How to ‘socialise’ your workforce.

If you think about it, your employees should be the most devout ambassadors of your brand. They know your products and services better then most and it’s in their interests to promote the company that pays their wages. The credibility associated with this kind of word-of-mouth advertising makes it potentially one of the most effective promotional vehicles at your brand’s disposal.

As the proliferation of social media platforms continues to change and meld our personal and business lives, so it becomes an ever more powerful (and relatively inexpensive) tool for your ambassadors to influence the buying habits of those in their social spheres by spreading the good word about your brand far and wide.

So how do you make effective brand ambassadors of your employees and ‘socialise’ your workforce? Here are some suggestions:

1) Get your employees onside – unhappy employees are not likely to make your best brand ambassadors. It goes without saying, look after them and they will look after you. That is more important now than ever if you want to keep your brand’s reputation intact.

2) ‘Socialise’ your culture – ensure that social media is a part of the cultural fabric of your organisation. If you haven’t already heard, it’s how we communicate these days – and it’s going to become more prolific for building relationships with clients, suppliers, colleagues, etc. If you don’t vilify phone and email users, or meeting attendees for that matter, then why do it to staff members who are more comfortable using social media – most likely your younger and more forward-thinking employees. Don’t ration or outlaw the use of social media at work – embrace it as a part of your communications strategy and enable your workforce to be comfortable with it. See a word from me about this in an earlier blog post.

3) Identify your ‘social employees –  these are the ones that will carry your social strategy forward and become your greatest brand ambassadors. Survey your staff – ask around. Have a quick shufty on social networks and see who’s active. Then engage them.

4) Plan your strategy – identify some objectives for your social efforts (eg. drive website traffic and conversions, build brand awareness). Define key messages you want to get across to your audience and then educate your social ambassadors about them.  Schedule these messages to coincide with particular events (eg. product launch) to make them relevant. Set some parameters for the socialisation of your social marketing efforts.

5) Tool up – give your social employees the tools they need to weave their magic. Give them access to social networks on their desktops and laptops. Explore the use of social media as an internal communications tool. Give your social army (paid-for) mobile devices, dedicated solely to the business of promoting your business – and make sure they have permissions and budgets to download the social apps they need for the task. Offer any training required.

6) Incentivise – give your social employees an incentive to broadcast their loyalty to your brand. Give them the option to try or even own new products before official release, so they can blog, tweet, pin and share their opinions (within agreed parameters of course). Offer other incentives for employees who generate results. How about giving away an iPad once a quarter, to encourage your social employees to be even more sociable?

7) Monitor – measure the results of your social efforts against your objectives. Make sure someone is in charge and on top of what your social employees are doing online. You don’t want your brand name dragged through the mud by one of your own because they had a disagreement with a colleague.

The age of the ‘social employee’ dawns.

Check out more on the subject here:


Sensible Social Media Checklist for Businesses v2.0 [Infographic] | Search Engine Journal

Sensible Social Media Checklist for Businesses v2.0 [Infographic] | Search Engine Journal.

Who are you talking to?

The 6 types of social media user according to a recent piece of research:

The piece is interesting in how it attempts to segment social media users in to 6 profile categories, but not altogether enlightening in terms of how marketers can take advantage of this knowledge. I guess you have to buy the full white paper for that.

The ‘Mix and Minglers’ group seems to be where the most exciting marketing opportunities lie – the 29 year old digital socialites who are most likely to interact with your brand, and who constitute nearly a fifth of social media users according to this research. Not much use if you are selling walking frames or royal wedding commemorative crockery though.

The author quotes a senior VP who tells us: “Today’s approach to social media measurement – racing to rack up the most ‘likes,’ retweets, followers and recommendations – is the wrong approach. Marketers must define success not by social media activity, but rather by customer value and engagement.”

It states the obvious really, that the focus should ultimately be on sales rather than traffic. But it does raise the interesting and often overlooked point that social media marketing should be about quality rather than quantity. The same is true of any marketing activity, that we should strive to achieve the most efficient use of precious marketing dollars with carefully considered targeting and messaging, regardless of the medium.

I do wonder however if the issuer of this particular wisdom pearl confuses us when he counsels that by focusing on increasing likes, retweets, etc. (engagement?) we are taking the wrong approach, whereas the righteous path to marketing success is in….well, engagement.

Whatever. The underlying theme is the most important point, that the question increasingly in the forefront of the minds of business owners and marketers everywhere is, ‘how can we turn our investment in social media marketing in to cold hard cash?’ The debate about this million dollar question continues. What’s your approach?

Pinterest Drives More Traffic Than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn

Pinterest Drives More Traffic Than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn.

What’s your social media ROI?

What’s your social media spend ROI?

Well, according to Richard Beattie of the question is not as much about ROI as ROE – Return on Engagement.

Let’s discuss the two.

Brands are overwhelmed by the building wave of social media marketing opportunities and industry champions exhorting them to ride it or drown. Executives are scrambling to understand how they should drive their social strategies effectively and in particular, what the upsides are for their efforts. Despite the guff, the truth is that it’s difficult to measure return on investment from social media. Difficult but not impossible.

The first obstacle for many business leaders is getting past the idea that social media doesn’t cost them anything. It takes time to find ways to engage followers and retain them, as well as generate great content (interesting ideas, articles, images, video, etc.) and promote it on your social networks. You are paying for that time, and more of it than you think (if you’re doing it properly). Work it out in numbers of hours and put a cost on it.

Now you know what your spend is. How do you measure return?

Firstly, understand the job that social media is doing for you. It is (or should be) creating loyal customers by engaging your audience on a basis that is credible, useful and relevant to them, and with which they identify. People ‘choose’ to engage with your brand using social media. If they stay engaged then you have built loyalty. Analytics tools allow you to track conversions and sales from these platforms, so you can determine the value of your loyal customers and get an idea of what they are worth to your bottom line against the cost of acquiring and retaining them.

Beattie is arguing that customer ‘engagement’ can be ‘a lot more valuable than a few sales’, supporting the notion that:

social media = loyal customer = higher long term sales revenues.

We’re talking about providing the tools and motivation for customers to build a relationship with your brand that engages them on a personal level – to create brand advocates of them in a social economy…as I like to say. This is the conversion of customers to brand ambassadors who share, like, pin and tweet about your brand among their friends, spreading the good word using the most credible and effective marketing channel there is – word of mouth. This social media based relationship building process between brand and consumer can be managed using metrics such as fan churn, demographics, referrals, impressions and active engagements. The tools that enable you to take these measurements are out there.

This debate is about the value of an ‘engaged customer’ versus that of a ‘sale’. Or if you will, it’s about long-term versus short-term strategy. The chances are that you need both. Like other marketing functions (eg. brand identity development, generic brand advertising, good public relations), social media is one of those brand development game plans that may be difficult to calculate the immediate value of, but you know you can’t compete without over the long term. Social media doesn’t typically generate immediate revenues in the same way as discount events or point-of-sale merchandising (although it can), but it does ensure that you have an attentive customer base when the time comes for tactical sales promotion activities such as these.

The take away here is that it is essential to measure your return on social media spend, whether it’s investment, engagement or both, but to do so with the understanding that you are making decisions about a brand building strategy whose objective is to develop customer relationships which will fuel growth over the long term.

Social overload

You‘ve set up a gazillion social media accounts for your brand. Now what?

It’s usually a directive from above. ‘We need to be on X network.’ ‘We need to have a Y account.’

Wrong approach. Calm down, have a biscuit and think about this for a second.

The points made in this article are right on the money.

It’s not about quantity it’s about quality. Make your content compelling and relevant. Sales guff makes you look silly on social media. Do less and do it well (this should apply to everything actually). You don’t have the resources to manage all those accounts effectively. You probably don’t have the resources to manage two accounts properly. And if they are neglected or mismanaged they will do you more harm than good. Do some ROI analysis before leaping in – and don’t underestimate the ‘I’ bit.

The article quotes Steve Jobs:

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”

Getting results takes time, effort and energy. Sure, your personal facebook page didn’t cost you anything but your business’ social presence will. It will cost you double-figures man-hours a week and a considerable amount of time and energy crafting your tone of voice, creating your content, making sure you are seen in searches and building the kind of credibility that your followers will respond to.

You need results today? Then you should have started a year ago. Calm down and have another biscuit. Start now, review constantly and plan realistically about when your efforts will bare fruit. Dedicate resource to the task properly. Managing social media isn’t something your existing resources just ‘slip in’ around what they’re currently doing. If you want results you will have to add resources or trim back on other activity.

Having a clear objective is key. Are you trying to grow referrals to your website, sell directly from your social media pages or build a community around your brand? If you don’t have a clear objective you have nothing to measure your success against. Make a plan and follow it.

What social media platform(s) you use should be dictated by where your audience is and whether the medium is the right fit for your product or industry. For example, if you are selling industrial grade widgets for a specialized heavy manufacturing process, the chances are that you don’t need to be talking to all those young women looking at food recipes and summer fashions on Pinterest. But if you are a fashion retailer then that’s exactly where you need to be.

Your net promoter store is your most useful measure of performance. It represents the percentage of customers who would recommend you. You are trying to maximize the number of people who rate you 9 or 10 out of 10. This comes down to quality product. Social media won’t save your brand if your product or service is below par.

Your marketing team will make the best judgments on your social media strategy. Let them. You can help them best by focussing on getting the product or service right and removing obstacles for them so they can believe in what they are selling and gain your brand the credibility it needs online to grow business.

Compound Pinterest

Pinterest is the new poster child for social media and the question on the minds of marketers is how to use its platform to hawk their wares.

According to a free Pinterest marketing kit from Marketing Profs currently available on their facebook page, the image-oriented blogging service was recently added to the top 10 in Hitwise’s Social Networking & Forums category, it was the target of over 11 million unique visitors on January 20, 2011 (a little out of date but gives you the idea), up a mind-boggling 815% from six months earlier, and traffic has been growing on average by over 60% per month.

Pinterest’s main user group appeal seems to be in hobbies and crafts, skewed towards females (58%) aged 25-44. Retailers like Nordstrom and Macy’s are tapping in to this by using the site as a visual catalogue for women’s fashion and homewares. Martha Stewart has 11,000 followers. Etsy is the most popular source of pin content.

What stands out is that Pinterest’s performance looks considerably more robust than Twitter’s did at the equivalent stage in its lifecycle. Should the online corkboard continue on this trajectory it is likely to become one of the most dominant forces in social media, if Twitter’s popularity is anything to judge by. Pinterest is retaining users 2-3 times more efficiently than Twitter did at this point in it’s infancy. 80% of pins are repins proving that Pinterest’s virality is almost epidemic in nature. When Twitter was this age, only 1.4% of its tweets were retweets. And Twitter’s decay rate (falls in usage after the initial excitement has worn off) was twice that of Pinterest’s.

This all bodes well for the future of Pinterest in the socialsphere. So, what’s in it for marketers?

Well, according to the Marketing Prof’s kit, Pinterest’s viral nature is driving referrals up the ying yang, more than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. This is especially the case for food, fashion and furnishings. It’s caught up with Twitter in referral traffic and the growing number of eyeballs on the site suggests that the referral stats will only climb.

Pinterest is compellingly visual and doesn’t provide for wads of sales guff, which means it’s likely to continue to engage visitors on a more powerful emotional level – and keep them. It’s a potentially useful consumer insights tool for brands, allowing them to see who’s liking, pinning and repining what. A presence on Pinterest can also help with your SEO. It’s a huge network and it presents great backlink opportunities.

Some major brands are actively showcasing themselves on Pinterest. Check out Virgin Atlantic and Macy’s. It may or may or not be right for you as a marketer, depending on your industry and resource levels. But it’s free to use and growing in dominance as a social network so it should be on your radar at the very least.

Pinterest/Soundcloud fail

The big news in the socialsphere over the last 24 hours is that you can now pin audio from Soundcloud to Pinterest. As an enthusiastic would-be rock star with a veritable plethora of tracks on soundcloud I was delighted with this news, especially as I was so disappointed when I opened my Pinterest account initially that I couldn’t share audio. Reports advise me that I can ‘add a URL to Pinterest’ (presumably this means in the usual way?) or use the Pin It button in my browser. I can’t. Neither works. Very disappointed user.  They probably work for some people with certain configurations but if you can’t get it right for a mac user using mainstream browsers (safari / pinterest) then pack your things and go home. The only thing worse than a brand failing to deliver on the most basic expectations of it’s users from the outset, is later telling them it can and then disappointing them. Pinterest/Souncloud – fail.