social media

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twitterOriginal thinking and original content is what makes Twitter great. Sadly, the other thing that makes Twitter great is the reposting of that original thinking – a behavior called retweeting. Were I to guess at the number of Post (original content) versus Pastes (reposters of OPS/other people’s stuff) it would probably be 15%-85%.

Twitter has a growth problem, says the business and investment community. I disagree, but I’m not of that community. One suggestion I would make to Jack Dorsey and team is to elevate in importance Posters and Poster behavior. Retweets of OPS is a great viral tool, insuring dispersal of content through the Twitter web but it’s not the center of gravity of Twitter. That lies in originality of the 140 character impulsive share.

I choose whom to follow based upon their Poster/Paster behavior. If their feed it filled with OPS and Retweets, I tend not to add. They are social fidgets (okay, that’s too harsh) and curators.

In my business, where I’m always looking for influencers, opinion leaders and smart observers of brand and marketing insights, I hunt for Posters.

Dial up the Poster amplitude Mr. Dorsey and you may dial up your financials.

Peace.

 

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Critical to the success of social media or content marketing strategy is the concept of “motivation.” Borrowed from the acting world where a good actor uses a motivation to bring his or her character to life, motivation in social is meant to drive all that is posted and pasted.

Social media motivation is not random – it’s a direct outgrowth of brand strategy. Motivation must illuminate and demonstrate the claim and proof array that are a product’s brand strategy. This opens up and speeds up consumer understanding of brand strategy. It brings brand strategy out of paper mode and theory mode and into experience and action – creating muscle memory.

A customer care person on the phone who understands a company’s brand strategy can decide on the fly how to act. How to deliver. How to behave. This is where acting can turn into reality. And reality into culture.

Strategy is brilliant but until it turns into product, deeds and experiences it’s just ink on a screen. Peace.

 

 

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Many marketers using social media today are underperforming. One of the problems is that the programs are run by interns and tyro marketers – those recently out of school with dexterous fingers and, maybe, a marketing degree. More likely, a political science degree. People at keyboards without an in depth understanding of selling or buying. The second problem is the posts, tweets and promotional ideas are way too random. That is, not governed by an “organizing principle, anchored to an idea,” aka brand strategy.

Random social media programs can and have worked. Toss enough out there and positive increments will happen. But marketing is not R&D. You can’t just spill some chemicals and invent Post-It Notes.  Just as good branding requires planning, execution and sticktoitiveness, so does social media marketing.

No one loves the potential value of social media as do I. But today, social is to marketing what the selfie is to mobile phones. A picture of oneself, with little value to others. Peace.

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One of the cool things about being a brand planner, probably not unlike being a psychotherapist, is being a student of man. Though I am not looking for maladaptive behaviors as does the psychotherapist I am looking for behaviors. All types. By doing so, I’m always learning. When on the clock, I’m learning about behaviors contributory to commerce in a specific business category, but when off the clock, I’m learning about human nature. Always learning.

I’ve been a painter, a waiter, and ad guy and a couple two tree (sic) other things, but brand planner and constant learner has to be the best. And when you can share what you’ve learned to help people, it’s among the best feelings on earth. The fact that brand planners help sell things shouldn’t minimize the job. When working on a elemental nutrition formula for infants with eating allergies and observing “a mother is never more protective than of an infant in distress,” the goal was helping, not selling. In my presentation “Social media guard rails,” one of the first slides is about this point. Help, don’t sell.

The best brand plans help; the result is selling. Words to plan by. Peace.

 

 

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An oft-mentioned Goodby Silverstein mission suggests they focus on “making stuff people care about.”  It’s not an uncommon mission these days, especially as more ad and marketing revenue is tied to buildables. For Goodby, this seems to be working as a mission. It’s fun and memorable. But the reality is, it’s the job of marketers to make stuff (products) people buy. Agencies, therefore, need to make stuff that encourage people to buy. Knowing Goodby Silverstein as I do, they get this. They get that caring is a first step toward buying. I’m not worried about them. But a cottage industry of shops has been allowed to grow up building tchotchke communications that get attention, likes and pass-alongs but are light on buy.

cash register

I love social media and digital marketing. Done well. I believe digital advertising has the potential to far outpace traditional, half duplex (one way) advertising because it puts at consumer fingertips the ability to experience all the steps to a sale in a minutes. This, thanks to devices, media twitches and mobile connectivity. But the main body of practitioners are not there yet. They are still focused on trying to make stuff people care about. And that’s a shallow view. Once they make stuff that make people buy – that’s when the whoosh is going to happen. Can’t wait. Peace.

 

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I was on the We Are Slightly Mad website yesterday and noticed a quote from Sun Tzu worth repeating. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victor. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” This little gem went ink to parchment around 500 BC. In brand planning and marketing some are actually getting away with a tactics-first approach.  But only the few that course-correct around a strategy live on. Social media, let’s not forget, is a tactic; a tactic that has garnered close to a billion in annual revenue I’d guess.  Yet those are not marketing positive dollars for the most part, they are more like R&D dollars. The social media programs used to support strategy are the ones paying off.cooking technique

Metaphors and examples are the key to inspiring brand planning so I’ll drop a metaphor here. In great cooking there is technique and there are ingredients. As with the Sun Tzu quote both are needed, yet technique is most akin to strategy. My cooking gets better as I understand the various heating methods, preparation skills, complementary flavors and seasonings. As these techniques become more intuitive, creativity and possibility become more apparent. In brand planning, understating how and when to listen is technique. As Sherlock might say “hearing” can trump “listening,” so that, too, is technique. Redirecting, building trust, connecting with the interviewee – all technique. Also seeing patterns in data and behavior and the ability to predict behavior — technique.

When searching for good strategic planning people, talk about technique not ingredients. It’s even more important than the final product…the idea. (Did I just say that?) Peace.

 

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An interesting piece of research conducted by The Altimeter Group and published in Technorati suggests marketing departments handle only 51% of all corporate social media activity. (Here’s the link.) That’s not good. I understand marketing can’t control word of mouth, but the internet isn’t word of mouth. Didn’t your momma teach you that? What you say or show online stays there.

If 49% of corporate outbound social media is potentially random then the company is leaking. Even if benign, these leaks aren’t putting deposits in the brand bank as they might.

Here’s how to fix it. The marketing dept. needs to share the brand strategy (idea and planks) with all employees. It must emphasize that all outbound messages, pictures, videos etc. toe the brand strategy line. Employee creativity, on message, can be a wonderful thing. Off message, not so much. And I’m not talking about getting your people to parrot the latest ad campaign, I’m suggesting let them express the strategy in their own words, actions and deeds. The fact is, marketing oversight of all social media is optimal, but giving employees the guidance to share what the company s good at and what consumers want can provide wonderful learning, field testing and brand personality.

Peace!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There’s a neat media newsletter service I’ve used a number of times in marcom plans called SmartBriefs.  It’s an aggregator of articles, sorted by topic, sent to subscriber email boxes.  It is a great one-stop free-shop. One such newsletter I subscribe to deals with social media.  The ironic thing about this one is that very few of the articles it highlights points to actual social media posts, meaning blogs.  They are mostly items from USA Today, Washington Post, WSJ, Adweek, etc.  They hit the occasional Mashable piece but do not do a good job or finding true web Posters. Posters are original content creators and bloggers whose love of the topic goes way beyond a job.

Posters may be good writers or bad and may not have made it through journalism school, but they are the backbone of the web. As a brand planner, I’m always on the lookout for big time posters in the categories I study.  They engender loyalty and lots of comments. They are analytical and love to share the goodness that is their area or interest.

Poster beget Pasters (curators and info sharers), ergo community.   

I’d love to see an aggregator service that only focused on blogs. Craft economy people in the woodworking business like the Wood Whisperer. Melting Mama for the overweight and obese. Boogie2988 for gamers.  Kandee Johnson for the young fashion conscious. Emo Girl. There are thousands of them out there.  An occasional snark would be fine too, but the more positive the better.

This is the future of the web. Where there is avoid there is an opportunity.  Maybe SmartBrief will start one. Peace.

 

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When talking about social media programs to clients I tell them “be interested in what your customers are  interested in.”  Of course, these interests have to align with their brand strategy (1 claim, 3 planks). Yesterday I was looking at some Instagram photos of Love Grace cold pressed juices and admired how they pointed to a blogger sharing a number of yoga poses.  I haven’t written a brand strat for Love Grace, but feel what they are doing. And I’m sensing the neighborhood they’re living in. 

When a company owns a space, owns an idea in the customer’s mind, and they choose to not always sell product, customers relax around them.  This constant need to sell reminds me of going to a party and talking to a car salesman who is always “on.”

I’ve been trying to get close to PC Richard and Sons, a huge retailer in NY, who knows a thing about selling.  They have a marketing dept. and a dedicated social media group. They’ve even hired a social media agency, I suspect. But they don’t have a visible brand strategy they follow when it comes to social. Their’s is a tactics-palooza plan. Unlike Love Grace, PC Richards & Sons talks about promo, price and service. That’s not a plan. That’s the category.

If you understand what your customers care about and use social media to prove you also care about those things – and if those things put deposits in your brand bank, you are using social the correct way. Peace.

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Social media is still primarily a tactical rather than strategic effort within companies. Years ago while at a meeting and doing introductions a young social media maven offered, “Hi I’m Rebecca, I work at Tribal DDB and I teach clients how to use Facebook.”  You just remember this stuff.

This Technorati link shares some interesting data points on social media and confirms my strategy vs. tactical point.  Only 51% of company social media programs are managed out of the marketing department. And let’s face it, many marketing departments are tactically rather than strategically focused themselves.  Sure they keep an eye on sales, but mostly they measure acquisition tools, traffic, engagement and, lately, activation.  The strategies driving these things, the value-based claims, are not measured. There is also some data on top three social media careabouts for the coming year, none of which are strategic – even though they are ironically identified as “strategic objectives.” 

Measuring awareness of the advertising line “Hope Lives Here” is not nearly as important as measuring attitudes towards “physician who know the latest protocol.”

With a plan, social media can soar. With a plan social media can prime the attitude pump. With a plan, not only the 51%, but all others, can be a chorus of harmonious business-building voices. Peace.

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