Posts Tagged ‘Social Marketing’

20th January
written by Rena Bernstein

FruitI don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone that lives their life entirely online. Each day we’re all exposed to a variety of media and marketing messages. So why do some marketers feel that they have to choose between online and traditional advertising?

Social media doesn’t have to mean writing a blog or creating a widget. When a viewer repeats the tag line from a TV spot, spontaneously sings a jingle they heard, tells a friend about their experience with a certain brand, or posts reviews online—they’re engaging in a form of social media too. Whether a brand sets out to create a social media campaign that starts people talking or something else causes lots of people to begin chatting up the brand, that public buzz, for better or worse, is social media.

You can’t control social media
Many companies have shied away from social media marketing because they’re concerned about loosing control of the message and fear what their brand message might become in the hands of the public.  By integrating traditional advertising and marketing—tactics where you can control the message, with the influence and reach of Social Media, marketers can guide the message instead of control it.  Marketers remain in control of crafting the strategy and executing the “official” version of the message; all of which sets the stage for customers to base their opinions on—opinions they may choose to share.

Defining what that brand experience ultimately means to the customer is neither the job or privilege of the marketer. It’s up to your customers. The more your brand means to them, the more they connect with it. That in turn determines their purchase decision, their loyalty, and whether they feel strongly enough to advocate for the brand in the future.

When marketers control what is said about their product, as in the case of an ad, people view it as biased and self-serving. When a third party, like a customer writes an online review of a product, it’s viewed as honest and credible, and THAT is the secret to the power of social media. In a 2009 online survey by Forrester Research showed that “people trusted the purchase advice of strangers online more than TV or print ads.”

Traditional marketing clarifies Social Media
While social media marketing can be great for spreading your message, it has a significant short fall: people don’t necessarily spread the same message you would like them to. While its authentic and honest, it may not be a message that fits your strategy and may even be detrimental. Traditional marketing can help to create the foundation of information and guide the brand message as it is passed throughout the social community. By cross promoting the contents of one marketing effort, for example TV with another like social media you increase the “volume” of the message, focus the accuracy and add frequency—thereby maximizing the effectiveness of both efforts.

In a 2008 study by Yankelovich and Sequent Partners called “When Advertising Works,” it was found that “ads that make an impression in traditional media were more likely to stimulate word of mouth than ads that make an impression in digital media.

Social media amplifies traditional marketing
Balancing the free-form messaging of social media with the control, consistency and mass reach of traditional media can offer the best of both worlds. Today the focus needs to be on building an opt-in audience in order to create community, foster loyalty and generate conversations.

A great example of this is a recent promotion by Estée Lauder. They took a free makeover promotion to an entirely new level when they used social media to drive women to participate and later bring awareness to this in-store event.  In order to attract digitally savvy women to the makeup counters at leading department stores, Estée used social media and online PR to offer free makeovers and free professional headshots. After each makeover, women would have a glamour photo taken of them (including of course an Estée Lauder logo in the background) and upload the image as their social profile photo before ever leaving the counter. By uploading the glamorous photo with the logo, the customer introduces her entire social network to the brand, a personalized example of it’s benefits and hopefully even spark a few conversations along the way.

Testimonials: the mother load of social media
In a full-page print ad in USA today, Trident made social media the focus of their ad by sharing unsolicited tweets it had received from customers (with their permission) who authentically and passionately tweeted about their new product, Trident Layers. Using testimonials to sell a product is nothing new, but highlighting  the  enthusiastic and unsolicited statements in a nationwide mass marketing print publication reinforces the shift toward integrated marketing strategies.

In each of these cases, marketers integrated traditional marketing with social media to allow the audience to communicate with the brand and with one another, generating more involvement and interest. As markets fragment, an integrated marketing strategy is quickly becoming the essential method to coordinate and focus efforts for greater marketing success.

What do you think?

9th December
written by Rena Bernstein

Call it what you want. Social Marketing. Viral marketing. Buzz marketing. Word of Mouth Marketing. They all have the same goal — to get people talking about a product or brand.  I just call it “C2C” which simply means Consumer to Consumer, or Customer to Customer marketing, and it doesn’t get any better than that.

whispersSetting a brand on fire

What makes viral and buzz marketing catch on is usually it’s association with something timely, extremely unique or otherwise memorable. In some way it touches people personally and specifically. It’s the way a brand solves a customer’s problem. For example it may be that a product was delivered faster than expected, the service rep went way above and beyond or the customer recognized greater value after the sale. C2C is simply providing your customers with a consistent brand image, value and experience that they appreciate and it is unique enough to talk about.

No Special Equipment Needed

There are no new strategies or tactics to talk about here, just basic marketing and business acumen. Good marketing and advertising brings value to the customer by providing information, entertainment or validation. 

Marketing in any form is still all about helping people solve their needs. Often “needs” they didn’t even know they had. Whether they “need” that hot new perfume, a cereal their kids will like, or a new computer system with brand new features, the customer has a need. Marketing should be all about creating a consistent brand message across marketing channels that customers associate with a solution to that need. That kind of marketing creates a more personal sort of recall and gets talked about in the form of social exchanges and recommendations both online and off. That’s C2C.

B2B is still about C

The immense popularity of social media, specifically B2B social media confirms what I’m saying here — people will talk about brands that interest them, inform them or entertain them. Selling to a business is still selling to people — the main difference is in the needs that they have and what makes them personal.

So while your looking at strategies and creative for B2B and B2C marketing, don’t forget about the C2C effect.


What do you think?

20th October
written by Rena Bernstein

Companies are in business for one reason only, and that’s to make money. Since methods for defining the true ROI of social media are still a bit fuzzy, some CEOs are getting frustrated at the time it takes to see results.

Social media has a reputation of requiring almost no investment to the point of being virtually “free”, but that’s not true at all. TIME is money. To give social media a real chance to succeed, it requires a substantial investment of time. Time to listen to the market, to develop strategies, to cultivate relationships to build trust and time to review incremental results and make adjustments. And we’re NOT talking about just days or weeks.

Social Media is a long term, ongoing process, not a project.

19th October
written by Rena Bernstein


I have read so many articles about the impact of Twitter on society and how it has “democratized media”, but I must say, I think that most of these guys have missed the big picture. As I speak to people that have tried Twitter only to walk away confused and  disappointed, I realize that Twitter’s greatest strength is lost on the masses.

Newbies open an account and begin following a few big media outlets, celebrities, or possibly a major brand or two. Many of these accounts are less personal and tend to “broadcast” instead of interact. These newbies often send out their first and sometimes only Tweet that says something like “OK, so I’m finally on Twitter. Now what?”. They hear nothing back and leave wondering “what the heck is everyone making such a fuss about”?

This “twit-nomenon” is reflected in a study by Sysomos Inc. (@sysomos) that revealed ” Only o.29% of all Twitter users follow more than 2,000 people, 92.4% follow less than 100 people and 93.6% of users have less than 100 followers”. What I take away is that people are treating Twitter like TV. They dial into a familiar channel (say the New York Times, Ashton Kutcher or maybe Barack Obama), then sit back and wait for a show.

The simple interface of Twitter is deceptive.

Twitter doesn’t easily give up the gold that lies beneath it’s surface. Finding this buried treasure takes some effort from the user and a little curiosity. What is interesting is that it’s first valuable asset has nothing to do with sending out Tweets or getting people to follow you. Yes, I love the interaction and two way communication aspect, but for a newbie, first there must be a sense of value.  Their initial Twitter experience should be about finding people worthy of following that offer personal value for them. They need to find and listen to the conversation before jumping into it. Then the value grows exponentially as you become involved, make friends, develop relationships, and share knowledge.

I’m a passionate sort of person and when I’m interested in a topic, I like hearing everything I can about it. I look for people that are both experienced in the subject as well as those that are new. Those that are the influencers, and those that are influenced. Of course there is much more to Twitter than listening.

One of the reasons people get caught up in this cycle is because of a  tool that’s overlooked: the unfollow button. Using it regularly keeps your stream clear of spam and annoying comments about who had what for lunch. I have seen how following fewer but more valuable Tweeple can dramatically improve a persons entire Twitter experience, leaving you much more time to interact with those you have chosen to keep.

Sure there are plenty of users with thousands of followers, automatically sending out hundreds of tweets a day, like the 5% of Twitter accounts that generate 75% of all tweets and racking up followers like trophies. But as far as I’m concerned, those folks have missed some of the best parts of Twitter.

Yes, Twitter is awesome for it’s two way interaction and communication abilities. But for me, the most priceless part is having an endless stream of customized and fresh material served to me, whenever I want it…..(now if only I could get my kitchen at home to do that for me).

Do you agree?

13th October
written by Rena Bernstein
Social Media & The Value of Listening

Social Media & The Value of Listening

We all know that a brand exists in the minds of the market. The overall impression your audience has about your product or service is the only one that counts. We also know that despite all our best efforts, a brand’s impression on the market is only partially within the control of it’s marketing team. Much of that impression has to do with external forces such as current events and competitor efforts.

Brand awareness is a valuable first step in almost any sales cycle. “While 80% of advertising and marketing professionals say they are “strongly aware” of their brand’s positioning, only 25% of them can clearly articulate their company’s brand position”.1

A well planned and executed brand strategy aligns a company’s corporate objectives with marketing, sales, customer service and R&D and has them all marching to the same beat. More importantly, it gives customers a song to sing along to as well. The problem is that very often, a company thinks they are delivering one message, but the audience is receiving something entirely different….and sometimes contrary.

Social Media is an important and easily accessible tool that allows a business to “play back” what their customers feel about their brand, whether they are using social media as a marketing medium or not. It’s also very effective to understand public sentiment regarding their competitors brand as well. It can easily determine if a brand strategy is believable and relevant to the market and if the message being received as it was intended.

Results from a listening program can and should be reflected in all media, not just Social Media. By utilizing an integrated marketing approach, these results can be reflected quickly across a broad range of media, reaching the widest possible audience and once again, aligning your brand strategy from the very top corporate levels all the way through to  your customer.

What do you think?

  1. Louws Management Corporation Survey, 2007
24th September
written by Rena Bernstein
Claude Hopkins - Scientific Advertising

Claude Hopkins

They say, “if you wait long enough, everything old is new again”. That’s certainly true of Social Marketing.

People are talking about Social Media Marketing as though it’s brand new. It seems that SMM and Inbound Marketing in it’s purist sense, dates back almost to the beginning of the study of advertising itself. In 1923, Claude Hopkins wrote “Scientific Advertising”, a highly regarded advertising how-to described by advertising notables like David Ogilvy and Gary Halbert as a “must read”.

So what’s the connection? While reading through “Scientific Advertising” I came across several stories of circa 1920′s salesmen and their door-to-door marketing tactics. They offered housewives free samples, gadgets and advice — and would not take any payment. That same salesman might visit again days later to ask the housewife about what she thought of the sample he left — still not selling anything or asking for payment, just being helpful.

Because the salesman had begun a relationship, and the housewife had the opportunity to develop some level of trust with the salesman, these prospects began ASKING to buy products and sales dramatically increased. As a matter of fact, Hopkins cites at least 3 examples of similar tactics where he says “such offers were reistless, and about nine in ten of the trials led to sales”.

Let me repeat that, “9 in 10 trials lead to sales”!

This 90% conversion rate is not nearly as surprising to me as the fact that these are the exact same basic principles that make Inbound Marketing so powerful today. By engaging with prospects in order to develop a simple relationship, the marketer was able to first create a level of trust, and create an interest or need where one may not have existed before, so when the prospect was ready to buy, there was no question about WHO she would buy from. The purchase decision was not about price, but about the relationship.

Now I ask you to imagine that story again, but now add in amazing reach and effectiveness of today’s social internet so your talking to thousands of these prospects at once, and combine it with the low cost of entry — like offering simple helpful information instead of actual free samples, and I think you’ll see why I was impressed.

I think the similarity to Inbound Marketing is unmistakable. It’s fascinating that while this proven marketing practice dates back to 1923, some marketers still think Social Media Marketing is a fad and deny it’s value as an effective marketing tactic.

15th September
written by Rena Bernstein

1. Traditional advertising can only talk. SM can talk, ask questions, and most importantly, listen.

2. People are likely to be more loyal to a brand when they can interact with it. According to a study by Anderson Analytics, 52% of social network users
had become a fan or follower of a company or brand.

3. Companies learn a great deal from the direct feedback they get from their customers.

4. Audiences are increasingly more fragmented making it harder to cost effectively reach them.

5. People are tired of being interrupted by ads and are largely ignoring or avoiding mass advertising

6. New ideas can quickly and inexpensively be tested before committing to expensive mass advertising production.

7. Traditional advertising is a time limited event. When it’s done, it’s done. Social media is ongoing and often takes on a life of it’s own.

8. SMM can address negative word-of-mouth before it becomes a rebellion or destructive to your brand.

9. Traditional marketing ROI can be difficult to measure. Lessons learned from social marketing can be used to guide traditional efforts.

10. It’s hard to get a sense of belonging from a TV screen or magazine page.

Now tell me what you think.

8th September
written by Rena Bernstein

Go to the comments on almost any social media blog and you’ll find two opposing opinions emerging.

One says that to be truly “social” in social media, it’s inappropriate to even attempt to deliver any type of marketing message. Social media is all about being helpful, authentic and human and about people connecting on like-minded topics. It’s not about selling or marketing and corporate messages of any kind should be rejected.

On the other hand, since marketing is the beginning of the sales process and social media offers the perfect opportunity for any business to find, attract and inform new prospects, businesses naturally want to be involved to make sure their brands are part of the conversation. If the chatter about their brand turns negative, they want to be there to address the issue quickly.

Marketers know the social media creed: to be part of the conversation means they have to be honest, authentic and personal and not push any sales message — or risk the consequences. Most brands recognize the value in social media, are willing to forgo any sales push and play by the rules. Actually, most of the companies I have spoken to, embrace the honesty social media offers and feel it fits well with their own corporate philosphy. They benefit from the exposure, interaction, relationships and idea swapping they share with their community.

So why do some social media purists balk when the words “social media” and “marketing” are used in the same sentence, and then cringe at the thought of measuring it’s value? Don’t social media community members benefit from corporate involvement with the addition of trustworthy information, valued entertainment and worthwhile resources? How many social media venues would exist if not for corporate participation?

Even if a business does their SMM entirely in-house, it takes the investment of time, knowledge, overhead and creativity to do it well, and those things equate to money. So, despite what some may think, social media is not free and therefor from a business perspective, needs to be measured against return, just like traditional marketing.

So why do some social media purists still reject the notion that a business involved in social media, is actually doing social media marketing?

Tell me what you think. I’d like to know.

31st August
written by Rena Bernstein

1. Not everyone is online and involved in social media.

2. Traditional media spreads brand awareness with a broader brush.

3. Traditional media has guaranteed placement. Social marketing messages may or may not catch on.

4. Some messages such as product specs need to be controlled and not left to a third party.

5. Without some traditional branding, it’s very hard to gain significant recognition.

6. Social media marketing should never try to sell. Traditional media gets to ask for the sale.

7. Traditional media can deliver a message to the most receptive part of your market faster.

8. Traditional media offers structure and consistency that social media can reference.

9. Traditional marketing builds awareness, social marketing builds trust.

10. Traditional marketing can be very effective at driving traffic to engage with a brand socially.

Now tell me what you think.

11th August
written by Rena Bernstein

A quick glance at any of the recent marketing forecasts will show that more and more advertising budgets are allocating a bigger slice of the pie for online.

The assumption has been that online marketing offers better metrics, the ability for marketers to respond faster and is a more cost effective marketing solution. But are we as marketers being self centered again? Are we looking at this from the wrong angle? Most professionals are talking about how online marketing benefits the marketer, but shouldn’t we be talking about is how it helps the consumer, and how marketers can join in.

The way I look at it, the change in marketing is not as much from offline to online, but rather from outbound marketing tactics to inbound. And in my opinion, the change is not being driven by marketers, but by consumers themselves.

We have seen consumers who were fed up with being interrupted during dinner by telemarketers legally strike back at an entire industry. People who wanted to relax in front of their TV but felt berated with annoying self-serving commercials, gladly fork over hundred of dollars for a Tivo just so they could fast forward through the ads. And folks that were once easily targeted with drive time radio now are listening to their downloaded MP3s so they have more control over what they hear.

When running a direct mail campaign, most advertisers would be pleased with anything over a 2% response rate. How many marketers have given any real thought to the 98% of recipients that are not interested and are now asked to make that daily trip to the trash to dispose of the handful of unwanted envelopes and catalogs that arrived with their name on it?

There has been a change not just in consumer behavior, but in consumer thinking. Consumers have discovered that their free time and attention are both limited and valuable. And just like money, they want to use it wisely, not just give it away. I think it’s consumers that have changed and now marketing is trying to catch up.

Traditional outbound marketing theory presumes that by spending money on media where people are focusing their attention, a marketers message will get through as well. If that message is repeated enough times and has some connection to the viewer, a small percentage might remember or consider the message.

Inbound marketing on the other hand is based on the idea that people’s time and attention has value. By offering something of value in return with no strings attached, such as information or entertainment in an honest and personal way, people will be willing to listen. More importantly, they sometimes engage and influence others. But it’s on their terms, not yours.

So the next time you get an un-requested credit card application, have to sift through unsolicited email or have to wait to hear the weather on the news because that Sham-wow guy is back, think about what your time and attention are worth.

Do you agree?