Creating social media evangelists for your brand: Webcast Guide Creating social media evangelists for your brandPresented jointly by: In today’s highly connected world, an increasing number of business professionals are making social media aJeff Wegand key component of their marketing strategy. They are employing social media to engage customers, buildUSA Today awareness, improve retention and loyalty, and ultimately turn customers into evangelists for their brand. This guide examines and debunks some commonly held social media myths, as well as explores the benefits thatBrian Watkins social media can bring to a business. Adobe shares some of its most successful social media strategies. AndAdobe USA Today discusses some of the ways that it is leveraging social media to build communities of evangelists and provide a better user experience for its readers. Social media myths Social media can’t be successful without a realistic level of thought and investment. If a company is using social media but doesn’t have a plan that includes the right strategy, resources, and budget, chances are thatOnly 16% of onlineconsumers who read company will be missing the mark. Social media isn’t something that can be done haphazardly or once in acorporate blogs say they while. Facebook is littered with company pages that do nothing to encourage customer engagement ortrust them. (Forrester brand loyalty.Research, 2008 study) According to Forrester Research, consumers don’t trust most corporate blogs. First, the opinions expressed are those of the company, not independent consumers. Most blogs provide very little engagement, if any, and they don’t seem to correlate to other marketing strategies. This failure to engage in a meaningful way might stem from some of the common myths surrounding social media. Myth #1—Social media is about the conversation Social media fosters conversation, but that can’t be the goal of a social media strategy. The conversation only matters if it leads to a business goal like attracting new customers, building awareness, fostering brand loyalty, or increasing revenue and retention. If social media chatter is a goal in and of itself, business benefits are lost. A company needs to carefully think through its social media strategy, making sure that it is aligned with higher level goals and can deliver the desired results. Myth #2—Social media is free Working with social media takes time and staffing. Companies like Intel and Dell are dedicating dozens of people solely to social media–related activities, and those people cost money and put considerable time into their work. Businesses taking on social media need to believe in its potential and see a compelling business reason to devote so many of their resources to it. Myth #3—Social media campaigns have a clear beginning and end Many marketing campaigns have clear start and end points, but not social media. There is no end, because chatter continues even after the posts and tweets have stopped. So instead of thinking of social media as a finite campaign, think of it as a way to get people to talk about your brand and to find out what people are saying about your products and company. Myth #4—Social media can’t be measuredSocial media is most Because of its open and organic nature, it is often thought that social media can’t be measured. This is not thesuccessful when business case. To use social media effectively, you must first understand customer behavior. You need to look at whatgoals drive strategies, people are doing across channels and become familiar enough with meaningful patterns that you can leverageand metrics focus effortsand measure results. these in your social media program. Setting up good metrics with effective measurement tools that provide data and measure results is just as important with social media as with other marketing campaigns.
Consumers as evangelists Start by listening Before launching your social media efforts, identify who is talking about you, which channels they are using, and what they are saying about you and your brand. To do this, you can filter tweets for specific keywords, such as a phrase, company name, or product name. You can create an influencer map by grouping contributors to identify online brand detractors and advocates. This helps answer the following questions: • Do you have potential evangelists? • Do you have detractors and what are their complaints? • Where are your potential influencers online? • Who do they trust? • What tools do they use? • Where do they work? • What is their role? • What are their biases? • What motivates them? After you identify your advocates and detractors, move these relationships offline whenever possible so that you can have an initial one-on-one conversation, point them in the right direction, and then get out of their way. Creating a community of advocates Managed properly, a good social media plan will generate a considerable amount of positive chatter, and ideally, some of your best customers will become advocates, or “evangelists,” for your brand. This can manifest itself in a number of ways: • Talking about the brand with glowing praise • Sending prospects to the company • Answering questions about a company or its products • Offering support and advice on using products Any of these is good news for a company. Studies show that customers often trust one another more than they trust a company contact, so a customer stepping in with a testimonial on behalf of the company can be worth more than any other kind of marketing message. Adobe expands its use of social media For some time, Adobe has had its own advocate, known as Virginia Beach Kevin, who goes on Twitter and speaks highly of Adobe technology, powered by Omniture® technology. At times, he responds to questions and comments even before Adobe does. Oftentimes, the commenter will follow up not with Adobe but with Virginia Beach Kevin directly. Because of this early and positive Twitter advocacy experience, Adobe thought about how it could turn other users into “an unpaid army” of evangelists for the company. Adobe started looking for not just satisfied customers, but people who would talk passionately about Adobe solutions, give advice and support, share content, and drive traffic to Adobe’s website. To do this, Adobe had to devise and implement a plan that focused on emerging social media channels. Creating a social media planWho are the people who When it comes to developing a plan to turn customers into advocates, the first and most important step iscan most effectively figuring out what these advocates can do to build loyalty and drive business your way. Should they offerinfluence others as evan-gelists for your brand? testimonials, act as early adopters or reviewers of new products, provide user support, write blogs, or a combination of these? After you’ve set your objectives, establish a plan to do the following: • Builds your following • Encourages interaction and information sharing • Fosters engagement with regular updates • Provides incentives (information, contests, “super user” status, and so on) • Uses a content calendar to generate chatter about upcoming events Creating social media evangelists for your brand: Webcast Guide 2
With these guidelines in mind, here are the steps that Adobe has found most effective in creating a successfulsocial media strategy.1. Find out who is talking about your brand.There are a lot of tools to help, some free and some not. The most basic is the Twitter search; just type in thecompany name, and you’ll see what people are saying.2. Analyze the feedback.To get an overall sense of how people feel about your company, classify the different types of chatter. Forinstance, placing categories on a spreadsheet might help you identify a group of especially unhappy users.Reading their specific feedback can make it easier to fix problems and find ways to build or improve thosecustomer relationships.3. Move the relationship offline.Social media can create an initial relationship, but moving the interaction offline is the best way to strengthenit. Companies that use social media successfully read feedback to find out what’s concerning their customers,and then they move the conversation away from that platform and get to know the person behind theusername and avatar to personalize and enrich the relationship.4. Offer resources and incentives to likely “evangelists.”Adobe started treating its most satisfied customers like media, giving them things that would interest them,such as tools and tips that could help them perform their jobs better. It also gave these users a shot at stardomin their respective fields. Instead of being impressed by the gift bags that Adobe gave out at their conferences,these individuals were moved by the opportunity to be presenters at those meetings, and ultimately,transitioned into strong advocates.Adobe used its own tools to create company advocates. Using data from its Twitter API, it searched specifickeywords to find out which products were being discussed. That feedback went to a product manager orcustomer service rep, and that person responded to begin building the relationship. Over time, Adobe has usedchatter to distinguish potential evangelists from neutral or dissatisfied customers, and this has helped sharpenits focus. Some people will never like a particular company or brand, and it isn’t worth the effort to changetheir minds. Instead, it’s better to try to sway neutral users and make fans even more avid champions foryour cause.5. Build an influencer map.An influencer map helps you understand who your biggest supporters are and define their demographics,psychographics, and social graphics (the social media platforms that they use most often). Knowing wherethese supporters spend their time online helps you get in touch with them to strengthen your relationship.From there, you can create a list of evangelists and start to find ways to motivate them.6. Devise a plan.The plan will vary from company to company, but usually it’s meant to encourage engagement among currentfollowers, not find new followers. Find ways to motivate supporters to talk about your company. This could bea contest of some kind or exclusive access to relevant information.A few years ago, Adobe was conflicted about the idea of giving away information that would normally beavailable through consulting engagements. The company was concerned that giving that information awaywould hurt its business. Instead, it found that business improved when it gave away some information to itsbest advocates and then charged a little more for the rest.7. Manage the plan.After the plan is set, you need some way to keep it running. The plan needs to be carried out consistently andefficiently to make an impact. Some companies have found that a content calendar, which includes importantdates for specific product groups, is a valuable tool on some platforms. When these calendars get posted, thequality of the surrounding chatter goes way up, and people are more willing to refer their contacts tothe content. Creating social media evangelists for your brand: Webcast Guide 3
8. Deploy effective metrics.Use qualitative and quan- To gauge the success of your social media efforts, you must employ effective metrics. Social media does nottitative metrics that map have one definitive set of metrics—your approach depends on your company and its specific goals.back to your social mediaplan’s objectives. • Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a great place to begin. Start with what drives business for your company, and then map back to certain social metrics. Remember that the most relevant metrics depend on what your company wants to do, whether it is to generate leads, increase brand awareness, build relation- ships, leverage customer feedback, or enhance product development. • Always use multiple metrics to create as comprehensive a picture as possible. • Use the data collected to look for a correlation between specific social media strategies and the number of leads that you generate. Adobe did this with one of its accounts, using the monitoring and measurement tools of Adobe SiteCatalyst®, powered by Omniture, to quantify the number of site visitors and registrants. • Tracking codes can help you find out where your customers are coming from. Adobe has used a unique tracking code for each tweet to see who clicks the link and who takes the next step, be it a registration or a sale. Can you think of others that you would add to this list? Keep in mind that it isn’t always easy to measure sales performance from social media, but it is possible to find out how many leads are generated from your social media efforts, which is the first step toward conversion. 9. Optimize your program. By knowing what works and what doesn’t, you can improve your social media strategy to yield increasingly better results. Using a solution like Adobe SiteCatalyst, marketers can measure, analyze, and optimize integrated data from all online initiatives across marketing channels. SiteCatalyst can tell you which platforms or messages have worked best so that you can focus your efforts around them. Optimizing your program is a continuous process of measuring and optimizing, and then re-measuring and re-optimizing again as part of a continuous improvement cycle. After refining your program from an internal perspective, it is also helpful to observe what other companies are doing so that you get an expanded sense of best practices in the larger social media world. How does the approach you are currently using differ from what has been described above? What would you like to take back to your organization and implement? Creating social media evangelists for your brand: Webcast Guide 4
Organizing social media for success While there are a number of ways to approach and manage social media, the ultimate goal is to encourage interaction with and among existing customers. This creates more positive chatter and more evangelists for your brand. But every organization has its own way of driving this chatter. One company might appoint a social media czar to control all messaging and respond to feedback. This approach provides control, but it’s neither authentic nor transparent, and it doesn’t scale well. At the other extreme is a company that lets each employee or business unit use social media in any way they want. For example, one business unit might use social media all the time, while another might not use it at all. This approach is authentic and transparent, but the company has no control over the interactions. Where would you put your social media approach on the control versus no control scale? Perhaps a better solution is a balance of the two extremes using a spoke model. In this scenario, a small group of people drive social media best practices and train the different business groups, and then let each business group manage its own day-to-day social media activities. This combines the authenticity of individual interactions with greater organizational control. Social media is a great business building tool, but it is a mistake to mandate it or apply too much control. SomeDon’t try to mandate orovercontrol your social companies require their employees to manage blogs, but not everyone has the time or the ability to do that.media approach. This inevitably leads to everything from poor messaging to inactive sites. To avoid the organic or “wild West” approach, select people in your organization who understand social media, and then empower them to use it to your company’s best advantage. Creating social media evangelists for your brand: Webcast Guide 5
Social media at USA TodayUSA Today started its social media strategy by putting together an interdisciplinary team of people frommarketing, editorial, IT, and other departments—all with varying degrees of social media experience. This wasmeant to address both how people approach social media and how the company itself would be impacted byit. After the strategy was set, the company trained its editorial columnists, reporters, and bloggers to knowwhere its subscribers might go and how to interact with them across various channels.The strategy itself was based around a few key objectives.Frequency—The team had to decide how often to tweet or post Facebook updates, matching the frequency tothe flow of the news cycle. It had to be dynamic enough to keep up with the latest news, but not so rigid thatthe team felt forced to post when there was nothing significant to say.One-on-one interactions—Facebook and Twitter managers were instructed to respond to comments andquestions. If a user commented on a story, the manager would respond or follow up with a question as a wayof keeping the dialog going.Increased return on interaction, influence, and investment (ROIII)—By participating in social media, USAToday wanted to increase interaction and influence, and that in turn would lead to a higher traditional ROI.Those efforts have been successful, bringing in more traffic from social networking sites.Turning journalists into evangelists—In the past, brands represented journalists, but now it’s the other wayaround, with journalists representing brands. The connections that these journalist representatives make addvalue to the company and bolster its image among subscribers.Increasing the level of engagement on the site—In 2007, USATODAY.com was a very static site. Content gotpushed out, but no one was interacting with readers. The company decided to revamp its site, adding storycomments and other tools that allow users to comment on a story, recommend it to their contacts, or sharearticles with their social media circles. Now, the site also allows users to create profile pages, have their ownblogs, and join communities focused on various common interests.What’s next?Now that USA Today has put in place a social media team and changed its website to leverage its new strategy,it has set the goal of becoming a leader in the online news category. The team is pursuing monitoring contentto better understand the types of articles and themes social media users are most interested in. The companystill wants to know what people are saying, but they also want to know exactly which stories are being readand commented on. If they know the type of content readers like, they can find ways to connect users to thatcontent, presenting them with alternative ways to view, sort, or organize content with respect to theirpreferences around social media.USA Today is also working with Adobe and partner Visible Technologies on this capability. VisibleTechnologies compiles data on which USA Today articles are being shared or posted. It uses Adobe SiteCatalysttechnology to rank the top 350 URLs from the site and attach the relevant social media metrics. This reportthen goes to USA Today, which uses the data to update a widget that measures which stories are most oftenshared on Facebook, Digg, and Twitter, as well as which stories generate the most comments. Armed withthese insights, USA Today is able to focus content on the stories gaining the most traction. Creating social media evangelists for your brand: Webcast Guide 6