Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Greatest Hits on The SocialSteve Blog – 2013

Thanks for being a reader of The SocialSteve Blog (named one of the Top 50 Global Influential Marketing Blogs). Here are the articles that were the greatest hits on The SocialSteve Blog in 2013 …

SocialSteve Greatest Hits

#10) Why PR Agencies Should be Great at Social Marketing, But So Few Are

#9) A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

#8) How Often Should You Post?

#7) 2013 – The Year Social Media Will Be Measured Correctly

#6) Activation Marketing via Social Media

#5) Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

#4) Know Your “Ps” When It Comes to Content and Social Marketing

#3) The Successful Social Marketing Framework

#2) What is Social Marketing? (Make Sure You Really Know)

#1) Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Strive for social marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, digital media, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, PR, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, website, Word of Mouth Marketing

Social Media Considerations for Graduates and Other Young Adults

think before you postThis is the season when many children and young adults reach their milestone of graduation and look forward to their next chapter of accomplishment in their lives. It is also a good time for all kids to recognize that while social media is part of their lifestyle, it could ruin their future as well.

As a marketing executive, I rely on social media and see it as a positive attribute of brand marketing. So I am most bullish on social media, probably even more so than young digital natives. But I am also very concerned about how young adults use social media. This concern was punctuated this week when I read the article “Social Media Has Cost One in Ten Young Adults a Job.” “Despite this, the majority of teens and young adults appear unworried about social media’s potential professional impact: in the U.S., 70% of those surveyed said they weren’t concerned about social media harming their future career prospects, and 71% of Brits said the same.”

Maybe this is not a post for my typical audience … please pass this on to your kids or a young adult you truly care about. So if you are a young adult who receives this article from your parent or someone saying “read this,” I know how you feel. Far into my adult life, I still get “read this articles” sent to me by my mother. So I understand the turnoff.

In addition, I understand your adventurous nature. I will share with you that I was an “experimental kid” and somewhat rebellious myself in my youthful years. But my digital track record shows I have not done anything crazy. Does yours? Who should see that, or better yet, who do you not want to see that? Are you doing anything about it?

So graduates and other kids and young adults, please stop to think before you post. Think like a brand should. In marketing, a brand spends exhaustive time formally considering how they want the public as a whole to perceive them. You need to do this as well, now … not later. You need to think about your “personal brand.” This perception of personal brand goes way beyond your friends and so many are ignoring this. And I am not just saying you need to just worry what your parents see. How about considering what a college admissions officer sees? An employer? Do you really want to screw up your future based upon some dumb, stupid posting you did?

The reality is we do live in a prejudicial society. People are always making prejudgments on who you are and what you would be like in certain situations. And you must also know that you are fueling this prejudice by your postings and shared pictures and videos. Obviously, you can set privacy settings to let a finite circle have access to your social media postings, but the reality is that a) most people do not set appropriate privacy control for all their social channels of use, and b) the reality is that if someone wants to gain access to your postings bad enough, they can probably get it.

I don’t want to come across as some preachy adult that you just turn off. I do not want to change who you are. I simply want you to act and be smart. I always tell my kids … If you have been partying, don’t get in a car. Call me to be picked up … no questions asked. I will respect your maturity and common sense not to get in a potentially dangerous situation. And when it comes to social media, I am telling you the same thing. I am not trying to tell you how to lead your life … what you should do and not do. Just think about how you broadcast your activities. You should not use a dangerous vehicle if you choose certain actions and activities. And social media can be a very dangerous vehicle used in the wrong circumstances. Don’t let one dumb post ruin your future.

If you know someone who will value this, I appreciate you sharing it. If you are a teenager or young adult … Be smart … Be happy. Go chase your dreams and …

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under advice for young adults, social media, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Half a Century of Learning

In the next handful of days I will turn the corner on a half a century … my 50th birthday. I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I am still learning! That’s because I am one who consistently reflects. On this, the SocialSteve Blog I’ve shared with you much that I have learned with regards to marketing and social media. But this time around, I think it is fitting to share with you just a few of the important life lessons I have taken to mark the half centurion mark.

*** “It takes more failures to succeed than it does to fail.” – I worked for a big corporation fresh out of college and they provided “development” seminars. I heard this at the first presentation and it has stuck with me forever. Bottom line – do not give up! Drive to accomplish you own success and don’t let failure knock you down.

*** “You don’t need to tell an @$$hole they are an @$$hole.” – Long story short here … early in my career there was this guy I worked with named Carl. Carl was a miserable human being. He did something uncalled for and I went into his office and said, “Carl, that was really f-ed up,” and walked out. He comes to my office wincing and clinching his fists and said, “You wanna take this out to the parking lot.” I did nothing but fuel a crazy situation to further stupidity. We think getting things off our chest makes us feel better by dumping and venting on the perpetrator, but it really does not yield content. Releasing your negativity is what is required. That is far more effective than telling someone off.

*** “You have two ears and one mouth – do twice as much listening as talking.” –Maybe the most important aspect of building strong relationships with people is listening to them and understanding them. Strong relationships spawn support and greater meaning in your life.

*** “There is a difference between pleasure and happiness.” – Too many people confuse the two. In most cases, excessive pleasure yields unhappiness. Pleasure appeals to our senses. Happiness comes from our brain and heart.

*** “No one ever says, ‘Damn – I wish I worked another day,’ on their death bed.” – We all know people whose lives were cut tragically short. Make sure you take in the important things on your limited time here on earth. It is easy to get consumed by work and aspirations of key professional positions. Remember the most important things and people in your life and make time to enjoy connecting and spending time together.

Yeah, I have learned a number of things, but those are the highlights. In the next 50 years I hope to learn much more … I’d like to think of myself as a perpetual student of life.

Now if I can ask you for one birthday gift … I have been sharing blog posts to you for the past four years. I’d like to turn the tables on you and ask for you to share with me (and my readers) something you have learned that is an important life lesson. That would be a great birthday present for me.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve (1/2 way there and still learning)


Filed under Social Steve, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Never Give Up Hope

My sister, a hero of mine, posted this on her blog today. You have to be a member of the blog to access, so I am reposting it here instead of just providing a redirect URL. Her friend sent it to her, but I do not know the origin beyond that. Pass it to some one who needs hope in their life.

Hope is knowing that there are wonderful possibilities and
that miracles can happen.
Hope is believing that until nothing is left, something good
exists somewhere.
Hope is understanding that change is possible and that
anything can happen.
Hope is being able to imagine that something positive can
eventually come out of heartache and pain and that
nothing and no one is hopeless.
Hope gives each of us the courage to face life’s challenges
and the strength to go on.


Filed under Uncategorized

New Facebook – Interpretation for Brands

Do you know how to use Facebook to optimize your INTEGRATED social media/marketing strategy and plan? Are your driving MEASURABLE results? I have some recommendations.

There was no shortage of coverage on Facebook’s changes for brands as of February 29, 2012. I won’t go through the announcements (as so many have done already), but I’ll give you the highlights before I explain “why you should care” and “what you should think about.”
First here is a summary of Facebook changes:
• By default, both fans and non-fans will be directed to a brand’s timeline tab when visiting their Facebook page. Timeline also means that there are new or changing features and navigation:
– New cover photo (at the top of the page) in addition to the small existing profile picture,
– Fan engagement is separated and not integrated in with brand’s postings as shown on timeline,
– Splash pages and “like gates” are no longer an optional landing page, and
– More admin control on look and display of posts
• Page administrators have the ability to “pin” content at the top of their page for one week such that it does not scroll down as new content is posted.
• Reach Generator – guarantees brand posts will be viewed on more fans’ news feeds (more detail below)
• New premium ad formats (sponsored stories, page posts) – Photo, Video, Question, Status, Event, and Link
• Offers – postings of a discount or promotion from brands to their fans

And just one more thing before we get into the new Facebook and its social media marketing ramifications. Let’s not forget about the objective of social media and how success is measured. Social media is about building relationships. Social media success is about being able to measure an objective.

Building relationships in social media is defined in the A-Path model I have presented numerous times. The A-Path of relationships as a brand to your target segment’s individuals is Attention > Attraction > Affinity > Audience > Advocacy. The way we measure social media success is to measure Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy. The intersection of social media relationship building and social media measurement is described in the article “Social Media Model that Defines the End of the World as we Know It.”

Got the foundation? OK, let’s talk Facebook. Go through the next few sections and stop to think about how Facebook can (now) be used for your marketing efforts. Based on the new features and information Facebook unveiled at the 2/29/12 fMC, we all need to start to think about Facebook marketing differently – for better and worse.

Facebook Brand Page – A Destination Site
Facebook timeline is impressive. The new look is aesthetically pleasing. This is a positive move by Facebook. Yes, there will be those that rant and rave because people do not accept change so well, but in the long run (and maybe not so long) I think most will come to accept and appreciate the new look for brand pages. I like the new feature set – especially the ability to “pin” content or a promotion at the top of a brand page for a week and keeps it from scrolling below as you place new posts on your brand timeline.

Let’s be clear here. Facebook is working to make your Facebook brand page a destination site where dynamic content resides. Think of this from two perspectives. 1) How do you leverage the Facebook brand page changes and is that destination now more compelling than your static website. 2) Prior to timeline, most people’s Facebook brand experience was on their news feed as opposed to specifically going to the brands’ Facebook page – just think of your own experience as a user rather than your role as marketer.

Facebook is NOT a Brand’s Community
Facebook is a great place to build attraction and affinity for your brand once you have gotten someone’s attention. It is NOT your community and there are better platforms where you should build your audience. One of the biggest issues with thinking Facebook is YOUR community is that you do not have access to or own the data of your “Facebook likes.” Thus, if you do not have these users’ data, they are not your true audience. Rather the people that like you on Facebook are just potential passers in the night. Having customer data is key for any and all marketing efforts.

This is not to say that Facebook serves no value – hardly the case. It is a starting point; not an ending point. You want to use Facebook for attraction and build affinity with your target segment. And as you do this and the individual feels a stronger relationship with your brand, you want to collect their data. Point them to content in your OWN community and invite them to join YOUR community. I always ask my clients a rhetorical question … Would you rather have 25K Facebook likes or 25K members of your community? Where do you think you can monetize better?

Facebook Freeium Model
The next point is that in essence, Facebook is not free. It really is a freeium model for brands. You get some functionality for free, but if you really want the key benefits, you need to pay. Up until the fMC on February 29, 2012, brands were led to believe that they collect likes for their Facebook presence and their posts would be directed to the news feeds of the people that liked them. In reality, this is NOT really the case. The reality that Facebook unveiled is that, on average, only 16% of fans saw brands’ posts. (This is due to their edge ranking algorithm that determines which post shows up on an individual’s news feed.) Facebook now offers “reach generator” to up the view percentage on news feed to a guaranteed 75% and as high as 95% for delivered posts. So now brands have to assess whether their Facebook strategy makes sense without “paid media” or if they are willing to foot the bill ($0.30 per like for a 3 month period). What are the measured results a brand is likely to get with and without reach generator – work your metrics.

Additional Paid Facebook Features
Facebook did announce new premium ads (in addition to their existing non-premium Marketplace ads). One of the biggest change users will see is that premium ads will appear in brands’ timeline and users’ news feeds if the user or one of their friends liked or interacted with the brand’s Facebook page. The ads will look like status updates. Facebook hopes this will generate more user interest.

Now what happens if brands want to reach other people with their advertisement – not just their fans? These premium ads have the opportunity to be displayed in non-fan news feeds if the user’s friend has liked the ad. The premium ad can also be displayed on the right side of the page for users that have not liked the brand and there is no interaction with the brand from their friends. These “stories” are really premium advertisements targeted to non-likes based on brand-selected demographics and other data people share on the social network.

One other change for these premium ads … Facebook looks to change the digital advertising model. These premium ads will not be priced like other typical CTR (click through rate) ads. Click-through rates for Facebook ads have been very low and Facebook’s position is that CTRs are a poor measure ad performance. Thus Facebook has partnered with Nielsen to implement a gross rating point ( model.

Facebook Position for Brands
Facebook is positioning brands to be more true to the intended use of a Facebook user experience. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO said, “People do not expect to be talked at – they want to be a full part of the conversation.” The new premium ads (“sponsored stories”) are meant to be delivered like other “normal” Facebook status posts. This means that brands must be creative and provide valuable information or entertainment in their paid premium ad and sponsored story posts. No user is going to want to see a blatant ad in their news feed from a brand. This could disenchant users and backfire on brands. Be careful how you craft your premium paid posts. Facebook is putting some spin on their new premium ad position. They are careful to call these posts “stories” – not ”ads.” Brands must follow suit and execute these “stories” as well, stories – not ads.

One Additional Facebook Payoff
As Facebook prepares for their IPO, one of the significant hurdles that they faced was not having a mobile ad play. They did not have this functionality in their mobile app. Everyone questioned their ability to generate revenue from mobile users. This segment represents a substantial portion of Facebook use … approximately 50 % of Facebook use is via mobile. Now the problem is solved. Facebook is now simply delivering “ads” in the news feed. Tell the investors it is “ads” in the news feed; tell the rest of the world it is a brand story in the news feed. I think this is called poetic justice based on the crowd you are playing to.

Summary – Facebook Part of an INTEGRATED Social Media Strategy
It remains to be seen how users react to seeing brand stories/ads in their news feed. Now don’t get me wrong. Social implementations must have an integration of both organic social and paid social. But given the reality that brand posts only reach 16% of the intended audience without the fee-based reach generator, Facebook is now primarily a paid media channel. Yes, you can use their new timeline feature set to build a beautiful, dynamic destination site, but Facebook’s new position should definitely make you rethink your brand’s Facebook use.

There are great opportunities to use Facebook in the early parts of you’re A-Path relationship building, but all brands should make strategic decisions with regards to where they want to shape and build their audience. My recommendation is that Facebook is NOT a place to build audience. Think about the behavior you want to change in your target segment. Think about the steps and channels used to build strong relationships. This will lead to the appropriate use of Facebook in your integrated plan and this is likely not the same way you thought about Facebook yesterday.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, community, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

The Simple Explanation of Social Media

Still a bit confused about social media? I understand. I see it day in and day out with clients I serve. While so many want to make it complicated, it really is nowhere close to rocket science. Heck, it is not even as hard to follow as my daughter’s sixth grade science. It’s just that those that try to explain it either really do not get it themselves or they want to make it so complicated to justify that they are social media experts.

So my answer to this ubiquitous question has been stop selling and provide some simple education first. Since my blog has been a place to share information, let me share a presentation with you that I give to many clients. The name of the presentation is called “The Social Lounge.” It is called The Social Lounge because it is meant to be a casual experience where you relax and enjoy a straightforward explanation of social media, success, and implementation.

Here it is …

The presentation is a high level look at social media. There is mention of the A-Path (which is social media execution) and parameters to measure success of social media. If you want to drill into these topics one level deeper, see one of my previous articles, “Social Media Model that Defines the End of the World as We Know It.” What else can I help you with?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve


Filed under digital media, marketing, marketing plan, measuring social media, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Unifying Loyalty, Rewards, and Social Media

A little over a week ago, eMarketer ran a very interesting story, “What Do Facebook Users Expect from Brands?” that speaks loud to social media affect on rewards programs. The article examined an ExactTarget study and “found that 58% of US Facebook users expect to gain access to exclusive content, events or sales after ‘liking’ a company, while 58% also expect to receive discounts or promotions.”

So let’s think about this for a moment. What this is basically saying is that consumers expect special considerations for liking a brand from the start. In other words, they expect rewards (something the “general public” does not get) right from the get-go … possibly even before they start purchasing anything. And yet loyalty programs are typical designed to reward the best shoppers of the brand.

Once again, this demonstrates how social media is changing the way brands are required to market and sell to consumers and smart brands will view this as an opportunity. Let me outline how this can be achieved by modeling a hypothetical rewards program that leverages social media and rallies around the reality as supported by empirical data in the ExactTarget study.

I suggest formulating a tiered loyalty program around two social media channels and then taking it one step further. Our objective here is to create incremental consumer commitment to the brand.

Tier 1

Do exactly what the survey states users are looking for. Create a Facebook fanpage for users to like and give them exclusive content, events, and small discounts and promotions for liking your brand. (Do be aware that Facebook “Like” will change soon … users will soon specify varying degrees of “Like.” You may “like” one brand, but “really, really like” another.) I am not sure of the future classifications for “likes,” but there will be some variance.

The value here is to get users to “opt-in” to a brand and stay engaged with the brand. The shortcoming in using Facebook for “community” is that Facebook does not provide enough user data for companies to do strong marketing campaigns. Still I see positive steps as this is an “introduction” to the brands loyalty program.

Tier 2

Create a brand community accessible from the brand’s home site. A community that requires people to provide their email address to enter and join the community. A community that delivers great content, allows users to engage with the brand and other users, and contains a compelling feature set typically provided by community software vendors such as Jive Software and SaaS companies like OneSite.

Brands must provide some incremental benefit for users “opting-in” to the community sign-up over a Facebook Like. In this scenario, the user is giving you more information about them (you need to have a plan of collecting richer data on the user over time), thus allowing the creation of target marketing programs. The value here is having that users data and targeted marketing programs increases monetization likelihood.

You cannot just “build the field of dreams and they will come.” The same is true for online communities. You have to have an awesome reason for them to come. Focus on great content, an easy to navigate user interface, a high level of engagement, and ability for users to provide their own voice. There are numerous articles available about considerations for great online communities. Here are a couple … “Where Audience Fits in Social Media” and “How 7 Startups Are Building Their Online Communities.”

Tier 3

Now we move off of social media (yes I can do that :)) and move to even greater brand commitment from users. The highest degree of commitment comes if your consumer is willing to pay an annual fee for their loyalty. In return they get great benefits – assuming they are truly loyal to the brand. Membership has its rewards and American Express is a great example. Starting at $40 per year, you can sign up and earn points for great products, travel accommodations, concerts, and much more. The benefits are extremely rewarding if you use the card often and the fact that you paid is psychological motivation.

The loyalty tiering model I have laid out highlights two very important facts:

1) Unequivocally, social media is a game changer. It is changing the way people do business and the way they make purchase decisions. Those companies that do not adapt will be trumped by those companies that do.
2) Social media is not a stand alone function. It must go beyond integration with other marketing endeavors and be unified.

Where do you see other opportunities for unifying social media with existing programs?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand marketing, brands, community, Facebook, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, rewards, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized