In the book that Nick Rosener and I are writing, Shout in the Right Direction, we discuss the core of every business or brand: WHY. Every business or brand has to answer the riddle of “why do we do the things we do?” For most, it is because of money. For some, it is because of passion. For a few, it is because they want to make a difference. I see these three as an adaptation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
The most basic need for a business or brand is of course, money. It’s what fuels everything to create and deliver value to customers. Enough is needed to sustain the business, pay people and grow. But when money is in vast supply, it just becomes a scoreboard. At this point, it is politically correct to refer to this as being “stupid rich” and we all know that there is more to life than money.
Example: Exxon Mobile
Passion is the next level. Passion is the backbone of any great business or brand. It is what makes a business or brand unique, different and memorable. The passion for what they do and believe in enhances their products or services. To reach this level, however, you do not necessarily need a comfortable level of revenue. What is unique about passion is that it often drives the basic need for money.
Making a difference is the final level. This is where a brand or business becomes nearly immortalized. It accepts a higher purpose by recognizing that it needs to do more than create value for consumers. It’s not simply opening up a philanthropic effort and throwing millions in it to get tax breaks. People can smell bullshit a mile away when they hear about a business or brand “contributing to the community” or “giving back to what matters most.” The businesses and brands that make it to this level care deeply in customer satisfaction and do it for more than creating long-term loyalty.
Example: Virgin Group (have a better suggestion?)
Bare with me that I had to generalize significantly to fit my thoughts in this tiny post. You might not get it right away, but just think about the meaning behind the “why” of marketing.
(Keep thinking about it, you might get it)
Good, you got it! Right? Well if you don’t get it, here is a hint: the why is not the value proposition. It is more central and personal than that. By defining why, purpose is created. Purpose has meaning, and meaning gives life to the brand or business. The why of marketing is the reason for everything a business or brand does. The better answered why, the better the business or brand.
In October, I officially teamed up with Nick Rosener, owner of Tech Nick Consulting, to write a book about digital marketing, hence why I haven’t produce any new blog posts. We are pointing out how many businesses and brands lack a lot of the steps needed to build a brand or business through digital marketing.
Structure of the book:
Part 1: Plan
All marketing comes from the same spot and digital marketing is no different. We incorporate this part to prep strategy skills because marketers can be caught up in the digital channels and lose foothold of why they are building a strategy or a plan in the first place.
Part 2: Tools
With a great plan, you need to arm yourself with the best tools. This isn’t an overview of Facebook or Twitter, it is an in-depth view of various strategies for many digital marketing channels and tools and how to use them.
Part 3: Creative
To build inspiration, we will bring both “Plan” and “Tools” together and examine real businesses and brands on how they use them together to create awesome strategies, marketing plans and campaigns.
We are seeking ideas or topics that YOU would like more insight on or some know-how. Any feedback is helpful! We hope that book will be ready for an editors copy in late summer. Leave a comment if you have suggestions or if you want to know more.
I hear a lot about budgeting from people starting a social media campaign or introducing it as a strategy in a marketing plan and often hear a justification for using it: “Well, social media is free.”
This is true on a thin margin because not all costs are accounted for sometimes. It would be nice to break down the true costs of social media, a few have such as Alinean. Click to see their social media ROI and value chain (It is pretty awesome). What I want to address is when time is spent, it is also money spent. But your return may not have monetary value.
When you produce content for your social media, it requires time. But when you are launching content over multiple mediums and producing more and more content, it requires more time. I have to admit, it is very consuming. So what does division of labor teach us? Hire someone to do it of course. So now you have someone working on your social media. They are able to focus more time than you ever were able to on social media. Let’s assume this person is full-time, maybe $35k?
It is very difficult to say that the efforts of this full-time staff has an ROI for your brand or business. Before you can justify this, do you understand the value the person brings? What do you value from your social media? Is it making money? Expanding your business? Helping your customers? Sharing anything unrelated about your brand or business? Sometimes, your social media as a tactic is not there to earn you money. As Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing, puts it, your social media generates social currency. An intangible, nonexchangeable, worthless unit of value. It is worthless to those who think of money all day but it can be priceless to those who understand it.
Budgeting social media is difficult. But if you have already budgeted for a full-time staff to manage your social media, you must already understand that it brings value, right? It doesn’t make much sense to spend $35k unless you know it is going to work. Think of it this way. $35k will probably get you a month with a billboard or two in a larger city, probably in a crappy location. Or you can get a full year with someone who will billboard your company online, and can talk back. Just remember, sometimes social media does not have a monetary ROI, you just have to understand its value before you start budgeting a lot of money for it.
Let’s face it, social media can be a buzz word that many throw around:
“You need to optimize your social media.”
“The best way to talk to your customers is social media.”
“Social media is where your customers engage with you.”
I admit, I was one of them. Social media is popular and in many cases, helpful. But many cases, it isn’t for everyone, yet.
Just having a Facebook and a Twitter does not constitute as a plan and having scheduled posts can be equally as daunting. I will explain this in three simple reason why social media isn’t for you. Please note that I am generalizing to compensate for a mistake that many businesses make.
1. You do not have a purpose for each medium
Let me start by saying that all social media channels were NOT created equal, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube. Each channel is designed for various things and the content for each should be accordingly. Of course, in some cases they can be similarly used, for instance, sharing news or updates. Ideally, you would have some sort of pathway you would like your audience to follow: Twitter –> Facebook –> Blog –> Website –> Purchase
But each has limitations and the nature of those limitations create different uses. Understanding that mediums have an impact on your brand’s voice is step one. For example: a businesses with a Twitter account and have hardly any interaction because they hardly engage or interact with customers, it’s a status quo. We all know Twitter is an ongoing conversation and if there is a lack of effort or initiative, it will ruin the online brand.
2. You do not have the time commitment
Social media can consume your time and your life if you do not know how to manage it appropriately. Although it all depends on your plan. Do you plan on engaging with the customers you love or are you launching a full-blown campaign? Take for instance Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group: he tweets his own tweets. Granted, he is not always engaging in conversation, he is mostly sharing. Point being, if you spend a few minutes every day doing small things you can achieve your goals.
Business can achieve great things when taken in small steps. Take for instance Mitsubishi North America’s Twitter. They have accomplished a great following over a gradual period of time and they take a very casual approach: small talk. They generally ask questions about their audience’s experience and love to share it with others through positive reinforcement. They are not setting out to be the best auto conversationalist; rather a great place to talk about Mitsubishi autos. They tweet when there is something great to share and share it well. Over two years they have staggered out just under 900 tweets and it has paid off with 8,300 followers.
3. You are doing it because everyone else is/nothing else to do
This is the worst reason for a business to be engaging on social media. No plan, no goal, no reason, just because. The saying goes well with this: “Social media just makes a sucky business suck more.”
Now that you are using social media, it is best to educate yourself on it, because chances are you are just going to enhance crap. Set your expectations and your goals. What are you doing in social media? If it is seriously a last-ditch effort, maybe look inward rather out. Success comes from within, social media just shares it. Again, generalization. But you see my point.
Of course, there is opportunity in everything. If it is a last-ditch effort, make sure you are doing it right with an expert or an agency. Perrier US caused quite a stir with their raunchy YouTube campaign where the more people who watched the video, other videos would be unlocked to extend the video which achieved around 11.5 million total views.
Just be sure that whatever you are doing online, realize that people can bend, twist, and destroy it. You no longer have control of this medium and consumers have the power to talk back. It’s amazing and dangerous. Think it through, be smart, and think quality over quantity.
Traditional marketing plans have always been detailed orientated to facilitate everything from the high level objective to the nitty-gritty day-to-day activities. An alternate version of the traditional marketing plan is the action marketing plan. It was created out of the obvious problems of a traditional marketing plan: they are time intensive.
The mentality that drove the creation of the action marketing plan is inefficiency. By the nature of creating a detailed orientated marketing plan, time is wasted writing the plan and not enough time executing it. The traditional marketing plan also assumes many constants and does not offer enough flexibility to make changes on the fly. It simply bottlenecks the execution because the time required writing and becomes a constant battle of effort devoted to writing or executing. This becomes a huge disadvantage when working with social media and PR because response time is critical and can be potentially damaging if not handled quickly.
I would be arrogant for saying that all traditional marketing plans are evil, but they aren’t. Traditional marketing plans are helpful for businesses that have a more predictable market and need more control. However, there are many commonalities with action marketing plans:
- Simpler to write and orchestrate
- More flexibility due to less detail on assumptions or constraints
- Easier to implement due to the lack of strenuous detail
Typically, action marketing plans are meant for businesses that have time against them, need something easy to implement or want more flexibility when it comes to executing their goals, strategies or tactics. When laying out goals, strategies, tactics, each are accompanied by their justification for using them and what are.
Take this example layout for example:
Goals are the overall aim, the light at the end of the tunnel, the reward for all the hard work. For this business, they wanted to increase their revenue and supplement it with an increased awareness amongst consumers. To achieve those goals, they need a few strategies to help them get there. Strategies are different routes to focus on. These can be determined by asking, “How are you going to achieve your goals?” The best approach for this business was to increase advertising, promotions, and repeat customers.
Tactics are determined much like determining strategies: “How are you going to advertise?” “What are you going to promote?” “How are you going to increase repeat customers?” They are the specific activities to meet the needs of the strategy and achieve the goals.
With this reductionist method, the advantage is that everything can be traced to the ultimate goal and aids in the tracking of KPIs. In addition, these action marketing plans are much more adaptable to specific areas of marketing and easier to implement. For instance, if a social media plan need to be crafted, the plan can be easily adapted with the enhanced flexibility and simplicity.
Remember, a plan is worthless if nothing can be executed. While many situations call for detail intensive purposes; simplicity and flexibility are advantageous when it comes to time intensive implementation or a need for adaptability. It’s a solid tool to have as a marketer or an advertiser and comes in handy when traditional thinking becomes too complex.
Working with clients to build a marketing plan or consulting requires obvious patience to learn the business and to research their market. But when the client says, “I need to implement this next week,” panic sets in.
In one week, whatever you were working on, is now due. In that one week you are going to be implementing multiple tactics not to mention you have nothing planned for the first week. You are not sure what your next move is. The worst thing that can happen is nothing, because not only will the client be disappointed, the time invested is now wasted. Thankfully there are some steps to maximize efficiency.
1. Take a Deep Breath, or Whatever
Honestly, relax. If you feel your head is about to explode, walk away and don’t come back for an hour until you have reached an equilibrium. Did you know 1 of 4 workers say they have taken a mental health day? Check out GDS Infographic’s eye-opening illustration of stress at work.
2. Break it Down
Some tactics need to be executed in steps. Some are simply a one step tactic. Build a mind map, a process map, step-by-step chart, or anything that will help you organize steps to complete and execute a task. If you have many tasks for many tactics, start considering a project management software such as Basecamp. Mark down each individual piece required to complete the task in order. So if you are launching a social media campaign: understand the key messages, write the copy or design the graphics, proofread, schedule distribution of messages, etc.
3. Prioritize & Organize
Now that the tasks for each tactic are chopped up and easier to execute, organize tasks that need to be completed sooner. If it is clear that some tactics will not be able to be executed, make the call and let the client know ASAP. While prioritizing tactics, stay organized and don’t jump around tactics a lot. Complete what you can for each and move to the next. It is best to break down tactics delegate workload in a very short-term sense because time can be wasted when prioritizing all tactics when time could be spent executing them.
Complete the tactics that are feasible to complete and move on. Some parts of execution require more time in different areas. Accommodate for lead time. For instance if things need to be printed or shipped. Sometimes a key person is unavailable, don’t wait around, focus on the next thing. But when that person is available, get what you need and move on.
5. Track & Recover
Sometimes not all can be completed. Be sure to document what was completed, constraints and of course the result. It is not always wise to defend against clients, as it makes you look weak. But when clients are ignorant of the effort involved with the execution of tactics, make sure you convey the details.
Like all social media, it’s public. Many business understand they would benefit from using social media, but are worried about providing support to customers or prospects. It could because they are protecting private information, keeping out nosy competitors or even hostile feedback, but there are ways to successfully launch a social media strategy and still manage to support customers and prospects.
1. Set up Objectives
Never ever start a social media strategy without any objectives. It can end in disaster because there is lack of direction. Direction is needed to have the audience understand. Without understanding, it becomes pointless and the audience will ignore it. Start with putting together a couple of goals and a timeline along with how the goals will be measured.
- For example, a goal to achieve reduce support tickets over the next year could be measured simply by a monthly count of sales tickets compared to previous years.
2. Understand more than the just Basics
Anyone can Tweet or Facebook, but if you want to use it to help your business, you need to treat seriously, just anything else you do in your business because now have direct access to your business from anywhere in the world – you better treat it professionally too.
- Talk with businesses who have had success with it, meet with local social media groups: Social Media Breakfast, or talk with experts. If this project is way over your head or do not have the time to implement on your own, it may be cost and time effective (not to mention reputation-saving) to consult with an agency or a consultant.
3. Define Communication Policies
Like governments, they set up policies to handle certain situations. How will your communication differentiate? Will you answer all questions publicly or solve them privately? Will it be mostly for support or will it be for communicating news and events as well? Take a look at what AT&T does with their Twitter - they do a combination.
- Twitter users have transformed Twitter into a variety of communication models – use them all! Set up a chart of different scenarios of what type of communication will used. Positive feedback, negative feedback, support question, crisis question, etc… Try to encourage feedback, you never know when a great conversation will spur a positive and insightful wide-spread discussion.
4. Build List of Approved Content
The voice is everything when communicating online and businesses can sometimes struggle if they do not have experience. The voice is the business or brand personality (is it sarcastic, fun, straight-laced, or crazy?). When first defining the voice, start putting together content (videos, blog posts, pictures, music, polls etc…) you want to share and encourage interaction. The content can already be created but for content that does not exist yet, ask yourself how will it look and what key messages are you trying to convey.
- List out the different categories of content (videos, blog posts, pictures, music, polls etc…) and describe what you will do for each. Then ask if what you are trying to communicate matches the “voice”. Practice some more by writing out possible content ideas. This can become overwhelming but it is important because you are not publishing to anyone and everyone and the last thing you need is bad PR.
5. Have a Backup Plan
What happens when everything goes to DEFCON 1? When everything becomes overwhelmed, you need a backup plan to either cease and desist or slowly counter everything. Sometimes, cutting the losses can be the best move you can make or minimize damage. Although “social media DEFCON 1″ hardly ever happens, it is always better to be safe than crying.
- Depending on the size of a business, put together a brief list of things to do, people to contact if everything hits the fan. If a hacker gets hold of your account and changes your password, can you quickly reset the password? If a past customer launches a series hate messages how will counter it? What if it attracts local media?
Klout, Twitalyzer & Peerindex are social ranking tools to justify one’s ability to reach and engage the social network. Are they an ego booster? Why would anyone need these tools? Who should use them? How do they work? One grand question lies within the credibility; are they misleading?
Are they an Ego Booster?
Can be, but what really matters is, “are we making money?” Those who ask or need to answer this question are brands, agencies and businesses. They can all benefit from these tools if done correctly. Problem is, it gives a number. This number can be misleading.
The standardization with a number is limited simply by its nature. Social Media Examiner’s Elijah Young covered Klout in-depth with his article and brought up the pros and cons. Klout can be a better judgement of social media ranking than comparing the number of Twitter followers. It offers an explanation for the score through other variables. However, Klout can be gamed according to Young. Others, such as Niall Harbison with Simple Zesty, believe its total bullshit. It is an improvement in the sense that it analyzes more than the number of Twitter followers. There are some flaws, but good thing there are two other tools to compare with.
Why would anyone need these tools?
Depends on who is using them. Agencies use them to track their own reach along with their client’s reach and monitor them over a timeline. Agencies record when certain events occur, such as campaign start/end dates, when milestones have been reached, or special activity. This can be packaged and presented to the client and repackaged as a case study.Some brands sometimes track all of this information in-house, if they have the balls to, or if they want to keep an eye on their over-paid, under-performing agency. For those who manage in-house, it can provide a snap shot of information or with Twitalyzer, an information overload for the general user. But for a number loving nerd (like myself), it levels the playing field, sort of like calculating the probability for scoring a hot model at Comic-Con. Just take a gander at HALF of the available statistics to analyze from Twitalyzer, for free!
Who should use them?
Anyone who has a goal or purpose for social media. Many use Twitter and Facebook for sharing interesting and relating things. Others use Twitter or Facebook as a way to promote and engage. However, it is always fun to see your score, but refrain from using it as a score board against your friends, it becomes an addiction and you just look like an ass.
How do they Work?
Young does a great job analyzing how Klout works. Twitalyzer and PeerIndex work very similarly, just measures variables differently to equate a score. I compared myself to someone in my network to prove a point:
Glancing at how many people we influence makes it more understanding: I influence a mere 84 compared to 198. Makes sense, but the next thing I noticed was the differentiation in Twitter activity: I was nearly double in tweets, following, followers and listed.What gives? Quality, amount of engagement, frequency, and many other variables. For instance, Klout also takes into account of other networks. You can connect Facebook and a variety of other social media networks to enhance your score. Even after adding Facebook, I only gained 4.
What about PeerIndex?
PeerIndex does a good job at looking at the standardization of social media influence and rank differently. PeerIndex evaluates sources and the type of content that is shared, such as technology, medical. It still measures the Again, you are still given a number.
Are they Credible?
A great comparison for these three social media ranking sites are like the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. They do the same thing, but how they do it is what makes it different. Klout and PeerIndex’s indicators are quite similar:
Klout: Amplification, Influence, Reach
Peer Index: Activity, Authority, Audience
Numbers may vary, but not significantly in most cases. Bottom line is, there needs to be a standard and this is a great start.
These numbers are like masquerade, until you lift off the mask, it’s just guest at the social media ball.
This is a notification to update important software. Please go to www…… Failure to do so may result in severe computer malfunction.
With a user name of something like NOTIFICATIONUPDATE, it seemed suspicious. Block and report I did.
I toured around the Skype community and found this is becoming a common platform for scams and spam, much like Facebook, Twitter and probably soon to be Google+, Hooray!
If you have grown up with the internet and have any common sense, much of this is avoided and ignored. Just change your privacy settings, like I will eventually do tonight. However, some people just cannot make the connection. This is a serious situation. If you are reading this, you obviously have common sense, this is just a way to expose accidental ignorance, sort of.
Some people don’t get it:
Where did this person get my contact and why on earth is Skype giving her access to me.
I mean WTF? Why the hell would Skype detect a virus? And then, why would it ask me to go to a random website?
In a different instance, a friend of mine had his Twitter account hacked and it sent out messages to his followers. I replied back with
good courtesy to make my friend aware. Well upon doing so, I was hacked. This then started a rouge vendetta against spammers and scammers.
Do your part, report/block scam & spam and tell the people responsible for convincing you that it’s too good to be untrue:
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- Ok, I've been hearing the whole Google Glass "sale" is more of a fire sale for a possible new release. Anyone hearing the same thing? , Apr 17
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