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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Nine Rules of Engagement… Marketing

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Long before the social web, people would get to know those who they did business with on a personal level. Now we have built Customer Relationship Management systems so that we have some understanding of who our customers are, how often we are talking to them, what products they are interested in, etc. to help us manage customer service and automate sales and marketing. This has not changed the fundamental truth that,

“People do business with people they know, like and trust.”

~Rachelle Disbennett-Lee, PhD

By engaging our communities through face-to-face experiences and the social web, we have a new opportunity to reconnect our brands with the people we do business with. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Don’t focus so much on Second Life that you forget people have a “first life”

My 14-year-old son was talking to his best friend about “leveling” his character while playing World of Warcraft. I asked them what level they were in real life. A deeply philosophical discussion ensued, and then, for the rest of the afternoon, they played with each other outside.

In all the buzz about social media and web 2.0, we seem to be forgetting that the most important interactions take place in person. Make sure you allow opportunities for people to experience your brand in person. This is what builds real relationships.

2. Experience Matters

I saw John Mayer perform at a BlackBerry event in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. There were some folks in the audience that were so focused on taking pictures of the concert with their mobile devices to share with their friends, they seemed to forget that there was a special experience happening that was just for them.

Without experiences we would have nothing to share on blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and the like. Engage your audiences face-to-face in a meaningful way, and they will become your brand advocates, both on and offline.

3. Its Not About You

While I was at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, I was amazed at the inward focus most of the leading consumer electronics companies had about their brands. Some products were larger, some were faster, some were better looking, but at the end of the day, it was all about them.

It reminded me of a band of gorillas standing around and beating their chests in the hopes of attracting a mate.For face-to-face experiences to be successful, they need to be customer-centric among other things. The same holds true for engagement online. Think of your most successful personal relationships. No one likes to hang around people who talk about themselves all the time.

4. Engagement Marketing Hasn’t Driven a Single Sale…

…its influenced millions of them. According to Forrester Research, the traditional sales funnel has radically evolved from awareness, consideration, preference, action and loyalty, to a maze of recommendations from friends, peer reviews, competitive alternatives and user-generated content resulting in both buyers and contributors.

Make sure your legacy linear marketing and sales models reflect this, and adjust as necessary. How are you influencing both contributors and potential buyers in the sales process? Marketing and sales efforts need to be community-focused. This is true for both face-to-face and online interactions.

5. Engagement is Even More Important After the Sale

According to Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company,

  • “Businesses may lose as many as 1/2 of their customers over a 5 year period.
  • “Acquiring a new customer can cost 6 to 7 times more than retaining an existing customer.”
  • “Businesses who boosted customer retention rates by as little as 5% saw increases in their profits ranging from 5% to a whopping 95%.” 

Make sure you balance your face-to-face and online marketing activities to address everyone in your community all the time. This includes influencers, suspects, prospects, customers and brand advocates.

6. Engagement is an Ongoing Conversation

Earlier this week, I was reviewing the social media presence of some of the world’s largest brands. Some of which have been my clients, and some have not. I was interested to find that many had set up FaceBook Pages, Twitter profiles and the like, but have long since abandoned them. Instead, the communities have taken over and driven the conversation, sometimes in a very unfavorable way to the brand.

You wouldn’t open a restaurant or retail store, or set up a tradeshow and not show up. Why behave that way online? Have we learned nothing from Dell Hell and the Comcast technician asleep on the couch? Listen, and participate in the conversation.

7. Mobility Brings the Conversation Full Circle

In the beginning, there were face-to-face interactions with a brand. Then these face-to-face interactions would drive further community engagement online. Mobile engagement takes place at the same time everywhere. You can be having a face-to-face experience while you are engaging your mobile and online communities. A person can truly be in more than one place at once!

The opportunities and potential for the integration of mobility, online and face-to-face marketing are boundless. Consider tapping into the power of mobility and integrating it into your engagement plan.

8.“What We Do in Life, Echoes in Eternity…”

~Maximus, Gladiator - (I loved that movie) …or as Forrester puts it,

“what brands do offline echoes online.”

Long before there were mobile devices, computers, or even telephones, people would have a brand experience, either positive or negative, in person. This would influence their perception of a brand. Sometimes, they would share this experience with their friends which would in turn influence them. According to Jack Trout,

“Marketing is not a battle of products. It’s a battle of perceptions.”

A study conducted by the Event Marketing Institute found,

  • 98% of people will recommend your brand after a positive experience(50% will tell at least 4 people)
  • 95% will trash you based on a negative experience(62% telling at least 4 people)

Create a strategy that integrates your face-to-face activities with online and mobile activities. Helping to facilitate the conversation across your marketing portfolio, or before, during and after an event will ensure your investment has reach well beyond the original point in time of the event, creating a ripple effect. This long tail will not only help foster new acquaintances, but build deeper relationships.

9. Measurement is critical to continuous improvement and ongoing success

As marketers, we’ve been searching for the end of the rainbow for some time now. Understanding the optimal number, frequency, cadence and type of tactics helps us improve our art and our science. Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer writes,

“The problem with trying to determine ROI for social media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable.” 

I understand Jason’s point, but would add human interactions and conversations are quantifiable to a point. We can quantify number of engagements, and through the application of semantic technologies, we can understand whether these engagements were positive or negative, but social media alone does not provide ROI.

Events on the other hand are quite measurable. In a recent BrandWeek article, the latest EventView study was discussed. Twenty-six percent of survey respondents said event marketing is the discipline that drives the greatest return-on-investment.

By combining social media and face-to-face strategies and measuring the relationship between the two, we can understand how engagement marketing moves the ROI needle. Monetize portfolios and campaigns, not just individual tactics, and we’ll get closer to finding the end of that rainbow.

How an Organization is Using Social Media to Increase Awareness and Significantly Impact Lives

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

On-line networks are filled with information about social media and how companies are using it as a way to increase brand awareness and form closer, more meaningful relationships with their customers.  However, the skepticism among B2B marketers remains.  You can Google dozens of blog comments and articles where marketers still don’t associate social marketing with bottom line results.  Marketers are demanding more quantitative data on social marketing.  As a B2B marketer, I am continuously looking for examples of how social media has created an impact, whether financially or socially, and have provided one for my January post.I had the pleasure of chatting with fellow marketer Danny Brown about social media and how he’s using it to get the word out on his latest project www.12for12K.org, a charity organization that focuses on helping 12 charities, a different one each month, for 12 months.  January’s charity, War Child, provides relief for children of war torn countries like Gaza and Afghanistan. 

Q.     What sparked your desire to start the 12for12K initiative, what it is, and why use social media to do it?

A.      I’ve been involved with charities for a while. I don’t know when it was that the idea for 12for12k came to me – maybe it was an epiphany? I guess it started as “What can I do for 12 months?” and then the numbers came – 12 months, 12 charities, 1200 people, $10 per person per charity, $12,000 per charity.Once the idea was in place, I knew social media was the way to go. The outreach you have on places like Twitter and Facebook, as well as the connections that you make and that they make in return, made social media an obvious channel for the 12for12k project. The first week has been slow as people come back from the holidays, but we have some big plans for promotional pushes over the next couple of weeks.

Q.   With all the mixed press out there about social media (i.e., it’s a fad, doesn’t deliver ROI, etc.).  Describe two ways you think social media will endure the test of time and provide value for organizations.

A.    I think the main reason for organizations to get involved and use it is the cost factor. For example, instead of spending $50,000 on a PR campaign, why not spend $5,000 on a coordinated social media PR campaign instead? Use the tools that are available and spread the word that way? Of course, still have some form of traditional PR working alongside it, but nowhere near $50,000 worth.

The other real benefit is the connection social media can offer between businesses and their customers. With the unsure economy and reduced consumer spending, you need to keep your customers – connecting with them via the likes of Twitter and blogging and actually interacting with them will reap its own rewards. I always liken social media ROI to “Risk of Ignoring” – that’s where the value comes in.

Q.  How has social media benefited your own business and how do you measure its value?

A.  From a business point of view, it’s allowed me to get my brand and services in front of people I may have otherwise struggled to (from a logistical point of view). I can have a short bio on Twitter, people know what I do and how I do it, and that’s on view 24/7 to potentially 4 million people. Just the other day I met with a potential new client who found me on Twitter, liked what I was saying and set up a meeting.

Of course, it’s not just Twitter – there’s LinkedIn and FastPitch and many others, as well as using my blog to offer views on something that might help people. As far as measuring its value, it’s a waiting game, and I always advise my clients of this. It won’t be an overnight success; it won’t happen within a few short weeks.

But if you can build solid relationships with people through social media and offer as much of your service as you do promoting it, you’ll build a link that’s hard to break. People will come to you first and that kind of connection and trust is where the real value lies.

Danny Brown is a long-time corporate communications, marketing and promotions professional who has been involved in social media for six years.  He owns PressReleasePR, a boutique agency specializing in search engine optimized press releases and social media PR.   He has guest authored at Web Analytics World , is a blog partner of WebProNews and iEntry, and regular contributor to the  Dad-o-Matic project.

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Anna Barcelos is an AMA member and monthly blog contributor with 15 years of B2B/B2C marketing experience.  She is constantly on the look-out for best practices in both traditional and on-line marketing and likes to share it with fellow marketers through her blog and social media sites like Twitter (@ableo2).  Currently she’s the Director of Marketing & Business Development for a RI-based messaging (email/voice/surveys/SMS/fax) technology company.

Economic Crisis Is a Social Media Opportunity for Smart Nonprofits

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Hi to all. I’m sending you this quick post during this time of extreme economic crisis in our country and around the world as a possible result of greed on Wall Street.

Sad economic state of affairs - I don’t mind saying this to you because on behalf of nonprofits everywhere, doing the hard work of keeping people together, this next year or more will be very difficult. See this special report by the Philanthropy Journal. Read this article with a grain of salt in the palm of your hand.

Keep learning - I find that the traditional national associations of nonprofits or even grant makers are a little behind the curve where communications strategy is concerned. By this I mean, many senior folks are not tuned in to social media. Everyone says they don’t have time to learn how to use the media. This is a silly excuse. I am sorry to sound tough on people whose leadership has resulted in the wonderful array of 501 (c) 3s in the U.S. that competently serve the disenfranchised. But during the next year, not a single CEO or communicator can afford not to think about how to use social media. Also, join the Center of Nonprofit Excellence in Charlottesville. I have not yet seen a more nimble web presence able to provide info and wisdom to nonprofits. 

Debating the value of social media vs. use of traditional media - see my letter to the editor in The New York Times Magazine, Sept, 21.  It is a comment on an article published two weeks prior in the New York Times Magazine, Sept. 7 (Clive Thompson, “Digitally Close To You”).  All of you should/could read and benefit from this.

Just Do It - All is not lost. I am not encouraging you to fold up your nonprofit tents and go home. Quite the contrary: keep in mind that social media can boost your fund-raising, help reach an audience or audiences you haven’t even touched yet, and give you hope for the future. Also look for upcoming information about a new media conference sponsored by the Society for New Communications Research on November 14 in Cambridge, Mass.

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The Nonprofit build-up—More important than the event itself

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Hi all. I want to refer back to a point made in my previous post (Nonprofits-Begin to learn about the social media) about the “build-up” required when implementing a strategic marketing plan for your nonprofit. This post will explain how to get started when thinking about a build-up.

Myths: When using social media, e.g., blog, creating an excellent Web site, doing an email blast to notify people about an upcoming event, most communicators have the mistaken impression that one email blast is sufficient. Or, if you build a Web site, they will come. Or, if we just make the blog long and meaningful, it will draw an audience.

Build-up is more important than the event itself: These beliefs are understandable if your experience with social media is limited to using email and producing print publications and posters. Let’s say you want to raise crucially needed funds by staging an event. The build-up is actually more important than the event itself. This phase of creating excitement about your organization presents huge opportunities to:

(1) Clarify the mission of your organization
(2) Communicate energy and commitment, and
(3) Get people prepared to read, absorb and use the crucially important request or announcement you are planning to distribute in the future.

Build-up components: The build-up phase includes two aspects. (Plan ahead because it will take some time.)

 (1) Creation of substantive, irresistibly engaging information

Develop brief and well-written content about your nonprofit’s work. (Borrow generously from previous writing.) For example, post on your Web site a lively, engaging article profiling a young person for whom you identified services. (Look at MercyCorps for an excellent example of emotionally moving profiles spotlighted on the home page.

Or, develop a bibliography of relevant, informative articles or an index of occasions when your nonprofit organization has been in the news. Create a brief photo gallery of gorgeous images of your kids, your families, your staff at work, or of your facilities.

(2) Development of a strategic approach. Here are the rudiments:

- With every communication (electronic or print), encourage the recipient to forward the information to interested colleagues and friends.
- Give the recipient the option to opt-out with each email blast.
- Use brief, punchy text-only messages – include no images. Avoid using a Constant Contact™ newsletter platform unless you have a graphic artist and IT specialist who can devote a lot of upfront time to this.
- When ready, prepare a communication to your current database of constituents advising that you will be emailing important information to them occasionally.
- Think about how often you can refresh your engaging information for your audience, e.g., perhaps a new, uniquely important communication every 4-6 weeks.

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Nonprofits—Begin to learn about the social media

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

In this post, I want to repeat what I mentioned in my first post: Set aside time every week to learn more about the social media. Nonprofit communicators have a unique opportunity to employ any of an array of social media tools – these are low-cost (often downloadable for free) and very often effective. Here are some suggestions:

Combat your biases: Shel Holtz, marketer par excellence and observer of social media, warns in a recent podcast about communicators who have a “visceral” reaction to social media and therefore don’t explore it. The emotional reaction is palpable: it often has something to do with feeling “old”, perhaps out-of-step and feeling self-conscious about it.

New resource: Every Dot Connects is a group originating in Austin, which has opened a store online (via Facebook) to help you with social media:  Every Dot Connects.

FIR produced by Shel Holtz – Go to the latest podcast and see what you can learn about social media applications: FIR.

Pass “Go:” When you identify a tool or platform that might have an application to your campaign, you can pass go after you do some thinking and planning. Example: If you work with the fundraising unit (or person) at your nonprofit:

(1) Define your audiences and their preferences,
(2) Identify all the media to be used and sketch out some deadlines, and
(3) Set your financial goal. Be sure to include a build-up in your marketing plan.

Example: Think about how to “reel in” your audiences, i.e., inspire interest and potential loyalty. Entice donor prospects with not only new information but also real-time, breathtaking reports about the issues you represent. You have to build your audience’s loyalty step-by-step, decide how you’ll identify the point at which you can make your “ask.” Think hard about how to ask, what medium to use, and what sort of repetition will work for you. If anyone has examples of the “step by step” to increasing loyalty to your nonprofit, please share.

Alerting NASA: Planet 2.0 Discovered

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Imagine a world where your personal and professional contributions are measured by the perceptions of your peers. Would you act differently? Would you become more extroverted or covert in day-to-day actions to avoid getting judged or eliciting potentially negative feedback? Can you fathom a world that no longer measures you on your productivity but rather defines you solely on the assessments of your peers? Could this be the future for all of us in Planet 2.0?

If everything was riding on the words of your peers, would there be a cultural change and would your friends and colleagues become virtual informants? I pose these questions at 2 am on a Friday night (and my first blog submission is already two weeks overdue…) attempting to understand the future implications of Web 2.0. According to Tim O’Reilly, “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them, harnessing collective intelligence.” For those of you unfamiliar with Tim O’Reilly, he’s widely credited for coining the term “Web 2.0” amongst his many other achievements.

As a marketer, I am completely fascinated by human behavior, not only buying habits of certain segments but the surge in popularity of viral marketing and the  prominence of highly networked influencers. These people who are classified as “influencers” tend to be just like you and me in physical form and appearance but walk through life possessing clout and credibility that causes others to take action. Tim O’Reilly would be classified as an influencer who through his books and efforts has made certain technologies top-of-mind in many circles.

With my first blog submission, I am by no means attempting to influence you to remove your profile from Facebook or never again critique a book on Amazon.com, but I want you to understand that despite the brilliance of Web 2.0, there are cultural implications of social media that we do not yet understand. I leave you with a question: what are the cultural and social implications of Web 2.0 and does society have a contingency plan or simply a crisis communications plan if as reviewers and auditors of those around us we become too exposed or inaccurately portrayed? The personal brand that you once owned now ceases to exist and metamorphoses into something beyond your control – are you ready for a disaster recovery of yourself? Or, in order to generate positive assessments from colleagues and peers, you start to modify your behavior to such an extent that you eventually lose sight of your own uniqueness. As you can see by these extreme scenarios, the implications of social media are both exciting and petrifying.

My biggest fear is that with all the advancements within social media, we are nearing a long term cultural shift where opinions become the qualifiers of greatness and the human spirit is put into question. Our new web enabled reality is almost like a new planet; let me coin it, “Planet 2.0” for our immediate purposes. Whether it’s a film or book review, Facebook photo, or comment on LinkedIn, your words have the power to permeate cyberspace so be extra careful with your words. The old adage still applies, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Final comment: social media is viral and operates on a virtual microcosm of influencers. Please take precautions when posting.

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The views and opinions on this blog are solely those of the contributors and do NOT necessarily reflect the official opinions of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association.