« January 2011 | Main | March 2011 »

4 posts from February 2011

02/21/2011 Where Does Your People Meter Point To?

Do you expect the worst of people? Or do you expect people to do good? When you deal with customers or people from other divisions in your company, do you expect them to block your way and act negatively? Or do you expect them to help you and act openly?

Today when I went to the gym, I forgot my pass card that unlocks the door. I was early,  the location had no personnel present, so the door was locked. Luckily, the gym had lots of early morning exercisers. I knocked on the door, caught someone’s attention, and asked them to open the door. I yelled through the glass that I had forgotten my passcode.

They looked at me and shook their head “No.” No? All I had to do was wait until they opened the door to leave, which they did a minute later. As soon as they opened up, I said again, that I had forgotten my card, and offered my thanks. Unbelievably, they actually tried to block my way in!

For whatever reason, the people at the gym acted as if they expected the worst. Otherwise I wouldn’t have forgotten my card, would I? There wasn’t that much of a logical reason for them to act that way; that was simply their world view.

In today’s world of social marketing, it’s worth asking yourself whether you expect the worst or best from people. Technology might exacerbate the problem. According to Daniel Goldman, there’s a negativity bias to email at the neural level. We automatically expect the content to be negative.

This is one of the initial challenges with social marketing: most higher ups routinely expect that people will react negatively about a brand or organization when given a chance.

I think that this is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you expect people to act like jerks, they probably will. If you expect good things from people, you’ll probably see that they do. I think Daniel Goldman offers some guidance here: your expectations play a role in how you show up, online and offline. Your expectations of positivity or negativity will produce subtle cues in your writing, tone and content choice. People will react to those cues.

This post isn’t meant to encourage people to act naively. Yes, there are people who are negative and will act that way, without any help from you. And good-hearted people do exist and don’t feel turned off by your own standoffishness. But if we marketers plan to embrace social marketing as a way of growing business, we should shift our view of our people to expect, if not the best, then at least a lot of good.

I remember reading a quote by the director Wim Wenders a while back. He explained that he had changed himself from a pessimist to an optimist because he was tired of expecting the worst. It turned out that he was surprised that when he did so, more good things started happening to him.

Social marketers should learn from that. We should act like we expect good things from the people around us.


02/10/2011 Your Social Media Checklist Isn’t Enough

Over the last year or two, your company wanted to jump into social media. You listened to the experts, read the articles, highlighted the five or ten things you read that you needed to do in order to succeed in social media and off you went. You probably created a checklist.

  1. Create a social media strategy (or at least an idea of what you wanted to accomplish). Check.
  2. Create a social media policy (optional). Check.
  3. Scout out the competition and listen to online chatter about your company. Check.
  4. Put together a content plan or editorial calendar. Check.
  5. Find, hire or train someone to manage your social media channels. Check.
  6. Start gathering or writing content and connecting with key people in the business. Check.
  7. Set up your social media channels. Check.
  8. Set up your monitoring channels. Check.
  9. Start publishing, responding and connecting. Check.
  10. Measure what’s happening. Check.

And…success, right? Well usually, no. Unfortunately, having a checklist won’t guarantee success at all unless you're lucky enough to work at a highly visible and buzzed about brand. It will guarantee that you will have a list of accomplishments for you and your team to show your superiors around annual review time. 

However, nothing in the above checklist guarantees success since it lacks a focus on customers and relevance.

The biggest mistake companies make is talking too much about themselves. They make the mistake of trying to please a small group of inside the company. There are ways to see if any of this is working, and then work to change it. That change usually involves shifting your focus to a more customer oriented approach, aimed at either helping people or providing information they crave.

  1. Does anyone comment, like or retweet your articles? If you post the links on Facebook or Twitter, does anyone click or comment on it? If not maybe your editorial calendar needs to change. Finding out what people really want to read about is a lot harder than writing something that’s easy to produce. It might mean you need to find someone who’s a good writer rather than the person who knows the most. Too bad. Success means working hard.
  2. Look at your Facebook wall. Is it all you? Or do you see comments and posts by your fans as much and more than you’re posting yourself? If it’s the former (which is pretty common) that tells you that no one really cares that much about what you’re posting. Yes, lurkers exist and consume content. But social is about connection and dialogue. If your wall is all about you, then stop being so self-centered. Reach out to your followers and engage them in a discussion about what your social channels should do.
  3. Are your follower levels stuck at low levels, even though you have a ton of employees and customers? That’s usually because you haven’t tried hard enough to integrate your social channels with the rest of your business. You need to have regular and strong connection to your customer support, product, marketing and sales teams. You need to find out what they need and offer social as a way to help them. Then you need to ask them to point people to the social channels in return. It usually works pretty well.
  4. Is the person responsible for your social efforts stuck in his office with his door closed? Does he not have personal skills and is disconnected to his social media world, both in your vertical and locally? Does he feel uncomfortable connecting with others in the company? If so, you’ve probably found someone who has the time to do the work, but doesn’t (yet) have the aptitude or skills. It won’t get better by itself. You have to either train your people and set clear expectations on behavior, or find someone new.

Checklists are easy because you can do them without thinking too much. Social is hard because it involves real contact with real people, both inside the company and outside in the real world. Checklists are neat, social is messy.

It’s good that you used your checklist to launch your social initiative. Now it’s time for the real work. But don’t worry; it’s never too late to change or for success.


02/09/2011 The More Things Change

Has anyone missed the role social media, specifically Facebook, played in igniting the revolts in Northern Africa to overturn the status quo? In the U.S., on the other hand, 115 million of us were stuck glued to the Super Bowl waiting for those new TV ads that would connect the traditional to the social. At least, that’s what we were told. What we saw was the same old, same old commercials. It was as if the growth of social marketing over the past few years never happened.

What we got, instead, were the ads posted on YouTube. We got a lot of Twitter chatter about the ads. We got Brand Bowl, which measured the Twitter chatter about the ads on TV (and YouTube).

Meaningful social connection? Nope.

Something for people to do, once they finished watching? Nope (except buying of course).

Some problem to solve, some cause to engage in? Nope (not even Tibet!).

Any type of personal connection to be made? Nope.

Few even tried telling stories. It’s kind of amazing that Chrysler, with its story of Detroit, never connected the ad with all of the things actually going on in Detroit. Or a co-plug for Lemonade Detroit, at least.

Last year’s news was that Pepsi wasn’t running Super Bowl ads when it decided to put its money into social media instead. We expected that trend to amplify, not diminish. So what happened?

What happened is that things aren’t changing as fast as many of us want to. What’s happening is that traditional brands and agencies haven’t cracked the social nut on delivering expected results (whatever those are). They’ve tried some social media but still think that transforming the way we communicate with people is too hard and demands too much change.

My one prediction for 2011 was that we have the really hard work in front of us this year for social marketing. Brands have dabbled without committing. That was the easy part. Imbuing social into a brands DNA is extremely hard.

Looking at this year’s Super Bowl ads it feels like a lot of people gave up and took the easy way out.  One might imagine a medium that can help overturn calcified oligarchs in Tunisia and, hopefully, Egypt would inspire U.S. businesses to think differently about how they operate.

This year things stayed the same. Luckily, I grew up in the household of an old Brooklyn Dodger’s fan. There’s hard work ahead, but wait until next year!


02/01/2011 The Art of War (and Marketing)

I was in a meeting a few weeks ago, listening to someone talk about a proposal for some upcoming marketing.

“We’ll open with a media blitz. Once that first phase has settled, we’ll launch a geographically targeted campaign aimed at certain population and demographic centers. We’ll track all of this through our command and control center that will give up-to-the-minute results of our progress.”

It was only after I left this meeting that I realized that this person could have given this talk at the Pentagon, rather than in a marketing meetings. Which raises the question:

Are we really at war with consumers? 

It also raises another question. The strategy and tactics used above describe 20th century warfare, one that increasingly relied on great distances between the attacker and the attacked. Think of pilots flying B-52s over Vietnam, cruise missiles in the Gulf War, or drone attacks in Afghanistan.

20th century marketing modeled itself after the 20th century military model. In combat we’re seeing that model break down. In marketing, it’s already broken. 

Today we talk about asymmetric warfare. It’s where small groups of relatively powerless people can inflict harm, defeat or outlast a stronger adversary. In marketing, we talk about the Motrin Moms and Kevin Smith.

In modern warfare, we’re seeing a renewed need to actually spend time with local populations, building up their communities and helping them prosper as a way to win the military battle.

In modern marketing, we’re starting to see a beginning of an effort to focus on providing value and utility, as well as help to communities, with great help from digital and social media. Big brands have to stop thinking of attacking its consumers with blitzes (watch out London!) and to start winning the hearts and minds of people instead.

Of course this is what brands have claimed to do for decades. They’ve just done it through carpet-bombing and other violent advertising tactics.

How about this for a new year’s resolution, late that it may be:

Don’t use any military jargon in your marketing planning or speaking.
No more campaigns. No more blitzes. No more executions.

Let’s stop being at war with the people we market to. Let’s bet at peace with them instead.

Changing your language has a profound impact. The landscape has changed and so must we marketers. That is, unless the only thing you’re interested in are more medals to hang on your chest.


My Web Sites