• 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.
  • alexmoffit
    Alex Moffit on September 4, 2014

    John Doerr on OKRs and Goal Setting at Google and Intel [VIDEO]

    “Ideas are precious, but they’re relatively easy. It’s execution that’s everything,” says John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the man who introduced Objective & Key Results (OKRs) to Google. Google widely credits OKRs for helping the company grow from 40 to 40,000 employees. Other businesses including LinkedIn and Twitter have also embraced OKRs.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • ddarnbrough
    Drew Darnbrough on September 19, 2014

    The Power of Hindsight: Using Historical Twitter Data to Make Better Decisions

    WEBINAR: Tuesday, September 23rd, 11:30am EDT How many times have you looked back and thought, “If only I’d known x”? We’ve all experienced the power of hindsight, and luckily now businesses can harness that power by analyzing historical social data.
  • The rising availability of wearable tech like the Apple iWatch and Google Glass is changing the modern business world with goals of higher productivity and a better bottom line in mind.

    The rising availability of wearable tech like the Apple iWatch and Google Glass is changing the modern business world with goals of higher productivity and a better bottom line in mind. Although originally focused on the consumer market, the switch has been made to development with business applications in mind. The impact has been seen in the field service industry with technicians bringing wearable cameras to work. These smart devices have put field companies in a position solve problems at a faster rate saving money in the long-term.

    All of this is great news but there has to be a catch, at least to some degree.

    Wearable Tech and Data Security

    Devices like Google Glass present a different risk from before since it has the ability to record video and sound, presenting the worry that confidential information could be audio-recorded and transferred outside the network. These devices have the ability to interact with the analog world around them and obtain data. It still isn’t fully known to what extent data can be transferred and stored. Paul Martini, CEO of iboss, notes that the difference between the original calculator and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch is that while the calculator watch had the ability to sum and multiply numbers, it wasn’t able to transfer or store information. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch also sends and receives texts, stores voice recordings and makes phone calls. The risk is that the information gathered by wearable tech in a setting like a hospital can collect sensitive information violating HIPAA.

    The medical industry isn’t the only industry concerned with threats wearable tech can present. The UK has banned Google Glass in cinemas over film piracy with some saying that the U.S. may do the same. The sports world is always looking to find ways to improve business practices and athlete performance but could also risk information loss if wearable tech is in the wrong or improperly trained hands.

    MDM and acceptable use policies

    Knowing when smart phones are and are not acceptable is key to successful mobile device management (MDM) for any enterprise. For example, an MDM solution or rule in place may be banning smart phones from an acquisition but this rule does not ban smart watches from being present. The watch is always on the user with the same abilities to potentially take pictures of documents and record business chats.

    Upgrading the network security infrastructure, including computer security, is key to the success of any enterprise looking to fully adopt wearable tech. This will help IT detect and hopefully prevent any data loss or security breaches through the presence of wearable tech. By coming up with advanced security solutions, data can be analyzed as to how it flows while identifying the types of devices used. Training employees on acceptable use policies and the effects of using wearable technology improperly will lead to prevention of future problems. Policies can be used to emphasize that wearable technology is only acceptable to an enterprise if it brings value or increases efficiency.

    Technological convergence has allowed the end user to receive calls and discounts and gain navigation information while accessing emails. All of these abilities presented by wearable tech have proven to be productive in the long-term. If the right precautions are taken with the correct policies in place, enterprises can put mobile devices to work for them, increasing company ROI and reducing risk.

    Identity protection tips for wearable tech

    A few tips for protecting user identity when it comes to mobile apps and wearable tech include avoid using identifying information and using unique passwords for self-tracking apps. When creating usernames, avoid names that appear on any forms of identification if possible. Password generators can help if coming up with a unique password is difficult. Another tip for protecting user data and enterprise information is checking the privacy policies for every app and wearable tech developed. It will help CIOs be informed as to how to address security threats and update current security policies.

    Developing a social media strategy is important. But beyond just implementing a plan, you’ll want to evaluate your social channel’s success in order to improve moving forward. Google Analytics is a valuable tool that can help you to analyze and enhance your social media strategy.

    We understand that having your brand on social media is important. But simply setting up a Facebook or Twitter account is not enough to drive visitors to your company’s website and convert them into customers. That’s why developing a social media strategy is so important. But beyond just implementing a plan, you’ll want to evaluate your social channel’s success in order to improve moving forward.

    Google Analytics is a valuable tool that can help you to analyze and enhance your social media strategy. The social section (Acquisition > Social) in Analytics breaks down your website’s visitors that are being driven from social networks. The data available in the reports outlined below will help you take your social media strategy from mere existence to a key asset in converting traffic into customers.

    Network Referrals Report

    The Social > Network Referrals report allows you to get a better understanding of which social accounts are driving traffic to your website, as well as provide an overview of which visitors are the most engaged. This report provides a list of the top networks that drove traffic, as well as data on the average session duration and pages visited per session.

    It’s tempting to assume that whichever social network drives the most traffic is where you want to dedicate your efforts. However, be sure to evaluate engagement. For example, in the report shown below, Twitter and Facebook are sending the most traffic.  However, Disqus and LinkedIn are sending visitors who are more engaged.  They spend more time (Avg Session Duration) and view more content (Pages / Session).  As a result, this brand may want to invest more effort generating traffic from Disqus and LinkedIn.

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    Landing Pages Report

     Most social media strategists understand that sharing insightful and helpful content is going to build trust with your followers and drive more interest back to your website. Therefore, sharing blog posts, infographics, event information and offers are going to initiate web traffic. Google Analytics can help you refine this strategy and determine whether you should be promoting more blog posts or special offers. The Social > Landing Pages report shows you exactly what page your social visitors are first landing on.

    Within the report, you will notice a list of URLs ranked by sessions, which shows which pages were most visited from your social networks. For example, if you see that blog posts offering expert advice are sorted at the top of the list, you should be sharing this kind of content more often. Within this report, you can also click on each URL to learn more on the specific social networks that drove traffic to that point and see how long people spent on a particular page after it was initially shared via a social channel.

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    Conversions Report

    Traffic and engagement are important measurements of a social strategy’s success. However, you want to take a look at how social media is impacting conversion rates. The Social > Conversions report within Analytics supplies data for conversions that are coming from social users.

    The Conversions report ranks social networks in order of conversions (goal completions). You’ll be able to determine whether Facebook or Pinterest are driving the most visitors who are likely to become customers.

    Google also allows you to tie monetary values to conversions by following some additional steps, but this extra insight can help you to associate expected revenue with your efforts on social media. Showcasing the ROI of your strategy often reinforces to clients or colleagues the importance of a strong social media presence.   

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    User Flow Report

    Understanding which social networks are sending traffic and conversions to your website is important, but the User Flow report will provide you with insight into how they navigate your site. The report appears like a flow chart, showing first which network users are coming from, the starting pages and then where they visit next. The overview gives you an idea of what content interests these users, which can vary depending on whether they’re coming from YouTube or Pinterest.

    If you notice in the User Flow report that traffic is leaving after visiting a particular page, you may consider tactics on how to guide them to additional content. For example, if you’re noticing a number of people are reading blog posts but they immediately leave the website, incorporate  “Recent Posts” or “Suggested Blog Posts” links to keep them engaged.

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    Conclusion

    For smaller businesses or agencies, implementing a well-thought-out social media plan can take a lot of time and effort. Make sure you are getting the most from the effort put in. The reports we’ve outlined above are good starting points to gain more insight into how your strategy is working and how you can improve. 

    The function of "selling" has not fundamentally changed since the advent of "social selling," it has however accelerated the sales cycle, and provided new opportunities outside of traditional channels to engage prospects, and establish profitable relationships.

    "Social selling" is the current buzzword in sales circles. Whilst many do not believe the actual function of ‘selling’ has inherently changed, the advance of social media is affecting the sales cycle… and it’s all good news! Savvy sales staff can now use social media as an additional tool to hook, educate, communicate with and nurture prospective buyers. This can potentially accelerate the sales cycle and provide customers with more confidence that they are buying the right product from the right company for the right reasons.

    But is this the only thing social media can do for your organisation and sales teams? What about using social media before the ‘selling’ even starts?

    Buyers, at all levels and across all industries, are increasingly leveraging social media to ‘do their research’ and find out about new solutions and companies. So, this is where the first opportunity lies: you can influence these buyers before they’ve even thought about buying your products or contacting your organisation. And here’s the best bit: you don’t just have to do it on your own, you can also use other people’s contacts and networks too.

    Add to this one of the current challenge brands have. When I talk about social selling, large organisations always say “We produce great content, but nobody sees it.” In short, their reach on social media is fairly limited to their own followers or fans.

    How to fix these problems?

    Consider the potential reach of your sales employees and channel partners – distributors, resellers, retailers, dealers, brokers, and advisors, whatever you call them. These people are spending a lot of their time networking, via social or face-to-face, and collecting contacts, friends and followers.

    Imagine then, empowering them with your social media content – the rich content which you as an organisation are spending good money and using talented resources to create, but possibly finding difficult to distribute.

    Using social media amplification and syndication platforms, brands share content with third parties; their own sales teams and/or external channel partners, and let these parties re-post the content, as if it was their own, on their own social networks.

    The benefits are clear and multiple.

    For brands, amplification via advocates means that brand messages will reach new audiences previously inaccessible, i.e. the social audiences of all of their third parties, across the globe, and in real time too. It also means that the interactions created by this content happen at the right place – between the potential buyers and the sellers (your sales staff or your channel partners), hence shortening and enhancing the sales cycle.

    For advocates, amplification means that they finally have content they can share. Your sales staff and partners are not always good at marketing. Handing them fresh, original content they can easily re-post as their own, will turn them into ‘active social heroes’. If you share great content, and by that I mean content that goes beyond product news, such as thought-leadership, market research, and success stories, then amplification will also help your advocates become your trusted advisors and ensure that they are more closely engaged with your brand. 

    Channel managers should remember that partners are businesses too and not just conduits for products. They are often cash strapped and time poor, so brands are advised to make the relationship straightforward and demonstrate the value in every request for action.

    Make programmes simple and effective, and use technology which make marketing efforts between brands and partners easy and effective. Often brands forget to consider their partners have limited time, resources and knowledge to deliver marketing programmes. They also forget that these retailers cannot focus on just one brand and one product. Ask yourself how you can improve partner relationships. Is it all about margin or complimentary services and support? Look at the relationship proposition from the partner’s point of view, not just your own.

    We are living in an age where brand--like it or not--can no longer control the message. Customers, the experiences they have, and how they choose to share them are now in control.

    We are living in an age where brand--like it or not--can no longer control the message. Customers, the experiences they have, and how they choose to share them are now in control.

    The human channel is our network and it is the future of marketing and branding. It’s not so much a social network proper as much as it is an open line between people to people however those connections are made, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, review sites, communities, apps, et al. It is here where individual truths are spoken and shared. This is why brand experiences are more important than ever before. They’re felt. They're shared.

    Listening, learning and allowing the conversation to shape product output--this paves the way for a new wave of user generated PR. By addressing consumer wishes directly, companies create unprecedented loyalty despite the fact that consumer lead PR can either impact them negatively or positively with the potential to be fatal to the brand’s identity if the pendulum swings too far to the negative.

    The Hollywood Blockbuster

    Last year composer and filmmaker Alexis Kirke conducted an experiment on Emotional Optimization. The term Emotional Optimization relates to the discovery that certain parts of the brain correspond to different emotions. Participants wear sensors that allow Kirke to monitor their brain waves, heart rates, perspiration levels, and muscle tension. These readings were then fed into a computer, where they were analyzed in real-time. The results were used to alter the direction of the film’s narrative based upon the emotional responses of the participants. Kirke’s research could prove to be a huge breakthrough for the entertainment industry’s inefficient business model of where only one out of five movies becomes a blockbuster. The possibility of shooting alternatives endings with different soundtracks could mean going from one successful blockbuster to perhaps three or four. (Source.)

    Hollywood blockbusters with their  broad target audience, deep production and advertising budgets are an example of where wearable technology has the potential to revolutionize the entire industry by steering it away from being an auteur driven medium to one that is literally consumer driven.

    Shaping the future of menu choices

    For the last couple of years, secret menus are an ongoing trend for restaurants. These menus offer diners  the possibility of tasting new unlisted items. It allows the restaurant to evolve their offering in real time and test potential new menu additions without a commitment to a full scale rollout investment. This trend is a tastefully done experiment that could potentially prove to be a tremendous customer influenced option.  

    From mainstream chains to independently owned restaurants have their customers partaking in shaping the future menu items by human channel advocacy. Customers who have experienced a secret menu item will have a deeper resonance with the brand and higher probability of telling their friends about the food, either through social media or word-of-mouth.

    Hashtags gone wrong

    Today’s PR efforts can easily become a  runaway-train either used for the benefit of the business or twisted into something entirely new.

    The probably overworked community manager at DeGiorno who hashtagged #whyistayed in a pizza promotion last week before realizing it was associated with domestic violence and was not a joking matter: “The tweet was a huge mistake. A bad, embarrassing, hurtful mistake. Never missing an opportunity to claim a scalp, Twitter and The Blogs attacked.” -According to Tim Herrera of Washington Post.

    As this article points out: ‘Brands are people, too, you know.’ It is exactly right. By being human and apologizing for the flub DeGiorno puts itself in a different light by admitting their wrongs and insuring us that nothing this careless will ever happen again, at least not on social.  

    Last week #voguearticles broke out on Twitter as a comeback to an article that glorified big booty as being in style. It implied that Jennifer Lopez, Iggy Azalea, Rose McGowan and Kim Kardashian have brought ‘back’(pun intended) this trend.

    Vogue’s press office has yet to respond to what appears to be a PR catastrophe. They have the option to turn it, around as some brands have done in the past, by running with this newly generated flurry of posts and embrace it.

    Since body parts ARE NOT trends, Vogue could piggyback on the tremendous amount of talk about this post and make light of it by running a submission of hottest hands, elbows, and knees, since you know they’re #ontrend, which would diffuse any negativity associated with the big booty debacle.

    It  isn’t the first time, and certainly won’t be the last time consumer inspired PR will take control of the wheel. Brands and media need to approach such scenarios with a sense of humor and add a human touch reminding us that at the end of the day we are all flawed humans who make mistakes.

    This new wave of “freedom of speech” has not only reduced the brand’s control of its image and message but it is also leveling the playing field for businesses by humanizing how they interact with customers. It is becoming a peer to peer relationship. Companies now have the ability to lean into this new consumer driven paradigm and benefit from this rapid evolution.

    Main image credit: FastCoLabs

    "Dear Socially Stephanie: I like to think of myself who is willing to try new tools and stay on top of the social media game. Are there any new sites that are worth trying out and can you give me a few examples of how a small business like mine might be able to use them?"

     

     

    Dear Socially Stephanie,
    I like to think of myself who is willing to try new tools and stay on top of the social media game. Are there any new sites that are worth trying out and can you give me a few examples of how a small business like mine might be able to use them?

    Eager in Edmonton


    Dear Eager,
    A person cut from the same cloth as me. I like it! I'm always on the hunt for new social media sites to get in on the ground floor. Even if they never take off like Twitter or Pinterest, it's important to try them out because those who get in first will always grow their following faster than those who wait until it becomes popular. As a business, the ability to grow your following from the get-go is going to save you a lot of headache in the future. Have you noticed how hard it is to build your following on Facebook these days? Case in point.

    The first tool that I'm experimenting with is a new app called Tiiny. It's a little bit Snapchat and a little bit Vine all rolled into one. Basically, you share short videos or snapshots that delete after 24 hours. While it's still brand new and there are some features that I'd like to see in the future like commenting and descriptions, it has a lot of potential. As a business you could promote a 24 hour flash sale or even as an in-store scavenger hunt.

    Next up is a web and mobile app called Blopboard. It's a social polling platform where answers are visualized in real-time. It's fun to use and very visual. But beyond the design, from a marketing standpoint, it has massive potential as a tool you can use to get customer and unsolicited feedback on product design or messaging strategy.

    Are you a foodie? Because I have a perfect little app for you. It's a new favorite of mine. Meet Piqniq. It's has a little touch of Instagram, but it's 100% dedicated to what you are eating. I happen to have a love of food, so for me this is a no-brainer. The company started in Budapest and thus has a bit of a European following, but I love me a good international meal, so I'm all in. From a food business standpoint, you can share your specials or encourage your customers to share what they are eating for a discount. It's a lot of fun.

    So you may be thinking where do you find these sites and apps? Let me fill you in on a little secret. I'm always on ProductHunt and ErliBird checking out the newest sites that are making waves on the Internet. ProductHunt is a site that people use to share their newest findings. And ErliBird is somewhat similar but instead of user-submitted, it's company submitted, which allows the startup to control their own profile. I've been introduced to many-an-awesome site this way and they are two sites that you should definitely keep on your radar.

    So let me ask you something. Do you notice a common thread? Yes, they are all image based and that's where social media is going. Better start creating that visual strategy and fast! There you have it my friend. The hottest startups as told by yours truly. Now, go build your following!

    Socially,
    Stephanie

    Do you have a question for Socially Stephanie?

    Please email SociallyStephanie@socialmediatoday.com and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)

    Illustration by Jesse Wells