Category Archives: Facebook

Here is the Deal with Facebook

FB

This past week I moderated a panel at The Social Engagement Summit put on by InsightPool. While sitting in the audience listening to some of the other discussions and presentation, I found many had a distinct hate for Facebook.

You see, as I reported previously Facebook’s delivery (also called organic reach) of brand content to users’ newsfeed has diminished to almost nothing. You have to pay to play or put another way… pay for posts to be delivered to your target audience.

This really has disenchanted numerous social marketers that have invested so much in building up their Facebook following. Facebook was social marketers’ primary social media channel. Facebook was synonymous with the term social media for so long, but now organic social marketers are fed up. I also heard someone on a panel that is responsible for B2B marketing saying they were through with Facebook.

My answer to all … WAKE UP. First off, Facebook was never a good platform for B2B marketing. Look at how people use Facebook. What percentage of them really used Facebook for work scenarios? Wasn’t just about everyone using Facebook to break away from his or her work life? Second of all, did you really expect the joy ride from Facebook… for them to simply provide you a conduit to an audience at no charge? Facebook is a public company where investors expect a strong revenue flow and increased profitability each and every month.

The first mistake has been putting all your cookies in someone else’s jar and expecting them to let you eat for free while they hold your assets. You must play on many platforms driven by a) guidance from your target audience’s digital behavior use, and b) a recognition that YOU need to own the data on your customers and you must build an integrated strategy to acquire that information.

I really do not blame Facebook and have no bitterness to them as so many do. They have built a massive user base and it is time for them to monetize it to the max. Do you really think TV stations back in the fifties just wanted to entertain you or were their profit plans behind their objectives? Facebook has turned into the advertorial equivalent of TV (before the cable companies came along). They built up a user base and are not looking for viewers to pay, but rather have “sponsors” pay to reach an audience. And when it comes to paid media, no other platform gives you such highly targeted delivery at such an affordable cost.

cost of FB adsSource

I do think Facebook is a very important platform for paid media, but no longer that important for following and posting. Use other platforms (including your own community or your own site) to distribute owned (or unpaid) media. Consider my suggestions on the integration of owned, earned, and paid media.

Everyone wants to hate Facebook for the wrong reasons. It is the way I remember Microsoft in the late 80s when they changed their operating system from DOS to Windows. They were going after a larger audience (and copying Apple) looking to monetize greater revenue and profitability. Everyone wants to hate the big company – especially when they change. If you don’t like Facebook, don’t use it. But it is still a very marketing-smart platform for reaching your target audience. It is just that user behavior and platform rules have changed. And if you don’t expect or have the adaptability for change, you shouldn’t be a digital marketer.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

PS – Call me bold or stupid … next week I take on John Oliver and answer the question, What’s the Deal with Native Advertising?

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Changes in Facebook Signal a Need for Social Marketing Change

Just when you thought you were getting the hang of capturing your audience’s awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy via social marketing, the social world pivots. The new twist will require a change in your social strategy.

facebook changes

First, lets define the change. For the past couple of weeks there have been leaks that Facebook intends to drop the organic reach of brands to 1-2%. This means that if you have 200K fans on Facebook, roughly only 3K fans will see any given post. Is this what you worked so hard to build up your Facebook fan base for? Of course you can pay Facebook to amplify your posts. That is really not a bad idea as costs are reasonable (today), but it certainly is not something you are going to do for every post.

Many brands have witnessed a continuous decline of organic reach on Facebook. (Have you checked your numbers recently?) Facebook should no longer be viewed as simply a content-driven and engagement platform to win over the target audience. Content plus engagement and now paid amplification for content are required to get postings on newsfeeds of “brand-likers.” Facebook should now be viewed as a promotional platform. Daily posts no longer make sense.

So what do you about this now? Consider doing a Facebook “dark post” to a targeted audience that is not necessarily your fans. Do these promotions only when you truly have something news-worthy (new product release, special event) and not every day content. Think about having your own content repository for daily posts and then using a plethora of social channels to proliferate that content and drive traffic to your site (where your content repository resides).

What really drives me crazy is that Facebook states that the shrinking of organic reach is not to force brands to pay for Facebook use. Facebook suggests that there is a strong increase in content production from brands that has created a flood of spam marketing on Facebook. If revenue is not the reason for this sudden drastic change, why not allow users to “opt-in” the brands they want to see in their newsfeed. Why not just give the complete control to the users. That will eliminate spam. If users have the power to manage their own newsfeed, their actions translate to simply say, “make it worth my while and I will let you get into my newsfeed.”

Anyway, I am not holding my breath that this is going to happen. In fact I would say Facebook actions will set a precedent for other social platforms. Once a given social platform has built up a large enough user base, they will then turn to brands and say “pay to play.”

All this said, social marketing is still imperative to business. I’ll leave you today with two goals you should set that will yield very strong measurable results.

First, you do want your brand content and stories (not advertisements) to be consumed by your target audience. You want to win them over emotionally by delivering content that is valuable to them. You should no longer have a “social content strategy”, but rather a “brand content strategy.” Your brand content strategy should focus on the production of articles, photos, videos, and vines that have strong appeal to your audience. You should house these content pieces in a content repository that sits on your own site. Drive traffic to YOUR site, not someone else’s platform. Use social media channels to proliferate the content and engage with users where they are social.

The second piece of information (and maybe the most important) is to remember that there is nothing more powerful for marketing of a brand than advocacy. Having an objective person tell their friends, family, and colleagues that a brand is worthy of looking into is the greatest result a marketer can drive. Consider how you will motivate users to talk about your brand to other users on social channels. Do not worry about your brand being the “poster” of your brand story. There is much greater power putting these stories in the hands of advocates to disseminate. Your marketing strategy MUST address a plan for capturing and unleashing brand advocates on their social profiles and channels.

So social marketing is as important as ever. As always, you just need to stay on top of changing dynamics of social platforms and user behaviors. And then folks you are ready to …

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

Delivering the Content Your Audience Wants

When it comes to social marketing, there is only one response to the question, “what is the content your brand delivers to its audience?” The answer must be “the content they want.” Social marketing is not about delivering a marketing communication to push content on your audience.

And the second mistake most make in social marketing is thinking that their job is done when they acquire a high number of likes, followers, or fans. I like the way Nate Elliot puts it in his June, 2012 report “The ROI of Social Marketing” – “Fans have little innate value; it is what brands do with their followers – not merely that they have them – that creates value.” And this means delivering consistent value to those fans on their terms.

Lets talk about this through a case study of a leading consumer brand I recently looked at as an off-shot of some work I was doing. (Let’s just call them Brand-X)

Brand content reach and engagement

From the figure above, you are likely to think that the brand is performing well using Facebook to deliver content and capture strong reach and engagement. But when we look into real execution, things are not as pretty as they seem. First off, look at the peaks. While 500K people talking about this seems impressive it is less than 2% of the 27 million likes. It is also worth noting that the new product and service spikes came with paid sponsored posts. The content the audience reacted to most were celebrity video posts and a contest, and still, these posts reach less than 2% of the fans captured (which were likely via paid Facebook as well).

Once again, Nate Elliot expressed some interesting information. This month, the Ogilvy agency released data showing that the brand pages they manage reach just 6% of fans. For pages with more than 500,000 fans, Ogilvy says reach stands at just 2%.
Some have realized this for a bit, but were apprehensive to come out and say anything against the social media behemoth. Brands and agencies are now openly talking about their discontent. More and more brands are disillusioned with Facebook and are now placing their bets on other social sites — but few of them want to go on the record. In addition to poor Facebook measured results some see the biggest problem with Facebook is their constant rule changes.
But do not think for one second this does not mean that there is not a great value to brand social marketing. And I am not totally knocking Facebook either. But here are some points.

1) Facebook is extremely powerful when users (as opposed to brands) share the value of a product or service. Marketers may not need to focus on content distribution to Facebook, but certainly look to motivate their audience to share in all social channels.
2) Content marketing is extremely valuable. Brands need to get their marketing departments to evolve from traditional marketing communications to storytelling communication.
3) Compelling pictures and videos win audiences.
4) Think about numerous channels where content can be delivered to your users. (For example, I just did some research on a particular target audience for a brand and found out the targets were most active on Google+ and LinkedIn.)

When push comes to shove, pushing and shoving does not work in social media. Deliver compelling content YOUR AUDIENCE wants in the places that are likely to turn the best results. Think about having your own media repository and using social channels to distribute that content. Have others share it on social channels and be the place for conversations and engagement.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

After 10 Years of Facebook, 10 Things You Should Know About Social Marketing

10 yearsThis past week, Facebook turned 10 years old. While a handful of social networks came before Facebook, and many followed, Facebook was synonymous with social media for quite a while. For some time when people said social media they meant Facebook. Yes, there have always been other active social networks.

Facebook (and other social platforms) have dramatically changed our culture … the way we communicate and engage with others. And ten years later so many brands and companies still stumble using social media to win customers over. Far too many marketers bring an advertorial mentality to social marketing. The reality is that a majority of social users are turned off by brands’ advertorial interruption on social channels.

So as Facebook turns 10, marketers must be aware of the unofficial rules. These unofficial rules are driven by audience behavior first and foremost, and a desire to increase sales and profitability second.

1) Meaningless followers and likes – followers, likes, etc. are meaningless in and of themselves. If your audience doesn’t engage with you, and you with them, the audience never sees your posts anyway.

2) Followers and likes are just the beginning – the initial actions to get followers or likes is only the start. Yes, you could run a sweepstake and give away an iPad to everyone that likes your brand and get 1 million followers. But what good is that if it is the last action a person takes with your brand.

3) Relations are key – brand relationships are key to social success. You want to build an emotional bond with your target audience by showing them you care, delivering useful and/or entertaining information, and responding to mentions of your brand.

4) Avoid advertorial content – social users are turned by advertorial like content in their social feeds. Social media channels are not another acceptable place for content and postings, which are solely product push.

5) Avoid the hard sell – social media is not a good channel for direct sales. Typically, last click conversion does not happen on social media. Social media is an excellent marketing channel to gain attention and influence brand preference.

6) Measure – social marketing must be measured appropriately. Sales are not an appropriate measure of social marketing efforts, but rather the behaviors that tee up sales should be measured. Specifically – awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. (See “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.”)

7) Social starts off your home court – do not build the “field of dreams” social presence and expect everyone to show up there. Go out in existing forums, groups, communities, etc. that you do not own where the conversation already exists. Engage there. Build a reputation as a valuable source. Slowly move people to your social properties once you have established some degree of positive reputation.

8) Don’t confuse Facebook as your community – platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. are NOT your brand community. You do not own the database of information of your audience on these platforms. Consider these platforms as a stepping-stone to attract people and gain affinity for your content hub and/or community you truly own. (See “Why Facebook may not be Your Brand’s Community.”)

9) Social is not a silo … typically social media responsibilities reside in the marketing department. In the words of David Packard (formerly of HP), “Marketing is far too important to be left to the marketing department.” Social leadership may come from the marketing department, but the social practice should be executed by the whole company. Have a plan to unleash company brand ambassadors. Establish policies that govern who speaks on brand social channels and how other employees can positively promote the brand on their personal channels. Motivate the whole company to participate.

10) Integration is key – integration of social marketing with other offline, traditional, direct, advertorial, and online marketing is imperative. Create synergy across all your marketing efforts.

As I hit my seventh year in social marketing I see one problem continuously standing in the way of success. That is most companies (and their leaders) continue to be myopic and internally focused. If there is one thing that social media has culturally changed that marketers must be sensitive to, it is that people who show continuous concern for their audience and “friends” get rewarded. Social user behavior dictates this. Give it some thought.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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

The Greatest Hits on The SocialSteve Blog – 2013

Thanks for being a reader of The SocialSteve Blog (named one of the Top 50 Global Influential Marketing Blogs). Here are the articles that were the greatest hits on The SocialSteve Blog in 2013 …

SocialSteve Greatest Hits

#10) Why PR Agencies Should be Great at Social Marketing, But So Few Are

#9) A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

#8) How Often Should You Post?

#7) 2013 – The Year Social Media Will Be Measured Correctly

#6) Activation Marketing via Social Media

#5) Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

#4) Know Your “Ps” When It Comes to Content and Social Marketing

#3) The Successful Social Marketing Framework

#2) What is Social Marketing? (Make Sure You Really Know)

#1) Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Strive for social marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, digital media, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, PR, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, website, 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.

HONY FB1

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.

HONY FB2

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,
SocialSteve

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.

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

Not All Numbers Matter in Social Marketing

All marketing efforts need to be justified with empirical results. And at the same time, way too many social marketers look at the wrong numbers or wrong combination of numbers. Let’s get it right on the table … Social marketing success is not defined by how many likes (friends) a brand has on Facebook or the number of followers on Twitter. Far too many executives are hell-bent on measuring success by likes and followers.

Worng numbers

Likes and followers are very important, but looking at them in isolation is meaningless and dangerous. First, lets consider the objectives of social marketing:

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

So getting likes and followers is only the start to meeting the objectives listed above. Lets discuss Facebook likes first. I can get any brand one million followers, no problem. We’ll just give an iPad away to anyone that likes the brand. Sounds a bit silly, but there are a number of brands that do some sort of a sweepstakes or ad campaign to get people to like their brand and think the social marketing is over. Getting likes is an important start, but not everyone that likes your brand will see your posts. And if they do not see your posts, what is the purpose of having that like? Facebook uses a complex algorithm to determine what posts are seen. To simplify the complexity, lets just say that if a person is engaged and interactive with a brand on Facebook, it is most likely that brand’s post will appear on the person’s newsfeed. Thus, the most important combination of metrics to look at on Facebook is likes and “talking about this” (found just to the right of likes on a brand Facebook page).

SB FC page

I often tells brands I work with that they should track the percentage of talk about this relative to their likes to get a good Facebook metric. Remember, once you acquire many likes, you need to keep them engaged by posting compelling content that inspires people to like the individual posts, comment, and engage. If you score numerous brand likes, then work to increase the percentage of talking about this relative to your likes.

Now lets talk about Twitter a bit. How many Tweeters do you follow? I follow over four thousand. It is not possible for me to actually capture and see the tweets of that many and I am sure the scenario is close to the same for you. So getting followed is step one for a brand. The second step of success is to motivate your followers to put you on one of their twitter lists. Typically users maintain twitter lists as a short cut to capture valued information on a segmented topic. The best strategic way to get on a list is, once again, to continually provide posts of interest – entertaining, informative.

(Notes on twitter lists – it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine what list your twitter account is on. The only way I have found is to go to ‘http://twitter.com/twitter-handle/lists/membership’, but this will only give you a page worth of the list you are on. If you are on more lists than can be covered on one page worth, Twitter does not allow you to scroll and see the additional ones. A complete list was available using TweetDeck, but now that that app has been eliminated, I have found no replacement. I welcome input from others that have seen a solution.)

There are some that have emphasized looking at qualitative social results instead of quantitative results. Both are important. For example, I might be content with only having one thousand Twitter followers if those followers were every CEO and CMO at fortune five hundred companies. As a brand, you want quality likes and followers … those that will engage with you and advocate for your brand. But a good part of the onus is on your social marketing to create quality likes and followers.

In the end, let’s make sure we agree on one thing … You must generate measurable results with your social marketing efforts. But make sure you are measuring results against objectives – not just simple like and followers. There are a number of important parameters you can track to align to overall business objectives. If you want more information on this, see “Know What Social Media Success Looks Like.”

Make it Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brands, Facebook, measuring social media, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter

How Often Should You Post?

I am probably asked this question more than any other from brand clients? The simple answer is you should post as much as your audience is likely to want to hear from you.

social postingsYes, this answer is somewhat ambiguous, but let’s peal it down a bit. First off, asking this question is not the place to start. Ask yourself, are we jumping to tactics before we have a strategy and plan? Far too many marketers forget marketing fundamentals when establishing a social marketing presence. Consider “Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up.”

Next you have to have a rich understanding and empathy for your audience. Social is not about pushing your agenda. It is about your audience, not your product/service. Yes there is a cross section of what your audience values and reinforcing you’re offering. This comes from having a solid message and content strategy. I cannot emphasis enough how important a well thought out content strategy is. Think about providing your audience content that adds value to your offering and reinforces your brand as the knowledge leader in your industry vertical.

So once we have the marketing fundamentals and content strategy in place as described above, we can answer the question of posting numbers, cadence, and timing. If you are producing content that continually provides valuable information and/or compelling entertaining content, you can post more often than if you are simply providing product push. Think about those brands that ask you to subscribe to an email list and then send you a product blast every day. Doesn’t that get tiresome and turn you off to the brand? The same is true for social posting. If you just post product spam, expect your audience to get disenchanted, not engaged, and potentially un-follow your brand.

If you provide valued content, start by posting once a day. See how your audience responds. Examining empirical data to evaluate true audience response is imperative. As an example, I pulled some posting data from Social Bakers for two top notch social brands – Coca-Cola and Starbucks. Starbucks has 34M fans and Coca-Cola 60.5M fans so the magnitude of responses has large variation between the two.

starbucks and coca-cola FB activity

There are three tables for each. I think it is important to look at the number of posts, user engagement (talking about this) and heat maps depicting activity times all together. These three charts help you draw conclusions with regards to the optimal posting for your brand. Yes there are best practices, but each audience reacts differently and you must know your audience behavior and execute accordingly. Notice that responses rates increase with hiring postings. Also, if you witness peak responses as in the case of Starbucks at the end of the month, examine the type of post that produced that spike and take note that the audience responds strongly to that content. It may be worthwhile to do more postings of that particular style.

Also noteworthy – is that postings to different channels should take on different forms. Twitter should be used for quick useful factoids and points of inspiration. Twitter should include a number of curation pieces and RTs from people that reinforce what the brand stands for. FB should be used to engage and extend the conversation and stories of the topics on a brand content hub as well as “tangential” postings of conversations and pieces that the content hub speaks to.

So to answer the question directly, “How Often Should You Post,” start with once a day on Facebook, a couple of times a day on Twitter. Make sure to provide content your target audience will value – not just product promotions. Examine the results (response to types of posts, best times for responses) and modify your posting timing and cadence based on the empirical data.

It is really not rocket science. It is more like the psychology of your audience – understand what makes them tick and play to their emotions.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brands, content marketing, Facebook, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media performance, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter

Separating Personal and Professional Social Presence

For the past five years plus, I have established and maintained a professional brand as Social Steve. The focus of my Social Steve brand has been to share experiences, best practices, and my perceptions in social marketing having worked with a number of clients and brands. Being completely transparent (as I always try to be) my objectives are two fold … 1) promote social marketing as a key driver of business success through sharing experiences, and 2) be viewed as and respected as a social marketing thought leader.

Personal vs professionalAs I look to establish and maintain my own professional brand, I have made a handful of conscious decisions to separate my professional and personal social presence. Some of my own rules of thumb have been as follows:

• Facebook – I use Facebook for true friends and not professional friends and acquaintances. My litmus test has been – “If I want you to see pictures of me and my family in our bathing suits at the beach, I’ll accept your friend request.” This really makes people I work with separate from personal friends. While I really have nothing in my closet to hide anymore, I do reserve Facebook for my own personal world. Early in my social media consulting career, I made the mistake of accepting clients in Facebook.
• Tweeting – 85% of my tweets are about social media and marketing. 10% is about music (my drug of choice). 5% is about family excursions. The reason I add 15% of tweets of the personal nature is simply to give my audience a feel that there is a real person behind the professional tweets.
• 96% of my articles on the SocialSteve Blog are about social media and brand marketing. This is what people come to my blog for. There have been a few exceptions. I have blogged about Martin Luther King Jr and my sister – two people that have served as outstanding examples and models for me in my life.

Now I am not saying this is the way it should be for everyone, but rather that each person should consciously determine what is right for them and set up their own ground rules. And while I have determined some conditions to practice in my own social presences I continue to learn along the way. Continuous social learning is imperative for people and brands. Each entity needs to produce, execute, and assess how their audience reacts. Demographics, psycho-demographics, and natural behavior cause variations of different target audience’s reactions.

Now just a bit of data and then my analysis based on my own blogging.

• Most of my marketing and business blog posts get very little, if any, references on Facebook. I experience a much higher rate of mentions on Twitter and Google+ for business related postings.
• Personal stories (such as the Tribute to My Sister last week) have had very little postings on Twitter and Google+ and have had a relatively high rate of references on Facebook.

For brands, I think this has some key implications. Most users are on Facebook for friendly socialization as opposed to connecting with brands. Yes, brands can have strong Facebook programs that build relationships and brand preference, but their Facebook implementations must have a strong brand personality and not corporate-like or advertorial. While Google+ lacks the adoption of Facebook, the circles functionality allows the separation of socialization for different purposes. It remains to be seen if Google+ connection segmentation will be valued by people and if their user base sees growth.

For me, I know how I use my various social channels for different purposes. By no means am I saying this is correct and one size fits all. In fact, I’d rather this post be the basis for a discussion rather than my typical guidance. What do you think? Do you see a need to separate personal and professional social presence and if so, what are your self-imposed guidelines? I would love to learn from you. Chime in and join the conversation.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, brand marketing, Facebook, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social network, social reviews, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter

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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