Getting Started, Socially

Spoke to a lunchtime crowd at the HFTP First Coast June meeting today. HFTP stands for Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals, or the people who oversee money & technology at private clubs & hospitality venues. Thankfully, a few marketing people were also in attendance, probably to play towards my comfort level since I was a filling in for a colleague.

My hospitality & club career ended when I was in college, but I have a few years of experience in the service industry and paid my fair share of bills in my early-20’s from tips earned as the beer cart girl. With that limited background to guide me, I pulled together enough of an overview and TIPS! to discuss at their lunchtime meeting.

Several in the audience today were CFOS, controllers, accountants and the like. These aren’t the people who will be posting status updates for their brand, so I spent more time on how to create the business case for engaging your current members/guests online. I wanted them to think about social media as a tool for online customer service and outreach. Responding & listening to your customers is much easier to make a case for, when your decision makers don’t view “social media” as essential.

Thanks to all who attended today. I’d be happy to hear your feedback and suggestions for future talks on this subject, and happy to answer any further questions you may have. (Like this one, that came up in the presentation…)

For the person who asked about Clubster vs. Ning…Clubster looks like a social network for members of professional clubs, who can link into their clubs’ community. Ning allows your club or group to set up a private social network powered by you and your community, that can live adjacent to your own website. I prefer to own my content, so I’d still lean to setting up a walled social network for my community through a service like Ning. Always do your due diligence to ensure you find what’s right for your company & members.

Hope to see some HFTP members at an upcoming Social Media Club JAX meeting. The next one is June 25th at Pablo Creek Library from 5:30-8pm (presentation starts at 6) and you can RSVP here.

RANT: Friend Privacy Spam on Facebook

Editors note: I develop these “Rant” style posts usually on the drive home from work, where I can’t ask Siri to write and post them for me. Consequently, my really good points don’t make it farther than the four doors of my trusty Camry. I’ll work on my blogging frequently and content quality if you, the reader, thinks it worthwhile for me to do so. 

I finally got sick of seeing the Facebook post that starts with “PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning…” and clicked more just to read what the latest friend-inflicted spam was making its rounds on the Internet. (Does this stuff still spread via email and get copied/pasted to Facebook?)

Latest user-spam on Facebook

<RANT>

First off, it’s user spam. Made prevalent by the same uninformed site users who previously brought us “New privacy settings will let your old childhood friend name your new puppy before its born” spam posts and “Quit Facebook Day” (all 33,000 of you, who most likely have rejoined since June 1, 2010).

The privacy notice is nice in theory, but since you’ve already granted the permissions you want to take back by accepting this website’s Terms of Use, how do you think you’ll get Facebook, Inc. to agree to your terms?  Taking back your “private information” that you’ve already made public (under the existing Facebook terms) can only be done by deleting all of your content from the website (that you self-published) and then deleting your personal account from the website.

No wonder posting some BS privacy notice on your personal (read: PUBLIC) profile is easier than giving up Facebook for most.

</RANT>

UPDATE: Immediately after publishing, a more sensible Facebook friend posted a link to this Snopes.com article, debunking the legitimacy of this Facebook Privacy notice.  #toldyouso

Altimeter Kicks Butt Again: Facebook Page Marketing Tips

Great post out this week from Jeremiah Owyang and the Altimeter Group, all about Facebook Page Marketing. Facebook & Facebook users are continuing to evolve and become more sophisticated on the platform, which means that brands who are just getting started with Facebook pages, or are doing the same thing they’ve done for a year or two, need to start playing catch up, and quickly.

I couldn’t embed the report directly into my blog, but here’s a link to 8 Success Criteria For Facebook Page Marketing: Jeremiah’s post (w/ embedded report)

Jeremiah and his team identified 8 criteria to determine success for marketing on Facebook.

  1. Set Community Expectations
  2. Provide Cohesive Branding
  3. Be Up to Date
  4. Live Authenticity
  5. Participate in Dialog
  6. Enable peer-to-peer interactions
  7. Foster Advocacy (give value & a reason to share)
  8. Solicit a Call to Action

When I see a list like this, I put my work front and center in my mind while reading through each item, as a way to grade myself. Thankfully, I feel like we’ve been successful at most of these steps, but certainly have room to improve going forward. Some are easier to cross off the list (setting up your expectations, providing consistent branding and updating the page regularly are low hanging fruit), while working your way down the list might require more effort, sweat & tears, and getting others on your team involved to do them well.

Which items on the list do you feel are most important for a brand to do well (even if its easier to do)? What do you find you struggle with the most (either yourself or inside your organization)?  For me, it’s 3 & 5 for the first — and 5 & 8 for the second.

Thanks again to Jeremiah, Alan & Christine from Altimeter who published the report and gave me something else to measure myself against.

Six Steps for Setting Up Social Media Strategy

I went through a “101” call a couple weeks back and it brought back the reminder of that, while some of us do this social media stuff 24/7, most marketers and small businesses are still just getting started figuring out what to do with their Facebook profile/group/page,  YouTube channel/video, Twitter thingy. A lot of people I talk to are hesitant to even set up social media profiles because they’re sure there won’t be much time to learn about how to use them effectively — much less actually see a return on their invested time.

I made a few notes while listening to these concerns and questions and afterwards followed up with the group with six steps to getting started with social media. I wanted to share it here too, to help you start building your toolbox.

Six-Step Process for Organizing Social Media Goals & Strategies

  1. Set your objectives for using social media. There are no “wrong” goals, as long as they tie into your other business objectives. Some objectives may include driving sales, raising awareness, creating online buzz, connecting with your friends/fans/customers or using the channels as additional outlets for marketing.
  2. Determine the resources you can dedicate to social media. If you have a team, great. One person, great. One half of one-half of a person’s time, sure. Just make sure that you’re allocating the appropriate amount of resources that are in-line with your overall business objectives.
  3. Decide what social channels help you achieve the objectives you’ve set and align with the resources you have available. You don’t have to have a presence on every social media website to be successful. PGA TOUR player Stewart Cink only uses Twitter, but he does so really well and is the most popular golfer on Twitter. Each channel (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) is unique in how the users engage, who uses it and even where its more popular. Pick the channel or channels that will reach the people you want to reach, fit with the resources and content you can produce and the outcomes you want to achieve.  [Hint: the Groundswell Social Technographics Profile Tool is a great resource to help you identify who & what your audience is doing online.]
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel just for your social media profiles. Use the content you’re already producing for your website & newsletters (can go into Facebook notes, videos, photo galleries, etc). Make your social channels another extension of your plans for marketing, communications & digital efforts.
  5. Use insights from Facebook (Page Insights) and YouTube (Insights), as well as third-party sites like www.tweetcounter.com and TwitAlyzer.com to track your growth and successes. Hootsuite.com and Bit.ly let you track clicks on links posted on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. Measure everything and use the data to back up your gut instincts about what goes well or not as good as expected.
  6. Try new things! and share your successes or hardships so we can create a better community to help each other.

What do you think? I welcome any comments, challenges or additional tips that will help others get more comfortable with starting out, or resetting their goals for using social media to connect.

Are Promoted Tweets Worth Your Buzz?

Even before Twitter activated “Promoted Tweets” this afternoon, I received emails asking about its implications for the golf industry. I’ve done some reading today and tried to answer the questions, knowing though that we’ll learn more about Twitter’s intentions and results in the coming weeks. I thought I’d share some of that here on my “social media” blog to help freshen the content (hopefully this will be a reoccurring thing).

If Promoted Tweets is something you are thinking about exploring in your next marketing budget, and your company isn’t called Starbucks or Virgin Atlantic, you might be ahead of yourself (and the game) at this point. Early on, Twitter promotion seems like Phase 2 step, executed after a successful and exhaustive Facebook campaign to build fans around your brand.

Currently the promoted tweets are only appearing in Twitter search results, on http://search.twitter.com. I have not actually come across a promoted (paid-for) tweet yet. But when doing my preliminary searches, I noticed that Twitter was promoting the top three most popular and retweeted (reposted) updates using my search term (in this case “promoted”). Once I refreshed the page to see the new results, the promoted tweets disappeared. Not sure if this will be the behavior going forward.

The “resonance score” that Twitter will use to determine the impact of promoted messages (and ultimately, the duration) is an interesting concept. Mashable and the NY Times compared to Digg.com’s model, which takes user feedback and interaction with ads to determine the price and longevity of their run.

Initially, there may be value to brands looking to get in front of a message or firestorm by ensuring their messaging is front in search results (similar to appearing on the top of Google results). However, the golf community on Twitter is relatively small and once messaging is passed through the key voices, it doesn’t have to go much further to be heard. (Example: I saw probably 10 tweets from golf writers about Lee Westwood wearing a red shirt Sunday at The Masters. Didn’t take long for everyone to know, before he appeared on the telecast)

I would say for now, efforts to building a fan community around your branded channel should be your priority for growing your audience or marketing to them. Those core fans are the ones who will be spreading your messages for you, especially around a new product launch or tournament time. In the rare case of an exclusive opportunity that extends beyond the golf realm, that may warrant another look into extending promotions onto Facebook and/or Twitter. For now, though, I don’t believe promotional tweets should be considered in your marketing budget next month. Let’s allow the big brands experiment and see some results before dedicating budget and resources to another shiny tool.

But understand that the social world moves quickly…and by the end of summer, I may be singing another tune.

Tweet the Rainbow

 

Would you make Twitter your homepage? 

How about using Flickr photos tagged with your brand name as official company images or take what someone has written about your company history and products and use it as official brand language. 

Sounds a little crazy, right? Or it might be intriguing, but you know that suggesting it at your next marketing meeting may get you tossed out the window like the Bud Light guy in that Superbowl commercial. 

The folks at Skittles (parent company MARS) are only throwing one thing out the window — and that’s the traditional approach to brand websites. Log onto www.skittles.com and 2 bright red widget boxes pop up on your screen. One is a verification and disclaimer (T&C) clause that you have to accept. This is interesting. They’re attaching their online brand to user-generated content, yet MARS Inc. is not responsible for what you might see. 

Just a heads up: Any stuff beyond the Skittles.com page is actually another site and not in our control. This panel may be hovering over the page, but SKITTLES® isn’t responsible for what other people post and say on these sites. Click the box below to acknowledge that you know SKITTLES® isn’t responsible for that stuff.

After you accept, that leaves one box cemented on your browser window, with six tabs at the top. The new homepage for Skittles.com is the Twitter search stream for thh keyword “Skittles”. Clicking on any Products link pops you to the Wikipedia page. Same for Pics (Flickr stream), Videos (YouTube channel — only 3 videos, but that’s another topic), and Friends (Facebook Fan Page). Chatter takes you back to Twitter search [is this a sign that the “Home” tab may be changing?] and Contact gives you a feedback box on the only page that looks corporately owned. 

skittles-videos

A few questions I had after my first glances at the site: 

  • How much monitoring is going to take place on all these channels? It didn’t take long for slurs and negative statements  to show up on Twitter search (aka homepage), and we all know that anyone can edit a Wiki, post pictures to Flickr or become a fan on Facebook and post/tag rogue content. 
  • Why would someone leave a feedback email when they can post to a homepage instantly in 140 characters? I would assume the same person that gets those emails is also reading the Tweets. 
  • How will Skittles recieve, measure and respond to the Tweets, good and bad that are being posted? #Skittles has been a trending topic all morning, and the site just went up. 
  • Also, if a brand is going to base its homepage presence on Twitter, shouldn’t it own its own Twitter handle? As of 10AM (ET), @Skittles had 1 follower (and a profile pic of a LOL Cat), @SkittlesCandy was being squatted on by a concerned fan, @SkittlesUSA and @MARSInc weren’t in use yet. 
  • What do we call the new Skittles online presence? It’s not a true website. Portal, widget, application, channel, presence are all more appropriate descriptions of their new initiative. 
  • Will the new efforts make an impact on sales? @PRSarahEvans posed this question to Twitter in a TwitPoll . Early results showed 63% of responders say Skittles makeover does not make them more likely to buy Skittles. 

The “who owns your brand” discussion is a popular one within social media circles, and I expect the Skittles initiative to spark another round of it. But I’m mostly curious to see if Skittles.com will change or be modified before the buzz dies down. 

One last thought – I’m not against the new Skittles web campaign. I think its a fresh approach that maybe didn’t consider all the corners (or they did, but don’t care). Skittles and MARS have taken the “everyone owns a pice of your brandmantra and acted literally. They’re telling consumers “what you say and do about us is better than what we can tell you”…although this also has the feeling of “we’re saving thousands in web development dollars”. Skittles deserves Kudos for their unique approach, but I don’t expect to see it copied soon.

Get busy and learn!

I’m creating a new list of places to educate yourself about social media, social networking, digital marketing, PR 2.0 and whatever else you want to call it. This list is in the spirit of #followfriday on Twitter (which I’ve been tagged in but never reciprocated, sorry!) and in response to questions about where to find more about social media. This is by no means a comprehensive or final list — there is no easy way to rank the 900+ people I follow on Twitter and the (seemingly) 100+ blogs and emails I try to stay up with. (I’ve even avoided going back to Tweet Deck b/c I think it’ll take a day to organize all the people and keywords I’m following!)

I attempted this last year, in the form of my favorite PR blogs. In the [near] future, I hope to publish more specific lists for those of you interested in just social media, sports marketing, golf-industry, young professionals, corporate examples or something else. For now, though, here’s a list (mostly from the top-of-my-head) of where to start if you want to get busy and start learning.

Who to Follow on Twitter:

(tip- if you haven’t already, get to www.twitter.com and sign up. Follow these people and follow the people they are following and talking to. Follow whatever interests you, say hi to a few people along the way and make Twitter usable for you.)

What to read, whether on the site, in email or your RSS reader:

I’ve left off a ton of people who are probably just as deserving of a shoutout. Feel free to nominate more sources of wisdom and knowledge in the comments and I’ll update this list accordingly.