Tag Archives: Ted Rubin

Building Customer Relationships with Branded Story-Telling

Written by Ted Rubin

There are some new buzzwords in marketing going around, everything from “Collaborative Marketing” to “Relationship Marketing,” and even “Branded Content.” But what do those phrases really mean and how can today’s businesses take advantage of them to build customer relationships?

Well, we all know that consumers are becoming more and more contemptuous of push advertising, which has traditional marketers scrambling to find a magic bullet to replace it. But with what? When social came along and marketers mistakenly tried to force push advertising messages there, the failures were huge.

What we’re seeing is a gradual shift away from advertising in general, and back towards communication, which has always been the human strong suit. People want to get information when they want it—not have it thrown at them, and they want to have conversations about and with brands. I read an article recently at retailcustomerexperience.com that quoted Scott Olrich, CMO of the relationship-based marketing software company, Responsys. Olrich sums up the shift pretty nicely:

“A century or so back, the local corner shop lived or died based on the relationships they built. As new means of mass communication emerged, companies used their increased reach to try to advertise their way out of that responsibility. But today every aspect of a company’s behavior is on public display. A relationship first approach to every customer interaction has again become the imperative.”

Even Google’s algorithm changes are indicative of this shift towards communication and conversation, with content relevance being a key factor. Content that’s helpful and educational trumps marketing-speak, improves SEO and is instrumental in opening the door to those all-important relationships.

So where does that leave the average business? Finding ways to start more conversations is a good place to begin. At Collective Bias®, we foster a collaborative marketing approach by managing a private community called Social Fabric. It’s a platform for micro-publishers (or bloggers) who are passionate about building relationships and telling stories. Collective Bias® uses Social Fabric® to gain shopper insights and to identify brand advocates to create content for client campaigns.

This works very well for retailers and other brands because these bloggers are your shoppers and consumers. They are the brains behind some of our most successful campaigns – building, leading and managing them. Our community is different from most, because our members are highly involved in the campaign process. The content our bloggers produce is creative, engaging and compelling, and its reach is exponential, because it’s syndicated across various social channels as well as through the blogger’s audience. But what makes this type of content influential is that it’s tied to an emotional connection that resonates with people. It’s not about selling—it’s not about hype—it’s people talking to people about their lives and experiences with a brand being a part of the story.

So our focus is on collaborating with the Social Fabric® blogger community to create the informative, educational and emotionally compelling content that people are looking for online.

Some big brands are also finding success in creating “branded content,” which research analysts at Forrester define as “content that is developed or curated by a brand to provide added consumer value such as entertainment or education. It is designed to build brand consideration and affinity, not sell a product or service. It is not a paid ad, sponsorship, or product placement.”

That’s not to say that ads don’t have their place, but they can no longer be the major focus—it has to be delivering great brand stories. Companies that have moved the needle on branded content include Proctor & Gamble, Cisco, Duane Reade, Tyson, Nestle, Bigelow Tea, Red Bull and The Cleveland Clinic, to name a few. And they consistently leverage this content ahead of ad campaigns, which gives them even more top-of-mind reach and better ad response. These brands improve their products by staying close to their customers with constant communication at every stage of the customer relationship.

The marketing shift to branded storytelling also means that companies need to re-think metrics. It’s not enough today to simply measure impressions as a factor of campaign ROI—we need to think in terms of measuring our influence as well and our SOV (Share of Voice). Tracking the quality of engagement with our messaging is crucial to measuring overall effectiveness.

So whether your business is selling widgets or services, success depends on thinking more in terms of delivering stories about those widgets or services and how people use them than about pumping out feature-rich fact sheets or ads. Your customers want to hear those stories, so find more ways to tell them! Reach out to your brand advocates and collaborate with them, and don’t forget to include quality of engagement in your metrics for a better overall view of how you’re doing. In other words, think like a publisher—you’ll get better results.

As originally posted on tedrubin.com.

Influencers versus Inserts: Is the Writing on the Wall for Print in 2013?

Written by Ted Rubin

The co-founder and CEO of Collective Bias, John Andrews, recently told Marketing Daily that there are changes in the wind regarding shopper marketing and the last bastion of print media advertising to still be alive and kicking, the Free-Standing Insert (FSI) .

It’s amazing to me the amount of money that’s still dumped into coupons and inserts in the retail space. According to the global market research company Kantar Media, more than $419 billion in consumer incentives were delivered via FSI coupons, with retail giants Wal-Mart and Walgreens taking top position. However, with print newspapers shutting down circulation and the shift in consumer focus from print and television to internet and social channels, I think the writing’s on the wall. It’s just that brands don’t know where to put those dollars yet, and it’s comfortable to hold onto whatever print vehicle is still giving somewhat of a return—especially during tough economic times.

Marketing folks predicted a faster shift to digital mediums, but circulars are still a stubborn holdout. John thinks the “Print Cliff” is coming, and he predicts 2013 will be the year everything starts to change.  So where will brands shift their current FSI marketing dollars?

With people spending more time online, sharing on social platforms and accessing information using mobile devices, the smart money will be in attracting influencers in the digital media space to recommend products and services. However, that requires a different mindset than the traditional “interruption advertising” mentality. Today’s consumers like interesting, contextual content, recommendations, reviews and information when they’re seeking to buy something—and they can find pages and pages of it by searching online. That’s where brands need to be. While their customers still use coupons and incentives, they’re looking for them in the digital space—not in print circulars.

That’s why Collective Bias was formed— to create New Media options that position brands in the space that’s gaining the most traction with today’s shoppers. Taking advantage of the power of the social graph (and integrating it with what we call the “Family graph”) for generating, at scale, targeted, contextual influencer content in a story telling narrative. Done in a way shoppers like to receive it… such as blog posts, how-to videos, attractive photo montages. We’re seeing brands increasingly grow returns on their marketing dollars in this format as they make a gradual shift away from print.

I don’t think it will be too long before the FSI will go the way of the dinosaur. In a few years most of them will not even be available, but digital influencer content can serve as a viable alternative. Established bloggers and other influencers concentrate on giving value, and their audiences trust them to keep providing that value. That’s where today’s consumers are going. By developing relationships with micro-media publishers, who as a group create content strategically, and shifting to “advertorial” content rather than advertising pitches, you can avoid throwing marketing dollars off the fast-approaching print cliff, and begin using those dollars more efficiently and effectively.

Inserts still have some life left, so I don’t think this is going to take place overnight. But trust me—it’s only a matter of time. Smart brands are already moving in the direction of emotionally connected content, social sharing and relationship building… and seeing dramatic results. Feel free to reach out and let us show you at Collective Bias… or read about some of them in my new book, Return on Relationship.

The Future of Media

Written by Ten Rubin

In 1997 when I joined Seth Godin at Yoyodyne, people were calling the Internet… New Media. But there was nothing really new. It was simply traditional media in a new wrapper… nothing new at all. We are now entering the era of “New Media.” Media is now aggregated, not a place, a.k.a… the website destination is dead. People choose their media vs. being beholden to media schedules, formats or those who we “should” be listening to. Publishers are people, not oracles and print is most certainly unsustainable, and therefore as good as dead. User generated content, and the democratization of content, publishing and the ability to share consume, and publish… anytime, anywhere is setting the stage for each and every one of us to be the center of our own media channel.

Pinterest now drives more click-throughs than Facebook and Twitter combined despite having a fraction of their user base. What’s driving this phenomenon? A combination of participation and inspiration. Pinterest is the canary in the coal-mine for two huge converging trends, shifting media consumption and changing shopping habits.

The key is harnessing the power of social influence in a compelling way that connects authentic story-telling with brand and product interaction. This is a radical departure from the current media and eCommerce environment as consumers seek information when and where they want it vs. proceeding along a predictable purchase path. Mobile is accelerating this behavior leaving many retailers, brands and publishers perplexed about how to capitalize.

It is time for publishers to realize that in order to survive for the long-term they have to learn to embrace the crowd. Build relationships with their audience, empower them and their employees to build their own brands… then leverage this to scale content production and to reach consumers on their own terms.

Welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships and make a difference.

The Death of the Click

click tracking, return on investment, return on relationship, CollectiveBias

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on BradLawless.com last week.

Almost every day we have discussions with clients (brands and retailers) at Collective Bias about the best way to measure success in content marketing. Many ask us to have community members insert trackable links into their content so the client can measure some type of conversion (a like, follow, or hopefully a sale.)

We’re starting to see, however, that consumer interaction with social content just doesn’t work this way.

Socially powered content marketing is all about relationships. Relationships are fuzzy things not easily categorized or tracked, but they have tremendous power. Relationships connect us to loved ones and create opportunities to discover new things. As my friend Ted Rubin likes to say, social media and content marketing are more about the Return on Relationship™ (ROR) than Return on Investment (ROI).

Think about your interaction with friends and family in your everyday life. You have a conversation about something interesting. Maybe it’s a new product available in stores. Maybe it’s a new service like a car wash or a accountant. The item in question really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the action you take next — which is really no action at all.

When we hear about something new from offline friends, we rarely hop in our car and run to the store to buy it. Instead, we file that information away for future reference and look for the item the next time we find ourselves at the store.

The same thing happens online. When I hear about something new and cool from an online friend or trusted blogger, I rarely whip out my credit card and buy it on the spot. I think about it. When I later decide to buy, I’ll go straight to the retailer web site or search for the product name rather than going back to the blog post where I first discovered it.

In that scenario, I never click a link the brand can track back to social content, but that content still did its job. It made me aware of the product. It showed me how people like me use it in real life, and convinced me that I’d like to buy it, too.

Online marketing has built its entire ROI model on click tracking from the early days of display banners to the ubiquitous use of URL shorteners today, but those days are coming to an end. Industry trends like Microsoft’s implementation of Do Not Track functionality in Internet Explorer 10 will make tracking clicks that much harder.

Click tracking will still have a place in a brand’s value equation, but it’s only one piece of of a much bigger formula. We’ve seen a correlation time and again between increased share of voice for a brand and retail sales. Get more people talking — really talking and engaging with your brand — and you will see sales increase. To truly understand the value of social content, brands need to analyze the quality of their online engagements, their overall conversational volumes and match those to their sales.

People like things they can measure, and click tracking provides a level of comfort. We can count clicks. We can also count Fans and Followers. Each of those numbers by themselves are just that — numbers devoid of meaning.

When you choose to engage your fans, reach out to your followers and connect with them in meaningful ways that provide value to their lives and yours, you will finally begin to crack the code to the enigmatic relationship value equation.

** Photo used with permission under Creative Commons License by Jeferonix.

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

Twitter basics… In My Humble Opinion

Written by Ted Rubin

The mistake I see being made is trying to measure Social engagement with the same tools we measure every other digital touch point. In my view email, search, even banner ads, have spoiled marketers into thinking everything can be and must be measured with the metrics used to gauge success in other mediums. I am not sure of what the next stage will be for you, but in the beginning, when you are building your Social Media audience, and testing, I have three stages with which I measure… #1 is Audience growth, #2 is Reactivity… getting them to take an action, and #3 Stickiness… keeping them coming back, engaged and interacting. After you achieve all these I feel measurement will easily follow, depending upon what is important to you and your brand.

If you want to continue to reach your market in this social media age, the marketing focus needs to be on building relationships, and metrics need to expand beyond ROI (Return on Investment) to include ROR: Return on Relationship™. If you are not engaging in your field of expertise on Twitter someone else is, so the first issue is that you are missing that opportunity and handing it to others. Second… if you are not talking about your business, your customers and prospects probably are, and you are not there to participate, engage, interact and most important for your business… listen and lead.

My philosophy is that Twitter is a tool that leads into other forms of social sharing. I consider Twitter a place to lay the groundwork where other people pick up things. Twitter is a seeding medium and a place to build engagement and interaction… it is not a broadcast medium, so it is not about the quantity of people listening at once, but the ability to lay it out there for those whose attention are drawn to what you have to say at any given moment.

Twitter is a river that continuously flows and flows. You add content one second, and the next it is gone. Tweet to keep your personal brand on your followers’ radar, increase your following, and provide value that keeps followers listening and you top of mind. Send the same tweet often multiple times in a day and send valuable content repeatedly over the course of time.

How you do that?:

  • I suggest picking a hashtag for a brand to use on most tweets and encourage anyone involved with you to add that hashtag to their tweets.
  • This allows you to track who is tweeting about you, more importantly for you to retweet, and to make your hashtag top of mind and used regularly by others if possible.
  • Periodically check out your followers sites to find interesting posts and RT’s and show you are paying attention.
  • Ask your team members to send you tweet ideas regularly.

 

How do you get/maintain followers?:

  • Twitter has a cap to the number of people you are allowed to follow (gets particular around the 2,000 mark) There is a bit of a process to follow, to grow the accounts.

 

The process:

1. Sign into Twitter Handle

2. Make sure you are following back everyone who is following you

3. Search for a relevant and reliable Twitter Account

-Example: If you are in the Cooking vertical, search a celebrity chef or a cooking mag/site, and follow all of those followers, etc.

4. Twitter will stop you when you’ve reached the maximum limit of following

Sign into JustUnfollow (an unfollowing and follow back application)… http://www.justunfollow.com/unfollow.html

-Unfollow those who don’t follow you back.

-Unfollowing should be done every few days- not every day. You want to give all the people you just followed a chance to follow you back. If they don’t within 72 hours+ depending upon what level you are at and how quickly you hit your follower ceiling, you want to unfollow them to give you more room to find followers that WILL follow you back. People who do not follow you back have no value as far as building your presence. If you are interested in what they have to say you can simply follow them from an alternate handle that you only use to garner info, create a list using Twitter’s list functionality… or have a list of those you want to check daily and do so manually (which is a more efficient way of seeing what they have to say anyway). With JustUnfollow it is also possible to “whitelist” these people to avoid unfollowing them.

Email address & Passwords:

I suggest setting up handles with email addresses such as handle@gmail.com (i.e. cbFamily@gmail.com)

All passwords, if you are using multiple handles, can be the same for ease of use (or simply keep a spreadsheet) especially if you are inventorying handles for future use so you never forget how to log in.

Always remember: If you think nobody is tweeting about your products or services, think again. If you’re not tweeting about your business–someone else is. If you’re not setting your own business message on Twitter–someone else is. But more importantly, if you’re not listening to what your customers (and potential customers) are saying on Twitter –someone else is, and you are missing an incredibly valuable opportunity to engage and interact.

  • Track Mentions: The major thing you should be tracking is mentions of your twitter name. Anytime somebody mentions your name, it’s an opportunity to start a conversation and acquire a new high quality follower.
  • Track Retweets: You should also pay close attention to the people who are retweeting the tweets you have written. It’s obvious that they like your content, otherwise they wouldn’t be sharing it.
  • Create a List: Have a list called your inner circle. Anytime somebody mentions or retweets you, make a point to add them to that list.
  • Engage with the People on that List: Simply creating the list is not going to be enough. Once you have created your inner circle list, you need to start engaging with them.
  • Have periodic conversations.
  • Retweet their stuff and look to periodically RT others to get their attention and interact. I often choose some randomly and make a point at conferences, whether I am there or not, to RT many. If you follow event or group hashtags, and check in on them, you can RT those and it makes it easy to interact.

 

Where to Start When You Are at Zero: If you are starting at zero, some of the above might seem more challenging, but it’s not. Just start with bloggers who you have been reading. This is why it’s important to read more than just the a-list blogs. Find people you think are interesting and just reach out to them. They’ll be happy to hear from you… Bloggers, marketers, brands, etc.

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.

 

Want Better Return on Relationship?… Start “Liking” Them!

Written by Ted Rubin

Time and time again, I hear marketers cry the blues that they have a hard time making their social media efforts pay off.  “How can I create content that gets more engagement?” they ask. “I’m blogging, but nobody’s listening… I’m not getting any response to my tweets… Nobody’s ‘Liking’ my new Facebook page!”

What are they doing wrong? Well primarily, there is a misconception about social that “if you build it, they will come,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. You can have a killer website, a great looking Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube branding—the works. But if you’re not reaching out to comment on other people’s posts, sharing other people’s good content, actively helping where you can, and generally joining in the conversation on these channels, then what you’re doing is like sitting on the side of a busy highway with a “Please Like Me” sign over your head. Lots of luck with that.

If you want more from your social media activities, then give your customers and prospects a reason to take the time out of their busy lives to like you. They’re “up to here” with ad messages. Those fall on deaf ears. They’re looking for answers to their questions, solutions to their problems, and they’re also looking to make real, one-on-one connections with real people (Hint: It’s called networking).

For marketers, however, thinking about approaching social media from a networking aspect rather than a marketing aspect can be difficult—especially if you’re used to traditional marketing and measuring return on broadcast messaging (one-way, convince-and-convert messages to your audiences on TV, radio, direct mail, email or online ads). You may have heard from ad agencies that social isn’t really all that different—it’s just another kind of media. That’s precisely the wrong approach—people who spend time on social channels do so to network, build relationships, engage and interact. To be successful on social channels you need to be engaged and offer value!

There’s no lazy way out of this, folks. If you want the eyes and ears of your prospects focused on you, then take a leaf from physical networking experts and develop a “giver’s gain” philosophy when using social media.

For instance, traditional networking groups are a prime example of physical, one-on-one networking that really works. By making a commitment to show up to weekly meetings with fellow business owners, listening to their needs, and making a concerted effort to bring them referrals and help them get more customers, participants gain referrals in return. The amount of referrals they get tends to correlate directly to the amount of “giving” they do—which requires them to develop relationships with each other and develop trust. Those that attend only to blather about themselves don’t last long—it’s the deep relationships that develop over time that really produce results.

Developing fruitful relationships in social channels requires the same “giver’s gain” philosophy, and takes the same amount of dedication and work:

  • Get to know your customers/prospects by actively listening to their needs in social channels
  • Reach out to others without waiting for them to “Like” you first
  • Contribute to conversations where you can provide value (not a sales pitch)
  • Always be thinking of ways to help others solve problems
  • Introduce people when appropriate
  • Be genuine in your responses and outreach
  • Don’t expect reciprocation, but always strive to give it when someone reaches out to you

In many ways, networking on social channels is like “going back to our roots” as physical networkers. Both are about building relationships. However, those who take themselves out of the equation and focus on the needs of others can expect to get a better Return on Relationship™.  

Brands need to attract customers, but breaking through the clutter is challenging. Stand out by “Liking” them before they “Like” you