Category Archives: leadership

Getting Social to Work at Your Company

I think one of the most difficult things for true social marketing professionals is to implement a successful social strategy and plan at their company. As I engage and converse with a number of social professionals I hear frustration from them. There is a significant delta between what they want to accomplish to be innovative and what their company is comfortable doing. Social professionals often look to do something different however their companies often look for proven social marketing and validation by asking, “who has done it.” If someone has already done “it” in social media marketing, “it” is not likely to capture a big audience and get a strong response.

So what do you do?

change

This week I read a great article from Bruce Turkel “Being Relevant, Empowering, and Significant.” The article reminded me of my career experiences. At times I was frustrated by doing what the company was comfortable with compared to doing what I knew would drive success. I would consider myself someone that has always pushed the envelope and years of experience have taught me how to be an innovator even in the eyes of innovation paranoia and business as usual mentality.

If you have read my blog before, you are likely to know that I am not a follow the pack guy. I call it like it is even if it bucks the masses or is short on corporate political correctness. This is my own branded persona in the digital marketing world. Yes, like the views of Bruce Turkel, I look to be relevant, empowering, and significant in my own social space. But truth is it takes a delicate approach when working with companies (both full time and consulting). As a thought leader you need to be bold and provocative. When working with companies that need to change you need to be bold, but less provocative. You need to get people to buy in and be comfortable.

“Getting Social to Work at Your Company” is really an exercise of successful change management. It is very difficult for any company to change the way they do things, and yet the audience behavior and technology demand companies do so.

I have two change management philosophies that have worked well for me in the 12 years of my marketing leadership career …

The rubber band approach – Everyone can be stretched beyond their comfort zone a bit, but when you push too hard they get to their snapping zone to the point where they do not trust you at all. This is the exact scenario with a rubber band. They all have elasticity, but when expanded too far, they snap. I do believe that as a person responsible for driving a new endeavor must take their stakeholders to some uncharted territory. And this means taking people to an uncomfortable place. Do so gently and not with a sharp push. A slow stretch and not too abrasive to cause a snap.

Positive viruses – virus are caused by passing a condition from one person to another. When you want to drive positive change, you need to first find the person or people that will likely go where no man or woman has gone before. The special person who really wants to change for good. Work with them. Make them the hero. Let them take the front of the stage and get the adulation. Be content being the director behind the seen. Once the effort is successful, shine a beaming light on them. Rally their success. Most people want to follow success. It is human nature. If you really want to drive positive change, allow others to shine and be content knowing you are the behind the scenes person that really throttled success. This is how you cause positive viruses … by planting a seed in one place, nurturing that seed and then letting the desire of continued success blossom and spread.

As we look to win over customers through long-term social commitment and strengthening relationships, we must do the same in the organization we work for and with. Build relationships and build trust. This is how social media success needs to be carried out. Not by a fantasy of revolutionary change. The same mentality must be invoked at changing your organization, company, and/or client. Hit singles and bring runners around to score. Don’t count on home rums. Yes, they come … be joyous when they do happen. But most likely, you will score by hitting a number of small hits in a continuous string.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under change management, leadership, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

4 Investment Musts for Social Media Success

As I talk to many new and potential clients I am constantly reminded that most companies do not know what it takes to be successful using social media. I think we are finally at the point where most believe they need to incorporate social into their business, but it feels likes the early 90s once again. In the 90s, most companies (and investors) knew that they needed to get on the Internet bandwagon but had little idea how to make it work for their business. Jump forward to 2014. Most companies know that they need to leverage digital and mobile technologies to increase their social capabilities with their target audience, but few know exactly how to invest.

Do we still think social media is free?

Social Media Investments

As I thought about the content for this article this week, I came across a headline “Marketers Lack Social Budgets, But Investments Growing In 2014.”

According to a Forrester study, “Some 28% of marketers surveyed by Forrester admit not allocating a budget to social in 2013, and an additional 55% allocated a mere 1% to 10% of their total budget, followed by 28% who invest zero, and 11% who allocate between 11% to 20%.” Empirical data supporting my experiences.

Before I get to the 4 musts, let me just say leaving any of them out destroys the possibility for success. Look at each of them as a single base hit in baseball. If you do three of them (or have three singles) and not the produce the fourth, you leave three runners on base and do not score. All four investments produce a winning run – don’t fall short.

1) People – Probably the most important aspect of a successful social effort at a company is having the right social leader and supporting cast. With regards to a social leader, companies must invest in an experienced hybrid digital and traditional marketer. Far too many organizations put leadership in the hands of a young digital millennial that has no experience driving business objectives, or in an experienced marketer that has not kept up with emerging new media. As I wrote a while back, “When Looking for Your Company’s Social Media Marketing Leader, Consider …” a dual skill set and experience is a must. Once the leader is in place, you then determine other support staff required to meet needs and synergy.

2) Content – Brands must invest in the production of great content. Content should include articles, photos, and videos. If you want your brand to stand out and be shared, stellar content is your must valuable asset. Brands need to think like publishers and producers. Great content pulls your audience to your brand’s digital assets. As I have stated before, “Content Marketing – Social Marketing – You Can’t Have One Without the Other.”

3) Tools – One of the biggest challenges is scaling social. Social requires human intervention. While we look for human interaction, it is presumptuous to think that companies can engage with every member of their target audience. Marketing automation should not be used for social engagement, but I am bullish on using technology to assist in social execution. There are an abundance of great social tools to help companies with their social programs. I suggest staying on top of new technologies, as the social tool space is making great advances. But for starters, you need to invest in three types of social tools – a) social publishing which helps you plan content calendars, manages content distribution on your social channels, and provides analytics with regards to post click through, reach, engagement, and shares; b) social monitoring and listening tool that allow you to monitor brand and category mentions; and c) influencer tool that allows you to determine top influencers in your brand space to prioritize for engagement.

4) Integration – Social cannot be in a silo. Every marketing effort and every business initiative needs to have a social component. As you develop business initiatives, the social leader needs to be involved to determine how each element can be socialized to promote brand value and motivate sharing and advocacy. Social needs to go across all business strategies.

I have outlined the four investment musts for social media success. Now the question for you … are you ready to invest in all needed social elements to drive winning results or are you just dabbling in social because you feel everyone else is? Success demands commitment and investment.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Top 7 Reasons Why Brands Fail at Social Media

“Well, the results are in. Social is doing a pathetic job of turning readers into customers. After all the hype has settled…after all the stock clamoring has died down, the truth is staring us in the face: People don’t want to be customers on social media.” Such was the opening paragraph on Entrepreneur.com’s post, “Here’s the Big Problem With Chasing Customers on Social Media.”

success or failureHow many times do you read articles that state something similar? What really gets me is that so many brands continue to approach social media incorrectly and then reports indicate social media failures as opposed to companies’ failure on social media.
So as a first step, I strongly suggest we all get social media right before we start assessing the success of companies’ social efforts. And here are the top 7 points of failure for brand social screw-ups.

1) The wrong person leads social efforts – “66% of CMOs surveyed said their companies are unprepared to handle social media, where the ‘rate of change seems faster than many can cope with.’” There are two types of people responsible for social efforts at a company. a) A young digital millennial that does not have experience driving company KPI (key performance indicators) results, and b) chief strategy/marketing officers that do not understand nor participate in social platforms. This presents a problem where you either have someone that understands social media user behavior or someone that has experience delivering business results … but not both qualities at the same time. What is needed is a hybrid of both and there are few that can bridge both worlds.

2) Going straight to tactics before having a strategy and integrated plan – how many social efforts start with an objective of building a Facebook and Twitter presence? Far too many. A while ago I wrote an article “Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up.” It highlights the problem of thinking tactics before strategy. Start by addressing integration of social efforts in overall business strategy. Then build your social strategy followed by a plan, which includes tactics.

3) Measuring the wrong thing – today, most social reporting is done by indicating “reach” and “engagement.” Yes these are important factors. But how many executives can relate reach and engagement to their KPIs? The typical response from an executive is likely to be, “Yeah, but does that increase my sales?” And at the same time, I have often stated that social is poor at direct sales. So what you really need to measure are those areas that tee up sales. Think of the sales marketing funnel where awareness, consideration, and post sales loyalty and advocacy parameters are important functions of sales. For more information, see “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.”

4) Selling instead of being a valued source – users are immediately turned off by brands that use social presence to sell product. Social should be used to develop long-term relationships and build a reputation as a valued source of information and engagement. This approach will create sustainable loyalty and advocacy. The result is long-term sales, but ironically done so by avoiding a sell mentality.

5) The content is not exceptional – I remember making this point to a boss of mine and he asked, “Does the content really need to be stellar?” Case in point – are you ever wowed by mediocre content? Would you ever share so-so content? There is so much noise in the digital space and you really need to standout. Think like a publisher or a producer who is only successful when they deliver killer content.

6) Talking and not listening – the strongest relationships start by knowing your audience. And the best way to get to know your audience is to listen to them. I love the line – “We have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we talk.” As far back as 2009, I raised the issue of a lack of social listening, and the problem is still pervasive.

7) Lack of a social business culture – social success does not come from one person or one group. Ultimate social success will come when sharing, engaging, and commitment to the brand audience comes from every part of the company. I expect to see “social business” be an evolutionary process within companies. This will not just happen overnight and progressing to this culture requires executive leadership.

So as step one, I urge everyone to take their social media efforts seriously and not just wing it. Do the right thing. Then, when we can get enough companies and brands actually delivering a sensible and meaningful social media approach that is compelling to their target audience, let’s evaluate success/failure. Are you ready to…

…Make It Happen?
Social Steve

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

All You Should Know About Social Marketing to Be Successful

I have been blogging now for five years on the topic of social media and social marketing. I have shared a great deal of information with regards to social best practices, case examples, integration, and organizational implementations. There is a wealth of information contained here within The SocialSteve Blog. But wouldn’t it be nice if it could all be pulled together in one article? (Really – that is impossible.) But I will attempt to give you a “Cliff Notes” version of what you need to know about social marketing that I have covered in my blog.

All You Need to Know About Social Marketing

So lets get cracking and I will refer you to some key highlights from The SocialSteve Blog …

The first thing to realize is that brands need to use social media to enhance their brand image as covered in the article “Brands in the Age of Social Media.” Some brands were initially apprehensive to get involved in social media because they believed that they lost control of their brand position. Certainly, objective audience postings are more believable than subjective brand communication, but administration of good traditional marketing practices and utilization of social marketing highly increases company-driven brand influence.

Social media has put brand reputation in the hands of the democracy of users. Thus, brands must build strong relationships with users. And the way to do this from the start is to have complete empathy for the target audience. Yes “empathy” is “The Most Important Word for Marketing.” And once you have empathy for your target audience, “Connections and Relationships are No Different for Social Media” than in “regular” social situations.

So far, I have mentioned some of the general mentalities required for successful marketing, but generalities are not enough. You must understand the “Three Social Marketing Fundamentals.” The first fundamental starts with a strong and inseparable link between content and social marketing. A content strategy and social marketing strategy must be determined in unison. The brand definition is the center point of marketing strategy and content must reinforce what the brand is about without directly referring to the product. The social marketing strategy must then address how the content is to be proliferated such that readers/viewers/contributors share the content and some even become advocates. Throughout my blogging career (really not a career but a platform to share), I have given much coverage to content. It is imperative – crappy content, crappy social marketing; stellar content by the perception of the target audience, damn good chance of winning social marketing. Consider reading through some selected content article highlights:

Content Marketing – A Must for Marketing Communications
4 Ingredients to a Winning Content Strategy
7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business
The Power of UGC (User Generate Content) for Social Marketing
Evolving Social Media Marketing – From Content Marketing to Contextual Content Marketing
If a Picture is Worth 1000 Words, What is the Value of a 6-Second Video #Vine

The next social marketing fundamental is far too often missed. Social marketing is not about building the social field of dreams and having people show up. Social marketing starts by going to relevant conversations where they exist as opposed to expecting a crowd to show up on your Facebook page or simply following your Twitter feed. You need to go beyond your own social assets and go where the existing conversation exists and start to engage there. Early on, I coined the social media A-Path. The A-Path allows social marketers to traverse their target audience through a sequential path increasing commitment to brand at each stage. The A-Path starts by getting brand Attention, followed by Attraction, then Affinity, Audience, and Advocacy. The early part of this path is accomplished on social channels other than the ones the brand owns and manages. As you progress your audience through the A-Path you slowly wean users to brand-owned social channels. This method is described in “Executable Game Plan for Winning Ultimate Customers with Social Media.” When using this approach, marketers need to understand “When to Ask for a “Call-to-Action’ in Social Media.” Following this approach provides an understanding of how “Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales.” You will also see the relationship of “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel.” And one other note on this holistic approach to social marketing … Do not jump to a conclusion that your Facebook “likers” are your audience. Understand “Where ‘Audience’ Fits in Social Media.” It is likely different than you assume.

And now the last imperative social marketing fundamental is to “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.” Specifically, I am talking about social media marketing measurement. The referenced article outlines that awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy should be measured. Not sales. Parameters to be measured in the four categories are covered in the article. When it comes to measurement and “Social Media ROI – Don’t Be So Short Sighted – Think Longer Term.”

So you have the fundamentals down, right? Now, where do you start? “Before You Start with Social Media” you need to apply marketing basics. The referenced article explains the need to understand the brand and its position, defining a communication or campaign objective, as well as defining a communication plan. A presentation deck is provided to take you through the steps. The deck was later updated in a more recent post, “University Social Marketing Presentation.” And when you put together your social strategy, you must pay attention to “Marketing Demographics and the Ramifications of Social Media.” Consider psycho-demographics as well as standard demographics. Psycho-demographics identify various segments of the target audience’s state of mind. When you identify the various states of mind, you can then deliver contextually relevant content.

Now that you have the fundamentals and a game plan, you cannot stop there. Far too many companies make errors with regards to organizational issues for social marketing. Here are some very important issues …

CEO understanding and support
Social Media in Your Company – Guidance for Where It Fits In
When Looking for Your Company’s Social Media Marketing Leader, Consider ….
Why the “Social Media Person” Needs to Be More than Just the Social Media Person
3 Helpful Tips when Hiring for Social Media

Social media gives the target audience a strong voice. Brands can no longer put out statements and advertisements and expect the audience to simply accept what they are saying. Brands need to listen to their audience, engage and build relationships. Brands have an opportunity to build an emotional bond with their audience. Emotional branding will yield loyalty, word of mouth marketing and overall, long-term brand preference and sustainability. Social marketing is a must in today’s consumer driven world.

You now have the definition of how to drive social marketing success. Let me know what else you need or do not understand.

Make It Happen,
SocialSteve

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The Future of Social Marketing – It Might be Going in the Wrong Direction

wrong direction We are at that time of the year where everyone will start to make his or her predictions for the coming year. I am not here to be viewed as the great prognosticator but rather I do hope to get social marketing on the right track.

Digital/social is not hype. If you look at the vast universe of user behavior in digital/social you must believe brands need to leverage these environments for overall success. And when I look and see how a majority of brands act and deliver on social channels, I literally get infuriated.

This week a study revealed “Only 8% Of Brands Believe Their Marketing Team Is Strong Across All Digital Marketing Channels.” How can this be acceptable? If you are part of the remaining 92%, what are you doing about it?

This past week I had a conversation with a CEO of a big agency. A colleague set up this meeting as I am currently looking for a leadership position in digital marketing. The CEO proceeded to share with me that he had acquired a social marketing agency that he was going to fold into the agency. “Why do I need a separate CEO and CFO? I think the current agency roles, the creatives, the account people, can do social as part of what they do.”

In the world of mergers and acquisitions, you probably do not need an extra CEO or CFO and other executive, general management, and support functions. And yes, we should expect everyone to play a social role as part of his or her job function. But I asked the CEO a question, “Don’t you think you need someone to orchestrate the entire social presence for a brand?” He avoided answering this question.

And in there lies the erroneous direction of brands’ social marketing. I believe that everyone in a company needs to be a social extension for the company. Yes, the creative folks need to make sure their productions include social distribution and engagement; the account folks need to make sure information is captured from social listening; and on and on. But there needs to be a chief engagement officer, chief customer officer, chief social officer, chief digital officer, chief marketing officer … Call them what you want … Place the responsibility in an appropriate place … but someone needs to take charge. Someone that is really competent owning the brand personality. Someone owning the customer engagement. Someone measuring and analyzing empirical results.

I see growth in social marketing participation throughout the functional areas of companies. And that is a good thing. But if anyone thinks that greater use of social media across various groups within an organization means that there is social marketing integration, they are wrong.

If companies want to see true ROI from social efforts, there needs to be a leader that is responsible for orchestrating and delivering strategy, plans, operations and measurable results. In my six years of social marketing, and ten years in digital marketing I continually see chief marketing officers, chief strategy officers, chief digital officers, chief whatever officers that really don’t understand target audience behavior and use of digital/social. I see sharp but inexperienced digital marketers in roles that they are not prepared for.

This scenario has caused many to question the value of social marketing. Social marketing will not have value if its responsibility is not placed in the right hands. I have a sense of optimism given that studies are being conducted that unveil how significant the problem is.

If there is one trend that must change in 2014 in the world of digital/social marketing it is competent leadership and responsibility. Let’s put it in place. Then we can start assessing the true social value.

Wake up.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Why There is Still Social Marketing FUD

Social Marketing FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. Are you one of millions that still suffer from social marketing FUD. It is no wonder. In the past couple of weeks my social practice has led me to meetings with retail store operators, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) brands, an insurance company, a media company, and a shoe brand. All these meeting proved that so many are still very confused about social media. While this is just a mere sampling, it proves to me there is still a strong problem.

Elmer FUDAnd why is there such a social FUD problem? Let’s start by looking at the people running social endeavors at companies, agencies, and independent practices. How many of them actually do brand, industry, and target market research? How many can produce a creative brief? And how many set a strategy that includes messaging strategy, content strategy, social channel plan, content distribution and earned media plan?

I am not sure if the problem is with the individual leading the social effort or with the person who hired them. It is kind of like the chicken and the egg scenario. What came first? The unqualified person or the hiring manager that has little idea what to look for. I really hate to be harsh, but there is an over abundance of social leaders that have no idea how to produce results. This fact was punctuated in Mashable’s article this week (The Reality of Social Media Marketing Crushes Expectations). Even “Mashable’s social makeover” did not yield results. The reason – a focus on a Facebook strategy. There should never be a Facebook strategy. I am not saying Facebook is not part of a social marketing plan, but that is exactly it. It is a part, not the start of a social strategy. If anyone comes to you and starts their discussion with how they will use Facebook or Twitter as part of the social strategy, do know they are starting in the wrong place and will likely produce poor results.

If you are serious about leveraging the power of social media, make sure your social leader or prospect can answer the following:

1) What is the target audience behavior as it relates to digital usage?
2) What are you looking to accomplish via social marketing? How will results be measured? How do social metrics relate to business KPIs (key performance indicators)?
3) What is the messaging strategy? Content strategy? How will content be proliferated, shared, and produce advocacy? How will earned media be provoked?
4) How does social marketing integrate with other corporate strategies to create synergies and measurable results?
5) What does realistic success look like and how long will it take to produce results? What will be done along the way to monitor interim results to make sure desired outcomes will be produced?

Social media has been around for a number of years now and quite frankly it disturbs me how misunderstood it is. I attribute this lack of knowledge to a majority of so called social media experts and gurus who have no idea how to collaborate and integrate social efforts into corporate initiatives. Social marketing is so much deeper than producing sweepstakes to increase likes and followers or coming up with cute posts. And yet this is the limitation of most social efforts. There are way too many people in social roles creating crap.

For those of you who know me and have followed my Social Steve presence, you know I am thrilled to share social marketing best practices and tips. And while I am happy to enlighten my readers, I am troubled by the need to continually clear the smoking mirrors produced by social media fakers.

Demand more. Make sure you understand how your social leader is going to drive results. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it is likely flawed.

Make it Happen,
Social Steve

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The Plight of a Customer Centric Company

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

Customer Centric

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

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

Straight up, company executives must embrace social marketing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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7 Steps to Keep Up with the Demands of Marketing Evolution

Whether it is the result of digital, interactive, or social media, or simply the heightened knowledge and skepticism of consumers, effective marketing must evolve. Some traditional marketing tactics and channels no longer yield strong awareness, consideration, purchase decision, loyalty and advocacy. And at the same time traditional approaches determining marketing strategy, plan, and execution are still quite relevant.

marketing evolution

In the past I have written about how the changing consumer, new leadership requirements, and complete consumer focus spawned a need for considerable marketing evolution. These three characteristics dictate a need for a changing marketing approach. And while conditions demand change, marketing evolution is far too stagnant.

So what should you do to drive marketing evolution that not only defines survivability, but excellence now and in the coming years? Here is a list for your consideration …

1) Know your audience – Every marketing effort must start on a thorough understanding of your audience. Their wants, needs, motivations, and turn offs.
2) Understand your audience channels of use -You must not only understand your audience’s behavior but also channels where their behaviors are exercised.
3) Determine voice, tone, and brand characterization – Once you understand your audience, then you start to influence your brand’s position and perception. The influence of brand’s position is driven by a set voice, tone of communication, and characteristics that represent what the brand stands for.
4) Define how the brand’s characterization manifests itself in every organizational role – Once the brand’s voice, tone, and characteristics are defined, marketing leaders must define how they manifest with each organization and role in the company. A brand’s character is not just something to be used by the marketing group, but rather the entire extended company and partners.
5) Determine both physical and virtual presence of brand and integrate – Digital marketing and experiential marketing cannot be separated. Your target audience has digital and real physical experiences with your brand. Consider how to bring these often siloed practices together because consumer do not separate different facets of their brand experiences.
6) Integrate brand and direct marketing – Marketing consists of short-term and long-term initiatives. Typically, direct marketing is short-term and brand marketing is long-term. Once again, these marketing functions are far too often siloed. They need to be collaborative in a marketing strategy to maximize results.
7) Integrate owned, earned, paid media – As discussed in the article Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media media types need to work together in a synergistic way. See the referenced article and consider how to get the most out of your media presence that your audience views.

I am quite surprised and at times disenchanted by the slow pace of change in marketing. I am not suggesting that you follow hype, but rather follow your audience. When you follow your audience, this dictates what changes you must make. There are not enough marketing leaders willing to be adaptive. Are you willing to be a continuous student of your craft?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

Marketing would be much more effective if ….

there was greater focus on the target customer as opposed to marketing campaigns.

A few weeks ago I tweeted a nice little play on words …

marketing change

Here is the problem with the current state of affairs within marketing – way too many marketing professionals are either non-adaptive veterans or young digital natives without a foundation of business and marketing experience. Now that I have likely pissed off 100% of my readers, please let me explain…

First off, your target audience makes purchase decisions based upon the product/service you deliver and what they perceive the company is all about. At the same time, marketers focus on sizzle campaigns. If marketing executives spent the same effort and creativity focused on the target market and their motivations, marketing would likely yield stronger results given our high digital/social world. Just look how many people are literally asking for help, making suggestions, and providing crucial target market information. If we are looking to drive purchase decisions, maintain continued loyalty, and provoke word-of-mouth marketing, consider the three key elements of a brand reputation:

1) Great product/service
2) Awesome customer experience
3) Continuous proof that the brand values its customers

I would even go so far as to say that you do not need a great product or service, just one on par with the competition. Case in point … does Zappos offer any product you cannot find elsewhere? What they do offer is exceptional customer experience as every member of their team takes action to prove they value their customers.

If we use Zappos as an example, we see that marketing of the company goes way beyond the marketing department. Everyone on the team is marketing, positioning, and building brand reputation for the entire company.

And this is the change that must happen in marketing. We can no longer think of marketing as a departmental role, but rather a leadership role within the entire company. The CMO can no longer regard their role as leading a department. They must be bold enough to drive integrated communications across the entire company organization. They must be intimately engaged in the activities and behaviors of their target market. How many Chief Marketing Officers or Chief Strategy Officers are actually engaged in the interactive digital world? How many are actively engaging on social channels? How many blog to their audience reinforcing they understand the target audience and seek to deliver value to them?

And on the flip side, how many digital natives have the experience to drive company-wide initiatives?

I believe that marketing strategies, plans, and execution have not adapted to the changing market audience because a chasm exists between young marketers and veterans. Look for a leader that can bridge the two worlds and drive marketing throughout your company.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

PS – This is an important topic and current challenge. Contribute and join the conversation.

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Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, leadership, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing