Friday, July 27, 2012

Why big isn't always better

Something Justin Flitter said at the recent Social Media and Mobile Apps conference got me thinking about the way brands approach social media.

What he suggested was:  in the real world our best friendships are made up of many lightweight interactions - and that brands who truly want to build a friendship with their fans might be more successful if they acted the same way.

Think about it like this. Say you made two new friends today. One of them you will only see once over the next three months spending a long weekend hanging out together. The other you hear from every other day – a quick text, a coffee or perhaps they comment on something you posted on facebook. Which person do you think you’ll have the better relationship with?

Now apply this to a brand:
Brand A puts a lot of time and effort into creating a whiz-bang new app – it’s cool and fun so you download it, but after a while the novelty wears off.  Brand B has a twitter account where they regularly share links to interesting and useful content. Which brand do you think you’ll have the better relationship with?

Delivering big ideas and big results is what every agency (and some clients) aspire to – but it shouldn’t be at the expense of doing the day-to-day well. 

In fact there is no reason why a successful social activation has to be big. At the same conference Mike Wilson from .99 explained how hard it is for agencies – and corporates – to pull together a truly integrated idea. When this does happen those involved deserve every award they win, but in the meantime go for something smaller and more perfectly formed.

Lots of small but clever interactions could deliver better engagement that one big all-singing, all-dancing, here-for-a-good-time-not-for-a-long-time activation. 

A lot of time, money and resource can go into creating a video which gives just one – or if you are lucky 2 – status updates to Facebook. It might be really clever and engaging, but once that status update is posted you’re back to wondering what to do with the other 364 days of the year on your conversation calendar.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Social and corporate values - making them play nicely

Overview of Telecom case study from recent SOMO Conference. 

As one of NZ’s most well-known brands, Telecom concentrates heavily on managing as opposed to branding or building an online profile through Social Media.

They’ve had their fair share of problems over the last few years – the XT network launch, Steven Fry rant, broadband inaccessibility and network coverage issues,  to name a few.  Until recently their Social Media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, was run by a group of passionate employees within Telecom, operating without mandate or structure.  Despite trying their best, too often they found themselves seeking forgiveness for sending inconsistent and sometimes incorrect messages to the media and public.
Times they are a changing. Recently Telecom has formalised their social media path, investing in people and processes and  viewing the channels as important extensions of Customer Service, Marketing and PR.   Richard Irvine, the Online Community Communication Manager, is solely responsible for the policy and management of these platforms in-house.
Richard directed an internal Social Media ‘Online Response Team’ of a dozen employees.  He sought out individuals who were already very active and highly regarded on their internal Yammer network, and Geekzone (the website).  These individuals from across the company volunteer their time to monitor and contribute to customer queries on Facebook, Yammer and to a lesser extent, Twitter.  Richard briefs them using a comprehensive social media policy to help them work with a common set of values and messages, which is approved by the Exec prior.  The team feel they have been the given scope and trust to respond to posts, and they use ‘Co-Tweet’ to ensure only one person replies at once.  They use their own voice and sign off using their own names - as opposed to acting on behalf of Telecom.  For example, “Hi Sally, the issue you are experiencing is… From John Smith”. 
Richard monitors and responds to the majority of the tweets the Telecom Twitter account receives.  Twitter is seen as a Stakeholder and Reputation Management tool, with an ‘always on’ approach (weekends / evenings included).  His motto is ‘two ears, one mouth”, as he does far more listening than tweeting.   
The analysis and insights generated via Social Media channels is presented to the Senior Leadership Team regularly, and is used to help shape views of customer’s satisfaction, trends and issues. 
Richard suggests these guidelines for running successful social media platforms:
1.       Purpose - have clear objectives for each social media channel
2.       Be social – be familiar with it, both using and knowing 
3.       Governance – where does it sit within the organisation? Who actually does it?
4.       Stakeholders – who within the organisation?  E.g. the Exec, Comms, Brand/Marketing, Customer Service, Legal
5.       Who – one voice or many?
6.       How - tone and style and transparency
7.       Availability – responsiveness agreed up front

5 reasons why you should be running ‘Always On’ Paid Search

It’s tempting to want to save media budget by running your paid search advertising during tactical campaign periods only.

However, for almost all advertisers, I recommend taking an ‘Always On’ approach – that is, having your paid search campaign live all year round. Here’s why:

5 Benefits of running ‘Always On’ Paid Search:
1.       You gain incremental website traffic, by capturing search volume throughout the year, rather than just during campaign periods
2.       You can increase your brand awareness through year-round exposure on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
3.       You can often decrease your average Cost-per-click (CPC); a campaign's CPC generally tends to decrease as it gains ‘history’ with Google
4.      You'll have more time to conduct ad copy and keyword tests, and capture long-term data which can be used to further optimise your campaigns
5.       Another benefit – for seasonal products in particular – is that by advertising during less competitive times of year, it can be possible to achieve a higher ad position and/or pay a lower CPC overall

There are a number of options during tactical campaign periods. Depending on your campaign goals, you could considering altering your ‘Always On’ campaign in the following ways:
       Up-weighting the budgets to increase Impression Share during the campaign period, in order to get maximum exposure; capitalising on your ATL advertising spend
       Replacing existing ad copy (or existing Sitelinks) with campaign messaging
       Adding additional campaign-specific keywords

If budget is an issue, the 'Always On' campaign can always be run on a low weight in between your key tactical periods.

The important thing is that you always have some level of visibility on the SERPs – after all, consumers don’t limit their searches to your key campaign periods! They expect to be able to find relevant information quickly and easily, whenever they decide to search for it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Content sharing is not content curation.

“Curating” is the new buzzword around town, and like most new buzzwords their meaning can be easily misconstrued.
The other day I came across the “Second annual Content Curation Adoption Survey” informing me that “95% of Marketers are Curating”.
While I have no doubt a lot are through Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks, the penny dropped when I read that “of those respondents that indicated they had not knowingly curated in the past six months, 100 percent of them had, by sharing an article, blog post or other content with a prospect or customer”.

Breaking news: sharing an article with your facebook fans or twitter followers is not content curation.

Content curation involves gathering digital content from a range of sources and then sorting, art directing and representing that content in a way that creates an editorial experience. It’s not about creating, it’s about sifting through the raft of content available on a particular topic and presenting the best and most relevant pieces of information to your audience. It’s something you do regularly and consistently. There is nothing random or one-off about it.
So what makes for good curation? Google it and you’ll find a myriad of lists and opinions. My five favourite are:
Have a reason for being: knowing what your point is will make it easier to filter content, and to build an audience. It’s a bit like making a mix tape – knowing who it’s for and what you want to say makes picking the songs easy.
You can’t survive on curation alone: You will gain more credibility with your audience, and more support from other curators if you are also creating your own fresh and interesting content.
Give it the personal touch: automated curation tools are popping up all over the place but curation does require the personal touch to ensure quality content is being shared.
Quality not quantity: if time and resource is an issue then sharing quality content once a week will build more credibility than sharing rubbish content daily.
Become part of the ecosystem: always remember the content you are sharing is not yours! Always, credit your sources.
Content curation is a long term platform that needs a strategy behind it. If your objective is to become an authority on something, then you can only do this by building up a following of people who trust that authority.