Many companies completely outsource social media management. These companies may have good reasons for this decision. Yet, when outsourced, social media communications misrepresent reality. In fact, is it possible that completely outsourcing your social media accounts should be outlawed? Below are a couple issues to consider:
B2B customers have become more independent buyers in the procurement process as a result of their increasing access to information, research and peer-recommendations. In fact, this modern buyer is something of an enigma to B2B vendors. Traditional lead generation efforts such as trade show and publication advertising, direct mail, email, etc. are decreasing in effectiveness. Lead generation through social marketing has received much hype yet case studies demonstrating real bottom-line impact are still few and far between. How does one capture their attention (and wallet-share) in an environment where competition has surpassed competitive vendors to include the increasing availability of information and perception driven by customers and non-customers alike?
As marketers we think we’re all grown up, and that business has nothing to do with being personal. Like the pat excuse we’ve all heard when a business decision affects other people’s lives, “This isn’t personal, it’s a business decision.”
It’s that kind of thinking that kills us as marketers and brands—when we take “personal” out of the equation we always lose. However, we can turn that around and win! And the quickest way I know to learning how to do this is to closely observe children in action. Think about it… when our kids are young we can talk to them, share with them and really relate on a kid level—and we can also control them to an extent. But when they’re teenagers, they’re not as open to what we tell them; pushing things on them just builds more resistance. And if they think you’re going to give them a speech, they shut you down in a hurry. If you want to get through to teens you have to look for moments when they’re receptive, tamp down the desire to push your opinions on them, and just listen. Be there for them. Help them when they ask for it, but don’t preach at them. It takes practice to learn to recognize those opportunities.
I was with a senior marketing executive from a major retailer recently and we got into an hour long conversation about Return on Relationship™, my philosophy, and what it means to me. He was incredibly interested personally and for his company, is a very thoughtful person and was interested in digging down to what my mission is… or better yet, what I want most to accomplish with respect to ROR (#RonR). What it seems to come down to, after discussing, riffing on the topic, and a bit of introspection, was helping others without expectations of what you get directly from that person in return. And how that plays into the old adage… “what goes around, comes around.” We then had an inspirational discussion of what that means to us personally and can mean for brands with consumers.
Short and simple: if you are only focused on the money, you risk completely overlooking the people. Don’t make that mistake! If you don’t know who your people are, you might as well toss your marketing and prospecting money down the drain. It is not that complicated.
Relationships ARE the new currency – honor them, invest in them, and start measuring your ROR
Originally posted at TedRubin.com
The biggest goal for any brand delving into social media should be to develop quality, productive relationships. That’s the bottom line. However, many brands still “don’t get it,” and consistently make mistakes that are damaging to them in social media and therefore damaging to their brand. In my opinion, there are four big no-no’s that not only kill those all-important relationships, but also tarnish your reputation:
1. Broadcasting: Blasting out sales messages rather than listening and engaging has got to be the number one relationship killer of all time. Bar none. People hate to be sold—especially on social channels, where their main objective is to talk, get opinions, relax and have fun, or find answers to pressing problems. When a brand spends the majority of its time broadcasting, it’s a clear message to followers that they’re not interested in real, two-way communication.
Listening should be your first priority, followed by engagement. Don’t try to sell to people until you’ve earned their trust!
2. Taking Followers Offline to Resolve Issues: If someone has a problem and comes to your social presence to try to get it resolved, the worst thing you can do is shunt them off to a customer service contact with a “form letter” response. Too often I see… “follow us so we can DM you,” on Twitter, or a quick move to traditional customer service channels on Facebook. People have an innate need to be validated—and “showing them the hand” is the fastest way to sour a customer relationship. Sometimes there are things that have to be resolved offline for legal issues, but the majority of complaints or requests for help should be addressed promptly and publicly in social channels. At the very least, if you MUST send them offline, do so in a friendly, personal manner. Address them by name, thank them for bringing the problem to your attention, and so on. Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes—how do you feel when you’re ignored or made to jump through hoops by a company you deal with?
Responding publicly has another important, beneficial, and cost saving benefit. Other people with the same issue, and you can/should assume there are many more, can receive resolution via your response, and see how you interact… and then make their own judgments about your brand character based on those interactions. If you’re doing it right, you will build brand advocates in the process, and when/if needed your best brand advocates will support you when they see that kind of open, honest communication.
3. Having No Brand Personality: People who spend time on social media like to spend time with people—not logos. If you have a team of employees handling your social responses, don’t make them hide behind the brand logo when they interact with followers—give them a voice and a face. Ford does a great job of this with @ScottMonty building his personal brand along with theirs. Scott interacts with followers as himself, not the Ford brand. This humanizes the brand and fosters good communication. Being able to see the team members behind the company and interacting with them personally makes a big difference in fan loyalty.
When a company censors its employees and doesn’t allow them to participate in social discussion surrounding the brand, it’s usually because they’re afraid of “what might happen if…” They’re afraid they’ll spend too much time on social or say the wrong things. These issues can be resolved with a comprehensive social media policy so all employees know how and when they can and should interact. Remember, your employees should be some of your best advocates, and a natural extension of your “public face.” You can’t do social right with employee censorship. Your people are your company’s personality. Let them shine for you. And… if you don’t trust your employees, maybe you have the wrong employees, or a business approach that will be difficult to sustain in this hyper-connected world.
4. Making Social a Direct Marketing Channel: Can you develop a relationship with a piece of direct mail? A TV commercial? A newspaper ad? An email blast? Of course not! Yet many brands treat social as an extension of their direct marketing efforts—mainly because that’s all they know. They’re used to handing off their marketing to an advertising agency and having them run with it so they can get on with their day. They think in terms of ROI formulas, but falter when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of one-on-one networking. If that’s you, don’t feel too bad—it’s a habit that’s been drummed into you and hard to break. But you’ve got to break it! Adopt a whole new mindset around social, and think in terms of building relationships and an emotional connection to your brand, or you’ll always be frustrated with your results. Remember… Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Return on Relationship™ = ROI.
This goes back to the “Broadcasting” mistake I mentioned earlier. Think in terms of providing helpful content, fun ways to communicate, sharing information and asking questions. Leave the direct marketing stuff in traditional channels. Get a sense of who your audience is and give them what they’re looking for in your social communications, or you’ll get “un-followed” or ignored in a hurry.
What other “relationship killers” have you come across when dealing with brands online, and how do you think they could be avoided? Conversely, which brands have you noticed that are “getting it right” in social media when it comes to Return on Relationship™?
I believe many are looking at this in too narrow a fashion. Everyone is trying to assign a dollar value to a Facebook fan or Twitter follower instead of addressing the fact that engagement and interaction that takes place in these mediums and are incredibly important to a brand. They build relationships, create an emotional connection and therefore lead to Return on Relationship™… simply put the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through connection, loyalty, recommendations and sharing.
The mistakes I see being made is trying to measure Social engagement with the same tools we measure every other digital touch point. In my view email, search, even banner ads, have spoiled marketers into thinking everything can be and must be measured with the same metrics used to gauge success in other mediums. Initially as you are building your Social Media audiences, and testing, I have three stages with which I measure… #1 is Audience growth, #2 is Reactivity… getting them to take an action, and #3 Stickiness… keeping them coming back, engaged and interacting.
In addition setting expectations is important for the future are critical. Setting goals for number of follows/fans and how you interact and engage with them and them with you, can be very useful. Growth of your audience is very important as clearly outlined in the study by research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey… Consumers Engaged Via Social Media Are More Likely To Buy, Recommend, and their follow-up report… 10 Quick Facts You Should Know About Consumer Behavior on Twitter.
In watching the social media revolution unfold around us over the past several years, there’s a recurring theme that keeps popping up. I see it all the time in discussions on “best practices” and in forums and blogs where marketers lament the fact that you can’t measure ROI in social and that marketing has completely changed. The “gurus” out there say it’s a brand new world—the past is past—we have to throw out the old and create the new, yada, yada, yada.
You know what I say to that? Phooey!
The number ONE reason some marketers fail when they try to use social media is that they DON’T take into account important traditional marketing lessons from the past—and I’m talking Plain Jane, Vanilla Manilla lessons that should be the bread and butter for any marketer. Social media doesn’t supplant traditional marketing practices and tenants. In fact, it enhances it when handled correctly.
We are at an incredibly important time in the evolution of “relationship commerce” (buying from people you know and trust). This is the time when our actions will decide if “relationship commerce” ends up as simply a phrase on a list of buzz words, or becomes an effective – and meaningful — way of doing business worldwide.
The deciding factor will be whether or not enough brands and marketers are willing to go beyond just talking about relationships … to actually building and sustaining those relationships with consumers, peers, employees, and others in their social graph.
How many of us believe in the business value of relationships enough to put in the effort required to turn a one-time contact into an ongoing meaningful interaction? How many of us even believe that “business value” and “authentic relationships” even belong in the same sentence?? I do, because I have seen this play out time and time again.