Archive | December, 2009

How should brands engage online?

I caught a piece on eMarketer by Clark Fredricksen today about the dilemma of customer engagement companies face when moving into social media. The basis of the post is found in the video embedded below.  Tension ramps up between the desire to have a presence and the need to participate.  To quote the post:
Most businesses have realized that when it comes to social networks like Twitter or Facebook, simply broadcasting content isn’t quite enough. Consumers want companies to engage with them on social networks — not because they want to have a relationship, per say, with a brand of soap or shampoo, but because they appreciate the opportunity to give feedback on products, receive meaningful information from brands, and catch the occasional bargain, among other things.

What he says is entirely true, launching a presence on a social channel (i.e.. facebook, twitter, yelp, flickr, blogging) is a great thing for many companies and their customers, allowing them to mutually share and receive information.  The dilemma comes when a brand has to decide how, when, and who should engage.  In my opinion, if a brand is opening an account they are already in the game so there is not the option to not participate so the question becomes how and who.  This should adhere to some basic rules of responding to most mentions, answering questions, etc. and every company will have secondary rules they will need to explore that will work best for them.  Two great examples of this choice on engagement are Best Buy’s @twelpforce or Comcast’s @ComcastCares –  where they are defining their intent because while the CEO of Best Buy is on twitter – having the expectation that he’ll respond personally to every question/whim isn’t only crazy its incredibly of base.  Along that path, deciding to do customer service is a common tactic for those companies who use twitter.  This brings up the great point that Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group makes “As companies accelerate their social support efforts, responding to customers in public reinforces the behavior of complaining to everyone they know.”  I’m certainly not saying that responding to customers on twitter is a bad idea, but it’s an interesting idea to consider.
Something else to consider is that with the growth of web technology the last few years, the barriers to entry have dropped to a level for where for all intents and purposes it’s 0.  It requires very little technical skill to open an account on any of the pieces named above which presents the dichotomy that marketers face – the ease of use can quickly translate to accounts that amount to “hello world” but often get forgotten in the hustle and bustle of day to day work.  Without a focus on any account, those customers  (guests in Ruby Tuesday’s world) who were very excited at the entry of a company they cared about in a digital space – will quickly move from excitement to vocal anger as their tweets and comments go unanswered and seemingly uncared for.
Which means that brands must ask, and then quickly answer the question, “what type of social media engagement is right for our brand?”

The Social Media Bubble Part 2 of 3 from Hive Awards on Vimeo.

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Come to Nashvegas with me

Social Fresh Nashville

In a two weeks I’m going to be joining a few friends on the stage at Social Fresh Nashville.  It will be great to see @jasonfalls @djwaldow @genochurch @katadhin @waynesutton @GregCangialosi and meet some new friends from Home Depot, Radian6, Newell Rubbermaid and Southwest Airlines at Social Fresh aka @sofresh conference in Nashville, TN on January 11, 2010.

After being an attendee at the original Social Fresh in Charlotte, I’m excited to be able to speak at round two.  I found the first conference an action packed few days – while the conference is actually one day, the pre-party and post-party are things I wouldn’t miss – and when you show up, come find me and say hello.

Here’s a bit on what’ s being presented:

  • The ROI Of Community
  • Social Media In The Music Industry
  • Corporate Blogging Is Your Social Media Home Base
  • B2B Innovation In Social Media
  • Real Twitter Results
  • Word of Mouth Marketing form the Bottom Up
  • Moving The Needle: Social Media For Your Bottom Line

That’s all I’ll say as Jason Falls has already written up a great post about the conference on his site.  If you’re an organization that is looking to learn more, this is a great opportunity to dip your feet into the social media and at $315 a ticket, it’s quite reasonable.  There will be great minds covering almost all the bases you’ll need from start to finish.  You can register for the event using this link to the Social Fresh registration site. (Disclosure: As a speaker, I am an affiliate of the conference and get a commission on any sales made from the link. Non-affiliate link register here.)

PS if you can’t make Nashville and you’re in the Tampa, FL area then you’ll want to be on board for the next Social Fresh on Feb. 8.

So register, show up in Nashville and I’ll see you there.

Breaking down social media policy

Last night I attended the Winter Panel put on by Social Media Club – Knoxville which was focused on social media liability, ethics and policy.  The featured panelists were Erin Donovan of WBIR, legal and marketing consultant Jeremy Floyd and Chad Parizman of Scripps Networks who did a great job representing a few perspectives on social media, and entertaining the crowd with funny quips. The evening covered a broad range of topics from the local liability story of The Pizza Kitchen (link to News Sent) to understanding the line where policy ends and ethics begin. If you missed the event checkout the tweets about the evening #smcknox.

One thing that wasn’t covered in depth that I wanted to shed some light on is the difference between policy and guidelines. Often the term “social media policy” is used to cover a document that is both policy and guidelines but they are very different documents and serve very different roles.  Moving forward in this post I’ll use the terms policy and guidelines to represent different pieces of that social media policy document.

When we talk about policy, we’re really talking about a document that is going to largely drafted by legal and HR professionals. It’s essentially about what employee’s SHOULDN’T do.While a very important piece of the puzzle if you’re a in marketing role this part of the document will seem very dry.  This document will detail who can can be a spokesperson for the brand utilizing these channels, what other policies they must adhere to in this sphere and the repercussions for not following the policy.  This document will read like a legal contract because, well it is.  Ultimately the role of part of the document is to protect the company, also known as CYA.

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