Social Media

Successful Corporate Social Media Marketing

Image Credit: Startonomics

Corporate brands are embracing social media marketing in a big way.  Many are called but few have a good handle on what to do, evidenced by the millions of me too Tweets.

Great social media is like a rock and roll song - if you knew what a great song was you wouldn’t have to work for the rest of your life.  Those “benjamins” would be flowing into your back account faster than a Dave McClure investment in your startup. Listen up corporate brandoligists:

1) Lose the lawyers and organizational layers - be creative and set your brand free. Great social media marketing is not echoing PR missives, it’s about creating compelling content and engaging with the social community.

2) Create brand loyalists for your company and listen to what they say. High impact social media marketing is much more than broadcasting. It’s listening to your customers and then amplifying their messages and building layered engagements with them as you move your brand forward.

3) Give your brand loyalists a moment in the digital sun - let them jump into your social stream via a Guest Post on your Blog. Give em a contest on YouTube and feature the top videos across your social stream: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Corp site.

4) Think of social media monitoring as an early brand warning system. Get ahead of the curve and respond back to those comments, questions, brickbats, kudos with rapid response marketing. Great Tools for Social Media Monitoring include:

5) If your CEO is a brand like Richard Branson get her into the social stream via Twitter. If she isn’t then make her a star. Creativity trumps everything in social media - your CEO can talk about anything/everything that relates to your brand, or anything that resonates with your market that suits her fancy.

6) Motivate and enable your social media marketing team or community managers to become customer advocates internally within the company. Don’t harness them with rules and regulations, give them power and flexibility to cut through corporate rules and regulations so they can fix a problem or right a wrong. “I see you paid $30. over our discount price and I’ve just sent you a coupon for $50. off any purchase…….”

7) Repetition is at times essential to success with social media marketing. To stay with our music theme, there’s a reason why a great song has a repetitious chorus. Now is not the time to comment on the short term memories of consumers across the social web. Suffice to say, your message is interspersed with thousand/tens of thousands of others and you have to follow the repeat, rinse, repeat cycle to be successful.

8) Foster a positive culture within your own company. Look at the wonderful brands Whole Foods or Patagonia have built by empowering their internal staff. Neither company is perfect; but, each has pi0neered empowering their employees to believe in the corporate brand being built and to make contributions to it in creative ways.

9) Go long and go deep with social media marketing. It’s not going to happen overnight unless your Steve Jobs introducing one killer product after another or a member of Twitter’s exec staff. Build it right and they will eventually embrace your brand.

10) Think mobile. We are seeing a huge shift in consumer usage of social media via smartphones. Building your own unique IPhone or Android App is not a bad idea either, if you are lucky enough to find a developer!

11) Integrate a social cause into your branding/marketing mix. Pick a cause and support it as part of your branding initiatives and social media marketing. Check out the Pepsi Refresh Social Media Marketing Campaign. This campaign has helped to revive Pepsi’s “rusty” brand and humanize it at the same time.   We Support “What’s In The Heart” a wonderful film about the plight of our Native American People here in the US.

Discography Courtesy of Pandora: Dina Krall, Ray Charles, Dusty Springfield, The Who, U2, Ella Fitzgerald, Coldplay, Stan Getz.

Is Groupon Marketing Worth It?

Today’s trick question: who is more popular Lady Gaga, The Beatles or Groupon? Drum roll! Groupon - they are cranking out coupons as fast as Donald Trump flips real estate. But is Groupon Marketing worth it? Depends on your brand, gross and net margins, customer focus and marketing objective. Read on.

Let’s start with the bottom line for  your brand or business. You absolutely need to know what’s the lifetime value of a customer to your business before you can start giving away those coupons to anyone and everyone. If these numbers don’t work (lifetime value versus marketing cost) then your much better off investing your marketing dollars elsewhere.

In our research and based on utilizing Groupon Marketing for multiple clients, we’ve unearthed some insight that may impact your decision about using Groupon. Although we cringe at the thought of writing something that is au contrair to the sparkling multi-billion dollar valuations Groupon and Living Social have achieved.

Bottom Line Analysis - No Silver Bullet

  • That wonderful Groupon customer coming in to your store or restaurant is also displacing that customer you’ve spent years and maybe lots of marketing dollars building a relationship with.
  • Our research indicates these customers are fickle and they are not brand loyalists.
  • Groupon customers are really/really (!) value driven - “how big a deal am I getting?”
  • Groupon’s customer service is far from exemplary in many cases. This isn’t all their fault (lest we sound like we are bashing them) - am sure they are experiencing some growth pains.
  • Your putting your brand at risk working with Groupon. At the end of the day their massive email list is pushing out deals and your customers may associate brand value with Groupon and not with you. This is not a good thing. They “own” your customer to a certain extent.
  • Many savvy merchants and brands are not using Groupon as they feel their brand is being cheapened by association with Groupon. Look at the travel industry and what happened to major chains versus sites like Priceline or - these online businesses have more marketing muscle now than the brands they represent.
  • The one big positive our research showed us was on the cash flow that Groupon generates for many businesses. The sheer volume (which can be another problem) of these deals can help to infuse some cash into your business quickly.

Our recommendations if your diving into the pool with Groupon

  1. Remember Groupon is a marketing channel not a sales channel!
  2. Know what your incremental cost of sales is? You must know this number going in. Don’t include your fixed costs as part of your analysis.
  3. Are you cannibalizing existing customers? If you are this may not be a good thing. And, if you don’t offer these deals to your existing customers, this can be a challenge as well.
  4. What are the redemption percentages?  We’ve seen 60-85% on average. Factor back end operations accordingly and expect a bow wave the first few days.
  5. If your getting just bargain shoppers what is the likelihood these consumers will turn into real/downstream customers?  Know going in that cash flow and brand awareness may be your sole drivers.
  6. What’s the bottom line advertising value to getting your brand exposed to some finite number of customers in your local market?  Although this exposure can cut both ways.
  7. Advertising is relative as Don Draper says. What are your normal customer acquisition costs? And how do these costs overlay with a Groupon Marketing Campaign?
  8. Get ready for the masses - Groupon can defintiely deliver the numbers. And, you may want to cap the number of coupons that can be redeemed and the time period as well.

We tell our clients that Groupon is definitely not a silver bullet. But, it may have a place in their marketing mix if they understand all of the numbers and factors going in. But, as you can tell from this post, we have some healthy skepticism and concerns.

In the long run, your brand might be much better off investing a like amount in marketing dollars in blogging and integrating a CRM app into your business and building your own email database. Enabling you to have much better control over your marketing costs, direct contacts with your customer and doing some wonderful things for your SEO and content development and curation.

    Social Enabling Your Brand

    Image Credit: Inverse Blindness Machine: The Cool Hunter

    Your brand now lives just about anywhere people congregate and interact on and offline!  Social media enables consumers to interact with your brand’s product and services in meaningful ways that were unheard of up until the last 12-24 months.

    The conversation stream is coming at your brand in just about any and every way imaginable - Tweets, Likes, Yelp Reviews, Forums, Blog Comments, Videos. Your poor brand is under a digital assault like never before!  Brand command and control needs to be your marketing mantra moving forward. Some insight from here on the digital frontlines.

    Identify the Right Community and Build Brand Advocates

    Today’s social consumers are sharing their thoughts and feelings about your brand across many communities and sites. The conversation may start with a visit to your web site, then a clickthrough to your Facebook fan page, Twitter account or YouTube channel or a specialized community site like Yelp via a standard web connection or a smartphone.

    Your challenge is identifying where your customers are living digitally and to then engaging your brand with them. You don’t build brand advocates by pushing content (text, images, videos) at them. You must engage with these digerati in a meaningful way by getting them to interact with your content and share it with others. And, identifying  and engaging uber connected “thought leaders” with your brand is even better.

    • You want to identify the right platform and community and motivate the members of these communities to connect with your social media profile and engage with your brand.
    • The two best applications and platforms that we use on behalf of existing client campaigns to identify thought leaders, connectors, heavyweights, etc. (whatever your term du jour) are Peer Index and Klout.
    • PeerIndex has a broader set of components in their ranking algorithm but Klout’s user interface is a bit easier to grasp. But, we highly recommend both vendors and they are licensing their technology to a large number of other companies like HootSuite and Nimble.

    Leveraging Facebook’s Market Dominance

    Facebook is reshaping how brands market their products and services. It’s unparalleled growth, sophisticated platform and market dominance are reshaping marketing in the digital age.

    Image Credit: Swaroski Japan

    Facebook has morphed from a pure destination site to a platform that lets your brand interact with this vibrant community in a number of meaningful ways.

    All the cool brands around the world the last 3-6 months have touted how many “likes” they have on Facebook. But, this one touch marketing technique has been passed over for meaningful activity on Facebook.

    Your interaction with Facebook consumers now needs to start with a “like” that moves the consumer into a broader immersive engagement with your brand. The “like” is not the end game but the start of a chain of marketing activities that you want to cultivate with Facebook consumers.

    Your “like” marketing can now can lead to wall recommendations, an embedded ecommerce mini store on y0ur Facebook page that drive immediate revenue, connecting the consumer to your Twitter account, taking a survey, downloading a video, watching a “live” broadcast of an event and much/much more. One to one engagement can drive your brand into uncharted marketing territory - to underscore, the “like” is just the beginning of brand engagement.

    Brand Protection

    You’ve done a superb job of building brand awareness across the social web.  Now, how do you monitor what’s being said about your brand?  This is a simple question with a complex answer, with variances tied to your social media platforms of choice, the dynamics of your content development and curation, size of company and related brand (small business to corporate entity) and marketing resources. Recommended Platforms and Services:

    Creating Brand Relevancy

    It’s critical to make your social media campaigns and strategy relevant to your target demographics. A cutting edge clothing lifestyle brand like Diesel can get away with integrating sexy male and female models across all of their marketing initiatives, including print, TV, web and social media. Diesel is “storytelling” with buffed actors, coupled with superbly written content and strong graphical elements that really engages with their target audience demographics via their web site and all top tier social platforms.

    Image Credit: Mad Men

    But, if your selling insurance to families your campaign’s content and imagery needs to resonate with your demographics - pictures and videos of families, homes and children are going to create brand relevancy with this demographic. Calls to action need to incorporate content that adds value to the relationship such as White Papers, comparison costs, Case Studies, etc.

    Be creative with your brand and add value to existing content that your pushing out on the social web about your brand. A blog post can talk about how your products or services save your customers money or make their lives more interesting. But, a simple post with no outbound links to other resources is not going to engage your community as well as one with embedded resource links.

    Driving people to a Facebook page is a good idea. But, it’s not real engaging. Giving them the ability to download a discount coupon as Starbucks has done and share this with others is much more engaging and drives brand value.

    To summarize. Set your brand free on the social web and don’t fret over too many measurements and ROI details. Social media marketing is moving at warp speed and you are never going to be able to capture the digital touchpoints that reflect a well received brand. Get to market with a strategic plan and refine/improve downstream!

    That’s not to say you shouldn’t measure social media ROI analytics. You absolutely should. But social enabling your brand is again all about setting it free, driving engagement and conversation. If done right, you’ll reap tremendous rewards with a broader targeted customer base of brand advocates! Go forth brand evangelists and multiply!

    Promoting Your Brand on Facebook & Twitter

    We get asked all the time what is the formula for promoting a brand on Facebook or Twitter. The simple answer is it’s a complex blend of art and science. If you follow these fifteen steps you will ultimately be successful on both of these social media communities.

    1. Source quality content, curate and share it in a meaningful way - good content builds credibility and followers.
    2. Be authentic - these communities see through a poser’s persona very quickly and are quick to sense whether or not you are contributing to the social dialogue in a meaningful way.
    3. Pay it forward - virtual intros, references, “contact spreading” goes a long way to build relationships.
    4. Don’t promote until your brand is well established and then no more than 10% of your content streams/conversations. Many newbies jump on Facebook and Twitter and start trying to generate sales from day one, which can be a big mistake, unless you have a well established brand.
    5. Engage, engage and engage - broadcasting (even quality content) makes your social stream nothing more than a one way street.
    6. Patience is required - won’t happen immediately, it takes time to generate traction, followers and marketing ROI.
    7. Communicate during your targeted market’s business hours.
    8. Curate your Followers a bit - this is au contraire to other who say connect with the world.
    9. Leverage your core content (Blog, Video, Articles, Images) by sharing on both platforms. To generate good content ROI use a 3-5X multiplier.
    10. Twitter is rapidly becoming its own social graph - it’s digital glue, so spread it around along with your Facebook stream. Connect your Twitter account to any and all profiles that you are using.
    11. Checkins, lunch dates may work for the digerati; but, I find them boring, as do many others. Quality content generates quality relationships. Where your eating lunch and with whom may be cool if your Steve Jobs. But, if your not, forget about it.
    12. Both communities have social mores - learn and live by them. As an example, by using #FF (Follow Friday) via Twitter your “telling others” that you want to give back to the community and want to share and recommend valuable contacts you are connected with.
    13. Think about value of real time search (Twitter certainly) and use keywords, integrate back links and use hashtags. This content’s search rankings should improve over time.
    14. Follow competitors - these platforms are transparent, expect the same from them.
    15. Go the other direction and make sure your web site is social enabled; i.e. web site visitors can click into your social media profiles and follow and engage.

    Jump into to our digital conversation stream below and please comment below if you have thoughts or questions.

    Social Media ROI

    I provided a short answer to what drives Social Media ROI on Quora earlier today which generated an immediate response. I’m going to flesh out my answer, as I think many brands and businesses are struggling with identifying social media ROI. Before you even think about social media marketing ROI you have to create and launch a campaign and should be aware of these barriers to entry.

    • Remember the old saw: “time takes time” - well this is true of social media marketing. It requires an investment of time, which is increasing every day, as more and more jump into the market. It’s a marathon with the characteristics of a 100 yard dash!
    • Effective high impact social media marketing campaigns require a knowledge of specialized marketing processes and platforms (YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, Flickr).
    • You should have a good understanding of content development and curation, coupled with a good web site structure that inculcates good SEO fundamentals.
    • Social media marketing is starting to draw a crowd - the low barriers to entry are disappearing. Meaning, your brand messaging has to stand out above the digital hubbub.

    Now that I’ve hopefully give you a sanity check about the big picture challenges lets dive deeper into social media marketing ROI metrics. Big picture capabilities:

    1. Creates Buzz and Brand Awareness if outbound marketing is done creatively.
    2. Gets Targeted Customers talking about your Product and Services via Social Communities.
    3. Enables you to Build a Social Presence within these Communities, driving competitive barriers to entry.
    4. Track brand engagement (note my recommendations for platforms and services below).
    5. Monitor Competitors - remember they are doing the same on their end.
    6. Use Social Communities as a product feedback loop that’s second to none.
    7. Will push your organization to embrace new and challenging Marketing Methodologies, which in turn improves the DNA of your brand/organization.
    8. Give you the ability to measure positive Social Sentiment (or negative).

    Tangible ROI Measurements for Social Media Marketing:

    • Revenue
    • Customer Acquisition
    • Generate Keyword Rankings and Related Search Traffic
    • Drive “real time search” traffic via Keywords in Social Streams
    • Cross Promote and Curate Content to Drive Search Rankings & Visibility
    • Utilize Social CRM to Engage with and Solve Customer Problems (Support)
    • Identify Customer Influencers & Market Directly to them
    • Move Ecommerce Initiatives into Social Stream to Minimize COG
    • Utilize Social Stream/Communities to Measure KPI
    • Drives Blog & Newsletter Subscribers
    • Leverages Content Development Costs

    Market Leaders  involved in Social Media Marketing ROI