• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • Duo Consulting
    Michael Silverman on October 15, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal Is the Best Social CMS

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • When that next board meeting happens and the powers that be say no to marketing evolution, and yes to more media buys and vanity metrics, stand up (if you aren’t afraid) and share with them the risk of doing the same, and why the things that have worked in the past will no longer work today.

    You can almost picture yourself in the room. It’s the time of year again where the marketing team has to put together a strategy, a plan and a budget for the next fiscal year.  After carefully considering the seismic shift that is happening across the digital web, the team has come back and said it is time to eradicate the marketing of old. Doing things differently is the only way. Our brand doesn’t need another year of stagnation pouring money into old media. Paid media has its place, but the time has come where people are building relationships with brands due to reasons greater than clever commercials and savvy product placement. Owned media, earned media and shared media have become “where it’s at.”

    However, too often these days, the C-suite is not amused. Therefore they find holes in the “new way” as it is unproven, or lacks reach; but maybe it isn’t proof or reach at all that is to blame, but rather the lack of vision from the C-suite that is turning their back on the evolution of marketing?

    Today, we have entered an economy where sharing is a de facto sign of endorsement and brand ambassadors are no longer just celebrities, but also Joe Average; the everyday social media user that has a small yet defined audience of people who genuinely influence those in their circles.

    This isn’t some kind of far off belief or ideology. It’s emphatically true. Study after study. From the Google Zero Moment of Truth to the analysts at Forrester and Nielsen, the trends are here and the buyer’s journey is changing, but this begs a question: What is your brand doing, and more importantly is it evolving?

    It’s the Way We’ve Always Done It…Because It Feels Good

    Consultants rejoice because yes, these are some of the most dangerous words in business. But all too often the way we have always done it is comforting. There is a certain feeling of satisfaction that comes from doing what has always worked. Since the past is a tremendous indicator of future behavior, we have long found ourselves looking to the past for validation and as you know, what you seek to find in data can often be made to exist regardless of whether it truly represents the right decision.

    In marketing, this window into the past is often used. Most notably when it comes to marketing strategy. Before big data, 1:1, omni-channel and the modern web, brands found their best means for gathering visibility was through media buys. This was reflected in newspaper, radio, television and then later became online advertisements in the form of banners, pop ups and other on page ads. Why did the first iteration of digital marketing evolve to be merely a recreation of old media online? We could suggest it was because of product evolution, but it is also difficult to say that there wasn’t a certain comfort in the metrics.

    When we did media buys before digital we bought reach. Essentially we had rough ideas of reach and audience demographics so we knew how many people would see our ad. This followed suit on digital as we bought media there as well; spurring an onslaught of discussion on impressions and whether the words had any meaning. What for sure has meaning is that people don’t click banner ads so unless your ad is prevalent, targeted and memorable, your money may be wasted. Have you ever seen these data points on banner ads?

    According to one Business Insider piece:

    “You are 31.25 times more likely to win a prize in the Mega Millions than you are to click on a banner ad.” Not only that, “you are 87.8 times more likely to apply to Harvard and get in…112.50 times more likely to sign up for and complete NAVY SEAL training…279.64 times more likely to climb Mount Everest…and 475.28 times more likely to survive a plane crash than you are to click on a banner ad.”

    However, it doesn’t stop because our lust for numbers just evolves. Even though no one is clicking we keep paying. And when it comes to social media our behavior followed suit.

    • Invest time and money to grow our followers on Twitter or Instagram.
    • Sponsored posts on Facebook or LinkedIn to increase our number of likes.
    • Using 3rd Party Sponsored links to send traffic (unknowingly) back to your page
    • The purchase of email lists to spam with unwanted content and emails

    And the list goes on, but in short we aren’t evolving, only taking our short sighted media approach from yesteryear and plugging it into our go forward strategy because it feels good, because it is how it has always been done, because it is safe…but is it really?

    Safety Will Arrive When Your Marketing Evolves

    While the safety net that comes with “How it’s always been done” may provide a comfort, it is nothing more than an illusion because in the real world, we have reached a point where marketing must evolve.

    Brands need to be thinking about the way they do digital, social and even traditional marketing in new ways. Because the old way has evolved and the new way looks more like this:

    old way of marketing

    Of course there is a place for everything and before everyone starts throwing tomatoes just know that I recognize that Coca-Cola, Doritos and Citibank can benefit from widespread media reach. That is a default benefit from a globally recognized brand. However, also take not of this, the biggest brands with the most resources aren’t entirely dependent on the old way of doing media. And if you have any doubts just visit Coke Journey, American Express Open or IBM’s SMB community to see how marketing investment is being poured into more personalized, more direct marketing that connects brands to buyers with the intent to create a relationship, not a sale. The sale becomes a byproduct of everything else they do.

    So when that next board meeting happens and the powers that be say no to marketing evolution and yes to more media buys and vanity metrics, stand up (if you aren’t afraid) and share with them the risk of doing the same, and why the things that have worked in the past will no longer work today.

    Marketing must evolve, and comfort must be left in the rearview. The way things have always been done isn’t the way they should be done going forward. Unless you believe the consumer landscape hasn’t changed in the past 5-10 years. Oh, and in case you aren’t sure…It has.

    boardroom / shutterstock

    You know infographics work. But you may not know you can make them, in under an hour, with zero graphics skills. Can Easel.ly help you go faster for free with your infographics?
    Breaking news: a picture tells a thousand words. Ok, so you maybe had that intelligence brief already. Here’s the update on that story: Pictures get shared a thousand times more than words.  
     
    Fine, it's a slight exaggeration. But it is true that for most topics, posts with visuals get shared much more than ones without.  And the ultimate visual post is, of course, the infographic. At BuzzSumo we analyzed 100 million articles to see what gets the most shares. What’s the most popular type of content? The (erm) graphic says it all:
     
     
      
    Proof, if you really needed it, that sharable infographics need to be at the core of your content marketing plan.  This one on Ebola from the Washington Post is making some impact: 15k shares and counting. 
     
    In some ways they should be a total gimme in your content marketing playbook. You’ve already created insightful source content – a blog, report, guide. Making it visual is a freebie piece of content to out there to boost the signal. And now the downside: Unless you’ve got your art direction chops, they’re not quick to produce. You need time and skills. 
     
    I know from personal experience that it’s painful to get graphics pros – insourced or outsourced – to make infographics. They do a super job, of course – but it takes too long. They’re busy. They’re perfectionists. The story’s over by the time it’s out there. You need a more rapid response.
     
    That’s where Easel.ly makes a nice addition to your toolkit: infographics made fast and easy. 
     

    How may I Easel.ly graphic your info today?

    Let’s see if I can get an infographic on how to make fast infographics done in an hour. And let's see if you can read it faster...
     

    Step 1: Pick your canvas

    Like most graphic tools, you start by choosing a layout that suits you. They’re sorted into several categories – a mix of topics (animals, science, sports) and formats (process, checklist, timeline). It’s easiest (and fun) to have a poke around until you see something you think you can work with.
    Nice to explore but we’ve only got an hour… 
    So let’s look at the marketing ones:
     
    A lot of options here.  A bit of sub-categorisation by type might help with the search-  marketing is a bit broad. 
    I want to create an infographic about good practice, I’m going to assume I’ll find a decent template under ‘checklist’. So here are my options:
     
    smtoolbox infographics
     
    Actually, there are lots more than this. But you get the idea.
    I’m going to use the ‘walkway’ theme as my base. I could also freestyle and do my own. But I don’t have time and the world’s not ready for my original artwork just yet. 
     

    Step 2: Get your title set up 

    So here’s my theme ready to be edited. You’ve got all the control you’d expect to have over text: 
     
    infographics tool
     
     
    So here I am actually losing a little time - It’s a bit fiddly to be honest. You can’t edit the text directly, you need to do it in the editor and then publish to see what it looks like, which is a bit old school in a WSGIWYG world. Also the font choices are not in the named font, which is sort of weird. 
     
    easel.ly
     
    But it’s not that big a deal once you’re used to it. I’ve dropped in my title and can do the usual font colour, size, opacity tweaks.  Now I choose a banner from the object list from the top to drop in behind the title, good if somewhat short set of choices here. 
     
     
     
    It's a simple drag drop, resize, send to back routine. If you've been to PowerPoint, you know the drill. A little playing around with background image and text and we get to a reasonable place.  
     

    Step 3. Lay out the content 

    Into the detail now. Moving text and images around is very easy. If you want to find an image to help tell your story, use the objects drop down.
    There’s a library of images to drop in – not massively extensive but enough to get going. And you can upload your own images too. If you’re doing something in any way unique, you’re going to need to do this. 
     
     
    To move at speed I decided to stick with the general layout and tweak rather than invent or upload new images. Using the path / sign visuals already in the basic theme, it was very quick to start getting my content in place. 
     
    You can also drop in a range of charts including pie charts, bar charts, spider diagrams to help visualise data:
     
    infographics smtoolbox
     
    Charts need a bit of work though. They’re a new feature, and good to have a range of options. But you need to create the labels yourself, or at least I couldn’t figure out how to generate them from the input. Which isn’t ideal in a hurry (this isn’t real data by use of tool, just to show how to create a chart quickly).  There also doesn’t seem to be any color change options for the charts, so apologies for the splash of random in this one.
     
     
    On we go, time’s a wastin’. And on that subject - the cloning feature is quite handy for quickly replicating images or clusters you’ve already made. 
     

    Step 4: Save and share 

    Once you have it the way you want it, you can down load it as low or high quality jpeg or a PDF
     
     
     
     You can then save it, and go back to your home page in Easel.ly to share your masterpiece  (don't judge me because I did rush, and I'm no artist...)
     
    [[{"fid":"186526","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"final infographic","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"final infographic","style":"height: 495px; width: 750px;","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]
     
    If you work with others – for example in education – you can set up a group to view and share with each other. Useful if you’ve got a mini production line and you’re helping each other out. 
     
    Overall – yes, you can make infographics fast with Easel.ly. And often, fast response to a trend is the name of the content marketer’s game. It’s got a few areas to improve in:
     
    No auto-save: always risky when working into a browser and things get fiddly. 
    The charts are a bit limited in format 
    The range of images – if you use it a lot, you will start running out, though no doubt there’s more to be added 
     
    Minor quibbles aside, it’s quite easy to use overall, you can definitely make infographics in less than an hour, and it’s free. It won’t make you the Picasso of data visualisation (if you find the app that does, do let us know) -  but that’s not what we’re aiming for here. For quick and easy infographics, you should definitely check out Easel.ly.
    You have limited (if any) control over what others share about you, but you do have control over what you share about yourself and others. Just because you have someone’s personal information doesn’t mean you have to share or act on it. Remember: It may not be your story to tell.

    Sometimes a life lesson smacks you right upside the head—and if you’re anything like me, it may take a day, a month, or even a year or ten before you “get it.” Fortunately, this particular life lesson hit home quickly, and has quietly reminded me of its truth over the years. However, with my more recent focus on big data privacy, this lesson’s reverberations have become almost deafening.

    About the life lesson. The colleague/friend balancing act has always been a tricky one. Earlier in my career, when the internet was still making a name for itself, a dear colleague/friend was going through a challenging time in her personal life. I knew some of what was going on, but not much—given that it wasn’t any of my business and it wasn’t anything we really talked about. But due to the nature of our company roles and the relationships we shared in the company, I was often asked by others about my colleague/friend’s situation. The questions made me uncomfortable, yet each time, I responded with, “You need to ask her.”

    One day, I mentioned to my colleague/friend that I was being asked a lot about her personal situation. Instead of her responding with the expected “yea, so-and-so asked” or “who’s asking” or “what are you saying” questions, she said rather indignantly, “Why are they asking you? It’s not your story to tell!” Needless to say, the discussion ended there.

    Little did she know that I wasn’t telling her story, yet through this brief exchange, she gave me a not-yet-realized, valuable life lesson: “It’s not your story to tell.”

    Why this matters. Just like “I see data. All the time. It’s everywhere.”, I marvel at how technology, the internet, and this digital age have forever changed how we share our personal information—and how others (individuals, companies, and governments alike) share ours.

    And at the heart of all this sharing is our personal privacy—and the privacy of others. Even though technology has made it easier for us to exchange information, we can’t nor should we depend on technology to protect us from the use and abuse of it. This is where trust, an important human element, comes in. In this data-intensive economy, trust between individuals, companies, and government agencies needs to be earned, respected, and maintained. Without this trust, I firmly believe the data ecosystem will crumble.

    Situations to think about. Let’s briefly look at some examples of how big data privacy issues are impacting what we share:

    • The NSA. We all know about Edward Snowden and his need to tell the story of how the US government and several large companies are sharing information about us. He’s now sharing a similar story in New Zealand. Is this his story to tell? The debate rages on.
    • Home Depot. One of the latest retail data breaches – larger than Target’s – has hackers sharing our personal information on the black market. It wasn’t their story (or their data) to tell (or sell). Who’s to blame? Who can we trust?
    • Celebrity photos. Privately-stored intimate photos of various celebrities were ferreted out and stolen over Labor Day weekend and continue to be shared in the public social sphere. These are visual stories we should have never heard about.

    Now let’s bring it closer to home: Let’s say you share a funny video on Facebook of your youngest son running around the backyard in his birthday suit. (Is this your story to tell?) Your mom comments and tells your 534 friends about when you took a dump in the community pool when you were a kid. (Is this her story to tell?) She then asks you how to scan and upload the picture.

    We laugh at stories like this while we jokingly call it “TMI” (Too Much Information). But this is big data privacy in action. Did you realize that the videos and images we share of ourselves and others are just types of “big” data that we are sharing through big data applications (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)?

    You’ve heard me say it before: We are living in a big data world. While this Facebook example may seem harmless to some, there’s a lot more “big data” out there that can and is being used to harm individuals, companies, and government agencies. Let me leave you with…

    One final thought. Big data privacy is about you, me, them, and us. You have limited (if any) control over what others share about you, but you do have control over what you share about yourself and others. Just because you have someone’s personal information doesn’t mean you have to share or act on it. Remember: It may not be your story to tell.

    Welcome to another Social Media Today webinar as part of the Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of Social Media at Work: Employee Advocacy Success Stories.

    This week I moderated another Social Media Today webinar as part of their Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of Social Media at Work: Employee Advocacy Success Stories. We assembled a diverse panel to give us their perspective on this topic: Zealous Wiley, the Senior Digital Marketing Leader at HP; Lorrie Sole, the Senior Interactive Marketing Manager from Kelly Services; and Denise Holt, the CEO and Founder of Collaborative IQ. This webinar was also sponsored by Everyone Social.

    Denise started us off with some research from Edelman on trust which shows that employees are more trusted than even the CEO of a company. For the last 5 years this dynamic has continued to hold true and even increased. This puts the power in the hands of the employee to have a stake in the future of the company and actually be leaders from within.

    Lorrie took over after Denise and talked about how Kelly Services developed a social advocacy program. She talked about the old “manual” way that Kelly Services approached employee advocacy and the new and improved way they approach employee advocacy using Everyone Social. She also talked about how she built a strong foundation with social policies and lots of education to get her program to work.

    Zealous then finished off the presentations with a deep dive on how HP uses employee advocacy in their software division. They have over 200 HP Software Ambassadors who represent more than 456,000 connections. These Ambassadors have shared 15,700 pieces of content, received 6,500 engagements and 30,000 clicks/reads of the shared content. Moreover, HP Ambassadors are expected to: share HP content from platform 2-5 times per week and provide feedback to the team.

    Now, if you have ever been on a Social Media Today webinar before, you know they are very “participant-driven” and we love to ask your questions of our panelists. Some of the questions we covered were: What kind of culture change did it take to get the adoption of your employee advocacy program? What types of education did you use (internal or external) and if external what sources would you recommend?

    If that piqued your interest, you will want to hear the replay of this webinar or review the slides from this webinar. Otherwise we hope you will join us on another Social Media Today webinar! The next webinar is What Does Customer Experience Mean for Your Social Business? Sign up for it or view the schedule of upcoming webinars here.

    To follow the play-by-play Twitter action, check out the following Storify:

    Digital Darwinism - when technology and society evolve faster than a company’s ability to adapt - is a very real phenomenon. Technology has changed everything about how people connect, communicate, and ultimately make decisions as consumers. The key challenge is for businesses to meet the call of these new, connected customers…or face extinction.

    Blockbuster. Circuit City. The classified's section in your local newspaper (or even the newspaper itself). Kodak. Nokia (as the world's largest manufacturer of mobile phones). The creative destruction is all around us. It has been accelerating and expanding into new industries and today every executive in every industry should be asking not "if" but "when" will technology become the primary external factor shaping their organizations.

    Author and Altimeter analyst Brian Solis describes what we are seeing today as "Digital Darwinism" and in a recent blog post he describes how companies can embrace digital transformation to address this challenge.  He writes:

    "The answer to digital Darwinism is digital transformation. Digital transformation is the use of technology and methodology to address shifts in behavior by upgrading or overhauling processes and systems that amplify existing and unforeseen opportunities."

    But as Brian goes on to point out, embracing new technology, new processes, and even new business models is not easy -- he calls this Darwinism because as in Darwin's theory of evolution, not all organisms will thrive given changes in an ecosystem. As in an often quoted paraphrase of Darwin's theory by Louisiana State University business professor Leon C. Megginson:

    “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” 

    Throughout the history of civilization, the organizations we have created to develop, produce, and distribute good and services have undergone change brought upon them by external factors. Sometimes, as in the period of the middle ages called the "little ice age," the external factor has been climate. Sometimes, as in the fall of the Roman empire, the external factor was geo-political. During the Renaissance the primary factor was arguably the influx of wealth from the new world into Europe. But the interplay between different factors has always existed and technological innovation has certainly played a role at many of these moments.

    Today, however, technology has emerged as the dominant factor -- not reducing or eliminating climate, politics, or resource extraction as factors but decidedly dominating them and even impacting how those other factors will play out in the decades to come as forces for change in their own right. Today technology is one hoped for avenue to ameliorate climate change, to maintain geo-political stability, and to identify more powerful methods for extracting oil or mineral wealth from our environment. 

    But for most organization the impact of technology has a more immediate resonance -- how it is changing the way people live, work, play... Brian Solis refers to the emergence of a new "Generation-C" where the "C" stands for "connected." Digital technologies are definitevely and permanently changing expectations for how we will do our jobs, by products, experience services... and organizations MUST react to these changed expectations.

    This Friday at 12:00 pm EST (9:00 AM PST) Brian Solis and I will be conducting a webinar on this important topic -- what is happening, why, and what your organization should be focused on to address these challenges.  You can register by clicking this link for The Rise of Digital Darwinism and join us for the presentation and discussion.  We will also be making a new white paper from Brian available following the webinar.

    I hope you can join us for what should prove to be an engaging and informative discussion!