Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Bandwagon Has Broken

It seems most large and small companies have decided social media is WORTH IT – but don’t exactly know what that means

They’ve jumped on the bandwagon, because they’ve heard “they need it”, “everyone’s doing it” “tell your intern to do it”, without researching and learning about what social media can do. These people infuriate me.  People who assume that just because they started a page and a twitter account, follow zero people, stuck an intern on it to post articles about themselves – or worse – times their store is open or short and irrelevant posts, that all this means you “GET” social media and you’re “in the social space”. It does not. It means that you don’t understand what it can do for your business, nor do you actually care.

Social media is not a fad. It’s changing the way people do business, and it’s bringing power back to the consumers. Consumers are fed up with traditional advertising that is stuffed down their throats, even by brands they do adore.  Everyone has an opinion, so why not start listening to your customers’ opinions?  Social media has opened the floodgates to engagement opportunities, both positive and negative, and it will be detrimental in the long run if you choose to ignore this.  

Many companies have figured this out as well, some are doing a great job at monitoring social media, while others are slowly starting to figure this all out and cave to hiring social media managers, social media interns and such.  The problem is that now everyone’s on there, doing the same thing. They respond to the negative issues with generic tweets, they try to throw a “social media sweepstakes” and give away something small and unsubstantial thinking this will grow fans, and everyone is starting to blend in and act the same online.

I challenge those who care about social media to take it all a step further, because your competition is catching up to you. Start thinking further outside the box, stop watching what others do, look inside your brand and find your company’s core values and start using that to your advantage.

Now that everyone’s caught up to you, how will you continue innovating the social media space? 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Social Prospecting... and why it matters

Everyone around me is always searching for the ROI in social media and asking "How much are we making", " how much is that worth" and "what's the bottom line" while searching for answers online and in white papers. I've been searching for these answers as well, while developing my own perspective on social media ROI at the same time and haven't seen many come up with a good answer just yet.

My take on it is this - while there needs to be focus on the data and the metrics, companies like Facebook and Twitter need to be helping with that, or bigger companies can create some crazy amazing product that tracks everything for us... that's going to take time.

Until they figure that all out, everyone else needs to figure it out on their own, dig a little deeper into their own social media fans to discover who's a fan, who's a spammer, and who are you most loyal activities (who are most likely also spending the MOST money by far) and decide how you want to keep track of what this means to you.

Social prospecting is one of the best ways to do this. Keep track of your most loyal followers, those who scream your name from the rooftops and share every moment of their lives using your product or visiting your store with their followers, and go from there.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Social Media in the Workplace

There's always a lot of talk about social media in the workplace, and if it's a good thing, a bad thing or just a necessary evil. Can your coworkers tweet about you, especially during work hours? Can you tweet about something happening in your office? What if your boss finds out? These are questions more and more companies continue to struggle with. 

It's a slippery slope and companies in the US just can't threaten employees they'll be fired depending on what they tweet, or depending on if they hand over PASSWORDS, that just seems crazy to me. I wish I was more in tune with where social media policies and laws will go, because it seems like an ever-changing subject that more people need to be aware of. 

I think the best thing for now is to trust the employees you've hired that they will make their own decisions, because you never know when they'll be marketing for free for you because their friends turn out to be your perfect audience. People shouldn't feel like Big Brother is watching them, but they also shouldn't be posting inappropriate things in the first place that will damage their own personal brand. Common sense, people. 

What type of stance does your company take? 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Necessity of the Social Media Strategist

It seems like in the past year or two, many various industries have decided they all NEED social media strategists, community managers and an actual social media strategy. Virtually no industry has gone untouched by the hands of social media and it has been very interesting to see how not only various industries are responding to the new challenge, but specific companies, both big and small are, as well. 

Every industry also has several shining stars, the incredible examples of a few companies who REALLY get it, and do more than just tweet or post on Facebook. They create campaigns that link throughout many different channels and encourages participation and loyalty to the brand, not just the initial likes. Then there are those who are either so late to the game they just hired the first person who was up for the job or they decided to take it on themselves without looking into it. 

For the industries that deal with consumers on a daily basis, the most successful small and large companies in the social spaces not only try new things, styles or new channels but they also CONNECT with their fans and people talking about them on a one-to-one basis. This is where the gold is for those social media strategists. This is why more than a college intern needs to handle your twitter account. 

No matter how large or small, I think it's been proven many times over the fact that simply responding to people talking about your brand, whether they're complaining or complimenting you can really solidify their bond with your company, create a lasting impression and even convert a hater into a lifetime customer. 

What do you think? Have you seen a rise in social media strategists now that many brands have realized it takes more than one hour a week to really make something happen? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Down to the Wire for Facebook Timelines

It’s getting down to the wire and any brand who hasn’t switched over their Facebook pages to the new brand pages will be forced to at the end of this week. Facebook didn’t give brands an incredible amount of time to shift strategies and figure out their next moves, but some of the biggest and brightest brands have already taken first steps in the right direction.

It seems Facebook’s main reason for making this move is because they want brands to look at their Facebook fans as more than just someone to sell to – and I appreciate that. This move gives brands the opportunity to show the “softer” side of their companies with more stories, real photos that give a “behind the scenes look” and just helps to humanize the brand a bit more.

Anyone who’s a  community manager has probably hit a creative wall at one point with their Facebook posts and can sometimes forget that it’s not about SELLING when posting, it’s about story-telling and interacting with fans who already enjoy your brand.

Brand managers will also have to choose their tabs, photos and posts to highlight wisely. The initial fangate that fans click through to visit your page are now gone, so that cover page, highlighted content and tabs are more important than ever.

The milestone is a feature I really enjoy. It’s especially interesting to see Facebook pages such as Ben & Jerry’s who’ve added a variety of milestones featuring older ads, how they got started, etc – it’s an easy way to tell a great story and share the past everyone else may not know about. 

It'll be really interesting to see who's going to do well with these Facebook Timelines and how brands will get creative with all these new features. What brand is your favorite Facebook Timeline page right now? 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Your Customers Are Pinning, Are You?

Who knew Pinterest was going to blow up like this? I suppose you did... if you've been pinning since the beginning days and knew how easily you could be sucked into the website for hours upon hours.  I think Pinterest is a great idea, especially for us Type A's who love organizing our thoughts, ideas, recipes, etc in a manageable fashion. Pinterest is such a great idea for so many types of businesses, both large and small and it's going to be interesting to see who realizes that their target audience is waiting for them here, and how they're going to interact with them in a positive way instead of driving them away. 

Since I work in the hospitality industry, I've been keeping a close eye on Pinterest and what it can do for hotels and have realized there are so many options if you're willing to put the time into it. There's something here for everyone, whether your customers are foodies, adventure junkies, newlyweds or family focused! Yes, there are a TON more women than men pinning away, but that's not a bad thing, is it? You customers are pinning at least a few times a week, for an average of 15 MINUTES.... but honestly, you know it's much longer than that. It's easy to break up what customers are interested in and the specific audiences that can be found here, and there are a few that just pop out to me as the most relevant audiences for the hospitality industry. 

1. Foodies
Spend 10 minutes on Pinterest and you'll notice that all your foodie friends are pinning recipes, favorite foods, favorite restaurants along with some incredibly appetizing photos! So give them what they want, you have at least 5-10 chefs staffed at the hotel each day, ask them to share some showstopper recipes and take a few great photos and throw them up there. If you already have fans of your hotel's restaurant, it won't be hard to get customers to pass those photos around and click through to your hotel's website/blog/Facebook/anything related to you. 

2. The Travel Obsessed
Ask your Concierge Team to list their favorite recommendations and create a board listing top 10 or 20 destinations in your area, both well known and off the beaten path. It's not hard to find other pinner's recommendations to share as well (Millennium Park, Central Park, Top Art Museum links, etc) so that you can not only feed customers what they want, but interact by repinning and making them feel special. 

3. The Wedding Planners
Most women dream about their weddings from the time they're just a little girl, so Pinterest is perfect for searching for EVERY aspect of their wedding and organizing it into simple boards instead of having to save each photo or link, bookmark them for later, print them out and add into a bulky binder and research intensely. Participate in their conversation and recommend your own venues, cakes, catering and who knows what you'll end up with. 

4. Family Focused 
Many mothers also find time to browse Pinterest searching for family friendly brands, activities, recipes and tips. Show off your hotel's family friendly side to them and you could find yourself booking reservations for them in no time! 

Yes, Pinterest could be labor-intensive for an employee and take up tons of time, but it's still so young that you don't really know where it could go, and you don't know how much it may potentially help your big or small business. Give it a try, see what happens and if it's not worth it you can always walk away. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Tech Predictions.

With the start of the new year, everyone's been coming out with lists, resolutions, "Best ofs", and 2012 predictions... so why not jump on that band wagon! I think 2012 is going to be another great year for social media, e-commerce, tablets, smart devices and... hopefully... mobile! Technology keeps evolving and it's only helping consumers experiences become better and better all the time. I honestly cannot wait for the day that I ENJOY watching commercials, reading e-mails from businesses and clicking ads on various websites I visit because they all take into account things I am genuinely interested in.

Obviously, popular social media channels will continue to stay on the rise, and any companies who have yet to jump on this band wagon will probably realize it's all here to stay. Something that I think people need to begin sorting out are the rules and laws that individuals, clients and companies need to follow and are supposed to be aware of. It seems like many people are running into issues with who owns which fans and things of that nature, and it doesn't seem like it's going to be easy to sort that out.

I am also one of the biggest fans of mobile advertising because it just makes sense to me. People are always ON their phone or NEAR their phone, you can't tell me that's not the perfect place to try and advertise to your customers.  Many people also use them for multitude of things, and use them while watching TV, while driving, while walking, etc. so why not try and reach them there as well? 

I know that tablet advertising is also something that's relatively new, especially because the percentage of tablet owners is very small... but still. The demographic is perfect for many large companies, and not too many are fully embracing it so why not jump on it when it's cheap and you can? I'd be willing to bet the click through ratios are higher on ads here than many other venues.

The last techy trend I'm hoping for this year is personalization... Companies seem to be obtaining various types of information about consumers, especially somebody such as Facebook and Google so please, if you're going to take and sell my information I've given you anyways, let's make it enjoyable for me and others. Personalize my ads and I will be more willing to watch and even click on something. 

Hopefully next year I will remember to look back on my yearly rantings and see what, if anything, came true in any sort of way. Happy New Year!