Archive for March, 2011

Who Should Write Your Corporate Social Media Policy?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

When it comes to writing a social media policy, who should decide what goes into it?

A) Marketing
B) Public Relations
C) Human Resources
D) Information Technology
E) Customer Support
F) Product Management
G) Legal
H) All of the above

The policy could end up looking very different, depending on the answer. After all, various functional groups each likely have very different views of what it should say.

Marketing  

Say anything you want, anywhere you want, as long as it’s positive!

IT  

You can do anything we give you the access to do. Nothing more.

HR  

Do what we say. Exactly what we say.

Legal  

Social media?! Do nothing! Say nothing!!

Seriously, the positions may not be that extreme, but the correct answer is “all of the above.” Not simply because each group has different opinions, but crucially because each group brings different knowledge to the table. For example: an employee criticizes her boss on Facebook. What’s the appropriate consequence? Probably a question for HR. But first—how was the comment discovered? Does the company even have a right to act on the comment? That’s a question for legal. (If your company is too small to have in-house counsel, or that individual isn’t versed in this emerging area of law, then bring in an outside expert.)

Marketing and PR know about things like messaging and best practices. Product management and legal will have to work out how to respond to suggestions for new products. IT needs to be consulted about technical issues such as the bandwidth impact of allowing unfettered access to YouTube. Customer support should have insights into workflow processes (e.g., escalating support issues reported through social media, based on specific subject matter and severity).

Social media is too broad to be “owned” by any single function and too pervasive to be tightly controlled by almost any organization. But social media use in the enterprise can and must be guided and coordinated to help avoid social media disasters. Inside virtually any modern organization, most employees are already active in social networking (even if not “officially” for work-related purposes), they sincerely want to help the organization succeed, and they don’t want to lose their jobs. A well-crafted social media policy helps channel the efforts of all toward common goals while avoiding missteps.

Fortunately for enterprises that have not drafted a policy, there are many examples online including lists from Social Media Governance, 123 Social Media and Dave Fleet.

Coordinating the efforts of a disparate group like this isn’t easy. It’s not even quite accurate to say it’s like herding cats; it’s more like herding lobsters. But it is essential in order to develop a policy that addresses the needs and concerns of all facets of the organization, and in the end, highly rewarding.

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Why Social Media Matters for B2B Vendors

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Social media marketing has clearly been embraced by consumer brands. Pepsi famously dropped its Super Bowl advertising a year ago in favor of a social media campaign. Coke, Starbucks and Disney are among the top brands on Facebook, with millions of fans. SMR has developed a sophisticated methodology for continuously tracking the top brands on social media based on reach, satisfaction and other metrics.

B2B marketing executives, however, tend to be a bit more skeptical. Though adoption is increasing, many b2b marketers still question the true effectiveness of social media for reaching business buyers. After all, four out of ten companies still ban access to social media sites from the workplace, and many more sharply limit its use. B2B products and services don’t generally make the same kind of emotional connection with buyers that consumer brands do, and tactics that work for b2c marketers (e.g. social media games and contests, “checking in” at retail locations, coupons and discounts) are inappropriate or flat-out inapplicable in the business world. There is, so far, no b2b version of Yelp, and its unlikely there will be anytime soon, as many companies worry about the legal liability entailed in either endorsing or disparaging a specific vendor.

Still, social media is rapidly becoming an essential component of the b2b marketing mix. B2b buyers use social media tools throughout their buying processes, from problem-solving and how-to content in the initial research phase through product/vendor comparisons and customer experience validation. Bloggers provide much of this information, supplementing the reporting and commentary of trade publications and industry analysts. Buyers thwarted from using these tools at work (e.g., part of the four-in-ten companies above) find ways around corporate roadblocks, access social media sites via mobile devices, from home or the local coffee shop, or while traveling. They rely on search and social media through the bulk of their buying process,  and expect b2b vendors to be there.

For b2b marketers still trying to quantify the potential benefits of social media marketing, here are a dozen helpful stats. You can find the original sources for most of these findings in Best Social Media Stats, Facts and Marketing Research of 2010.

  • • Companies active in social media report a 59% higher lead conversion rate for organic search traffic
  • • 85% of B2B buyers say they want B2B vendors to engage and interact with them online
  • • 93% of B2B buyers believe that all companies should have a social media presence
  • • 9 out of 10 start a purchase process with search (and social media increasingly affects search results)
  • • Three-quarters of B2B technology buyers say they use social media at some point during a buying cycle to gather information or communicate with colleagues about a purchase; 58% use LinkedIn for this purpose
  • • YouTube reaches 36% of all business decision-makers—more than 10X the figure for Forbes.com
  • • 43% of employees in Fortune 1000 companies say they use LinkedIn for professional purposes
  • • 100% of the Fortune 500 have at least some of their executives listed on LinkedIn. 50% of LinkedIn users are business decision makers.
  • • 65% of journalists use social media to conduct research for stories
  • • 59% of C-level executives report using social media for business purposes at least weekly
  • • 90% of B2B technology decision makers watch online videos
  • • 80% of B2B technology decision makers read blogs; 69% are active on social networks

In short, b2b marketers need to embrace social media marketing because the buyers are using it. They expect vendors to use it as well. And you can’t win the game if you’re not even on the field.

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9 Criteria for Selecting a Social Media Monitoring Tool

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Social media monitoring tools are increasing essential for companies of all sizes as the explosion of social media content renders manual monitoring efforts hopeless. But how do you choose one? With almost 200 social monitoring tools (and new entrants still coming to market), available at a range of price levels from free to if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it, how does an organization select the right social monitoring tool for its needs?

Social Media Monitoring Tools (logos)Whether you’ve a selection team working on this or the entire project has been delegated to you, here are nine critical considerations to keep in mind as you review and evaluate your options.

Range of coverage. Virtually every social media monitoring tool worthy of the label covers the big social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), social bookmarking sites (Digg, Reddit) and content sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr). Many include at least the most popular blogs as well. The best also monitor message boards and forums, easy to overlook but critical particularly for niche b2b products and services. For example, a discussion of the latest developments in aerospace composites is probably more likely to happen on a niche engineering forum than on Facebook.

Frequency of alerts. News can travel extremely fast through social media. Even if it’s “only” a customer complaint, you don’t want it sitting out there unanswered for long. It’s imperative that your social media monitoring tool provides realtime or near realtime monitoring and alerting, so you can respond to critical items promptly. Certainly, not every comment requires an immediate reply, but when a customer or prospect has a question or issue, response time matters. And in social media, the whole world can see how fast (or not) your response time is.

Workflow capabilities. A blogger raises a question about your company’s financial outlook. A user is frustrated by a perceived malfunction in your product. A customer shares an idea for an enhancement. A highly favorable product review is published in an online journal. You may discover any of these events through social media monitoring, but in each case not is the response different but the respondent is too. The financial question needs to be directed to your CEO or CFO; the user issue to customer support; the enhancement idea to product management; and the product review to marketing. If there is any significant volume of social media commentary about your product, service or company, look for a social media monitoring tool that provides workflow tools that make it quick and easy to notify and direct the right person to take action on each new mention.

Value. Price is always a consideration of course, but in selecting a potentially critical business tool like social media monitoring (consider the cost of BP’s social media failure), the more important consideration is “value,” as in: does the tool do at least as good a job at meeting the specific social media needs of my company as competing tools, and is it priced similarly or lower than tools offering equivalent functionality? “Free” is always a popular price point, but in the world of social media tools (as in many other areas of life), you get what you pay for. There are several free social media monitoring tools that provide limited functionality but can serve as a starting point for small businesses; however, larger and more socially active organizations will quickly recognize a need for more sophisticated fee-based offerings.

Support and training. Even with advanced UI design, more sophisticated tools are fundamentally more challenging to use. Be sure to get clarity on what kind of training is offered upfront, how much personalized assistance is offered as part of the package, how to get questions answered and how robust the internal help system is for ongoing use.

Metrics and reporting. What kind of reporting capabilities does the tool provide? Your specific needs will of course vary based on company size, level of social media activity and your organization’s specific goals and objectives, but two critical roles of reporting for any organization are: 1) the ability to demonstrate progress/change over time (e.g. more website traffic driven by social media) and 2) actionable analytics (measures that enable you to determine whether you should do more a specific activity, do less, or do it differently).

Geographic/language coverage. Enterprises that do business globally need the ability to track social media mentions across borders and in multiple languages. Global monitoring capability adds cost and complexity to a tool, so don’t buy it if you don’t need it, but for multinational businesses, this is essential functionality.

Integration with other applications. Again, small companies with fairly simple programs don’t need to be too concerned with this, but companies with larger, more complex social media programs should investigate how their social media tools under consideration integrate with applications such as CRM systems (e.g. Salesforce.com), marketing automation tools and web analytics packages.

Monitoring beyond social media. Finally, organizations that actively target both traditional and social media may want to look at tools like Vocus, Cision and/or Sysomos which integrate PR and social media monitoring functions into a single platform. Social media isn’t an island and marketing / outreach efforts there should ideally be integrated with other programs, so in these environments, monitoring capabilities beyond social media become valuable.

Keeping these nine criteria in mind (or least those that pertain to the size and complexity of social media efforts in your organization) will help you make the right choice from among the broad array of social media monitoring tools on the market.

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6 Characteristics of Social Media Winners

Friday, March 18th, 2011

An increasing number of companies are hiring for the relatively new role of “corporate social strategist” (Jeremiah Owyang recently published a list of more than 260 corporate social strategists on the brand/buyer side, followed up by a Twitter edition of the same list here) and there are thousands of self-proclaimed (and a few real) social media experts on Twitter. What are the qualifications for such a role? Answers are likely to vary widely based on knowledge, perspective, industry etc., but Charlie Sheen’s recent meteoric  rise on Twitter aside (best not to rely on the perverse attraction of watching a drug-addled celebrity publicly self-destruct) here’s a shot at a minimum list of characteristics that enable social media success.Social Media Winner

Smart. Subject matter knowledge is essential. Interns don’t cut it; social media success requires at least some level of expertise about one’s company and industry. The social media strategist needn’t know everything of course, but should know who to refer to or where to find crucial answers (as Albert Einstein famously didn’t know his own phone number).

Engaging. A customer service orientation is essential; a social media strategist should above all want to help others. Social media is about providing value, not just promotion, and of course it’s social.

Empathetic. Effective social communication requires the ability to put oneself in the customer’s shoes, and ask “What kind of information would I be looking for?” Then the ability and initiative to provide it. A social media strategy that’s all about “me me me!” repels the community.

Trustworthy. As retail giant Walmart learned after multiple social media failures, social media success requires honesty, transparency and authenticity. Attempts to “fake it” are usually easy to discover and extremely easy to share. Bad news can go viral too.

Unique. The best social media strategists are original; they add something new to the conversation. Of course it’s imperative to share beneficial content from others—passing along good stuff you come across is what makes social media “social” after all—but the most valued social media contributors provide a voice, not just an echo.

Analytical. The best are constantly learning; what works, and what doesn’t? What type of content seems to resonate with those following me? Which content, strategies and tactics seemed to fall flat, and why? Social media offers a wealth of metrics; successful strategists monitor results, learn from the past, and continue testing new ideas.

Any other characteristics you’d add to this list?

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What’s So Funny About Social Media and Online Marketing? 2010 Edition

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Anyone can tweet, post or email a funny or clever link and waste a few minutes of your day. This post is more ambitious: wasting your entire day. Maybe not today. Maybe it would be best to read this post on a weekend. When your spouse or significant other is away. Seriously.

Most of these are funny, many are amazing, some are just remarkably creative. Take a break from the marketing/PR grind and enjoy!

The Google Toilet by Current

Now that Google knows what you search for and what websites you visit (personalized search), what you write (Gmail), what you say on the phone (Google Voice) and where you live (Google Maps), there’s no more of your privacy to invade, right? Oh yeah there is, as this hilarious video points out (hey—it could happen).

117 Funniest Creative Job and Recruitment Ads by JobMob

Phenomenal collection of job ads, from the creative, funny and scary to the WTF?

The Dangers of an Unattended Cubicle
Employees Leaving Their Laptops Unsecure? Try These Public Humiliation Templates From Their PC… by The HR Capitalist

If you don’t lock your workstation when you leave your cube or office, this will convince you to do so. If you work with people who don’t lock their PCs or laptops when they take a break, this will give you ideas.

Top 20 of the Most Hilarious Spelling Mistakes on Resumes and Cover Letters by Resumark Blog

Example: 14. “I consistently tanked as top sales producer for new accounts.” Priceless.

5 hilarious branded videos by iMedia Connection

Classics from Evian and Old Spice, plus a few remarkable brand videos you may have missed.

Clever, Geeky Twitter T-Shirts

50 Clever, Hilarious and Geeky Twitter T-Shirts by Bit Rebels

Not sure I’d actually wear any of these, but it’s an amazing collection.

Snippets:  Some Examples of Bad Writing for Your Amusement and Horror

From am actual college writing assignment. How to write properly so that your prose doesn’t end up in a post full of great examples of unfortunate writing, such as: “The ladies of the church have cast off clothes of every kind and they can be seen in the church basement on Friday afternoons.”
Unfortunate PhotoShop Editing

The Internet Coos Over “Iron Baby” [VIDEO] by Mashable

A clever parody, despite some obvious missed opportunities.

12 Worst Photoshop Mistakes ever by Oddee.com

What happens when powerful photo editing software ends up in the wrong hands.

24 NOT photoshopped pictures – Illusion or delusion? by Graphic Design Blog

Not PhotoShoppedIn contrast to the pics in the Oddee.com post above, the images here (most anyway) aren’t PhotoShopped, they are just amazing photography.

5 funny (and frustrating) client types by iMedia Connection

Agency types will laugh and/or cringe at this taxonomy of difficult clients, including The Illogical: “Non-logicals, as we call them in the office, are free to say whatever the hell they want. They don’t believe in the comparative peace and tranquility that logic can bring to the table. They’ll say things like ‘I don’t like this concept, but I had a dream, and I can’t describe it really, but I think our website should be like that.’”

Swagger Like Us by OMMA

The story behind Toyota’s brilliant “Swagger Wagon” video.

Social Media Blues by YouTube

What happens when rednecks with banjos and too much time on their hands discover social media.

Marketing’s Greatest Creation: The iPhone Cult by The Great Startup Game

Yes, the iPhone is very cool, but the overblown hype and cultish devotion the device inspired in some aficionados get skewered in this video.

Top 10 YouTube News Bloopers by Mashable

As Amy-Mae Elliott, the blogger who rounded up this collection of video snippets notes: “News anchor fails are always hilarious, because they are a stark contrast to the usual poise you generally see from such professional figures.”

Colbert as social media guru (video) by TechFlash

Stephen Colbert’s take on social media, Google and online privacy.

It’s A Dad’s Life (video)

Yeah, it’s really tough to maintain coolness once one reaches middle-aged suburban fatherhood, so might as well listen to this rap and laugh about it.

 

Dilbert on Social Media

Gotta love this: “Marketing through social media is like herding cats. And just to make it interesting, many of the cats are drunk and stupid.”

12 Social Media Buzzwords Redefined by Marian Schembari

Not your standard, boring industry glossary here. Nope, Marian gives you the real meaning behind over-used social media jargon, for example: “Crowdsourcing – The act of being stingy and relying on a group of people to do your (bitch)work for free.”

Top 10 Geekiest Marriage Proposals by Mashable

Funny, creative and sweet examples of using video games, iPhone apps and other geeky methods to pop the big question. My favorite: the LOLcats proposal.

Young Mattie Fein (vs Jane Harman) via YouTube

I know we’re all sick of political ads after last fall’s noisy election, but this is one of the best ever. Though Mattie Fein lost her race for congress, the video remains a winner.

 

Facebook movie spawns Twitter Parody by Geary Fresh

No explanation needed. It’s even safe for work.

Become a social media guru with one PPT slide by iMedia Connection

How social media controls everything (infographic). What, you didn’t know?

Amazing Paper Art

Fantastically Creative Examples of Paper Art That Make You Say Wow by Smashing Apps

What some artists can do with paper is nothing short of, as my daughter says, amazazing.

10 Of The Best Brand Viral Videos On Youtube In 2010 by Simply Zesty

A noteworthy collection of brand videos from last year, ranging from the touching (T-Mobile “Arrivals”) to the astounding (Roger Federer Gillette shot) to the classic (Coke Zero and Mentos rocket car).

13 Facebook Parodies That Will Make You Laugh Out Loud by All Facebook

A 50′s-style Facebook etiquette guide, jealous grandmas, Farmville and more. It’s minutes of entertainment, thought not for the whole family.

 

The Perfect Stimulus: Bad Management by The Wall Street Journal

Scott Adams (yeah, that Scott Adams) explains why bad management is good for the economy: “The economy needs workers who are fed up, desperate and willing to quit their jobs for something better. Remember, only quitters can be winners, because you can’t do something great until first you quit doing something that isn’t.”

Everything I Know About SEO I Learned in the 80′s by Search Engine Guide

Stoney deGeyter manages to explain the principles of search engine optimization using almost nothing but 1980′s rock song titles. Even if you don’t appreciate his humor, this post is worth five stars for its incredible collection of links to classic rock videos.

Off Register: Luscious (video)

Designers, printers, and anyone who’s ever worked in an agency will relate to this challenging situation.

Remembering Leslie Nielsen: His Best Quotes by Funny or Die

Immortal comic brilliance.

Clients Say the Funniest Things by Advertising Age

Laugh, sigh and cringe at this collection of actual agency client quotes, e.g., on social media: “I get it but I’m worried that people will start talking about our product without us.”

Gingerbread House for the Criminally Insane

The 6 most offensive and/or psychotic gingerbread houses we could find by someecards

Creative variations on the traditional holiday gingerbread house, like this one.

Mainframe: The Art of the Sale, Lesson One (video)

A must-see training video for your technology sales force.

Top 10 Resolutions Anyone Can Keep by The Suburban Jungle

Okay, so we’re past “New Year’s Resolution” season–who cares, this is still priceless and worth a(nother) read. For example, Jenny’s resolution #9 for this year: “Become Addicted to Something. Smoking, alcoholism and Starbucks are so trite. I’m thinking something unique like nasal spray or hand sanitizer. Or at least something beneficial to my endurance like crack. Look, I already have a shopping addiction; maybe I could offset the bills with a robust gambling problem.”

Little Asian PC girl vs. MAC parody by Funny or Die

Taking the Mac vs. PC thing a bit too far. NSFW (language).

Related Posts

What’s So Funny About Social Media and Online Marketing? (2009 edition)

Best of 2008: Amusing, Creative and Just Plain Odd

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