Posted tagged ‘Social Media’

Social Media – It isn’t news

September 8, 2011

I attended a presentation last night at the University of Chicago Marketing Round Table.  The presenter, Jonathan Salem Baskin, made some interesting points about social media that I wanted to share.

He recently wrote a book where he traces social media throughout history.  With many major technology innovations in the past, our ability to connect with others has increased.  The social media concept isn’t new (he gave some great examples in history – the telegraph, the radio, the telephone, television, expressways built in the 50’s – all things that allowed us to connect with others in a new way).   Facebook and Twitter were the most recent examples.  And there will be others in the future that we can’t correctly predict now.  Technology innovations will always be developed to help us connect better with others.  In other words, technology change is a constant. 

While I didn’t agree with everything he said, I do think the part of his discussion that was impactful was the reminder that since technology changes will always be there, we should be focused more on the messages we give to our customers and less on the technology

We need purpose driven content – something that is meaningful to our audience. 

We need to consider who we are targeting and how they want to hear from us.  Finding your most receptive audiences and have a conversation with them if it will enhance the relationship.  If not, do not waste their time.

And I would add that if you are delivering a stellar product or service and doing it in a way that provides awesome customer service; your customer will reward you.  Great marketing – social or traditional – cannot make up for a bad product or bad service.


Customer Control and Social Media

May 5, 2011

Peter Kim from the Dachus Group (formerly with Forrester and also a UPenn alum) is a long time writer and consultant about social media.  I subscribe to his posts and want to reprint one for you in its entirety today.  I think this presents a truly balanced perspective on the amount of power consumers have through social media.  The perception is that they have a ton of power.  But the reality is that when the decision makes sense for a corporation, the corporation will make the changes requested by the consumer.  But when the change will not make sense or will not pay out in the long run, the corporation is unlikely to make the change.  And for business, that does make dollars and sense.

Here is Peter’s Post:

Customers aren’t in control.

At least not in the way that the social media cliche would have you believe.

I was on an Alaska Airlines flight last week from Austin to San Jose. This route is nicknamed “the nerd bird.” However, Alaska announced that it would be canceling the route in May. While we were boarding, a passenger was lamenting its demise to a flight attendant. She told him that another frequent flyer had been on a mission collecting comment cards from the in-flight magazine to stage a write-in campaign to save the route.

Which reminds me of another write-in campaign that was once touted a feel-good best practice example of the POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA. As background, I disclose that I’m no stranger to being on the business end of multiple write-in campaigns. I’ve heard an earful about chimpanzee exploitation, racist reggae artists, and sexually suggestive advertising. But that was before social media – faxes, phone calls, and email are all one-to-one communication. Today, detractors can voice their displeasure publicly and incite others more quickly to their cause; examples like Comcast Must Die abound. The apparent takeaway for brands: customers are in control whether you like it or not.

 In 2006, US television network CBS piloted a new show called “Jericho.” It was a tale about a small town in middle America and nuclear holocaust, with plot driven by the principles having a lack of information. CBS programming executives had all the information they needed, watching show ratings drop like a bomb. The show was cancelled. That was when social media swung into action.

CBS is nutsJericho fanatics started a write-in campaign to save their show. But they took it a step further. In the show’s final episode, a protagonist utters the rallying cry “nuts!” before heading into battle. Jericho enthusiasts embraced the idea and decided to send nuts to CBS President Nina Tassler. 40 tons of nuts. Finally, the network makes the decision to bring Jericho back for another season and tells fans, “P.S. Please stop sending us nuts.

The story is described as a victory of social media. Power to the people! Consumers are in control!

But that’s not where the story ends. Jericho came back to TV – but no one was watching. Ratings were worse than when the show went off the air. Without ratings, a network can’t drive advertising revenue – and fans aren’t enough to offset a lack of corporate sponsorship. Jericho was cancelled again and finally put to rest. People rarely tell the part of the story where social media is proven wrong and that’s important to understand.

It’s true that consumers vote with their dollars. Social media can also generate business results when used properly. Plenty of opportunities exist for applying new thinking to content, operations, viewer engagement, commercial support, cross-platform integration, and elsewhere. It’s dangerous to rely on blanket statements from the early days of social media to today’s social business operating environment.

Pete Blackshaw of Nestle offers great advice regarding customers in control:

The overheated rhetoric acts as a deceptive rationalization. We marketers have far more control than we let on. We buy the media, make the product, write the message, pick the messaging platform, select the suppliers, and hire the employees who ultimately do all the above.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen to the Alaska Airlines route, but it’ll most likely go away as scheduled. I doubt loyalists think strategically about the decision – passenger loads, fuel costs, competition from Southwest, better yield on Hawaii flights – before beating their social and traditional media drums in complaint.

Organizations must have process and policy in place to deal with detractors (individuals and groups) rather than using a blanket approach based on the wisdom of the crowd – or lack thereof. And confidence that control is best shared in carefully measured cases.”

Content Curator

January 27, 2011

Not everyone has all the time in the world to write a blog, nor should everyone do so.  But some businesses are highly regulated and writing content can be legally challenging for them.  Chris Iafolla wrote a guest blog on Todd Defren’s PR Squared Blog that I think is worth reprinting here. 

The bottom line: If you can’t write content, find and review other valuable content and share it with your customers.  Become a content curator.

Here is what Chris said:

social media content

(c) 2010 PRSquared

“‘Content is king.’  ‘It’s all about the content.’  ‘All good social media efforts start and stop with good content.’  No matter what tired, overused cliché you use, the prevailing thought is that without creating killer content, your social media efforts are doomed.

It’s a valid line of thought; content is the currency of social media.  At the same time, content is one of the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of an engagement.  The burden of producing consistently good content is enough to halt social media efforts before they ever get off the ground.

For a pharmaceutical company, the content burden is even more pronounced.  Not only do pharmaceutical companies face the same demands on content frequency, but they also have the added pressure of dealing with strict FDA regulations.  This not only limits what healthcare companies are able to say via social media, but also how compelling the content winds up being by the time it’s stripped down to comply with existing regulations.  It’s not an impossible task, but it adds a layer of complexity not faced in all industries.

In highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals or financial services, is there a role for a “content curator” as opposed to a content creator?  Is it possible to add value, build relationships and stay engaged if your company is not responsible for churning out content?

Absolutely.  If your social media engagement is stuck on the content creation planning—change your plan.  Your company can still add value as a content curator.  In the pharmaceutical industry, patients crave reliable information that helps them manage their health and feel a sense of community.  Healthcare companies can achieve both objectives without ever penning a single blog.

When it comes to health, pharmaceutical companies have added authority.  The patient population would welcome their help in identifying content that a credible expert deems reliable.

Did a recent article on managing diabetes appear that offers useful insight?  Retweet it.  Come across a video on YouTube on how families with a cancer-stricken loved one can best provide support?  Share the link.  Read a blog post that offers fresh advice on how to safely lose weight?  Comment on it, and share it.  The patient population will recognize your efforts to sift through the noise and identify factual content, backed by your authority as a respected pharma brand.

Being part of a community does not just mean churning out content.  Healthcare companies can engage with patients and identify useful content put out by other reliable sources.  Is it a perfect social media engagement?  No.  But in a space that is beholden to regulations, like Pharma, it’s a step on the path to a full social media engagement strategy.  So what are you waiting for?  Go move some content!”


January 23, 2011

Trust and TransparencyI have written before about the topic of transparency – what is the appropriate definition and execution of transparency.   I focused on the issue of trust.  The real point is to gain and keep the trust of your customers.

I regularly read Penelope Trunk, The Brazen Careerist’s blog.  She can be very controversial – I get that.  So if you are a Penelope hater, I apologize if what she says in the blog I am referring to offends you.  My intention is not to offend, but to explore the topic further.

She wrote an interesting blog on trust and transparency: “The Coming Decade will be about Trust“.  I found a few of her ideas appealing and wanted to share them with you.

She stated: transparency is about doing good.  While I don’t think every company will adopt this viewpoint, I found it a refreshing perspective.  Being transparent just to help yourself, is just helping yourself.  The point, she says, is to use transparency to help others.  And in a world of corporate responsibility, I think the concept is that when you do the right thing and tell people about it, you will be rewarded in the end.

She also asserted: transparency has a goal of kindness.  Transparency is not a carte blanche to disregard peoples’ feelings in the name of truth. In fact, that is not transparency, that again is just serving yourself.  She gives a counter example of a college situation that appeared to be an effort in fairness and transparency, but was really a veiled attempt at witch hunting.   You can see the details in the  blog – it is a pretty sad story.

So before your company adopts the “trend” of transparency, I think you need to have some guidelines and do some hard soul searching – both on a personal and corporate level.  And these 2 ideas are not bad ones to use as you start your exploration.

Why isn’t it a Wonderful Life?

December 13, 2010

George BaileyEvery year at Christmas, I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and am reminded of the value of doing good for others and having friends.  I love how when George is in trouble, his friends all gather to help him.  They never question his need – they just trust that George is a good man and he needs their help.   There is a happy ending in the movie.  The hero is rewarded with trust, goodwill and friendship.  And the bad guy doesn’t win.

And every year, I am disappointed to find that real life doesn’t mirror what happens in the movies.  In real life, in 2010, George Bailey would have been roasted at the spit by the media.  They would have sold thousands of papers (and banner ads on websites) splashing headlines that he was stealing from the bank.  They would have said Uncle Billy was in on the scam too.  The media would have camped out in front of his house, broadcasting an ever increasing stream of rumors and allegations.  

Someone would have said George was planning to leave for Jamaica with the harlot Violet and take the money with him. They would torment his wife and children each time they left the house.  Whether George lived in Chicago or the small town of Morris.  They would have hunted him down to find the most tantalizing story angle in an effort to  to get more readers or viewers and more ad dollars.  And every blogger with an interest in banking would have repeated all the false stories they read, spreading the “news” throughout the web.

To make matters worse, George’s friends would turn their backs – believing the lies that were written despite having known George all his life.  They would grab their 10 seconds of fame to say something bad about George in the news – whether they really knew him or not.  They wouldn’t give him a second chance or the benefit of the doubt. And the bad guys would have won, destroying George and his good name.  No singing of Auld Lang Syne in his parlor.  Just the needless destruction of a man who gave of himself unselfishly all his life.

I find myself wishing that real life was so much more like the movies.  Where heroes are rewarded for their efforts and friends stand up for them, even when it is hard to do.  Where the media actually presents both sides of a story instead of just the “sexy” side of an alleged fallen heroes.  Where the bad guys are punished and the good guys win.    I hope some day my wishes come true.

Stop Wasting Time With Social Media

June 3, 2010

I saw this article reprinted by HubSpot and wanted to share it with you verbatim.  This is what I have been saying all along about social media marketing.  You need to make money or get leads from a social media tactic or you discontinue using it.

The article “Stop Wasting Time With Social Media” is written by Dan Schawbel, the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, and author of the Personal Branding Blog, The 2nd edition of his book Me 2.0, will be released October 5th.

“A lot of people are surprised that their thousands of followers on Twitter aren’t converting into leads, but I’m not. Ever since departing my social media job and starting my own company, Millennial Branding, LLC, I’ve been focusing on monetization. Basically, figuring out which platforms actually convert into cash, and which do not. The issue that people seem to have is where to invest their time, and depending on your goal and what’s working for you, you should allocate accordingly. If you aren’t seeing results in six months using a tool, then you might want to rethink your strategy, and how much manpower you put behind the tool. Aside from starting a company, I read the Inbound Marketing book by Brian and Dharmesh, which has inspired me to rethink lead generation. For instance, I used to spend two hours a day on Twitter, yet it didn’t result in enough opportunities to prove its marketing value.

Email vs Social Networks vs Blogs

Here is a breakdown of the significance of each platform as it relates to generating leads for your business. An email subscriber is worth more than a blog subscriber, which is worth more than a social network follower. This hierarchy isn’t changing anytime soon.

  1. Email: An email contact is worth approximately $948, as noted in an IBM study. The loyalty of a single email contact is stronger than any social media follower (unless Oprah followers you) because users are not only opting in, but providing you personal data that they might not submit elsewhere. Typically, the exchange is a name and an email address for access to free material, and a possible lead for the company. I’ve been noticing that despite the advent of social networking, 71% of marketers believe that email will be more important this year. Email, if done right, is targeted, personal, and directs subscribers to other websites, including your own. You’ve also noticed that when someone sends you a Facebook message or adds you as a contact on LinkedIn, you still receive email notifications.
  2. Blogs: A blog’s value is much different than other platforms because of different benefits. The benefits you’ll have from blogging include: ranking high in search engines, becoming a voice in your industry, having a community of users that can support your future growth, having something in common with 200 million bloggers (networking), and building a list of subscribers engage your content. Subscribing to a blog takes two clicks, which is faster than it takes to sign-up for an email newsletter. This means that blog subscribers are less valuable than email subscribers, but are more valuable than social network followers. A social network follower only has to click one button to read your content, while a blog has two.
  3. Social networks: I’m willing to bet that a lot of your Twitter followers are people you’ve never met before. I’d also like to wager that your followers don’t receive most of your tweets or Facebook status updates. They are simply following too many users to read all of your material, so it falls into the social media “black hole” (and the Library of Congress). For this reason, it is reported that a social network contact is worth a mere $3.50. Social networks are not marketing platforms, which means you have to start using them differently. Build relationships on social networks on a one-to-one basis and you’ll be more successful.

Marketing Takeaway

I’m not saying that you should stop using tools that you enjoy using. I’m trying to get you to think of how much time you’re allocating to participating in each community, with growing your business in mind. There’s a reason why the top bloggers have email newsletters, in addition to their posts. It’s because they realize what’s more valuable and they’re making the investment to get a larger return. If you’re smart, you’ll invest in an email newsletter, and then leverage your current platform to convert your viewers into subscribers. This way, you’ll have a strong list of people, who would potentially do business with you.”

Show me the money

February 24, 2010

I started this blog to help bring together ideas about effective marketing strategies and tactics, while keeping our eyes on the consumer perspective.  I like to show examples of companies who have succeeded or not done as well so we can learn from their experience.

The thing I find most troubling, is that when I seek out examples, I rarely see anything other than big brand names (Ford, Domino’s, TurboTax, Dell, Home Depot, Starbucks, Pepsi, NFL, Kraft, P&G, Comcast, Zappos, etc).  And while some of us are lucky enough to work for those big brand name companies, the rest of us are working for small or mid sized companies.  And the list of examples from those companies is limited.

show me the moneySo I am saying “Show Me the Money” for the small and mid sized company.  If you have an example of a company having tangible results from their social media efforts, please share it.  When I say tangible, I don’t mean they have 3000 Facebook Fans or 2000 Twitter followers.  I want to see those people actually experiencing measurable, positive ROI on their social media investments.

How do you measure the impact of your social media strategies and tactics?  Companies should take a look at a few of the following areas before they begin a social media plan and then measure again after they have begun.

Revenue Measures:

  • Increase in the average order value of each transaction
  • Increase in the customer lifetime value (here is an easy version and a harder version of the calculation)
  • Increase in website or phone conversions (the % of people who buy from you / the % who called or visited)
  • Increase in leads or referrals
  • Increase in customer retention rates
  • Increase in the speed or decrease in the length of the sales cycle

Cost Savings:

  • Shorter customer service/issue resolution time
  • Decrease in support calls or greater percentage of issues handled online vs. phone.
  • Decrease in market research costs (gained by using your community for research instead of paid respondents)

There are some other factors that you can measure to see if your program is working, but drawing a line from these measures to increases in profitability is not that easy.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t measure these, but the weight you put on these factors should be less than the tangible financial benefits.  In other words, my opinion (and others will disagree with me) is that if you have a ton of followers or friends, but no increase in loyalty, retention or sales; then you have not achieved much with your plan.

Some of those other factors you can measure include:  mentions in the media, subscribers to blogs/email/newsletters, inbound links to the website, customer satisfaction scores, the number of positive and negative comments (a social media monitoring tool can help you measure this), and overall brand awareness.

Please send me your small and mid-sized company examples and let me know if there are other measures you use to assess your social media success.