• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • While social circles are buzzing with increasingly sober discussions of the channel's difficulties delivering marketing results, that conversation seems not to have reached the ears of the CMO quite yet. Mainstream marketing media, which was late to recognize the growing investment in social media marketing, is now tardy in covering the growing body of data demonstrating social's challenges as a marketing channel.

    The coming year will be a watershed one for social media marketing, I predict, and not in a positive way. A topic that was only whispered about in private conversations early in the year is now being openly discussed: For many brands, earned media and content marketing are not delivering results in line with the investments. Some claim our metrics and strategies must mature, but it is getting harder to ignore the limitations of marketing in the social channel. So unavoidable is this discussion that even at the Social Media Today Social Shake-Up, a confab of social elite, a speaker asked from the main stage, "In a year, will any of you produce a deck with 'social' in its title?"

    While social circles are buzzing with increasingly sober discussions of the channel's difficulties delivering marketing results, that conversation seems not to have reached the ears of the CMO quite yet. Mainstream marketing media, which was late to recognize the growing investment in social media marketing, is now tardy in covering the growing body of data demonstrating social's challenges as a marketing channel.

    Adweek, continuing its trend of being impressed with engagement rather than results, recently featured an article on the "top Tumblr posts of 2014." These posts were not selected as "top" because they delivered any marketing ROI but because lots of people liked them, and thus Adweek has once again uncovered that deep marketing insight that people love inspirational quotes, hot models, animated GIFs and pets. (Shocking!) This is representative of the coverage that social media continues to receive from the marketing media--big numbers lead while investments bleed.

    Since your CMO does not seem to be getting good advice to guide decisions on social investments, I'd like to offer up five tips to help him or her consider how to manage social media budgets and efforts in 2015:

    • Stop trying to make your brand interesting with tweets and posts; instead, give people a reason to talk about your brand in meaningful ways. The organic reach of brand content on Facebook is dying. Not dwindling; dying. The story is little different on other social networks. Brand engagement on Twitter is minuscule and, although engagement on Instagram is fine today, it is only a matter of time before Instagram goes the way of other social networks before it.

      By the end of 2015, the talk will be about zero reach in brands' organic social media marketing efforts, and it will become impossible to ignore that brand publishing is not and never was going to be the way to succeed in social media. The real social media strategy that has worked from the beginning is to get people talking with each other, not about brand content but about actual products and services. The reason is that people trust each other far more than they trust you and your brand.

      There are several ways to leverage peer-to-peer brand communications. Bring trusted consumer ratings and observations into your site, integrated on the pages where prospects consider your products and services, as USAA has done on product pages. Leverage trusted relationships to create connections between your brand and prospects, as Ameriprise does with its LinkedIn "Find an Advisor" feature. Encourage positive comments, not on Twitter where tweets are quickly lost in the void, but on the rating and review sites that people trust to help them make purchase decisions. In 2015, CMOs will be forced to realize that the key to social media success is not publishing content but getting people talking with each other about brands' products and services.
    • Stop trying to go viral; instead, use social media to solve consumer problems:  Viral posts get a lot of attention because everyone loves big numbers, but there is little evidence they drive brand value. KMart had the most viral brand video in 2013, but it didn't stop the retailer's continued slide. The same thing happened in 2014: This year's most viral brand campaign was the Ellen Oscar selfie, but despite Publicis CEO Maurice Levy's claim it delivered Samsung a billion dollars of value, Samsung's smartphone market share slipped 25% from Q3 2013 to Q3 2014. (Where viral campaigns tend to help is not with established brands but with up and comers such as HelloFlo and Wren, but even then, the one-in-a-million shot of achieving "viral' scale is so remote, the few success stories hardly suggest that viral marketing is a smart strategy.)

      Your marketing goal is not to go viral; it's not even to get engagement. Your marketing goal is to deliver demonstrable business results, and that means changing consumer behaviors and attitudes. Viral videos too often sacrifice brand impact for entertainment value, and that is a lousy trade to make.

      Rather than try to be funny, instead focus on solving consumer problems. Fifth Third Bank didn't make the waves that Samsung did, but its Reemploy campaign got unemployed mortgage borrowers back to work and delivered the brand the sort of "buzz" that encourages consideration. USAA partnered with the NFL for a Salute to Service campaign that increased appreciation for military service members, raised over $400,000 for military support organizations and generated considerable social media buzz with on-field events.
    • Stop saying "Content is King." Start focusing brand-building energies on the Customer Experience. First exercise: Other than brands whose product actually is content, name a brand you purchase regularly because of content it produces. Now list the brands to which you are loyal because their products or services furnish a great and consistent experience. How do those numbers compare?

      Here's another exercise: List brands you know that have achieved significant success in the past two decades years with content. Then, list the brands that came out of nowhere with little advertising or content but built World of Mouth based on their product or service experience. (Here's a list to get you started on the latter: Ebay, Amazon, Uber, Nest, Square, Flip Video, Google, Krispy Kreme, Zappos, Tesla, Facebook, Apple Store, Jawbone, Angry Birds, PayPal, Evernote, Dropbox and Warby Parker.)

      There you go--I have cured you of the need to ever again say "Content is king" in just two paragraphs. Content is not king--customer experience is king. Why do marketers keep repeating that tired and untrue phrase? Probably because content seems easy to do (just a hire a "brand journalist," whatever that is), is in their wheelhouse (they have been producing ads for decades, after all), and marketers generally control content but not the product and service experience. Well, it is long past time for that to change.

      Advertising and content are important, but nothing is more powerful than Customer Experience. This has always been the case, but in an age of transparency where media is splintering, mass media is slipping and consumers have greater control over communication channels, it is not content but Customer Experience that fills the top of the funnel. Marketers can no longer afford to ignore the high-impact product and service experiences being fashioned by others in the organization while they worry about less powerful ad impressions and social engagement. Smart marketers must turn inward and ensure that the brand experience is crafted end-to-end--not just what happens leading up to purchase but what happens afterwards--because that is where true brand building occurs.
    • Stop being lied to and start demanding better information. Who do you expect will tell the CMO the truth that social media marketing is widely failing to meet expectations? The professionals getting paychecks to produce content for social channels? The agency trying to maximize utilization of its storytellers and community managers? The authors whose books extolling the value of earned media launched their careers? A social media industry has been built to separate the CMO from his or her budget, which is why marketing leaders must seek out the real, unadulterated and unbiased data and insight about social media marketing.

      There is a lot of bad data and analysis out there, and even data from reliable sources can be twisted and misrepresented. For example, dozens of blog posts have mentioned that IBM's recent Black Friday white paper reported that Facebook traffic delivered an average of $109.94 per order over Thanksgiving weekend. That sounds important, but is it really without knowing the scale of orders delivered? IBM is suspiciously silent on that topic considering its 2013 study found that social media drove a mere 1% of purchases. While IBM may not be divulging social network traffic's share of purchases, Custora is. The company evaluated data from 100 US online retailers, 100 million online shoppers and over $40 billion in transaction revenue in the first two weeks of December. It found that social media (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) drove just 2% of orders (down from 2.5% during the same period in 2013).

      The time has come for marketers to get more critical about the data and analysis they receive. If marketing leaders rely on incomplete, unreliable or misrepresented data to drive social media decisions, they have no one to blame but themselves for disappointing outcomes.
    • Your social media metrics suck, so change them. Social media has been Goodhart's Law in action: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."

      Likes, retweets and shares were briefly meaningful in the early days of social, when brands earned them solely by offering great products and services, but the second those social engagement metrics became goals rather than measures of success, everything changed. Brands started buying fans with contests, sweepstakes and giveaways. Community managers started gaming engagement with posts of puppies and "like-bait" images. Fan counts soared and engagement rose, but since these tactics were designed to yield positive social media metrics and not valuable business results, it all amounted to little for brands. Is it any wonder that the vast majority of CMOs have no quantitative idea if their social investments are paying off or not? (They're not.)

      If you have a social media scorecard with counts of likes, fans, retweets and pins, throw it out and demand better. Those metrics are easily manipulated and are not measures of business success. Marketing leaders need to focus on more important measures in 2015: Improvements in preference and purchase intent, enhanced share of wallet, beneficial social behaviors such as recommendations, and financial measures including repurchase, clicks and conversions. Those are not as easy to measure as likes and retweets, but the most valuable marketing metrics are rarely the easiest of obtain.

    By the end of 2015, I believe we will be having a much different conversation about social media with substantially less focus on brand content and more about social products, social services and social good. If your CMO uses the five tips mentioned above, he or she can be ahead of the game and ensure the company is aligning its marketing budgets to the strategies most likely to deliver results that matter. Or, brands can keep running social sweepstakes, doing funny videos and begging for likes and shares, but I can promise those tactics will not get the job done for the Marketing department, and by the end of 2015, that will be impossible to hide.

    In support of people at all stages of their lives, I'd like to share a story today, about a young man who spent two years homeless on the streets of a small city in western Canada. The winters were cold, but he managed to get by on one meal a day at a local drop-in centre (when he could manage to arrive on time). His friends were drug dealers, prostitutes, and other street kids.

    You probably have an image in your mind of what a homeless person looks like. Aimless, scruffy and detached from the realities of the "regular" world. No doubt you’ve walked past one now and then with nary a thought in your mind about their situation outside of maybe feeling a bit of pity.

    When you think about it, walking past a homeless person that way isn’t much different than blasting your contacts with marketing messages. When we treat people as targets, its all too easy to forget they are anything more.

    In support of people at all stages of their lives, I'd like to share a story today, about a young man who spent two years homeless on the streets of a small city in western Canada. The winters were cold, but he managed to get by on one meal a day at a local drop-in centre (when he could manage to arrive on time). His friends were drug dealers, prostitutes, and other street kids.

    He had no mental illness. He came from a large, loving family and had lots of friends. You could certainly say he didn’t have his life together, but it wasn’t as if he were suffering from a debilitating condition that forced him onto the streets, either. It just happened to be where he was at that time in his life.

    He shares that the winters were hardest. Making it through by hunkering down in an old trailer with a number of other street people on the coldest nights. Everyone was welcome to crash, as long as they didn’t bring any drugs, johns or other trouble with them.

    He related a story of being so hungry one day that he walked several miles on a chilly fall evening into the suburbs, seeking a backyard garden that wasn’t completely harvested. Peering from the relative safety of dark alleys and into backyards, he spotted one, dropped to the ground and crawled on his belly under a barb-wire fence and into the planted rows. Pulling one carrot at a time from the ground, he ate quietly, weeping silently between mouthfuls of carrot, roughly sprinkled with chunks of dirt.

    Having eaten as much as he could without disturbing too much of the garden, he backed out – still on his belly - using his toes and elbows to push out into the alley without making too much sound or disturbing too much of the garden, in case he would need to return. Having cleared the barbs, he retraced his route, scrambling through the shadows to make his way back toward the downtown.

    Weeks later, seeing his disheveled appearance in a shop window, he was engulfed in incredible shame, turned and ran away as fast as he could from the eyes of passersby. The experience jolted some sense into him and he spent the next few days cleaning himself up, even getting a haircut and some clean clothes from the Salvation Army. Eventually, he worked up the nerve to pick up a pay phone and dialled his mother. When she answered, he simply asked, “Can I come home?”

    Welcomed Home With Open Arms


    I’m fortunate my parents welcomed me home with open arms – I felt loved again. Yes, I was that street kid. I probably don’t fit that image now, and I didn’t then either. Not long after that, when I was just 17 (that's me in the pic), my mother passed away, drowning while saving a seven-year-old child who swam out past a sandbar drop-off during a summer birthday party and swim. I have the Gov. Gen.’s Award for Bravery and the Carnegie Medal my mother won in exchange for her life.

    These were difficult times in my life, and they weren’t the last ones. As many of you know, 30-odd years later I would battle (and beat) stage IV cancer, weather the economic boom and bust of my adoptive city, and go on to found an award-winning online marketing firm. 

    In truth, I may not know you, but I do know, that you – like every other person on this earth – have had formative experiences in your own life that can’t be represented by a marketing profile or demographics, no matter how well crafted. The unique experiences we go through in our lives mold us into the people we become. They should also teach us that making real connections with one another, and being of assistance where we can, is always more important than studying click-through rates or reducing the people we encounter to just numbers.

    To me, remembering that connections, followers and personas are real people with diverse backgrounds worthy of more than that, is about the most powerful holiday message I can share, and maybe even the most important piece of “marketing” advice I could ever give.

    So, the next time you connect with someone – online or off – please remember you can never know what their personal journey has been, or may become in the future. But you just might get a wonderful opportunity to learn about it and help them along their way.

    Find out what top brands are winning in social media sentiment in uberVU via Hootsuite's Naughty or Nice List!
    We’re helping Santa out this holiday season by letting social decide who gets a present and who gets a lump of coal this year. Using the uberVU via Hootsuite platform*, we’ve compared sentiment levels for brands in Retail, Financial Services, Automotive, Travel & Hospitality, Food & Beverage, Technology, Consumer Packaged Goods and Media & Entertainment to determine which brands social has deemed Nice and which have been Naughty.
    Find out what brands earned the top spots and why in Social Media’s Naughty or Nice List.
    * The social data featured in this infographic came from the 26 social platforms and more than 100 million data sources the uberVU via Hootsuite platform monitors, including (but not limited to) Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Reddit, Flickr, blog posts, blog comments, premium news sources (like the New York Times) and many others from September 16 to December 16, 2014.
    Another year concludes in social media networking and many milestones were achieved. Facebook continued to lead the way while other social channels made large strides with their services online or via the mobile space.

    Another year quickly has gone by in the world of social media marketing. A lot of different things happened during the entire year and social media became increasingly popular specially in the mobile space. A new infographic published Dec. 20, 2014 on Visual.ly highlights the prevalent trends and social channels that made quite the buzz.

    The two social networking platforms to make quite the hit were Tumblr and Pinterest. Tumblr, social networking website and microblogging platform, saw active users increase by 120 percent while Pinterest grew to an astonishing 110 percent of its user base.

    Both of these social networking channels have the youngest audience (70 percent of users are between the ages 16 through 34).

    Elsewhere Facebook remained the top social networking service around the globe, but their organic reach performed poorly according to the visual graphic.

    Snapchat as the new kid on the block was quickly embraced and was the fastest growing mobile app with 56 percent growth. The majority of the users are typically ages 25 and under.

    Video streaming platform, YouTube, had the highest visitation rate amongst other things. Exactly 6 billion hours of video were watched each month and 100 hours of video footage was uploaded every 60 seconds.

    Brands that excelled in Social Customer Care and Smart storytelling

    The social media analytics company, Socialbakers, released ground-breaking results about brand engagement with the masses. The two brands to earn high benchmarks were H&M and Applebee’s.

    What did they specifically do? Both companies achieved great Social Customer Care, which means if a brand responds 65 percent of audience questions on Facebook or Twitter they are Socially Devoted.

    H&M achieved a 65.5 percent question response rate whereas Applebee’s clinched a 74.7 percent rate.

    The other metric or category where both brands excelled was in Smart storytelling. This means great quality and quantity ratio.

    Finally, the analytics company compiled the year’s best content and four areas to focus on come 2015.

    Takeaways and conclusions

    Social media networking has been a transformational force on a global scale. Social media is a way of life, a way to communicate nowadays and valuable resource for any individual. Whether it is used for personal or professional reasons people turn to it on a daily basis. Hand-held devices (smartphones, tablets, and laptops) played a pivotal role with their cutting-edge mobile technology and will continue to see further sophistication of mobile apps.

    The year 2015 will see a greater focus and effort from social media companies around the mobile space. More advertising systems will be rolled out and tested. This approach will seek to increase revenues and profits. Last but certaintly not the least try to lure and predict consumer buyer behavior within social media.  

    Here’s my take on the classic poem, "T'was the night before Christmas.” It’s a slight modernization of Clement Clark Moore’s original 1822 version.

    Here’s my take on the classic poem, "T'was the night before Christmas.” It’s a slight modernization of Clement Clark Moore’s original 1822 version. Happy Holidays to all!

    T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the Cloud,
    Not a blogger was posting, not even Matthew Dowd.
    The data was stored on the network with care,
    In hopes that St Sergey soon would be there.

    The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
    While images of Elsa danced on their iPads.
    And mamma with her Macbook Air and I with my Surface Pro 3,
    Had just settled our brains on a MOOC course for free.

    When out of the desktop there arose such a clatter,
    I sprang from my bed to see what’s the matter.
    Minimizing the Windows and closing the Flash,
    I logged out of Facebook to stave off a crash.

    The light from the glow of our new browser Chrome,
    Gave luster to the image appearing on my G+ Home.
    When, what to my wondering eyes should project,
    But a miniature St Sergey, wearing a pair of Google specs.

    With a little old smirk, so lively and gay,
    I knew in a moment, it must be St Sergey.
    More rapid than eagles, faster than I could count,
    He whistled, and shouted, and called for a Hangout!

    "Now Zuckerberg! Now Silbermann! Now Bezos and Page!
    On, Cook! On, Mayer! On Costelo and Crowley!
    To your desktops and laptops! Come heed my call!
    Now log in! Log in! Log in all!"

    I stood in confusion, ever wondering why, 
    When to my amazement, each one did reply.
    Imagine my shock, when came into view,
    A brace of tech leaders, and St Sergey too.

    And then, in a twinkling, he began to chat,
    In a state of mere shock, all alone there I sat.
    As I turned on my mic, and adjusted the sound,
    Alone on the screen, St Sergey was found.

    He was dressed all in finery, from his head to his toes,
    His shirt Kenneth Cole, his pants vintage Girbaud.
    With a pair of Google Glasses adorning his head,
    He looked like a tourist, just back from Club Med.

    His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
    His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
    His droll little mouth was drawn up in a smile,
    His wholesome demeanor showed no trace of guile.

    The stump of a toothpick he held tight in his teeth,
    A faint aura encircled his head like a wreath.
    He had a clean-shaven face and a mop of curly hair,
    That ever was tousled, though he did not care!

    He was stylish and goofy, a right jolly old nerd,
    And I laughed when I saw him, before he uttered a word!
    Though a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
    Soon gave me to wonder if we’d something to dread.

    He spoke many things, from augmented reality to asteroid mining,
    Filling the air all night, while the others sat pining.
    To get in their two cents, a mere word, or a phrase, 
    At his ability to blather, everyone did amaze!

    Then he sprang to his feet, this wily ol’ geek,
    And ended the Hangout, ‘ere anyone could speak.
    But I heard him exclaim, as he blinked out of sight,
    "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"