Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

Archive for the category “Marketing”

Is “Social CRM” the Death of Social Media Marketing?

“Social CRM” is a hot topic these days, especially as there are quite a few companies trying to make it possible in a technological sense.

But if we create an actual Social CRM tool as a one-stop solution, is that really the end game we want for social media marketing?

Automating social media, both in terms of content and CRM, has the potential to ruin what a valuable resource social channels have become.

As marketers, we have this undeniable trait to try to maximize revenue through whatever means of communication is “working” at the time. Good marketers test and optimize their methods of communication to prospects and clients, but inevitably bad marketers overtake these channels and flood them with spam and blast content forcing consumers to block communication.

The same thing could potentially happen with social media. On the content side, marketers attempt to automate the process by pushing out content in the same fashion as traditional marketing. Tell me I am wrong, tell me I am over-exaggerating, but then wait a week and try to tell me some automated bot hasn’t spammed you on at least one social media site?  This is not human business and will not excel in any space.

Social media is inherently different from other channels that marketers use to reach their customer base, yet it’s not being treated as such.

Social media provides an opportunity for dialog. It’s a way to actually listen to what your customer has to say. It also provides much richer customer intelligence than you’d ever be able to obtain from other marketing channels. Instead of guessing that X TV Ad led to Y behavior, marketers can gauge interest by hearing what the consumer is actually saying. Your customers are literally telling you what you need to know in an unbiased fashion, all you have to do is listen (easier said than done for most I know).

Listening to the customer is part of the CRM process, which is why I understand the reason behind wanting to combine social and CRM. That being said, if “Social CRM” is applied as a strategy (rather than a tool) based around understanding your customers by listening first then responding, this can be very beneficial to marketers.

But when I hear about Social CRM tools, I think: this is not possible. In theory, applying the concept of CRM to social media would be an effective marketing technique because it’s crucial for marketers to manage customer relationships via social channels…but it’s not something that can be done through automated tools.

Automating Social CRM is equivalent to categorizing people by taking the dynamic information learned about them and attempting to slot it into a database. By doing so, marketers aren’t taking advantage of all that social media has to offer. In fact, they’re ruining the powerful marketing tool in front of them: real insight into the customer’s mind.

I think Jeff Esposito gets it right in this post where he makes a crucial point, “…its people mixed with technology.” If those of us in the marketing/PR industry can’t wrap our minds around this and continue to implement automated practices for our activities, people will inevitably be turned off.

Given our history as marketers I have a lack of faith we will be able to hold back and avoid spamming consumers until they find ways to block us (see email, do not call lists, unlisted addresses etc. and you will understand our undeniable greediness within our marketing efforts).

But maybe I’m wrong.

How do you see Social CRM evolving? Can automation help or hurt us in the long run?


When will we realize social media marketing is about being social?

Many of us in the PR industry already read this advertising clown’s article about how we’re ruining social media. This might have even been credible if he backed it with some stats and examples, or if he didn’t throw in a shameless self-promotion in at the end.

Way to plug yourself….that’s really going to make me believe you understand how social media marketing works.

The whole time he discussed the problem with pushing content at people, and then at the end he shoves a bunch of examples of his agency’s work at us? Yes, clearly this guy is the mastermind of all things social media marketing.

(Note: my sarcasm does not reflect my views on his agency’s work. I respect it and think it’s very creative. This is just my opinion about this particular article)

Although the article overall was full of generalizations and assumptions, there are some points we agree on:

1)      “No one wants to listen to an endless, aimless stream of dialog about a brand or a company, which is what you get from a strategy that focuses on news, offers and the occasional contest”

2)      “Effective social media marketing is about putting something directly into the hands of your audience”

3)      “People are engaged by great content”

4)      “People gravitate to brands they like and respect. You aren’t going to win friends by boring them to death with conversation about yourself.”

The problem I have is that he’s assuming two things that aren’t always true: That PR agencies always develop and implement a brand’s social media strategy, and that a PR agency’s strategy in terms of social media for a brand is always focused on distributing content.

False and false.

PR agencies do NOT always handle social media for brands. Sometimes they have a separate social media agency, other times ad agencies are in charge of a brand’s social media presence, or it’s handled in-house.

And, just because we’re in PR does NOT mean that we’re applying old-school, traditional PR distribution practices to social media.

Really, this article didn’t need to call out the PR industry. It could’ve just discussed poor social media marketing strategies in general. Some people are great at it, others are terrible. What this article says isn’t always wrong, but it’s definitely pointing the finger in one direction when in reality it applies to many people (that aren’t always PR pros).

It does raise the bigger issue: When are we going to realize that social media marketing is about the SOCIAL aspect?

There are all these “best practices” or things you should(n’t) do (like the four points I mentioned above), but when you stop and think about it…they’re all about being human.

People naturally connect with other people, so the questions for marketers become: How can I humanize my brand? How do I give it a personality that consumers can connect to?

After all, we gravitate towards different people based on our own personalities. The same goes for our behavior towards a brand.

Social media provides the perfect opportunity for brands to not only have a means for connecting with their audience and building a community of like-minded individuals (AKA being social), but also to understand who those people are and what they care about.

It starts off on a broader level: what type of person do I want to target? Who purchases my product and/or service?

Ok, so once that’s nailed down….

Where do they spend their time online?

Then: What are they saying? What do they talk about/respond to the most? What sparks a negative reaction in them? Positive? What do they share the most?

Those are the types of questions that make the most sense to ask first. Yes, there are more, but the point is that it’s about getting a well-rounded view of who these people are. That way you can figure out how to be human and best relate to them.

I mean, isn’t that how we act in a social setting if we want to actually build a relationship?

You wouldn’t just spout a bunch of crap about yourself without asking anything about other people. You would talk to them, listen to what they have to say, ask questions, share interesting information, laugh together, bounce ideas off one another, and so on.

Well, doesn’t that apply to social media marketing as well?

And, to the first part of the post, do you really need to be in advertising, PR, or marketing to understand that?


What are three biggest challenges marketers face?

This question popped into my head after I stumbled across a Slideshare presentation by Jason Falls called The Marketing of Un-Marketing. Even though it’s from a couple of years ago, I think it brings up some points that are still very valid today…

Such a large portion of the marketing community is talking about how today’s consumer wants communication with a brand to be personalized and relevant to them. Consumers want to be engaged (yeah, I threw that buzzword out there). Consumers want to see compelling content directed toward them as an individual.

So what are the three biggest obstacles holding marketers back from achieving that desired one-to-one connection?

1. Marketers think like marketers

Stop it. Did you forget that we’re all consumers? Next time you sit down to develop a marketing campaign just think of how you’d want to be marketed to as the consumer, or really, just as a person (since “consumers” is really just a fancy marketing way of saying “people”…isn’t it?).

2. Marketers speak like marketers

Marketing professionals tend to get way too caught up in marketing-speak. Unfortunately, your average consumer isn’t interested in high-level, fluffy language. It’s confusing and abstract. Instead of defaulting to the “marketing way” of describing something, ask yourself: “How would I explain this to my family/friends in casual conversation?” Chances are your audience would prefer that explanation too.

3. Marketers act like marketers

Almost everything marketers do (not just professionally) revolves around marketing. Why we like something, what we share via social media, the articles we read, the links we click on, etc. can be tied back to marketing. But remember: not everyone likes this stuff.

Most people don’t eat, drink and breathe in marketing (especially not from the strategic point of view), so they aren’t looking at your campaign thinking, “This messaging is great! I’m very captivated by this call to action.” Or, “I don’t think I’m the target audience for this one.”

It’s more like, “Does this help me get what I need?”… “Is this the right product for me?”… “Will this solve my problem?”

Try to keep it simple and to the point—that’s what will end up resonating with people the most.

Bottom line: If you want to truly connect with a consumer on an individual level, then start considering things from the consumer point of view instead of the marketer point of view.

(Note: I said “we” in this post because I think PR falls under the marketing umbrella. Guilty as charged.)

When is it time to switch up your strategy?

As many people know, I am a huge theater nerd. I’m always reading up on the latest shows/premieres, and this week “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” a musical, was the newest show to open for previews in New York City.

The show has had its problems in the process, from costing an estimated $65 million to create, to having constant push backs on the opening date. The show’s first premiere Sunday opened with 5 stops throughout the show, and opened 24 minutes late.

Granted I love Broadway, and I think the show is an awesome idea, when is it time to rethink your strategy? The show has already opened to critics giving it the thumbs down due to actor safety, time of construction, and the fact that the show cannot even tour due to cost of moving the set around. Should the show rethink its set? Or should it try it out for awhile and see what happens?

This is the same question you should ask yourself about social media strategy. Let’s say you have an awesome vision for a way to execute. If you are building up a blog or a Twitter to get your name out there, is your strategy working? Or are you wasting too much money (or in this case time) on an idea that will not be executed well?

Let’s say you have been building up a blog/Twitter for 3 months. If you don’t see a rise in pageviews/followers in that time, rethink your approach. Are you inviting people to your blog, or are you just constantly posting the same article? Letting people know your blog is there and to check it out will help you grow your following. Also, what kinds of followers are you trying to attract on Twitter? Make sure your posts would be of interest to them if they are the crowd you want to engage. There is nothing wrong with self promotion on Twitter, just make sure you are sending out the right message to the crowd.

The great thing about social media is that you can try out hundreds of different approaches and it won’t cost you a dime. When you do figure out the right approach for you, be sure to stick with it. Consistency is key, especially in a world where there are millions of others trying to get their names out there.


Is outdoor advertising still effective?

Lately it seems like the buzz always surrounds digital/interactive marketing. There are many predictions of the death of traditional advertising and I know I’m guilty of wondering about that myself…

But this morning I walked by a bus stop on Dearborn and Kinzie, and the bus bench was completely transformed into an ABSOLUT advertisement (see the picture). Instead of a bench there are three bright green and white striped chairs to match the swirl of green and white in the background, all of which are representative of an ABSOLUT Tonic Twist.

I don’t normally notice outdoor advertisements. It’s very rare that one will catch my attention like this did. But then it hit me:

Outdoor advertising can still be effective, but not if it’s the same outdoor advertising we saw 30 years ago.

When we muse about the “death of traditional advertising,” maybe it’s really a matter of saying that traditional advertising needs to evolve. You can still catch our eye with traditional media if the ad makes a statement.

How can traditional ads grab our attention? By doing what ABSOLUT did: thinking outside the box. Instead of merely placing an ad on the side of the bus stop, ABSOLUT created an ad that embodied the bus stop.

Is this effective? Well, the next time I go to the store and see ABSOLUT on the shelf I’m going to remember that bus stop. It’ll make me wonder what that flavor tastes like and make me more inclined to buy it. I’ll also associate ABSOLUT with creativity and forward-thinking, which instantly makes it a “cooler” brand that Gen Ys tend to gravitate toward.

Another way ABSOLUT increased the effectiveness of this ad campaign is by spreading the creativity to other forms of outdoor advertising to really hammer home the message/keep that green and white at the forefront of our minds.

Here’s an ABSOLUT billboard that continues with the “Twist” theme:

Does this approach create buzz? It can. It’s the type of ad campaign people talk about because it’s different from the rest—“Hey did you see that ABSOLUT bus stop? How sweet was that?!”*Gen Yer pulls out laptop or iPhone and Google Image searches for the ABSOLUT Twist bus stop ad Chicago* “Check it out!”

(Yes I’m mocking us a bit but it’s not too far off from how Millennials share information)

So before we predict the death of traditional forms of advertising, maybe we need to start thinking about how traditional advertising can be effective in today’s society. Let’s not write it off just yet. Instead, let’s find ways to put it into the context of 2010.

Has anyone else seen some really innovative uses of traditional advertising lately? I’d love to hear about them.

Why is Scott Stratten so funny?

Because he’s right. And he calls us out.

Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing, came to Rockit in Chicago last night for a stop on his book tour. Jackie and I were lucky enough to get a ticket in to hear what he had to say.

Stratten left us with some great marketing tips and a few good laughs…

“To be awesome at customer service, you just have to be average. Cause everyone else sucks.”

Sad but true, customer service is not the best these days. Being average in a world where most don’t take the time to think about their customers the way they should makes you stand out from the crowd. Why is that? Going back to finding what your customer really needs is a task marketers need to get back to. At the end of the day, they are the ones who make or break your brand.

“Twitter sucks for marketing. It’s awesome for building relationships.”

It’s safe to say I have met some of the best and the brightest people in the industry on Twitter. Why? Because they engage with others that have the same interests as them, answer each other’s questions, and communicate. It sounds simple, but so many people don’t realize the relationships you can build by just saying hello.

“Why people spread things hasn’t changed. The way they spread things has.”

Whether you believe in social media or not, at the end of the day it is a fast, efficient way to spread the things you are passionate about with others. But before social media existed, the same thing occurred.

People were still sharing information, just not at as fast a pace.

“If your niche is people they are there [on social media].”

For people that still don’t believe in social media (or as I like to call them, “haters”), they must be trying to reach out to things other than humans–aliens, animals, etc.–to promote their product or service. Face the music: the world is on social media. And they are all listening. If you are not on there yet you are at least a good two years behind. Get. On. That.

Overall, the event rocked. Shout out to Billy Dec of Rockit Ranch Productions for making that happen. Scott was so friendly and personable, and the crowd loved him. If you haven’t checked out UnMarketing yet, you’re missing out!

What Does “Social” Really Mean Anyway?

Inspired by a Harvard Business Review article, “The Devolving Meaning of Social Media” and a blog post reaction to that article by Matt Cheuvront, I decided that I needed to turn to the dictionary for answers.

Why? Because these people are bringing up some great points – what does social really mean? And, has the definition been tainted by the hype of social media?

Thank you online dictionaries (like, my favorite) for providing these definitions of the word social:

  • “Marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with one’s friends or associates”
  • “Of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society”
  • “Tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others of one’s kind”

The last one is my favorite. It gets right to the point: forming two-way relationships with your niche audience. There you go marketers. Merriam-Webster just schooled us.

The point here is that this definition came from the dictionary. It didn’t come from some “expert” or “guru” trying to give you the secret to social media marketing success (because there is no secret). It’s taking a basic principle and applying it to today’s technology and forms of communication. People have always been social and will always have an inherent need to connect with one another, but now a main way we do this is via social media platforms.

Apply that to marketing. The idea of a consumer wanting to make a personal connection with a brand has always been there. All social media does is provide the tools for making that connection. Those tools will continue to evolve and change many times over, but social networking (in some form or another) is here to stay because in its simplest form it’s just…socializing.

So before you get all caught up in “doing social media,” just take a step back and really think about what social actually means. It’s the core definition of the word that really drives the use of social media for marketing purposes, not the other way around.

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