Category Archives: marketing plan

Understanding the Place for Always On Social Media and Promotional Social Media

Does your company have a set, defined social marketing strategy? One that addresses growth or promotional times AND also includes a plan for keeping users engaged over the long haul. You see, driving significant likes and followers is completely meaningless unless those people you have gotten to like and follow you have actually stayed engaged with your social property and get your brand’s posts. If you keep up on Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm you will know that is it getting more and more difficult to get your brand post to show up on users’ newsfeed. That is unless you are willing to pay for a promoted tweet. And is it really appropriate to pay for a social engagement? As a brand sometimes yes, but definitely not as the norm.

Social Marketing Success

With this in mind, let’s breakdown social marketing to two sub categories – always on social and promotional social.

Your social strategy should start with a definition of continuous always on listening and monitoring, content production, distribution of content, and engagement. Who is your target audience? What do you want to convey to them and discuss with them that is most compelling to keep them engaged? How will you make sure that you get information to them on a daily bases (or most of the time)? What is your messaging and content strategy? It is important to have a plan of keeping your audience connected after they have opted in to your social channel.

Let’s review some terminology. For Facebook, they are moving away from the “People Talking About This” parameter and moving to “People Engaged.” People Engaged (found in the People tab for Facebook page administrators), is the number of unique people who’ve clicked, liked, commented on, or shared your posts in the past 28 days. “Other Page Activity” (in the Visits tab), includes Page mentions, check-ins and posts by other people on your Page. “Engagement Rate” is the percentage of people who saw a post that liked, shared, clicked or commented on it.

These are the numbers that really matter. Not the number of likes for a brand page. Yes, you need a decent amount of likes for the important evaluation parameters to shine. But “likes” is just a starting point. If you have a strategy for keeping your audience compelled and interested, you will see strong engagement numbers. You will also see nice continuous incremental growth of followers.

Thus, social promotion is the start of execution for social marketing. Not the start of social strategy. Your execution has to be well planned and executed after you do a social promotion.

So promotional social does come with some cost. Usually, a sweepstakes, giveaway, significant discount, or donation to a worthy cause (as perceived by your audience) is used as a promotion to have a high impact lift a brand’s social following. Paid media is also required to help promote the program. Social promotion is best used when the brand determines a significant event is about to happen. For example, a product launch, new packaging, seasonal drive period, etc. Social promotion should be used as an extension of an overall marketing promotion.

Social promotion is likely to drive some sort of spike in your followers. This will definitely make executives happy. But you should not be content with these results. Your success should be significant fan growth followed by continuous high levels of people engaged and engagement rate. You should be looking for quantifiable success of “always on social” following social promotion. Not just success from promotional social. In the words of a very successful media tycoon, “win big or go home.”

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

Footnote – I know many of you reading this article, a) get it, and b) are frustrated that others in your company do not. It has been hard for you to get your point across and find the right words to explain. Suggestion … please share this article … maybe it will help to get your concerns across from an objective source.

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

3 Steps to Fix Marketing Now

97% of marketing endeavors do nothing to move their audience. OK, that is not from a study. It is my own perspective. But consider the abundance of articles you see day in and day out noting marketing’s malignant state. For example …

Joe Marchese compares the state of advertising to the subprime debacle in 2008

• Joseph Jaffe hints to “The End of Advertising.”

90% of marketers are not trained in marketing performance, ROI

CMOs are missing the boat on what it means to be a modern CMO

• “While 74% of global businesses have a digital strategy, only 33% believe it’s the right strategy, and beyond that, only 21% – or less than one-fourth – believe they have the right people setting the strategy.”

needed marketing changeI could go on and on with the list above, but hopefully you have a bad enough taste in your mouth already. It would be great to talk about marketing innovation, but marketing innovation is an oxymoron. I’ll give you an example. I am an advisor to a new 1:1 brand/user content distribution company. We are a startup. How many CMOs do you think want a case study before proceeding? First off, every company that delivers case study has some spin to it. (If you want to gain some deeper insights into the flaws of case studies read what @augieray has to say about them.) And secondarily, don’t true innovators do something different rather than being me-too-ers.

According to Wikipedia, “Innovation is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, in-articulated needs, or existing market needs.” And that is exactingly what marketing needs. A better solution to meet the new changing requirements dictated by audience behavior. Audience behavior that is defined by digital, mobile, social, and the ability to validate, refute, or ignore brand advertising and communication. Marketing has done an extremely poor job at keeping up with their audience’s behaviors and usage patterns.

So what are you going to do to fix this? I have three recommendations:

1) Completely change your marketing mentality from being a sales-tangent to focusing on customer relationship building. Marketing needs to lead relationship building and demonstrate brand worthiness in the form of delivering continued value and optimization of the entire user experience. If you build a strong relationship with your customers, they will be loyal buyers and advocates. If you merely concentrate on a sale you open the door for another brand to win over a fickle customer. This change of mentality will actually yield greater success of your sales objective in the long run. Don’t be so short sighted.

2) The CMO must change or the CMO needs to be changed. An overwhelming number of top marketing executives are not active on digital, mobile, and social channels that their audience engages on. How can the emperor understand the common people if he/she does not participate where the audience does and engage with them? How can anyone put together a digital strategy that yields success if they are not a regular user in digital? Far too many CMOs (or Chief Strategy Officers) do not have digital skill sets. Far too many CMOs/CSOs do not understand user digital behavior.

3) Move to a zero-based marketing budget. Just throw out everything you’ve done in the previous year unless you are certain that it has returned positive measureable results. If we agree that marketing needs a major facelift, how can all marketing line items you do year in and year out be correct. Start clean. Your audience behavior has changed so much, it warrants a complete revamp.

I know I have brought up a number of contentious recommendations. Change is tough. No one really likes change. But as the audience behavior has dramatically morphed over the past number of years, too many marketing executives have stayed stagnant. Too many believe they can just hand digital marketing over to a young digitally sharp user and think they have things covered. Well results say this is far from true. So while company marketing leaders’ skill sets have not changed much over the years, a significant void has emerged. And it is going to take some strong willed people to make changes that are required.

Are you ready to step up to what is truly required?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, digital media, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Integrating Advertisements and Social Marketing – Why it is a Must

integrating ads and social marketing

This past week I read an article that sited a study claiming that only 20% of Super Bowl ads actually resulted in a sales increase of the product. In one way, this surprised me … how could brands continue to dump that much money into a non-performing endeavor? And in another way, it did not really surprise me at all … does a catchy ad really get hoards of people lining up to buy? (I think all of us marketers would like to think so.)

The reality is that more and more consumers, and more and more clients are becoming skeptical and cynical about advertisements. But let me plainly state that advertisements are still very important in a successful marketing mix. It’s just that their role and performance objective must change. And social media is the reason why. Brands no longer have complete control of their position and value proposition. It is the democratic public that holds control of brand reputation and outward postings can affect brand position and intended value proposition.

This being the case, integration of advertisement and social marketing is imperative. We must realize that seeing an ad (in print, on TV and online) is not the end of winning the consumer over. It should be perceived as the beginning.

For quite some time now, I have been defining the three fundamentals of social marketing. One of these elements is “Holistic Social Marketing” where I explain the social marketing A-Path and execution channels for the various stages.

A-Path Onsite-Offsite 3

I suggested that “Attention” and “Attraction” were best achieved by going to the existing digital channels where the existing conversations are ongoing and start there. Then work to subtly pull the audience to the brands’ own digital assets (their website, blog, social channels). But maybe a quicker way of gaining attention and attraction is via ads.

So let’s reconsider the objectives of ads. Maybe the best ROI for ads is a sustainable and continuous long-term profitability rather than short-term, one shot sales increase.

The ultimate goal of marketing is to create an emotional bond between brand and target audience. A bond that has deep loyalty and actionable advocacy. We need to view ads as the start of this journey to get brand attention and attraction. But we do not want to stop there. We want to turn the attention and attraction gained from the ads to continue to move the target audience to affinity, audience, and advocacy.

Thus, start to think of the connection points and follow through of ads to convert to affinity, audience, and advocacy. This is most relevant for digital paid media but also applicable for paid print, TV, and radio media.

The target audience perceptions and behavior are changing. So we need to change our approach to marketing to fit the changing audience dynamics. Advertisement and social marketing integration is key to brand success.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under ads, brand marketing, brands, digital media, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, TV ads

The Art of Marketing to Get Attention

attention As we experience The Super Bowl we question whether the football game or the commercials are the spectacle. Actually prior to 1984, football commanded the interest. But all changed that year on January 22nd when Apple’s “1984” commercial might have reshaped the highlights of The Super Bowl. Since then, we have seen countless extravagant commercials and our expectations are to be wowed at each commercial break.

There is a massive amount of creative work and planning that goes into a Super Bowl commercial. Now I am not suggesting that you need to put in the budget and time that the major brands do for a Super Bowl commercial, but I am suggesting that your marketing efforts include a heavy dose of creative time and resources. You cannot just wing it. You need to thoroughly understand your audience and create something that peaks their interest. This is a requirement of all brands … Not just big brands.

And creativity is not just reserved for commercials. Take the next marketing milestone for Super Bowl marketing … The “dunk in the dark Oreo” tweet. What is noteworthy about this social media marketing moment is that the tweet did not come from one guy/gal just sitting in the dark with an epiphany. A creative agency and Oreo executives all huddled together to brainstorm, copy-write, and image the tweet. Creative planning allows you to seize a moment and get ATTENTION.

This takes me to the second point about attention … Scale it appropriately for your brand. Yes, Budweiser is big enough to go for an audience of 170 million, but that is likely a bit big for your brand’s budget. You don’t need to blow your budget on the price of Super Bowl commercial to get attention for your brand. Even if you are simply a local brand, work your creativity to get your audience’s attention.

So let the Super Bowl marketing motivate your creativity and don’t think you are too small to grab some attention.

A Path Circle

But that is not the end of your marketing plight. It is just the beginning. And this is the last point I wanted to make here. What good is getting your audience’s attention if you do not activate them further? If you have read me before, you might be familiar with my “A-Path” methodology. cAs a brand, first I want to get your Attention; then I want you to be Attracted to my brand; then I want you to build Affinity for the brand; then I want you to opt-in in some fashion and become part of my Audience; and finally you work to get a subset of your audience to become your Advocate. And the cycle continues. Your advocates then work to get your brand objective attention.

So if you were wowed by The Super Bowl XLVIII commercials, think about how the brands are continuing (or not) to move their audience along the brand journey beyond attention.

Are you working on your brand’s complete marketing journey? Work hard for attention and even harder to get them emotionally tied to your brand by continuing on the A-Path.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

Acknowledgement – Kimberly Potts – Is Oreo’s Super Bowl Blackout Tweet the Apple ‘1984’ of Social Media Advertising? for information regarding Apple and Oreo’s Super Bowl marketing milestones.

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Filed under ads, brand marketing, brands, Creativity, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Please Ask Yourself – Are You Worthy of Having Me as Your Customer

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself if you are worthy of having customers? What exactly does that mean?

worthy business

Well it starts with having a thorough understanding of your customers. They are people with wants and needs, and can get motivated and/or disillusioned by your actions and presence. You need to understand your target audience beyond an interest in their purchases. Previously, I stated that empathy was the most important word in marketing. Marketing strategy must start with target audience empathy.

If you really understand your target audience, you are in a position to prove to them that you are worthy of their business. And digital marketing is a key asset to use to demonstrate your worthiness? Not sure about that? Consider the following …

1) Where do consumers and business decision makers go to capture product/service information?
2) What does it take to be perceived as a subject matter expert?
3) How relevant and prolific is the use of mobile?
4) What is more compelling and believable … Hearing a product/service is great from the brand itself or an objective individual?

If you take time to answer the questions above, I think it becomes a no-brainer how important a strong digital presence. As you think about your digital marketing strategy, go back to the first question I asked … Are you worthy of having me as a customer?

Think about how your digital presence can continually prove you are worthy of your target audience’s business. Here are some elements that should be part of your digital activities, presence, and implementations …

1) Listen – listen to what your target audience is saying. This should guide everything you do in business if you truly are a customer-centric business.
2) Engage – connect with people to build deeper relationships such that you learn more from them and win their trust and support.
3) Content – deliver stories and information that your audience truly values. Give them a reason to stay connected and interested.
4) Outreach – actively seek people that are interested in your product/service area. Search the internet, forums, communities, online groups, etc. for relative conversations and participate.
5) Mobile – everything you produce online needs to be accessible via mobile. Just look at the growing number mobile use. If your digital presence is not mobile-ready, you are missing out on a good part of your potential audience.

Granted, much of what I have just stated resembles last week’s post where I focused on the areas you need to focus on for social marketing success. The point in this week’s article is that social marketing actions are driven by the objective of winning the customer over. And this goes far beyond a particular product or service. Digital presence gives marketers an opportunity to provide a product/service extension … a strong enhancement of the user experience.

If there is one reason why you need to ask yourself if you are worthy of having your target audience as customers, it is because the actual audience is asking themselves, “are you worthy of having ME as your customer?” Purchase decisions are being driven by customer use of digital technologies more and more. Social and mobile technologies may not invoke “last click” purchase action, but they certainly set the path to the final purchase, ongoing loyalty, and advocacy.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, content marketing, digital media, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve

4 Musts for Your Social Marketing This Year

It is the beginning of the year and you want to make sure you kick off your marketing to drive success in your company. With this in mind, let me give you four musts for your brand social marketing.

must do social marketing

Throughout my entire marketing career, I have continuously examined brands’ audiences to drive strategy, plan, and execution. I label marketing as the “psychology of business.” And with this in mind, I have identified four areas that you need to focus on with regards to your social marketing efforts to drive audience adoption, brand preference, loyalty, and advocacy.

1. Listening and Responding

There are three types of social marketing listening that are required.

a) People talking to your brand – there are going to be people that use your brand’s social channels and other channels to talk directly to your brand.
b) People talking about your brand – while not directly speaking to your brand people will mention your brand in the vast digital world.
c) People talk about a subject relevant to your brand – while not mentioning your brand, people touch on a subject area that speaks directly to a topic that is relevant to your brand.

You must monitor for all the cases listed above. In the first two cases, you must monitor and respond. The best way to tell your audience you don’t care about them is to not listen to them, or not respond to them. Only respond to mentions if you care about their business … that should include every mention. In the third case, you have an opportunity to expose a new audience to your brand. Do not respond with product information, but rather valuable information. Gain awareness and start to build a great reputation by delivering unexpected help.

2. Content

The way to keep your brand in the minds and hearts of your target audience is produce content they value. The way to prove you are worthy of people’s business (beyond having a truly valued product/service) is to be helpful and entertaining. Brands are often shared between people via content. Thus your brand needs to think like a publisher and produce weekly content (at a minimum). But your content plan should not be limited to original content. Consider how your content strategy will include curation from other sources as well as UGC (user generated content). Your content strategy should also include a plan to capture earned media. This leads to the third focus area …

3. Influence Marketing

In influence marketing, first you identify those individuals and publications that influence your target market. Once you identify the influencers, you work to build a relationship with them by providing them information that is valued by THEIR audience. It is not about pushing your agenda, but finding the intersection of what your brand represents and the information that identified influencers want to deliver to their audience. Influence marketing will continue to gain importance because objective advocacy is much more compelling than subjective brand communication.

4. Personalization

I touched on personalization when discussing “listening and responding.” But personalization needs to go beyond listening and responding. Users are tiring of email blasts and other brand communications that are nothing more than an extension of advertorial programs. What if the brand communication was driven by consumer intelligence? What if you integrated digital behavior and purchase history to deliver contextual relevant communication to your audience? Certainly your audience will feel “special” if you deliver communication and content relevant to their history, interests, and behavior. Personalization means that brands deliver contextual relevant communication and content. Look into tools that allow you to correlate and integrate different data points to produce a data driven view of your consumers.

The four areas of focus I suggested above are not driven by technology or marketing hype, but rather by examining user behavior spawned by new digital technological advancements. Far too often predictions are driven by technology hype rather than user behavior driven by new technology advancements. If marketing is the psychology of business, understand your target audience behavior and implement social marketing accordingly.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, content marketing, influence marketing, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve