Archive for November, 2011

The Hindsight of Business Relationships

About 10 years ago I worked for a guy that scared me. He was the guy that hired me. He was a straight shooter which I appreciated but there was something about him that lead me to making sure that I did my job and did nothing to piss him off.  I was completely afraid of approaching him. Ironically, 10 years later, he’s one of my closest friends and I completely lean on him for advice.

I can look back on all of my business relationships, whether they were employee/employer, vendor/client, or co-worker related in which I can point to specific moments in the evolution or dissolution of the relationships. Lesson #1? I can really only now point to those teachable moments NOW, in hindsight. Lesson #2? Hindsight tells me that if I would have built better relationships both internally and externally, the outcomes might have been better if not different.

In every case, in every business relationship, (yes even the personal one’s too) , there are certain moments that lend itself to that relationship going either north or south.  It could be an external catalyst. It could be a person or a common thread. A common thread that changes the whole dynamic. It could be a piece of dialogue that is misconstrued, or something that was not done and was expected. The point being, in most cases, you have a chance to change it-IF you can recognize that you can change it or need to change it and you engage resources to support or change it. The underlying point I’m trying to make here is you need allies. You need a solid support network wherever you are. You can’t go it alone. You can’t.

Most of us don’t have the skill, the prescience or the hindsight to do it in the moment by ourselves.

Recently I was reading in the Harvard Business Review about the relationships you need to get right and the last paragraph in the article really struck a chord with me and it is this:

We repeatedly heard CEOs and top managers say that they wouldn’t be where they are without strong sponsors and loyal protégés. One Fortune 500 CEO gave a powerful illustration. When interviewing candidates for senior positions, he always asks them, “How many people do you have in your pocket? If I asked you to pull off something impossible that involved liaising across seven geographies and five functions, who owes you one and could help you do it?” He told us, “I’m not interested in anyone who doesn’t have deep pockets.”

Hindsight only helps you with the next gig, the next task, or the next relationship. My question is, how many of us have the luxury of being able to move the needle of our existing business relationships by ourselves? How many of us could have moved the needle with allies? Something to think about.

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Content Fatigue and Whatever Happened to the Snake Oil folks in Social Media?

Full Disclosure-Sometimes I have no clue about what I’m going to write about even after I have clicked on, “new post”. How about you? I have content creation fatigue and frankly I’m tired. Are you tired? Tired of creating content? Tired of reading the same content? Tired or stumped on what you might write today or tomorrow? Do you create content for your blog or  for your company blog? For clients?  I do.  I do it for my site and I instruct clients on what to write, how to write, where to write, and when to write and frankly I’m sometimes overcome with social media writers fatigue.

Today was one of those days where I knew I had to write something but wasn’t sure what to write. Funny thing is, I have so many drafts saved here and I have so many ideas scrawled on napkins, pieces of paper and stored on Evernote-that writing or creating that content should be easy right? And yet at the end of the day, in an ironic twist, this post ends up being about not knowing what to write about…It’s like this post is being reincarnated as George Costanza and Jerry’s Seinfeld’s show about nothing.

Everyone writes about the same thing in social media-sort of

The other half of my fatigue revolves around the hopes that I will read the next great post. I wonder every day, “Does anyone have anything new to say today?” Invariably the answer is yes but I do read a lot of crappy, link-baity blog posts that make me feel dirty for actually wasting my time with it. The good news?  There are some good kickass, up and comer, social media bloggers and writers hittin’ the space every day; but I still think that, “Does anyone have anything new to say in this space?” Seriously. I can’t be the only one thinking this out loud. Am I? Maybe it’s that whole I’m livin in the bubble thing goin on. I’m not sure.

Remember the good ole days when we all used to bash the emergence of the snake oil folks-Whatever happened to those posts?  Maybe a better questions is whatever happened to the social media snake oil folks? But those types of posts were easy to write and easy to read.

Home runs and link bait

Snake oil dude aside, I do love how everyday brings the promise of events that will prompt us to read, write, react and share don’t you? The snake oil folks used to do that. It was easy to get all fired up about what they did or didn’t do and then write about it.  Social media #fails are always easy to read and write about too. Look, we all want to hit that home run of a post that gets commented on and shared out the wazoo.  Sometimes I write posts with the hope that it hits that home run, but I admit it, I struggle. I know you do too. We all do. Want to know a clear indicator for me? When I see any top 10 list in the title of the post. I know that person is fishing for eyeballs and may be struggling for content. Hey it’s OK sometimes because I’m a sucker, as we all are for a top ten list, just not all the time.

So will I snap out of my content fatigue? Maybe I have. I usually bank on some Fortune 500 screwing up in social and getting me back on track..

What Should Be The Outcome of Brand Conversations in Social?

Do big brands actually have conversations with the people/customers/prospects that friend, follow and fan them? Before we answer that, let’s talk about the dynamics of what we the consumer “feel” if a brand does talk to us. Happiness? A sense of belonging or inclusiveness? What should happen after the like?

What does a consumer want? Do they want content? Do they want to share what the brand says? Do they want something? Do consumers really want the following conversations?

Tom: “Maybe I should buy Famous shoe brand x shoes and walk to work, it would be quicker!”

Famous Shoe Brand: 2 hours later “Hey Tom, how’s it going today? What’s new?”

Tom: 5 minutes later “Not much, got in late today because of traffic”

Famous Shoe Brand: 2 hours later “Really? You’re in LA, was it the 405? What about taking the Santa Monica (10) Freeway east, the Hollywood (101) Freeway north through the Cahuenga Pass?”

Tom: 5 minutes later “Hey yea I never thought about that! Got any free shoes?”

Famous Shoe Brand: 24 hours later…”Nope sorry, but check out our new video and share it with your friends!”

According to eMarketer, Marketers know that building a Facebook page is not just about collecting “likes” but building relationships with  fans and getting them to share and discuss brand-related content.

Is the above simulated conversation the basis for a relationship? No, but maybe it’s a start. What might be Tom’s impression of the shoe brand now?

Social has created a situation in which brands  are now on the hook more than ever before for creating compelling, sharable, consumable digital content. Yes, at the end of the day engagement wins and brands are competing every day for the eyeballs of their digital consumers who have or haven’t liked their brand. In return they will get the interest and consideration of the user/consumer. Thus brands are banking on  consistent, high level, content posted daily being relevant and interesting; and that in return it leads to what?

Leads, conversions and sales right? Let’s not lose sight on why brands are doing this. But those same brands need to understand what the  digital, social, consumer’s expectation and motivation is as well.

A Reminder on Risk Mitigation in Social Media

Social is here to stay. Yea I know, understatement of the year right?  Businesses are starting to realize and understand that social provides or could provide another way to extend brand identity and establish a better connection to internal and external communities. Social is enhancing personalized interactions. But it’s also creating new found risks that old school solutions aren’t prepared to deal with.

Social media is altering the how, the when, the why and the who in companies large and small.  In a spin on former NBA player Allen Iverson’s famous diatribe on the value of practice, We’re not talking about practice we’re talking about a  game…

The new reality is that customers don’t shrug their shoulders and sigh when they are mistreated by a companies shoddy customer service. They load up and they fire back with both barrels. And in some cases they don’t let up, they mobilize others who have been treated the same way and then in a twist, others pile on.

What social has done is it has highlighted the significant risks and the serious damage to a companies reputation that can occur when brands either choose to ignore or are caught completely unaware of attacks to their reputation both internally and externally by both employees and customers.

Shape your company’s influence and don’t be influenced by your company’s ignorance or naivete.

Companies shouldn’t be forced into a proactive approach to anything. In the case of social media risk mitigation-ideally you want to be able to shape your influence and not be influenced by your ignorance …Organizations need to be able to control and counteract how their company is portrayed or might be perceived on the social web, if it’s damaging in any way, shape or form… This requires that companies are agile and able to create internal social reputation management plans and policies that address what detractors to a company’s site might say, what a company’s rogue employees might share with others on other sites, and most significantly, what things are said about your company on other sites that you are completely unaware of.

Does this sound like a plan?

We all need another set of eyes

As a business owner, at the end of the day, you’re in business to sell a product or service which means that you may know that product backwards and forwards, but does that mean you know how to market it? Maybe. Does it mean that you know digital marketing/ social media marketing? Does that mean you know e-commerce? Maybe not.

Some SMB’s prefer to do it all. Some can, some can’t. Some try, some fail. Enter the third party.

I’m having a conversation with a friend right at this moment in which he’s saying that the only thing constant in life is change. I agree, especially in social media. His point?  People who run companies cannot do it all. But they try, they struggle, they dabble, and thus think they have it under control. Perhaps everyone needs that extra set of eyes on some aspects of what they do. Business owners need to understand that having  another set of eyes is not necessarily a bad thing. The key is knowing when you need them and swallowing your pride to admit that you need them.

At the end of the day, you need to do what you do best. If you’re a doctor, asking you to market your product was not part of what you learned in medical school.

Social changes every day, so being an expert is a tall task. Being an expert in what you do takes time, takes effort and takes commitment. Can you be an expert in everything that you do in your business? For digital marketers, being connected to your network at least allows you stay abreast of what changes daily in the space. You take what you learn daily everywhere you go. Translation-How can you run your business and being effective with digital marketing? Especially if you’re a click and mortar business.

Beyond  digital and social media and taking a broad lens approach to life, and knowing that we are all in some sort of bubble begs the question. Doesn’t having another set of eyes help you? Well there ya go…

Seriously, What’s “A Like” Worth on Facebook?

A good friend who is the SVP of marketing for a very large Fortune 500 company recently asked me via email the following question(s)

Do you believe in the Klout score? If you were to set a KPI for success in social, would it be FB likes? and if not, what would you recommend?  My view on this is that FB likes is not the right metric, but I am not sure what is….

Great Question isn’t it?

Here was my protracted, elongated and expanded version of the original answer…

You’re views on the right metric are dead on. I’m surprised that there are still marketers out there hanging their hat on a metric based on total numbers only, but there are.  Lots of marketers have tried to peg the value of a Facebook fan/like in fact I recently read that when a Ticketmaster user posts a specific event they are attending, or may want to attend, to Facebook, it generates $5.30 of direct ticket sales

Another company called Vitrue, figures that bringing a customer on as a fan was worth between 44 cents and $3.60 in increased sales from the engagement that Facebook encourages.

The best KPI in social should be attracted to what you want to achieve. i.e. We’re going to use social to drive sales, for lead gen, for referrals, for bookings, for awareness through brand mentions etc. etc.. I don’t gauge success in social on an arbitrary growth metric of total likes, followers etc.. Initially marketers and myself included a number of years ago, thought that social success was reflected in growth of followers and likes but sadly though, you can’t. But it’s easy to get caught up in that.

Look at a Starbucks, who became early on, the darlings of social media and engagement because of the fact they grew to a million Twitter followers rather quickly. So it was assumed that a) Starbucks had mastered “social media” and b) Their “campaign” was successful because of their explosive growth in followers.  But what was that growth based on? In other words, what did Starbucks do to get the million followers? A massive push? Killer engagement? No. Nothing out of the ordinary. It was really because they are the brand, Starbucks. It just happened, but tons of pundits/people and social media consultants were looking at that million follower mark as social nirvana. As if SBucks had just rewritten the books on how to engage- when at the end of the day, they didn’t do anything other than just set up a Twitter account early on. It was just a number.

The question then becomes larger-What are you doing with the million plus followers? I think SBucks does a great job now of engagement but initially they were just as guilty as every other brand back then feeling their way around social. Push style engagement focused on growing fans, followers and likes.
I’m with you though- growing FB likes and patting yourself on the back for growth, doesn’t cut it. Now if marketers can tell us because of those likes we were able to convert them into x amount of bookings or sales, well now we’re getting somewhere. I know, there’s still that whole social branding for awareness thing that in a sense could be tied to the growth of likes, but then let’s measure it appropriately right? Let’s understand that we’re leveraging FB for specific and measurable purposes and work off of that notion.

While Facebook can provide real names of people who “like” a product, it doesn’t provide data to us on what sites are sending traffic to a fan page, how long your visitors are spending there and how they’re moving around inside the pages. No additional analytics services can be installed on Facebook pages thus we’re absolutely at the disposal of Facebook regarding these metrics.

I believe in what Klout is trying to do, maybe just not in the metrics they are using to measure influence. But right now the space is so nascent, what else is there right? A lot of brands are starting to attach themselves to Klout because they want to engage with those “uber” champions in their respective fields identified by Klout’s social metrics algo. Klout is breaking new ground in this space and I anticipate it getting better in identifying people who can move the needle for a brand.

Hope this helps

Marc

How are you going to monetize that?

If you’re going to create a social media presence, or your going to have a social media strategy, it’s to achieve something right? You don’t send emails to say Hi. You don’t send out press releases to people just to stay in touch Brochure-ware websites are a thing of the past. Or are they? Everything has a purpose or should have a purpose-this includes social media. The difference is, creating a presence in social media   requires little or no effort. Thus the expectations and assumptions would be “Well if it’s that easy to set up-it must be that easy to make it work…”

Notice I said a presence. Meaning I can set up a Twitter profile, A Facebook page, a YouTube video and a blog in less than a half hour. The kicker though is, that at that point NO ONE is reading your tweets, commenting on your wall, viewing your video or reading your latest blog post.

How are you going to monetize that? At the end of the day, that’s what really matters here. Management wants to know. What’s your plan to monetizing your social media efforts?


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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