Friday, February 24, 2012

50 Things Every Exec Should Know By Now About Social Media

  1. Your child has a better shot at creating a viral video than does your brand.
  2. You cannot post and tweet yourself to marketing success while customers are drowning you out with complaints about your product, service or corporate policies.
  3. People sign into Facebook to find out what their friends are up to, not to connect with their favorite brand of gasoline or paper towel. The only way to succeed is to be as interesting and relevant to your customers as their friends are--a tough task, to be sure. Better yet, get friends talking to each other about your brand.
  4. Just because surveys show people friend and follow brands to get discounts and deals does not mean you must consistently offer them. Unless you really want to build relationships based on constant discounting and reduced margins, find a different way to be appealing and use discounts sparingly and strategically.
  5. When a person follows your brand on Facebook, that does not mean they are going to see everything your brand posts. In fact, they may see little to nothing from your brand. Sorry, that is just the way Facebook's EdgeRank works. (If you do not know EdgeRank, learn about it.)
  6. The same thing applies on Twitter. As people follow more people, they pay less attention to their raw tweet stream and focus instead on lists of friends and peers. If your brand wants to be added to customers' lists, it needs to earn its way there--which is much tougher and more important than merely earning the follow in the first place.
  7. There is not and never will be a template for social media success. Stop obsessing about finding best practices and work harder to test and create your own.
  8. You are not being social if you ignore questions and service requests on your wall and in tweets while posting your key marketing and PR messages into social networks. That's just old broadcast mentality pasted into the new social medium, and it will fail.
  9. Speed matters like never before. Customer service issues can turn into PR crises in hours--this morning's Facebook post is this afternoon's petition. You cannot control it, and trying to create layers of approval processes will only exacerbate the situation. The only solution is to prepare and empower employees to act with greater alacrity and independence.
  10. Your organization's Facebook and Twitter administrators are probably talking to more customers, more often with more impact than the vast majority of your firm's executives.
  11. People will complain about your brand. Don't freak out over a single complaint (unless it is from a truly influential person).
  12. While you shouldn't freak out over a single complaint, you should be very concerned about many complaints. The constant flow of brand gripes can become background noise to decision makers. Do not allow this to happen, because death by a thousand cuts is still death.
  13. Social media is not primarily a direct marketing channel. Do not measure it like it is or you will undermine the most powerful strategies that build brands and relationships.
  14. Every company worries about detractors in social media. That's good, but they should be more worried about employees in social media.
  15. Putting content or functions within a Facebook tab is the Web 2.0 version of the Web 1.0 axiom, "Build it and they won't come." No one visits your tabs--if you want people there, you need to promote the feature and make it very, very, very engaging and sticky.
  16. Ralph Waldo Emerson furnished the best social media advice you can possibly get: "Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can't hear what you're saying." To succeed in social media, worry less about what you are saying and more about what your actions say.
  17. If you do anything that rewards disinterested people for liking your brand--such as giving away a freebie in a social game or an entry into a sweepstakes that attracts people outside your target audience--you're doing social media wrong. Collecting people with no relation to your brand can actually hurt your social media opportunities rather than help them.
  18. If you do not understand the FTC's and NLRB's guidance on social media, you are putting your company at reputation, legal and regulatory risk.
  19. Do not jump into a new social property just because it's the flavor of the day. Pinterest, for example, will change the world for some brands, but not all. Knowing YOUR audience's habits and needs is vital; embracing this month's hot new social property is not.
  20. You cannot stop employees from accessing social networks from work--they all carry their social networks with them in their pockets.
  21. Good customer ratings matter. Evidence has shown that positive ratings on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor drive business. Provide products and service that earn great ratings, then make it easy for people to furnish them.
  22. Do not hesitate to ask your customers to complete ratings and reviews. Replace your comment cards or the survey request on your receipts with an invitation for feedback on an appropriate rating site (such as CNET, Yelp, Epinions, or Angie's List, depending on your category). If you are not confident enough in your product or service to do so, that should be wake-up call.
  23. Only talking about yourself in social media sends a message that all you care about is yourself. Check your stream of posts and tweets right now--what is the message behind the messages?
  24. You cannot keep corporate secrets about public dealings. Every lawsuit your company files, every supplier you work with, every political donation the organization makes and every environmental and labor practice you have can be shared, promoted, debated, criticized and boycotted. Make decisions with consideration not just for law, policies and short-term financial impact but also for how that decision will play if and when it is revealed in social media.
  25. You cannot spend your way to brand success any more. Bank of America spent $1.9 billion on marketing in 2010, yet it could not defeat a 22-year-old part-time nanny and 27-year-old gallery owner who spent absolutely nothing on the petition and Bank Transfer Day fan page that moved hundreds of thousands to protest new debit card fees.
  26. What people say about your brand to each other in close, personal, trusting relationships matters more than what influencers say on their blogs and Twitter feeds (at least deeper in the sales funnel where it matters.)
  27. No amount of investment in firewalls, monitoring and social media management systems can protect your brand from employees doing stupid things. Education is vital. So is monitoring.
  28. If you are only thinking about how to integrate social media strategies into your marketing, PR and customer service processes, you're at risk of falling behind the curve. If you are not even thinking about where social media fits in your customer service practices, you already are behind the curve.
  29. In a world of transparency where customers care as much for who you are as what you sell, the most compelling and defensible point of differentiation is your culture. That is the only thing that cannot be photocopied by the competition and that ensures your brand speaks with one voice.
  30. Do not confuse social media influence measurement with true influence. Until the tools improve to a point where Justin Bieber has less Klout than the president of the United States, care should be taken to use influence metrics with discretion.
  31. In 1995, success was "Location, location, location." In 2005, success was "SEO, SEO, SEO." In 2015, it will be "Reputation, reputation, reputation." Your brand is crafted far more by the experiences you furnish customers than the advertising you do, and your brand's Net Promoter Score is more important than its marketing budget.
  32. Social is just getting started. It has changed PR and communications, and next it will change products, service and business models. Monitor the growth of peer-to-peer and sharable economy business models inside and outside your industry. Some companies that fail to innovate rapidly in the coming years will be left behind by substantial shifts in consumer expectations, habits and behaviors.
  33. Social media is not a strategy, it is a channel. If your company does not have a telephone strategy or a postal mail strategy, it doesn't need a social media strategy. And never build a strategy around a social network. Instead, build it around people and their needs, then see what social networks fit. You do not need a YouTube strategy or a Facebook strategy; you need customer service, product, marketing and content strategies that include YouTube and Facebook.
  34. People say "Content is king." They're wrong. Content is important, but it is more of an archduke than a king. Brands like Google and Apple didn't succeed by creating and broadcasting content; they succeeded by creating a great product that encouraged others to create and broadcast content--and that drove awareness, consideration, trial and adoption.
  35. If you still think your sales funnel ends with purchase, you are missing out on the most important and cost effective marketing strategies available to boost loyalty, retention and advocacy.
  36. You visit your brand's wall; your customers do not (in any significant numbers). Your strategies must focus on what happens on your customers' Facebook newsfeed and not your brand's.
  37. People trust each other more than they trust you. They even trust each other more than they trust experts and traditional media sources. Don't focus solely on what your brand provides to people but on what your brand provides to people that gets them sharing with their friends.
  38. Employees can be fired for what they say and do in social media. If you haven't told them that, you are failing to protect them and your brand.
  39. Your managers can get the company in deep trouble for disciplining an employee for something they say and do in social media. If you haven't told your managers and executives this, you are failing to protect them and your brand.
  40. If the last two bullet points seem contradictory, go talk to your legal counsel and Human Resources professionals.
  41. Whether they know it or not, every employee from your CEO to the intern is a social media employee. The decisions we make, the things we share and the way we conduct our jobs can be reflected, reported and judged in social media.
  42. Do not confuse excitement for your brand's advertising with excitement for the brand. Many ads can rack up tens of thousands YouTube views, but most fail to change minds and behaviors. Good advertising isn't good entertainment--it's good persuasion.
  43. What if you had no money to spend on advertising and PR? What could you do with your product, packaging, service or earned media that would be so compelling people couldn't help but share and recommend your product. If you start there, then advertising and PR are gravy.
  44. Social media can support ad campaigns, but if most of your social media budget is aligned to campaigns, you are doing it wrong.
  45. Fans and followers have potential value and not real value. If you do nothing with them, they have no value. It is how you unleash fans and followers that creates value for the brand.
  46. When choosing a social media professional as a consultant or a new employee, do not be impressed with the candidate's own social media footprint but with how they have demonstrably helped clients and companies with their social media footprints.
  47. Lasting customer relationships are as hard to create in social media as in the real world. Likes and follows deluded some into thinking it is easy, but relationships are crafted not with clicks of buttons but with time, care, trust and exchanges of value.
  48. Do not be impressed with a competitor's total fan count without knowing how they earned it. The brand that wins is not the one with the most fans and followers but the one with the most engaged customers and advocates.
  49. If you are most focused on how to engage and encourage sharing when people are sitting at their PC, you are missing the place most people are spending and will spend most of their time.  Time spent with mobile applications has already surpassed time spent web browsing.
  50. What did I miss?  Happy to add #50 (or #51, #52, etc.), if you'll participate with your own nuggets of wisdom. Do you have any to add?  Did I miss the mark on any of the items in my list?  Please comment below...


Phil Gerbyshak said...

You cannot force employees to share your corporate message. If you make it interesting to them and easy for them to share, they just might share.

If you say you're the CEO, you better be the CEO - it whatever position you say you're in or people will call you on it - FAST!

Great list! You should turn this into a poster or something to hang in a cube or carry on a wallet card. I know that's not social - but this advice is worth sharing in traditional means too.

Augie Ray said...

Thanks for the comment and the tweet, Phil. I appreciate it!

TracySchloss said...

This is really well spoken. All of it true and to the point. Thanks