Category Archives: SocialSteve

Facebook is Dead for Brands, Now What?

Facebook deadIn the summer, Facebook reduced the organic reach of brand’s posts to less than 2% of the brand’s likes. With dismissal results like this, why are brands continuing to have a social strategy that includes Facebook?

According to a Facebook spokesperson, “We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.”

Fast forward to the present and Facebook is reporting record growth. The company earned $2.96 billion in ad revenue in the third quarter, up 64 percent from just a year ago. So yeah, Facebook is not dead. It is just dead as a social sharing option for brands. For brands, Facebook is nothing more than another mass audience platform to deliver advertisements. Smart companies no longer use paid Facebook to produce blatant sales ads. They create paid stories on Facebook to adapt to users’ behavior. So yes, Facebook is a good platform for targeted paid media. But what should brands do to build relationships and grow their target audience organically?

A good two years ago plus, I suggested that “… Facebook May Not Be Your Brand’s Community” over two years ago. While Facebook has changed much in the past couple of years, my premise has stayed the same. And now it is punctuated more than every.

When it comes to Facebook (or any other platform) you must remember – You do not own it. You never owned the complete data set of your likes and that should have been a yellow flag all along. Facebook has changed its rules of engagement for brands more than any other social platform, but you can expect other platforms to follow course. If you want to manage your own social strategy without having your strings pulled, think about embedding your community on your own site.

The first response I get when I tell (non-strategic) people this is, “But Facebook has a gazillion users that I need to leverage. I could never get as many ‘likes’ on my own community.” And you know what … they are correct. You could never get as many followers on your own community. But your own community can still yield great results.

First off, of all the likes you have converted on Facebook, an overwhelming majority of them never really followed you to begin with. Most of them were enticed by some promotion and then never paid attention to you after that. And now with a practically non-existent organic reach, just about no one sees your post anyway.

The second reality is that if someone opts in to be a community member on your own site, they really are interested in your brand. Yes the number of onsite community members will likely be significantly smaller than the number of Facebook likes. But the community members are true brand loyalist (assuming you give them compelling information, stories, and promotions as a community member). Would it not be great if you had 500 community members and 100 of them were true advocates spreading the word about your brand? What is the value of having 100 objective people sharing your brand, marketing your brand to their friends and family?

Early this year, I gave you pointers on “Successful Social Marketing Integrating Content and Community.” In another article I told you ”Why Your Budget Must Include Website Re-investment.” Consider these two strategies going forward. Make sure the digital assets you own are most valuable and compelling to your audience. Build a marketing strategy based upon the capture and conversion of your target audience on YOUR OWNED digital assets. Then use other social platforms and channels to drive traffic to your digital asset.

In summary, let me ask you a rhetorical question … where do you think you can best monetize your target audience … on your digital asset or one owned by the other person?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

Here is the ROI for Social Marketing

social marketing ROISocial marketing ROI; not social media ROI. I hope everyone realizes that “Social Media is Not Social Marketing and Why It Matters.” Additionally, we are talking about social marketing. Not social sales. A successful marketing outcome is lead generation, which is one step short of sales. The successful outcome of sales is a sale. (Pretty profound – huh?)

It is also worth noting that it is very difficult to attribute a specific sale to a social interaction. First of all, many peer-to-peer conversations cannot be monitored. If a verbal exchange happens where one participant recommends a product/service to another and the recipient responds with a purchase, attribution is near impossible. Similarly, most conversations on individuals’ social channels are private. If someone asks their friends for a recommendation on Facebook, and people reply, the individual’s privacy settings most often eliminates the ability to track such exchanges.

So the ROI of social marketing is not sales. It is audience adoption, development, and relationship building to yield awareness, consideration, enthusiasm, loyalty, and advocacy for a brand. And take note that I said brand. Not product/service. The brand is an extension beyond the product or service. It is the personality, stories beyond and overall customer experience that go beyond the specific product/service.

So what exactly does audience adoption, development, and relationship building mean such that it can be measured to evaluate ROI. Let’s start theoretically and then we will move to empirical.

Audience adoption and development means that you are taking the appropriate steps to make target segments (not the entire universe) aware of your offering. You do this by engaging in places the target segments frequent. You aim to go beyond getting their attention and actually get them attracted to your brand. Continuous audience development means that you remain an active participant in the digital channels they frequent so they start to build affinity for your brand. Relationship building continues when your target segment members literarily opt in to be part of your audience by their action. They sign up to receive emails, follow you, like you, and subscribe to your blog/site via RSS. Once they have become a member of your audience you have an opportunity to really enhance their user experience and develop an emotional bond. And the most successful outcome of the relationship for a brand is not a sale. It is having that individual refer and market your product for you. Yes they will buy the product along the way, but if they can influence people to try your product, ultimately you will yield grander sales.

So that is the theoretical side. But as one post-it read on the door of an executive at an agency where I worked, “there is no time for theoretical,” I’ll give you the empirical ROI. That is what matters for all types of executives.

Over two years ago, I wrote an article “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.” But like I said in the beginning of this article, social marketing is not social media. So that article requires an update. (And thus this article. :) ) In the original article, I made a point that social was poor to be used as a direct sales tool. But I said social was excellent for teeing up sales as a function of the other stages of a sales/marketing funnel – awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. I talked about a Social Brand Index I formulated which was a complex measurement with different coefficients for various parameters highlighting increased awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. Below is a chart showing some of the parameters I used.

measured-social-media

But here’s the thing. Yes, successful social marketing increases the Social Brand Index month over month. But the real ROI of social marketing comes from your specific goals and objectives.

First understand what social marketing CAN do – the theory behind it. The value related to audience adoption and development, and relationship building. Understand how those facets relate to your company’s KPIs (key performance indicators). Determine what you want to accomplish, your goals and objectives. Back to marketing and lead generation … Do you need to increase awareness and consideration? Understand your company’s drivers. For example, many companies look at the cost of customer acquisition versus retaining customers. Others look at lifetime value of a customer. Loyalty is key in both these areas. And then of course there is the paramount value of social marketing – advocacy. Advocacy is the ability to unleash objective individuals to market your product/service to their friends, family, and colleagues. Is your company looking to accomplish this?

Social can do all these things, but you may be focused on some specific objectives. Determine this in the beginning of your social marketing effort. Then collect the data and show trending empirical results. Review some of the parameters I provided in the chart above and tweak for your own scenario. This is YOUR ROI. When you make a friend, what is the value of that friend? Different people would answer this question in many different ways. It is analogous with social marketing and companies. Everyone knows there is value in audience adoption and development. Everyone knows there is value in building relationships. But the ROI (the value) of these activities may be different for companies based upon the companies’ KPIs. It is also worth mentioning that different social marketing executions will yield various results on increasing awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

In summation, the ROI of social marketing IS audience adoption and development as well as relationship building. Social marketing does have an ROI and can be measured. Based upon specific goals and objectives, various companies can measure social marketing ROI differently. But social marketing ROI can be measured if your strategy addresses what you look to accomplish and how the social marketing strategy contributes to your organization’s KPIs.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

Willie Nile and Nels Cline: Uncommon Ground

It is rare that I cover subjects beyond digital, social, marketing, and leadership on The SocialSteve Blog. I have never had a guest blogger on The SocialSteve Blog. But when the planets align, one needs to make exceptions. Thus is the case with an article that follows. This past week, I saw two concerts that were truly extraordinary, both with a bud of mine. We were both so moved by the awesome talent and passion delivered. The following is piece is written by bud, “SeeBe.”

Witnessing genius is profound, thought provoking and at best transformational. Rare events indeed, until one has grown a set of ears and open heart, willing to experience greatness shining loud and blaring bright as Willie Nile’s and Nels Cline’s.

IMG_4115IMG_4153

Deconstructing the name CLINE, we are able to see contained within, the surname of NILE. Willie is a songwriter, a wordsmith able to convey poignant beauty with often simple characterizations, nailing it to our consciousness; expanding our regard and reference of what rock music can really be.

Cline contains Nile, just rearranged into new form, using notes, beats, and other worldly musical communication expressing metaphysical truth. Nels speaks the foreign tongue, whose source of speech is likely divine. Skilled improvisers, Nels and Co span a range as wide as the Grand Canyon. I’m not joking. This is a man who can speak softly with gentle prowess on the acoustic, release and free rock guitar as brilliant as ANY, enter into deep grateful space, bang hard like a metal head, live in free-form jazz land while creating new and airy dimensions where all have say; communion of sorts..

Willie oh Willie how grand your majesty. . . Troubadour Extraordinaire… Bruce Springsteen wearing a brilliant disguise, existing under popular radar for no reason other than fate which enters all lives. That same fate allows me to know Willie Nile exists. Genuine human love emanates and is shared between Willie and we the listeners of the Nile Gospel. Although Nile contains one less letter than Cline, he’s more succinct when dropping the Nile Gospel bomb upon us. Minutes are all that’s needed for Willie to draw us deep into his world.

Fortunate for us Cline has an additional letter, with Nile completely rearranged. It’s a creation of Frankenstein proportion; big, scary and gentle. Nels somehow walks the earth able to contain by day what comes out at night. Ferocious splendor consumes, initiating transformation from Clark Kent to Superman. This is not hyperbole. Some day a book will be written and it will be called The Transformation of Nels Cline.

Both men walk upon uncommon ground. This ground I speak, generally invisible becomes exposed when soul willie and soul nels are performing. Both stand naked as any clothed human can be. Each fiber of their being spread across the little universe we all share, intertwining with ours creating new and memorable moments. These are humble journeymen who have become masters though they would never acknowledge such achievement.. Real deal indeed!

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Where Social Media Marketing Starts and Ends

For the past couple of years, there have been a number of articles that state the career of the social media manager has a limited life. The rationalization is that the responsibilities that go along with the position will be “natural” functions of everyone’s job. This may be true, but it really is a question of where social media marketing starts and where it ends.

social media marketing start - finish

Let’s recognize that social media and social marketing are not the same thing as discussed in “Social Media is NOT Social Marketing and Why It Matters.” I am reminded of this just about every week in my social consulting profession. If you were to ask ten people where social starts and ends, you would get about eleven different opinions.

This past week I was interviewing for a position at a company for the role of Social Media Director. The interview was going great. About five minutes into the conversation, the interviewee realized that my skill set and experience stretched far beyond the job description of the Director of Social Media. She mentioned there was also an open position for an Audience Development Director as well. Interestingly enough, the Audience Development Director position had some social media responsibilities.

I always thought the job of some one in social media was much more than putting up Facebook and Twitter posts. (And now a host of numerous other possible platforms). The job of “social” should really be about moving the target audience further down the line of brand awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

Does this mean that the job title is misleading? Besides Audience Development Director, do we sometimes call these roles Digital Marketers, Inbound Marketers, Experiential Marketers? Probably so. As so many others and I have said countless times, social media cannot be a separate thing and/or an after thought. “Social” must be integrated with many marketing disciplines driven by audience behavior. Nothing else and definitely not organizational structures aimed at putting people in simple boxes. At the end of the day (and profitable year :) ), you want someone that has the ability to capture an audience and get them emotionally tied to your brand. So emotionally tied that they want to tell everyone how great the brand is.

So back to the question at hand … “Where Social Media Marketing Starts and Ends?” I would say that “social” job responsibilities should include the following …

• Set marketing strategy based upon brand position, brand value proposition, target audience demographics and behaviors, and competitive differentiation.
• Set marketing plan consisting of defined objectives, target audience definition, target audience perceptions, defined offering, and call to action(s).
• Determine marketing communication messaging theme and content.
• Develop content strategy, plan, and calendar.
• Determine marketing channels (owned, earned, and paid media) to utilize and converse interactively in.
• Define use of brand digital assets (website, social) to maximize audience participation and word-of-marketing.
• Listen to target audience and interact with them to optimize brand awareness, loyalty, and advocacy.
• Develop brand community and grow.
• Community management – including brand channels and engagement on non-brand owned channels.
• Increase community subscription.
• Identify brand category influencers.
• Use digital PR and digital outreach to brand category influencer.
• Develop partnerships (bloggers, media sites, technology providers).
• Increase email (newsletter) subscription.
• Collaborate with sales team to help advertisers leverage brand content and presence without disenchanting brand audience. (Develop programs for advertisers beyond “display”.)
• Product marketing and road mapping.
• Plan digital presence for events and execute.
• Use analytics tools to gain insights and drive strategy and plan modifications.
• Monitor digital channels for brand mentions and keywords in brand category to gain awareness and increase brand loyalty.
• Deliver quantifiable results – website traffic (visits, unique visits, time on site, lower bounce rate) and social brand index (brand awareness, brand consideration, brand loyalty, and brand advocacy).
• Complete integration of SEO, paid media, and all other marketing efforts (online and offline).

What would you add or subtract from the list?

Make it happen,
Social Steve

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

The Corporate Culture Trait That is Perfect for Social Marketing Success

I was interested in pursuing a professional position that I thought was an excellent match for me. The position was leading the service group for a social media platform company. Coincidentally, at the same time, the company’s VP of Marketing was engaging with me on Twitter based on an article I was quoted in. I thought it was a good opportunity to ask if he knew anything about the position and whom it reported into. He said he did not, but then followed up with a tweet that really resonated with me. He simply tweeted …

How can I help?

how-can-i-help

Now isn’t that the mentality you want from all companies, all brands you patronize.

I was a bit surprised. I thought about how it would feel if I was a potential consumer or client of a business. Should brands have a social media presence that says “Here, I want to help you”? I had a most favorable image of this company leader by his simple tweet. Now what if I had the same perception of an entire brand? That they were there to help me.

I do believe that social media presence of brands needs to feel more like you are hearing from a person rather than hearing from a company. People feel more comfortable listening to and talking to people than a company.

As you think about your brand’s participation in social media to drive measured results in awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy, always think from the perspective “How can I help.” Your audience does not want blatant selling and product push from companies in social media. If your audience is to gain respect, value and trust from your brand on social media, they will get it in the form of entertaining and helpful information.

When you execute brand social marketing, help individuals and the mass audience. You help individuals by listening and responding to their needs and wants. You help a mass audience by having deep empathy for them and delivering content that is valuable to them. Make them feel like you are a media company addressing their interests rather than a company pushing and selling.

When I talk about the perfect trait of corporate culture for social marketing, the “how can I help” attitude should be a characteristic that exudes internally in addition to external social activity. Social media managers need help from their internal organization to be successful. Company leaders need to be a proactive resource for social managers. The various company subject matter experts need to feed the social managers compelling and valuable information that appeals to the brand’s audience. The social manager needs to respond to the audience quickly and thus individuals within the company must help and support the social manager. Look at the social manager as the front line of audience development and engagement. But at the same time the social manager requires the full support of an entire corporate cast.

So I ask you … do you think your company can really win over it’s audience in social marketing? Does your company have a “how can I help” mentality through and through? Internally and externally?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under corporate culture, leadership, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Why Your Budget Must Include Website Re-Investment

Yes, it is that time of the year. Sure the leaves are falling and nature reinforces her beauty, but I am not talking about that. It is budget season and everyone is looking at what they have done in the past year and tweaking allocation numbers.

But before you finalize your budget by simply modifying last year’s budget, you need to take a fresh look. What will truly yield growth of brand awareness, consideration, sale, loyalty, and advocacy? I’d expect website revitalization was not on last year’s budget. I will also bet that many say, “websites – oh that is so ‘90′s,” but I will tell you a “correctly designed” website is so 2020′s. Let’s explore why.

website reinvestment

First, let me state that I am very bullish on social marketing as a way to win over an audience and turn them into your most valued customers – advocates. But if we look at social media platforms today, we see that the platform evolution now hinders brand engagement with target audiences. Just look at Facebook. They have practically eliminated organic reach of brand postings. And you know just about all social platforms main objective is to optimize their own monetization. They also look to appeal to their audience. Not the brand’s audience. Social platform’s first concern is their success; not marketers success. Don’t be naive.

Second, I always state that marketers must have complete empathy for their target audience. Culture has been transformed by digital technologies. More people get information online (social networking, mobile, and the Internet) as a primary source. This consumer/client behavior means your website would be extremely compelling if it was a) dynamic with continuous content updates (posts), b) more interactive and social, and c) mobile ready.

The first step in revitalizing your website is to start thinking like a media company. Think about being the “Buzz Feed” for your brand category news, information, and entertainment. Produce original content regularly. Curate relevant content and include it on your website. Think about what it takes to be a resource for your audience such that they want to go to your website daily to get up-to-date information.

The next step in revitalizing your website is to make it more interactive and social. If we look at human behavior, we see that they do want to engage with brands. That is, if the brand makes it worth their while. Converse with your audience. Listen to your audiences needs and wants. Produce compelling content based on their input and comments. Build sustainable relationships. Facebook and other social networks have clamped your ability to engage. So bring that functionality to the digital platform you own and you control – your website. Consider building a community integrated within your website. True, you may not get as many subscribers as Facebook likes or Twitter followers, but certainly you will get individuals that want to remain engaged and are likely your best customers/clients.

At the same time, various social platforms do continue to be an important part of your marketing mix. They should be used to proliferate the content on your website. Additionally, paid media of social platforms is a very important budgetary consideration. The greatest value of paid media on social platforms is the ability to target specific demographics. I have seen paid media deliver very strong click through results (back to your website).

I hope it goes without saying that your website MUST be mobile ready. More and more people access the Internet via mobile device. Do you really want to eliminate access of your website to a majority of the population because you have not made the investment to make it mobile ready?

I have given you the three areas to focus on with regards to the revitalization of your website. Staying consistent in numerology, there are three reasons why website revitalization must be part of your 2015 budget:

1) Audience use of digital is not only ubiquitous but their individual use is very strong,
2) Your website is something you completely own and control … you do not have to worry about the usage rules being changed, and
3) Your website is likely the strongest digital source to monetize your brand.

Make sense? Can do?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under community, content marketing, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve, website

The Power of Audience Trumps the Power of Your Marketing

It is a reality all brands and marketers must come to. Who has stronger influence on the awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty of your brand? You the marketer or others telling friends, family, and colleagues about the positives and negatives of your product or service? It is time to stop drinking your own Kool-Aid and recognize that the greatest power of brand conversion lies in the hands of the audience you target. The power comes from them advocating on your behalf.

audience power

More than ever, the entire user experience shapes the value and “goodness” (or lack there of) of your brand as perceived by the audience you wish to capture. All the elements of a user experience (corporate positioning, product positioning, product/service value, sales process, brand engagement, and customer support and service) must be integrated and orchestrated.

The next contributing factor to the power of your audience is their (not your) use of digital and social platforms. People talk about brands without being prompted by the brand to do so. This sharing and word of mouth marketing is usually instigated by user experience – either a positive one or a negative one.

All of this change in customer behavior does not mean that marketing is any less important than the days prior to the Internet, digital technologies, and smart mobile devices. It just means that marketers need to form strategies and plans differently. First off, the responsibilities of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) need to expand to that of a Chief Engagement Officer (as I have written about before).

Second, marketers need to have strong empathy and complete understanding of their audiences’ needs, wants, desires, motivations, and turn offs. Social media monitoring tools enable much greater listening to individuals, but most companies use monitoring merely for sales opportunities as opposed to shaping their product position, roadmap, and go-to-market strategy.

The last point I will make is that marketing approaches must change due to audience behavior and their influence of brand reputation. You can no longer simply develop Hollywood-like advertisement and be content that will grab your audience. Marketers need to pre-plan how the creative will support and enhance the entire user experience. You need to think about how the content will be shared in a positive light. You need to think about activating your audience to become a brand advocate. And this brand advocacy and activation should be the pinnacle results you aim for. Remember – the power of your audience trumps the power of your marketing. So motivate and activate your audience to do your marketing. Think audience first.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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