Category Archives: SocialSteve

4 Tips for Winning Content

Most brands are challenged delivering compelling content continuously. They feel the pressure to come up with new content day-to-day or week-to-week. And when they do come up with posts, articles, photos, and videos, it often does not resonate with their audience.

So I have just one, most important tip for you, but it consists of 4 questions. As you develop your content strategy, plan, calendar, and execution ask yourself four questions. Find the intersection of the answers of all four to guide your content development.

Q1 – What are the interests of your audience? Independent of the product or service that you market and sell, understand the content that your audience is looking for and what they typical consume. For example, here is some data for content “moms” regularly look for and share …

content for moms (Source)

Q2 – How can I help? If you want to win your audience over, be as helpful as can be. Appeal to your audiences’ needs and desires with information and entertainment.

Q3 – What is relevant? Determine what the current and emerging trends are. What cultural events are happening? Oscar’s. Emmy’s. Grammy’s. Tony’s. Superbowl. World Series. George Clooney marriage … etc. Think about tying your content to something current that captures the interest of all.

Q4 – What is my brand position? Finally, we look at you, the brand. When you deliver content, you want that content to reinforce what your brand stands for. Not necessarily pushing a product, but rather support of your brand story.

Realize that you need to answer all the questions and find the intersection of all. Answering one and then developing content will not lead you to the correct destination.

content elements

Let me give you an example. Let’ say that you are a laundry detergent brand. (Pretty difficult to build a content strategy around laundry detergent, huh?) Consider the content moms care about – kids, vacations, pets. Consider how you can help your audience – laundry tips, time savings, “cramming it all in.” What is relevant – Halloween is just around the corner. What is your brand position – superior cleaning, environmentally friendly.

So a content idea is doing a story of Halloween 2014 where you provide ideas for kids’ costumes and suggestions for when your dog gets into the candy and has an “accident” on the laundry pile. Hopefully you get the idea. I intentionally picked a brand category that many would likely find difficult to develop content around. Heck, if compelling content can be developed for laundry detergent, you can certainly drive winning content around your brand.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

Leave a comment

Filed under content marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer

Who is the most important person in your business? I hope you answered the customer or client? That’s right … you can take anyone out of your company and you will survive, but if the customer(s) is not there, you have a hobby, not a business.

So if the customer is the most important person, why aren’t you forming an organization around their wants, needs, and desires? Why don’t you have a point person responsible for all interactions with that imperative individual(s)? A person who is responsible for attracting them, building trust with them, selling to them, developing brand loyalty, and building a relation so rich that your customers will both rally for and defend your brand.

That is the role of the Chief Engagement Officer. Think of all the touch points that potential and existing customers have with your company. If we look at your organization today, the role and the responsibility of a Chief Engagement Officer is part marketing, sales, billing, and customer service.

Time for Chief Engagement OfficerNow you can say all the touch points I have defined and all the areas of responsibility I have listed have been in place for 100 years. So why do we need a Chief Engagement Officer now? The answer is simple. There has been one dramatic aspect that has changed the way business is done. That is the evolution and now ubiquitous nature of our digital world.

Digital technologies and cultural adoption uses have flipped the playing field completely whether you like it or not. The customer has far greater control of a brand position and reputation than the company behind the brand. There is no more making pretend this is not so and denying it. If you are, your business will soon be dead.

I recently read through an excellent presentation by David Meerman Scott titled, “The New Rules of Selling.” David details how buying behavior and actual purchasing has changed. Before they go into the car dealer, for example, they already have researched and have decided what they want to purchase. From my perspective, this means that engagement and proliferation of valuable information are paramount. The Chief Engagement Officer needs to manage all aspects of content, communication, customer service, and motivating loyal customers to advocate on behalf of the brand. I have come to the conclusion that marketing is the new sales. At bit confusing, yes, but think about it. You need to put valued information in front of your target audience to help them make buying decisions. This information and stories come from both your company and your existing audience.

As I mentioned in the beginning, “There has been one dramatic element that has changed the way business is done.” Similarly, Meerman Scott rightfully declares, “Now BUYERS are in charge of relationships they choose to do business with.” And given this reality, companies don’t require a head of sales, marketing, and customer support. They must have a Chief Engagement Officer that covers the entire gamut.

Now I know you can look me up on LinkedIn or see my bio here on my blog and see that I am the Chief Engagement Officer at Social Steve Consulting. Sure, you can easily say, “Oh Social Steve, that is so self serving to write an article covering Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer.” But think about this … I have been a marketing executive for 20 years. I have my own consulting practice. I could have given myself any title. But I am a Chief Engagement Officer because the responsibilities that go with that title are driven by the needs of brands through out the world. Customer behavior and current business environment dictate needs to change organizational leadership structure. And organizations require a new type of leader if they really want to win customers and spawn word of mouth marketing. How much longer can brands continue to be stagnant and avoid organizational changes that must happen to drive success?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

4 Comments

Filed under behavior, brand communication, brands, change management, company organization, customer service, marketing, sales, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Social Media is NOT Social Marketing and Why It Matters

social media not equal social marketing

If you are running a business, do you want good social media results or good business results? Social media results are things like “likes,” “followers,” “reach,” “engagement,” and “impressions.” If you are a marketing professional, you are expected to demonstrate increased awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. So this might give you a bit of a hint of the difference between social media and social marketing, but let’s drill into a bit more.

Social media are a number of platforms that allow people to post, share, and comment on communications. Communications that are conversations, stories, or other content. The content/conversations can consist of articles, photos, and videos. Social media examples are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, SnapChat, and a host of literally hundreds if not thousand more. Social media has attracted just about all companies because it is the digital access to a great number of people. A digital and mobile culture has evolved and is now ubiquitous so brands want to be involved and influential where the numbers exist.

Social marketing has two parts … social and marketing. Lets start with the later. Marketing is the act of creating awareness and consideration to yield sales. Marketing activities should not stop with sales. They should include post sales activities capturing loyalty to create brand preference, and advocacy sparking word of mouth marketing by objective sources. The social part is that you look for your brand message, story, positive experiences, and value to spread throughout your target market. Social marketing looks for increased awareness and advocacy by influencing the general public to proliferate the brand marketing on behalf of the representing company. Digital makes the brand content spread faster and wider.

So now comes the important question. Should a company/brand look for individuals that understand social media to drive business results? Can someone who understands social media take the job at hand far enough? Or rather should experienced marketers that have stayed atop of user behavior, digital technologies, and social platforms be the one to lead? Granted, not all experienced marketers have kept up with the times. But brands/companies can no longer put “social media experts” in a position to drive marketing and business results unless in fact they know how and have experience doing so.

For the past year and a half, I have been delivering digital marketing results as a consultant for numerous clients as I also scan the job market. While I am a freelance consultant now, I am ultimately looking for a strong match in an organization where I can drive strong growth and success. As I look at various job descriptions and placements, I continue to be amazed by false and irrational expectations. Many organizations look to place a “social media expert” with limited or no marketing or customer/client experience in social leadership positions. They do not experience delivering business KPIs (key performance indicators). And guess what types of results they yield.

If you are truly looking for someone to drive social results that align your business KPIs, do not put the responsibility in the hands of someone that is not capable of doing so. I’ll give you one extreme example … I literally saw a listing for “social media manager and executive assistant.” Hopefully you get the point.

Here is my suggestion … start with a definition of the end game. What do you look for this person to accomplish? Do you know what you want out of a social implementation? (Suggested reading – “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like” … If I was to write that story today, it would have been titled, “Know What Successful Social Marketing Looks Like”). Can someone tell you and show you how social efforts will lead to business results? Social marketing is an integration of everything done in marketing and beyond. It must be a customer centric discipline that motivates your audience to do your marketing. It is much more than managing a Facebook page, Twitter feed, and pinning some pictures on Pinterest. Yes, those are probably some of the activities, but there are also many other strategies, plans, and integration points with other business functions that are necessary to yield business results.

So back to the beginning …Social media is NOT social marketing and it matters because you need to understand the outcomes from the different skill sets and experiences required for both. Make sure you are putting your company’s social efforts in the hands of someone that will drive business results, not social media results.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

6 Comments

Filed under marketing, social business, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

3 Motivators for Interaction in Social Marketing

How many times have you discussed a social marketing program that asks your audience to where you look for your audience to take a picture or make a video to rally some UGC (user generated content) and sharing? If you are in marketing, I will bet this is suggested (and maybe attempted) many times. And then you do it and the outcome is poor … so few participate. I am sure And now I’ll bet everyone is looking at the ALS Cold Bucket Challenge and wishing they could have the success of would be thrilled to capture even 10% ALS’ results.

social interaction

Before you try to do a social marketing program and aim for even a fraction of the success of the ALS Cold Bucket Challenge, you need to understand three motivators of interaction that has made this so productive from your audience.

1) WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) – In order for someone to actively participate in your social marketing program, they need to believe something is in it for them. No matter how much someone loves your brand; they need to believe there is a compelling reason for them to act.

2) Passion – There are few brands that people get passionate about. But certainly there is an opportunity to create a reason to be passionate about what a brand stands for. A great example of this is Dove. It is pretty hard to get people excited about a cleansing soap, but if you look at the various programs they have developed for women’s self esteem, you can see how a social movement creates brand passion.

3) Make People Feel Good About Themselves – This area could actually fall under the WIIFM umbrella, but I explicitly separate it out because this is more of a subconscious user action.

There are a couple more attributes of social interaction that the ALS Challenge highlights. First off, the ALS challenge has been extremely successful because it was designed it in a way that they (the brand) did not ask people to participate, but rather had friends challenge others to act. This not only motivated people but shines light on the second important attribute. That is social pressure. When challenged to do something by someone you know, there is a societal pressure that you must act upon.

Look how emotions drive desired marketing behavior. Tech Crunch ran great article this week titled “Startup Marketing And How Emotion Drives Customer Action” by Kobie Fuller () that has some very interesting psychological information for marketing for all companies. I quote …

Psychologist Robert Plutchik discovered eight basic, primary emotions that guide all behaviors: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger and disgust. These emotions are product-agnostic, and over time, establish brand-to-consumer relationships that transcend traditional boundaries of engagement.

The question is, which emotions should marketers target, and how do they solicit these emotions? Elbert outlines the following correlations in emotion with user behavior:

Intrigue and mystery – creates a curiosity that drives initial exploration and clicks; important for advertising and emails
Desire and aspiration – stokes consideration; helpful for site imagery, product pages and lookbooks
Urgency and fear – provokes a feeling of missing out, which triggers a purchase
Surprise and laughter – drives sharing, as seen on April Fools’ Day

(Source: http://techcrunch.com/2014/08/20/startup-marketing-how-emotion-drives-customer-action/)

So when you are thinking about an audience participation program consider ways THEY (the audience) are motivated. There are a few more considerations I suggest:

1) Make sure the task you set up is easy to achieve.
2) Consider share-ability – that is, make it a task that people want to share with others.
3) Audience development – form a task that naturally builds an extended audience beyond your initial targets

The beauty of social marketing is that your marketing comes from objective people as opposed to the brands subjective team. Getting user interaction is an excellent marketing tactic – if you plan accordingly and do it right.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

1 Comment

Filed under behavior, brand marketing, influence marketing, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Surveillance of Brands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

2 Comments

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

Here is the Deal with Facebook

FB

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

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

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

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

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

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

cost of FB adsSource

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

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

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

Leave a comment

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

The Company Organization Messes Up Social Media

social media organizationWhere social media resides in the organization continues to be problematic. I have written about this issue and made suggestions in the past. But today I am writing to suggest that social does not fit into any department based on how companies are organize today. In fact this scenario hinders social media success.

Let’s start with a telling question. How many companies have a group that’s sole objective is optimizing and winning over the brand’s perceived reputation? Forget simply solving problems like most customer support organizations. Forget loyalty and lead generation as in marketing. Does any organizational group solely focus on great customer relationships and customer love? This goes beyond customer services. This is the social media marketing objective. When you take social marketing disciplines and place them in an organization that has other objectives the success and value of social gets diminished, maybe squashed.

While it is the goal of every company to generate strong revenue, different groups need to act and be motivated by other parameters beyond sales and lead generation. Sales and lead generation are certainly important, but they are short-term objectives. What about long-term objectives that drive sustainable business? Do businesses focus on this long-term sustainability anymore or are they just quarter to quarter driven. I can only think of a few companies committed to long-term success.

Consider the paramount value of social marketing – advocacy. Not only is advocacy leading social marketing outcomes, but it is also the strongest form of marketing. To have others market and suggest your product is far more effective than having the brand market the product. Different strategies and tactics must take place to spawn advocacy than the strategies and tactics to generate sales and lead generation. And yet, the residual effect of advocacy is revenue increase. The marketing group typically has lead generation and advocacy objectives. But somehow short-term objectives (lead generation) always overshadow long-term (advocacy). Thus, when social media sits in the marketing organization, the success of social is hindered because short-term objectives trump long-term objectives.

Marketing is always going to have objectives of sales and lead generation. Can marketing also be committed to post sales-conversion of loyalty and advocacy? Can the same person/group have sales/lead generation and loyalty/advocacy? The issue is that marketing has all these objectives and at the end of the day sales is what trumps all.

So when we look at social media success, understand the target audience behavior. Users are turned off by blatant sales. They want to feel comfortable with a brand. They want a great user experience. Then they will buy. So if the behavior has some precursor steps that must be accomplished in order to get to sales, should we make sure someone, some group acts in an appropriate way and gets measured on their success there?

Bottom line – marketing must change. Change is difficult and sometimes impossible at companies. If your company cannot change, then the responsibility of relationship building, customer engagement, building loyalty, building advocacy – all must be assigned to another group than your current marketing group. Change or move it somewhere, but get it done right.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

3 Comments

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