Is your social media strategy C.U.T.E?

19 11 2009

What do fans have in common? Why is it easy to have a conversation with some strangers and not others? Having moved around quite a bit (living in 4+ countries and not done yet), I tend to think that my village a gypsy type one. The more I think about social media, the more my ‘village fool, not so fool anymore’ analogy makes sense. Common experiences and preferences carry influence and communities are the new influencers. Consumers are influence-able, their friends do this very well:) Rethinking a brand’s community or audience’s common interests certainly makes a lot of sense.

Brands are like villages. They have constituents and those constituents certainly have things in common beyond just buying its product. I think a common mistake brands make using social media is to avoid defining their intentions with the community. Is the brand social to build a brand presence or to sell stuff? What value will your conversations create in the eyes of these customers? Brands belong to fans and twitter followers. It’s the brand’s page but it’s connected to many private spaces which belong to individuals.

So here’s a long term idea that I’m finally inking. Does your social media strategy have the C.U.T.E factor? You heard me. CUTE. CUTE stands for: “Common Unit of Transferable Experience”. A social media strategy should not only try to activate common units of experience between constituents or fans, but should also look at how transferable those units are. If a brand engages in media creation, will users share it? Such an engagement strategy should be moved from a brand or product centric intent to what consumers or customers have in common. They have more experiences in common than we would suspect (especially if the product or service is not Mac or iPhone appeal-esque…).

A brand should ask itself the following questions:
– What experiences do our customers have in common (not of your products) but around or while being empowered by your product or services? Would they transfer/share these experiences?
– What do our products enable them to do? Would they share this ability?
– How can a brand highlight the most interesting things customers do? If you sell TVs, talking about homebrewing may be okay… don’t they go together?
– If they don’t know your brand, what would they like to see first to help them build trust? Product and features or how customers are empowered with this product of service?

The CUTEs are conversation starters and sustainers and can create a great backbone for any social media strategy. You might want to think about that…

Am I a fool? Join me 🙂 Thoughts? Comments?

@YannR

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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