It’s no secret that when a business is looking to employ a new marketing strategy, or even re-vamp their existing one, what they are really looking for is what is going to give them the maximum amount of positive publicity for their marketing dollar.
In a world where competition between rival businesses is so incredibly high, it can be extremely difficult to gain that competitive edge and maintain a stable and growing marketing plan without breaking the bank. Read more
Seth Godin recently wrote an article titled Avoiding False Metrics which does an excellent job of explaining how important the evaluation of a business is. He brought up an extremely important point when he states that in order for a business to succeed and reach their goals, they must critically evaluate themselves based on these objectives.
Traditionally the expectation of corporations to have a responsibility towards its employees and community has been focused around “doing the right thing” and creating considerable change. Within the business sector, this act of giving back is commonly referred to “Corporate Social Responsibility”. With a myriad of companies still recovering from unstable economic circumstances, many companies are withdrawing their previous yearly contributions.
And with that,
I’m back. It’s been a little while (read: one and half weeks), but I am now back on the bandwagon. Life has been crazy busy, but that is no excuse for leaving you, my friends, without me! As I jump back into things, I can’t help but ask myself “is Corporate Blogging the Way to Spread Word-of-Mouth?”
It’s time to do a little soul searching, is corporate blogging the way to go? Now, I might enjoy blogging, writing out my thoughts on the industry I work in, but is it actually helping our company?
In 2009, only 81 of Fortune 500 companies had blogs, but in 2012, two-thirds of the US Internet population (67%) are reading
blogs at least once a month. If blogs have such a large following, why are companies slow to start their own? Companies have the perception that if given the chance, customers will generate negative content about the brand on its blog, creating another area for people to post negative things about the brand (whether warranted or not). Considering this, I have provided a few “industry standards” for writing a company blog.
When writing a blog, you must know that it is a time commitment. This is not just something that you can do “every blue moon”. Whoever is writing for your blog should have that social media fire burning in their belly. If the passion is not there, the writing is not there (read: they potential company blogger should be jumping up and down shouting “pick me, pick me!”).
There’s nothing like a few good guest bloggers to spice things up! Have guest bloggers on to write on their area of expertise. With guest bloggers, you are bringing multiple, unbiased viewpoints to a topic. Or even start a series, where you and your guest bloggers write articles on a specific topic, expressing varying viewpoints. This can create award-winning banter that is hard to ignore.
Forget 24/7 Marketing
One of the largest concerns with corporate blogging is that the blog is only there to push the company’s product or service. Mix it up! Let your personality shine! Write articles for the love of writing and the industry you’re in. If you only write articles that push your company, people will see your opinions as highly biased, and your credibility will suffer for it. Instead of always thinking W.I.I.F.M. (What’s In It For Me), try to connect with the industry and your readers.
Spread the News
Good news is spreadable (like a good peanut butter). People love to hear about exciting new technologies and ways to make their lives and businesses more effective (and profitable). Go ahead, share your company case studies with your blog readers, tell them about your latest technological triumph – but be approachable. Answer questions, and take criticism with grace; get out there and show them how awesome you and your product is!
Overall, it’s about the love of what you do. For managers and bosses, make sure that you are hiring people that are passionate about what you are doing. Iron sharpens iron. The more passion, discussion, and innovation there is at work, the more likely it is to shine through in how you serve your clients, which makes a great company blog.
This week I was reading an article by Tammy Erickson, an author of books such as Retire Retirement, Plugged In, and What’s Next, Gen X? She is the author or co-author of five Harvard Business Review articles and the book Workforce Crisis.
The article explained the changing environment of organizational performance assessment. Currently in many organizations, performance assessment has been based on an individual’s performance on their individual tasks, leading to a silo effect that left people scurrying to their desks and keeping their heads down, avoiding conflict at all costs. This form of assessment takes place one to two times per year.
This led to an understanding that it was the individual’s responsibility to do a “good job”.
Is a “good job” all that we want to ask of ourselves and the people we work with? Is not collaboration, and sometimes conflict,
more rewarding than individual “good” work? It is in those frustrated group discussions that true genius arises. We are far more successful with the pooled talents of all, than with the “good” work of the individual.
In terms of assessment, peer feedback can help employees receive the feedback they need to help themselves grow, and understand how important their role is in the overall success of the organization. Ownership and responsibility are excellent motivators! An on-going or day-to-day assessment by team-members can lead to increased accountability and ownership.
Erickson explained that “the optimum approach for performance management in an environment that depends on extended collaboration requires that team members have significant input into the determination of contribution. There are two primary options:
1) Team-based, but with the ability of the team to choose members or throw non-performing members “off the bus,” (employed by Whole Foods) or
2) Individual-based, but with the ability of peers to assess the individual’s contribution to the success of the mission (employed by IDEO).”
No longer can employees simply work in their own little silos, keeping their heads down and dodge conflict. It’s about collaboration!
It is also understood that sometimes an individual’s work, or lack thereof can be overlooked during team collaboration. Therefore, it is important to have group feedback on individual performance.
Perhaps the most successful strategy is the adoption of a performance management approach based on peer feedback and the most likely to create significant cultural change.
Does your organization employ a specific assessment program? How has it worked for you?
This Christmas as a company we decided to do something special for the community close to home. Every say we speak about the importance of the community in everything we do, and now this was the time for us to give back to the people around us.
I was placed in charge of finding a way to reach out to the community in a meaningful way. I immediately thought of family sponsorship, but didn’t know whom to approach about sponsoring a family for the Christmas season.
After doing some research I came across Nelson Youth Centres (NYC). NYC is an accredited Children’s Mental Health service
provider, and has been serving the local community in Burlington, Ontario, Canada for over 30 years.
It has been estimated that 1 in 5 children in Ontario are living with a mental illness. Through programs designed specifically for children, such as after school programs, children with mental illness receive the positive attention they need.
Children with emotional, social, behavioural, and learning needs often experience difficulties at home, school, and in the community.
Nelson Youth Centres provides treatment programs for children age 7 to 17. Their program includes therapeutic treatment for children and youth who are experiencing depression, anxiety, social difficulties, ADHD, Autism, Conduct Disorder, and bullying.
We were given a family to sponsor, 1 grandparent, and 3 children, ages 11, 10, and 6. I was especially touched by their story because the children’s grandparent took on the parental responsibility of the children. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to relive your child-rearing years in your “Golden Years”.
After receiving a list of each child’s interests, I braved Christmas shoppers and bought everything the family would need to have a happy Christmas.
Below is a list of some of the items we gave the family:
-grocery store gift card (I’m thinking lots of turkey, and leftovers, mmm)
-HBC gift card
-mini basketball hoop (attaches to door)
-Old Navy mittens, scarves, and hats
This is list is nowhere exhaustive; I think that the photo does a good job of illustrating the gifts that we gave the family.
When I dropped off the Christmas gifts, I was able to take a tour of Nelson Youth Centres. I was given a tour of the facilities by Cindy McClure, the Executive Director of NYC. I walked into the smell of gingerbread cookies, as a group of boys were creating a special Christmas treat with their peers. The house was so homey and comforting, I felt like I was intruding on a family dwelling.
Christmas time is not about what you receive, rather what you give to others. Blessing a deserving family during the Christmas season, and any time of year is a privilege.
Thank you to Nelson Youth Centres for opening your hearts and allowing us to make someone’s Christmas extra special.
Changing Tides: How Companies are Realizing the Importance of Social Media Influencers and Data Collection
Recently I came across a study IBM, From Stretched to Strengthened – Insights from the Global Chief Marketing Officer Study. The study interviewed over 1,700 IBM Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), spanning 19 industries and 64 countries. This study was conducted as part of a larger C-suite Studies initiative that has spanned the past seven years.
I’m floored by this study because it reiterates what we have been doing at MavenSocial for years now. We have understood the importance of social media and its affect on brands. A brand’s online social media presence can make or break a company. Many
companies fail to understand the importance of social media, and continue to only engage in traditional forms of marketing, such as direct mail, television, and magazine ads.
The Future: It’s About Data
The goal of every company and brand should be to connect with, and enter the social media realm. In this realm they need to be equipped with proper analytics that recognizes preferences, trends, and patterns across all touch points.
The IBM study shared that they should re-prioritize their investments to analyze digital channels, such as blogs, tweets, social networks, peer reviews and consumer-generated content. All of this is done so that the company has access to “customer’s honest, unmediated views, values, and expectations”.
Paired with powerful social media data and metrics from our WhiteFire Social software, blogging team, and interactive Facebook campaign, MavenSocial can track the life of any brand’s campaign from start to finish. As I have shared before, we are able to identify and track the campaign’s social media influencers, allowing the brand to connect with the influencer and cement their positive brand messaging throughout the life of the campaign and generations after.
The IBM study also shared that market and technology factors are the two most powerful external forces affecting the organization today. With the top four challenges being the “explosion of data, social media, the proliferation of channels and devices, and shifting consumer demographics”. It is imperative that companies have streamlined social media strategy and data analysis software that will ensure brand awareness cross-pollination.
It’s About Relationships:
Customer loyalty is best cultivated online. Social media allows the brand to create a personal experience for the consumer. Platforms such as Facebook allow companies to share brand information on someone’s personal space. Between comments from friends, and pictures of your sister’s new baby, when someone likes a brand’s Facebook Page they have direct access to that individual’s newsfeed.
A telecommunications CMO in Japan explains that the social media space needs to be understood by companies as they attempt to connect with, and increase customer loyalty. He explains “loyalty and customer satisfaction are critical because advocates online provide you will immeasurably valuable free marketing”.
IBM has 3 top priorities for managing the shift towards digital technologies:
1) Enhance customer loyalty/advocacy – 63%
2) Design experience for table/mobile apps – 57%
3) Use social media as a key engagement channel – 56%
This shift will demand that company’s stay on top of their social media strategy and strive to identify the best and the brightest in the social media analytics industry. The next few years will see an unparalleled increase in innovation, where customers will continue to demand brand transparency and best practices.
Consumer Motivation: Self-Serving
Motivation for many people is completely self-serving; it is about time that we accepted this fact and worked with it, instead of denying or rationalizing it. 70% of the CMOs interviewed in the IBM study, believed that people “Like” a Facebook page to “get information, express an opinion and feel connected to their brand”. In actuality, people like the page because they want to know W.I.I.F.M., or what’s in it for me? The top reasons that consumers give for following a company is “getting discounts (61%)” and “making purchases” (55%). Only 33% of followers connect with company’s via social media to “feel connected”.
Ann Glover, the CMO of ING Insurance U.S. sums it up nicely when she says “Customers today have more control and influence with the brand than ever. We need to make sure it’s give and take – a two-sided conversation, with both parties having responsibilities in the interaction.”
Ever wondered how to extend your business’ sales cycle? Once people buy your product or service, it can be a one-time deal, and you are left sending emails, or direct mail reminders to entice people to reconnect. While this strategy is well and good, there are betters ways to connect with people and keep your name on the tip of their tongue.
Community engagement is key to creating a longer sales cycle, and disseminating brand awareness. While one person has a certain amount of disposable income to spend on your product or service, a family can bring in more revenue, while connecting with the community-at-large has even greater revenue potential. It comes down to basic sociology, humans are social beings, and like to be part of a group of like-minded individuals. This group influences a person’s dietary choices, form of dress, past-times, and interests, etc.
Brand Influencers – The Sweet Spot:
Brand Influencers are crucial to reaching the community because they drive interactions. Connecting with these people is paramount, because behind them is an uncle, aunt, mother, sister, daughter, brother, fifth cousin – twice removed….you get the point!
When you want to buy a car, a house, or the latest tech gadget, is there someone that automatically comes to mind? Well, this person is a brand influencer – they influence your purchasing decisions on certain products.
These brand influencers, or as we like to call them, “Mavens”, create a word-of-mouth sensation, because 83% of consumers trust the opinion of a family member or friend over a brand, or advertisement. These Mavens have already formed a relationship of trust and loyalty with you (or you wouldn’t be asking for their opinion), making them very powerful allies.
The Game Plan:
Why not offer coupons or deals on products or services related to your niche market? If you are in the landscaping business, team up with a nursery and provide coupons on Spring flowers, or mulch (every garden needs fresh mulch!). It’s all about creating a lasting experience for your consumers; plus, everyone likes a quality deal!
Or, if you are in the concert business, talk to local shop owners, pubs, and restaurants. Create deals for your concertgoers, where they can receive 20% off their meal, or a free dessert. After the concert, attendees can extend the experience by receiving deals on concert “swag”, or head to the nearest pub for a group deal on drinks for the whole gang.
Overall, connect with a community’s influencers, and the rest will follow. It’s about creating an experience that can be shared with others.
There are endless ways to extend your businesses lifecycle. We’d love to hear how your strategy worked for you!