by Sherry Heyl
Over the weekend I was developing a social media calendar and metrics dashboard for one of my clients. My husband looked over my shoulder and asked me what I was working on. Somehow that led into a discussion of how different people approach social media and reasons why the concept of social media experts has received such a bad backlash. During the conversation my husband termed the 3 types of approaches to social media as Flash, Fluff and Functional.
Flash is the approach to social media where there is an immediate call to action and a hope for a message to go viral. It could be a contest, a game, a video, or a stunt. The goal is to get people engaged, talking, and then taking some action. I have often referred to this approach as the St. Elmo’s Fire approach to social media.
Jules, you know... ...honey, this isn't real. You know what it is? It's St. Elmo's fire. The electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it. But there was no fire. There wasn't even a St. Elmo. They made it up... ...because they needed it to keep going when things got tough.
Flash social media is needed, just like the sailors needed St. Elmo’s Fire. But it is not real social media. It is just flashes of light that appear in the sky out of no where.
Fluff social media approaches are the one who focus on the numbers. How many followers do we have? how many fans? how many people are coming to our site? Whereas these numbers are important when they are anchored to a core business goal, they have little meaning on their own. They have even less meaning when the fans and followers are spam bots or bought and sold on the digital market. This approach reminds me of a Peacock who displays his feathers to attract a female. It is simply a show that people put on to get attention, whether it is to prove themselves valuable to stakeholders or to sell books.
The functional approach to social media is rarely an award winning approach. It is slow and intentional. However that does not mean it is not fun. It tends to become a discovery process of the bigger world as opposed to the corporate message. A functional approach requires compassion for others above their own mission. A functional approach to social media looks at the organization’s current contacts and decides to change the relationship from a business contact to a real connection. It requires that an organization allows itself to be more vulnerable. It requires a lot of soul searching. It is a full commitment by the organization as a whole, not just one person within one department. It requires faith, patience, and commitment. A functional approach to social media changes the organization for life. It is a lot like a marriage, where there will be good times and bad and it will bring out the best and worse in you. But through it all, you and your community are partners.
What is your social media approach? Are you in it for the long term?
by Sherry Heyl
There are many, many conferences, summits, and events related to social media and the digital space, that a small business could spend all of their earnings on them. That is why I try to be very selective of what I attend and even after making my selection I am only hopeful that it was the right event to spend my time and money at.
This week’s Digital Summit in Atlanta did not let me down. The highlight was the panel discussion at lunch. I have not seen a debate like that since the old new media vs old media debates. The hot topic on this panel was about pay walls. There is a lot of passion on both sides of the debate, but I do not see any way how the pro-paywall side can win.
Below are my Twitter-Sized notes from all the sessions I went to. I did skip out before seeing Gary V speak. I would have had to miss out on supporting my teenage son who was auditioning for a play, and Gary V simply does not impress me enough to make such a sacrifice. Specifically because some of his comments are ridiculous and meaningless.
- When @garyvee says 99% of social media experts are clowns, why do the ppl cheering think they are the 1%?
- What ppl desire are not products, but satisfying experiences
- Differentiate your offerings by creating an experience strategy
- Transparency helps eliminate consumer anxiety.
- “Likes” are the new links
- At search marketing talk…apparently social media is stealing some attention from sem
- 3x more smartphones are being activated than there are babies being born
- 1 in 3 mobile queries is local. 61% call the business and 59% will visit the business
- 23% of finance and ins queries are on mobile devices.
- Make sure to prioritize content for mobile and use uniquely mobile features
- The word community is being overused and misused
- I love these campaigns but let’s call it audience participation and not community
- Why is listening to the user her last point? Relevancy starts with listening.
- Paid is important but if noone is saying anything about you, it does not matter
- Companies are moving from testing waters to fully integrated campaigns
- Social commerce will further drive social media adoption
- Brands can be tagged in FB photos now… I did not know that!
- Provide your online communities with exclusive access to information
- “slo-mo” experience (Social, local, mobile) is the future. Content strategy is key for community engagement.
- People will share information that gives them social currency
- There is so much content on the web that we will always need curators
- To spread info on the web, make it entertaining.
- (Per Netflix experiment) Your taste and your friend’s taste are not correlated, it is better find matches from the whole community (Pandora, StumbleUpon, Amazon.com)
- Digital Timelime: Read, Buy, Talk
- Make your brand, theirs
- This day and age data is the new currency
- Nobody sits around, reads the news and says, “wow that was a well written article, I’d like to pay for more of that”
- When designing for mobile you have to re-imagine the experience.
- Tactics are secondary… define the problem and needs first
- How does the CMO define web 2.0? Getting back what the CIO stole from me.
- ATL is a good cross section of the consumer market and not hyper competitive
- Great quote… for those who do not hear the music, the dancers seem insane
- Cost of social media is Time and Brand Image
- ROI starts with a planning process – it is not an after thought.
- Results that matter (Lead generation, Referrals, Sales, Revenue, Awareness, Cost Reduction)
- SEM has moved from keywords to demo and pyscho graphics – Treating people like people again as opposed to pixels and queries
- Look at your marketing plan and find all the integration points.
- Universal Search – News, Images, real-time Twitter, Video, Local/Maps
by Sherry Heyl
Yesterday I attended the AiMA Social Media SIG panel that discussed the Chick – Fil – A spicy chicken biscuit campa ign. It was a great discussion. Here are my tweeted notes via Storify.
Today I was reviewing my own check list for running a campaign and was thinking about how the Chick Fil A campaign stood against the standards I had listed.
The first question is did the campaign have a goal? The three types of goals that relate best to a campaign are:
1. Brand Building
2. Call to Action
3. Word of Mouth Marketing
In the case of the Chick-Fil-A campaign it had 2 of the 3 goals. The campaign asked their community to reserve a time to come get their free biscuit (call to action) and then followed up by asking those who got a free biscuit to rate the taste (extra points for a follow up call to action). It also included several opportunities for word of mouth marketing including taking into consideration the impact of giving the information about the deal to the “insiders” first and letting them spread it to their friends.
Next is my list of criteria for creative and execution of a campaign:
The best campaigns have the following elements:
- They spread like wildfire (check – there was something like a million biscuits given away)
- They are not spammy (check – the offers were valuable, exclusive, and provided either to people who have opted in to receive information or via word of mouth)
- They provide value (a free breakfast is always valuable)
- They are well branded (check)
- They are measured (check minus – numbers that were requested yesterday we not available. Such as did more people reserve their time via FB, Twitter, email…what was the expect sales of biscuits after the campaign and did they meet those expectations….)
- They have excellent copy (Yes – as with the Chick-Fil-A creative mission, the copy delighted and surprised)
- They don’t sell (it was free – check)
- They build relationships (not so much. There was talk back opportunities but relationship building – no.)
- They are innovative (check – the reservation system as a means to ensure proper service is provided is genius)
- They have ears (as in they are listening to their customers. I can only assume that to be true)
- They are well organized (The multiple agencies works very well together and developed as well as executed a seamless campaign)
- They are maintained by humans (Yes and Engauge is very lucky to have Kaitlyn on board!)
- They are consistent (check)
- They have bait (free food- yeah)
- The leverage existing resources (check – they were leveraging the last campaign that introduced the Spicy sandwhich)
- They are not everywhere (check – FB, Twitter, Email and Website targeted updates, seemed very focus)
- They have humor (Especially in the feedback questionnaire. I believe one of the answers was even the dragons are jealous)
- They share company events (Did not hear about any effort to show real time happenings at the stores during the give away)
- They integrate offline marketing (Don’t think they did)
- They include photos and videos (Photos yes, did not hear about videos.
Finally the campaign accommodated people who were not necessarily “creators,” those who blog and write their own tweets or produce their own videos. Instead the campaign spread through simple tasks such as forwarding and email, invited FB friends to the event or clicking on a share button within the email.
Very well done!
I think I will go get a biscuit now.
by Sherry Heyl
A little over a year ago a friend of mine was encouraging me to be a little more controversial in my writing. There were debates going on in the social media-verse that I had strong opinions about, but chose to stay out of the conversations.
One of those debates was related to the use of the word “expert” especially in regards to someone claiming to be a social media expert. I am of the opinion that there are people who have chosen to focus on the study of social media and how it impacts business and society, therefore work to make social media their “expertise.” I also know that when you are in front of people who want to hear about your knowledge and experience or are willing to pay you for your “expert” opinion, it does not give them any comfort to hear you shy away from the word “expert.”
Although I felt I had good points I still chose to stay out of the debate. However I was very pleased to see Shel Holtz’s article claiming that It’s time for the anti-social media guru meme to die.
With all that said, it is still incredibly important that brands and organizations not pay good money for the advice of a person who claims to be an expert. Here are 3 ways to deal with an expert, social media or otherwise.
1. Do not buy anything you do not understand.
When I was a teen, my dad and brother taught me enough about cars that I can hear a noise and know what the problem could be. Otherwise, I could be out on my own with a minor belt squeaking and get charged for a whole new transmission.
Know enough about social media to know what you want to do with social media. If a consultant or agency tries to sell you on all the things social media can do, ask questions, ask for case studies, and ask about the roles your organization will have to play for success.
2. Know what you need an expert for.
Social Media has and will continue to impact every department within your business. It is something each of your team will need to learn how to integrate into their current responsibilities. An expert who has dedicated their career to making the impact of social media their expertise will understand this. However we will often see the big picture and want to move at a different, much faster pace than what your organization is ready for. It is important that social media integration is handled as carefully as any change management initiative.
3. Make sure the expert is focused but not too focused.
Social Media has had a great impact on PR, Marketing, and Interactive Agencies. Now each discipline is claiming to have expertise in social media. What they have is expertise in is how social media impacts their discipline. The challenge is that social media crosses all departments and an organization must be prepared for that. Although there is great value in having your PR or Marketing person integrating social media into their communications efforts, it is also valuable to have an expert who understands social media in all of it’s various forms.
I hope that Shel Holtz’s call for the anti-social media guru meme to die is a sign that social media is finally maturing and real experts who can make a real difference can be separated from the many people who entered the social media world to try to cash in on what they thought was the latest fad.
by Sherry Heyl
I have noticed the word community is being tossed around inappropriately lately. It seems many people are trying to make online community analogous with social media. Perhaps Labor Day weekend is a good weekend to explain the difference.
You know how you walk down the street in your neighborhood? Hopefully you live in a neighborhood where you see your neighbors on the front porch or in the front yard. If not, think of a show, like Sesame Street, where people run into their neighbors every time they walk out of their door. That may feel like community, but it’s not. It is a group of people in similar proximity who have the ability to socialize. That is social media in the real world.
Social media is a set of technical tools that enable people to express themselves, “house” their personalities, and socialize with each other.
Now, raise your hand if you were invited to a pool party, barbecue, or to help a friend move over the weekend. If you raised your hand then you were invited to be part of a community; People who get together to enjoy each other’s company, share ideas, and help each other out. Online this is most similar to communities that have existed for decades, typically inhibited by the techies who share information, ideas, source code, and solutions to problems.
Today there are many other wonderful online communities of people who share information about their hobbies, interests, and struggles. Within these communities each person knows and supports each other and more often than not there is no real defined leader or sponsor within the group.
Most of the time online communities such as these are spontaneous, people who are searching for connections find each other, but it is possible for a brand to “orchestrate” such a place. To do so a brand might want to think of themselves as a HOA where they meet and listen to the community members, set the rules for the community, and find ways to connect and support each member within the community. This definitely takes time and commitment, as opposed to content that is generated and pushed through social tools such as Facebook and Twitter.
To reiterate, social media is for people you say hi to as you pass them by, community is for staying connected to and supporting the people you care about. So the next time someone refers to their online community ask them questions about what they know about the people they supposedly care about.
by Sherry Heyl
Fall is a season of celebration for me. It seems most of my new beginnings begin in the Fall.
Recently I was reviewing all the posts that have written here and realized that even this blog was begun in the Fall, August 4, 2006, in fact.
I have never written an anniversary post for this blog, so I thought this Fall would be a good year to begin a new tradition.
I have picked 4 timeless blogs to re-share with you.
The Rules of Engagement Have Not Changed was written on my birthday in 2006, days after a thought-provoking panel I got to present on that was moderated by Jeff Hilimire.
The Corner Store in the Global Community written on April Fools day in 2007. Three plus years later I still refer to this post often when I explain how social media is enabling small companies to be more competitive and challenging big business to act more like local corner stores.
Tapping into the Hidden Talent in Your Office another post that I often refer to. Many times the talent that is most needed on a project is sitting right there in the office. However without insight into the skills and desires of your team that talent often stays hidden. Providing a platform for your employees to network will help keep them involved and the company productive.
Social Media SWOT Analysis is by far the most read post on this blog. Written in January 2010 every week about 10% of the hits to my site are going to this post. This post was written as a checklist of what to do and review as you launch your social media efforts.
It has been a great 4 years of blogging and 5 years of consulting, two beginnings that started in the Fall. I am looking forward to the cooler weather of the upcoming season and the new beginnings it is sure to bring.
Happy Anniversary to you, the readers of my blog. Thank you for your time.
by Sherry Heyl
What does social media mean to you? That is an important question to ask every stakeholder involved prior to launching a social media initiative. This question not only needs to be asked, in needs to be discussed in-depth, debated, and documented.
There are people who believe that social media is an extension of marketing communications, others who believe it can generate sales, some who see it as a way to provide exceptional customer service and those who see it as a necessity for reputation management.
I, personally, am in the “all of the above” camp. Social Media enables conversations with and about brands. These conversations can be started by the brand, but only if the brand becomes part of a community. Ultimately the conversations will be driven by the community based on what community members are looking for. This could be product information, customer service, exclusive information, or up-to-date news.
From the perspective that social media is about all inclusive conversations vs controlled messages, I have recently found myself faced with a dilemma.
Many emerging and/or larger brands have worked hard to build their brand image, an image that connects with the target audience profile. Style Guides have been created that dictate images that should be used to represent the brand as well as the words and sentence structures that are used when discussing the brand. This works well for marketing and advertising campaigns where there are copywriters and designers that create controlled images and experiences, but it does not work so well in online conversations.
I am seeing a lot of brands trying to force their controlled brand experiences within social media channels and the results are mixed. It seems if the brand is already established and has a significant amount of loyal fans, then people will comment, like, and share the creative copy-written messages. Below is an example of such a great copy-written tweet from Coca-Cola:
“When you open a coke, 12,607 bubbles are born. Happy birthday bubbles!”
But is that a community-driven conversation starter? No. Is it an effective brand builder, especially as it is re-tweeted by the millions of followers of Coca-Cola? Absolutely!
This effort works for Coca-Cola, which has decades of expert brand building behind them. Coca-Cola did not have to start the online conversation, they had to join it. By the time social media even hit Coca-Cola’s radar there were already thousands of conversations happening about them each day as well as one great viral video.
But can emerging brands or even large brands who do not have thousands of mentions within online conversations happening each day create community with only an authorized brand voice, or will they need to empower selected ambassadors to use their real and diverse voices?
Does a strict brand voice have a place in online conversations? I say yes; 40% of the time when social media is used to distribute news or create unique and creative brand impressions, a strict brand voice should be adhered to. For the 60% of the efforts needed to create an online community, such as providing exceptional customer service, offering solutions, requesting fans to share their stories or celebrating the successes and stories of their fans, brand guidelines should be followed only to the extent of how the brand is represented whereas not to prevent brand ambassadors from speaking personally as a means to connect with people as people.
I have witnessed many brands trying too hard to control their message and use only approved copy-written words within social media channels. Typically the community growth and engagement remains stagnant, the return on engagement is very low and the value of social media gets lost in translation.
by Sherry Heyl
A couple of weeks ago I shared 5 techniques that I use to keep up with my social media activities.
Number 1 on the list was to commit to a regular blog schedule. For over 4 years I have always blogged on this site on Sunday, and if I knew I could not make it on Sunday I would post on a Saturday.
This week I find myself juggling several accounts and looking down the barrel of a deadline.
Throughout the day I knew that writing a blog post was on my to-do list. I have come up with several topics to write about, but each one would take me at least two hours to do it justice. Instead, I thought I would demonstrate one way to keep your blog commitment and add value to your reader’s time when time seems to be slipping away.
Each day I review news alerts related to social media. Below are my top 5 selections of news you can use.
The point is, even if there are times when you can not produce original content, but you have become the trusted source of information for your audience, then you can also become a trusted resource of information.
However, I do commit to sharing more of my own thoughts next week.
by Sherry Heyl
I have been combing through all of my contacts that have loaded up in Gist recently. One of the many great things Gist does is it seeks out social media profiles for each of your contacts. I have noticed an unfortunate trend. Many people who have tipped their toe in social media shortly abandoned their efforts. What I hear on a day to day basis is that although the benefits of social media are evident to many people, people still struggle with how to integrate social media into their daily routine. Below are 5 steps that have helped me over the years.
1. Commit to a consistent blog schedule. I blog every Sunday. In fact as I write this I am officially on vacation, but I still carved time out to write the blog. Had I decided to not mix work with vacation at all, I could have written the post before leaving for vacation and scheduled it to get posted automatically on Sunday. Having a commitment to a consistent schedule helps me to look around for potential topics to write about by the end of my deadline. Because I am looking for inspiration I have found that I am more aware of the trends, conversations, and break-throughs that happen throughout the week.
2. Create a loose strategy or purpose for each social media channel. I have a Linkedin Group called Ask Concept Hub. The purpose of that group is to explore ideas and points of view related to questions that come up about the impact of social media in business and in society. My Facebook Fan Page is for distributing my blog posts and other interesting bits of news about Concept Hub as well as news that I find throughout the web. As I go through my day reading the latest news, working on projects and speaking with people about social media I find little nuggets of information I would like to share. Because I have a loose purpose for Facebook and Linkedin, I know where to share each bit of information.
3. Integrate your channels. Basically learn about how to connect different channels through either RSS feeds or third party applications. For example I have Google alerts set up for key words related to social media. Each day I review the latest news and save what I am interested in to my Delicious account. I use Twitter Feed to feed those links to my Concept Hub Twitter account. That Twitter account is tied my Linkedin status updates. So with a click of a button to save an article that I want/need to read anyway, I am also populating 3 different channels with valuable information.
4. Remember that part of your job description is to network. Whether you are in sales, software development, or accounting, to get ahead in your chosen career, or lately to even stay in your chosen career, you need to be social. You do not need to have Internet fame or connect with thousand of strangers, but you do need to be social. Decide who you need to connect with, find which channels those people are on and start connecting.
5. The most important thing to do to maintain momentum is HAVE FUN. Social Media is not just for marketing nor is it just for business. In fact most of social media is for people to connect and share with other people. Whatever you have a real passion for, whether it is steam engines or knitting, there are people connect and sharing information about those subjects all through the Internet. Connect with communities on line that will help you to further your passions and you will uncover all the many other ways you can use the social web in your life.
It is exciting for me to see how many people have started tipping their toe in social media, but it is important to remember that you have set up a public profile. One that is a reflection of who you are. Those profiles are being aggregated into databases such as Gist where people who want to know more about you can see all your activities on one dashboard. What do your social media profiles and activities say about you?
by Sherry Heyl
Today American’s celebrate our Independence. On July 4th 1776 the first signatures were placed on the document that declared America’s Independence from the British Empire. In all the years, decades, centuries following that fateful day, Americans have held on to the ideas of a self-determined life.
The new government that was envisioned by the men who were committing treason was a government that would be responsible to the will of the people.
In 1783, a mere 7 years later, the Treaty of Paris was signed granting Americans their new land.
You may be thinking right about now “Hey Sherry, thanks for the history lesson, but isn’t this blog about social media?”
Yes it is. And nothing captures the true spirit of social media like the spirit of Revolution. I am sure we could have long debates about whether or not a blog or a tweet should be compared to the American Revolution, after all, social media is not bloody treason, but it was most definitely treason at one time.
Do you recall the first time you heard of a “blog.” I know many of the people who read this blog and for many of you I saw your reactions.
“Blooog” you would say with distasteful humor, “what’s a blog?” At one sales presentation I was asked “why would I care what a blogger would write, aren’t they all whack jobs anyway?”
Yet in 2004 it was bloggers who challenged the accuracy of the Killian documents that were critical of George W. Bush. That challenge ultimately weakened the stronghold that mainstream media had on news stories.
Through the next couple of years bloggers and other revolutionaries such as Craigslist began to hurt the mainstream media financially. If they were not directly taking advertising dollars, they were taking away readers.
These bloggers did not just collaborate through the various online communication channels either, they were meeting in smokey bar rooms, and pizza joints. They started having conferences, or being a bit rebellious, what they termed as un-conferences.
If the bloggers could be a challenge to mainstream media, who could be next? Business? Politics? Entertainment? Would anyone be safe?
The number of bloggers was growing,
but it was still a channel for the dedicated writer which kept the average person powerless to participate.
In 2007, Twitter was introduced to the participants of SXSW. I remember the first time I heard about Twitter. It was at my own revolutionary un-conference, SoCon07. Amber Rhea, a fellow revolutionary, was standing in the hall looking at her laptop saying what is Twitter. We all signed up for this new service within a few days. We did not know what it would do or what we would do with it, but it definitely seemed revolutionary.
If people thought bloggers were “whack jobs” they really did not have much respect from anyone on Twitter.
In May 2007, I recall reading a blog that considered Twitter a waste of time. Many people commenting on the blog were once critical of blogging. I wonder how many of those same people are now on Twitter?
The revolution was turning into an evolution. Social Media was available to the masses. You can blog, you can tweet, you can post a video, photo or a podcast, you can connect with friends on Facebook.
More importantly you have the freedom of choice. You can choose where to get your news and reviews, you can choose when and how to be entertained. You can choose to add your voice in a debate or simply make a statement by joining a group or sharing someone else’s thoughts.
Can social media change the world? Can it have as big of an impact as the American Revolution?
I sincerely believe so.
It is a revolution or an evolution that connects the world in such a way that we can learn about the real stories happening in far away places like Iran. It has been credited for giving power to the people in such a way that America was able to elect our first black President. It has enabled collaboration that has sparked new revolutionary ideas, and it has continuously exposed corruption and bad practices forcing businesses and politicians to act better or get out of the game.
It’s your world. You have the freedom and ability to make a difference. You have a voice that can be heard around the world. What will you do with such power?