Friday, April 17, 2009

Size Matters?

With all of the talk of Ashton Kutcher and CNN's battle to reach 1,000,000 followers on Twitter, it made me think back to a recent conversation I had with a respected PR firm. Ya see, it seems as though to some, having a big Twitter following is really important. Without any qualifying statement, that was what I was told during my conversation.

I say that's a load of crap.

Just like in traditional marketing, a clear understanding of each tools' strengths and weaknesses, lined up against attainable metrics for a given business or marketing challenge is key. Then building the right components and metrics for each, is what puts a marketer on the path to a successful effort. The ROI will come as you look at your overall program objectives, not the success or failure of one particular channel.

And that's where it all has to start. Whether we are building a Web site, doing SEO planning, creating a display campaign, or looking at Web 2.0 tool to use, it all must start with a clearly defined business or marketing objective.

Does the size of your Twitter count matter? The answer is - that it depends. Most critical is in the size of the results/learnings against your plan.

Monday, February 2, 2009

"Getting Real" Part 2: Inside Out

In Part 1 I wrote about getting back to basics when thinking about Social Media. That Social Media is a powerful ingredient to the overall business intelligence mix that an organization has at its fingertips - perhaps THE most powerful in that it allows connecting your internal organization to your customers in real time.

With the right tools at your disposal you can have access to a giant focus group of your employees, vendors, and customers right in their own "habitat." As mentioned, it will take major strategic, cultural, and operational changes within enterprises to accomplish.

This week I cover the following question: How can companies leverage social tools to communicate with, and ultimately energize internal teams? Check out the following video and see if it sounds familiar. Then read on.

In a Web 3.0 world this simply will not work. Companies must change in order to survive.

In the book Wikinomics, authors Tapscott and Williams say, "...with peer production we will harness human skill, ingenuity, and intelligence more efficiently and effectively than anything we have witnessed previously. Sounds like a tall order. But the collective knowledge, capability, and resources embodied within broad horizontal networks of participants can be mobilized to accomplish more than one firm acting alone."

Remember when corporate intranets were all the rage?

Intranets are a way to "push" messaging to employees all at once. What would happen if you turned to spigot on the other way and enabled technology to allow information to flow back to management where those on the ground can have a say and provide the most efficient form of R & D.

Imagine your company takes a collaborative approach with your employees - that there was a strategic and cultural acceptance that the best ideas bubble up rather than come down from above?

Do you think that would have broad reaching impact on morale, and would enable true engagement within the ranks of your organization?

What if you provided the tools, or better - a platform, for which employees can collaborate with each other, and ultimately with management?

Forums, blogs, and wikis, are all tools that can allow employees an open platform to share, collaborate, and provide input in building the ultimate brand.

In this scenario, only the best ideas would get worked on, saving companies millions in what have been wasted productivity. Consider the increased speed to market when only the best ideas get worked on. Companies should not turn a blind eye on the power of a built in community of internal social interactions. Rather they should embrace it in a broad, far reaching, integrated approach to building a better customer experience, and ultimately, a better brand.

I talked previously about how important it is to first have your employees connect with each other and then to your customers.

This is the model to build a brand from inside out.

After all, it's your organization's interaction with your customer, and their perception of you that ultimately matters. Your most valuable asset, your employees, is the very first place to start the process. Providing the tools (and using the information) for collaboration is key.

What do you think? Add a comment or post a thought.

Want to hear more about Wikinomics? Check out a ~10 minute interview with Wikinomics' Author Don Tapscott:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Getting Real About Integrating Your Brand with Social Media

There have been way too many articles written with way too many points of view about how to leverage Social Media. So in considering this entry, I thought what would be the risk for one more?

For all of the studies I have seen, and all the opinions that are out there, not too many have figured it out.

And what's with the term "Social Media" aka Social Marketing, Social Influence, Word-of-Mouth Marketing, Viral Marketing? And let's not forget that it falls into the big ambiguous bucket known as Web 2.0...or are we up to 3.0 now?


No wonder everyone is confused. We can't even decide what to call it.

Perhaps most importantly, what about creating an ROI model that will sustain its existence? Solving for many of these hurdles requires a scalable framework and a monumental shift in the way companies conduct business today.

One thing's for sure, people are talking.

"Word-of Mouth Marketing" is the oldest form of marketing, right?

There really is nothing new about Social Media, except that now we have technology on our side. Through technology, and consumers shifting more of their time online, you not only can listen, but also measure, enable, and participate in those conversations between your fans and critics like never before.

From my experience, most organizations look at each Social Media opportunity in a vacuum - a Facebook page, a viral marketing video, a corporate blog, online PR outreach to bloggers, or customer forums on a Web site - they are not integrated with more traditional channels, leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.

Additionally, campaigns and initiatives are planned much like "traditional digital" and traditional marketing have been done for a gazillion years. There is a lot of time spent planning against eyeballs rather than the overall influence that those fans and critics have on your brand.

So what's a brand?

First - what it's not:

It's not your logo
It's not your corporate identity
It's not your tag line
It's not marketing

IT IS the perception that a customer has of your product / service and company - and the value that you deliver to that customer's inherent need.

For internal teams it's strategic, cultural, and operational.

Strategic, because it requires a deep understanding of your customer and how your offering impacts their unmet need.

Cultural, because EVERYONE in your organization must buy in, live the values, and embrace the execution by which you will achieve your desired brand perception.

Operational, because there must be process and role clarity for each department and individual stakeholders to achieve brand objectives.

Think about it.

What is the impact on your brand of having an item in stock that your customer is trying to buy when they are ready?

Think of those employees that interact directly with customers. What if they are aloof or uncaring? What if they are helpful, knowledgeable, and provide great service?

One positive or negative experience can shift consumer perception in an instant.

Your brand is the totality of EVERY aspect of your organization and the ability to deliver and meet or exceed the customer expectation. Social Media should be viewed as a powerful ingredient that enables the connection of every department within your company with each other and then directly to your customer.

Social Media has the opportunity to be the ultimate petri dish to gain insight into customers' needs in ways that have not been done before and create actionable steps to impact business across entire enterprises.

That's where the ROI comes from.

Social Media should be viewed as part of a larger effort and gets rolled in to a broader ROI model, made possible by having information to make better decisions and guide thinking.

This seems really hard.

Building brands is hard. The strategic, cultural, and operational challenges are enormous. But as consumer behavior evolves, it is imperative that businesses respond as if their survival depends upon it.

Now if there were only a better name for Social Media...

What do you think?
Have a different point of view?

Post a comment and share your thoughts.