Tag Archives: marketing

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 plaques 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.

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:

Happy Birthday Metscher’s Musing

Its been one year since I started Metscher’s Musing based on my experience in communications, social media, and public relations. The blog has been an amazing experience. I am glad that after talking it in concept  for more than a year, it went live on August 12, 2012.

Happy_Birthday_Metscher_MusingsSince then the blog has been shared not only in the States, but also in United Kingdom, Australia, and many other countries. Amazing! Thank you so much for reading and sharing my posts. There are many, many blogs to choose from and thank you for taking the time!

365 Days Later…54 Posts and Counting

Since my first post in August 2012, I have written 54 posts on a variety of topics such as social media trials and tribulations, communications best practices, and public relations trends. I listed my top posts for you, but don’t be shy. Check out my other musings.

  1. Six Reasons Why Your Sales Folks Don’t Use Social Media
  2. The Undervalue of a Thank You
  3. Fun Fact Fridays: Nine LinkedIn Tips for Introverts
  4. 16 Ways to Successfully Fuel Your Content Curation Machine
  5. Ten Questions You Should Ask Before Making the Social Media Leap
  6. 16 and One Ways on How to be a Better Storyteller
  7. Six More Tips For Building a Social Media Roadmap
  8. Why is Earned Media Important to Your SEO Strategy?
  9. 4 Reasons Why a Blog Helps Your Personal Brand
  10. #FunFactFridays: Do’s and Don’ts When Working with PR Folks
  11. How to Run an Internal Social Media Training Workshop
  12. Six Tips to Be More Creative in Your Public Relations Work (Part One)

 

 

Rachel DiCaro Metscher, director of advocacy and communications for Hobsons, has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. Currently, Rachel is responsible for Hobsons’ external communication programs, which include public relations, brand, website, and social media.

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

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!

Link

Fun Fact Fridays: 15 Interesting Nuggets about Digital

Fun Fact Fridays: 15 Interesting Nuggets about Digital

Like many of you folks, I love reading. I especially love reading different articles about how digital media is changing the how we communicate with our audience. DigiDay posted this nugget this morning. Here is an excerpt of the 15 facts:

  1. 2 billion: Number of online video views for the 76 episodes of Chinese drama “Zhen Huan Zhuan.”
  2. 72: Number of hours of content that’s uploaded every minute to YouTube. (YouTube)
  3. 85 percent: Amount of smartphone/tablet owners who use their devices while watching TV at least once during the month (Nielsen)

Social Digital Media

So what does this mean for communicators and marketers? To me, this is a clear indication  that we must produce quality content that people can:

  1. View.
  2. Share while multitasking.
  3. Want to talk about.

Easy tasks right? I think the above is if you take the position like Hubspot, the inbound marketing company, in which all project answer this question, S.F.T.C.

Solve For the Customer.

Your Number One Asset in Branding

Communication folks  often evaluate who is their best audience/channel for  projects. Who’s the target? Primary? Secondary? But more times than not, we forget to add the biggest audience we have in our corner: our employees.

I recently chatted with AMA’s Marketing News reporter, Christine Birkner about the importance of using employees in rebranding.

AMA Marketing News

AMA Marketing News

Leverage employees is key to winning the messaging battle.It is your ace in your hand because employees are vested in telling their story. Financially anyhow.

If your frontline folks don’t know what the key messages are, you are losing the game. Period.