Archive for the ‘Social media strategy’ Category.

Does social work for every brand?

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Deutsch: Discofeeling

Deutsch: Discofeeling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Femfresh came a cropper back in June, some argued that it was a brand that was intrinsically ill-suited for social. After all, how many people would want to be seen to like a feminine hygiene product on Facebook?

Euan Semple skirts this issue when he talks about some brands getting ‘into social’. He likened them, at a Digital Surrey event last week, to a dad dancing at a disco. “You’re proud of him for giving it a go,” he said. “But you wish he’d sit down.”

We work a lot with financial services brands which operate in a tightly regulated environment. This makes it tough to respond naturally and in anything like as real-time as the fluid and admirable O2, for example.

So should we assume then that social is only for brands which are already naturally engaging, aspirational and great at dancing?

If getting involved is a challenge, FS brands could hire the social equivalent of a body double and see how that works. Bodyform recently chose that route, achieving great viewing figures and industry acclaim for its video rejoinder to a comment on its Facebook page.

But surely, this is missing the point.

Some of those dancing dad brands aren’t there just because everyone else is on the dancefloor. Some are learning to engage in a new and changing world. Their customers, employees and partners are changing the way they communicate. Brands have no choice but to deal with the change. So they need to get in amongst it to understand it. And look for the opportunities to make a real connection with the people that are important to them.

Just being in it, isn’t enough. Bodyform was a great campaign tactic but it missed a trick by not being authentic. Femfresh got their fingers burned and missed a trick by not connecting with and understanding their detractors. These could have been valuable opportunities to learn about engaging in a world transformed by social. These brands do have interested communities active online had they been handled differently.

I don’t think Euan Semple was suggesting that some brands shouldn’t ‘do social’. His position rather was that we have amazing tools at our disposal now that can help us connect like never before.

Not every brand needs to be on Facebook. But every brand needs to understand the impact of social.

Because the opportunity of social is not really about scoring an extra point for awareness on your brand recognition tracker.

The real impact is far more strategic. It’s about building real relationships with the people that matter to your business, so that you can do better business with them.

Engagement in social media can be valuable to a brand. If it’s done right.

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Day 30 - Falling dominoes

Day 30 - Falling dominoes (Photo credit: evil_mel)

I really don’t care how many people follow your brand on Twitter, or Like your brand on Facebook. Numbers like these are essentially meaningless - building the right kind of relationships with 500 targeted people will always be more beneficial to you then meaningless, un-targeted relationships with 500,000.

The same is often said about ‘engagement’ - what value is there in engaging people on social media? This is a valid question to ask, but it is not the same as just attracting more Likes or Follows. Done well, engagement is valuable to a brand.

There are two main challenges to the value of engaging people in social media as brand:

  1. Surely sharing photos and chatting to people online has no connection to sales
  2. If it does have a connection, is it just a correlation (people feel positive about our brand so they both join us in social media and spend more money with us) and not a causation (people join us in social media and therefore feel more positive about our brand and spend more money with us)

What’s the value of ‘just chatting’?

The first challenge is a valid one - you can spend forever as a brand mindlessly chatting away to people without it having any impact on what you do. Are the people you are talking to even valuable to you, and are your engagements helping at all with them to spend more money, to recommend you to more people or to do some other action that will be beneficial.

The truth is that nothing should be done in social media with a clear understanding of why you are doing it - what you want to achieve and why this will help your business - and a clear understanding of who you want to target. These can be difficult questions to answer, but if you are not completely clear on them then you just won’t get the same benefits from engaging people in social.

Imagine a luxury fashion brand. It is probably very easy to get lots of people to ‘Like’ you page on Facebook or to follow you on Pinterest, but are these people actually the ones you want to engage? Or are they just aspirants, or people who like looking at the beautiful pictures? If you haven’t clearly identified who you want to engage (who will be valuable to you) and are managing your activities to attract these, then you may just end up chatting away to people who could have little value for the brand.

Know what you want to achieve, know your audience and make sure you are working hard to attract the right people.

Is it a causation or a correlation?

The bigger challenge to the value of social media engagement is that it does not lead to greater value for a brand, but that people engage more and spend more because they already feel positive about the brand. In short - that this is an example of correlated events and not causation.

A great piece of work by Bain & Company last year addresses this. Their Social Media Consumer Survey looked at average annual spend of customers who have a meaningful engagement with a brand in social against those who do not. Overall, those with a meaningful relationship spend 30% more annually.

If we were confusing causation and correlation we would expect that it would be those who are already positive about the brand who are spending more; those who are less positive about the brand would not. But the research doesn’t show this - those who’s spending is increased the most are the ‘fence sitters’ (those ambivalent to the brand); even the brand’s ‘detractors’ spend 20% more annually if they engage in social.

Bain Social Media Consumer Survey, 2011

So what does this mean for engagement in social?

So having good engagement in social media can be valuable to a brand - it’s not another meaningless number like Followers or Likes. Meaningful engagement, with the right people can lead to greater value for the brand from those customers.

But getting good engagement is not easy - it involves having a clear view on why you are using social, on the audience you want to engage, and on how you turn them from being passive to having an active relationship with you in social media. Most brands could get better at this and a focus on quality engagement, with the right people, will always pay greater dividends than just hunting down a few more Twitter followers or Facebook Likes.

The challenges of using social media in the financial services industry

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Challenges for financial services in social mediaThere are unique challenges when working with financial brands when developing their social media strategy and implementing it. Concerns over falling foul of industry regulations, lack of experience in social and existing company culture all combine to present a number of hurdles at the outset. However, once these are overcome, there is also a huge opportunity to stand out from the crowd, by taking advantage of the industry’s generally slow take up of social media.

In order to successfully guide a financial services company through this journey, a number of activities need to be put in place first. Here are four things every financial business needs to do in order to become a successful digital leader in the industry:

  1. Lay solid foundations in social media internally
    It is important to educate staff on all aspects of social media – the business value it can deliver, why it is so important for the industry, how to engage in it, the risks associated with it, setting up a governance structure to manage the activity and how to act in a crisis situation. In a nutshell, it’s about enabling staff to confidently become involved while at the same time doing it in a way that protects the brand.

  2. Define an effective social media channel strategy
    How the business engages with its audience is one of the key factors in the success of its social media activity. Among other things, all social channels should contribute to business strategy and objectives, there should be a clear, coherent content plan for each channel and every channel should have a clear primary marketing objective.

  3. Implement a change management programme
    Attitudes towards social media amongst staff are understandably often focussed on the risks and dangers of becoming involved. While these are valid concerns, it is important to educate staff these risks can be managed and controlled, while the benefits are significant and can deliver the business real value if done in the right way. A programme dedicated to changing attitudes and educating on what’s possible is another crucial piece of the jigsaw.

  4. Be clear on how FSA regulations affect social media activity
    While FSA rules are media neutral, thought and consideration still needs to be applied to how this affects the business’ social media policy. Clear guidelines on what staff can and can’t do needs to be accurately defined and then communicated effectively across the organisation, in order to mitigate this risk to the business.

If you’re a financial services company and are considering increasing your social media activity, make sure you consider all the factors above. At first it may feel a bit scary, but I assure you it’s well worth the initial effort!

Photo credit: morebyless on Flickr

Developing a great social media channel strategy

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Which social channel to use in your strategy?When working with a brand to help define its social media strategy, a crucial area to get right is how it should engage with its online audience.

I’d define a social media channel strategy as a process that outlines what social media channels the business should use, and the purpose for each channel based on predefined business objectives.

What should your social channel strategy include?

From my experience, the top five things that make a great social media channel strategy are:

  1. All social channels contribute to the business strategy and objectives
  2. The strategy considers the available resources to effectively manage these channels
  3. It confirms that there is sufficient audience demand for each channel to make it a success
  4. There’s a clear, coherent content plan for each channel
  5. Every channel has a clear primary marketing objective

Why is it so important?

Getting the social media channel strategy right for a brand is crucial as it will help them support their key marketing objectives. As there are so many potential channels and ways in which they can be used, an in depth analysis of what we want to talk about and why is also key, so that the most effective channels can be chosen.

It also offers an opportunity to have a two way dialogue with your audience, which provides insight, stronger relationships and brand advocacy. At the same time, brands can be faced with real risk if a channel strategy is not implemented correctly or with a properly thought out direction. If a PR event occurs (either positive or negative), social media will often magnify this sentiment accordingly in a very short space of time, so it’s also important to get in place a social media policy that sets guidelines around a reaction and response strategy and a crisis escalation plan.
If you’re a brand and want to expand your social media activity, make sure you have a clear, coherent channel strategy – it might just be the missing piece in your marketing jigsaw that will help you achieve real results.
Image credit: HarcoRutgers on Flickr

The science of social media ROI

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Last week I presented at a webinar as part of a series looking at the science of social, focusing on social media ROI and demystifying the confusion that surround it. The problem with social media ROI is that it is so easy to measure so many things that we become overwhelmed by measures. We think that everything is important and that everything is a measure of ROI. It isn’t. And it isn’t. Followers and Likes do not make ROI; moreover they stop us from thinking about the bigger business benefit of social.

We need to measure different things for different reasons, not just for ROI. There are three broad areas of measurement that we should be looking at in social:

  1. What’s the business benefit? How does any activity contribute towards our business objectives and how do we measure this? Often overlooked in the plethora of social media specific measures, the single most important ROI piece is to think about the business, how social contributes to it and then how we might measure this link.
  2. How successful are my channels and campaigns? More of a quality measure but an important one for anybody who is in charge of social media. With a clear business objective that we have to deliver against, what do I need to measure to make sure that we have the quality of engagement and interactions to get there.
  3. How suitable is my engagement and content? Finally we get to the range of social media measures that are out there - Likes, Followers, views and the like - these are incredibly useful for the people working in social media and managing your channels and engagements. If they write a blog post that gets 10 times as many views as a previous one, these are the people who should be questioning and querying what has caused this change.

The first, and most important, measure is the business one. Why are we doing this? What business objective is social contributing towards? We should ignore, for the moment, the different things we can measure and focus on what social should be contributing to our organisation. Only when we are clear on that will we be able to establish clear ROI measures. And only when we have these should we think of any of the other measures that we can look at and report on.

The presentation I gave at the webinar included this and some case studies of work we have done at FreshNetworks showing business benefit.

The Science of Social
View more presentations from Our Social Times

The next Science of Social webinar is on Wednesday 20 June and looks at How to Identify and Reward Advocates. You can sign-up here.