Strategy Before Tactics: The Basics of Social Media

Many marketers are planning to incorporate social media into their mix this year. Tim Ho, an avid blogger and digital strategist at Ogilvy PR, has assembled a set of insights for people who are new to social media.

Before you take the social-media plunge, look at the slides below. Whether you’re a guru, an expert, or are new to the social Web, you’ll find some great observations about how to approach social media and the mindset necessary to be successful in the long run. As always, tactics follow strategy — a frequently overlooked fact that leads to poor results.

Key take-aways:

  • #4 Think about social-media channels as languages: They can be mastered easily but the content and value of the conversation is all it matters. In business, companies shouldn’t invest in social media for quick results. It’s a process to build relationships with potential clients and to maintain good relationships with existing customers.
  • #6 Common Mistake: Tactics before Strategy. Most brands (and many agencies) focus way too much on social media tactics, such as launching Facebook pages, engaging via Twitter, creating apps, and trying to create viral videos. Some might get lucky and create buzz, but it’s very risky to be too focused on tactics. Tactics should come last after building a solid foundation of brand image, personality, and engagement online.
  • #11 Why invest in social media if it’s just a “process” while there are other media like TV ads, magazine ads, and online ads that show quicker impact? Social media shouldn’t play a role in direct selling. It should instead influence viral conversations, build brand awareness, improve customer service, and engage with your target as a “friend”. When making purchase decisions, would you trust a friend or an advertisement?
  • #24 Don’t lie, don’t pretend — Be transparent. In social media, companies can no longer over-promise/be fake. Lies are discovered quickly and are spread a hundred times faster online. A brand can project a better image by being transparent and showing who they really are.
  • #25 Don’t be afraid to over-share. Share everything that might interest your targets, such as pictures of the office, live tweets during an event, videos, articles, and live streaming. It’s not the same as advertisements — people don’t get annoyed by your interesting/valuable brand-centric content.


What do you think? Do these insights ring true for you? How have you approached social media?


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Pepsi Sidelines Super Bowl Ads, Opts for Social Media Push

Are you like me? Do you enjoy NFL football? If so, we’ll both be watching the Super Bowl on February 7th.

The Super Bowl is consistently one of the most-watched television programs each year. Even in the face of a recession and eroding network television viewership, advertisers are willing to pay big bucks for a commercial on Super Bowl Sunday. But PepsiCo sent tremors through the TV industry last month when it announced that, for the first time in 23 years, it will not have any ads in the Super Bowl broadcast. Instead, the company will be spending $20 million on a social media campaign called The Pepsi Refresh Project.

Pepsi is historically a prodigious broadcast advertiser. Although brand spending has declined in recent years, the company has continued to devote tens of millions of dollars to TV. And since the Super Bowl has routinely garnered the largest audience of any TV show, Pepsi embraced it with gusto. The 2009 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals attracted a record 98.7 million viewers (42% of U.S. TV homes), many of whom watched the commercials as closely as the football game.

The Internet is changing the advertising market

Pepsi’s decision to abandon the Super Bowl, once regarded as a can’t-miss showcase for major brands, underscores how the Internet is transforming marketing by providing companies with cheaper ways to communicate their messages to consumers. As television viewership in general has diminished in recent years, Internet usage (especially social media engagement) has increased. In the highly sought after 18-34 demographic, 85% use some sort of social media (social networking, blogging, or texting). eMarketer forecasts that 2009 social ad spending will exceed $1.2 billion when all expenditures are tallied, and that it will become an even higher priority in 2010. Marketers have embraced social media because they can target consumers who have an affinity for their brand and engage them in meaningful ways. They can also monitor word-of-mouth brand-centric conversations, facilitating easier reputation management.

Pepsi’s decision to pull its advertising from the telecast and concentrate on social media strategy is seismic given the company’s long-time synergy with the Super Bowl. Pepsi has consistently bet the farm on the broadcast, spending $142 million on ads during the last decade. Its commercials are frequently the most memorable — in this spot from 2008, Justin Timberlake is drawn toward a woman and somehow pulled through space, leading to close and sometimes painful encounters with immovable objects:

(If you can’t see the video, you can watch it here.)

The Pepsi Refresh Project

Launching on January 13th, the Pepsi Refresh Project microsite will solicit suggestions from visitors about projects to refresh their communities and make the world a better place. Site visitors can begin voting on February 1st, and the projects that receive the most votes will be funded by Pepsi. The company expects to spend in excess of $20 million to fund thousands of projects. Pepsi hopes to start a movement in which other businesses and organizations will begin funding community projects in the same fashion. It is also looking to forge deeper connections with its audience via their participation.

The company has also created a Facebook Page to support their efforts:

pepsi-facebook

The page sports a link for visitors to find out more about the campaign, which takes them to the Pepsi microsite. If visitors go to to the site and watch the featured video, they’ve already had three interactions with the brand. If they decide to check out the blog, that makes four interactions. If they click on the Twitter logo and tweet about the campaign to their followers, visitors become brand advocates. You get the idea — Pepsi has quadrupled its visitors’ engagement and created brand champions at virtually no cost to them.

A risky proposition

This strategy is a gamble for Pepsi. Abandoning the Super Bowl telecast leaves it wide open for Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper Snapple, and other competitors. Carbonated soft drinks are struggling, and Pepsi is no exception given its declining revenues in recent years. But if its new social-media strategy gains traction, Pepsi will build brand awareness and increase sales while spending less than it has in the past. It will also have an advantage over its competitors in a new advertising realm. On the other hand, the company could spend $20 million on charitable causes (which is great in and of itself) without generating the buzz and the rewards they had hoped for.

So on Super Bowl Sunday this year, while you and I are watching the sports and advertising spectacle, Pepsi will be marshaling an army of texters, bloggers, and tweeters in an attempt to rewrite the rules of marketing.

What do you think of Pepsi’s decision to abandon its Super Bowl advertising for a social media campaign? Will this strategy enhance its brand awareness among consumers? Please leave a comment!


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26 Free Tools for Monitoring Your Brand’s Reputation

Are you listening? Do you know what people are saying about your brand?

If you have customers, odds are they’re talking about you to their coworkers, to their friends, and to anyone else within earshot — including those on social networks. Isn’t it in your company’s best interests to be engaged and  take part in the conversation so you know what’s being said and can respond appropriately?

As brands get going with social media, they find that understanding who is talking about them online, what they are saying, to whom, and where is a great advantage. After auditing your current brand footprint, you’ll be armed with the data you need to start weighing what’s important to your audience about your brand and where you should have a presence.

Build a list of keywords and terms about your brand, customers, company, and market, then use some of these free tools to get a clearer view of what people are saying — with this knowledge in hand, you can begin to really develop a social-media strategy:

  1. Addict-o-matic: Allows you to create a custom-made page to display search results.
  2. Bloglines: A Web-based personal news aggregator that can be used in place of a desktop client.
  3. Blogpulse: A service of Nielsen BuzzMetrics, it analyzes and reports on daily trends in the blogosphere.
  4. BoardTracker: A useful tool for scanning and tracking forums conversations.
  5. FriendFeed Search: Scans all FriendFeed activity.
  6. Google Alerts: Target keywords that are important to your brand and receive streaming or batched reports­.
  7. HowSociable?: A simple way fto begin measuring your brand’s visibility on the social Web.
  8. Icerocket: Searches a variety of online services, including Twitter, blogs, videos, and MySpace.
  9. Jodange: Tracking your brand or a product is one thing, but turning that tracking into a measure of consumer sentiment about your brand or product is something else entirely. Jodange’s TOM (Top of Mind) tracks consumer sentiment about your brand or product across the Web.
  10. Keotag: Keyword searches across the Internet landscape.
  11. Facebook Lexicon: What are people talking about on Facebook? Lexicon searches Facebook walls for keywords and provides a snapshot of the chatter volume around those terms. [3/27/13: This service has been discontinued.]
  12. Monitter: Everyone is talking about Twitter, but what are people talking about on Twitter? Beyond the integrated search of Twitter apps like Seesmic and TweetDeck, Monitter provides real-time monitoring of the Twittersphere.
  13. MonitorThis: Subscribes you to up to 20 different RSS feeds through one stream.
  14. Samepoint: A conversation search engine that lets you see what people are talking about.
  15. Seesmic: Monitors multiple Twitter accounts and enables keyword searches and tracking.
  16. Surchur: An interactive dashboard covering search engines and most social media sites.
  17. Technorati: Search engine and monitoring tool for user-generated media and blogs. Billing itself as “the leading blog search engine,” Technorati has been helping bloggers and those with their fingers on the blog pulse stay informed for years.
  18. Tinker: Real-time conversations from social media sources like Twitter and Facebook.
  19. Trendrr: Want to know how your brand or product is trending compared with others? Trendrr uses comparison graphing to show relationships and discover trends in real time. Use the free account, or move up to the Enterprise level for more functionality.
  20. Tweetburner: In the world of Twitter, URL shortening is the key to effectively connecting with the public. Tweetburner also lets you track the clicks on those magically shortened links, giving you some hard numbers.
  21. TweetDeck: Not only a great way to manage your Twitter account, but the keyword search means you can see what people are saying about you.
  22. Twendz: Public relations firm Waggener Edstrom’s Twitter-mining tool that monitors and highlights user sentiment in real time.
  23. Twitter Search: Twitter’s very own search tool is a great resource. Can be subscribed to as an RSS feed.
  24. UberVU: Track and engage with user sentiment across FriendFeed, Digg, Picasa, Twitter, and Flickr.
  25. wikiAlarm: Alerts you to when a Wikipedia entry has been changed.
  26. Yahoo! Sideline: A TweetDeck-esque tool from Yahoo. Monitor, search, and engage with the Twittersphere.

Listening and making sense of how your brand lives on the Web is only part of the calculus — the next step is how you leverage that information to engage with your audience.

Are you listening and monitoring your brand online? Have you tried any of these tools?

Guy Kawasaki’s Twitter Rules for Business

David Spark of Socialmedia.biz recently caught up with Guy Kawasaki at the CMO Club Summit in San Francisco and asked him to define his top three tips for businesses that want to engage on Twitter. In this video, he says that companies should follow these rules:

  • Always respond to every @reply and DM
  • Provide informational tweets
  • Make getting re-tweeted your goal

[If you can’t see the video below, click here.]

More cov­er­age from The CMO Club Sum­mit in San Fran­cisco

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