When it comes to creating a successful social media program, three core issues need to play together: build following; create engagement; sales action. What drives this? Content. Great content is not simply posting or promoting a product. It’s really knowing the target (down to stereotyping an individual person). It is also constantly refining and adjusting based on what is trending and being shared and commented on.
This seemingly simple equation works … and quite well for GRM. Playing in the uber-competitive cosmetics category, our team is beating the leading competitor for Milani (our client) in engagement rate by 220%, despite being outspent more than 10x by competitors in overall advertising.
The comments at the end of this blog illustrate the constant change going on … not just in Facebook, but in all social sites. Many are looking for the short cut to garnering legions of followers, but unlike traditional media the playing field is not fixed. The platforms themselves keep revising and adjusting their own rules. What works in one platform doesn’t necessarily translate to another. What works today may be dramatically altered tomorrow.
And one additional myth: Social media is not free. It is a very competitive environment (by design) where placements and ad dollars are pitted against each other. Determining your outcomes and ROI should be carefully considered up front. In other words, a plan with measurable goals … not unlike any other effective advertising or marketing program. And, like great advertising, content is the driver. Ads and sponsored posts can put you in front of more people, but what happens then? If the content (creative in traditional ad speak) is not interesting, distinctive, visual or otherwise engaging, the viewer is already rolling down the page. See ya.
Great content requires first and foremost an understanding of the person (yes, singular) you are actually trying to start a dialog with. You can build large and thriving communities, but it starts by connecting to an individual. Social media success requires creativity. Good writing, visually impactful, a sense of outcome (sales action) desired all play a key role.
This is usually why one person doing this internally at a company (typically in addition to other pressing tasks) is never as good as a team.
So, there is a cost. The cost of engaging professionals, who work multiple sites for multiple clients to understand the trial and error and know how to quickly adjust for successful outcomes (and when to cut losses and move in other directions).
The cost of a team, so that your sites are covered 24/7 and there is timely response to engagements and posts … a critical factor in building the online community of followers most brands crave.
There is also one hidden cost: how are you measuring up to competition online? Because the leading brands understand the value of building followers – it is the best and most economical database you can get. Think about the cost of buying lists, generating signups at events or trade shows, sending out direct mail? What is the real cost there? How easy is it to build that list? Many companies struggle just to build an active and accurate list of their customers, never mind, adding on interested prospects.
If your competition has more followers, simply put, their cost of marketing is less than yours. Your company is at a disadvantage. Even greater, they have the ability to exponentially add more prospects than your company, at a lower cost.
Think about this as direct marketing on steroids. That is what social media can be when done correctly. So, there is the opportunity cost of what may (or may not) be occurring for your company in social media.
Final word: referral.
Social is unlike any other media in history. It is not linear – in that advertisers (or media) push out content/programming/ads and consumers can either choose to read/watch or not. In social, consumers participate in the content. And, their participation is not a private letter or phone call. It is public … on the same site to the same viewers as your original post.
Is that a good thing? It is a great thing in our estimation. Great brands are coveted by their fans. Social has a quick and often viral way of ferreting out the good from the pretenders. Consumers are educated, experienced and not shy to weigh in with their opinions.
And their opinions count: in reviews – most consumers view peer reviews more valuable now than professional one; in following – have too few followers and your brand doesn’t seem very credible; and, most importantly in referral.
Those most passionate about your brand will follow you. We prefer to call them your ‘zealots.’ Zealots for a brand or cause willingly recommend, engage, and share … otherwise refer you to their friends. The average person on Facebook has about 300 followers (friends). This is actually consistent with old-school ‘spheres of influence’ an individual has. So, 500 followers offer a potential referral of 150,000 people. Get 5,000 followers and you have your own ‘media vehicle’ of 1.5 million! Many of these are now being introduced to your brand for the first time by their friend, the most credible referral you can get as a brand.
What is your cost of prospect / new customer acquisition? If you understand those numbers, then you understand why social media is not a nebulous cost, but the most valuable marketing asset ever available to companies.
Let’s talk about Instagram Stories.
Stories are seriously such an easy tool to use to connect to and grow your followers in a creative and personal way. Even though Reels is now the king of content, Instagram stories should not be left by the wayside. With more than one billion users, you may as well use every tool in the platform to grow your brand.
Why are Instagram Stories Important?
Instagram stories are a way to let your followers in. They can get a peek behind-the-scenes into who is behind the brand and what it’s made of. It is a great way to tell your followers who you are without crowding their feeds with post after post.
By giving your followers an additional insight into what your brand stands for, it builds trust and offers them a chance to connect with you on a personal level. If you don’t let your audience know who you are, you are forgoing possible connections with future customers.
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your Instagram Stories.
Tip #1: Tell a Story with your Stories
Instagram Stories can tell a richer story compared to the individual pictures on your feed. Your stories should ALWAYS have a purpose.
Tip #2: Stories are still part of your Brand
Even though stories are your chance to get really creative, they should still follow your brand standards! Align styling and fonts with your overall brand standards!
Tip #3: Add Hashtags!
Instagram will allow you to use a maximum of 10 hashtags to make your stories more searchable. This will increase your potential reach beyond your followers. But no one likes to look at a story full of text. You can shrink your hashtags down, make them the color of your background and hide them behind a sticker to disguise your hashtags from your story viewers.
Tip #4: Consistency is Key
Consistency is one of the easiest ways to increase your story views. By posting stories daily, the Instagram algorithm will begin to favor your stories and show them to more people.
Tip #5: Get to know Story Analytics
Get to know this feature to figure out your performance and what your next move should be. Are people who aren’t following you watching your stories? Are people watching the whole story, or exiting before the 15 seconds is up? Are your hashtags working? Analytics can help you figure out what is and what isn’t working so you can adjust your strategy.
Let us know if these tips help you with your social media strategy!
If you believe you have an issue with more than one of the following, then you should consider rebranding. Typically, companies that need rebranding will have questions in multiple areas.
- Market Perspective: has the marketplace shifted due to competition, new product entry, sales or distribution and your brand has lost some relevance or traction as a result?
- Customer Shift: has the category shifted and your targeting/brand messaging has not?
As new customers enter the category, is your brand speaking to them?
- New Offering: has your product or service changed? new extension or new offering? how does it fit with your existing or past brand communications? how does your core target relate?
- Status Quo: the marketplace is rapidly changing, especially due to digital media. Is your brand up to date and built for the digital media age? This is a major issue for many established brands.
- Shift in sales strategies: targeting new markets, change in pricing strategy, packaging or partnering are all potential ways to cause brand relevancy to drift. Alignment of brand to current sales is critical.
We recommend a strategic exploration to define the issues and brand relevance before you embark on any marketing execution. Often, companies make a go/no go decision and bypass the step of investing a little money and time in defining the strategy. Taking this relatively short and inexpensive step may save lots of wasted budget down the road.
- Facebook now sees 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users
- US adults spend an average of 1 hour, 16 minutes each day watching video on digital devices
- What next? TikTok has over 1.5 billion users
- GO LIVE!!
Social Customer Service
- Treat messaging like live-chat
- Engage and respond in a timely fashion
- Customers want to communicate with companies over the same familiar channels they use to talk with family and friends
- 56% of consumers have used a messaging channel to engage with a brand before
- 71% of those customers expect brands to offer customer engagement over messaging channels
- 96% of respondents say a good customer experience over messaging channels is at least somewhat important to their brand loyalty
Groups and Brand Pages
- Connect with your zealots, your ambassadors!
- Insider look, entice them to be your mouthpiece!
- Provide tools and templates
- Ask questions and LISTEN!
- Use the Questions sticker to find out what people want to hear from you during this time
- Provide daily reflections and tips for customers
- Create a Highlight of your COVID-19 updates
- Create a Highlight featuring your most relevant products to make it easy for people to reference and find the things they need right now
- Create fun challenges for people to reshare in their stories and @ their friends
Dynamic Social Advertising
- Go beyond boosted posts
- Using ads to build your email database
- Make sure you have Facebook Business Manager
- Ads are the BEST way to reach a targeted group – your potential customers!
UGC – Involve Your Customers
- Show vibrancy with real people in your community
- Potential buyers want to relate to the current homeowners.
- Testimonials are key!
- Don’t go dark – PIVOT!
- Meet your customers where they are
- Your community is home, communicating to others through the internet and seeking out information
- Virtually bring customers to you through video
Six quick bullet points to accelerate your short-term planning. After all, it seems all we do is continually revamp plans and communications by the day …
- Back to basics: people will be returning to what is already familiar to them – one less point of discomfort or uncertainty
- More limited destination promotion: DMOs have lost funding and many have put advertising on hold; opportunity to get out in front for destination-driven brands
- Local community impact: taking into account the effect and perception on the local community is imperative. Not stepping out carefully and with sensitivity to ‘locals’ will invite a quick and vehement reprisal. Engaging locals is a major opportunity through social media.
- Environment will matter: not simply solving government guidelines is enough; properties will need to ‘show’ how people are being separated and cared for; how facilities are being properly sanitized.
- Pent up demand for escape: There is a polarization among consumers. A significant segment of travelers will bolt out of the house for a ‘getaway’ as soon as offered. Location and travel distance/mode likely will shape their decision more than price.
- Near-term, most travelers are likely to avoid large cities and crowds: okay, probably obvious. But your guests will likely have to work through the travel maze of airports or other places with groups of people to reach your property, regardless of the relative isolation you may offer. Consider how you can help them navigate the process from door to door.
Happy to brainstorm with you further!
(You can do more than you think.)
With each downturn, marketing frequently is one of the first budget cuts. In this unprecedented period, there are valid reasons for some companies to draw back. But, often that is the reactionary move and maybe a better response is to challenge the thinking to what CAN be done. Some revenue is better than none and continued brand presence and operational consistency will hasten the return of guests.
With that in mind, here are six ways to build confidence and short-term revenue.
- Institute visual appearances that let guests know you are paying attention to the details of health best practices and being ‘safe’ to visit:
- disposable gloves used by staff
- one-use wipe clothes in foodservice
- covered plates by waitstaff
- greet at a distance … let guest determine how close they want to be
- arrange chairs/tables/loungers further apart
- leave note in room each day that housekeeping has ‘disinfected’
All these can be subtly visual demonstrated and shared in social media posts.
- Price for occupancy and include credits or ‘meal plans’ to support other functional areas – spa, F&B, golf, etc. Room credit works in a couple of ways … avoids decision/off-site anxieties and supports staff. This is a unique situation that squarely impacts travel, so a short-term low rate does not necessarily impact long-term brand value. “We’ve never seen anything like this!” Yep, including our unprecedented rates and values – for right now. Some revenue is better than none and it obviously helps your staff.
Examples: The Cloister at Sea Island, offering a $299 room rate with a $200 room credit.
Southwest Airlines just announced $49 fares with no fare higher than $199. Those kind of deals are using rate to get those on the fence to make a decision.
- Staycation. People, especially those in metro areas, may be looking to take advantage of being able to work remotely and with the kids out of school, take a short trip.Look at your drive-time markets and target them. Pay attention to group spaces.. but most properties can manage ways to keep guests separated.
- Cancellation. Allow it. Without penalty. That will encourage people ‘on the fence’ to book now and not be penalized later if conditions shift. Keep in mind the fear of the unknown may be the biggest perceptual barrier in the U.S. at present. OTAs are the big loser here. They are getting crushed in consumer confidence by their inability to respond to cancellation requests. Not only is this hurting them in the short-term, but they are no doubt losing customers forever over their management of refunding cancellation requests.
- Continue marketing, but spend efficiently. Fact: companies gain market share during hard times by continuing to market themselves. The majority of the world is not willing or able to travel right now. But, there are some bookings happening. Find the feeder markets that are not hard-hit (most of the U.S., actually) and efficiently target them.
If you are silently on the sidelines, what is your shot at them? Likely not much because a competitor is trying. Bigger picture: much of marketing is a cumulative effect. So the efforts you make today will hasten your business – and market share – when restrictions and concerns ease. Build for a faster recovery! Front load your efforts for the rest of the year.
- “The glass is half full.” Remind and reinforce the good things happening.Leverage reviews, stories on social media of staff and guests that showcase recent experiences. Don’t simply reinforce the precautions, reinforce the good things that are HAPPENING right now at your property. Someone’s anniversary dinner. Enjoying the day at the beach. Pool service. Having a cocktail. I want to be there!
What is Your Greatest Point of Pain?
A survey of marketing pros by Reveries magazine a few years back remains timely. Three significant “points of pain” emerged:
You. The biggest reported “pain” was someone else, either a client or an agency person. More than 80 respondents identified someone else as their biggest pain; either not understanding issues, plans, goals, strategies, not buying into programs, subverting or discounting them or abandoning them before completion.
Information. The second biggest cluster of “pain” focused on not having enough information. More than 60 respondents noted that they did not have enough sound information to guide them. Of these, there were at least 23 mentions of not having the tools to effectively evaluate ROI or other results, not having relevant information in general, not enough information to develop effective messages, to select or assign media to create plans.
Resources. The third cluster had to do with the “pain of not having enough” – i.e., budgets, people, time to getting things done, or adequate systems.
Several noteworthy comments from respondents:
“Lack of respect within my company for marketing as a profession. We are still in the mode of “anyone can be a marketer.”
“The greatest Point of Pain is to gain the customer insight.”
“The point of pain – marketing people having no clue as to what their value proposition is, with no passion or sense of custodianship. This lack of involvement simply trickles down to the consumer, who in turn is lambasted with tired and frustrating brand messages. The result, consumers devoid of any meaningful relationship with their brand.”
“I’m pained by clients that don’t think like customers, forget that they are customers too, and are too internally focused.”
Insights gleaned and applied:
Have a clear-cut marketing strategy. Define value of planned activities, expectations on results and ensure that it is understood and bought into upfront.
Information is certainly not the issue today. Sorting through data and knowing what matters and what is important to apply is the issue. Forming insights into strategy remains an art.
No passion = no connection with consumers. Act like a consumer, think like a consumer and find the point of passion, not pain.
“Let’s have the receptionist handle the social media.”
… said no CEO that answers to a board. While that company wastes the most efficient media and the engagement opportunity with fans, their competitors are treating social media as seriously (and correctly) as other advertising. Regain your competitive balance, hire an expert to handle your social media.
Customer care through social media is a must.
Integrating customer feedback is a must-have in a social strategy. Imagine being a store manager and addressing a customer issue. Instead of it being a private conversation, you have hundreds of people gathered around watching and listening to your response. That is the impact of handling consumer questions in social media.
Consider these facts from Peter J. Solomon Co.:
“32% of social customers expect a response within 30 minutes”
“46% expect it within 1 hour”
“80% of negative social comments can be turned into a positive if the response is quick enough”
1% increase in engagement leads to 11-12% increase in the likelihood of the customer returning
Fast social response builds brand advocates. IF it is accurately addressing a solution, it is keeping with the standards of the brand and not simply offering an apology. Give the consumer a story that you’d LOVE them to share.
Self-service technology can hinder brand touchpoints.
Consumers increasingly prefer self-service due to speed and control. While providing this solves immediate consumer concerns, it may limit opportunities for valuable brand connection points. Consider ways to inject brand culture along the touchpoint path.
GRM uses tools to execute social media, but we also have people engaged in the pages of our clients daily looking for opportunities to respond, start a conversation and simply engage person to person. No substitute.
“It ain’t brain surgery… but it can be complex.”
… said an enlightened participant from last week’s GRM / UGA Social Media Marketing Bootcamp. The social media Bootcamp in partnership with University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism will be returning this fall. Stay tuned for specific dates.
Our team will be the instructors for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits: Certificate of Nonprofit Social Media series, beginning April 3, 2018.
Are You Really Creating Loyal Customers?
There is lots of marketing talk related to loyalty, customer retention and how to leverage digital media for fantastic results. But, the reality: most loyalty and traditional frequency programs have dubious payouts. They may trigger initial response and traffic, but most fall woefully short when analyzed against the real overall return against costs.
Instead, what has motivated people to act for hundreds of years, still holds true today. Good ole “word of mouth,” or referral.
And, the best brands have the most effective marketing vehicle ever invented or discovered – their own zealots! Zealots, as defined in marketing terms, are passionate followers or customers who identify with the brand personally.
Harvard Business Review
in a compilation of research determined the number one indicator of long-term brand profitability was… the likelihood of a company’s customers to recommend their product or service to others. Referral
We have entered a new phase that requires us to redefine and revisit how we establish and build loyalty. When we think about what creates loyalty, we tend to think in transactional terms, starting with loyalty programs. For decades now, airlines have locked in passengers with frequent flier programs. Today, the retailer without a loyalty scheme of some kind is the exception, not the rule.
With the rise of Big Data, such programs are becoming more robust and tailored to consumer wants, needs and motivations. But they inherently offer external rewards that pay us as consumers for our frequency of visit/purchase. In effect, consumers must first “earn” the reward. Shouldn’t the opposite be the case – the business earning customer loyalty?
“Zealotry Marketing” is about creating programs that have a primary goal of generating referral. If referral is the best indicator of long-term profitability, then it makes sense to us to use that as the starting point for creating marketing programs – not merely looking at referral as an indirect outcome. This has led us to a revolutionary perspective on the classic marketing principles of targeting, what is creative, how social media can be an effective touchpoint. And, heresy for old-school marketers, the most effective marketing may well come from operations and service delivery.
This is the story of Zealotry Marketing. Real loyalty begins with a company not just ‘advertising’ rewards, but exceeding consumer expectations. An approach that can be integrated into any company. It does require a passion to understand and delight those who love your products. Zealotry Marketing transforms the traditional loyalty equation.
Insights gleaned and applied:
Referral is the surest long-term measure of brand profitability.
Consumer insights, willingness to exceed expectations and passion for what you deliver is critical to building a zealotry marketing program.
What are you doing to create zealots?
You are invited to join the conversation by commenting publicly or privately to this article on Twitter @findingZealots. If you are motivated to do the right thing and inquire about engaging GRM in your business, please respond directly to this email.
As always, find your zealots and nurture them!
Does it Change the World as We Know It?
A few takes to hopefully provide some equilibrium from the latest Facebook announcement.
Facebook has been making changes consistently over the years. This is merely the latest. And it’s very unlikely that it will be the last from them. Because now that Facebook has virtually saturated the market, they are looking to increase relevant content to make time spent on their platform more meaningful. And, yes, to continue to increase their revenue. Remember? They are a publicly traded company. Increasing revenue will always be a goal for Facebook.
So, what to take from their announcement?
Don’t seek those who promise algorithm tricks or ‘silver bullet’ answers. Because Facebook has and continues to tweak their platform, even if there was a way to beat their program today, it is unlikely to be sustainable even in a short-term period.
Rather than looking at Facebook as the adversary, consider how to work with their platform. GRM applauds the emphasis on content that will be shared and commented. We have long promoted engagement as a key to building an effective social media program. As with any content or media provider, Facebook wants more relevant and more watched content,
Facebook changes impact both business and personal pages. So, the idea that you can flip to a personal page and avoid the changes is not the case. Further, Facebook limits the followers to a personal page, which is not the case for a business page.
Facebook has not defined how they will prioritize business and news posts into the news feed. “Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content,” said Facebook on 1/11/18. GRM will create a post to advise followers how to set up our clients in their
preferences to ensure they see posts:
- Go to News Feed Preferences on Facebook.com or in the app
- Choose “See First” for the pages you want to see in your news feed
Facebook will prioritize content that generates comments. Within the arena of engagement, comments will now be the gold standard of currency on Facebook. Not likes, shares, or clicks. Comments. When people comment, they typically have been drawn into responding to the community in a more emotive manner. Which means, we want to create content that is fun, interesting, provocative, exciting. Content that is distinctive!
Understanding your audience remains a critical key to success. What do people in your community find interesting and engaging? Ideally, real conversations are created. Within brand voice, remain empathetic, hospitable and a good listener. As with any communications, think first how you would receive it if you were the audience. Use positive and encouraging verbiage as Facebook has been rewarding this for a while.
Live video remains valuable, but only if we are asking engaging questions and people are interacting with it. Otherwise, regardless of format (non-live video, photo, posts), one won’t be favored over the other.
Frequency will not be rewarded. Templated plans that are focused on X posts per day or week will not be successful. Have a reason behind every post (or response). Do not post to check the box that you shared something to Facebook. Instead, be intentional, strategic, and relevant with what you post.
Ads will be more important to generate reach, but they will not overcome lack of well-crafted content. Yes, Facebook is increasingly a ‘pay to play’ platform. But throwing more money behind ads or poorly performing posts shouldn’t be your default solution.
Don’t rely exclusively on Facebook to solve your marketing needs. A social media mix is in order … if for no other reason than to meet your community where they are most engaged. Social media is logically an extension of other marketing actions. Social extends the virtual conversation – allowing feedback, discussion and peer-to-peer interaction – that traditional media does not provide.
The bottom line: Facebook wants people to be social on social media.