Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Plan ahead for social media results

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Plan ahead for social media results

So how big has social media become? Check out these numbers.

• As of March 2012 Facebook had over 901 million users worldwide.
• As of February 2012 Twitter has over 500 million users worldwide.
• As of April 2012 Google + has over 170 million users worldwide.
• Out of the 6 billion people on the planet, 4.8 billion have a mobile phone and only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush. (Just threw that in there for fun)

To put it in perspective, Russia has a population of over 142 million (census 2010), Brazil has 190 million (census 2010), and the United States has of over 313 million.

The growth of social media has been unstoppable. How many times do you walk down the street or stroll through the airport and see people staring at their smartphones or iPads? More often than not, they are posting photos via Instagram to Facebook or glancing at their Twitter feeds to keep tabs on what’s going on. To be sure, these technologies are having at least some impact on the way we conduct business.

The cynic in me says that social media is just another diversion and a way to occupy time. But in reality, social media is having a significant impact on the business world:

• 56 percent of consumers say that they are more likely recommend a brand after becoming a fan
• 34 percent of marketers have generated leads using Twitter
• 30 percent of B2B marketers are spending millions of dollars each year on social media marketing

But simply arranging for your company to have a Twitter account or a Facebook page doesn’t cut it. Before jumping on the bandwagon companies need to ask themselves, “what are we trying to accomplish by leveraging social media tools?” Is it a lead generation tool or a customer service portal? Are the lines of communication within the company designed to troubleshoot customer problems immediately before they snowball into a PR nightmare? Does customer feedback get routed to the product development team? Does any of the information bubble up to the executive team?

If you don’t think these issues are real, go ahead and ask United Airlines how they felt about the “United Breaks Guitar” fiasco. Better yet, read this brief article titled “Why Social Media Means Customer Service can Make or Break your Brand” to get a better understanding of the impact that customer feedback can have. Better yet, work with a strategic communications firm to develop and implement a well thought out social media strategy instead of simply opening a Twitter account. Remember, just like the man said, “Question: When did Noah build the ark? Answer: Before the flood.”

 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I guess David Bowie had it right so many years ago. Change, so the saying goes, is inevitable in life. We change jobs, change clothes, and change hair styles. To me, though, it seems that I rarely hear about people who talk about how their profession has changed.

I’ve been in PR for over 20 years with almost all of that time focusing on the high tech industry. I remember the days of faxing information, waiting anxiously for the weekly hardcopy of InformationWeek to see if my client’s news had been covered, and watching the rise, fall, and rise again of Apple—I was at MacWorld ’97 when Steve Jobs returned. Needless to say, it’s been quite a ride but far from boring.

In fact, that’s one of the things I like most about working in the world of high tech PR. To a large extent technology dictates how we perform our jobs. The rise of social media in the past few years has had a  dramatic impact on how our industry functions. Mashable just published an interesting article about how technology, mostly social media, has changed many of the fundamental tools of our trade including press releases and the way we connect with members of the press and other influentials.

But what do these changes mean to your agency brand? Is your agency one to embrace change just to please a client or do you work in an environment that craves new ideas? I’ve had the good fortune to work both in-house on the corporate side and for a few agencies and I can honestly say that the places where technology and new ideas were adopted were the best places to be. Some people are resistant to change and sometimes waiting for the dust to settle is right move. But with it comes the risk getting marginalized and left behind.

The ability to learn, grow and develop is one of the things that gets me out of bed in the morning. What about you? What hooked you and keeps you in the PR world?

Why All the Fuss About Brand?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Brand name, brand experience, brand awareness, brand recognition, brand image, brand franchise, and brand identity…just to name a few. Thanks Wikipedia. Here’s the definition of brand that I like:

The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity – in effect the personality of a product, company or service.

Is there a more misunderstood or overused term in marketing than “brand?” I hear the term in planning sessions and see it all over the news, but how can something that is intangible cause such a stir in the corporate world?

In a recent CNET article about the world’s strongest brands, the top tech companies recognized included industry heavyweights Google, IBM and Apple. In fact, Google was the winner for the fourth straight year. Sort of funny when you think about it since IBM and Apple have actual products you can touch whereas Google is really just an online tool, albeit one that has effectively taken over the Web.

Here is the top 10 ranking of global brands in 2010 by research firm Millward Brown Optimor in its fifth annual “BrandZ Top 100 report“.

Top 100 Global Brands

So as we talk about building brand, really, what does brand mean to you? To me Kleenex is a brand—do you ask someone for a tissue or a Kleenex when you’re about to sneeze? The name has effectively taken the place of the product line. I always have considered Sony a strong brand because it stands for quality products. I used to feel that way about Toyota but that’s another story.

A common attribute of brand in advertising that I see is the ability to identify with the product and want to emulate it on some level, like the Michael Jordan commercials with Gatorade (“Be like Mike”) or the Air Jordan shoes.

So in today’s day and age why is brand so important?

Because it’s all about building trust and strengthening brand loyalty. With so many choices available to consumers and companies, as well as so many mediums (radio, TV, social media, etc.) to reach target customers, companies are striving to keep their customers. It’s common knowledge that it costs less to maintain a customer relationship than to secure a new customer.

My feeling is that we’ve seen an uptick in the growth in usage of the term “brand” due to the rise of social media. Tools such as Facebook and MySpace not only give companies a way to reach their customers, but it creates a two-way dialogue that lets the customer engage with the company on an entirely different level. I’ve read about many smart companies that have added an element of customer service via Twitter. Sounds pretty smart to me.

So how can companies strive to instill more “personality” in their brand? What are some unique ways that companies are doing this?

Enterprise Software Blogging in Full Swing

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

For longer than I care to admit, I have been marketing a variety of software products to enterprise IT professionals and managers, from cloud-based start-ups to SAP.  What appeals to about this space is the technical nature of the products and the challenges of differentiating a client’s products from their competitors.  It’s also gratifying to hear about the customer successes and how a client’s technology is making a very real difference.

Over the years, the marketing approach we’ve used has involved more or less the same set of tools.  To launch a new product release, for instance, you first get everyone together and figure out a press release and some messaging, tie into a trade show, update the web site, put together a slide deck for sales and follow up with telemarketing.

And while all that still holds true, what’s changed is the growing influence of blogging. Over the last couple of years, blogging about enterprise software has expanded by leaps and bounds. The list of bloggers on the SAP Community Network or over at Oracle is truly extensive and growing steadily. Moreover, there are dozens upon dozens of consultants and managers all with a story to tell and blogging regularly.

It only makes sense that enterprise software would be a fertile ground for blogs. This stuff is complex and changes constantly. And no piece of enterprise software ever dies.  It simply isn’t possible for a general IT publication to even do a passable of job of delivering on information needs across all the little niches and cubbyholes. Enterprise software bloggers play a critical role in keeping specialized audiences informed and educated.

You might think the IT managers are all business and no fun, but having tied one on at a few SAPPHIREs, I can safely say that this can be a lively community.  It follows that Facebook is a popular gathering place for various IT communities. For instance, the SAPPHIRENOW 2010 (not sure about that name) Facebook page has nearly 2,000 fans, sharing critical information such as this photo of Shaun White with an SAP airport sign:

Shaun White SAP Sign

With blogging and social media on the upswing in the enterprise IT space, it follows that as marketers and IT professionals, we need to be there too. No longer is it enough to just do the press release, the trade show circuit and webinars. You need to be blogging (or podcasting and videocasting), you need to be on Facebook.  You need to be active and participating in the forums. You need to build communities of your own.

The rise of social media changes what we do in marketing and PR. Instead of focusing on finely tuned brochures and trade show booths, we spend time encouraging content owners and technical experts to keep blogging and looking for ways to syndicate content across blogs and various social media channels.  An example of how this works is a blog post by Deb Lavoy of Open Text (a McKenzie Worldwide client) that ended up on the AIIM Facebook page. AIIM is a large enterprise content management professional association.

If you’re an enterprise marketer, it would be great to hear how you see blogging and social media changing your approach. What’s working? What’s not? What are some of the best ways to take full advantage of this channel? I plan on delving deeper into this subject in future posts. Let’s talk.

When Does Brand Reputation Get Tarnished?

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

I’m not embarrassed to say that my wife and I seek out our children to help with installing new electronic devices. On the flip side, they both find it quite odd to hear me say “I didn’t have a PC/cell phone/digital camera when I was your age”. Our society has become so technology focused it’s a wonder we can even walk to the corner market and buy something without using technology – oh wait, they’ll scan my preferred club card and I will pay with my debit card – guess that example doesn’t work.

There are many great technologies available today that help our world. Whether it’s a new medical device to help regulate diabetes, e-mail so that I can stay in touch with my son’s teacher, or a photo-sharing Web site that allows me to post old photos with high school friends, technology seemingly has invaded all aspects of our life. But now it’s even crept into the holidays.

I’m a big fan of social media. I’ve reconnected with many old friends and colleagues via Facebook and Twitter. But now I think we may have gone too far by shattering the innocence of little kids around Christmas time. For years people have been able to track Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve thanks to our friends at NORAD. Well, now you can also link in and stalk Santa via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Earth and Flickr. But this one takes the cake.

A partnership with navigation company OnStar and NORAD allows subscribers to get live Santa updates on their in-car GPS system. So I can grab my kids, put them in the car, and drive around as we track Santa’s whereabouts. I wonder if Mrs. Claus tracks him throughout the rest of the year, not that Santa Claus has ever been accused of being unfaithful but it makes you wonder that he can slip into so many houses unnoticed.

So what’s the point of this little missive? When does a company’s brand get tarnished by going overboard? More social/political, when do you reconsider your feelings for a company when something goes wrong? Do you think any less of OnStar for this blatant abuse of holiday traditions? Will you stay away from Nike or Gillette due to Tiger Woods’ recent bumper car fiasco? On a much grander scale, would you shy away from purchasing a product or doing business with a company in a foreign country that you do not support? Building brand reputation takes a lot of time and effort but can all of that goodwill be thrown out the door with one simple misstep?

Dinosaurs Didn't Adapt, But You Should

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Say what you want about social media, but I firmly believe that it’s here to stay and it’s changing the way the world works. And it’s not even social media. Why bother waiting for the morning newspaper to learn about world events or national politics when I can go onto www.cnn.com of www.foxnews.com (always fair and balanced) and find out everything I need to know whenever I want? What kind of an impact is social media having on our conventional news outlets? Try these on for size…

Question: What do the following have in common?

  • Tucson Citizen
  • Rocky Mountain News
  • Baltimore Examiner
  • Cincinnati Post
  • Albuquerque Tribune

Answer: They are all daily newspapers that have closed since 2007.

Question: What do the following have in common?

  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • Detroit News/Detroit Free Press
  • Christian Science Monitor
  • Ann Arbor News

Answer: They are print dailies that have adopted hybrid online/print or online-only models.

I’m sure there are other major metro daily papers teetering on the brink, but as sad as that may be, what does it say about the changing landscape of the media? The bigger question I have is…could we be approaching a world where everyone gets their news online or on TV in real-time?

While I read many publications, both online and in actual print, the thought of losing my local newspaper does cause me concern. More habit than anything else, part of my morning ritual is to read the paper while I’m having breakfast. I know many people spend a good part of the Sunday mornings reading their local paper or doing the New York Times crossword puzzle. But to be honest I mostly skim the headlines since I’ve almost always gotten my news the day before online. In our 24 hour news cycle world, our insatiable appetite to be “in the know” means having all the news updated in real-time.

So while the potential death of local newspapers is truly a concern, the good news is that the online news world and social media continue to dominate our daily lives. You want proof? Check these out:

  • The rise of Twitter has been the talk of the tech and media world. Last year, it grew 422%. That’s staggering, but nothing compared to the 1,382% growth it experienced earlier this year. (Mashable)
  • More than 8 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide) and there are more than 45 million status updates each day.
  • Did LinkedIn more than double its U.S. visitors in October? A casual glance at the latest comScore data makes it look that way, with LinkedIn shooting up to 20 million unique visitors in October, 2009, from 9 million in September, 2009. (TechCrunch)

The moral of this story? Take hold of the future while not forgetting the past. Print isn’t dead yet, it’s just got a nasty case of the flu.

So what do you think? Is social media a passing fad that will simply fade out over time or is it here to stay?

Mobilizing the Troops

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Being in the high tech industry has given me a front row seat to the launch of many new products and technologies. My knowledge of the rapid adoption of social media tools, such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, has largely been focused on the tech industry. High tech companies and the people who work for them are usually early adopters of new forms of technology since they’re more comfortable with trying new things or adopting new ways of doing business. Yet for the masses out there who are not part of the high tech world, I wonder how social media tools are being adopted by the non-tech crowd? For instance, is Joe the Plumber using Twitter to find new customers? A central question is if and how people in all walks of life and industries will use these new forms of technology to strengthen their personal and business brand.

Since I work with a vendor that is in the enterprise content management space, I frequently read Ron Miller’s blog at Fierce Content Management. His October 28 posting, “White House continues to get value from social networking”, caught my eye. It focused on how the Obama administration used social media tools, in this case Facebook, to call on loyal supporters to reach out to congress about a healthcare issue. On October 21st, the President posted a request on his Facebook page for 100,000 calls to Congress on this issue. By the end of the day the number of callers surpassed 315,000! Has there ever been a time in history where so much action can be achieved in merely a few hours?

One of the areas that helped get President Obama elected was his team’s sophisticated use of social media tools. Now that he’s in office his team continues to demonstrate how powerful social media can be. I respect their use of these tools and I hold them in higher regard since they’re willing to change the way things are done.

Those of us in the high tech world should take notice. Using these types of tools can address a specific issue, like what the President did with the healthcare request, or customer feedback on a new product. Beyond the immediate feedback, however, is a larger golden nugget to shoot for— brand development.

I’m more inclined to work with a company that adopts new forms of technology to make my life easier. For instance, I continue to buy products from Dell because I see the company using social media tools to improve customer service. I hold a higher view of companies that are actively using social media tools because it tells me they understand the value of engaging with customers, becoming more transparent, and taking action rather than dragging their feet. That helps to strengthen their brand.

As a consumer do you hold a company in higher regard if they use social media tools? Or let’s look at another way. Put yourself in mainstream America, do you care if your mechanic/plumber/babysitter/hair stylist/grocer friends you on Facebook or follows your Tweets? What about in the business world? Would you be more inclined to work for or with a company if they actively used social media tools?


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