Is Your Brand a Target on Social Media?

There are brands out there that have haters. And in the world we live in there are forums for anyone and everyone to voice their opinion.

Facebook timelines, Twitter feeds and blog posts everywhere can easily become a tornado of comments attacking something a company has done that John or Jane Doe doesnt believe in. Could be the how they make their product, or who they hire or the religious beliefs of senior management. All are very important issues that people have every reason to discuss and voice their opinion. Does that mean the brand should not enage in social media?

I say no way. I say the brand should use this forum to tell the world what they are up to. To actively engage in conversation with fans and haters alike. Of course there are lines one does not cross for enagement. If a person goes on a personal attack, uses profanity or really doesn’t have a factual point but is just out to get attention.

All community managers and brands should have an escalation process set for when things go south. Determining that line is the first step. Then who is ccontacted and what is the rating system for urgency. If a comment is made on Facebook that is uncomfortable and not factual, maybe that’s a 1 out of 3. If there is a threat or even a reported issue in a reatail situation that could be a 3. A 3 may mean the CMO is contacted and they use their judgement for who to contact. Every system is different and needs to be developed per client. But there needs to be one.

That’s the downside. The upside is that, with proper strategy and execution, you should be creating a story the social community wants to engage in. The positive conversation should eventually overpower the negative. When you develop your place in the community it is very likely that community will come to your defense when the random haters go on attack.

But let’s be honest with ourselves. If your brand has this possibility you know it. Don’t insult the social community by posting content that is not believable. Determine what you can own. What you can contribute to the community and what they want to know about you. Determine the voice you should be saying this in. Use this for the content you post and how your community managers engage. Your voice may be the most important part of your social strategy.

Is Your Brand a Target on Social Media?

Humans Connect With Humans … Not Logos.

This concept is such and integral part ot a robust social strategy. Social media began with the concept of human connection. 

Many brands still look at social as another medium simialr to the traditional broadcast channels. A one-way message. Another way to bark out their tagline or latest slogan in hopes that consumers all over are just waiting to hear from them. 
 
Of course we are trying to sell something. We all know that. The agency does and the consumer does. Why else would a major brand spend money on something. So stop with the horrible CTA’s that embarrass your brand and insult the consumer. Instead engage in conversation. 
 
Humanizing your brand is a scary thing. Who would your brand be? One person? But we have 5 target segments that we sell to. They range in age from 18 to dead. How can one voice work here? 
 
It can. You will need to begin with what the role of social is in your marketing mix. Is it to win back consumers you have lost for some reason? Is it to change your brand image? There are infinite possibilities but the one you choose needs to define your ROI. 
 
Does your voice need to be a peer to the community or a leader? Does your audience respond better to their friend giving advice or a subject-matter expert? Your research has told you, I’m sure.
 
Once you come to this you will know what attributes this person needs. How often would they respond? Do they drop in an “LOL” or no way. Think of them as a real person. Give them a name. Everyone that touches social needs to understand them. They should ask, “Would Jane say that?” And it should be very obvious when Jane should not say that.  
Humans Connect With Humans … Not Logos.

Life of a Social Media Post

In the world we live in there are countless potentials for social engagements. There are the “big guys” of the social world such as YouTube, Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Then, depending on audience, we have Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and Tumblr. And let’s not forget the “new guys” brands and agencies are ecperimenting with such as Snapchat. All of these posts have a lifespan. And we should account for that in our social strategies to begin with and then in our content calendars when time. 

It’s pretty easy to figure out the lifespan when you stop and think. YouTube, Pinterest and Tumblr have the longest. In some cases these posts may be evergreen. These platforms are made for finding and collecting thoughts. Search and repurposing is easy and the standard.

When content ties to a campaign they may be far more time stamped. Even still, we should have a mix of Posts, Boards and Playlists that are there to be used for a very long time. They should be relevant when posted but may resurface in a few months to get some new attention. That may happen due to a product taking off, or a paid endorser finding a spotlight or because an unpaid influencer comes across it and introduces it to their social circles. This is social gold.

Some ideas we use when thinking about this are larger stories. Overall brand stories. What overall business goals or pillars does all of your marketing work towards? What is core to your sales or image? Incorporate them into the always-on calendar and build a war chest of go-to content. And keep adding to this list. LTO’s come and go and are critical to the bottom line. But overall company goals typically are far more important.

Fleeting thoughts are the norm of social and usually the most glamorous. Use the long-term content to build a base for those channels. Have these assets for community managers to link to when asked questions. And show up in search when the time is right.

Life of a Social Media Post

Transparency in Social Media

Transparency is very often talked about in the context of social media but rarely is it present in brand activity and community management. 

So what is the right level of transparency? That has been the big question lately. In the beginning of social, brands ignored the bad chatter and unwanted questions. Now that is not acceptable. There are too many ways for that message to be found. You all have been there or, at least, seen it happen.

Take a look at a service-industry brand’s Twitter feed. It is nauseating how many times they say “sorry.” But that doesn’t correct the problem or make the consumer feel better.

True transparency is telling them exactly what happened and then working towards a solution that works for both sides. Rarely will you get perfection but most every time you will get respect. Respect of the consumer as a person is the critical concept here. The consumer understands that perfection is not an option. They want to be heard and feel they are important enough to engage in conversation. Also, consider the idea that if one person has this problem odds are that hundreds of others have too. You addressing it with them shows the others you are a responsive and “human” brand. This, over time, creates advocates that will come to your defense in the social world.

Brands too often act as if they are perfect. We know this is never the case. They are assembled with humans and in that humans trying to impress their boss and make everything seem perfect. So for them to suggest guilt or fault is tough.

There are brands who use transparency as a core value. One of them is Zappos.com. The concept comes easy to them. Company culture facilitates honesty and human relationships. They are a customer-service brand that happens to sell shoes and apparel. If you are ever in Downtown Las Vegas you need to take the cultural tour. I say it’s worth planning a trip specifically for it if you are a manager of people or a brand.

At the end of my rant I am not suggesting we can all be 100% transparent right now. There are business situations where this will not be possible. However, small steps now can lead to that potential catastrophe being dealt with in a different way a year or 2 from now. And those small steps without a doubt will build customer loyalty now.

Transparency in Social Media

Social Media is like a Dinner Party

Imagine finding a new friend at work. This friend is excited to add you to their list for an upcoming dinner party. You can’t imagine the people you will meet. Your new friend seems like she has an interesting background. Maybe has similar hobbies or maybe her partner does. So you mark it on your calendar, buy a bottle of wine or small gift and look forward to the night.

The night of the party arrives. You knock on the door. She opens. There’s smiles around. Maybe a hug or a handshake. Others are mingling and laughing. You walk in the middle and up to a group and say, “Don’t you like my brand and wouldn’t you like to buy my widget right now? Or can I show you the new TV spot we finished on YouTube? Or you should sign up for this email list.” Come on. Imagine if you did that. Better yet, imagine if someone did that to you. You would find every way to talk to someone else and likely about that person. So don’t do that in social media.

Social media is an already-active community that has billions of people with hundreds of times that number of topics. Engage with those people and understand they are not there because they are dying to consume your message. Create interesting content that will give them a smirk or a piece of information. Engage in small conversations that over time “build a friendship.” They know you are posting on this platform, and others, because you have a product or service to sell.

The long play will be far more fruitful and actually open you up to so many more social stories and types of content you can engage in. And hopefully, you have friends who, through social media, invite their friends to your dinner party.

Social Media is like a Dinner Party

Google Glass on the NBA Hardwood

If you haven’t heard there are some NBA teams experimenting with Google Glass during practice. The concept is pretty cool.

Imagine having the exact view of the best athletes in the world. Even better having it in real time and during game time.

The idea that wearable technology becomes part of everyday NBA may be closer than you think. The league has logos on practice gear and likely having sponsored uniforms any time now. The English Premiere League has been doing it for years and they are the most popular league with most fans globally.

A sponsor is always looking for a new twist. A way to be more integrated in the action. The definition of borrowed equity changes daily. You can only sell so many banners in arena. A logo on the jersey is a huge step and will give those brands billions of impressions. But is that as impactful as sponsoring the Glass worn by Derrick Rose? And when he posterizes someone with a dunk that footage will be shown a trillion times. That piece of content will have it’s own life. Going to YouTube, SportsCenter, CNN … you name it. And then brands and agencies will be buying adds against it on that network or platform.

Or what about a crazy 3rd-screen experience? Where a fan can watch and learn from a player’s perspective. Where do they look when leading a fast break? Or on that lob pass from CP3 to Griffin? Broadcast would cut to screen-specific ads during timeouts and when he takes a break they cut to another player.

Then does the mobile experience have social sharing for the fan? In my biased opinion it must. The brand/sponsor could tag along on that ride. Millions of shares for the good stuff and more for the great stuff.

Access to players and teams is at an all-time high. And the more that player’s agents open up and look for revenue streams the more the leagues will need to allow it. Don’t get me wrong. No way does a player get away with this before the league they play in it approves it. With the sponsorship dollars the NBA counts on every year there would be a conflict for sure.

I would imagine a league like the MLS would be the first to try it. Or maybe the WNBA. Someone that is willing to stand out yet have a product on the court or field that legitimatizes the test.

I know I haven’t addressed the idea that it could impair the athlete during competition. A distraction of any kind when the biggest and best athletes are battling it out could be frowned upon. And the idea that this could help them with reminders or plays would need to be discussed. I do know that dollar signs and zeros take away some of those concerns for sure.

I sure would love to see this as a fan, marketer and tech nerd. The brands would love to be able to buy this. The leagues, players and player’s associations would thrilled with more money. So what’s the hold up?

Google Glass on the NBA Hardwood

Is Failure An Option?

I have been reading so many social posts and articles saying, “Fail hard and fail fast” and every time I scratch my head.

I work in advertising. Failure is not easily digested. Even when a client suggests we “test and learn” we all know we must test something that has a great probability of succeeding. With this the upside isn’t as high as if we take an idea with huge upside and really put effort behind it. That effort includes finding the right place on the calendar, the right partners and a fair amount of budget for production and amplification.

I have engaged on Twitter with many people on this topic. It seems to me this “rebellious” concept is better suited for the startup and inventor world. There you need to get to proof of concept and raise funds to take it to scale. Failure there seems to be black and white. Your concept is a game changer or it’s an also ran. Marketing has so much grey area.

In the agency world is is difficult reporting a “fail” to a client. But no more that a client has presenting up the ladder. So maybe we reset this thought. Maybe it’s one of those passing fads that agency people grabbed onto for a while and will let it go. I have.

Is Failure An Option?

Storytelling in Social Media

Since the beginning of time stories have been part of human’s lives. I imagine a good hunting story around the fire about how that Giant Mammoth got away was commonplace. Religious beliefs were passed along through stories before being written down. Every time friends and family get together there are stories told.

So why is it most brands have issue when it comes to telling stories in social media? It happens all the time in “traditional media.” Why is it that the series of Facebook posts for a month can be so scattered? Or an under-performing product post is dropped in the calendar? Because it’s easy to say “why not?” if you don’t know what your voice is and what story you are trying to tell.

To be specific, one doesn’t need to tell one story at a time. You can have different things going on and should. We don’t appreciate that aunt that says the same thing every time you see her and we won’t appreciate if a brand does it. Stories do need to be tied into an overall goal of the brand. This is how we define “The Role of Social”. The role of social can be as simple as making the brand cooler. It can be specific to an audience. It can be anything that is tied into ROI set for social.

The easiest way to decide on what stories to tell happens best at a dry-erase board. Start by writing things down that your brand should and can own. Overall thoughts and insights from knowledge of your consumer. Is it that they have an affinity for your brand because it reminds them of their childhood? Or even better, does it remind them of their childhood and their grandparents? Work that. Give them content that can take them to that place for even a minute. A series of these posts over time will put a smile on their face and likely a deeper affinity to your product or service. Build on the story and see where it goes. Are you getting engagement? If so, keep it going. If not, add in another story. We have clients with 5 stories going at one time. We, also, have clients with a couple.

When you have the stories decided the next thing is the story arc. Where are you in the beginning and where do you want to be in a few weeks or a month? Outline it or even write a brief so you can have it in hand and introduce it to anyone that wants to contribute content. In our case that’s a creative person. In another case it could be a product manager down the hall that wants to add in content.

As you launch this story keep an eye on the performance and be critical. If it doesn’t “work” kill it and go another direction. We need to provide content in an already-active social world. Consumers don’t care what we want to tell them. They want something to make their day easier, better or more fun.

In the end, consider your social media as a dinner party. You want to meet the people around you and have small engagements that build over time into a friendship. You don’t want to shake their hand and immediately ask them to buy something. Well, at least you shouldn’t. Tell them a story and make them smile or think about something in a different way.

 

Storytelling in Social Media