Tag 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.


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: info.socious.com

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.

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.

20 Signs You’re a Public Relations Hipster

Last week, my friend asked for some advice with a personal brand project. Her assignment was to help her team build their personal brand within the company and crowded marketplace.

So, if you are going to tell others how to create a rockstar profile, you have to practice what you preach. Naturally, her folks checked out my profile and came up with my personal brand, PR Hipster.

Loving this concept, I did some more research. When I think of hipster, what comes to mind is someone inevitably wearing hip clothes, Ray Bans, drinks coffee often and a lot of it, and usually has a stellar vocab. Perhaps the team was right?  According to Urban dictionary,  hipster is more than fashion:

Public Relations HipsterAlthough hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals.

So what are the other signs of a Public Relations Hipster?

  1. You know the marriage between digital and public relations is coming.
  2. You’re planning on the convergence between paid and earn media.
  3. You love social media and use it often for work and personal.
  4. While you tinker with new social media tools, you know a plan and a strategy are needed.
  5. You are the first one in a meeting to think how to repurpose content.
  6. You consider yourself a storyteller.
  7. If there’s not a plan, you put one in place.
  8. You frown upon trite media campaigns in favor of thoughtful and thought provoking content.
  9. You ask “so what” and “why” often.
  10.  You understand how Content+Social+Public Relations is a winning equation.
  11. You question the norm often.
  12. You understand short and sweet is the best kind of media release.
  13. When pitching you understand personalization and relationships are key.
  14.  You get that selling new ideas is about change management.
  15. You love your haters. They are your motivators.
  16. You have learned the art of selective hearing and ignore noise.
  17. You are sometimes a contrarian.
  18. You wear plaid and other retro articles of clothing.Of Course!
  19. You likely to share your love of documentaries or indie rock.
  20. Your don’t worry about whatever everyone else is doing. You forge ahead and build awesome public relations programs.
  21. Bonus: You are disruptive by nature.

What would you add as a sign for public relations hipsters?

Added from my colleague, Allison O’Quinn:

  1. There’s an unnatural obsession to stay on top of all the latest celebrity gossip.
  2. You tend to be the event planner in your group of friends.
  3. constantly fine tuning your organizational style and discussing it with colleagues (or anyone that’ll listen).

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