7 Step Secret Sauce Recipe For Social Media Success

04/03/2013

Secrets in the sauceHe: I need more traffic to my blog, more followers to my Twitter account and more likes on my Facebook.

Me: So I told him the 7 Step Secret Sauce Recipe For Social Media Success. In all candour, it's nothing new but as a reminder I thought I'd pass along.

1. The End Game - Start with the end game in mind .. or as marketers might say -- your goals.

What do you want to achieve? What is success to you? Is it gaining a new audience or repositioning your brand with current customers? Is it building stronger relationships with your employees? 

2. Know Your Audience - The more you understand the profile of your audience the better you'll be able to put into play steps #3, #4, #5.  Building a personae of people you want to reach helps to go beyond traditional demographics to including digital/social behaviors. 

3. Selfless Content - Posts that take the needs of your community into consideration and are aligned with the values of your brand/company.

Mantra to repeat before hitting the publish key:

It's not about me it's about you.

4. Focused Content Direction - Choose a topic that is big enough to give you some flexibity but narrow enough to carve out a niche that sets you apart in the cluttered social media space. Helps if you are passionate or have a high interest in the topic .. to help you sustain over time.

5. Consistency Over Time/Social Platforms - To be The "go to diva or divo" - post several times a day about trends, hard to find information, hot tips, industry news.

To position yourself as a  "thought leader" consider weekly posts using platforms that offer longer formats than Twitter and can be deep linked e.g. blogs, YouTube/Vimeo (video), SlideShare. Content ideas: opinons on industry trends, current issues, interviews with leading experts.  

If you're focused on innovation or a start-up it might mean you become active on the latest shiny toy. Yes, there are times when jumping into the the new is a valid strategy.

6. Community Generosity - Identify your peers, influencers and greatest fans. Join the conversatons where they hangout. Contribute to the discussion with your ideas, links, opinions. Rarely does that mean pitch your product.

If you're in a more conservative world or your end game is to sustain your current positioning, it might mean the tried and true  blogs, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. 

Keep in mind that you do not and never will "own" any social network e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, FourSquare, g+, etc. You are a renter abiding by the rules (terms of service) that can and are changed at the discretion of the network.

The only social media properties you have control over are the blogs, communities, sites you build and host yourself. 

6. Resources - Much as we might like to think that the digital world is a free for all .. if you're using social media as a business strategy keep in mind there is a cost. The price you pay is in time, human capital and yes, hard earned dollars too. 

Determining how your resources will be allocated will save you a few sleepless nights. 

7. Determine Results - Is it working? How will you know (refer to #1)if your end game is met? Think about the metrics that will provide you the greatest insight. Hint: Likes are probably not the best indicator. 

There are at least 27 billion tools (well .. that might be a slight exaggeartion but perhaps not!) to help you track, measure and analyze. Some are free while others can run you some major bucks.

A Few Resources - Tools

Twitonomy - a new fav for Twitter analysis

Curated from Social Media Examiner - 29 Tools

Curated from What's Next Blog - 6 Shiny New Objects You Can Use

He: If it's that easy why the big deal?

Me: Right, this stuff is really not as difficult as say finding the perfect jeans. (Girlfriend, now he began to look puzzled .. but you know what I mean.) But there is one more step that I forgot to mention. Gaping void your a social media specialst so am i

The spice that kicks it up a notch ...pulls it together .. it's the person who builds and implements and ensures that outcomes are met within two cultures -- that of your brand and social web.

The skill set and experience that should be brought to the party grows more sophisticated and complex as social media becomes integrated into a business' DNA. 

Social Media Manager Skill Set

Business experience, marketing experince, strategy understand and in the weeds tactics,  great verbal and written communication, knows how to write for the web, problem solving, analytic skills, expeience in web analytics, understands the concept of digital conversation, continuous learner, generously shares, team player with people of diverse backgrounds, comfortable moving between online and offline environments, creative approach to the mundane and the unexpected, ability to work in a constantly moving world, likes helping people, customer first orientation, understands the concept of selfless content, content curation and creation, importance of multiple devices, understands digital behavior and building community. 

Add to that the working knowlede of mulitple social networks, blogs, the concept of authenticity, transparancy, honesty.

Include an understanding of your brand value and promise and how content and conversations must align but not message or sell within the social web. 

Oh yes .. throw in a little passion for social media and the brand and having fun. 

I think that will do it. 

Post inspired by Amber Kapish and David Munk, Stargayzing.

Graphic credit Zazzle

Social Sharing

02/11/2013


Share with puppy dogRemember the all important word we were taught in kindergarten? Share.

We shared crayons, books and sometimes our PB&J sandwiches. Through sharing we made new friends. 

What we didn't understand, at least at five I had not a clue, was that from these small interactions we were creating a unique 'classroom community' that was a little different from the other kindergarten classes.

Taking that idea into the social web .. each social network and digital community we particiapte in has its own culture influencing our experiences.

In the social web we're sharing like mad. Some people might say we're sharing too much. (Perhaps that's a post for another day!) There are lots of different social shares from product reviews on sites like Yelp to retweets, repins and of course Facebook and post/article shares. 

The social web has brought friends and strangers together in a way that would have been difficult to image 10 or even 5 years ago. I wonder why it seems we've become obsessed with sharing. I came across an interesting study, conducted by the New York Times,The Psychlogy of Sharing. Passing along to you.Ok .. so I'm sharing!

Why People Share?

1. To bring valuable and entertaining content to others

2. To define ourselves to others

3. To grow and nuture our relationships

4. Self-fulfillment

5. To get the word out about causes or brands

What Influences A Social Share?

1. Appeal to consumer's motivation to connect with each other not just with your brand

2, Trust is the cost of entree for social shares

3. Keep it simple and it will get share .. and won't get muddled

4. Appeal to their sense of humor .. I might add carefully 

5. Embrace a sense of urgency

Social sharing goes beyond an nice to know. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Yelp, MySpace have forever changed what and how we buy. We've always sought opinions from family and friends. It may seem odd, but we now also depend on the reviews of strangers to shape our purchase decisions from the most important products .. like your 27th pair of black shoes to the mundane .. which dryer to buy.

The Advertising Research Foundation recent study - Digital & Social Media in the Purchase Decision Process -calls this type of shopping a winding journey where the shopper is “always on” because of the constant interaction with brand. 

Social Sharing Tips

For Brands - Invest resources to monitor and track what people are sharing about your brands especially on your own social network pages like Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. Go beyond counting the number of shares. The gold is in the details of the extended sharing and conversation. 

For Customers - Before you take out the plastic read multiple reviews from more than one source or site. A Tweeter search on the product name might pull up some interesting insights and links. 

Social sharing takes your unique, personal  brand experience and turns it into a brand experience for anyone who happens to come across your comments. You could be more influencial than you ever imagined!

Super Bowl 2013 Lights Go Out But Oreo's Twitter Team Has A Light Bulb Moment

02/03/2013

Oreo Superbowl Lights Go OutWhen The Baltimore Ravens might be walking way with the 2013 Superbowl win, but when it came to social media marketing Oreo won the viral prize with a simple tweet.

When the lights went out in the Super Dome tonight the savvy Oreo Twitter team had a brilliant light bulb moment.

Within minutes their tweet ~ "You can still dunk with the lights out" was was being shared across social networks, on blogs and picked up by main stream media. When I first checked there were 10,521 retweets within 41 minutes. 

 Let's do a little sideline analysis.

The Plays

Content: relevant, creative, fun, supported customers' activity with the product "oreo cookie dunking" 

Contextual: perfect timing, leveraged social web buzz re: the Super Dome lights going out. I suppose it didn't hurt that people were bored waiting for the game to start.

Twitter Team: agile, content created in real time in response to an unexpected opportunity

The Fumble 

Oreo missed the opportunity to integrate the tweet into it's social web eco system. 

Now, I'm not necessarily a fan of automatic social network insertion. I believe we should take advantage of the unique features and culture of each platform. However, often it makes sense to cross post content modified for the platform.  

Oreo's Facebook page shows 31,534,863 Likes. The community is failry engaged. I can help but wonder .. 

~The extent of sharing, liking and commenting if the tweet were Facebook posted.

~The type of conversation that might have occured .. might it have been different from Twitter?Oreo Facebook 2_13

~ What the ROI comparison was in terms of its TV ad, other social initiatives and this one unexpected little tweet.

Lessons Learned: Real time contextural content can not be pre programmed but the impact can be huge.

 Your Thoughts?

 

 

Audience: 

 

A Social Media Gift of Little Miracles

12/25/2012


Miracle on 34th street"We'll be known as the helpful store. The friendly store. The store with a heart. The store that places public service ahead of profit. The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before."

Nope, it's not a new social commerce strategy. It was an innovative sales program

launched in 1947 by Macy's Department Store. In the classic film, Miracle On 34th Street, Mr. Macy took chance on a different way to conduct business.

Customers would not be coerced into buying what they did not want; however, the real courage was if another store had a better or less expensive product Macy's would refer them there. 

Fast forward 65 years into the future and we struggle with similar issues of how to provide value for our customers. Technology has given us an amazing, let's call it a gift, that provides a new way to for us to build relationships and nurture with our customers.

Pull off the pretty red  bow and you'll find digital platforms with funny names like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. It's a world where to succeed we have to go beyond a one-off sale to opportunities where three entities: company, employee and custome can create the brand experience .. together. That takes courage too. 

Unlike the impact of Macy's initiative, social media impact reaches beyond just one customer. For the first time, the entire enterprise has skin in the game. The digital relationships that the people who are the heart of your brand can set off a unique chain reaction.

  • Continuous listening -> learning -> understanding -> results in trust ->  leads to loyalty -> leads to the cash register bells ringing. And every time a cash register bell rings a marketer gets a bonus or gets to keep her job (!) .. oops wrong film.

Corner grocery store digital relationships that are build not only with you and your customers, but among your customers and your employees could never have been imagined when Kris Kringle entered Macy's Santa Land in 1947. However, even as we approach 2013, for many organizations open conversations still seem like a Miracle on (insert organization name here) or like the ghost of Xmas future (oops wrong movie again.)

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible... consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

As we begin 2013, technology developments spin even faster taking digital business into areas that were impossible in '47 or '57 or even '2012.

Imagine a digital destination where you can include your review of the product, service or customer care that influences your or your friends' buying decisions.

Imagine a digital destination where you can talk to a brand employee who doesn't respond with a scripted answer.

IImagine a digital destination that allows for product and service customization.

Imagine a digital destination where you can start a conversation with a real person about what matters to you regarding a product or service.

Imagine a digital destination where you can actually help change the direction of a product or service before it's even launched.

Imagine multiple digital devices, moblie, tablet, computer, television not "or" but "and" ... and one day even your glasses! 

Imagine a digital destination where you can chat with people about their experiences and learn from each other .. in real time during your shopping experience. The result is smarter purchases.

Imagine an authenitc conversation, in real time, with your favorite actor, politician, author or reporter who responds to your comments. 

Imagine an authentic conversation with your senior managmenet or an admired corporate executive where ideas are transparently exchanged. 

Imagine an organization that works in partnership with its customers and employees to create a brand experience that is relevant, innovative and imaginative across multiple divices. 

Imagine an organization that cares not simply about for for its customers. 

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

What a funny world we live in. It's interesting to compare a 1940's film, where finding solutions to customers' problems was perceived as unique, to 2012 where finding solutions to customers' problems is considered ingenious. 

The techniques may have changed. New buzz words may be added to the mix. Bells and whistles may be a little louder. However, after all is said and done, the premise remains the same:

-Listen

-Understand

-Add value

-Do what it takes to go the extra mile to delight your customer

I believe that as we learn how to use social media it will change how we conduct business .. leading to  creating an environment where people truly matter. And that my friends, is as couragous and innovative as Mr. Macy's Miracle on 34th Street.

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

Sidebar: A Classic Diva Marketing post based on an article written for American Marketing Association Marketing News.

Max and I wish you a year of little miracles, joy and all things wonderful and bright.

Maxie Santa 2012

Catching Up With You

12/24/2012

Dear Diva Marketing (Blog) and Community,

It's amazing how days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months. Life gets in the way of life and before you know it the best of intentions slip through the proverbial cracks.

In this case the best of intentions, are of course, to write and share learnings about marketing and social media with you. And so, I must apologize for the long lag in posting. Here's why ..    Toby cox tv radio biz card

I've often said that social media gives back more than it takes and this part of my story is another testimonial to that belief.

After 15-years of solopreneurship I was offered an exciting opportunity to join an organization that is focused on digital innovation. No, I'm not an on-air talent (at least not at the moment!). The work is to support almost 100 media properties and the enterprise at-large to more effectively incorporate the social web and leverage the social graphic. 

Not only exciting but the people are smart; and I'm able to maintain Diva Marketing, as well as, my other social properties LInkedIn Pinterest Twitter Google+ YouTube Diva Talks - BlogTalkRadio

Of course, all opinions are 100% mine and do not necessarily reflect that of anyone else, including my employer or even Max. I appreciate your understanding and ask for your patience as I adjust to the rythm of a full time corporate gig and ensuring that there is great content on Diva Marketing.

Remember Where You Came From When Traveling Social Media

09/18/2012

Hull Beach_water trailOne of my all time favorite things to do is walk-the-beach in the morning. (I also like to walk-the-city.)

A few weeks ago I was visiting my family in Massachusetts. Lucky me that my cousins have a beautiful home a block from the ocean. 

The beach is a wonderland of tactical sensations that helps me quiet my mind: sound of the ocean surf, the touch of the waves and sand on your toes, the smell of salt water and the gentle comraderie as people nod their hellos and exchange smiles as if to say .. "Welcome to our world."

As artist Maria Kalman says, "Wonderful things happen when the brain is empty."

As much as the walk can be a 'rebooting' experience, eventually you do have come off the beach. That's where it can get tricky. Walking a few feet away from the path that set you on your adventure you suddenly realize there are few signs to mark your return destination spot.

You have to make an effort to remember from whence you came.

Walking along I wondered .. how does a brand approach social media without getting lost in the wonderland of new sensations and shiny toys? To put it in marketing terms, do we even remember to take brand values into consideration? Or do we skip onto the social platforms and never look back from whence we came and one day realize that we are totally lost and that our customers are totally confused?

Seemed to me that there were two critical issues to consider content and voice. Here are a couple of examples including B2B, B2C, Twitter, Pinterest and Blogs.

1. Content -- While social media content can and should relfect the 'human side' of your authors, to be part of a business initiative it must align with your brand.

IBM's Pinterest bio positions the company as "forward thinking." Boards about a computer (IBM Watson) that played Jeopardy, building a smarter planet, smarter cities and more support that brand value. IBM gets a check for consistency. IBM Values Statement 

IBM _Pinterest

 

 

 

Just asking .. do you want to talk trvia with your bank? Suntrust gets a question mark.

Suntrust Twitter Trivia

 

 

2. Voice - Employees writing for your brand should be encouraged to develop their unique 'voices' while maintaing brand values and promise. Keep in mind "voices" may not always be text .. video, podcasts, images count too.

One of my favorite CEO blogs is Marriott On The Move written by Bill Marriott. His posts, seem like personal letters direct to me from a charming man who I'd love to sit across the table from and share a meal or a glass of wine. Mr. Marriott wraps his post around personal experiences that always lend insight into the company or himself.

I must admit, if I were to learn that a PR manager or an out-sourced agency was ghost writing for Bill Marriott I'd be more than sad. I'd feel a break in trust between my friend Mr. Marriott and myself. Trust is a hard won prize not to be taken lightly.

Marriott on the move_bill marriott

 

 

 

 

Not all content or voice tonality will be right for every brand. While a funny cat post on Facebook may result in a bunch of likes and shares is that what you really want your customers and prospects to keep top of mind about your brand? Humor can be a great content direction but can you create it to be both relevant and fun? Are a few easy, off-brand wins worth a wobble to your brand image? 

No one said ths stuff would be easy.

You have to make an effort to remember from whence you came. 

Toss of a pink boa to Fisher for the inspiration.  

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

38 Ideas For Your Pinterest Strategy

07/27/2012

Pinterest tipsPinterest continues to fascinate me by it's simplicity and ease of use.

However, if you peak behind the curtain it holds a similar sophistication to that of Twitter. Who would have thought we'd call a 140 text platform sophisticated communication?

Where this new visual social network will take us is the guess of crystal ball gazers and social media pundits. Neither of which am I.

I'm just a working gal who loves, not necessarily the technology, but the promise of what it can do to bring business back to the corner grocery story relationship. (C.B Whittemore's post) For me the two driving benefits of social media have always been:

  • 1. Build and nuture relationships
  • 2. Tell the story of the brand through the people who are its heart: employees and customers

If you get those right it's a marketing two step along the way to making the cash register ring. Oh by the way, don't drink so much of the Koolaid that you believe a sales is a direct result of Only a tweet or status update or even a pin. 

As part of client work and creating workshops on Pinterest I develope a running list of ideas. Some are strategic and others more tactical but I thought I'd pass them along to help you frame your adventure (and it should be!) in the visual world of Pinterest. 

Strategy

1. Determine how graphics as linked to content can align with your brand values brand promise

2. Determine how Pinterest will support your goals and business outcomes

3. Determine if your Pinterest page will support a specific segment or the brand at-large

4. Critical: determine your content direction that goes beyond your brands or company messaging

Board and Pin Creation

1. Include search engine optimize key words in bio, board and pin descriptors

2. Link images that you upload to an appropriate web/blog page. Amazing how many people forget to include a URL.

3. First rule of Pinterest Etiquette: never change the source link of images ‘borrowed’ from a website not your own

4. Build your Pinterest page as if it were a book: boards = chapters, pins = content body

5. Create a bio board that can be used as a “media page” for solopreneurs/small business owners Bio board _ toby

6. Create media/news board for larger businesses

7. Arrange boards in order of importance and change as needed the order as appropriate. For example, your Fourth of July board can be brought to the end until next year when you can move it to a more prominent position.

8. In creating your pin look at it through the lens of a great ad: strong visual, headline that grabs, copy that supports.

9. Board names should be creative but descriptive key words are a bonus.

10. Identify sites will you not pin (from)

Content

1. Although your pins should reflect your brand values/promise (Strategy #1) not all pins should be directly related to your products, services or company (Strategy #5). This is so important that I felt it belonged in Strataegy and Content.

2. Three pillars of Pinterest content direction: inspire, inform, imagine

3. Test live pinning for events/tradeshows. If you can't link pins to a site in real time (at the event) go back at a later time to add those important URLs. Example: Oscar De La Renta Bridal Show .. it's really cool .. go on click but come back please. To view the story read from the bottom up.

4. Create collaborative boards with clients and colleagues. Added bonus multiple pinners increase awareness of the board.

5. Review content that you’ve posted in other social networks. How can it be repurposed for Pinterest?

6. Review content that is not on digital properties e.g. white papers. How can they be included on your digital assets such as websites or blogs so that you can include them on Pinterest? 

7. Test “pin it” contests. Keep in mind they will not come unless you tell them. Build an awarenss strategy into the overall plan. Example: Elizabeth Arden's PinItToGiveIt Cause Marketing used social media (Facebook, Twitter, bloggers) and traditional media (PR/Events-BlogHer). #PinChat with Christine Bennett, Manager PR for Elizabeth Arden. 

8. Use Pinterest to support campaigns and programs runnng in other media

9. Pin to help your fans “create” not curate their boards

10. Take your community “behind the scenes” of your company e.g. a day in the life of …

11. Be mindful of copyrights. If in doubt reach out to the author, artist and ask for permission. Bonus you'll develop new relationships. 

12. Protect your images with watermarks that include your URL or at the very least your company name. Example: Bella Cupcake  Pinterest Bella Cupcakes

13. .Create a board to tell the story of your company/brand. Great examples from the State of Maryland Pitch Contest. Check out the Diva Marketing interview I conducted with Zoe Pagonis, Governor Martin O’Malley’s New Media Manager.

14. Highlight employees in creative and fun ways that go behind “business” accomplishments e.g. pets, shoes, sports interests, favorite quotes

Awareness

1. Cross post on social networks

2. Follow the people who follow you. Note: Following boards versus pages may be less overwhelming to your stream.

3. Comment on people's repin of your pins. It's nice to get an acknowledgment and never know where the relationship or conversations might lead. My comment on Irene Turner's board let to a new author for All The Single Girlfriends and a great new friend.

4. Build “pinner relations” programs

5. Add Pinterest links to support your media releases

6. Since Facebook does not allow for 'pinning' if you upload a graphic that might make for a great pin consider serving it on your blog/website or Flickr instead. 

7. Add Pinterest link/Icon to Home page of your website And on the footer.

Research and Consumer Insights

1. Consumer insights for product development

2. Consumer insights support customer persona development

3. Completive intelligence

4. Consumer insights to understand meaning of the “ordinary” of every day life. For example what does "family" mean? 

Bonus: Be Strategically Fun!

Join me on Pinterest!

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

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?

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?