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Social Media – Great for Reaching Celebrity Status, Except for Celebrities

Every brand would love to be in the public eye, like celebrities and pop stars alike. Feel the love; feel passion; feel the desire to connect and engage. Now I don’t think it is likely that brands will reach the level of connection of say Lady Gaga with her audience, but certainly social media, when executed correctly, can increase your audience and the passion they have for your brand.

And yet, it is almost ironic that so many stars that have already reached pinnacle admiration from their audience have failed and/or retreated from social media. Just one case in point – James Franco. Last week, Franco told Policito “Social media is over … You heard it here first.” He went on to say “My thought was ‘this is my Twitter. I can do whatever I want.’ But certain companies I work with contacted me about what I was saying.”

So think about this statement for a second and start to assess the difference between being a brand and being an individual while engaging in the social world. The social world demands that we are always on our game. Just one slip up produces a hurt to reputation. While we definitely need to have a person and personality behind social communication and engagement, brands must not be emotional. They must maintain a strong, rational position. Do not undermine the importance on this! If you represent a brand, and you want to reach celebrity status for your brand you will need to follow this guideline.

From the perspective of celebrities, it doesn’t exactly work that way. When everything is going great, celebrities want to show you their world and open up to the public. When things are not going well (and everyone has their hills and valleys) they prefer their privacy and solitude – rightfully so.

But brands do not have this luxury. Now I am not saying that brands should be deceitful and put “lipstick on a pig.” What I am saying is that brands can not hide in hard times. They must come out and face the music and publicly deal in challenging times. Have we not learned from BP and Toyota?

Brands should use social media in both good times and bad times. Social media is an excellent way to deal with mistakes. People don’t like to do this. Brands must! Want to create the best goodwill with your audience? Want to turn a bad situation into something positive? Use your social to fess up to your brand shortcoming – apologize and state the corrective action taken. Acknowledge that you know there is a problem. Listen to your audience. Convey strong and valid proof that it will never happen again.

And hey, when times are great, we all want to get the word spread. How do you do that? You start by creating informative and entertaining content/media. Not sales-ie stuff. Something of value for your audience. This is your owned media. You must have a plan that integrates your owned media with your paid media and on top of that, produces earned media. (See Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media.)

Last week, in my column “Social Media – Quarterly Review, Q1 – 2011,” I stated that the strength of social media was “the ability to build relationships with your target audience like never before” (as part of my SWOT analysis). I am not sure celebrities really want this. Understandably so, they want their privacy and space.

Brands on the other hand, definitely want this. Once again – people want to know there is a human side to brands’ social efforts. But that personal aspect can not be moody and can never include rants. Think of the personalization of brands’ social endeavors to be carried out by a diplomatic ambassador. Yes, the ambassador(s) can be fun and informal. But they also need to be careful with regards to snarkiness. Remember Kenneth Cole’s botch. Brands must focus on a strategy, plan and execution that build relationships. If they deliver value to those relationships with a humanized rational touch, they can achieve celebrity status. Celebrity status – tons of attention, attraction, and passion from their audience. It takes time – there is no overnight stardom.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

Footnote – yes there are a number of celebrities using social media well. I would say that those that are successful, approach their individual social media activity more like an individual brand as opposed to their personal side.


Filed under brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, owned-earned-paid media, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Social Media – Quarterly Review, Q1 – 2011

We finished Q1, 2011. How was the quarter for you? From a social media perspective, I think it was a good quarter – we saw greater adoption. There is still much to be accomplished and significant maturing of the industry will take place for a number of years.

I thought it was fitting to do a brief review of Q1 … a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) Analysis and review of a few articles that received strong responses.

Here is the SWOT Analysis for Social Media for Q1, 2011 …

And now, a quick review and some highlights from articles and ideas I’ve posted this quarter:

IP 3.0 in the Digital Age – social and digital become interchangeable. The next wave of digital/social will come from brands that integrate and package social right into their product/service offering.

The Power of Compelling and Engaging Content – new media marketing means producing information and entertaining content that appeals to your target audience. Compelling content is a powerful way to keep your audience engaged.

Social Media in Your Company – Guidance for Where It Fits In – finding the right place for social responsibility in an organization continues to be problematic. Some thoughts on the subject here.

Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media – a really nice outline and guide to molding and creating synergy amongst owned, earned, and paid media. Bottom line – must integrate.

Social Media ROI – Don’t Be So Short Sighted – Think Longer Term and Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel – measurement and ROI for social media … still illusive? I think not and here are two great articles that give you ideas how you might go about reporting KPIs (key performance indicators) for social media.

Social Media – Mentality is the Key to Winning! – you can’t just do it. It takes the right attitude. Got what it takes?

If you missed these articles, check them out. If you’ve seen them, thanks for being part of the great response.

I’ll leave you with a mention of three company events that I think punctuate where social media stands and is heading: 1) The launch of “Color”, 2) The acquisition of Radian6 by, and 3) Google launch of Plus 1.

If you haven’t seen the iPhone app Color, check it out. Neat photo app that allows you to connect with your friends (and others). Still has a number of issues to work out (first and foremost the UI), but signals the importance and future of community. Social is about connecting with your crowd and I think Color is just an awesome implementation of this for photo taking.

Next Radian6 acquisition signifies just how important (and achievable) measuring ROI is for social media. Radian6 is considered the social media monitoring leader and was bought for north of $300 million by Shows how important social media measurement is. We will see great advancement of connecting social media measurement to sales and CRM.

And last, Google’s Plus 1 … the combination of search and social defines the best one-two punch for brands. Google seems to finally start delivering on the promise to be social. SEO has shrunk as a way people find brands at the hands of social and Google has just admitted so with their actions.

I am continue to be bullish on social media. (Was there any doubt in your mind?) What are your thoughts on the state of social – now and in the future?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under quarterly review, social media, social media marketing, social media organization, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Social Media – Mentality is the Key to Winning!

We are at the point where just about every company is starting or active in social media in one form or another. No need to evangelize social anymore. Everyday, I scan the news for articles on social media and there are tons. In the past weeks, I have seen a majority questioning the success of social media. But we can not go from everyone’s doing it to the next question of “Is it working?” Something very important is missing.

Are you going about social media with the right mentality and approach? It is not about having a Facebook fan page and Twitter account. It is more about having the right attitude, style, and engagement mentality on these platforms as well as OTHERS. Can you really expect to have social media success if you are not actively engaging, building relationships, and, well, being social?

There is also another piece. When I’ve made a career change, headhunters and prospective companies asked me, “What are you looking for? A startup, emerging, big company?” I always answer the same thing. Size does not matter. Spirit does. Entrepreneurial companies are what attract me, because they are the winners.

Now this term entrepreneurial is thrown out all the time. But what does it really mean. Well let’s start by looking at the formal definition of entrepreneur. According to Merriam-Webster, an entrepreneur is “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Key word here – risks.

And this is the pinnacle part as it relates to my interests, and even more importantly, social media. No company, and I do mean no company at all, will be successful with social media if they are not willing to take risks and accept some degree of failures to occur in plight for big wins. If your company is waiting for a social media recipe with guaranteed results, as opposed to taking calculated risk, forget it.

On topic to this discussion, I just finished reading Seth Godin’s latest book, “Poke the Box.” I have always found Seth to be creative, inspirational, and one of the best marketing minds. The emphasis of Seth’s recent book is really two-fold. 1) The need to not just have good ideas, but the requirement to get started and release something. 2) Pushing educational and corporate cultures to have a greater acceptance of failure, because from failure we learn and spawn great things. Creativity is totally sapped without an acceptance of failure.

The book speaks to individuals. Yes, social media requires leaders. Leaders that start things and push for success. I often use a rubber band analogy to make a point about introducing social media to an organization and/or change management in general. In order to provoke positive change, it is your responsibility as a leader to view your organization as a rubber band. It is your job to stretch and expand the rubber band, but not push too much to cause the rubber band to snap. Each rubber band size and elasticity varies by culture. Understand the environment you are in and stretch.

So back to social media success possibilities within a company. Is the right mentality in place? What does that rubber band look like? What is the willing elasticity and stretched factor of the organization? Are they entrepreneurial to take risks and accept failures?

Social media is not about being “right.” It is about connecting with people to find the right. Build strong relationships. The right as defined by your target audience. The relationships with your targets will tell you (indirectly) how to be a success.

At the highest level, social media’s objective is getting the prospects and customers to love your brand. Could you have a stronger relationship? Is your organization really ready to take this on as an objective and put appropriate KPIs (key performance indicators) in place to measure this?

Do organizational boundaries exist that prohibit this? I’ll give you an example on the contrary …

I am part of an Innovation Team where I currently work. I represent the marketing discipline on the team. We are about to launch a very cool video application for smart phones (iPhone first, then other platforms). About a week and a half ago, we had a meeting to discuss launch plans. I lead the meeting to discuss our go-to-market and continuing activities and some things that need to be resolved. I brought up the issue of customer support and questioned who was going to own this responsibility. Our COO responded immediately to me – “Your team.” Formally in the big corporate structure, I run the social media team, not a customer support organization. But our COO was exactly correct. I said social media is about getting your customers to love you and customer support certainly plays a key role here.

Here is another point on the potential of the organization getting in the way of social success. .. A number of months ago, I wrote an article “People Have the Power – a Social Media Story.” I told the story of having a problem with my cable provider and not getting resolution from “customer support” but rather someone in PR picking up a tweet I made and working the issue to resolution. From a customer/user perspective, do I really care about organizational boundaries or do I care about a brand that shows me love when they are looking to capture me as a customer and continuing to show me love as a customer. Continuing, seamless love – How powerful is this if you really accomplish this within your brand?

So when you put it all together, I am suggesting that some companies have no chance at all of social media success. Wrong attitude; wrong results. If you are not entrepreneurial, social and committed to building strong relationships and customer love, don’t expect a miracle. Make sure your culture fits the requirements for social success. If this is so, we will see an overwhelming number of winning business cases.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brands, change management, company organization, marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Social Media – The New Voice of the Customer

The past two weeks, I’ve written on some intense social media topics (Social Media ROI and Integrating Owned, Earned, and Paid Media).  So let’s lighten it up just a bit and make sure we are in the right frame of mind to drive social success.

For a number of years when I was a marketing executive, many of us would pride ourselves as being “The Voice of the Customer.”  The rest of the business organization was myopic in their subject matter expertise, but a select few of us were the delivers of the most important information to the company – “The Voice of the Customer.”  (Seems like there should be an amplified professional announcer like Don Pardo standing in every time I mention “The Voice of the Customer.”)  Like it was carried in some golden box that unveiled all magical secrets that guaranteed success.  Well heck, there is even a process for obtaining “The Voice of the Customer.” 

I captured some definition on Voice of the Customer from WikiPedia:

Voice of the customer (VOC) is a term used in business … to describe the in-depth process of capturing a customer’s expectations, preferences and aversions.  Specifically, the Voice of the Customer is a market research technique that produces a detailed set of customer wants and needs, organized into a hierarchical structure, and then prioritized in terms of relative importance and satisfaction with current alternatives. Voice of the Customer studies typically consist of both qualitative and quantitative research steps.

Voice of the Customer Initiatives
– A detailed understanding of the customer’s requirements
– A common language for the team going forward
– Key input for the setting of appropriate design specifications for the new product or service
– A highly useful springboard for product innovation.

Now I’ve been in product management and product marketing for a number of years and I know the importance and relevance of what we used to call MSORs (Marketing Statement of Requirements).  I lived through “Agile software development” and have a strong appreciation for the current mentality of “deliver early and often.”

All these things are important and have varying degrees of applicability in different cultures and environments.  But the one thing I will say that is paramount today and is a significant fundamental change is – we no longer need a voice of the customer.  The customer has their own voice and it can be heard in social media everyday.

So yes, as a marketing executive, my days (and yours) as “The Voice of the Customer” are dead.  So what is next?  I am “The Listener of the Customer.”  It is all there if you want for the taking.  We no longer need to rely on study methods such as focus groups, individual interviews, ethnography, or other techniques.  All the information we want is on the social web to help identify new products or services, refine existing products, improve quality, and create product design specifications.  And what is even better is this new social media environment is completely natural and uncontrived.

All that is required is listening and engagement.  Listening is straightforward.  Maybe not easy, but straightforward.  Engagement is a little more difficult.  Yes, you have an agenda, but you can not go right to it.  You can’t just ask someone what are your needs.  You’ll get better responses that will drive better product/service results by building relationships from people that will pour their heart and soul out.  And relationships go back to the LCR mentality I have preached.
And you can take this capturing of customers needs, wants, desires, etc. one step further.  You can build continuous input from your customer right into your product or service.  In my post “IP 3.0 in the Digital Age,” I stated “Social media needs to be integrated and packaged into the actual product/service offering.”  The premise here is that social media must be baked into the product.  Baked into the product so that the product is shared by users with their network and that their voice is captured from a customer support and product innovation perspective.  Identify those users that are power users or super users.  Engage with them and make them part of your creative process.  They will not look for monetary compensation, but simply be stoked by the thought that they influence your roadmap.

In the old days, I would run customer advisory councils and panels and let me tell you – there was a ton of valuable work that went into these.  Today, it is so much simpler with social media.  Yes, it takes resources, but I look at it as a redirection of resources to a more valuable output.

Today, leading companies have begun using text mining and text analytics to automate the capture and analysis of “voice of the customer” content from the Web and CRM.  I expect to see a number of product releases and enhancements in this area to help capture and correlate relevant customer input.  

It is easier than ever to capture “The Voice of the Customer.”  What are you doing to grab their input and how are you going about it?  Please chime in.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


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

Social Media Magnifies the New Real – Authentic and Transparent

This past week, I attended some great sessions at Social Media Week NY. The highlights for me were Gabe Zichermann‘s presentation on Gamification, Dennis Crowley’s Keynote, and Karen Untereker‘s case study on Ford. But the resounding takeaway from the week is what continuously came up in a number of sessions. Besides for the word “ecosystem,” the two words I heard more than anything else were “authenticity” and “transparency.” And let me tell you – no hype here. Nothing could be more important in the socialized ecosystem. (Had to throw that word in just for jollies. :) )

Social media is strengthening democracy. Not just in Egypt, but everywhere. And do you know how important this is in the business world. What this means is that people have the power. The power to advocate for and challenge brands. And it is happening all the time. The days of spin are over. Acknowledge it and deal with it. You need to deliver true value to your target market. And if you are really doing this, your next step toward measurable success is to market, communicate, and engage in an authentic and transparent manner.

Now what does this really mean? Let’s scratch the surface on both of these – authenticity and transparency.

Authentic is to be worthy of acceptance; not false or imitation; real, actual. Yes, authentic is the antithesis of spin. In a social media context, authentic means understanding the real value of your brand – as the audience sees it, and telling relevant stories that support your position. Positioning is an art. Great positioning tells a compelling attention grabbing story – a story that resonates with your audience. I emphasize a story telling aspect, because this is vital to authenticity. When you inform a friend about something, it is often done within the context of a story. This is how real people talk to one another. Throw away your irrelevant superlatives and verbose corporate communication. Get real. Be a person speaking for your brand. Engage. And avoid spin at all cost. People will call you out on it in a social, public forum, if you don’t.

To be transparent is to be free from pretense or deceit. For me, this one is pretty simple. Don’t lie; don’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. When you post, tweet, engage – do so under an honorable name and entity. Don’t ghost write for your CEO or anyone else.

There has been so much debate whether the executives should be engaged in social media. I think the answer is definitely yes. Executives are leaders for the company/brand and leaders must speak out. But it is really a matter of design. I had one of the top people at one of my magazine brands ask me if she had to tweet. I said no, do what you are comfortable. But that doesn’t mean that the person doing the tweeting for the brand should not seek out communication and quotes from executives and brand leaders. I don’t expect a CEO of a Fortune 500 company to be tweeting, but I do expect them to be assessable to grab some sound bytes that they actually stated which are quoted in company releases.

Another area of transparency that gets debate is the use of freelancers. I support this approach with two caveats:

1) The freelancer must be a subject matter expert on the topic being discussed. They must not only be able to produce the original content, but continue to engage on behalf of the brand and the topical area.

2) Total transparency about who is doing the content generation. There is nothing wrong with brands seeking outside help to engage with their audience. If you have a problem with this, tell me the value of having celebrities and sports stars speak on behalf of brands and endorse them.

So when all is set and done, I am pretty sure you all know what it means to be authentic and transparent. I do not need to go into any long definitions and examples. But I do want to drive home the point of being authentic and transparent 100% of the time. One little slip up may turn into a blunderous scenario for you and your brand … one which may be difficult to remedy. So in the words of Spike Lee, “Do the Right Thing.”

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


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

Social Media in Your Company – Guidance for Where It Fits In

So you’re putting together the social media puzzle. There are many pieces, aren’t there? And one slice that continues to get questions is where the responsibility and position(s) belong in the organization. In fact, a number of months ago I wrote an article on this very topic and suggested “nowhere” in current organizations was the right place for social media. I suggested that a new organization needed to be created under the leadership of the Chief Customer Officer.

Now I realize that one size does not fit all, so I am going to provide some guidance that will help you determine what is right for your company given its current organization and culture.

And here is the most important aspect that you must recognize. Social media is not one thing – not one set of responsibilities. Social media consists of Strategy, Planning, Execution, and Measurement. Four functional responsibilities. I must stress how important this is. So many companies solely focus on execution. And execution without a strategy and a plan is doomed for failure. And yes, social media activities must be measured as well.

So the key point – think of social media as four functional responsibilities – strategy, planning, execution, and measurement. I am not saying these need to be four distinct positions. It is quite possible that an individual can cover a multiple or all of these functions. But think about the people that will assume these responsibilities, where associated leadership and management is in place to optimize activities and results, and what the appropriate interfaces need to be to ensure measurable success.

Here are suggested responsibilities for each of the four functional areas:

– Serve as the thought leader aligning social media/digital strategy with business goals and objectives
– Define social media/digital vision
– Integrate strategies into broader business objectives
– Evangelize (internal and external) for company social initiatives
– Identify new social business models, platforms, channels, and trends
– Conduct competitive analysis
– Define business model and pricing if applicable
– Define owned, earned, and paid media strategy
– Monitor trends, tools, opportunities and applications
– Identify partners

– Define scope, recommended approach, and manage execution
– Define objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), expected results, and how activities will be measured
– Develop, coordinate and manage social media campaigns within all applicable platforms (Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc)
– Define methodological support, coaching, and training to staff
– Maintain project schedules and manage execution (could also be the responsibility in the Execution function)
– Approve all project initiatives and ensures the project supports the strategic vision
– Write project justifications and proposals, including investment requirements
– Maintain and expand a master list of key / influential contributors

– Ensure proper messaging is being published and that brand image is consistent across channels
– Manage editorial calendar consisting of content
– Engage the community – connect with customers and understand what they want to see and hear
– Build relationships with bloggers, other sites
– Drive employee participation with Social Media channels
– Post content on various platforms and generate conversation – respond
– Seek and maintain “special” relationships with influencers
– Use social listening skills and tools to monitor online conversations

– Establish metrics for each social media channel
– Oversee tracking and evaluation by providing insight and analysis for making optimizations
– Measure the impact of social media on the overall marketing efforts
– Produce weekly content production summary reports
– Proactively communicate issues, opportunities and insights to the team
– Track social media spending/budget

You can scramble the responsibilities as you see fit. I’ve merely provided guidance, but do as you see fit. The point is, start here. Make sure you and your executives recognize successful social media is much more than posting and tweeting. Make sure all these areas are getting the appropriate attention and assigned responsibilities. If you take this approach, you are ready to make rational decisions as to where social media fits within your organization.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under company organization, social media, social media organization, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

The Power of Compelling and Engaging Content

Okay, so you’ve read the title of the article and you say no kidding, I know that. But is this part of your strategy and plan before you start posting and tweeting?

Now that so many are getting on board with social media, the persistent nay-sayers are questioning it’s success. And to some degree they are correct. Because far too many are using social media as a sales tool to simply put out promotions. Promotions are like a one-night stand – not debating whether one-night stands are good or bad … that’s for you to decide, but rhetorical question … how long do they last? When it comes to brand marketing, brand reputation, I think most want to work for the customer’s long lasting love as opposed to quick one-shot lust. (Hey this could be my Valentine’s Day edition of the Social Steve blog, but I guess it’s a bit early for that. :) )

Bust seriously, this is real important stuff. Especially for product and service companies looking to have successful social media strategy and execution. Brands – you want to have a reason why prospects and customers stay engaged with you and come back. And the magical element (besides your product value) is great content. Think about it from a magazine subscription perspective. Why would you get a subscription to a specific magazine? Because you like the topic(s) they cover and the creative way they deliver the story. Well it should be no different for you.

Start by asking yourself these questions – Who is my brand’s target market? What does our product/service deliver for that target market and why does the segment value what we deliver? For the target market, what are their values, challenges, interests, and how are they entertained? Think about these sorts of questions and produce compelling and engaging content that is relevant to your product/service offering. The content can be articles, pictures, video, audio, and other forms of multimedia. Avoid sales pitches when generating content. Make your production of content a branding exercise. One that reinforces to your market that you are an expert or leader in your sector. Doing this provides a reason for people to stay connected with your brand.

The next aspect that you should think about when producing content is getting responses and engagement from your audience. I’ve been using this quote for sometime – “Content is not king. Conversation around content is king.” So ask yourself, “Are we producing content that provokes interaction with our audience?” Provide a place for your audience to post their own UGC (user generated content). Once someone gives you something they have written or created, they are more emotionally tied to your brand. Inclusion is a strong reason for connecting with brands.

So you’re creating great content and getting your target market engaged. There is still one more thing to address – What are doing to optimize the sharing of your content by your audience? This is the essence of word-of-mouth marketing. Thus, there should be a specific design strategy for delivery of your content. Let me give just one game changing example …

For a number of years, I worked as a marketing executive in high-tech. I would often participate in key industry conferences as this was an important lead generation venue and activity. (Still is.) Producing collateral for the events was very important – you know product slick sheets you pass out to everyone passing by your booth. If your product is compelling, most will grab and save the product one-sheeter or pamphlet. But what is the likelihood that this gets shared by the receiptant to their network? So what if you gave out a notebook (my favorite giveaway passed out at conferences) with a simple insert with your product information with a QR-code and URL for more detailed information. There are two facets of this approach that makes your product content more likely to be shared: 1) Given the content is part of a notebook that will presumably be used for about 6 months over and over again, there are more chances for the prospect to mention it at various meetings and encounters with others. 2) It is hard to share a brochure and much easier to share a digital asset such as a QR code or URL.

The other sharing features that have almost become ubiquitous at this point are Facebook Like, TweetMe, and other sharing widgets that accompany postings on your site or blog. It is a no-brainer to use these. There are a number of other strategies and tactics for sharing, but the point is planning this!

So if you are a brand, product, or marketing manager think content in your strategy. Produce continuous content that keeps people coming back, subscribing, and sharing. Analyze and measure your releases. What type of content gets the most traffic, the most interaction with your audience and the most mentions or sharing? There are a number of tools to support metric analysis. Listen to your audience – they’ll tell you what they want to hear.

There will be huge rewards for product and service companies that integrate a complete and continuous content strategy to their brand management activities. Take this from someone who has been a marketing executive for a number of product and service companies and is now working at a “content company.”

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Social Media – Executives Got Questions, I Got Answers

Yes, social media is still very much misunderstood – executives included. When I first joined HFM US (brands include ELLE, Woman’s Day, Car and Driver, etc.), I did a presentation for the CEO and other executives defining social media, vision, and realistic objectives. Since that time, there have been a number of changes in the company C-Suite including the area in my reporting structure. So I am getting asked these questions again.

While the interrogation may bother some, I think it is a really good thing. Not just because I want all to understand social media from a realistic perspective, beyond hype and FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) at both ends of the spectrum, but even more importantly, as a marketing executive setting social strategy and executing initiatives, it is imperative to remember the “why”. I’ve been working on a number of things for a number of brands, educating and grinding away. It is critical for me to pick up my head from the chaotic world and re-look at the mission and objectives to make sure our strategy is actually addressing exactly what you set out to do. As fast as technology is moving and rapidly changing, and new “shiny objects” glow with enticement, you gotta make sure the cool stuff you’re doing supports a set mission and objectives.

So as I am going through this exercise now, I share with you my mission and objectives. Obviously, I need to be general and not specific here so as to protect the interest of my employer. But I’ll certainly provide a framework that should allow you to shape social media in your organization.

So let’s get right to it. Here is the mission of social media:

Engage with the target audience to create deeper relationships such that advocates are created to share brand content and provide measurable value to brand and/or advertisers.”

That’s it. That’s the mission. But the devil is in the detail. Let’s parse this apart just a bit. First, social media is about engagement with audience. It is not about selling. You are looking to generate awareness and increase qualified leads. If you engage appropriately, you build deeper relationships. Relationships that ultimately buy when they are ready. And some of these relationships produce advocates – people that spread the good word on your behalf (often called word-of-mouth marketing).

Now let’s get to the part that brings so many trouble – measurable value. Let’s cut the BS and really look at what this means. The measurable value comes from parameters that are distinctively attributable to social media activities. Set the right KPIs (key performance indicators). And by the way, sales is not one of them.

The right KPIs should become your social media objectives. Are you growing the consumption of your content? (Yes, products should have associated content.) Are you increasing the opting-in for brand? By this I mean the number of followers, fans, members of community, subscribers, etc. that you have. Are you seeing an increase in engagement from your fans/followers/subscribers? Are they commenting more? Talking to you more? Talking to their friends about your brand more? Is your brand content being shared and are you seeing growth in this area? These are the types of real objectives you should have and it is up to you to explicitly state relevant KPIs. I really like something an executive said to me about stating the social media objectives … “Objectives must be quantified; otherwise they are only aspirations.” Are you aspiring to get something done or are you going to “make it happen.”

Yes – there are more questions to answer. I am defining specific objectives that align to the mission and make sense for each of the brands. But for this post, I’ll stop here. Does this give you a social media path? (I’d really like to hear whether or not from you.)

So the next executive question is “Where does social media fit in the organization?” And that is another topic/question that so many are having a hard time grasping. I covered this one six months ago. Check out “Where Social Media Fits in Your Organization.”

Got questions? I got answers. I am here to help. Let’s do this right.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand marketing, brands, marketing plan, measuring social media, Uncategorized

MLK Knew Social – Tribute and Comments

January 15th – Today is the birth date of Martin Luther King, Jr. – maybe the greatest human being in my life time. Dr. King changed the world. For me, he made me question my beliefs and definition of “what is right” long after his death. His greatest legacy is the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, adopting the nonviolent methods defined by Mahatma Gandhi.

I have been thinking about this article for some time and have been very anxious to get it from my head to blog. I want to talk about MLK and the relevance to “social” but at the same time, I would never want to trivialize his accomplishments, legacy, and gift to all mankind.

So before I do the expected social media tie in, here is my tribute to the great man – MLK:

(Credits: speech – Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963; music – Sufjan Stevens; images – various)

Still moving to watch– 35+ years after! A reported 250,000 people attended. They came from across the country. And if you think about the lack of communication technology and marketing tools they had then, it was an awesome result. King built a social movement and it went viral – still today. A social movement without social media. The outcome of emotional branding. Simon Sinek states “It was not just Martin Luther King’s unflappable conviction that was able to stir a population, but his ability to put his WHY into words.” The “why” draws an emotional tie between deliverer and recipient. (Highly recommended reading from Sinek – “When A Movement Moves.”)

The point is that when you can create some strong emotional reaction (rage, utter joy, etc.) and/or bond, you are more likely to grab your audience and spawn a call to action. This is traditional marketing principles. Understand sound marketing methodologies BEFORE you start social media endeavors. Can you strike an emotional chord with your audience? How are you going to do that? Answer these questions first. Then tackle social media.

Anything in the world is possible. Dream.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve


Filed under Martin Luther King, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized