All You Should Know About Social Marketing to Be Successful

I have been blogging now for five years on the topic of social media and social marketing. I have shared a great deal of information with regards to social best practices, case examples, integration, and organizational implementations. There is a wealth of information contained here within The SocialSteve Blog. But wouldn’t it be nice if it could all be pulled together in one article? (Really – that is impossible.) But I will attempt to give you a “Cliff Notes” version of what you need to know about social marketing that I have covered in my blog.

All You Need to Know About Social Marketing

So lets get cracking and I will refer you to some key highlights from The SocialSteve Blog …

The first thing to realize is that brands need to use social media to enhance their brand image as covered in the article “Brands in the Age of Social Media.” Some brands were initially apprehensive to get involved in social media because they believed that they lost control of their brand position. Certainly, objective audience postings are more believable than subjective brand communication, but administration of good traditional marketing practices and utilization of social marketing highly increases company-driven brand influence.

Social media has put brand reputation in the hands of the democracy of users. Thus, brands must build strong relationships with users. And the way to do this from the start is to have complete empathy for the target audience. Yes “empathy” is “The Most Important Word for Marketing.” And once you have empathy for your target audience, “Connections and Relationships are No Different for Social Media” than in “regular” social situations.

So far, I have mentioned some of the general mentalities required for successful marketing, but generalities are not enough. You must understand the “Three Social Marketing Fundamentals.” The first fundamental starts with a strong and inseparable link between content and social marketing. A content strategy and social marketing strategy must be determined in unison. The brand definition is the center point of marketing strategy and content must reinforce what the brand is about without directly referring to the product. The social marketing strategy must then address how the content is to be proliferated such that readers/viewers/contributors share the content and some even become advocates. Throughout my blogging career (really not a career but a platform to share), I have given much coverage to content. It is imperative – crappy content, crappy social marketing; stellar content by the perception of the target audience, damn good chance of winning social marketing. Consider reading through some selected content article highlights:

Content Marketing – A Must for Marketing Communications
4 Ingredients to a Winning Content Strategy
7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business
The Power of UGC (User Generate Content) for Social Marketing
Evolving Social Media Marketing – From Content Marketing to Contextual Content Marketing
If a Picture is Worth 1000 Words, What is the Value of a 6-Second Video #Vine

The next social marketing fundamental is far too often missed. Social marketing is not about building the social field of dreams and having people show up. Social marketing starts by going to relevant conversations where they exist as opposed to expecting a crowd to show up on your Facebook page or simply following your Twitter feed. You need to go beyond your own social assets and go where the existing conversation exists and start to engage there. Early on, I coined the social media A-Path. The A-Path allows social marketers to traverse their target audience through a sequential path increasing commitment to brand at each stage. The A-Path starts by getting brand Attention, followed by Attraction, then Affinity, Audience, and Advocacy. The early part of this path is accomplished on social channels other than the ones the brand owns and manages. As you progress your audience through the A-Path you slowly wean users to brand-owned social channels. This method is described in “Executable Game Plan for Winning Ultimate Customers with Social Media.” When using this approach, marketers need to understand “When to Ask for a “Call-to-Action’ in Social Media.” Following this approach provides an understanding of how “Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales.” You will also see the relationship of “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel.” And one other note on this holistic approach to social marketing … Do not jump to a conclusion that your Facebook “likers” are your audience. Understand “Where ‘Audience’ Fits in Social Media.” It is likely different than you assume.

And now the last imperative social marketing fundamental is to “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.” Specifically, I am talking about social media marketing measurement. The referenced article outlines that awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy should be measured. Not sales. Parameters to be measured in the four categories are covered in the article. When it comes to measurement and “Social Media ROI – Don’t Be So Short Sighted – Think Longer Term.”

So you have the fundamentals down, right? Now, where do you start? “Before You Start with Social Media” you need to apply marketing basics. The referenced article explains the need to understand the brand and its position, defining a communication or campaign objective, as well as defining a communication plan. A presentation deck is provided to take you through the steps. The deck was later updated in a more recent post, “University Social Marketing Presentation.” And when you put together your social strategy, you must pay attention to “Marketing Demographics and the Ramifications of Social Media.” Consider psycho-demographics as well as standard demographics. Psycho-demographics identify various segments of the target audience’s state of mind. When you identify the various states of mind, you can then deliver contextually relevant content.

Now that you have the fundamentals and a game plan, you cannot stop there. Far too many companies make errors with regards to organizational issues for social marketing. Here are some very important issues …

CEO understanding and support
Social Media in Your Company – Guidance for Where It Fits In
When Looking for Your Company’s Social Media Marketing Leader, Consider ….
Why the “Social Media Person” Needs to Be More than Just the Social Media Person
3 Helpful Tips when Hiring for Social Media

Social media gives the target audience a strong voice. Brands can no longer put out statements and advertisements and expect the audience to simply accept what they are saying. Brands need to listen to their audience, engage and build relationships. Brands have an opportunity to build an emotional bond with their audience. Emotional branding will yield loyalty, word of mouth marketing and overall, long-term brand preference and sustainability. Social marketing is a must in today’s consumer driven world.

You now have the definition of how to drive social marketing success. Let me know what else you need or do not understand.

Make It Happen,
SocialSteve

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The Greatest Hits on The SocialSteve Blog – 2013

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

SocialSteve Greatest Hits

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

#9) A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

#8) How Often Should You Post?

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

#6) Activation Marketing via Social Media

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

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

#3) The Successful Social Marketing Framework

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

#1) Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Strive for social marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Think of Social Marketing as Gift Giving

Tis the season … The spirit of giving. So when you think of gift giving, how well do you know the person that is the recipient? How much thought do you put into the gift for that person? Yes, there are some people that you feel obligated to give to. For them, I’ll bet you just “wing it.” And there are some that you really know and spend much thought and care in determining what to get them for the holidays. And I will bet that the ones you just wing it for as well as the ones you really spend much thought and care on both know it.

So how different do you think it is for your brand when is comes to social marketing? Do you know your audience? What do they like? How much care do you take in delivering to their wants, needs, and interests? Or on the flip side do you just post something up there without any thought? Believe me. Your audience knows the difference.

social marketing gift giving

And what about re-gifting in social marketing? It is totally acceptable and encouraged if what you are retweeting, reposting, or sharing is really something your audience will value or enjoy.

The one difference about social marketing is that it needs to be gift giving year round. Not just leveraging a season. That is how you develop interest and care from your audience. This ultimately leads to brand preference.

So as the spirit of the season grabs you, savor it. Think about how you can deliver a gift giving mentality in your social marketing approach. That is, only if you really care about your existing and potential customers.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

PS – I wish you and your families a joyous holiday season, and a healthy and rewarding year to come.

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The Difference Between a Marketing Expert and A Marketer That Consistently Delivers Marketing Excellence

marketing successWebster defines an expert as “having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced.” There are a number of people that fit this description. People that have numerous years of marketing experience; scholars that have examined the subject of marketing for years and continue to produce thought leadership; and those that have done both.

But I have known and seen a number of so-called marketing experts that have failed to deliver empirical marketing excellence. Individuals that are Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Strategy Officers, Marketing Executives, Professors, and talking heads on conference circuits. And think of your company. Would you rather have a ”marketing expert” or a marketer that consistently delivers marketing excellence?

It is a rhetorical question. So what separates the two?

With this question in mind, consider what the great Peter Drucker said about marketing. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” The customer is continually evolving. And their behaviors and actions have recently taken dramatic change due mainly to technological advancements. The primary technology change has been digital – the Internet, mobile, and social media. The combination of these three digital elements allowed the consumer to:

1) have a loud voice directly affecting brand position and reputation,
2) have access to trusted data that identifies product/service strengths and weaknesses,
3) compare products and pricing during real-time shopping scenarios,
4) not worry about geographical limitations to purchase goods/services, and
5) establish their own reputation and degree of influence in a particular area or vertical, even against well-established giants.

If our focus as a marketer is on our customer (B2B or B2C) it is easy to see that living on laurels of expertise is not sufficient. The target audience is changing dramatically and in order to be the marketer that delivers consistent excellence, you must be an adaptable marketer.

So when you are looking for marketing leadership at your company, make sure you find someone that not only has expertise but also is adaptable. Make sure they have participated in new technologies your target audience uses. Knowledge of the new technologies is not enough. If you really want to “know and understand the customer” (as Drucker suggests) you have to swim in their waters.

I have seen far too many marketing executives dictate brand strategy without having been active in the technologies and platforms they recommend. This is a mistake.

Marketing success will come from leaders that are 1) experts, 2) experienced, 3) adaptable, and 4) participative. All four are required. Being an expert with substantial experience is only 50% of the requirement. A marketing leader must be adaptable and participative to ensure the delivery of marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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The Secret to Successful Integrated Marketing

Straight to the point I am not going to drag you along with an anecdotal story and make you wait to get to the secret of successful integrating marketing. The secret is simply – follow the customer journey.

customer journey

When I worked at the Ryan Partnership agency, we would often display the customer journey as pictured above. This spaghetti-like diagram is actually a simplification of a customer purchase path for a potential healthcare/beauty product. The diagram shows the consumer:

1) getting input from their friends, family, and colleagues, through social networks and other direct communications,
2) reading product reviews in print and online,
3) comparing competitive products and considering places to purchase,
4) taking actions at home before going to a store such as reading emails and searching for coupons,
5) using mobile apps while shopping,
6) sharing product experiences with friends and more widely via participation on social networks, and
7) experiencing in store displays and promotions.

Granted, the purchase journey will vary a significant amount based upon the product/service being sold and whether it is a consumer or business solution. The important point is to identify the journey and touch points for customers seeking a product/solution that your company offers.

Once you have identified the customer journey, you need to orchestrate marketing creative ideation, themes, memes, personalities, stylizations, and voices across all relevant marketing channels. Your brand and direct marketing needs to play like a Hollywood script across all marketing endeavors and channels. One brand story and supporting promotion that triggers repetitive purchase decision considerations and brand loyalty.

If you look at the different marketing groups that need to be involved as defined by customer behavior you should recognize that integrated marketing is really more about complete collaboration as opposed to integration. John Bell, former Global Managing Director at Social@Ogilvy, makes the point that “Collaboration Trumps Integration in New Marketing.” I recommend reading his article to gain insights on collaborative behaviors.

So when you wrap it all up, the secret of successful integrated marketing really boils down to behaviors. First the customers’ journey and target audience behaviors that define the focus of brand marketing efforts. And secondarily, the organizational collaborative behaviors that truly yield customer brand preference and loyalty. Is your marketing team taking this approach?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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University Social Marketing Presentation

On December 2, 2013, I had the pleasure of delivering a social media marketing presentation to students at St. John’s University. The presentation is short, but contains valuable information. Here it is …

Ready to drive social marketing success?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Who Gets Your Brand Persona?

A brand persona is the social role or character your brand plays. Does your brand have a (formally) defined persona? Before I even ask if your audience gets your brand persona, let me ask this … Does your entire company get your brand persona? And most importantly, does your social marketing person or team thoroughly understand the brand’s persona? The social manager needs to live the brand persona more than anyone else in your entire organization. Your brand’s social presence must be a total reflection and reinforcement of the brand persona.

persona

I always knew the great importance of an established and solid brand persona, but it really hit home this past week … My son and I were watching the TV show “The Voice” (a guilty pleasure for both of us). The show was eliminating two contestants. There were eight singers from the previous days sing off and the three with the least votes from the television audience were in jeopardy. On the night we were watching, one contestant would be saved and continue in the competition. The show’s host asked the viewing audience to tweet “#thevoicesaveyourchoice“ within the next three-minute period and the contestant generating the most tweets would continue in the competition. Both my son and I thought one contestant should be the obvious one to be saved. I said Max, “Why don’t you tweet to save Matthew?” He said he agreed but that he did not want that on his tweeter stream. The indirect point he was making was that tweeting something in reference to The Voice was an infringement on the persona he wanted to portray on his social presence. In fact, I felt the same way. That is why I did not tweet a “#thevoicesaveMatthew” because it did not support my musical persona. (As I said, The Voice is a guilty pleasure.)

Subconsciously, both my son and I were totally tuned into our individual brand persona in our social presence. Not that we actually took time to think about “marketing” and “branding” when it came to ourselves. It was just a natural reaction. But we instinctively knew what type of postings support and deviate from the social presence and persona we wanted to portray.

Now let me ask you a question. How close does your brand’s social person or team produce a reflection of your brand’s persona on social channels? Every post, every engagement, every exchange in your brand’s social presence must fit your brand persona. Your social manager needs to be as sensitive as that teenager who worries what everyone will think of his/her post. The social manager needs to stop for a second before every social exchange and ask, “Does this reflect the personality and voice of our brand.”

While I recognize that what I am saying here may not be new to you, I am challenging you to make sure you REALLY execute.

1) Have a formal brand persona defined and distributed to everyone in your company.
2) Reinforce to everyone that if you are to get your target audience emotionally attached to your brand, the company as a whole must act and present itself in one unified personality and persona.
3) Train your social manager. Make sure he/she completely understands the brand position, personality, voice, values, and persona. Test the social manager from time to time to make sure they represent your brand presence 100% correctly.
4) Listen to your audience and insure your brand persona resonates and appeals with them. Make modifications to optimize the intersection of your brand position and your target audiences wants, needs, desires, and motivations.

Strengthen your product/service with an outstanding persona that creates an awesome extension of the brand user experience.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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