Archive for October, 2011

Content RulesI had the chance to connect with C.C. Chapman (@cc-chapman on Twitter), the co-author of Content Rules, and a sought-after marketing strategist, to get the latest and greatest in the world of social marketing.  C.C.’s strategic consulting encompasses work for some of the most admired brands, such as American Eagle Outfitters, Coca-Cola, HBO, and Warner Bros.

It was great to hear C.C. confirm that brands are “finally starting to wake up to the fact that they need to do something about social.” Where he sees a lot of them falling short is “diving in head first” or, what he calls “shiny toy syndrome.”  A lot of brands are still not thinking strategically and are “chasing whatever the hot tool of the week is.” C.C. reminded me that social and content need to integrate with all aspects of a company’s business – from customer service to sales.  “If you’re not integrating it, if you’re just trying to snap it on like a Lego and hoping that it’s magically going to work, it’s going to fail,” he says.

Rather than repeating some of the mistakes of their predecessors, C.C. suggests that today’s marketers can learn from the best when approaching social marketing. The top leaders setting the social agenda and the best practices for C.C. are Ford, HBO, and Cisco.

Ford is his favorite, as the company has embraced social in every aspect of its business.  Ford is active in almost all social media channels one can think of – not just using each social network as a single destination point, but tailoring its presence based on the passion points of fans.  For example, Ford has multiple Facebook Fan pages for some of its marquee brands, such as Ford Mustang, which has close to 1.7 million fans; Ford Focus with over 300,000 fans; and Ford Racing, which has over 125,000 fans and counting. “They’re a massive company, but it wasn’t overnight that they magically embraced social”, points out C.C. Ford’s team, led by industry legend Scott Monty, has been following a long-term strategy, which is “really the only way to be successful,” adds C.C.

Similarly, HBO has been integrating social into every aspect of its company – touting close to 4.5 million fans on Facebook in the United States alone. The company makes use of subtle things, such as adding a hashtag to the opening credits of its shows and to its HBOGo app, which allows its millions fans to watch their favorite HBO programming on the go – via iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

C.C. also sees a lot of big brands being truly creative with their marketing campaigns (now increasingly social in nature). He really likes Gap’s new jeans video campaign – the Pico Creative Loft series that tell the story of the company’s 1969 jeans brand in a documentary format (here’s a peek at one of the videos from the campaign). And before any of you skeptics out there can say that social marketing is better suited for end consumer brands, C.C. is quick to point to Cisco – a company that C.C. always brings up as a great example of how such a company can use social media effectively because “they do it better than anybody – they’ve really got social down pat.” The company uses video and humor (watch its 100th episode Cisco Unified Computing Celebration here). Cisco’s secret to marketing success? It knows its target market and know how to win them over, says C.C.

Success in social marketing comes with setting specific goals from the get-go, C.C. says.  He always advises companies to start with the end objective in mind. “Is it more views, more email sign-ups, sales, donations? Work back from there.” Specific outcomes work best. Increasing the number of views is not enough, but increasing the number of pages views by 10 percent is a very actionable goal that marketers can meaningfully pursue, he points out.  Besides such concrete metrics, C.C. says companies need to monitor what is being said about them and measure how engaged current followers are, in addition to tracking the number of people following a brand’s Fan page or reading a company’s blog. C.C. is also a believer in the power of online influencers – those who have the clout to make or break a product.  But he is also the first to tell you that companies need to know their customers first and foremost and go after channels and content that are engaging for them on their terms.

C.C. shared our enthusiasm at Awareness for the potential of integrating social media management platforms with CRM systems, as “the more information you have about customers, about the industry, about everything, the smarter business you can be.” He adds that “it’s all about relationships.”

His parting words for today’s Chief Marketing Officers serious about social? “Don’t create a separate social department.” When companies allocate social resources, they need to integrate them directly into their marketing, PR, and customer service – the first three areas that, according to C.C., have to be integrated with social. He then goes on to advise newcomers to social marketing to start small, but “make social an aspect of everything your company does, making it easy for people to talk about and share your campaigns.” Finally, empower your customer service department to listen, respond, and interact with customers over social channels. Success with social marketing comes from “empowering and training your people to be able to use social channels and to know that they’re ok to do it.”

In case you missed it, here is a webinar we recorded with C.C. and his Content Rules Co-Author, Ann Handley:

As always, we invite you to share your social success stories and your reactions to the insights and advice provided by C.C. Do you empower all of your employees to interact with customers across your social channels?  How do you ensure that employees are trained about both the risks and rewards of being a more social, open, and transparent enterprise?

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As part of our series on social marketing for business, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with my friend Dave Kerpen, CEO and co-founder of Likeable Media, one of Awareness’ agency partners.  Dave and hisDave Kerpen team are at the forefront of social marketing, helping out some of the leading brands in the country such as Verizon FiOS, 1-800 Flowers.com, Neutrogena, Uno Chicago Grill, The Pampered Chef, and Heineken.  We have worked together on a few accounts and I continue to learn from what he and his team are doing and I wanted to share some of that knowledge with you.

Before I jump to the interview I had with Dave, I wanted to share some quick thoughts about his new book, “Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook and other social networks.”  As a marketer in the social media space I get the opportunity to read a lot of books that come at social media from a ton of different perspectives.  Dave put together a book that is both clearly written and uses actual examples of his work at Likeable to illustrate key points.  I find most books in the space to be theoretical in nature while Dave’s was very practical.  Not only does he use excellent examples but he also gives exercises at the end of each chapter to reinforce topics.  It’s a book that I recommend to customers and individuals interested in learning more about the spac and if you haven’t had the chance to read it, click the link aboove to buy a copy or drop me a note at mlewis-at-awarenessnetworks-dot-com and I would be happy to ship a copy to you (just put “Likeable Book” in the subject line and include your address). 

Now, to the interview. 

I asked Dave what advice he gives clients who want to impact their marketing success with social and how they can best incorporate social marketing to drive business results and ROI.  Dave advises brands to embrace social marketing as part of their company DNA, as “social media impacts all aspects of a business — from PR and marketing and communications to sales and operations”. There is no doubt, Dave says, that there are various business metrics to determine the impact of social media, but the most important metrics are “overall sales along with frequency of purchase.”  Next to that, companies are advised to measure customer loyalty via industry-established metrics such as the Net Promoter Score, a key metric ingrained into successful social businesses such as BzzAgent, which calculates the likelihood that your products or services will be recommended to others.

Ultimately, social media can be used to drive brand awareness and increase loyalty and sales, but Likeable’s philosophy is to “take people from community to customer.” Dave elaborates by saying that “we don’t ever try to drive sales until we’ve developed relationships with our prospects through communities on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks.”

Wondering where the beginnings of a relationship start? Dave says it all begins with a like on Facebook or a follow on Twitter, then comes the cultivation part.  Relationships are cultivated through content and multiple points of interaction. His next piece of advice, which he shares in the last chapter of “Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook and other social networks,” is “don’t sell, just make it easier for customers to buy.”  He has seen time and again that when prospects are in need, and brands have a good relationship with them already, prospects self-select the brand they know and respect. Here’s how building relationship paid off for one of Dave’s clients, Omaha Steaks.

Omaha Steaks is a longtime family-owned business that sells steaks and other gourmet foods. They found that by building a vibrant community on Facebook and sharing lots of interesting content, including content that was not related to steaks, they were able to develop meaningful relationships and deeper “Social Reach” for the brand (to learn more about Social Reach and how to grow it, download the latest Awareness eBook, The Social Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing) that paid off in increased sales for Omaha products over time.  Dave and his crew helped the brand develop “Table Talk,” a food-related daily conversational feature.  Because of its great educational content, “Table Talk” attracted lots of people who joined that conversation. With such high engagement, lots of Omaha Steaks customers saw Omaha Steaks at the top of their news feed on Facebook, which often led to more purchases from existing customers. “It wasn’t that they tried to sell more,” shares Dave. “Omaha Steaks appeared at the top of people’s news feeds more; therefore, they increased their top-of-mind share. If I see them on my newsfeed on Facebook, I’m much more likely to think, ‘I could use a steak right now’ and order it.”

When it comes to compelling content, Dave shares that multimedia content, such as photos, videos, and links work best in the social realm. Questions are also very impactful “because questions call for an answer whereas statements don’t.” Dave is also quick to point out that brands’ content approach cannot be formulaic – it does depend on the specific type of company and the goals they are trying to impact with social marketing. The specific type of content really does depend on the specific company.

I always ask marketing experts what their advice is for today’s Chief Marketing Offer who is about to embark on their social marketing path. Dave’s first point is to start out by conducting a listening program followed by building a cross-functional strategy that “doesn’t just take into account marketing or advertising, but all of the customer-facing channels and departments.” Next, he suggests brands allocate a sizeable portion of their overall marketing to the social realm – a minimum 10% of a brand’s total marketing budget. He also points out that social marketing is equally as important for brands in the B2B space as it is for brands in the end consumer space. “Businesses don’t make decisions; it is people who make decisions,” he comments.

We are always curious to hear from our friends, followers, and customers – what are your experiences with social marketing?  How do you plan, allocate resources, and measure your efforts?  What campaigns have driven the most success for you and why?

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The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic
Source: The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic

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