Category Archives: customer relations

Nothing Unveils Customer Commitment Like Social Media

As a digital marketing executive, I see two types of clients. Type A wants to increase sales. Type B takes it a bit further and knows that to increase sales brands need to provide an exceptional user experience to sustain continuous and long-term growth.

customer commitment

Let me share with you a correspondence I had this week. I have edited some of the conversation only to respect the privacy of those involved, but the nature and essence of the correspondence prevails free of any poetic justice on my part.

Potential client – “I wondered first and foremost what your fee would be to
help us with our social media page … We are a small company with an extremely small budget.”

My response – “Really more important than getting you on track is you and your team’s ability and bandwidth to keep social in motion. You (or your team) would need to produce constant content reinforcing [your brand value] … Would you be able to commit to an article a week, curating content, and providing a POV (point of view) on issues on a regularly bases? If yes, I’d be glad to discuss how I can help and my fees.”

You see participation and lack there of truly magnifies a company’s/brand’s commitment to their target audience. If you just want to get another number signed up to your company service, social is going to be a bad marketing mix choice for your company. If you want to use social to demonstrate your subject matter expertise, sincere interest in providing solutions, and a desire to listen to what your audience says, social marketing is an awesome addition to your marketing mix.

There is no social media expert that is going to turn your social marketing effort into success unless YOU are a) truly committed to your customer and b) are willing to learn your audience’s digital behavior and adapt or reallocate time and resources to meet their evolved usage patterns? Do you believe this mentality and approach leads to continuous sales growth?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

Footnote – The response I got from the prospect was – “I hear you. I do know that it would take time out of my already busy day. That being said, I’m not so sure if I have a choice if I want to gain greater visibility equating to greater income, or do I? Your question of course is understandable, but I guess it would depend upon the actual process, and just how time consuming it would be.”

An honest assessment that many must ask themselves. I do not typically share specific client correspondence and activities with my audience, but I really think there is a great sense of reality and honesty conveyed here. It is an issue that you will likely need to consciously face.

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The Secret to Successful Integrated Marketing

Straight to the point I am not going to drag you along with an anecdotal story and make you wait to get to the secret of successful integrating marketing. The secret is simply – follow the customer journey.

customer journey

When I worked at the Ryan Partnership agency, we would often display the customer journey as pictured above. This spaghetti-like diagram is actually a simplification of a customer purchase path for a potential healthcare/beauty product. The diagram shows the consumer:

1) getting input from their friends, family, and colleagues, through social networks and other direct communications,
2) reading product reviews in print and online,
3) comparing competitive products and considering places to purchase,
4) taking actions at home before going to a store such as reading emails and searching for coupons,
5) using mobile apps while shopping,
6) sharing product experiences with friends and more widely via participation on social networks, and
7) experiencing in store displays and promotions.

Granted, the purchase journey will vary a significant amount based upon the product/service being sold and whether it is a consumer or business solution. The important point is to identify the journey and touch points for customers seeking a product/solution that your company offers.

Once you have identified the customer journey, you need to orchestrate marketing creative ideation, themes, memes, personalities, stylizations, and voices across all relevant marketing channels. Your brand and direct marketing needs to play like a Hollywood script across all marketing endeavors and channels. One brand story and supporting promotion that triggers repetitive purchase decision considerations and brand loyalty.

If you look at the different marketing groups that need to be involved as defined by customer behavior you should recognize that integrated marketing is really more about complete collaboration as opposed to integration. John Bell, former Global Managing Director at Social@Ogilvy, makes the point that “Collaboration Trumps Integration in New Marketing.” I recommend reading his article to gain insights on collaborative behaviors.

So when you wrap it all up, the secret of successful integrated marketing really boils down to behaviors. First the customers’ journey and target audience behaviors that define the focus of brand marketing efforts. And secondarily, the organizational collaborative behaviors that truly yield customer brand preference and loyalty. Is your marketing team taking this approach?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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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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Do You Need 24/7 Social Media Hours of Operations?

open 24 hoursDetermining your brand’s hours of social media operations is one of the most difficult questions answer. Social purists will be quick to say 24/7 operations are required because user digital hours are very different than store hours. But it is very easy for someone that does not have the budget and profit/loss responsibility to state idealistic requirements.

Lets start with the obvious … One size does not fit all. The appropriate hours for social media operations vary from brand to brand, company to company. There is no blanket answer. It depends on the product/service offered, overall brand positioning, and target audience behaviors.

Before we attempt to come up with the right answer for your company, please consider a handful of relevant issues:

1) There are really four reasons why you potentially want social media activities beyond “typical” hours of operation: a) to engage in customer service issues and problem resolution, b) to expedite responses to postings on your brand social channels, c) to actively listen for brand mentions in the entire social universe to manage brand reputation, and d) for continuous real time content distribution to address your worldwide audience.
2) Social marketing and customer service are not synonymous. There is definite overlap and social media platforms may be be used in customer service. Therefore, you need to determine if extended hours of “social media operations” is a responsibility of the customer service team or the social marketing team. Start by defining requirements of the “use” of social media.
3) How important is it to respond immediately to comments on your brand social platforms as it relates to your brand position and reputation? Could a 12-hour delay in responding actually diminish your brand’s reputation such that it affects audience brand consideration, preference, and/or loyalty.
4) Recognizing that bad news is shared and travels fast, how important is it to have a disaster PR business plan in place? A disaster business plan that actively neutralizes negative social postings.
5) Does your brand need to proliferate compelling content throughout the 24-hour day, or are one or two compelling daily posts valued by your audience?

If you start by looking at your brand position and audience behavior and expectations, you will begin to zero in on your specific social operational hours required. I do not think 24/7 operations are required, but I do think there needs to be continuous social business plans that address 24 hour operations. Let me explain.

First off, I am saying that there need not be a “social manager” position working 24 hours in the day. The customer service team should have access to social monitoring tools and be trained how to respond on social channels. Maybe it is a customer service organization that requires 24/7 operations. This really depends on the size and portion of the audience that uses the brand product or service, or makes purchase decisions throughout a 24-hour day.

Second, social media publishing tools allow posts to be scheduled throughout the day. Social managers can queue up a number of posts during their working hours to be posted throughout the day. The speed of response required is more important in determining social operation hours than actual brand postings.

And last but not least, consider social business continuity plans. When I talk about social business continuity plans, I am suggesting that organizations work through a number of “what if” scenarios to determine how to activate social operations and responses. Activation of social operations is not the same as having social staff working all the time. It is kind of like the life of a journalist … A journalist does not work 24/7. For news media companies, there is always someone monitoring “events.” If a grand event emerges in the middle of the night, the journalist is on call to cover the event immediately. The ramifications as it relates to business social operations is that brands need to monitor and listen 24/7. This could be accomplished via an outsourced party. Brands need to pre-plan “what if social scenarios” and have appropriate people on call and workflows to take action immediately.

When you pull this all together, I am suggesting that social monitoring needs to be a 24/7 activity. Actual social managers need not be working 24/7, but a group of social responsible managers need to be on call 24/7. And this is not limited to the person with the social manager title.

I’d like to highlight one other point. Under no circumstances can social operations be limited to Monday through Friday operations. In most industries, target audience activity is not limited to weekday activity.

In summary, understand who you are, what you stand for, and your audience behavior. That will drive the right answer to the working hours of your social operations. Also, make sure you put in place an action plan for social events that happen throughout the entire day. You need to make sure you can react at any point as situations warrant. This requires having monitoring capabilities and workflows defined; not social media managers working 168 hours in the week.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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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

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Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

Marketing is not sales and yet so many seem to forget that. If marketing is not sales, why would we measure marketing success by sales figures? And if marketing shouldn’t be measured by sales figures, does it have any importance in companies?

Marketing and SalesSome tough questions here, but let’s start with a definition. According to Wikipedia, “Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers. It is a critical business function for attracting customers.” But I would take this a bit further and add that marketing is the act of creating desire, want, and need of a brand and motivating the target market to act. This “act” can be a number of things. Yes, the act can be a purchase, but it can also be many other valuable dealings.

You see, a salesperson asks, “What can I do to get someone to purchase my product today?” A marketing person should ask, “What can I do to get someone to want my product for a lifetime and share my product value with others?”

When you look at these two different questions, you see how brands should utilize social platforms. Social media is best used to build trusted relationships. As brands build trusted relationships they continue to deliver value to a target audience. The relationships create awareness, brand consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. Continuous communication and delivery of valuable content is what reinforces these attributes. And by the way, these things can be measured, and they tee up sales. So while these “marketing efforts” may not result in direct sales, they absolutely have value for companies.

The difference between sales and marketing is short term survivability and long term sustainability – when done correctly. And this is a value of social marketing – it provides long term sustainability as opposed to short term sales when done correctly. Thus the term social marketing is emerging. Social marketing is a valuable business function. Social media is the technologies that make social marketing possible.

Not surprisingly, you do not hear the term “social sales.” Yes, social marketing can tee up sales, but is not typically successful when going at sales directly. We do hear of social commerce. And social commerce “involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services.” Social commerce includes:

1. Loyalty and referral marketing
2. Social CRM
3. Mobile social commerce
4. Better location-based marketing
5. Group buying
6. Social shopping
7. Ratings and reviews
8. Recommendations and referrals
9. Forums and communities
10. Social ads and apps

In most cases of social commerce it is the audience that takes an action. The promotion of sales in social channels comes best from the target audience as opposed to the company itself. It is more authentic and trusted selling. But you can only expect your audience to come rally advocacy and word of mouth as you continually deliver value to them. Don’t push sales in social channels. Let your audience do it as you market to them.

Think about social marketing; ease up on social selling.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Social Media Balance – Successful Secrets

We all need it in our life – balance – and it is no different for social media success. At the most macro level, social media balance means the right proportion of entrepreneurial spirit AND some old school business fundamentals. Let’s look at both sides of the coin.

On the entrepreneurial side, the most recent successful example comes from Oreo. Oreo showed their ability to think and react in “real-time” marketing as demonstrated in their now famous Super Bowl tweet.

Oreo Post

Not bad for the number of retweets and favorites for a cookie.

I was reminded of Oreo this week in the article, “Oreo’s Real-Time Marketing Strategy Requires Entrepreneurial Spirit.” Oreo’s success comes from both fast thinking and creativity – now called real-time marketing. “Real-time marketing requires an entrepreneurial spirit, simple message, willingness to prepare and readiness and ability to act quickly. All the attributes of a startup.”

But there is another side required for success as well. And that is having a social business maturity. This comes from years of marketing and business experience. I thought of this when I read the recent report “The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Business Transformation.” If you take time to read the report, it can be pretty scary. You are likely to find many deficiencies in your operations. But don’t be disillusioned. The most important thing is to know the direction you need to go for success and to methodically implement your plan to get there over time. Make sure you do EVERYTHING great. While speed is dictated for so many in this lightning speed digital world, greatness differentiates the winners and losers.

When I think of some of the greatest social marketing brands, I think of Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Ford. These are brands in the most crowded industries. They must be great to stand out. And they did not get great overnight. They have been committed to audience development via social marketing. They not only produce creative social implementations that create user response spikes, but they remain committed to listening and engaging with their audience. This keeps their audience connected and engaged for the long run.

As another point in case, I’ll give you an example from the agency I work at, Ryan Partnership … we manage social marketing for brands. As part of our ongoing social management, we use empirical data to drive continuous improvement. This past week I looked at data on social channel engagement for one particular brand. The data was extremely telling. Since we took over the social management for this account, we found a steady and consistent audience engagement. Yes there were a few spikes of engagement for specific posts, but more importantly, the brand’s audience is engaging regularly.

The point is that yes … a winning post that is executed in real time marketing is worthwhile, but even more important produces slow and steady growth on engagement. Why? Because continuous engagement leads to loyalty and establishing brand preference. Then compelling content leads to advocacy. Marketers need to unleash their audience and put their brand in the hands of their audience. This leads to social marketing success. You tell the stories of your brand, let your audience add their own slant to that story and motivate them to share with their network.

In other cases at Ryan, we have implemented creative marketing programs that result in strong incremental social following. You need it all … programs to drive spikes and continuous commitment to your audience to keep them engaged.

So when I talk about social media marketing balance, I am really highlighting two elements: 1) equal parts entrepreneurship and solid business and marketing foundation, and 2) standout posts, promotions, and sweepstakes to get immediate incremental awareness and following and at the same time continued value delivery to your audience. This approach keeps your followers engaged and attached to your brand, and motivates them to share.

Yes, the digital world dictates a need for real time marketing, but at the same time fundamental business and marketing practice will produce sustainable, long term winning results.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Four Key Takeaways for Social Media in 2012

SocialSteve's 2012 Wrap UpOverall 2012 was a great year for social media. Almost all brands recognized the need for their active participation in social marketing. While many brands still struggle with a social strategy and a plan to yield winning measurable results (see “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like,” most recognize the power of word-of-mouth marketing that social provides.

When I look back at the year, I see four key takeaways that not only shaped 2012, but should serve as considerations for your social strategies and implementations in 2013.

Social Saturation

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, just about everybody and every brand is in … social media is ubiquitous. Yes, this is great, but it also means that the social channels are saturated with everyone trying to get attention. How do you get attention? Stand out. How do you stand out? By delivering the most compelling and awesome content, information, and entertainment aimed specifically at your target audience. This doesn’t mean talking about your brand, but rather talking about your audiences’ needs, wants, and desires. Start by answering the question, “Why Would Anyone Want to be Your Friend?”

Content Marketing

Many brands figured out that the way to stand out is to have a winning content strategy and plan. The reality is that people are more apt to share content then simply talk about a brand. When looking at “Content Marketing – Social Marketing: You Can’t Have One without the Other.” Brands can motivate word of mouth marketing with killer content and there are some recommendations in the article “A Marketing Lesson about Brand Proliferation using Social Media” how to achieve it.

Earlier this year, I provided some content suggestions in a number of articles including “4 Posting Considerations to Optimize Social Media Engagement,” and “7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business.” But when you are developing a content strategy, don’t just consider your own original content. Add curated content that reinforces your brand’s subject matter expertise and position. And don’t forget “The Power of UGC (User Generate Content) for Social Marketing.”

I have been preaching the importance of content marketing as an integral part of social marketing for a number of years and 2012 was certainly the year that many others got on board. But let’s not claim victory yet. In 2013, brands need to consider “Evolving Social Media Marketing – From Content Marketing to Contextual Content Marketing.”

Following User Behavior

All marketing efforts must be aimed at the target audience and most successful implementations come from having keen customer insights and adopting marketing strategies to user behavior. There is no marketing or business channel where this mentality reigns so true as in social marketing. I captured a number of social marketing lessons learned this year simply by looking at human nature and behavior.

One story I found fascinating was presented on NPR and it covered the “rule of reciprocation.” While this story was not a social media story, I found direct applicability to social and covered it in the article “Why Giving is So Important in Social Marketing – The Rule of Reciprocation.” Whether it is the rule of reciprocation on some other recommendation, the guiding principle for social success must be putting the people you look to attract first. Such was my position in the article, “Putting People Before Profits Leads to Profits (And That’s What Social Media Is About).”

Once you have that guiding principle down and steering your social marketing direction, you are conditioned to take on some finer details. While I touched on many issues, three areas I see needing greater attention are 1) what’s next after social engagement, 2) understanding social influence, and 3) customer services on social channels.

In the article “Why You Should Not Be Satisfied With Social Engagement,” I highlighted that brand social engagement is not enough and brands should strive for greater social success. The pinnacle outcome of social marketing is customer advocacy.

With regards to social influence, I still see much misunderstanding. As a start, recognize that there are three different types of social influencers: a) traditional influencers (i.e. Wall Street Journal, NY Times); b) emerging digital influencers (bloggers with large followings and standout in a particular subject matter; and c) influencers by connection (i.e. “big man on campus”). In the article “A Real Look at Social Media Influence,” I defined these influencer types and what it means to work with them to increase brand awareness and earned media.

And the last area of social marketing that I believe needs attention based upon user behavior is the utilization of customer service on social channels. Generally speaking, I do not believe that social channels should be used for customer service and you can condition your target audience to go elsewhere to resolve problems. But read “The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media and Customer Service” if you are so inclined to get a deeper understanding of this prospective.

Facebook is not the Golden Goose

Finally, with all the talk of social media, I would be remiss not to mention Facebook. But I do not think that Facebook deserves all the attention it gets – at least not from marketers. Yes, they have one-billion-plus users, but how many of those users want Facebook to be used for brand engagement … follow user behavior. Facebook is not the golden-goose for social marketing.

Facebook made some big announcements this year and introduced a new look and feel (timeline). But the most revealing announcement from them was that only 16% of brand posts actually make it to fans newsfeed.

I shared suggestions trying to make sure you have a better understanding to determine how much you should vest in Facebook for marketing success. Consider checking back on the following articles:

New Facebook – Interpretation for Brands
Making Facebook Work for Your Brand
The Facebook Issue No One Wants To Discuss
Why Facebook May Not Be Your Brand’s Community

And I would not count out Google+ just yet. While user adoption is slow, I do think they have a winning formula as I highlighted in “Why Google’s Search+ Is a Bigger Deal than You Think.”

Social Success Elements

So there you have what I consider being the four key takeaways for social media marketing in 2012. If you want some other helpful social media tips to drive success, here are some other articles from the year worth checking out:

Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like
Why the “Social Media Person” Needs to Be More than Just the Social Media Person
The 4 Social Marketing Mandates
Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up
3 Key Elements of Social Media Marketing Success

I hope this helps you and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2013.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, blogging, brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, customer relations, customer service, Facebook, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, UGC, Word of Mouth Marketing

Putting People Before Profits Leads to Profits (And That’s What Social Media Is About)

A local news station runs a news vignette titled “Shame, Shame, Shame” from time to time. An investigative reporter tells the story of a business sleaze and uncovers shotty business dealings that screw consumers.

Recently, there was a story on a small airline that basically gouged travelers that could not fly to their destinations because of the Sandy hurricane. The airline only refunded the equivalent of $50 to passengers. The reporter’s tag line – “Shame on Spirit Airlines for putting profits before people.”

This line has stuck with me. It highlights how many unsuccessful brands approach social media. They look at social media as a set of channels to do direct sales. As I mentioned in the past people need to know what successful social media looks like. And the right approach to social media success is to have an unwavering focus on the interests, needs, and wants of your target audience. Put the people first. If you do so, profits will follow.

people first

This slant was highlighted once again this week. I heard our Chairman at Ryan Partnership, John Kuendig, tell a story of his first meeting 17 years ago with founder, Dave Ryan. John shared how Dave told him that if you focus on the people (keeping clients and your employees), the revenue and profits will come. Not that we don’t care about numbers, it’s just that putting people first is the right line of attack for successful business.

This is so true for all aspects of business. But there is no other business or marketing practice area where this is more imperative than social marketing. Why? Because social marketing is not just about your brand’s social engagement. Social marketing also comes from people talking on their own about brands … the brand need not be actively involved in the conversations. This happens all the time. So brands need to make sure that they are truly viewed as committed to the people. And while social channels are an excellent place to prove this customer-centric mentality, they also reveal facades and insincere attempts at relationship building.

You’ve seen it in your life. How many times have you come across someone who seems friendly and caring only to find out that they are a manipulator acting solely for there own gains. And people are quick to call out ill-fated maneuverings and operations in public social forums and platforms – so beware.

Conversely, if brands use social marketing as a vehicle to listen to their audience, make sure they are delivering valuable information, compelling content that is interesting and entertaining, and overall have a keen focus on delivering to people, success will be the long term result. Success that can be measured in loyalty and advocacy. And loyalty and advocacy certainly lead to revenue and profit. Yes, you should care about revenue and profit, but social media makes brands more transparent (whether they elect to do so or not). This transparency can work for you or against you and I think it is pretty obvious to say that if you continually demonstrate care for the consumers and prospects you will be on the right end of that outcome. Focus on people and their positive experiences with your brand. Use social to build meaningful and strong relationships … the residue of sincere care will be revenue contributing to increased profits.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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3 Key Elements of Social Media Marketing Success

Sure, we do not need another article highlighting the linkage of social media and Sandy – The Hurricane, but I found a great example that reinforces the key elements of social media marketing success. And the shining scenario strangely comes from government officials. When was the last time you learned something about marketing from the government?

The case in point comes from two elected officials that demonstrated leadership and lack thereof. One leveraged digital technologies and one did not. Specifically, I call attention to the leadership of Newark Mayor, Cory Booker, and the lack by New York Senator Charles Schumer.

It is common practice for elected officials to show up on location at disaster areas to “survey and extend help.” I watched Schumer on the news November 1st addressing residents whose homes were destroyed by the storm. When questioned when help was on the way, he simply replied, “I will find out.”
Then there is the plight of Mayor Cory Booker. Booker, too, traveled the streets of his hard hit city, Newark, NJ. But Booker is a politician that has changed with the times. Armed with his mobile device, he texted and tweeted in action. His audience knows how to get him … simply tweet to him. And get this. He actually listens. Booker not only listened he acted. He heard the needs of his audience and literally delivered diapers, milk, and juice. (Cory Booker reaching out to Sandy victims video coverage.)

So what do marketers need to learn from Booker? Yes, that’s right … a government official serves as an example for businesses.

There are three key elements required for successful social media marketing:

1) Commitment – it is a prerequisite before social even starts. Companies and brands need to have a thorough commitment to delivering service and value to their audience. You cannot expect your social manager to deliver success without the entire organization committed to their audience. The social manager really is the messenger of the brand. If the brand is not truly committed to their audience, there is no chance that the messenger can drive success.

2) Listening – brands need to really take time to hear exactly what their audience is asking for. I always like the saying – “we have two ears and one mouth so we need to listen twice as much as we speak.”

3) Acting – this is a key element that so many miss. Social engagement is limited if there is no action behind the commitment and listening. The difference between Schumer and Booker are dramatic by the pure fact that Schumer was sympathetic and listened, but did not act. He literally looked like a deer in headlights when confronting Sandy victims. Conversely, Booker looked like a super-hero delivering to the audiences’ needs. If social managers do not have the power to act (based on organizational commitment and listening) their engagement is less than effective. I have seen many brands take too much time to determine responses and actions. This is a clear indication of a lack of commitment.

The reality is that all brands’ audiences are active on social media. Marketers need to determine how they leverage this cultural evolution to the benefit of their target market. There needs to be a strategic marketing shift where marketers have a much greater emphasis on the audience and their motivations, wants, needs, and turn-offs. And the right approach to accomplish this needs to be a company-wide holistic mentality of Commitment-Listening-Acting.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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