• 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.
  • BeverlyMay
    Beverly May on August 13, 2014

    Countdown to the UX Awards: Get Discounted Tickets and Vote Now for the Winners!

    We're a partner with the UXies, the premier global awards for exceptional digital experience, which is in downtown San Francisco on September 11 after 3 years in New York!
  • There is a lot of advice floating around out there about how to craft the perfect Facebook post, but statistically what works the best? A recent study of 1.5 million Facebook posts has some surprising findings.
    You have probably read a ton of articles about how to optimize your Facebook content. Most offer decent information but there seems to be a sea of sameness when it comes to advice on how to craft the “perfect” Facebook post. I came across a pretty cool and detailed study from TrackMaven which dug pretty deep into the data behind some of the optimizations you can make to ensure that your posts on Facebook are making the most impact. In this study, TrackMaven analyzed 1.5 million Facebook posts from approximately 6,000 different brand pages to tease out what kind of posts were making Facebook users engage the most. 

    Some of the insights are fairly basic, while others are actually pretty surprising:

    • Posts on Facebook with 80 words or more nab 2x more engagement than shorter posts
    • Posts that contain images get an average of 37% more engagement than text only posts
    • Posting content after work hours (5pm-1am EST) will get 11% more engagement than content posted during the usual work hours (8am-5pm)
    • A majority of content is published to Facebook during the week, however weekend posts get more engagement
    • Posts published on Sunday get 25% more engagement than during the middle of the week
    • Comments account for 5% and Shares account for 8%
    • 87% of all engagement actions on Facebook are Likes
    • Hashtags actually make a difference! Posts with hashtags get 60% more engagement than those that don’t
    • Using exclamation points in posts convey a positive feeling and boost engagement 2.7X than boring old posts with a period at the end
    • Asking questions can get you 23% more engagement than simply making a statement.
    I appreciate this study and the insights it provides, however we have to keep in mind that studies like this usually take a look at a large amount of Facebook pages without taking into consideration industry, branding or context. Just because this a study says something might work for a majority of the pages it analyzed doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for your specific page. It’s very important that Facebook Admins understand that each page has its own culture and experience, therefore there isn’t a one size fits all method to consistently get engagement. The above information is great to reference when trying to calibrate your efforts, however at the end of the day you have to do what works the best for your individual page. Keep an eye on your data!
    How does this study compare to others you have seen? Leave your feedback in the comment section!
    When you begin from a position of true innovation, it doesn't really matter what you used as a starting point – even if it was someone else's breakthrough – because your end goal is different. That shows you are thinking in different directions, which lays the foundation for a creative solution… or at least creative uses of existing ideas.

    When you begin from a position of true innovation, it doesn't really matter what you used as a starting point – even if it was someone else's breakthrough – because your end goal is different. That shows you are thinking in different directions, which lays the foundation for a creative solution… or at least creative uses of existing ideas.

    One way of looking at this is that every great human achievement is built upon the achievements of the past. Another, less generous interpretation would be that new and successful ideas are copied again and again, with only a small percentage being worth the time and effort.

    Both viewpoints are valid, but only one can help you take what you've seen elsewhere and use it to build something worthwhile. So, are you enhancing something great, or just emulating it in hopes of finding your own success?

    A Tale of Two Intentions

    The easiest way to find the answer to that question is to ask yourself another one: Why am I interested in copying something that my peers or competitors do?

    If the true reason revolves around jealousy, laziness, or a pure financial motive, you probably stand a very small chance of achieving any real success with the effort. In other words, you're likely going to produce a copy of something that's just a little bit worse, less inspired, or commercially unsuccessful.

    There's actually a very simple reason for this phenomenon. The one thing copycat marketers always miss is passion. You can duplicate actions, but not motives and inspirations. That's why the very best work hard to innovate and refine. They care. Most of those who come after are just trying to imitate, and it shows.

    If, on the other hand, you’re recycling an idea because you want to test the assumptions, stretch the limits, or make it unique in a way that adds value to your specific group of followers or customers, you might be on to something. Beginning with the right intentions doesn't necessarily guarantee you'll be able to innovate and enhance successfully, of course, but at least you're getting started on the right foot and paving the way for progress.

    Why Enhancement and Emulation Matter

    Before you think this is all academic, and I'm just waxing philosophically about the different ways we can approach life, consider the implications of enhancement versus emulation in real-life online marketing.

    When you try to take a successful website or piece of content and simply copy it, for example, bad things happen. Your lack of passion and commitment come through loud and clear, if only because you don't truly care about the end result or think that it adds any value to the world. Even if you develop a campaign that’s profitable for a short amount of time, you'll likely struggle to keep momentum moving forward because the original inspiration just wasn't up to par. You won't have a clear vision, and so the way forward will always be obscured.

    To put things in a simpler context, it's very hard to stand out when you're copying others, if only because real innovators are coming up with ideas and tactics that work for their situations, not yours. Trying to make their ideas your own when they don't fit is sort of like hugging a snowman – something that gets harder and less rewarding over time.

    Innovation and creativity don't just a matter in the digital age, they matter more than ever. In a world of fakers and copycats, creating the real deal is a competitive advantage that's nearly impossible to overcome.

    What's your position? Are you a copycat, innovator or influencer?

    The business case for a large transformation program like Employee Advocacy, will require costs and value, selling to stakeholders and motivating them to provide resource and investment support needed. Are you ready to change the game?

    Building a solid business case for a large transformation program like Employee Advocacy, is a game changer. You'll either get support or your execs. will move on to the next request in their long que. Are you prepared to demonstrate the cost to value ratio? Do you know what motivates the key stakeholders you're going to need to sell your business case to? If you don't, the likelihood of securing the necessary resource and investment to get your program off the ground is slim to none.

    Are you ready to change the game?

    This week I had the opportunity to be a part of Social Media Today's webinar sponsored by Social Chorus' @nalvino called "Engaging Employee Advocates: How Electronic Arts is Activating Employees to Amplify the Brand’s Message" (click to see the replay), along with Electronic Arts program manager @jroumian and our moderator @PaulDunay of PWC. 

    On the webinar, we all spoke to the real and quantifiable value of Employee Advocacy programs, but none of this is possible unless you start by building a solid business case and securing the necessary investment from key stakeholders. Getting to Yes, requires that you understand what motivates these key stakeholders, in order for them to give you what you need to get the program off the ground. 

    Here's a brief summary of what I shared on the webinar on the nuts and bolts of building a business case, you'll need to consider: 

    1. Value Realization
    2. Securing investment – Selling to internal stakeholders
    3. Understanding Motivations

    Building the Business Case

    The business case for a large transformation program will require both costs and value. If you only estimate the expected value, you do not have a business case; you have a value proposition. It may be very helpful to begin by estimating only the value proposition to determine whether you should spend the effort to develop a complete business case. There is nothing wrong with that. Just be sure to develop the full business case, with costs clearly identified, before investing significant resources and energy into the program. The most common sources of value include increased revenues and decreased costs, or efficiency and productivity gains. For example, revenues can increase when employees generate more leads or conversions. Costs can decrease if employees generate conversions at a lower cost per conversions —or if employees answer customer questions in ways that cost the brand less per customer.

    Another example might be, in your marketing campaigns, you may be able to create business value by empowering employees with the skills to condition the market, to persuade potential customers, or to create consideration and preference through their authentic trust and credibility with decision makers and those who influence them.

    In such cases, you may find that costs of leads, conversions, recruitment, and sales improve through your program.

    In general, the business case should clearly support the current goals of the business. Such business goals typically include goals for the current fiscal year or longer-term strategic goals. While you may be able to secure a small amount of pilot funding without having to show how your program supports the official goals of the organization, programs like this are only truly successful when they scale to touch the majority of the organization. In most organizations, that level of investment will only be granted if you can show how the program contributes to the most important goals of the organization for the upcoming fiscal periods.

    Let's break this down further, considering Value Realization

    You should establish a method for proving the program’s value over time. This is necessary for two reasons: First, you need to establish a feedback loop to help you understand whether the program is on track. Second, you should hold yourself and your team accountable for delivering the results you forecast when you requested funding for your program.

    As you develop the business case, think about the ways that you will track and prove progress of the program. For all of the ways you plan to impact costs or revenues, determine how you will track that impact over time. For example, if you believe that employees will be able to generate Web traffic that leads to conversions, determine how you will measure the traffic, the conversions, and the costs of the conversions. Also remember to measure the current state of conversions and their costs before starting the program, so you have a baseline metric against which to compare.

    Value realization reporting should be a permanent part of your program management activities, so you will need to plan for resources who will gather, analyze, and report the necessary data.

    Next, you'll need to think about Selling to Internal Stakeholders

    Getting executive support is as much about educating the executives as it is about building the business case. In this context, selling is more about consulting, educating, and enabling the executives. It’s critical to know what motivates the people who can get you resources and investment required. The motivations of stakeholders may be vastly different, in addition to understanding those motivations you’ll need to be clear on how your program will help them achieve their goals. Build your business case around supporting the business goals as specifically as you can and align your justification for the business case to the motivations of stakeholder across an organization that you’re looking to partner with.

    Understanding Motivations - To help you think through what might motivate leaders across different parts of the organization, this illustration from my book The Most Powerful Brand on Earth, describes the motivations and the metrics that stakeholders typically want to see articulated in a business case. You can find more on the nuts and bolts of building a business case for an Employee Advocacy program in Chapter 7: How to Begin. 

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    I hope these tips are helpful to you! To learn more, join us in Atlanta for the Employee Advocacy Summit. We have a great line up of speakers representing various industries, ready to show you the ropes based on their first hand experience!  [[{"fid":"148456","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]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

    Here's a sampling of the buzz on Twitter during the webinar on #SMTlive:



    This summer Coke™ unveiled its Share a Coke™ campaign in the US. The results have been fantastic, though no official numbers have been released, yet. However, the sheer buzz around this campaign has been staggering.

    Come to find out, though, we Americans were not the first. The campaign was first launched in Australia in 2012 where product sales jumped by 10%. Imagine double-digit growth for a brand that is at least in maturity, and some would say, in the decline stage of the product life cycle.

    A similar, though smaller but equally impressive, lift was felt in England when the campaign moved there in 2013. As sales saw the global leader with a 4.93% increase in year-to-year sales even while the industry as a whole noticed a decline.

    What has Coke™ tapped into to gain this ground? My experience tells me they learned a lesson from social media.

    They Made Things Personal – People like feeling good about themselves, they like feeling “heard,” and they like feeling like they matter. Seeing your name staring back at you at your local C-store does that in some small way.

    They Made The Individual Important – In marketing, perception is everything. In the aftermath of the 1% movement, it was obvious that there was a growing distaste for large corporations. Coca-Cola was not going to downsize, but in perception they did. They quit dealing with people as VALS groups, demographics, or strategies and, at least in perception, made them feel like they matter.

    They Relied on Word of Mouth – Sure Coke™ used traditional media to announce the promotion, but then they let their fans do the rest. Imagine the spark they got from having someone walk up to a friend and say “Hey I saw this and thought of you.” Or, “Oh Wow! I found a can with YOUR name on it.” For five minutes that person, and the Coke brand, was the star of the conversation. Then, empowered by the feelings of goodwill, two people now went back to find names of other friends so they could recreate that moment of “connected-ness.”

    They Trusted Their Brand to Ambassadors – Sometimes we need to trust the market we have created. As marketers we get so obsessed with controlling every nuance and trying to control image and perception we forget to include our most important stakeholders. Look what two brand ambassadors did, when given the tools, freedom, and opportunity. This is magical. Maybe by letting go, we can watch our own magic happen.

    They Kept the Message Direct and Brief – In a moment of twitter-like brilliance, they kept the instructions, an imperative command actually, brief. They let their customers know what they expected of them, and it wasn’t focused on Coke’s goals, it was focused on the individual. You can read the label “Share a Coke with ….” And, instantly you understand what you are supposed to do.

    They Created Community – In a world where people are becoming less and less connectedin a meaningful way, Coke reminded us that names matter; people matter.

    While it is yet to be seen if the lift the company has seen will maintain through time, for one glorious summer Coke stemmed an ebbing tide by learning a few lessons from the best attributes of social media.

    Original article: What Coke Learned from Social Media

    Picture, for a moment, your online presence as a seamless display of your brand’s culture and strategy that aims to attract new customers while also interacting with existing customers. Sounds pretty great, right? To successfully pull this off, your brand needs to understand the importance of content.

    In this modern digital age, it has become obvious to most brands, the crucialness of leveraging a range of various online channels in order to attract their target audience. However, merely knowing that it is important to do this isn’t enough to be truly effective in implementation. The element that isn’t obvious to all brands is the “how.”  How can brands utilize all of their online channels to attract their audience?

    The answer is to integrate multiple channels within an integrated marketing strategy.

    86% of marketing decision-makers surveyed believe successfully integrating multiple channels under a single integrated marketing strategy is critical to long term success. -Forrester Study

    Picture, for a moment, your online presence as a seamless display of your brand’s culture and strategy that aims to attract new customers while also interacting with existing customers.  Sounds pretty great, right?  To successfully pull this off, your brand needs to understand the importance of content.  Here are a few tips to help you embrace this methodology.

    Be consistent

    Consistency is key!  Customers can quickly identify brand inconsistencies and subliminally develop feelings of distrust, become uninterested, and even doubt the legitimacy of your brand.  Avoid these pitfalls, and instead, provide your customers with a positive experience every time they interact with your brand online.  It all begins with consistency in your messaging.  Now I’m not telling you that you need to consistently use the same words throughout your content - that would be terribly boring for your audience, but I am telling you to promote fresh, relevant content throughout your online channels that remains consistent with your brand’s overall message.  How do you want your audience to perceive you?  Take some time to consider that question in order to develop a clear brand strategy that’ll ensure consistency across all channels.

    Keep your information current

    Where customers go, brands must follow.  Keep your information current and relevant to your audience; the content you create should answer the questions your potential customers are currently asking.  Also, if you keep all of your brand’s information/content current and up-to date, it will make it easier for you to keep consistency across all channels.

    In addition, don’t be afraid to newsjack.  Newsjacking refers to the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story and incorporating it into your website’s content marketing strategy.  Although with this tactic, marketers must act fast.  To leverage the true potential of an interesting, amusing, and/or positive current event, you must beat your competitors to the punch.  If content is created quickly and effectively, it could yield SEO benefits, improve your brand’s reputation, and drive traffic to your online channels.

    Understand the importance of your website

    Your website is the heartbeat of your online presence.  The end goal of your integrated digital marketing (IDM) strategy should be to funnel customers to your website to make a purchase, contact you, request a consultation, etc.  With that being said, leverage both your website and social media channels to work towards your business’ end goal.

    You may have other goals you would like to achieve with your IDM strategy as well, such as increasing followers, engagement, brand awareness/loyalty, reach (through Word-of-Mouth), etc.  These are all great goals of online marketing, but be sure to remember what the achievement of these “other goals” lead to – your end goal.


    Now that you’ve got few tips to successfully pull off a single integrated digital marketing strategy through your content, I challenge you to read the following statement again: picture, for a moment, your online presence as a seamless display of your brand’s culture and strategy that aims to attract new customers while also interacting with existing customers.

    Now make it happen!

    While doing so, keep in mind:

    • Consistency is key!  Convey your company’s unique and consistent voice across all online marketing channels.

    • Keep your information current and up-to date, and don’t be afraid to newsjack.

    • Social isn’t a substitution for your website; your website is the heartbeat of your online presence.