Congratulations On Your Engagement!

Congratulations on your engagement! No, not that one. I’m talking about something that will last longer than a Kim Kardashian relationship. I’m talking about your social media brand and its engagement with your target audience.  Are you engaged?

As a brand evangelist, I talk to companies and “take their social media temperature”. And I’m constantly surprised by two common flaws most businesses have with regards to their social media strategy. One, they are on Facebook, Twitter, etc. because “they know they have to be” but don’t have a plan. And two, they have a plan but it’s the same plan they use for traditional media outlets (radio, tv, print).

Stop making awareness your end game. Many companies want to be “top of mind” when it comes to a customer making a purchase. That’s a smart plan. But having an audience aware of who you are is not enough anymore. Being “top of mind” used to mean an inescapable avalanche of brand exposure. Now, it means you’ve been lost in the noise. Imagine Times Square in New York City.  The sheer number of advertisements you see resembles that of a car in NASCAR. There are so many ads, they cancel each other out. It’s a one-way conversation with little engagement.

The world of social media is Times Square on crack. Everyone is connected. Everything is connected. Every. Brand. Making an audience aware of who you are is not only simple, it can simply be purchased. But a bought social media presence will be short-lived and will probably cause more harm than good.

So, without spending a fortune on a diamond and taking a knee, follow along to these simple steps to “get engaged”.

1.       Define your target audience.  You’ve got a lot to share. Who do you most want to share it with? If you don’t know who you want to talk to, you shouldn’t be speaking. Most companies have this down to a science. But, if you’re not sure – figure it out before you send your first tweet. Oh, and once you are ready to talk you should be prepare to…

2.       Learn a New Language.  This is one of the most common mistakes companies make with social media. They see the word “free” and think Facebook and Twitter should be used to broadcast carbon copies of their print/tv/radio advertisements.  Congratulations, you’ve just become noise! To succeed in social media you must first realize that it is not only a different medium, it’s a different language.  And if you can’t speak it, you’ll be as helpless as the stewardess in the movie Airplane. Once you’ve learned the language, listen before you speak so you can…

3.       Identify The Lifestyle.  Imagine you sell coffee and you’re at a business conference for Dunkin Donuts.  All of the people here have a common thread – donuts.  If you were to talk to them about coffee and nothing else, you would have a limited connection that would end quickly. So, stop and listen. What do donut eaters do besides eat donuts?  What is important to their lifestyle? Mornings. Traffic. Policemen. Breakfast. And yes…Coffee.  The point: The content you provide via social media should be aimed at what most closely relates to your target audience’s lifestyle and not solely be about your product or service. You have to become a provider of content, not commercials. If you’ve listened and done your research this becomes the filter through which you should broadcast. Then you can…

4.       Analyze What Works. Repeat. Learning what to say and how to say it isn’t the final step. Good social media strategists can sift through the playbook you’ve been using to broadcast to find you the power plays. The delivery method you use is just as important as the content itself. Questions, Polls, Videos, Blogs, the list goes on and on. Dig for what works and then feature that method on a consistent basis. Here’s the catch. It changes. Like the coach of a good football team, you may have the best running back in the game, but if you play against the best run defense…you’re going to have to find a new way to move the ball. Be ready to adjust based on your analytics.

So, in many ways, it really is like a true engagement/marriage. Learn who you want to speak with, how to talk with them, listen to what they want, and then repeat what gets you the most positive results. Follow these steps and your “engagement” should produce a long lasting and loyal marriage between you and your audience. Please, for everyone’s sake, have an open bar at the reception.

Stay Social!

T.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Antisocial: The New Social?

You’ve heard the phrase “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Well, by now you should have realized “The Geeks Have Inherited The Earth” So, while there may or may not be an apocalypse in your future that hands the keys over to the mild-mannered, the dorks are currently driving. Need proof? Look at Forbes list of the richest Americans. Number one, by a long shot, is Bill Gates. And Facebook’s Zuckerberg and the Google Boys Sergey and Larry have cracked the top 20. These people rely on social networking and socially shared data to get the top advertising dollars.

If you’re still missing the irony, here you go. The people who were best known for having very poor social skill sets, as a stereotype, are the ones that have developed the most socially shared technologies.  I don’t personally know Bill Gates, but I’m guessing he wasn’t prom king. Zuckerberg? At least one swirlie in his lifetime. And Steve Jobs was a very charismatic speaker, but probably wasn’t going to take home Sexiest Man trophies no matter how silver-tongued he was. However, each of them shared one trait – geeky.  That’s not to say geeks don’t have friends. (Thank you CBS). It is to say, they are called geeks for a reason. They have excelled at one type of incredibly complicated form of technology. And that technology, their invention, has become their spouse/brother/family/friends.

And now those technologies, combined, have given all introverts/underdogs the power to join forces and become the most socially powerful force on the planet? On a device powered by Gates/Jobs and connected by Zuckerberg’s network – revolutions have started and other movements are currently gaining strength. Anyone, alone in their basement, has the tools to be a complete radio/television station. Webcams and podcasts have allowed the sublime to the banal to be heard by an audience far beyond any soapbox on a street corner. We have become empowered by transmission. But is it truly social? Not by the standard definition. We tend to think of a social person as being good with other people and in our minds we make the automatic mental leap towards physical interaction with others. People who win “Most Social” awards don’t typically win them because they tweeted the best. But that word – social – may be headed towards a most antisocial redefinition.

Imagine you are the most socially adept person on Twitter. You maintain hundreds of relationships simultaneously. And you do it well. Imagine your videos on G+ or your posts on Facebook are the stuff of legend. People eagerly await and share them. You are viral. Thousands of eyes and ears consume your content. Now, take it one step further. You’ve given Facebook and G+ the permission to broadcast what you consume to your group. You are part of the collective endorsement. You not only share your thoughts and creations but you share your preferences and tastes through the penultimate permission marketing. Could it be any more social? Could it be anymore antisocial?

As social as you are about what you eat/listen to/read, as social as you are about how many teeth your toddler now has, as social as you are about sharing your thoughts…you are still doing most of these actions alone.  But what about social gatherings? Concerts? Art festivals? I tweet there too and I’m not alone! Yes, you do. And haven’t you just become a bit more antisocial in the process? Think about your last concert. When you looked around did you notice the number of people not talking to each other but instead tweeting or posting? The “antisocial socialite” is required to at least partially forego human social interaction to maintain the electronic relationship. It’s antisocial…or maybe it’s the new definition of social.

Maybe antisocial is the wrong word. Maybe we should call it bi-social. We’ve become such an instantly connected society. What was once a pain in the ass ( calling/texting every friend we know to share the great news!) has become effortless (I’ll just post a public status update).  And, if the growth curve of this technology continues on it’s current path, and if we as a society become even more casual over our privacy, the ability to bi-socially broadcast ourselves to our own groups while sharing the experience with the actual human group at the concert may become seamless.

Stay (bi)social!

T.

Tagged , , , ,

Owning The Verb

Let me mess with your mind for a quick second. If I were to say, “I’m Loving It”, could you control your brain enough to not have some part of it instantly think of McDonalds? Chances are the answer is no. Why? Because you’ve been exposed to the fast food chain’s current marketing campaign so many times you probably can’t hear that phrase without associating it with the restaurant. (Not to mention the “bah-dah-dah-dah-dah” jingle).

I’ll admit it. When the new slogan came out, I thought it would bust. I didn’t see the connection. But just like a catchy pop song you can’t stand, with enough repetition comes acceptance and eventually instant brand recollection. (How much did Justin Timberlake get paid? Which came first? The single or the jingle?) Regardless, from this point forward, no matter what I’m talking about…If I say “I’m Lovin’ It” part of our brain belongs to MickeyD’s.

Just do it. Verb. Eat fresh. Verb. Taste the Rainbow. Verb. You know all of these brands by heart. And the tie-ins are limitless. McDonald’s can ask you, “What are you lovin’ right now?”. From skateboarding to salsa dancing – no matter what your passion is – if you’re loving it, it can be tied into McDonalds because they own “loving it”. Now don’t you want that for your brand? Then it’s time to Own The Verb.

Case in point: NIKE+. Now, I’m not a runner. I’m not even one of those who claims they should be a runner in their Twitter bio (which seems to be a popular choice.) But when I do go for a jog, I use the NIKE+ app on my iPhone. It’s fantastic. Dare I say, the app itself even motivates me to go running. I like to see my stats and try to beat them. I like to see the ticker count up my total miles like I’m watching the MDA Telethon’s ticker display the amount of donations. When I go for my occasional run am I wearing NIKE shoes? It doesn’t matter because when I share my run on Facebook, my friends see the NIKE brand name regardless of my shoe selection. That’s a powerful marketing tool! Talk about owning a verb. When you go to to nikeplus.com the first thing you see at the top of their page is the Swoosh and the verb Run. They’re synonymous.

A quick second example. Nissan was losing sales and market share until 2002. What happened then? They switched their marketing campaign from an adjective (Driven) to a verb (Shift_) What followed was 8 years of sales increases and a renewed brand.

Of course, if your product/service or the application that connects me to it, isn’t desired – your verb will be left in the dust.  But with the addition of the ability to share your actions on Facebook and it’s 800,000,000 users, owning a verb has become a necessity. With the LIKE button being phased out, new apps are letting you share what you are reading, wearing, hearing, etc. So don’t sell your brand short. If you’re trying to connect your brand to an audience and you’re not attempting to own a verb, you’re limiting your opportunities. So, pick an action and associate your brand with it! Or you can always have it your way.

 

Stay Social!

T.

 

 

Tagged , , , ,

Tub Thumping and the Collective Endorsement

I am legion. I am many.

Over the 14 years I was in broadcasting, there were numerous times I was approached to endorse a product. In theory, it’s a pretty straight forward concept: Try the product. Broadcast about what I liked. Increase sales of product.

I’d like to think it works. I know it does for Oprah and her book club. (Thump that tub, Oprah. Thump it.)  But of course, I’m no Oprah. Now whether any money exchanged hands to enable a client access to myself and other broadcasters doing the same is unknown to me, but nothing but the product ever landed in my hands. But it begs the question, what is it worth for a company to “hire” thought leaders and trendsetters to speak on behalf of their products?

Actually, that question is becoming somewhat obsolete. Recent Nielsen studies show that 90% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family. TV ads? 62%   Radio ads? 55%. Facebook understands that. Thus, the “LIKE” button. (More on that later)

Thought leaders and trendsetters are now everywhere. They are everyone. When you’ve got as many people interacting with each other through a single channel, there is less need for one source at the top of a pyramid scheme of decision making. Group enough of us together and you’ve got what I call the “Collective Endorsement“.

Facebook understood very early that not only would we be much more likely to sample a product if it was referred to us by a known and trusted source, we would be much more likely to BUY that product. The new question is: What is it worth for a company to have access to the Collective Endorsers (Facebook and Twitter users)?

If you believe the speeches at the recent F8, Facebook’s annual chest-beating conference, the access will be warranted through the merit of a compelling app/product. In layman’s terms, everyone gets access to the Collective and if you’re product/service doesn’t suck, it’ll succeed. Very serendipitous. But the cynic in me knows that when that kind of money is available, (imagine a 1% click through per 800,000,000 users currently on Facebook), there’s an inevitable payoff waiting to happen. Some will get through on merit, others are gonna buy Facebook off the same way they buy off every celebrity hawking ProActiv. (Are you listening Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, etc?) And yes, Oprah does have a Facebook page, so the standard endorsement model will still carry some weight (no Oprah joke, I promise). But it will carry less.  The word endorsement carries a negative connotation. Someone has been paid to say what they’re saying. More importance will be placed on what the Collective is actually doing, eating, reading, watching…

Reach them with your viable product and you can make a fortune.

And with the new changes to Facebook, where a collective of 1 billion people isn’t very far away, it has become an entirely different algorithm.  Say goodbye to the “LIKE” button.  On my next blog, it isn’t the product…it’s the action. Owning the verb. It’s what’s next.

Stay social!

T

Tagged , ,