Does Engagement Equal Action? Should it?

Yesterday on an early morning flight to Detroit, I watched as the flight attendants went throughout the cabin pushing food and drink on the passengers. The passengers were prompted to look on page 26 of the inflight magazine to view what was available and what the cost was. When the flight attendants came to each row, the passenegers either looked up and told her no, looked up and told her yes and what they wanted, or never looked up. So how does the apply to social media marketing or even digital marketing?

Example #1. Let’s say you got the passenger to view what was on page 26 by tweeting the link. They clicked through but they didn’t buy. You now have some customer data so you know they were interested but they still didn’t buy. Would we call that enagagement? Through social media? Were there KPI’s that were met?

Example #2. The passenger views a YouTube video on what is being sold inflight. An hour after seeing the video, they buy a Coke. Engagement through social media? Measureable?

Example #3. The passenger here’s the message, reads the magazine, sees the tweet and views the video, and does nothing. Were they engaged?

I think sometimes we confuse social media impressions as a KPI. In social media, Engagement should be better defined with some type of actionable, measureable outcome. If someone clicks on a tweeted link and reads a blog post that prompts them to buy, but they don’t buy right away-Was it an actionable event? It’s actionable and measureable but generally it’s not measured because the action did not take place right then.

The waters in social media are warm and inviting to marketers but if they don’t better define what a successful outcome is and don’t better understand the subtle effect of an engaged action that takes place “later”-then they are going to always be dissapointed.

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Social Media Marketing:Less of Big and more of Small

I jumped in on the weekly #brandchat discussion that was happening on Twitter yesterday to answer the following question:

What do small businesses need to be doing less of?

Great question. Here was my answer…

Less of Big and more of Small.

I got an “amen and a hallelujah for that tweet. What did I mean? Hold tight because I’m going to use a couple of baseball references again, but I will keep it short and simple.

The first is this. Did you know that baseball players get paid millions upon millions of dollars to fail seven out of ten times? That’s right. They generally have to hit the ball three times out of ten, and they are considered good at what they do. Why? Because it’s so damn hard to do.

We often overlook or I should say, most seem to think that implementing social media can be done by…

A monkey.

What ends up happening is that folks bail out after a month or so because talking to people, customers,  monitoring sites, creating consistent content, is hard and it’s labor intensive. You have to really work at it and be diligent. Sorta like hitting a baseball.

Not everyone can hit .300.

Funny thing is, baseball players who do hit the ball 3 out of 10 times, work very hard at it, constantly. Some are gifted and it comes naturally-the rest, which is most of them, have to work just to get near .300.

Same goes for creating and planning and implementing social media. It’s hard and not for the faint of heart. You have to believe and trust in yourself and your abilities to get it done.

But you know what? Being a singles hitter or maybe  someone who hits the occasional double in baseball  aint a bad thing. We all can’t be big hitters. Playing small ball is OK.

In the social media world, there are a lot of choices and sites and things that you can do so that you or your client can be seemingly everywhere. That’s really tough and can lead to some serious social media burnout.  But here’s a better idea. Quit trying to be a home run hitter. Play small ball. Be really good at hitting singles and the occasional double. Meaning? Be really good at blogging. Have a solid Twitter strategy. Be honest about what each piece of social engagement is going to bring back. In the baseball world that’s the equivalent of knowing you cannot hit a curveball. Know your limitations and be really good at what you can be really good at.

The payoff? A really long career and a happy client.

Elevate your game

With respect to PETA, it may seem sometimes to you like we are beating a dead horse when talking about social media. But the problem is that we get so caught up in learning new shiny ways to make money that we forgot how we made the money in the first place.

It has always been about the customer and it will continue to be about the customer. You’re in business, I’m in business and we”re in business to serve the customer. Making them happy means you live to play another day. Delivering to them the best of what you do is why you do what you do.

All social media should mean to you is that it allows for you to add tools and channels to your marketing mix that help you connect with your customers and future customers.

Quit worrying about the semantics of social media. It’s time to move on.

Beyond the above core statement, what you need to understand about social media is that it has empowered customers and it has now put you on notice. Elevate your game and get your house in order. Period. The age of the new customer is upon us.

18 reasons a social media snake oil salesman might want out

Last week I wrote a post that got a tremendous amount of love from the folks over at social media today and rightly so, it was all the reasons why I love social media.

But what if you were sick of it? What if you were a snake oil salesman trying to cash in on the social media phenomenon and you were starting to realize that this social media stuff sucked? What might be your reasons for getting out and jumping into real estate short sales or something?

Your excuses, er reasons might look something like this:

1) You didn’t realize how much work it took

2) You realized that people aren’t into your “get 200 Twitter followers” for $19 a month program

3) Your social media certification classes didn’t really take off like you thought

4) Stealing other peoples content was hard work

5) Spamming hashtags wasn’t driving any business

6) No one is calling you or responding to your sign up landing page with exclusive offers and social media tips

7) People were not sharing your viral videos that you stole created

8. Strategy? What strategy?

9) The trusting client is pissed because the Twitter account you created for them with the 30 tweets, 30 followers, and the 5000 people you’re following, hasn’t really amounted to anything

10) There was too much to learn

11) You’re tired of RT’ing others on your 6 month old Twitter account

12) You never figured out what that Facebook vanity URL thing was

13) Case studies? On what?

14) Social media is dead anyways

15) You hate creating content and no one was coming to the blog

16) Social Media ROI isn’t important

17) It doesn’t work

18) When someone asked you about Gowalla and Foursquare you looked at them like this…

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I have a client…

I have a client who has been with me for quite some time now, and last week I got a really strange email.  It merely said.

Call me.

So you know what went down. I knew what was up. When I called him last week, he told me that maybe it’s time to end the relationship. But in a nice way. He told me that business has been way down and I knew that it had been, so it came as no surprise.

No amount of speaking to customers through various means of social media and optimizing websites was going to make their business pick up given the sorry state of the economy in portions of the rust belt. Though they are a national company, a good chunk of their business is in the Northeast. Plus they sell a frivolous type of product.

And yet, as soon as he told me that, the heart skipped a beat and the little sweat you get on your temples started to form and I immediately went into “save” mode. But there’s one problem with this.

He may be right, it might be time to cut the cord with one of my oldest clients.

I know it’s a sobering thought because no one wants to see their favorite client walk, but the reasons it might be time are many. For starters, what I set out to do for them has been 100% successful. I was brought on as an SEO and social media marketing consultant, and I’ve done everything and more for them. I’ve been their tech source for information and I really felt that I have indeed helped them.   Here’s a short list of “some” of things I’ve done for them:

  • Reworked/redesigned website for better customer engagement.
  • Created a major SEO campaign that optimized complete site for hundreds of  keywords all of which now rank organically on first 3 pages of Google.
  • Created a Flickr campaign to optimize their thousands of images and to contribute to Universal search results.
  • Created a blog that drives significant traffic and also ranks organically on first page of Google.
  • Created Facebook Fan Page-nominal success but contributed to overall brand awareness.
  • Created Twitter account that results in10% CTR and 2-3% sales on all links.
  • Responsible for online sales growth and higher average sales ever year except one. 2009…

So though he’s telling me the gig might be up, and he’s probably right, I’m sitting over here wondering what more can I do? Are there things that I have not yet tried that might get me a double, or a triple even, instead of  a weak ass bunt? Something big…Impactfull… I’m not so sure. Maybe…

The last thing I really want to do is take their money for not doing anything, but short of making the horse drink, I have led the horse to the proverbial ocean. Problem is, it’s an ocean, it’s salty and we’re gonna have to look around for an oasis and it might take some time, and might cost some money. Both of which are in short supply right now.

Will my client be better served by someone else with like minded skills? Selfishly I say no, but that might not be the case. I do know this though, they will not find someone with more value than me as it relates to what they deliver and what they charge.

So at the end of the day, as I peel through Peter Kim’s wiki, looking for that “thing” I haven’t done yet, thinking there might be some “other” things I could try, the reality is, as you know, that not every social media solution is the right solution for every client.

I don’t know what else I can do but maybe just shake their hand, maybe give them a hug, thank them for being such a great client, and end it.

The Ideal Skillset for a New Hire for an Agency

I made a comment earlier to someone that it is really hard to find someone or people that have depth and breadth across the board. In fact this exact discussion took place at Social South late in the Summer by a pretty smart group of folks worth following on Twitter. The group included  Scott Schablow, Tom Martin, Jason FallsDavid Griner, Beth Harte and myself.

The question or challenges continues to present themselves to me and that is, trying to find someone with a blend of skill sets that can take on the challenges that this new marketing and communications world has presented us with.

What types of skills are needed? Here’s a quick list that I threw together, I know I’m missing some obvious ones, if so let me know.

  1. Understand the nuances of customer service and why the customer matters
  2. The ability to understand technology’s big picture as well as the small stuff
  3. PR skills-“the how tos”, “the whys”; and “the what fors”
  4. Soft listening skills
  5. The ability to write a blog post with tags, links and proper attributes
  6. Know how to comment on a blog and why
  7. Know how to post a blog post and where
  8. SEO skills-How to write for SEO
  9. How to write PR releases with SEO in mind
  10. An understanding of social media
  11. A deeper understanding of social media
  12. How to use Twitter and what the purpose of twitter is
  13. How to write an email-I know it sounds simple but…
  14. How to create an email blast and send it properly
  15. How to write a proposal
  16. How to monitor a brand across multiple channels
  17. An understanding of basic HTML. CSS would be nice
  18. The ability to use Photoshop to some degree
  19. The ability to use a MAC or a PC well.
  20. The ability to present in front of a group-speaking skills, remember them?
  21. The ability to create a PowerPoint presentation
  22. An understanding of UI-know what sucks and why
  23. The ability to manage your time effectively
  24. Know how to prioritize
  25. Know what web tools can make your job better and make us better
  26. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion,it matters
  27. The ability to share and be selfless, it’s important
  28. The ability to learn quickly and absorb it
  29. The understanding that everything that you create digitally, now is this close to being consumed publicly.
  30. The ability to change direction on the fly

Though it would be nice to find the person that had half of the skills mentioned above or perhaps knowledge or understanding of 3/4 of them, I know that might be asking too much. If I can get someone who knew a few of them, that’s a start.

Does this seem like I’m asking too much of college graduates? I don’t think so. This is a new world where having expertise or a degree in one discipline just won’t cut it anymore. Our industry requires that you have knowledge in lots of areas. It almost demands it. The good news is that a lot of graduates and individuals are already armed with these skills. The bad news is, it might be changing tomorrow.

Coca-Cola knows how to work the crowd on Facebook

As I was reading through The Big Money Facebook 50: Companies making social media work.article yesterday, I saw that Coca-Cola was the number one brand on the list. I wanted to see why so I decided to check it out. When I got to their page I was greeted with this.

Which prompted me to ask or question on Twitter the following:

The answers came fast and furious. Surprisingly or not, they were mixed and I can see why. As social media marketers and brand execs struggle with the best way to have conversations wrapped around their brand, they always run the risk of reverting back to a push style method of marketing. And that’s the rub.

What if consumers prefer that method? Or just don’t care? They just want whatever the brand is willing to give them for free, and they don’t care. So with that being said, giving up all of my contact information, profile information and my friends information for what might be behind the welcome screen doesn’t matter. Apparently not. Or the promise of what might be behind the curtain is compelling enough for me. Given Coke’s status as the number one brand on Facebook according to this list, I think we know the answer.

So what’s my point? Yes the conversations are important but sometimes  customers don’t want to talk with brands, they just want what the brands are willing to give them provided the customer is willing to give up its privacy. Do you really think that Coca-Cola is that sexy of a brand to be worshiped all the way into the #1 spot on Facebook? No. It’s the allure of what might be.