Month: December 2015

Consistency is key

 

The term social suggests a connection, something that is friendly, inclusive and associative in nature. The term social media suggests a connection, like never before! Personally, it gave people a platform to make new friends, find old ones while sharing thoughts, ideas, feelings or dreams, an online diary if you will. Professionally, it took the unidirectional thrust of marketing and changed it to a back-and-forth interaction. It completely changed the way companies engage with their customers.

19558721-Business-to-customer-B2C-illustration-Stock-Vector

 

Today, whichever industry you belong to, a social media presence is almost a prerequisite. But many companies have been taking baby steps due to it being an unfamiliar realm. They are still trying to comprehend the reach and impact of social media and whether it deserves a chunk of the marketing budget. For some organizations a social media strategy evolved in a fire-fighting mode when they received negative feedback that they had to respond to.

In order to succeed in the social media sphere you need to understand what the best practices are and what tactics you can use to create a successful social media strategy.

One of the most important things is to listen to your customer. Only when you know what the customer wants or appeals to the customer, can you create quality content that will drive engagement. A great guide to a better understanding and thereby better planning is the REALLY framework which defines the TIGOMA process

Target Audience: Who are they, what do they do?

Influencers & Competitors: Understanding the influencers and competition, what social media applications they are using, their community size and engagement

Goals & Objectives: Clearly defining your goals. They should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based (SMART)

Message: The message or brand image that the company wants to create

Analytics: Keeping track. Understanding exactly how you are performing on different applications and in terms of engagement

social_media

 

Gaining a more thorough understanding through tools such as the Groundswell Tool and COBRA (Consumer Online Brand Related Activities) which categorizes social media usage into

  • CONSUMING: viewing, listening, watching, following brand related information
  • CONTRIBUTING: rating products, commenting and engaging on blogs/posts and
  • CREATING: publishing, uploading, creating brand related information.

Once you start establishing relationships, you should be able to maintain the trust that your audience has put in you. While posting something once a day is good, just that may not be enough. Are you responding to certain tweets but not others? This could indicate a lack of engagement consistency, and it could be off-putting for to your followers and audience.

However, one of the most important aspects of consistency is the tone. While posting frequency, timing and engagement are all important, you want to ensure that there is consistency in your tone across your business’ social media accounts, for your brand voice is what develops your relationship and loyalty with the audience.

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Beauty & Brains??

Beauty and brains do not always go hand in hand. This may have been a notion that IBM was trying to dispel. The campaign they launched was an effort to tackle the gender imbalance in science and engineering. But IBM ended the campaign that urged women to “#HackAHairDryer” after a heated online blowback. Though they had the best intentions, their efforts may have come across a little sexist.

The campaign was actually launched back in October. IBM argued that “hair-raising misperceptions” about how girls don’t like science or can’t code were keeping “bright minds out of research labs, scrum teams and engineering tracks, and, leaving untold innovations on the shelf.” The webpage has been removed since.

Though the beauty-product focus of the campaign might have raised eyebrows, that is a sentiment a lot of diversity advocates probably agree with. But it attracted little scrutiny until a few days ago, when a (now deleted) tweet from the company that called on women to join the “#HackAHairDryer experiment to reengineer what matters in #science” hit a nerve.

 

IBM twitter

 

A common complaint was the whole thing felt patronizing: Trying to attract women to tech with the lure of hairdryers, even with empowering language, felt a bit like offering pink lab coats to women instead of seriously addressing systemic barriers that discourage women from entering the tech industry.

This was a crisis scenario for a company that has been creating meaningful roles for female employees since the 1930s. Women at IBM have been making contributions to the advancement of information technology for almost as long as the company has been in existence.

It is interesting to note that even companies such as IBM who get it right most of the time can go wrong. The approach usually could be either crisis management or crisis leadership. Whereas crisis management activity is largely reactive in nature, crisis leadership purports a more proactive stance and highlights a set of behaviours intended to positively influence multiple stakeholders (James & Wooten, 2005). A number of competencies have been identified as being necessary during a crisis.  Sensemaking is the attempt to create order, retrospectively, of what has occurred. It is driven by a desire to make things seem rational to ourselves and to others.

IBM went with the crisis management approach and tweeted an apology for the “HackAHairDryer” campaign

 

ibm twitter 2

 

Social media can be used as an outlet for sensemaking and for clearly and concisely communicating desires and expectations, behaviors generally associated with leadership.  Organizations have to constantly monitor what is being said about them and respond in crises scenarios to ensure that it does not do substantial damage. Social Media has completely altered the way companies and customers react. It demands a greater level of transparency. It provides greater access to information hitherto considered private and demands a greater level of accountability.

Dearly beloved

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I lost my grandfather today. After living a full, healthy life for 92 years with barely any of the usual afflictions of old age, he suddenly deteriorated rapidly 3 weeks ago. It was difficult for the family to watch him turn from a sprightly senior to a frail, immobile, old man.  I wonder what passed through his mind in those final few hours. Like they say, does your whole life pass in front of you? Do you yearn for a time when you were younger, healthier, or is it a sense of calm accepting the inevitable? Death has a strange way of making us evaluate our lives. Of making us stop and pay attention to what’s around us. Our lives, our relationships, what really matters at the end. And I think that more often than not, what matters is the people around us.

Human beings by nature are social animals. They need to interact, to share their joys and sorrows, to love and be loved. And while the methodology of communication keeps changing over the years, the need to connect remains the same.

Like Bruce Springsteen crooned, “I just want someone to talk to, and a little of that human touch.”

In years past one had to wait for weeks or months to receive a letter from their friends and families far away. Then with technological advancements, that duration grew shorter and shorter, and now everything is just a click away. Click and you can add a friend. Click and you can delete a friend. Social Networks ushered in a new era.

The nature of relationships has changed. The online world is like a game, that you need to constantly play or update, if not, you get left behind. If your friends have thrown you a surprise birthday party, you’re more keen on ensuring you get the best pics/selfies to update your status rather than enjoying the moment or the people around you. These days, people take almost a trillion photos a year (that’s more photos every few minutes than in the entire 19th century.)

But while social networks give us access to a much larger group of people than ever before and strangers can become friends, on the flipside, sometimes friends end up becoming strangers.

I recently watched a movie by Tom Hanks called Castaway, where he is marooned on a desert island after a plane crash and though his chances of survival are bleak, his love for a woman is what keeps him going and gives him hope in an adverse situation. This movie really struck a chord because it reminded of a time when the simplicity of emotions were not yet overtaken by the complexity of technology.

 

How would you measure success?

Can you imagine what it would feel like to be entombed in your own body? When you lose control over your muscles, due to the degeneration of neurons, and even simple tasks such as eating, talking, dressing yourself become insurmountable feats. That is what people suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis feel like. Most people hadn’t even heard of a disease like that and as per the records it was one of the most underfunded diseases; till, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The challenge involved dousing oneself with a bucket of ice cold water and then calling out to 3 or more friends to do the same. This campaign not only raised awareness about the disease but it also raised a $115 million dollars, along with 1.2 million Facebook videos and around 2.2 million Twitter mentions. The ALS Society even created a video titled “A helpful how-to guide for the Ice Bucket Challenged”

As per some news reports, the research on ALS has made a big breakthrough. Research, they say, that couldn’t have happened without the money raised by the ice bucket challenge, which was considered to be one of the most successful social media fundraisers ever.

ALS

So what makes a social media campaign click? The emotional connection is a big factor. Something about what the brand is saying resonates with the audience and creates a favorable response. It stands out from the other messages and this differentiation is what leads to successful branding. And when customers like what you are saying they share that with their friends or connections and inadvertently become brand advocates. So the brand’s content coupled with the user generated content is what leads to UGB or User Generated Branding, and this in turn leads to a successful brand.

But how exactly do you measure success. What are the key metrics one could use? That depends on what your goals and benchmarks are. For some it could be the amount of engagement or shares they are receiving on social media networks. For others it could be clicks back to their website or conversions once visitors get there.

As per social media metrics, there are measurement opportunities at every stage –

Activity: The output of your social team

Reach: Your audience and potential audience

Engagement: Interactions and interest in your brand

Acquisition: Creating a relationship

Conversion: Actions, sales and results

Retention and advocacy: Happy customers and brand evangelists

There are dozens of metrics to choose from. The key lies in understanding which are the ones that work for you.