Adapt or Die: Social Branding in the Digital Darwinism Age

By, Golden Ashby, SFAMA Director of Social Media
& Kathryn Prescott, SFAMA LinkedIn Manager

Social Media is all anybody talks about these days. But many organizations fall short of fully capitalizing on the opportunities that exist within social. Perhaps this is because they are approaching the execution of social marketing with the same expectations they have for traditional marketing, or maybe they don’t really understand their customer’s needs and wants. Social media is changing every aspect of how consumers behave. As business leaders and marketing professionals, we need to understand these changes, adapt, or become irrelevant.

The San Francisco Chapter of the American Marketing association (SFAMA) was lucky enough to have had the passionate and engaging Brian Solis come speak to our members last week. Brian is a world-renowned blogger (ranking among the top 1% of all blogs tracked by Technorati), award winning author and new media thought leader. He studies and influences the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, and culture. Brain is also a principal analyst at the Altimeter Group, a leading research based consulting firm where he puts these ideas to practice.

Brian discussed how “each layer of the complex consumer revolution that is changing the future of business, media, and culture” in relation to his now book, The End of Business As Usual. Everybody in the room was in awe of Brian’s deep understanding of how digital connectivity affects the ever changing world of business.

The message that stood out most to us was when Brian stated, “social media isn’t owned by marketing, but instead the entire organization, and this changes everything”. You can see more of Brian’s top quotes from that night here. Social media is often siloed within marketing, customer service, or human resources. Brian suggests that just one department should not own social media, but instead, social media should act as the bridge between all departments. When consumers think about your company they do not see silos, departments and teams; they see one brand, one experience. Social media changes how consumers behave and interact with your brand. Consumers now dictate the channels used to engage with a brand, both online and offline. The new role of social media allows brands to help customers, fans, and influencers share a brand’s products and the “ideas” that bond us with them. It is time for brands to move beyond the question of whether or not to participate in social media and define the social media optimization strategies they will use to build their community.

As marketing professionals and business leaders we must go beyond social strategy. Organizations must take account for customer needs, challenges, and options in order to build a holistic strategy around these needs. All communications must have the same message: the website, customer service, social media, marketing, etc. There are many metrics you can use to measure your social media success. Yet people are still asking where’s the ROI? This is often times a path towards a #fail. What’s possible for ROI is different for every brand. By design, businesses are optimized to collaborate in the matrix. Before we can innovate externally, we have to innovate internally.

The difference between a social brand and a social business is very simple. “While creating a social brand is a necessary endeavor, building a social business is an investment.” Here are a few more of our favorite takeaways from Brian’s presentation:

• You should have a vision, mission, and purpose for your social media strategy.
• Create a social media foundation to deliver an integrated brand experience.
• Align social media with internal business objectives.
• Social media helps brands evolve and brings the offline and online worlds together.
• When it comes to social, think like a customer. Help internal teams better understand who they’re trying to reach and what moves them. Bridge the consumer gap.
• Connected customers see the world differently, uniting the online and offline worlds.
• Remember: once a purchase is made, it’s often broadcasted via social media. Consumers continue   to share their experience, good, and bad, and it contribute to the future decisions of others.”

Perhaps the greatest take-away from Brian’s talk was that Social Media is here to stay and we will never go back to the way things were before. “Adapt or Die”

We hope you enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime event and if you missed it you found this article beneficial as you embark upon your new social journey. The San Francisco chapter of the American Marketing Association is always here to help you down whatever path you may embark. Do you have any thoughts or questions you would like to share?

Picture credit: Brian Solis

Social Brands

Brands are finally starting to see the need to adapt a comprehensive social strategy. You can’t blame brands for being slow to adapt. Social media sites like Myspace were short-lived and Facebook started out as a social networking site for over-privileged college students. It was hard to take social media marketing seriously when it was first concepted. Who would have thought that in a few short years we would be developing detailed social media marketing strategies for some of the biggest brands in the world. Social media has given us the ability to receive and react to issues and news in real time. It gives brands the unique advantage of being able to receive and react to consumer feedback almost instantaneously. Companies of all sizes are already starting to change their way of doing business and infrastructure to adapt to these changes.

My portfolio is growing every day and I am proud to say I have worked with some remarkable brands. They are all very different, ranging from banks to transportation. But the end goal should all be the same, to engage! There are literally hundreds of brands actively engaging via social media now. Social media marketing has proven it’s here to stay, has sustainable ROI and brands are finding ways to accurately define ways to accurately measure their success. I think social media is largely defined by its ability to enable a new form of word of mouth. For brands, social media enables them to embrace this new power of word of mouth marketing and use it to build a powerful bond with their audience.

The new role of marketers is to help customers, fans, members, and influencers to share our products and the “ideas” that bond us with them. It is time for brands to move beyond the question of whether or not to participate in social media and define their social brand and what social media optimization strategies they will use to build their community. Specifically, brands need to look deep into the details of social profiles to better target marketing offers and increase conversion rates. These are just some of my thoughts on how to build brands via social media. There are many more. Can you think of any more good insights?

Photo Credits: Stanford, Foursquare

Social Media Metrics All Companies Should Measure

Social media marketing is being used more and more every day by companies everywhere and all top managers want to know how their ROI (Return on Investment) is going to be affected because of it. I am not going to lie, this is one of the hardest metrics to measure.  According to Brian Solis over 80% of professionals do not measure ROI for their company’s social media programs. I know the concept of using in social media  in your marketing plan is new and relatively untested, but it is just another form of marketing, public relations, advertising, etc. Everything can be measured and I will show you how.

The most common social media metrics companies are measuring are visitors (traffic sources), network size (followers, fans, members), the quantity and quantity of mention of your brand or product. These are all very important metrics to gauge how your overall social media efforts are doing. But as social media marketing is getting much more advanced, so are the ways of measuring them. Below are a few of the top ways to properly measure your social media tools:

Reach: The number of social media subscribers (Twitter followers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn group members, etc.) you have is directly related to the success of your social media. The more “reach,” you have, the more people will see your content, spread your messages, and therefore increase your ROI. It is very important to set benchmarks and track how your reach is increasing over time. If you’re not attracting new subscribers as time goes on, you may want to focus more of your social media efforts on generating new subscribers and building your reach to increase the value you get from social media marketing. You will want to make certain your content is distributed in a timely method on all your brands social media platforms. Hootsuite provides an great dashboard for this. You can use their free version or their enterprise one.  HootSuite allows organizations to use social web tools to schedule and publish messages to multiple social networks, monitor results and efficiently participate in conversations.  It allows members of your social media team to get an inside glimpses at what each individual team member is posting. It also offers a wide range of measuring and analytics tools. I highly recommend this tool for any social media user.

 

Blog interaction: I touched upon how blogs are the foundation for link building and creating SEO for your company in my community management blog. They are a great way for both B2C and B2C companies to interact and share their ideas. All of your usual social media platforms can be used to share, but social bookmarking sites (such as Delicious and Stubleupon) are a great way to get your blogs viewed by a wide audience. A great way of measuring this is by the comments and the actual blog views (most blogs have built in analytics to measure this).

Social media leads: It is important to track your web traffic from all social media sources, find out where they are coming from, and identify the top few sources over time. It is important to track and measure social media referrals as well.

Engagement levels: We all know it is important to measure how many comments or re-tweets you are getting  from your social media content, but it is also important to measure how much time people are spending on your social media platforms. For example, if people are not spending much time on your page, maybe your landing page needs better copy or maybe your page is not easy to read and find information on. You may want to consider adding a search tool. Radian6 is a very specialized social media monitoring tool that helps you track quite a lot of signals and get insights into your brands performance. It provides detailed analytics reports and charts. I am usually very hesitant to recommend this tool because of its complexity, it almost gives out too much information, but it is very popular and useful if it is properly defined.

Brand mentions via social media: It is important to track and measure both positive and negative mentions, and their quantities. Socialmention is a great (free) web based tool for easily measuring this. It finds the brand mentions on any particular channel like blog/micro blogs and gives you a comprehensive idea of how the brand is perceived by users. It also gives you a easy to view prospective on positive, negative or neutral things that are being said about your brand.

Loyalty and Virilty: Find out how many of your social circles are sharing your brands content and how often they share. This will give you a good idea of whether or not your content is relevant to your community. There is no use wasting time on creating content that nobody wants to read. It is also very important to find out which of your brands content is being reshared. Everybody wants their content to go viral and engaging, but not a lot of people take the time to measure and track that information. Alterian  offers a very detailed social media monitoring tool is one that gives advanced user behavior statistics, measures and analyze daily volume, demographics, location, positive or negative content tone, themes, and trending topics for your brand/product.

Activity ratio: Be sure to monitor how active is your company’s collective social network is. Pay attention to the ratio of active members vs total members, and chart this over time. This is very important to track when you run contests, ad’s, etc Activitycan be measured in a variety of ways, including using social applications. Omniture helps marketers quickly identify the most profitable paths through their Web site, determine where visitors are navigating away from their site, and identify critical success metrics for online marketing campaigns. It addresses these challenges by providing marketers with one place to measure, analyze, and optimize integrated data from all online initiatives across multiple marketing channels.

Conversions: Everybody wants their companies social network members to convert into subscriptions, sales, application use, or whatever other offering that can somehow be directly or indirectly monetized. (memberships, subscriptions, etc.) It is very important to measure all types of conversions and chart them over time. You may even want to set up tracking codes to measure the sales driven by your social media marketing.

These are some of the key social media metrics that I think all companies should be measuring and some of the tools you can use to measure their effectiveness. Every company is different and their brands target community should be carefully analyzed before using any of these tools or metrics. It is very important to measure application usage and resulting conversions.

Are there other metrics you measure that you feel are more important for your company? What tools do you use to measure social metrics?

Picture Credits: adtech, Hootsuite, Jamie Pappas

Top Community Management Strategies

Social media gives companies a new opportunity to build relationships, engage and communicate directly with their community. As the new social media chair of the San Francisco American Marketing Association (SFAMA), community management is a big part of my job description. I was looking over our own social media the other day. We have built some pretty powerful social media marketing platforms: LinkedInFacebookTwitterPlancastFlickr,YouTube and Foursquare. But are any of us truly using them to their full community building potential?  I wanted to share some of the key things you need to take into consideration when developing a community management strategy for any business.Goals, Benchmarks and Metrics Identifying your company goals, benchmarks, metrics and goals is one of the most important first steps when building your new community. Community building progress to measure:

  • Goals: Clarify your company’s strategy and goals, so that you know what you are working towards.
  • Benchmarks: Set clear benchmarks before you start any online marketing campaign and throughout, in order to have a clear measure of success.
  • Customer service metrics: Monitor and respond to common questions across your social media platforms. You may want to set up a forum to respond to questions if you have enough.
  • Sales metrics: How many leads are you generating through inbound marketing: blog posts, page rankings, Facebook referrals, subscribers, conversions, conversion rate, etc. You may want to set up tracking codes for all of your social media platforms in order to effectively measure this metric.
  • Engagement metrics: This includes LinkedIn group active followers, Twitter re-tweets, Facebook post impressions, blog comments, mentions, link building or visits.

Listening

There are over 700 million people on Facebook and 50 million Tweets sent out every day, so it’s very important that you listen on social media to hear what people are saying about things relevant to your brand. The key is to find those people and engage them with posts you already know they are interested in. Here are some successful listening tactics:

  • There are many other social media listening tools available. The trick is finding the best ones to incorporate into your own community management strategy.
  • Subscribe to search terms for industry keywords through Google Alerts OR Twilerts.
    Create a (private) Twitter list of competitors
    , pay attention to what they are/aren’t sharing. Monitor what content they share on all the other social media platforms.
  • Track and follow blogs your community reads and be sure to leave comments and share the most relevant ones. This will start to build a rapport with other blog writers. It may be smart to exchange guest blogs with each other.
  • Identify the hashtags your community uses and track them in Twitter lists. Take our #SFAMA screen shot below for an example.

Social Media and Content Management Strategy

Listening and monitoring is very important to find out what your community wants. Now it’s time to develop an effective social media and content management strategy in order to effectively engage your new community and turn your firm into a Social Business:

  • Clean up all social media platforms: They need to be consistent. Same username, same updated info, etc.
  • Link all of you social media platforms together: This may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how many “social media experts” I have seen who do not do something as simple as putting their webpage on their Twitter page. I like to use my clients blogs as a social media hub, thank link all of their social media platforms together.
  • Investigate and stay on top of trends: I cannot stress this enough. It is very important to read up and talk to key influencers in your industry to find out what is new and trending.
  • Develop a social media calendar: Your social media calendar will include what the strategic items you want to post, how many times a week you’ll blog, when you publish what content, etc.
  • Choose your social media team: Decide who will help you create the content, perform blogger outreach, monitor LinkedIn groups, post to Twitter, etc.
  • Identify your target keywords: Optimize your content great for your community and search engines. Use Google Suggest and Google Adwords to identify the right keywords to use blog posts, and be sure to optimize all of your social media platforms for search engine optimization (SEO).
    Blog Management
    : Your blog is your most important curator for SEO for your webpage. The more industry blogs your team creates, the more it creates links to your webpage. You may want to have employees from different departments write blogs, live blogging, guest blog posts from community members or influencers, the list goes on and on.
  • Get people and their friends to talk about your company: By asking questions, holding contests and having other eye catching content.
  • Provide value: This can be done by any form of link, photo, and video sharing.
  • Engage: Interact with your community as much as possible and treat your fans or followers as special to your company.
  • Plan your content: You need to decide if you are going to curate industry news or share original tips from your blog or newsletter subscriber. Be sure to take into account that every social media platform has different audiences that need to be taken into account when planning your social media content strategy.

Email

It is important not to forget the original form of digital marketing. You should add some form of email marketing to your community management strategy:

  • Build your email list: Make use of your existing social media channels for acquiring email addresses. Include a place in your blog’s sidebar for people to subscribe to a newsletter or a custom tab on your Facebook page.
  • Develop an email strategy for your social media brand ambassador team: Your social media team should be composed of all your co-workers and partners that choose to participate. Then set up an email schedule to send out specific tweets of Facebook posts you want your brand ambassador team to post. The bigger tem you have the greater your social media optimization (SMO) will be.
  • Select your schedule: Choose a schedule that you’re able to stick to: You don’t want to set expectations for a weekly newsletter if that’s not realistic for your bandwidth.
  • Plan your content: Just like in my social media strategy above, their needs to be a clear and concise email content strategy.


Building Bridges to your Community Strategy      

It is very important to incorporate local events or meetups into your community strategy. Sometimes we get so caught up with meeting people and brands online, we forget about the face to face interaction. We have many exciting networking and marketing content events you can attend to meet people in your industry.

I hope these community management strategies will start to shape the way that you utilize these platforms and you will now be able to teach other employees how to do it in an honest, ethical manner. Thes e top community management strategies should be used as a foundation to champion your brand online. In case you did not know it already the SFAMA is a non-profit and is 100% volunteer run and we are always looking for qualified individuals to enhance our dynamic board. You can write to volunteer@sfama.org for more information or reach out to me directly to join my exciting social media team!

Thank you for reading. I hope this is helpful to you. What other strategies can you think of? Please feel free to reach out with comments or questions!

Increase Your Facebook Subscribers

Many business’s top goals is to acquire new more subscribers, likes, or fans,  However, fans do not magically appear from the Facebook mist. People need to be enticed to be a fan. These are some of the more commonly used ways: Add your Fan page to your email signature, invite email subscribers, add compelling videos, get fans to tag photos, link to all of your other social media platforms, display at your business, etc. For businesses who want to get serious about getting  more fans, I listed a few of the top ways your business can get all those fans that everybody wants below.

Embed Widgets on Your Website

You can select from a number of the new Facebook Social Plugins and place them on your website and blog. The Fan Box widget is now the Like Box and it works well to display your current fan page stream and a selection of fans,

You might also consider the Live Stream widget for more advanced uses, particularly on an FBML custom tab of your fan page itself. The Live Stream widget allows Facebook users to add their comments to a live event, for example, and that activity pushes out into their stream.

Place Facebook Ads

Even with a nominal weekly/monthly budget, you should be able to boost your fan count using Facebook’s own social ad feature. It’s the most targeted traffic your money can buy. To buy an ad, scroll to the foot of any page inside Facebook and click the link at the very bottom that says “Advertising.” From there, you can walk through the wizard and get an excellent sense of how many Facebook users are in your exact target market.

Then, when you advertise your fan page, Facebook users can become a fan (click the Like button) right from the ad as shown in the screenshot below. Additionally, Facebook displays several of your friends who have already liked you, thus creating social proof.

Run a Contest

This is somewhat of a gray area because Facebook changed their Promotional Guidelines last year. Essentially, you need prior written permission from Facebook and need to be spending a significant amount on ads per month. However, you can require Facebook users to become a fan of your fan page in order to enter a contest, sweepstakes, drawing or competition. You can run contests and sweepstakes with the use of the apps created by Wildfire App.

Add a Badge/Button to Your Profile

Using an app like Profile HTML or Extended Info, you can create your own custom HTML, including a Facebook badge and/or graphic embedded, as shown in the screenshot below:

These are some of the top ways your business can acquire a lot of subscribers fast. I hope you can use some of these ideas to help out your business. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.