• 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.
  • Duo Consulting
    Duo Consulting on October 15, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal Is the Best Social CMS

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • Welcome to another Social Media Today webinar as part of the Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of Social Media at Work: Employee Advocacy Success Stories.

    This week I moderated another Social Media Today webinar as part of their Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of Social Media at Work: Employee Advocacy Success Stories. We assembled a diverse panel to give us their perspective on this topic: Zealous Wiley, the Senior Digital Marketing Leader at HP; Lorrie Sole, the Senior Interactive Marketing Manager from Kelly Services; and Denise Holt, the CEO and Founder of Collaborative IQ. This webinar was also sponsored by Everyone Social.

    Denise started us off with some research from Edelman on trust which shows that employees are more trusted than even the CEO of a company. For the last 5 years this dynamic has continued to hold true and even increased. This puts the power in the hands of the employee to have a stake in the future of the company and actually be leaders from within.

    Lorrie took over after Denise and talked about how Kelly Services developed a social advocacy program. She talked about the old “manual” way that Kelly Services approached employee advocacy and the new and improved way they approach employee advocacy using Everyone Social. She also talked about how she built a strong foundation with social policies and lots of education to get her program to work.

    Zealous then finished off the presentations with a deep dive on how HP uses employee advocacy in their software division. They have over 200 HP Software Ambassadors who represent more than 456,000 connections. These Ambassadors have shared 15,700 pieces of content, received 6,500 engagements and 30,000 clicks/reads of the shared content. Moreover, HP Ambassadors are expected to: share HP content from platform 2-5 times per week and provide feedback to the team.

    Now, if you have ever been on a Social Media Today webinar before, you know they are very “participant-driven” and we love to ask your questions of our panelists. Some of the questions we covered were: What kind of culture change did it take to get the adoption of your employee advocacy program? What types of education did you use (internal or external) and if external what sources would you recommend?

    If that piqued your interest, you will want to hear the replay of this webinar or review the slides from this webinar. Otherwise we hope you will join us on another Social Media Today webinar! The next webinar is What Does Customer Experience Mean for Your Social Business? Sign up for it or view the schedule of upcoming webinars here.

    To follow the play-by-play Twitter action, check out the following Storify:

    Digital Darwinism - when technology and society evolve faster than a company’s ability to adapt - is a very real phenomenon. Technology has changed everything about how people connect, communicate, and ultimately make decisions as consumers. The key challenge is for businesses to meet the call of these new, connected customers…or face extinction.

    Blockbuster. Circuit City. The classified's section in your local newspaper (or even the newspaper itself). Kodak. Nokia (as the world's largest manufacturer of mobile phones). The creative destruction is all around us. It has been accelerating and expanding into new industries and today every executive in every industry should be asking not "if" but "when" will technology become the primary external factor shaping their organizations.

    Author and Altimeter analyst Brian Solis describes what we are seeing today as "Digital Darwinism" and in a recent blog post he describes how companies can embrace digital transformation to address this challenge.  He writes:

    "The answer to digital Darwinism is digital transformation. Digital transformation is the use of technology and methodology to address shifts in behavior by upgrading or overhauling processes and systems that amplify existing and unforeseen opportunities."

    But as Brian goes on to point out, embracing new technology, new processes, and even new business models is not easy -- he calls this Darwinism because as in Darwin's theory of evolution, not all organisms will thrive given changes in an ecosystem. As in an often quoted paraphrase of Darwin's theory by Louisiana State University business professor Leon C. Megginson:

    “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” 

    Throughout the history of civilization, the organizations we have created to develop, produce, and distribute good and services have undergone change brought upon them by external factors. Sometimes, as in the period of the middle ages called the "little ice age," the external factor has been climate. Sometimes, as in the fall of the Roman empire, the external factor was geo-political. During the Renaissance the primary factor was arguably the influx of wealth from the new world into Europe. But the interplay between different factors has always existed and technological innovation has certainly played a role at many of these moments.

    Today, however, technology has emerged as the dominant factor -- not reducing or eliminating climate, politics, or resource extraction as factors but decidedly dominating them and even impacting how those other factors will play out in the decades to come as forces for change in their own right. Today technology is one hoped for avenue to ameliorate climate change, to maintain geo-political stability, and to identify more powerful methods for extracting oil or mineral wealth from our environment. 

    But for most organization the impact of technology has a more immediate resonance -- how it is changing the way people live, work, play... Brian Solis refers to the emergence of a new "Generation-C" where the "C" stands for "connected." Digital technologies are definitevely and permanently changing expectations for how we will do our jobs, by products, experience services... and organizations MUST react to these changed expectations.

    This Friday at 12:00 pm EST (9:00 AM PST) Brian Solis and I will be conducting a webinar on this important topic -- what is happening, why, and what your organization should be focused on to address these challenges.  You can register by clicking this link for The Rise of Digital Darwinism and join us for the presentation and discussion.  We will also be making a new white paper from Brian available following the webinar.

    I hope you can join us for what should prove to be an engaging and informative discussion!

    According to the 2015 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends reports, 1 out of 3 B2B marketers who have an opinion think they're NOT effective at content marketing. #uhoh

    If you haven’t read the 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, you’re behind. Go read it now. Then come back.

    The report is the result of one of the few consistently administered surveys that documents the state of content marketing in business. And our hats are off to its creators.

    However, a conscientious reader will notice that some of the data points aren’t very optimistic. Of course, it takes a careful reading of the document (because marketers are pretty good at spin), but there are sections and stats that should make marketers question the strength of the industry and it’s practitioners.

    The statistic I want to dissect today answers the question: Overall how effective is your organization at content marketing?

    • 38% said “effective or very effective.”

    • 42% replied “neutral” **

    • 19% said “not effective, or not at all effective.”

    cmminds-1in2marketers.jpg

    Let’s look at the 38% and 19% first. I know numbers are hard, folks. But let’s work through this together.

    38% + 19% = 57%.

    19% is ⅓ or 20% of 57%

    giving us the following deduction:

    1:3 B2B marketers who have an opinion think they’re NOT effective at content marketing. (tweet this) Or, probably, that content marketing isn’t effective. That’s just slightly more than my 1:1 friends who don’t know what content marketing is when I say I work in the field.

    Isn’t that an interesting and noteworthy data point? And something we should actually delve into?

    I think it is, so let’s dig.

    Why Do Marketers Think That Content Marketing Isn’t Effective?

    Unfortunately it might not be the strategy that’s failing, but the support behind it.

    One glaring resource missing from content marketing departments is a strategy. A whopping 53% of marketers don’t document their content marketing strategy, or don’t have one to speak about at all. That means one-third of the the 86% of marketers who claim to be leveraging content marketing are doing so willy nilly.

    “Content marketers who lack the right resources, strategy, and company support won’t produce very effective content,” says Content Marketing Manager Liz O’Neill Dennison. “That might lead them to think that content marketing in general is not effective.”

    What Does This Mean for the Industry?

    It means marketers might run into continued trouble when trying to get executive buy-in for content marketing. Despite the fact that content marketing seems to be growing at rapid rates (45% of B2B companies said they planned to hire for content marketers in 2014), and traditional media is making space for the volume of news generated by the industry (like VentureBeat’s announcement of its new Marketing Channel), content marketing still might not get the budget or support it needs from higher-ups.

    Here are some common reasons:

    • Execs still see content as “just a lot of social media posting.”

    • Execs don’t see the value or return from content marketing.

    • Content marketing seems cost-prohibitive.

    Valid concerns. But if you’re on the other side of the hump, you’ll quickly realize that those fears aren’t realistic.

    Content marketing isn’t just a bunch of social posts and doesn’t need to be cost-prohibitive. It’s not a tactic, but a comprehensive strategy that leverages marketing automation technology, email marketing, paid digital advertising, and company websites to deliver more qualified leads to sales teams. This process of nurturing leads—and weeding out the good ones from the bad ones—saves companies an average of 13% in overall cost per lead. It’s also shown to increase overall revenue by 5X.

    But let’s go back to our original stat, 1 in 3 B2B marketers who have an opinion think that content marketing isn’t effective, but at the same time other marketers are purporting a 5X spike in revenue...

    What’s the Difference?

    The difference lies in the initial planning. Marketers need to treat content marketing as a full approach and strategy, and not as an augmented social plug-in to their core objectives. (tweet this)

    The first step is to write down a strategy. Those 53% of marketers without one should start by grabbing a piece of paper and mapping out a plan. It’ll speed up efficiencies, and be foundational for measuring revenue returns.

    The next step is to read The Blueprint to a Modern Marketing Campaign. This comprehensive guide gives marketers step-by-step guidance about how to create a content marketing approach that really does result in bigger, better sales and increased revenue.

    (**) The last step is to track effectiveness. I could write an entirely different post on the sheer fact that 42% of marketers are neutral about their effectiveness. What does that even mean? I’m guessing it indicates they just don’t know how to tell whether or not they are effective. It’s simple metrics, folks, with regular cadence.

    And if you leave this article with one thing, let it be this: Be a critical thinker. A critical marketer. Check your data, your sources, your intuitions. If you don’t understand your findings, keep digging deeper.

    Comments below are welcome, or shoot me a line @jeanwrites.

    Have you ever wondered what it is that makes brands like Starbucks and Nike so successful in the eCommerce world? It's not their inherently exceptional value proposition, or their mysterious ability to find radically wonderful employees, nor is it even their quality of products and services

    Have you ever wondered what it is that makes brands like Starbucks and Nike so successful in the eCommerce world? It's not their inherently exceptional value proposition, or their mysterious ability to find radically wonderful employees, nor is it even their quality of products and services. In fact, in many instances, people prefer the taste of many other coffee roasters over Starbucks, and the fit and style of other clothing brands over Nike. So, what is the magic ingredient these brands tend to have in common that allow them to rise above the rest when it comes to the user experience, and more specifically, the eCommerce experience?

    There is one key, unifying idea that helps explain the fundamental differences that allow these power brands to rise to the top, while the others struggle to even catch on. I have codified this idea into one simple phrase: Conversions over Transactions. In this article, I'm going to uncover the DNA behind this idea to help identify what makes this statement so remarkable. 
     
    Conversions over Transactions
    Let's start from the basics. If we were to look up the term, "conversion" in the dictionary, there is a literal term that reads, "The adaptation of building for a new purpose." Is this at all what describes how we view the idea of a conversion for online marketing? What's interesting about this definition is that there is absolutely no implication of performance that can be measured. What it is implying, rather, is that a conversion occurs when someone buys in to a belief, a purpose, and a cause, which in turn leads them to develop an affinity for your cause and a desire to adopt your vision and join you in achieving it. The origin of the term actually derives from the early 1300s when people of the Catholic faith would share their beliefs with unbelievers in hopes to transform lives to find deliverance, joy, and restoration in God. In no way, shape, or form is this definition aiming to uncover a topical, measurable transaction, but a complete alteration of the heart, that ultimately leads to a behavior towards the common goal.
     
    What is fascinating is that the dictionary has a second definition for the term, 'conversion', in the context of online marketing. The definition in this context is, "The proportion of people viewing an advertisement, and going on to buy the product, click a link, etc." That definition sounds an awful lot like the definition of a transaction, which is simply a tangible act that helps drive short-term growth and delivers nothing scalable towards a brand's purpose. This is not simply my opinion, though. This idea is rooted in the values of the brands that truly understand how to create conversions over transactions.
     
    Consider Nike. The thing that makes Nike so successful is that nobody owns only one Nike product, because they are not a product brand; they are a belief brand. If you own one Nike product, you likely own 15 Nike products, from shoes to socks to shorts and wristbands. Nike understands that, in order to truly be successful, they must convert users to believe in their vision, and not simply aim for transactional behavior. They understand that the response of a conversion will lead to transactions (plural). 
     
    Same thing goes for Starbucks. If you’ve ever bought a cup of coffee from Starbucks, you’ve bought 100+ cups of coffee from Starbucks. Not only does Starbucks understand the value of converting users to adopt their vision, but they also inspire users with their innovation in eCommerce. Have you ever noticed how eerily easy it is to give your hard-earned cash to Starbucks? If you buy a cup of coffee with the Starbucks app on your phone and notice your balance is low, it just takes one click to reload $20 onto your account. And most people want to reload that money into their account because of the reward system they have set up to enhance the Starbucks experience for their eCommerce users. Let’s also say you’ve got a friend who’s had a rough week at work. It takes two taps to send him a $5 Starbucks gift card. They’ve even created the Tweet-a-Coffee campaign where you can literally send a $5 Starbucks gift card to any Twitter user without even having time to go through any of the stages of buyer’s remorse. They have made their transaction process so simple, because they understand that once they have converted a user, that $4 cup of coffee is way more valuable than the expense they paid.
     
    What makes the above brands so wildly successful in online marketing and eCommerce is their intentional decision to choose the first definition of a conversion to be their standard measurement of practice to abide all online marketing by. These brands utilize their online marketing and eCommerce experience as a way to be a utility to their customers, not a glorified cash register.  
    Are your bad habits as a client ruining your agency relationship? Find out what you’re doing wrong, how it’s affecting your bottom line, and how to fix it.

    If you work with a or outsourced marketing firm or agency to help you execute your marketing strategy, you probably assume the relationship will make your life easier and will ultimately drive top-line revenue in the form of leads, new prospects and new customers. And you should. When that doesn’t go smoothly, or if those leads, prospects, and customers don’t come sailing in, are you the first one to throw the agency under the bus? It’s a natural reaction. I’ve certainly done it (my apologies to those agencies I was working with).

    Here’s what you’re probably thinking: The agency is not delivering the right creative, or coming up with the good ideas, or coming up with enough of them, or doing it fast enough, or they’re messing up the process, or you suspect that they are putting another client’s work in front of yours, or any number of mean, shifty agency kinds of things.

    But have you considered that YOU might be part of the problem? Probably not, right?

    If you’re having an issue getting what you need out of your outsourced marketing company or agency, it’s certainly possible you have a partner with a problem, you might have a mutual issue, or it might be a you problem. A relationship that doesn't work, in this instance, is more than just a nuisance. It can hurt your bottom line because it can slow down, or even stop the marketing machine that, when well oiled, is a revenue generator.

    Pause for a minute and figure out if you are part of the problem. Here are some things that make you a bad client and hurt your bottom line, as well as some fixes to get your agency relationship moving in the right direction again.

    Creating ridiculous deadlines

    A good marketing firm or agency will always make you feel like you are their only client. That’s the right way to do it. But come on, friends. You know you’re not, right? Agencies have schedules to maintain so that they can get your stuff done on time and their other clients’ work, too.

    Emergencies do come up and agencies understand this. Your agency partner will be willing to accommodate a rush project now and then. But if every one of your projects is a panic, you’re crying wolf. If you constantly show up with, “we need this in three days,” or if you dilly-dally with turnarounds and don’t maintain your part of the schedule, you become THAT client and ultimately hurt yourself.

    No matter how good your agency team is, in rush situations, you’re not getting the dedicated thought and planning that go into a well-scheduled project. If you want the best work, which ultimately drives the best results and those leads and customers you’re after, give your team time to do it.  This requires planning on your part. There is no magic wand. You need to plan so your team can do the work.

    Acting as a human logjam

    You create a list of projects, your agency sends over drafts or creative to review, and it piles up on your desk. You’re a busy person. Completely understandable. If you know that your schedule does not always allow for the review of material, find someone in your organization who you trust and empower them to give feedback to your marketing team/agency to keep the ball rolling. Giving up control is hard, but not having any marketing, and the resulting lack of revenue, can be even harder. Whatever you do, don’t create the logjam and then blame the agency for not producing anything.

    Offering wrong-rock feedback

    I wrote a post about this a while back. What I mean by offering feedback caveman-style is telling your creative or content team that you don’t like whatever they have produced but without a specific reason why: “It’s just not the right thing.” “I’ll know it when I see it.” “It just doesn’t feel right.” “It’s not what I was thinking it would sound like.”

    Offer constructive, detailed feedback both on content and design. The opposite is both frustrating to the agency and wastes everyone’s time — and your money. In the end, both you and the creative folks will be cranky.

    Executing without planning

    This is pretty basic but it needs to be said. If you hire a marketing team or an agency, and you’re not willing to put some planning and goals together first, you’re flying blind and that can spell disaster for both parties. Success rarely comes to those who constantly shift gears looking for the right marketing approach. Planning gives you a path to follow, and ensures that you are connecting all marketing activity back to the bigger business objectives. Ultimately, the plan also makes it possible to measure success, and really that’s what everyone wants to be able to do, right?

    Without the plan, you will blame the agency. They have been burned before with this kind of thing, and the experienced agencies will be wary of a client who wants to jump in without the proper planning and goals in place. Don’t do this to yourself or your partner.

    Directing into confusion

    Even with goals in place, you need to offer direction to your agency. You know the internal workings and decision-making protocol at your company. If the corporate temperature changes, you need to alert your partner so everyone can adjust. Communication is key.

    If you do have to change direction, it needs to be for a good reason, and it can’t be all the time. This goes back to being able to measure the success of your efforts and ultimately being able to impact the bottom line. Any marketing effort is generally more of a marathon than a sprint. If you constantly change course, your work, and that of your agency, does not have time to make an impact — and therefore doesn’t have time to impact the bottom line. Stay the course. Let the team execute the full plan or campaign.

    Being difficult to reach or absent

    Be available. Show up when you say you will. Just because you outsourced your marketing and/or creative work doesn’t mean you can wash your hands of the task and assume there will be no responsibility involved for you. Your team needs your input.

    If you are frequently out of the office, create another point of contact who is empowered to make decisions. If you’re not comfortable with that, set up a weekly call to check in, or offer your cell phone number and then answer it. Someone needs to provide the answers and guidance, especially if you have deadline-critical projects (who doesn't?). Otherwise work will stop, schedules will be delayed, and you won’t see the ROI you thought you would. Don’t blame the agency. You have to be involved.

    Getting remarkable work out of an agency or outsourced marketing partner is all about forging a strong relationship. Step one is being a good client. Do you have any of these six bad-client habits? Change what you’re doing. Your agency will love you and will produce better work — and you’ll have results and revenue to build your case for future marketing plans.