Podcast: Driving Awareness & Engagement with Social

Author & Blogger, John Cass

John Cass

David Armano

David Armano

One of the things I love about my job is that I get a chance to meet and interview tons of interesting people. Some are execs at big companies? Others are authors of thought provoking books. And some are just plain smart individuals who are teaching companies how to embrace the power of social networking and online communities with an eye toward improving customer service, product innovation and tradional sales and marketing efforts.

Last week, I had yet another opportunity to interview a couple of the aforementioned individuals. The two gentlemen I speak of are none other than David Armano, a senior partner at the Dachis Group, well-known blogger and former VP of interactive agency, Critical Mass and John Cass, author of Strategies and Tools for Corporate Blogging, blogger and former community manager at Forrester Research. Our topic was that of tapping into “social” to drive awareness and engagement.”

As usual, David helped me think outside the box by sending me a blog post he had written back in 2007 titled The Marketing Spiral.

Armano's Marketing Spiral

Armano's Marketing Spiral

So with that as a backdrop, here are some of the questions I asked during our podcast:

  • Do you have best practices to recommend in terms of driving awareness and engagment using social?
  • Do you have examples of companies who do it right? Do it wrong?
  • How do you create excitement for a product that doesn’t seem exciting (you know, like toothpaste—and you know that’s a trick question)
  • What are your predictions for social marketing as it relates specifically to Engagement and Awareness?

To download this podcast, right-mouse click here.

  • Do you have best practices to recommend?
  • Do you have examples of companies who do it right? Do it wrong?
  • How do you create excitement for a product that doesn’t seem exciting (you know, like toothpaste—and you know that’s a trick question)
  • What are your predictions for social marketing as it relates specifically to Engagement and Awareness?

Why All the Talk About Dog Food?

Cross-posted from MarketingProfs (original publish date May 2009)

Have you ever heard the term “eat your own dog food?” It’s a funny sounding concept that essentially means that one is “walking the talk” or leading by example. For instance, a lot of well-known companies have talked about being “customer-focused” but how many really are? Unfortunately just saying you’re committed to do something is dramatically different than actually doing it. There is no place where this idea is more true than in the world of social media and online community.

To highlight this point, [several] months ago, Jeremiah Owyang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research released the first ever Social Platforms Wave Report. In essence, this report rated the top online community providers according to their tools, services and methodologies. What the report didn’t do (and I’m not advocating that it should have) was take into account of how many of the companies reviewed in the report were “eating their own dog food.”

Being the socially engaged person that he is (there is no question as to whether Jeremiah eats his own dog food), he announced the arrival of Forrester’s Social Platform Wave Report on his blog. In his post, he offered some color commentary on the process, the companies that were selected and why the companies that were picked made the cut. One of the first comments on Jeremiah’s post asked if Forrester had taken into account whether or not these social tool providers were “walking the talk” by offering communities to their customers, creating corporate blogs and engaging with potential customers, prospects and partners in social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and even Twitter.

While I was honored to be mentioned as an example of someone that does “eat his own dog food,” it got me to thinking about how important it was for companies that were engaged in social media or their customers to engage in these same practices. The reason I believe the “dog food” concept has become so important to businesses thinking about “social” and “community “ is threefold:

  • Creating a great online community or social marketing program has just as much to do with the philosophy behind the effort, as it does the tools that facilitate these offerings.
  • Just like the field of e-mail marketing adopted best practices like opt-outs and truthful subject lines, the discipline of community building and social marketing has best practices that should be upheld. Piss off your customers by posting fake comments in your own blog posts or talking trash about your competitors and you’ll pay through negative PR or worse yet, customer attrition.
  • In such a transparent environment, there is little room for error (just ask Edelman how their “Blogging Across America” campaign for Walmart turned out a couple of years back). You also need to make a lot of decisions on the fly so having an experienced “pilot” can make for a much smoother ride.

To explore the concept further, I wrote a blog post recently called How We Market that talked about the importance of taking a “give before you get” approach, being authentic and embracing the social tools and sites one’s clients are using” while keeping in mind the need as a business to create awareness and leads. This is not always an easy balance to strike but it’s the key to succeeding in the new marketing world order.

In response to this post, I got dozens of comments from other “big brains” in the industry (including MarketingProfs very own Ann Handley). The resounding response was that social media is all about creating and sustaining relationships through active listening and conversation. Establishing valuable customer relationship online is much more effective when you are providing content to your community via social media channels.

With that as a backdrop, if you’re a brand looking for a company to build your online community or create your social marketing program, what should you look for?

  1. Do they philosophically embrace the concepts that they’re asking you to adopt e.g. transparency, authenticity and a “give before you get” approach to value?
  2. Are they practicing what they preach by blogging, engaging customers through their own customer support community, commenting on other industry blogs and engaging the public in places like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter?
  3. Do they have “community” or “social” experience working with brands like yours?

Once you find a company you’re comfortable using to power your community or social initiatives, the question will shift to whether or not YOU are ready to eat your own dog food. If the answer is “yes,” just be sure to do so in moderation. Your customers will be happy to see you eating your own dog food but not if you stick their face in the dog food. Or worse yet, if you pretend that you’ve ALWAYS eaten dog food and can’t imagine someone not enjoying the taste.

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!

Live from Community 2.0: How to Be a Kick Ass Community Manager

Broadcasting live from the Community 2.0 Conference. Lots of great people AND content here at this two day affair. A panel that I thought people who read this blog may want to pay attention to is the “How to Be a Kick Ass Community Manager” panel with folks from Intel, Sega and Techrigy. Here’s the list of panelists:

I’m going to cheat a little here and provide some of the key points from my fellow attendees who are live twittering this panel. Here are some of the most salient points:

  1. Tsahi Levent-LevitsahilWho’s the community manager of the community for community managers? #C20


  2. Tina BottisBrightFuse“Fail often. Fail Fast. And learn just as fast”. #c20


  3. Mark D. F. WilliamsmdfwOne problem with ‘teaching’ community management is that it is often more art than science. Lot’s of grey. Practice makes perfect. #c20


  4. templedftempledfRecurring theme: you’ve got to network in this community. Since there’s no Community Mgmt 101, we have to help each other. #C20


  5. Janet JozefakJanetJoz@cbensen hmm participation, or rather value of, is rather “subjective” – what do they value for the brag sheet out of curiosity? #c20


  6. Connie BensencbensenBrands are starting to monitor their employee’s participation in social media. Intel gives brag sheets to their staff to show off #c20


  7. Bill JohnstonbilljohnstonRT @templedf: @JoshProStar: create brag sheet for reluctant bloggers to show the reach and impact of what they contribute. #C20


  8. Aaron StroutAaronStrout@KellyRParker says execs are MUCH more willing to embrace social/community activities when they can see measurement/results #c20


  9. Jim RobinsonwhirledviewGreat transparency: Intel publishes employee social media guidelines publicly #c20 http://bit.ly/vwxc0


  10. Helen TrimhelentrSome Intel product dev employees have community management goals built into their role and performance measures #c20


  11. Helen Trimhelentr60 employees involved in the community at Intel. Training and support important but so is Exec buy in #c20


  12. Aaron StroutAaronStrout@JoshProStar and @KellieParker talk about walking the fine line between being transparent but not pissing off HR #c20


  13. templedftempledf@JoshProStar: get the 90% lurkers to participate by hitting arteries. Find the topics that are interesting and untapped. #C20


  14. Helen Trimhelentrone way to make the senior management team more comfortable is to set your community / staff guidelines. They like boundaries #c20


  15. Connie Bensencbensenask your comm what they want, what would make them excited? #c20


  16. Helen TrimhelentrIntel: key to successful community is an AMAZING community manager. Hear hear #c20


  17. Helen Trimhelentr@kellieparker huge demand for community managers – no school you can go to! #c20


  18. templedftempledfCommunity management blog with tips and advice at http://conniebensen.com/ #C20

What are your “tips and tricks” on how to be a kick ass community manager?

May 7: Weekly Content/Social Marketing Links

Each week, the members of Powered’s marketing, business development and product teams pick a news article, blog post or research report that “speaks” to them. With that article, they need to come to our weekly staff meeting prepared to give a 120 second update on what the article was about and why they found it useful. Links are below:

Beth Lopez (Marketing)
Will the IAB’s Social Media Metrics Definitions Help Crack The Engagement Code? Found this article interesting particularly since we are solidifying our measurement framework and how we define ‘engagement’. The IAB published social media metrics definitions yesterday and while they aren’t different from what you expect, it does help advertisers and marketers that are struggling with measuring their social programs demonstrate the value of it. This would be good for all customer-facing folks to learn these as the IAB is regarding as the standard in defining how to measure online programs/advertising.

Here are a few of the things the IAB doc defines:
  • Application and video installs.
  • The number of relevant actions, including newsfeed items posted, comments posted, uploads, poll votes, and so forth.
  • Conversation size, which measures the number of content relevant sites and content relevant links, and the monthly uniques spread across those conversations.
  • Site relevance, which measures the density with which phrases specific to a client concern are brought up among relevant sites.
  • Author credibility, such as how relevant the author’s content is and how often it is linked to.
  • Content freshness and relevance, which defines how frequently an author posts.
  • The average number of friends among users of a specific application.
  • Number of people currently using an application.

DP Rabalais (Marketing)
Keeping in line with my commitment to alignment with our Sales Plan, I selected REI as the company to do a search on this week. My post this week is by Albert Maruggi, founder and president of Provident Partners and host and producer of the Marketing Edge podcast. I chose it because I feel like it builds a strong case to support REI as a strong prospect for Powered.

Bill Fanning (Business Development)

Jay MacIntosh (Business Development)

My weekly share is actually not an article but a few tidbits from a recently released study by Razorfish entitled “Digital Mom.”    

  1. Women control the majority of spending in the US and the world. To that end:
  • Consumer spending accounts for approximately 70% of GDP in the U.S.
  • Women a.k.a. “Chief Purchasing Officers” control 85% of household buying decisions in the U.S. and the majority handle family finances.
  • On the business side, women have accounted for 70% of all privately held start-ups over the last 15 years.

Marketers want to engage with people who buy things…women.

  1. Women, by and large, are much more “communal” than men. Think about it, women often turn to others for guidance, recommendations, etc., and they love to share (i.e. tell others about their experiences). Guys, we tend to be more independent and hierarchical. We hate to (i.e. won’t) ask for directions, we compete with each other in almost every- and anything, and usually prefer to conduct our own in-depth research rather than listen to someone who may have “better” research than us. Anyhow, the full report is about 37 pages and talks about a LOT of things, however, the three key takeaways that I found most interesting and relevant to us are the following:
  • Mom’s areas of interest are lifestyle categories…duh!
  • Their purchase decision funnel behaviors fit really well with what Powered does.
  • The highest value information sources for moms are a lot of what we provide in a Powered community.
Doug Wick (Business Development)
My post this week is from “Social Media Insider” written by David Berkowitz of 360i (cross-posted on the Agency’s website).
David does a nice job of offering his experience in running a self-service Facebook targeted ad campaign, including the results he saw. Many of his results are confirming of what we’ve heard – in a pretty targeted campaign he saw very low clickthrough, and he notes that FB must find another way to monetize if it expects to live out its large valuation. The upside is that Facebook ads are extremely cheap to test, and he predicts (I think rightly) that there may be ways to reach very specific, segmented audiences with compelling content-based ads – so he encourages people to test and see.
Don Sedota (Product Management)
A recent Forrester article called, Four Essential Components of Successful Innovation Initiatives, caught my attention due to the fact that, well I’m in the product innovation business ;-). The first two components, “Creating and getting executive support for an innovation strategy” and “Use central management and coordination to carry out the strategy” are pretty straightforward. The third component, “Use individual contributors to feed the innovation function” struck a chord because it’s something we’re currently trying to implement more effectively for the internal product strategy process. Examples of this include Dell’s Ideastorm and IBM’s annual Innovation Jam. In fact, we’ve been tossing around the idea of creating an internal Ideastorm where employees can go to submit ideas and fellow employees can comment on them and vote them up/down. This could also tie into Yammer so that everyone gets notified when a new product idea is submitted. As far as I know this actually wouldn’t be that difficult to implement internally.         

The fourth component, “Ties to community bring objective insight and can deepen relationships” has to do with using community (external resources) to inform product strategy. This struck a chord because it’s something that’s come up recently in the context of our product roadmapping discussions due to interest from Clinique and Sony. This form of product strategy “crowdsourcing” is becoming more and more popular.

I Would Join a Donut Community

donutWithin Powered, we’ve been mulling over the question “Is Social Marketing for my Company/Brand?” more than usual lately, mostly because we’re working on a white paper addressing that question.

Evaluating your situation as a marketer relative to the social marketing program opportunity is something we’ve addressed a lot in this blog, particularly with Aaron’s popular “Would you Join a Toothpaste Community?” post, along with follow-up posts where Aaron tackled a few challenging products from a community-building perspective. I also sounded off on how the brand is your bridge to community strategy.

But should you build a community? It really comes down to two phases of evaluation. First, is what you’re selling community-worthy? I call this “genetic fit,” because if you’re selling toothpaste, that isn’t going to change overnight, along with other things like your marketplace positioning and branding. Some types of products and services just generate more natural community activity than others.

Second, is your marketing organization and larger company culture in a place where you could pull it off? I call this “cultural fit.” This actually can, and does, change over time – more easily than the genetics do.

But let’s talk about genetic fit, since it’s the one that you really can’t change. And donuts.

I love donuts, but I eat them pretty infrequently – they are something I treat myself to every now and then. Despite my love for the occasional Boston Kreme, I certainly wouldn’t name donuts as one of my passions in life.

So would I (or anyone) join a donut community? Well, maybe for a little while. It would be diverting to go and rate my favorite donuts, debate the virtues of filled donuts over glazed with others, and discover the origin of the bear claw. But would I return again and again over time? Probably not.

Ok, now let’s talk about Dunkin’ Donuts. This changes the discussion a little bit, as I’m now seeing donuts through the prism of a brand. I can visualize Fred the baker from the old commercials getting up and saying “time to make the donuts.” I’m thinking about how good their coffee has always been, along with pretty tasty donuts. Finally, I’m recalling some of the funnier ad spots I’ve seen lately featuring their latest brand campaign “America runs on Dunkin.” Would I join a Dunkin Donuts community? Hmm, a little more interesting than just plain donuts, but again probably not a place where I would return after the initial visit.

dunkin-donuts-logoBut let’s think a bit more about the Dunkin Donuts’ brand. How does Dunkin Donuts get you interested and get you in their store? How do they connect with your needs? A good place is always to start with the tagline – “America runs on Dunkin.” Are they really selling donuts and coffee here, or something more important? Something more basic?

It sounds to me like Dunkin’ Donuts is selling energy. Something that powers you. In a literal sense, the sugar and caffeine is a boost, but energy is something people struggle with – managing your energy level throughout the day is tough. The popularity of energy drinks is escalating rapidly because people are looking for pep. The concept of energy could extend beyond nutrition and the daily grind, too. What about Motivation? Long-term Achievement? Entrepreneurship? These are all principles of energy . . . and things that also fuel the American perspective, a nice tie-in with the tagline. Ok, so what about a community focused on your energy, powered by Dunkin?

Suddenly a fairly compelling community idea is coming into focus that is relevant to the Dunkin’ Donuts brand, and is about something that people care about on a day-to-day basis. I would join this community, and I would come back. Perhaps I would learn and chat about everything from how to avoid the post-lunch doldrums, to the physiological effects of energy drinks, to how to write a business plan for that idea I’ve been trying to get off of the ground. Immediately and over time I would see Dunkin’ Donuts as a bit more than just a brand that makes great donuts, but as the brand that “powers me.” In the end this is what the 30-second spot is trying to do, but this does it in a much more powerful and lasting way.

My involvement in this type of community would significantly affect my Dunkin brand loyalty, and now because the brand isn’t just about donuts to me anymore perhaps they could sell me other things. More products from their expanding home coffee line (perhaps this is the entire initial thrust). An organic energy drink. Baking mixes and cookbooks.

This all started with a donut. And all great brands and businesses start with something that simple. The evolution of your genetics might happen faster and in different directions than you think, dictated by relevant opportunity. Part of understanding what your online community might look like is thinking about what your company might look like, someday.

Community Powered, Live from SXSW: Chris Brogan


Uber Blogger and President of New Marketing Labs (Photo Credit: Jim Storer)

Uber Blogger and President of New Marketing Labs (Photo Credit: Jim Storer)

CommunityPowered podcast series featuring Susan Bratton of DishyMix, is Chris Brogan who is not only a good friend but number two on AdAge’s list of top 50 Marketing bloggers (watch out Seth Godin). In his spare time, Chris is the President of New Marketing Labs, co-founder of Podcamp and spiritual lead of the Inbound Marketing Summit events.


Listen in as Chris weighs in about location-based platforms like Brightkite that are finally starting to deliver value beyond the “Starbucks coupon” offered on your cell phone as you walk by a local franchise [love his example of how movie makers can use this]. Chris also reinforces the importance of “cafe-shaped conversations” or the humanizing of certain brands by allowing brand ambassadors to have real conversations with customers in places like Twitter. When it comes to community building, Chris recommends things like: listening first, being helpful and not being afraid to make mistakes.

In addition to reading ChrisBrogan.com, you can follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisBrogan.

Right-mouse click to download.

NEXT UP: CC Chapman, Principal and founder of The Advanced Guard.