Tag Archives: social media marketing

The Most Important Word for Marketing

Let’s get to it. EMPATHY is the most important word for marketing. You got to have it – it is not a slogan.

Empathy is ‘the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.“ If you had this knowledge of your target audience, don’t you think it would be so much easier to define your product/service, story, position, and message for your potential customers?

I think my recent tweet really captures it …

Many companies are spending substantial time, effort, and budget trying to figure out how to market and sell to their customers. If they take a decent proportion of resources and dedicated it to understanding their customer, having real empathy, they will likely see greater success in their business objectives.

But empathy marketing does not stop there. Last week I did a story, Brand – What is Your Story?“” Basically, I was suggesting that having a compelling brand story allowed your market segment to have a good idea of your brand and that stories are what connects people to one and other. It is important for brands have a humanized side to them so it makes it easier for this customer-brand connection to happen as opposed to attempting to get the target audience to bond with a corporation. This point is reinforced with one of my tweets from earlier today …

Thus, there are two sides of empathy marketing. The brand’s understanding of the target market and the potential customers understanding of the brand. Let’s look at this in a Venn Diagram for a second …

If brands understand their market and potential customers can relate to brands, the intersection of the empathy scenarios are connections and relationships between the two as shown above. This means that brands must invest in efforts to enlighten them with regards to the target segment and they must communicate stories and messages that allow the market to better understand the brand, it’s value and benefits.

And here is where social media comes in. Use social media to build empathy of your target market. Use social media so that potential customers have empathy of your brand. Social media is a powerful tool for the intersection of the two, but you have to work at it over time. Think about the concepts I have defined in the “LCR Mentality” – Listen first; then engage in Conversations and build Relationships over time. This is the way for you to best acquire empathy of your market. If you want your potential customers to gain empathy for your brand, you must provide them with content (your story). Yes relationships are bi-directional, but the onus is on you, the brand, to “make it happen.” You need to drive the connections and relationships at both ends – your understanding of the target audience and their knowledge and interest of your brand. This should be a key business objective and integrated social media strategy and execution is the way to “make it happen.”

Make It Happen! (as I always say)
Social Steve



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

Forget Social Media – Let’s First Start with Social

Start skiing without ski poles. Start horseback riding without a saddle. Yes you can do these activities without some of the fundamentals, but what do you think the likelihood for success is?

And what about social media? Do you really think your company can be successful if they are not social or are adverse to it to begin with? If your company is questioning social media, the first thing I would look at is your willingness for open dialog. Test: Are you willing to allow your audience to post open comments on your site or digital presence? If not – it is just FUD – fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Here is why …

1) Today’s social world is growing way beyond digital natives. Every target segment’s adoption is growing. They are talking about many things, including your product/service, whether you like it or not. You might as well invite them to have a conversation with you rather than talking behind your back.
2) “What if they say something bad about us?” I hear this all the time. My answer – if it is true, correct it and then respond back noting what has been fixed or changed. You will earn an advocate. I have seen this happen with one of my brands because they were bold enough to invite conversation and engage. If it is not true, your real supporters will come to your defense.
3) Yes there are some crazed individuals with some sort of bug up their butt that look to hurt your brand reputation. Yes we are giving a platform to speak. But once again – more often than not, your community comes to your rescue and that is powerful.

I see too many people looking for the wrong outcomes from social media and thus nay-saying it. IT IS A SOCIAL THING. It needs to be said again and again. Social media is not another form of advertising. You can not expect the same outcomes from social media that you expect with advertising. Yes – social media integrated with a paid media strategy and execution is extremely powerful. (See “Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media“.) There is a recent study that suggests that social media has little impact on online retail purchases. You want to know why the results are poor – because this is looking at social media as an advertising channel.

Let me put it this way. Do you ever remember telling someone you know about a great product, restaurant, service … something of this nature? Did the person immediately respond and buy something based on the recommendation or did they react a little later? Why are we looking at reports that measure immediate actions from social initiatives?

Socialize. Talk to your audience. Start out conversing with a few and get the conservation rolling. Learn something from them. Thank your supporters. Find out what is bugging those that have uncomplimentary things to say. This is how you will cultivate advocates that become your word-of-mouth marketing. This is what we should measure – word-of-mouth marketing. While it is difficult to tie advocacy to purchase, I have zero hesitation stating there is a correlation.

Social media DOES turn results – long term results. (See “Social Media ROI – Don’t Be So Short Sighted – Think Longer Term.)” And if you want to see incremental results along the way that pay off in the long run see “Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel.” It comes down to what we are counting.

Let me give you a personal example. This weekend, I traveled a little distance to be with a friend at a funeral for one of his close family members. I did it because I have a strong relationship with this person built up over time. I would not do this for just anybody. The “being there” happens in time, not necessarily immediately, because of a relationship we have built up. I guarantee you that if you treat your customers the same way you would treat friends, your customers will be there for you down the road. Do not expect immediate gratification. Cherish it if it happens and continue to foster it, but do not expect it.

I have one final question … As a brand, don’t you want to connect, have an open line of communication, and strengthen the importance your customers feel towards your brand? How do you think that will happen? Through people experiencing your brand. Brand experience is a whole lot more than product itself. I strongly argue that a darn good part of that brand experience is the relationship one has with the brand. And I have never seen a good relationship that did not have good two-way communication. You want to see winning social media initiatives, start by being social – listen, respond, engage.

Make It Happen!


Filed under brand marketing, brands, customer relations, marketing, measuring social media, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

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

IP 3.0 in the Digital Age

What is IP? Intellectual Property and Internet Protocol serve as the 1.0 and 2.0 versions of IP. As the world of digital and social media begin to unite, version 3.0 of IP will become Integration and Packaging.

Yes – while I am not a big fan of year beginning predictions, I am guilty of one myself. 2011 – the year that successful companies will provide integrated social media / digital solutions and features to their product/service offering. Agree or disagree? If you are in the later group and disagree, I’ll give one compelling example and one statistic to highlight why …


In 1993, Ty Warner, Inc. introduced what was soon to be a craze – Beanie Babies. These were loveable stuffed animals that not only captured the hearts of young consumers, but even adults were purchasing the stuffed animals looking to build a portfolio on the worth of some rare Beanie Baby offerings. The bubble burst … no surprise … did anyone really think stuffed animals were a sustainable market?

Well in 2005, Ganz was “foolish” enough to try to do so again. They introduced Webkinz. But Webkinz introduced a “secret code” with each little stuffed creature and integrated a digital strategy to their offering. This created an extremely strong engagement between brand and consumer. Webkinz reinvented Beanie Babies by positioning “the stuffed animal that comes alive online in Webkinz World.”

Now if a stuffed animal company can integrate offline and online world’s to produce great customer loyalty that also spawns advocate marketing, I think it is pretty safe to say that just about every product/service offering can be strengthened by a strategic digital presence.


Just how important is a digital online presence? Well for the first time ever, the average US online consumer is spending as much time online as he/she does watching TV offline. The ubiquity of anywhere-access will only increase online consumption and it is just a matter of time before time spent online significantly overtakes TV viewing. If the 1950s was the golden age of TV that changed our lives, then execution of IP 3.0 changes the way brands market to, retain, and incite advocate customers.

IP 3.0 Defined

Early in my blogging days, I talked about social media and the need to integrate it into the business operations. One of the first articles I ever wrote was “Before You Start with Social Media.” Six months later, Brian Solis offered some excellent insights into “Social Media Integration” in an article that appeared in Mashable. Social media must be integrated into business operations and I think in this past year, many companies took positive steps in the right direction to start to make this happen. Even though social media is generally accepted as a viable part of business, it is not time to claim success for social media evangelists. Social media needs to be integrated and packaged into the actual product/service offering. This is IP 3.0.

As online and social media lines blur, IP 3.0 is really about integrating and packaging an online strategy that promotes social marketing as part of the product/service definition. When we talk about online, MOBILE online must be included as well.

You want your audience to get emotional with your product/service and this means continually connecting your target audience with your brand – even after the sale. But this continuous connection needs to be meaningful and provide value to your customer. Value that is educational, informative, and/or entertaining. There needs to be a very compelling reason for the target audience to remain engaged with the brand.

IP 3.0 in Execution

The Integration and Packaging of online and social media into a company’s offering is very specific to the product/service, position, and target audience. There is no cookie-cutter approach, but here are attributes you need to set:

– Access points of information. Define how your customers will get and access continued information that is of value to them. Define this in terms of channels that they participate in as opposed to your own contrived “field of dreams” you build. Consider how the audience will connect – mobile access and anywhere, anytime access.
– Identify individual users, power users, and vocal users. Build the strongest relationships with this selected group. Give them special access to your brand and the people behind the brand. Work to convert them to advocates. While some might sarcastically call this marketing with OPM (other people’s money) (such as ex-CMO of Kodak Jeffrey Hazylett refers to) there is a strong sustainable value to the advocates if the brand anoints them as “special” in some recognized manner or gives them added benefits.
– Simplify registration. The biggest turn off is having to fill out online forms to get what you want – even if you really are interested in the content once registered. Use open connect registration. Use API enabled registration from leading social media sites (i.e. Facebook Connect, Twitter). Yes you want to collect data of your users to better market to them, but do this a little bit over time as they develop a deeper relationship with your brand. Make it simple as can be in the beginning.
– Plan sharing. Make sure there are multiple, easy ways for your brand and content to be shared. Think about placement of social connect buttons (or widgets) so that users can share with their friends in the various platforms they are members of (Facebook like, Twitter, FriendFeed, blog platforms, flickr, YouTube, Google Buzz, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.). Start by looking at a list on ShareThis.com or AddThis.com.
– Bookmark capabilities. Make it easy for users to bookmark (delicious, reddit, etc.) your online presence and return to specific URLs. Once again, check out ShareThis and AddThis.

There are a couple of other things you should consider:

– Monitor what is being said. There are no shortage of tools that allow you to capture mentions of your brand (or competition) online. There are free services such as Google Alerts, and SocialMention, and robust platforms such as Radian6 and Sysomos to do the work. (Check out the exhaustive social monitoring list.) Have a set policy on responding as you see required. Understand that you want good news to keep traveling and bad news to be nipped in the butt. (I previously wrote some “listening and responding” guidance in another article here.)
– Timing. Recognize timing is of the essence. News and information are available immediately. Be known for delivering timely information.

Winning Examples

I am sure everyone has an opinion on companies doing it right and wrong. I think the enhanced product definition that Webkinz integrated and packaged in is about as good as it gets. If you had young kids or nieces/nephews a few years ago, I am sure you are aware of their success.

Two other great examples are Starbucks and Ford.

In 2011, I am positive we will see a number of great examples where social media is integrated and packaged into a product/service definition. The most important thing is to leverage a traditional go-to-market strategy that examines target audience, competition, defines position, and carves out your unique value. But to do so with complete understanding of the new customer environment … how they get information, share information, and develop relationships with brands. Do so and make digital and social media part of your product/service definition and marketing mix from the start – not an after thought. This, my friends is IP 3.0 and 2011 is the year of IP 3.0.

Make It Happen
Social Steve


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

Social Steve – Social Media 2010 Wrap Up

As the year comes to a close, we see Mark Zuckerberg selected as Time’s Man of the Year. This did not come without controversy. Other names were mentioned including another front runner Julian Assange (WikiLeaks). Yes, I think Zuckerberg deserves it for several reasons. First because of the way Facebook has changed the world. Secondly, how many people had a movie made about them (even if it is most fictitious). And finally he set a great example by joining The Giving Pledge and donating half of his wealth to charity.

But from my perspective, I really don’t care. What matters to me is that 2010 was the year for social media. I have been involved in this industry since 2007, and without doubt, this is the year it took off. In 2010, I have witnessed the change from debate over social media value to mass acceptance. Now the discussions are more about figuring out how to use social media, and looking at social media shaping world events. Not so long ago, we witnessed how broadcast media redefined exposure of news with 24 x 7 coverage. Now social media provides a 24 hour open communication platform for these issues to be broadcasted, shared, and discussed – sometimes even in countries where it has been difficult for people’s voices to be heard.

So yes, 2010 is the year of social media and I have a few observations about the past and expectations on the future.

The End of the Social Media Expert

I am happy to report that I think we have finally seen the end of self professed social media experts. Most proclaimed social media experts were bombarded with comments and insults doubting their knowledge and being labeled as scam artists or snake oil sales people. This is a good thing because I don’t think there are any experts. Social media is emerging, growing, and changing and how can a sector witnessing such change have any experts. What are they experts of? Something that morphs and is not quite what it was six months ago.

In 2010, I went to a number of social media conferences. But I will tell you, there was only one where I got bang for the buck. I heard the same thing in most of them and to be honest, I could get the same information by continuing to do my daily perusal of information on the web and newsletters I receive. Yes, it was good to meet people and network, but as far as learning about social media success, much more came from active participation running strategy and execution for a number of brands.

So still … there is much to be learned for me and all of you.

How Social Media Strategy and Execution Come Together

When asked about running successful social media endeavors, I always answer the same way – get in the water, get wet, and swim. If you want to learn how to use a social platform, find a kid. If you want to learn how a platform can help your business, YOU need to get involved or place this in the hands of someone responsible for both your business strategy and execution.

I think we’ll see greater executive ownership of social strategy, plan, and execution in 2011. Up until now, many business owners and stakeholders have been frightened by the new little social media beast and simply handed it off to sharp, young, web-savvy individuals that lack business experience. The right mix of a combination of business expertise and creative social media intelligence will prove to be most valuable going forward.

4 Key Social Plays

Everyone involved and writing about social media will have their list of emerging trends or key takeaways for 2010. For me, I notice a couple things taking off and other things that started that did not blossom to the extent required to yield true success.

1) Video
Let’s start with the easy one – video. Video consumption continues massive growth. Approximately 70% of global online consumers watch online video. Many companies augmented or replaced TV ads with viral videos. So think about video production for your brand. Something entertaining, compelling, quirky … think about interactive possibilities and how sharing can be promoted. But a word to the wise – “It’s not viral unless it is.” (@JayBaer)

2) Social Media Listening
Listening tools became big with many technology companies providing solutions to generate statistics and report on who is saying what about your brand. (See “A Wiki of Social Media Monitoring Solutions.”) Nice start, but things need to get better – a) with the technology to generate meaningful, accurate, vetted information on brands, and b) organizational commitment to listening to what is being said and proactively using this information for product/service road mapping, capturing advocates and catering to them, and responding to customer service issues. I have personally witnessed the blurring of the lines between PR and customer support. (See my story “’People Have the Power’ – a Social Media Story.”)

3) Social Media Measurement
There is an old saying, “that which is not measured does not get done.” You must measure social media against objectives. This means you must have social media objectives and attributes to measure. (You might want to check out “Defining Social Media Success“ and “Measuring the Value of Social Media.” Measurement is still confusing to so many, but it really should not be. First, what is the objective of social media? Awareness and lead generation. More and deeper relationships. Does anyone think these are not important things for their brand? If you agree, how do you measure these things? Don’t be stuck on ROI debates. Look at parameters that drive these KPIs. Check the two suggested articles.

4) Location Based Services (LBS)
Facebook growth is not a surprise. Twitter continues to emerge as an important platform. But LBS (foursquare, gowalla, SCVNGR, Facebook Places) are still more hype than power. So many are missing a major opportunity here. How could you not want to track an audience and as I have suggested in the past – seed where you want your traffic to go. In 2010, I’ve heard way too many people say “I don’t want people to know everywhere I go.” Works for some, not for others. I really could care less. But brands showing up at places and communicating this to their audience is the golden opportunity so many are not seizing. Think about LBS this way and tie a marketing program to it from this perspective.

The Year of Mobile

The over used cliché – “the year of mobile.” I think I’ve heard this for the past 10 years. But you know what. I think it is justified. The definition of mobile continues to change. It is about providing people the convenience and capabilities while they are on the run – everywhere. First, mobile was just about talking. Then unified messaging emerged and we had mobile texting and email. Now technology should provide us all the conveniences we can get online, plus. Look at smart phones today. Embedded in the device are a telephone, email, camera, application platform, social platforms, GPS, and other technologies. Solution providers need to look beyond these amazing technologies and define use cases that deliver increased value. It really needs to be about the integration of white spaces between the technologies. So yes, 2010 was the year in mobile and I think 2011, 2012, etc will also be the year of mobile. Strap on your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

2011 Outlook

Many will have their predictions for 2011. I’m going to keep it simple and merely suggest that in 2011 the social media focus needs to be on content and publishing, and IP (integration and publishing).

1) Content and Publishing
At the end of the day you must have compelling content and healthy stream of it. But Content is not King, Conversation around content is King. (Always loved this quote I picked up from @johnhutson.) Brands need to have content – something that starts the conversation. So marketing departments of brands begin to feel more like a media company. They have two choices – partner with some form of content company or produce their own content (need the right resources to do so.) As we begin to see this evolution, publishing becomes cumbersome and a solution is needed to help manage the content and its distribution. We will see more need of this given the ramifications of stuff like Open Graph and the need to produce content to multiple social channels. As we saw in 2010 that listening and measurement tools were important technologies that need to be part of the social media, we will see that in 2011, there will be a great reliance on technology providers to have social media publishing and management tools. (I can tell you that this is very important to my efforts.)

2) IP (Integration and Packaging)
Yes, IP has been very important for the past number of years – Intellectual Property, Internet Protocol. But I am talking about another kind of IP – integration and packaging. As I mentioned in a handful of past articles, social media needs to be completely integrated into all other business functions and not just a last minute add on – “oh we need a social element” as I have seen so many times. It should be part of the product/service definition, part of the marketing communication, part of customer service. Social media should be part of the packaging of your product or service. When you design your offering, you should think about how the product will be shared, talked about, word of mouth referencing and bake that into the actual design and user experience. I think we will see a significant number of winning case studies where brands do integrate and package social media into their offering and these efforts will yield winning, measurable results.

For me, 2010 has been very much about evangelizing social media and its value. 2011 will be more about marketing as a whole and leveraging the power of social media.

In closing, I want to say it has been truly exciting connecting with a number of you. I appreciate your shout outs, comments, and interests. Let me know your perspective on the past year. Have a fabulous holiday and a grand New Year. Onward to 2011 …

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, customer relations, Facebook, location based service, marketing, marketing plan, measuring social media, quarterly review, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, Word of Mouth Marketing

Top 3 Social Media Issues Defused

I’ve got some quick hits for you today … the three top issues that I see in social media today that need to be overcome.

Social Media FUD

Social Media FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. Let’s take them one by one.

Fear – most of the fear of social media is generated by a belief that a brand loses control of their brand position and reputation. Well, you know what? It is happening independent of your effort in social media. People are talking about your brand without your involvement. So you might as well get engaged and at least influence what is being said and respond as appropriate.

Uncertainty – stems from the fact that there can not be a precise formula or procedure that defines social media success. But for those of us that have worked years on marketing endeavors, has that ever been the case?

Doubt – is synonymous with ROI in the case of social media. Everyone doubts the ROI. I love how Charlene Li addresses this issue … “What’s the ROI of a handshake? Or think of a lunch you recently had with a colleague or direct report, where you invested time and money to develop a deeper relationship with them. … some things in a relationship can be measured and managed, but many other things cannot.“ (From her book, Open Leadership, p. 76)

Bottom line: Be bolder and get over the FUD. Know your audience and engage. Build more and stronger relationships.

The Social Media Bubble Burst

There will be a social media bubble burst. I firmly believe this. It reminds me of the late 90’s and the Internet demise. Investors are throwing money at social whizzes (more technical whiz than business whiz) with expectations of hitting the next Facebook. Look at the craziness of current Groupon valuation by Google.

But the bubble burst will be on social media solution providers. Not those using social media. There are numerous technologists that are attempting to get in the game with their offerings. This past year I have looked at procuring different types of social media platforms (listening and monitoring tool, community platform, and publishing platform). I can tell you there are tons of companies in this space. Perform your due diligence carefully. Some will be around, many will fail.

Bottom line: Social media as a business practice is here to stay. Get involved in social media now or your brand will be left behind. And by the way, yes, there were no shortage of Internet companies that went bust in the 90s. But did the Internet go away? No, it is as vibrant as ever and has changed with the times. Expect the same for social media.

(If you want more info on the eminent social media bubble burst, I strongly suggest you read the New York Times article “A Silicon Bubble Shows Signs Of Reinflating” and “Invest In The Mess” by a brilliant VC Fred Wilson.)

Social Media Integration

Social media is not some stand alone thing. You can not bring in a sharp digital native to run it and take care of it. (Important part, but far from the total solution.) Simply put, social media must be part of the product/service design from the start. When you are defining your winning offering to take to market, define how that product/service is going to be shared with others. How will you engage with your target market? How will you create, reward, and retain advocates that will be an important part of your continuous marketing? How will customer service/support and social media intersect? These are questions that need to be answered by people with product management, marketing, product marketing, and customer service experience and skills. While they may not be social experts, their collaboration with your social media managers is imperative.

Bottom line: While social media may be managed by someone with applicable experience and title, it is something that everyone who is part of bringing a product or service to market needs to be aware of. The collaborative team must define how social media will be leveraged and used as an imperative channel for product/service success.

Wrap Up

In my experience, these are the three top issues that need to be overcome. It started with social media FUD. The next issue that is going to get more and more press is the looming social media bubble burst. And then from an execution perspective, a majority of people still do not know how to work social media into their organization and go-to-market initiatives.

All you need is some rationalization to address these issues head on in your organization. Need some help? Feel free to leave a comment and we’ll connect.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve


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