Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Grinch that Stole Target’s Social Media Christmas

Target Digital CrisisThe Grinch may be just a fictitious creature, but Target is feeling a little less merry with a recent credit card breech days before Christmas. If the breech isn’t bad enough, the digital crisis brewing on their social media channels would scare anyone into the next Whoville town.

According to a recent Forbes article, buried on Target’s website was a length 1500 word statement about the “unauthorized access to payment card data in U.S. stores.” Unfortunately, Target has tried to downplay the facts that its customers most needed to hear now.

It’s get a bit scarier when you look at Target’s Facebook page with 2,206 responses and counting about what Target is not doing, but limited responses from the company. And if they do respond, it is vague.  During a crisis, limited responses or canned postings from the company on social media is bad. Really bad. Where’s the engagement? Where’s the two way conversation? Folks are concerned and there is not much information beyond the statement on their website and providing some tips.

This is where I see companies go wrong; they are ready to engage in social media when things are good, but scale back during a crisis. Transparency is key in any situation, but more importantly in a digital crisis. Why? Your digital crisis plays out for an entire audience to see not just for your customers.  Since I don’t know the strategy behind Target’s social media, there are a few things for folks to consider if your company runs into digital trouble:

  • Be more transparent. The worst thing you can do is repurpose your statement 5 different ways.
  • Prepared. Edelman has a great post on how company can leverage social media during a crisis.
  • Have a plan. Every company on social media should have a social media response protocol. Make sure your employees know what’s expected of them by providing them a framework.
  • Be ready to implement that plan quickly. Another great nugget from Edelman about having a crisis toolkit.
  • Increase in support. If you have a dedicated team for social, in time of crisis ramp that number up. On the Facebook page, angry customers are posting a lot of comments with limited responses from Target. I imagine because Target social media folks are working with multiple folks to approve statements before posting.
  • Be faster. Social media is in real time. It cannot wait until the next business day. You need to respond quickly, not in days, but in minutes.
  • Afterwards debrief. Figure out lessons learned and improve.

While I am not sure how this will play out in the coming days, I believe Target has an opportunity to wow their customers.  Folks want to interact and voice their opinion. If Target doesn’t respond, metaphorically it will  hang up on thousands of clients virtually for everyone to see. There is still time to turn this around if the company truly understands what social media is about: real people having real conversations.

Rachel DiCaro Metscher  has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

Seven Factors that Can Make or Break Your Social Media Program

Currently, I am working on my presentation, Social Media on a Budget for GSMI’s Social Media Strategies Summit.  As my copresenter, Veronica and I begin revamping this presentation, I realize there are several factors that affect whether a social media program will be successful or not.  Many factors to success are outside the scope of the marketing or PR team leading the charge. It is important to note while marketing or other functions maintain the corporate social channels, many other departments need to be involved. This list is not exhaustive; however, I believe these seven factors can make or break your social media program:

Social Media is NOT a Campaign, but a Commitment.

An important, but often overlooked aspect of getting involved in social media is that it takes resources, content, and money to make it work. I see many businesses running to create a Twitter feed or Google+ page, but then those feeds and pages go dormant because no one thought past the launch phase. To make social media work it takes planning.

You Need Executive Champion.

Any new initiative needs executive support otherwise it is doomed to never get off the ground. Working with my former managing director helped me understand what the C suite wanted. By sharing mini case studies with executives, I was able to leverage our wins in terms of what the C-Suite cared about: minimizing risk to the organization, increasing our awareness, and sharing our client success stories that peaked industry reporters interest.

Know the Difference between Strategy and Tactic

Simply enough, but many folks start with tactics first. I wrote in May about the importance of social media planning and strategy. Strategy is all about gaining (or being prepared to gain) a position of advantage over adversaries or best exploiting emerging possibilities. When I built our first social media strategy at Hobsons, I focused on two goals: awareness and engagement. (Two may be too many if you are just starting out.) With those two goals in mind, my team and I built a plan of action around them.

When planning out a strategy, you must be focused. In our case, if anything in the plan didn’t relate to awareness or engagement, it didn’t make the cut. It is too easy to get distracted and run in multiple directions.

You Need a Plan

While the cost to enter social media is low, maintaining social channels can be high. You need to outline more than tactics, but why your organization is getting involved in social media. I think while everyone is running to the next new shiny object, it is important to outline:

People. Objective. Strategy. Technology

People. Objective. Strategy. Technology

  • Who will be involved?
  • What’s the point of your social media activities (objective)?
  • How do you plan to reach your audience (strategy)?
  • Where is your audience now? (Technology/Platform)

Social Media is Not a One-Person show, You Need an Army

Let’s be clear that I am not advocating that everyone in your organization needs to “tweet” or post your company’s business on their Facebook page. Rather instead of focusing on the 100 percent, focus on those who are interested and want to participate. If folks “raise their hands” make sure you provide them with social media guidelines or a playbook.

You Need to Outline Social Media Governance and Policies

Nothing sexy about governance or policy, but they are crucial to your social media program. Too many firms skip this step until a social media gaffe turns into a full blown social media crisis. Provide guidance to employees by way of a social policy or playbook. Edelman did a fabulous job in this blog post outlining social media governance that’s worth a look.

Don’t Forget to Measure and Report

Don’t forget about measurement. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a whole lot of activity, but without measurement. You made the case to make social media more strategic, but didn’t provide proof points to your boss or executives. You can provide a lot of data to your team, so focus on what you are trying to communicate. Inc. recently published a great article on the common metrics to measure social.  Whatever your measurement is, make sure it ties back to your objectives. Did you move the needle or not?

Rachel DiCaro Metscher  has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

What the “C” in Content Marketing Really Stands For

If you ask me what the biggest marketing trend in 2013 is, I would say it is all about content marketing. It has been everywhere. Google the term “content marketing” and you’ll see 744 million results. But, content marketing is more than just changing how your create content for customers. The “c” in content marketing stands for change.

Why Change?

The term content marketing gets thrown around a lot. Marketers, including myself, do not do it justice with our overused words of content pieces like blogs, infographics, whitepapers, webinars, and the list goes on. For marketers, these words are common language, for non-marketers these words mean little. Our stakeholders want to know how we plan to update the website, our collateral, marketing plans. When we say we need to update our content first, they baulk at the idea that we need the content first. “Can’t we just send out the email?” your internal client says. But, I always ask, “with what? And for who? And why would your clients care?”

Rachel Metscher Content Marketing Stands for Change

Image from Compendium

Content marketing is not just about creating and curating relevant and valuable content, it about changing our organization’s way of performing marketing.

It’s not about you, it’s about the client.

Marketing’s job is to be the steward for the client who doesn’t always get a seat at your company’s table. By implementing content marketing programs, you are finally placing the customer first.

That’s a big change for some organizations. Some folks still believe if they send out an email about what ZYX firm is doing that the customer will care. Well they won’t which is evident in declining open rates and subscribes. Almost all industries see a decline in click-to-open rates. In a March report, Epsilon reveals that click-to-open rates (CTORs) fell by more than 5% year-over-year in all but 2 segments (financial services general and retail specialty).

So, what is a company to do?

Change your marketing. Start thinking in terms of what the customer wants to hear, not what you want to push. Or how great you are.

The “c” in content marketing is about change. Change the conversation. Change how you communicate. Change how you deliver your information.

You will be met with resistance, believe me. Your C-Suite may think content marketing is a fad. But, the change is already occurring in your market. 57 percent of consumers are researching your products and services BEFORE contact you according to Corporate Executive Board. According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth, the average person digests at least 10 pieces of online information before making a purchasing decision.

The question is, will that piece of information be yours or your competitions? Your competition already gets that good content, not just your same old whitepaper, will get you business.

But do you?

Rachel DiCaro Metscher  has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.