Tuesday Jul 30, 2013

Who’s Ready to Party? Social for Events

pinataWhen we think social marketing, we often think first of campaigns to drive awareness or product via posts and tweets.  But for many brands, event marketing is a consistent part of the mix. 84% of event organizers use Facebook to promote events, 61% use Twitter, and 42% use YouTube. 78% of event marketers plan to increase their use of social. Which is good, because to max out those opportunities, we must understand social for events has a unique importance, usage and strategy.

Before the Event

Figure out whom you want there. Get clear on which social channels they use to get most of their info.

Lock up that hashtag you want. Make it specific to the event, using it consistently before, during, and after. Don’t dilute it or confuse people by adding 3 or 4 additional hashtags.

Pre-event, use that hashtag to answer questions about registering, hotels, attire, nearby eating places, whatever. Include it on every invite, flyer, website, etc. you use.

What gets you to a movie? The trailer. Make a video or other content that makes your event seem like the not-to-be-missed industry event of the year. Make your presenters look like rock stars.

Set up a social contest where people can win a free pass to the event. If nothing else, it points out to them that they really do want to attend. But make it SUPER simple.

Create your event page on Facebook (and everywhere else it makes sense). There are a lot of tools and benefits to doing so, and you’ll want to start building the community of interested attendees long before the event. Tip: People love to see who else is going.

Let’s face it, some people are more active and influential on social than others. Find your field’s big influencers, get them to the event at no cost, and expect them to help get the social buzz going in exchange.

Get registrants invested. Let them have real world input via social on various aspects of the event as it’s being planned.

Take a minute to stop thinking about what you need. Think about how attendees will want to use social at the event and make sure you meet or exceed expectations.

Check the wi-fi at the venue. No, seriously. You’d be shocked how many tech events ironically feature slow or spotty Internet connections. It will destroy your social efforts.

Figure out what social metrics you’ll want to measure. If you don’t do that in advance, it will be easy to get lost in the weeds of all the data available.

Make sharing as easy as humanly possible, from the invite, from the registration page, from informational follow-up emails, from everywhere. If you can incentivize sharing, so much the better.

Plan out who’s responsible for what on social during the event. You don’t want to hear, “I thought you were going to tweet that session” or “Oh…I was supposed to get pictures?” Also think about contingency plans that might be needed.

At the Event

You can’t post, display, or say the event hashtag or handle enough. You just can’t, so please go ahead and try.

People come to industry events to network. One of the better ideas I’ve heard is to put attendee Twitter handles on their name tags. And while we’re on the subject, attendees shouldn’t have to look up presenter Twitter handles. It should be on all slides, not just one. Don’t assume photographic memories.

Live stream if you can. When that Felix guy jumped from the edge of space, there were over 8 million simultaneous live streams. So yes, people will watch if you give them something worth watching.

Don’t vanish on social once the event starts. Keep using social properties for on-site customer service, support and info. People tend to have more questions at events than before them.

Whether it’s Twitter walls, taking questions from Facebook, or reading tweets from the stage, let those following on social know they’re being seen and heard. That usually results in even more social activity.

Be as multimedia as you can. Cover your event like it was Comic-Con or CES.

Post Event

Now it’s time to leverage all the great stuff that came out of your event. The videos, the photos, decks, all of that is prime content for your social channels.

What you saw and heard should also give you material for several post-event blog posts. I personally like to take stock of which takeaways got the most retweets and do a “hot retweets” blog.

Gather your social lessons learned. What went right? What went wrong? Were there complaints? Were there missed opportunities? What did the social metrics you watched show? And don’t forget to act on what you learn. Amazingly, 95% of organizations collect customer feedback, but only 30% ever actually do anything with that data.

Follow those social event marketing guidelines and your event will be such a smash, half the marketing for next year’s event will already be done.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Jul 26, 2013

Social Listening: China’s Talking, Can You Hear Them?

ChinaHopefully, we’ve come to understand the value of social listening and social monitoring. It’s how we as brands and organizations learn what people are saying about us across the social web, and how we get to know our customers intimately, learning their values and expectations. It’s what allows us to respond in timely, relevant ways, driving new customers, referrals, loyalty, and increased sales.

Naturally, those are the kinds of benefits you’d like to apply to the largest, most socially active and fastest growing market on the planet, right? That would be China. And if you think you can’t listen to what’s being said about you there…you can.

China has the most active social media base plus the biggest Internet, mobile and social media population on the globe. 4 million additional Internet users are added per month, pushing that population to an estimated 800 million in 2015. There are 547 million estimated social users and 420 million estimated mobile web users. Much of the growth is fueled by rural and middle class users, where 97% of the Chinese middle class now owns a smartphone.

Back to the “active” part. A McKinsey report shows 91% of Internet-connected Chinese visited a social site. Compare that to 30% in Japan, 67% in the US, and 70% in South Korea. Social sharing in China went up 60% in 2012. During the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Twitter recorded almost 10 million related mentions. But China’s Twitter-like micro-blogging network Sina Weibo recorded 119 million. Incitez found that Chinese consumers spend more time (46 minutes a day) on social sites than any other country.

So yeah, it’s big. But does that represent a legit social opportunity for brands? Socially-connected consumer behavior in China isn’t much different from what we see elsewhere. They’re more likely to think about buying a product if it’s mentioned on social, and more likely to buy if a connection recommends it. On average, 66% of Chinese social users follow brands. The averaging user follows 6.7 of them. And yes, brands are well aware; over a thousand already have a presence on Sina Weibo.

And don’t forget that “active” part. An oral care product that executed a campaign on Chinese location-based network Jiepang gained over 846,000 branded user generated posts, creating 2.54 million earned media impressions…for $60k US. Monthly sales increased 23% during the campaign. Put that in your social ROI folder.

So if the opportunities are huge, and the social users there are highly active, how will you listen across social in China to surface those opportunities? The answer is powerful social listening technology that spans global languages and social sites. Oracle's Social Engagement & Monitoring (SE&M) product, part of the overall Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform, now lets you listen in Simplified Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish, with support and planned support for Chinese social networks/sources, and Latin America's Reclame Aqui and Vostu social networks. It’s the only product you’ll find with Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) in multiple languages. LSA lets you identify messages you want to see, filer irrelevant posts, and get a clear picture of the social content you’re examining. That way, you can spot and do something about the messages that matter.

SE&M also gives you a deeper look into a conversation, like consumer interest, intent or psychographics. If you’re multinational or based in the Chinese and Latin American markets, that’s potential gold. Of course, the whole SRM offers a fully translated user interface in 31 languages, now including Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish. We’re global that way. And even more listening languages are on the way to help you mine fans and leads.

For a good first step, how about a few infographics on getting started with social relationship management? Pick a language.

English
Spanish
Brazilian Portuguese
Portuguese

In her recent presentation at Oracle OpenWorld Shanghai, VP Development, Oracle Social Cloud Meg Bear pointed out how crucial it is for global brands to connect, listen, learn and engage with China, home to over half the world’s top 15 social networks. Eyes and ears are turning to digital places like Tencent Weibo, Sina Weibo, Renren, Qzone, and fast-growing mobile messaging platform WeChat.

The volume of potential data is significant. And just like Americans, the Chinese fully expect you as brands to listen to that data, understand their needs, and deliver stellar user experiences in return.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Jul 23, 2013

The Great Social Marketing Pain Point Poll

headacheJust as customers have pain points we as marketers need to address, we ourselves have to deal with our own social marketing pain points. Like any physical pain, pretending it’s not there, ignoring it, or putting off getting it seen about is highly likely to only make the situation worse.

Conversely, getting a good check-up and taking an honest, realistic inventory of what’s causing you to function at less than 100% is a pretty effective investment of time. If you’re not keeping pace with the competition, or if your social efforts are stuck in neutral, it’s high time to pinpoint specifically what the issues are that are preventing your growth and social marketing maturation.

So welcome to the Social Spotlight clinic, where we want to find out, “where does it hurt?” Below is a rather lengthy list of possible social marketing pain points you might be experiencing. Is it a complete list? Probably not. If your main stumbling block isn’t listed below, by all means let us know what it is in the comment section.

Otherwise we ask that you help out your fellow social marketers by participating in our “Great Social Pain Point Poll.” Below are your choices, so you can think and study in advance, but we ask that you go to the poll on our Oracle Social Facebook page and select three of the options. In the end, with your help and input, we’ll know what surfaces as the most common, pressing issues holding back the socially enabled enterprise.

Ready? Open up and say “ah.”

Social Marketing Pain Points:

  • Establishing the goals you want social to achieve
  • Getting social properties to drive traffic to owned properties like your site.
  • Getting your fans/followers to engage with your content
  • Getting fans/followers to give you referrals
  • Tying your social properties to your enterprise CRM software system.
  • Figuring out what content to put on your social channels
  • Figuring out who can and will create the content for your social channels
  • Resourcing for the manpower required to manage all your social channels
  • Figuring out where to find great social channel managers
  • Resourcing for/finding outsourced entities for content creation
  • Figuring out what metrics/KPI’s you need to watch that relate to business objectives.
  • Routing the feedback you get on social to product managers/developers
  • Streamlining your social channel management on one dashboard
  • Getting the C-suite to fully understand and embrace social and its benefits
  • Getting employees to participate on social on behalf of the brand
  • Legal issues surrounding social and content creation
  • Wanting to stop/prevent people from slamming your brand on social
  • Learning who your fans/followers are and what they want
  • Effectively and efficiently targeting your desired audience
  • Making sure your social is optimized and effective on mobile
  • Figuring out how to execute sales within the Facebook environment
  • Teaching sales reps to effectively use social for sales/relationship building
  • Finding people who can blog for the brand consistently
  • Figuring out the efficient management of hundreds of social streams
  • Figuring out who should and shouldn’t be allowed to represent your brand on social
  • Figuring out the approval process for content/posts/tweets
  • Creation of brand-wide social media standards & practices
  • Successfully utilizing social for PR and influence marketing
  • Successfully utilizing social for internal communication and collaboration
  • Figuring out how to market your social properties and let people know they exist
  • Learning and using the SEO advantages of social channels
  • Getting videos made to populate a brand YouTube channel
  • Setting up workflow so social can be effectively used for customer service
  • Maintaining a consistent voice and personality across social channels
  • Maintaining brand messaging across social channels
  • Deciding what to give fans/followers of value in return for their liking/following you (discounts, insider deals or info, etc.)
  • Figuring out how to demonstrate ROI
  • Gathering and managing the big data that comes in continuously from social
  • Listening to all the people talking about your brand out there on social

Remember, go to the poll on the Oracle Social Facebook page and pick your top 3. Then we’ll all know which pain is hurting the most and is in dire need of attention.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Jul 19, 2013

Involver to Oracle: Gold Rush to Modern Marketing

With the migration nearly complete from legacy Involver apps to the Oracle Social Relationship Management platform, we thought this would be a good time to hear from Mr. Involver himself, Rahim Fazal, to both commemorate Involver’s incredible accomplishments and to celebrate the powerful modern marketing capabilities now possible with Oracle’s integrated marketing.

kid minerOracle has nearly finalized the sun-setting of the legacy Involver free applications package. Why? Most notably, because in the last five years, the market has matured and so have the needs of our customers.

Pre-Engagement Era (the Gold Rush of 2009)

Early 2009 was an explosive time for the social marketing world and, in turn, my company Involver. People all over the world were signing up for Facebook at a rate that tripled the size of the user-base in just twelve months. Brands naturally followed suit by launching company fan pages because as any good brand knows, you want to be where the people are.

Involver, which at the time was a ten-person startup in San Francisco, recognized a glaring gap in the arsenal of social marketers. Sure it was easy enough to set up a fan page, but once activated, there really wasn’t a lot for users to do there. To us, these pages looked like blank canvases. So we decided to build a suite of applications for marketers to add richer content to their pages, like YouTube, Twitter and blog posts, or interactive widgets like polls or surveys.

Borrowing from one of our friends and advisers, Ian Schafer, we too believed brands shouldn’t “advertise” to their customers, they should give their fans engaging tools that could help them tell friends about the brand. Brands agreed, and in large numbers. When Involver was acquired by Oracle in 2012, there were over 1 million pages using these applications with more than 2 billion fan connections!

Engagement Era (present day)

In the last few years, as companies have accumulated thousands and thousands of fans, marketers have been working feverishly to figure out what to do with all these people – a great problem to have by the way. And as the expectations of those fans have changed and grown more sophisticated, so have the needs of social marketers.

Simply providing a tool to publish the occasional YouTube clip or launching a contest just isn’t enough.

Marketers want more active engagement with their social media efforts:

  • They want to listen and respond to conversations
  • They want to schedule publishing across many sites and pages
  • They want systems and workflows to be integrated so the right people in the organization can interact with fans and followers using the best tools
  • They want to anticipate the needs of the individual, so they can deliver a more personalized customer experience
  • And much more (much, much more. You should see our road map!)

Given the expanded and every-expanding needs of our customers, we joined forces with Oracle last summer along with our friends Vitrue and Collective Intellect (love you both). Together, and in close collaboration with our peers across the various Oracle applications teams, we have launched Social Relationship Management. SRM is a fully integrated social marketing system designed for modern marketing and is an order of magnitude more advanced than our individual legacy products (the old “the sum is greater than its parts” analogy).

Social Relationship Management provides:

  • Listening, Engagement and Analytics (SE&M)
  • Publishing/Moderation/Content and Apps (SM)
  • Workflow & Automation and Enterprise Integration (SE&M/SM + integrations with known enterprise platforms such as Eloqua, Rightnow, ATG, Siebel, and Fusion.)

We’ve come along way as an industry and as a company since launching the first fan page five years ago. Today, we’re lucky to be part of a much bigger team, a much bigger vision, and a product set that has allowed us to progress from providing tools for fan pages to providing an integrated enterprise marketing system that not only meets the needs of marketers today, but that can scale to meet the needs of marketers tomorrow.

That’s the kind of innovation and forward motion that’s incredibly exciting for all of us, and we welcome anyone migrating from the Involver products to the Oracle SRM platform with us!

Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Jul 16, 2013

Is Cloud Security Holding Back Social SaaS?

Cloud CastleThe true promise of social data co-mingling with enterprise data to influence and inform social marketing (all marketing really) lives in cloud computing. The cloud brings processing power, services, speed and cost savings the likes of which few organizations could ever put into action on their own. So why wouldn’t anyone jump into SaaS (Software as a Service) with both feet? Cloud security.

Being concerned about security is proper and healthy. That just means you’re a responsible operator. Whether it’s protecting your customers’ data or trying to stay off the radar of regulatory agencies, you have plenty of reasons to make sure you’re as protected from hacking, theft and loss as you can possibly be.

But you also have plenty of reasons to not let security concerns freeze you in your tracks, preventing you from innovating, moving the socially-enabled enterprise forward, and keeping up with competitors who may not be as skittish regarding SaaS technology adoption. Over half of organizations are transferring sensitive or confidential data to the cloud, an increase of 10% over last year.

With the roles and responsibilities of CMO’s, CIO’s and other C’s changing, the first thing you should probably determine is who should take point on analyzing cloud software options, providers, and policies.

An oft-quoted Ponemon Institute study found 36% of businesses don’t have a cloud security policy at all. So that’s as good a place to start as any. What applications and data are you comfortable housing in the cloud? Do you have a classification system for data that clearly spells out where data types can go and how they can be used? Who, both internally and at the cloud provider, will function as admins? What are the different levels of admin clearance? Will your security policies and procedures sync up with those of your cloud provider?

The key is verifiable trust. Trust in cloud security is actually going up. 1/3 of organizations polled say it’s the cloud provider who should be responsible for data protection. And when you look specifically at SaaS providers, that expectation goes up to 60%. 57% “strongly agree” or “agree” there’s more confidence in cloud providers’ ability to protect data. In fact, some businesses bypass the “verifiable” part of verifiable trust. Just over half have no idea what their cloud provider does to protect data.

And yet, according to the “Private Cloud Vision vs. Reality” InformationWeek Report, 82% of organizations say security/data privacy are one of the main reasons they’re still holding the public cloud at arm’s length. That’s going to be a tough position to maintain, because just as social is rapidly changing the face of marketing, big data is rapidly changing the face of enterprise IT. Netflix, who’s particularly big on the benefits of the cloud, says, "We're systematically disassembling the corporate IT components." An enterprise can never realize the full power of big data, nor get the full potential value out of it, if it’s unwilling to enable the integrations and dataset connections necessary in the cloud.

Because integration is called for to reduce fragmentation, a standardized platform makes a lot of sense. With multiple components crafted to work together, you’re maximizing scalability, optimization, cost effectiveness, and yes security and identity management benefits. You can see how the incentive is there for cloud companies to develop and add ever-improving security features, making cloud computing an eventual far safer bet than traditional IT.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Jul 12, 2013

Social Marketing: What We Should Do Right Now

checkmarkNobody likes wasting their time, or their effort, or their money.  That’s why it’s handy to know, at least in general, what does and doesn’t constitute effective social marketing.

The infographic and slideshow farms have been very busy, presenting several articles and studies that all speak to what the social user wants and is thinking. So let’s do some listening and act on what users are telling us.

Mary Meeker’s 2013 Internet Trends report asked what social media people are using. Facebook is still #1 but…was the only network to decline.  YouTube experienced the strongest growth, with Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn rounding out the top 5.
So we should: Keep maximizing and resourcing Facebook, but wake up to the fact that people like to get info and entertainment via video, preferably short ones.

We also learn from the study how hard it is to get Americans to share content. Saudi Arabia shares the most at 60%, while the US fell below the global 24% average at 15%.  Japan shares the least.
So we should: Realize most people only share if the content triggers an emotion, or if sharing it casts a positive reflection on them.  Our content can’t just “lay there.”

The disconnect between marketers and the real world remains stunning. While only 6% of the public spends their media time with print, we put 23% of our ad spend toward it.  Meanwhile, as users spend 12% of their time on mobile, we threw a mere 3% of ad spend that way.
So we should: Give ourselves a good face-palm, say “Duh,” and market where the people are.  

The amount of content created grew 9 times in 5 years. Over 500 million photos uploaded a day, 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube per minute. And think audio is dead? 11 hours of sound was uploaded to SoundCloud per minute. 
So we should: Recognize we’ve got content competition not just from our competition, but from anyone with a phone.  See section above about how our content can’t just lay there.

45% of Groupon transactions in North America are from mobile, up from less than 15% two years ago. Tablet growth is even faster than smartphone growth.  People want access to everything no matter where they are.
So we should: Develop experiences with the device user first in mind.  Not only will mobile use only go up, the study says it will soon be wearable/drivable and hands-free.

Surveyed CEO’s said they now think technological factors will have the biggest impact on their organizations, second only to market forces.
So we should: Disrupt the enterprise, scary as that is.  Socially enable it so all customer touch point experiences and analytics can be integrated into actionable data.  That’s where social ROI comes from.

A Ypulse study of 14-30 year-olds sought to learn where they get their information. Social was at the top of the list with 68%, followed by word of mouth. 
So we should: Recognize that social IS word of mouth, and we have a golden opportunity to not only be a source of usable info but to have it spread credibly.  Key word: “usable.”

66% of this age group have little confidence the news they get is accurate. Information sources have forfeited their credibility.  The audience is highly guarded.
So we should: Begin the long process now of building trust through honesty, transparency, sincerity, humility, and making sure we know the customer intimately. 

69% of 14-30-year-olds prefer to be informed by people who are older, not by people of the same age.
So we should: Not embarrass ourselves pandering to young users, desperately trying to be “hip.”  Oh, and just being 22 doesn’t qualify someone to be a community manager.

Lastly, our friends at Georgia Tech compiled 14 things that make a real difference in your ability to get Twitter followers. They didn’t study brands, but what works for individuals applies to us as well.  The top factor: when people see a friend follow an account, they’re more likely to follow it.
So we should: Recognize success begets success.  Retweets attract more followers as well.  So get momentum by acting on these next suggestions.

Inform. Make sure tweets have a target and a point. Use clear, simple language. And don’t pack your tweets with worthless hashtags. 
So we should: Realize even one little tweet is content.  Don’t ask your customers what they’re doing this weekend.  That’s generic filler.  And make tweets quickly readable.  Cool it with the symbols, hashtags, and hieroglyphics.

That’s a lot of things we should be doing. But, since they’re responses to what the audiences we’re trying to win over and turn into our advocates are telling us they like and want, perhaps it’s high time we got serious about following their lead.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Jul 09, 2013

In Search of Social Shopaholics

shopperIf you’re looking for people who are into social shopping, that is, shopping with friends or shopping based on what a friend told them, you don’t have to look very far.

Michael Aldrich made shopping online a reality way back in 1979. He connected a TV he’d altered to a real-time transaction processor using a phone line. It was the first time IT became “participative,” wherein a closed corporate system could communicate with outsiders for transactions or some other communication.

Don’t like my history lesson? Then fast forward to today and the level of acceptance of e-commerce…buying things online.

US online sales in the first quarter of 2012 hit $50,270,000,000. Forrester believes that in 2017, it’ll hit $370 billion and online will make up 10% of ALL US retail sales. Why? The top reasons people like shopping online are that it saves them time (73%), it offers more choices (67%), and it’s easy to compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal (59%).

It’s a global thing. The MasterCard Online Shopping Survey showed 91% of South Africans who shop online are highly satisfied with the experience. Now consider the rise of mobile around the world and the impact that has on online shopping as more people can research any purchase at any time from anywhere. Webloyalty says mobile shopping is predicted to drive 25% of retail sales by 2020.

Early reluctance is fading, the public’s comfort level with buying online is only going up. Now add to this time and money-saving convenience the influence social has on purchasing.

Common sense should tell us how social helps sales. If you’re in a store with a friend, considering an item, and the friend says, “Oh yeah, I bought that and I love it,” the deal is done. Social makes it possible to have not just one friend, but ALL your friends in the store with you. In fact, they’re with you even if you’re considering an item outside of a store.

75% of shoppers who read social feedback clicked on the product link taking them to the retailer’s site. 53% of those people bought the item. Facebook drives 26% of referral traffic to business sites. Retailers aren’t living under a rock. They’re deeply incorporating social across channels. They’re engaging people on their social properties, then pointing them back to their owned retail sites. And icing on the cake: they’re getting real-time, actionable social data that can help rapidly adjust and improve customer experiences.

Make the leap from e-commerce to s-commerce, conducting transactions within the Facebook or social environment itself, and you’ve eliminated yet another step/barrier to the sale. 20% of shoppers prefer buying products through a brand’s Facebook page compared to a brand site. 77% of people like getting exclusive deals they can redeem through Facebook. Why make shoppers cross the virtual street when the purchase can be made right where they are, before they change their minds? As long as your back end is set up in a way such as Oracle offers, with its powerful ATG online commerce platform fully integrated with the Shop module of it’s Social Relationship Management platform, you lose nothing by taking care of business right there on Facebook.

With online sales from social expected to grow 93% per year over the next 4 years, and with mobile making the nearly instantaneous discover/research/purchase sales cycle commonplace, the social networks might just be the place you want to hang that shingle.

@mikestiles

Friday Jul 05, 2013

Customers Are Celebrating Their Independence

fireworksHere in America, we recently once again celebrated Independence Day. Amidst all the barbecue and fireworks, some took a moment to contemplate freedom, what it means, how precious it is, and how grateful we are for it. These days, your customers and prospects can do the same.

There was a time not so long ago consumers were not liberated. They had perceived choices, but not real choices. Brands often operated with outright contempt for them. Corporations granted themselves near-parental authority over them, punishing with fees or other penalties for “bad” behavior.

It didn’t matter if the product or service was lousy. Companies didn’t have to listen to complaints, much less do anything about them. No need to value the customer, their time or their patronage. If a brand lost some of them, who cared? It was “give us your money, and we’ll give you the least and worst we can get away with yet still stay in business.”

Not a pretty picture for the consumer; no power, no voice, no recourse. It’s jarring how many companies still try to operate the way they did before…the revolution. But there was indeed a revolution, one that gave the public their freedom from arrogance, hubris, and neglect. It empowered and connected them so that together, their voices and the force of their collective will could no longer be ignored.

Overdramatic? Maybe. But now that we’ve been living in the post-social era awhile, we tend to forget or take for granted that social media literally facilitated the fall of dictators and altered the course of world history. It’s still doing that today. So maybe it’s not overly dramatic at all to point out just how different the world is for consumers and brands now vs. before Facebook and Twitter.

Today, horrible products, horrible service, bad experiences, etc. get called out quite publicly. This happens almost instantaneously, while the consumer is enduring the bad experience (that’s when they’re most motivated to talk about it). This anti-PR is distributed in the blink of an eyelash to a vast, pre-built network of friends, and friends of friends. If you’re lucky, it’s only on one social platform, but it could just as easily go out on several.

Mobile, snowballing rapidly when it comes to digital and social usage, facilitates this even more. We spend 130 minutes a day with smartphones and tablets, and 84% of us can’t go one day without using our mobile. The customer is always on, always connected, always communicating, no matter where they go. You will not dodge a bad recommendation bullet if you deserve one.

The consumer is also now free from lack of information. 70% of consumers research online before buying in-store, after using about 10.4 sources of info to decide. Anytime, anywhere, from a variety of trusted sources, they can learn about you, a product you sell or the service you give. 82% of the 18-34 demo says friends’ posts directly influenced their purchase, and 53% recommend products with tweets. Your reputation is now everything. Everything.

Ironically, now that consumers are free, they’re willing to give you private data about themselves! But they no longer have to give something for nothing. In return, they expect better, more personalized user experiences and service. Tech listening tools give companies anticipation engines with which to know (and care) who the customer is and what they like. If you can use that data to teach the customer better personalized solutions, even better.

Social having turned the world on its head, now customers are the ones making sure you behave. They not only care that you’re conducting business the way they think you should, they even care about your corporate values. Companies with a culture and philosophy that resonates best with their target audience will win. Your customers are looking for honesty, transparency, and humanlike qualities.

But in this revolution, there are no losers. There’s plenty of reason for customer and brand to celebrate the public’s newfound power and independence. Corporations are being “encouraged” to be better at everything they do. Success now rests in the quality of the products, the attentiveness and care of the customer service at every touch point, and the well-earned trust of the customer…all things that, done right, result in additional longevity and prosperity that wouldn’t be there were it not for the empowered consumer.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Jul 02, 2013

Seriously, It’s Time to Get Your Content Act Together

spectrumBranded content, content marketing, social content, brand journalism, we’re seeing those terms more and more. Why?

The technology tools are coming together. We should know. We can gather big data, crunch it, listen to the public, moderate, respond, get to know the customer intimately, know what they like, know what they want, we can target, distribute, amplify, measure engagement and reaction, modify strategy and even automate a great deal of all that.

An amazing machine, a sleek, smooth-running engine has been built such that all the parts can interact and work together to deliver peak performance and maximum output. But that engine isn’t going anywhere without any gas. Content is the gas.

Yes, we curate other people’s content. We can siphon their gas. There’s tech to help with that too. But as for the creation of original, worthwhile content made for a specific audience, our audience, machines can’t do that…at least not yet. Curated content is great. But somebody has to originate the content for it to be curated and shared. And since the need for good, curated content is obviously large and the desire to share is there, it’s a winning proposition for a brand to be a consistent producer of original content.

And yet, it feels like content is an issue we’re avoiding. There’s a reluctance to build a massive pipeline if you have no idea what you’re going to run through it. The C-suite often doesn’t know what content is, that it’s different from ads, where to get it, who makes it, how long it should be, what the point of it is if there’s no hard sell of the product, what it costs, how to use it, how to measure it, how to make sure it’s good, or how to make sure it will keep flowing. It could be the reason many brands aren’t pulling the trigger on socially enabling the enterprise.

And that’s a shame, because there are a lot of creative, daring, experimental, uniquely talented entertainers and journalists chomping at the bit to execute content for brands. But for many corporate executives, content is “weird,” and the people who make it are even weirder. The content side of the equation is human. It’s art, but art that can be informed by data.

The natural inclination is for brands to turn to their agencies for such creative endeavors. But agencies are falling into one of two categories. They’re failing to transition from ads to content. In “Content Era, What’s the Role of Agencies?” Alexander Jutkowitz says agencies were made for one-hit campaigns, not ongoing content. Or, they’re ready and capable but can’t get clients to do the right things. Agencies have to make money, even if it means continuing to do the wrong things because that’s all the client will agree to.

So what we wind up with in the pipeline is advertising, marketing-heavy content, content that was obviously created or spearheaded by non-creative executives, random & inconsistent content, copy written for SEO bots, and other completely uninteresting nightmares. Frank Rose, author of “The Art of Immersion,” writes, “Content without story and excitement is noise pollution.”

In the old days, you made an ad and inserted it into shows made by people who knew what they were doing. You could bask in that show’s success and leverage their audience. Now, you are tasked with attracting, amassing and holding your own audience. You may just want to make, advertise and sell your widgets. But now there’s a war on for a precious commodity, attention. People are busy. They have filters to keep uninteresting and irrelevant things out. They value their time and expect value back when they give it up. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says, "Your customers don't care about you, your products, your services…they care about themselves, their wants and their needs."

Is it worth getting serious about content and doing it right? 61% of consumers feel better about a company that delivers custom content (Custom Content Council). Interesting content is one of the top 3 reasons people follow brands on social (Content+). 78% of consumers think organizations that provide custom content want to build good relationships with them (TMG Custom Media). On the B2B side, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company info in a series of articles vs. an ad.

So what’s the hang-up? Cited barriers to content marketing are lack of human resources (42%) and lack of budget (35%). 54% of brands don’t have a single on-site, dedicated content creator. And only 38% of brands have a content marketing strategy.

Tech has built the biggest, most incredible stage for brands that’s ever been built. Putting something on that stage is your responsibility. Do a bad show, or no show at all, and you’ll be the beautiful, talented actress that never got discovered.

@mikestiles
Photo: Gabriella Fabbri, stock.xchng

About

Get the latest changes and innovations to social technology platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube, and learn where social marketing trends are headed.

Connect With Us

Twitter

Search

Categories
Archives
« July 2013 »
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
 
1
3
4
6
7
8
10
11
13
14
15
17
18
20
21
22
24
25
27
28
29
31
   
       
Today