TOPICS: Engagement, consumer behavior, social media, marketing approaches
AUTHOR: Eric Weaver, Tribal DDB
SYNOPSIS: There have been myriad presentations on "social media strategy" but few to none on how to actually craft one. This is Eric Weaver's take. He describes how the marketing practice needs change, how engagement and trust are the keys to revenue, and steps to take in creating an engagement strategy.
It’s so great to see so many of my friends! No pressure. I’m here today to talk to you about crafting an engagement strategy. I hear a lot about “social media strategy” but it almost always turns out to be a discussion about which tools were chosen. To me, a social media strategy is like a cell phone strategy or an Interstate Freeway strategy. Social tools are merely that: tools. So I put down some thoughts today for hard-working marketers who are interested in looking at market engagement from a strategic standpoint.
So what we’ll cover today is the WHY of engagement strategy. We’ll take a look at the traditional marketing model and examine why the wheels have fallen off. Some of you may take offense at what I’m going to say toward traditional approaches but I hope you’ll keep an open mind. It’s a little provocative. But I believe we are in the midst of a marketing revolution and this is the way to revenue.Next we’ll examine what an engagement strategy is, and how you might craft one. And finally, we’ll look at how we can rethink our approach with some thought starters and some cautionary tales. So let’s get started!
I remember those days. I was heading up marcom for a mid-cap tech firm at that time. Money got tight, program budgets got slashed, teams were cut in half, then in half again. Sales tried not to look desperate before they got replaced three times. Strategic thinking took a back seat to marketing tactics designed to drive sales. And for many companies, it’s been in the back seat ever since.So here we find ourselves: the cute, fluffy cheerleaders of the company. We know the importance of trying new approaches. We know that sound strategy takes some time but drives success. We know that social marketing might better connect with our customers. Yet when we suggest investment in these hopeful new social efforts, we are immediately asked one question:
We know that marketing innovation and new channels can create the market conditions that drive revenue. We’re thinking this might be the right approach given how tough things are. But it’s hard pushing for a multi-quarter commitment in social marketing when the typical American CMO is trying to hold onto their positions longer than the 2009 average of 18 months. The average CEO’s tenure is 3 years. Every quarter, the only focus at public companies becomes hitting guidance or a quarterly earnings target.
We’ve seen how product choice has gone up since those early days when I watched Bewitched and dreamt about being an ad man. We’ve seen how noise has increased from every angle. We’ve seen how trust has nose-dived and time and attention are in short supply. And we’ve seen how the market—and marketers—are no longer in control. The consumer is. And we know that as marketers, we have to rethink our approach. In reality, there’s one lever we can pull, one shift we can impact as marketers (CLICK)Trust.
Trust is a fantastic lever to pull. Especially during a recession.
I’m going to get all crazy on you now. Did you know that 2/3rds of all touchpoints are now consumer generated? Consumers are generating more information about your brand or product than you can. And they’re more trusted amongst one another. Why? The mental gauntlet of being sold to is down.You can generate and COACH brand dialogue by crafting nuggets of content that build affinity and trust. But be sure that you set brand and value messaging guardrails. So like a tall building in the wind, your brand can sway in the hands of consumers but not lose its central value proposition and competitive positioning.
A lot of folks my age scratch their heads over social media’s rapid adoption. Much of it feels like hubris or overshare.
Let’s say you’re an organic food manufacturer and you want consumers to choose organic over natural. Let’s say you’re a large pesticide manufacturer and you want to improve overall sentiment. Perhaps you run an online retailing brand and you want to improve time on site so that you can merchandise more effectively. Or you want to increase repeat sales. Choose that end vision for the outcome of an engaged market.
McDonald’s recently published their social media approach which included this strategic vision.
Next we have to honestly assess where you are today. Through which channels can customers engage? Provide feedback? Who are your loudest cheerleaders? Critics? Are customers empowered to represent the brand? Thanked? How is your competition talking to them? Are there competitive opportunities?And what’s your overall uncensored reputation in the marketplace? Have you done a conversational audit? A visibility audit? Examined motive? Sentiment?
And how are you representin’ at the moment?Are you doing a toe dip? Quite active?How can customers dialogue with the organization?How clear is the value proposition? Is it represented in text, videos, supported by promos? Have you disseminated tools that empower customers?And how relevant is your offering? This will influence your approach. A Brita filter (low-cost commodity item sold by volume) will require a different engagement approach than a Jaguar (high-end lifestyle purchase sold by experience).
Want to build awareness? AFFINITY: Whopper Sacrifice, IkeaFacebook taggingWant to co-create or generate buzz? FEEDBACK: Domino’s Pizza apology, Interested in having customers advocate on your behalf? ADVOCACY: Pizza Hut retweet for goodWant rabid loyalists? FANDOM: MadMen Yourself, Chevy Tahoe,
This is Forrester’s Technographic segmentation model. It was released in 2007 as part of Forrester’s approach to identifying audience engagement. It ended up in Groundswell. The idea here is to identify the types of customers that will be engaging with you, and where they might interact. From this model, many companies try to build a number of social channels with which to engage with different segments on their terms.
But I’d like to get you to consider a different take: for most companies that don’t have massive marketing teams, creating this kind of segmented engagement approach is problematic. Who’s going to man all these channels? Isn’t this going to be a nightmare to maintain? What if we focus solely on what drives customers to sit up, take action, give feedback and pass information onto peers? What if we concept engagement drivers FIRST and focus on them rather than trying to be all things to all people? Connect where it’s feasible given resources?
Domino’s competitor Pizza Hut is using social causes around food to show their intentions. Remember the trust chart talking about world problems? Pizza Hut is proving their interest in giving back by donating meals for every retweet of the URL. Proof.
In October a woman wrote a blog post about her experience with TSA at her local airport. She wrote that her son was taken from her and secreted away while she screamed, cried and waited for hours, eventually passed out from fear. Sounds like a trust killer for TSA, doesn’t it?
Well, what she didn’t realize was that TSA was monitoring bloggers and quickly came across her post. And a consumer outreach officer posted all video footage, with timecode, of the incident from 9 different camera angles. You can see in the videos that while she had to have a special screening, that her child is never more than a few feet from her, and that she remained calm the entire time. Her readers quickly demanded to know what was going on. Her response: “I don’t have answers to your questions.”This is true engagement. It’s also a trust builder and damage control in the same effort.
No tactics should exist that don’t support the overall visionTread carefully and think through how you’ll dive in. There’s value to just trying things but there are also a vast array of cautionary tales when it comes to diving in.
It’s super-important that you educate management in differing generational lenses toward social media, info sharing.It’s incredibly easy these days to defocus. This is your future! Don’t let it stall.Keep people on task and on schedule. Tie social efforts to performance goals and salary.Plans change, goals change, people change. Don’t shelve this plan just because of a few changes. There’s no shame in readjusting.Finally, tie everything you do to organizational goals. Because no one gets fired for supporting those.
Our brand, including you. You craft and present your brand but consumers can make a huge impact on market perception. Despite this sounding dire, it’s actually an incredible opportunity for marketers.
Ditching Communication for Engagement
DITCHING COMMUNICATIONS FOR ENGAGEMENT: a strategic approach<br />Eric Weaver | Tribal DDB<br />Social Media Breakfast<br />12/1/09<br />
Topics<br />WHY engagement?<br />The traditional marketing model<br />Why the wheels have fallen off<br />New approaches to revenue<br />WHAT is an engagement strategy?<br />What does it consist of?<br />HOW marketing can rethink its approach for engagement<br />Some thought starters<br />
“Are you asking for a budget increase?”<br />7<br />
Cultural shifts and Marketing<br />8<br />Source: Agent Wildfire<br />
ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE’S RISK<br />People turn to peers when time is short, risk is greater<br />WE TRUST PEERS THE MOST<br />(57%); 13% trust advertisers/marketers (least trusted group)<br />Trust<br />drives transactions<br />PEOPLE BUY TRUST<br />Trust drives preference: 91% buy from trusted companies; 77% refuse to buy from distrusted<br />TRUST IS WIDELY SPREAD<br />56% age 35-64, 63% 25-34 share trust/distrust on the web<br />2008-2009 EDELMAN TRUST BAROMETER<br />
Hmmm: if peers are the most trusted and we are the least, what if we put our brands into the hands of the market?<br />66% of touchpoints are now consumer-generated<br />Banner ads have an average .19%clickthrough, while Facebook fan page announcements have a 6.5%clickthrough<br />WHY? The mental gauntlet is down<br />APPROACH: Craft brand content nuggets and trust builders<br />Testimonials<br />Interviews<br />Leadership/product management commentary<br />CRUCIAL: Set your brand and value messaging guardrails<br />10<br />
12<br />BOOMERS = propriety. Trained in formalities, don’t offend, guarded means safe, not so great with “random.” Suit & tie = trust.<br />GEN Y = affinity. Formalities ignored, sharing means finding, tech is easy, random is life. Consider your lens. Suit & tie = distrust.<br />
First of all, what’s a strategy?<br />Simply put, a strategic vision — an end point — and a plan to get there<br />It’s not about the channels<br />Honestly assess your starting point<br />Audit your customers and prospects<br />Review competitive SWOT<br />Determine approach and action steps<br />Short-term, mid-term, long-term<br />Here’s where your tools come in<br />Staffing and support<br />Determine success metrics, KPIs<br />14<br />
15<br />Envision an end goal<br />FLICKR: @SLUDGEGULPER<br />
Two different approaches<br />MANAGE INDIVIDUAL RELATIONSHIPS BY CHANNEL<br />CRAFT MESSAGE, CONTENT BY VENUE<br />Call center<br />Email<br />Twitter<br />Facebook<br />Direct<br />Events<br />Flickr<br />YouTube<br />FOSTER CUSTOMER DRIVES TO ENGAGE<br />LET CUSTOMERS DETERMINE MOST EFFECTIVE CHANNEL<br />Start with affinity, trust, transparency<br />Create feedback channels<br />Assign listeners, conversationalists, and content creators<br />21<br />
BRANDED SITE<br />EXTERNAL MKTG-MANAGED PRESENCE<br />EXTERNAL THIRD-PARTY SITE<br />TRADITIONAL MEDIA/PR<br />Integrated Traditional/Social Marketing Mix<br />AWARENESS<br />NEED<br />DETERMINATION<br />EVALUATION/COMPARISON<br />PURCHASE<br />LOYALTY<br />TOPICAL COMMUNITIES: <br />IP, HELPFUL TIPS<br />PRODUCT LAUNCH MICROSITE<br />CONSUMER<br />STYLE SHARING<br />AMAZON<br />S T O R Y T E L L I N G<br />DOT-COM SITE<br />HELPFUL RESOURCES<br />SEO<br />COMMENTS<br />EVENTS<br />COMPANY BLOG (IP)<br />FACEBOOK FAN PAGE<br />ONLINE SAMPLING<br />E-COMMERCE PARTNER<br />ONLINE<br />YOUTUBE CHANNEL: STORYTELLING, IP<br />PRINT<br />EXTERNAL BLOGS: IP, FASHION TIPS<br />OUTDOOR<br />PR<br />PRODUCT SEEDING PGMS<br />RETAIL<br />
Consider including a trust strategy<br />If trust is the primary lever of revenue<br />Where are you trusted?<br />Create amplifier opportunities for brand zealots<br />Video testimonials<br />Where are you distrusted?<br />Provide open, transparent proof points that can be found<br />Testimonials and interviews<br />Inside looks<br />Open dialogue with the market<br />Lead with trust weak spots<br />Takes the wind out of naysayers <br />23<br />
24<br />Trust generated, 2300 new accounts, $4 million.<br />
PROOF OF INTENTION: leveraging social causes to focus conversation (and brand) on giving back.<br />25<br />
Follow the social marketing mantras<br />Peer marketing extends your sales force along trust channels that you cannot buy<br />Social marketing is a commitment, not a campaign<br />Plan staffing appropriately<br />Outsource temporarily if need be<br />Be transparent about everything except that which cannot be<br />Polar opposite to Boomer privacy issues<br />May take sell-in with management, legal<br />Be fearless<br />This is the most exciting area of marketing!<br />You’re at the cusp of a transformation!<br />Engage openly, but with response guardrails and internal governance<br />“Cool people” don’t suffer fools – neither should your organization<br />Let the market decide how you’re doing (they’d do it anyway)<br />34<br />
As you write your strategy<br />Any tactic should clearly ladder up to the overarching strategy<br />Consider how you will phase your engagement approach<br />What kind of kickoff? <br />What can staffing accomplish? <br />Which tactics to try first? <br />What learnings can inform future engagement efforts?<br />As you examine your audiences, consider creating personas that will help create organizational empathy and understanding<br />Clearly state your mandatory requirements for success<br />X conversationalists, Y monitors, Z content creators<br />Agency or in-house? Automated or qualitative?<br />Clearly state your success metrics<br />Increase in time-on-site? Sentiment? Twitter fans? Retweets?<br />35<br />
FLICKR: @JACOB DAVIES<br />And don’t let that commitment—or that strategy—fizzle<br />Get buy-in<br />Management must understand the cultural shifts and buy into plan<br />Stay focused!<br />Don’t let day-to-day duties stall your efforts<br />Hold people accountable<br />Who’s responsible for each action step?<br />Follow up, adjust and readjust<br />Plans change, adjust accordingly<br />Set a timetable for reexamination<br />Tie what you’re doing to organizational goals<br />Management can’t argue with approaches that support mission, goals<br />36<br />