The New Way of Getting People Motivated to Do What the Brand Wants

motivate audience

I get it – marketing is all about getting your target audience to move in a direction that is beneficial to the brand. It is a company initiative that must turn measureable results. It is a business function that must be accountable to company goals and objectives. It is not an altruistic function.

But something has dramatically changed. Your audience is skeptical of your marketing ploys. Your audience rejects your marketing push if it is interruptive and lacks relevance. Remember, your audience engages with their own network. They often market for your brand and also against your brand. Your audience’s behavior and influence of your brand success has changed, so you must change your marketing approach.

In marketing, we aim to have our audience respond to brand “call to actions.” But we can no longer go straight for desired brand outcomes. We must first build relationships, build trust, and cultivate our audience. Old school marketing communication no longer works. Marketing communications cannot push brand agenda and be a way one pushes brand content. Audiences no longer react positively to this form of brand marketing.

Look, I know I go by the pen name “Social Steve” so you would expect me to push the importance of social media, social marketing, social media marketing – call it what you want. My recommendations and actions are driven by one facet – audience behavior. Current audience behavior dictates the need for you to change your marketing approach. Not social media hype, but mainstream audience behavior.

Last week I presented to 60+ top level executives at an executive forum. I stressed the importance of their need to change their understanding and participation in social marketing. I would say my message resonated with about 1/3 of the audience. The other 2/3’s of the audience seemed very uncomfortable with my push for them to change their marketing approach given current audience behavior. Far too many seasoned professionals are stagnant in their leadership approach. The need to change makes them uncomfortable. All I can say is “shame.” If you are a leader, you must lead based upon the behavior of the audience you want to capture.

So what is the change that must occur to “Getting People Motivated to Do What the Brand Wants?” From a theoretical approach that is easy. You want to build relationships so that your target not only loves your product or service, but they love your brand as well. They love what you stand for and your commitment to customers. The hard part is the execution of this because it takes times. There is rarely love at first sight from a customer to a brand. You must earn their trust, love, and commitment to your brand.

I’ll give you an example. I currently head up audience development for a start up. I am constantly under pressure to increase the number of subscribers. I understand that is the company’s main objective. I get directions from my executive management to communicate, “respond by signing up today.” I know that I cannot ask for that call to action until I have built up some trust from the individuals I look to convert. While my management measures my success on number of sign ups, I must stay committed to building relationships with my audience. I cannot give in to the pressure of pushing for sign ups too early. That will not turn winning results. So while everyone wants results immediately, I have been cautious not to push my audience too early in the relationship. Now, four months into my stint at the start up I am seeing inertia and momentum. I am building strong relationships with the target market and our audience is responding most positively.

Moral of the story, it is easy to give into the objectives and KPIs (key performance indictors) of your company. But in the long run, the results will not be successful. Patience and commitment is required.

If you want to motivate your audience and drive brand objectives, understand your audience first. Play to the audience’s whims and do not be myopic to your company goals. This may sound trite, but play nice, make friends, and then ask for what you want to accomplish. Think about it.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under behavior, brand marketing, brands, change management, leadership, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

A View for Executives: Why Social Marketing Is a Must

This past weekend I presented at The Executive Forum. My message to the top level executives in attendance – “Why You MUST Understand and Use Social Marketing.” I am concerned that seasoned executives are not staying current with their audiences’ behavior and the ways they learn about and adopt brands.


The presentation keys on four areas:

Audience Behavior – audience behavior dictates the need to have a social marketing strategy, plan, and execution.

Connecting Social Marketing to Company Goals, Objectives, and KPIs (key performance indicators) – you need to understand how social marketing aligns to overall company goals.

ROI and Measuring Effectives – First you need to understand what social marketing can accomplish in a realistic manner. Then define the parameters that should be measured.

Audience Development – Successful social marketing equals successful audience development.

Check out the presentation for more detail.

Hope this helps.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under social media, SocialSteve, Social Steve, socialmedia, marketing, brand marketing, social media marketing, CEO, social marketing

5 Keys to Audience Development

audience developmentMarketing must change because audience behavior has changed. Customers and clients are skeptical of brand claims. They no longer accept brand advertisement and most of their communication. Brands must build strong relationships with their audience in order to build emotional connections, convert customers/clients, and motivate advocacy.

Recently I suggested that “Companies Should Eliminate Marketing Positions.” I emphasized that marketing communication aimed at the push of brand messages is obsolete. “Marketing” (as it is practiced by an overwhelming number of companies today) must change. A marketing approach must now be aimed at audience development. Commitment to audience development yields winning long-term brand success.

Audience development takes time. Everyone wants to have a million followers that connect with their brand on multiple social channels and convert (sign up or purchase) on their brand site. The reality is that people are not going to just connect on the channels that you want; they will connect on the channels they want. Thus, you must be active on all the key channels that your audience participates in. And audience development will not happen over night. (That is why it is called “development” as opposed to “conversion.”)

There are five key elements to audience development. Invest and stay committed to the following:

1) Monitor and listen. We have two ears and one mouth. We should listen twice as much as we communicate. Monitor all digital platforms, channels, and forums for keywords within your brand category. Listen to what people say. Learn about their needs. Make sure you monitor for your brand name. When people mention you in a positive light, make sure to thank them. If someone says something negative, take the high road. Apologize and whatever you do, do not try to win a debate. There comes a time to just let it go.

2) Engage. When you find someone that mentions a topic applicable to your brand category, reach out to him or her. Offer help, information, and/or inspiration. Be congenial; do not push your brand agenda. Make a friend.

3) Find influencers. It is great when you have others helping you to build your audience. But remember, influencers are not compelled to build your audience; they are compelled to build their audience. Thus you need to find a reason that influencers would want to work with you. For more on this see “Stop Looking for Influencers; Find Great Partners.”

4) Have a content strategy. Content helps to get the word out of your brand. Brand content serves a number of winning purposes:

a. It helps to establish the brand as an authority in a specific category.
b. With the use of social marketing it is a way to proliferate valuable information that gets associated with your brand.
c. It allows others to share your brand.

Get more information on setting up a content marketing strategy and plan here. Consider the different types of content you need to manage here.

5) Use paid media. Consider using digital paid media such as Facebook ads and SEM (search engine marketing – Google ads). These types of digital ads integrate well with your organic audience development endeavors. They are low cost ad vehicles that can be implemented in a non-user-intrusive manner.

I believe that marketing communication has reached its useful end. While brand communication remains important, it must be executed with the objective of audience development. Not as a method to pound brand position. Customers/clients behaviors drive the need to change this mentality. Brands need to change and have a build audience mentality, strategy, plan, and execution.

Make it Happen!
Social Steve


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

The Pressure of Increasing Likes and Followers

I am sure you have heard this question before – “What is the value of a like or follower?” At the same time, some of the same people ask, “Why don’t we have more followers or likes?”

pressured social mangerHere is the crux of the issue … on one hand your management believes that you need to be active and successful in social media marketing. Everyone is doing it, so it must be important. On the other hand, your management does not understand (and maybe you do not as well) what successful social marketing looks like and how it might be measured.

Well over three years ago, I answered that for you. Having knowledge of the points within the referenced article is key while managing social marketing and reporting metrics to your management. I highly recommend you review the article and become well versed with the approach.

But the point of this article is to take it one step further (assuming you understand “What Social Media Marketing Success Looks Like“). There comes a time when your management will ask you, “Why don’t we have more followers or likes?” In the back of your mind, you must understand that this metric by its self is meaningless. I always say, I could get any brand one-million likes … we’ll just give an iPad away to anyone that likes us. OK – so I am being a bit dramatic. The point is that it’s important to get followers and likes, BUT it is even more important how you communicate to them and keep them engaged with your brand.

Remember, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social platforms are NOT your community. The social platforms own the users, not you, and Facebook and others change their policy just about every month. Your objective is to drive users to your site; your community; a place where you control everything. At the same time you want your audience to be comfortable getting your brand communication, inspiration, and engagement where they prefer. They may just get brand content on Instagram for instance because that is THEIR digital preference and behavior. It is a delicate balance to strike.

You might clearly understand how to drive success with social media and that it is not just about followers and likes. But you must also be prepared with the reality that you will be questioned on your brand’s follower and like numbers. Everyone who has ever had some degree of social media responsibility in a company has experienced this.

So here is the reality. (I hope executive management is reading this as well as social marketing directors, managers, strategist, etc.) When the brand is feeling growth pressure, someone will evidentially ask, “Why don’t we have more followers?” I have been asked this question in every position (fulltime and consulting) I have held. It would be nice if you could explain to management everything that was included in the referenced article, “Know What Social Media Marketing Success Looks Like”, but this is not the time. At that point, you must have tactical plans to increase followers and keep management happy. It is important to drive results that concern management. But you cannot stop there. You must have a strategy and plan in place to move new followers to the digital assets you own – your community and your site.

In summary here are the three important takeaways:

1) Educate your company management on what successful social marketing looks like before they ask. Produce weekly reports that highlight performance metrics even if they do not ask for them.
2) Be prepared to have a tactical plan when you need to increase users (including paid social media).
3) When you do grow followers and likes, have a strategy and plan that keeps them engaged with your brand and motivates them to share with others.

Social marketing positions come with much pressure. You can alleviate much of the pressure if you are a) proactive, b) responsive, and c) strategic in building relationships far beyond simple likes and following.

Make It Happen.
Social Steve

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

Here is an Example of Why I Love My Social Marketing Job

One of the things I love about being a professional social media engager is that I get to connect with people. There is nothing better than getting the feeling of helping someone. Are you doing this with your social presence?

social media helpThe best way to win people over is to help them. This seems pretty straightforward and obvious, but how many brands actually do this. Social platforms are a strong enabler for helping people and not enough marketers are leveraging social in the proper way.

As some of you know from my recent blogs, I head up audience development for DivorceForce. DivorceForce is a safe and supportive community for people navigating all aspects of divorce. Recently, I was monitoring Twitter and other platforms for people looking for help as it related to their divorce. I came across one user that merely mentioned she was pursuing her divorce. My response is below:

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A simple, “wishing you the best” type of response. A small expression of caring. She then responded with a “thanks”, but the second response really surprised me …

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Friends were not there, but she thought the response was from a bot. I quickly replied …

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Once she followed DivorceForce, I DMed her my email to contact me. This opened the door for a more personal engagement, opportunity to help an individual, and shine as a brand. I love this! What more could a professional look for? An opportunity to help people and at the same time represent a brand in a positive light.

Now I know that DivorceForce has a natural social mission of helping people. Not all marketers have this luxury with their brand as it relates to having a most positive social presence. But I do believe that EVERY brand has an opportunity to make a positive difference for their audience.

If you want an example of a brand that does not have an inherent social mission, but creates great care and value for their audience with their social presence, check out Dove. Just Google them. Look at what they do for self-esteem for women.

Now, I want to give you a challenge. We are approaching the end of the year for 2015. How about you make a commitment to using social to help people for the rest of the year. How about you use social, not to push your agenda, but to help your audience. I will bet that if you take this challenge you will hit 2016 with great momentum building your audience and building advocacy for your brand. Are you ready?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under audience development, brand marketing, brands, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Social Followers – What You Need to Understand

During most weeks at work, I stop to think about what I am doing and what I should share with you on my blog. This week I was working on increasing brand following and thought it would be good to share with you some tips and perspective. But there was one problem – what I do for my company’s brand, I do not practice for my Social Steve brand. I had a dilemma. How could I make recommendations that I do not practice?

social followers

So I need to share some honesty about the Social Steve brand and my company’s brand. With regards to the Social Steve brand, I really do not care who follows me. I do not mean this with any disrespect to anyone. I just feel that if what I have to say resonates with someone and they find good value out of what I have to share, I am truly thrilled to have them as a follower. If it doesn’t, no harm done. My life does not get enriched based upon having 5,000 followers or 500,000.

But with my professional job, things are different. It’s not that I solely care about a follower count. My main objective is to get potential users to experience the brand on our site. And part of the user journey is to experience the brand on social channels, so I want to increase following numbers on the brand’s social channels.

Remember, numbers do matter, but it is not just about the numbers. You want to have people following that really care about what your brand has to offer. You want them to share the positive experiences with your brand with their network.

So the one important aspect that is the same for a personal following and professional following is to be useful and/or entertaining to your audience. This is the most important factor for winning over any type of audience.

I created of list of other things you should do to create a strong following on social channels. After I created the list, I realized that I do not do all of them for my personal brand but certainly do so for my professional endeavors. The truth of the matter is that I do not have KPIs (key performance indicators) for my personal brand. Thus I just wing it for my personal brand. Maybe that is okay, maybe it is not. But for a professional brand you do have KPIs and you cannot just wing it. This is a very key distinction.

So here are three added tips for creating a strong brand following for commercial and professional brands:

Curate your influencers and audience content and postings. Show your audience you are listening to them. Share their valuable and entertaining information with the other members of your audience.

Don’t be the know it all; let others shine. Many brands feel that being the leader in a competitive space hinders them from sharing other good content on their topical area. That doing so diminishes their authoritative role in the competitive space. This could not be further from the truth. Being a leader in a particular space means that you provide the most intriguing original content AND that you research the space for other valuable information. Sharing what you find with your audience reinforces this persona.

Credit others that contribute to your industry. This point is an extension of the previous point. Not only do you want to share other valuable information, but you must also credit the source. This is not only ethically correct, but doing so is likely to broaden your audience. When you credit others, they likely retweet or repost your mention of them. By doing so, the referenced contributor shares your brand with their audience.

At the end of the day, you need to make sure you understand what you are looking to accomplish in your social channels. You need to take appropriate actions to accomplish your exact objectives. I highlighted this by describing for you my different approaches to my personal brand and company brand. Hopefully I have inspired you and led you on a path of success.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

Footnote – I head up social marketing and audience development for DivorceForce. DivorceForce is a safe and supportive community for anyone to navigate all aspects of divorce. Please checkout and share with anyone that is looking for information on and assistance with divorce.


Filed under brands, social media, Social Steve, SocialSteve

The Theory of Relativity – Marketing Relativity That Is

theory of marketing relativity

Albert Einstein defined the theory of relativity by stating that measurements of various quantities are relative to the velocities of observers. So for example, if you are riding on a train that is going 50 mph and another train passes right by you at a speed of 75 mph, your perception is that the train passing you is going 25 mph. If someone is standing on the side of the track they see the train going the true 75 mph, which is substantially faster than the perceived 25 mph.

The point is, as it pertains to “marketing relativity”, that marketing communication and claims are interpreted differently dependent upon where your audience member stands.

Every brand must do a deep and true assessment of their target audience’s perception of their brand as well as the industry the brand competes in. Having this understanding will allow brand marketers to evaluate the messages and claims they make to the target audience. Marketers will understand what messages will be perceived as accurate and compelling.

While every brand wants to make the bold communications filled with superlative adjectives and superior positioning statements, these claims may not be believable by the people you are attempting to attract. If you are an unknown brand, the first step is to create awareness. If people are not aware of your brand you may not be able to successfully claim your superiority straight out of the gates. Remember, we are talking about the Theory of Marketing Relativity here. Your audience needs to start to build trust before they will believe all your communication.

This is the crux of Marketing Relativity – BELIEVABILITY and TRUST. You need to understand where your audience members stand in order to craft compelling communication and engagement. If you met someone for the first time and they said, “I hold the record for …,” wouldn’t you be skeptical? Even if it was true? This is what so few get when it comes to marketing. You must build relationships and condition your audience before you make all your superlative claims. Even if they are true.

If we go back to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the example I posed at the beginning, the person on the train traveling 50 mph does not “feel” that the train passing them on the left is really traveling at 75 mph. They do not “trust” that the train is traveling 75 mph even though it is the truth. Their own perception causes subjectivity.

If you understand your audience’s subjectivity, you will have a much greater appreciation of what they are willing to believe and how much trust they will give to your brand. If you have a strong degree of empathy established, you are much more likely to develop a communication and engagement plan that resonates with your audience. This is the foundation of “The Marketing Theory of Relativity.” You must always be must sensitive to the subjectivity of your audience and whether what you say is believable by them – even if it is the truth. Build trust first. Then you are in a position to make bold statements that your audience believes. If you have earned your audiences’ trust, they will not only believe what you have to say, but they will share it with their friends, family, and colleagues.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under audience development, brand marketing, brands, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve