It is a good thing that we are still surprised to read certain stories or hear of certain actions, and my most recent surprise was reading that Samsung was fined for paying people to specifically bash one of their competitors products online. I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that idea come up in a meeting from someone who didn’t know the space or the implications, but I am still surprised when tactics like these make it out the door and into the real world. It tells me that a some big brands still don’t know some of the basic rules and best practices around promoting their own products in the digital space, and that above all is most surprising.
One of the great equalizers of the internet is that everyone has a voice, an opinion, and the ability to amplify both. If you provide a great product, service, or experience, then sometimes a delighted customer will take to the web and voice their happiness. If you provide a poor experience, then most times an unhappy customer will voice their disapproval. In most cases these opinions are offered willingly and free of charge, and if you are doing things right, you are listening to the good and bad, responding to both, and amplifying the ones that will help your brand. With a big brand, a lot of these conversations just happen, whether you facilitate them or not, and you are at a distinct advantage out of the gate. But to gain and hold the advantage, you have to get at least two things right: deliver a great customer experience and product. If you do those two things well, then you don’t need to intentionally disparage your competitor online, your products and services will stand out on their own.
If you find yourself thinking about how to get people to bash your competitors products to make yours look better, you are putting your energy into the wrong place. Instead, work on making what you have better.
We all face it – the ongoing challenge to stay on top of “what’s new, what’s next.” Even with a host of tech-enabled tools to help aggregate relevant material, there always seems to be more content that I’d like to read than I could possibly consume on a daily basis. Scanning the onslaught of headlines, tweets, featured content, and newsfeeds, my current priorities serve as a steady guide, filtering the possibilities to a more manageable level. Beyond client news, my hot buttons these days include content strategy, customer journeys, buyer personas, social taken to the next level, and real world applications and best practices.
For those with similar interests, I thought I’d share the top content that passed the screen this week along with a few key lessons I took from each:
So that’s one marketing pro’s approach to finding a few hidden gems in a sea of information. What’s your strategy?
As Chicago celebrates its Blackhawks bringing home the Stanley Cup, it’s hard to think about much else today. Or, for the past few weeks, as it happens. Since the series with the Boston Bruins began, fans of both teams have been blowing up my newsfeed and the twitter-verse. Not to mention Instagram, YouTube, and countless media, sports sites, and fan communities.
It was after all a battle for the Cup between two original NHL teams with the loyal fan bases to prove it — the ultimate ‘community’. On our webinar yesterday, hosted by Lithium Technology, my colleague Kathy Baughman outlined some of the best practices that distinguish great online communities; I’m struck by how many apply here:
The emotion imprints early. I remember trips to the old Boston Garden with my dad. And my mom yelling at us to “turn off the tv!” when we’d try to watch the B’s play the Canucks on the road (an 11 pm start on a school night was a no-go). An iconic poster of Bobby Orr seconds after scoring the winning goal for the Stanley Cup hung on just about every kid’s wall back then – and made many of them fans for life.
I’m betting, years from now, this image of Andrew Shaw – face bloody, eye swollen and Cup held high – will define the moment for Chicago kids, no matter where they land.
Congrats, Hawks. Great series. We’ll see you next year!
Bruins fans everywhere
The secret sauce of a successful online community isn’t a big mystery waiting to be revealed. For the last four years, we have been digging into the nitty-gritty detail of hundreds of branded communities across multiple industries. Our goal has always been to understand the EXPERIENCE from the MEMBER’S perspective.
If you are planning or already managing an online community, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind. Remember to put yourself in your members’ shoes and ask some hard questions.
Who does community well?
On April 24th WOMMA and ComBlu will be hosting a webinar that explores some great community tactics employed by brands such as Axe, AT&T and Marriot. Plus, we’ll delve deeper and highlight some hero brands—Whole Foods, Mountain Dew, SAP and ESPN. You will also learn how the Telecomm industry is becoming a game changer with cross-channel integration and why Healthcare is (finally) starting to embrace community building.
See you on April 24th!
A quick guide to social listening
If you haven’t been exercising your right to fast forward through commercials lately, you might have noticed a few IBM ads on TV about social analytics and how it will help ‘create a smarter planet’. Or you might have read Dell’s plans to expand their services offering with social listening for brands.
The adoption of social listening platforms has grown at a tremendous rate in the last three years, even though the technology has been around for a while. Dell didn’t unveil their famed listening command center until 2010. Why? Because it took early adopters like Dell, IBM and others to really understand how to use these platforms effectively and strategically.
When we started beta testing listening platforms back in 2006, our challenge was to cull out actionable information from a bunch of disparate data points. Key word mentions, share of voice and sentiment didn’t provide the level of granularity we needed to make actionable decisions. We knew that the human side could offer more insights than pure automation. Through trial and error, we developed a replicable process and approach to social listening that bridged technology and thought.
Today, brands have become much more sophisticated with social listening to drive engagement. A plethora of platforms are available to help with any number of the following programs:
If you are thinking about beginning a social listening program or recalibrating your current one, I offer a few tips to keep in mind.
Have a program goal in mind before you evaluate or adopt a platform.
Platforms have greatly improved their functionality and usability. However, they all have strengths, weaknesses and a breadth of offerings. Based on your goal(s), create a simple assessment tracker that allows you to look across and compare multiple platforms and evaluate them against your specific needs. I have included a sample below. Get your key questions answered along the way. Remember everything looks flashy and exciting in that first demo.
Don’t rely on data alone.
The output of social listening should be more qualitative than quantitative. Numbers give you a baseline, a cluster to investigate and a way to gauge if you are moving the proverbial needle. However, metrics in and of themselves are often interesting, but not always useful.
The real value lies in the interpretation of the results. Therefore assign a SME or partner to the project. Someone with deep knowledge and expertise on your products, services, target industries and audience personas will help make the leap from general observation à insight à opportunity.
Map out your approach.
I don’t know how many times I have heard, “Can I get a listening report?” Well, that could mean many things. Take the time upfront to figure out exactly what insights you’re looking for. Start by listing out your objectives for the program. It could be a simple list of questions you want answered so that you can:
Here is an example. Let’s say you want insights to drive your content marketing strategy for a particular product. Below are some key questions to ask:
Go beyond what is #trending now.
Mine content as far back as a year old. It may seem a little counterintuitive, but it is important to understand the development (or maturity level) of your topic areas so that your actions are relevant based on what your audience cares about. How has the social content on a particular topic or theme evolved over the course of the last year, compared to six months ago and compared to today? Have the conversations increased, stayed flat or dropped? This is where some of your metrics come in handy. Let’s look at an example below.
The goal of this particular project was to inform a content marketing roadmap in a specific industry. We wanted to create an effective content creation strategy relevant to specific points on the decision journey. We compared core topics by quarter over a year’s time. The numbers indicated greater traction for topics A and D, while B and C were emerging. By overlaying the context of the social conversation sample, we determined how they were talking in addition to how much. With aligned data points and context, we recommended that the content direction for A and D should be geared towards consideration and preference, while B and C would focus on promoting adoption and awareness. Below is a peek into what we found.
[Note: Some tools are limited in the amount of historical data they store so add this criteria to your evaluation checklist.]
Without question, social listening platforms are becoming business as usual. If you are currently struggling with your listening program ask yourself some key questions on your strategy and approach. If you are not currently listening, but know that you should have a plan in mind before you just dive in.
Have a question? I’m listening!
“Take me with you.” If I could fit my friends, family and colleagues in my suitcase, I would, but to avoid exorbitant fees for overweight luggage, I rely instead on my favorite social networks to share real-time star sightings, emerging new talent and film discoveries at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s the next best thing to being there, right?
It’s this notion of inclusiveness that is the heart of what the folks at the Sundance Institute have strived to accomplish through social media — to provide everyone – whether you are in Park City or Paraguay – with an insider festival experience.
And, because the festival itself is only one moment in the journey of an independent film, Sundance’s social strategy effectively engages the film community and connoisseur well before, during and after the festival experience.
Before landing in Park City
Our journey began months before our flight to the mountain town of Park City when it was time to purchase tickets online during our allocated (by lottery) time slot. This can be a time-consuming endeavor as we sifted through 200 films in exhibition. What should we see? How do we get around? Will there be enough time to get from venue to venue?
Thankfully, the Sundance Film Festival 2013 mobile app offered a killer tool to help us effectively navigate, schedule and share the movies, parties and panels at this year’s event. With access to exclusive articles and blogs, GPS and maps, photo galleries, trailers and social networks for film geeks like us, we were able to select the films with the most buzz and coordinate with fellow friends our movie, party and dinner dates.
(By the way, Twitter was also a big help with the timely release of Sundance 2012 Filmmakers, its “hot list” of filmmakers, critics and industry voices to follow at this year’s extravaganza.)
Between movies, Twitter was our go-to source for updates on the films, Q&As, award winners and more. While major media and online news outlets contributed commentary on Twitter about the festival, the Institute did its best with two extremely active Twitter handles dedicated exclusively to all things Sundance. And, this year, they did something new and completely fresh: invited guest celebrities like Mariel Hemingway and Dave Grohl to interact with fans using the @SundanceFest account.
With @sundancefestnow, we were able to get 24/7 live, up-to-the-minute updates – something that proved quite helpful when it was time to “casually run into” James Franco.
Here’s a photo we posted on Instagram with Sundance fixture James Franco. That’s me on the right, along with my partner in movies Bradley Lincoln.
Since Sundance is the place to see and be seen, it’s not surprising that Sundance created, for the first time this year, pages on Pinterest and Instagram. After all, these are the perfect platforms to relay pictures taken at premieres, on the red carpet, backstage or during interviews.
While Pinterest may be the social network du jour, we regularly checked Sundance’s Facebook page to make sure we didn’t miss a beat. From a content perspective, the Facebook page effectively curates what’s happening in all of Sundance’s social networks – effectively serving as a “one-stop shop” to all things Sundance. What’s more, it’s truly engaging (perhaps explaining why they have more than 277K followers): every post is linked to the people, movies and groups being discussed with an average of two to three other tagged pages.
Even with very little sleep, it’s just impossible to be everywhere at once. Or, so we thought. Sundance made it possible, in part, with an afternoon series of eight live Google+ Hangouts with artists and special guests. (For those that weren’t comfortable with Google+, you could also participate via Google chat or Twitter using the hashtag #SundanceHangouts).
And, even though we weren’t able to snag tickets for the Award Ceremony, we were able to get up-close-and-personal with host Joseph Gordon-Levitt and other celebrities in attendance by checking out Sundance’s Livestream, a robust collection of original content, including Q&As, panels and events. So, when people asked us if we saw Spike Lee, I can honestly say we did (just not in person).
The fest may be done, but the party isn’t over
For film lovers like me, the Sundance experience is far from over. We didn’t have the opportunity to check out this year’s selected shorts, but can view them in the comfort of our home by checking out The Screening Room, a new YouTube channel featuring a selection of short films that premiered at the festival. As we debate the true meaning of the movie “Concussion,” we can check out director Stacie Passon’s perspective at “Meet the Artists,” a video series created by Sundance. And, of course, we can keep tabs of the films we saw and those that we sadly missed by following their journey to a big or small screen near you on Sundance’s social networks.
By embracing social, Sundance has effectively created powerful, year-round connections with film afficianados who are hungry for independent film, new voices and untold stories. Don’t take my word for it; check out the social side of Sundance for yourself. If you like what you see, join me next year for the Fest (and, no, you cannot fit inside my luggage – I’m going carry-on next year).
There are a lot of blogs on social marketing, social media and word of mouth today and like bellybuttons, everyone has an opinion.
Here is the thing that has bugged me for nearly the last two years (yes, that is a long time to be perturbed by anything unless you are Lewis Black).
Are you ready?
Many of the published approaches and opinions on social today are clinical or theoretical. They don’t take into account the realities of everyday business. In other words, what happens when the ever present ‘pivot’ is required or the budget for the more complete and elegant program strategy is clawed back by management or a re-org occurs and all your senior stakeholders have vanished.
As I sit here writing this post, I am reminded of a statement I recently heard, “a plan is something you throw out when you are down by 14 at the end of the first quarter.” Since we are in the midst of pre-Super Bowl hype,let’s go with the analogy. My point here is that plans, like social programs and strategies should be fluid. They are full of audibles and broken plays. Sometimes it is the simple shovel pass that wasn’t even a play option that gets the first down.
With this in mind I introduce to you WOMMA TV. As WOMMA TV’s host, I promise you a no-holds barred and in-depth peek (or as in-depth that 15 minutes will allow) peek into the real world of doing social well. We are going to leave the charts, process flows and social theory to others. For those of you who know me, you know I love charts as much as the next geek but that isn’t the purpose of WOMMA TV. Instead, WOMMA TV will be more ‘reality tv’ than produced sitcom.
WOMMA TV’s pilot is in the can and the first episode is in less than two weeks. You’ll find it the end of the first week of each month at WOMMA’s website, as well as, here. It will also be promoted on Twitter. You’ll find it on YouTube and a variety of other places. Just search ‘WOMMA TV’.
Each month, just prior to the show, I will publish a post with the upcoming topic and a peek behind the scenes of the upcoming episode.
It’s my hope that you’ll add WOMMA TV to your list of your ‘must consume’ monthly content on social.
On October 18th, I-COM, The International Conference for Online Measurement held its 2012 Global Summit.
For the last year, I have had the great pleasure to represent WOMMA on I-COM’s board of directors and had the opportunity to collaborate with quite literally some of the best and brightest digital marketers and big data thought leaders that exist anywhere on the globe.
This group worked tirelessly to create a worthwhile conference framework, identify the right topics, build a structural framework for the conference, speaker presentations and breakout sessions, as well as, identify industry thought leaders that people would in some cases travel half way around the world to listen to, learn from and in some cases have a rousing debate with.
Here are some insights from the conference, in case your travel budget didn’t allow for a junket to Italy. There is a lot of content for you at this link, so surf through and pick out what you are most interested in.
Here are some high points and opinions that I’ve distilled from the preplanning work, the conference content and post conference discussions.
1. Don’t get overly enamored with Big Data. Yes, it will change how the best businesses plan their strategies but it isn’t a magic ball that will close all the knowledge gaps you have. Effective use of Big Data requires organizational alignment, special skills, tools and processes to utilize correctly. The old phrase junk in-junk out still applies, so be thoughtful in what and how you measure.
2. Dashboards aren’t the next killer app. Just like Big Data, dashboards are an efficiency tool that provide value when used effectively. Like one observer put it, “Dashboards are a lot like your highlighter in college. If you highlighted the wrong stuff in your text book, or everything in a chapter for that matter, you were sure to flunk your test. Be thoughtful in what you highlight” Just like Big Data, junk in, junk out.
3. Campaigns are transitory. Content is not. Marketers need to move their fixation from campaign optimization to content optimization.
4. Traditional activity metrics (impressions, likes, etc.) have a waning importance. With the growth and soon critical mass of ‘Do Not Track’ restrictions, marketers must move strategies and activities to ‘value metrics’, such as content and page value (and correlated KPI impact).
5. ‘ROI’ of social and in many cases, digital engagement is still very amorphous. Currently, the ‘R’ in ROI has no real, solid currency (as measured in business impact or Profit and Loss terms). Marketers need to apply more discipline to get to that before ‘The ROI of social’ has any real meaning or value.
6. Global, category standards are critical to ensuring acceptance. However, standards need not include a measure or a metric for the sake of applying one (there are a lot of measures out there that either make little sense or are impossible to track. Let’s not add to this clutter).
7. Continuing education is critical to adoption and value generation. Create, use, teach and enforce consistent, relevant vocabularies and approaches to the important general or universal categories.
8. Accept that evolution in this space is occurring so quickly that the focus should be on the process and best practices, not an end result.
Of course there was a lot more than this that occurred in Rome. Lots of detail and smart opinions were shared and discussed on topics such as mobile, attribution, multi-screen analytics, attribution and advertising effectiveness in a digital age just to name a few of the many meaty topics.
Spend some time with this information, you’ll be glad you did. Share it (or at least the eight points I’ve outlined above) with your peers and use it to continue to evolve and improve your own initiatives.
Admit it: Google+ is a ghost town. After the initial hoopla, how often did you log in? If you were like most of us, the answer is hardly ever. Clearly, the giant’s attempt to be part of our daily lives like Facebook hasn’t quite yet clicked as hoped.
But, a month ago at the company’s annual Google I/O developer event, the eager empire introduced a ton of new features, programs and hardware—not the least of which is the new Google+ Events, which promises to reinvent how we plan events online.
According to the Official Google Blog, the new service is “for all of the moments that matter – before, during and after the event.” Setting this apart from other party planning services, like Evite, is the ability to personalize invitations with video or customer themes and animations along with instant calendar integration.
How It Works
Creating an event is incredibly easy: just click Events in the left menu and then complete the options that you have available.
Simply add title, locations, details, time and who you want to invite. You can choose from a collection of animated themes or create a custom invite from one of your own photos. Once the event is created, it’s automatically added to the Google calendar of every person invited.
The invite includes Google+ Events greatest strength: it’s an online, invite-only party with instant-upload photos and chat, running on the desktop of anyone who’s invited, as well as any mobile users running the Google+ app in Party mode.
Similar to Facebook’s event curator, Google+ allows users to search for public events. The main difference between the two is that while Facebook only allows you to see events your friends created or were invited to, Google+ shows all public events in real time as they’re created or updated.
A critical component to this new event planning approach is the Party Mode feature of the mobile app—not only do your guests’ updates instantly appear in the stream for the event, but so do their photos and videos. As more guests participate, your event “gets a pulse.” What’s more: there’s a live slideshow option, meaning everyone can be part of the action.
As someone who uses online event planning tools, you can see the power of this tool: it’s not only fun, but truly enhances engagement leading up to and during an event. I’m eager to see how this new tool plays out for experiential marketers. Have you tried it out yet?
Considering that South by Southwest® (SXSW®) is the “premier destination for discovery,” why wouldn’t ComBlu be first in line to participate in this cultivating event? That’s why we have sprung into action and developed three intriguing proposals for this year’s event. From content supply chain methodology to ROI and decision journey considerations, ComBlu (we hope) is focusing on the right topics that will interest today’s content marketers. But, we can’t do it alone. This year the competition for speakers is fierce with more than 3,200 proposals submitted. Here’s where you come in: whether you are heading to Austin or not this March, we need you to vote for the session that would be most of interest.
Act fast – the voting process ends on August 31! Simply visit the highlighted link below and give your thumbs up for the session of your choice (don’t forget to register – it only takes a moment).
Today content is a critical component of enterprise value. It’s a key differentiator for brands that know how to source, create and distribute it effectively. Yet, few organizations apply the rigor of the supply chain discipline to the sourcing, creation, logistics, management, distribution and measurement of its content value. Companies that source raw materials for the manufacturing process apply granular discipline at every point in the supply chain and constantly seek ways to improve logistics and workflow, cut costs, find new competitive advantage, and get to market more effectively. This same approach applies to the content supply chain, which McKinsey estimates has a sunk cost of tens of millions of dollars in CPC, OEMs and technology companies. Panelists will discuss real world issues in putting a content supply chain methodology in place and give practical tips for each of the five basic steps of content supply chain:
For years, the major baking brands all optimized their content to rank high for the most frequently searched term: “Chocolate cake.” But the real opportunity lay in optimizing for a term that was “own-able”…like princess cake. Building the right content measurement system can help brands find their “princess cake.” This is what happens when brands move beyond “activity metrics” and develop “value metrics” that show how to calibrate and optimize their content marketing strategy.
Panelists, Kathy Baughman (ComBlu), George Palatine (Allstate), Ekaterina Walter (Intel) and Rishi Dave (Dell) will share the innovative ways they are approaching content ROI. They will share tips for:
• Developing content KPIs
• Determining which content contributes to sales and which is a drag on performance
• Building a meaningful content dashboard
Customers and prospects want different kinds of information at different points of the decision journey. The right mix of created, curated and social content differs at each point along the way. And, where consumers look for information and conversation differs at each point in the decision process. It all needs to be calibrated for different segments of decision makers and influencers.
Moderator Chris Silva (Altimeter Group) and panelists Ekaterina Walter (Intel), Joe Chernov (Eloqua) and Kathy Baughman (ComBlu), will help the audience understand how to deliver the right content at the right place at the right time. They will:
• Show how to map content along the decision journey
• Demonstrate the authority of different types of content along the decision journey
• Share how to gauge quality content for different points in the decision process
• Show how the content of three brands align along the decision journey
Thanks in advance for your support. Fingers crossed!!!