So, the morning session of Like Minds is over and we’ve covered two interesting presentations which have generated a fair amount of debate.
First up, Jonathan Akwue, the “digital thinker director” of Digital Public, offered “an outsider’s view of social media”. He took a challenging stance, insisting - to gasps -that “Digital technology does not always make things better”. Jonathan cited the example of self-service checkouts at supermarkets, which may have created cost-efficiencies for supermarkets, but are a source of consternation for many frustrated shoppers (although several Marketing Donut correspondents actually said they like self-service checkouts).
What social media has done, however, is release the inner gangsta rapper in all of us. Like hip-hop, social media have given ordinary people the means to control the channel of communication and to get their personal message ‘out there’ in an unfiltered form. Social media are “open source” and they are transforming the way we communicate and interact with each other:
You can use social media to change people’s lives,” Jonathan claimed. “You can use it to save people’s lives. We can make massive behavior changes."
Unfortunately, if you have such an open source communication channel, you need to be prepared for what people are likely to say – a point many corporates have yet to really grasp.
Jonathan was followed by John Bell, digital PR guru for Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence Team, whose “Time for a strategy - Beware social media tokenism” presentation focused on the need for businesses to generate and measure proper business impact through their social media presence.
Citing the example of ITunes on Facebook - which has three million fans - John challenged the easy view that numbers equal success. “Does this really mean three million people are engaged?” he asked.
He went on to stress the need for businesses to find appropriate ways to measure the impact of their social media activities and to only continue with activities that actually have a measurable business effect. Otherwise they are simply tokenism.
His presentation gave rise to interesting discussions around the value of having a social media policy and the kind of voice you should adopt on Twitter, to which several of our followers contributed:
@atkirby I think it's important to try and sound like a human being on Twitter, not a robot.
@7db Like biz attire: Wear (voice) what (how) your customer does.
@global_lingo Strong selling isn't the way forward but for B2B that can be a struggle.
So that’s it for the Like Minds morning session. We’ll be picking it up again shortly – please do follow our live coverage.
Once set, you’ll need to ensure all of the things you can influence are glued together and working toward that unique brand positioning. If you're spending money on marketing materials with different straplines, changeable designs, copy that sounds different or doesn't match up to what you stand for, or products that don't match your brand promise then it's wasting the full potential of your marketing investment. People won’t recognise you, or understand what your brand is about.
Good strong brands do this well and are more stable because of it. Lets take Apple. They tirelessly work on creating innovative new products that work, that people love because of the way they work and because they are at the forefront of the latest technology. They just love making great stuff! So what do they do to back this up and support the positioning? Everything!
Their advertising, website and product brochures all fit together - you know it's Apple as soon as you see it. The products all look cool, even the accessories. Functionally people love to show the product off - look, it can do this! The shops, well they're cool too. And the people in them know their stuff, they help and reflect the brand. They run workshops in the shops on how to get the most out of the products, as well as the usual online support and video tutorials. You can even book time one on one with a ‘Genius' in their shops if you just want some help face-to-face. Everyone loves to show off the product because it's so good. It's just relentless pursuit of their brand positioning.
Apple have got their brand positioning and direction totally clear, and then they execute everything to support it ruthlessly and consistently. Take one area of the business and fail to deliver, or do something a bit different and things start to unravel. Done well, even knitting the simplest marketing activity together like a website, van, you and a business card, and you’ll see dividends.
FACT: If you are the same as the rest then why should customers bother to buy from you?
SO WHAT?: Ignore the one-liner at your peril! Wake up and smell the coffee!
In a world where competition seems to be everywhere, you need to separate yourself from the rest.
FACT: If you compete on price, only the customer will win – in the end the company with the lowest prices (and biggest buying power) will get the business. This is no place for the timid.
SO WHAT?: If you try to be the same as the rest, a ‘me-too’ business, it is incredibly difficult to survive in the long run. After all, the only way you can differentiate yourself if several businesses are selling the same product will be on price. And if you differentiate yourself on price then it becomes inevitable that you enter a price war – customers will chase the cheapest prices – those businesses with the biggest market share (and economies of scale) will be able to command better prices from their suppliers. As a result, these competitors will be able to pass on those savings to customers while maintaining healthier profit margins than their competition. You will end up cutting your profit margins, probably until you go out of business.
Legendary, remarkable customer service will be your secret weapon.
The beauty of the internet is that almost everything in the public domain is searchable. This means that when it comes to tracking your online reputation, all you have to do is head over to Google and tap in your name.
The problem is, you’ll probably also want to search for your company name(s), product name(s), URL(s), and the names of any key personnel. What’s more, different search engines pick up different results, so you’ll need to perform multiple searches to avoid missing mentions. Suddenly, this simple task becomes a bit of a drag.
Here are seven free tools to simplify the task of monitoring your online mentions.
Search engine alerts
Track mentions of keywords in news, websites, blogs, videos and groups with Google Alerts. Set alerts to be sent by email either daily or ‘as-it-happens’ (meaning it hits your inbox as soon as it’s indexed by Google). Alternatively, you can create RSS feed to track from inside your favourite reader.
Bing offers much the same functionality, but for news only. Head to Bing News and select ‘News alerts’ from the bottom of the left hand column. For the same service from Yahoo!, visit Yahoo! Alerts and choose ‘Keyword News’ from the box on the right.
Blogpulse indexes blogs and helps pick up mentions you might not have spotted via the standard search engines. Just search for your key term and then hit the XML icon at the top of the search results to create an RSS feed. You can also search for all posts linking to your site by choosing ‘URL’ in the search options.
Blogpulse won’t pick up everything, so again it’s a matter of combining this with your other tracking efforts. Try Icerocket, which also offers an RSS feed.
Social media monitoring tools
There a dozens of free tools out there for monitoring social media mentions. My favourite at the moment is Social Media Alerts from Social Mention. It searches through over 100 social media platforms such Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google and delivers daily results by email. Searches via the main site will also give you a sense of sentiment and reach, and tell you which users are driving the conversation.
If you want to monitor the number of click throughs on a link you have tweeted, use the Bit.ly shortener service and from their site you can view analytics for clicks of links within your tweets.
Have I missed any great free tools? Let me know.
While there have been many horror stories about how damaging negative publicity can spiral out control there is a school of thought that says any publicity is good publicity. The fact that your business is getting any media attention (albeit negative) is good as it raises you profile and is better than not being talked about.
I work for Empica PR and we have been involved in managing publicity for a controversial ad campaign by the heath and fitness club at Cadbury House. With so many people wanting to lose weight following the festive period theclub's marketing agency launched an integrated campaign in the first weeks of January to inspire people to join. It focused on an image of an alien with the tag line 'When the aliens come they will eat the fatties first' and was used across newspaper advertising, banners, leaflets and poster sites.
From a PR perspective we at Empica recognised this issue could be controversial though we could not predict exactly how it would unfold. We were keen to create discussion to increase exposure for the campaign. As it happened several people complained about the ad being offensive and discriminatory to over-weight people. The local press picked up on the complaints and carried our official statement from Cadbury House telling our side of the story and how it was meant in good humour – although with shock tactics aimed at those who had over-indulged at Christmas.
Often when a negative story appears the PR agency works hard to keep coverage to a minimum, in this case we positively encouraged it to snowball. It appeared in the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and on BBC radio. Now we had a story running we used online techniques to encourage debates about the pros and cons of the advert with bloggers. At this point we were being contacted by Sci-fi sites in the USA and gym manager Jason Eaton was even interviewed on Australian radio station, 4BC!
The ad campaign sparked one complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority – who dismissed it out of hand; most people joined the debate taking the advertisement as it was intended – as a piece of good natured humour. There were hundreds of comments online with people expressing there opinions. Our stance was it certainly was not meant to offend and the fact it features an Alien shows it was tongue-in-cheek.
As part of the overall strategy I also launched a social media strategy involving Twitter and Facebook to maximise publicity online. Part of this included a competition over Twitter where they gave away free memberships to the first 25 retweeters. The memberships went within the hour.
Social media gave this campaign a whole new dimension and certainly assisted the propagation of it worldwide. It provided another avenue for people to share their opinions about the issue and contribute to the discussion. Although certain aspects of the campaign were planned, we believe the real value of social media is to act fast and take advantage of opportunities.
This campaign is still growing and evolving. An initial seed was sown resulting in some negative publicity but the story continues to provide 'food for thought' as you can see from the video below.
Marketing Donut will be bringing you live blog coverage of the second Like Minds conference on Friday 26 February. In this, the second interview in our Like Minds mini-series, Olivier Blanchard (OB) explains what the Like Minds theme of “people-to-people” means to him.
Why does social media need small businesses?
OB: Firstly, the vast majority of businesses around the world are small. If only large, enterprise space companies adopt and integrate social media, we will never see the kind of broad adoption in the business world that will truly bring about the next evolution of B2C communications.
Secondly. small businesses tend to innovate faster than large ones. In terms of innovative uses and integration of social media, as well as the development of new social media tools and applications, the small business community is already doing most of the heavy lifting. Remember that pretty much every social media platform in existence today, from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to Radian6, Scoutlabs and Seesmic started out as small businesses.
What is your take on the theme of “people-to-people” for this year’s event? Will it be a lasting business culture change?
OB: Yes. People are wired to communicate, share ideas and align themselves with the communities they relate to. The very nature of "social" finds its roots in community. The evolution of communications technologies, especially in the real-time digital space, has already eliminated the 20th century's notion of “six degrees of separation”. We have now shifted to “three degrees of separation”, solely through the social web, as LinkedIn illustrates.
Now that people have adopted these technologies, there is no turning back. People are connected to real-time information today like never before, and thanks to mobile, that link has shifted from the desktop to the pocket. Facebook, Twitter and a number of other online social networks help connect people to information, to each other, and to markets 24/7, regardless of where they are. As businesses learn to interact in this real-time P2P culture, both they AND their customers will learn to rely more and more on this type of instant communication. Barring a technological or cultural cataclysm, there is no turning back now: technology has taken P2P from physical face-to-face to digital face-to-face, breaking down geographic, time-zone and socio-cultural barriers, and facilitating not only communications but commerce. The ball isn't likely to roll backwards.
What can we expect from you at Like Minds People-to-People?
OB: Clarity. What I hope to convey to the audience at Like Minds P2P is first and foremost a clear vision and framework for properly integrating social media in their business or organisation, from strategy and multi-silo planning to layered management and rich measurement. There's a method to integrating social media and P2P in the enterprise, and I will focus exclusively on that.
Olivier Blanchard is a social media expert blogger and strategist. He manages the Brandbuilder marketing company and advises on brand strategy in order for firms to adapt to integrating traditional and new media marketing techniques.