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Archive for June, 2011

Engagement is not a Like or a Follow

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

A handshake is nothing but a handshake. It can be about meeting for the first time, it can about seeing someone again, and it can mean that we are in agreement. At the end of the day, it’s what’s “behind” the action that defines the action. The same holds true for the word engagement.

At some point over the past few years social media has caused us to redefine the term “engagement” to mean something more than what it really means. Or is it less? We actually have “dumbed” down the term engagement.   For some, and it may be brands that are more guilty of this than others, engagement  is viewed as garnering a “Like” or a “Follow”.  It’s not conversations, it’s not discussions, nor is it customer centric inquiries. Some brands are collecting Likes and Followers at rapid rates and then are telling everyone who will listen, that they are engaged with X amount of customers on social networks.

Uhhhh. No. You’re treating and collecting people like they are baseball cards. When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a baseball card?

Just  as social media has redefined what a “friend” is, so is it that “fan”, “like”, and “follower” mean something completely different than it did 10 years ago. We can now add “engagement” to that list. Quit treating the accumulation of fans, likes and followers like it’s an arms race and assuming that you are engaged with these people. From now on you must apply a new rule. You’re not engaged with that person on a social network until you have had 3 conversations or interactions with them that are longer than one word sound bites.

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What Does Corporate America Fear the Most with Social Media?

Every one likes to be in control. Including corporate America, and yet that is their greatest fear with social media. Loss of control. They fear the digitally enabled employee-The digital native. They fear the new found empowerment of an existing employee and the new hires that have expectations around the company being truly social and digital. What we are slowly starting to see, is an underlying assumption that access to social networks is a right and not a privilege; and as we hurl into a new decade-this expectation will only continue to grow.

Remember how email initially was viewed within an organization and how we treat it now? First it was feared that email would sap productivity and now it’s a utility we can’t do without…

For a growing few, there is an understanding and realization of the power and necessity of social within an organization. Some of the likely examples that you may be aware of, are of course Zappos, Cisco, Dells, Best Buy, Home Depot, P&G, for example. All great poster children for corporate social success and the list continues to expand. Those companies are the ones that get it; but interestingly enough what you are never told about these companies, is that they too probably struggled early on, both internally and externally. They too probably had their fair share of resistant or skeptical employees who did not want to be social. It’s natural. This too shall pass.

The fear is always there with anything new. Social is no exception. We are asking people to communicate. We are wanting the B personalities to share. We are asking you to collaborate. Of course some would say well social isn’t new anymore. Well I hate to break it to you but though Facebook is nearing the holy grail of 1 billion registrants- There are still a lot of people and a lot of companies out there that are:

  • Scared to death of Facebook
  • Scared to death of social
  • Of becoming social
  • Of empowering employees with social tools
  • Worried about how they are supposed to deal with social enabled expectant, demanding consumers.

What’s more daunting beyond that fear and the whole “who owns social” argument, is that within some of these large siloed companies that are willing to take on the challenge, social walks, talks, acts and looks different in each and every department and will not resemble what it looks like with your competitors or peers. Daunting indeed.

Beyond daunting will be the challenge to not only integrate it successfully into the unique culture of their companies, but also to manage it, nurture it and turn it into less a fear of loss of control but more of an asset in managing the success of your employees and the happiness of your customers.

Social media is no longer an if statement, it is most definitely a when statement. Start now.

Three Plateaus in Social Media

For those of you who are new to the social space, this post does not entirely apply to you, though it perhaps eventually will.  So you can keep reading to see what will might happen to you.

Plateau #1

  • You’ve created half assed personas in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin
  • You’ve added and perhaps bought followers, fans, likes, subscribers and contacts
  • You’ve created a blog and have added a few posts
  • You have pushed out some weak, self serving content on all of them
  • You had no strategy
  • You quit because, you see nothing gained and you claim that social media does not work

Plateau #2

  • You have done everything in Plateau #1 and…
  • You have added/bought thousands of people to your networks
  • You push out content on all of your networks but it’s over the top and self serving
  • You monitor all of your networks…sort of
  • You have engaged with people somewhat
  • Your activities have tailed off because it takes too much work and you’re not seeing the results and you’re not convinced that social media works. Pretty soon, it dies a slow death.

Plateau #3

  • You have identified and created personas in the right networks that fit your needs
  • You understand that it’s a marathon and not a sprint
  • You manage and grow all of your networks thoughtfully and effectively
  • You measure all of your efforts effectively
  • You create and meet all of your existing KPI’s
  • You adapt and you create new KPI’s
  • You create, adjust, and redefine your strategy accordingly
  • You thrive

As you can see, the 3 plateaus are fairly well defined and quite different. Most of you have done all or parts of each. Those that can get to the third plateau can certainly speak to the other two. Those that have quit after one or two, certainly know why they did. What’s your smell test?

On hardwork, Shorts Cuts and Aggregating in Digital

 

Do you ever hear anyone after a huge win, a major client victory or a momentous occasion within an organization say the following? “Without the short cuts and the corners we cut, we would have never made it…”

In the world of digital, there exists the potential to aggregate your activities and consolidate your digital streams so as not to duplicate work. That’s not really a short cut. THAT is much different than buying followers on Twitter. Additionally, creating an editorial calendar for when you are going to blog and what your topics will be and what the content might be is a lot different than paying someone to load you up with bland, link baited  light on content,articles to fill your blog with.

Furthermore, taking the time to develop a database of customers that you curate and nurture along and turn into brand advocates that you can send targeted emails and Facebook offers and coupons to, does not resemble buying a used, stepped on, non-qualified list of names that you can email blast to without permission.

“Just” throwing up a website pales in comparison to taking the time to find out from your audience what they want and making sure that what you sell or offer online is meeting the needs and expectations of your buyers, customers and prospects. We don’t live in a brochure-ware web world any longer.

Last point. Don’t discount new technologies because you don’t understand them and because you don’t want to take the time to understand them. That’s not hard work. That’s saying, “It’s too hard for me to understand and it probably won’t benefit me…”

You need to know that there are basic steps here in every digital channel that you need to do and do right if you want to be here next year. At every digital juncture you have the potential to make a choice. A short cut or hard work? Believe it or not, your audience knows the difference.

 

The Relationship Between the Brand and the Customer

I like Under Armor. I like Nike. I like Titleist.  Do I love them? No, it’s a platonic relationship.. Now where does that put me in the grand scheme of things when it comes to our “social relationship“? What do I want that relationship to look like? I know what they want it to be. They want me to friend, follow, like and fan all of their social sites. They want me to be available to them on all digital channels for all of their push style messaging.

But then what? What are we both supposed to do at this point. At best, the end game from the brand perspective should be transactional. Right?  In the interim, it should be me engaged with them building towards a transaction, and possibly sharing that engagement or brand experience with my friends.

At the least they, the brands, should be mining all of my demographic, social and personal data so that they can target market to me out the wahzoo. Again though, what do I get out of that besides the product that I may buy. If they were smart, they may have asked me what I want but the bottom line is that if I am friending, following, or liking a brand for a reason. I have a modus operandi. I have to. Right?

What is my strategy? Why do I or should I follow, friend, fan or like a brand? What do I want out of the relationship? What do I want from you Oh mighty brand that I adore?

Free Stuff, deals and coupons. That’s it. Let’s call a spade a spade and quit hiding behind fluffy connotations of the brand/consumer relationship. Give them deals, don’t screw them and if you do, make sure you make it right quickly. That’s the reality of the social consumer and the social brand.

The Consistency of Being Inconsistent in Digital

The only constant in life is change-François de la Rochefoucauld

Sometimes I think the toughest part of my job is trying to stay current.  And I’m supposed to be a thought leader? Ha! So if I’m thinking that, what does that mean for you or the CMO, the CTO or the Director of social, or digital marketing or marketing? It means we’re all in the same boat. It means we don’t have a lot of time to learn something, prove something, sell something, justify something and then run it up the food chain to the C-suite and back then back down. What’s more, let’s add the pressure of 3 concrete tenets in the digital space:

  1. Is what you’re doing making the company money?
  2. Is what you’re doing saving the company money?
  3. Is what you’re doing driving or building equity for the company?

If what you’re doing, does not concretely answer in the positive one of the above 3 questions, the clock is ticking. Digital is moving so fast, that it is really hard for a lot of digital leaders, or social media managers to show the results that are required from their C-suite counterparts.

Therefore, the one way to break through the light speed pace of digital is to know these five thnigs.

  1. Anticipate that things will change
  2. Be agile enough to change
  3. Be open to change
  4. Be inclusive
  5. You can’t manage digital if you don’t measure digital-but know what metrics matter.

Some things do remain constant besides change in digital though. It’s up to you to figure out what works for your organization and to build out from there, but always keeping an eye on what’s next. Be agile.


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The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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