Tag Archives: social marketing

5 Marketing Musts for a Successful Year Ahead

5 marketing mustsIt is the end of the year and many are making their predictions on marketing trends for 2015. Yes, I am sure those trends like mobile, content marketing, and big data will make many lists. Heck, I think some prudent blogger will even say smart small data will be bigger than big data.

But I don’t think it should be about trends. I think it is about taking what you have learned about your target audience and putting that to work for your brand. If you want your business to thrive, you need to understand the people you serve. I am often quoted for saying “marketing is the psychology of business.” How do you get their attention? How do you gain their interest? How do you get them to buy your product over the competition’s? How do you make them enthusiastic and loyal to your brand? And most powerful, how do you turn them into your brand advocate such that they share the supreme value of your brand with their friends, family, and colleagues. A business psychologist knows how to motivate people.

So if you take this mentality and examine people’s shopping and purchasing behavior (both B2C and B2B) in the past year you will know what is important and imperative for your marketing strategy and execution. Understand the psychology of your audience. Understand how you appeal to their emotions. Taking this approach I have identified five marketing musts for the coming year.

1) Storytelling – disruptive advertisement is out. People do not want ads thrown in their face. They react negatively and many now ignore ads. 86% of people skip TV commercials. 44% of direct mail is never opened. 91% of people have unsubscribed from company emails they previously opted into. On the other hand, people love compelling stories. “Storytelling is a means for sharing and interpreting experiences. Stories are universal in that they can bridge cultural, linguistic, and age-related divides… Storytelling can be used as a method to teach … Learning is most effective when it takes place in social environments that provide authentic social cues about how knowledge is to be applied. Stories function as a tool to pass on knowledge in a social context.” (Source) One thing has not changed since the beginning of mankind … People like stories. People remember stories.

2) Holistic User Experience – Consider how your audience captures information. Who their influencers are? How they become aware of products and consider them for purchase. What path do they take on their journey to purchase and how do they remain loyal. What motivates them to become an advocate? Aim to get your target audience emotionally bound to your brand by having deep empathy for them. And then leverage that knowledge of empathy by delivering a user experience in every company-customer touch point that is truly appreciated and valued by the target audience. (By the way, if you want some excellent suggestions on integrating storytelling with your user design, checkout Adam Kleinberg’s article “Storytelling and User Experience Are on a Collision Course” in AdAge.

3) Personalization – people are rejecting brand communication because they are inundated with uninteresting and irrelevant correspondence being thrown at them. Companies need to use information sources to better understand their audience. Companies need to deliver meaningful engagement based upon social listening and profiles, purchase history and other CRM data. Individuals are much more likely to accept brand communication if it is relevant to them personally.

4) Community – A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. Don’t be preoccupied with the number of community members. Rather, think of each community member as a potential brand advocate. Your brand should not only demonstrate that it shares common values with its audience, but also be the source for people to engage with other likeminded individuals. If the conversations between people with common values happen in the brand domain, the brand is further associated and valued to each member of the group. Learn more about the business value of community in the articles “Successful Social Marketing – Integrating Content and Community” and “Why Facebook May Not Be Your Brand’s Community.”

5) Advocates – Nothing is more influential then an objective person telling another about the greatness and value of a brand. The word of friends, family, and colleagues clearly trumps a company marketing their brand. So what if a brand focused on a finite relatively small group to engage with to get them to love their products and brand. What if the marketing strategy was to then unleash this group to rally support for the brand? I am not suggesting forgetting about the mass target audience. It is not an either-or brand-marketing proposition. Do both. But recognize the results you can drive with a set of advocates. Make advocacy one of your marketing pillars.

And there you have my marketing suggestions for the next year. It is not a list taken from assessing technology wizardry. Not a list based upon trends and hype. It is customer centric. Always going back and understanding the behavior and motivations of your audience will drive success.

Marketers need to evolve because their audience is smarter and has more control than in previous years. Marketers’ brand position and reputation is now partly defined by the democratic people. I believe that marketers now need to think of themselves as running a successful media company. That is, they always ask themselves, “How do I get the audience to consume my brand, my story, my video, my picture, my article? What will make them share it with their friends?” If you follow the five areas I outlined, you will get there with measured success.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, brand marketing, content marketing, marketing, social marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

9 Factors Separate Social Marketers that are Ready to Kick Butt

It was seven years ago that my marketing career took a new turn to the world of social marketing. I noticed early, that brands would lose some control of their position and reputation as dictated by the democratized public. The people had a strong set of platforms to share their likes and dislikes for companies, brands, and products. In fact these objective opinions and declarations trump brand-marketing communication. The audiences’ voice is loud and moves fast.

Then I felt like I was pushing a boulder uphill in social marketing. But now I see the struggle easing and a good deal of the smoke clearing. I see that brands want to plug into their audiences’ behaviors and actions. Companies have a strong interest in leveraging digital and social technologies. Trepidation has been replaced by exuberance and to outsource or employ knowledgeable and experienced social marketers. And now I see that there are a number of social marketers ready to kick butt and make a real difference in empirical results that align to companies’ KPIs (key performance indicators).

social marketing success

So what are those successful social marketers doing that set them apart from wanna-bes? There are nine factors or social marketing practices that when executed together distinguish social marketers that will rise to the top.

1) Strategy – A while back I wrote an article “Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up.” You cannot just “do social.” You must start with a mission, goal and objective, and follow up the documented strategy with a plan.

2) Listening – When it comes to social marketing, I know you are talking, but are you listening. A key element to building a relationship is listening. I always liked the line; “we have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as mush as we talk.” Social marketing champions listen to people talking on the brand’s digital and social assets and the ones that the brand does not own. They listen for brand mentions as well as keywords that are relevant in the brand category.

3) Empathy – probably the greatest factor in social marketing success is having complete understanding and empathy for your audience. Successful marketers understand their audience. They know what turns them on and turns them off as well as what motivates them to deliver word of mouth marketing for the brand.

4) Messaging Strategy – this is a function straight out of marketing communications 101, but at the same time not an area the social marketer always tackles. Shrewd social marketers know exactly how they want their brand to look and sound in social channels. They make sure all communication and correspondence uphold the brand image they desire in social communications.

5) Content Strategy and Plan – In order to have a successful brand social presence, you need to have a continuous and compelling stream of content. Brands need to think like media companies. Many marketers find it difficult to shift from an advertorial mentality to a softer content marketing approach. (Required as a function of target audience perception and behavior.) To help here, I have offered advice. Start with three articles from this year – a) “4 Tips for Winning Content,” “Delivering the Content Your Audience Wants,” and “The Content Development Plan Every Marketer Should Use.”

6) Sharing – the best social marketers understand and plan how to get their brand content shared. It is more than simply having social widgets attached to a blog article. Rich relationship building and seeding various calls to action spawn greater brand sharing.

7) Personalization and Engagement Plan – in the day and age where just about every brand is going to partake in social media, successful brands need to be most relevant to their audience. Relevance comes from understanding individuals through engagement and personalization. Leading social marketers increase relevancy to their audience by having personalized communication and well defined engagement plans and then fine-tuning them based upon executional results.

8) Community – More and more social marketers and community managers are learning from the strengths and shortcomings of having a brand presence on Facebook. They are learning the true value of having an online community of loyalists and advocates that can be unleashed to do marketing on behalf of a brand. Now, Facebook has practically abandoned non-paid brand presence. At the same time, brand communities activate loyalists to produce advocates. Given these circumstances, I recommend you check out “Successful Social Marketing – Integrating Content and Community.”

9) Know How to Measure Results – I do not care what role anyone has in any line of business. You have to show results that are meaningful to the executive team. For social marketers this means going beyond “reach and engagement” because most executives I know cannot translate “reach and engagement” to their KPIs. If this is an area that still has you befuddled read “Here is the ROI for Social Marketing.”

So yes … I think there is a fair share of movers and shakers in the social marketing arena. And yes there are still a greater number of fakers out there. But the point is that you now have a large enough talent pool to go after to make a difference in your business. Drill into your candidates and make sure they have experience in the 9 areas I outlined above. And as always, if you have a question or need some help, contact me.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, brands, community, content marketing, Facebook, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

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

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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3 POVs That Define the Future of Brand Business

My professional mentality has been pretty simple for the past 8 years – evolve business marketing and strategy to follow the target audience. I bring that to my job day in and day out. I also bring that to my blog in my weekly writings that I share with you.

My blog is generally devoted to articles that are meant to help marketers be more responsible and effective at their roles. In the past month, I have written three articles that should be the guiding anthem for marketing. I did not plan it that way, but simply aiming for my blog objectives, the residual effect was writing a point of view (POV) trilogy that should define the future for successful brand business.

building a brand

Everything should always start with your target audience. It is all about them, not your brand. The democratized audience now has great control of brand reputation and position. Thus understand “The Dramatic and Fundamental Change in Marketing and What You Need to Do.” The article points out how to deliver marketing success in the age where consumer/client control has outpaced the power of businesses.

The next important change for brand marketing is the power of social marketing. Not social media, but social marketing. This means engagement with your target audience to increase awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. Not hard sales, but relationship building. You should really understand that “Social Media is NOT Social Marketing and Why It Matters.”

The changes and issues raised in the two previous referenced articles tee up “Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer.” Your organization needs to take on change. Not for change sake, but as driven by the evolving nature and power of your target audience. While there are a few organizations making changes by adding the role of Chief Customer Officer (which is a good first step), I believe this role needs to go deeper by placing the responsibility of “engagement” with customers.

Companies are naturally resistant to change. But the current business environment demands the three changes as proposed in the three POVs, the articles mentioned. I categorically state you must make these changes to keep your brand relevant and your business successful. What is keeping you?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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