Three Key Steps to Securing your Personal Brand Online

Posted in: Advice and ideas- Aug 13, 2013 Comments Off

Personal+brandingLately I have been doing some network development work for a client and so as a result have spent a lot of time searching for a targeted list of senior executives.  It has jumped out at me how many senior business people simply aren’t attending to their online and Social brand.  For those at the insanely busy end of the spectrum, it is easy to understand how sustained and systematic Social networking is a significant challenge (although not impossible as someone like Andy @kiwilark Lark has proved).  However, at least taking the time to nail down and own your online personal brand is far less of a task, so I thought I’d gather some resources and tips on that.

Anyone who has looked up someone on Google, or Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook will know that on a global scale there’s almost no such thing as a unique name.  There’s often hundreds of people with the same name as you – if you are lucky.  Sometimes, if you’re “Jim Smith”, there’s thousands.  Getting found on Social Networking sites or on Google itself will become increasingly key to getting found by recruiters, potential business partners, customers or prospects.

It is important to take a few simple steps to secure your own identity before someone else does so there’s no confusion and opportunities don’t go begging.

This isn’t the business of just securing the right username, but goes well beyond that.  You need to separate yourself from all the other “Jim Smiths” – you are the only one that counts.  When a recruiter or customer searches for you, they want you to jump off the page at them.  It can get very time consuming investigating a bunch of people to check you have the right guy or girl.  Often people don’t have the time to bother, the moment passes and the connection doesn’t happen.  Here are some steps to ensure you have the beginnings of a consistent brand:

  • Ensure you have the same or similar profile images across all your online properties.  People who find you interesting on Twitter will want to easily connect with you on LinkedIn (and visa versa) and a consistent profile image makes this quick and easy.  (Ideally make this a clear photo of yourself rather than an abstract or brand image.)
  • Ensure you have a consistent biography across all your channels.  Take care to keep the keywords the same at least.  Not only does this assist your search rankings but makes sure that people have the confidence that you are the expert you appear.  Make sure also your geography is consistently stated (this makes it very easy to be distinguished from the other 350 Jim Smiths in the US!)
  • Try and bring all your properties back to the same URL.  About.Me is a very good service for this, serving well to collate all your various manifestations on one big page that makes it easy for people to find your web site/s, your LinkedIn or Twitter Profile, your You Tube or Slideshare presence, your blog/s etc.

you brandBeyond these three basic steps, I have written here before about how “Affinity Content” is a simple strategy for building your profile, advancing your search rankings and creating serendipitous opportunities by activating your network.   Furthermore, you can measure your influence and effectively KPI your Social activity using Klout, which I have written about recently in the post “Klout: what is it and how does it work?“.

(At a more advanced level, if you are creating content (blogging etc) then secure your “Google Authorship” to massively “game” your personal search rankings.  Learn more about this here.)

Finally here are three other useful blog posts about managing your profile online:

For senior executives, it is worth looking at this Infographic on how the Social CEO will evolve in coming years.  For more on the role of the CEO on Social, you can read this blog post I wrote last year: “CEOs should Tweet from the top.”

Ultimately, you’ve invested your entire career building up your reputation and real-life profile; it is madness to not take an hour or two out to own it online.

Five ways SMBs can use Blogging to level the playing field

Posted in: Advice and ideas- Aug 01, 2013 Comments Off

naked“Blogging gives small business global reach at extremely low cost.”  So said the Godfathers of the Blog, Shel @shelisrael Israel and Robert @scobleizer Scoble, in their 2006 Blogging Bible, Naked Conversations (pictured).  Although seemingly an ancient text now in the fast moving world of Social Media, the plethora of truisms throughout this book (still in print) continue to ring true despite the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al since then.

Blogging is a great way for Small or Niche Businesses to level the playing field with their larger, big-budgeted rivals.  The key to this magic is the fact that blogging requires not money but thought.  Thought in theory is free.  What a business spends to achieve effective blogging power is not money but IP (intellectual property).  Most public blogging platforms are free, and the cost of attaching a WordPress Plug-in for your own website is very minimal, for instance.  Production of a blog is practically nil – unless you outsource the writing.  If done correctly, blogging shouldn’t even take much time.  Here are five ways a small business can change the game by blogging:

  1. Inbound Website Traffic: For me, there’s enough ROI (return on investment) in using Blogging to “game” your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) alone, let alone what it can achieve for awareness amongst actual people.  By figuring out what your Keyword is and hitting it regularly in your blogs – particularly in the title – a small business can radically influence how it ranks in searches.  When you consider that a Google query is now the very first move in a procurement process of any kind, improving your chances of ranking highly in those search results has to be worth investing something in?
  2. Demonstrate your Expertise: Instead of old-style proud boasts peppering your website, a prospective client or customer can learn so much more about you through your thought leadership, commentary and advice than from your awards and customer successes.  Providing regular examples of the strength of your expertise, depth of your knowledge and validity of your advice is a very powerful way to market yourself to those who do arrive at your website.  It also gives your supporters something to share on their social networks when they want to promote your good work.  It may seem like “giving it away for free” but people pay for execution, not knowledge.
  3. Enhancing a Meeting: I have worked with many people in helping them see that while Blogging is a one-to-many medium, it can also be used for one-to-one.  If you have a difficult meeting approaching and you want to set the agenda, you can frame it by writing a seemingly-public blog post and sending it to those you’re meeting in advance.  Or it can be used to supplement a meeting after the fact, continue a discussion or reinforce a point – or generally keep the conversation going.  (I’m actually doing this right now!)
  4. Increase your Media Profile: Trade journalists are forever inundated with “media spokespeople” from large companies with large PR agency retainers.  They know that the same people are touted all around town – the same ambitious, media-trained, jargon-spouting executives are offered to all the writers to comment on industry news and trends.  Generally they are very frustrating to interview, usually they are minded by a PR representative and it is very hard to get something unique or insightful from them (besides their own product messages!).  Social Media not only provides small business experts the chance to have their voice heard, but also offers journalists the chance to discover for themselves new and interesting talking heads for their articles.  Generally one good experience like this and they will come back again and again.
  5. Become an industry go-to source: If you are in a particular niche, a huge opportunity exists to become an actual news source.  Task someone within the business to monitor and curate industry news for sharing on Social Channels like Twitter and the company LinkedIn Page.  Once a week or so the company blogger/s should round up interesting trends and themes  in short 300-400 blog posts sharing insight and commentary with links to the original news.  With the media suffering from ever decreasing bandwidth and with larger companies increasingly restrained from saying anything of interest in respect of industry developments – at least not anything quickly or timely – small business can fill that space of industry information source.  Do this and soon people will want to give you their business!

Most companies will say they don’t have time for blogging or they don’t have enough content for blogging, and yet many of them send out a monthly or quarterly newsletter.  They should flip this around, and post the content they are already developing throughout the month and then use the newsletter as a digest of that.  Many people still do like their email newsletters and this is still an avenue to reach them; but it seems such a waste to put all that content generation energy into just one channel.

There are many other more obvious uses of a blog – company news framing (editorialising press releases etc), as a media statement medium, brand awareness, new product announcements etc but generally speaking small businesses will have far more success by  providing genuine value for the reader.  Ask yourself “what does the customer need help with?” rather than “what does the customer need to know about us?”  If the customer finds your helpful advice useful, they will search the rest of the website for more information about you (so make sure it is there!).

If your blog is “all about you” you will only come up in a searches for you.

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Artechulate can offer blog strategy development services, blog writing training and ghost-writing services.For more information on this, contact us here

Social: The Plan and the Review…not just the Do

Posted in: Advice and ideas- Jul 24, 2013 Comments Off

DoReviewPlanFive very useful resources around Social media strategy and measurement have come across my desk this last week that I thought they were worth collecting.  But perhaps at the pointiest end was the comment in an article by Brian (@brianSolis) Solis: “Social media has a problem and it needs to be addressed now.”  I found that confronting because it probably hits at the heart of where many organisations are going wrong at the moment.  Social might not be seen to be delivering because no one knows the answers to the following questions:

  1. what is Social Media supposed to be delivering?
  2. why?
  3. how would we know anyway?

Alignment

“The truth is that a majority of social media strategies employed by some of the best brands out there aren’t linking activity to business goals and results. “

Mr Solis has hit the nail on the head I think.  I see a lot of Social Media begun the exact opposite way to how most organisations do almost anything else.  It begins very tactically and in the more junior ends of the marketing department – for the most part.  Sometimes it reminds me of how corporate use of the web took off in the mid-1990s: Chief Executives would play golf, exchange business cards and one would have “www” on their’s but the other did not.  Invariably, corporate use of the web was being driven by arbitrary one-upmanship on the 18th hole – with the deadline being their next golf game.  In Social media, activity is usually driven by the off-the-hand question at a senior level, “what are we doing with Social Media?”  Very quickly a Facebook page is started merely so the answer “something” can be used to answer that question.

Measurement

Social Media is terrific for generating no end of data to track – Likes, Followers, Pins, Retweets, Comments – but the question should always be, what should we track?  Whatever this is it needs to be inexorably tied to the business goals identified in the strategy development.  Too often it is easy to get drawn off track by the Social Media monster.  Activity can end up following the crowd or being driven by the conversation or just what is fun and easy to do, instead of being focussed on the overall outcome.  Too many organisations are chasing vanity statistics like “Likes” on their Facebook page for the sense of validation it gives, instead of determining if they are the right “Like”s, or even if the activity producing the “Like” is even delivering any return.  If you determine what the desired outcome is, then measure activity against it, a much more defensible argument can be made to justify the campaign back to senior management.  Senior leadership will resist more budget if a seemingly very successful Social Media campaign in the wrong channel delivers nothing measurable of any worth.  (I wrote more on this  challenge earlier this month in “Making Social Count“.)

So many companies – particularly in the B2B space have been begun Social activity with not enough thought as to why, what it might achieve and how would it be measured.  A strategy that aligns very closely with business goals and delivers measurable return against those goals is key.  In any other part of the business this 101-type statement would be filed in the “bleedin’ obvious” draw; but when it comes to Social Media it too often appears a revelation.

Anyway, here are some very valuable, bookmark-worthy resources to help attack this problem:

Artechulate develops Social Strategy Blueprints for clients that align Social Strategy with the overall business and marketing strategies, and align overall corporate value proposition and messaging with the Social content strategy – and identifies measurement criteria in order to track success.  If you are interested in assistance with Strategy development, please get in touch here.

Picture Credit: Greenway’s Reflective Model

How Marketing is wasting the Social Opportunity

Posted in: Advice and ideas, Opinion- Jul 09, 2013 Comments Off

two-way-streetThere is something very wrong with the way the Corporate sector has sought to grasp the opportunity of Social Media.  This week I’ve seen a lot of evidence that a significant shift needs to be made towards managing Social Media’s potential much better.  Controversially, central to that might be wresting some control of it away from Marketing.

What can go wrong with the way Marketing uses Social Media was well demonstrated by Paul Wallbank in his blog post this week on an embarrassing #fail by a major airline.  In short the scenario is that a troll posted an offensive image on the company’s Facebook page overnight which went un-noticed by Marketing until an 8-year old boy was unfortunately exposed to it.  Paul (@paulwallbank) argues that:

“While marketing is a valid place for social media responsibility – it’s probably the most obvious area to establish a return on the functions – it leaves organisations vulnerable to out of hours customer service and public relations problems.”

How often, for instance, do you call-out a brand on Twitter and feel like you’re talking to yourself?  How often do you comment on a Brand’s Facebook Post and receive no answer?

I wonder if Marketing is a “valid” place for  Social Media to live, and that perhaps Marketing’s use of Social Media needs to be overseen by those parts of the business less focussed merely on ROI, clicks or leads and more on the experience of the customer and the reputation of the brand.  A very interesting article on this topic by Rick (@rickspence) Spence – “Don’t just leave social media to the marketing department“ looks at a blog post by Social Media maven Mitch (@mitchjoel) Joel, who says:

“The opportunity for businesses to connect in a much deeper, richer and more profound way could not be easier, But companies aren’t leveraging this potential. They’re still using social media to plug products and press releases, not to build relationships.”

The way that Marketing has focussed on Social Media plays more to its history of using other digital channels to pimp products and services – it is one-way communication. Social Media offers a beautiful combination of search targeting and audience segmentation which Marketing has embraced gladly.  What they haven’t embraced is the opportunity promised by – as Mitch Joel reflects – The Clutrain Manifesto, the pre-Social visionary tract that predicts the two-way and democratic nature of Social engagement.

Marketing doesn’t tend to think about conversations with customers – and the culture of most Marketing department is to avoid the customer, palming them off to call centres.  Marketing is not commonly  adept at the language of conversations with customers or stakeholders.  Marketing is really a one-way operation.  PR and After-Sales have very salient and valuable skills, knowledge and expertise that is often overlooked in Marketing’s haste to deliver leads, traffic-spikes and sales and to more broadly own Social Media.

The extent of the available opportunity for companies able to leverage Social Media for customer Engagement – not likes but conversations – is well illustrated by research conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau.  By looking at the activity of a selection of FMCG brands,  the report found that those willing to invest in true customer engagement on Social Media could expect huge ROI.  In particular the report concludes that 90 per cent of customers would recommend a brand after a Social Media engagement with that brand.

“Our research shows that to create an emotional connection brands really need to provide clear, timely and, most important of all, relevant content that develop a conversation. Social media has the potential to turn brand customers into brand fans.”

This speaks to the power of Social Engagement not only to enhance brand loyalty but also to create an army of unpaid and enthusiastic advocates for your brand.  In a world where buying decisions are increasingly dependent on peer-to-peer recommendations, not Marketing noise, this is essential to success.  While Marketing should continue to do what it does best on Social – produce, target and measure content –  it should not preclude other parts of the business from doing what they do best and it is for these departments to step up and seize that opportunity.

Social Marketing: Making it Count

Posted in: Advice and ideas- Jul 04, 2013 Comments Off

Bad_Rhino___Full_Service_Social_Media_Marketing-3I was asked to write a guest post submission for the @BadRhinoInc Blog.  Bad Rhino is a A community of Social media professionals and enthusiasts sharing ideas about all things Social.  I chose an important topic to cover.  Important because – as I start the post – the most common question today about Social is about how to measure, justify and turn it into revenue.  This case study from Social Tool Radian6 (a company now owned by Salesforce.com) shows how a very small company without a huge marketing budget, can monitize Social.

But it was an interesting experience because through the process of working with Bad Rhino I saw in action another piece to that puzzle – soliciting blog contributions from third party authors.  Clearly Bad Rhino have a robust Social Content calendar and do an excellent job of systemising Content Production really effectively.  

Making_it_Count__How_to_Better_Understand_Social_Content_Marketing


The two toughest and yet most important questions I’m asked by clients about Social are “how do I know it is working?” and “how do I turn it into business?”  Right to the heart of the matter.

The two toughest and yet most important questions I’m asked by clients about Social are “how do I know it is working?” and “how do I turn it into business?”  Right to the heart of the matter.

 

Last week at “Salesforce-at-CeBit” I grabbed an opportunity to drill down on an important story that helps me answer these questions.  I had a rare chance to speak with Sarah Carver, an early employees of Radian6 who can bear testament to one of the pioneering attempts to adress what we know better in jargon terms as Social ROI  and Social lead generation.

 

radian6Sarah is today globally responsible for telling customer stories for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud , into which Radian6 has now been rolled up into following its acquisition by Salesforce.com in 2011 .  But in the early days at Radian6 Sarah saw at close hand how this innovative Social start up team used blogging to derive lead generation and understood how to measure its effectiveness.

 

More specifically, Radian6 pioneered a technique to create a “funnel” for Social.  The team created a maturation process that moved beyond purely driving inbound web traffic and used “gated” content to take interested blog visitors to the next level.  The team were systematically tasked to create compelling and useful content – customer stories, how-to content and trend commentary – for the blog.  But beyond the blog posts, they were KPI-ed to develop – in their spare time – high-value content assets such as white papers, case studies and “eBooks” – for which they could ask for contact details from those wishing to download them.

 

To some extent this separates the wheat from the chaff, automatically pre-qualifying leads as interested parties worth a phone call.  Moreover it provided valuable ROI data by providing immediate measurement on the value of the content and the relevance of the subject matter.  But most crucially it moved the blogging strategy beyond driving mere inbound web traffic to a focus on genuine lead generation.

 

While this methodology has now become best-practice and common across the industry, it’s always valuable to talk to pioneers who created something new when everyone was grappling with these fundamental questions about Social.  But as Sarah said, the fundamental lesson it taught them was that Social content must add value, it must be about the customer and the customer’s pain points.  Traditional product-focussed marketing content simply did not fly.  At that time – in the mid-naughties – a small start up like Radian6 – lacking a huge marketing budget – found they were able to drive a huge growth curve out of creating a systematic Social content generation machine.  This is a lesson about very cost-effective Social Content Marketing I believe every B2B business can learn from.

 

Klout: What is it and how does it work?

Posted in: Advice and ideas- Jun 27, 2013 Comments Off

Have you got “Klout”?  Do you even know?  I think I’ve learnt some things about Klout in recent weeks and months and so thought I would share them here.  However, as with any algorithm-driven machine, we can only guess while the Klout people tweak and change the mathematics to keep us guessing.  Because fundamental to the success of Klout is that it can’t be “gamed” – i.e. you can’t cheat it.  But hopefully what follows will be of some help in trying to understand it.

klout-score-graphic

What is Klout?  Klout is one of a number of services that seek to provide a global benchmark in Online Influence.  Two others are PeerIndex and Kred and while they seem just as robust, the people at Klout have done a far better job brokering partnerships with all the Social Media tools that count – Twitter, Hootsuite, Chrome, Radian6, Seismic and so on.  They are also making far better inroads into working with the big brands to reward influence through their “Perks” service; which seeks to give brands the ability to trade their products and services in exchange for leverage of that Influence.  If you have a high Klout score you might have access to discounted or even free products and services from brands that hope you will then speak highly of them online.  US Airlines, for instance, are using this to offer high-Klout Social users access to their Lounge services in the hope that they will amplify them online.  (As a guide, brands usually see a Klout score of 50 and above as a good indicator of influence.)

How do you use it?  You must first register all of your Social channels at the Klout site.  Before registration, Klout still awards your Twitter account a score, which is publicly visible to everyone who has deployed the various Klout plug-ins within their Social tools.  So, it is important to register all your channels with  Klout in order to get the score you richly deserve as registration is almost certain to increase your score as Klout learns more about the size of your network and your engagement with it.

There are three strategic ways to use Klout:

  • Whether you’re sold on it’s accuracy or not, it is a great way to KPI your Social activity.  If your Klout goes up you are doing something right, if it goes down, you are doing something wrong.  If you are seriously trying to grow your Social profile and footprint, Klout is a useful benchmark against which to measure yourself
  • Klout is a very useful benchmark spectrum on which to judge influence and so if you are looking for your Amplification Cohort, you can use Klout to rank your followers in order to select those you might single out for cultivation.  If there’s someone with which you engage often, who re-tweets your content often and lives and works in your City and/or industry, then use Klout to identify whether they merit special attention
  • Brands will increasingly use Klout and services like it (but currently, Klout leads the field in relationships with “engagement consoles” such as Radian6 and Hootsuite) to prioritise Social users for engagement.  For instance, a Telco with many hundred Social mentions on its desk which require response – e.g. complaints about poor network service – will use Klout to rank those users for urgency.  Someone with a Klout ranking of 60 is going to receive far quicker response most likely than someone with only 15 because the belief will be that negative coverage from the former is far more damaging to the brand than the latter.  (Moreover, it is worth mentioning that if you wish to use Social Media to get a result from a brand – it is worth logging all of your networks with Klout and getting the highest possible score before you do so!)

How does it work?  Two very informative articles about Klout and its ilk are:

In the first, Brian Solis – who had his own spat with Klout quite famously a few years ago – makes the important point that Klout measures “not your influence but your potential for it.”  Perhaps more usefully, in a very intelligent article, Tom Webster reaches this important conclusion about what these services score:

Influence scores measure your ability to move content–to spread a message throughout ‘the system.’

What I’ve learnt lately is these algorithms track ratios – ratios of those you are following to the those who follow you back, and looks at the ratio of the content volumes versus engagement related to that content.  If you follow scores of people who do not follow you back, your Klout will go down.  If you reduce the number of people you follow, your Klout score goes up.  Equally, if you tweet a large volume of content that resonates with your audience who either respond to it or amplify it, your score will go up.  However, huge volumes of content that provokes no reaction at all will damage your score.  So in general, large amounts of apparently unilateral activity causes you to be marked down.  (Incidentally, a useful tool for managing followers is called Manage Flitter.)

The key is engagement – study your audience, provide them with what they want and not merely what you want to share for your own benefit.  Achieving a good Influence score of any kind – either as an individual or a brand – means adding value.  Klout rewards those who successfully contribute to a community something that they need.  That is why, while Twitter is the primary channel for demonstrating influence, what happens on Facebook and LinkedIn – where you have a much tighter community who know you well – is likely to have a far greater impact on your score in many ways as the engagement tends to be greater.

What have you learnt about Klout?  Please share your view in the comments below…

Picture Credit: Marketinghoy.com

WEBINAR: Risk-Managing Social Media

Posted in: Latest News- Jun 14, 2013 Comments Off

This week I was thrilled to take part in a very interesting webinar conversation with Mark Harrison, local MD of internal auditing firm @Protiviti, about the risk management and internal auditing of Social Media.  You can listen to our 60 minute chat below:

(If the player doesn’t work for you, you can watch it on the Protiviti site here.)

It is an important conversation I think because the principle barrier to Social Media adoption for the more conservative end of town is the question about how to risk manage it, how to audit it and how to ensure compliancy.  While the marketing and customer care aspects of Social Media are very attractive, the dangers associated with it as far as the legal and risk people are concerned are huge.  Even though Social Media is becoming even more prevalent in society and business, I continually hear surprising anecdotes of companies – quite the reverse of adoption – are actually shutting access to Social Media down.  I personally feel very strongly that this is cutting your nose off to spite your face.  Regardless of the communication benefits of Social Media, the  knowledge management aspects of it – for instance using Twitter as a very powerful news filter – are competitive game changers.

So to talk to an organisation like Protiviti – who conducted some fascinating research on Social media and Risk which you can read more about here – and with an audit professional like Mark about what safeguards can be put in place was most edifying.  The framework Mark outlines as to how companies can design audit models to ensure Social Media is vigilantly monitored, reported on and that compliancy is maintained should give that conservative end of town the reassurance it needs that Social Media has reached a level of maturity they can now depend on.

(This infographic – featured throughout the webinar – is most informative too:

Infographic-2013-IA-Capabilities-Needs-Survey-Protiviti)

My #SalesforceCeBIT Conference Highlights

Posted in: Latest News- May 29, 2013 Comments Off

harper reed

CeBit Australia really got its teeth into the subject of Social this year through a partnership with my former employer, Salesforce.com – a company doing more than most I think to equip business with the right tools for their Social campaigns.  The program was excellent and while I couldn’t get to everything I wanted to, I did make it to enough sessions to provide me with plenty of memorable highlights (not the least of which was the Salesforce-in-Australia 10th Anniversary party!)
“Big Data is Bullshit”.  Following on from last week’s lecture from the two Social Whiz kids of the Obama for America 2012 team  - Joe Rospars and Stephen Muller – (which I wrote about earlier this week) I was this week treated thanks to the guys at CeBit to that campaign’s CTO, @Harper Reed (pictured, credit CeBIT Australia).  Widely regarded as one of the key components to the Obama win, Harper’s contribution to the campaign – which I’ve talked about here on my personal blog – was a bleeding edge cloud-Social-mobile strategy which left the Republicans for dust.  Arresting everyone with his insightful common sense, “Big Data is Bullshit” was the headline to a general point about how the big data challenge that he is familiar with was a storage problem and is now merely vendor marketing.  The real challenge now for business is Smart Data – not “how do I manage it?” but rather instead “what does it mean?”
“Marketing is about Listening”. Amid the Salesforce Keynote by – to continue a theme – President Obama’s first US CIO, @VivekKundra, was a very inspiring video from Aussie retailer Lorna Jane (@LornaJaneActive)  who talked on stage about how social media “turbo boosted” their business because of the way that customer feedback helped them more effectively market and sell to their customers.  ”Marketing is now about listening” said the CEO Bill Clarkson. It resonated with me strongly because I often feel the main focus on Social is about what you can say, but like any true conversation, it is far more rewarding when there’s as much listening as talking.  Lorna Jane have experienced exponential growth in the US using only Social Media platforms without any traditional advertising at all.  They are an excellent demonstration of how Social Media can be a significant competitive game-changer and how the power of listening can help you connect with customers far more profoundly than by just blasting them with marketing messages.
Keynote videos can usually be very tedious and motherhood-laden but the videos shown yesterday were really quite informative, such as this one by about Trip A Deal’s use of Cloud and Social to improve customer service.  Taking it to another level this new video from Salesforce about becoming a “Customer Company”, which makes the excellent point about how businesses must “earn” the trust of customers and on equal terms because as the narrator says, the new connected customers “understand that they have power and they have choices.”

“Live in the Data”.  A ever-present theme in so much of the content was about the dryer, less sexy aspects of Social – analysis, reporting and measurement are nonetheless crucial to success.   @WillScullyPower from Marketo partner, Datarati – described how the boardroom walls of today’s San Francisco Social start-ups are covered in LCD screens displaying all manor of real-time customer data as he urged his audience to “live in the data”.  CBA’s Social lead, @NikiEpstein was clear about this when she said “data analysis drives decisions” relating to how analysis defines direction in a constant do-review-do-better innovation cycle.  She was also clear about the point that having tools that are able to track, audit and report Social conversations made her Risk Management teams far more relaxed about compliance issues.
Facebook Helen Crossley made an excellent point in her presentation with Niki (hosted by Charlie @snoutley Wood who leads the Salesforce Marketing Cloud APAC team) in comments about measurement.   Don’t just measure the last click to sale, she urged the audience.   In addition, it is important to understand every element of the customer’s journey through the funnel.  She recommended A/B testing (such as comparisons of different geographies) as an example of  better ROI measurement and shared Facebook’s own ROI framework of Reach, Brand resonance, reaction. Track all but focus on the one that suits your objectives.
More generally, I was impressed throughout the day with the maturity of the marketplace in Social tools.  Automation and scale is always going to be the challenge for large businesses as they execute Social strategies.  Salesforce has been at the forefront of this since their acquisition of Radian6.  A demo of the Marketing Cloud and how it can integrate CRM with the main Social channels like Facebook and Twitter in a way that uses APIs well to both analyze social data as well as draw from the customer database to automatically craft highly targeted campaigns.  (Other tools also, such as this compliance and audit tool from System Partners, are also of note.)
But finally, last but not least, this Infographic makes an excellent point I have been making regularly – that Social SEO is part art, part science.  The artistic side of a Social Marketer focusses on the content creation skills while SEO and data analysis play toa more scientific potential.  This is the key to effective team recruitment for Social – if not individuals with both sides of the coin, then at least teams with both abilities well and equally represented.
modern marketer

 

Six lessons from the guys who #Social-ed Obama into Office

Posted in: Advice and ideas- May 27, 2013 Comments Off

WritersFest-thumb-400x219-106936Thanks to the generosity of a good friend I had the privilege last week of hearing from two of the real pioneers in the use of Social Media to get a message across.  Described by their host, ABC journalist Michael (@M-Brisso) Brissenden, as the Led Zeppelin of Nerdsville; Joe (@Rospars) Rospars and Stephen (@mullerstephen) Muller of Blue State Digital can genuinely claim to have played a huge part in getting and keeping Barack Obama elected.  The two were visiting Sydney as the guests of the Sydney Writers Festival.

I’ve written before (on my personal blog) about the excellence of the 2012 election campaign.  So many aspects of the Democrats’ campaign were streets ahead of what the Republicans were doing, but they seemed to take the 2008 revolution in campaigning to a new level.  In particular it was worth noting the brilliant #stayinline campaign to make sure that those still in line when the polls closed were still able to vote.  Where margins are as  tight as they were in this election, it is this kind of micro-targeted message around a #hashtag that makes Social Media so powerful.

It is well known that the roots of the 2008 Social Media campaign lay in the pre-Social pioneering use of internet crowd-funding by the Howard Dean Campaign in 2004.  Joe Rospars was the DNA that transitioned those lessons from Howard Dean to Barack Obama.  In an interesting show-and-tell presentation, Joe and Stephen told the story of the challenges, the successes and star-struck moments with Mr President from both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

The bulk of what they had to share was You Tube videos that demonstrated how to press people’s buttons on Social Media, like this one about one of the older volunteers on the campaign, Charles Alexander; or this one about Ian’s letter to Obama thanking him for  bringing his Father home from Iraq.  While a little sentimental I think for the Australian audience, they are powerful examples of how to use Social media to inspire, motivate and engage your audience.

It was not lost on anyone in the audience however how much the Australian Labor Party needed this kind of campaign strategy and this very point arose as soon as questions went to the floor, “are you available from now until September?” asked one lady, almost pleadingly.  I wonder if Joe and Stephen did catch a moment to bring Julia’s team up to speed, but if not here are some lessons I collected from their talk:

  1. Relationships – A grass roots Social campaign is about building relationships with people at scale, fast and engaging them in two-way conversations.  Joe and Stephen talked briefly about the challenge of beating Hilary Clinton, a seasoned Washington veteran with a rich tapestry of relationships.  They talked about how they were able to use Social to quickly build a network in a timescale no other medium could achieve.
  2. Telling stories – This is not news, it is wel established that telling stories is the key to content creation for the Social web.  But these guys seem to have it nailed.  The videos they showed told powerful and compelling stories very succinctly and evocatively and in a way that would inspire action.  The political campaign ad has evolved to suit the new medium.
  3. Grass Roots Organisation – I’ve written before on this blog about lessons that Todd Wheatland drew from the 2012 campaign about how to use Social to appeal to the base, motivating them to carry your message.  Joe and Stephen reiterated that the campaign was very much focussed on producing content that the base would retweet and amplify on the campaign’s behalf.
  4. Let others tell your story – A common facet of the videos Joe and Stephen showed us was that, as Joe said, “the candidate wasn’t in them”.  Particularly in the two examples I’ve embedded above, Obama plays only a very brief cameo in either.  This is fundamental to a good Social Media campaign – don’t make it about you, make it about those you are trying to reach.
  5. Honesty and Belief – Perhaps more relevant to community activism than corporate marketing, but the point remains strong that Social Media shines a penetrating light on your work and has a nose for insincerity.  Joe in particular was ernest on the point that you need to believe in what you are doing and you need to be honest about what you are creating because only that will make for an effective message.
  6. Put Social at the top table – Last but not at all least, Joe made the important point in response to a question that the reason he was able to be so successful within the Obama campaign is that Digital was given a seat at the top table.  He was included in every discussion across the campaign and urged to consider the Digital and Social implications.

I think this last point is perhaps the most important lesson he brought with him and one all organisations should embrace.  Until Social is integrated across the organisation and as long as Social remains a neglected silo; the real power of Social, the kind of power that can elect a President, cannot be truly realised.

Twenty Years on: The Web Links Words not Pages

Posted in: Opinion- May 02, 2013 Comments Off

You have to have been hiding under a rock to miss that CERN – the organisation behind the first web site – have this week re-launched that original Web site to celebrate its 20th anniversary.  It’s terribly hard to believe that the World Wide Web is no longer a teenager and is a full twenty years old this week.  I entered the workforce around that time, and I can barely remember a time when the web did not play a fundamental role in my working life.

However, I can remember that brief time.  I also remember all the various developments that have made the web what it is today.  The Browser wars.  The first Advertising.  The arrival of Flash.  The dawn of Java.  The advent of eCommerce and the debate about its security.  At least two jobs were with web-only companies – America Online and Salesforce.com – and the web has made so much of the rest of my life possible too, from Hotmail.com to Friends Reunited, Facebook and Tripadvisor.

Something struck me when I looked at the original site and thought about the evolution of the medium since then.  When you look at the original site you remember that the web then was all about linking pages together.  Everything was about “The Hyperlink” and your strategy around the web was to link to and be linked from other sites as the web became labyrinth of links.

By 2003 Tim O’Reilly had renamed the web Web 2.0.  Before long, by the time I had digested that re-birth, it was re-named again: Web 3.0.  Now a strong argument is made by the coiner of Web 2.0 that web 3.0 is hot air.  But the fact remains the evolution of the web is ever constant.  What O’Reilly calls out as Stowe Boyd’s definition of “a web without browsers” seems to be the most exciting commentary, given the advent of new mobile devices and intelligent apps.

However, I remember a PR conference here in Sydney in 2011 – PR 3.0 – on the future of Social Media where Servant Of Chaos founder, Gavin Heaton, described the chronology as one of links.  Web 1.0 linked pages, he said, while web 2.0 linked people and web 3.0 linked words.  This informed my understanding of The Semantic Web, and has driven my view of it ever since.

Of course the debate is furious and complex as it always is where computer scientists meet marketeers and PR people!  But when I look at that first page I see the links and realise that now when we look a web page we see words.  Or at least Google does!  Therefore, we should all see words because SEO is what powers the web today and while we use the web to speak to people, people navigate it using search.

This is why when I think about writing for the web, I think about the science and the art:

  • Science: The science of “Social SEO” pertains to the search mechanics of Google and other search engines like Bing.  By focussing the main thrust of a Content Marketing campaign on certain strategically-chosen keywords and remaining consistent on those words in a regular content contriutions, you can begin to rank much higher on the search engines because of a steady stream of relevancy triggers sent out into the Social Web.
  • Art: The art of Social SEO pertains to the dual advantages of not only carrying a succinct and relevant message to strategic audiences in a direct and targeted way via Social networks; but also of “gaming” the above search dynamics by attaching popularity meta data to certain keywords linking back to your online properties.
 Twenty years on the other things missing from that first page are also significant of course.  There is not one image.  There are no ads. There are no Social shares tools.  But in all the evolution of the web, there hasn’t been one single development as radical as that first one.  So Happy Birthday WWW!  Many happy returns!