Category Archives: sales conversion

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

The Greatest Hits on The SocialSteve Blog – 2013

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

SocialSteve Greatest Hits

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

#9) A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

#8) How Often Should You Post?

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

#6) Activation Marketing via Social Media

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

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

#3) The Successful Social Marketing Framework

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

#1) Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Strive for social marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

Social Media Marketing and Its Relevance to Sales

social salesWhat is social media marketing’s role in sales? This is the real question company leaders want answered. Last week I wrote an article, “Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway” which touched on the subject of social marketing’s relationship to sales. Judged by the amount of discussion and misinformation generated, especially on the LinkedIn CMO Network Group, it is necessary to take on questions of social marketing and relevance to sales directly.

First, let me state that it is pretty much impossible to measure direct results of social marketing on sales. That is because most of the channels used for socializing a brand are not owned by the brand. If I post something on my Facebook page, or tweet something on my Twitter page, and it states something like “love my new ‘brand-name’,” that post can be monitored, but not pixelated or cookied to capture further actions. Yes, there are quantitative marketing mix models that attempt to isolate marketing channels to assess product sales lift, but most of the accurate models are cost prohibitive to use.

If you really want to understand the relationship of social marketing and sales, you must be more of a psychologist than a marketer. Human behavior … that is what needs to be evaluated. How does the audience react to brand posts and socialization? There is a direct correlation to continuous active following and future sales.

So let me give you an example. A while back, I did some social marketing for a well-known women’s magazine. The sales department “packaged in” a Facebook post from a deodorant company that simply said “keep dryer …” The audience went ballistic. They were appalled at blatant advertisement and selling on a social channel. Direct selling on social channels often produces the exact opposite of the marketers’ objectives. It turns off people.

But smart marketers know how to subtly sell on social channels. Think of it this way … use social to sell a customer experience. A customer experience that delivers value to the target audience. And when you consistently deliver value over time, you do not win a sale; you win a loyal customer that often becomes your advocate as well.

In the past, I have defined that social marketing should NOT be measured in sales or conversion. It is measured in awareness, consideration, loyalty and advocacy. Awareness and consideration as pre-sale attributes. But the post sales attributes of loyalty and advocacy are much more important for long-term sustainable business. And this is the true power of social marketing.

So here are some takeaways on social marketing relevance to sales:

1) You cannot measure direct sales effectively.
2) In most cases, consumers are turned off by blatant advertisement postings on social channels. (Yes, there are some exceptions and brands can run promotions and coupons in limitation.)
3) Social marketing yields strong results of pre-sales awareness and consideration and post-sales loyalty and advocacy. These four attributes tee up sales. Social has a strong value in sales, but not necessarily direct sales.

True – social is not a great vehicle to deliver immediate sales. But well executed social marketing delivers long-term sustainable sales. Social marketing yields brand preference. Brand preference produces repeatable sales and word of mouth marketing and referrals. Thus social marketing manufactures consumer conviction and sales.

It is difficult to correlate social activities to sales figures. But if you see empirical data that demonstrates brand increase in awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy, does it not make sense that an increase sales will be the residual affect?

Far too often companies are driven by quarter-to-quarter results to the detriment of long-term sustainability and growth. Social marketing is definitely a long-term commitment and rarely produces immediate results. But does every company want committed customers and brand champions? Wanting and executing do not go hand in hand. Are you committed to long lasting success or just worried about the next quarter? The answer to this question largely defines expected social marketing success to drive long lasting sales.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

You Talking Product or Lifestyle on Your Brand’s Social Media Presence?

Have you ever have had a conversation with someone where all they do is just talk about themselves? How many friends do you have like that? Probably not many. No one likes to be on the receiving end of blatant over self-absorption and indulgence. Could your brand possibly be socializing like that?

Stop to think about how your brand is socializing? Does the brand constantly talk about its product? Are you using Facebook, Twitter, or other social channels as an excessive advertorial, promotion, and product dumping ground? If this is the case you are turning off your friends and target audience.

Let’s start by stating the obvious … I know … You want your product to have strong sales success. It pays your salary. But far too many brands are taking this mentality and lure to their social media channels.

lifestyle

I always tell people that social media should be the marketing of a lifestyle. What does the your brand stand for? What are the stories you want to tell that resonate with your target audience? Think about drawing your audience in, keeping them interested, and engaging with them.

So how might you go about this? Let me start by asking a simple question … What is the personality of your brand? (For that matter, does your brand have a personality?). I usually put this in the category of message strategy. The personality of a brand comes out in the message strategy, or is it that the message strategy comes out from the brand personality? In any event, you need a voice, tone, persona, and overall feel for your brand that resonates with your audience. You see, the brand personality should not just be a reflection of your corporate culture, but also have depth in what your audience wants. And that is a big difference between personal socializing and brand socializing … In professional marketing you should be willing to change your brand’s personality and manufacture talking points to please your audience. Case in point – a pinnacle example is Coca-Cola’s digital presence. Look at their digital presence. (homepage, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr)

Brands need to change. Social channels should not be viewed as selling channels. Too many companies are lured into a sales mentality and throw too much product material on their social posts. Brands need more of a story-telling, lifestyle, entertaining, and/or expertise of media mentality, presence and engagement on their social channels. If you take this approach, your social presence will help you sell. Down the road. With greater conviction. With greater help selling to an extended audience via referral and advocacy. That is if you take time, patience, and investment to become a producer of media and engagement as opposed to being an advertising exec on your social endeavors.

Now I am not saying you cannot or should not mention your product or run a promotion on social channels. Certainly you can and should, but some words of caution … Do it in the context of social engagement. Not “down your throat advertising.” Integrate promotion and sweepstakes in the look and feel of the set brand personality. And limit social channels for product speak. The number of times you mention your products in posts really depends on the vertical you serve. But I would limit it to no more than 15%, 20% of the time, max.

If you follow steps to think like a media producer and media director as opposed to an advertising exec when utilizing your social channels, you will see much greater empirical results. Use social the way the audience values brands on social. The audience is not looking for another advertising channel. They are looking for digital presence that reinforces their lifestyle and aspirational desires. Can you present your brand personality in this manner?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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We Cannot Segment the Digital Revolution

Blogs. Social media. Interactive. Transmedia. Content marketing. Social TV. Smartphones. Tablets. Mobile. Are all these things really separate? Or should we looking at them holistically from the user and consumer perspective?

Digital RevolutionA few things happened this past week that helped to solidify for me that the digital revolution is a twisted web of marketing synergy and all attempts to segment individual executions and pin-pointed results are flawed. I’ll take you through three “a-ha” moments that happened for me this week that resulted in my position that ”we cannot segment the digital revolution.”

First off, Michael Lazerow, former Buddy Media founder and CEO, now CMO for Salesforce Marketing Cloud, wrote an excellent piece, “3 Steps to Become a ‘Customer Company’.” Lazerow’s 3 steps to become a customer company are:

1) Customer Companies Listen to Every Customer
2) Customer Companies Publish Great Content
3) Customer Companies Service Customers Across Every Channel

The article also includes a video from Salesforce Chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff. Benioff makes the point that a customer company is connected … connected to customers, partners, employees, and products.

Then this week I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a great social friend and transmedia expert, Karine Halpern. (Please check out some of Karine’s slideshares, she has some great information to share with you.) Karine and I were talking about moving transmedia forward to deliver commercial success. Now most brand executives are just learning what social marketing is, so I would venture to say, most don’t understand what transmedia is. Transmedia “is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies.” Sounds pretty close to content and social marketing integration, but it is slightly different. But the point is that most brand managers are beginning to understand the importance of storytelling, content marketing, and social marketing, so I think the strategy, plan, and execution should stay in that context. That is, keep the marketing plan in the context of what the decision makers understand.

There is always a new buzz term coming out. The new buzz is good for hype and headlines, but if we are really concerned about executing and delivering results, we must stick to fundamentals. And these fundamentals must be in context for brand managers and marketing executives to understand. Marketers now realize the importance of digital marketing, but they remain confused about terminology. I see these decision makers understanding the need for:

• content and storytelling,
• social marketing,
• interactivity and engagement,
• the role of digital influencers and the importance of advocates,
• positive online review presence,
• SEO
• integration of owned, earned, and paid media, and
• mobile.

So maybe it is best to keep digital marketing terminology in these contexts and not slice things down in greater detail.

And the third point to highlight comes from some marketing headlines about Coca-Cola … “Buzzkill: Coca-Cola Finds No Sales Lift from Online Chatter.” Eric Schmidt, senior manager-marketing strategy and insights at Coca-Cola stated “We didn’t see any statistically significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales.” He also cautioned against reading too much into the research, noting that it covers only buzz, not sharing, video views or other aspects of social media.” And yet these elements not included in the study are the power of social marketing.

Quickly after this initial report, Coca-Cola’s Wendy Clark, senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capabilities, defended Coke’s social media stating it was crucial. I’ll put it this way … what is the value of having your audience feel positive about your brand? Does it turn immediate sales? No. But does it define long term customer loyalty and brand sustainability? Yes. If your audience feels strong about your brand, when it comes time to make a purchase, their brand preference will show.

Clark turned to Coke’s own blog
to state that it was true … social buzz or chatter does not generate sales lift in isolation. But she also added that the key point is that “no single medium is as strong as the combination of media.”

And I agree. As I tweeted earlier in the week …

SocialSteve Coca-Cola Tweet

(If you want to see to two videos I referenced, they can be viewed at “Social by Design.”)

So if you pull the three examples together that I have highlighted above, I am suggesting that marketing strategy, planning, execution, and measurement is getting too siloed. We cannot segment the digital revolution. The consumer uses all digital technologies, platforms, and services to support all of their purchase decisions. If you are to be a customer company, you will follow the behaviors and actions of the consumer and build a holistic digital strategy. If you are responsible for a specific digital marketing effort, find connection points with other marketing efforts. Build synergy. And lastly, and probably the most important, no one digital marketing endeavor should be credited with sales. If you look at the journey of the digital consumer, you will notice that they hit multiple touch points before ultimately making a purchase. Should we be crediting the last digital touch point as the only sales enabler and element that carries an ROI? This is flawed.

Thus I strongly suggest that you do not segment the digital revolution. Long live the revolution and what it stands for … connecting with the customer.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, blogging, brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, digital media, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, owned-earned-paid media, sales conversion, social business, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social reviews, socialmedia, SocialSteve

How Social Media Helps Brand Building and Driving Profitable Business

Yeah, yeah, yeah … social media is getting beyond hype and everyone is getting in the game. And you are thinking, “There is no way I am going to get left behind”, but you’re concerned … how is it going to produce results for your business?

Let’s start with some simple basics. You need to build brand value that fits with your customers’ behavior and you need to drive profitable transactions that relate to your specific business objectives. So the building of brand value translates to how your customers engage with your brand and profitable transactions translate to the way your company conducts profitable business. In a social context, I call this “Social Business” and “Relationship Enterprise.”

What is a “Social Business?” First and foremost it is a business that is customer centric. And that customer centric approach needs to be very human and not corporate-like. Remember – people do business with people, not companies. And this requires engagement with the target market. Engagement such that there is brand-prospect-customer relationship building. The ultimate success is creating brand ambassadors and brand advocates. So social business is really the equivalent of relationship building. And social media relationship building is the A-Path (Attention > Attraction > Affinity > Audience > Advocate) that I have mentioned many times and defined originally in the article “Using the Social Media ‘A-Path’ to Capture Ultimate Customers.”

Now “Relationship Enterprise” is the way companies conduct profitable business. So many have asked, “How does social media contribute to sales?” I think the answer is straight-forward … social media increases the probability of sales. If you are part of a marketing organization you must be accountable and contribute to the business. The way you do this is with the Social Media Marketing Funnel I have defined. The Social Media Marketing Funnel describes how we lead prospects and customers through decision points to yield a sale. And after the sale, strengthen the customer-brand relationship. It consists of five stages (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion/Sale, Loyalty, and Advocacy) and defines a target segmentation or group, and psycho-demographic or individual state for each of the stages. The original definition was presented in the article “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel,” but I later recognized that the definition was not sufficient. Marketers need to be responsible to business objectives, so I introduced “Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel.”

So in essence, when I talk about social business I am talking about the social media A-Path which is a guide for social media execution. And when I talk about relationship enterprise, I am talking about the social media marketing funnel which should be used to identify your social media KPIs (key performance indicators).

And if you will allow me now to do a shameless plug – at MediaWhiz (where I lead the social practice), we call the intersection of building brand value and driving profitable transactions, BrandAction®. In our social media practice this is how it lines up …

Let’s get past my shameless plug. Social media is extremely powerful if you think of it in terms of Social Brand Action.” Social Brand Action brings together “Social Business” and “Relationship Enterprise.” The marriage of the two brings together an empathic focus and understanding of how your customers engage with your brand while examining the ways your company conducts profitable business. Work to find the coexistence of the two, you WILL have a kick @$$ social media program that produces measurable results.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, sales conversion, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve