The Man at NET:101 got a message for you, so listen up good, let it be understood.
So here it come, here it is, social media is serious biz, but it’s the brothers and the sistas that make it fly, not the rap of some suited up sales guy.
Don’t sell, don’t shrill, they won’t take that pill.
Time to connect if you want their respect. Add value to their pot, doesn’t have to be a lot. Use your content to make them want.
Show them, teach them, inform them, guide them, make them feel you know what it’s like to be standing beside them.
Use your content in some clever ways, invest your time so it pays. Cos it ain’t about the likes and the number of fans, it’s about brand credibility in the minds of your clan.
Sales is good, but don’t chase too fast, infect your pool with them sales blasts. You ain’t no fool you know the cool – it’s why you did so well in school.
So listen to The Man from NET:101, he got the message to make it all hum, hum, hum.
When I worked in the wine industry many moons ago we had certain classes of wines that were commonly referred to as ‘ladder wines’. These were grape varieties or styles that an individual would typically start enjoying as part of their wine journey – for most people it would stat with a sweet white such as a Spatlese Lexia. As a person’s palate matured they would move up a predicable ladder of taste sophistication to dryer whites, onto sweeter fruit-driven reds, and finally across to fuller-bodied, savoury reds.
A similar step-process plays out for organisations when it comes to the adoption (or non-adoption) of social media. These are the 4 commonly observable rungs.
Rung 1: Social Media, Unconvinced
All business professionals are ‘aware’ of social media at some level – they might use Facebook themselves to keep in touch with family, or observe their children engaging on any number of other platforms. But they are unconvinced it could ever deliver much in the way of business value. They can see other organisations who are active in the space but regard their own industry-sector as different – “It’s not relevant to what we do…”. It’s typically seen as an unwelcome distraction from the real business of business.
Rung 2: Social Media Experimental
Give it a go. The first tentative, experimental steps into social media are likely a Facebook page, a blog (as part of a new website build) and maybe a couple of YouTube videos. Most likely the blog will flounder in the first few months – it’s a bigger task than most people imagine to produce long-form text on a regular basis. The YouTube videos will sit out there and rack up a few views without doing any harm. Facebook will get the lion’s share of attention, after all it seems easy enough to push out a few product pics and announce the date of an upcoming clearance sale. The social media success measures at this experimental stage will likely be the public scoreboard of fan or follower numbers, rather than definable business goals.
Back to Rung 1: Social Media, Now Doubly Unconvinced
The initial push into social media loses momentum – the input required to maintain an active presence starts competing with other day-to-day demands. The lack of a visible business return is rightly being questioned. Maybe the person who first drove the entry into social media leaves, or the business just doesn’t want to keep paying an external agency or consultant for what now seems like a one-way flow of money (despite the accumulation of fans and followers). The organisation walks away form their social media, stepping back down onto the first rung.
Up to Rung 3: Social Media Glimmer of Hope
Something seems to be working… it could be as small as an inbound sales lead citing the organisation’s blog. Or referral traffic to the website is up and so are online enquiries. That fluid hydraulics video we posted on YouTube is now sitting at over 3000 views – people really seem interested in our stuff. And a small but highly engaged community has started hanging out on our Facebook business page… climb a rung.
Rung 4: Business as Usual
The question regarding social media shifts from ‘should we be doing it?’ to ‘how can we be doing it better?” Extra resources are typically allocated at this stage – a new part-time or full-time social media position might be created. A formal social media strategy is formulated with clear-cut objectives and measurable outcomes over extended timeframes. A social media policy is codified. Quality content production becomes a priority. Other departments around the organisation are encouraged to get involved, to share in writing the blog, to answer technical questions, and to help the social media effort generally by sharing their expertise outside of their departmental silos.
Eventually the organisation ceases to refer to themselves as ‘doing social media’ anymore – the platforms, the content and the community become integrated into the organisation’s marketing, sales, customer service and communications mix to the point of invisibility. it’s now just business as usual.
It’s push-button publishing for the people… blogs are versatile, flexible and easy to use. Here’s what they can handle when you feel it’s time to get yourself or a brand out there:
Publish a short and snappy textural post if that’s all you need.
Or go as wide and deep as you need to when people need detailed content – unlike most social media platforms there are no character number limitations.
Add a header image, a series of supporting images or make it a self-contained single image.
Create a gallery of images with column number control.
Link readers quickly to another section of the post.
Internal and External Hyperlinking
Stream anything in from a video hosting platform such as YouTube or upload a video file and insert it.
Stream anything in from an audio hosting platform such as SoundCloud or upload an audio file and insert it.
Social Media Post Embeds
Grab the embed code from a specific social media post and insert (it retains its interactivity).
— ABC News 24 (@ABCNews24) April 9, 2015
(Google Streetview example)
Insert any element of the web which supplies embed code (it also retains its interactivity – try it, move anywhere within the frame).
“Highlight a sentence or a quote to make it stand out from the body of the text.”
invite readers to download a file or a PDF such as the NET:101 Advanced Social Media & Stratgey program.
Insert a formatted table with column and row number control.
And now link back up to where you were.
Automatic Post Footer
View the upcoming courses links near bottom of this post.
Social Media Share Buttons
View them at very bottom of this post.
View the comments box at the very, very bottom of this post (all comments moderated by you of course).
As part of my NET:101 Advanced Social Media course I run a strategy canvas exercise which invites people to consider the different elements at play: core objectives, strategic objectives, content formats, platform selection and position (core, supporting, community), conversion bridges and conversion-point places with reportable measures.
Isolating and examining the different elements in turn assists in the formulation of a social media strategy which is aligned with your organisational objectives, and can be monitored and adjusted accordingly. Importantly, the objectives should be realistic against your organisation’s resource capabilities: level of social media expertise, management support, staff time and direct financial investment.
My preference is to work through the elements of the canvas in sequence from left to right, but as each element has it own dependencies for consideration they can be approached in any order. For example, understanding your limitations around the production of content may influence your stated objectives, or vice-versa. Regardless, all of the elements are interrelated and should be viewed collectively.
1. CORE OBJECTIVES
Every organisation, regardless of its commercial or not-for-profit orientation, is seeking to achieve one or all of the following core objectives:
- Increase revenue
- Decrease costs
- Increase stakeholder satisfaction (in a commercial context, commonly referred to as retention)
A social media strategy should be driven by, and tangibly contribute to, at least one core objective. Identifying the core objective/s will determine the choice of strategic objective/s.
2. STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES
Strategic objectives can be applied across all of your social media, to an individual social media platform, or to a specific organisational initiative, e.g. a campaign or entering a new market. Identify the primary, and in some cases the secondary or tertiary objectives in line with your core objective/s. These include:
- Customer relations*
- Crisis management*
- Thought leadership/ subject matter expertise for brand credibility
- Event support, promoting the ‘back-channel’
- Leads & sales
- Brand building (as measured by reach)
*NB: Customer relations and crisis management may not be strategic objectives, but public stakeholders may nonetheless use one or more of your social media platforms as customer service touch-points (for questions, comments or feedback) or gravitate to them during an incident or full-blown crisis. You may not want this to happen but it’s difficult to prevent.
3. CONTENT FORMATS
Content is the ‘media’ in social media. Organisations tend to underestimate the ongoing time and effort required to produce quality content to feed through to their online audiences. The types of content produced will be determined by which social media platforms have been chosen, the preferences of your target audiences, your resource and technical capabilities, and access to in-house subject-matter expertise. The main content formats include:
- Short-form text
- Long-form text
- Streaming video
- Streaming audio
4. PLATFORM OPTIONS
The social media platforms listed below are the main ones open to organisations today. To keep this canvas exercise simple there are notable exceptions such as generic forums and wikis, and platforms such as Snapchat, Tumblr and Vine. Platform options include:
- Corporate blog*
- YouTube* (generically, streaming video)
- LinkedIn personal (profile and publisher)
- LinkedIn organisational (company, showcase and tertiary institution pages)
- Podcast (generically, streaming audio)
*Any content published through these platforms has the advantage of longevity because it can be crawled, indexed and indefinitely resurfaced by popular search engines such as Google.
5. PLATFORM FIRST OR CONTENT FIRST
Option A: Platform Drives Content
The selection of social media platform/s is determined by where the target audiences are already gathered (and in the mindset) against your stated strategic objectives. Then the focus becomes one of producing content in the appropriate format/s to publish through the platform. For example, Facebook requires short-form text (sharp copywriting) and images; a blog requires long-form text; Pinterest requires high quality images (that have been pinned from your website).
Option B: Content Drives Platform
The selection of social media platforms is determined by the formats of content your target audiences prefer to consume and engage with in line with your stated strategic objectives. Then the focus becomes one of choosing the appropriate platform/s to host and distribute your content, and to build your community. For example, audiences wanting subject-matter detail and depth might prefer long-form text, steaming video or audio which would necessitate a blog or YouTube or a podcast respectively. Or they might prefer image-based content in which case Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook could come into play as the host and engagement platforms of choice.
6. PLATFORM RELATIVE FOCUS
A subtle distinction can be made between ‘core’, ‘supporting’ and ‘proactive engagement’ platform positions, each requiring varying degrees of resource and commitment.
These are the platforms where the bulk of the content being published through them is native, i.e. content which has not been syndicated or cross-posted from another social media platform. It is your very best content, and is closely aligned with the preferences of your target audiences who gather around it.
These platforms play a supporting role by amplifying the content being published through the core platforms via syndication (cross-posting and cross-linking). Syndication is the process of manually or automatically pulling content from one social media channel and pushing it into another, e.g. cross-posting a YouTube video which is playable within Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn without the need to click back to YouTube. Cross-linking is posting a summary – usually a title, short description and an image – of a piece of content sitting elsewhere which the user is invited to click across to, e.g. a link from Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to a blog post. Systematic syndication can extend the reach of your branded content to different audiences, and increase your follower and subscriber numbers.
Proactive Engagement (Community Building)
The chosen platform/s through which you organisation will proactively engage your target audiences – this is the ‘social’ in social media. Pushing content to followers, fans and subscribers is increasingly complemented with dialogue and self-generating conversation treads. It can be a large input of time and commitment to establish and maintain a community, but the rewards are many. The rules, guidelines and KPI’s of community engagement should be codified in the form of an organisational social media policy.
Social media platforms are places for people to discover, consume and engage with your branded content, talk to you and to each other. At times however you will need to mobilise your followers or fans to perform an action of value for the organisation, e.g. contact us, buy something, complete a survey, visit a location, attend an event, sign up to your newsletter, apply for a position, make a donation, volunteer. Depending on your strategic objectives your goal conversions might necessarily take place away from your social media platforms. If this is the case you will need to build visible bridges from your social media ‘islands’ (or install clear calls-to-action within your posts) which lead people across to one of your conversion-place ‘mainlands’. Mainland bridging examples include:
- Visit our website (hyperlink or display URL)
- Visit one of our physical locations, e.g. our store, office, showroom, venue, tourist attraction
- Email us or submit a contact form
- Telephone us or live chat
- Redeem a code (online)
- Claim an offer (offline)
8. CONVERSION-POINT PLACES
Bridges carry people across to conversion point places – environments where the pointy-end of organisational level social media takes place. There are four main conversion-point places: your website, including microsites and campaign pages; physical locations; your contact centre; or another social media platform. Each conversion-point place provides differing conversion opportunities (and measures), as well attribution insights.
Conversion place metrics should be the key indicators of social media success, not the activity or ‘vanity’ metrics contained within each social media platform.
A. Your Website
Get them to your principal online asset and which offers greater control over the user experience. There’s no distracting third-party advertising, you can self-style your CTA’s and conversion paths, and have direct access to your own website analytics, including referral traffic by channel (inc. social media) and conversion goal tracking. Easily measured goals including reverse source analysis of ecommerce sales, downloads, page views, enquiries via contact forms, applications, donations and email subscriptions. The website can also serve as an intermediate bridge to the 3 other conversion-point places listed below.
B. Physical Locations
Get them to travel somewhere. Compared to a website visitor a physical location visitor is more difficult to identify as having directly or indirectly originated from a prior social media touch-point (commonly referred to as the ‘attribution problem’). Goals within this context may include onsite visits and onsite sales – in both instances redemption codes are one possible means of identifying a specific social media activity or platform as the major contributing factor.
C. Contact Centre (Telephone & Email)
Communicate with them directly and fast-track the relationship building process. Goal conversions may include telephone and email enquiries or sales, but may not be attributable to any social media activity unless campaign specific redemption codes are used. In some instances a contact centre member may openly ask how a caller or sender found out about the organisation or offer.
D. End Destination Social Media Platform
Get them to the principal social media gathering place. For example, an organisation that positions and resources Twitter or Facebook as a customer service channel, or uses a LinkedIn company page for recruitment purposes. Conversion-point place metrics in this instance could include engagement triggers such as the number of questions, comments, compliments or complaints received, post engagement activity, individual or aggregate post reach, competition entries, surveys and polls completed or direct sales, e.g. Facebook commerce.
9. ALLOCATION AND REALLOCATION OF RESOURCES
Once your social media strategy is launched you’ll be in a better position to adjust allocations of staff time and money (typically more than you think) against your resource capabilities (typically less than you’d like). Or alternatively adjust your goal conversion targets up or downwards.
And now you can eat…
After launching the wildly popular fragrance Digital in 2008, the house of NET:101 has unveiled Social. The nose behind this composition, Tim Martin was following the idea of creating a classic business fragrance, “One that would last for years and be the type of scent that organisational stakeholders would adore.”
The notes of Social are composed in accordance with Martin’s personal tastes, who also wanted to create a structured yet approachable composition. In line with that Martin said, “I like strategic-analytical notes and we’ve never done this type of fragrance before, it’s more bottom-line focused than any of our other business scents. But I also wanted to invoke a sense of journey through exotic lands and new ideas.”
Social opens with sparkling notes of warmth and humour. The middle notes introduce a kaleidoscope of content – rich imagery, cascading text, streaming sight and sound. It’s a rush. The base notes create a sense of intellectual order: objectives, reports, goals – there’s no denying an underlying seriousness here. It’s a remarkable balance of weight and counterweight, heavy sillage, and will find broad appeal with execs from both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors. Its longevity is one of the most impressive on the market, lasting several business cycles and often longer.
When I first experienced Social I felt as though I had stepped into an environment where everything just seem to work. It inspires feelings of confidence, focus and experimentalism. While it’s squarely targeted at the corporate environment it exudes enough playfulness to be worn outside of office hours. I find myself being drawn back to Social time and again – without doubt it’s another classic in the make. The packaging also, as you would expect, is gorgeous.
Available in Australia only. RRP $795
Dear Little Miss Social
I’m curious about social media, but I don’t really want to put myself ‘out there’. The very idea unnerves me – I think I would rather just stay within the shadows of anonymity. But I have varied personal interests and would genuinely like connect and share with like-minded others. Am I destined to remain the social wallflower or is there an acceptable half-way point I could adopt?
‘Uncertain Social Wallflower’
Dear Gentle Reader
Half-way points? Never, they are ghastly places and should be avoided at all costs! The real question here is one of personal visibility. Little Miss Social herself remembers a not-so-long-ago time when the everyman or women was destined to a social existence of accidental proximity and limited influence. But thankfully it is a thing of the past. As a postscript to Mr. Dylan: the times, Gentle Reader, they have changed.
Social media is an intoxicating assemblage of new technologies. They are enablers of extended and threaded conversations – one may listen, and on occasion hold court. They have formed a tapestry of weak and strong social bonds amongst former strangers, and of course they are an endless source of amusements. But most importantly they are a kaleidoscope of blank canvases upon which to paint, share and propagate connexion. What an opportunity to play the twin roles of conversationalist and artist! You must express yourself, Gentle Reader, out in the creative commons where we can discover you. Publish, opine, engage and claim ownership with manifest confidence. Our new millennium offers much which is easier, but personal online visibility and reputation is now fully our own undertaking. You must to grasp the social media nettle if you want to move from being a person to a person of community interest.
The timid of heart and weak of mind enjoy short shrift in today’s attention economy. Cast aside whatever notions of 20th century modesty you might have and start throwing stones into your chosen ponds. The intersection of ripples – yours and others – is where it gets interesting indeed!
1. Get your website built on the cheap so it looks like a road accident involving farm animals. El cheapo comes in a range of flavours: DIY (particularly dangerous); outsourcing to an Indian guy named ‘Charles’ who contacted you out of the blue last month; your next-door neighbour’s daughter – she’s a first year multimedia student after all.
2. Grossly underestimate the time required to write half-way decent copy for your new web pages. Go into task avoidance mode. Alienate your web developer by not responding to requests for content. Launch website 14 months late.
3. Slap $5 stock images across all of your web pages. Chess pieces, balanced rocks, signposts – everyone loves a good visual cliché.
4. Only let potential customers contact you via a contact form (no-one uses telephones anymore). Get back to any queries within 2-3 days – don’t appear too keen with an immediate response.
5. Proudly display a swag of social media icon links on your homepage. Too bad you’re not doing anything in social media yet.
6. Provide a link to your blog. You’ve only posted on three occasions, all during the first week it went live. A family of possums have since made it their home.
7. Feed your Twitter stream onto your homepage – the last 5 tweets will invariably be a fragmented conversation thread between you and another person about something not at all related to the needs of your customers.
8. Run with a site-wide jungle theme… cleverly shape all of your web buttons as bananas, and play a random animal noise every ten seconds or so. Talk about getting cut-through!
Bonus Dumb Idea
9. Place a QR code on your homepage that if scanned takes people to your homepage.