Advertisements

Wineries & Social Media Part 1: David moves faster than Goliath … again.

29 09 2010

With harvest season under way in much of wine country, it seemed an appropriate time to check out the presence of the broader U.S. wine industry on various social networks and examine how social media is being used by various levels of the industry. Blogging, the backbone of any social media program, became a favored tool among wineries, wine critics and wine enthusiasts far before social networks became a powerful tool for reaching a brand’s community (we recently looked at the most influential wine bloggers attending the Wala Wala Conference). For this blog however, I set out to compare how large wineries & vineyards with substantial marketing budgets and brand recognition and small wineries & vineyards looking to establish a brand are utilizing social media beyond just the blogosphere. I stumbled across the Chandon Escape contest last spring, a highly marketed and polished contest driven by social media where entrants earned more chances to win by becoming a Fan of the Chandon Facebook page and each time they tweeted the contest hashtag. Having observed this event and being familiar with the vast marketing budgets that the country’s largest wineries are working with, I expected to see the top wine companies and their brands with highly developed social media strategies and a broad presence across the networks. I was wrong.

There are thousands of vineyards and wineries throughout the US ranging in size, distribution and personality, and their media usage is just as diverse. As I mentioned, I expected the brands from the largest wine companies to have highly polished social media pages with sophisticated campaigns. Instead, I found them largely absent from the social networks with the lower ¾ (in terms of production) of the wineries & vineyards dominating the social media sphere. Wine makers are also utilizing social media for more than just customer outreach and expanding their brand recognition. We’ll be doing a three-part series on wineries and social media, taking a look at how both large and small wineries are working with social media, as well as how social networks are for more than just reaching customers. Part 1:

With the exception of a few brands for example, namely producers of bubbly like Korbel and Chandon, the largest of the large wineries & vineyards have a very small social media presence. Using this list and these profiles, I identified the top wineries in the US. The largest companies like E&J Gallo, Constellation Wines, The Wine Group, Bronco Wine Company & Robert Mondavi produce many of the country’s most well known wine brands but have largely ignored social media as a tool to engage their communities. Most of the companies’ brands have either no social media presence at all or host Facebook pages on which they are minimally active. This is not so unusual. Indeed, in our experience, the larger the company, the less comfortable they are entering the social media sphere. Nevertheless, for products where there is widespread passion like the wine industry, we expected to see more social media use.

In contrast, other large wineries that rank at the lower end of the top US wineries lists are embracing social media and getting recognized for it. Rick Bakas and St. Supery are receiving widespread attention (from the New York Times to Reuters) for running a strong social media program that includes a blog, active Facebook page, one of the strongest Twitter programs for a winery and an virtual & interactive wine tasting program. Although lacking a key component of a social media program – a blog – Wente Vineyards also stands out for their Facebook and Twitter activities. Many other wineries of this size can be found with an active social media program including (but not at all limited to) Dry Creek Vineyard, Murphy-Goode Winery, and J. Lohr. Aside from St. Supery and Wente, these larger wineries using social media are finding general success with the platforms by posting and engaging their Facebook & Twitter communities on a regular basis and hosting a blog (albeit the blogs are often under-utilized) but there is much room for improvement in expanding brand recognition, reaching new customers and utilizing the true networking powers of the social networking platforms.

So far, a very mixed bag for the largest US wineries in terms of their social media use. Some are knocking it out of the ballpark; some haven’t even heard the train coming. What are your thoughts on why the largest wineries are largely ignoring social media? Which large wineries have you seen doing great stuff with social media?

Stay tuned for Part 2!

With thanks to Big D2112, dr_XeNo and quinn.anya for the photos.

Katie

_____________________

Kick off or take your PR 2.0 program to the next level. Contact us here.

Advertisements




Should Everyone Be on Facebook? #B2B #apps

23 08 2010

Fostering strong and vibrant online communities is a key goal in any social media program. Social media allows businesses to harness the power of consumer referrals in ways not seen before. This isn’t new news; industry analysts and companies have recognized this for a number of years and the number of companies using social media to expand their consumer base and brand loyalty has grown exponentially. While more and more companies are launching their own Facebook pages, few utilize them to their full potential as Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group pointed out recently in his presentation on The 8 Success Criteria for Facebook Page Marketing. Owyang’s research revealed that most brands lack a concrete and well-defined strategy and fail to fully utilize Facebook’s features to build word of mouth among their customers. Owyang also lays out the key steps for successful Facebook page marketing, including:

  1. Set community expectations
  2. Provide cohesive branding
  3. Be up to date
  4. Live authenticity
  5. Participate in dialogue
  6. Enable peer-to-peer interaction
  7. Foster advocacy
  8. Solicit calls to action

This is great advice and is part of the key strategy for any Facebook community we enable our clients to develop, but it overlooks a couple of key issues that indicate where and how you engage. Without addressing these issues, businesses may end up with a false sense of possibility of the activity they can create on Facebook. Not all brands possess the sex appeal, business model & resources that the Fortune 500 companies Owyang researched do. So how should these brands use Facebook? Here are some points I would like discuss with the social media marketing community and the Altimeter Group when answering this question:

  1. Is Facebook marketing right for everyone? The implication from Owyang’s presentation is that because Facebook is where most people are already at and where everyone’s going, all brands should be engaging their communities on this platform. But is this true for Business-to-Business (B2B) brands? If your customer is not a single consumer that can advocate for your brand, but rather another corporation or a non-profit or a school district or a municipality, is Facebook a platform that you can reasonably expect to grow your business or should it be approached as a tool to expose your corporate culture and role in your industry as a thought leader? At Extanz, our experience indicates that Facebook must be one of a number of platforms used to reach your community in the B2B sector and resources should be spread across blogging, bloggers relations?, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
  2. If a business doesn’t have the resources to be designing custom applications to foster advocacy and interaction, are third-party applications a tool brands will find success with? Our use of third-party apps for our clients varies dramatically according to clients. These apps typically request access to your page information and the right to use the results of your participation. While for certain demographics this is not an issue, in other markets, community members may be completely unwilling to allow the access and participate via a third-party app. Sometimes they are staunch protectors of their privacy, other times they are web-savvy enough to understand the access these apps are gaining or they are web-challenged enough to be intimidated by the technology.
  3. If the sex appeal isn’t there for your brand, either because it’s not a well-known brand or it’s B2B or it’s not an industry people generally engage around or it’s a brand with a community that demands privacy, will the community engage? Our experience says yes, but it requires a strategy that is not discussed as part of the 8 Successful Criteria produced by Altimeter. So, I’d propose we add a criterion: Be a resource for your community and activate around the community interests, not just your brand. Provide them substantive and useful content e.g. industry news, tips for their lifestyle related to your service or product, cutting edge developments or trends, local news that is important to the community etc. Do not just provide updates about your brand and company news.

Social media and Facebook marketing are unquestionably an integral component to online marketing and branding for most industries. The key is ensuring you lay out a strategy that carefully balances your business objectives with the needs of your constituent community as they can be quite different before you dive in rather than simply industry standards as your strategy.

What are your thoughts on the above issues? Does Facebook work for B2B marketing? Should third-party apps be presented in a way that insinuates they would be useful and necessary to Facebook marketing strategy for all brands? How have you engaged communities that don’t automatically want to talk about your brand?

With thanks to Igi’s TV Network and Spencer E. Holtaway for the images.

Katie





Social media marketing is dead, long live Resonance Marketing!

23 04 2010

The last two weeks have seen the social world tip toward what the future holds. The following demonstrate to me that platforms are finally catching up with trying to solve the noise problem by moving to facilitate the resonance.  In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate at larger amplitude at some frequencies than at others (wikipedia). When something has quality or viral value, it has a larger potential for resonance marketing and to rise above the noise.

Facebook finally exporting ‘social code’ into everyone’s website (read more here) with their announcement of the Open Graph protocol. Jeremiah Owyang had predicted the website would become a portal between companies and customers. But brands are obviously not moving fast enough so Facebook is now allowing dead simple codes to transport the conversation from Facebook to those websites. It’s also opening up search as a default to scan conversations across the Facebook platform. On a similar note, Twitter had announced @anywhere which is now live at SXSW Interactive.

Tumblr CEO: “We’re pretty much opposed to advertising” is also consquential as this is not the first time social platforms have refused to fall into the advertising trap. Posterous and Facebook have all held back from release ad features and focusing user adoption.

WordPress ships 3.0, the multi-user version of its blogging platform, enabling anyone anywhere to build new media empires.

Twitter announced ‘sponsored tweets‘ — adopted already by Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America. These tweets will nevertheless have be relevant or will be taken down if they don’t resonate (Resonance being defined here as retweets, @replies, #tag clicks, avatar clicks, links clicks, views after RT).

In other interesting news, Taggable.com was released earlier this week showing once more that “Sharing” has to be embraced by brands (personal and business branding). On another note, we see scarcity marketing taking a larger ever presence in communication strategies. The last to date was the loss of a non-released iPhone 4.0 followed by Dell’s newest phone leak

So what’s the difference between social media marketing and resonance marketing? I believe there is a lot….

Resonance Marketing Social Media Marketing… traps
Who
The core matters the most. Building trust and symbiotic relationships with brand advocates supersedes all other forms of marketing. The tribe will move mountains, not the followers. It’s a numbers game; the more the merrier. This brings dilution, not results. ‘Buying’ your presence is becoming all too common.
What
Content quality & shareability takes strategic brains and indefinite trials + passion. The brand tweet, face-tweet; therefore I am an expert.
How
The brand is a servant of its community, it learns to move in an open-social world. Self pimping becomes a major part of the brand’s social activity.
When
It’s real time, 24 hours a day and global. Professionalisation of community management is a necessity. Brand’s automation low added value content, RT-land and #FF-buddying
Where
Like a river, it sources itself across the entire spectrum of the digital & social footprint. Influencers can move. Facebook and Twitter are the only places where influence takes place. (NOT)

All in all, the social ecosystem is becoming smarter and responding to user demand.  All social platforms know that user fatigue is looming … brand or friends and noisy followers may just be too boring and resonance is the only way out to make everyone behave.

Will resonance will save us from the noise? Is resonance marking the departure from social media cowboy?

What d’ya all think?

See the followup post: https://extanz.com/2010/07/14/blue-or-red-pill-brush-strokes-of-a-resonance-marketing-framework/

@YannR





Socializing Media, can you stand the heat?

14 04 2010

If you’ve started your own social media program, you’re ahead of millions of other companies. Kudos to you. But it’s a reflective path. The most recurrent question we get is  “what are the tools you recommend?” Give them a hammer … everything looks like a nail. Tell them ‘blogging’ and they mostly melt. Whether you hire an ‘expert’ to give you all the keys to social media or you believe that your marketing department can actually integrate these activities into your existing public relationship framework, it mostly becomes another thing to do in the day.

Over the last few years developing and managing social media programs, we have had, of course, some customers who have said: “that’s it, we understand what you’re doing, we’ll integrate this back in house” … guess what? They mostly fail. Social Media tools and ‘copy paste’ behaviors will not solve the ultimate reason why social media is ripping through business and friendly communication. A social media strategy is integrated with every bridge you build between people and vice-versa. The ‘heat‘ is what I believe is a deep cultural change within a company and its constituency.  Social media champions are the humanizers of a company and its constituents.  Take every chance to make a warm connection. It’s easier than it looks. You know who actually has value in your community eco-system.

So what are social media agencies (most :)) good at?

Augmenting your social media intelligence and bring best practices to ramp up quicker and avoid pitfalls or an all too common waste of energy.
Bringing the constituent voice out: It’s not about you or your brand (rant…). Too often, I read a post starting like “here at ‘brand name’ we blah blah blah….bam! you just lost 50% of your readers right there. If they come to your blog or your facebook fan page, teach them something. Make it worth their while. Your discount coupons maybe creating some instant buzz, but they suck at creating a meaningful relationship with your constituents.
Perfectly geared to be an outsourced journalist for your brand: Marketing departments are good at creating ‘case studies’; they do less well at bringing conversation. The most enlightened companies actually learn to let the message go…because it’s not about the message. It’s about curating and creating great content which empowers the user or customer. It’s a lot easier to craft these stories from outside of the company.
Helping identify and build relationships with who matters: Inside the community (the best fans or just finding the right followers) and outside (influencers, bloggers, journalists, independent writers)…
Looking outside the marketing department: All too often, marketing is in plain control and it’s becoming one of their channels. Social media is NOT another advertising channel and an agency can help foster conversation with the constituency, including other departments or locations inside the company.

Navigating the new media landscape: We used to have paid media, now we more like five ways to make use of media according to Brian Solis: Earned media, owned media, paid media, participatory media & sponsored media.
Providing the Social Media Glue: Most of all, a social media agency is here to glue all the pieces together. It starts with a coherent publishing strategy, taking into account the constituents and moving into fostering community engagement inside and outside (PR 2.0).

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Then let’s make it the top 100 list of best companies to use social media!

@YannR





Ski Reports: I want them now, I want them useful, I want them right

9 04 2010
As the ski season winds down for 2009/2010, I had the chance to talk to two guys who are out there taking their passion for skiing and turning it into a business – all made possible by social media and mobile communication. If you use the SkiReport iPhone app, you have Jon Brelig to thank and you may have heard him on that NPR report I mentioned in my last post. He founded skireport.com in 2003 and released the iPhone app in 2009, quickly beating out REI and North Face to have the #1 ski report app, due to its user-generated reports feature. People loved the first-hand ski reports and real-time updates his app provided. How do you improve live reports from people on the mountain?

Talk to Joel Gratz and he’ll tell you that you need to get localized snowfall predictions and totals to people – a basic concept, but something no one was doing. Joel founded the site and newsletter, Colorado Powder Forecast, for those of us out there who can’t get enough of the deep freshies and don’t get anything from the weather reports on the ten o’clock news.  Joel, a meteorologist with an MBA (obviously), was being hounded by his buddies about where the snow was going to fall each weekend, so he started a sending out an email to his contacts with snowfall predictions based on his own modeling looking at wind patterns. This grew into an e-newsletter with more than 500 subscribers which grew into a website with 65,000 views per month – all with zero marketing. Jon and Joel are at the nexus of the movement to get skiers and riders real-time, accurate information on snow conditions and they don’t work for a weather channel or a ski resort. They work for themselves, and they work for us.

Jon and Joel agree that without the Internet, without mobile technology, and without social media, their ability to disseminate information on snow fall and snow conditions would be limited. Joel points out, “There is absolutely no way I could have gotten any of the visibility I have 3 or 4 years ago without Facebook, Twitter, real-time updates, and email channels. Well, I may have been able to do it a few years ago, but it would have cost a ton.” And clearly, without an iPhone (or any of the other smartphones), real-time user updates from the mountain alerting us to powder stashes or where not to ski would not have been possible.
The key now, is taking these still-in-their-infancy concepts and making them really take our experience on the mountain to a whole new level.  There are a couple basic issues:
  • Real-time data: There is very little up-to-date info on snowfall and snow conditions available. Ski resorts (the main source of all snowfall data) typically report once or twice (three times, if we’re really lucky) a day and rarely after mid-afternoon, which is when we’re planning our mountain assault for the next day. “Do I go to Vail or Breckenridge?” “Do I go backcountry or hit the resort?” The availability of this info can both help you plan your ski trip and improve your experience while on the mountain.
    • Joel points out that ski resorts have the tools to get us this info – employees on the mountain, professional photographers and videographers, webcams, hourly snowfall measurements, social media outlets – they just need a cohesive plan to put consistent updates out there with useful information.
    • We also see a lot of aggregators out there of ski reports, ski resort twitter feeds etc. which are a step in the right direction, but again, we’re limited by the quality of the info – according to Joel, “The direction people are going is good, but it’s not nearly as useful as it has the potential to be.”
  • Noise: The concept of user-generated content on the SkiReport app is what took it to the top and is a great feature, but as with all anonymous user content, it can get noisy and cumbersome. Most user updates on the app are anonymous and Jon admits he spends a lot of time filtering content for useful information, but that they could do even better to make sure the great content is available. He pointed out that in social media and the world of the internet, the minute you make people use their real names, they stop talking smack about skiers vs. snowboards and which resort is better and start posting [somewhat] more useful information. Jon expects to take his app in this direction by linking to people’s Facebook profiles via Facebook Connect. He also plans to rate the quality of users’ reports and give people who are providing high quality information, higher visibility.
  • Trust: This is a two-way street and there are a couple of issues here.
    • The Audience: Ski resorts, like many businesses, are still getting comfortable with the idea of people talking about their brand/service in the public sphere that is social media and with real-time updates that haven’t gone through a PR/marketing department for approval. We see this struggle with many of our clients as we launch their social media programs, but they quickly see open channels of communication and current news is what people want. When Jon first launched http://www.skireport.com, he heard from ski resorts who were not happy about the sometimes negative chatter about their resort on his site – “This is their [skier and snowboarders’] site and this is the Internet,” he told them.
    • The Information: Skiers and riders also doubtful at times of the snow reports coming out of ski areas. This is not because they believe the resorts are willfully trying to mislead them, but because, as Joel points out, they take measurements early in the morning, those powder videos they shoot at that time are likely to be skied out, snowfall can vary hugely at these large resorts, and conditions change. Frequent reporting from multiple points on the mountain would help skiers a lot. Some resorts utilizing twitter are great at this, but report consistency is limited.  Joel’s had multiple resorts tell him that they want to take the doubt out of people’s minds about snow conditions – great! Do it!

So how are ski resorts, SkiReport and Colorado Powder Forecast going to further their use of technology and social media to improve their snow reporting? Here are Jon and Joel’s predictions…

  • Expansion of webcam use – imagine a camera fixed on a ruler streaming 24 hours a day. No more waiting for ski resorts to put out official reports; look for yourself!
  • More Twitter and social media based snow reports – Interestingly, though, when Jon added these ski resort twitter feeds to his iPhone app, there was immediate backlash by users who didn’t want corporate resorts in “their” space. These twitter feeds have been removed from the SkiReport app for now, but Jon continues to work at striking a balance between giving skiers and riders a place for them to report on conditions and provide with qualitative, useful information from resorts on where to find the best snow.  As for Joel, he recently left his job in corporate America to see where CPF can take him. I’d expect big things … an app, a weather channel, a plug-in with ski resorts? We’ll find out next season!
Can’t wait to see the tools we have waiting for us for the 2010/2011 ski season!
Thanks to TheNickster, wfyurasko, and debcha for the photos and thanks to Joel and Jon for taking the time to talk snow!
Katie




Social Media Neophytes and Great Hopes

16 07 2009

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel organized by the local Entrepreneurs network about social media. The audience was clearly a majority of neophytes from local businesses, agencies and even government. I think it was an eye opener for me as to what people have on their mind. For them, the 6 panelists certainly gave them tons of useful information. It was participant driven which was a great experience. My natural tendency is to discuss on this blog larger phenomena occurring in the social media world.  I’ll therefore try to address those same questions a bit more regularly on the Extanz blog. For now, I want to focus on some of the points raised at the event….

Time devoted-to make effective? What to listen? How to listen?

I think entrepreneurs are even more wary about the time sucker that social media can be. Let’s just consider Twitter to start with as it’s probably the most straight forward one. If you’re lucky, and you have more than one

computer screen, I would pull up applications like Tweetdeck, Seesmic or PeopleBrowsr and start setting up searches, creating groups by interest. Scout for topics that your company is involved with, see what results come up. Tools like Twitter or Friendfeed are the most valuable when listening or monitoring that action. You or your company’s ‘social’ networks act as a knowledge guardian, you’ll be able to stay on top of what’s of interest to you (being the Tour de France or what are your competitors are up to, what customers/consumers are saying, etc). Most of these applications will allow you to create ‘columns’ or ‘groups’ that filter by keyword. Scroll through it, see what is being said and reply / participate if it’s worth your time. You can also share links or articles you find valuable or simply RT (re-tweet) with your comments. I would also advise using these tools in conjunction with Google Alert, Filtrbox, OneRiot and other similar tools which are much more efficient search tools than staring at Twitter all day.

ROI 101: Return On Investment 101

Throw away any of the usual metrics you’ve learned. Building relationships for a person or a brand cannot be measured as a statistical number. You will still see more followers on Twitter, more fans on your facebook fan page. Ultimately, if you share valuable content and engage in conversations, you’ll have a clear sign that people like your content. This clearly has a more powerful impact for you or the brand you represent. Also, I hear too often that people don’t use Google Analytics yet on their… this is a must have. If you expect to show any sign that your time is spent appropriately, Google Analytics will be able to show you this progress.

What percentage of your marketing strategy should be devoted to social media?

That will depend on your audience. The more you deal with tech industries and the knowledge industry, the more important it’ll be for your company. For example, a company like Crocs (not so much knowledge industry based) has one full time dedicated employee for Social Media (George Smith Jr) out of 3-4k people worldwide. Make sure to think about every activity you carry as a company and how to leverage social media in relation to those activities. Social media is not a marketing play, it’s a relationship play. Relationships happen at every step of a company’s value chain. Social media can fit in those segments. See what happens. Draw conclusions. Be creative. Repeat.

Some simple steps to get started:

Level 1- Join groups related to your industry in Linkedin or Facebook, engage there. This might be enough as some of audience is already there.

Level 2- Join twitter, start following 50 people who you care about as a company, start listening, share interesting news in your industry or localized content, engage where you can.

Level 4- Create a facebook page and try to get your other marketing activities to promote that facebook page. Link your Twitter account to your facebook fan page.

Level 5- Start a blog… this is a difficult exercise and can be time consuming, but it is still what can carry your business voice the furtherest. Remember that if you blog, stay away from clogging, don’t use this as just another ad channel (#fail).

There are 100s of things you could do, but start there. Your company’s digital footprint will benefit and you may be able to spend 1-2 hours per week without losing your boss’ trust. Finally, it’s more complex than it seems. If you want to be effective at it, getting help is usually well worth it.

Off you go,

Thank you for you great pictures:  by quelquepartsurlaterre, ToniVCjohn.d.mcdonald

@YannR





Give ’em a hammer… Give ’em a twitter…

15 04 2009

As far as social media circles and events go, I like to think I get around. While I am getting around, I tend to meet 3 kind of folks. Recently, the kinds of conversations I have had with them have caused me to wonder about this whole social media hype thing that we’ve got going on…. so here’s my view…

Group 1: By far the largest and getting smaller by the minute….Never heard of it or totally confused. Social media what? Why do we need this anyway, it’s not really for business! Kids stuff. Goofing around.  Ok, everyone is talking about Twitter… maybe I should get on Twitter then (law of the hammer) and start pressing “follow”. But, errr, what am I going to do with it? I really don’t have time for this. Our website is a fine piece of art, we look good, we’re different. We’re participating, right?

Group 2: Getting up there now in numbers…..We’re afraid, man. What if someone, somewhere, says something, thinks something… geez we’re so used to sending those press releases over the fence… our sales people are here for the interactions… Inbound marketing, what? No, we have engineers for that.  They can see the future. We’ve just hired a guy who worked at Apple anyway. Sorted, man. The customer voice, yes, we do surveys – candy for  everyone! You’ve probably met someone like this recently too.

Group 3:  Finally the toolers,  social media is equal to social networking –  They are all over it, their company has a twitter account, and man it’s rocking in there, we’re doing it right cos we have a facebook fan page, a twitter account and the CEO is on Linkedin… This is social media, right…? Huh, well, let’s see now. Chances are good what we’re going to see is a bunch of mundane conversations when someone can spare some time… or maybe they’ll hire a junior cos “they know how that stuff works, right?” Ah, not so fast now. And blogging? Yeah, we do that or we thought of doing it but…

Yes folks, Give ’em a twitter… Give ’em a hammer. Everything is looking like a tweet :). Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is an awesome tool, just be mindful. I see workshops on Twitter or Linkedin everywhere like some kind of  new gold that we have all got to get a piece of.  But you know what? I just can’t see how just using one of these tools along is going to turn into a real return. Therein lies the catch….tweety-birds!

Questions you should ask yourself at this moment include:

  1. How is my web strategy supporting my overall marketing strategy?
  2. What are the different components of my web strategy?  Usability, design, copy, SEO, social networks, social media, blogging, adwords… maybe email marketing… Ultimately, it should be about lead generation and converting viewers into customers or at least starting the qualification process… right? Once again push doesn’t work and pull is not easy.
  3. Now, how will social media support your web strategy?  Is this about a time suck or truly turning your customers into advocates? What’s more,  if you venture into the social media space, how is the rest of your marketing plan supporting Social Media and vice-versa…??
Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

My spin on the groundswell levels of success are that they are not mutually exclusive but reaching gold straight off the bat is kinda like managing a hole in one during your first round of golf. Some can. But the rest of us….. you get the picture.

So here is a potential way of looking at levels of success in Social Media…

Not Even On The Podium: You’re pushing your promotions through social networks. Your credibility will suffer. That’s more like a fail.

Bronze: You’re listening and talking with people but having mundane conversation is killing your efforts. Are you truly contributing or making noise e.g. Tweet: “going to the gym now”?

Silver: You’re engaging and energizing your customer base. Passion is the corner stone of social media; where are those passionate users? Are you empowering them to do more with products or services? Are you teaching them, educating them? Are you putting your customer in a position to teach other industry users? They may do a better job than you, you know…

Gold: You’re providing a 3rd space(s) where customers are actually talking to each other and supporting each other. You’ve integrated activities through social media as well as the customer voice or use of your product or services.

Bottom line, if you go on your own, measure and measure your effectiveness; engagement is an art. Wasting time is a hard price to pay for just being on the networks. If you need help, I would seriously check if your prospective provider has a rock solid methodology… it’s no surprise that “Establishing a method for engaging consumers in online conversation” is ranked top of the tactics used by companies by the Aberdeen Group.

Social Media is not a cooking recipe, there will be some experimentation. Having a sound methodology and measurable processes will save you a lot of guess work and just doing social media because everyone is buying a twitmmer these days. Finally,  in the words Social Media, there is also Media… quality media.

Thank you chazferret for his cool picture!

Onwards and upwards,

Yann