Get Social

Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

The adoption by the Boston Red Sox to twitter contests to score new followers has gotten me thinking about real time, location-based instaoffers. (Yup, just made up a term and a word).The latest by the Boston sports franchise is #tweetmyseat, offering the first tweeter to share his/her location along with a photo of the batter a gift basket. Cool concept, and I’m all over this when I hit Fenway on Sunday (ssh, don’t tell Mom)..but I’m curious if these schemes will offer long-term follower loyalty.

In a similar vein, @BostonTweet offers “find it” contests, sharing a picture of a gift certificate at a location and offering it up to his 20,000+ followers. They’re infrequent and random. Local Social‘s followed suit and used the planted gift card concept to drive followers of UBurger, G’vanni’s, and others to their locations to hunt down freebies.

Are these brands seeing loyalty as a result of these giveaways? Or is this more a viable strategy to drum up new interest rapidly?

We’re seeing a closer-knit brand network as a result of these promotions, and a quick surge in (inter)activity on their online feeds. But to really drive awareness and spread the word about our brands, we’re going to need to leverage some kind of cross-network promotional strategy. We’re working on it. Stay tuned.

Especially working for myself, I can get extremely bummed when I lose a client. Even when it’s for an “it’s not you, it’s me” reason, I tend to take the severance a bit personally at first. In my head, I draft a witty retort to being cut loose, making sure it’s clear that business (and life) will definitely not go on for this person without my greatness. Then, I send a note that’s a little more constructive. A quote from HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me (2007) comes to mind; a therapist shares with a client the insight that she believes it is important to take as much care ending a relationship as was spent beginning one. I spent time back and forth on email, 45 minutes on an introductory call to learn my client’s objectives, time setting up her campaign and walking her though it, driving times to meetings, etc. I might as well spend a few minutes wrapping things up with some care.

Here are points it’s key to hit when you close the door on a working relationship:

What you did (routinely)

Tactfully explain what you were doing on a daily and weekly basis, both to the client directly and behind the scenes. I wasn’t sure my client knew I monitored her Twitter follows, @ mentions, and DMs in real time and answered every inquiry between about 9 am and 12 am within the half hour. Pointing this out highlighted a nice value add that not every consultant may be committed to including.

What you accomplished (already)

Real facts and numbers here. “I was pleased with our progress, adding 20 new Facebook followers and building a Twitter following of 530 in three weeks. The 35 submissions to our contests showcased the interest customers have in your brand.” Focus on you’re accomplishments and what they mean. Show you are meeting your milestones, and that you’re thinking about them to draw conclusions.

What you were going to do

It’s worth reiterating what you had discussed for future action plans, especially highlighting any commitments you had. If you’d come up with something new since your last meeting, mention it here. If you had a contact you were going to intro for some networking opportunities, drop the name now. Maybe even be disgustingly nice and share the name anyway. No hard feelings, right?

What you could do to salvage the relationship

If this breakup hasn’t brought to light a new aspect of your client that’s less than ideal (i.e. she asked you to invoice her two days ago, and then backs out without warning and you question her to stick to an agreement) and you’d like to continue working together, grovel a bit to salvage the partnership. Were you dropped because your rate was too high? Lower it(if that makes sense and it’s what you want). Did your client opt for a competitor whose rate or scope of services you could match? Communicate that.

What you’ve learned

My last client dumped me by saying the corporate office brought on an account executive who would be contributing sales help and had the background to help with social media marketing, rendering my role obsolete. I told her that our company’s not equipped to offer sales support, but it was food for thought. Every business needs sales to succeed, so maybe we could integrate some of that work into our marketing packages.
If you’re open to working together again…

Thank your client for your time together, and close with a mention on how you’d like to reconnect in the future if that makes sense for both parties. Check in periodically if this relationship could benefit you later, and you’re not too pissed. : )

And, just for fun- enjoy Queen singing about these woes.

“Please do not take offense, but you haven’t branded yourself.”

This is an actual quotation from a perspective client email. A start up man himself, I should have known something like this was coming after an 8 pm conference call that same evening in which he asked , “So, do you have an LLC or what?”(The answer is yes, by the way, we’ve formed Local Social as an LLC.)  But enough overt ranting. What I wanted to address here is 1)what components of our business are branded and 2) explain why I’m not overly concerned with overtly branding our type of venture yet .

I can’t help but think of the etymology of the verb “to brand,” and documentary footage of livestock being stamped with an insignia or marker number comes to mind. Obviously, branding in a business marketing sense is more fluid; companies can reinvent their images as core products change, market demands fluctuate, or new management comes on  board. Still, I’m being very deliberate– and  likely all too meta– about how to brand Local Social. First, we started with some key words and phrases that came to mind:

* boutique, smart, content, writers, marketing, social, social media, restaurants, promotions, daily deals, media, PR, consultant, young, hip, in-the-know, savvy, media, bold, experimental, grounded, technical, sales, growth*

I could name more, but I’ll stop there. There are core competencies and value adds we bring to the table. We’re smart and versatile across a variety of tools, networks, and industries.

I’ve given myself an informative email signature that shares Local Social’s relevant presence on the web(see this post for the visual). I’ve given myself the title of “Socialite,” a fancy way of saying “brand manager.” I’ve written a kit that bundles our services with pricing that has a clear, branded tone, incorporating the keywords listed above.

I stressed to this person and others that we haven’t “gone 100% public” with our branding. You can follow us on Twitter, but I don’t seek out new handles to follow and don’t target potential clients through that channel at this time. We’re merely a presence that shares useful articles I find around the web and posts links to this blog. When I gain a new follower from these efforts, I follow back. It’s all very organic. This blog, I  hope, brands us. And yes, I’ve changed the template three times. And we do not yet have a logo. And we don’t have a website, but we have the domain, so we have professional email accounts. And, if anyone’s skeptical about us after viewing some client work and our kit and isn’t convinced,  share my resume as more collateral to speak to my experience.

And not only am I justifying here that I have begun to brand Local Social, but that it’s not all 100% necessary at the very beginning. We’re thankful to the awesome clients we have who believe in us, and to anyone reading my ramblings as we develop our idea into that scary five-letter word.

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As a way to strengthen our business and value add to clients, we’ve been mulling over what exactly makes us quality social media marketers; what skills, traits, and experience do we possess that make us successful? As we consider expansion and to provide you with some helpful tips on how to break into social successfully, here are a few competencies this mythical Social Media “Consultant” or “Expert” (note I didn’t say “Guru” or “Ninja”– enough of that already!) should possess:

  • A good writer.  Seems like everybody’s start up blog is championing the merits of those who can write, and therefore, communicate. My recent read, Rework, even goes so far as to say it makes sense to hire people who possess basic competencies such as the ability to write well over bringing on individuals to fit an “inside the box” job description. Why does your social expert need to write well? No brainer, right? Words are his/her ammo to post content to blogs, Facebook, Twitter, forums, wherever, and it’s certainly embarrassing to get a tweet like this. More than someone who can contract words properly, your social media marketer is first and foremost a writer who can 1) maintain a consistent brand voice while still adding personality, 2)modify content to fit various character limits in a sensible way, 3)be comfortable writing in longer form (i.e. blogs) but understand the demand for “one stop shop” quick posts à la Twitter’s  micro blog.
  • Organized. I was that girl in high school who made solid plans for the upcoming weekend on Monday to lock in my calendar, and completed first drafts of English papers ahead of the due date. I’m still that girl who booked a B&B in Newport(have a look-see! looks delightful, doesn’t it) for the end of July. I’m also now the girl who balances multiple clients’ social media channels and has set times to check in for each client, receives and reviews daily brand Google Alerts, and checks in at the end of each week with clients for weekly summary reports.  Find someone who’s constantly meeting (and exceeding!) deadlines, since managing social is a round-the-clock responsibility and requires someone who can schedule this time and balance it among other duties.
  • Passionate about your brand. A couple points here. I’m looking for a full-time gig, and I do not apply to brands hiring in my area of interest (social media) but whose brand doesn’t excite me(sorry, Carbonite). Nothing against this brand, or any other that wouldn’t prompt me to leap out of bed to get to work every morning, but I’m so much more productive for my clients because I’ve selected ones that speak to my interests– dining out, fitness, and pets, for example. I believe in their missions, and can work well with the owners and management teams involved. Marketing is, after all, a collaborative effort. That entry-level receptionist who sends you random emails about industry events, that barista who’s in the know about other locally owned spots, or the account coordinator who’s sharing articles on the competition to stay up to speed? Those are the individuals to seek out and work in some extra responsibility making your brand known.
  • A quick (and thoughtful!) decision maker. Social is a job that doesn’t keep business hours, and any good employee or consultant is aware of this fact and is plugged in to your brand during off hours. When your store is closed or the executives have taken off for the long weekend, this person is still monitoring brand mentions and responding to inquiries. Find someone with whom you trust decisions and can think for him/herself. Surrendering complete control of your branding can be a scary thing, but the right individual will answer those tough questions and think on the fly.

Any other qualities we missed? What makes you successful as a social media marketer, or what are the traits that led you to hire someone for that role?

This seems so basic, but if you’re trying to spread the word about yourself or your brand, do you have an interactive, visually pleasing signature?

I’m a fan of the (free) WiseStamp myself. It’s a browser-based plugin (meaning you need to install it on all machines you use; it’s not traveling with your Gmail account) that allows you to customize the font and color of your signature and add links to relevant social networks. Share your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Yelp, WordPress, Youtube…even Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon profiles. You can use those cute little icons, or text, or both. Who doesn’t need fun colors added to his/her signature?

 

This evening, I had a conversation with a client who noted that a response I’d made to a fan through their Facebook fan page used the pronoun “I,” and my client was concerned readers would think she was the one who’d had the experience. I explained that shouldn’t be a problem, since this business, like many, isn’t branded to a specific individual. So, it got me thinking about why I manage social networks with a bit of a personal touch.

Genuinity. Readers like seeing that their source of news about a particular brand is genuinely invested and involved. I recently felt it appropriate to @ mention a designer jeans manufacturer with an obscure product question because I’d noticed semi-personal tweets coming from their twitter handle…stuff like, “x is playing on office radio today,” or “this vacation is much-needed!” I thought, this person (or maybe people, you never know!) is real, and maybe s/he has time to help me out with something. These little updates made this particular brand (@7FAM, if you were curious) more personable, so I felt comfortable reaching out.

Consistent Voice. I vary my tone, approach, and topics covered across client brands, but I maintain a consistent voice: brand-savvy, intelligent, up to date on current trends and topics (thanks Google alerts!) for all. Sure, the local burger joint is a bit more conversational, and I’ll tweet up my followers having a brew at the pub down the street, whereas I’ll keep things more buttoned up for a local non-profit, thanking readers for pointing me to relevant events. Using “I” in my posts slips in from time to time– tonight’s “I’ve taken my dog there for a few years,” for example, or, “I love Stone beer,” “I’m getting through the morning with some @Starbucks Indonesia blue…how are you coping through Monday?” Three posts that are “me” centric for three different brands. Content relevant to all of my clients is buzzing through my head– so I share it.

Avoid Sounding Corporate. Big corporations have done wonders for their social images and CRM. Starbucks is a great example here, and Skittles is another. These brands are gi-freaking-normous, but manage to engage on a daily level by reaching out to individuals to answer questions, resolve disputes, and even just shoot the breeze. No generic, “your time is important to us, please continue to hold” recordings on loop here. We’re still talking about a brand with a consistent message and voice, but at least one consumer-facing channel (twitter) is approachable to hoi polloi. What I’ve learned from these giant ‘Super Brands’ is whether you’re an army of one or one million, it never hurts to connect with your audience with a one-on-one perspective.

So. I’ll take those infamous “I”s out of posts for clients upon request, but did want to dig a little deeper into why  that personal touch is so crucial for all brands.

Last Friday night, I wrapped up work stuff and left my computer on my bedroom floor. Armed with an iPhone and a friend’s laptop for emergencies, I unplugged. I updated a client’s twitter feed and kept up with my responsibilities there using HootSuite for iPhone, and followed my own network periodically on Tweetdeck. I heard about Japan on public radio in the car on the way to beaches, trails, and dining destinations.

Great, right?

Well. I’m usually a pretty self-motivated person; I get up and go to work, I manage client work on the side, I drag myself to yoga nearly every day, I keep up with exercising my dog. This week, I didn’t have any motivation to practice yoga– despite a thumb drive full of AVIs and mp3s– or to crack open a laptop for more than uploading a video of dogs playing to facebook. So, I was bad and also didn’t contribute to this blog. Not to worry about the dog, though, he had plenty of off-leash walking time and runs on the beach.

I started to get antsy thinking about our little project and where it’s going. We (there are two of us) set milestones and mini-goals for ourselves, but sometimes we don’t hit them. (I, for example, was going to update this blog, at least twice a week.) Being semi-unplugged from the B2C world, I started wondering how useful what we’re doing really is. Sitting by a fire and listening to records (with iPhone in hand, don’t worry, I didn’t lose all touch with reality!), I wondered who really cares about facebook pages, twitter streams, and word press contests. I took a break from them, and I survived.

Luckily, I snapped back into reality, receiving an email newsletter from O2 Yoga on my phone. I actually saved reading it for an undetermined time in the future when I felt I’d be more desperate to connect back to ‘real’ life. I got a few twitter mentions. People commented on the photos I posted to Facebook. A former teacher and friend revealed some wonderful news and blogged about it, so I had some e-reading material for an evening.

I took a healthy, sort of break from social media, using it for what I needed (as opposed to checking in idly constantly during the workweek— we all do that, right?). What I found so reassuring was the connectivity social media gave me back to things that keep me grounded when I’m not away: yoga, friends, family.

Taking a few steps back from being so wrapped up in the the topics I want to write about and share insights on made me nervous at first. But all of my networks were here waiting when I got back.

This week, I’m jumping back into my routine and seeking out 3-4 new social tools per day– anything from a client like HootSuite to a metrics solution like Sprout Social (thanks Quora!). I’ll share some good tools when I’ve gotten my hands dirty and can comment on them.  Here we go, milestone to hit.