Does Your Social Media Portfolio Include a 401k?

401k SignRecently I’ve been thinking more about (and working on) how Powered, as a social marketing provider that focuses on building online communities for brands, can expand our partnerships with those brands’ marketing agencies. In an earlier post, I broke down the question of whether or not agencies can evolve into social. In that post I mentioned a lot of ways that agencies will choose to drive that evolution – with a partnering strategy being one of the major approaches.

For brands – who are really focused on delivering results in the most cost-efficient way possible today – the goal with any partner approach is to drive a social marketing offering where multiple cooperative partners in the social space can deliver more value than they would individually.

A useful metaphor for how this might be done is the world of investing. After all, social marketing is about brands investing in relationships in ways that they can’t do through more traditional marketing channels. But these investments can take many forms.

Any good investor will tell you that diversification is key. You must not only invest in short term vehicles (like stocks) that can be more rewarding but are also riskier, you must also make sure you putting money into long term vehicles. Additionally, the interaction between these short term and long term investments is important to building wealth. Gains made in stocks must occasionally be funneled into longer term vehicles and locked down.

I see the world of social media the same way. Ultimately, storytelling and the production of compelling media – the ability to connect emotionally with a consumer while fitting into the current media and market environment – takes the skill and experience of a great agency. Here are some recently highlighted offline examples from the world of Outdoor advertising.

This “Day Trader” of the social media world knows how to place the right bets, which tools/networks to place them in, how to get the message just right, and the right process for spinning them up with online and offline media/search buys. His or her world is dynamic, and changes every day based on moves in technology, competitor activities, audience preferences, and hundreds of other variables.

Because of that changing world, the focus is on the near term and the strategies are campaign-oriented. They have to be, as the campaign that works today might not work tomorrow.The focus is on creativity, customization, agility, trendspotting, leveraging various technologies, short term measurement, joining instead of building, and exploration.

The good campaigns will be heavily rewarded: with consumer attention, affinity, word-of-mouth buzz, loyalty, and new business. But where will those earnings go when that Day Trader has to move on to the next campaign?

This is where the Investment Manager comes in, the person who keeps a long view and helps leverage the riches that the Day Trader produces into long term wealth. In social marketing, this is the community provider – and with that provider are the people that manage the marketing assets where fans and customers can engage over the long term with brands and with each other. This is who creates and manages a brand’s 401k. The focus is on infrastructure, sustained processes, long-run measurement, building instead of joining, and content with a long lifespan.

These skill sets are both highly necessary, highly complementary, and difficult to perform at a high level simultaneously – which makes them fit a partner model well. Also, the long-term vehicle of community is the newer piece, and part of an agency’s evolution into social is to understand how it works, and how it complements, their work.

Upcoming Webcast: Pitfalls and Best Practices for Online Community Building (6/24)

Lisa Radner, Forrester

Lisa Bradner, Forrester

Debi Kleiman, Communispace

Debi Kleiman, Communispace

Aaron Strout, Powered

Aaron Strout, Powered

Yes, this is going to be a good one. Don’t miss the opportunity to join Forrester Principal Analyst, Lisa Bradner, Communispace CMO, Debi Kleiman and Aaron Strout, CMO, Powered (yup, that’s me) this Wednesday, June 24 at 2 PM CT as we talk about the good, bad and the ugly of community building. Our presentation promises to be chalk full of examples AND prescriptive advice on the best way to approach community building.

Specifically, we’ll talk about:

  • Building a solid foundation for your online community initiative
  • Leveraging what you learn from community members in your organization
  • Driving participation and engagement among community members
  • Avoiding the 7 deadly pitfalls of community development and management

I won’t BS you and tell you to sign up now because this is a limited time offer but you should do it soon so you don’t forget!

Double Shot of Weekly Social Marketing Links: June 10, 2009

Alright, I’ve been a little lax in my blogging responsibilities. You REALLY know that this is the case when I can’t even make the time to post a digest of the links that the product/marketing/business development teams at Powered pull together on a weekly basis. In fairness to me, I’ve been in the process of moving across country the last two weeks starting with a 2,000 mile drive with a car full of plants, cats and condiments from my refrigerator (all things moving companies won’t touch). I am now settling in to the great city of Austin, TX and with my settling will come a redoubling of my efforts to do more blogging here.

With that as a backdrop, the good news is that you all get a double dose of articles this week — one from last week and one from this week from each of the “Team Powered” members. Even better, this is one of the best batches of articles/posts to date. Hope you enjoy ’em!

Beth Lopez (Marketing)

Five Reasons why Content Strategy comes before Social Media

Liked this post as it reinforces our approach to content and community.  Plus, it was written by Joe Pulizzi with Junta42.com who was one of our May Webinar panelists talking about Content Marketing strategies.  The five reasons he listed are:
1. Social media does not work unless you have something valuable to say!
2. Publishing is marketing, marketing is publishing.
3. Social media activity does not mean you are accomplishing your marketing goals.
4. It’s the content that is ultimately shared through social media.
5. Social media = I hear you + I’m listening to you + I understand
Millennials Among Those Who Don’t Appreciate Twitter
Quick read and short article that discusses a recent study that found that only 22% of millennials use twitter.  I found this stat particularly interesting given the fact that Millennials are one of the larget demographics online, participate in social networks, text friends without even looking at their phone, are into the latest tech gadgets and fads, etc….I would have thought that more millennials would have been on Twitter than this study suggests.  Reinforces that brands need to understand where their target audience lives online before launching social media campaigns and could be one explanation as to why brands that try to reach this audience via twitter have failed.

I liked this post as it reinforces our approach to content and community.  Plus, it was written by Joe Pulizzi with Junta42.com who was one of our May Webinar panelists talking about Content Marketing strategies.  The five reasons he listed are:

  1. Social media does not work unless you have something valuable to say!
  2. Publishing is marketing, marketing is publishing.
  3. Social media activity does not mean you are accomplishing your marketing goals.
  4. It’s the content that is ultimately shared through social media.
  5. Social media = I hear you + I’m listening to you + I understand

Millennials Among Those Who Don’t Appreciate Twitter

Quick read and short article that discusses a recent study that found that only 22% of millennials use twitter.  I found this stat particularly interesting given the fact that Millennials are one of the largest demographics online, participate in social networks, text friends without even looking at their phone, are into the latest tech gadgets and fads, etc… I would have thought that more millennials would have been on Twitter than this study suggests.  Reinforces that brands need to understand where their target audience lives online before launching social media campaigns and could be one explanation as to why brands that try to reach this audience via twitter have failed.

DP Rabalais (Marketing)

Since we met Greg Matthews of Humana last week, I thought I’d find an article or post regarding Humana’s Social activities.  The article by Jason Falls talks about how Humana very successfully tied an offline program (Freewheelin) into online social media, including:  Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, plus a few fan Blogs.  Interesting, light read about a company we could potentially do business with.

I thought this article, Five Ways to Use Twitter to Improve Your Marketing, by Heidi Cohen of ClickZ would be relevant to everyone.  Most of this we all already know, but still it’s a good reminder and has a few points that can be incorporated into Powered’s online marketing presence.

Bill Fanning (Business Development)

A couple weeks ago, I highlighted an article about the new way of thinking about the web in terms of streams rather than pages.  This week, the post I’d like to highlight, titled Web 3.0 is about taming the deluge of data written by David Griner, discusses how the web will evolve to manage the stream.  In a nutshell, the social movement has created an enormous amount of content that is very difficult to manage for businesses and individuals alike.  The next evolution will be tools to distill the conversations into digestible chunks so we can actually make the content valuable rather than overwhelming.  Well worth the read and a good guy to follow on Twitter and his blog, The Social Path.

Jay MacIntosh (Business Development)

We often discuss the characteristics of brands that we believe would benefit tremendously from having a branded online community. The ones that come up most often either fall into the category of passion brands or what I call utility brands.

This article entitled America Revs Up Its Do-It-Yourself Passion talks about how more and more shoppers (56%) are dabbling in DIY. Of course there’s an economic factor that is driving growth in DIY, but there’s also a social/psychological one as well and this is where the passion comes in. Let me explain…the products that consumers use for DIY projects typically aren’t from what we would call passion brands. Home improvement products, auto parts, hair color, tax tools, etc. are not typically thought of as passion products. However, the DIY category is full of people who are passionate about DIY projects. Why are they passionate about DIY? I suspect it has a lot to do with a sense of gaining greater control in their lives, satisfaction in doing something tangible, etc.

With the growth of DIY and the consumer need for education and sharing it makes sense to pay close attention to them as potential targets in the future. To that end, here are a few of the DIY categories and associated brands that support the category:

Home improvement – Ace Hardware, Orchard Supply Hardware, IKEA
Travel and Recreation – REI, Columbia, Northface, Patagonia, Coleman
Beauty – Sephora, Loreal, Clinique
Digital Home/Entertainment – Best Buy, Cisco, Samsung
Eating – Williams Sonoma, Costco

Talk about blurring the line between brands…Comcast is going to provide content for target.com. Comcast owns theDailyCandy.com site which will be providing shopping/fashion content in a new section of Target’s site called “Red Hot Shop”. This WSJ article goes on to discuss how retailers are partnering with media companies to gain access to more entertaining and engaging content in order to drive more traffic to their brands. This benefits the retailers in two ways; 1) they sell more stuff and 2) it increases the demand for advertising on the their site, which creates an additional revenue stream. Meanwhile, the media company gains additional buyers (i.e. revenue) for the content it produces.

Anyhow, this article raises a couple of interesting opportunities/challenges for brands, especially those targeting lifestyle categories (i.e. travel, health, entertainment, etc.):

  • How do they attract and engage consumers with content that is compelling and UNIQUE in a world where media companies are desperate for additional revenue and reselling the “family jewels”? Do brands purchase exclusive rights from the media companies for a period of time? Do brands invest in creating their own lifestyle content? What about UGC? It’s much less expensive than “professional content” and maybe brands provide consumers with more powerful tools to improve the quality of their content? But who “owns” the content, the consumer, the brand, both?
  • What is the advertising business opportunity for brands, especially retailers, who invest in more entertaining and useful information? Is the value primarily in drawing more consumers who buy more stuff from the brand? Or does it shift (as mentioned by Expedia’s VP of Global Media Solutions) to media and advertising revenues? Whatever the mix, it’s going to be determined by us (consumers) because every action, click, forward, buy , etc. done online can and will be measured, or at least it better be!

Doug Wick (Business Development/Social Media)

I am going to go with this blog post by 360i announcing the publishing of their Social Marketing Playbook. I’m cheating a little because I got this off of Yammer, but I think it’s a good enough resource that it should be included . . .

The Agency, 360i, published a “Social Marketing Playbook” that is a useful document in the vein of Forrester’s Groundswell, but which comes at the problem of social marketing from a practitioner’s viewpoint. It’s worth a read whether you are just getting starting in social media / marketing or you know what you’re doing already. Especially interesting is their side-by-side analysis of the social marketing footprints for H&R Block, Vitamin Water, and Skittles. It also notably includes guest articles by outside experts such as Jeff Pulver, Pete Cashmore, and Jeremiah Owyang, among others.

Don Sedota (Product)

My article this week was posted on Mashable in mid-April and is entitled Social Media and SEO: 5 Essential Steps to Success. The article gives a great overview of how social media and SEO programs can feed off of each other (i.e., social media community traffic/participation can be greatly enhanced by ranking high in search results for important keywords and SEO rankings can be greatly increased by having dynamic and compelling content that is linked to by 3rd party sites, as well as strategic page level metadata tagging and other tactics). Bottom line is that SEO is a critical demand generation component of building community traffic and participation.

A few weeks ago, Facebook announced that they’ll be supporting OpenID registration (i.e., users can leverage an existing OpenID account such as Gmail to create a Facebook account). This obviously lowers the barrier to entry for creating a new FB account and helps online users in the effort to simplify their online account management across the Web. Here’s a good Mashable article, and here’s FB’s official press announcement. Up until this announcement, I hadn’t spent a lot of time researching OpenID but I have since this announcement and here are some thoughts/highlights regarding our platform:

  • Gmail accounts are OpenID (which is really what made me sit up straight) so OpenID integration within our platform would open the doors to Gmail account owners the same way Facebook Connect integration opened up the doors to FB members on our communities
  • The fact that Facebook is now supporting OpenID is a pretty significant endorsement that OpenID isn’t going away
  • Good quote from FB’s press release “In tests we’ve run, we’ve noticed that first-time users who register on the site with OpenID are more likely to become active Facebook users. They get up and running after registering even faster than before, find their friends easily, and quickly engage on the site.” – this is interesting from an OpenID perspective, but I would also think that this perspective applies to FBC integration on 3rd party communities (i.e., good to know since we just implemented FBC)
  • Something we should probably consider seriously for the next few platform releases

Back to School Podcast: The Real Scoop on Facebook Connect

With Powered’s recent release of Facebook Connect, you won’t be surprised to hear me say that I think this is the future of social marketing. To help share in this excitement, our PR firm, SHIFT Communications, amassed three big brains (all three of which are friends) in Jennifer Leggio, social media blogger at ZDNet, Marshall Kirkpatrick, lead blogger at ReadWriteWeb and Matthew Lees, analyst and VP at the Seybold Group.

During this 20 minute podcast, we talk about:

1.      Who (if anyone) is doing Facebook Connect well?
2.      Will mainstream users adopt it or will it be mainly those “in the know?”
3.      What do you think about the tradeoffs between data collection (less w/ FB Connect) vs. lowering the barriers to entry?
4.      How does FB Connect stack up against Open ID? Will Open ID take off? Or go away?
5.      Will people tire of seeing “business” messages permeate their news streams?

6.      Thoughts on FB Connect vs. FB Fan pages?

Who (if anyone) is doing Facebook Connect well?

  • Who (if anyone) is doing Facebook Connect well?
  • Will mainstream users adopt it or will it be mainly those “in the know?”
  • What do you think about the tradeoffs between data collection (less w/ FB Connect) vs. lowering the barriers to entry?
  • How does FB Connect stack up against Open ID? Will Open ID take off? Or go away?
  • Will people tire of seeing “business” messages permeate their news streams?
  • Thoughts on FB Connect vs. FB Fan pages?

To download this podcast, right-mouse click here and select “save file as.”

If you’re interested, we’ve got a slick demo of how Facebook will work with some of our Powered clients.

 

NOTE: The “Back to School” podcast series will be a regularly occurring podcast focused on the business value of social marketing, social media and online communities. Guests will include practitioners, authors, analysts and thought leaders in the space.