Posts Tagged 'social media'

Social is not a Campaign!

A recent study of US marketers by the Direct Marketing Association and COLLOQUY found that brand awareness was the most popular objective of social media “campaign”. How can this be I ask? For starters, “Social” is not a campaign, it is an ongoing dialogue between a brand and a consumer.  Secondly, how can companies expect to build brand affinity without first establishing customer loyalty?
My opinionated attempt to explain:
Think back to the days when marketers referred to word of mouth as the best form of “advertising” a company could ever hope for, yet there were very few ways to prove that positive or negative word of mouth affected brand or impacted the bottom line. Even more puzzling was the fact that marketers had very few ways of touching consumers on a personal level if they needed to remedy a problem, or thank someone for being a loyal supporter.
Today, those same “word of mouth” conversations still take place, except now marketers have an opportunity to see them, understand them, influence them, and most importantly, connect them to individual customers. Never before, have Marketers and Brands had an opportunity to get as close to their customers as they can today, yet so many of them limit their “social efforts” to simply “advertising” to consumers within social forums.
Those who understand the value of today’s social ethos, know that social media is not about a “campaign”.  Its not how much money you sink into advertising on social networks, and it’s not about how many leads can be delivered. It’s about making sure your company in sync with its customers – It’s about providing value. When you provide value to consumers you establish trust and loyalty, which lead to brand affinity & awareness. It is only then, when companies can expect to see the fruits of their labor through increased sales, and overall growth etc.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I will say that I do believe its beneficial for Marketers and Brands to “advertise” in social environments, but these efforts should not be looked at a social media, they simply should be looked at as advertising campaigns (which is what they are). And should not be measured any differently than other “campaigns” with specific and measureable KPI’s.
I welcome your thoughts.

Why Twitter Followers are Better Than Facebook Fans

By: Tim Baker

An informative article in today’s eMarketer shows that Twitter followers are more likely to induce advocacy and future purchases than those on Facebook. According to their data, 37% of respondents were more likely to purchase from a brand after following them on Twitter as opposed to only 17% of those that “like” a brand on Facebook.

The numbers are also pretty similar when asked if they would be more likely to recommend a brand after following them on Twitter or Facebook.

I can’t say that I’m surprised one bit by these numbers, and I believe the reason is simple: Twitter is a platform that attracts an audience receptive to marketing messages much more than Facebook. A great quote that I wish I could say I came up with goes something like this: “Facebook is for the people you know while Twitter is for those you want to know.”

Statistics tend to show that there’s a fork in the road that many new Twitter users reach. There’s a marked drop-off by users with only a handful of tweets that abandon the service versus those that continue to embrace it. Many of those that find value in Twitter gain that value from its function as a news platform. In fact, 44% of adult internet users aged 18-29 and 45% aged 30-49 are getting their news online.

Facebook is not a good platform for delivering news. The default front page view does not show a user every post from all of those in their network but rather an abbreviated feed that Facebook feels is most relevant to them. Additionally, the function of setting up lists, which are an excellent way to segment content on Facebook and could provide value in the service as a news aggregator, is vastly underused.

Lastly, a factor that I believe plays a part in gaining more quality followers on Twitter versus Facebook is the fact that it’s generally a two-step process to follow a brand as opposed to the one-click “like” on Facebook. One that visits a brand page and sees a “follow us on Twitter” option has to click through to the Twitter profile page of that brand, and from there they can choose to actually subscribe to their stream. This multi-step process not only cuts down on the number of more casual, less-likely-to-buy followers but also gives potential subscribers a taste of one’s stream before they are convert to a follower of the brand.

From my own experiences as a marketer, I consistently see this play out time and time again. Brands that have a much greater number of Facebook fans than Twitter followers that are serving their audience with the same discount savings offers consistently showing a higher return via Twitter. This is not to say that Facebook should be ignored, because there’s definitely  value in reaching a large audience with marketing information. What I feel this says is that those brands that are late adopters to the social media game and still don’t see value in Twitter, or are not using the site to its greatest potential need to understand that from a lead generation perspective, Twitter must be a part of their social media strategy. Social media is a quality versus quantity play and nowhere is it more apparent for brands than on Twitter.

“Never Hire a Social Media Expert” – SlideShare edition!

Thanks to @Quentin_Be for this visual representation of this post.

Are Brands racing too fast into social?

By: Nick Dimitrakiou

It sure feels like it. Much like in the early 90’s when every company had to have a website, today brands “need to be social”. Only problem is many of them don’t know how, and unlike yester-year, today they are getting called to the mat when their efforts are disjointed.

While I’m an advocate of the social world, I strongly believe brands should not dive in until they have strategically defined a reason for being. I see too many brands participating in things that are not in sync with their customers or their employees.

Allow me to share a personal experience. I recently walked into a Sports Authority (@sportsauthority) to purchase a good amount of equipment. As I checked in using @foursquare, I was excited to take advantage of their $10 cash card offer (which I had unlocked). As I attempted to pay for my merchandise, I showed & told the cashier about my offer, but no luck. This is when things started to get ugly. For starters, the cashier didn’t know what Foursquare was, never mind the offer I was trying to redeem. It gets better – she calls for a manager (takes about 5 min for someone to show up at the register), and when he arrived, he did not know about the offer either. I think you see the problem here – the left side of the brand pushes out a great promotion, but the right side of the brand has no idea what’s going on…an obvious recipe for disaster. To finish the story, without making a stink, I simply paid for my merchandise and walked out. On a positive note, both folks were pleasant to deal with; they were just unfortunately not informed.

The fact I was unable to redeem my offer isn’t what concerned me. I was more bothered thinking that a brand like Sports Authority couldn’t connect the dots on what should have been a great case study, but is now a missed opportunity to connect with me in a meaningful way.

I write this post not to criticize Sports Authority, but to merely illustrate my point of how a brand rushed into a promotion/campaign and did not have all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed. I actually applaud Sports Authority for leaping in by using Foursquare as part of their marketing mix. However, the experience was not seamless, and their efforts fell short of satisfying – which I have to believe is their end goal.

Hoping this helps create a “Social” Authority.

Never Hire a “Social Media Expert”

 

Social Media Ninja

Photo by: scion_cho

By: Tim Baker

One of my biggest pet peeves is the “social media guru.” You know the type, the person that  spends all their time on Twitter retweeting Mashable articles and Chris Brogan’s blog posts and thinks that having 40,000 followers makes them an instant expert in marketing. These people are bad news for many reasons, but what makes them most dangerous is the damage they are doing to the term “social media.”

You see, as hard as it may be for you to believe, there are still many companies that don’t see value in social media. Whether it’s the fear of giving up control or the mentality that it’s just a fad, key decision makers in many corporations have cold feet. As time goes on and more of these companies begin to get more adventurous, they may make the mistake of hiring one of these “ninjas” only to see their biggest fears realized.

Before you hire your first (or next) social media employee, here are some things to be on the look out when attempting to filter out the true experts versus the snake oil salesmen.

1. There are no “experts” in social media. If your candidate is claiming to be an expert, chances are they have never worked in a meaningful social media job. You see, the people that are widely regarded as “experts” in the field will be the first to tell you that they’re always learning. The rate at which technology continues to grow and people find new ways to connect, it’s unrealistic to think one can ever truly be a social media expert/guru/ninja/maven.

2. If your candidate is using their Twitter followers or Facebook fans as a testament to their knowledge, chances are you’re dealing with a fraud. Rather than rehash the same diatribe that follower count does not equal influence, just know this: a Twitter account that posts nothing but facts about Justin Bieber (@OMGJDBFACTS) has over 4,000 followers. If that doesn’t convince you that Twitter follower count has nothing to do with one’s social media marketing knowledge, I don’t know what will.

3. Social media is nothing new. If your candidate thinks social media started with Friendster and MySpace, there’s a good chance they’re not as versed in the space as they’d have you believe. You see, before social media became the buzzword it is today, it was referred to as “new media.” Before “new media” – well, we just referred to it as BBSes, Usenet and chat rooms. The point is, the communication that occurs on the modern social networking sites has been happening since the minute people started connecting to networks via modems, it’s just become a lot easier for the non tech savvy to “join the conversation.”

4. This next point may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. Before you hire someone to run your social media initiatives, make sure they themselves are engaged. Ask them what social networks they use outside of Facebook and Twitter and verify that they are in fact using them. You see, anyone can say they’re blogging and using sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Flickr, Reddit, Tumblr and so on, but take the time to check out their profiles. Are they active? How long have they been so? Social media is not unlike any other career path in that in order to be successful, one must know what is going on in the world around them. I’m not suggesting that one must be engaged in every social network out there, but if their only presence is Facebook, Twitter and a blog on social media, be very skeptical. (Note: for a very comprehensive list of the different social networks out there, Wikipedia has a great resource.)

5. Be on the lookout for “The Constant Marketer.” Maybe you’ve seen them in action, where everything they contribute to their community is related to social media marketing.One sure-fire way to spot one of these folks is to follow them on Twitter. If you receive an auto-response via direct message promoting their blog or telling you how excited they are to connect with you and look forward to your tweets, move on! These people obviously don’t get it.

6. Ask your candidate how they measure social media success. If they look at you with a blank stare or tell you that success in social media can’t be measured, move on. While organizations may have different reasons for using social media, every one of them can and should be measuring it.

7. With so many creative uses of social media out there, it’s a good idea to ask your prospective employee to name a few of their favorite case studies. Many companies have done some really great things, such as Ikea’s use of Facebook photo tagging and VisitPA’s partnership with Foursquare, two of my personal favorites. (Bonus points should be awarded if they can name something other than the Old Spice campaign!)

There are some really brilliant people that truly understand how to use social media, it just takes some effort to cut through the weeds to find the flowers. Hopefully these tips will help you find your true “rock star” and prevent the phonies from tarnishing the term social media any more than they’re already doing. Have any other tips? Share them in the comments!

Can Engaging with My Customers on Twitter Really Bring Value?

By: Anthony Vespucci

The Cliffnotes answer is an emphatic Yes, but here’s a story on how:

I recently purchased a home which met all criteria but had one drawback; a small garage and a desire for us to have one car in it. Solution: Purchase a large enough shed to hold anything that we would otherwise have to leave in the garage.

We identified the shed we wanted and went out to our downtown area, which contains both a Lowes & Home Depot, to make the purchase. Simply due to distance, we went to Lowes first. Upon speaking with the appropriate sales person we were told that they do not have any in stock and weren’t expecting any for several weeks as it was a “hot item” that they sell out of quickly. Having one of my friends already on the hook to come down and help put it together (the shed we wanted is delivered in pieces) the following weekend, this posed a problem for us. With that we got in the car and drove off to Home Depot.

To our delight, Home Depot had the shed and was able to have it delivered the following day, a Monday. Needing to be home to direct them where I’d like them to drop this massive box that would be coming, I asked and was told an afternoon delivery would be possible and that they would call me ahead of time. I also had them put in their “special instructions section” to please call me as far in advance as possible as I would be leaving work to head home once they called.

Monday rolled around and being the nervous person I am made sure every time I left my desk I had my cell phone in hand awaiting the call. Finally around 3:30 a call came in from an unknown number who turned out to be Home Depot. Upon picking up I was taken aback by the fact that the person on the other end was from the store and not the delivery service. The “manager” proceeded to tell me that my shed had already been delivered as the delivery company called me several times but I didn’t pick up. Knowing the above and the fact that my entire office is in a great service area for my carrier, I told him that I didn’t have a single missed call and that wasn’t the case. He said he was sorry but the sheds at my house and there’s nothing they could do at this point. Goodbye.

Extremely annoyed at this point, I drove home. What I found next, brought that annoyance to the next level. Upon pulling into my driveway, I was met with a gigantic 200+ lb box sitting smack dab in the middle of my driveway, blocking me from getting into my garage and impeding the ability for me to even pull my car fully in. I began plotting how I could get this box moved with what I had at my disposal (A dolley & hand truck) but after a few futile attempts realized this box wasn’t going anywhere. Steaming at this point and on the verge of breaking something, up pulled the Mrs. from work.

Always the voice of reason in the relationship, she quickly confirmed that moving this box was not a realistic feat so we were left with only one option (one I hadn’t thought of): open the box and move the shed piece by piece to the backyard. A half hour later we were done but my frustration was at an all time high. I went through every potential way I could think of in my head to express my frustration to Home Depot but quickly realized none would provide much in terms of satisfaction. Feeling defeated, but still needing to vent somewhere I simply sent out the following on Twitter:

“Dear @Homedepot Thanks for telling me you’d call a 1/2 hr before my delivery, not calling and then leaving a 200lb box blocking my garage”

With that tweet I was ready to put the debacle to bed and set on making Lowes my only go-to for any home needs I had moving forward.
This however, is where things took an interesting turn. The very next morning I received the following tweet back from @HomeDepot:

“@avesp Let me follow up with the delivery team on this. Mind DMing the store location and your order details to me? ^Tinzley”

Intrigued with where this might go I direct messaged “Tinzley” the requested information. The following day I received a phone call “Hi Anthony. This is Tinzley from Home Depot customer service. I am calling to follow up with the unfortunate occurrence you referenced on Twitter.” She went on to let me know that she had called the store where I placed the purchase and spoke with the manager regarding my complaint. I imagine the conversation started with something to the effect of:

Tinzley: “Hello Mr. XYZ, This is Tinzley and I manage our customer service account on Twitter. I’m calling in reference to a tweet a customer had sent about his experience with this store”
Manager: “Huh. A customer sent a twit? What’s that? … What’s Twitter?”
Tinzley went on to say that the manager had told her that not only did they call several times but that the delivery company had left a voice message on my phone. I calmly explained to her that this was not at all true, that I had my phone by my side the entire day, and the first call I did receive from anyone at Home Depot was the store manager. She went on to say that she understood my side and the fact that I had no reason to lie to her. Having the chance to hear from both sides she wanted me to understand that this is not how the brand typically operates and that to help make up for a poor experience she wanted to extend a $50 gift card to me on behalf of Home Depot (I must admit I was quite impressed at the value). I of course accepted and thanked her for providing exceptional customer service.

What affect did this have? I now obviously plan on going to Home Depot to redeem my gift card and will most likely end up spending the customary $100 (Note to any future home owners: It is borderline impossible to go to Home Depot &/or Lowes and spend less than $100. Even if you go for light bulbs… you’re going to come out with more. It’s a fact of home ownership). Prior to Tinzley contacting me, my heart was set on never setting foot in a Home Depot unless it was absolutely necessary, but after being impressed with their effective and rapid customer service I simply won’t ever get something delivered from them again (a big win for them as far as I’m concerned).

Putting the marketing hat back on for a second, this is what we all strive for: make a direct connection between the brand and the consumer, ultimately increasing the customers view of the brand. Mission accomplished. Staying in theme, let’s look at the cost/benefit analysis.

Cost: A $50 gift card and dedication of a customer service resource to monitor and follow up with any complaints/inquires that come in via Twitter.
Cost Analysis: Assuming this is an existing resource who would simply be put in charge of the brand account: $5
Benefit: Change in perception of a prior but otherwise lost customer
Benefit Analysis: To be conservative, let’s say I go to a home improvement store three times a year.. at the $100/visit rate. Now factor in that I’m only 28 & only one person…. You get the idea.

The lesson here, in my opinion, is quite clear. Not only can engaging with your customers on Twitter result in a positive increase in your brands value, but the benefit can easily be off the charts. It’s time to get in the game. What are you waiting for? @avesp

10 Rookie Mistakes Businesses Make In Social Media and How To Avoid Them

By: Tim Baker

Businesses are finally starting to realize that they need to be involved in social media if they hope to grow and sustain their company. Unfortunately, not everyone has a firm grasp on the basics. Here are ten of the most common “rookie mistakes” made by businesses engaged throughout social media and how to avoid them.

Avoid Cross-Posting
Cross-posting is the act of placing the same message throughout multiple outlets. I should clarify that cross-posting the same theme across your different social networks if perfectly acceptable, but not word-for-word duplications. Services such as Ping.fm that allow you to blast a message to all of your social channels with one click should be avoided. If you can’t take the extra two minutes to log into Facebook and post a more concise update to your followers/fans than you just did on Twitter, someone else in your organization should be handing social media outreach. Nobody likes to read Facebook posts with Twitter hashtags just like nobody likes to read incomplete tweets that are cut off after 140 characters.

Focus On Network Strengths
The beauty of the different major social networks is that they each do something really well. Twitter allows businesses to share quick nuggets of information, whether it be promotions, relevant links, company news or customer service replies. Facebook is wonderful for sharing news and multimedia content (photos/videos) as well as gaining valuable demographics data on your customer base. A well-written blog can humanize your brand more so than any presence on third-party social networking sites. Whatever social media engagement your business is using, focus on its strengths and exploit them as best you can. The brands finding the most success in a particular venue are doing this very well.

Balance
A large part in successfully engaging social networks for your brand is balance. Many often wonder “how often should I tweet/post to Facebook/blog?” Unfortunately, there is no set answer to that question, but there are some basic guidelines.

For many owners, they live, eat, sleep and breathe their business. It’s very hard for them to step back and view themselves through the same lens as the public. Don’t get too hung up on “am I doing this enough/too much,” rather ask yourself “is what I’m going to share something that will add value to my customers?” If you are not sure – don’t post it.

It is important to keep in mind that posting too much does more harm than not posting enough in most circumstances. It’s better to err on the side of caution in the beginning until you feel comfortable. Don’t go diving into the deep end until you know how to swim, but at the same time, you can’t learn to swim if you don’t get wet. As a starting point, here are a few goals to try and hit in the beginning:

Twitter: 2-3 Tweets/day
Facebook: 1-2 status updates/Day
Blog: At least 1 post every 5-7 days

Stop Focusing on the Numbers
This is a point that’s been covered to death by many but it bears repeating: when it comes to fans and followers, it’s quality and not quantity. One fan passionate about your business is worth more than 20 that aren’t. I know it’s hard to do as businesses love ROI and quantifiable numbers, but follower count is not a figure you should be living and dying over. If you want to obsess over numbers, look at your web analytics and see which networks are driving qualified traffic to your site.

Enable Comments On Your Blog
If you are blogging and don’t enable comments, you might as well not be blogging. Blogs are social tools and there’s few things less anti-social that someone on a soapbox that won’t take questions or comments from the audience. Blogs are an opportunity to humanize your business and connect with customers and the only way to connect is to offer an open line of communication.

Don’t Be “Markety”
Obviously the reason you’re engaging your business in social media is to market, and that’s perfectly acceptable. There are brands out there that post nothing by marketing messages on Twitter, Facebook and other channels. The problem with this is that these businesses are limiting themselves from the true power of social media marketing.

The reason brands like Zappos are so successful in social media is because they provide value to the community. Take a look at Tony Hsieh’s latest five Tweets:

Of these last five tweets, only one of them is related to the business. Tony is consistently providing information that is valuable to Zappo’s target audience. Find things that your audience is passionate about and offer content to enrich it. If you own a bike shop, tweet about new advancements in bicycle technology, upcoming races or the latest news in the world of biking. This content will be shared by others and before you know it, bicycle enthusiasts will start following you and become aware of your brand. This may very well lead to a new customer.

Weekends
Unlike many businesses, social media does not take a break on the weekends. I’m not saying you need to spend your entire weekends in front of the computer blogging and tweeting, but you should at least be checking-in, responding to inquiries and showing others that your brand never stops working.

Don’t Censor!
Social media can be scary for those that are new to the game. As many are aware, the Internet is full of people that love to complain. If you’re business is the target of negative comments, the worst thing you can do is erase and ignore them. Always be honest and respectful to commenters and never confront them. Obviously every circumstance is different, but one that that holds true is the cover-up is almost always worse than the crime. You may have an angry customer that will never frequent your business again, but by attempting to resolve their problem in a professional way, you can very easily gain the respect of others that see you truly to want to make the customer happy.

Don’t Overextend Yourself
Not every social network makes sense for every business. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you must be engaged. Start off with one or two outlets and work to grow them. Always remember, one really great blog is much more beneficial than a poorly-executed Facebook, Twitter and YouTube page.

Tell Us How To Find You
What good is all of your social media outreach if nobody knows where you are? If you want others to look at your Facebook and Twitter page with importance, show your customers that it’s important by linking to it on your company website. Tell us how to find it in your email signature, mailing list, business cards and any other location where you represent your brand. You’d be amazed how much these simple steps can help grow your following.


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