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

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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

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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?

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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

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Enough Smoke … Here is How To Build a Social Media Marketing Strategy

clearing the smoke on social media marketing

I am still amazed at the “dive-in” mentality that is prolific across brands (and agencies) when it comes to executing a social media marketing strategy. Most people start out with an idea of what they want to do without doing the required due diligence, social audits, and overall marketing integration work to set a strong strategy.

When you are developing a social strategy, there are some tasks that should be formally implemented and there is also an informal mentality/approach that is required for success.

First, let me give you an outline of a documented “Social Media Marketing Playbook” I have written …

I. Setting Social Marketing Strategy
A. Social Strategy Pre-Work – Brand Marketing Definitions
1. Brand Target Audience
2. Brand Value Proposition
3. Brand Position Statement
B. Social Brand Assessment – Social Audit
1. Social Channel Audit
2. Social Meme Audit
3. Competitor Audit
C. Social Marketing Objectives
1. Communication/Campaign Goal
2. Social Target Audience
3. Target Audience Perceptions
4. Defined Offering
5. Call to Action
D. Identify Influencers in the Clients Space

II. Social Marketing Strategy Definitions – Presentation and Interaction
A. Social Strategy Document
1. Target Audience Definition
2. Messaging Strategy
3. Content Strategy
4. Social Media Channel Plan
5. Engagement Strategy
6. Social Measurement Strategy
B. Social Media Marketing Execution
1. Content Management
2. Community Management
3. Reporting metrics.
4. Digital PR and Outreach

Are you addressing each element? If you want success, this is a must. Granted, the devil is in the detail, but I have given you quite a head start. I use this outline and defined methodology (with a bit of deeper definition) to derive a custom solution for each client, brand, and/or company I work for.

So that is the “formal” requirement for social marketing success. The informal part comes from having the right attitude. Success demands that you have an attitude that is mainly focused on serving your target audience. You are looking to help your audience. Inform them. Educate them. Entertain them. Have empathy for them and understand their desires and wants. Deliver to them. You should start with this mentality rather than the typical “how am I going to get them to buy my product.” Build relationships. Relationships will lead to long-term customer commitment (and revenue). If you try to follow the money first and go after your audience’s pocket strings, that is exactly as you will be seen. Your audience is much smarter than you give them credit for. They can tell the difference between a brand looking to win customers by delivering an extraordinary overall experience versus those looking to solely drive revenue.

Businesses that put up social media facades by acting like they care about their audience and are only after sales will fail. They show their true skin in this day of digital proliferation and input from all ends. Do your homework. Plan accordingly. Demonstrate genuine care.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Getting Social to Work at Your Company

I think one of the most difficult things for true social marketing professionals is to implement a successful social strategy and plan at their company. As I engage and converse with a number of social professionals I hear frustration from them. There is a significant delta between what they want to accomplish to be innovative and what their company is comfortable doing. Social professionals often look to do something different however their companies often look for proven social marketing and validation by asking, “who has done it.” If someone has already done “it” in social media marketing, “it” is not likely to capture a big audience and get a strong response.

So what do you do?

change

This week I read a great article from Bruce Turkel “Being Relevant, Empowering, and Significant.” The article reminded me of my career experiences. At times I was frustrated by doing what the company was comfortable with compared to doing what I knew would drive success. I would consider myself someone that has always pushed the envelope and years of experience have taught me how to be an innovator even in the eyes of innovation paranoia and business as usual mentality.

If you have read my blog before, you are likely to know that I am not a follow the pack guy. I call it like it is even if it bucks the masses or is short on corporate political correctness. This is my own branded persona in the digital marketing world. Yes, like the views of Bruce Turkel, I look to be relevant, empowering, and significant in my own social space. But truth is it takes a delicate approach when working with companies (both full time and consulting). As a thought leader you need to be bold and provocative. When working with companies that need to change you need to be bold, but less provocative. You need to get people to buy in and be comfortable.

“Getting Social to Work at Your Company” is really an exercise of successful change management. It is very difficult for any company to change the way they do things, and yet the audience behavior and technology demand companies do so.

I have two change management philosophies that have worked well for me in the 12 years of my marketing leadership career …

The rubber band approach – Everyone can be stretched beyond their comfort zone a bit, but when you push too hard they get to their snapping zone to the point where they do not trust you at all. This is the exact scenario with a rubber band. They all have elasticity, but when expanded too far, they snap. I do believe that as a person responsible for driving a new endeavor must take their stakeholders to some uncharted territory. And this means taking people to an uncomfortable place. Do so gently and not with a sharp push. A slow stretch and not too abrasive to cause a snap.

Positive viruses – virus are caused by passing a condition from one person to another. When you want to drive positive change, you need to first find the person or people that will likely go where no man or woman has gone before. The special person who really wants to change for good. Work with them. Make them the hero. Let them take the front of the stage and get the adulation. Be content being the director behind the seen. Once the effort is successful, shine a beaming light on them. Rally their success. Most people want to follow success. It is human nature. If you really want to drive positive change, allow others to shine and be content knowing you are the behind the scenes person that really throttled success. This is how you cause positive viruses … by planting a seed in one place, nurturing that seed and then letting the desire of continued success blossom and spread.

As we look to win over customers through long-term social commitment and strengthening relationships, we must do the same in the organization we work for and with. Build relationships and build trust. This is how social media success needs to be carried out. Not by a fantasy of revolutionary change. The same mentality must be invoked at changing your organization, company, and/or client. Hit singles and bring runners around to score. Don’t count on home rums. Yes, they come … be joyous when they do happen. But most likely, you will score by hitting a number of small hits in a continuous string.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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The Most Valuable Results of Social Media Marketing

advocate

Why are you doing social media marketing for your brand? If “advocacy” is not in your answer, you are not capturing the value of social media. There should be no argument. The absolute best marketing is when other objective sources market your product. If you were about to buy a new car, a smartphone, or a bicycle, what would influence you more than anything? Would it not be a friend, colleague, or other trusted source that says, “without a doubt, ___ is the best’?

There is nothing more powerful in the purchase path influence than simple objective recommendations … having other people do your marketing. As shown in the diagram below, advocates are almost 5 times more trusted than even category influencers. (Influencers are individuals, who by definition of their job function and/or social following, are in the position to influence others directly through their authoritative or instructive statements.)

Advocate trust

If advocacy is the pinnacle value of social media marketing, why isn’t everyone building an advocacy strategy and plan. The probable answer is that they do not know how. So let’s get to that … how do you build an advocacy strategy?

The place to start is to understand what motivates advocacy. This comes down to three user-inspired feelings:

1 – Great brand and product experiences
2 – Unexpected joy from being surprised and delighted
3 – Feeling special or like a VIP

Now that we have an understanding of how advocates are produced, focus on delivering actions that spawn advocacy. With regards to great experiences, a majority of product and brand experiences happen outside of the digital domain (where social does not play) such as using the product and customer service. BUT digital/social can influence the sharing of positive experiences. Also you need to deal with negative posts and respond. You should actively monitor and reinforce positive statements made on social channels. Amplify posts that speak of your brand in glowing ways. Engage with users that trumpet your brand. Work to keep them as your BFFs (best friend forever). But negative posts also create advocacy opportunities. Carefully answer some of these negative posts. If users call out your brand by using a direct mention of your social channel (like @handle_name on Twitter) this means that the user is looking for some attention from the brand. There could be an opportunity to win back a customer, but respond with care, and avoid all debate.

With regards to surprise and delight, I like Zappos approach of always looking to exceed expectations. In social media, sometimes even a simple acknowledgement of a post is always welcomed and appreciated. Compliments and thank yous in response to a post work well. Consider random giveaways of product upgrades or promotional items to people who advocate for your brand.

And my last suggestion deals with making even one time advocates feel like VIPs. Keep a database of social names that advocate your brand. Proactively feed them breaking news.. This should not be a marketing push, but true valued info. Offer exclusive previews of products to make them feel “in the know” and let them be the first to try new versions.

There are many detailed steps you should take to drive advocacy. An advocate has passion for a brand and it’s products and you can certainly drive this passion. It simply starts by making customers happy (in every user experience). Show reciprocated love by responding to social advocacy. That reinforces continuation. Deal with negative comments, where possible. Surprise and delight customers, and make your advocates feel like they are part of a VIP group.

Social media is so much more than simply posting on Facebook, Twitter, and other channels. The best result of social marketing is when you activate your audience to share their love for your brand on their own social channels to their network. Look to drive advocacy in your social media marketing and see results that truly align to your company’s KPIs.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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