Posts Tagged ‘Social Media Strategy’

This is my first article in a series of posts that will focus on applying social psychology to social media marketing. Little did I know it at the time, but spending 4 semesters in a social perceptions and behaviors lab in college DID come in useful! (I know, I was shocked too). I’m going to start with the Overjustification Effect

Overjustification Effect, simply put, is a description of what happens when someone offers an external incentive for a behavior already found to be intrinsically rewarding.

Lesson One: Overjustification Effect & Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET):

Overjustification, or the undermining effect, occurs when an act that is initially driven by intrinsic motivation loses its behavioral grip as it is replaced by an additional, extrinsic motivator.

Take the example of a young child in grade school – his grades are slipping. The parents immediately recall the hyperbolous discourse surrounding positive reinforcement and tell their child, “Son, for every A you get in school, we’ll give you a dollar.”

Seems like a good deal for everyone involved right? The parents successfully motivate their child who, consequently, strives to achieve better results through the remainder of that rigorous second grade curriculum.

But what if the child already liked school – and thus was already motivated to succeed?

Sounds crazy, I know. But what if…? Well, social psychology would tell us that if the child initially enjoyed learning on its own merit, the subsequent external monetary reward would, while boosting performance in the short-term, also act to devalue the initial motivating factor – the child’s innate affinity for academia.

Now, I ‘m not going to protest the concept of positive reinforcement (surely, it beats corporal punishment) and I certainly can’t argue with years of successful marketing that tells us these types of external rewards (often in the form of deceptive or pseudo-monetary coupons, rebates, points, free samples, contest entries…etc) can influence behavior. I will, however, assert that any impact these endeavors have will be short term, and, when used within the social media landscape, are antithetical to the inherent functionality and opportunity afforded by these social platforms and the brand-consumer interactions they facilitate.

Case in point, Fan Woody. I’ve spoken out against this campaign before, so I won’t go into detail here, except as it illustrates my point and typifies an industry-wide failing. That is to say, TGI Friday’s created a fictional character (also an adversative notion when dealing with social media – which generally serves to augment the human-esque qualities in a brand, as opposed to extending its shadowy anonymity, seemingly embodied in the creation of fictitious characters like Woody), who proclaimed, “Become my fan and get a free burger!”

These sorts of brands propositions can yield a large influx of new fans – short-term, albeit deceptive & superficial, success. These new fans are not brand advocates. They are not invested in the organization. They signed up to get free shit.

I don’t think I need to ramble and rant about quality vs quantity here, but I will (I’ll keep it short, don’t worry).

When advising brands on how to manage a twitter account, the question of ROI always comes up, and it’s intricately linked to the management strategy, specifically, how you decide with whom you should follow and engage. The concern often regards numbers – “But I can only talk to X amount of people a day,” “There are a million people mentioning my brand, how do I determine which ones I should follow?” “How many followers should we aim to have at the end of the campaign?”

This is where I scoff pretentiously and say, you would rather have 1000 followers that are excited to interact with you and actively advocate for your brand, than have 10,000 followers who you garnered by giving away a free vacation to someone who used your hashtag. [Again, not trying to say these types of promotions don’t have their place – they do, and it’s usually when launching an account and should be designed to raise awareness. But that’s all – and that’s not usually necessary for big – household name – brands.]

So what about when you’re not launching a campaign or raising awareness for a new social media presence? What about the preexisting fans and followers – the ones who decided to interact with a brand on social platforms because they actually like the brand – the products, the philosophy, what it stands for? The ones social media is really all about.

Well, all that goes out the window when extrinsic drivers usurp those, valuable, authentic, sincere, innate motivators. A consumer can relate to a producer based on that organization’s brand, not overtly obvious tactics designed to influence purchasing behaviors. The consumers that relate to your brand are the ones that will advocate for you and are therefore the people to whom your efforts should cater, at least insofar as that you don’t abuse their patronage or dismiss their value in light of the appealing and alluring mega-growth (read: meaningless numbers) factor.

Based on the overjustification principal, I would go so far as to say that superficial external rewarding hinders the true potential that social media offers to brands. By actively devaluing the intrinsic motivation that drives consumers to fan or follow (or otherwise engage and interact with) brands (and their content) in the first place, there is a conscious sacrifice of quality for the sake of quantity. Artificial, manufactured growth via fast and easy methods in lieu of the organic growth achieved by brand evangelists who can, and do, influence their peers and legitimately impact consumer behaviors.

The idea of rewarding and incenting behavior probably predates any formal study marketing. However, in my opinion, gimmicky rewards have become so commonplace in social media marketing, too often are brands relying on them as long term strategies instead of for what they actually are, namely, conversation starters.

If I am going to follow a brand on twitter or fan one on Facebook, 9 times out of 10 it’s because I am already familiar with the brand and wish to augment my relationship with that brand by adding a social dimension. The benefits of such an enhanced association can include customer loyalty & CRM programs that may be partially comprised of para-monetary rewards. But when brands offer up nonsocial incentives, like TGI Friday’s now infamous Fan Woody campaign, as the basis for the interaction, yes – there is an instant and tangible ROI – but they lose out on what social platforms do best – connect brand lovers – active, consumers evangelists, with the brands they love and feel connected to.

So I beseech the marketing community – enough with the gimmicks. If you want real results, focus on enhancing the users experience with your brand, offer utility and content that allows the consumer to get the most out of their relationship with you, programs that have something to do with why these individuals are real life fans of your brand to being with.

This is what I’ve gleaned from my personal, professional, and academic experiences. But what about you? Do your experiences as a marketer speak differently? Do your experiences as a consumer reflect what I’ve discussed here?

Advertisements

A version of this post, written a couple of weeks ago, can also be found on the Shamable Blog, Here.

It seems like every day I see another group of posts populating my news feeds and Twitter stream touting an easy to implement social media strategy, a social media mold, readily adapted to your brand or business, or a list of social media MUSTS, things that every company needs to know about and act on – regardless of what exactly your goals or business model might be, the most recent example being Mashable’s “3 Things You Need to Know About Social Media Strategy” (pardon the run on).

Not too long ago, I wrote such posts and sometimes I’ll still retweet them, if only because within their laziness-enabling premise, there are, occasionally, bits of truth and relevancy. But that cold reality of the matter is that these cookie cutter social media plans and strategies, these molds that can be made to fit any organization, are crap. Why? Because for the most part, they simply state the obvious, repurpose other people’s content, and are designed for clueless executives desperate to jump on the bandwagon or their underlings looking to make a good impression – both of whom know next to nothing about the social space and the nature of dynamic content.

For example, lets look at this Mashable post. The article opens by explaining,

“Companies large and small are rushing to understand and get involved in social media. But most of the agencies and consultants who are being paid to establish social media campaigns for corporations are afraid to tell their clients three things they don’t want to hear.”

She goes on to list and elaborate upon these 3 topics:

  1. Everyone must work together
  2. Top Management Must Be On Board and
  3. Don’t Expect Overnight Success

I’m sorry, but I have to be blunt here when I say “DUH!” When are these 3 postulates NOT true in the business world? Should you ever expect overnight success? Does anything good ever come out of NOT working together? And don’t get me started on the involvement of top management.

I’m not trying to call out B.L. Ochman; in fact, I am a huge fan of hers and the What’s Next Blog. I do, however, feel an obligation toward my job and protecting the reputation of my profession. Posts like these feel lazy and dumbed down. Truisms they are, but they have nothing to do with social media, and framing them in that context makes it seem like anyone can do what we do, which is certainly not the case.

I’ve grown to despise these posts because the foster laziness and ignorance, they enable procrastination and poor tactics, and mostly, because they tarnish our burgeoning industry, instead of validating it.

Case in point: I recently spent several weeks assembling a comprehensive short and long-term social media and digital strategy for a client. I surveyed the landscape – what has the brand done until now, where have they succeeded, where have they failed, and what can be improved. I looked to align their existing brand objectives with social media objectives and further specified how those objectives might be reached differently as they take advantage of each social platform’s unique offerings. I audited their competitive set and looked for areas where these competitors were doing well – indicating the brand’s need to catch up – and where the competitors were failing – indicating an opportunity for them.

I looked at trends and predictions. Which brands are best-in-class and how could we emulate them, improve on their models, and innovate and lead? I did my due diligence and amassed tomes of research – what are their target audience’s most common existing behaviors on social networks? What type of engagement does their audience want from these brands and how could they provide it?

After weeks of intense research, meetings, writing and revision, I flew across the country and presented a 57-page strategy and action plan to the client, the first in a day full of nonstop meetings. Not once did I mention that “Top management must be on board,” or that we “shouldn’t expect instant success” – had I done so would have almost certainly damaged my credibility in front of an audience of established and experienced executives.

For what it’s worth, they loved it. The client was happy, thus, my bosses were happy. I thought to myself, with a big smile “Great, mission accomplished.”

But that smile was quick to fade as I realized that my weeks of work and research weren’t nearly enough. I spent the rest of the day listening and learning.  Competitive analysis, reports and reviews of the last 2 years worth of marketing, advertising, and public relations efforts.  There was talk of focus groups and the precise ROI of spending on individual efforts on different media and campaigns.

By the end of the day, I had realized something that I had known intuitively for a long time but was reluctant to acknowledge – social media does not exist in isolation. Nothing does in marketing. Everything is tied together in an intricate web of objectives, metrics, communities, budgets, messaging, and brand images. My 57-presentation was amazing, yes, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. I could have spent another month – and probably will – figuring out how to tie-in my 57-page tactical outline with the rest of the organization’s plans.

UPDATE: Since then, my presentation has led to an action plan, identifying and delegating individual tasks & responsibilities – in order to take my strategic vision into the more realistic world of actionable and executable possibility. Overarching themes and long term objectives were boiled down into a time-line of assignments and iterations of platform-specific mini-objectives, prioritized based on ease of implementation, production costs, time frames, and urgency. This has not been easy, and I’ve yet to find a post outlining a quick and simple methodology to reach this stage of strategic planning, let alone, finding any mention of this process in the “5 Social Media Strategy Musts” types of posts I’ve seen.

The reason these one-size-fits-all “social media stratagems” are bullsh*t and will never work and the reason most enterprise 2.0 consultants fail to actually back up their talk and improve a brand’s efforts to be social and become dynamic, engaging content producers, is that it takes a LOT of time and effort to understand the inner workings of a brand, especially a big business. These lists are fodder for inept and executives too lazy to expend the time and effort necessary to understand and learn about the social evolution of businesses and dynamic nature of today’s content. They are easy to write and even easier to pass off as legitimate plans.

For such endeavors to actually have merit and potential for the brand, they must be customized to the business from their inception, built to align with the companies overall objectives, and most importantly – COMPLIMENT – NOT SUPPLEMENT – existing marketing efforts. There are no MUSTS, no absolutes – what’s right for one brand may be disastrous for another. Social protocols and norms evolve so rapidly that these lists, for whatever value they may have when they’re written, become obsolete before they’d ever have any actual impact. So people, please stop relying on cookie cutter approaches because you are too lazy to devise your own. Stop trying to force your business into a mold that will only impose limits and hinder the true potential new media actually offers.

I’m writing this post – not to crap on Mashable or B.L. Ochman, but because I hold them to a high standard. People look to them, relying on these influencers and industry leaders, for valid, sound, advice. This is an example of parties that hold a clear opportunity and authority to further our industry – and flaking on their responsibility to do so. As such, I would be remiss if I let that happen without calling them out for it. I’m not even saying that I’m any better, but we need to rally, as an industry and as a community, to create more valuable content and do away with lazy “filler” products. We can do better folks.

Thank you and good day!

I am a Social Media Manager & Emerging Media Strategist based in NYC (though I’ve come to prefer Social Media Monkey). You can find me on Twitter as Aerocles and on my blog, the Legends of Aerocles.

First off, here’s one video and two ads that I think are amazing:

Secondly, Obama Campaign Aside (Thanks Ken), I Have Some Advice For Reluctant, Hesitant, Ignorant, Brands: & The Rest Of The Universe (Marketers Take Note)

Dear Universe: Email Marketing Is DEAD. D-E-A-D DEAD. Eaten By Worms & Resorbed Into The Internet From Whence It Came. Accept It!!!!

When’s the last time you received an email from a store and that actually motivated you to get off your ass and go to the outlet or even spend money on their website. Social Media has slain the Monster of Direct Email Marketing. Not That It Doesn’t Have It’s Spammy Counterparts – Auto-DMs, Facebook Messages From Branded Fan Pages…etc.

Here’s how it’s going to work – You Exist. Online. As Long As I’m AWARE of where you exist (which is another matter altogether), rest assured, if i want to be updated on your company news, I’ll opt it by subscribing to your twitter feed, read your blog, or fan you on Facebook. And then I’ll visit you when I decide. Not the other way around. End Of Story. Disagree with me all you want, it won’t make you any righter.  And if it’s not clear that this is the future you’re resisting, just give it a few months.

Brands that don’t embrace Social Media as a way to reach their goals (no, you don’t have to give up) will fail. The purpose of, and results once generated by, email marketing, can still be accomplished – Except now through this new and scary interface call the interwebs. Traditional BROADCAST Advertising still has it’s place. But Email just isn’t one of those. In My Mind, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this way –  An Email from McDonald or Starbucks or  The Gap (I haven’t thankfully, I’m just arbitrarily choosing widely recognized brands for argument’s sake) is equivolent to the spam I receive about Acai Berry Weight Loss, Penis Enlargement Pills, And Cheap Watches – Garbage.

And I’m being nicer than I should – I’m 24, I’ve seen successful email marketing. But try emailing a 15 year old & they’ll laugh at you. That’s not how people engage brands anymore. Truth. Statistics be damned.

On a less frustrated note, here are some awesome reads you should definitely check out:

Times’ David Pogue blurs journalism lines

Death by Social Media

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Six Reasons Companies Are Still Scared of Social Media

Three Top Ways to Damage Your Brand With Social Media

Firing housekeepers creates PR mess for Hyatt

Have A Fantastical Weekend

Facebook Stunts: Only Half The Battle. The Superficial Half.

Facebook is free media, great. Brands want to be there, they want fans and followers. Good, especially considering that Half of Social Media Users Connect With Brands.

But “how” to do this is the question Publicists, Digital Strategists, Marketers, and Advertisers have been asking themselves. And while no one tactic has been perfected, there is one guideline to follow when engaging (yes, I hate that word too, but unfortunately there are times when it’s appropriate and its use, unavoidable).

Longevity. Dedication. Commitment. Whatever you want to call it. Don’t just start a conversation, don’t just jump in when you feel like it. Don’t assume that your presence on a platform will automatically attract consumers. Initiating a relationship is only the first step. Rewarding the consumers who participate in that relationship; acknowledging those ‘loyals’ – fostering and growing that relationship, turning fans and followers into brand advocates – that’s where the greatest potential lies.

Having fans or followers is a great ego boost for a brand but it only OPENS the line of communication. What you do next, how you capitalize on that following, is what will make or break your social media initiative.

Take TGI Friday’s new “Fan Woody” Campaign. They want followers, for obvious reasons. So what do they do? They give something away. I mean, who doesn’t like free shit? I know I do, to the point where I’d friend Woody even though I’m not a particularly big fan of the brand (no pun intended there).

So yes, they’ll probably reach their goal of 500,000 fans by the end of September (not such a lofty goal for a nationally recognized brand, but I guess it pays to set the bar low).

But swag is easy. It’s the cheap way of getting followers. Effective? Duh. Would I advocate it, of course, it gets the job done. But it does nothing for the brand in the long term. The big question is, how will TGI Friday’s capitalize on this new audience? I don’t know about you, but I’m quite curious to see what their next move will be.

Stunts are great, but what comes next?

IMHO, effectiveness and distinctiveness in the social realm means catering, not just to our fondness of swag, but to our desire to create and produce. What do I mean?

Step one: Build a base – as exemplified by countless brands (chick-fil-a & others) give something away – get their attention.

Step two: Give this new audience the opportunity to contribute by offering them a vehicle or outlet for user-generated content. Whereas promotions say “we appreciate you because you give us money,” soliciting user-generated content – something like “Design an appetizer to be featured on our menu & we’ll have our fans vote for the favorite submission” – would say, “We value your input and creativity and we want you to help make our brand better.”

Ultimately, this is what consumers want. A free burger every now and then is cool but that won’t do shit for establishing a relationship with your existing or potential patrons. Consumers, especially young consumers, want input and control over your brand. A scary notion, but one that brands must accommodate if they want to appeal to the newest generation of consumers.
What do you think? What comes after “The Stunt?

(Thanks to Aaron Levy for helping inspire this post)

While You’re Here, Check Out These Other Interesting Posts/Articles:

Clear and Present Danger of Social Media for Ad Agencies

How Social Media Does Hostile Takeovers: Facebook vs. Twitter

Social Media / 10 Brands Doing it Right

Twitter expands rules to allow advertising

Twitter Gives Spam Apps a Thumbs Down, Ads a “Maybe”

Top 5 Web Trends of 2009: Internet of Things

Have a Great Weekend!

There are Sooooo many twitter apps and clients out there, including, but not limited to, Seesmic (Desktop & Web), TweetDeck, iTweet, Mixero, not to mention all the mobile apps like Ubertwitter, Twitterberry and the plethora iPhone apps…it would be nearly impossible to review them all (though Mashable & TechCrunch usually do a nice job of covering most of the worthy ones as the debut or update their service).

Anyhoo – I happen to have a particular interest in which Twitter App/Client is best suited for professional use – and I suspect many of you do, as well. Whether you’re in customer service, branding, marketing, PR, or advertising, there are certain tools that make a twitter client better suited for professional, rather than personal, use.

When Twitter was more for personal communication, networking, etc., I was partial to Mixero for my Desktop/Adobe Air platform and iTweet for my web based service. But that’s changed now that my uses for Twitter have evolved beyond simple chatter. In short, I’ve found Hootsuite to be the best for 3 reasons – metrics, multiple account management, and it’s browser-based.

I’ve included a short review of functions and features, as well as additional features I’d like to see added. But suffice it to say, between Hootsuite’s accurate and easy to read metrics and graphs on links and clickthroughs, the ability to create custom user groups, and the multiple account/use/profile option, it is really a wonderfully designed service and well suited to employ from a professional standpoint.

User Groups

User Groups

Overview

  • The search-column function allows for continuous monitoring of brand mentions
  • The customizable user groups and tabs have allowed me to build my own personal interface – with one tab dedicated to news outlets and separated by topic and another for reporters, journalists, and bloggers, separated by beat and outlet.
  • The multiple users and profile option lets people you work together with your client, or your counterpart, in-house – you can train them, show them how to use the service.
    • With the ability to teach clients basics and the best tactics and strategies, you can build up the account and hand it over to the client for full-time use and interaction, while you continue to oversee the operation.
  • The statistics, metrics, and graphs on links and clicks – Clients will never stop asking you to show them the ROI of the time, money, and effort they’ll expend on anything, especially in the realm of social media. What better way than to show them how many people clicked on a link they tweeted with all the graphs and stats at your fingertips?

Features I’d Like To See In HootSuite

  1. Enter/Return Key Tweets.
  2. View List of Following/Followers.
  3. BIGGER USER GROUPS – WHY THE 50 PERSON MAX?
  4. Tags or Labels on Users/Tweets Already In Groups as the tweets appear in your stream (So you know not to add them to another group!).
  5. The Ability to Drag Users into Groups/Columns/Tabs.
  6. The Ability to Drag Columns to Different Tabs.
  7. An “Is This Person Following Me” Feature – As Seen in iTweet.net.
  8. The Ability To Send or Share Your Customized User Groups with other Hootsuiters
  9. A REPLY ALL option to conversations/tweets with multiple participants
  10. Integrated Twit-Picture/Twit-Video Service
  11. The ability to search for keywords or topics just within the people I’m following
  12. SPELL CHECK!
  13. A “You’ve Got A New Follower” Announcement Message…preferable with a pleasant accompanying sound effect.

Features That Make HootSuite the Perfect Twitter Client For Professional Use

  1. The Ability To Create Customized User Groups.
  2. The Ability To Build Customized Tabs & Categories.
  3. The Tweet Later Feature.
  4. The Built in Ow.ly URL Shortener with AMAZING Stats & Tracking!
  5. The Multiple Users/Accounts/Profiles.
  6. The Option to save ANY search as its own column.
  7. You Never Seem To Run Out Of APIs or Refreshes.
  8. As a Browser Based App – it’s easier on the old motherboard and overloaded server than a Desktop client.

Stats & Metrics - Click-Throughs

Stats & Metrics - Click-Throughs


    Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

    Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

    David Mullen, in the latest of his daily dose of insight, has opened up the discussion on yet another important topic for many of us experimenting with social media and developing campaigns for clients who are more than a little bit skeptical about venturing into a territory with which they are, for the most part, lost.

    I strongly urge you to read Mr Mullen’s post – Should Brands Approach Social Media with a “Pilot Program” Mindset?

    There are arguments to both sides of the issue. A “Pilot Program” helps ease the client into this scary and unfamiliar terrain. The downside is that you may not see results or ROI if you don’t commit to a thought-out, long term, strategy. Kind of a catch 22. There is, IMHO, a middle ground. A way to create a small scale, but comprehensive social media attack. The key is to develop a strategy that can be narrowly focused, initially, and then expanded and expounded upon, both in terms of goals and means to achieve those goals, as the data from the first phase can be analysed. Those metrics will provide feedback for you as you grow the initiative from a fine, targeted, endeavor, to a more far reaching and all-encompassing social media presence, and with it, your own unique approach and attitude.

    I think it’s more about choosing the right channel – Pick one vehicle – facebook, youtube, twitter, a blog, etc…and focus all efforts on that one medium. This way, you’ve got your pilot program mentality in that you’re not trying to tackle the entire social space in one fell swoop. It’s not overwhelming; you have time to manage and monitor one platform, and thus you can develop a system in which consistancy is maintained.

    Additionally, Choosing one medium allows for much easier measurement and analytics, to determine if the effort has delivered and if it’s worthwhile to expand.

    Of course, to do this, you also have to Define your primary goal – customer service, marketing, branding, PR…etc. – pick one & stick to it – let your goal be the guiding influence in choosing the most effective social platform and your method for measuring results.

    This is my “Pilot Program.” It has longevity, a goal, consistency, and it’s measurable. If it’s deemed to be successful, you can adapt this mini-initiative to other social media, or expand your goals, if desired. Either way, limiting yourself or your brand to 1 goal, 1 platform, 1 campaign is the best, IMHO, form of Pilot Program – insofar as that it has all the elements of a traditional and comprehensive campaign, while keeping things simple enough to act as a test of your needs, capabilities, and suitability for the effectively utilizing these media.

    What do you think? Remember – My Blog is Your Blog – Share Your Thoughts!

    Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

    Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine