Hi was really happy (and honoured) to be invited as a speaker for the A4U Performance in Fashion conference on July 6. Not only I met with fantastic people but also being able to share my experience with fellow marketeers was fantastic.
Not to mention the venue was fantastic (felt like Heaven), strawberries and cream for dessert and lobster for lunch (yes please!), very comfy chairs and aftershock goody bags. God I did feel like a (pregnant) Princess!
Thank you to Matt Wood, Sarah Parsonage and their team for their hard work and my fantastic partners in crime Helen Evans and Jess Markwood . You can invite me any time (pending audience feedbacks of course).
In case anyone is interested, here are my slides:
I have stumbled upon this video today and it made me smile, but also it reflects on the fact that Social Media just can’t be ignored. I particularly liked the idea of your social media ROI is “your company will still be there in 5 years”. This video can be argued and debated for hours/ days/ years, but it has the merit to ask the right questions.
Now back at you: “Do you KNOW what they are saying about your Brand?” ENJOY :)
Having taken quite an interest into Social Media in the last year, I am often confronted with reality: No matter how much I advocate the fact that a proper social strategy, shall be a company exercise involving all key departments, the reality is quite different.
Don’t get me wrong, when I talk to the executive team or when I discuss it with my marketing friends, we all agree that in an ideal world everyone should engage into the social web but what’s in the books or in our fancy strategy plan is unfortunately utopist.
Why? Why on one hand budgets dedicated to social media spend keep increasing but on the other hand a cross functional social media engagement is merely impossible? Where is the Social Hercules that will use his God given powers to make it work?
My belief is that when it comes to social media, many if not all companies face some inherent issues, and in my opinion here are some of the reasons why.
1/ Social media is everyone’s responsibility.
I can’t agree more, but too many companies are appointing social media / community managers, who are not recognized internally. Either because they are too junior (freshly graduated) or because they come from what can be considered by many to be a “lower”job (please read, non business / ROI driven function). The other scenario is the company appointing a “social media consultant / expert /guru” that will in many cases try to impose his vision of social media, without even diving deep into the company ethos and as such will clash with most departments or blame the company for his lack of success.
There are some good social media strategists out there (I know a few so PM me if you need one), but they are usually top notch people that do not need fancy presentations and beautiful offices to get the job done and that will not come to hard sell social media strategy to you, because they know there are no secret recipe to succeed in social.
Also when you delegate something to everyone in the company, without giving them a trusted and respected leader, who will be able to delegate, you enter the vicious circle of “no one does anything”because “everyone thought it was somebody else’s job”.
2/ We do not have enough Social Media experts internally to do a good job.
The good news is a there is no such thing as a social media expert or guru. Social media is still in its infancy and is still trying to find itself as a media. And we have to keep in mind that social web is about the individual and nothing is more versatile than a person with the myriad of human emotion we’ve been blessed with.
3/ Why should it be my job, I already have enough on my plate.
Many companies are still considering social media as a tick in the box on their to-do list. The “Achille’s heel” of any companies is that they struggle for resources, and as such they tend to add social media engagement on a team or department that is already under pressure. As a result social media engagements are seen as a chore rather than a blessing, and always end up being the lowest priority item on the “to do list”. This is what I would call the “get round to it syndrome” Also, as pointed out in the Forrester research I attended this morning, companies are still “scared”of the negative repercussions of social media ( commonly known – excuse my French – the “what if we screw up –phobia”). Even in the 21st century it takes companies a lot of courage to encourage customer’s interactions and engagement, outside of the marketing or PR departments (they are used to talk to the customer, they won’t make mistakes). Given the above, it is not surprising that non marketing employees are reluctant to engage in social media.
4/ What about the bigger picture?
How many companies out there, communicate on their social media strategy with everyone in the company? How many integrate social in their overall strategy and financial plans? How many think about a three to five year strategy and align them with the company’s long term plans? To my experience, none the problem is how can you expect every function in your company to engage in the social web, when the company fails to show commitment?
5/ Where is my ROI?
This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back! When it comes to social, your return on investment is not short term incremental revenue. I am often asked, how much is a follower worth? If I increase my “likes” on Facebook by X%, how much can I expect to make in a year? My answer is usually “NOTHING”, a follower or a like is worth nothing unless you invest in them, you make them feel like they belong, that all of them are unique. I would encourage companies to think about “what am I losing, if I do not listen to what my customers have to say” rather than what would be my ROI if I do?
This entire renting monologue to say that given the approach most companies take on Social web, cross functional engagement is a utopia.
Help is on the way though and here are my two cents on how successful companies will come close to the Social engagement Nirvana:
- Demystify Social web: social web is a trial and error media, “gurus” are over rated and a great social web presence is a matter of common sense and takes enthusiasm and passion.
- Identify the experts: who has great product / industry / company’s knowledge? Who is passionate about the customer / brand? Who is happy to dedicate time to become the bearer of the Social web’s flame? Experts are not function or department specific.
- Believe in what you preach: don’t treat social media as a compulsory “tick in the box”, if you decide to invest into social web, make it your “calling” and make sure everyone involves is “building a cathedral” not “carrying rocks”. And most importantly value and recognise individuals that are helping you build the Social Web cathedral.
- Get SMART: as in make sure your social media is backed up by a strategy and some SMART goals that can be measured and communicated.
As a company or an individual in charge of the social media strategy, what advices would you give to other starting in the business?
Why would you say so many companies fail in properly engaging on the social web?
I did not bang my head this morning, neither am I in the middle of a delirium. With this post I do not want to undermine marketing budgets or put hundred of consultants at risk of losing their jobs. I only want to state the obvious, if your social strategy is only about using social media as a new marketing channel, then you are doing something wrong.
Social media is more about social than being about media, as such it needs to be integrated in all customer facing activities.
With social media the customer is at the heart of the organisation and this should not be feared, it must be embraced.
When I randomly ask, friends or contacts working for other companies, the notion of “Social Media” is associated with Facebook and to many Facebook is Social Media. Many companies believe that a winning social media presence is about having an active Facebook page and a twitter account.
Limiting “Social Media” to these two platforms alone is a good start but it is only the tip of the iceberg.
Social Media is about listening and engaging with current and future customers wherever they are, whether it is blog, forums, twitter, youtube, Facebook… and build relationships every steps on the way.
The winners of tomorrow will not be the one to so called master social media marketing campaigns, but the ones that will be influenced by what customers want and understand the new meaning of “the customer is King”
Now back to my original point, Social media must not only be a marketing exercices, it must influence all the layers of the organisation. To illustrate my point, I have chosen three departments in an organisation and ways for each to leverage Social media (including the marketing department of course ;))
The Sales department / teams:
- Use social media to create and nurture a prospect list. Linkedin, Xing, Viadeo have opportunities no cold lists or canvassers will ever have. With these social media professional networks, the sales team can not only become more intimate with their customers and prospective customers, but also get many information about them than any other media. These networks encourage a one to one communication and takes of the “cold” sales element increasing chances to close a sale.
- Actively participate in groups on the likes of Linkedin, will help anyone in the sales department become an expert in their field and an ambassador for the brand. Also most of senior sales people are trained Expert on the brand, incentivising them to write a blog. This will not only strengthen the position and reputation of the sales team in the customers’ or prospective customers’ eyes but also be a good way to generate qualified leads.
- Be active on social media and networks (not limited to Twitter and Facebook :)) , will also help the sales department identify influencers (favorable or not) and use the relationship they need to build with them to create Brand ambassadors or to overcome criticism.
- Let the sales team open the company to the community’s feedback, can only help in the sales process, by letting the customers or prospects speak freely about the brand and monitoring feedback will only strengthen the brand position, increasing the value of positive and hindering the weight of less favourable feedbacks.
- Social networks also gives many reasons to re-connect with customers and prospective customers. Any posts, updates, changes in career, birthdays, interesting tweets are all the more reasons to drop a line and engage.
Product development and management:
- Followers, fans, customers and prospective customers love to give their 2 cents on brands or products. They are an effective way to get truly engaged focus groups discussing products before a product launch or when product is still a prototype.
- Product management, shall always be in the know of direct customers feedback, product sentiment. Monitoring product sentiment is not limited to Twitter, or Facebook, product sentiment monitoring starts with a company’s own ratings and reviews.
- Social Media provides a unique channel to converse with customers, the Product Management team should make time for live interview on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and this to increase customers engagement. If customers feel part of the brand they are more likely to become Brand advocate. The power of listening to customers will always give better results than any expensive marketing campaigns.
- Use Social media in product development process. The best examples to illustrate this point would be Dell through Ideastorm, Sony Ericsson’s Xperia play, Dominoes’ Pizza Turnaround campaign…
- Build / Increase brand awareness. With the social web the marketing teams now have access to a wealth of information that can then be used to build or increase Brand awareness. By identifying key influencers in their field, following the right blogs, tweeting or re-tweeting content, the marketing team increases the brand share of voice and positive brand sentiment.
- Grow customer loyalty: give your customers, fan, followers, influencers a little bit extra for their time or engagement with the brand by giving them something they will only get through the social web. It does not have to be in the form of a discount or an offer, make it fun and creative like access to unique content, get them to chose the content of a next newsletter, allow them to become brand ambassadors at special events. Make your audience part of your extended marketing team by giving them a sense of belonging.
- Encourage user generated content, social media web is about being creative and fun, user generated content is always a great idea to expand reach in a non commercial and cost effective manner, whether it is on You tube through a video contest, on Flicker through a photo sharing initiative, on Twitter through a “share your love in 140 characters”…
- Syndicates own content to increase reach, the marketing team shall be encouraged to blog regularly, so blog post can be favorited, shared, digged…
- Integrate social as an extra layer that connects all marketing campaigns not as a separate channel
- Keep an eye on competition, ease market research, just like social media web is a great way to keep an eye on your own brand, it is also a fantastic way to better understand what competition is up to and get inspired from their successes and learn from their mistakes.
- Understand true reach of promotions and targeted campaigns, analytics can go a long way but they will only give you part of the picture. Social media monitoring, will give the marketing team information on how a promotion or campaign affected the brand and how it was received by your core audience.
As a first exercise for my Social Media strategist course, I was asked to create a video presentation of myself. Seems to be the easiest thing for someone like me, because I love talking about me, my job, my passions ect…
Well, I shall have though twice, as I did not want a plain and boring, I like I dislike video, I spent hours going over what can I say, how shall I say it and how to get my 150 mile an hour life into a digital format. It seemed mission impossible, which gave me an idea and here is the end result… ENJOY
When I started this blog in 2007, my only objective was to use it as a project to increase my Google ranking and get a better job. 5 years later, I can testify it actually worked, getting my own blog helped me get a lot of contacts, more linked in connection and a better ranking. My only mistake was not to carry on with the experiment and not touch my blog for the last 4 years.
So here is my first blog post since 2007, must say I am a bit rusty but by God so much happened in the last 4 years. Of course I did not sit there watch the world go by, that ain’t me. My blog got replaced by Twitter, Facebook took my life over and I got so absorbed in the virtual world I nearly did not remember there was another world outside my Digital realm.
All this to say, my last 4 years have been “social”, as a marketer the opportunities were endless and I became fascinated. And now 4 years later, I am turning this fascination into an honest living and I have finally decided to invest time and money into becoming a certified social media strategist.