Program vs Always-On Social Content

When discussing content from a marketing perspective we must be focused on what is supposed to do. And let’s be clear, it is marketing so we are trying to sell something – an idea, product or service.

The biggest problem with that statement is that we must not look at every piece of content as “selling” content. There is a time and a place to use the platforms and content to drive and offer and work as low in the sales funnel as possible. I call them “programs”. Others call them campaigns. This is an effort surrounding one theme, product or event. Usually they have their own budgets and expected outcomes.

But there needs to be content in your calendar that allows followers to fall in love with your brand. This is not possible in the selling phase. Too much to ask. But the best brands do this. Nike, Starbucks and Wendy’s to name a few. (Full disclosure – Wendy’s is a client) They create always-on content that gives the consumer or potential consumer time to relax and relate to the brand. To enjoy each other and become “friends”. This content can be funny. It can also be educational or time saving. Look at it more as brand building.

It’s a fact in the social landscape that clicks and actions are not the only viable metric. I could argue that they are not even a good metric. That’s another post. But now platforms are measuring impressions. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram do this. And they have proven, with brand-lift studies and the like that these impressions are impacting the way a consumer thinks about your brand.

Lots to consider here. But the takeaway should be to lighten up on the sales talk in your social efforts. Even just a little. And when you need to run ads in here, do it, and when you can just engage and show a softer side, do that. There is no 8-step process here.

As always, please let me know if this makes sense or if you have a different though on the subject.

Program vs Always-On Social Content

New Biz Dilemma

New biz in the ad world is a beast is a to some and the lifeblood to others. We invest so much time and effort into huge ideas that, for the most part, have very little client input. They are not grounded in reality from a client perspective. Yet, every time, at the end of the presentation the group being presented to asks, “Can you send us this deck?” This is where my dilemma begins.

As I said, and you know, we have invested in this information. Common thought suggests that amount may be as much as 10% of their expected fee for the next year on the pitch alone. So there is work and energy going in. And rarely do they pay even a penny for these thoughts. In that occasion a brand is willing to pay for a pitch it is pretty low. Maybe $10K if you’re lucky.

So I guess my issue is that, I believe innocently or not, these people will use the losing agencies thoughts moving forward. We provide all the thoughts, processes, timing, etc that we know in our system with them as a client we will see great results and wins all around.

What if we didn’t provide these thoughts? What if the presentation was it? After all, shouldn’t we be on our A game with them fully engaged? Would this be an insult? Or what if we put a HUGE copyright mark and link to legal page?

I have been part of a company where we chose not to participate in pitches. Granted it was a different scale and for social media business only. But we did it. It was refreshing to cordially decline when asked. But we were more than happy to showcase what we have done previously and discuss the opportunity with them. Just not countless hours and ideas.So maybe this is me venting. Maybe there is a better way to do this. Maybe not. I will keep thinking about this. You should, too.
New Biz Dilemma

Tell a story with your resume

One of the best parts of my job is to interview people. I love meeting them and understanding what motivates them and hearing about their experiences. I am a firm believer that employers need to  provide the top candidates a position where they can win as individuals. And then the team, agency and client can win.

Back to the resume. This is typically the first thing we as employers see from you. To be even more specific, in a large agency setting, it’s typically a recruiter that sees it. So what do they look for? Could be previous agencies and brands. Could be projects. Maybe even coming from a certain market gives you cred. All of that is great.

But what I will suggest is that you tell us a story. After all you are talking to me about a role on the social team. That whole effort is about telling stories. Use those skills. Too may times i get resumes that list out one’s skills that include Excel or Facebook or whatever. Those are table stakes in the world we live in. Really, they are. Use this super-short time you have my attention to wow me. Tell me something about a project or you that is cool. Excel is not cool.

Let me know what role you really played in the process. The younger you are the more right you have to be honest and say you were not the lead but had some great builds and were important in the ways you could be. Of course, the bigger the title, the more those stories should be about leading and innovating. But be honest. Nothing worse than a fake-ish resume that gets you in the door or on the phone and it’s a head shake and the “not qualified” email to the Recruiter.

As a former Creative Director, I would even suggest you create a portfolio of your work. Links or PDFs are great. Doesn’t mean you did it all. Same goes for an art director’s book. They had a writer, producer, account manager and a Creative Director, not to mention the clients, completely contribute to the effort. And not page after page. Less is more in the whole resume process for sure. If there is one takeaway from here it is show me how you are smart and will be an asset to the team.

Tell a story with your resume

#TakeFlight

I am happy to say VML offices around the country are deep into Twitter Flight School, their online education platform designed to help agencies make the most of marketing on Twitter.

One can choose from 4 tailored Flight Paths that are designed for your role inside the agency and specific team. The paths are: Implementation & Optimization, Planning, Account Leadership and Agency Leadership. When you arrive to the system you will be asked to choose one. Don’t overthink this step. Twitter has done a great job in grouping the education for these paths. Depending the path the amount of detail is appropriate to the role that person has in the system.

This is great way to get a lot of people easily and quickly far more educated on Twitter from the paid, organic and media strategy angles. To those in the weeds daily with social and planning there will be times where it seems remedial. However, there are many tips, tricks and reminders that add up to this being worth their time, too.

As you roll it out consider how you can motivate the team to participate. Twitter provides an overview video, poster files to print and some email support. At VML, we have organized work sessions where we supply pizza and beer to bring people together to make it easier to complete. There are some days off, museum tickets and other incentives we are putting in to help gamify the process.

And there is a way for you to keep track of activity. In the Flight School, Twitter has provided a dashboard. A few admins on the agency side can keep track of who has started, when they started and how far along they are. You also track the overall situation against the goal of getting the total number of people from the agency to complete and achieve the Certification.

Twitter Certification is the motivation they added to the process. If a large percentage of your agency employees complete the training within the agreed time frame it will become Twitter Certified. Certification is absolutely a brag point one can use to separate your agency from others. Having a platform give you the stamp of approval is a big deal. Twitter mandates the training is completed within 30 days of beginning.

Twitter is in the process of translating and localizing the experience to ensure relevance across key global markets. The localized versions are slated to launch in Q2 2015, at which time VML will introduce it to the other 20 offices we have globally with the goal of having as many of the 2000 employees as possible participate.

In the end I know as well as anyone it is difficult to get a large number of people to be motivated for something like this. But it is worth it. Make the effort and let Twitter help you. It is in both of you best interest to go through the training.

#TakeFlight

Who Owns Your Tattoo?

In a meeting with global agency holding company legal reps yesterday the rights issue around tattoos became a great conversation topic.

I have previously, do know and will, in the future, work with athletes. These athletes are becoming more and more A-list celebrities and on camera more than ever. And even more relevant, they are part of the marketing world as endorsers and spokespeople.

This topic was not even a conversation 10 years ago. Tattoos were related to thugs and those thugs would never help a brand appeal to their target market. Not the case any longer. Tattoos have gone from prison to artwork in no time and have become mainstream.

Imagine if you hire an artist to paint you a picture. You love her style and really have no specifics other than she do it. She comes up with the subject matter, layout, size, etc. She paints away and is very happy with it. You arrive at the studio and love it, also. And when it’s on your wall at home all your friends are amazed and would love to hang one on their wall. So you have it scanned and print a version for them. That, legally, crossed the line. Even though you paid her to do this work and you own the paining the artist owns the intellectual property or the creative rights to the painting.

This NPR article talks about Colin Kaepernick and his tattoos. And how The wildy-popular Madden game has finally decided to add his ink, and only his, because they had right to do so. The artist that designed, illustrated and then tattooed him signed away the right to Colin.

The fact is that with any form of art – paintings, photos, sculptures, and yes, tattoos, you may own the piece but you don’t own the right to creative.

Next-level stuff now includes landmarks. If I post a pic of the Eiffel Tower I may be in the wrong. This article from the Digital Trends blog says so. Rule of thumb is that if it’s more than 15% of the skyline it may violate copyright laws.

The bottom line is that if you or your clients plan to use their likeness to make money and any of this is in question you need to consider the rights of ownership.

Who Owns Your Tattoo?

BtoB vs BtoC in Social Media

A few times now I have heard someone ask if I/we have BtoB social experience. In a way I get that. Clients always want to find people and agencies with relative experience. However, in the social world my belief is that is not the question one should be asking.

After all, there is an active social conversation happening about nearly every possible topic. So how do we engage in that? How do we provide content and information that is relevant, interesting and constant to that community? Whether they are making business decisions or personal decisions they want to have a discussion.

As always, one needs to decide why you are spending time and money in social. If it is to connect with decision makers in the business world consider where they want to have these conversations. And what type of content can tell your story best?

For example a BtoB play may have a Twitter play to engage in conversation. There could be LinkedIn content in your calendar for paid reach and targeting. This is longer content than Twitter and can should be very specific to the business goals. Next there should/could be a YouTube effort. Creating content in here gives you many benefits. It helps by telling the story exactly like you want it told due to video. It is the second largest search engine behind Google Search. And Google indexes this before most all other content and gives it a higher “rating” due to it being video content. Speaking of search, there should be a Google+ page. This is also indexed immediately and given preferential treatment by Google Search. Links to dot com order pages or location pages are always great to pepper in your calendar. Repurposing good content from other platforms is acceptable. Next level and usually more intimidating than even YouTube is a blog. Creating long form content for brands has always been difficult. But can the agency do it? Maybe you need to hire subject matter experts to do it on your behalf.

Notably missing from the list is Facebook. It may or may not be relevant. There is no advertising platform available that can give you more data on the consumer or potential consumer than Facebook. They can target like nobody else and they can give reach in scale that very few can. Consider the context for the target. If, in general, they use this to share kid photos and connect with relatives this is likely not the place to sell them on how awesome your widget can be for their fleet. And keep in mind this will cost. Facebook organic reach is essentially at zero now. So a budget is needed.

I suggest giving different levels of possible engagement. In sequence from above it would be Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and a blog. Move the consumer up the ladder of content consumption. Help them and make the life easier or better. Tell them stories that you want but make sure it is relative to them and not a big-company message that you bark out.

As with all marketing efforts decide on KPIs. Set goals and run towards them. Use micro and macro insights to adapt. There are infinite possibilities but typically they should ramp up to business objectives.

So after the whole rant I come back to connecting and story telling. The question that should be asked is, “how do we connect with the target in an already-active social community?” Stop getting hung up on the industry or the product. If you are willing to engage in conversation there is a place for you and your brand in social media.

BtoB vs BtoC in Social Media

When Does a Brand Have the Right to Post?

I am amazed at times at what brands feel appropriate to post about and engage in on social channels.

A solid strategy should outline what you should be posting about. That should be places you can make emotional connections to an already-active social community in and around your product, offering or service. Anything outside of that is strategically off base.

Holidays seem to be the times where every brand feels they need to give a shout out. Because everyone appreciates a good “Happy Holidays” from a hotel chain or a clothing company. We all know this comes from a sincere spot in the company’s heart, right?

Even more interesting are the times that a tragedy defines a day. #BostonStrong was a social movement that most everyone remembers. For many it made them, personally, feel better to engage in it by using the hashtag. It made the country smaller. We all cared about that city and wanted Bostonians to know we were behind them and proud of how they acted. How does a brand feel that way? A brand that may have a store or few in the city. A brand that may sell things there. But really? Is that the right time or place for a company that is obviously in social channels for marketing to make a statement? I say no way.

The trend extends into the urge for brands to be relevant in the moment. Twitter is where most of this happens. Community managers cannot fight the urge to dive in on Trending Topics. Many times not knowing what they stand for or who “should” be engaging in conversation.

Case in point is #WhyIStayed. When the spotlight was pointed to the issue of domestic violence many use this as a platform to help themselves and others. To help them have a discussion about what happened to them and why they stayed. The point I am trying to make is not anything about how that played out but the fact that mistakes were made by brands trying to engage. Below is the DiGiorno mistake. The brand manager had no idea what it stood for and dove in. Crazy-bad mistake. But this is a trend.

#WhyIStayed – Digiorno http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/digiorno-whyistayed-you-had-pizza#cgwnf2

So I ask all of you brands to stay in your lane. Talk about what is relevant to you AND your consumer. Stay in the place where you have expertise and can be of use to them. That is not in #BostonStrong or 9/11 or breast cancer. The only caveat is if you are DIRECTLY tied to those causes.

When Does a Brand Have the Right to Post?

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