Category Archives: 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

How Social Media Results in SEO Increased Performance

Sometimes it gets ridiculous … the debate over which is more important – SEO or social media. Let’s not be foolish and create another company silo. They both are and they both should be integrated into one strategy and complement one another.

Given the fact that I know far more about social media than SEO, this article takes a look at social media and SEO synergies from a social perspective. That said, I invite my SEO brothers and sisters to chime in with some SEO perspectives.

The first and obvious place to start when talking about SEO and social media integrated power is talking about content strategy and management. Recognize that content is the core of social media strategy. As a brand and/or content producer you look for a large audience to consume your media. Social media practioners plan how their content will be shared and passed along. And no one is going to pass along crappy content. The content must be compelling – entertaining, chock full of valuable information, and/or be very helpful. Then it has a chance to be shared.

But we also want that content easily found. And finding YOUR content is an SEO thing – both paid and organic search. Selecting the right keywords in the title of the media, positioning those keywords in the first sentence, and doing appropriate tagging are minimal requirements to start with from an SEO perspective.

The important point is that your owned media needs to be optimized for search and social!!!

Now let me talk about the not so obvious intersection of search and social. If you have a brand, you better own the top search slot for your brand name, right? Otherwise, you are probably doing something wrong. For a general search for the topical area of your brand, that is a little more difficult. Needless to say, it would be preferable to show up in the top fold of page one, but sometimes that is challenging.

So how can social media help with the variance of search placement between a general search and brand search? To answer this, allow me to re-introduce the social media marketing funnel. (For those of you that are regular readers of my blog, forgive me for continuously going back to this funnel – but in all honesty, it really is the bases of valuable strategy and planning.)

Let’s address the issue with an example. Say I am interested in information or planning a purchase of a bicycle. If I went about this as a simple search with no influential information, I would likely search “bicycle” or “touring bike” or “mountain bike.” But what if a brand did a really good job managing owned, earned, and paid media? What if I saw some good information about bicycling that was sponsored by and produced by Trek? What if one of my friends or colleagues (in my trusted network) knew I was looking for a bike and gave me a “Trek” recommendation? Thus my psycho-demographic went from awareness and interest to consideration and evaluation. The fact that “Trek” was well socialized means I would likely skip a search for “bicycle” (general search) and move directly to “Trek bicycle” (brand search). I could even take this one step further and look for a particular type of product from Trek like the “Madone 6 Series” as a result of a combination of owned, earned, and paid media.

You see, your content, content strategy and plan for owned, earned, and paid media can help in SEO efforts. The more we get people to use long-tail searches as opposed to short-tail searches looking for our brand, the greater success we have with our product getting in front of the consumer. And in the end, that is the ultimate success. If you look at SEO referred traffic to you destination URL, you can actually measure success of your social media implementation. Baseline your different search referrals (general, brand, product, short-tail, long-tail), and measure changes as you implement different social endeavors.

So next time you hear anyone debating the importance of SEO and social media, raise the conversation up one notch. What’s really important is having a killer content strategy and both social media and SEO have great importance there.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve


Filed under SEO, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

4 Ingredients to a Winning Content Strategy

Do you want people to be reaching and grabbing for your brand and keep coming back? Well having the right content strategy, plan, and execution is your secret sauce. Your content should be of great value. What does this exactly mean? Why would anyone continue to return to your site and social platforms? Simple – because you give them what they value – great information or something entertaining, and then maybe a little bit more …

Your content strategy should be viewed with 4 key ingredients.

1) Kick-ass Content
You must start by having awesome content. And this great content needs to be produced continuously. There is “Power of Compelling and Engaging Content.” It is not only the reason for getting one’s attention, but you look to deepen the reader’s attraction for your brand and build affinity for you.

2) Awesome Curation
Take it one step further and provide a curation linking to places to go to get additional information. If you really want to be the reference point for topical area, you must have not only great information, but also provide places to get more. This is an area some many have a problem with. You can’t be afraid to show other sources of analogous content as in fear that it might trump your content. Another reason for trepidation is feeling that you are the authority of the subject. (Fine – I would not be the one to question that.) But does this really mean that you are the only one’s that have a say on a subject? I am not saying you should link to your competition, but I am certain there are sources that can complement your content. And by the way … sharing others content will build good will and you will see that referencing reciprocated to your digital assets.

3) Places for UGC (User Generated Content)
Make sure you have places for your audience to engage with you. This takes on many forms, but starts with at least having a place for readers to comment. Do not be afraid of negative comments. You can turn these into positive scenarios by engaging and remedying problems. It is also likely that your community will come to your rescue in many instances.

Other successful forms of UGC implementations include actively asking your audience for content and posting it on your site or social channels. Stories, testimonials, videos, pictures and other types of multi-media drive two positive outcomes … a) they allow your audience to connect, build loyalty, and deepen relationships to your brand, and b) UGC promotes greater sharing. People want to show their friends that their content is highlighted on specific sites. As Andy Warhol said, “everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” or at least many are seeking this.

4) Sharing Tactics
If you want to drive more awareness, more traffic, word-of-mouth is extremely powerful as it has other people do your marketing. Referrals are generated by trusted, objective sources. To start, you should have sharing widgets (Facebook Like, Tweet, etc.) at a minimum. You can use plug-ins like AddThis, ShareThis, Gigya, and others. Other tactics you can use are voting on content and polling on questions related to content. There are a number of other ways to optimize sharing. The most important thing is not to have the “build-it-and-they-will-come” mentality. Consciously think about and plan how your content will be shared and what will provoke your existing readers to share it with their friends.

At the end of the day, you want to be perceived as the subject-matter-expert, leading solution providers, or one with the best product for your market sector. It obviously starts with having a great product or service, but marketing your greatness is equally as important. Content marketing is the way to reinforce your “wow.” It starts with having superior content, but that is far from the end. Think about the ingredients mentioned here and also think about a holistic “Integration of Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media.”

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

PS – Needless to say, your content has to be SEO-friendly … and that is a discussion unto itself.


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

Talking About Your Relationships with Your Social Media Psychologist

Come in. Relax. Make yourself comfortable. Feeling a bit uncertain about your relationships – social media relationships? I am here to help.

In the past I have emphasized the importance of establishing relationships via social media as opposed to looking at social as a sales channel. And many still have significant problems establishing and maintaining their relationships. If we would just let “brand relationships” follow the rationale of “personal relationships” we would make it so much easier on ourselves. So think about those close to you in your own life and apply the same mechanics. While we don’t typically think of “mechanics” when it applies to personal relationships, I would suggest we do for brand relationships – because it is not so natural in a business setting. We have been programmed to sell, sell, sell.

There are four elements that must be present to have strong brand relationships.

How well do you know your target market? Have you walked in their shoes? You will never have a strong relationship if you do not thoroughly understand your audience and their perspective. According to Wikipedia, “empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sentient or semi-sentient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion.”

Forget marketing (and of course forget selling). Simply think about delivering value. Think about your strongest personal relationships. Your strongest relationships provide you great support, love, or something that you truly value. Social media usually starts with content. What content can you give your audience that they value? As a brand, deliver valuable content without a hidden agenda.

Transparency and Trust
Transparency and trust go hand and hand. There is absolutely an aspect of trust in strong relationships and if you are not totally transparent, you are likely hiding something. How can you have trust if you are hiding something? If there is a problem with your product or service that makes you uncomfortable (and eliminates your ability to be transparent),“Do the Right Thing” (in the words of Spike Lee). Fix it, don’t hide it. Your degree of comfort of being transparent is a great barometer on the real strength of your offering and your organization.

Have you ever been in a great relationship that was one sided? Yeah, I know, rhetorical question. So, are you ready to put as much energy, commitment, and passion into the relationship that you seek from your target audience? Do not expect what you are unwilling to give.

When you think about it, there really is not anything earth-shattering said here. I’d almost expect the response, “yeah – so what?” But for some reason, we seem to lose our rational thinking with regards to establishing relationships between customer and brands. Remember these four elements of strong brand relationships – empathy, value, transparency, and mutuality. The acronym KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid comes to mind, but let’s change it to Brian Solis‘ version … KISS – Keep It Simple and Shareable.

I hope you feel better. See you next week … no charge.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, Word of Mouth Marketing

Social Media – Great for Reaching Celebrity Status, Except for Celebrities

Every brand would love to be in the public eye, like celebrities and pop stars alike. Feel the love; feel passion; feel the desire to connect and engage. Now I don’t think it is likely that brands will reach the level of connection of say Lady Gaga with her audience, but certainly social media, when executed correctly, can increase your audience and the passion they have for your brand.

And yet, it is almost ironic that so many stars that have already reached pinnacle admiration from their audience have failed and/or retreated from social media. Just one case in point – James Franco. Last week, Franco told Policito “Social media is over … You heard it here first.” He went on to say “My thought was ‘this is my Twitter. I can do whatever I want.’ But certain companies I work with contacted me about what I was saying.”

So think about this statement for a second and start to assess the difference between being a brand and being an individual while engaging in the social world. The social world demands that we are always on our game. Just one slip up produces a hurt to reputation. While we definitely need to have a person and personality behind social communication and engagement, brands must not be emotional. They must maintain a strong, rational position. Do not undermine the importance on this! If you represent a brand, and you want to reach celebrity status for your brand you will need to follow this guideline.

From the perspective of celebrities, it doesn’t exactly work that way. When everything is going great, celebrities want to show you their world and open up to the public. When things are not going well (and everyone has their hills and valleys) they prefer their privacy and solitude – rightfully so.

But brands do not have this luxury. Now I am not saying that brands should be deceitful and put “lipstick on a pig.” What I am saying is that brands can not hide in hard times. They must come out and face the music and publicly deal in challenging times. Have we not learned from BP and Toyota?

Brands should use social media in both good times and bad times. Social media is an excellent way to deal with mistakes. People don’t like to do this. Brands must! Want to create the best goodwill with your audience? Want to turn a bad situation into something positive? Use your social to fess up to your brand shortcoming – apologize and state the corrective action taken. Acknowledge that you know there is a problem. Listen to your audience. Convey strong and valid proof that it will never happen again.

And hey, when times are great, we all want to get the word spread. How do you do that? You start by creating informative and entertaining content/media. Not sales-ie stuff. Something of value for your audience. This is your owned media. You must have a plan that integrates your owned media with your paid media and on top of that, produces earned media. (See Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media.)

Last week, in my column “Social Media – Quarterly Review, Q1 – 2011,” I stated that the strength of social media was “the ability to build relationships with your target audience like never before” (as part of my SWOT analysis). I am not sure celebrities really want this. Understandably so, they want their privacy and space.

Brands on the other hand, definitely want this. Once again – people want to know there is a human side to brands’ social efforts. But that personal aspect can not be moody and can never include rants. Think of the personalization of brands’ social endeavors to be carried out by a diplomatic ambassador. Yes, the ambassador(s) can be fun and informal. But they also need to be careful with regards to snarkiness. Remember Kenneth Cole’s botch. Brands must focus on a strategy, plan and execution that build relationships. If they deliver value to those relationships with a humanized rational touch, they can achieve celebrity status. Celebrity status – tons of attention, attraction, and passion from their audience. It takes time – there is no overnight stardom.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

Footnote – yes there are a number of celebrities using social media well. I would say that those that are successful, approach their individual social media activity more like an individual brand as opposed to their personal side.


Filed under brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, owned-earned-paid media, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Social Media – Quarterly Review, Q1 – 2011

We finished Q1, 2011. How was the quarter for you? From a social media perspective, I think it was a good quarter – we saw greater adoption. There is still much to be accomplished and significant maturing of the industry will take place for a number of years.

I thought it was fitting to do a brief review of Q1 … a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) Analysis and review of a few articles that received strong responses.

Here is the SWOT Analysis for Social Media for Q1, 2011 …

And now, a quick review and some highlights from articles and ideas I’ve posted this quarter:

IP 3.0 in the Digital Age – social and digital become interchangeable. The next wave of digital/social will come from brands that integrate and package social right into their product/service offering.

The Power of Compelling and Engaging Content – new media marketing means producing information and entertaining content that appeals to your target audience. Compelling content is a powerful way to keep your audience engaged.

Social Media in Your Company – Guidance for Where It Fits In – finding the right place for social responsibility in an organization continues to be problematic. Some thoughts on the subject here.

Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media – a really nice outline and guide to molding and creating synergy amongst owned, earned, and paid media. Bottom line – must integrate.

Social Media ROI – Don’t Be So Short Sighted – Think Longer Term and Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel – measurement and ROI for social media … still illusive? I think not and here are two great articles that give you ideas how you might go about reporting KPIs (key performance indicators) for social media.

Social Media – Mentality is the Key to Winning! – you can’t just do it. It takes the right attitude. Got what it takes?

If you missed these articles, check them out. If you’ve seen them, thanks for being part of the great response.

I’ll leave you with a mention of three company events that I think punctuate where social media stands and is heading: 1) The launch of “Color”, 2) The acquisition of Radian6 by, and 3) Google launch of Plus 1.

If you haven’t seen the iPhone app Color, check it out. Neat photo app that allows you to connect with your friends (and others). Still has a number of issues to work out (first and foremost the UI), but signals the importance and future of community. Social is about connecting with your crowd and I think Color is just an awesome implementation of this for photo taking.

Next Radian6 acquisition signifies just how important (and achievable) measuring ROI is for social media. Radian6 is considered the social media monitoring leader and was bought for north of $300 million by Shows how important social media measurement is. We will see great advancement of connecting social media measurement to sales and CRM.

And last, Google’s Plus 1 … the combination of search and social defines the best one-two punch for brands. Google seems to finally start delivering on the promise to be social. SEO has shrunk as a way people find brands at the hands of social and Google has just admitted so with their actions.

I am continue to be bullish on social media. (Was there any doubt in your mind?) What are your thoughts on the state of social – now and in the future?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

1 Comment

Filed under quarterly review, social media, social media marketing, social media organization, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized