• 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.
  • At the Social Shake-Up, Mike Federle, the COO of Forbes; Carl Lavin, the homepage editor of CNN Digital; and Mary Ellen Egan, the Senior Content Director at Social Media Today, tackled how journalism and publishing are evolving in a panel titled “When Your Customers Become Your Contributors: Brand Journalism Meets Traditional.” To kick off the panel, Simon asked, “In the social age where anyone can publish anything, anywhere, any time, what is a media brand? Is it a platform, is it a publisher?”

    At the Social Shake-Up, Mike Federle, the COO of Forbes; Carl Lavin, the homepage editor of CNN Digital; and Mary Ellen Egan, the Senior Content Director at Social Media Today, tackled how journalism and publishing are evolving in a panel titled “When Your Customers Become Your Contributors: Brand Journalism Meets Traditional.” Simon Pearce of Fabric Branding moderated.

    To kick off the panel, Simon asked, “In the social age where anyone can publish anything, anywhere, any time, what is a media brand? Is it a platform, is it a publisher?”

    Mike noted that Forbes is maintaining their traditional publication while quickly growing their digital platform: “The publishing side remains the front door of the brand, because the Forbes brand is so well known around the world. But the digital is 60-65% on the revenue side.” They are accomplishing this by maintaining and growing a huge contributor network, consisting of “1400 writers who have been vetted by our senior editors, who are each in charge of a particular channel.” Essentially, the editorial happens with the contributor selection, after which contributors can publish directly to the platform with no editorial oversight.

    Mary Ellen spoke to how things have changed for her, as someone who started off as a “traditional” journalist but lived through the shift to digital and blogging. When the shift was first beginning, she noted, “The print people were always like, ‘Oh those digital hacks!’” Meanwhile, the bloggers “thought we were scotch-drinking, cigar-smoking” stereotypes of journalists who produced one paltry article a day. Since those early years, she’s come to realize that “blogs allow us to engage with so many more people. Contributors become commenters themselves,” extending the story beyond the original piece.

    Simon wondered if the constant reality of getting scooped by Twitter and Facebook was making traditional outlets, burdened with fact-checking, start to fear irrelevancy.

    Not at all, Carl stated, noting, “It’s only true if I see it on CNN: [people who say that] are the people who are valuable to us.” Mary Ellen agreed, noting that she found out about Joan Rivers’s death through Twitter but immediately turned to the New York Times for verification, context, and additional information. “As we’ve learned,” she said, “the internet has changed how we consume information, and we have to be more skeptical now."

    The panelists then waded into the murkier waters of brand journalism and whether it’s playing nicely with publishers. Everyone agreed that sponsored content had to be marked as such, whether through clear labeling or obvious font and stylistic differences. “If you step on a line,” said Mary Ellen, “the crowd’s going to let you know.”

    When it comes to brand journalism, “content is content, on the web,” Mike said, “ and marketers have just as much of a right to be talking about it as anyone else,” as long as they're not trying to pull something over on the audience. And there are standards, of course: for instance, if a company wants to put out sponsored content claiming vaccines are deadly or that there's a home-made vaccine replacement that’s safer, that content certainly wouldn’t make it onto CNN. “If it’s not true, and we can prove it’s not true, we won’t accept it,” Carl said simply.

    And the publishers’ own brands aren’t becoming less important as a result of the internet, Mike said. In fact, “the brand becomes more important: the reason we’re able to attract 1400 contributors is because they want to write for a reputable brand that’s going to bring them recognition as well.” 

    Carl envisioned the new structure of publishing as a pyramid: “At the widest point, the base, people can comment on stories [and become a part of the story itself]. But as you go further up, there’s more and more vetting [of contributors] until you get to the very top. Brands can participate at any level – except the very top.”

    “Digital allows everyone to join the conversation,” Carl said. “The publishing part stays true to the old-style values of journalism – clarity, accuracy, urgency and context – but the audience is part of this too. The journalist is no longer preaching to a sleepy congregation.”

    In other words, the congregation itself is waking up and clamoring to be a part of the story, and it’s a crowd that includes brands, companies, and marketers along with regular readers. Publishing is going to have to keep evolving to accommodate it.

    In this video, hear what people are saying about The Social Shake-Up this year.

    The Social Shake-Up started off with a bang at the W-Midtown Atlanta, where leaders of big-picture social and technology have gathered to speak about the rapidly changing way we work. Attendees, from high-level executives to freelance practitioners, rub elbows and learn from panelists on the front lines of social business. In this video, see some of the conversations we've been having about new ways to connect with customers, employees, managers and leaders.

     

    This year’s Social Shake-Up conference in Atlanta is bringing together an impressive breadth of brands, industries and marketing professionals from around the globe. From the world’s most recognizable brands like—Coke, IBM, Facebook, Walmart, UPS, to name just a few—to leading universities like Emory and the University of Rochester, to the world’s top public health research organizations.

    “Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

    This year’s Social Shake-Up conference in Atlanta is bringing together an impressive breadth of brands, industries and marketing professionals from around the globe. From the world’s most recognizable brands like—Coke, IBM, Facebook, Walmart, UPS, to name just a few—to leading universities like Emory and the University of Rochester, to the world’s top public health research organization—the Center for Disease Control—the conference has brought the best and the brightest to converse and brainstorm about the impact and the future of social marketing. 

    Here’s a profile of the 600+ attendees, starting with attendees by industry.

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    And although the Fortune 500 is well represented, attendees came in large numbers from start-ups and high growth mid-sized companies as well.

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    Reflecting the makeup of our visitors to SocialMediaToday.com, the Social Shake-Up attendees are heavily geared towards decision makers and influencers within their organizations.

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    Social conversations with a real substance seem to be on the verge of extinction. Some of the most popular blogs have a few comments, but reflect very little interaction between writers and readers.

    These days, social media interactions leave little room to imagination. All attempts to communicate begin with a fervent desire to introduce, promote or sell a certain product in a more or less predictable manner. While the targeted audience may change, the mechanism of social interactions remains pretty much the same: companies start rambling about the uniqueness of their products and services, instead of focusing on the real needs and demands of their potential buyers.

    Perhaps this is why their act is not rewarded with a big round of applause. Savvy readers are bored of sales pitches. They want exciting, fresh, original, newsworthy facts delivered in a unique manner. Some of them are nostalgic and still think that social media should involve more than a semi-polite exchange of information. Whatever happened to those great chats that we used to have, which went beyond someone’s selfish, mercantile goals?

    Should You Settle for Feedback, When All You Need Is a Good Old-Fashioned Conversation?

    Social conversations with a real substance seem to be on the verge of extinction. Some of the most popular blogs have a few comments, but reflect very little interaction between writers and readers. Some bloggers write back, others are just too busy measuring their own level of awesomeness. Some individuals leave a comment just to bring their own links in the public eye. This is not even proper feedback, let alone a meaningful conversation that could lead to a deeper relationship with your audience.

    So how could you get people to reply to your social content? What’s the secret formula for success that you need to steal and apply to get them to share, like, favorite or re-tweet your ideas? Most importantly, can you use social content to bond with your readers without being perceived as a money-hungry stalker? Let’s find out.

    6 Ways to Start and Maintain a Dialogue with Your Audience via Your Social Content

    A great dialog with your readers should be founded on a well-balanced mix that includes premium content, common sense, empathetic thinking, politeness and a strong desire to stay relevant, engaging and helpful. Here are 6 ways in which you can convince your virtual friends to join the conversation without being cataloged as pushy or desperate.

    1.     Set Realistic Goals: If you’re still in the initial phase in which you’re making a name for yourself while building credibility and trust, don’t expect to get millions of likes and shares in a split second, even if your content is truly amazing. According to Jay Baer from Convince & Convert, you should expect less without settling for less.  Accept the fact that online conversations will never be perfect substitutes for face-to-face interactions and try to bond with your readers by upgrading your content and making it more palatable.

    2.     Humanize Your Content: If your social content makes your readers think that you are as lifeless as a mannequin from a Fifth Avenue store, now may be a good time to follow a different approach. Let the veil down and create personalized content that enables users to discover who you are, what you stand for, and most importantly, what you can do for them. Introduce yourself just like you would during a face-to-face interaction (minus the awkward gestures and long pauses). Write freely, express your enthusiasm and present your goals, brand and product features and benefits in a more spontaneous manner.  

    3.     Be Helpful and Engaging: All your readers are wondering: what’s in it for me? Aside from the fact that you let them contemplate your beautiful pictures and read the story of your life, what else are you willing to bring to the table? The key is to provide real value to your readers, before trying to convert them into buyers. If you’re a blogger and you let your blog visitors admire your outfit of the day (#ootd on Instagram, in case you didn’t know), tell them where they could find the products that you’re flaunting with such great pride. Provide timely answers to their questions. Offer additional details to keep the conversation going. As long as you know everything about your audience and your own field of activity, you should never run out of things to say. Be witty, be friendly, but most importantly, be yourself, since everybody else is already taken.

    4.     Let Your Readers Hop on Board: Let your readers take control. Ask your clients, prospects and collaborators to share their ideas with you. You should create the context and come up with adequate commentary for the input that they’ve sent you. According to Heidi Cohen, this type of web content that resembles a collage may enable you to lift old barriers in content creation and profit from the expertise (and the level of popularity) of your favorite contributors.

    5.     Invest Time and Energy in Curated Content: Use interesting, trending third party web writing to make a statement. Add your comments to the original article and present it from your perspective. Don’t forget to include changes in images, headline, tone and also context. Here’s an extra tip: leverage the incredible power of seduction of amazing photos that are relevant to your topic and write magnetic, attention-grabbing headlines to make your visitors read the rest of the article and interact with you. According to Moz, content curation lets you organize and collect some of the most existing things that may be floating around the Internet without a lifejacket and share them for the greater good. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to curate content and prove that you are a true connoisseur.

    6.     Use Comments as User-Oriented Social Content: Stay active on social media platforms. Share and tweet like there’s no tomorrow. Monitor your readers’ reaction to your messages. Feel free to extract some of the most interesting and relevant comments posted by your readers (on your blog, website or social media profiles) and include them in your next piece to prove a point. This action will reflect the fact that you care about your readers and put a high price on their opinion.

    By reaching the contributor status, you followers will feel valued and stimulated to maintain a more meaningful conversation with you in the long run. At the end of the day, your mission is to dump the unnecessary baggage and make more room for your readers and their needs, desires and opinions in your own web writing.

    We might be able to learn a thing or two from celebs when it comes to managing our own businesses. You did know that acting, music, and other forms of celebrity-making endeavors are businesses, right? Creative businesses, yes, but businesses nonetheless. So what can these digital-savvy celebrities teach the rest of us?

    Of the many success stories we see in the social media world, few have been more widespread than those from celebrities. Sure, I know, celebrities by definition already have a huge fan base to draw from and connect with, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't doing some things well. Very well in some cases. So well, in fact, that I would venture to say that we might be able to learn a thing or two from them when it comes to managing our own businesses. You did know that acting, music, and other forms of celebrity-making endeavors are businesses, right? Creative businesses, yes, but businesses nonetheless. So what can these digital-savvy celebrities teach the rest of us?  

    1. Give Before You Get

    Let me blunt. Most of you are using social media in the same way that you have used other forms of marketing, and in the same way you think about almost everything in else in your business: it's about making you money, ultimately. This is a fine line to walk, because in reality that is the ultimate goal, sort of. The problem lies in your motivation and your view of things. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with making as much money as is humanly possible, as long as that is a result of what you do, and not what you are putting your effort into. It's confusing, I know, but it's really a perspective thing and a heart thing more than a business strategy.

    Amanda Palmer is a prime example of this. She routinely gives her music away for free to her fans. A few years ago she asked her fans to comment on the social site Get Glue about their favorite moment at her concert, and then she chose the best and most heartfelt comments and gave those fans a free ticket to a private concert. She made no money from these things. In fact, it cost her money to put the concert on, and technically she loses money from giving away free music. However, when she took to Kickstarter in 2012 to raise money for a tour promoting her new album and book, that giving came back to her (as all giving does - remember that). She wanted to raise $100,000 in 31 days, She raised just shy of $1.2 million. Give first, and you will receive. That doesn't mean that you have to send every follower a free widget or buy them a house, but it does mean that you need to think about how you can put something into their lives before you try to extract money from them.

    2. Be Genuine, and Genuinely Care

    Taylor Swift has become one of the most prolific celebrities in the social media realm, probably due in no small part to her age. Even outside of social media, she has always gone out of her way to engage with her fans and let them know how much they mean to her. When she did an autograph signing in 2010 as part of the CMA Music Festival, her fans lined up for blocks. Not only did she not charge for the autographs (a completely selfish and ridiculous practice in my opinion), but she decided that anyone who took the time to wait would get an autograph. As a result, she spent 15 hours that day signing autographs. Do you think that created any loyalty with her fans?

    Not only that, but she spends time going through her social pages herself and has been known to often retweet her fans' tweets. With her following, that must be a harrowing process, but surely she uses social media management software to get through them all. Simple recognition goes a long way. Swift also has helpers at her concerts who look out for devoted fans that are obviously more engaged than others by their signs, dress, or actions, and then invites them backstage to hang out after the concert in what have become known as "T-Parties".

    Lady Gaga is another music artist who goes the extra mile to engage with and thank her fans for their support. A high school student council president in Canada sent letters to dozens of celebrities asking for their help in spreading his message of anti-bullying. Gaga was the only response he got, and she made and sent him a personalized video thanking him for his work and encouraging him. Gaga wants to connect with her social fan base so badly that she created her own social network for them, Littlemonsters.com, where she can easily connect with them apart from the clutter and noise of the big networks. The bottom line is that the more directly and personally you can find a way to connect, the more impact you will have and the better the response will be.

    3. Invite and Reward Engagement

    Superstar Katie Perry's hit "Firework" a few years ago was all about being someone who inspires others. Instead of holding herself up as an inspiration or talking about her own inspirations, she invited fans to create videos telling the world who their inspirations were. She made the story about them, and they loved her for it.

    In a similar vein, the band Blink-182 discovered video after video of their fans using their music illegally in their self-created videos. Instead of suing them, they rewarded them for the loyalty. They used a compilation of clips from the fan-created videos to make their own video for a new single, and then credited each fan at the end.

    4. Be Consistent and Have a Strategy

    Everyone saw Ellen Degeneres' now-famous selfie tweet from this year's Oscars was the most retweeted tweet of all time, with 14.7 million retweets. It was also the most shared selfie in social media history. It also crashed Twitter temporarily. Sure, there were 10 popular celebrities in the picture, but don't be fooled into thinking that this was some spur-of-the-moment, offhand phenomenon. On the contrary, Ellen is extremely engaged with her followers and handles her account herself. She had been teasing the awards show through her account for two weeks prior to develop and keep up interest. When the night came, it was the end of a well-strategized plan - not a random tweet. Celebrities, businesses, regular people, it doesn't matter. The secret sauce for social media is always the same, and it always has been: be authentic, be engaged, be consistent, and genuinely care. This is one medium where you can't fake it for very long before fans catch on and then move on.