Social Media Scales of Engagement

08/09/2012

Scales _ freedigitalphotos.netThis week I was called to jury duty. The Honorable John Doran, Jr. presided.

A jury selection is much like making a film or a commercial. There are a lot of stops, starts and waiting around while lawyers and judge side-bar conversations that you can't hear but would so love to be invited to the party. Voir dire (questioning the jury panel to establish suitability) of the 50 member panel took over a day.

Much like the beginning of a focus group, to help respondents develop a comfort level for future complex questions, the defense attorney asked what I thought was an interesting multiple choice question.  How did we feel about our day in court?

1. Excited to be part of the process

2. Interested in the process

3. Anxious or apprehensive 

4. Frustrated or perhaps a little resentful

An ah ha moment. Each of these feelings could be held by people new to social media or even challenged with taking social media initiatives to the next level. The big realization .. we rarely stop to acknowledge and address these concerns before we plow into creating strategies and executing tactics. The results can be too many side-bar conversations that add time and dollars to our process.  

Several times Judge Duran offered explanations about the proceedings that brought context helping us not only understand the legal whys of the Court but the humanity of the judicial system. I suspect this was also his way of easing the boredom of the wait .. his and ours.

As a group, we were engaged with Judge Duran but on a passive basis. That is no one commented or asked a question. Our thoughts were our own not encouraged to be shared.  One might say we were a captive audience and the good judge held our attention because he provided a distraction from the tediousness of the day.

But .. he spoke to us about what he obviously cared about and showed us his humanity. How can you help but engage with that type of person?

Later that night I conducted a directed discussion with a group of Millennials about their Facebook habits. Although Facebook of course encourages interaction through likes and comments, the feedback was that a like did not necessarily equate to brand engagement. And most certainly a random like could not be taken at face value to gauge brand loyalty. 

We discussed brands that drop multiple daily status updates that are little more than thinly veiled ad disguises.  Where is the humanity in that?

An ah ha momement. As a marketer living in the age of social networks I think about what engagement means in terms of bringing a brand to life.

How do we know a like from a passing post in a customer's stream was clicked while multiple tasking or to ease the bordom of the day? We don't. Yet we make multi-million dollar decisions based on what equates to a teeny percentage of our base of page likes. 

Just asking ..

1. Are we tipping the social media scales of engagement with wishful thinking that likes = engagment = expanded awareness = monetization?

2. Are we taking the easy way out, of a complex situation, to justify our activity in social networks?

3. Are turning one of the most exciting and innovative communication stategies of 21st century marketing into another mundane messaging channel? 

4. Are we missing the opportunity to create authentic people-to-people engaged relationships? 

But .. he spoke to us about what he obviously cared about and showed us his humanity. How can you help but engage with that type of person? 

Interestingly, it's a lesson that the Food Network is also learining. People relate to people.

Perhaps some social media brand managers might take a lesson or two from His Honor. 

Graphic credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

25 Social Engagement Ideas

07/05/2012

Engagement_man and woman
Engagement
Emotional involvement or commitment Merriam-Webster

Ever think about the words we use to discuss social media? Well, I do.

I find it fascinating that so many of the words we bring into "social media talk" e.g. humanize, conversation, community, listen support that this is a people first approach to marketing.

The brass ring, or perhaps it should be the diamond ring, that is based on likes, shares and digital conversation is Engagement. Social Engagement is one of the most highly prized words/concepts in social media marketing. It seems we use it all-the-time. What does it really mean? 

If we take the Merrian Webster definition of engagement literally, "emotional involvement or commitment", we can appreciate why for marketers, social engagment is important. Looking at social engagmement from this perceptive it is a significant value in building customer loyaty. Powerful. 

As with a traditional engagement social engagement takes time and relevant actions to build trust that leads to that emotional involvement or commitment. As we all know .. it's not as easy as it may seem. 

Last week I had the honor of teaching a two-day social media workshop in Chicago for the American Marketing Association. The concept of social engagement was a topic of significant discussion. Taking our cue from social media crowd sourcing the smart participants created a list of 25 ideas that they agreed I could share with you. 

The ideas fell into seven broad buckets: brand created content, fan/customer created content, social media technology, know your audience, promotions, additional channels and employees (one we often over look).

25 Social Engagement Ideas

Brand Created Content

1. Talk about product in different context that goes beyond a sales pitch

2. Highlight customer of the week/month

3. Provide something interesting to talk about

4. Inspiring quotes with images relating to brand values

Fan/Customer Created Content

5. Ask fans to create content and reuse

6. Poll/questions on existing social media channels it builds two-sided relationship. Idea: a one word answer

7. Jump start conversation e.g. ask a question

8. Testimonials including video

9. Feature customer videos about topics that may not related directly to your product or service but on a ‘side step life style topic’ or brand value. 

10. Post your events encourage and people to post theirs photos videos from the event

11. Funny “old” content that from your content archives

Social Media Technology

12. Make it easy to share

13. Drive mobile engagement

Know Your Audience

14. Fish where the fish are

15. Tap evangelists for feedback

Promotions

16. Contests/give aways/incentives to talk

17. Rewards for referrals

18. Build in sharing after purchase

 Additional Channels

19. Email footer

20. Tip of the month card tease (e.g. website, email, direct mail) .. drive to  social networks for more information and conversation. This will also work on cross social networks. For example use Twitter to drive traffic to Facebook for expanded discussion.

21. QR Codes on vehicles

22. Packaging and promotion materials

23. Custom wrappers

24. Nonprofit partnerships  programs that include charity donation by the partner as an incentive for Likes

Employees

25. Encourage employees to Like and Follow

Bonus: I'd like to add one more .. please participate in conversations. Jump in and chat with your customers/fans. Thank people who have taken the time to contribute to the exchange. If you're really daring join the conversations outside of your own brand's social network pages and blogs.

Let's continue the learnings. What is your hot tip on how to socially engage with your customers and prospects?

Pinterest State of Maryland Pitch Contest: Interview With Zoe Pagonis

06/18/2012

Maryland contest bannerSometimes we find innovation and inspiration in what may seem unlikely places.

Who would have thought that one of the most creative Pinterest contests would be developed by an institution not necessarily thought of as taking a lead in social media .. and definitely not on Pinterest. The U.S. Government. I know!

Toss of a pink boa to the State of Maryland, and specifcally to Governor Martin O'Malley and his communication staff! 

The Pinterest State of Maryland Pitch Contest asked entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses by using Pinterest to tell the story of their company.  A panel of business experts chose winners in two different categories: “Student Entrepreneurs” and “Boot Strappers. First place winners received MacBook Air and runner ups received an iPad courtesy of Baltimore Angels.  Partnership included: University of Maryland College Park, the Future of Information Alliance, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and the Baltimore Angels.

 ZoeZoe Pagois graciously agreed to tell us the back-story.

About Zoe Pagonis - My name is Zoe Pagonis. I am Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s Communications and New Media Manager and am responsible for making sure that we are taking advantage of every possible tool to best communicate with our citizens.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  What I’m most curious about is the why the State of Maryland chose to create a Pinterest Pitch Contest to bring attention to the small business owners of the state. Note: Submission boards.

Zoe Pagonis: Governor O’Malley’s number one priority is creating and saving jobs and as an administration, we’re constantly looking for ways to showcase our small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship. As one of the fastest growing social networks, Pinterest seemed like a natural fit for bringing attention to our small businesses and showcasing all that the State of Maryland has to offer.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Pinterest and contests go together like PB&J. However, your approach was not only unique but it supported what social media, on any platform, is all about: telling the stories of the people who make up the brand .. both customers and employees.  Please tell us your behind the scene story of how the concept evolved.

Zoe Pagonis: Our office is always looking for new and innovative ways to connect with our citizens so as Pinterest grew in popularity, we created an account and used it to showcase what we’re doing in State Government (and also give people a behind the scenes look at who the Governor is as a person—he’s an avid reader!) In our State, we’re also blessed with an abundance of incubators and diverse centers of higher learning.

A few months ago, the Governor was scheduled to attend the University of Maryland College Park’s entrepreneurial Invitational and Cupid’s Cup Competition. In pulling together information about the event, we came across “Tweet Dingman” which was a unique competition that asked entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses using 10 Tweets.  This contest sparked the idea to use Pinterest.

The rest was a great collaborative effort and an eye-opening experience of just how many people in the State of Maryland are willing to lend a hand in support of local entrepreneurship.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  What were your goals for the contest?

Zoe Pagonis: The main goal of the contest was to highlight entrepreneurship in Maryland by using an innovative new technology. We also wanted to showcase our partner organizations and support entrepreneurs by connecting them to these great networks.  

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Were the results what you had expected?  

Zoe Pagonis: The results were better than I had expected. We had submissions from people all over Maryland of all ages. We even had three that came from students under the age of 13. I was also very impressed by the collaborative efforts of the judges and how willing everyone was to help with the contest in the name of supporting Maryland entrepreneurs.

Diva Marketing/Toby: I loved reading the “stories” from the businesses. The creativity that went into their boards was amazing. What surprised you about the submissions?

Zoe Pagonis: I was surprised most by how many talented individuals we have in the State of Maryland and equally delighted to see the three entries from the young students.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Pinterest provides interesting consumer insights. Are you doing any type of analysis to mine that data?

Zoe Pagonis: We are still very new to Pinterest and are exploring all of the ways we can use it as a tool to connect with more Marylanders. As with all of our new media accounts, we monitor the feedback and use it to guide our decision making.

Diva Marketing/Toby: With any social network initiative there are risks associated with active participating especially from the point of view of a government entity.  Did you get push back? What was the reaction from the lawyers?

Zoe Pagonis: One of the criteria of the contest was that the pictures be unique to the individual or that they use proper attributions.  We consulted with experts in the business community on the guidelines of the contest before moving forward.

Diva Marketing/Toby: It seemed to me that when the contest launched, the State of Maryland’s Pinterest page was fairly new. How did you create awareness with your target audience?

Zoe Pagonis: We relied heavily on our partners and existing social channels to spread the word about the contest. Governor O’Malley also announced the contest at the University of Maryland’s Entrepreneurial invitational event which helped to generate buzz.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Thinking about the entire campaign, what would you do differently?

Zoe Pagonis: We had help from a few partner organizations but in the future, I would reach out to every business incubator in Maryland and associated organizations for help in promoting the contest.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Let’s shift gears slightly and talk a little about your boards in general. There is even a board for Govenor O'Malley. Wondering what benefits he sees in social visual communication over other channels of communication?

Zoe Pagonis: All forms of communications are important and we’re always looking for the most effective ways to connect with citizens and share resources.

Diva Marketing/Toby: In terms of content, are you pinning from only Maryland State owned images or are planning to include citizen images too?

Zoe Pagonis: At the moment, we are posting images and videos about our programs and resources but we are exploring all options–including citizen generated content.

Diva Marketing/Toby: One of the big questions that I’m asked is how do you find time to include another social network into your communication outreach? Would you give us an idea of the resource structure (people) and approximate time you’re investing?

Zoe Pagonis: Social media is highly integrated into our overall communications strategy and we see it as a great way to amplify our existing message. As the number of networks expands, it does become more difficult to keep up with everything but we focus our attention on the resources that we think will help us do the best job in communicating with Marylanders. As the fastest growing network that was driving a significant amount of referral traffic, we knew that we wanted to be on Pinterest.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What lessons learned can you share with us from your overall experience with Pinterest from both the contest and the overall board management?

Zoe Pagonis: Pinterest is great in that it doesn’t require as much time. You can update it less frequently and still achieve your objective of driving traffic to your resources. For the contest, it was a great platform for showcasing our small businesses. The images lended themselves well to telling a story and we’re going to continue to look for more opportunities to use the platform in the future.

Diva Marketing/Toby: To wrap this up what’s next for the State of Maryland Pinterest’s boards? Maryland contest gov omalley et al
 

Zoe Pagonis: In our Administration, what’s next is anything that’s innovative, cost-effective and works to amplify our existing resources. We see Pinterest as one of the many ways we’ll continue to connect and how we use it will depend on which of Maryland’s great entrepreneurs invent the next Facebook or Pinterest!

Congrats! to the winners of the Maryland Pinterest Pitch Contest. 

Student Entrepreneur Category:

First Place: GB Wallets

Second Place: Discrete Secrete Solutions

Bootstrapper Category:

First PlaceBeerGivr

Second Place: Mission Launch

Continue the conversation with Zoe!

Governor O'Mallye on Pinterest |Govenor O'Malley's Website|Zoe Pogonis on Twitter

Graphic credit: MD Govpics Flickr

Join me on Pinterest!

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

Pinterest For Business To Business: Interview With Joel Windels of Brandwatch

05/23/2012

Last week I attended my first Pinterest meetup. Max pinterest tshirt

It was great fun and I even won a Pinterest T-shirt. Seems appropriate that Max should model it since he has his own Pinterest board. Don't you think he makes a cute model?

Anyway, needless to say, I was excited to meet fellow pinners and talk about strategy, cool tools, what works, what doesn't.

"Were you on the PinChat when host & founder Kelly LIeberman brought in Lizze from McDonalds?" I asked a few people. My question was met with puzzled looks. "Oh big corporations are pinning?"  Now I was surprised. Ah..yes. 

Granted, I only spoke with a handful of people, but it seemed most were pinning for fun or using Pinterest in a very limited way for business e.g. one board among many personal boards.

My big take aways: Pinterest, as a business tool, is still in the beginning stages of adoption .. even for the pioneer pinners. Even more than the idea of pinning for business, is the concept of putting a focus on pinning for business by creating and maintaining a variety of boards that support a brand.

When it comes to social media, we learn most from the people who have stepped out before us and generously share their experiences. In this Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series post we take a look how a business-to-business company, Brandwatch, is using Pinterest as an inbound marketing tactic.

About Brandswatch: Launched in August 2007, Brandwatch  develops tools for monitoring and analysing social media conversations. The company is experiencing huge growth in the young sector.

 Joel Windels_Brandwatch

Our interview is with Joel Windels. Joel is the Community Manager at Brandwatch where he is responsible for all of Brandwatch’s presences online, including social networks like Pinterest.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In a world that began as a social network to share images of food and fashion Brandwatch is one of the early business-to-business brands on Pinterest. What did you see about the platform that caused you to actively participate?

Joel Windels: The key thing to remember with social media is that it is not only incredibly new, but it is also changing at a rate that is almost impossible to stay totally on top of. At Brandwatch, we’re obviously very interested in making sure we’re keeping track of all of the most popular social sites, so once Pinterest began to show itself as a rising star, we had to take notice. The meteoric rise of the network and simplicity of the image-sharing idea struck a chord with me, so I decided to test the waters.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  From a high level, what is Brandwatch’s  Pinterest strategy?

Joel Windels: We generally see Pinterest as a traffic-boosting network, with site referrals from Pinterest forming a small part of our wider lead generation strategy. As an inbound marketing tool, it’s an excellent place to house links to lots of our content in a visually appealing and clever way, in a way that’s not centered around our own website.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Understanding that Pinterest is still in its infancy, especially in terms of b2b, what are your measures for success?

Joel Windels: As I mentioned before, we’re just testing the waters and, for the moment at least, we’re measuring its value in referral rates. There’s something to be said for the qualitative worth in having a presence, such as using it as a resource for curious prospects and simply for broadening the visibility of Brandwatch, though the primary measurement is through number of visits to our own site from Pinterest for the time being.

Diva Marketing/Toby: With any social network initiative there are risks associated with active participating. What were Brandwatch’s challenges and how did you overcome them?

Joel Windels: One of the more interesting ways we’ve been using Pinterest is through the use of our ‘social media monitoring’ board. We’ve created it to house a board of our main competitors, as we regularly get asked about the other options in the market, so it gives us somewhere to point people to. Using our own tool, we also search the web for individuals and companies that are enquiring about SMM tools and the industry, so we often step in to offer advice, sometimes via our Pinterest boards.

While it may be a cliché, we think that our tool is the best around and that people will come to that conclusion by themselves, so in pointing our prospects to our competitors we’re not approaching marketing in an orthodox way. The risk is that we’re not as good as we think we are (very low, of course)!

Diva Marketing/Toby:  If you’re not a visual thinker it might be a “content challenge” for a services business to sustain pinning over time. What is your content strategy .. In other words what are you pinning?  

Joel Windels: Pinterest is a supplementary channel for us, so we don’t have a content strategy for the platform. We’ve created one-off boards, such as the monitoring one and a set of pins to support our Superbowl project back in February, though we are now using the site as a seeding channel for our main content – namely our eBooks, our case studies and our blog posts. Essentially our Pinterest content plan mirrors our general one.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In social networks there are two paths we can take:  passively providing content and actively engaging within others. At this point, most people seem to be sharing content/pins but there is not a lot of conversation happening. How active is Brandwatch in terms of engagement e.g. commenting, repining, likes?

Joel Windels: This is a very good point you’ve made, as they are indeed two very different approaches. There are 1001 different social networks propping up and lots of guesswork involved in determining how to spend your ‘community time’. Therefore I decided that, for now, we’ve tried to keep our primary focus for engagement on tried and tested platforms like Twitter, whilst using Pinterest for its own strengths.

For the moment, we’ve walked the first type of path in passively providing content, though as the site progresses and we hire more community staff in the coming months, we may well take a look at the second approach. Brandwatch

Diva Marketing/Toby:  One of the big questions that I’m asked is how do you find time to include another social network into your communication outreach? Would you give us an idea of the resource structure (people) and approximate time you’re investing?

Joel Windels: Our team is split across the UK, Germany and the USA. Understandably we’re still putting together the processes that divide the community spread, but at the moment it’s just me on Pinterest. We’ve pulled a bit of focus away from the likes of Google plus and other networks for the time being, as we’re seeing more referrals through Pinterest. We’ve had other monitoring companies repin some of our pins, and plenty of staff members contribute to the content that our pins link to, but as far as actually maintaining our profile and our uploads, that task currently sits at my desk.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In any new social media endeavor, they will not come unless you tell them. How is Brandwatch creating awareness for its Pinterest boards?

Joel Windels: Well, you know what? They have been coming anyway. Like I mentioned before, we often link people through Twitter and other sites to our collections – good articles, our eBooks, competitors when someone wants an overview. We haven’t really pushed our Pinterest presence very strongly; it seems to have grown organically, with users sharing it amongst themselves because they like our boards/content rather than us trying to draw attention to it.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Pinterest provides interesting consumer insights. From the point of view of a research company, I’d love to hear your views of what marketers can gain from analysis of pins and boards.

Joel Windels: Well, Pinterest is a bit of a pain with its API so it’s very hard to work out exactly how much coverage we offer. Obviously it’s the best possible, but we are aware of some pins slipping through the net. Useful features like sentiment analysis and author metrics can help analysts work out how companies are faring on Pinterest, and how they might be doing that.

 As with all of the data we track, searching the web for social media mentions of your brand, your industry or your competitors will allow you to get a much greater understanding of what your customers are saying. Even if people are pinning and engaging positively on your brand page, doesn’t mean people aren’t indicating otherwise elsewhere. The only way of truly gleaning insight from the social web is through monitoring tools and the features they provide. Exactly what each company will discover from an analytical point of view will differ in each case.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  To wrap this up. what lessons learned can you share with us about business-to-business companies coming jumping onto the Pinterest train?

Joel Windels: As with any new and untested platform, it’s quite fun to test the waters with what works and what doesn’t; it’s certainly good advice to poke your toes in before diving in at the deep end. Furthermore, we’ve found that through being open, interesting and experimental we’ve managed to get a good ROI from being on the network.

Note: #PinChat is held Wednesday at 9p Eastern Time.

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

10 Reasons Avon Is Not Too Late To The Social Media Party

05/14/2012

Avon good housekeeping oct 1953

In 1886, Mr. D. H. McConnell launched what was to become one of the most beloved brands... Avon

Let’s flash back 126 years when women were expected to be housekeepers, wives and of course mothers. In steps a man who defies convention when he builds his sales force with a team of women. D. H. McConnell intuitively understood that as salespeople women could relate to other women and bring a passion to his new perfumes better than men. 

Based on its direct sales approach, which was built on developing relationships and sharing conversations, Avon has been called the original “Social” Brand. However, its competition has left it in the 18th century “social media” dust.

Avon has seen a 75% decline in operating profit over the last decade. A Wall Street Journal Avon sales stats article, Avon Is Late to Social Media’s Party, reported sales for cosmetic products have steadily moved online. Although Avon does have online channels it's not been as aggressive as other cosmetic companies.

Recently Warren Buffet and Coty experssed interest in this iconic company now in crisis. In a 5/13/12 media release Avon said it would  "..consider Coty's letter.."

Update: 5/14: Coty has back off of its offer. "Your total lack of engagement with us leads us to believe that you remain reluctant to explore a friendly, negotiated combination on a reasonable timetable," Coty Chairman Bart Becht said in a letter to Avon dated Monday and made public. "Two months is enough." - Reuters

When my pal and social media colleague, Rob Petersen, founder of BarnRaisers and co-writer of this blog post, invited me to collaborate to bring Avon some 21st century social media ideas I was there. So Avon bebe .. this one is for you! 

10 reasons Avon Is Not Too Late To The Social Media Party

Subtitled: But the clock is ticking, the cake is getting stale and the tinis are getting warm.

1. BUSINESS STRATEGY: Of any brand, Avon has one of the most powerful social business strategies available. They have a brand community of  5.8 million reps. There are great examples of brands that put their community to work and turned their business around. Take for example, Harley Davidson. This may seem like an odd comparison but stay with us.

On the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970's, Harley Davidson overhauled their business to realize their most valuable asset was their riders. In other words, the people were even more important than the product so Harley: 1) Spoke to the shared interest of their community before product benefits 2) brought advocates together and let them help build new relationships. Avon needs a business strategy, not a social media strategy. Now, here's what they can put it to use.

2. "AVON CALLING" ONLINE COMMUNITY: Avon's famous slogan could now be a live, online community where their sales reps offer daily advice about Avon products, deals, help customers with a cosmetic question, refer someone to the Avon rep in their area and talk about who they are as people (e.g. where they like to go on vacation).

By the way, this is what Harley does daily at HDTalking.com, a customer created content community of close to 400,000 members.

P&G also has a highly successful online community, Being Girl, for their Tampax and Always brands that has achieved a 4-to-1 ROI over traditional channels. Avon even has an online community in the UK, Avon Connects, demonstrating they are not late to the party, they just need to join in.

3. "LIKE" US ON FACEBOOK (AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS): Every brand wants you to "Like" them and Avon has a pretty robust but commercial Facebook page that 660,000 people already like. They could use their sales reps more and show a human side.

For example, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, recently produced a video called "Likeapella" to celebrate the people who like them. Not to suggest that Avon do the same thing but to make the point that major brands need to use social media to make a more personal connection. Here's what Kraft did.

4. AVON CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAYS (VIA TWITTER SEARCH): If Avon representative wanted to build 1-to-1 relationships in larger venues, they could go to high traffic locations in their area like a mall; then, if they use Twitter Search, they could find other women in the same mall and begin a conversation they very same way with the very same techniques they use when selling door-to-door.

5. KLOUT PERKS: With 5.8 million sales reps, they must have a very large number who have high Klout scores. Why not demonstrate to how powerful they already are in social media. Put this social influence to work and see how many rewards Avon reps can get through "Klout Perks." This would show how much social influence sales reps already have.

6. AVON PINTEREST: The newest darling of the social networks, Pinterest, aligns with Avon’s targeted female demographic. Online products provide Avon with the base for creating a Pinterest page that has multiple benefits from reinforcing community with boards that highlight new and seasonal products, provide lifestyle the “Avon way” with beauty to showing the caring side of Avon through its nonprofit work. In addition, likes, repins and comments offer Avon new consumer insights.

7. AVON PINTEREST CONTEST: Taking Pinterest one step further is the idea of a “Pin It To Win It” contest. Avon has the opportunity to engage with its customers in creative ways that includes both customers and sales representatives. For example, many of Avon’s products are colorful from its nail polish to lip glow. A red, white and blue Fourth of July themed challenge could create fireworks of fun.

8. AVON SALES REP SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING: Avon has created an innovative online training program, Beauty of Knowledge, for their sales reps. Topics range from how to start your new Avon business to money management, logistics, goal setting and traditional marketing support.  However, in my research I came across sales reps who had posted on social networks the need and their desire for social media courses to be included in their training.

In April, I had the honor of speaking at the Possible Woman Conference about social media marketing. Among the brands represented, by over 400 women attending the event, were sales reps and leaders from Avon. I saw first hand their enthusiasm mixed with confusion and frustation about how to leverage social media. After one of my sessions an Avon rep spent two-hours talking about her social media efforts with a speaker from the panel.

Sidebar: Founded by the visionary Linda WindPossible Woman is an excting conference that brings inspiration and leadership training to women in business.

Although Avon sales reps are currently involved in social media many still have challenges regarding how to start and/or how to take their initiatives to the next level. In addition to the training we suggest that Avon consider developing a series of template models for Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

9. AVON MOBILE APP: Smart phones and tablets have opened additional eCommerce channels and created new ways to engage with customers. With the ubiquity of smart phones branded apps continue to grow in popularity. Research conducted by Women at NBCU’s Brand Power Index found that women are more likely to have gaming apps on their smart phone (75%of women versus 67 % of men). What fun it would be for Avon to explore developing a gaming app and of course, a mobile commerce app.

10. SOCIAL MEDIA MEASUREMENT: Including social media as part of a marketing communications strategy can help accelerate achieving your goals. However, with so many moving pieces, Avon doesn’t need more measurement, they to identify the ones that matter most, their Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and report, track and be prepared to take action on them.

Maybe, if Avon follows this plan, it would let Warren Buffet and Coty know just who they're dealing with .. a Top 50 Cosmetic Brand. No matter how this plays out Avon's legacy of empowering women will be part of history.

Avon ad 2012

Some great brands have turned their business around by realizing and reaching out to their strongest asset .. their community. After all, they call it Social Media for a reason.

What are your thoughts? Do you think it's not too late for Avon and their 5.8 million sales reps to join the Social Media party or is the cake too stale?

 

Pinterest Sweepstakes Microsoft Mouse Design: Case Study With BJ O'Hare

04/23/2012

Microsoft Pin It To Win It SweepsakePinterest, the darling of food and fashion pinners, is on a hyper growth slope with brands that at first glance have nothing to do with "life style" e.g. business-to-business, technlogy, software, finance, miliatry, staffing companies and more. Hop over to my Pinterest brand board .. Brands Beyond The Expected to see 101 (and counting!) examples.

As we've seen with Kotex (Diva Marketing interview with the brand manager and agency) brands are exploring ways to engage with customers that go beyond a pin and comment.

Contests are hot hot hot on Pinterest. When I came across an interesting sweepstakes from Micrsoft I wondered if Pinterest contests could really work for tech companies. BJ O'Hare, social media lead for Microsoft Hardware Team, graciously agreed to tell us the back-story in a Diva Marketing Mini Case Interview. Thanks to Kristina Libby for the intro.

BJ OHare_MircoSoft_DM interviewAbout BJ O'Hare - BJ O’Hare is the Social Media Lead for the Microsoft Hardware Team. Over the course of her career, BJ has combined her passion for interpersonal engagement with her enthusiasm for technology to develop expertise in the realm of social media and marketing.

In her current role, BJ is responsible for the management of all Microsoft Hardware social channels including its Blog, Twitter Handle and Facebook page, which she worked to launch in late 2011. She also collaborates closely with Windows and its social channels, particularly its Pinterest page. 

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Of all the tactics Microsoft could have chosen to create awareness for its new mouse designs, which by the way are very cool and fun, why Pinterest?

BJ O’Hare/Microsoft: Pinterest is a great way to virtually express yourself and be creative. The new mouse designs are very expressive and appeal to people looking for ways to personalize their everyday life, so Pinterest was a good fit for this Microsoft Hardware campaign.  

Diva Marketing/Toby: Were there other social networks/social media and/or marketing initiatives included in the campaign? 

BJ O’Hare/Microsoft: It was promoted on various Microsoft Facebook & Twitter pages as well as Microsoft blogs. It was also a discussion topic during a Windows Tech Tuesday #winchat which is a weekly Twitter chat held by the Windows PR and social media teams from 12-1pm PT on Tuesdays. The chats cover a variety of topics from partner products to consumer trends. To participate in a chat follow @windows or @windowsblog and the hashtag #winchat.

Diva Marketing/Toby: How did Microsoft create initial awareness of the sweepstakes?

BJ O’Hare/Mircosoft: We announced the sweepstakes by partnering with the Windows team and promoting the campaign on various Microsoft Facebook & Twitter pages and on Microsoft blogs and continue to promote on those channels.

  • We also add new images every few days so there are fresh pins for people to use so they will continue to stay engaged with our boards.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What were your goals for the sweepstakes?

BJ O’Hare/Microsoft: Our main goal was to generate awareness of the new colors and artist designs through engagement with an audience that is active on Pinterest, and looking for colorful and rich assets to decorate their boards with.  We also wanted to increase followers of our boards and generate repins. Microsoft mouse
Diva Marketing/Toby: Can you share a high level of the results?

BJ O’Hare/Microsoft: We generated awareness which resulted in an increase of followers and re-pins.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Were the results what you had expected? Can you tell us why or why not?

BJ O’Hare/Microsoft: The audience that uses Pinterest is interested in images that they can use to decorate their boards. This was a successful campaign and allowed users to do that through repinning Microsoft mouse designs. We were successful in generating awareness and increasing our followers and repins by using colorful and stylish images.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Did you do any analysis of the pins/boards for consumer insights e.g. Designs most pinned, pin/board descriptors, etc. If so what did you consider?

BJ O’Hare/Microsoft: We did some simple analysis which included designs vs color images pinned, repinning the contest pin, pin & board descriptors, and group of images vs single item images. We are also doing some analysis on product images vs lifestyle images.

Diva Marketing/Toby: I noticed that the contest board is now the last board on the page. When the contest was running was it the 1st board? Also, do you plan to keep the contest board or delete it like Kotex did with theirs?

BJ O’Hare/Microsoft: When the contest was running it was in the first row of boards so it was clear to see. We have new sweepstakes we’ve run since Spring Inspirations and now currently Mother’s Day which is the 1st first board you see. We are building our long term strategy for what the presence of contest boards looks like after the contest has finished.

Diva Marketing/Toby: If you were to redesign the campaign, in retrospect, what would you do differently?

BJ O’Hare/Mircosoft: When using Pinterest as a platform to promote campaigns, each will have a variety of different tactical components that will work.  For this campaign, we achieved what we set out to do.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What lesson learned can you share with us?

BJ O’Hare/Microsoft: Pinterest is a great way to virtually express yourself and be creative.  Since we had such great artists that designed amazing art on our mice, Pinterest proved to be a great vehicle to promote this initiative.

This was a collaborative effort between the Microsoft Hardware and Windows teams and may not be representative of what other teams at Microsoft are doing with Pinterest.

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

To learn more about our Pinterest contest, please visit the Windows Team Blog. If you’re interested in learning more about Microsoft Hardware and Windows, please explore the following:

Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft Hardware Blog

Microsoft Hardware Facebook

Microsoft Hardware Twitter

 

Windows

Windows Team Blog

Windows Facebook

Windows Twitter

Kotex + Pinterest = An Innovative Campaign: A Case Study With Yael Linen-Zuchman

03/30/2012

Pinterest_creative KotexSeems we can’t turn a virtual corner without bumping into a post about the hottest social network Pinterest.

What started as a playground for mostly women to share life style images is morphing into a serious business platform. Many brands, B2b, B2C, as well as, nonprofit and even the military and higher ed are pinning.

Recently I was contacted by an Israeli agency about a Pinterest campaign that they launched for Kotex: Kotex Inspiration Day.  Smoyz logoThe strategy capitalized on Pinterest in an innovative way beyond brand pins on a board. Let’s call it a “Pinterst” relationship strategy a la blogger relations. In fact, it might be the first. But I can assure you it will not be the last.

Yael Linen-Zuchman, CEO of the agency smoyz, kindly agreed to fill us in on the back-story, offer her insights about the strategy and share some lessons learned. 

Yael Linen-ZuchmanAbout Yael Linen-Zuchman, CEO of smoyz. She is a 30 year-old who graduated with a BA in business in 2009 at IDC Herztelia Israel. She established smoyz, a creative agency in 2010. She's "always looking for the next (simple yet brilliant) big thing."

About smoyz. A creative agency founded in 2010. smoyz is an agency for unique marketing on New Media, specializing in creative and novel content activities and building optimal platform for the brand on the web. Eran Sion – Digital Marketing Manager at Hogla-Kimberly

In several questions Yael asked Eran Sion, Digital Marketing Manager at Hogla-Kimberly to share his views. We have a unique view of the campaign from two perspectives: the brand and the agency.   

 

Diva Marketing/Toby: Yael, let’s start at the beginning. How did the idea to reach out to pinners come about?

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: To communicate the launch of "Kotex Design" designed pads and panty liners by Kotex. We searched for an innovative social platform where women can express themselves freely and openly in a unique way.

Pinterest, and especially pinners, were found to be the best candidates because of the simple and brilliant (and not too invasive) way Pinterest works. In one simple action (pin) you can express yourself.

Diva Marketing/Toby: So, if I understand you, it seems that before you could reach out to women to give them the unique gifts from Kotex you first had to identify them and Pinterest was how you chose to do that.

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: That is correct!

Diva Marketing /Toby: Although you were going into a new area of social marketing… call it social visual communication, as marketers we seem to always be held to the standard of achieving goals/objectives. What were the goals/objectives that the client wanted to achieve for this program? 

Eran Sion/Hogla-Kimberly: Kotex is "the underdog brand" at the feminine category in Israel and Kotex logo therefore we looked for a unique and unconventional activity that will encourage Israeli women to talk about the products and rethink their habits and attitude towards the brand. 

Diva Marketing /Toby: Since this was a novel approach to Pinterest, what did you/smoyz want to learn from the experience that might have been different from Kotex’s goals?

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: We generally think the same as Hogla-Kimberly. We were looking for an activity that would generate buzz around the product/brand. My brief was to create the conversation and maintain the brand as the creator of the move.

Diva Marketing /Toby:  Creating a YouTube video to tell your story of the brand strategy was nothing short of brilliant. Note: if you have not seen the video it's worth a click and watch.

In the video you indicated that 50 women were contacted. Let’s dive into what many marketers would like to understand .. your process of the hows and whys. Now, we’re not expecting you to give away any trade secrets Yael but a high level over view would be great. 

How were the women identified? In other words was it done manually or through technology?

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: The women were identified by a few categories: viral, trendsetters and active on pinterest (many profiles on pinterest are open though not active enough to be relevant for this campaign). The women were identified first via social media monitoring and analysis technology  and then manually picked the most inspiring ones.

Diva Marketing /Toby: Did smoyz and Kotex develop a set of criteria e.g. age, country, type of interests, etc?

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: We looked for profiles / pictures that could creatively be transformed into "real life products."  

Diva Marketing /Toby: I guess it goes without saying, the women were from Israel (smile).  Was an “influencer” or “power pinner” part of your criteria? If so how did you define that e.g. by number of pins, followers, ect?

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: Yes, an influencer & power pinner were part of our criteria; we looked for profiles which are both active and both viral (followers wise).

Diva Marketing /Toby:  What were some of the challenges that you encountered?

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: The main challenge was to make the pinners cooperate with a commercial activity owned by Kotex. Because we were very accurate and relevant to the Pinners, we received fantastic collaboration.

Diva Marketing /Toby:  From the video it seemed as though the gifts were a surprise. I’m curious as to how the women’s addresses were located.

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: After monitoring an inspiring pin we prepared the gift and pinned a photo on our Pinterest profile (Get Inspired). Then, on each pin that we monitored we commented and added a link to the gift, in order to receive the gift all they needed to do was repin our photo.

The repin was a signal of their interest, the addresses were taken via personal message approach. We used both the @ symbol and both the pin & like in order to get their attention properly. 

Diva Marketing /Toby:  Your results were beyond impressive; especially since the women posted across multiple social networks. How did you track the analytics? Note: almost 100% participation.

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: Technical social media monitoring and manually monitoring these 50 women.

Diva Marketing /Toby: Yael , I’d love to see how the women positioned their pins? Can you share a couple of the Pinterest board with our community?

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyze: The profile we created, was deleted and no longer exist, that's why you can't see the photos. We decided to open the Kotex Pinterest "Get Inspired" profile temporarily and closed it after the campaign. (Note: Eran addresses this approach further below.)

Following are some of the women who participated in the Pinterest Kotex campaign.

Products I Love . My StyleLegally Blonde . Urban Wilderness

Diva Marketing /Toby: My friends (and I admit me too!) are so curious .. what were some of the presents that were in  the boxes? That must have been a fun part of the project .. making sure the gifts reflected the pinner’s interests.

 Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz: This was the most amazing part of the campaign. After locating each womens inspiration smoyz team went out for an inspiration treasure hunt.

We went to markets, malls, searched the internet..and finally bought 50 unique inspiring gifts. After buying these gifts artists designed on these gift the new kotex design look. Among the gifts:

Kotex_kittyA women pinning cat photos received two bowls designed and with her cats names. (Note: Maxie pup approves!)

A women that pinned sweets, got a kotex designed jar full of hearted sweets.

A women that pinned cupcakes & got kotex designed cupcakes.

A young girl pinned diaries & got a pocket diary with her name painted on the diary.

A women that pinned pastry-cooking stuff received a cooking kit designed with her initials.

Kotex_gift1 Kotex gift_2
Kotex gift 3

Diva Marketing /Toby: Yael what fun .. buying presents. I want that job! By the way, does Kotex have a Pinterest page? And if they do would you be so kind as to give us the link? If not are any plans in the works that you can share with us?

Eran Sion/Hogla-Kimberly: We believe that any activity on behalf of the brand, should give true value to our consumers and reflect the core values of the brand. The latest activity did just that. We are in a constant search for a platform that will enable us to provide added value to our consumers – It does not have to be a long lasting engagement, short term relations are also welcome.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Interesting approach to Pinterest and social media. Not only short term boards for campaigns but taking them down after the run of the campaign. Eran, I'm curious .. why wouldn’t Kotex want the long-term awareness that the board would bring?

Eran Sion/Hogla-Kimberly: The main goal of our digital platforms is to promote awareness to the brand and we support them constantly. Nevertheless it would be ambitious to create constant excitement on behalf of Kotex on a Pinterest profile; but due the success of the "Kotex Inspiration Day" activity, we will examine our long term presence on the platform. 

Diva Marketing /Toby:  Diva Marketing is all about learning from each other. Yael, would you please share a couple of the overall lessons that you learned?

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz:

  • In my opinion New media marketing in 2012 is all about creating intimate moments with the brand.
  • These amazing platforms enable the brands to touch their audience in the most intimate way. 
  • Conventional advertising and marketing cannot stand alone today without a simple yet brilliant touch to blow people away and create a real organic engagement.

Diva Marketing /Toby: In the tradition of Diva Marketing interviews,  you get the last word. So the virtual stage is yours .. wrap it up any way you’d like.

Yael Linen-Zuchman/smoyz:  Would it be cheesy if I quote my most favorite one? Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication -- Leonardo de Vinci

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

Friday Fun: Entrepreneurial Spirit

03/30/2012

Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend playground time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

  • If you don't have a dream how you gonna have a dream come true? - South Pacific 

Social media is built by people who dream and create. Two qualities of what I think of defines the entrepreneurial spirit.

Even if you're not developing a new social widget or strategy, but are exploring and using social media, I believe you have some of that spirit. You're thinking in new ways, trying a different approach.  Toss of a pink boa to you! By the way, in an innovative imitative Babson College is asking people to define "entepreneurialship." 

Entepreneurs inspire. We look at their accomplishments and perhaps we're encouraged to take our dream one step further. We look at the lessons learned that they pass along and take a few to heart. Perhaps we'll stumble over one less rock in the road. I'd like to introduce you to a couple of people who took a chance and are making their dreams come true .. some beyond their own expectations.

Think that fashion and bargains are just for divas. Think again. Jason Ross, founder of JackThreads tapped into guys who want to be cool on a budget. He built an eCommerce sample site ..with a twist. It was members only. Every aspect, from the products to the photography reinforces the brand value and promise.  Jackthreads

"We're kind of like the Robin Hood of men's clothing, minus the grand larceny and the pointy hat." - Jason Ross. MSN  Business On Main has a great interview with Jack. Worth a click and a watch. @jackthreads JackThreadsFacebook 

This week in Atlanta, the Digital Divas, a SIG of the AiMA (Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association), brought together a panel of women entrepreneurs.  Lynne Laube, President and Co-Founder, CardlyticsCaroline Van Sickle, Founder/CEO, Pretty in My Pocket and Kris Zagoria, founder, Moxie Interactive shared their stories and lessons learned of taking start-up companies to multi million dollar enterprises. 

I find it interesting what people take away from a speech. In tweets, here are some what the audience found inspirational. 

Digital divas tweets_1Digital divas tweets_2

Let's Have FUN .. You Can Win $100!

MSN Business On Main/Diva Marketing Small Business Tip Contest

 Your challenge is to share 1 idea on what inspires you when it comes to tapping into your entrepreneurial spirit.

 Rules of MSN The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Social Media Small Business Tips Contest 

1. Post your tip for how to use social media for branding on this Diva Marketing post And on this MSN Business On Mail PostIf you don't post on MSN BOM and indicate Diva Marketing you cannot qualify for the $100 prize. 

2. Identify your post on Business On Main with the words Diva Marketing

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing.

4. Contest ends midnight Saturday April 14, 2012.

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

6. A valid eMail address must be included on the "Post a Comment Section" of your Diva Marketing comment. (How will I know where to contact you to send your check?)

That's it .. now it's your turn! Wouldn't $100 a great way to say thank you to You? 

Looking forward to your ideas!

Thanks Rob for the edit!

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MSN Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.





 

Personal Branding Within The Corporate Workplace

03/20/2012

Do you remember Tom Peters’ innovative Fast Company article The Brand Called You?

Computer womanBack in the ‘90’s Peters presented what for the time was an unusual concept: employees could position themselves, within their organizations, as though they were a brand.  His idea was employees were more than cogs in a corporate wheel. By taking a lesson from how marketers branded products people could successful manage and grow their careers. 

There have been volumes written about how to create a “personal brand” including right here on Diva Marketing posted in 2009. However, social media and social networks have added an interesting dimension. 

What if ..

  • your employer helped you develop your personal brand to the benefit of both you and them?

What if ..

  • then you both leveraged the credibility, visibilty and goodwill of each to create a an earned halo effect that supports and aligns your values and the company's brand promise? 

Answer: You have an Employee Personal Branding Strategy.

Enterprises which place a value on encouraging employee branding, experience multiple benefits. For instance it strengthens corporate branding both internally and externally. When an organization helps its employees create their brand for mutual value, from the company’s  point of view, many positives can occur from decreasing business costs to increasing market awareness.

Six Benefits of Employee Personal Branding

1. Industry knowledge transfer which may decrease training costs

2. Trend identification which may present new product development and sales opportunities

3. Stronger collaboration with subject matter experts which may increase  logistic efficiencies

4.  Increased leadership development which may decrease recruitment acquisition costs

5. Employees can serve as brand champions increasing visibility within the industry and building important relationships with customers, prospects, influencers and thought leaders.

6. Improved corporate brand perception which can positively affect not only marketing goals,  but improve recruiting top people to the organization by becoming a more desirable place to work. This is the ultimate “halo effect.”

Employee personal branding is a aspect of social business that I believe will become increasingly critical as employees take for granted using social networks, like LinkedIn, to cultivate relationship building opportunities.

On the flip side, organizations are neglecting low cost ways to increase brand awareness, credibility and goodwill through the people who know their brand the best .. their employees.

I am excited to be working with Bernie Borges to create an important training workshop sponsored by the American Marketing Association: Personal Branding within in the Corporation. Please enjoy this podcast where Bernie and I take you on a deeper dive of this exciting concept. 

Update: After my conversation with John Cass, I'm adding one more 

What if ..

  • the "halo influence" of employer/employee continues even after you leave an organization. Why not work together to create a mutual beneficial employee digital presence .. for the present and the future?

Graphic credit: ymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Is Social Media A Strategy or A Tactic?

03/08/2012

  • In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell. – Jack Welch 

Strategy freenetwork
As BBF B.L. Ochman recently reminded me, social media has been around, and included in varying degrees (!), as a business initiative for the past ten years. Although most marketers agree social media is not a fad there is still a debate on what is social media. Is social media a strategy or is social media a tactic?

Just One Crowd Sourced Question

I was curious to understand what and why marketers thought on this issue and thought it would be a great question for Diva Marketing's sometimes series: Just One Crowd Sourced Question.

I reached out to people within social networks and invited them to reach out to their networks and answer .. just one question. It's a quick turn around .. a few days to respond. The goal, of course, is to bring you diverse opinions so we can learn together. 

Let's frame the question with a high level overview of strategy and tactics. The following is from Euromed Marseille School of Management, World Med MBA Program - Information Systems and Strategy Course

"Strategy and tactics are about means and ends: they bridge the gap between our vision of the future and our day to day decisions. Both strategy and tactics are about deciding the means by which a goal is reached. Ultimately the goal of strategy as a concept is to find a rigorous and systematic way of making these decisions."

Or put another way .. strategy is identifying which song to sing and tactics are identifying how to sing it. Then sing it out loud and strong! 

Crowd sourceOut of the 17 responses received, most people felt that social media was both a strategy and a tactic.

It was interesting that several marketers considered social media to be neither. They came up with their own creative descriptives ranging from "a corporate culture and state of mind to a platform and communications tools."

 Is Social Media A Strategy or Is Social Media A Tactic?

Social Media Is A Strategy

1. Social media is a strategy for communicating and engaging in/expanding dialogue with your brand's consumers/advocates/constituents. Sure, it's one tactic for broadcast marketing messages, but successful use of social media includes using it as a customer service, just as much as a marketing, tool.

Developing a strategy prior to implementing social media ensures that your company has the resources/manpower to keep it running; that you have the tools in place to measure its value; that you'll know what to do with it with a crisis strikes; and that you get the bang for your buck integrating cross-departmental use (customer service department, communications department, user experience, operations, etc.). - Laura Bellinger @madamebelle

2. Utilizing social media is a strategy. Tactics are how you accomplish the goal. Interestingly the idiom for strategy is "tools of the trade". - JoAnn Hines Packaging Diva

3. Because it helps to get your name/product out in the world by a host of different means. - AmyJo

Social Media Is A Tactic

1. While you can have a strategy for your social media program, it is a tactic within your overall marketing tool kit. It should be one element of a complete business/marketing strategy that aligns with business goals and objectives. - Katharine McMahon @marketingbykat

2. I think it is more of a Tactic than a strategy. A strategy is what you need to do to implement your goal(s). The tactics are the How's. Moreover, I believe that Social Media is more of a connector - it's the glue that links the offline and the online efforts of your marketing campaigns, it connects you to your fans, would-be fans, competitors and general public. That is built-in market research right there. - Sue Duris President M4 Communications, Inc. 

3. Like other forms of 'marketing' or engaging with your customer, social media exists to bring you face-to-face, either in real time or virtually. The strategy of your business needs to be finding the best ways to serve your customers - the tactic is in using social media, among other tools, to achieve that goal. - Yvonne DiVita, Lip-sticking 

Social Media Is Both A Strategy And A Tactic

1. SM is a great tool (tactic) to achieve and meet goals, but it truly needs a strategy to be successful. Without the strategy, how do you know if the tool is working? - Rachel Simon @raksimon

2. Offense is strategic, Defense is tactical. I see the world of social as offense versus defense. Tactically, I see the defensive positioning of responding to comments about your brand. Strategically, I see the opportunity to remain in an offensive position - pushing social campaigns and predicting results so you can stage the next campaign (think business process flows for social campaigns). - David Favero @mdavidfavero

3. Social media needs to be addressed as part of every marketing strategy. With a coherent, cohesive strategy in hand, a tactical plan to execute social media is the next step. Hard to have any effective execution without connecting the dots to a strategy that advances the business case. - Nancy Chorpenning CSuiteAdvisors @CSuiteAdvisors

4. For most brands it is mainly a tactic that needs to be integrated into a larger marketing plans BUT, several smaller businesses are utilizing it as a full-blown strategy because of the cost barrier being perceived as being low.- Anon

5. Social is breaking down the walls in the market allowing buyers to engage in a collaborative buying process in peer to peer networks for decision support. Buyers are building a strategic business case to justify their recommended approach to solving business problems while building consensus to the decision with their teams.

If we are buyer-centric in our commitment to helping our buyers make better decisions then we need to find where strategic and tactical intersect. Tactical engagement in support of strategic relationships for business impact. – Judy Mod @JudyMod @SocialCouncil

6. Mmm.that's challenging because a Strategy (in marketing parlance) really should be an idea of how to execute a goal...like "nuke the enemy to achieve world dominance." And the tactic would be the tools you use to do this. So technically Social Media is a tactic, but surely there is some way to define social media as a strategy? Am I waffling here? – Anon

7. Social media may be a strategic marketing approach. The actual way you use SM is tactical.A marketing strategy might be to use SM to launch a new product. Actually posting your campaign on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. is a tactical exercise. - Maggie Buerger @getfamousfast

Neither A Strategy Nor A Tactic

1. Corporate culture, state of mind. For social media to be effective for a brand, it requires both the brand and its constituents to be willing to connect and engage. A brand that uses the tools just to promote misses the point of social.

On the flipside, brands that are willing to tell its story, listen to feedback, make the necessary changes AND defend certain key aspects of their 'personality' will eventually build trust and collaboration with their constituents which is the ultimate goal for any brand. - Jacqui Chew

2. Social media is a platform to communicate from one to many. Social media can be qualified as a medium for strategy or a tactic supporting a strategy if there is an objective for the platform. Without the two it is simply a Techology for publishing or consuming information. Peter Fasano @pfasano

3. Social media is a set of communication tools. Social media - media in which conversations can take place - is a set of tools in the communications toolbox. – Anon

4. It's a supporting arm of your marketing and communications goals. Not a strategy alone, but a strategic element that is comprised of many tactics. - Anon

Toss of a pink boa to everyone who shared their thoughtful insights!

My thanks to  Candace McCaffery for her post that inspired this Just One Question post.

Here's my comment on her post (add me to the Both list):

I believe that social media demands a strategy of its own .. not unlike pr or marketing or customer care or (fill in the blank).

Assuming that social media touches all aspects of an organization, it's critical develoip an over arching direction that integrates with all BU/departments/employees who are impacted by its intrusion (I use intrusion not as a negative). Without that high level focus how can the brand promise or values be consistently represented internally and externally? How can we use social media to support business goals and objectives? How can we incorporate it into campaigns and use it as a digital conversation tool that becomes an asset unto itself?

Social media has evolved into more than just a channel, communication outreach or customer service vehicle. I would suggest that the "tools" of social media e.g. social networks, blogs, podcasts, blogger relations, etc. are the tactics under the umbrella of social media strategy.

Social media has evolved to command the same respect as other marketing/communication disciplines to be consider a 'strategy."

Update: Thanks Damica Kombol for your contribution.

What are your thoughts? Do you consider social media to be a strategy, a tactic, both or something else?

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Grapic credi: tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net