“Everyone is not a #socialmedia marketer” – check out my latest LinkedIn post

March 18, 2014

Social-Marketer-New-SkillsetEveryone is not a social media marketer

This is a provocative post that challenges current movements in what some call social advocacy or social employees. Before deciding whether I take one direction or another, take a look at the post for yourself!

The crux of my argument is that the objective for social media has changed dramatically… from “being there” or broadcasting news… to engaging audiences. Because of this, the skills for successful social media marketing are new, complex and hard to find. The outcome is that much of social media marketing is flat… the majority of executives feel their social programs are underperforming and top analysts describe them as “islands” or fostering “anarchy”.

This post examines the new requirements, the skills that social media marketers need to have if a business really wants to increase their social engagement.

Love to hear your thoughts!



Do you have a #socialmedia strategy or a socially adept #marketing strategy?

February 2, 2014

connect-enterprise-social-teamsThis is a redux of a popular blog entry from July 2012: “Do you have a #digitalmarketing #strategy” or a marketing strategy for the digital world?” In that entry I tried to describe my professional movement over 15 years of digital marketing… that “I no longer think in digital terms, I apply digital concepts, tactics and measurement to marketing strategy.”

Your target audience IS your target audience, regardless of where you come upon them. The key to this series of blog entries is that a marketing strategy needs to be your marketing strategy. Tactical plans should feed into that. Digital and social plans need to connect to the larger marketing activity. Sure, this sounds obvious, but is it really? I constantly hear people talking about their organizations’ digital marketing strategy, with no mention of overall marketing strategy. It’s as if the digital marketing strategy is the strategy. This is where we disagree.

Back to social media. Forrester describes the current state of enterprise class social media programs as producing “islands”. Altimeter identified some 74% of these same organizations producing “social anarchy”. Both indicate that social media programs are already headed in the wrong direction. The enterprise is particularly tricky, a dozen different functional organizations are hiring dedicated headcount, making connection or alignment of approach nearly impossible; meanwhile, none of the activities are attaching themselves to the larger marketing initiatives.

Making social media more difficult than digital, social is really an enterprise-wide necessity. Outside the marketing objectives of awareness and engagement, social activity is growing in importance for less obvious functional areas of todays’ company: HR needs to use social to connect with candidates, product teams need market feedback, and sales teams need to demonstrate competence and listen, to name a few.

To wrap this up, social media needs to be an intrinsic part of your marketing strategy, not a separate, disconnected plan. When done properly, your social program will:

  • Provide a centralized enablement function across the enterprise – approach, tools, metrics, sharing of best practices.
  • Provide a customer experience that’s consistent with the rest of the enterprise.
  • Increase efficiency / reduce waste of resources, avoiding duplicate tools and roles.
  • Increase coordination and communication across functional business areas.
  • And, increase the likelihood of producing greater outcomes and accountability.

#SocialMedia ≠ #Marketing

December 31, 2013

These observations come from an insiders perspective: Over the last 4 years I’ve led a global social program for a F1000 company, building it to a Kred Top 5% influencer; and over the last 3 months I’ve been digging into the social media technology space, deeply. One thing that’s become increasingly apparent to me is the gap in application of marketing principles to this channel, social.

Some examples, if you have more please share them –

  • Listen / respond – listening is a necessary part of a social program but playing a reactionary role, responding, just isn’t sufficient. This innovation is directly parallel to the earliest days of email… companies acquiring funding and perceived as “cool” were “listen and respond” in nature, customer service tools often… Kana, Right Technologies, etc.  After the lusty glow of funding waned, we saw a different breed of email player become valued, email marketing. These companies built value based upon engagement using marketing principles. We’ve seen a couple of huge exits recently… Responsys to Oracle this month for $1.5B and ExactTarget to Salesforce.com for $2.5B earlier in the year. Yes, those numbers are with a “B”.
  • Amplification – several companies are gaining funding and excitement in this category. While spreading the word is a good objective, more people shouting the same thing in the social channel isn’t necessarily better. In many cases it’s a bad thing, antithetical to your audiences perceptions and needs. A perfect example of amplification occurred this Fall when hundreds of socially activated employees tweeted the same mea cupla apology… insult to injury, their audience realized the utter tone deafness of this social program. For generations marketers have known that shouting the same message to their database is a flawed idea. Using the email example again, it’s like a marketer hammering their database with each and every message they feel a need to send. Spray and pray. The first step in alienating an audience.

The social media technology category is new, we evaluate it from a pretty low level of maturity. I guarantee we’ll read todays analyst reports and trade articles in a few years and realize this. Some takeaways I’ve gathered…

  • Marketers need to start using the social channel as a proactive means to engage specific audiences. While listening is important and responding to on target conversations or mentions is critical, it’s a strong customer service approach but a very incomplete marketing strategy. Reactive response will never scale and by definition puts you in touch with people who are further down the road of discovery than you would naturally like to find.
  • Paid media on social sites is the first phase of outbound, proactive marketing in the social channel. While “paid” media is an important part of the marketing mix, there are critical counterparts… “earned” and “owned”. I could argue endlessly that paid media on social sites is different than true publisher sites, I believe the value exchange is very different, let’s suffice to say that marketers need to increase their capabilities in this proactive, outbound objective.
  • People use social channels to find and share good ideas (from a commercial perspective, a good example is researching high consideration purchases). Your shared ideas need to have value to your audiences and the topics they are interested in discussing.  This means that the 82nd retweet of your press release may not be a good thing. I understand that 1st party content creation is a tough business, so how about finding new sources of ideas to share? I’ve had tremendous success sharing articles written by others, where the point of view aligns with the core differentiating principles I’m trying to espouse. Find those validating 3rd party references and promote your position without actually appearing to promote… yes, provide value and people will engage.
  • Segment your audiences and find them in social channels. Properties, groups, pages, and hashtags are good examples of targeting mechanisms. Once you know who you’re trying to target, determine what they’re interested in and where you can find them. Marketing 101, right?
  • Amplify your outbound messages to the specific segments, audiences, who will be most interested… and only them. More messages, blasting like a shotgun, are just antithetical to any known marketing principle. Stated in a more plain sense… apply your sharable ideas to the people who are apt to be most interested and you’ll gather engagement… do the opposite and you’ll piss them off.
  • Tech firms that place the words “social” and  “marketing” in their positioning statement don’t necessarily provide marketing solutions for the social channel. Often times these are lines of code looking for a buyer. Even if a lot of venture money is flowing towards the category, it doesn’t mean that the objective of the technology is even reasonable… from a marketing perspective. What happened to virtual worlds? A few years ago they were going to change the world. Hmmm…

I hope some see the irony this title:-)

Have a happy and prosperous new year!


#Facebook is making it happen with their #advertising program

September 18, 2013

adage-digital-logoWhat a difference a year makes! Facebook appears to have really turned around their advertising strategy and offering. A recent survey published in #AdAge Digital identifies some 74% of ad budgets including a line item for Facebook and most indicate that ROI has increased in the last 6 months.

The article brings an interesting thought to mind… why do we refer to ads placed in a site that is primarily social to be social media marketing? Do we indicate that ads placed on Yahoo! or through Google somewhat social media marketing? Of course note. I may be standalone here but that identification needs to change. Social media work done by brands and agencies on Facebook is distinctly different that their advertising work on the same property. The role of the efforts are different, don’t lump them together.

Survey – Is Facebook the next Apple or the next MySpace?

August 13, 2012

In a blog entry last March, Is Social Media a Consumer Haven or Marketing Channel?, I discussed the disconnect in value exchange between social properties and their consumers. I went so far as to identify the pressure Facebook will feel when they become subject to quarterly earnings expectations after their IPO, and hypothesized the situation where they will increase the exposure of personal information to encourage marketers to spend with them. Well… the game is getting started…

Today, Digiday featured the article “Brand View: Facebook’s New Targeting Options” and identified new elements of consumer data that will be available for marketers to leverage. I’m a firm believer in data driven marketing, this blog entry is not a comment about that. Rather, I point back to my initial conjecture that Facebook will do this and emphasize that this action will end up making no sense to consumers. Opposed to content rich sites like Yahoo or Microsoft properties, Facebook has no content, consumers create all of it but don’t yet recognize that it is their content and their profile are being monetized.

Mark my words… within three years, we’ll either see a Facebook with a dramatically new approach to monetizing their platform or a dramatically smaller company. Maybe both.

Is #SocialMedia a consumer haven or a #marketing channel?

March 5, 2012

adage digital facebook articleWhile reading an #AdAge article today, it dawned on me… we have yet to see how social will really play in the marketing mix. The article – “Facebook Warns Brands that Scale in Social Won’t Come For Free” – explains Facebook’s position that marketers are going to need to increase their expectations of cost when it comes to reaching the large audiences they’ve amassed. Here’s a provocative question, do consumers agree to the value exchange? Do they believe in giving up their personal information and being exposed to ad impressions? Sure, they agree to terms and conditions, but do they reciprocate that interest by clicking, buying and advocating the advertisements?

My prediction… the game has hardly started, we don’t yet know the players and it’s too early to calculate the final answer… but todays’ consumer will win.

My humble opinion… social media sites are perceived differently than other consumer tools and destinations. It’s a very personal experience that will prove to result in strained relationships as technologist and marketers attempt to monetize. Consumers add content, share it with others and increase their networks… for themselves. Intervention by external forces who attempt to shift the value equation for the consumer, from participation to monetization, will result in flight to the next “cool” thing. Search engines, blogs, portals and commerce sites have familiar business models and rather predictable consumer interaction and reception. I don’t purport to speak for all consumers but it seems to me that the familial, personal interaction with social sites serves a vastly different purpose on the part of the consumer.

I’m just say’n… but do mark this date on your calendar:-)

Great infographic – Incredible things that happen every 60 seconds on the Internet

December 26, 2011

If you’ve ever wondered why people say that consumers, not marketers, have control of todays brands… here you go. Compound this with a stat from Forrester Research from 2009 (larger today)… consumers generate more than 500B social messages each year regarding products and services… and you see a pretty good picture as to the scale of the impact of the empowered consumer.

Consumer trust and social media marketing

July 19, 2010

I came across a new chart today, Consumer trust and purchase behaviorand found the relationship between source of input for decision-making and the resulting usefulness and trust they found in the content – people tend to trust content at approximately half the rate that they find it useful.

Point #1 – Consumers trust AND value the usefulness of information gleaned through conversation with friends, families and co-workers (peers) at an exceedingly high level around the globe. I suppose the only interesting point here is that the observation is global in its’ nature.

Point #2 – Those same consumers trust comments and blogs less. Core social content is seen as less valid in decision-making. In fact, comments are trusted and found useful at about half the rate as personal relationships, and blogs at half of that.

Point #3 – Not just that, but they tend to trust the content half as much as they find it useful. THis is probably the more interesting stat… seen from a different dimension, people consciously use the latter two sources of content at twice the rate that they find it trustworthy. This doesn’t seem sustainable. It seems to beg for a new solution… consumers around the globe appear open for new social solutions to amass decision-making content.

Love to hear your thoughts!

C to B Marketing

June 24, 2010

Consumer to Business - the new marketing communications modelPondering the thought this morning, I thought it a clever way to describe concepts marketers are struggling with today: consumer empowerment / consumers are in control, the need to listen to the voice of the customer, positioning in a world where consumers do much of the work for you, etc. It delivers the sense that the marketer is not the pinnacle of power they might think themselves to be. Or, maybe once were.

Yeah, yeah, the market has changed. Those changes have impacted the activity of marketers, at least successful ones, and have forever changed the relationship of businesses and their customers. Some call it social media marketing, I think it’s more aptly described as the new reality for brands and their marketers.

Is this the new marketing communications paradigm? The visual of “B2C” being flipped to a mirror vision, as the image to the left, creates a great visual for me… a guiding principle or light to the next generation of marketing.

Love to hear your thoughts!


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