Tag Archives: strategy

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.

Mid-Atlantic District Chesapeake Conference: Presentation

I had a great time presenting at the 2012 PRSA Mid-Atlantic District Chesapeake Conference today. I shared my “learned lessons” on how to implement social media in my organization, but more importantly how you can do it yourself.

Most of the folks were apart of small to large organizations, but they all shared the same interest: How can I use social Media in my work?

You can find my presentation here.

Happy Reading!

When Tactics, Not Strategy Drives Your Social Media

This topic is top of mind after a discussion I had the other day with colleagues. Many times in organizations internal stakeholders discuss tactics rather than strategies. Who is going to post this to Facebook? We should tweet this out from the corporate versus the product handle. This is a waste of energy for one simple reason: without a comprehensive, clear objective your tactics will never substitute a strategy.

I run into this often in my current role. Many folks want to change the conversation from “what’s the ultimate goal of using social media” to “I think we should be on Pinterest?” Bad move. Without a clear goal on why you want to use social media, whether it is to increase brand awareness, client engagement, or decrease customer support inquiries you will never get beyond tactical conversation that yield boo. Yeah, I said boo. This is a circular conversation that is like a rocking chair. Everyone feels great that they are “accomplishing a task,” but it is going nowhere.

How can you change the tide to be more productive?

1)   Figure out whether your social efforts will be driven by product or brand. Both have plusses and minuses. Personally, I think brand should be running the social media show in order to ensure one voice, one message. Doesn’t mean brand is the only stakeholder, but whomever in your group/ organizations manages the company’s message should be the ringleader. Then involve stakeholders throughout the organization: sales, services, HR, your senior leaders, and most importantly employees. In other words, what people do you plan to use in order to implement your social media attack plan.

2)   Write down your objectives. Please. How can you be “successfully” running or maintain social media without planning out what you plan to achieve? Without a plan you are just “posting” or “tweeting” for the sake of doing it. Pointless and will not yield anything other than you feel good about yourself. Hi-five for you.

3)   Once you have objectives, wait for the dirty word, what “Strategy” will you implement. By definition the word strategy (I used Wikipedia), is plan of action designed to achieve a specific goal. Strategy is all about gaining (or being prepared to gain) a position of advantage over adversaries or best exploiting emerging possibilities. There is it is kids, a plan. Just because you are posting to Facebook or using Twitter doesn’t mean you have a social media strategy. Don’t embarrass yourself by thinking otherwise.

4)   After the groundwork is built, then you figure out where your audience is. Are they on Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest. If so then how many? Is it worth your effort to reach this audience?

5)   Now that you did this amazing work, how will you measure it? For me, I measured our work based on metrics tied to awareness (transactional data, i.e. followership), engagement (social shares, website traffic, time on site) and alignment (with corporate and department goals). I had monthly reports on this and then completed six-month report to our senior folks.

Overall, changing from tactic is more than words. It’s about establishing your business as a social business, not just a social brand. It’s about the action, but about the thought and reason why you are participating in social media. In order to build a social business there must be buy-in at both the employee and senior leader.   More to come on building a social business, not just brand.

Social Media Needs to Involve Others, but There’s a Catch (Part 4)

In my past entries I explained the four things I learning while implementing a corporate social media strategy.

4)    Social Media Needs to Involve Others, but There’s a Catch

My final point or tip I learn is that everyone needs to participate in social media, otherwise your efforts will be 1) minimized and 2) only seen as a marketing or communications “thing.” 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. Rather instead of focusing on the 100 percent, focus on those who are interested and want to participate. If they “raise their hand” make sure your provide them with social media guidelines or a playbook. This doesn’t need to be the length of War and Peace, however, should provide your employees with guidance on what not to do and what is considered acceptable.

A good example is Red Cross Social Media Playbook.

If that’s too in-depth, here is what I focused on with our company (outline):

  • FAQ
  • When You Engage
  • Procedures ( essentially, what you should and should not be doing)
  • Our style guide on social media
  • How we response to flagrant or negative comments (response)

The above may be too much or too little, but ultimately you want to give your people some guidance before letting them loose. While social media may be free, the impact on your brand is forever. Anything that lives on Twitter or LinkedIn is for everyone to not only see, but also make an impression.

Ultimately, while it is create to have hundreds of your employees be your brand ambassadors (think Zappos), you still need to tread with caution. Not because your folks will do the unthinkable, but because if you do not set the expectation of what you expect from them, you will be disappointed or worse embarrassed. Not everyone thinks before before they post. You would be surprise on the number of inappropriate or ridiculous posts I have seen with folks who thought they were living the brand.

It is worth a conversation with your HR team too. Make sure you work with your internal stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Four Nuggets I Learned Developing a Global Social Media Strategy (Part 2)

2)   Everyone else is an expert

There is a difference between using social media and making it work for your organization. In not about tweeting or posting, it is about building a plan that includes both strategy and tactic. Most folks I talk to would rather get into the weeds and talk about tactics such as, “ I think we should post six times a day” rather than “our goal in using social media is …, we will achieve our goals by implementing X, Y, and Z.” Two different approaches that will yield different results.

Being an expert isn’t about tweeting or posting on Facebook, it is about knowing how and when to implement. There’s a difference in any social media presence when someone behind the team is a strategist versus practitioner. A strategist asks “why” before evening putting anything out in the socialsphere, the tactical marketer puts it out there and see’s what sticks.

Ultimately it comes down to do you know why your doing social media.  To put this in perspective, I default to my token phrase, “ Just because my 16 year old niece is on Facebook, doesn’t make her an expert at Facebook.”