J.D. McCartney, CEO of Xstatic Public Relations, presented at the Spokane Regional MarCom Association workshop on “Information Explosion: Communicating in the Digital Age.” During the first part of his presentation (at the regular breakfast meeting), he presented and discussed many of the social media tools and networks that are available. For a summary of that talk, be sure to check out tweets from Barb Chamberlain, Spokane MarCom and myself (between 8-9 a.m. this morning). You can also search for tweets that use the #SpoMarCom hashtag (although not all of our tweets used it). The following notes are from the second part of his presentation, which took a more in-depth look at the topic in the workshop session. (NOTE: the content below is a mix of talking points from J.D. as well as my comments interspersed.)
The audience suggested that some of the biggest changes in MarCom/PR is technology/digital communication, two-way (or even “all-way”) communication, the ability to communicate more directly with your audience, measurement tools, immediacy of the conversation, the “sheer amount of crap our audiences have to sift through,” and the need to think about the way things look (the visual display of information; not just written content). J.D. followed up to posit that some things never change. New media is not a strategy by itself, it’s a platform that is a component of your overall strategy. You can utilize it as part of the regular marketing mix. It’s also another tool that helps you understand and better know/identify your audience. He suggests that specifically for new media, you should target your “typical” audience and develop your profile for that group.
J.D. moved on to developing new media marketing plans. Lesson number one, he says, is that you must learn to give up control. People are talking about your organization’s products, services and brands whenever and however they want–both positive and negative. In other words, as I have always said with social media, you can not control the conversation, instead, you can only engage, guide and create it. So how do you get started? He suggests creating a scenario and thinking about how you would have dealt with it five years ago. Start defining your goals: what is success?
Several tactics he recommended bringing into your mix: email marketing, social media marketing and print/broadcast advertising.
Why do some small businesses feel that their social media marketing plans didn’t meet expectations? because it used more time than expected, they lost money and they opened themselves up to criticism. This was based on a survey conducted by Network Solutions (http://www.networksolutions.com/smallbusiness/wp-content/files/Network_Solutions_Small_Business_Success_Index.pdf). In other words, he says, if you’re putting your foot in the water, make sure you have realistic expectations. (And make sure you have the resources to get involved.)
Step two: choose your metrics that you’ll track. There are a lot of networks out there to monitor. Key performance indicators include: expanded reach to new audiences, influencer sharing behavior and conversion/monetization. Take a look at your goals and then weight the indicators.
Step three: build accounts and create. Get familiar with the platforms (those that are both traditional and emerging). Make branding decisions about the “face of the company.” Pay attention to visual aesthetic. Create launch promotion (remember to include social media in your overall marketing mix–it doesn’t always take off on its own). Pre-load a fan base (use that “suggest to a friend” link). Let others operate pre-launch (test them for user-friendliness, search for glitches, etc.). Develop a content team (change it up). Create posting/content policies and standards. (Note: I suggest checking out Intel’s Social Media Guidelines: http://www.intel.com/sites/sitewide/en_us/social-media.htm).
Step four: listen to your audience. Find out how they are making their decisions, who your influencers are, what topics are the hot buttons, who your competitors are and what they are doing, and gauge your demographic information. (Note: if you’re using Facebook, utilize Facebook’s Insights feature to analyze your fan base demographics.) J.D. suggested checking out the profiles of your fans. Personally, I think you can spend a little time doing this, but it may not be worth the effort–you can’t necessarily see all of their information, updates, behaviors, etc. He further suggested grouping your followers (more specifically on Twitter) based on how they started following you (contests, promotions, blog posts, questions, etc.). A great reminder, though, that J.D. pointed out is that your demographic base on social media can really only be applied to that channel, not necessarily your entire company’s audience demographic (yes, that’s right, not everyone is using social media, and it’s still mostly used by certain age groups, etc.).
Step five: adjust/respond to concerns. (I’ll admit, I got distracted at this point, so I don’t have any additional notes on this step.)
Step six: provide valuable content. Have fun and remember that most new media is social. Share your advice, discounts and information–anything that could potentially benefit your audience. Content can include: video, blogs, podcasts, message boards, product reviews, photos, press releases and promotions. Don’t limit yourself to sales-focused content (remember folks, it’s about the conversation). Foster viral sharing with incentives. Bi-directional rewards perform twice as well: reward your influencer for inviting friends and reward their friends for acceptance.
Here’s a neat exercise J.D. suggested: put together a list of all the marketing tactics that you use. Next to each of those, try adding a new media tactic to it (for example, next to speaking engagements, add live video feeds, podcasts or a tweetup).
Step seven: expanded reach (number of followers), influencer behavior (posts/comments/shares) and conversion (web traffic).
Step eight: repeat the process. Change is the only constant. New formats and features are introduced frequently, as does your audience and how they behave/interact. It may go in a new direction that you didn’t anticipate. Be sure to adjust your goals and metrics along the way.
A couple of case studies that he shared with us included: Summit 54, The Creme Brûlée Man, Joie De Vivre, Stone Korean Kitchen, Dr. Irena Vaksman (dentist), Levi’s (did you know they were one of the first brands to be on Facebook as well as implement the “like” feature on their products), and Starbucks (they do geo-location very well).
His closing thoughts: your audience is still people…they aren’t just fans, followers, likes, etc. (A good point indeed!)