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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