Tag Archives: business

Ten Questions You Should Ask Before Making the Social Media Leap

This week, Enrollment Management Report editor published her interview with me and Concordia University’s social media manager, Veronica Steele, on how to create successful social media strategies. Great read for folks looking for best practice on implementing social media across an organization.

I think it is important to note social media strategy can’t happen unless the organization is ready to be truly social.  This readiness or rather willingness for social media got me thinking about what questions you should ask before making the social leap.

If you want more people in your organization to start taking social media more seriously, start thinking about if your organization is truly ready for change. A couple of things to consider:

  • Are your stakeholders both internal and external using social media to connect and share information about you, your organization, or market trends in your industry?
  • Are you ready to listen?
  • Do you have resources both in terms of human capital and tools?
  • Who are you going to share with? Identify your audience.
  • Similar to audience, who is your ideal persona using social media that you want to engage with?
  • Are senior leaders accepting of social media?
  • Do your senior leaders use social media regularly?
  • Is human resources ready to deal with some of the unpleasant aspects of social media?
  • Besides your team or department, who else will participate?
  • Are you ready to prepare training and constant encouragement?

The above list could be lengthier, but the point is to think about social media more than a marketing or public relations function.  Social business has to be the whole company and everyone needs to be involved in the change. Ron Ashkenas wrote in the Harvard Business Review that one of the challenges of change management is strengthening managers’ ability to manage change. I like Ron’s article because similarly with change management, we have a tendencies to pass the social buck to someone else in our organization in hope that it will work. While you need someone to drive the proverbial social media bus, you do need other to contribute.

If we don’t make folks accountable the change will never occur no matter the amount of training or passion. This is why social businesses like Zappos are winning at the social media game. Zappos and others alike understood the organizational necessity for this type of change. It is either everyone is all-in in performing and creating social media programs or not. This type of buy-in has to occur from senior leaders to entry level employees. Social media change does  not happen by chance, but rather on purpose.

If you are thinking about where you are in the continuum, consider this excerpt from an HBR in 2007 about why organization change fails. I like the chart because it serves as a check list for social media strategist. As you move throw the stages of getting social to be acceptable think about where you are and where you like to be. I always think it is crazy when organization’s don’t have a plan in place. Would you create a website without a plan? Probably not.

Rachel Metscher Ten Questions Your Should Ask Before Making the Social Leap

Artwork from HBR article by John P. Kotter on Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail

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The Business Case for Social Media Keeps Growing

Last month, I updated a previous post about the importance of earned media to your SEO strategy. And at the rate  social media changes, looks like I have another reason to post an update on how the business case for social media keeps growing.

This morning I was reading Media Bistro’s All Twitter article abut how hugely important social media signals are to a strong SEO ranking. Not just important, but hugely important.  No surprises here, but I think the article does have some awesome nuggets to share.

  • Seven of the top ten important SEO rankings come for social media (debatable, but I think the author provides some good assertions)
  • Several technical factors play a role in SEO: length of url, position of key words, etc.
  • Quality Content is still important.

You can check out the image.

All of this is to say, that I love articles that say what you already know. Social media is not a nice to have, but a necessity. I think at the speed in which social media is growing is scary, perhaps fearful, but that’s why you need to embrace change now.

This is why folks are fighting for corporate change in their organizations to be more social. And let’s be clear, being a social business is not just about marketing, it is about the whole business. Be the disruptive change or diva in your organization to usher social media into the business. You will need to start small because change is hard, but the reward is huge. Rewards for businesses who get that social media is more than just clicks and likes, will be:

  • More profitable. (think Zappos)
  • Better connected with their clients and prospects
  • Mostly have better internal engagement with employees
  • Understanding of real time trends

Nobody wants to say no to more profits, but sometimes infusing this type of change takes a long, long time. It takes planning, strategy, bravery, and guts to get this done. Are you up for the challenge?

Six More Tips For Building a Social Media Roadmap

Last Friday, I published an article in MarketingProfs that outlined a roadmap to create social media strategy rather than tactic. So far, it is generating a lot of conversation on why you must first outline goals and strategies before jumping metaphorically into the social pool.

It has been several months since I wrote this article. Given a fresh set of eyes and points readers have made,  I wanted to add to my to my list of five. Here are some more thoughts to building a successful social media roadmap.

Measurement

One of the readers commented that measurement needed to move up on the priority list. Fair statement, but I think first before any measurement can be assessed, your organization needs to have the framework in place first. Logically putting measurement first doesn’t make sense unless the framework is in place.

Expertise

If social is going to work in your organization, you need to be an expert at leading implementation of strategy and tactic. It is really important to understand this ever-changing business beyond deliver and promotion. I talk a lot about that social media is merely a vehicle to a human need we all have:  we want to belong and connect with others. Whether it was the writing, talking on the phone, sending an e-card of funny cats, we all want to communicate with others and share. If you forget social media is about learning, sharing, and experiencing you will treat this channel like an other communication channel such as e-mail or direct mail. Don’t forget the human that is behind those tweets or LinkedIn posts.

Tough Conversations Ahead

One of the commenters discussed the importance of presence on major social channels. I wouldn’t say you need to have a presence on every channel, but  think really hard what value you bring to your future clients, curent customers, and marketplace. If you are in a small department or the only resource dedicated to social media it’s hard to be everywhere. Pick and choose where you bring real value. Solve for the Customer first. Your ego is last.

No Matter How Hard You Plan, Folks Will Still Focus on the Shiny Object

Image brought to you by http://livingsu.syr.edu/. Go Orangemen!

Image brought to you by http://livingsu.syr.edu/. Go Orangemen!

Make no illusions that focusing on strategy rather than tactic is hard. Really hard. You will inevitably have higher ups or your manager just plainly say, ” We need to be on X.” Change this conversation around by performing a content audit of what your currently have to share. Without thinking about the content you will share or the value you provide, then it is about you rather than the customer. Get ready to have a lot of discussion about this. You may win some and you could lost some. Pick your battles wisely.

Don’t Forget the impact to Brand

Every been on Twitter and looked up a brand that has 10 different handles? Think long and hard why different business units or products need their own space. Ultimately, in my opinion, your are splitting your audience and your efforts. When possible keep your audience together.

Social Media is Not a Short Term Game

One of the readers talked about what ways can you get folks on board to be a more social business. I wish there were a silver bullet for adoption, but there isn’t. What you can do is be clear on what you want to achieve and how each person’s contribution supports your strategy. Here is the excerpt to my response:

First, and most important, everyone needs to be trained and understand his or her contributing role to social media. I think some folks are not interested because of time or not sure how this relates to their day job. So you have to be explicit what you are asking from them. Liz Bullock, formerly of Dell, did a great job outlining how she implemented company-wide adoption, http://www.slideshare.net/LizBullock1/achieve-buy-in-at-all-levels-creating…. Second, I think getting folks on board with social media is like any other change management project; you need to set expectations, training, evaluate what works (or doesn’t) and repeat. Another read worth considering, is Altimeter report on the career path of a social strategist, http://www.slideshare.net/jeremiah_owyang/career-social-strategist . It helped me put in context that some of the challenges were not unique to just me, but anyone who’s working on getting social media accepted in their organization.

Overall, it is a fun ride to to implement and gain company-wide adoption of social media. If you are up to the challenge, buckle up!

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.

Three Traits Social Media and Foreign Exchange Students Have in Common

Social media strategist and foreign exchange students have a lot in common surprisingly. Both speak and act differently than your usual run-of-the-mill communications or marketing professional.

The best part about working on social media projects is you get the chance to work with cool people both externally and internally. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet Liz Bullock, former Dell Social Media Director, to discuss all things social media.  Liz and I were chatting about some of the great and perhaps not so-awesome things that occur when you are moving your business from 1.0 to social.

It was great to speak with someone who, like me, had built a case for social media by stressing the importance of training and how it is key in adoption. Amen!  (If you haven’t heard me beat that drum loud and clear, training is vitally important to the business of social)

While these conversations were awesome, who doesn’t relish in the opportunity to commensurate. I expressed to Liz that I often feel like an anomaly; the only one who gets what social media is about. She laughed and said, “Not an anomaly, more like a foreign exchange student.” Intrigued, I asked her to explain. So here’s the gist of our conversation:

1)    Social media people speak another language. If tweets, shares, or retweets are in your vernacular, then you speak a foreign language. To be honest, social media strategists and their marketing counterparts could have done themselves a favor by speaking in business terms or outcomes right from the beginning.

Artwork originally found on www.herald-dispatch.com

Artwork originally found on http://www.herald-dispatch.com

Think about this in terms of explaining why a social program was successful to your manager or senior executive. It generally doesn’t work.

Solution: Don’t talk in terms of jargon, talk in business terms.  When I shared how we improved the customer experience by taking care of customer support issues via social media – that’s when executives started to listen. It wasn’t about the transactional metrics of “we have XX followers;” it was about mitigating risks and taking care of the customer. Taking care of your customers will equal in better relationships and ultimately more revenue opportunities.

2)   Not only do we speak a foreign language, but we also see the business world differently. Folks who truly understand the power of using social for business approach problems and invent solutions differently than most of their contemporaries. It is easy to understand why many companies run to the next shiny object (Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr) and create pages but grow disappointed when their expectations don’t match reality. Social media strategists understand that it is possible to build a social media nirvana, but it can’t be done without a plan.  Not planning is planning to fail- Hillary Clinton.

3)   People are nice, at first. Remember when you were in middle school or high school and you met the foreign exchange student? Everyone on the first day is so nice and accommodating. By week two, all those friendly faces forget that coming to the States is a hard transition and resort to calling their habits “strange.” When you introduce a new concept everyone is nice, but when it comes to implementation, the gloves are off. Change is hard folks, especially when it comes to changing your perception of what social is and how it can be applied to your day job.

Bonus: You’re different. Just like European tourists who rock fanny packs. It has been my experience that folks who work in social media tend to be the disruptive type. We question the status quo, we like to try new things, which is why we tend to adopt things earlier than everyone else.  The social role is changing, but it can only change for the better if you’re up to the challenge.

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.