Archives for category: Social Strategy

Finally, Google has created a social network that people seem to like, or at least tech reporters seem to like. The rest of the world gets to have their say later this month.

Why Google + may work:

It’s clean, lean and seems to provide an easy solution for one of Facebook’s downfalls – I don’t want my mom/boss/potential future employer to see this post. Sure Facebook has created lists and groups as a work around to this problem, but after you reach the 200-plus friend mark, it almost seems easier to wipe the slate clean and start with a new social network placing friends where they belong from the get go.

It offers a quality video chat function. Facebook is set to announce one soon, but it puts them in a me-too bucket, a place Facebook seems to be often these days (see Foursquare/Places, Groupon/Deals).

Between the Circles and Sparks function, Google + seems to combine the best of both worlds – friends (Facebook) + interests (Twitter).

It already has brands itching to get on board. Aside from media outlets which have created profiles, Ford is one of the first brands to create a page. Google promises that small business pages are in the works.

And finally, it’s too important to not work.  With Bing in bed with Facebook, Google has to find its answer to social search. It tried Twitter, but recently ended that relationship and is banking on Google +.

We’ll see what happens and if people are going to make the switch. In the mean time check out the demo: http://www.google.com/+/demo/

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 Involver, a social marketing platform, has partnered with Klout to create a Facebook app that unlocks special content based on someone’s Klout score. Basically, if a brand uses this app on its Facebook page it can detect if you have a high Klout score and serve you up special content based on the level of your influence. What’s a Klout score you ask? It’s a number that represents how influential you are on a social network – how many friends/fans, how often do people engage with your content.

Audi is the first brand to test this out, but no doubt other brands will follow, offering up rewards (coupons, special branded content, rewards) to those who matter most. Is this dangerous? Perhaps a little. I may be a hardcore fan of your product but I may not have a ton of followers on Twitter. On the other hand, if you’re trying to get the word out on a new product rewarding those with social influence could a great strategy.

Until Klout, and some of the other listening platforms, companies had to really dig to identify influencers. Now companies will know who “matters” more within seconds. I predict this will either tick off the loyalist (those who don’t spend a ton of time online but still love your brand/product) and/or make everyone work a little harder on producing good content and treating their followers well in order to pump up their Klout score so they can reap benefits.

Klout is a cool tool, but I also think you still need to pay attention to who is loyal to you and reward those folks as well.  If we were to go all “high school” on this topic – there should be a nice balance between the cool kids and your best friends. They’re both important in their own ways.

Kudos to Mashable for pointing out a flaw in Tiffany’s latest promotion. The promotion asked consumers to log on to an app and/or microsite to input their most romantic moments on a user-generated map.

 

The idea is cool, and a great fit for Tiffany’s, but as Mashable pointed out, a bit clunky when you have to remember the microsite url, or download the app. Could the same promotion not be handled using existing social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr? Probably. I liken it to you spending a ton of money on a great outfit, fixing your hair nicely,  and then sitting inside your house and hoping people will stop by. Kind of a waste when the bar down the street is packed and the dress code is casual. 

Tiffany’s isn’t the only brand that has fallen into this trap, it is a reoccurring  problem because: 1. brands still want total control from a creative perspective and perhaps you could argue analytics. 2. (This is the most important here) agencies don’t make nearly as much money when they don’t have to build something new.

It always irks me to see an agency pushing a branded app when it probably makes more sense to advertise or co-brand within an existing app that has steady traffic. Do it the other way around and you end up spending money advertising this app you built in order to drive downloads so you can  justify the development costs. I’d rather spend money advertising my brand not my app.

Or, when an agency tries to get a brand team to invest in a Facebook app or custom tabs. Most people will come to your page once to like it and then they’re done. If they want to interact with a post they’ll do so from the newsfeed which means you can fancy up your page all you like, but few people will see it. Investing that same money in a Facebook ad buy, or clever content for your posts – video, copywriting help, etc, would probably do more good. Once in awhile you’ll see a branded app break through, but for the most part people are spending their app time on Mafia Wars, Farmville, etc. You know, the guys that actually make a business out of building and maintaing apps as opposed to viewing it as an add on to a marketing plan.

Finally, when it comes to web, everyone is different. If you have e-commerce, well sure your site is pretty important, but if that’s not the case, have a web presence but host your promotional activity where people are spending their time. Unless you are a news site or weather.com, people do not wake up and go to (insertyoururl.com). They are, however, waking up and checking Facebook, Twitter, etc. Be there and have your promotion live there so people don’t have to leave.

We’re all busy. If you can appreciate that and serve up your branded content where people are spending their time, my guess is you’ll have better luck and more interaction. Just a hunch and a good reminder to think of your customers’ needs first.

While pitching new business I’ve realized that people have very different perceptions when it comes to social. I’m sure people had these same questions when PR first came into play and perhaps even advertising. The age-old “do we have to do that? I think we can make do with what we’ve always done”   will always be some people’s attitudes.

But social media is at a place and time where it is now at least being talked about, thought about, shunned by some and embraced by others. Here are three different attitudes toward social and my suggestions for approaching them whether it is new business or upper management.

There are the believers. They’ve seen how social media can build loyalty, handle customer service issues and transform relationships. They understand that social media is most powerful when it works hand in hand with traditional efforts. They don’t feel threatened, they embrace it and dive into the data.

Advice: For these folks, make sure they set realistic, measurable goals tied to business sales that can make other non-believers in the company understand.

There are those who are still on the fence. Okay, so this is more than a fad, but I’m not sure it really does anything for my bottom line. Seems like a bunch of people wasting time on-line.

Advice: Show them what people are saying about their brands online. Explain how the word of mouth newsfeed works. Too often we assume people know and understand the impact of a brand/business mention on social.

And there are the anti-social. I’m not saying they are hermits, I’m just saying you won’t find them using a hashtag anytime in the near future.

Advice: Do what you can to get them on social media. Without getting your hands dirty, social is a hard thing to wrap your head around no matter how many presentations you sit through. There is a a-ha moment that happens somewhere between a poke on Facebook and claiming a deal on Foursquare.

Any other advice you’d like to share?

After years of defending the power of PR I now have moved on to defending the power of social media. Like any new marketing medium social has to constantly prove its worth, an odd position because I believe social can be measured far more easily than any other marketing medium. (Yes, I believe social is easier to measure than PR, I’ll admit it).

For example:

TV – I can buy an ad or secure a segment on the morning news show but I have no idea how many people are truly watching it. Maybe the TV is on but they’re busy making popcorn. Unless you are hocking ‘buy one get one free’ products and have a redemption code, it’s pretty difficult to track actual viewership.

Print – Again, my ad is in there or my story is in there, but I’m not sure they read it.

Direct Mail – Did that postcard actually make it from the mailbox to the home or was it tossed along the way?

Online – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened another window to avoid having to watch the pre-roll ad. I let it roll and then I’ll come back to the content I actually want to see. 

Social – If someone likes it, retweets or comments, I know they saw it.  A like is living proof that a potential customer engaged and that engagement was most likely shared to their friends via a newsfeed. I’m not saying all 130 friends actually saw the message in their newsfeed, because that we don’t know unless they in turn take an action, but I do like my chances.

Still some will argue, does social drive sales? Well does your print campaign? How about your TV commercial? If the answer is yes, then your advertising was probably pretty well produced with convincing content. Make sure your social channels also have compelling content. I’m not saying you make every status a “buy me” update, I’m saying you learn how to speak social and make the soft sell in a conversational, interesting way.

At the end of the day, social sets you up well to reach customers with an easy to track, easy to engage, easy to listen-in platform. It also allows you to reach consumers more frequently than any other channel, unless your ad budget is ginormous. But that’s just half the battle. If you aren’t posting interesting content, if you aren’t listening and rewarding, well then no, your ROI won’t be very good.

If you’re ready to point the finger, my advice would be don’t be so quick to blame the channel, but rather take a hard look at how you are using it.

There has been a lot of talk about revolts lately from serious political movements like Libya and Egypt to important, but less life threatening revolts like the Union struggle and even the NFL…which is important I suppose if you are a huge Colts fan like my husband.

I would argue that consumers have been on a revolt of their own for the last few years using social media as a tool, but unlike the Middle East unrest, it has been easy for corporations to turn their heads and pretend it isn’t going on.

Here is what I believe consumers are fighting:

– One sided marketing messages that are being forced down their throats at in opportune times (ie – uninteresting ads in the middle of your favorite TV show)

– Hearing recommendations or benefits of a product/service  from the same company who is selling it. (of course you’ll say good things)

– Not having a voice. (will this company ever respond?)

Along comes social media and suddenly consumers can connect and share opinions, recommendations and experiences easier than ever before. They also have unprecedented access to companies and organizations without having to call into a 1-800 number or being lost in a sea of  “contact us” emails.

Despite the fact this has been going on for a few years now most companies are still spending a large amount of money on traditional advertising. While there’s no doubt that TV or magazines reach a ton of people, producing ads the same way you’ve always done it doesn’t really cut it.

So who is doing it well?

Kraft’s experiment with Mac & Cheese and Twitter was a nice attempt at co-creating with consumers to produce a spot (the company took a tweet about Mac & Cheese and formed a commercial around it).  While I’m sure there are some tweaks and learnings it was the most interesting mac and cheese commercial I’ve seen in a while and they still got the fancy glossy food shot at the end.

Old Spice’s response to consumers via short videos was engaging and fresh, not to mention extremely buzz worthy.

Jimmy John’s is putting customer quotes on its outdoor boards.

Miracle Whip is enlisting everyday joes to proclaim their love or hatred for the product via short spots on YouTube.

Nationwide is inserting consumers or at least Pam..er.. NationPam into its commercial (kind of awkward, but props for trying).

Companies that are taking that first step forward are letting the consumer have a say from the get go. Like in any revolt or conflict there are bound to be negotiations, new ways of looking at things and chances to  give and take. Think about ways you can let your customers or members help co-create. It’s a new era and I have a feeling that those who play nicely will be nicely rewarded.

Most people know social is important even if they aren’t active users. They’ve heard the names Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn enough to know this little thing called social seems more than a fad.

But what they don’t always think about is why social is so powerful in the marketing mix. If you think about the frequency and length of time to which consumers permit brands to speak to them social blows any other marketing channel out of the water.

Think about it, if you sent an email three times a week to your consumers, you surely would get a lot of unsubscribes. If you secure a great article or TV spot using PR you’d get a quick pop of interest, but it would soon be replaced by the next day’s headlines.  Social, done right, allows you to speak with a consumer multiple times a week for long periods of time.

When it comes to investment social isn’t totally free but the cost of creating compelling content will still pale in comparison to producing a TV spot. You also have a better chance at reaching people via social – less competition. TV is so fragmented that even with a large investment you are competing with hundreds of channels. People spend more time on Facebook than any other site and more than 80% of their time is spent on the newsfeed page. What does that mean? If you can get people to follow you, the chances of them seeing your message is quite high.

If done right, social has the power to allow you to talk more often, for longer periods of time than any other part of your marketing mix. It also allows you to have a two-way conversation and gives you the ability to listen in. Not bad. Not bad at all.