Tag Archives: digital marketing

Social Media is NOT Social Marketing and Why It Matters

social media not equal social marketing

If you are running a business, do you want good social media results or good business results? Social media results are things like “likes,” “followers,” “reach,” “engagement,” and “impressions.” If you are a marketing professional, you are expected to demonstrate increased awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. So this might give you a bit of a hint of the difference between social media and social marketing, but let’s drill into a bit more.

Social media are a number of platforms that allow people to post, share, and comment on communications. Communications that are conversations, stories, or other content. The content/conversations can consist of articles, photos, and videos. Social media examples are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, SnapChat, and a host of literally hundreds if not thousand more. Social media has attracted just about all companies because it is the digital access to a great number of people. A digital and mobile culture has evolved and is now ubiquitous so brands want to be involved and influential where the numbers exist.

Social marketing has two parts … social and marketing. Lets start with the later. Marketing is the act of creating awareness and consideration to yield sales. Marketing activities should not stop with sales. They should include post sales activities capturing loyalty to create brand preference, and advocacy sparking word of mouth marketing by objective sources. The social part is that you look for your brand message, story, positive experiences, and value to spread throughout your target market. Social marketing looks for increased awareness and advocacy by influencing the general public to proliferate the brand marketing on behalf of the representing company. Digital makes the brand content spread faster and wider.

So now comes the important question. Should a company/brand look for individuals that understand social media to drive business results? Can someone who understands social media take the job at hand far enough? Or rather should experienced marketers that have stayed atop of user behavior, digital technologies, and social platforms be the one to lead? Granted, not all experienced marketers have kept up with the times. But brands/companies can no longer put “social media experts” in a position to drive marketing and business results unless in fact they know how and have experience doing so.

For the past year and a half, I have been delivering digital marketing results as a consultant for numerous clients as I also scan the job market. While I am a freelance consultant now, I am ultimately looking for a strong match in an organization where I can drive strong growth and success. As I look at various job descriptions and placements, I continue to be amazed by false and irrational expectations. Many organizations look to place a “social media expert” with limited or no marketing or customer/client experience in social leadership positions. They do not experience delivering business KPIs (key performance indicators). And guess what types of results they yield.

If you are truly looking for someone to drive social results that align your business KPIs, do not put the responsibility in the hands of someone that is not capable of doing so. I’ll give you one extreme example … I literally saw a listing for “social media manager and executive assistant.” Hopefully you get the point.

Here is my suggestion … start with a definition of the end game. What do you look for this person to accomplish? Do you know what you want out of a social implementation? (Suggested reading – “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like” … If I was to write that story today, it would have been titled, “Know What Successful Social Marketing Looks Like”). Can someone tell you and show you how social efforts will lead to business results? Social marketing is an integration of everything done in marketing and beyond. It must be a customer centric discipline that motivates your audience to do your marketing. It is much more than managing a Facebook page, Twitter feed, and pinning some pictures on Pinterest. Yes, those are probably some of the activities, but there are also many other strategies, plans, and integration points with other business functions that are necessary to yield business results.

So back to the beginning …Social media is NOT social marketing and it matters because you need to understand the outcomes from the different skill sets and experiences required for both. Make sure you are putting your company’s social efforts in the hands of someone that will drive business results, not social media results.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under marketing, social business, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Surveillance of Brands

community surveillanceThere used to be a time when brands could say anything and get away with outlandish lies. There might be some group like Consumer Reports that would protect the consumer by validating claims and unveiling mistruths as appropriate.

Then this thing called the Internet came of age and shortly thereafter digital technologies became ubiquitous and available anywhere. Without a doubt, this is the greatest cultural life change in my lifetime. I am not a digital native and can remember times when marketing was pretty much limited to advertisements on TV, radio, print, and in-store displays.

Now the funny thing about this is that some brands now use digital marketing techniques, but their mentality has not changed from the old days. What I mean by this is that the brands use new technologies, but do not examine the effect of the technology on society as a whole and act accordingly. The cultural change that is missed is that EVERYONE is using the technology and LISTENING and a good majority of the society is PARTCIPATING in social and digital technologies. When you evaluate what this means, it really comes down to three things:

1) a greater degree of support and loyalty to brands,
2) a greater degree of calling out brands for missteps and lies, and
3) inflammatory statements about brands that are unsubstantiated and unwarranted.

Lets make sure we understand this. Brands, you are being watched. There are users that performing informal, but systematic surveillance. Some things that come out of this surveillance will be positive; some things will be negative; some truth will come out; and some lies will be launched. Yes, it is the Wild West for the consumer, but you can win over the audience by unleashing advocates in a time of need if you go about digital participation correctly. Here are some guidelines:

1) Always be honest, authentic, and transparent – the first time you break confidence of an audience, it will be extremely difficult to win them back. If they are participative they will make sure everyone knows you are wrong if you lack honesty.
2) Understand that many digital users want to share. They want to share your good and your bad. Work at presenting the best brand (honest) face. Think of tactics to use that make it easy for users to share your content.
3) Don’t get in a debate you cannot win. People will attack brands even when they are wrong. If you can have advocates and need their support ask them.

I find it most ironic that a band by the name of Smog would have a song titled “Live as if Someone is Always Watching You.” Well brands, forget the smog (and smoke) but remember the title. In the digital world someone is always watching you and talking about you. Behave accordingly. Listen. Make friends; make advocates. Motivate them to come to your rescue when you need them.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under ads, behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brands, digital media, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Digital Technologies and User Behavior Change What it Means to Be a Brand

If you look on Wikipedia for the definition of a brand, you find that it is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” But as a marketer, I think it is much more important to think of what it means to be a brand in terms of your target audience.

Thus, I define a brand as a promise made from a company to its target audience with regards to the product(s) it sells. A brand is defined by characteristics such as quality, features, availability, and overall user experience. When done right, every single aspect of the brand definition is lived by and delivered by every employee of the company.

brand and digital

But a funny thing happened along the way. Knowledgeable marketers started using poetic justice of communication and claims of the product/service sold by the company and stretched the truth. All this in an effort to increase sales. In some cases, this resulted in members of the target audience reacting and purchasing the brand. If shoppers were unhappy, they would stop buying the product, and maybe even tell a friend. The user did not believe “the promise” and reacted. As this plight has continued throughout marketing and advertising of brands, it has spawned an overall skeptical outlook by people with regards to company claims and advertisement belief. This cynical perception did not happen overnight. It took a good 50 years or so of “Mad Men” to drive this behavior.

Fast forward to today’s world. How do people react when they feel they have been misled by product claims? How do they react when they have a bad user experience? More and more users are sharing their product experiences. Whether it is sharing with their entire network on a platform like Facebook or broadcasting it to the world on a platform like Twitter.

The promise is still part of being a brand, but it is exponentially more important today.

So now that you understand the change, let me describe for you the gigantic immense problem this creates. The stretching of the truth that companies get caught in is a big problem, but it really is not the biggest problem. The key problem today is that companies have lost their ability to build brand AND engage appropriately in the digital world, simultaneously. Too many companies treat branding as one activity and digital/social marketing as a separate implementation. Company executives need to take responsibility of this detrimental scenario.

How many companies have a responsible leader in place with experience, business knowledge, and creativity to build and retain a brand COUPLED WITH experience, business knowledge, and creativity to drive successful digital marketing? The answer to this question is very few. And even worse, the fact that brand marketing and digital marketing are siloed exacerbates the problem.

The debacle up from this problem shows its ugly face daily. There are numerous companies that do not reinforce brand positioning through their digital implementations. The people running the digital channels are most often blind to what it means to carry out a brand voice and imaginary through social engagement. Many companies do not have a digital engagement strategy that centers on upholding the brand persona.

And adding to the challenge is the fact that brand position is equally in the hands of the audience as well as the company’s hands. The audience has a voice that is stronger and moves faster than ever before. You need to have a strategy and a plan that addresses how to leverage this audience rather than ignoring their voice and power that is carried in the digital world.

I think it is imperative to understand how the world of a brand has changed due to the technology changes and more importantly, human behavior. Every company needs a leader that has the skill set to address the change. Through my experience, I have worked with companies that do not want to address the change head on. Working the corporate environment and being a positive change agent has become a slippery slope. I would not go so far as to call the two a dichotomy, but together they are definitely challenging.

It takes bold, strong, experienced leaders to navigate a company due to the real and significant changes that technology and user behavior have created. The outcome of these changes cannot continue to be ignored or swept away. Whether it is fear, lack of skill set, or don’t rock the boat corporate mentality, it is no longer acceptable to keep brand marketing and digital marketing siloed. The future of your business depends upon it.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under ads, behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, change management, digital media, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, 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

University Social Marketing Presentation

On December 2, 2013, I had the pleasure of delivering a social media marketing presentation to students at St. John’s University. The presentation is short, but contains valuable information. Here it is …

Ready to drive social marketing success?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

The Future of Social Marketing – It Might be Going in the Wrong Direction

wrong direction We are at that time of the year where everyone will start to make his or her predictions for the coming year. I am not here to be viewed as the great prognosticator but rather I do hope to get social marketing on the right track.

Digital/social is not hype. If you look at the vast universe of user behavior in digital/social you must believe brands need to leverage these environments for overall success. And when I look and see how a majority of brands act and deliver on social channels, I literally get infuriated.

This week a study revealed “Only 8% Of Brands Believe Their Marketing Team Is Strong Across All Digital Marketing Channels.” How can this be acceptable? If you are part of the remaining 92%, what are you doing about it?

This past week I had a conversation with a CEO of a big agency. A colleague set up this meeting as I am currently looking for a leadership position in digital marketing. The CEO proceeded to share with me that he had acquired a social marketing agency that he was going to fold into the agency. “Why do I need a separate CEO and CFO? I think the current agency roles, the creatives, the account people, can do social as part of what they do.”

In the world of mergers and acquisitions, you probably do not need an extra CEO or CFO and other executive, general management, and support functions. And yes, we should expect everyone to play a social role as part of his or her job function. But I asked the CEO a question, “Don’t you think you need someone to orchestrate the entire social presence for a brand?” He avoided answering this question.

And in there lies the erroneous direction of brands’ social marketing. I believe that everyone in a company needs to be a social extension for the company. Yes, the creative folks need to make sure their productions include social distribution and engagement; the account folks need to make sure information is captured from social listening; and on and on. But there needs to be a chief engagement officer, chief customer officer, chief social officer, chief digital officer, chief marketing officer … Call them what you want … Place the responsibility in an appropriate place … but someone needs to take charge. Someone that is really competent owning the brand personality. Someone owning the customer engagement. Someone measuring and analyzing empirical results.

I see growth in social marketing participation throughout the functional areas of companies. And that is a good thing. But if anyone thinks that greater use of social media across various groups within an organization means that there is social marketing integration, they are wrong.

If companies want to see true ROI from social efforts, there needs to be a leader that is responsible for orchestrating and delivering strategy, plans, operations and measurable results. In my six years of social marketing, and ten years in digital marketing I continually see chief marketing officers, chief strategy officers, chief digital officers, chief whatever officers that really don’t understand target audience behavior and use of digital/social. I see sharp but inexperienced digital marketers in roles that they are not prepared for.

This scenario has caused many to question the value of social marketing. Social marketing will not have value if its responsibility is not placed in the right hands. I have a sense of optimism given that studies are being conducted that unveil how significant the problem is.

If there is one trend that must change in 2014 in the world of digital/social marketing it is competent leadership and responsibility. Let’s put it in place. Then we can start assessing the true social value.

Wake up.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, brand marketing, company organization, leadership, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media organization, social media performance, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve