Tag Archives: shopper marketing

What’s Your Social Content Marketing Strategy?

Written by John Andrews

Content is King, or so the saying goes.  Why then, in the most connected era of media ever does content seem to be in such short supply?  For the past few years, many marketers chased and built channels without first having a robust and coherent content marketing strategy.  After all, every new social channel requires its own content stream such as Facebook posts, tweets, videos, pins, etc.  Consequently, we now face the dot-com age web content problem amplified by a factor of 10.  All these channels require constant feeding to build and drive audience engagement.

Most content marketing approaches use a model built for print, broadcast and public relations; they leverage relatively few pieces of content and rely on mass syndication and frequency to achieve mass reach with relatively little efficiency.  Social channels are neither paid, owned or earned media. Social channels are engaged media that is produced, consumed and syndicated by people.  These channels require a massive amount of content to begin turning the engagement flywheel.

Fortunately, the marketing process for effective content marketing remains unchanged.  The integration of people, place, price and promotion still works just fine. It merely requires adjustment for the delivery of messaging across social platforms and integration with other forms of media.  As eyeballs shift to social and digital formats and more information is sourced via some type of search, marketing organizations must shift how they manage the process.

At Collective Bias, we believe that successful social content production requires a careful combination of humans and technology.  The right mix of those inputs varies but people and relationships are always more important than the technology.  Marketing professionals must remember this when putting together social strategies and teams.  While many digital platforms require fewer people than traditional marketing in many cases, success in social content marketing will require more.

 Building and managing a “content” community efficiently addresses this challenge but can be difficult and labor intensive to manage.  Think of the effort required to produce a broadcast spot or print piece. Add in folks to manage the complexity of hundreds of individual influencers and you begin to understand the magnitude of the problem.  Leading brands, retailers and service providers leverage our Social Fabric® community platform to efficiently manage this process at scale.

Give some thought to your plan for social content management. It’s one of the most important decisions you have to make for your brand in the coming year.

Below are two images from recent Collective Bias programs that produced great examples of content marketing.


Disney Cinderella post by Tonya of Tonya Staab.

Kraft Cool Whip post by Crystal of A Pumpkin and A Princess.

Relationship Killers: Four of the WORST Mistakes Brands Make in Social Media

The biggest goal for any brand delving into social media should be to develop quality, productive relationships. That’s the bottom line. However, many brands still “don’t get it,” and consistently make mistakes that are damaging to them in social media and therefore damaging to their brand. In my opinion, there are four big no-no’s that not only kill those all-important relationships, but also tarnish your reputation:

1. Broadcasting:  Blasting out sales messages rather than listening and engaging has got to be the number one relationship killer of all time. Bar none. People hate to be sold—especially on social channels, where their main objective is to talk, get opinions, relax and have fun, or find answers to pressing problems. When a brand spends the majority of its time broadcasting, it’s a clear message to followers that they’re not interested in real, two-way communication.

Listening should be your first priority, followed by engagement. Don’t try to sell to people until you’ve earned their trust!

2. Taking Followers Offline to Resolve Issues:  If someone has a problem and comes to your social presence to try to get it resolved, the worst thing you can do is shunt them off to a customer service contact with a “form letter” response. Too often I see… “follow us so we can DM you,” on Twitter, or a quick move to traditional customer service channels on Facebook. People have an innate need to be validated—and “showing them the hand” is the fastest way to sour a customer relationship. Sometimes there are things that have to be resolved offline for legal issues, but the majority of complaints or requests for help should be addressed promptly and publicly in social channels. At the very least, if you MUST send them offline, do so in a friendly, personal manner. Address them by name, thank them for bringing the problem to your attention, and so on. Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes—how do you feel when you’re ignored or made to jump through hoops by a company you deal with?

Responding publicly has another important, beneficial, and cost saving benefit. Other people with the same issue, and you can/should assume there are many more, can receive resolution via your response, and see how you interact… and then make their own judgments about your brand character based on those interactions. If you’re doing it right, you will build brand advocates in the process, and when/if needed your best brand advocates will support you when they see that kind of open, honest communication.

3. Having No Brand Personality:  People who spend time on social media like to spend time with people—not logos. If you have a team of employees handling your social responses, don’t make them hide behind the brand logo when they interact with followers—give them a voice and a face. Ford does a great job of this with @ScottMonty building his personal brand along with theirs. Scott interacts with followers as himself, not the Ford brand. This humanizes the brand and fosters good communication. Being able to see the team members behind the company and interacting with them personally makes a big difference in fan loyalty.

When a company censors its employees and doesn’t allow them to participate in social discussion surrounding the brand, it’s usually because they’re afraid of “what might happen if…” They’re afraid they’ll spend too much time on social or say the wrong things. These issues can be resolved with a comprehensive social media policy so all employees know how and when they can and should interact. Remember, your employees should be some of your best advocates, and a natural extension of your “public face.”  You can’t do social right with employee censorship. Your people are your company’s personality. Let them shine for you. And… if you don’t trust your employees, maybe you have the wrong employees, or a business approach that will be difficult to sustain in this hyper-connected world.

4.  Making Social a Direct Marketing Channel:  Can you develop a relationship with a piece of direct mail? A TV commercial? A newspaper ad? An email blast? Of course not! Yet many brands treat social as an extension of their direct marketing efforts—mainly because that’s all they know. They’re used to handing off their marketing to an advertising agency and having them run with it so they can get on with their day. They think in terms of ROI formulas, but falter when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of one-on-one networking.  If that’s you, don’t feel too bad—it’s a habit that’s been drummed into you and hard to break. But you’ve got to break it! Adopt a whole new mindset around social, and think in terms of building relationships and an emotional connection to your brand, or you’ll always be frustrated with your results. Remember… Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Return on Relationship™ = ROI.

This goes back to the “Broadcasting” mistake I mentioned earlier. Think in terms of providing helpful content, fun ways to communicate, sharing information and asking questions. Leave the direct marketing stuff in traditional channels. Get a sense of who your audience is and give them what they’re looking for in your social communications, or you’ll get “un-followed” or ignored in a hurry.

What other “relationship killers” have you come across when dealing with brands online, and how do you think they could be avoided? Conversely, which brands have you noticed that are “getting it right” in social media when it comes to Return on Relationship™?

Originally posted at TedRubin.com

20 Important Twitter Goals and Objectives for Business

Written by Ted Rubin

Many are asking what ROI they can get from Twitter. I believe when reviewing the following goals and objectives you will get a better understanding of the potential value. The basis of this list was posted by my friend and business associate Cheryl Burgess. I have expanded and edited with my input.

1.     First and foremost is to grow an engaged and relevant following

2.     Almost as important as #1 is… if you haven’t started already, start NOW!

3.     Generating brand awareness and business leads

4.     Servicing customers and lowering customer service inquires via traditional channels

5.     Expanding reach and creating buzz

6.     Sharing thought-leadership & participating in industry conversation

7.     Gaining competitive intelligence

8.     Monitoring your brand’s reputation in real time

9.     Building relationships with community

10.  Distributing rich SEO content

11.  Offering special discounts, white papers, blog posts

12.  Crowdsourcing ideas, products, etc.

13.  Finding, cultivating influencers and brand advocates

14.  Obtaining customer feedback on potential new offerings

15.  Developing relationships with bloggers and other micro media producers

16.  Establishing relationships and getting on the radar of journalists

17.  Recruiting for freelancers, permanent hires and interns

18.  Establishing brand leadership position by communicating, reinforcing vision, purpose, differentiation, relevance, etc.

19.  The Ability to proactively build a personal brand for Founders/Executives to represent your Brand/Business.

20.  Return on Relationship™… simply put the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.

Technology is Changing, but Don’t Panic—People are Still People!

Written by Ted Rubin

Technology is always on the move—and we’ve made more technological advances in the last decade than any of us alive today have experienced in a generation. For instance, did you know that every 60 seconds, over 700 computers, 80 iPads, and 925 iPhones are sold today? Not to mention the monstrous amount of data we’re creating now. Over 1,800 Terabytes of data are created every minute, which is enough data to fill more than 2.6 million CDs!

We’re also consuming information differently than we did a decade ago. Brick-and-mortar book stores are going under in favor of online shopping and tablet e-readers… movie rental stores are disappearing in favor of subscription services… everything’s “going digital,” including our social lives. Tablets, apps, and smarter-than-ever smartphones now rule the day.

Some marketers are reacting to these rapid changes by telling us that the sky is falling. Email is dead…storytelling is dead… social media is taking over… nobody has time to read anymore… panic in the streets!

Yes, technology has forever changed the way we communicate, and there’s no going back. However, the same marketing principles apply to humans now that applied to them decades ago. The sky isn’t falling. People still love stories; they still respond to testimonials/reviews (maybe now more than ever); they still buy for the same reasons. They just look for and find information on different channels now. Also, they are pickier about how much information they consume and where they spend their time.

So what does that mean for marketers today? Well, this is where paying attention to social trends is important, because, people are driving these trends. Your customers share conversation about brands, make recommendations to each other based on experience, and seek out information that helps them make buying decisions. They’re just using new media/social tools to do it… and those tools make all this not only more valuable for brands, but absolutely imperative they foster, encourage AND participate. For instance, people still love to be visually entertained—only now, the power of YouTube takes us beyond TV and even viral videos, and into the realm of consumer (and brand) education and relationship building.

Social media tools don’t change what motivates people to buy. The marketing funnel still exists; we still have to attract an audience to our message and nurture them toward conversion. We just don’t have to wait for people to hop into our funnel based on reaction to display ads, TV commercials or direct mail. Social gives us a way to be proactive about building relationships through active listening and informed information-sharing. So now we can converse with prospects—build a rapport—find out what they want and deliver it. We’re still adding them to our marketing funnels, but essentially they’re already primed. They’ve had a chance to explore us, talk to us, take a deeper look at our content, and share their experiences with others—in many instances, before a single marketing message goes out.

Yes, there are still ads, and PPC is still a powerful tool. However, thanks to the data explosion provided by the social graph and technology advancements, even ad performance can be improved. We now have a faster, more efficient way of gathering data, creating ads, getting them in front of our niche markets, testing them and tweaking them to respond to trends almost in real time. That’s the power (and the beauty) of the digital revolution.

So don’t panic; your customers haven’t changed… they’re essentially the same consumers of information that they always were. They still respond to perceived value and relevancy, and they still love to be entertained and share stories. Social media doesn’t change them as much as it changes where (and how) conversation about our brands takes place.

The use of social media, and the “Return on Relationship™” it affords, is a two-way street. By listening more and broadcasting less, by engaging in conversation, we can learn more about our prospects and what they really want. And by changing how, where and when we communicate, we can make their experience with us much more rewarding and satisfying.

I would call that a win-win, wouldn’t you?

The “Real” Social Media Super Bowl


Written by Ted Rubin

Many are now talking about Super Bowl XLVI being the first “Social” Super Bowl.  It truly was, as an event, due to efforts of the Super Bowl’s host committee and their use of a Social Media Command Center.

In my opinion, the Super Bowl Social Media Center is proof that social media is now being taken seriously. It is not just an option that is a last minute throw in. Social media is now getting recognition as a legitimate news source, a practical and effective way to communicate with a large number of people in an interactive and engaging format. In addition this format enables, and more importantly encourages, the sharing of this information and interaction.

Brands spent more than ever this year on their Super Bowl advertisements and are now patting themselves on the back for their herculean efforts and competing to show whose commercials drew the most accolades.  In my opinion, much of those vast expenditures could have been better spent… or at the very least a portion should be devoted in the future to interaction and engagement that gives the brands a view into the hearts and minds of their consumers.

Social media, when executed, integrated and leveraged properly and strategically, can and will do more for a brand than a one-time commercial entertainment spend. Take for example the Pepsi and Coke commercials.  Coke and Pepsi both spent millions of dollars between the animated bears, Elton John and Flavor Flav in their commercials, but did either of those spends do anything to truly connect with shoppers? They are entertainment and the same as sponsorship of any entertainment event. They have value, certainly, as they make their names top-of-mind, bring a smile to the face of millions and create conversation… all valuable in the branding world. But… is that conversation about the brand or about the entertainment?  Social is a direct link that builds connections, relationships and allows the consumers to express what it all means to them in their lives, the way they live and ultimately in how they shop. I think the idea here is that consumers are looking to connect with each other and with brands to interact, provide feedback and be recognized.

For example, Twitter parties connect to hundreds of influential shoppers that broadcast to potentially millions of other shoppers. If orchestrated correctly during an event, and on a regular basis, and executed/connected to a myriad of other user-generated media, will create a more valuable connection… and be a door to future engagement.

The marketing paradigm is shifting with much greater “power to the people” facilitated by social media. If you want to continue to reach your market, it’s not just about advertising any more, but about building relationships. Just activating your audience, however, is not enough. A brand always needs to be working to keep these valued influencer and advocate relationships alive and strong and build an emotional connection. Always remember that brand loyalty declines due to lack of relevance — this has been evident for years and is clearly a direct result of not listening… and NOT hearing when you do listen. When building a social media presence, building relationships through engaging as many people by truly interacting with them, and doing what I call “looking them in the eye digitally,” is what will build value and loyalty for the long-term. Always keep in mind that social media’s incredible power is in allowing us to instantaneously connect to, interact with, and build relationships with our audience of thousands to gain high-value end results… but if you do not make them feel valued and speak to them on their terms, and bring value to the table, the results will be underwhelming and you will not be utilizing social for its true value and it will mean little more than those “branding” entertainment events.

Think REPUTATION, not ranking… CONNECTION, not network… LOYALTY, not celebrity.

Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Return on Relationship™ = ROI.


Permission Marketing: Why Brands Should Be(a)ware!

Written by Ted Rubin

Social Marketing is ultimate in Permission Marketing, and therefore it carries the ultimate marketing danger with it: taking away the permission is totally in the consumers’ control.  Brands be(a)ware!

Permission Marketing puts the power in the consumer’s hands, by requiring that the marketers send promotional messages only to consumers who have given marketers permission to do so, whether explicitly (opt-in email list, for example) or implicitly (internet search).

On one hand this is fantastic because it gives marketers a chance to provide relevant information to interested parties, but on the other hand, brands need to pay all kinds of attention to how they’re using Permission Marketing, because the consumer can pull their interest plug in a heartbeat.

So how can we keep consumers from “opting out” of our brand messages?

It’s only fitting that part of the answer comes from Seth Godin’s definition of Permission Marketing:

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”

1.     Permission is a privilege, not a right.

Consumers do not owe us their attention, and they certainly do not owe us their permission.  We need to EARN their permission, and that’s not done by a gimmick or a flashy set of ads.

Permission is earned through quality offers, genuine interest in and deep understanding of consumer preferences/needs, and a consistent track record that builds trust.  Keep the trust -> keep the permission -> keep the consumer.

2.     Relevance is king.  

We all hear daily that content is king – so let’s take that one level further and point out that it’s not just the volume or brilliance of content that matters to your consumers, it is how that content relates to them.  If content is not relevant to your consumer, it is nothing more than a waste of your time and a reason for the consumer to take away permission for ongoing interaction with you.

 3. It’s all about relationships.

People must come first – in your growth strategies, in your marketing plans, and in every social media interaction that you have.  When you place highest priority on people, you take the time to do all those hugely important things that build relationships:

  • You operate from a mindset of SERVICE
  • You think about what you can GIVE TO your consumers, rather than take from them.
  • You ask them questions, listen to and clarify their answers, and get to know their pain points and what delights them.
  • You base your innovations on what CONSUMERS actually need and want.

And the result?  You get and keep your consumers’ permission to continue and build your relationship with them.   In other words, permission is your ROR (Return on Relationship™).

 As you head into 2012, remember that Permission Marketing is a two-way street, and the traffic signals are controlled by consumers.  Be their Green Light… not their stop sign!



Are FSI’s and Direct Mail the Original Spammers?

Written by John Andrews

Spam, a tasty meat product and the scourge of email inboxes everywhere. But Spam lurks in many other media channels and seems to get a pass, yet the effects are much more insidious. The waste of resources and unsustainable business practices really call into question this marketing tactic. Additionally, the continual discounting and deal promotion of brands and services is destructive to brand value as consumers discount the actual value. Consider this, have you bought a full-price pizza lately? If you answered yes, Google (enter pizza company here) coupon and save yourself five bucks.

What’s your daily trip to the daily home delivery of fresh made spam, the mailbox? I don’t know about yours, but mine is full of credit card offers (10 this month so far), coupon books, mailers and the like and I occasionally get a letter from a person I know. I long stopped receiving bills as my bank, utilities, etc., realized there is a huge cost savings to not send me paper and it’s just more convenient for me, leaving me a few extra minutes of my life each month to play Angry Birds.

Here is the real problem with physical spam. “Good” conversion rates for coupons are in the .0025% range. This means a nationally distributed coupon and an FSI (free standing insert, a.k.a. all that stuff that falls out of your newspaper) of 40 million or so yields a redemption of 100,000. Good for a brand if those customers are new users switching from a competitive brand. In fact, heavy coupon users are frequently disloyal users and why wouldn’t they be? Unless your an Apple user, who wants to pay full price?

Each week hundreds of FSI’s hit newspapers across the country resulting in a huge use of newsprint, ink, transportation, etc. But the brands are paying the freight, right? Not quite, who pays for 99.75% of these that hit landfills? You do, you pay local taxes right? But there’s more, newspaper circulation is falling faster than Colts tickets without Peyton playing. Maybe you’ve heard, the US Post Office is now losing over $7 billion a year as the prices it charges its customers does not cover the expenses incurred.

Again, you and I will be the ultimate funding source for this shortfall, including the hidden costs of disposal.

Sam Walton had a big idea, simply take all the gimmicks (his word) out of the retailing process and buy the products that Walmart carries for an everyday low cost (EDLC).

Pass that along to consumers with an everyday low price (EDLP) that eschews High/Low pricing (a great deal on Corn Flakes one week supported by excess margin on other basket items). This means no Triple Coupons, Green Stamps, Reward Cards or anything else that requires the consumer to do part of the work. Simply come into the store, buy your basket of items and on the whole, pay the lowest price.

Considering the average wage in the country is around $17 an hour, time spent sorting, clipping and handling coupons found in FSI’s is often a break even prospect at best. It’s time to stop the spam and make the best products possible and sell them at a fair price every day. May the best products and services win!

How to Find the Online/Offline Balance in Marketing

Written by Ted Rubin

With the ongoing emphasis on maximizing marketing campaigns by using online communication and tools, we need to remember that consumers still exist – and often still operate in – the bricks and mortar world. Marketers/Brands must carefully blend both online and offline interactions to effectively communicate on the path to purchase.

There is a great television bank commercial that highlights this issue. In case you haven’t seen it, it shows a couple approaching a roped off entrance of a bank building, where they are stopped by a gatekeeper asking what they think they’re doing.  The couple replies that they want to go inside and speak to someone… and the gatekeeper laughs and says something like “but that’s what the Internet is for!”

Technology is definitely becoming more integrated with our daily activities, but it has not replaced consumer’s needs for face-to-face interaction and bricks and mortar experience. The challenge then for marketers is to find the appropriate balance between online and offline channels for their specific consumers.


Chances are your consumers will use multiple channels and switch in and out of those channels several times through the purchase process.  They might see a television ad that references a social media channel for those with a specific interest or need.   They then spend time using social media to build connections with other people sharing that interest/need, and – if the marketers are wise — with brand representatives.  From there, they may take coupons, deals, or recommendations from brand advocates and purchase either online or at a physical location.   Follow-up might go back online to social media as consumers share their purchase experience.

There are, of course, many different ways to leverage both online and offline tools and interactions, so how should marketers decide what combinations to use?

Follow the “Lose, Gain, and Give” process:

1. LOSE your assumptions

You know what they say about assuming…. (hint: it includes the first 3 letters of the word).  Do not assume that you know your consumers’ preferences.  Assumptions quickly lead to marketers telling consumers what to do and even forcing them down a particular communication or action path – a sure way to lose the consumers you are hoping to attract.

2.  GAIN understanding

Without your assumptions, you can now pay careful attention to your consumers to gain an understanding of what they really want and need.  Build an ongoing relationship with them by asking them questions (social media is a great tool for this), listening to their answers, then asking more questions for clarification.  Not only will you gain understanding about your consumers, you will also gain trust – a key ingredient in consumer purchasing decisions.   When you give them the chance, your consumers can help you find the right online/offline balance for them.

3.  GIVE consumers what they need, want, and are asking for

Action is the external proof of understanding.  Consumers want to be heard and understood, and the way to prove that to them is to take their feedback and implement changes to your marketing campaigns, products and services accordingly. Consumer-influenced action quickly builds brand advocates who are so delighted by their experience of your brand that they can’t wait to tell their networks about it.

No matter what tools and tactics you choose, make sure your message and the consumer experience is consistent across all points of contact and interaction.  Your online customer service needs to be as good as your face-to-face customer service… and vice versa.  What you promise online needs to be the experience you actually give consumers offline…and vice versa.

Consumers’ online and offline worlds are becoming more and more integrated, and the purchase path they follow will be the one that meets them both online and off.  Where will your brand be when shoppers step on that path??