Tag Archives: KickApps

Social media and business strategy: Integrating around a dynamic website

Part 3 of 3.  The KickApps
seminar I attended last month yielded a wealth of information, from
both advisors and corporate marketing people, about what to do with
social media if you're a company.  For the next three posts, I'm
sharing what I took away from the afternoon.  [To become a member of
KickApps own social network, click here.  You'll be able to watch the videos of the seminar presentations.]

These brief points are compiled from the excellent presentations made by Alex Blum of KickApps, Dylan Boyd of eROI, James Mastan of Blue Rain Marketing, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester, and Sandy Carter of IBM.

Integrate social media into every campaign

  • Always integrate — never segregate — social media, and always think of it as an element of your overall marketing effort.
  • Make listening to the user — consulting the user — a key activity during product development.  And do a lot of betas.
  • Identify the folks who seem to influence the rest of the community and converse with them.

Identify the elements appropriate for your marketing strategy

  • Figure out which tools are used by the majority of your stakeholders — users, customers, influencers.
  • Learn the language — the words — your customers use to talk about your product
  • View downloads as a metric; they are a measure of interest.
  • Add widgets and an RSS feed.
  • Put your own people on the website.
  • Choose metrics carefully.  Be particular about the metrics that tell you the most about what you
    want to know.  There's no one formula.  You have to play with this a
    bit.  Start by building a profile of the qualities and credentials that
    define a credible response from a customer or stakeholder.  In other
    words, for metrics, build a credibility engine that gathers the most
    important comments.

Identify the tactics appropriate for your marketing execution

  • Put tips and tricks in headlines around the site, including related sites such as blogs and networks.
  • If you have a boxed product, do an unboxing video — they're big right now.
  • When you create a community, start small.  Identify the alpha users
    — they will be the influencers over time.  Give existing members the
    ability to extend beta invitations.  Use pin-coded invitations and even
    handwritten notes. 
  • As the community grows, find community managers from within it.  
  • Pilot changes to your website in a contained environment — and
    remember that looking home grown is appropriate if not advantageous.
  • Avatars have five times the click through rate than regular ad-style features.
  • Twitter is food for announcements, Facebook is food for the persona.
  • When you're doing gift certificates, start small and ratchet up the value — it creates anticipation and demand.

The bottom line:  Understand the new basics of marketing as rendered by social media

No one is an expert — some of this is by instinct.

Be transparent about your features.  For example, if a character is a persona or fictional, say so; just make sure it has a unique voice.

Make sure your tone is pitch perfect for the stakeholders with whom you share ideas and information.

If you're a sales person from way back, just remember that this is a long sales cycle — but it's potentially just as rich.

Communicate personally to help each person in your community feels special.

Think
lifestyle — understand intimately the people that are interested in
your brand, products and services and build a set of experiences around
their expectations and behavior.

Listen
to the voice of the user/stakeholder/customer and incorporate their
wishes in your strategy.  One way is to create an advisory council
whose conclusions will speak volumes to the company folks who don't
necessarily want to take the next step forward with building a more
social website or building social media into a marketing strategy.

Always keep people at the center of this equation — and make sure the technology you use serves them.

When
adding talent to your team, look at case studies of what they've done
in the past and consider them in the context of what you want to
accomplish.  The magic of social media comes not from the tools but
from what you do with them — how you tailor their use to your specific
situation.  This magic needs no slight-of-hand.

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Social media and business strategy: The dynamic website

Part 2 of 3.  The KickApps
seminar I attended last month yielded a wealth of information, from
both advisors and corporate marketing people, about what to do with
social media if you're a company.  For the next three posts, I'm
sharing what I took away from the afternoon.  [To become a member of
KickApps own social network, click here.  You'll be able to watch the videos of the seminar presentations.]

These brief points are compiled from the excellent presentations made by Alex Blum of KickApps, Dylan Boyd of eROI, James Mastan of Blue Rain Marketing, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester, and Sandy Carter of IBM.

Make your website more open to viral discovery

  • Customize it — not just the design but its searchability and usability

  • Focus on content that is yours — differentiate

  • Enable syndication via widgets

Integrate your website planning into your overall marketing strategy

  • Use tools that enable you to graph your user data

  • Let your branding approach give your website its context

  • Make it easy for visitors to interact with you and your brand —
    build a community or better yet, give users the ability to grow one
    organically

  • Make sure your strategy accommodates the fact that your
    communities will define your products — so don't try to control the
    communities, just be part of them and help to seed the networks within
    them

  • Craft  your website in such a way that it helps your community
    experience not just your products but the Web itself more vibrantly

  • Remember that community members trust each other more than they trust marketers

Consider three important social tools for the website

  • A wiki — a great way for customers to contribute their ideas

  • BOTs — to increase clickthrough — but use them sparingly because that's their power

  • An independent social network around your product

Social media and business strategy: The website

Part 1 of 3.  The KickApps seminar I attended last month yielded a wealth of information, from both advisors and corporate marketing people, about what to do with social media if you're a company.  For the next three posts, I'm sharing what I took away from the afternoon.  [To become a member of KickApps own social network, click here.  You'll be able to watch the videos of the seminar presentations.]

These brief points are compiled from the excellent presentations made by Alex Blum of KickApps, Dylan Boyd of eROI, James Mastan of Blue Rain Marketing, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester, and Sandy Carter of IBM. 

Three reasons to incorporate social media into your market and website plans

  • It enables deeper engagement with your community.

  • It automatically makes your digital footprint more dynamic.

  • It's cost effective.  In many cases, existing staff can easily participate, and many of the networks are free.  And the money you budget will buy a lot more than traditional media buys.

Understand what social media is doing to the website and cyber communications

  • Registration pages are going away, to be replaced by social
    features that capture information in a way that is useful for the
    visitor as well as the company.  Any contract-esque feature will become
    informal and behavior based, not statement based.

  • Email will begin to merge with a social inbox

  • Branding will become more contextual — in the context of the user's point of view, mindset and purpose

  • Your product and brand will achieve relevance based mostly on its
    usefulness to the customer — and much of that will be gauged not in
    terms of the information you gather via interrupting the experience,
    but in the information you share through the experience of using your
    website
  • Be ready to go where the most customers are — to the most popular
    areas of the website — not necessary where you think customers should
    be
  • Aggregate conversations and behavior to make the user experience more valuable to them and to the company

Manage your risks

  • Privacy

  • Noise

  • Insularity around narrow interests

Social media and business strategy: What I learned from professional services marketing

Traditional, conventional business strategy has relied upon one kind of marketing for decades:  broadcast.  The advent of social media is doing more for what creative marketers have advocated for years — the actual engagement of each and every stakeholder in a conversation, or a debate, or a brainstorm, not a one-way blast.  But traditional marketers are afraid of anything they cannot control, so most are still waiting for the pioneers to show why we should embrace social media instead of fear it.

I think the real problem is that traditional marketers, some leaders among them, are actually threatened by the fact that social media is making it possible for communication between a company and its stakeholders to occur independently.  You can just hear them asking, "what about my job?"  Well, this post isn't for them.  Or for anyone who believes that the best route to job security is to keep corporate marketing in the dark ages.

I was fortunate to have learned marketing not in a college classroom or a consumer conglomerate but in what some would have considered a stuffy sanctum, the executive suite of an accounting and consulting firm.  The longer I'm at this, the more I appreciate my unconventional background.  It has given me the fuel to look at every new innovation, real or trumped-up, with an eye to what it will do for the relationship between my clients and their stakeholders.  Because relationship is where it's at with professional services.

This is the first of a couple of posts I'm planning about social media and the corporate marketing function.  I'm inspired by a couple of things right now:  my work with startups and the need to look at every penny spent on marketing, and an afternoon I spent this week as the guest of KickApps at a really terrific seminar they hosted for their clients, potential clients and the social media community.  It's great and it's fun that companies like KickApps even exist.  Great because it's about time the best marketers create firms like this that really help companies maximize their involvement in the worldwide web — fun because marketing is going to be fun again, thanks to the early case studies to which we were exposed.

Before I go into sharing what we learned this week, though, here's what it made me remember, courtesy of my still-relevant experience at Andersen Worldwide.

  1. The best marketers are not parked in the marketing function, they live at the front of the company.  This means all employees.  They are the actors, not just the symbols, of the brand.
  2. Relationships are the most meaningful platform for marketing.  When you look to establish a relationship with a customer or an influencer, like a journalist or blogger, you get yourself out of the sales or publicity mode and into a real conversation.  You learn what interests them and what they need.
  3. Whether a sales cycle is long or short, establishing a relationship depends upon understanding what the customer [or stakeholder] really wants, not what you want them to think or do.  You build a brand by understanding what your people and your products or services can do for the stakeholder, not how much money you can make from the relationship.  The money — and the success — will follow organically and easily.
  4. The best marketing happens face to face or one on one, which means that the social network is perfect for building and sustaining a relationship.  What we have today is akin to what we had yesterday — a means to connect over content.  It's perfectly fine that the connecting happens via digital correspondence.
  5. Authenticity will out.  You cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
  6. Some of your best ideas will come from listening to what your critics, including dissatisfied customers, say.  Whether it's about your company or someone else's, or even if it's about you.  Play on a team of rivals.