The good folks at Wedu, Inc. gave me a bit of spring cheer today with an influencer campaign that is pretty awesome. Like I always say, a good influencer campaign has to value the brand of the influencer more than your own brand. Well, played, friends!Read More
I know brands are stupid on social platforms.
No, no. Don’t protest. You know it’s true. After all, brands on social platforms rely on phenomenally expensive “social command centers” to monitor news and commentary all so they can say such amazingly clever things like, “It’s Christmas, so we hope everyone is drinking Zoom Zoom cola. It’s what Jesus would do.”
But what I’m concerned about is the rut that the rest of us have fallen into. Because while I know social media is the “consumer’s voice” and all the rest of that horse poo-cock-ka about the “power of conversation,” we’ve gone off the deep end with complaining.
You know it’s gotten bad when people are complaining about the complaining regarding the complaints about the complaint. It’s like someone has transported me back into a virtual living room with my dad grousing about the TV announcers who are grumbling about the player who is yelling at the referee.
We’ve taken the most incredible leap forward in community conversation and worldwide connectivity and are using it like a cranky old man sitting on a lawn chair in his front yard. I’m guilty of it. You are too.
There are two kinds of meetings. One is the kind where everybody points fingers at problems and self-importantly deflects criticisms. The other is where people come together collaboratively with their best ideas to solve the problem.
I don’t care who was tweeting marketing links relentlessly during the Boston bombings. And I shouldn’t be telling people how they should not be complaining about people who were tweeting when they shouldn’t be.
It’s time we bring our best selves to the table. Just do what you think you should be doing and stop worrying about everyone else. Because old guys in shorts, black socks and flip-flops telling you to get off their lawn are still just as annoying online as they are in real life.
And yes, I know how incredibly meta I'm being, complaining about the need to not complain. So I've included a comment box for you to complain at me. I'm nothing if not a giver.
The following appeared first in the April 8, 2013 issue of Ad Age:
Some say we can’t value social marketing efforts directly. Others claim that if we can’t attribute a return on investment, we shouldn’t be doing it. But maybe we’re all missing the point. Maybe the problem is not whether social value can be measured in dollars. Perhaps the issue is we can’t measure in dollars objectives that weren’t intended to be profitable in the first place.
Most CEOs and CMOs have a clearly defined objective to make money for their organization. Yet most social marketing programs are still designed to create engagement, gain followers or generate Facebook Likes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that there’s a disconnect there. Getting to an ROI figure from most social efforts doesn’t take better analysis tools — it simply takes the inclusion of objectives that are centered on generating profit.
Customer loyalty, advocacy, engagement, interest and awareness are all important in the marketing funnel, but the assumption that they supersede the “baser” activity of selling is pure hubris. If customers don’t also desire “buying” relationships with us, then we have no business being in business.
We need to get to a better balance with our social marketing efforts and speak to the entirety of the customer permission set, including how they want to buy from us. Only then can we form measurable profit objectives that intersect with these permissions. Because, the object of social marketing is not simply to collect audience appreciation, but to make every customer experience shareable — including the purchase.
For example, Zappos has been heralded as a “social brand.” But that’s not entirely true. Zappos is a “customer service” brand. The majority of their “social marketing” investment actually goes into hiring the right people and creating amazing customer experiences. I still share about the time I sent an anonymous gift with Zappos. During the transaction the operator fawned over me repeatedly for making such a wonderful gesture. It was a little embarrassing, but I was gratified. Then came the surprise, because over the next two weeks this operator shipped to me gift package after gift package of cookies, socks, books and even a messenger bag in appreciation of my act of kindness. It was amazing!
Sure, Zappos still collects likes for posts about new articles of clothing or holiday well-wishes. But they have a broader mission of making the sales experience personal, meaningful and ultimately shareable.
In a nutshell, Zappos doesn’t do social to generate sales. Zappos makes selling social.
Further, the assumption that the spectrum of social media is being ruined by the “old” tactics of push selling is disingenuous. Push and pull always need to work together. We can say that Louis C.K. or Radiohead have proved that fan-led pull efforts are the new way to market. But have you noticed that nearly all of these “fan-led” successes are built on the backs of years and sometimes millions of dollars in old-school push promotions?
Going back to the Zappos example, they may use social to generate pleasant relationships, but they also buy a boatload of social ads that push product. What’s more, they are one of those vendors who use “stalking” ads that display the products you last looked at on their site. And frankly, despite the creepy factor, customers don’t mind for the most part, because the relationship they’ve built is centered on us buying stuff from them.
If we want to look for the real value of social to an organization, it’s that it shreds the veil between marketing and operations. It puts on public display every customer touchpoint within the company. So, we need to stop creating passive programs that simply use social media, and start thinking of social marketing as a discipline of doing business in a manner customers want to share. Selling must be social. Because only then are we able to measure the profitability of social marketing.
Is your content invisible?
This is a question that plagues me. Because while each episode of The BeanCast is filled with great information and fascinating debates, none of this is natively discoverable. You can certainly piece together the fact that a certain person was on the show and was involved in a specific discussion because of the show notes I post, but the things that were said and the tenor of the conversation is mostly lost to search.
This dilemma is only going to increase as video and image-based content further eclipses text as the de facto standard of communication on the Internet. Currently we rely on keywords in descriptions to generate awareness for our visual posts. But to truly optimize views we need to be much more aggressive. Here are just a few ideas:
From the moment we plan and script our visual and audio content, we need to be thinking about what makes it shareable. Making visual content discoverable in a social world is dependent on viewers/listeners sharing insights in text that is associated with your link. Always be thinking about what will motivate your audience to share, then provide the easiest possible means for them to do so.
I’ve struggled with this need. It seems like a frivolous extra cost that will hardly ever be read or used. But associating your visual and audio content with complete transcripts provides you with a wealth of search value and opens up more of the content to discoverability. It’s also another content resource that can be shared and attributed to you, so it’s worth the effort. (Talking to myself here as well.)
Creating conversation around your content, through comments on posts and discussion in social media, is a great way to introduce volumes of searchable keywords. Just make sure to balance these conversations to include places that map to all possible areas of discoverability. Facebook and Twitter are important for discussion, but Google is blind to this in-bound linking and keyword data. So make sure to include conversations in places that all the search paths can see.
Old media still matters. One of my biggest traffic spikes in listenership came from a promotional link associated with an article I had published in the print edition of Ad Age. If something is said in your visual/audio content that is relevant to a news cycle, get the word out through your public relations channels, packaged in a resource that journalists and producers can use.
So what other ideas do you have? This is an ongoing discussion in its own right. So how would you generate added search value to your own visual and audio content? The comment box is below, so have at it.
Everybody who's anybody in social media schedules posts. It's just a fact. And whether you love it, accept it or hate it, scheduling is here to stay out of the pure expediency of having to juggle social reputation against a job and a life.
So, what's the best way to handle scheduling posts? Here are a few helpful suggestions to keep it from getting annoying for the rest of us.
Stop Filling the Day
There is a notable difference between those who schedule posts to appear all day long and those that are simple spreading out a lot of content.
If your strategy is simply to have five, ten or fifteen posts during the day, you're probably combing through sites looking for links that you may or may not even be taking the time to read. You're just filling up space — and with half a billion tweets a day, let me assure you we don't need the space filled.
However, if you really do have things to say and interesting links to share, by all means spread it out. We don't need you to clump up your posts either, and frankly we appreciate having time to react to each separate statement.
The difference comes down to whether you are piling it on or spreading it out. Scheduling needs to be a service to your readers, not a tool for making sure you are seen during each and every hour of the day to maintain your Klout score.
Schedule To Be Present
Spreading out your posts is all fine and good. But please also make sure you are scheduling these posts with a mind toward when you will be available to interact with the comments and conversations that may result.
This suggestion also applies to cross posting to multiple networks. If you aren’t around to interact with a post when it happens, you break the illusion of spontaneity and you reduce the value of being on social media in the first place.
Set alarms. Plan for breaks. Do whatever is necessary to only schedule posts that coincide with you or a team member’s availability.
Meet Your Audience Halfway
A lot has been written about dayparting social posts. This is the practice of choosing a timeframe for content to appear that most closely matches the time of day that the content’s audience will be available. Buddy Media’s report from last year offers some good advice on this subject.
It is less important to schedule hourly or some other evenly spaced posting plan, than it is to think about when your audience is available to read. Are they consistent lunchtime audience? Are evenings after 9p usually best?
Think logically about your posting timeframes. It’s a lot like media buying. If you do your research, you’ll always find the slots that make the most sense for your audience.