Category Archives: measuring social media

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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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, CEO, company organization, content marketing, employment, leadership, marketing plan, measuring social media, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, social media organization, social media performance, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

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

2013 – The Year Social Media Will Be Measured Correctly

Social MetricsIn 2012, just about every marketer got on board recognizing the need for social marketing. More and more brands included social implementations to their marketing programs. And now, there is no shortage of “experts” making their predictions of social trends for 2013. (Okay, I added some context here as well. :) )

But this post is not a prediction. Social media metrics is a MUST for 2013. And I am putting my skin in the game. In the words of the great Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Before I share my efforts defining meaningful social metrics, let’s first review “What Successful Social Media Looks Like.” As I mentioned in that article, social marketing is not a strong channel to promote sales. But social is very strong at increasing Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy. All of these attributes “tee up” sales. Thus we should measure social as a function of awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy … at least as a start.

At Ryan Partnership, a full service marketing agency where I head up the social practice, I have defined the Social BrandAction Index. The Social BrandAction Index is a proprietary algorithm that weights different input parameters in each category of awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

Social BrandAction Index

When I calculate the Social BrandAction Index for clients I come up with a number, say 237. The first question is “what does 237 represent? Is that good?” The number starts with a baseline and is meaningless at first look. The index needs to be looked at as a trend. You need at least four months of data to see how this number is trending. Trending is what is important. It tells how social programs are increasing (or decreasing) awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

Certainly, the Social BrandAction Index provides meaningful information. But it must evolve, as social continues to evolve. For example, pins from Pinterest need to be added. At this time, Pinterest does not provide analytics that can be captured other than counting manually. Another case in point is sentiment analysis … it needs to improve significantly and it is part of the social metrics.

So yes. We have a start of meaningful metrics. But I will be the first to admit that they need to mature. So in 2013, I will continue to work on social media metrics modeling that provides the most accurate and telling conclusions of brand social marketing implementations. As I quoted Drucker in the beginning, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” If you have some thoughts with regards to how we take social metrics forward, let me know. Maybe we can collaborate to improve what I have defined thus far.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under BrandAction, measuring social media, Social BrandAction, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media performance, social media ROI

Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like

I am really astounded at much of the conversation that the Facebook IPO has ignited. It appears that most people are equating Facebook and their valuation to a barometer for all of social media marketing success. This is ludicrous. Facebook’s valuation is simply speculation on Facebook’s revenue and profitability. Facebook’s revenue (at least so far) has been a measure of their ad revenue. Let’s be clear … Facebook ad revenue is simply a “digital display” offering. Display, although an important element of a holistic digital marketing plan, is not social media. So in the face of all the Facebook misconceptions, I want to set the record straight on social media success … you need to understand what it looks like before you can make sure you have a strategy to get it!

As I have defined in the past, social media is the combination of social + media or seeking or enjoying the companionship of others by the means of digital communication. I am a marketing executive and thus I look at social media from a marketing perspective. (Yes, there are other uses of social media beyond marketing.) As a marketer, we look to change consumer behavior and drive transactions. That is what successful marketers do.

Thus, as a social media strategist and marketing executive, I look at social media as one piece on an integrated marketing plan to change behavior and drive transactions. So it is those actual social media activities we need to concentrate on to change behaviors and drive transactions.

In the past, I have used the social media marketing funnel to describe the progression of changing behaviors and driving transactions. While the funnel shows a “typical” progression of the customer journey, the emergence of the digital world has turned typical to atypical. The funnel shows a linear sequence, even with its cyclic nature where advocacy re-feeds awareness. My experience examining customer behavior for the brands I work with reveals some slight variations. Yes, the funnel states are still there, and individual consumers can traverse the funnel states in a linear fashion, but we see more and more variations away from a linear movement as shown in the diagram below.

As we examine the new construct of social media relationships to change behavior and drive transactions, notice “conversion” is not part of the social media activities. Awareness, Consideration, and Loyalty states “tee up” a conversion. Social media is not a strong channel to promote a sale. (Yes, there are some examples where companies have done this successfully, but 95% of the time, social media should not be for direct conversion.) Think of forming a social media strategy to increases Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy. Social media provokes these behaviors and these behavior changes drive transactions.

Awareness promotes consideration. Awareness can also drive a transaction. Consideration yields conversions and has a higher probability of doing so than simple awareness. After a purchase is made (conversion), social media activities can help to generate loyalty. Loyalty can result in repeat purchases as pictorially shown with a double arrow in the diagram above. Loyal customers can become advocates as well. You should think about post-sale follow up content and engagement to move your customers to a loyalty and advocacy state. And once you produce advocates you have a most powerful outcome. Advocates inspire awareness, consideration and loyalty. They work as the most trusted source of marketing your brand.

So when I say “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like,” it means that you have a strategy and plan that consciously addresses how you are going to use social media to measurably increase awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. Not only do you need the plan, but you must measure results of your plan. Only in the rarest of rare situations does a social media plan hit perfection out of the gates. You modify your social tactics based on empirical results.

And how would you measure social media results? I have defined something I call the Social Media Brand Index. This index is a complicated algorithm that has four sub-index variables that are measure – Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy. Here are the inputs to the Social Brand Index.

Even if you have not derived a social media index equation, you should measure these parameters in the groupings as above and have a sense of your social media performance.

So hopefully now you have an idea what successful social media looks like. It is an ongoing effort that changes behavior and drives transactions. It is a continuous program that produces measurable results in awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. All of these elements contribute to the ultimate goal of conversion. But they not only contribute to conversion, they work to continue the relationship with the customers and strengthen brand reputation, loyalty, commitment and on going word of mouth marketing. Concentrate on your brand’s appropriate social activities that increase measured awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under digital media, marketing, marketing plan, measuring social media, Social BrandAction, social media, social media marketing, social media performance, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

Lessons Learned in Social Media

There is no shortage of trending lists, reviews, and top 10 lists looking back at 2011. I know many are cynical and think they have seen enough of them, but frankly I like them. They give me an opportunity to learn some things I missed. The problem is that anyone can produce these lists and get them out in the public … the “power” of social media. Yes, there is some good stuff out there, and there is some garbage.

When I look back on 2011 and think about the social media takeaways from my perspective, it is simple … just look at what I have written about. OK – I spared you the pain of going through all of them and did it myself. Funny enough, I pulled the best of the best together and grouped them together and what happened? You get the summary of important social media themes and learnings for 2011. Here is what you may have missed:

Understanding Social Media

The Simple Explanation of Social Media provides an easy to understand explanation of what social media is, what success might look like, and important considerations.

Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media explains how the three different types of media should be planned to produce synergy and great results. (This was my most popular and top rated article)

Content

Content is the core of social media. Content must be awesome … would you ever share something that was just okay?

4 Ingredients to a Winning Content Strategy calls it like it is.

There actually is something more important than content. Find out what it is in Content is Super Important !!! (But Not King).

Social Media in Your Company

Social Media at Your Company – Policies prepares you and your company to leverage the power of your employees while putting some best practice rules and regulations in place.

It is easy to be impressed by someone that appears to know much about social media, but are they going to produce results for you? Before you get underwhelming results see 3 Helpful Tips when Hiring for Social Media.

Why Most CEOs and Top Execs Don’t Get Social Media explains some key issues from the C-Level Suite perspective.

Planning and Understanding Your Audience

Why is “empathy” The Most Important Word for Marketing. You better understand your audience through and through. How else are you going to appeal to them?

7 Things You Need to do to Turn Social Media Successful Results provides some common sense that is often forgotten when social media planning takes place.

Marketing Demographics and the Ramifications of Social Media:
Introduction to Psycho-Demographics
explains marketing beyond traditional demographics.

Ever wonder Where is the WOW in Social Media? Take a look at what might be missing in your social media approach.

ROI and Measurement

Social Media ROI – Don’t Be So Short Sighted – Think Longer Term is probably the biggest mistake people make when it comes to social media. Get a reality dose here.

The Social Media ROI Conundrum is a solid examination at the challenge of forming a defined social media ROI and what to do about it.

Social Media Models

Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel takes a look at the traditional marketing model and how social media is applied complete with metrics.

Digital PR and Outreach for Important Social Media Conversations goes beyond your Facebook and Twitter implementation and explains an equal, if not more important aspect of social media strategy and implementation.

Unifying Loyalty, Rewards, and Social Media is an explanation of yet another integration point for your existing marketing and social media activities.

Social Media Model that Defines the End of the World as We Know It brings it all together and provides the balanced formula and approach for the winning social media program.

Wrap-Up
So we actually covered a ton this year and made some great advancements in social media. Social media is no longer that thing people are thinking about doing. It is part of just about every company’s, every brand’s plans. 2012 will show greater success and more defined best practices. And I plan to be there with you every stride of the way. I am looking forward to providing greater help and guidance and connecting with more of you. Thanks for being an extremely important part of my little social world. Let’s make an effort to engage more in 2012 and help each other out.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, CEO, content marketing, employment, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, measuring social media, owned-earned-paid media, PR, rewards, Social BrandAction, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, social media performance, social media policy, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

The Social Media ROI Conundrum

As the year closes out, everyone (including me) will be looking back on the year and looking ahead to 2012 and stating their trends and predictions of social media. There is absolutely no doubt that the most common topic will be social media ROI.

So let’s get the reality on the table. Social media does provide a great value to organizations that take a well thought strategic approach and integrate it with other business and marketing programs. Measuring social media return on investment is very difficult to perform because of the inability to hardcode or hardwire social activities to a purchase. But there is no doubt socialization of a brand leads to increased sales. You want some data to back this up?

Bain and Company declared that “Customers who engage with companies over social media are more loyal and they spend up to 40 percent more with those companies than other customers” in their study “Putting Social Media to Work.” Just yesterday I listened to an interview with Wendy Clark, senior vice president of integrated marketing communications and capabilities at Coca-Cola Inc. where she stated that an independent group verified that Coca-Cola fans on Facebook (36 million +) were twice as likely to consume coke and 10 times more likely to purchase. Are these not results you want to see for your company?

When used correctly, social media is powerful because it sparks earned media and/or user movements. The earned media and user actions are stronger than other brand marketing activities because it is a voice coming from a “trusted agent.” Well planned social media endeavors are apt to cause word-of-mouth. It is the equivalent of asking a friend a good place to grab some dinner. Is that not a lead that yields a sale? But how do you track that scenario … pretty difficult.

Getting people interested, engaged, and loyal to brands are some of the great outcomes of social media. Word of mouth, another byproduct of social media, is the most powerful lead generation source. All of these things lead to sales. To use a hockey analogy, if sales is the goal, social media is the assist. The NHL does score players 1 point for goals and 1 point for assists when calculating individual scoring statistics. And yes, awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy are all assists of sales and can all be measured.

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, here are some examples of how you can measure each of the assists to sales within a social media paradigm:

Awareness – look at digital assets you do not own (blogs, portals, other tweeter accounts, etc.) and count the number of mentions of your brand and URL mentions of your site. Use a social media monitoring tool.

Consideration – look onsite and measure the number of visits and pageviews to your site. Use Google Analytics.

Loyalty – derive an equation that includes number or fans, followers, comments, interacts, subscriptions, and return visits to your site. Use Facebook, Twitter, and community analytics as well as Google Analytics to measure return visitors.

Advocacy – look on and off of your digital assets and measure referrals, mentions, positive sentiment, retweets, and reblogs. Use social media monitoring tools, and site analytics tools.

The approach I take with clients is to first baseline measurements for the four categories. Then continue to look at the measurements either week-to-week or month-to-month. Do not worry about an individual period of slippage. You are likely to see a zigzag line over time, but normalize that line. Positive results are somewhere around a 10% increase month-over-month on the normalized curve. Put all line metrics on the same chart. Do you see relationships between the lines? Are you converting those that are aware to consideration? Those considering to loyalty? Those loyal to advocate? There is likely some degree of drop off from stage to stage, but is the percentage of drop off getting better over time? Also add in a sales measurement and see if you can determine a correlation between your social media measurements and sales. I often suggest that there is a “gestation” period between social media awareness and consideration to sales. There is a definite lag of these parameters. Do this type of measurement over a rolling 12 month period. Learn to modify your social programs based on measured results. If you implement this correctly and have a strategic approach to social media, execute with the right tactics, and modify your social program based on measured results, you will have a winning social media program that can be quantitatively justified.

Back to ROI … the technical definition of ROI is (sales – investment) / (investment). It is that sales component in the equation that makes it difficult to measure social media ROI. This is for two reasons: 1) social is not a channel for direct sales. While some use it successfully for sales, overall it is not the best use of social. 2) It is extremely difficult to tag a sale with a social media tracker.

As we roll into 2012 and social media is finally well accepted as a very strong brand marketing initiative, you must show measured value for your efforts. I am certain that somewhere along the line someone is going to (rightfully so) ask you for social media ROI. You now have the background to answer this question. It is now up to you to put a measurement tracking and reporting procedure into your social media program. Ready to deliver measurable results?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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

The Simple Explanation of Social Media

Still a bit confused about social media? I understand. I see it day in and day out with clients I serve. While so many want to make it complicated, it really is nowhere close to rocket science. Heck, it is not even as hard to follow as my daughter’s sixth grade science. It’s just that those that try to explain it either really do not get it themselves or they want to make it so complicated to justify that they are social media experts.

So my answer to this ubiquitous question has been stop selling and provide some simple education first. Since my blog has been a place to share information, let me share a presentation with you that I give to many clients. The name of the presentation is called “The Social Lounge.” It is called The Social Lounge because it is meant to be a casual experience where you relax and enjoy a straightforward explanation of social media, success, and implementation.

Here it is …

The presentation is a high level look at social media. There is mention of the A-Path (which is social media execution) and parameters to measure success of social media. If you want to drill into these topics one level deeper, see one of my previous articles, “Social Media Model that Defines the End of the World as We Know It.” What else can I help you with?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under digital media, marketing, marketing plan, measuring social media, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Content, Follower Numbers, and Hurrying to Launch – Think It Through

How do I decide on a topic to talk about in social media for my weekly blog? More often that not, I am inspired by something that happens during the week and then I write about it on the weekend … and this is especially true this week.

Social media has really opened me up to a broad group of people near and far, but we are drawn to each other by common interests. Really now – how cool is that. I have had the pleasure of meeting up with people, face to face, and were it not for social media, our paths would have never crossed. One such person is Karine Halpern (goes by the tweeter handle @KHenthuZiasm) who lives in France. We’ve tweeted a bit and met in NYC while she was visiting.

Anyway, I could go on about previous conversations and our meeting (definitely interesting – maybe for another time), but let’s get to the topic at hand. And here is the question:

“Do you start your social media strategy, plan, and execution building great content or building a wide following?”

Have a look at our tweeter conversation here …

And here you have the crux of the problem …

That is the question – “What comes first – the chicken or the egg. What comes first – a portfolio of great content or people to consume you content.”

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just snap your finger and have both just like that? Yes, this is the challenge all face. Follow the conversation a bit more …

“Hurry to launch.”

Now here is a topic that used to get me. I was a product manager for a number of years and formed a methodical process to delivering quality releases of product. To top it off, the engineers would have a really hard time letting their baby go. But I now have a very strong appreciation why “hurry to launch” is the right approach. You want to get your content or product out there and start building an appreciation from early adopters. If you engage properly, they will help you shape your product/service to excellence – far better than you could ever do staying closed up in your isolated company surroundings. A topic covered by Seth Godin in his book, “Poke the Box.”

Yes, launch it. But let’s get back to content and number for a second. The magic of social media (when it works well and correctly) starts with having awesome content. Content that is entertaining and/or truly valuable. It MUST be content that is worthy of being passed around because it is so compelling.

The second part is driving people to share the content (shared media) and create their own version (earned media). This is achieved by having something of value to share (content) and then you need to really, really, really do true engagement and socializing. The crowd is not just going to come to you. (Happens very rarely.) You have to get out there and connect. The approach I have always recommended is the LCR Mentality. Listen. Conversations. Relationships.

So you really need to work great content and building a following simultaneously. It is not a matter of one or the other. You have to create great content and cultivate a following – both. Get active producing content. Get active engaging with people. And then hurry to launch.

And there you have it. Karine gave me a great idea …

Great ideas usually come from collaboration.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

Footnote – I have connected with Karine as she was initially interested in my approach and writings on social media. Since then, I continue to learn so much from her – mainly on the topic of “transmedia.” Transmedia involves a creative community and happens when STORYTELLING and EXPERIENCE come together in a creation or production or designed for multiple devices, formats or platforms. Transmedia is NOT marketing. It is about STORY and it is used by marketers. This is the aspect that interests me, a marketer. I believe that brands need to humanize their public face and one of the best ways to do this is to look at marketing as storytelling. When we dumb it down to that level, it is not dumb at all – but rather more humanistic and far less corporate. And that is what people really want from a brand. A compelling story behind the brand with people and personality rather than corporate-speak. Karine has given me numerous resources on transmedia. Leaders in this area include Henry Jenkins and Jeff Gomez. If interested in learning more, Google them, “transmedia,” and/or contact Karine at her blog or on twitter as listed above.

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Filed under content marketing, measuring social media, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

When to ask for a “Call to Action” in Social Media?

If you are a returning reader to the SocialSteve Blog, you know I usually provide some guidance, best practices, or strong opinions on marketing and social media. But in this post, I pose a question and look for your input. A question that I really do not have an exact answer to – in fact I do not think there is a correct answer. It falls into the category of “it depends.”

When is it appropriate for a brand/company to ask for something from their social followers?

So let’s face it. Social media is not a toy. We have business responsibilities and need to the answer the tough business question. While social media is an important approach in developing strong relationships with your target market, you are going to have to answer why and what is it doing for your business – performance metrics.

At the same time, I am the first (well maybe not the first) to say social media is not good for sales. So how do we deal with performance metrics when I am saying social media is not good for sales? Well, you know I love the social media marketing funnel. I’ve written a number of articles on it. (“Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel”, “Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel”, and “Social Media – How is Your Performance?” just to name a few.) You measure performance at each stage of the social media marketing funnel.

Now comes the question – do you let your prospect move through the funnel stages on their own accord or do you help them along? If you have business responsibility, the answer is you help them along. If you are looking to build relationships you might not see this as the answer. So if you have business responsibility and are looking to build relationships the answer is that you softly help them along. Yeah, this might sound like a cop-out, but it really isn’t.

A couple weeks ago I introduced the relevance of “psycho-demographics.” I contended that we must understand our target market’s individual state (as listed in the funnel above) and be contextually relevant. If you group your audience based upon funnel states (and other attributes) you can be contextually relevant and work on the relationships for that specific group. And if you do so, you can ask individuals to move to the next step (not literally).

In marketing, we call this request to move to the next step the “call to action.” But a call to action need not always be “buy one of these” and certainly not in a social setting. Throughout my career, I have run many marketing campaigns and I have generally followed one methodology. While social media is not a campaign and needs to be a continuous effort, the foundation of this marketing campaign is definitely applicable and provides excellent guidance. Here it is in five steps …

Communication/Campaign Goal
Defining the desired result –
a) What are you attempting to accomplish through this initiative? (Generate leads, build awareness, shift an attitude, build a client database, etc.)
b) What results are you seeking? (Generate __ hits on a website; capture __ new subscribers, __ “friend/connect” or “fans”, generate __ leads; generate __ requests of info, etc.)?
c) How do you intend to measure the results?
d) How will responses be captured?

Target Audience
Define the person who the communication must speak to. Identify them by their position/job description, industry, country-specific profiles, psychographic profiles, values and behavior.

Target Audience Perceptions
Describe the current perception of the target audience as it relates to your brand and what they think (positively or negatively). Describe the perceptions that need to be reinforced and those that need to be changed.

Offer and Value Proposition
Crisply and concisely describe the Solution/Service/Product/Program. This may simply be an initiative to gain awareness of your brand. Describe the functional role of the brand. Differentiation is also addressed here. Define the key message(s).

The Call to Action
Define what action you want the target audience to take as a result of the communication? (Subscribe, connect, attend seminar, visit a blog/website, answer a short questionnaire, tell a friend) How will you motivate the target audience to act in the desired manner and timeframe?

You see the call to action is well scripted in a marketing plan. But once again, a social program is not a marketing plan. We should take lessons from the marketing plan methodology and apply it to our social media efforts. For each stage of the funnel, see if you can define the five stages I have listed. They will vary in each stage because each group has different psycho-demographics. This becomes the bases for communication and socialization. It guides you to make sure you support and reinforce the brand position.

Now, back to the question raised in the beginning. When is it appropriate for a brand/company to ask for something from their social followers? When is it appropriate to have a call to action?

Here is my take …

Focus on socializing – delivering entertaining, useful, and/or valuable content. Make sure this is your real driver and that you are committed to engagement with people. If you really make content and engagement your key driver for social media, then, from time to time, you can and should have a call to action. But remember, the call to action must be contextually relevant to the psycho-demographics of the recipients. Your call to action should not be asking for too much, but rather the next logical step to be taken in deepening your relationships. Yes, the devil is in the detail and the detail changes for each brand and each funnel stage for the brand. Can you visualize and define the detail for your brand?

What is your take?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Social Media – How is Your Performance?

Why are you doing social media? For a good part of four years, I have been evangelizing social media – trumpeting the importance and value. Now I am asking, why are you doing it?

No, this is not a turnabout in stance. I really want you to know why? What are you looking to accomplish? You need to be able to articulate what success looks like in order to achieve it.

Every company and brand that gets involved with social media must know what they are looking to (measurably) gain and not be lured by the hype. I have defined and offered two models that help organizations define THEIR own objectives.

Social Media Marketing Funnel

The first one is the social media marketing funnel. I originally mentioned this model in an article “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel” and then later added measurement parameters to this model in “Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel.”

It starts with a traditional sales funnel …

You identify a target market and perform endeavors that first increase their awareness for your brand, then their interest, and a subset of those interested purchase your offering.

The Social Media Marketing Funnel expands the traditional model …

It adds two additional states, loyalty and advocacy, plus it segments target groups for each funnel state and identifies their “psycho-demographic” (their state of mind) for each of the funnel states. This approach is dramatically different than marketing to “standard demographics” like age, sex, geography, etc. Thus your marketing efforts vary for the different psycho-demographics. Check out the two reference articles if you what to dive into the social media marketing funnel more.

The A-Path

The other model I introduced was the A-Path. This approach was first introduced over two years ago in the post “Using the Social Media ‘A-path’ to Capture Ultimate Customers” and I later provided an example of an A-Path game plan implementation in “How You Can Execute Social Media Successfully.”

The A-Path takes the perspective that brands must focus on relationship building, and similar to personal relationships, they take on different stages over time. Think about your relationship with a significant-other and how it has involved. From a brand-target-market relationship point of view, this means taking sequential steps: Attention > Attraction > Affinity > Audience > Advocate. Once again, from a marketing angle, you implement different strategies for each of these states of a relationship. Check out the referenced articles for more information.

Models Lead to Objectives

The reason why I bring up these models again, is that I want you to have a bases of why you are doing social media. What are you looking to accomplish? This must be a conscious decision – don’t just do it. Write it down; be prepared to tweak as you travel and learn; but always have a vision of what success looks like.

Social Media Performance

If one of the models I defined resonates with you, you should measure your performance at each stage. For example, are you increasing your awareness, consideration, sales, loyalty, and/or advocacy? (Yes, everyone wants to ultimately increase sales, but it is really activities in the four other stages of the funnel that leads to increasing sales . If your social media objective and actions are simply to sell – you will fail.) You might elect to focus on one stage of the funnel … that’s okay. But know what you are setting out to do. Same is true if you use the A-Path. If your performance is good, you should be increasing the number of people that give you attention, attraction, build affinity for you, become your audience and/or advocate. Each of these areas in both models have distinct parameters to measure and some of these parameters to quantify are mentioned in the referenced articles.

Measure objectives weekly, monthly. Look at variations. Determine rational attributes to performance. Modify initiatives to optimize. This is what social media performance is about. I always recommend looking at performance on a 12-month, month to month sliding scale. Look at the normalized curve of these statistics. Do you see sustainable measurable growth? 10% month to month on the normalized curve? What is your social media performance.

Much of what I described here has been my approach for the last four years. There needs to be a methodology that sets objectives and measures results in relationship to established overarching business objectives. I have done this with a number of big name and small name brands. I’ve shared my approach and experiences with many of you via this blog and twitter (and will continue to do so).

For me, it is time for my next chapter, to, as I always say, “Make It Happen” with greater impact. This week I accepted an offer from a “performance marketing agency” to head up their social practice. Performance Marketing recognizes that the world and customer behavior are constantly evolving. Practices need to change while capturing and integrating traditional winning models. This is why I got involved in social media in the first place.

In the coming weeks, I will fill you in on more details about my new gig, but for now, start to think more seriously about why you are doing social media and what you look to accomplish. And if you truly focus and execute in this manner, I guarantee you your social media performance will be successful, impactful, and recognized.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, marketing, measuring social media, social media marketing, social media performance, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve