Category Archives: Social Media

Culture, Content, and Social: Five Trends to Watch This Summer

lookout for trends

Photo Credit: KaSandra and Grace. On the Lookout for Trends

I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for what’s happening in marketing. I had the opportunity to attend last month’s Sirius Decision Summit. What’s Sirius about?  Sirius Decisions describes the summit as “a place where attendees can see and hear how organizations can blend the very best of art and science, and leave with ideas for how to get started on – or advance – your own initiatives.” It is a great conference for any marketer or communicator looking for frameworks and research on what happening in the market today. If you didn’t have the opportunity to go, here five trends to watch for this summer. 

Social media beyond the basics

There was a lot of discussing of using social listening to enhance competitive intelligence and beef up prospect profiles. During the breakout sessions, it was useful to see what companies can do with some third party help to bolster current prospect info. One organization appended their prospects and customers’ profiles with social data through a third party vendor to fill in missing information and provide better insights. Social media has become more than a place to post your favorite cat video, it has become a place to take data and build better, more informed customer profiles. Results of adding social data to customer profiles? A better understanding of their customers and prospects, this organization improved its open rates to 28 percent and click-through to 9 percent. How good is 9 percent? Pretty awesome given most industries see on average less than five percent.

Content still plague teams both on creation and effectiveness.

Julie Ogilvie, ‎research director for strategic communications management service at Sirius Decisions, made a simple, but poignant point about social media “All social media problems are content problem.” I think anyone who manages social media teams can emphatically agree. Lots of nodding from the audience on this point alone. Whether you are looking to increase engagement among key audiences or leverage influencers, you need content. That’s easy, right? Not so much. Ultimately, you can’t create content absent of your audience’s needs and motivation an expect good outcomes. Simple, but B2B companies are forgetting the human in social media and not focusing on what people want to engage with.

The concept of building connections across teams

One of the best quotes I heard was the African proverb, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” How many of you know your team is doing good work, but you’re looking to make more impact within your team or get more budget? Many of the sessions discussed the power of cross-functional sharing and brainstorming with teams to maximize not only knowledge, but also sharing of information. So simple, yet many of us get caught in our own silos and workload. We fail to think about the power of sharing information to better leverage the knowledge of other teams to deliver better campaigns. One session shared how equipping community managers with more information on the onset of a campaign, such as the targeted campaign’s keywords, who are the “right” influencers in the market, and the right content from other marketing teams armed them for social media success. Genius, right? So simple, yet many of us are so caught up with real-time delivery that we forget to take a beat and think about what we are trying to accomplish.

The importance of culture in change management

Often overlooked, but crucially important. It’s not a conference without great quotes, and Sirius Decision is no different: “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You cannot ignore your culture and its importance to your success. While there was not a whole lot of discussion on the how, I can tell you communications and cross-functional involvement vastly improve your chances of getting your corporate culture to accept your next marketing or communication initiative.

The value of pilot testing

Every campaign at the conference mentioned the value in starting small and narrowing your focus. Rome was not build in a day. By focusing on a pilot and ignoring how you have traditionally done, you can break away from the norms. Do things differently. Not to say all pilots are successful, failure is okay and an opportunity to learn.

It’s only a day into the conference, but I am encouraged and energized in learning the new and innovative approach out there today. Also, there is still time to follow the conference hashtag, #SDSummit for more great information on Twitter.

Native Advertising: Beech-Nut Shows its Funnier Side to Moms

If you have wondered if native advertising fits within your promotional content mix, here is a great case study on Beech-Nut baby food products.

Beech-Nut Nutrition Company is a leading food manufacturer in the U.S. known for its innovative approach to baby food. Baby food brands have seen sales decline since 2005 because of lower birth rates; however, there is another trend troubling brands. More millennial moms are taking an active role in preparing homemade baby food for their little one. Moms spend on average three hours out of their week or an hour out of their day to make their own baby food. In April, Beech-Nut changed its approach on how it made baby food that is winning over millennial moms, but it needed a new way to reach its target audience.

Beech-Nut Using Humor to Highlight the ‘Joys of Motherhood’

Beech-Nut worked with Someecards to create co-branded cards that discussed the tough realities of being a new mom. Someecards parodies the sentiments found in the Hallmark greeting card by using humor that is sometimes considered sarcastic or borderline offensive. The co-branded e-cards highlight the joys of motherhood with cards that read, “The only chance I got to sit down today was on the toilet,” or “I want my baby’s food to be as natural as I tell everyone my childbirth was.”  The campaign comprised of five e-cards that are hosted on Someecards’ site earlier this month. So far, the e-cards have more than 15,000 shares on the site and amplified through its social channels.

native-advertising-marketing- metscher

Photo Credit from Marketing Tech Blog via StumbleUpon

Target Audience: Millennial Moms

There are 90 million millennials in the U.S. and a quarter of those are parents with spending power of $200 billion. Katie Sobel, senior director of marketing at Plum Organics summarized millennial moms’ purchasing power, “Millennial moms are more connected, more influential, and have more access to research and information than any generation prior. They also expect complete transparency and connectivity from the brands they do select. Moms have the luxury of being discerning.”

Why Native Advertising?

Beech-Nut relies on its small, but mighty mom ambassadors to share its content across social media channels. While Beech-Nut has a strong community on its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels, it needed to amplify its message and reach new moms looking for ‘real’ baby food. Native advertising sees higher engagement than banner ads, 52 percent of people who click on native ads have purchase intent compared to 34 percent for banner ads. Most competitors in this space have relied on traditional media to reach moms. In order to cut through the noise, Beech-Nut decided to take a different approach to reach moms with humorous native advertising.

Sharing the Joys of Motherhood

Someecards goes for humor and raw honesty, which help build its audience of roughly 10 million unique visitors a month, according to comScore. While it may seem peculiar for a baby food provider to partner with Someecards, reviewing past social posts shows the brand uses humor often to connect with its moms. For Beech-Nut, sharing a bit of humor helps create community with its audience that will share its content with other friends. In addition to this campaign, Beech-Nut also works actively to cultivate community through its mommy blogger outreach program and free samples. Beech-Nut has used Someecards as the primary platform for this campaign distribution with its Facebook page as a secondary channel. The brand’s current Facebook page is relatively active with social shares, daily posts, and has more than 380,000 likes.

Does Humor Sell?

The Beech-Nut native advertising campaign was consistent with the brand’s honest and transparent brand values. While humor is not actively used in Beech-Nut’s advertising, it is often used on its social media channels. As one marketing expert wrote, “Make people laugh and they will not only share an ad with their friends and family, but with humor the second best emotion at driving brand recall, they will most likely remember the brand for years to come.” Overall, the campaign was funny and consistently used the company’s visual identity so moms who saw it would remember Beech-Nut.

Coupling humorous native ads with social media amplification was a large investment for Beech-Nut; however, the success of the campaign will continue to grow. Weber Shandwick reported last year that millennial moms spend 17 hours each week on social networks and are better sharers of information and recommendations for areas such as food, baby products, and retail. Working with Someecards provided Beech-Nut with a wider distribution network that is much larger than its current owned channels and the opportunity to reach new moms in the market for baby food. Overall, The co-branded cards were well received within its community. Beech-Nut has not only innovated its baby food products, but also found a new way to connect with millennial moms that cuts through the noise and provides a laugh.

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.


Case Study: How to Create a Thriving Brand Community

Reviewing research to write a future post for Metschers’ Musing, I stumbled upon a case study I wrote about successful online community management. After reading it again, I thought others would appreciate the tactics needed to build successful communities focused on the clients’ real needs. I wrote this about a year ago, but some of the tactics still hold true today.

Why the need for Online Communities?

With the rules of traditional communications and marketing changing, more companies are looking to digital communications tactics to help drive customer acquisition and loyalty.  And it is for good reason. According to CEB, 57 percent of prospects are conducting research prior to the sales conversation. 

Forrester in 2008 summarized the importance of online communities as one of the most powerful tools a marketer can deploy for customer retention, word-of-mouth, and customer insight. Some companies have embraced real-time input from the market and customers by building communities where customers can come together, exchange ideas, communicate frustrations, and truly foster two-way communication. However, many companies are challenged with how best to manage the community where it has no control over the conversation and cultivate a space where customers come to engage.

Social Media Online Community Case Study

Image Credit:

Topliners Road to Success

Eloqua built an open peer-to-peer forum for marketers and customers called Topliners in 2010. For those unfamiliar with Oracle|Eloqua, Topliners focused on marketing, sales, and improving topline revenue where members find peer support and ideas to meet common challenges.

The company chronicled its experience to build and grow its’ community on the company’s blog and shared some of the best practices on creating a thriving community. According to Eloqua’s lead on the project, “Growing a vibrant online community isn’t easy. As the community manager, my mandate was to grow the community from scratch, keep members engaged, and make sure that the content was up-to-date.”

Beyond what she shared, one can observe Eloqua took strategic steps when building Topliners:

  • Know their customers. Eloquans, what Eloqua customers are called by themselves and the company, are hyper-engaged and tech savvy. Most marketers buying Eloqua buy into this concept of ‘modern marketing’, which means that traditional marketing methods will no longer work in customer acquisition. The community is very active and uses a gamification platform to support engagement.
  • Listen to what customers wanted. Everything in the community is about the customer. Information is abundant. Best practices from other marketers fill posts upon posts. But more importantly, Eloqua has built a community where marketers come together and ask questions of fellow colleagues in a ‘judgment-free zone.’
  • Planned for engagement. Building an online community that is a trusted resource takes more than technology; you need to plan for building content and engagement. Eloqua did not have a “build it and they will come mentality.” The company planned out the content for the site (see blog post), leveraged brand advocates to seed content, and talked with customers on the type of content they wanted to see in the community.
  • Truly customer-centric. Since revenue performance management and marketing automation is in the nascent stages, most customers not only need help with implementation, but also how to change their overall marketing approach. The company’s strategy has always been how to answer the question, “how do we make our customers successful?” Eloqua has become a trusted resource and curator of quality content that is used and shared by many clients, prospects, and industry influencers.

Why Topliners works?

Advocates drive the content on Topliners with blog posts on using the solution, uploading helpful documents, starting discussions, and posting polls. The site also uses gamification technics such as badges and level designation to improve user experience. Members can earn certain badges for posting content and other activities such as Overachiever, Share Your Flair, and fifty other types.

The point of members’ badges and levels? Incentives your strongest advocates to share their knowledge and best practices and reward them with virtual recognition. So was it successful? In a follow-up post, Eloqua  shared that the community experienced a 55 percent lift in average active users in the first month after the launch.  Since implementation, Topliners continues to grow in activity and engagement.

But is Topliners Retuning on the Eloqua’s Investment?

According to its submission to Forrester’s Groundswell Awards 2013, its customers who use Topliners renew at a dramatically higher rate than those who do not — 87 percent. They also submit less support cases and issues. Topliners contributes to reserving customer support references, drives sales, and builds engagement amongst users.

Many companies are looking for better ways to engage with customers online as customers are researching more information online prior to purchase. Eloqua has created a community and social embassies that energize its base to evangelize the brand. Without too much corporate speak, Eloqua has created a word of mouth marketing platform built on conversations and strong relationships with its current customers.


The Most Underused Social Media Platform

The Most Underused Social Media Platform

Reading about the upcoming 2014 content marketing trends from Crazy Egg’s blog, I was reminded how SlideShare is still underused by most social media marketers. It still surprising how often this fantastic tool gets overlooked.

Last year I spoke with PR Week’s Tanya Lewis about the use of SlideShare and PR. If you don’t know what Slideshare is, it is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. With 60 million monthly visitors and and 120 million page views it is one of the top 150 sites on the Internet. Who doesn’t need more views to their website or content?

My presentation from PRSA event in November. Since presenting, it has been viewed more than 450 times. That is beyond the 50 plus folks in the audience who say it. Boom. Now that's what I call increasing awareness.

My presentation from PRSA event in November. Since presenting, it has been viewed more than 450 times. That is beyond the 50 plus folks in the audience who say it. Boom. Now that’s what I call increasing awareness.

I am a huge proponent of SlideShare. For any marketer or public relations professional looking for ways to build their client expertise you shouldn’t look any further. Seriously. Who doesn’t have a Powerpoint to share? How many of you have client looking to you to create content? Here is a chance to repurpose and reuse good content.

Here is my personal example using SlideShare, back in November, I had the opportunity to present to a regional PRSA conference.

Now, when I presented there was about 50 plus folks in the room. Not bad right? But, when I posted my presentation to SlideShare a few things happen:

1) More exposure. Since posting to SlideShare, the presentation has been viewed more than 600 times. Not trending on SlideShare, but definitely worth the investment of increasing my reach by 9X.

2) Someone from the presentation also blogged about it. Bonus! He blogged on Vocus corporate blog and linked to the SlideShare posting. This was a key driver of viewers to my SlideShare presentation. Bonus: a reporter from my local market also covered the story too. Love it.

3) Increased credibility. Amazing when you can share your ideas and thoughts, folks seek you out for advice and expertise. Building expertise through showing your work. Huzzah, what every PR person wants for their client: ability to leverage their expertise and get noticed.

Final thought: You or your client already have some pretty decent presentation that are probably worth sharing. Why not give it a shot?

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.

Starting a Blog? Six Mistakes to Avoid

So, you want to start a blog. Who doesn’t? There are almost 71 million WordPress sites. Why the blog craze? There are many benefits to writing a blog:  brand awareness, build authority, content creation, and search engine optimization. One more to consider is a blog is the perfect platform to share you own thoughts and ideas. With so many benefits to blogging, what are some of the common mistakes to avoid when dipping your toe into the blogosphere?

Thanks to my good friend, Veronica Steele who also co-wrote this post.

 1)   Not enough Content Frequently

You know what is sadder than dove’s crying? People who post infrequent on their blog. Generally speaking frequency of how often you post, depends on your goals. Hubspot surveyed more than 7000 businesses and corporations to benchmark blogging performance in 2013 (so what?). One of the biggest takeaways was that blogs producing more than 15 articles a month began to see substantial growth in site traffic. In fact, according to the charts, companies that blog 15 or more times per month get 5X more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all.

Awesome artwork from

Awesome artwork from

So, how can you combat infrequent posts? Set-up an editorial calendar to help yourself brainstorm ideas you want to cover. Jot down different topics to discuss on your blog. Here is a list to get you started:

2)   Content is not Insightful or Engaging

You heard content is king, but what does that mean? Anna Famery’s summary shared “If there is no content worth reading or seeing on the site, then people won’t go.” How do you fuel the content machine?

3)   Not Relevant to Your Intended Audience

Every blog should have a purpose.  Without a purpose it has no direction and therefore no end point or target audience.  At Concordia University Irvine there are several blogs with different purposes.  Departmental blogs showcasing activities, student blogs giving a glimpse of student life on campus and travel blogs following study abroad journeys.

4)   You Didn’t Prepare

Ready, set, write.  Most people can’t begin writing with that mentality so don’t expect to be any different.  As Rachel says, “Plan for success.” Create a content calendar to gives you structure such as deadlines on when posts need to be edited and posted but flexibility on the content of the posts.  Life happens and you want to allow yourself the freedom to write on something meaningful so flexibility is really important.  Also prepare for reader responses.  Some readers may agree with your thoughts while others get offended.  Either way, have a plan of action in your back pocket.  How will you respond?  Will you have comment guidelines in place that foster healthy, constructive and encouraging engagement? Preparing  for after the post is live can sometimes be more important than before writing the post.

5) You Bore People

You meant well.  You thought your humor would come across in writing but it’s a flop.  Don’t fret.  The most important thing to keep in mind is this: noticing you are not engaging people is the first step to fixing the problem.  Should the time come when your mom is your only follower (thanks, mom!) take a step back and assess your writing style, content and post timing.  It may only be a minor adjustment that needs to take place not necessarily an entire blog overhaul (you thought you set the queued posts for 1PM but it’s set for 1AM! Whoops).

6) You Are Selling, but No One is Buying

Blog analytics can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  Either way though, you should keep track of the results.  Sure, the results could show that no one is clicking on your business’ website but that YouTube video was a huge hit! That’s important information.  Blogging can be relationship builder.  Honest, transparent and insightful content gains trust from audiences.  Once trust is built the buying will soon follow.
Bonus: Don’t forget to optimize your blog for key words. If folks can’t find your blog, all your interesting and important nuggets go to waste.

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.

 Veronica Steele is the social media manager for Concordia University Irvine (CUI). She is responsible for CUI’s social media activities, which include engagement, strategy, branding, public relations, best practices and training.  You can check out what Veronica is working on through her site, Digital Socialite.

Eight Easy Ways to Curate Content

Written by guest blogger, 

Increasingly, social media marketers are responsible for curating content for blogs, social media accounts, and other digital mediums. This can be an overwhelming task without some help. Utilizing one of the many online tools available for content curation certainly lessens the pressure of finding content on your own. If you are looking for an easy way to curate web content for your marketing campaign, try one of these eight easy ways.

1) Pocket

Pocket, as its name suggests, is the virtual equivalent of putting something in your pocket for later. With just the click of a button, Pocket saves a digital item or article for later viewing on your phone, tablet or computer. You don’t even need an internet connection.

2) Pinterest

Not just a place to find recipes and DIY project, the virtual bulletin board Pinterest is a great way to find content and an even better way to organize it. Just be careful while you are combing the pages to not get sucked into a funny meme board and lose your way.

3) Family Features

If you are looking for full article content to supplement your original content, services like Family Features can help. family-feature--e1375032954731They offer both automated solutions and a la carte options for your blog or website. They also offer Spanish language translation if you have Spanish speaking readers.

4) Pearltrees

Pearltrees is a place to collect and organize online content in a natural way. Just like the name suggests, Pearltrees allows users to organize online data into “trees” in a similar way to Pinterest’s boards. Rachel Metscher PearltreeUsers can invite others to collaborate on a tree or users can split the tree into sections to share.

5) Stumblupon

Stumbleupon is a service that recommends pages based on your interests. You can thumbs up or thumbs down to content Stumbleupon suggests. Users can also bookmark and curate favorites. Many sites across the web have a “Stumble It” button for users to bookmark content. Stumbleupon learns from bookmarks to make better suggestions for content.

6) Twitter

Twitter may surprise you as a mention on this list, but with certain features it can be a great curation tool. Plus, you are probably already using Twitter anyway. You can use the “favorites” features to save worthwhile tweets or tweets you want to read later. You can also build Twitter lists of related accounts which is a curation tool on its own.

7) Faveous

Can’t remember which social network you found that article or video you wanted to use for a blog? With Faveous, you can collect all those favorite items in one place across social platforms. faveous--e1375037012419Faveous automatically saves any of your likes, tweets, favorites, etc. into one place for easier viewing later. For example, if you find an article on your mobile phone, but don’t want to read it on the small screen, you can later log onto Faveous to read it on your computer’s larger screen.

8 ) allows you to create your own online newspaper by curating articles and content from your favorite sites. It’s an excellent way to share a large amount of content in one place and a unique way to present it.

Original article appeared on Social Media Strategies Summit blog.

Wendy Parish is a communication consultant and owner of Wendy Parish Consulting. She helps clients get the word out in a variety of mediums. You can find her writing smeared all over the internet at a variety of sites including Marketing Dive, DIY Insanity, and of course her tweets @ParishWendy. Her career has taken her to the U.K. and all over the U.S, but she now resides in Iowa and couldn’t be happier.