3 posts categorized "Social Strategy"

01/03/2011 One Prediction for 2011: Lots of hard work ahead

The social juggernaut kept gaining speed in 2010. Most everyone who paid attention in 2009 started implementing social plans. Even some of the biggest verticals of digital laggards embraced the promise social marketing as a low cost, high touch communications tool. What then, can we expect in 2011?

I think this year is when we all have to do more of the hard stuff. Launching social initiatives was the easy part, in retrospect. Putting together a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and a blog and an editorial calendar, the social tools of choice for a majority of organizations, were important and necessary steps. Unfortunately, they’re not enough.

In 2011, more groups will start examining more carefully the return on these initiatives. They’ll look at employee resources as much as outside costs in determining how or if they should continue.  The work, for those groups and those of us who market socially, is to shift the focus from easy metrics like Followers and Likes to clear goals connected to the business itself. And that is the hardest work marketers can do. 

It’s a slow slog to integrate social into your core business. It’s much less glamorous then ad campaigns or launching a Facebook app. It takes a lot of time, conversation, idea development and internal buy in. In short, it's the heavy lifting.

Should we even bother? As much as we all love social media, the reality is that the data shows that social works.  A recent study by ForeSee Results seemed to downplay the effectiveness of social media at driving holiday shopping, but a closer look showed that Search, the digital marketing behemoth, drove 8% of holiday Web visits compared to 5% for social media.

Compare the money spent on search marketing to the money spent on social media and a different picture emerges, one that speaks to the power and promise of social. Yet to spur the shift in dollars, we’ll need to go beyond Tweet schedules and blog posts.

We’ll need to work our butts off to truly integrate social into the core business.

And we’ll see a lot more of that (successful) hard work in 2011.


09/13/2010 Social Strategy is Like the Sledding Hill

Creating social strategies should involve examining a businesses opportunity to provide value, content and connection opportunities to customers and potential customers. Rather than trying to create something out of nothing, a social strategy identifies the areas of greatest potential and maps out a plan to develop two-way channels in the social space. 

When I help organizations develop social strategies and then watch those organizations doing the tactical executions, I can't help feeling like I'm on a sledding hill, with my kids, in the winter.

My job on the top of those hills is to give my kids the biggest push I can so they'll have the biggest momentum I can give them. I try to steer them toward the best possible path down the snowy slope as I watch and hope that they make it down to the bottom in one piece.

Sometimes they find the perfect path with their sleds and zip down with great speed and élan. Sometimes they lose their line and end up way off to the side. Other times, their sleds start to spin unexplainably and they wipe out half way down the hill. 

Good run or bad, my job on that hill is to shout words of encouragement, help them back up the hill, and give them another great push for their next run.


It's the same thing I do as a social strategist. Once an organization steps up to the social media plate, it's up to them to deliver. As a strategist, I can try to give them directions for the hill and give them a huge push with smart strategies. But it's up to them to actually act socially and steer their way through the social course.

At the end of the day, the strategist is like me at the sledding hill: yelling words of encouragement to my kids, as organizations race down the social media slopes, spinning, going wayward, or nailing the run.


07/06/2010 A Tale of Two Talkers

I have two good friends both of whom are going through different crises right now. The two have completely different approaches when it comes to talking about what they're going through. As I watch my friends deal with their issues, it seems to me that they represent two completely different social strategies. The results, not surprisingly, are very different.

One of my friends, let's call him J, is going through what I consider a very serious crisis. It's the kind that can turn your world upside down. We're talking big, big issues and decisions that are about to affect J and his entire family in real and tangible ways. And not always for the better.

J's approach is to not talk about it. He doesn't talk about it to us, and I get the impression that he talks only sparingly to his family. As J's friends watch this from afar, we're interested and concerned. We may not be able to do much, but we want to offer help. But when J hears that we're talking about his situation, he goes to great lengths to shut off our discussions.

J's social strategy, it seems, is to completely control the conversation on his terms. The key term here is control. He tries to cut off leaks and avoids discussions. In short, he's acting like a lot of companies when it comes to social media. You know the kind; the ones that communicate only through official channels, who try to tamp down employee leaks, and who rigidly control the conversation.

The problem is that J, right now, feels he has no support. He's actually voiced this on a number of occasions. He's right because he's never developed his network to support him. He's never asked anything and never encouraged participation. It's too bad, because J deserves support and if he'd played his cards differently, he'd have a lot of it. It's a lot like brands that find themselves in a crisis that's made worse because they haven't nurtured an online community to help them out when they need it.

My other friend T is also going through a crisis. T's crisis is serious for T, but it's nowhere on the level of J's crisis. It's a fairly normal crisis with some limited outcomes and choices. However, for T, this is a MAJOR crisis, one that means that T is talking about his crisis with everyone and every chance he gets. T has engaged his entire circle of friends to discuss this crisis non-stop and to pore over every detail and choice over and over again.

T's social strategy (talk often to everyone, then repeat) reminds me of many of the brands I listen to. Those are the brands that fill up our Facebook and Twitter streams with endless comments, so that by the end of the day we just want to turn them off. Which is unfortunate because every once in a while we want and need those comments.

T feels like he has the support of all of his friends. In the dispute T finds himself in, he feels confident that everyone agrees with his ideas. In reality, many of T's friends either don't agree with him or can't stand hearing about this issue anymore. From a social strategy standpoint, T's over-communication has given him far greater support than he might deserve, but has also turned off many friends so that when the "real" crisis hits, they won't be there.

It's often hard to find the right social balance between too much and too little. One way to look at finding it might be to examine where someone else might be able to help or contribute. In J's case there was a lot of missed opportunity due to little talk. In T's case there was a lot of opportunity in the beginning, but once that had passed, there was little anyone could add to a tired discussion. It was time to move on.

If you put it into the perspective of the listener and think about what you'd like them to do based on your discussion, you could find that sweet spot of how much you should talk. Because, at the end of the day, none of us want to be a T or a J.

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