot measure direct sales effectively.
2) In most cases, consumers are turned off by blatant advertisement postings on social channels. (Yes, there are some exceptions and brands can run promotions and coupons in limitation.)
3) Social marketing yields strong results of pre-sales awareness and consideration and post-sales loyalty and advocacy. These four attributes tee up sales. Social has a strong value in sales, but not necessarily direct sales.

True – social is not a great vehicle to deliver immediate sales. But well executed social marketing delivers long-term sustainable sales. Social marketing yields brand preference. Brand preference produces repeatable sales and word of mouth marketing and referrals. Thus social marketing manufactures consumer conviction and sales.

It is difficult to correlate social activities to sales figures. But if you see empirical data that demonstrates brand increase in awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy, does it not make sense that an increase sales will be the residual affect?

Far too often companies are driven by quarter-to-quarter results to the detriment of long-term sustainability and growth. Social marketing is definitely a long-term commitment and rarely produces immediate results. But does every company want committed customers and brand champions? Wanting and executing do not go hand in hand. Are you committed to long lasting success or just worried about the next quarter? The answer to this question largely defines expected social marketing success to drive long lasting sales.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

You Talking Product or Lifestyle on Your Brand’s Social Media Presence?

Have you ever have had a conversation with someone where all they do is just talk about themselves? How many friends do you have like that? Probably not many. No one likes to be on the receiving end of blatant over self-absorption and indulgence. Could your brand possibly be socializing like that?

Stop to think about how your brand is socializing? Does the brand constantly talk about its product? Are you using Facebook, Twitter, or other social channels as an excessive advertorial, promotion, and product dumping ground? If this is the case you are turning off your friends and target audience.

Let’s start by stating the obvious … I know … You want your product to have strong sales success. It pays your salary. But far too many brands are taking this mentality and lure to their social media channels.


I always tell people that social media should be the marketing of a lifestyle. What does the your brand stand for? What are the stories you want to tell that resonate with your target audience? Think about drawing your audience in, keeping them interested, and engaging with them.

So how might you go about this? Let me start by asking a simple question … What is the personality of your brand? (For that matter, does your brand have a personality?). I usually put this in the category of message strategy. The personality of a brand comes out in the message strategy, or is it that the message strategy comes out from the brand personality? In any event, you need a voice, tone, persona, and overall feel for your brand that resonates with your audience. You see, the brand personality should not just be a reflection of your corporate culture, but also have depth in what your audience wants. And that is a big difference between personal socializing and brand socializing … In professional marketing you should be willing to change your brand’s personality and manufacture talking points to please your audience. Case in point – a pinnacle example is Coca-Cola’s digital presence. Look at their digital presence. (homepage, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr)

Brands need to change. Social channels should not be viewed as selling channels. Too many companies are lured into a sales mentality and throw too much product material on their social posts. Brands need more of a story-telling, lifestyle, entertaining, and/or expertise of media mentality, presence and engagement on their social channels. If you take this approach, your social presence will help you sell. Down the road. With greater conviction. With greater help selling to an extended audience via referral and advocacy. That is if you take time, patience, and investment to become a producer of media and engagement as opposed to being an advertising exec on your social endeavors.

Now I am not saying you cannot or should not mention your product or run a promotion on social channels. Certainly you can and should, but some words of caution … Do it in the context of social engagement. Not “down your throat advertising.” Integrate promotion and sweepstakes in the look and feel of the set brand personality. And limit social channels for product speak. The number of times you mention your products in posts really depends on the vertical you serve. But I would limit it to no more than 15%, 20% of the time, max.

If you follow steps to think like a media producer and media director as opposed to an advertising exec when utilizing your social channels, you will see much greater empirical results. Use social the way the audience values brands on social. The audience is not looking for another advertising channel. They are looking for digital presence that reinforces their lifestyle and aspirational desires. Can you present your brand personality in this manner?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under ads, brand communication, brand marketing, content marketing, digital media, marketing, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Why Social Marketing Must be a Commitment by Top Leadership at a Company

A few weeks ago I wrote an article aimed at the social media manager suggesting how they can “Drive Social Media Adoption at Their Company.” This article was motivated by the abundance of comments and concerns I’ve heard from social managers. Many have voiced frustration with their companies’ emergence in audience engagement and social marketing. Today, I turn the tables and point my discussion at companies’ executives, CxOs, and leadership.

Straight up, company executives must embrace social marketing.

executive leadershipThis past week, I read an excellent article, “Is Social Media A Career?” where they emphasized that there is a need for a social manager but the activity of producing social content and engagement is “… a cross-departmental, cross-functional set of tools that needs a variety of different people who buy in across a company.” And if we are looking for various people to buy in, it starts with leadership at the top.

The CEO, CMO, CSO, or any CxO has three responsibilities to set the tone for a social culture in the company.

1) They need to make sure subject matter experts in the organization are active on company social channels. There needs to be a diversity of people sharing information and engaging with an audience to reinforce a depth of knowledge, expertise, and care from the company as a whole.

2) Leadership needs to make sure that there is a “playbook” that addresses the companies’ position and set plan for expedited engagement. This playbook dictates that there are people actively searching for relevant information that provides the opportunity for real-time marketing (typically the social manager). But it is not necessarily the responsibility of the social manager to provide information and responses. Organizations need to leverage their experts to address specific information. Yes, it is the social managers responsibility to quarterback the engagement, but the company needs other players to take the quarterback’s signals and execute.

3) Awesome content is the key to social marketing success and you cannot expect the social manager to deliver all content for a brand. The responsibility of content production must be spread around to different experts and departments. Executives need to set a culture where this is not only required participation and support, and where different departmental leaders are enthusiastic to share with the brand’s audience.

As we see social marketing evolve, we will see that the social strategy is not the responsibility of the social or community manager. This must be the job of company leadership. Yes, social managers still play an important role in the organization, but their role is coordination and execution. Social purpose and strategy must be a key element of brand culture. Who is responsible for shaping the culture of a company? It starts at the top.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, company organization, leadership, marketing, social business, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media organization, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve