Category Archives: 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

Two Realities No One Wants to Admit about Excellent Marketing


Let me start off the article by asking, “How important is marketing to the success of your product or service? Do you need marketing to create brand awareness? Generate leads? Build loyalty for your offering? Produce advocates for your brand?”

If you have answered yes, let me ask you one other thing. When you look for results, are decent results good enough or do you want stellar results? I know all of these questions seem a bit rhetorical. But I am laying them out for a purpose. The questions point to two realities that no one wants to hear or admit. Excellent marketing takes time and money.

We are in a culture where we want everything today or if not today, then certainly tomorrow. It takes time to build an audience. Look at any major market shareholder – Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and the list goes on. Every one of them had challenges and hurdles to overcome. Their massive success did not happen overnight.

Brands should definitely measure results. But the expectation of results should be realistic. Look for continuous incremental growth. Companies that experience sustainable and long-term success usually start out by seeing incremental success for a decent amount of time. Then something happens where they see a “hockey stick” curve if they are lucky. But is the hockey stick curve growth really luck? Or is it the result of continuous focus on strategy and execution? The latter of course. A hockey stick curve growth and with continuous sustainability takes time.

I believe it is imperative that you work each and every day to understand your audience, your competition, and your brand core competencies. You continue to tweak a strategic formula that takes all these factors into consideration. Your brand journey must be a continuous learning one. It is rare that a brand sees immediate massive growth and maintains their market share in the long term.

So one of the realities of marketing excellence is that it takes time. One marketing campaign will not yield long-term brand success. The other reality is money. It cost money to build awareness, consideration, sales, loyalty, and advocacy.

Now I realize no company has an endless budget. In fact I have made some tough decisions with regards to marketing investments. Just this past week I decided to use a “cheaper” marketing platform than one that really was far more robust. It is like comparing a Mercedes to Hyundai. I would much rather have a Mercedes, but the Hyundai serves my purpose for today.

But I find way too many companies making an economical decision before a rational value decision. I will eventually invest in the “better” platform. Today, based on my audience size the “cheaper platform” (and less valuable) suffices. I have told my executive management that I intend to purchase that more expensive, greater value platform when we reach a certain audience size, revenue plateau, and number of employees. We will spend when we need to.

I find that this issue of company budget is especially true when it comes to the hiring of digital marketers. I have seen a number of companies hire inexperienced digital marketers just because they use digital and social platforms well. The question is whether they know how to use them to develop an audience. Do they have rich marketing experience that allows them to develop marketing strategies and apply them in execution to a digital world? Here, I have seen many companies opting for less experienced, cheaper solutions rather than investing in individuals that will drive strong results for their company. Yes, maybe the personnel and solutions they deploy are less expensive, but the brand rarely experiences results they seek.

I think I have just scratched the surface with regards to the reality of time and money required within marketing to drive superior results. But for now, I just want to touch a subject that few are comfortable discussing. If you are compelled and brave enough, please chime in. Add your perspective.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


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

There is Something More Important than “Disruptive” to Win an Audience

Sometimes in the business world, people overuse particular words. I would put disruptive in that category. It sounds startling, super-advanced, and mind-boggling. In fact, disruptive sounds infinitely better than the three words I just used to describe it. I guess that is why people really love to use it.


There are only two companies that come to mind that succeed with disruptive offerings: Apple and Google. (I am sure you can name a few others.) Yes, disruptive offerings work for a slim few. But there are a number of other successful companies that are not necessarily delivering disruptive innovations but are realizing strong results anyway. Companies like Virgin America, Zappos, and Nordstrom.

What is it about these companies that make them successful with their target audiences? The answer is an outstanding user experience. I would argue that a great user experience trumps all other facets.

If we look at consumer behavior these days, we see a handful of interesting characteristics that drive brand preference.

1) The truth comes out. The reality is that consumers have such a strong and powerful voice. Brands cannot create a fictitious position. If they do so, if they misrepresent what they are about, the public will call foul. And the consumers’ word spreads.

2) People genuinely respond well to brands that show they care. If a brand delivers customer service or engagement that goes beyond expectation, the consumer starts to build an emotional bond to that brand. Repeated brand action of over exceeding expectation leads to strong loyalty.

3) Brand sharing continues to grow. This is true with regards to positive and negative aspects of user experiences. Now, it is more important to activate your audience to share positive experiences about your brand than to do other social marketing activities such as posting. (Yes posting is still important, but there should be greater emphasis on audience activation and communicating about your brand than the brand actually doing the communication.)

When I studied for my Master’s degree in marketing a number of years ago, academic marketing experts placed heavy importance on product/service differentiation to win a target audience. I am not sure that is the number one characteristic to win an audience these days. I would argue that if your product/service has parity with your competition, but you deliver a superior customer/user experience, you would win market share.

People have numerous decisions with regards to the brands they favor. Just look at any shelf in any store. Do a search on the Internet for a brand category. There has never been such an abundance of choices. So much competition. The best way to win an audience over is to genuinely demonstrate that you care about their business. Bend over backwards to make sure they know you are equally concerned about delivering excellence for them as driving revenue and profit.

I have made my argument that a user experience is more important than a disruptive offering. Your turn. Chime in. What are your thoughts and perspective?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand marketing, brands, Social Steve, SocialSteve, user experience

Why Companies Should Eliminate Marketing Positions

As a marketing professional, I have found that the marketing departments of companies around the world (and at agencies) are in continuous flux. People join; people move on; people get laid off. In good times the marketing department grows; in poor times it shrinks. Companies’ quarterly and annual revenues most often dictate this. And at the same time marketing is not sales.

So what is it about marketing that makes it so vulnerable within a company’s organization? Today, marketing is way too company self-absorbed. Companies build brand stories without enough consideration about and feedback from their target audience. Marketing needs only one objective – audience development. Audience development is outward focused; not inward.

Social engineering concept

Thus, what used to be called marketing should now be called audience development. This is not just a cute label de jour, but rather a complete representation of focus and purpose. Every “marketing” activity should be directly related to audience development. “Marketing” has become a company inward focused position. Most people in marketing emphasize corporate communication, advertisement, and other activities that attempt to highlight who they are and what they stand for. I propose that these activities be put on the back burner. Yes, it is very important for companies to have a well-defined position and know exactly who they are. But now this is ONLY important to help define how they communicate and engage with their target audience. Audience behavior and response MUST dictate brand communication. Brand position and definitions are the starting point for communication. Know who you are, but modify communication based upon audience behavior.

If we change all marketing positions to audience development positions, we must make sure that we balance both long-term and short-term objectives. Let’s start by using the traditional sales-marketing funnel as an initial guide for audience development objectives. Audience development means that you create brand awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. If you actually traverse your audience through these stages, you are driving real meaningful results.

social media marketing funnel

The secret is to build a strategy that includes long-term brand development that is most compelling to your target audience while executing tactics that drive the five stages of the sales-marketing funnel.

I want to drive the point that the difference between marketing and audience development is that the first is inward and the latter is outward. As people have more and more control and influence on brand reputation (due to the prolific social and digital world), brands must transition from their historic “this is who we are” communication “push” marketing to audience empathy, focus, and engagement.

Changing marketing to audience development is not window dressing. It is the first and most important step in changing your brand focus on your audience and to drive real “marketing” results. Maybe if brands make this change, the “marketing department” will not be in such a flux.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under audience development, behavior, brands, change management, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Why Personalized Marketing is Twice as Good

personalized marketing

Marketing is the psychology of business. As marketers we need to truly understand our audience. What does it mean to understand your audience as a marketer? It means that you can define behavioral patterns and describe the cause, effect, and actions related to those behaviors. Only with this understanding can you obtain your business objective. The objective of creating awareness, consideration, and purchase; and then post purchase loyalty and advocacy for your brand.

For years, marketers have done research to best understand their target audience. I think this is most valuable as a starting point for marketing. But notice I said starting point. In order to really have an understanding of your audience you must converse with them. Not only do you need to converse with them, but you need to record characteristics about them in your database. Before you get freaked out about a big-brother-like society that knows too much about people, let me suggest that you start by simply capturing purchase intent and purchase decisions.

I have just stated the first important factor of personalized marketing. Personalized marketing leads to true audience understanding. Consumer research may be somewhat accurate, but nothing comes closer to target audience empathy than individual engagement and collection of data on how people use your brand and the channels of your brand.

I can tell you that as I prepare for my company’s launch I spend about 50% of my work time monitoring for social chatter on key topics relevant to my brand. I listen to what people are saying. I identified the influencers in the brand space. I engage with people and start to build a relationship trying to focus on helping them in lieu of pushing brand product. As I try to help them, I am shaping their perception of my brand. I am working to create the absolute best user experience by the audience’s rules, not my brand agenda.

This engagement definitely helps me uncover certain aspects of my target audience. Yes, market research tells me some, but engagement uncovers deeper pertinent information.

But while this engagement is important to the brand knowledge, I think personalized engagement is even more important in shaping a great user experience. I think user experience is the most important aspect of brands winning individuals. Even more important than product differentiation. People buy brands either sporadically or with loyalty. A great user experience creates an emotional bound between brand and individual, and produces brand loyalty.

If you create an emotional bond of your brand to audience members you are likely to have them tell their friends how great your brand is. Advocacy is the ultimate in marketing. If you can have others do your marketing for you, you have reached the pinnacle of marketing. Objective people spreading brand love.

The magic number in personalized marketing is two. It takes two people to engage with one another. There are two great benefits to personalized marketing – best market knowledge for the brand, and best user experience for the brand. Now that should be double incentive to get on the personalized marketing bandwagon and execution trail.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand marketing, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Can Marketers Learn Something from The Pope?

The Pope

Yes. I actually asked that question with sincerity. This might be my most bizarre blog article yet. I am not a Catholic or Christian. Heck, I am not even religious. I am a non-practicing Jew that is more spiritual than religious. And with that preamble, I have to tell you that I found some statements from The Pope this week, truly amazing.

In his weekly gathering in Rome, The Pope said that The Church need to embrace people who are divorced as well as their children. “No closed doors!” This is truly remarkable given that The Church has shunned people of divorce for centuries.

And there is a big takeaway for marketers here. Let me ask you … are there any corporate doctrines in place that make your offering closed to a segment of your potential audience. I certainly hope not. But let me take it a step further. Is there anything you are doing in your persona, messaging, or engagement that is potentially repelling people? Here I think the answer could be yes. I am not suggesting you do so on purpose, but there is likely some facet of your marketing that is turning off some.

We need to look deep and hard at the way our brand messages affect our audience. The scrutiny is well worth it as there should be “no closed doors” for our audience.

It is no secret that The Church has been losing followers in part due to their strict, nonflexible doctrine. The Pope’s message this past week says he is willing to ease The Church’s persona, messaging, and engagement with the people a bit to increase his audience. But in doing so, he did not water down his message for the core of his target audience.

This is key. When you develop your brand’s position, you need to appeal to that small group of ideal customers, but at the same time you want to attract a large enough audience to meet the required scale for business profitability. Look at the bull’s eye diagram below. The challenge is determining how far off the center circle you need to go to win the right number of customers while not watering down your position such that it is not compelling to the ideal customer.

Target Market Audience

Consider listening to the entire target audience mass. Understand what they are saying and based upon their behavior, think about tweaking your position. (This is exactly what The Pope did.) Then make sure your brand messaging resonates with the outer most segment of customers and certainly with the ideal customer as well.

I think this is what the modern day Pope accomplished with one of the most historical and oldest market segments. If he was able to stretch the doctrine of an old inflexible institution, you certainly can with your brand.

Make it Happen!
Social Steve


Filed under brand marketing, community, leadership, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve