Category Archives: Fun Fact Fridays

Online Retailers Missed Opportunity: Female Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies

Recently, I researched the topic of online clothing retailers and their buyers for a grad school project. I find the retail world so fascinating since many retailers have had to adopt their mass-market approach for the online world. Some have succeeded, others continue to struggle to compete. What was interesting in conducting this research was finding a particular small, but influential group of female buyers that most retailers are missing – a subgroup influential because of their buying power and influence.

These women are not quite Gen Xers, but potentially too old to be millennials. They watched Reality Bites, but maybe didn’t feel as jaded. Potentially, they could have gone to a Nirvana concert and still wear their t-shirts.

Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies

Photo Credit: Salon. Gen Xers are between the ages of 35-44 who grew up during the materialistic 1980s and saw the aftermath of gluttony in the 1990s.

After reading the blog post Social Media Week: Oregon Trail Generation on SMW, I thought I would share my findings about this subgroup. As marketers, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that marketing to a generation is not always about their age, but about their behaviors.

Below is an excerpt from my project. Happy reading.

Female Generation X with Millennial Tendencies

Before millennials were texting their friends using their first iPhones, there was a generation of women who knew of a time before the Internet, Generation X. Gen Xers are between the ages of 35-44 who grew up during the materialistic 1980s and saw the aftermath of gluttony in the 1990s. They are also digital adopters: Gen Xers were the first generation to grow up with computers and technology, although this occurred later in their lives. Today, they remain tech-savvy and habitually research items online prior to purchase (JWT Intelligence, 2010).

They break rules and redefined a slacker generation

Women of this generation are adventurous, daring, quirky, informed, responsible, and skeptical. Nostalgic, Gen X women gravitate towards happier times from their past (Han, 2012). This public can afford higher-end items because they are more established in their careers and have higher spending power. Because Gen Xers write their own rules, she could be a recent mom or a childfree career powerhouse.

They shop too, but often buy less and look for deals. Most female Gen Xers make shopping lists using a variety of tools, half review circulars, and coupons. Fifty-one percent download coupons from retailer sites and 38 percent research products online. About one-third use deal sites, 31 percent use social media to get coupons, and 23 percent look for updates from retailers and manufacturers via texts or e-mails (McClain, 2012).

Why are Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies Important? Go Back to Why Women Rule the Purse. 

Though shopping is synonymous with women, there are several reasons why women rule the purse and the economy (Brennan, 2011). First, women are the gateway to household budgets. They not only shop for themselves, but also for others— spouses, kids, friends, family, colleagues, and often their older parents. This multiplies their buying power and influence (Brennan, 2013).

Second, women have a strong connection to community both online and off-line. In their community, people connect with one another to help others realize their potential inside and out, and to make life happier for everyone (Brennan, 2011). Millennial females regard shopping as a group activity, shopping twice as often with their spouses, friends, or family members as non-millennial females (Solomon, 2014). The strong connection to each other is easily seen in their business and personal relationships as well. Women prioritize and cultivate personal and business relationships because creating these networks of family, friends, and colleagues is a primary source of joy and fulfillment (Brennan, 2011).

Finally, women are typically connectors, and that makes them the source of valuable information to the people in their network or community. If women are happy with your business, they are delighted to tell people they know— especially if you provide an incentive for them to do so (Brennan, 2011). From loyalty programs to referral programs, if you are not leveraging your female customers to bring in their contacts, you’re leaving money on the table.

Footnotes:

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.

Fun Fact Fridays: 23 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Social

Fun Fact Fridays: 23 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Social

Last week, I attended the Vocus Demand Success conference. Fantastic event. My favorite part of any conference is the opportunity to meet new people and share ideas on how to do things. Lots of things like digital journalism, e-mail marketing, content creation, and social media.

Lots of folks were talking about social media, starting a company blog, and other fun marketing best practices. But, I could tell there was some skepticism in the crowd when hearing the presenters speak. Not always, but there were a few folks who would share, “well you had resources” or “In my organization,…”

But I think all of this stems from one issue.

Rachel DiCaro Metscher 23 tips to mange the fear of social media

artwork by flip-wood.deviantart.com

Questions, concerns, and fear all stem from the same source: control or the lack of it.  The reason why most organizations resist using social media or embarking on a blog is

1) What will we do (Lack of a Plan)?

2) What will we share (Content)?

3) Who will manage the message? Who will run the editorial calendar? Who will edit my copy (Control)?

4) If we put our ideas down on paper will it stink (Lack of Ideas.  At least a clear direction of what you should write about)?

5) What if people don’t like my content (Understanding your Audience)?

So how do you overcome fear if people will resist the change your want to create? Here a few of my favorite tools to deal with the fear monster:

  1. Learn to paint the picture of what your ideal social looks like. Love this Tedex from Nancy Duarante on how to tell a great story.
  2. Outline your goals and objectives (P.O.S.T).
  3. Before you begin, assess where you been and where you want to go, a.k.a audit.
  4. Plan some more. Most projects don’t see the light of day because you didn’t do your homework. You already know you won’t get all your resources for this project so plan for it.
  5. Change is Hard, but it will get better.
  6. Welcome Haters. They motivate you to do better.
  7. Accept Failure. Failure can teach you a lot of what not to do the next time.
  8. Priorities. Help those around you and yourself. Pick three area/projects and as you progress you can add more.
  9. Focus on your wins. Small wins lead to big wins later.
  10. Do Internal PR campaign on your wins. Sharing where you have been and where you are going helps others get it.
  11. Keep Your Head up! Easier said than done, but social communications is hard work! Really you are in the business of change management.
  12. Ted Rubin shares how to get over the “what if”
  13. Find a support group of other like-minded folks. LinkedIn has tons!
  14. Network with people who are doing social communications successfully.
  15.  Mark Ivey wrote a great article highlighting the importance of communicating in social media
  16. Get an executive champion.
  17. Constantly evaluate where you are in relation to your goals.
  18.  Put your big girl pants on. This isn’t for the weak of heart.
  19.  In order for this to work, you need vision. Goes back to point one.
  20. Coffee or caffeine. You will be busy managing this change management project.
  21. Social Communications isn’t one and done. Social takes time.
  22. Create advocates
  23. Be disruptive
  24.  Bonus

Fun Fact Fridays: Nine LinkedIn Tips for Introverts

This week, I helped one of my coworkers who is a self proclaimed introvert with his LinkedIn profile. As we began to talk, I realized some of our conversation would make a great post on how introverts can tell their personal brand story using LinkedIn.

You may gather your energy through reflection and dwindle during conversation, but you too can participate using LinkedIn. So, here are my tips to my introverts who are looking to use LinkedIn to engage in social media activities and build their social presence.

  1. Tell Your Story. So, first thing first. Social Media is not about broadcasting or the Me Show. It is about sharing, educating, and learning from others. So make sure your profile has a real photo of you and is complete.
  2. What’s in a Title? When I look at your LinkedIn profile, what three things do you want me to take away? Are you’re a B2B rockstar? Content Marketing Mastermind? Use keywords in the headline so people can find you.
  3. Share things that matter to you. You are not broadcasting; you are sharing your knowledge. Don’t think of your status as bragging, but rather teaching folks about what you know. Building expertise is key to creating your personal brand.
  4. Join a Group. Great advice from my colleague Marlysa Lohr Connolly. Groups are typically created around an industry, conference or company. Basically, they’re a smorgasbord of information. Joining LinkedIn groups privy members to a wealth of knowledge from like professionals who are more than happy to share industry news, tips and answer relevant questions. rachel_Metscher_social_media_PR
  5. Use your strengths. So, if you are an introvert, you already are thoughtful and purposeful. Use this to your advantage. Most likely you will careful research posts and articles. LinkedIn plays to your strengths. Folks that follow you will appreciate your insight!
  6. Listen before your begin. So, by nature you already like to observe before jumping in. Start checking out other profiles you want to emulate and watch how they participate.
  7. Once you’re ready, Update your status at least once a day at a minimum. You should be updating your profile in the morning, during lunch, and in the evening if you feeling specially bold.
  8. Pay it forward. This is from Heidi Cohen post on social for introverts. Social media’s about the community, not you. Help others with targeted information, reshare other people’s more interesting posts, and comment on other people’s status. Also, think about recommending former and current colleagues, staff and bosses on LinkedIn.
  9. Don’t forget to have fun. I know you are serious, but have some fun. Connect with other like minded folks and share, grow and learn.
  10. Sharing is Caring. Don’t forget you can share other people’s statuses and make comments. This goes back to my third point. Share what matters to you, but don’t forget the whole premise behind social is to connect. Find other like minded folks and share away.

16 and One Ways on How to be a Better Storyteller

Yesterday, I was interviewing one of my organization’s engineers for a case study piece. As we were discussing the challenges and opportunities for creating innovation for a mature product, our conversation verge to the topic of storytelling. How could I resist the topic? I truly believe PR people are natural storytellers. And the reason is simple: Storytelling is PR; it essentially boils down to connecting organization and people through a story.

Contribution from atlanta.iabc.com

Contribution from atlanta.iabc.com

As we were chatting, I realize that most people forget the basic tenets for telling a compelling story. Today’s fun fact Friday is all about how to tell a better story about your organization.

  1. People. You need to make your people apart of the story line. Logos, Products, are secondary. Share who your people are and what they are about. This week, we shared on our corporate site, what our culture was about in terms of pictures.
  2. This is more than telling about your product. People will remember a story more than your products. Hello anecdote examples. Remember this, the most valued and shared stories reveal unfulfilled needs and desires.” Jon King, Managing Director, Story Worldwide Europe
  3. Your Customer is the Hero. Storytelling allows you to put your customer in the lime light. Share their successes and challenges. That is more compelling than your product sheets.
  4. Storytelling is engaging and entertaining. Love the idea of story trees from the Hoffman Agency, I added the SlideShare presentation below
  5. Purpose. You need a plot. A beginning, middle, and end. Think about this in terms of setting the stage. Maybe it is a customer who was in crisis. Maybe it was a client who needed help achieving new goals. Whatever it is, you need to take the reader through the trials and tribulations.
  6. Understand the components of a good story. Content Marketers get this and you should too. There are six basic parts to any story:
    1. Setting – the location where your story takes place. T
    2. Characters
    3. An event to start things rolling
    4. Development
    5. The Climax
    6. The Ending
  7. People like to connect. It’s all about understanding the individual highlighted in the story and how we relate.
  8. Figure out what emotion you want to invoke. What do you want the reader to do next.
  9. Stories allow us to break through the noise. According to SAP’s Chief Storyteller, “to break through the clutter, meaningful, one to one conversations with our customer is now more important than ever.” Check out her video.
  10. Leave your marketing speak and your boilerplates at home.
  11. No jargon or buzzwords. Seriously.
  12. It is not always about you. Stories can have multiple actors but your company doesn’t allows need the lead role.
  13. Check your ego at the door. You should persuade not talk a the reader
  14. Before telling your story, listen to what is going on in your market today. Interview clients. Talk with your internal subject matter experts to find out what is going on.
  15. Think like a movie director. I watched Argo and was mesmerized. My favorite scene is when the embassy workers were shredding the “classified documents.” Where they going to make it? Would the “bad guys” going to get the documents? I was hooked for 2 hours. Not only was the movie compelling, but the director did a fantastic job of telling the story. Storytelling isn’t just for the movies. Just because you’re in a B2B market, doesn’t mean you cannot be compelling.
  16. Use humor. After speaking with a few fellow communicators, I realize that telling a funny, personal story is a great way to connect with people.Who doesn’t need a laugh in their life
  17. Use songs to tell your story. At an event recently, the presenter painted their problem and challenges she faced using the theme of a song. She explain the expansion of her team and the challenges she faced to the fun tune of the Big Bang Theory. Very entertaining, highly memorable. Check out the Storify link of the event.

Fun Fact Fridays: How Content Creation Helped Create Corporate Change

While preparing for a speaking proposal last month, I pulled together case studies how content creation can help start a quiet revolution for corporate change. I am a big believer that everyone in your organization has the potential to help promote the brand. Over time, employees’ contribution to content will be more important than what is said in your media release or company’s newsletters. But, this is a huge shift on how most business are operating today. Often times the employee is an untapped resource when it comes to content and social media.

Challenges of Building Social Business

There are a lot of conversations about how company today need to preparing for Web 3.0.  While there are many articles about this topic, one that I found as an awesome resource is from the Altimeter group on the challenges corporate social strategists are facing with bring social to their business.  Anyone interested in social and how to bring it to your company should read it.

The report outline challenges that I had experience when building my current organization’s social strategy. Most organizations are still struggling how to use social media and control its brand on those channels.  I would say many social strategists already know that the paradigm of control is already shifting. Specific to public relations and social, I spoke about the important of earn media a few weeks ago and its impact.

Image from Walker Zine (UK)

Image from Walker Zine (UK)

This sparked the idea about how companies should better leverage their employees for social media (also outline in the Altimeter paper). But beyond that, I began think how do you leverage your employees’ talents for content? This question is vital especially since you cannot participate in social if you do not have any content to share.

With this in mind, here are some of my own case studies that highlight the importance of content creation and brand advocates.

Rebranding Project

I had the fortune of working on rebranding project last year that really was more of a corporate culture shift. So, a couple of things we did that helped not only our content machine, but also our business:

  • For the prelaunch of our brand initiative we created an internal campaign to get folks excited about the brand and why employees where critical to the success of the overall project. The month-long campaigns yielded 4700 opens, 640 click-throughs, 2600 views on its internal site, and 150 posts. Our internal campaign won the Bronze Stevie for Communications Campaign of the Year – Internal in 2012. I also talked about the campaign in-depth in AMA Marketing News.
  • We assigned brand ambassadors for each department. They helped disseminate the message and distributed templates to their teams.
  • We went to each office (US, UK, and Australia) and kicked off the brand launch through targeted activities including what the new brand meant, architecture, how to talk about it, its impact on our marketing (example: events and webinars), and how to use it in terms of their daily work.  It was important that every office get the full impact and exposure of how important this initiative was.
  • Fun fact: I led our APAC brand launch in our Australia market. I spent my downtown touring Australia and where I took the photo for my blog. The photo is of The Twelve Apostles. If you don’t know where this is, it was taken from Port Campbell National Park on the Great Ocean Road, outside Melbourne, Australia.

Company Blog

  • We created a blog where internal (as well as external) folks can share their passion and expertise. To help folks with writing, we crafted guidelines to establish our brand messaging and overall tone. So far my corporate blog, which started in June 2012, has 21,000 page views, garners 2300 unique visitors a month with an average 2 minutes on site engagement.
  • Everyone has the chance to participate. We sought out folks who had something to say. Sometime, it was the customer support rep and other times it was our division leaders. We search high and low in the organization and didn’t use title as a prerequisite to contribute.
  • In order to quell my stakeholders’ need for equitable sharing of resources, we created an editorial calendar to make sure we had equal share of voice across business interests both domestic and international.

Social Media

  • After we streamlined some of our social assets, I led a few workshops how employees can use social more in their work.
  • As I wrote in my previous post, if you want your company to be more social train your people.
  • In addition to training, you need to provide some type of guidelines or playbook.
  • In addition to the playbook and training, we showed folks where to go to find content in addition to their own.
  • I repeated training, playbook, and where to find content often.
  • I encourage folks to follow me and other folks to find content.
  • I trained anyone independently when they asked. I am a true believer that mentoring and coaching are the keys to adoption.

While I don’t believe the above case studies were different or unique, the point of those are you can start a quiet revolution by planning small, but delivering big results.

Fun Fact Fridays: 8 Tips to Humanize Your Brand through Social Media

I had the chance to catch up with a former client about the success of his business. While he has double his business over the last few years, he is always looking for marketing advice. And I am always happy to give my two cents on how to use social media to drive awareness and traffic to your website. Over lunch, the conversation went from marketing to the benefits of social media and how it could humanize his brand.

We started chatting about how to get people to his site.  The usual tactics were employed: we have a blog; we work with our affinity partners, etc.

Then I started peppering him with questions like:

“Great, you have blog. How often are you updating it, are you consistently publishing relevant and informative content, have you optimized the blog for keywords, do your employees share the information with others, are your employees contributing to the blog?”

Then I ask my favorite question, “ Are you using social coupled with your blog to personalized the people in your company?”

His answer: Well…We should do more.

Our conversation got me thinking about how to humanize brands. While I am not a proponent of tactics driving strategy for social media, I think you first need to consider why your company should be social.  You need to have

People. Objective. Strategy. Technology

People. Objective. Strategy. Technology

purpose in your company’s social media efforts, it is all about P.O.S.T.

If you need a reason, here is one: social media is creating a two-way dialogue with people. Social media also produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, or PPC according to a recent study by Hubspot this year.

And let’s be clear, people are searching for your product or company way before they pick up the phone or send an email of interest. While the sales process is not necessarily longer, however, prospects have more resources to research your product online. Why not give them information to support each stage of the buying cycle.

So here are some tactics to consider;

1)   If you don’t have folks outside marketing contributing to your blog. Start today. You need employees to share industry news and trends. 

2)   Anyone working for your company should be positively promoting your organization through sharing industry news or company articles not always about you, but topics your current and potential customers care about.

3)   Worried that folks don’t get social media? Give them a playbook to help them understand how to use it professionally.

4)   People need guidelines, consider creating a social media policy.

5)   Don’t expect people to jump in and understand what you want them to do socially, train them.

6)   Have employees contribute to your blog on their interest.

7)   Encourage your folks to follow your social media channels and reshare to their followers.

8)   Be the influence and guide by your example.

Bonus. You need content to share right? Start using your employees to generate content for your blog

1)   The number on rule for your blog should be S.F.T.C (Solve for the Customer).

2)   Interview both employees and clients for the blog using a Q and A format.

3)   Have clients share best practices.

4)   Blogs are not exclusively for executives. Everyone should contribute.

5)   If you don’t make the blog a priority, no one else will.