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

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

Create Unique Content for Every Platform

Create unique content for every platform you decide to engage in. Too many brands and agencies get lazy and use the same piece of content for everything. We need to provide content to consumers when, where and how they want to consume it.

As different as each platform is with time spent, visual capabilities, sharing, reach, etc. why would you think one piece of content is the best idea for all platforms? There are many excuses but none are valid.

Let’s list the reasons why we should not:
• Optimum length of type for each platform is not the same
• How images are displayed in the timeline
• How images and videos are viewed in platform
• Life expectancy of a post in each platform
• Fans don’t need to follow all platforms to get all the content
• Some people are Facebook users or Twitter users (or any other outlet)
• Those users do not consume content in the same way
• If a post fails it fails everywhere
• Social allows you to be far more targeted in efforts
• Budget to amplify for reach cannot be there if budget to create content is not

Reasons to do it:
• Lack of resources to create content
• Client “loves that post”

The reasons to do it are weak at best. If you do not have resources to produce content for all platforms you should back up. Win where you can. Choose the main 1-3 platforms you really need to be in. Then look at the others as next in line when, and if, budgets and assets allow you expand. It is better to do 1 great than it is to do 5 poorly. Use those on the outside for tactical executions for a campaign or always-on storyline. Test a d learn with them. You may find they need to move up the ladder of importance or you may conform they are where they need to be.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. You can reach out below or on Twitter.

Create Unique Content for Every Platform

#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

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?

Keeping Up With Social Platform Changes

So many times I am asked by coworkers and clients about the best way to keep up on the platforms and their ever-changing ways. The way to do it is through their blog.

Every major platform has a blog and they update it frequently with their updates and improvements. Below are the links. I suggest you add them to your favorites and check them regularly.

You can use these to learn and be the hero when updating clients.

#ProTip: many of them are Tumblr based. Use the +follow to have them show up in your Tumblr feed.

Twitter
Twitter has many. This is the Advertising version.

Vine

Facebook

Instagram

Tumblr

Pinterest

YouTube

Snapchat

LinkedIn

Google

Keeping Up With Social Platform Changes

Posting Content Is Not The Finish Line

Frequently with brands a social post is a tiny finish line. It is an accomplishment and time to move onto the next post on the calendar. I challenge that attitude.

Hopefully, when a brand says something it is the beginning of a conversation. It is the start of dialogue that helps deepen a relationship the brand and consumer have. It is interesting enough that a community member thinks about it. Does it raise a question? Ask for an action? A response? Likely not literally. But it should be intriguing. And when that question is asked you have a community manager ready to engage. Ready to have a conversation from one person to another. This is how you humanize your brand.

Advertisers have hundreds of planned posts per month in social channels. Hundreds of start lines. Hundreds of places to see what the community wants to engage with you on.

Posting Content Is Not The Finish Line

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.