Category Archives: digital media

Where Social Media Marketing Starts and Ends

For the past couple of years, there have been a number of articles that state the career of the social media manager has a limited life. The rationalization is that the responsibilities that go along with the position will be “natural” functions of everyone’s job. This may be true, but it really is a question of where social media marketing starts and where it ends.

social media marketing start - finish

Let’s recognize that social media and social marketing are not the same thing as discussed in “Social Media is NOT Social Marketing and Why It Matters.” I am reminded of this just about every week in my social consulting profession. If you were to ask ten people where social starts and ends, you would get about eleven different opinions.

This past week I was interviewing for a position at a company for the role of Social Media Director. The interview was going great. About five minutes into the conversation, the interviewee realized that my skill set and experience stretched far beyond the job description of the Director of Social Media. She mentioned there was also an open position for an Audience Development Director as well. Interestingly enough, the Audience Development Director position had some social media responsibilities.

I always thought the job of some one in social media was much more than putting up Facebook and Twitter posts. (And now a host of numerous other possible platforms). The job of “social” should really be about moving the target audience further down the line of brand awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

Does this mean that the job title is misleading? Besides Audience Development Director, do we sometimes call these roles Digital Marketers, Inbound Marketers, Experiential Marketers? Probably so. As so many others and I have said countless times, social media cannot be a separate thing and/or an after thought. “Social” must be integrated with many marketing disciplines driven by audience behavior. Nothing else and definitely not organizational structures aimed at putting people in simple boxes. At the end of the day (and profitable year :) ), you want someone that has the ability to capture an audience and get them emotionally tied to your brand. So emotionally tied that they want to tell everyone how great the brand is.

So back to the question at hand … “Where Social Media Marketing Starts and Ends?” I would say that “social” job responsibilities should include the following …

• Set marketing strategy based upon brand position, brand value proposition, target audience demographics and behaviors, and competitive differentiation.
• Set marketing plan consisting of defined objectives, target audience definition, target audience perceptions, defined offering, and call to action(s).
• Determine marketing communication messaging theme and content.
• Develop content strategy, plan, and calendar.
• Determine marketing channels (owned, earned, and paid media) to utilize and converse interactively in.
• Define use of brand digital assets (website, social) to maximize audience participation and word-of-marketing.
• Listen to target audience and interact with them to optimize brand awareness, loyalty, and advocacy.
• Develop brand community and grow.
• Community management – including brand channels and engagement on non-brand owned channels.
• Increase community subscription.
• Identify brand category influencers.
• Use digital PR and digital outreach to brand category influencer.
• Develop partnerships (bloggers, media sites, technology providers).
• Increase email (newsletter) subscription.
• Collaborate with sales team to help advertisers leverage brand content and presence without disenchanting brand audience. (Develop programs for advertisers beyond “display”.)
• Product marketing and road mapping.
• Plan digital presence for events and execute.
• Use analytics tools to gain insights and drive strategy and plan modifications.
• Monitor digital channels for brand mentions and keywords in brand category to gain awareness and increase brand loyalty.
• Deliver quantifiable results – website traffic (visits, unique visits, time on site, lower bounce rate) and social brand index (brand awareness, brand consideration, brand loyalty, and brand advocacy).
• Complete integration of SEO, paid media, and all other marketing efforts (online and offline).

What would you add or subtract from the list?

Make it happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, change management, digital media, employment, social marketing, social media, social media organization, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Surveillance of Brands

community surveillanceThere used to be a time when brands could say anything and get away with outlandish lies. There might be some group like Consumer Reports that would protect the consumer by validating claims and unveiling mistruths as appropriate.

Then this thing called the Internet came of age and shortly thereafter digital technologies became ubiquitous and available anywhere. Without a doubt, this is the greatest cultural life change in my lifetime. I am not a digital native and can remember times when marketing was pretty much limited to advertisements on TV, radio, print, and in-store displays.

Now the funny thing about this is that some brands now use digital marketing techniques, but their mentality has not changed from the old days. What I mean by this is that the brands use new technologies, but do not examine the effect of the technology on society as a whole and act accordingly. The cultural change that is missed is that EVERYONE is using the technology and LISTENING and a good majority of the society is PARTCIPATING in social and digital technologies. When you evaluate what this means, it really comes down to three things:

1) a greater degree of support and loyalty to brands,
2) a greater degree of calling out brands for missteps and lies, and
3) inflammatory statements about brands that are unsubstantiated and unwarranted.

Lets make sure we understand this. Brands, you are being watched. There are users that performing informal, but systematic surveillance. Some things that come out of this surveillance will be positive; some things will be negative; some truth will come out; and some lies will be launched. Yes, it is the Wild West for the consumer, but you can win over the audience by unleashing advocates in a time of need if you go about digital participation correctly. Here are some guidelines:

1) Always be honest, authentic, and transparent – the first time you break confidence of an audience, it will be extremely difficult to win them back. If they are participative they will make sure everyone knows you are wrong if you lack honesty.
2) Understand that many digital users want to share. They want to share your good and your bad. Work at presenting the best brand (honest) face. Think of tactics to use that make it easy for users to share your content.
3) Don’t get in a debate you cannot win. People will attack brands even when they are wrong. If you can have advocates and need their support ask them.

I find it most ironic that a band by the name of Smog would have a song titled “Live as if Someone is Always Watching You.” Well brands, forget the smog (and smoke) but remember the title. In the digital world someone is always watching you and talking about you. Behave accordingly. Listen. Make friends; make advocates. Motivate them to come to your rescue when you need them.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under ads, behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brands, digital media, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Enough Smoke … Here is How To Build a Social Media Marketing Strategy

clearing the smoke on social media marketing

I am still amazed at the “dive-in” mentality that is prolific across brands (and agencies) when it comes to executing a social media marketing strategy. Most people start out with an idea of what they want to do without doing the required due diligence, social audits, and overall marketing integration work to set a strong strategy.

When you are developing a social strategy, there are some tasks that should be formally implemented and there is also an informal mentality/approach that is required for success.

First, let me give you an outline of a documented “Social Media Marketing Playbook” I have written …

I. Setting Social Marketing Strategy
A. Social Strategy Pre-Work – Brand Marketing Definitions
1. Brand Target Audience
2. Brand Value Proposition
3. Brand Position Statement
B. Social Brand Assessment – Social Audit
1. Social Channel Audit
2. Social Meme Audit
3. Competitor Audit
C. Social Marketing Objectives
1. Communication/Campaign Goal
2. Social Target Audience
3. Target Audience Perceptions
4. Defined Offering
5. Call to Action
D. Identify Influencers in the Clients Space

II. Social Marketing Strategy Definitions – Presentation and Interaction
A. Social Strategy Document
1. Target Audience Definition
2. Messaging Strategy
3. Content Strategy
4. Social Media Channel Plan
5. Engagement Strategy
6. Social Measurement Strategy
B. Social Media Marketing Execution
1. Content Management
2. Community Management
3. Reporting metrics.
4. Digital PR and Outreach

Are you addressing each element? If you want success, this is a must. Granted, the devil is in the detail, but I have given you quite a head start. I use this outline and defined methodology (with a bit of deeper definition) to derive a custom solution for each client, brand, and/or company I work for.

So that is the “formal” requirement for social marketing success. The informal part comes from having the right attitude. Success demands that you have an attitude that is mainly focused on serving your target audience. You are looking to help your audience. Inform them. Educate them. Entertain them. Have empathy for them and understand their desires and wants. Deliver to them. You should start with this mentality rather than the typical “how am I going to get them to buy my product.” Build relationships. Relationships will lead to long-term customer commitment (and revenue). If you try to follow the money first and go after your audience’s pocket strings, that is exactly as you will be seen. Your audience is much smarter than you give them credit for. They can tell the difference between a brand looking to win customers by delivering an extraordinary overall experience versus those looking to solely drive revenue.

Businesses that put up social media facades by acting like they care about their audience and are only after sales will fail. They show their true skin in this day of digital proliferation and input from all ends. Do your homework. Plan accordingly. Demonstrate genuine care.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Digital Technologies and User Behavior Change What it Means to Be a Brand

If you look on Wikipedia for the definition of a brand, you find that it is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” But as a marketer, I think it is much more important to think of what it means to be a brand in terms of your target audience.

Thus, I define a brand as a promise made from a company to its target audience with regards to the product(s) it sells. A brand is defined by characteristics such as quality, features, availability, and overall user experience. When done right, every single aspect of the brand definition is lived by and delivered by every employee of the company.

brand and digital

But a funny thing happened along the way. Knowledgeable marketers started using poetic justice of communication and claims of the product/service sold by the company and stretched the truth. All this in an effort to increase sales. In some cases, this resulted in members of the target audience reacting and purchasing the brand. If shoppers were unhappy, they would stop buying the product, and maybe even tell a friend. The user did not believe “the promise” and reacted. As this plight has continued throughout marketing and advertising of brands, it has spawned an overall skeptical outlook by people with regards to company claims and advertisement belief. This cynical perception did not happen overnight. It took a good 50 years or so of “Mad Men” to drive this behavior.

Fast forward to today’s world. How do people react when they feel they have been misled by product claims? How do they react when they have a bad user experience? More and more users are sharing their product experiences. Whether it is sharing with their entire network on a platform like Facebook or broadcasting it to the world on a platform like Twitter.

The promise is still part of being a brand, but it is exponentially more important today.

So now that you understand the change, let me describe for you the gigantic immense problem this creates. The stretching of the truth that companies get caught in is a big problem, but it really is not the biggest problem. The key problem today is that companies have lost their ability to build brand AND engage appropriately in the digital world, simultaneously. Too many companies treat branding as one activity and digital/social marketing as a separate implementation. Company executives need to take responsibility of this detrimental scenario.

How many companies have a responsible leader in place with experience, business knowledge, and creativity to build and retain a brand COUPLED WITH experience, business knowledge, and creativity to drive successful digital marketing? The answer to this question is very few. And even worse, the fact that brand marketing and digital marketing are siloed exacerbates the problem.

The debacle up from this problem shows its ugly face daily. There are numerous companies that do not reinforce brand positioning through their digital implementations. The people running the digital channels are most often blind to what it means to carry out a brand voice and imaginary through social engagement. Many companies do not have a digital engagement strategy that centers on upholding the brand persona.

And adding to the challenge is the fact that brand position is equally in the hands of the audience as well as the company’s hands. The audience has a voice that is stronger and moves faster than ever before. You need to have a strategy and a plan that addresses how to leverage this audience rather than ignoring their voice and power that is carried in the digital world.

I think it is imperative to understand how the world of a brand has changed due to the technology changes and more importantly, human behavior. Every company needs a leader that has the skill set to address the change. Through my experience, I have worked with companies that do not want to address the change head on. Working the corporate environment and being a positive change agent has become a slippery slope. I would not go so far as to call the two a dichotomy, but together they are definitely challenging.

It takes bold, strong, experienced leaders to navigate a company due to the real and significant changes that technology and user behavior have created. The outcome of these changes cannot continue to be ignored or swept away. Whether it is fear, lack of skill set, or don’t rock the boat corporate mentality, it is no longer acceptable to keep brand marketing and digital marketing siloed. The future of your business depends upon it.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Digital Ignites the Human Economy – Brands Must Act

More and more people have displayed a strong disdain for corporate acts done with the sole interest of revenue and profitability. Whether it is unjust labor acts, environmental flaws, or unacceptable political positions, individuals are holding companies accountable for their operations. People want to stand by a company that shows concern for issues beyond its financial well being.

On the flipside, many consumers are seeking information and supporting companies that show strong support for communities, needy groups, and the earth preservation.

Human Economy

While I am not the first to use the term human economy, I will define it as a business condition where individuals are loyal to brands that demonstrate commitment to causes of interest and importance to them. Conversely the individuals may propagate and disseminate information on brands that take inappropriate actions against people and causes that they support.

Digital technologies have literally changed our society. We now seek and have access to an abundance of information that includes corporate activities and behavior of business leaders. It is virtually impossible to hide as more and more companies become (willingly or unwillingly) transparent.

I find it ironic that while many blame social media for the degradation of human communication and relationship building, that the exact opposite is prevalent for brand-audience relationships. People want and look for a deeper connection with the brands they purchase. They take the stand that if they are going to give companies their money and support, they want to know the brand is worthy of their contributions. The degree of (positive and negative) emotional bonding has increased as a result of digital and social media.

Shrewd companies recognize this cultural change and have incorporated relevant programs to their corporate or marketing agenda. Take the Dove “beauty from within” campaign. Think of Paul Newman’s corporate philanthropic commitment and activities. Whether these are true heart felt endeavors or not really does not matter, but rather the perception of the audience is what matters.

And now that digital and social use is the norm, corporations would be wise to demonstrate corporate social responsibility and/or adopt a social movement and utilize a social strategy to proliferate information and gain recognition.

While I would like to think that all on earth look beyond their own well-being and show a strong regard for all inhabitants of the earth, I am not quite so naive to believe this is the case. But independent of your personal convictions or not, I will tell you that corporate development of social cause is a business imperative. Our world has moved to the human economy. The people of the world are demanding more from corporate leaders. If businesses are to attract a target audience that cares way beyond corporate profits, business leaders need to change their image. And while companies work to market the new image, they need to consider how digital and social platforms will be used to listen, engage, communicate, and unleash their audience to share the brand in a most positive light.

I remember the early days of social media where most corporations were afraid to use social media because they were afraid what people would say. Well we are well past that day. Business leaders recognize that people can say what ever they want independent of the companies’ participation or not in social media. Executives must recognize the power of the human economy and adapt appropriately. Even if it is for their own selfish reason.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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3 Steps to Fix Marketing Now

97% of marketing endeavors do nothing to move their audience. OK, that is not from a study. It is my own perspective. But consider the abundance of articles you see day in and day out noting marketing’s malignant state. For example …

Joe Marchese compares the state of advertising to the subprime debacle in 2008

• Joseph Jaffe hints to “The End of Advertising.”

90% of marketers are not trained in marketing performance, ROI

CMOs are missing the boat on what it means to be a modern CMO

• “While 74% of global businesses have a digital strategy, only 33% believe it’s the right strategy, and beyond that, only 21% – or less than one-fourth – believe they have the right people setting the strategy.”

needed marketing changeI could go on and on with the list above, but hopefully you have a bad enough taste in your mouth already. It would be great to talk about marketing innovation, but marketing innovation is an oxymoron. I’ll give you an example. I am an advisor to a new 1:1 brand/user content distribution company. We are a startup. How many CMOs do you think want a case study before proceeding? First off, every company that delivers case study has some spin to it. (If you want to gain some deeper insights into the flaws of case studies read what @augieray has to say about them.) And secondarily, don’t true innovators do something different rather than being me-too-ers.

According to Wikipedia, “Innovation is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, in-articulated needs, or existing market needs.” And that is exactingly what marketing needs. A better solution to meet the new changing requirements dictated by audience behavior. Audience behavior that is defined by digital, mobile, social, and the ability to validate, refute, or ignore brand advertising and communication. Marketing has done an extremely poor job at keeping up with their audience’s behaviors and usage patterns.

So what are you going to do to fix this? I have three recommendations:

1) Completely change your marketing mentality from being a sales-tangent to focusing on customer relationship building. Marketing needs to lead relationship building and demonstrate brand worthiness in the form of delivering continued value and optimization of the entire user experience. If you build a strong relationship with your customers, they will be loyal buyers and advocates. If you merely concentrate on a sale you open the door for another brand to win over a fickle customer. This change of mentality will actually yield greater success of your sales objective in the long run. Don’t be so short sighted.

2) The CMO must change or the CMO needs to be changed. An overwhelming number of top marketing executives are not active on digital, mobile, and social channels that their audience engages on. How can the emperor understand the common people if he/she does not participate where the audience does and engage with them? How can anyone put together a digital strategy that yields success if they are not a regular user in digital? Far too many CMOs (or Chief Strategy Officers) do not have digital skill sets. Far too many CMOs/CSOs do not understand user digital behavior.

3) Move to a zero-based marketing budget. Just throw out everything you’ve done in the previous year unless you are certain that it has returned positive measureable results. If we agree that marketing needs a major facelift, how can all marketing line items you do year in and year out be correct. Start clean. Your audience behavior has changed so much, it warrants a complete revamp.

I know I have brought up a number of contentious recommendations. Change is tough. No one really likes change. But as the audience behavior has dramatically morphed over the past number of years, too many marketing executives have stayed stagnant. Too many believe they can just hand digital marketing over to a young digitally sharp user and think they have things covered. Well results say this is far from true. So while company marketing leaders’ skill sets have not changed much over the years, a significant void has emerged. And it is going to take some strong willed people to make changes that are required.

Are you ready to step up to what is truly required?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, digital media, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve

The Very Important Difference Between Emotion and Emotional in Marketing

Marketing must go through a dramatic change. This is not a superlative statement to garner interest or generate hype. It is the truth and still so many brands refuse to admit how weak and complacent they have been with their marketing efforts. Are brands really keeping up with their customers and their target audience behaviors?

The Internet, mobile, digital, and social are not over blown, new regime scare topics to create a marketing civil war. They represent the future and a growing number of marketing executives are not ready for the future. “A recent Forrester report surveyed 1,200+ global business executives and … [found] while 74% of global businesses have a digital strategy, only 33% believe it’s the right strategy, and beyond that, only 21% – or less than one-fourth – believe they have the right people setting the strategy.”

One comment that really got me thinking was something Seth Godin said in a recent interview – “The Internet is the first medium invented in 100 years that wasn’t invented to make advertisers happy. The connection between running ads and making money is broken, probably forever. As soon as you take that out of the equation, everything we understand about marketing, manufacturing and, distribution–it all goes away. The new era of modern marketing is about the connection economy. It’s about trust, it’s about awareness, and it’s about the fact that attention is worth way more than it used to be. Attention doesn’t come in nice little bundles anymore.”

For me, yes the connection economy and trust are extremely important. But awareness and attention are just scratching the marketing surface. Awareness and attention often come from hitting on people’s emotions and being content with that “lead generation state.” But hitting people’s emotions is only the beginning. We actually want to create an emotional bond between the brand and the consumer/client. If we continually feed our customer with meaningful content/communication/engagement, then we might actually create an emotional bond rather than just stirring a few one-time hits of emotion.

Consider this correspondence (excerpt from an actual email going back and forth) I had with a sharp entrepreneur in my professional network I have great respect for. He said, “Lots of brands have been targeting our intentions by tricking us with emotions, (selling cars while showing us a hot babe…huh…) but the truth is that if you manage to reach emotions while actually targeting emotions (not intentions), then you win. It’s hard and most people/brands don’t manage to do that (for the past 40 years we’ve had the same lame ads about luxury and fragrances with good looking people in absurd pauses or celebrities with semi-moronic slogans..). They remain on the surface. They don’t go under the skin, and so to speak, to the heart. They tinker with emotions but they don’t grasp the fullness of it.”

emotions and emotional

I agree with his position and I responded, “With regards to emotion – do not mix this up with emotional bond. A brand should aim for getting their target audience emotionally connected to them. This has to happen over a course of time by continually playing to the audiences’ emotions. A good brand appeals to its users by tapping into their emotions … This is a one-time event. But a great brand does this continually to not just drive an emotion, but to obtain strong loyalty and an emotional bond.”

Our digital world has made our audience skeptical of advertisement. People can get real information across the Internet. And at the same time, the Internet/digital/mobile/social world presents an opportunity to continually disseminate valuable information and interact with the target audience.

So in essence what the new digital world has really created is a detriment for marketers that look for quick hits just to stir emotions. But at the same time the digital revolution creates an opportunity of great success for those that are committed to longer-term communication and engagement to build an emotional bond with a potential audience.

Short-term play with emotions = failure.

Long-term commitment to build an emotional bond = success.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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