It’s a simple question really: “What’s your social media strategy?” And I ask people all of the time. I’m a little surprised at the deer in the headlights looks or deafening silence on the conference call as a response.
Too often we’re trapped in the tactics and we forget the strategy element of what we’re trying trying to achieve. So I thought I’d share some thoughts on the best social media strategies.
Typically social media strategies fall into the following categories:
Increase Sales – Driving revenue with social media.
Increase Brick and Mortar Traffic- Using social media to drive visitors to a venue.
Increase Web Traffic- Using social media to drive visitors to a website.
Raise Brand Awareness- Cause the audience to be exposed to your brand promise via social media.
Manage Brand Reputation- To monitor and respond to questions and challenges to the brand perception in the market.
Promote Word of Mouth- To engage with the brand advocates and influencers and activate them to spread the word of your brand.
It’s seems that those in the first group, Business expect results sooner. Dollars and traffic are easy to measure and most businesses can see a result or lack of one fairly quickly. Business oriented social strategies seem to fail more often and more quickly than those in the Connections group. Is this because social media doesn’t return measurable hard dollar ROI for companies? Or is it because social media is inherently more suited to softer objectives, rather than hard dollar goals?
We’ve all heard that social media is like a cocktail party, and that it’s not the place for a hard sell. The question is can social media managers execute a soft sell approach with a strategic goal like those in the Business section? I think that for many managers it’s a very difficult thing to do. Most will not be able to resist the temptations and pressures associated with chasing these hard metrics. In pursuit of the hard numbers (more people on the website, in the stores, or buying things) the marketing mangers will resort to harder and harder tactics in social media. These are the very tactics that are most poorly received in the soft sell world of word of mouth. Therefore, these managers will ultimately fail because they are pursuing a poor strategy which is not well suited to social media.
Conversely, managers with objectives such as increase word of mouth, or raise brand awareness are well suited to a natural discussion. These managers can engage with a tactical advantage over their competitors who are pursuing dollars because they are there to converse, not sell. These conversations are certain to lead to sales in the long run but it will take more time.
In my opinion social media is about building relationships with your audience. It takes time and patience to build relationships. If you don’t believe me, try asking the boy/girl to marry you after the first date. It never works. As does asking your social media audience to do something for you, or buy your product if you’ve not built a relationship with them first.
In my mind, the most successful social media strategies target the Connections first and then seek to activate these relationships to achieve business goals. Give me 1 good reason why you should pursue Business before Connecting with your customer?
Last night was a great Social Media Club New York City (SMCNYC) meetup with the cast of contestants on the new NBC reality show Escape Routes. The program is sponsored by Ford and features the Ford Escape as an integral part of the show, taking product placement back to the 1950′s. 6 teams compete each week to win $100K and 2 new Ford Escape SUV’s. And the social media audience can take part weekly in challenges and win prizes too. The website includes lots of interactive games and badges to entice the online audience to play alone. On the website you can join a team, follow the contestants on Twitter.
The new twist for this show is that the contestants are encouraged to connect with their fans on social media and involve them in some of the challenges. On the first episode they were challenged to a game like “Hanging with Friends” popular on Facebook. The twist was that contestants were hung over the side of a 5 story building in a chair and pushed out on a plank with each lost round. The losers were finally “dropped” in a gut wrenching plunge to the ground. During this competition they were able to call upon help from their Twitter and Facebook audiences to help form words.
NBC and Ford also tapped well known YouTube personality iJustine to film a behind the scenes “After Show” which is live streamed online. Despite airing opposite the Final Four basketball tournament last Saturday night the program pulled respectable ratings for it’s debut.
Ford reported that the program got 2 million followers on the debut evening. Due in large part to iJustine’s considerable Twitter following of 1. 4MM. But also driven by the careful thought put into the social media engagement plan.
Asked what are they learning about social media the contestants said had a mix of old and new: They are establishing real connections with their audience and that is exciting and for some a little scary. They are finding their social media audiences very knowledgeable and helpful. They discovered that with the unpredictability of TV filming, lots of hurry up and wait, they can’t prep their fans to help them when they need it most. Perhaps that’s something the producers need to work on? Because marshaling the social media fans for participation in an event would build a very strong bond with the contestants.
One of the best quotes of the evening came from the Rossi Morreale host of the program who observed, “It used to be that when you watched one of these shows you would say, That’s Fake! Now you can Tweet the participants and ask them and they’ll answer you honestly about how scary or real it actually was.”
The contestants are a mix of some new to social media and some with substantial followings. The White Team (designated for the color of the Ford Escape they drive) of Brett and Ross are known as a YouTube team and they did an impromptu rap for the Social Media Club New York City audience:
All in all it’s a very interesting new twist that I’ll be following as Ford and NBC blaze new trails in social media and interactive TV
I was honored to be invited to appear on the Social Media Club channel at SXSW. I was doubly honored when Chris Heuer the Chairman and Co-Founder of the club decided to interview me. As much as I hate the sound of my voice and my look (as do most people) I think it went pretty well. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
We discussed the challenges facing larger organizations as they start to run social media at scale.
If you haven’t joined Social Media Club you should because it is an organization that hosts conversations exploring key issues facing our society as technologies transform the way we connect, communicate, collaborate and relate to each other. Social Media Club enables you to explore your personal and professional passions by helping you connect with a community of your peers based on both geography and areas of interest. We exist to ensure that the world of Social Media does not become an echo chamber of self-reinforcing thoughts, but is instead fueled by diversity of opinion and perspective.
I can’t guarantee but this is my schedule and I’ll be at many of these conferences. Please check back later in the week, because today it’s a wish list and I’ve got 15 things scheduled for the same time.
If you’ve got an event that you’d like me to live blog while we’re at SXSW please let me know and I’ll do my best to be there.
Living in social media for several years now I’ve seen Facebook and Google, retailers and well, just about everybody screw up privacy issues. And this past week was no exception with a new explosion about the future of Google+ and new issues from Facebook and Groupon. This caused me to start thinking about it a little differently. There’s a discomfort level that we all have when others know something about us. I’ve created the following the handy pocket chart for you as a guide:
I’m sure that the details will vary with location and culture. But generally most people around the world wouldn’t mind that their dry cleaner knows they like their shirts on a hanger. Or that the waitress in their favorite restaurant knows how they like their coffee, or eggs, or squid (depending upon local tastes.) And I’ve known many people who fell in love with Tivo’s, Netflicks and Pandora, because it finds things they like but had never considered. That’s very convenient.
It starts to get a little more murky when you get to Google searches and Amazon purchases. People feel that’s getting a little more private and you find some people who habitually delete their search history, and cookies on their PC’s etc. But lots of people share their Facebook TV/Movie/Music likes, but they get nervous when they think about marketers using that data to target them.
And when you take the totality of all of the information that Google or Facebook has about you, it starts to make you feel more uncomfortable. Because they can take all of that info and make some very accurate assumptions about you and your likes and dislikes. I don’t want to be browsing Google or Facebook at work and have a coworker come up and look over my shoulder and see ads for (Fill in the blank with embarrassing personal products) on my screen.
Possibly the only people with a similar volume of knowledge about you is your bank or credit card company. We don’t think about that too often, but the credit bureau’s and banks have been building files on all of us for decades. And so far they’ve not done anything too scary with all of that data. Why? Because they are very closely regulated by the government. Will we need that with Facebook and Google? Most likely, it will come to that.
We are approaching the “Creepiness Zone”. It’s a hazy boundary somewhere near the top of the scale where convenience is trumped by discomfort. It can best be illustrated by that feeling of unease you get when someone surprises you by knowing more about you than you had expected them to know.
Another new entry into the fray is Groupon’s new rewards program which only needs your credit card info to track your purchases and deliver the Deals to you when you earn them. There are lots of loyalty programs out there from supermarkets to airlines to credit cards. We’ll have to see where this Groupon deal lands, but I think it’s getting close to the Creepiness Zone for many people.
Groupon, Facebook and Google will be best served if they can avoid the Creepiness Zone and stay in the clear area where the cost of knowledge about us is easily out weighed by the value of the convenience. That’s the equation each of us has to calculate; am I willing to allow them to KNOW me in exchange for the DEAL? That equation has a million different solutions for each of us, at many different points in our lives.
Social marketers need to be aware of the Privacy vs. Convenience Continuum and learn to avoid the Creepiness Zone if they are to succeed in delivering services consumers want. Can you give me 1 Good Reason for you to lead your company into the Creepiness Zone?