• 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.
  • Marketing is sometimes a hard investment to swallow, and the idea of using an intern may seem lucrative. But turning over your entire social media or marketing to someone who little if any real work experience just isn’t the right approach.

    Question: Our company is getting ready to do more social media so we have hired an intern to help us get started. Is this a good strategy?

    My first reaction when I get this question is usually to bite my tongue and force myself not to say the first thing that comes to mind (always a good idea by the way). But since I get this question posed (or stated) far too often I could no longer resist taking a stab at this one.

    Let’s try a little anecdote.

    So our little company, Broadsuite, is a marketing organization. We are professional marketers that work with companies on well…branding (you thought I would say marketing), social media, digital and yes, marketing. Say we were looking to expand our business and needed to hire, take more space and improve our technology systems. First thing we would do is spend some time analyzing the financial requirements for the growth. That may include taking on a loan, an investor or restructuring the companies budget to support the planned growth. For this we would possibly want to hire or seek the guidance of… An Intern?

    Um…hopefully you caught my sarcasm there because I was laying it on pretty thick. The long and short of it is as a marketing organization we understand marketing, but finance may not be our strength. So when we need to do something critical to growing our business we need to seek real professional support, whether it is W2 or not.

    For many companies their goal of marketing is to be found online (ergo new customers and revenue). And trust us, doing that in today’s challenging digital environment is not easy. Which is precisely why hiring an intern to lead your marketing and social media is about as smart as us hiring an intern to plan our finances.

    Regardless of whether or not they personally know how to do social media, the idea of turning over what is perhaps the most public facing marketing channels that your company has to someone with almost no experience is horrifying.  Much like the idea of giving the same person control of your operations or finances. You just wouldn’t do it.

    When Does An Intern Make Sense For Social Media Or Marketing?

    So yes, marketing is sometimes a hard investment to swallow and the idea of using an intern may seem lucrative. In actuality, it can make some sense and even work. But turning over your entire social media or marketing to someone who little if any real work experience just isn’t the right approach.

    Where an intern may make sense is to support your in-house or outside marketing efforts. Perhaps coordinating internal and being a contact to help get things done. Other ways this can work is if they come in and “LEARN” from those who really know what they are doing. But please, I beg of you, don’t turn your brand over to someone just because they know how to spell Instagram. It just won’t work.

    Are you giving the keys to your kingdom to someone that should have them? Think long and hard before you let just anyone, especially an intern, own your social media, marketing or brand?   

    Do you have a question for “The Mailbag?” Click Here to submit your question and have it featured in an upcoming Mailbag.

    This week in SMToolbox, we take a look at how companies are working with Socialbakers to develop and implement their strategies. This includes generating actionable insights and to developing both command centers and executive business dashboards.

    This week we take a look at how companies are engaging with social media tool companies to develop and execute effective marketing strategies. We examine how the data generated by tools such as Socialbakers is being integrated into command centers and executive business dashboards; and how companies are engaging with Socialbakers to help them develop and execute their strategies.

    I have always been interested in how companies often buy tools but don't successfully integrate them or use them to their full potential. It is good to see that companies are actively approaching Socialbakers for help and support. As a consequence Socialbakers is growing the range of professional services that they provide to their clients, in addition to selling their software and their database.

    Social Bakers provides a comprehensive social media management suite which comprises three products namely:

    • Analytics
    • Builder
    • FB Ads

    I have provided a brief overview of these products below, however, I wanted to start with the three areas where companies are seeking support. There are three specific areas where Social Bakers increasingly provide support to companies through professional services. 

    1) Strategy and Execution

    Managing social media is a complex business. It is also an important part of marketing and customer service. Companies are investing in more professional approaches which start with strategy including their content strategy.

    The rise of social media and content marketing is changing the way teams are organized. Thus companies are looking for examples of best practice and support from experts such as Social Bakers in how to organise teams and how to structure efficient workflows.

    2) Command Centers

    It is now very common for companies to set up command centers. These involve large screens or banks of screens which you will find increasingly in reception areas and in corporate headquarters. These command centers help visualize the stream of social data. They also make making it clear the organization takes social seriously. Social Bakers have installed over 20 large command centers including one of the largest for Nestle in Geneva.

    3) Executive Dashboards

    Social data is a key part of operational data for many companies especially consumer facing brands. Social data is being combined with daily sales data, web traffic and customer service data to provide insights into the performance of a business. This data is aggregated and presented in visual form as an executive dashboard for the business.

    Socialbakers through their professional services team are helping companies to design and implement executive dashboards. A good example is their work with Lenovo in Singapore.

    How Socialbakers Generates Actionable Data and Insights

    I have provided an overview below of the data generated by the three Social Bakers products and how they support the management of an efficient workflow as well as provide insights inot what works.

    Analytics

    The analytics tool works across all the core platforms and makes it easy to add and monitor pages or accounts.

    The tool allows companies to monitor and compare their social engagement at a detailed level against competitors and industry averages. You can drill down further such as comparing local fans in specific regions.

    Screen shot 2014-08-29 at 22.14.09.png

    The tool calculates comparative engagement rates by aggregating likes, comments and shares across the number of fans and calculating an engagement score

    Social media is very much a customer service channel for consumer brands and the analytics tool measures response rates to queries from customers and allows companies to set key performance standards to be measured against. Socialbakers have calculated global benchmarks for different industries and companies can compare themselves to these.

    The tool allows you to focus in on key influencers, measured by the number of user interactions. These may be positive or negative influencers and allow you to take action accordingly.

    The reporting is impressive you can create custom reports, compare against competitors, create trend charts and export everything to Powerpoint for editing. The type of data is very much the type of data companies will use to refine their strategies and monitor performance in command centers and executive dashboards.

    Builder

    The Builder tool allows you to create and schedule social content. It will be familiar with people that use tools such as SproutSocial or Hootsuite or AgoraPulse.

    You can manage multiple accounts across Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Currently the tool doesn’t support LinkedIn and hence may be better suited to consumer facing companies. The tool creates its own shortlinks for monitoring purposes.

    Screen shot 2014-08-29 at 22.17.32.png

    The tool has been built with larger companies in mind. The tool allows you to create teams, regions, and a workflow process In essence to structure the tool to match your workflow. You can assign tasks, update progress and monitor performance such as the average engagement achieved by different members of the team.

    Whilst the tool focuses on content creation and scheduling it does provide feeds for monitoring purposes such as competitor feeds, incoming messages, direct messages etc.

    Socialbakers Ads

    Socoalbakers has a very strong Ad product focused on Facebook paid ads. The tool itself is organised into three parts namely ad analytics, ad manager and ad booster

    The ad booster allows organizations to boost their Facebook ads. Unlike some other tools it provides hourly metrics, so you can boost content at the right time. 

    Screen shot 2014-08-29 at 22.18.37.png

    The ad manager allows you to manage campaigns from a single interface including generating multiple ads and variations quickly, targeting custom audiences, and tracking conversions.

    Summary

    Socialbakers provides both a comprehensive suite of social media tools and a range of professional services. The developments in both their products and their services reflect the growing importance of social media in area such as customer service and brand reputation.

    If you want to find out more about Social Bakers products and services visit www.socialbakers.com.

    Want sway? Who doesn’t? We all want to be influential. So our conversations often become about influencer marketing—you know, the fine art of getting big kahunas in your camp. To achieve greater reach and resonance (ooh, fancy marketing words), you try to win over the people who already have it. And it can be amazingly effective.

    Want sway? Who doesn’t?

    We all want to be influential.

    So our conversations often become about influencer marketing—you know, the fine art of getting big kahunas in your camp. To achieve greater reach and resonance (ooh, fancy marketing words), you try to win over the people who already have it. And it can be amazingly effective.

    I’ve found a fair share of articles and eBooks on influencer marketing, which cover the basics, but haven’t seen many practical and powerful “go get it done” lists. Consequently, I created one.

    For the past four years, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into influencer marketing. Today, I’m going to share with you action items I’ve put in play that are paying off as well as several examples of efforts I was involved in.

    I’m going to assume you’ve already identified your kahunas and dive right into my suggestions.

    1. Buy their books
    Influencers write books. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Authors become influencers. Buy their books and read them. Write reviews. Believe me, they’ll notice. Tell the author you dug the book and tell the world too. This is a solid strategy.

    Example: In one of my first posts, I did this for Michael Stelzner’s “Launch.” I think I actually picked up this tip from Mike. (I’ve picked up a lot of tips from him.)

    2. Engage on their blog
    Influencers blog. Make their blogs your first meeting ground. Read. Subscribe. Comment. Ask questions. Influence marketing relies on dialogue, so make the conversation happen and you’ll get on the writer’s radar.

    3. Promote their work on social media
    If there’s a no-duh suggestion in this post, this is it. Influencers take social media seriously. You need to too. Promote them as part of your content curation and help prime their popularity.

    4. Connect at conferences
    There’s no better opportunity to connect with influential people in your field than to attend the conferences they speak at. My friend Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios said it best. “Nothing comes close to the quality of face-to-face time. Success comes from opportunities, which come from relationships, which come from events.”

    Andy Crestodina on influencer marketing

    5. Send them mail 
    As effective as social media may be, you can make an unforgettable impression on an influencer you’d like to connect with by sending a note or small token of your appreciation by mail. Follow-up a meeting, conversation or even an online exchange by mail. Chances are great, the “touch” will be appreciated and forever remembered.

    6. Join the blogging revolution
    If you’re not blogging, it’s time to start. The influencers you target need a reference point when you succeed in getting on their radar. A LinkedIn page is a start, but won’t compare to a blog where you express your point of view. Consider referencing your influencers in your posts and they’re even more bound to visit your site, promote it, and perhaps even link to it.

     


    I gathered heaps of influencer marketing tips here. You will too. Practical. Powerful. Specific.
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    7. Guest blog
    After establishing yourself as a blogger, offer to write guest posts for influencers whose audience you aim to reach. Carefully consider the type of content your influencers publish and pitch promising ideas that fit the bill. You might even write a complete post and send it. This approach has worked many times over for me and became one of my most potent tactics for establishing meaningful connections with influencers.

    8. Co-create content
    Co-creating content is undeniably effective. You can reach out to one or more influencer aiming to get a quote or create a post, infographic, SlideShare deck or any type of content by “rounding up” ideas from industry leaders. If you’re not confident your connections are strong enough yet, you can create a “roundup” simply by pulling quotes from influencers and linking to your sources.

    9. Feature influencers in lists
    Create a list, a piece of content that is a valuable source of suggested resources. An obvious place to begin is a “best” list: best sites, podcasts, blogs, case studies, etc.

    My post “26 Helpful Emails I Get, Open and Read (And You Should Too),” applied this strategy to great effect. Everyone, regardless of their prominence, appreciate these types of endorsements. You’ll be doing yourself and your influencers a favor by alerting them they’ve been included in your content and are likely to find you’ve created an influential team of leaders sharing your content with their tribes.

    10. Interview influencers
    Becoming a media publisher gives you a new media “press pass.” Invite notable influencers to be interviewed for your blog, podcast or video. Tune into their agenda and allow the interview to support it. For instance, if the influencer you’re interviewing has written a book or been involved in any substantial project, familiarize yourself with the endeavor and feature it in conversation in your interview.

    11. Pursue speaking opportunities
    Influencers are out doing their thing at conferences and are perpetually on the lookout for new ideas and idea generators. Get active on this front. Even if you don’t find the influencers on your list in your audience, they’re likely to notice you’re a speaker.

    Try not to be intimidated by the prospect of standing at the podium. You might ease the effort by starting small instead of applying to present at large events (I’ve come to know the rejection process quite well, thank you). Look for local events where you can begin your speaking career.

    12. Host webinars
    If the prospect of live speaking intimidates you or you’re finding it difficult to get speaking gigs, a webinar is a practical and powerful alternative. While hosting—or guesting—on a webinar is a wonderful way to establish influence, it’s also the perfect opportunity to connect with influencers.

    Here’s a webinar, “Rock and Roll Content,” where I played host to Robert Rose of CMI, Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners and Jason Miller of LinkedIn—a very nice trio of influential online marketing experts.

     

    13. Produce videos
    The videos you make for YouTube (or any platform) present opportunities to invite influential guests and/or talk about and showcase their work. Also consider offering your videos to influencers who may benefit from reposting or referencing them.

    14. Publish eBooks
    eBooks are ideal for including interviews, roundups, quotes or mention of any kind of influencers.

    Look at how Jason Miller called on many of his friends and new media connections in “The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.” Jason undoubtedly established helpful new relationships in the making of this stellar eBook.

     15Think visual

    Feldman Creative PinPoints

    If you’re including images in your work (and you better be) and using the many visual media growing in popularity, find ways to feature influencers there too. I like to showcase quotes from leaders in pins (and such)

    16. Endorse them
    Blogging and LinkedIn endorsements provide two great ways to publish an endorsement. I recommend you create detailed and sincere endorsements for influencers. Be careful not to go fishing for the favor to be returned, but don’t be surprised when it does.

    17. Create case studies
    No permission needed. Look for examples of your influencers doing the type of things your audience needs to know more about and publish case studies about them. You can do so with great detail in a blog post or podcast or take a micro-approach to the case study approach by showcasing their works with your social media updates.

    18. Make LinkedIn your social center
    When I’m asked to consult with clients on their social media efforts, I try not to put the cart before the horse. That is, I refrain from recommending a network before I understand the client’s objectives and their audience. But I never leave out LinkedIn. LinkedIn has become the universal hub of personal branding and content distribution.

    I recommend you develop a LinkedIn obsession and pursue meaningful relationships with influencers there. Create a robust profile, publish your best media properties, get relevant endorsements, take advantage of groups, integrate SlideShare, publish posts, and share useful content on LinkedIn.

    19. Advertise
    Advertising isn’t dying. It’s evolving and its evolution in digital media affords you the opportunity to do some laser targeting. If you’re struggling to get the traffic and leads you seek with organic efforts, try buying clicks.

    Most social media offer uber-targeting ad options. And, of course, Google and YouTube offer a variety of pay-per-click, pay-per-view and retargeting options. Your influencers are likely to surf the same sites and are bound to see you there.

    20. Use your newsletter
    Your newsletter is a great medium for featuring and referencing influencers. I have a newsletter, “AEIOU,” which was specifically developed to showcase the work of accomplished leaders in the field of online marketing.

     21. Get your employees involved
    Your online marketing efforts should include people from across various departments in your company. Also, you may hire contractors to help with your content and social media. Make sure everyone understands who your influencers are and what tactics you’re using to make influencer marketing a team project.

    22. Throw your competitors some love
    You can cast a wider net by including competitors in your content as you’re applying some of the action items I’m suggesting. Maybe a competitor published a great book or is hosting a webinar (and it features your influencer). Don’t be too proud to recognize and support competitors.

    Marcus Sheridan influencer marketing tip

     23. Connect people
    What a power tip this is. Look for opportunities to connect people including your influencers. For a number of reasons, I frequently introduce people to each other with an email that explains why. In many instances, I connect bloggers to the managers of sites I think they’d be a good fit for contributing to.

     24. Create community
    There are a ridiculous number of ways to join the groups your influencers are in or invite them into yours. To name a few: Twitter chats, LinkedIn Groups, Tribber, Facebook, Google+ communities.

    25. Present badges
    When you start to get some traction with your influencer efforts, let it be known. When available, grab a badge or small piece of artwork that reflects your alliances and display it on your site. I show off my Inbound Marketing certification badge and the logos of sites I write for in various places on my website. Don’t be afraid to start small with this. The badge need not be from the NY Times.

     26. Be an early adopter for new platforms
    When given the opportunity to test, try or buy a new tool, go for it. If it turns out to be a winner, create content about it and don’t be shy to suggest it. Imagine an influencer telling his or her tribe you were the reason why he or she runs “XYZ.” 

    27. Ask for advice
    Granted, you’ll have to have established some rapport with your influencer to hit them up for advice, but don’t be shy to try it. Influencers value great students.

     28. Study under them
    In addition to speaking and hosting webinars, influencers often develop and sell information products delivered online (courses and membership sites are two common examples). Buy them. Get involved. These types of products are often complemented by online forums, which could turn out to be the ideal place to connect.

     29. Give thanks
    Say “thank you” and recognize your influencers often and in creative ways.

     30. Be an influencer
    As your influencer marketing efforts begin to gain steam, you’re going to get asked to do interviews, co-create content, give advise, and more. Do unto others.

    Jeff Bullas on influencer marketing

     I hope you didn’t miss this infographic, “Influencer Marketing Ideas from Influential Marketers.” I asked the best in the business to share their ideas and managed to collect 22 gems.

    I’m hoping you have some questions, comments or thoughts. I’d love to see the comments section below become a conversation on this topic. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll improve our influencer marketing chops by sharing ideas here. So go for it.

    The post 30 Action Items to Get Serious About Influencer Marketing appeared first on Feldman Creative.

    Strong predictions are being made as to how connected our everyday products will be in the not-too-distant future. Will the bottom drop out of "relevancy" for us as digital marketers?

    Last December, Pete Middleton, Gartner Research Director, made a prediction about the state of our connected devices that digital bloggers are still buzzing about, months later.

    “By 2020,” Middleton stated, “the number of smartphones, tablets and PCs in use will reach about 7.3 billion units.” He went on to compare this estimate to the Internet of Things (IoT), the concept that anticipates that in the not-so-distant future, more ordinary objects will be able to communicate via an interconnected network. “In contrast, the IoT will have expanded at a much faster rate, resulting in a population of about 26 billion units at that time."

    Overlooking for a moment, that some of the IoT’s “units” may be ice dispensers and vehicle seat warmers, the sizeable increase in connectivity suggests that we will be even better at automating our everyday.

    However, in our modern societies, we choose streamed entertainment instead of passively sitting through advertising. We favor the ability to select what we want to see and avoid what we don’t.

    If this selection ability is an authentic choice that will continue into the future, as the IoT broadens according to Middleton’s prediction, will the bottom drop out of “relevant” advertising? If we actually have the power to select the advertising we’re willing to view while more of our household items go online and track our consumption, will we also be willing to view content “based on” our “interests”?

    Even TV host and political satirist Jon Stewart weighed in on the IoT and data collection as related to digital marketing. In an interview this week, he met with David Rose, a CEO, entrepreneur, and instructor at the MIT Media Lab. Rose has just published a book on the IoT entitled Enchanted Objects, and discussed these technologies with Jon Stewart.

    “Is there a concern that we lose our ability to be functional?” Stewart asked, when discussing ordinary objects that provided technological usage prompts. “How do we keep it so that it enhances our lives, without us becoming subservient to that technology?”

    Rose’s answer favored technology over dependency. “Well,” he answered, politely, “I think we all need help in terms of these daily activities.”

    This, I feel, is the crux of our position as digital marketers in an opt-in data environment. If the needs of consumers in an IoT setting are addressed up front, such as network security, and where data is stored, who has access to it, and what its agreed lifetime is, then data may be leveraged to provide relevant, behavior-based consumer content if it is helpful to the consumer.

    If Pete Middleton is correct—and my bluetoothed home suggests that he is—then the future of digital marketing will hinge upon our ability to provide meaningful, valuable content to our audiences.

    Crowdly's third installment of their thought leader interview series with Michael Brito of WCG, a W2O Group company.

    Michael Brito Group Director at WCG, a W2O Group company, Author of "Your Brand, The Next Media Company."

    1. We've seen some brands with extremely smart digital and social teams, but poor support at the senior executive level. How important do you think it is to get people at the top as excited about advocacy and community building as those in the trenches, and how can they achieve that?

    It's imperative to get buy-in from management to do anything from changing an existing data center, to email programs, to focusing on building brand advocates. Management not only controls the budget, but they also control the mindshare of other executives, and the company itself. Without executive buy-in, the likelihood of the program dying in three, six or twelve months is likely because these programs require dollars and investment.

    When obtaining executive buy-in on advocacy programs, it's important to keep in mind that if you have an investment that's only meant to last a year, you're gambling because advocacy programs are meant to live forever. Advocacy can't be tackled in a short-term initiative, because you're talking about mobilizing and empowering people who already love your brand, and then amplifying their voices continuously over time.

    When it comes to proving the value of advocacy, we all know that there's often a sense of abstract business value. This abstraction doesn't work for executives. Through word of mouth, advocates are indirectly selling products on your behalf without you asking them to do so, and lots of companies do this very well today. To convince executives, you need to do two things; 1) measure clicks, purchases and the share of voice around products and certain verticals, giving executives the assurance they need that programs like this can actually be tracked, and 2) show them that other companies are seeing success in their advocacy programs.

    2. When developing an advocacy program, should companies opt for a pilot program or an annual budget?

    It depends on the culture of the company. Either way is a good approach, but both have potential setbacks. With the pilot approach, if the results don't appeal to management, the program will quickly die. On the other hand, with an annual investment, you face the potential for greater failure if you don't see the results you were aiming towards at the end of the year.

    The best end results come from an approach combining a pilot with an annual budget. Start small and establishing some success and best practices. After proving successful with the pilot and reaching a certain benchmark, make sure that you have commitment from management to move towards an annual budget. Having that commitment is important from a morale perspective, as it helps whoever owns the project feel confident in the work that they're doing. It is also important from an advocate perspective, because, as I mentioned before, building an advocacy program then killing it six months later is not a smart business practice.

     

    3. What do you consider the main difference between advocacy and influence?

    At W2O, we look at influence with a laser-focused lens using a model we call “1 9 90.”

    Influencers: the one percent

    For any topic, country, geography, or any specific cause, one percent of the people typically drive the conversation; those people are the influencers. This goes for data centers, social business, social media or travel, where one percent of the population is driving the conversation. These influencers are important, sometimes high maintenance and sometimes cost money, but they are the people that create the conversation other community members look for.

    Advocates: the nine percent

    Then, there is the nine percent -- your advocates. These are people talking about your brand, regardless of whether or not you engage with them or are even listening.

    Consumers: the ninety percent

    Finally, the 90 percent represent everybody else -- the consumers.

    What's interesting about the nine percent is that they are getting information from the one percent. This means you have to figure out how to deliver some value to your one percent, because they're going to affect the nine percent, which in turn, affect the 90 percent. There is a trickle-down effect, and in some cases, there is crossover, such as when the nine percent are influencers on some topics, but not others. However, the main difference between the one and nine percent is that the one percent usually requires some type of incentive -- they may require you to pay them, to see your product, to see your plans or be the first ones you loop in on a story. The nine percent don't require the incentive. They love your product, and they feel an emotional or rational incentive, rather than one involving money, to talk about you.

    Ultimately, if you can operationalize programs that empower your advocates to help tell the brand story, that's when you begin to reach a critical mass for influence. The advocates will then affect the 90 percent, who are the lurkers or consumers of content, which drives the bottom line.

    4. Have you seen any brands that truly have visionary senior executives when it comes to brand advocacy and social adoption?

    Chili’s is doing advocacy really well. They have really operationalized their program and have a lot of engagement and sharing. Skype and other Microsoft products have also done well with advocacy through their MVP program.

    5. In your blog post "Top 3 Considerations Before Launching a Brand Advocacy Program," you used an H&R Block Case study as an example of a well-executed strategy. Are there any other brands you've seen activate their advocates effectively?

    SAP has a thriving community network that gives them an opportunity to talk to their technology partners and customers, adding value through these community discussions. SAP also allows their community to share their content about how to solve different technology problems, which is a key component of advocacy, since it provides value to people in the community beyond just hearing about SAP promotions.

    6. Who are your sources of inspiration?

    Jeremyah Owyang is a social visionary who paved the way before shifting his attention to new endeavors. Jay Baer is another visionary, constantly shaping the discussion around advocacy and social marketing.