Tag Archives: Social marketing

A Reason To Believe

I’m thinking that Tuesday just might be headed for “Tunes-day” here on the screed. As you can probably tell if you’ve spent any time here, I get a lot of inspiration from music and often that inspiration turns into business insights. Let’s hope that’s the case today.

Rod Stewart

Tim Hardin wrote a song called “Reason To Believe“in 1965 and it has been covered by many other artists including Rod Stewart, The Carpenters, Johnny Cash, and Glen Campbell The original recording appeared on Tim Hardin 1, released in 1966. Obviously the version by Rod Stewart made it a hit and is probably the one with which most people are familiar:

If I listened long enough to you
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe

A few other writers have tackled the same notion – people who want to have faith in someone or something else.  Here’s Bruce:

Struck me kinda funny
Seemed kind of funny sir to me
How at the end of every hard-earned day people find some reason to believe

And Pink:

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough

Why do I bring this up? Because it’s a simple principle that some businesses forget every time they command people to “like” or “share.” Having fans in the first place who are willing to self-identify and follow is amazing.  We assume everyone knows what hashtags are for and that they’ll use them the way we want them to. Before they can use whatever knowledge they have, we often don’t give them a reason to believe – a compelling reason to act and the knowledge with which to do so.  The fact that they’re paying attention to your message at all is a win.  The fact that they’re looking to find a reason is tremendous.  From there, it’s on us as marketers to help them act, grow their faith in our products and brands, and spread the message.

Make sense?

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Brands Out Of Control

A Foodie Friday that begins a long weekend here in the US. Today, however, we’re doing Foodie Friday Fails, and actually they’re kind of fun because of their inherent stupidity. Our fist bit of joy comes to us courtesy of the folks at Nutella.

Deutsch: Ein Glas Nutella-Nussnougatcreme

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A big fan of the hazelnut and chocolate concoction decided to celebrate the product by creating a “World Nutella Day” celebration and used social media and the web to promote it. Want to guess what happened next?

Sarah Rosso, the principal organizer of World Nutella Day, says she received a letter from Ferrero demanding that she stop using the Nutella name and logo. Since it’s a little hard to celebrate Nutella without using the word “Nutella,” that essentially spells death for any sort of World Day. Rosso, who described the letter as “a bit of a surprise and a disappointment,” will have to shut down her Facebook page, Twitter, and website — or, I guess, make them into blind items. “World Day to Celebrate An Unnamed Hazelnut Spread” doesn’t have as much of a ring, but at least it’s not actionable.

That’s right:  in a time when hundreds of brands are spending millions of dollars to create social virality, the geniuses at Ferrero shut down something that does nothing but celebrate their product in a positive way.  They’ve since recanted and are now supporting the effort, blaming their lawyers who reacted reflexively to use of a trademark.  Right.  In an event, the damage has been done but the lesson is worth repeating.  We no longer “own” our brands.  Our customers do and we need to support nearly everything they do unless it’s hurtful or illegal.

Then there are the folks at  TGI Fridays in the great state of New Jersey.  13 of their outlets were caught filling premium liquor bottles with cheap booze and charging top shelf prices for it.   Obviously, the brand takes a hit as a bar, but it also has to make customers wonder what’s going on in the kitchen if the bar is so out of control.  One bad apple and you can write it off to a rogue bar manager.   13 outlets and clearly no one is minding the store (or bar) by watching inventory and sales reports.  Maybe they’re not watching what’s being served or how it’s being cooked.

While the Nutella case shows someone paying too much attention, Friday’s shows the opposite   Managing is often a balancing act and here we have two food brands that have fallen off the wire.   Thoughts?

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Immersion Blenders

Do you own an immersion blender? They’re the Foodie Friday Fun topic this week.

This is a wand blender (also known as a stick ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe you call it a wand blender or a stick blender or maybe you call it the “boat motor” as do a few TV chefs. Whatever you call it, the tool is a sharp blade at the end of a stick that a cook uses to blend food in a pot or bowl. Soups, whipped cream, mayonnaise, and pesto are all things for which I’ve used mine.  Restaurants use much larger versions in their kitchens and they’re really useful to have in the home kitchen.

There was an article on them called “Bandages Not Included” in the NY Times two months ago.  One thing that happens fairly often in the home kitchen is that cooks try to clean food off of them while they’re still plugged in.  The blade is very sharp.  The on/off switch is under your thumb by design.  What could possibly go wrong?   While I’ve been fortunate never to have pureed a finger into a stew I was thickening, the article got me thinking about business.

A lot of firms use the business equivalent of an immersion blender: social media.  Like the stick blender, the tool seems very simple and is easy to use.  A business can also cut off a finger pretty easily.  In the last year, KitchenAid, McDonalds, StubHub and others have been in the spotlight for doing exactly that.  Personal tweets sent from a company account, commercial messages tied to trending topics without understanding why they were trending, and “set and forget” use of automated tools have caused brands massive headaches and public black eyes.

Companies perform the  social equivalent of cleaning off the blender blade without unplugging it first every day.  Simple tools often lull us into a sense of complacency and that’s dangerous whether we’re in the kitchen or on the Internet.  That’s why your business’ social media activity needs to be managed just as professionally as the rest of your business and not by an unsupervised intern or someone unfamiliar with each medium’s particular potential pitfalls.  These tools are dangerous even though they’re incredibly useful.  Like the immersion blender they can be the best way to accomplish a branding task.  Provided, of course, you do so and hang on to all your fingers.

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Social and Shopping

How do you think social media influences what people buy?  If you believe a recent report on the influence of social media on shopping this past holiday season, the answer is not much.  As the article said:

online shoppers mostly ignored social channels as purchase influencers,according to survey results from Baynote. Pinterest and Twitter influenced online and in-store purchases for just 1 in 10 shoppers surveyed, with Facebook garnering only slightly more interest. Instead, online ratings and reviews were most likely to influence both online and in-store purchases (33% and 24%, respectively), with Google search results including a pictured product available by the retailer coming in next for online purchases (26%) and paper catalogs (21%) second for in-store purchases. Not surprisingly, social channels were most influential among younger consumers (aged 25-34), while paper catalogs got the attention of the 45+ crowd.

This was accompanied by another piece which announced that “only 2% of traffic to retailers during the holiday season came from social networks, per figures released by Adobe Systems.”   The article then goes on to say “Adobe isn’t the first to detail social media’s rather small influence over the holiday season.”

I could be wrong about this but given that Adobe is the parent company of one of the large analytics firms, I’m assuming they looked for traffic into shopping carts from social media.  Their question – is social media converting into sales – isn’t the right one.  How about “does social media influence sales?”  I’m willing to bet that a large percentage of what’s on Pinterest is aspirational – something the user wants or acknowledges as desirable.  Maybe it’s a place people use to research gifts for friends?   You will have a hard time convincing me, just based on what crosses my Twitter stream and Facebook news feeds, that people aren’t researching purchases via social media.

The Baynote data is a survey – let’s always remember that what people say and what they do sometimes don’t align.  That said, I think taking “catalogs” as a whole while segmenting digital into pieces (search vs. social vs online stores) is a bit misleading.  It also doesn’t reflect how users may begin with a search, move over to social to check out their connections’ thinking on what they’ve found, and then their use of the online store to buy, perhaps several days (and sessions) later.

Given the continuing and impressive growth of online shopping during the last holiday season I’m a believer in social as a influence.  People spend more of their lives online and that includes shopping.  Maybe these folks are asking the wrong questions.  I’m sure they’d have just as hard  time proving that TV or print resulted in the conversions they’re discussing yet very few people deny those media have an impact.  What do you think?

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A Social Marketing Study

I’ve been meaning to write about the Chief Marketer 2012 Social Marketing Study for a little while now.  Even though it came out a couple of months back, what it found is pretty relevant and I think you might find some of those findings relevant to what might be on your marketing mind.  At least I hope so!

As one might infer from the name, the topic is brands’ use of social media for marketing purposes.  You can get the study by clicking this link (registration required) but here are some of the key findings:

  • 76% of overall respondents to the survey said their brands were conducting some level of marketing within social media, and a further 16% reported plans to begin do so by the end of this year, making for a potential social marketing contingent of 92%.
  • More than half of respondents cite the difficulty of calculating an accurate return on their social marketing outlays as a prime frustration with the channels. That difficulty in turn grows out of their second most often expressed complaint in this year’s survey: the difficulty of accurately tracking sales to social campaigns. Those response rates held true for both B2C and B2B marketers.
  • Marketers are also troubled by issues of content: specifically, by the amount of time their staffers spend curating social media and by the need to keep social media supplied with a constant stream of new, fresh, engaging content.

Other not so surprising data points are that the primary purpose marketers have for using social is to drive web traffic and that most of their efforts are on the big three social sites: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  What all of this said to me was not so much about how quickly marketers adopted social as a channel but how their efforts are really just sort of fumbling along.  Not every brand should be on Facebook yet all seem to be.  While I’m a firm believer in having measurable outcomes to help with ROI calculations, it seems from the study as if the standard to which social investments as being held are out of whack with both how social is being deployed as well as with the standards applied to other channels.  Finally, the emphasis on creating new content is a good one but it sounds to me as if that content is being used in the context of social media as a megaphone – yet another broadcast medium.  I could not disagree more with that approach.

Does your company use social media for marketing?  Are the study’s findings in line with your experience?  Am I missing anything?

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Ending The Week On A Brutal Note

I’ve been informed that I was a bit brutal on the good, hard-working folks at CL&P yesterday. Maybe, but sometimes honesty is mistaken for brutality, and I try always to be honest here on the screed. If any of your relations or friends work for the power company here in Connecticut  I’m sure they’re doing the best they can.  Whomever is directing them, however, needs to think about another profession.

With that in mind, let’s turn to our Foodie Friday Fun. What else but brutal restaurant reviews?  This piece from HuffPo highlights 10 of the most scathing restaurant reviews they could find.  The piece makes a good point – brutal reviews are always more fun to read than positive ones.  As it turn out, they get wider circulation via social media too.  Having written a few bits of snark in my time, I’ll tell you they’re way more fun to write.  I mean, it takes a fair amount of effort to find a clever and accurate way to say “it sucked”.  Each of the reviews cited is fun – I particularly liked this one from Frank Bruni – and well worth a few minutes of your time.  That said, they do raise an interesting business point.

Suppose you were on the receiving end of one of these babies?  Are your listening posts set up to recognize them?  Is there someone who is designated with responding in a non-confrontational, transparent manner?  What do you do if the criticism is accurate and warranted (that gets well beyond fixing some bad reviews, I know)?  Can’t happen to you?  Check out the reviews not related to restaurants on Yelp sometime.  Google will serve up local search results with negative reviews embedded.  Private sites such as Angie’s List can kill you with you ever knowing it.  Brutal, indeed.

It used to be that a negative newspaper review was bad but not fatal.  After all, very few papers have the kind of circulation (even years ago) that could kill a business.  Word of mouth could hurt, but that took a long time, giving a restaurant ( or any other business) a margin for error.  Not any more.  Restaurants open and close in weeks – there is no time to fix it so they need to start out very good and get better, listening to the information flow all the while.  That’s brutal!

Are you listening?

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Gamifying The News

Here is an interesting item that made its way to my email box.  A researcher put together an online game to expose college students to news via a virtual social gaming environment.  Here is the premise:

More than 65 percent of Americans younger than 30 utilize the Internet as their main source for national and international news, according to the Pew Research Center. However, most young adults do not consciously seek out news online, but rather are exposed to it incidentally while searching for other information or doing non-news-related activities, such as visiting social networking sites or checking their email. Now, interdisciplinary researchers at the University of Missouri have created an Internet game that promotes school athletic spirit while engaging young people with the news.

In her previous research, Borchuluun Yadamsuren, a researcher in the MU School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, found that Internet users often are exposed to news through “serendipitous discovery” rather than deliberate consumption. Young people are especially likely to be “news encounterers” who find news incidentally while surfing the Internet for different reasons, she says.  “If we can develop a strategy to post stories or links from credible sources in locations young adults normally use, such as on Facebook or gaming sites, we can hopefully attract them to news media.”

So enquiring minds may want to know but they’re not very proactive in finding out, I guess.  The results were encouraging enough that the project is continuing on and I’m thinking we’ll see it as a full-fledged platform of some sort down the road.  What is really going on is a very basic principle of marketing – speak with (not at)  people in a meaningful way.  Rewarding them either psychically or financially for accomplishing a task can further engagement.  Think about what went on after the presidential debate.  While a lot of people watched, I suspect a lot more found out about the key moments through posts their friends put up on social media (the “binders full of women” meme took hold within hours).  Gamification techniques reinforce the discovery process.

Makes sense to me.  How about to you?  How can you use this idea in your brand’s business?

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