Logging in. Linking In. Checking in. Pinning. Posting. For a social media marketer, it can be oh-so-exhausting. But, like a good social media doobie, you do it every day: Leverage your social media toolbox to bring to life compelling brand stories and perspective.
At times, the experience can seem daunting and disjointed for both the content marketer and the brand ambassador. Sure, we all have stories to tell, but how do we find the most relevant content and ensure that you are telling a cohesive story?
Fortunately, we’ve found a few nifty new tools that aggregate your content from multiple networks, creating portals in the cloud that help you curate the best content and potentially cut through the never-ending stream of status updates. While these platforms will certainly evolve as they mature, picking a favorite requires a bit of trial and error to determine the interface and approach that’s most appropriate for your brand. Our three favorites (in order of preference) are:
1. Storify puts the social web into context by curating the best story elements and content to create an embeddable, dynamic and shareable story highlighting the best tweets, photos, RSS feeds and videos about a particular subject. Say bye-bye to the time-consuming chore of cutting and pasting text and links and downloading and re-uploading photos. Instead, simply drag and drop the content that best brings your story to life. Storify initially took off with journalists who used the tool to quickly identify social media activity related to their news and then “storify” the most relevant findings. For marketers, storify enables you to engage authentically and in real time with industry news and real-world discussions relating to your product, brand or industry. Case in point: Avis’ customer appreciation campaign.
2. Glossi promises to create beautiful, living magazines about you. Think of it as a web-based version of Flipboard, only instead of creating magazines of your favorite content, it brings together in one place your activity on five social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and Tumblr). Each profile features a profile image, a Facebook-like cover background and immediately below, your shared music, videos, tweets, posts, check-ins and links. It’s easy to reorganize (or even delete) your featured content. Right now, it’s in its infancy (you can request an invite to the beta), but given its ease-of-use, it will likely be embraced by social influencers and brands in the months to come. You heard about it here first! Case in point: Yoko Ono’s Glossi.
3. RebelMouse, like Glossi, is also new to the scene and, for now, by invitation only. Started by Huffington Post’s former CTO, Paul Berry, the RebelMouse platform consists of a personal bulletin board à la Pinterest that is organized by headlines with stories underneath. Right now, you can only aggregate your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest feeds. Tumblr and Instagram are coming soon. Case in point: FastCompany’s RebelMouse page.
While all of these tools certainly help you aggregate your content across multiple networks, their true power lies in presenting it in creative, compelling new ways that are engaging to your advocates. In a single package, these services bring together the simplicity of Twitter, the visual engagement of Pinterest and the blogging capabilities of Tumblr. The rest is up to you: you’ll want to promote creatively and consistently as you would any of your brand’s social properties. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.” What say you? Will you be test driving any of these new content management tools?
Upon reflection, perhaps I shouldn’t have second guessed the significance of our encyclopedic announcement revealing the end of the publication’s iconic print set and the company’s pursuit of all things digital.
But I did.
True, everyone involved was passionate about our story. We believed in it. We prepared for it. Still, I worried (I’m a bit like Woody Allen that way). Will people care? Will they understand its significance and why it truly matters?
Turns out they did–beyond our wildest expectations. Breaking news from the front page of the most influential of newspapers (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Financial Times), the global news wires, and national and international news programs were liked, tweeted and commented on around the world. We were number one with a bullet on Google and Twitter. Stories popped up where least expected—on iPad apps, in elevator screens, even after an oh-so-fascinating conversation about Kathy Lee’s new hairdo on The Today Show. I knew we were part of the zeitgeist upon seeing us featured on the RidicuList segment of Anderson Cooper 360 and becoming the answer to a question on “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” I chuckled at the resulting banter:
“If you don’t understand why it’s a big deal that we’ll no longer be able to buy a whole shelf of leather-bound encyclopedias for more than a thousand dollars a set, go find your parents and ask them to ask their parents to find an Ouija board to commune with their grandparents, and they’ll tell you.”
While it’s true that this story was 244 years in the making, nostalgia for the iconic brand is only one reason why it has become one of the most talked about topics around the world. While I’m sure this list will grow as the news becomes a day eight, nine and 10 story (it’s like the Energizer bunny in that it keeps going and going), success secrets certainly would include:
· Be prepared—be very prepared. Telling a compelling story requires more than a press release. First and foremost, compelling messages must be developed that are accepted and internalized by anyone who communicates with customers, the media, analysts and influencers. Once in hand, these messages serve as the foundation for all of the assets developed to tell and share a story. Britannica did this quite well, as you can see from the videos, blogs, infographics and social assets leveraged for our announcement.
· Relentlessly tell the story you want to tell. Time and time again, the influencers we spoke with wanted us to express sadness for the end of the print set. We wouldn’t go there, no matter how hard they tried. Rather, we were passionate about using this milestone to effectively communicate that Britannica today is a very different company—it’s digital, mobile and social—and its reach and relevancy today is undeniable. In fact, our announcement is something to celebrate.
· Make time for the influencers. Critical to our success was the strategy to arrange one-on-one briefings with the people that ultimately shape what we talk and tweet about. We were quite successful in lining up nonstop meetings on the days prior to our announcement, yet ultimately it was up to Britannica’s president, Jorge Cauz, to bring it home for us. And bring it home he did by knocking it out of the park every time.
· Then, make time for everyone else. Once the news broke, the requests for interviews were fast and furious. And, we were ready. We kept at it, in fact, until the wee hours of the night, for three straight days. And we delivered responses to questions such as, “How much does a complete set weigh?” like it was the first time they were asked (129 pounds—more than my colleague Pam weighs, incidentally).
· Don’t take yourself too seriously. News like this takes on a life of its own as reporters and bloggers look for new ways to tell the story. Embracing the process and having fun will keep the news engine running—even when you are running on empty.
What did you think of Britannica’s announcement? Who knows, we might be able to share your story.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a local career fair sponsored by The Center for Working Women, one of many services offered by Housing Opportunities for Women, that helps local disadvantaged women overcome barriers to employment and advance in their career. I was there with the Chicago chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (one of the many industries ComBlu has deep expertise in). Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) is set up to help its members advance in their careers, so this was our Chapter’s way to support another women’s organization—helping to expose them to jobs they might not otherwise know about and offer inspiration.
I was among a designer, paralegal, a title company rep and a property manager, prepared to tell the women about public relations and how social engagement is being applied to business, as well as how I got started in my career.
When I walked into the meeting room, I was immediately struck by a sign on each computer in the room that stated “Computers are not to be used to access any social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.).” Now, I fully understand that the folks running the Center are simply discouraging the women from spending the time they should be job searching, playing on Facebook. But, this really presented an interesting opportunity for me to showcase social media in a whole new light.
I spent my allotted 15 minutes explaining how public relations works (which can be tricky…I’m quite certain my Mom still has no idea what it is despite me working in PR for 20-plus years), showcasing fun examples of how we expertly crafted a story and sold it to the media. The women in the room had no idea there was ever anyone “behind” articles they see on the news and in the paper. I then moved onto the social side of our business, and described the blogger outreach programs, and showcased some of the communities we have built and managed.
A bit of a nervous speaker, I was not completely sure if the women were following me by looking at their faces. But, it was clear by their questions, they were fascinated by both the traditional side of what ComBlu does, as well as the social side. “How do you find the right people to invite to the right community?” and “how do you measure a program like this and report back to clients?” Clearly, they got it. I have to admit, I was surprised at the level of sophistication they brought to the conversation. Disadvantaged at some point or not, these women are clearly determined to improve their careers and thoughtful in their approach.
After the official session was over, I had the opportunity to mention LinkedIn as a truly social networking tool to several of the women in attendance, as well as the career counselors. Most had heard of it, but had not yet fully embraced it as part of an ongoing job search. I took that opportunity to tell them a little more and pointed them to my previous blog offering tips for maximizing LinkedIn. This certainly won’t get the signs taken off the computers, but may offer them a new avenue to explore.
Social clearly transcends all people at all life stages. It made me feel good about what I do, and it felt great to give back and coach a little. Do you have any similar experiences you’d like to share? I’d love to hear…
But not from the usual Vegas reasons: staying up late, losing money and drinking too much. I did none of those during the three day WOMMA 2009 Summit in sin city. My excuse is too much information and so many great conversations with little down time to process. So now, I’m in the air heading home with a little time to reflect.
Summit 2009 content was heavily focused on case studies, social marketing techniques and measurement. In fact, WOMMA debuted it’s newly published “Measurement and Metrics Guidebook”, a collaboration of some of the best thinkers in social metrics. Check out ComBlu’s chapter by Jennifer Voisard on cost deflection. I moderated a session on “Community: An Important Driver of WOM” with panelists Dawn Lacallade , chief community strategist at Solar Winds and Bill Johnston chief community officer at Forum One.
And, Steve Hershberger helped lead the live “Socializing Media” podcast which featured a conversation with some of the best thinkers in word-of-mouth. In between hallway chat and keeping up with crucial projects, I attended a half dozen sessions. Here’s some of my favorite take aways.
Measurment Keynote. WOMMA’s chair of the Measurement Council, Walter Carl, PhD, presented highlights of the above cited tome of best practices in measurement. One interesting factoid was the impact of word of mouth marketing (WOM) on revenue vs. traditional marketing communications channels. Turns out the latter does a much better job of generating short term customer acquisition and revenue generation, while WOM yields higher customer lifetime value through longer, deeper customer relationships and a significantly higher referral rate for new customers. (1.7 per traditional channels vs. 3.8 for WOM).
Anatomy of Buzz Revisted. Author Emanual Rosen gave an address on what not-for-profits can teach commercial enterprises about generating buzz. Core to his examples is the concept that human beings want to share what they create. If you give them an opportunity to co-create with you and other stakeholders, they will spread their interpretation of the activity. I think this basic tenet of self-expression as an engagement model has been forgotten in the gold rush of social media and the bright shiny object syndrome.
The View, only with academics. Keller Fay principal, Brad Fay deftly led a panel of academics who all study various aspects of engagement, influencer identification, measurement, etc. You’re thinking this was deadly, right? They were great. Here’s the line-up.
Socializing Customer Service. Sue Sunday, Microsoft, Ed Billmaier, The Scotts Company and Marie Shubin The Gallo Winery, talked customer support. These were from wildly different industries: software, wine and fertilizer yet offered a common thread: the use of customer service professionals to become the voice of the company in social platforms. The rationale: many companies that start listening programs or solicit comments through online forums and communities often get quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of conversations. The solutions: repurpose customer service representatives from call centers or email support. Not only will they be able to handle a larger volume of customer support episodes through the online platform, but they typically can offer marketing three magic things: human resources who already have deep product knowledge and are steeped in the legal, privacy and compliance imperatives of their organizations.
Cognitive Science. Another potentially deadly topic that turned out to be the absolutely best presentation I heard. This one was lead by Steve Knox of P&G’s Tremor Group. He laid out how human’s think and a process for disrupting normal perceptions that serves to get people’s attention. Using this disruption model or combining two unrelated schemas can lead to the magic that we all seek: cutting through the clutter and getting consumers to notice, buy and tell others. This is highly over simplified, and definitely worth digging deeper. Who knew 45 minutes about schemas could mesmerize!
I’ll provide more learning about some of these sessions in upcoming posts. ComBlu also previewed our research report, “The State of Online Branded Communities” which we’ll also dive into in the weeks ahead. Now that I’ve gotten these ideas out of my head, the seat is going back and I’m snoozing the rest of the way home.
Why don’t fad diets work? Experts say that when dieting, people become fixated on what they eat, how often and the corresponding loss of weight. Once that weight goal has been achieved and the pants fit again, time to celebrate. No more hard-boiled eggs and plain boiled chicken breast. Whoo-hoo! Success! Let’s grab a burger and a beer, baby!
Five weeks later, the weight is back with a vengeance. Why is this? Simple. People place a short term focus on the tactics of the diet but totally ignore what is more important. That being a long term change in behavior. You see, it’s not just what you eat but how you approach the whole concept of health. It’s all tied together. You are tired. Don’t work out, you get stressed and you eat. That quick bag of Doritos as a lunch ain’t helpin’ things, neither is the diet soda for breakfast. Meals are things you get on the go. It is learned behavior that becomes engrained behavior.
Why is social marketing hard? Same reason as why dieting doesn’t work long term. It’s because, corporate teams have engrained behaviors which are focused on the short term. Campaigns and product launches. Beginning, middle and end; then onto whatever else is next.
Couple that mentality with a constant shuffle of teams and people through the endless re-orgs, attrition, upward and lateral movement of team members and focusing on anything long term becomes almost impossible…especially when we are measured and judged on the now.
Doesn’t losing five pounds by starving yourself this week sound better than losing 1 pound by taking the stairs instead of the elevator? More immediate gratification! Five pounds baby! One third of the way to my goal!
So how important is getting social marketing right? What impact will it have on the fundamental way we do business?
Social marketing is a disruptive model that will have far reaching ripple effects on corporate strategy that we cannot yet quantify. When Henry Ford refined and adopted the assembly line, when interstate highways were laid, when the light bulb became commercially available, the advent of the cellular telephone, the Internet, the growth in adoption of Twitter. These are all disruptive forces that no one fully understood or really appreciated at their outset. However, when taking the long view, you can begin to see how these things, well…changed everything.
Social marketing and ultimately, social business, which I define for purposes of this post as ‘collaborative engagement and dialogue which facilitate either common goals or common interests, done in ways that are transparent and communicated in languages, words and pictures we each understand and identify with’ are already beginning to change everything.
Remember the book Crossing the Chasm? The whole premise was around innovation and adoption of new ideas and process that allowed organizations, even big ones to become nimbler and allow their product and service evolutions to effectively go from early adopters to mainstream; which ultimately is the goal of every corporate entity, right? Organizations needed to adopt a process of change or fall into the chasm. IBM is a great example of one who made the crossing successfully. Zenith & Tower Records? Not so much. Ahhhhhhhhh, thud.
If your organization is still in command and control mode, if teams can’t or won’t be collaborative, if the silo walls of your organization are thick and without holes which allow for information, ideas and effort to pass through, you will never cross the chasm until a behavior change occurs-organizationally.
However, if you are attempting to evolve your business, over time, through new learned behaviors (which may be simply stringing a multitude of social initiatives or campaigns together to create the look and feel of what social marketing is really like) you are likely in either Step 2 or Step 3. See above chart.
Where ever you are, the important thing is getting through Step 2. Why is this? Well, social initiatives are based on relationships. Relationships are chaotic and ever changing. They are hard to plan around. They are not necessarily linear or fact driven. They are emotional and conversation driven. Try planning a traditional critical path around that. When you do, welcome to Step 2.
Everything you used to do doesn’t fit neatly into the new social model and that’s frustrating. The danger is giving up and going back to the old way of doing things (checking out).
However, when you learn to be truly collaborative with your peers, subject matter experts, customers and prospects that they aid in the planning and activities; outcomes and expectations magically align. The chaotic becomes more predictable. Welcome to Step 3, which is where you start thinking differently and acting differently and a new normal begins to grow.
Think about it. In any relationship, if you don’t approach the situation with mutual trust and respect, if you don’t listen and ask questions; if you don’t have a dialogue. Communication stops. Statements start. Trust evaporates. Usually, when that happens in any relationship, it ends badly. You are not being social. You are being obstinate.
Since social marketing is as new an idea as it is disruptive, we haven’t seen the full impact that these social ripple effects are having on organizations or industries. Therefore, few organizations, if any really, have moved into Step 4, but many are on their way! As more companies move across the chasm, this will force their competitors to follow suit. For everyone that makes the move, either by choice or by force, the new learned ‘social’ behaviors will eventually become engrained behaviors and that’s when social marketing becomes the norm and the power of social will be felt, understood and acknowledged.
Social is here to stay folks. That’s a fact. What the impact is, no one yet knows; only that it will be substantial. So where are you on crossing the social chasm? Is the cliff ahead of you or behind you?