Category: Online strategy.

Thousands of brands and companies have embraced social media already. However the vast majority haven’t adopted it yet. You can already see¬†this question in the air, coming especially from the C suit: “Do we need to be in social media?”

There are different ways to answer that question. Every company is a different world so, including in the answer reasons about how using social media will impact their bottom line, makes a lot more sense. I usually dislike general answers, however I bring you today a nice exception.

I watched yesterday the video below from Gary Vaynerchuk about the “Stream economy: the way we used to consume information and the way we do it now”. He’s not inventing the wheel but, I’m sure that if you show this short video to high level executives, they may have an “a-ha” moment…

What do you think?

It has been a few years since social media became popular.

I wouldn’t say mainstream since a huge number of companies haven’t gotten started yet.
Another good portion have recently acknowledged its importance and are taking action at the moment.

When it comes to their first steps, the mistakes don’t differ much from those brands and companies that have started using social networks a while ago. It consists on a race for followers, fans… eyeballs.

From their perspective, it makes sense that they want to prioritise attention/reach. At the end of the day, that’s how TV, radio and newspapers work.

By now, most of these companies will feel frustrated. It turns out, attention is pretty scarce these days and there’s too much noise and competition. Money is not the solution either. Brands like Tipp-Ex (BIC Group) that have ample budgets might capture that attention initially but arrive to the same frustrating point later on since, after the momentum, they don’t talk to people.

It is not sustainable to win an attention race. Here’s what your company can do instead…

Race to care, or better yet, out-care.

Think about this

  • Did you set up a company email to get as many emails as possible?
  • Did you make a business phone number available to your prospects and customers with the intention of getting as many calls as possible in the first place?

You did it because people also have emails and telephones and therefore, they become¬† clear communication channels for your company. Then, if you’re good at handling email and phone queries, you’ll be able to serve more customers.¬† Does it make sense?

Step 1: Take the project as an experiment. Think about your customer persona and ask yourself: where do these folks hang out? (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). You might not know 100% yet (maybe yes) but try to define that first.

Step 2: Create an account in the defined platforms and try to understand first, how do they work (don’t just join Facebook and Twitter because everyone is doing it. It might not even be for your company yet). If you understand how to communicate through the platform, it’ll be easier then to understand how to conduct conversations.

Step 3: Get help if necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the platforms and tricks that might help you stand out.

Step 4: Think about the type of content you’re going to share to serve your audience, to help your customers resolve their pain points, until you start getting questions from them. Content marketing is a world in itself so do your homework about what are you going to talk about.

Step 5: Ensure your profile/s are fully completed before engaging. Finally, start publishing your company updates.

Step 6: When prospects and customers do talk to you (big milestone!) be there to answer and provide helpful information!

The steps above are a super simplified way to approach social media in your company or organisation but, I can guarantee you that you will find it much more useful than publishing random posts in networks you don’t understand yet.

What do you think?

This is the kind of situation that you will more likely encounter while being on holidays. It’s a very popular rule that many businesses (big and small) keep nowadays.
Why do you think they still do that?
I honestly don’t think they know or understand why. It’s something they’ve been enforcing for years so why stop now?

With arguable exceptions of art museums or places like banks or airports where security is a major concern, there’s nothing else that comes to my head that could possibly deserve the famous photo/video ban. Companies applying this rule are wasting their time and attempting against their own reputation. Here are a couple of examples.

A visit to Camden Lock Market in East London

Loads of great shops. Most of the businesses don’t let you take any pictures. What is the main reason? Fear of getting copied.

In the current age & time, that should be the least of your worries. If I really wanted to, I could easily photo/video shoot your store/area/restaurant with my smartphone, without you even realising.

A visit to the the Spanish Riding School of Vienna

Spectators are dying to take home a slice of that beautiful horse show. Why then not let tourists take pictures? Mainly because they sell a CD package with photos and videos of the riding school and its horses when you leave the premises, therefore “it will impact sales”.

The opportunity

Both businesses are missing the point. The objective is to increase revenue (and reputation). The shop in the market aims at selling more crafts and the riding school aims at selling more tickets for tourists that want to enjoy the show, not selling more CDs. What’s even funnier is that, letting people take their own pictures doesn’t necessarily mean fewer CD sales either!

I still remember when I was younger and bags were usually checked for cameras at concerts. If the music/concert industry has now understood the imminent change where everyone is a broadcaster, how come others haven’t yet?

Every time you let your customers and prospects collect a piece of what you offer through a photo or video, they become the best sales people you could have ever hired… for free. They will use that visual material to amplify their experience in the different social networks. As a result, more people become aware of your¬†attraction¬†and may consider to pay you a visit.

As we mentioned previously, companies are still investing too much energy and resources to make private what should be public. The fact that something has been done in a certain way during 20 years, doesn’t necessarily mean that it must be kept that way forever. In fact, you could embrace the ban and make it work to your advantage. What do you think?

Last Thursday,¬† Tipp-Ex (a BIC product) launched once again their interactive campaign with the funny bear: “In the first season, viewers were invited to white and rewrite the story‚Ķ For the second season, it‚Äôs now time to white and rewrite history!” (BIC’s press release).

Last year we followed the results for the first week of the campaign and also commented on some missed opportunities. Let’s first analyse a bit the brand mentions generated during this second season. We tracked the following keywords: tippex, tipp-ex, tipex and the official hashtag, #tippexexperience2. The timeframe we used was April 9th through the 19th.

Trend: This year the impact was bigger. Tipp-Ex had almost 5,000 mentions on launch date only. Last year they reached less than 2,000 the same day. They also had an average of over 200 brand mentions before the campaign started as opposed to 100 last year.

Mentions by region: Besides the US, not surprisingly in first place, this year the most mentions came from France  in second place (Buzzman, the French agency behind the campaign might have some impact) and the UK in third. Last year the UK was second and Germany third.

Mentions by media type: Naturally, micromedia was king with over 11,000 mentions. Last year we had over 4,000 within a few days from launch.

Was the campaign successful?

Despite the fact that Tipp-Ex achieved higher reach in this second attempt and that, undoubtedly, it’s a very creative and fun way to engage with fans, I wouldn’t say it was a success.
They have indeed added this time a Facebook page for the campaign (not the product unfortunately) where they amassed 35,000 fans. However, that doesn’t translate into success either.

We wrote a few posts about the importance of endurance in social media marketing. The BIC Group, as well as other powerful brands, such as Volkswagen and Old Spice, have the budgets to pull off entertaining campaigns of this magnitude.

Do you enjoy beautiful fireworks? How long do they last? That’s the best analogy to explain this new campaign. It took Tipp-Ex over a year to come back with “the bear”. The 1 million dollar question is: What have they done in the meantime?

There are no signs of engagement, no brand/product representatives talking to customers, not even in the Facebook page with 35 thousand fans! (please correct me if I’m wrong by sharing the link to their social channels in the comments).

At the end of the day, the idea is good and more likely Tipp-Ex will stay fresh in people’s minds for some time. However, a good social media marketing programme requires a lot more than one expensive, interactive campaign every now and then. Impressing your audience is one thing. Talking with them makes it more meaningful and rewarding.

What do you think?

I recently went to Oman with my family in-law. It was a fantastic experience. We drove across the country and explored its scenery and culture.

Despite how different life is in this angle of the planet, in my visit to the souk (Arab street market) in Nizwa, I realised that the behaviour was the exact same as in any other local market: people get together around the goods and socialise. Now, each one of these local points around the world have its unique characteristics (language, dress code, type of food, location, etc) which means that if you place a local shop from Paris in Nizwa, it’ll more likely not work.

Later on, this good article from Clara Shih about Facebook timeline for brands came to my head. Here’s the extract:

“Facebook is the place where friends have conversations with friends, and conversations are ever-changing. Sometimes, those conversations are with brands. Other times, the conversations are about brands. Businesses which are best at telling stories and creating emotional connection with fans get talked with and talked about the most. It’s that simple.
By eliminating fan-gating and no longer making it possible to apply old marketing tricks to the new medium, Facebook is issuing a challenge to all marketers: be yourself, stay in touch, tell your stories in authentic and engaging ways.
This begs the question: how do businesses come across as authentic and engaging? The key is to appeal to the issues, passions, and pain points that matter most to fans by getting highly targeted and local…”

This is not a piece of advise for Facebook execution only. Any global brand that drops the corporate one-message-fits-all approach and focuses on local, meaningful interactions will be making progress getting closer to prospects and customers.

This “local” we’re talking about goes beyond “localisation” (adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local “look-and-feel.”). Creating useful content that “appeals to the issues, passions, and pain points” of your customers and prospects is the real challenge and the only way your company will build a long lasting relationship.

Imagine your company acting as the local market. People coming to you because you offer something of value that goes beyond the very transaction. Imagine building social nodes where relevant people interact with each other and eventually come for your help.

From a different¬† angle, Gary Vaynerchuk also talks about “Local” and the importance of bringing some “small town sensibility” within the organisation.

What do you think?

I receive about five undesired LinkedIn messages every month. I got this one a few days ago that seemed to have a bit more work than the average. I felt bad for the person sending this message. He or she clearly sat down and thought about some creative lines, the ones that probably make you think, the ones that maybe work like magic and make people take action… I’m afraid that did not happen. Here’s the message:


Yes, I did press the “Report Spam” button because that’s all the message is. From the moment a stranger makes contact with you, doesn’t use your name, and pulls a pitch, it doesn’t matter how good is what they offer. People will shut down.
Many professionals using this tactic obviously don’t see themselves as strangers and don’t put into the recipient’s shoes either. But hey, the good news is that there’re many other great and legitimate ways to sell insurance without being a spammer. However, they take a bit more time, dedication, getting to your know your audience, business contacts and also offer something of help (tips, a blog post, a guide, etc).

Have you ever heard that “first impressions are very powerful”? Well, that doesn’t apply to the offline world only. When you send a message of this type, you’re closing doors. You put red flags in people’s heads as soon as they read your name again.

What’s your experience? How are some professionals wasting their time on LinekdIn?

Very often we send or receive all kinds of different documents online and offline, such as proposals, branded presentations, training packets, etc. All those papers have a purpose. We would like people to do X when they read it, right? Here are a few things you can try:

1. Complement with video

All proposals we send have a customised video that points to a branded page on our website where the prospect can learn more about the service and what they can expect. Video provides a full different taste about what you offer. Think about your training material or anything that’s been delivered traditionally for so long. Why not add a link to a video where the person that wrote that piece of¬† content can expand more on the subject?

2. Always use a URL shortener

We rely on Bit.ly. This service provides you with a shorter (handier) version of any long URL you might want to share. You can also customise the name of the link. It also provides valuable  insights about the amount of clicks your content is getting and the regions where those clicks are coming from. Finally, Bit.ly will generate a QR code for each shortened link. In the example above, if the prospect decided to print out the document he/she would still be able to scan that code with a mobile and watch the video!

Use QR codes also at events so people can easily scan and download your documents.

3. Allow people to interact in your ebooks or white papers

Since Twitter, avatars have demonstrated to be very powerful. Use them in your documents to provide a face for the expert writing the content and invite your audience to continue the conversation providing a link to the specific website, blog or even your LinkedIn Group! Chris Brogan did this in his first book, “Social Media 101″. That’s taking reading (one action only) to the next level.

4. Facilitate discussions with polls

Create a poll and embed it on any web page. You can do that with Polldaddy.com or why not with LinkedIn to direct people to your Group. Share a link on your document and also a QR code (for offline users) that points to that poll. Check for instant results during or after your presentation for example.

5. Include sharing options

Any promotional PDF that you share online should have a call-to-action asking users to share it more. Make it easy for them. Hubspot do this on every paper they distribute.

6. Finish strongly

At the end of any typical document, I usually see a brand, name, address and maybe email. You can do better than that. Include a video screenshot pointing to the resource online, invite your audience to join your LinkedIn Group, sign up to your email updates, share the social networks to connect with the speaker, etc. Remember to always include a shortened URL, otherwise you won’t be able to track your efforts.

How do you currently optimise your documents?

I’m a big fan of home made food and for many years I’ve been learning tones from TV cooking shows.

One of my favourites is “River Cottage”, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a chef well known for less dependence on the outside world, food integrity, and the consumption of local, seasonal produce.

In the latest episode, Huge came up with a few creative ideas that immediately made me think about content opportunities for B2B companies to better market their products and services.

1. Pick a Theme

This chef is constantly exploring all the angles of seasonal food. He doesn’t just do mixed ideas and dishes but rather focuses on maximising specific content. The latest episode was about “fish”

B2B pointer: Start by segmenting your solutions (products and services) by audience. If you produce a piece of content that is aimed at a specific target with a crafted title/theme, chances are the impact will be higher. Also more relevant people will find you through search engines.

2. Provide a taste of your knowledge

Huge went to a local fishmonger. The shop was displaying a rich selection of fresh fish. He asked: “What’s the difference between a local fishmonger and the one from the supermarket?” The reply was: “My customer knows more about fish“.
Then, the chef decided to take the fish to a local square where many people walked by, improvised a food stand and shouted: “This man has fresh fish and I’ve got great tips!“. Huge then started to sell the different types of fish by delivering easy recipe ideas. “This boneless piece of hake goes fantastic with olive oil, garlic and white wine…“.¬† In between the tips, he would fillet, marinate the fish and wrap it in aluminum foil for customers to put straight in the oven!

B2B pointer: Loads of potential customers need your solution (Many don’t know it yet). The way you get closer without interrupting, is by providing a bit of specific education (no strings attached) to help them make a decision and move forward. If, on top of that you deliver the solution on a golden tray, easy to take off your shelves (like the fish already marinated and ready to cook in the aluminum foil) you’ll improve distribution. Also, if people learn about your product and want to go ahead right now, is there a contact form, an email address or phone number easy to find?

3. Go reality-show style

Chef Hugh then went to the house of two college students that knew very little about cooking. He took them for a walk to the local fish market, taught them a bit about the different types mixed with recipe ideas, made a purchase and went back home to show them how to make a simple, inexpensive and delicious dinner.

B2B pointer: Hire a video production team. Pick a new customer or an existing one willing to explore one of your new products/services. Go out to them. Show the problem (customer’s pain). Listen, acknowledge and deliver your thoughts/approach. Even better, take that customer to your warehouse/office/factory so he/she can meet with your company experts.
Video content is very powerful and will certainly make you different. Chop the whole story into 2 to 3-minute episodes and promote them in your social media channels. Finally, do screenshots of the different story sequences and create a short ebook on PDF. The title should describe the problem you’re solving. Get it out there for free download and send it to the customer segment via email.

4. Get other experts on board!

Finally, Hugh shared the stage with two local chefs that showed us how to make a few quick meals with the catch of the day.

B2B pointer: Think about your partners, contractors, sales team, etc. These folks know your solution really well! Let them show your audience how to get the most out of it in their own style. This move will not only give you the chance to showcase the diversity of experience within your company but also, it’ll save you a lot of time if you were thinking about creating content just yourself or your department.

Has any show sparked business ideas for you recently?

You’ve probably read many times how social media changed our lives, provided us with a voice and made everyone a publisher. However, millions of people and companies have jumped on the wagon since the early days. Do you already see a big problem for 2012? Noise.

A few weeks ago, we wrote a post about how cluttered Twitter is. It doesn’t matter any more how many followers you have since your message barely gets seen.

On Tuesday, I read this other post where Niall Harbison from Simply Zesty, wrote about how difficult it is for brands and companies to get exposure on Facebook unless they invest money in ads. Number of fans, again is not enough folks. He ends the post saying “Basically if you want exposure on Facebook now you need to pay. Simple as that. Facebook have done a wonderful job of locking every area of the platform down so as they control most of the ad revenue that flows through it. Even the feed is getting harder to access and with ads coming there this month things will get even harder…

Companies approaching social media as a mere distribution channel will have to think harder and re-visit their budget for 2012 if they want to see positive results.

So, what could you do?

Here are only four suggestions that will hopefully make your decision a bit easier:

  1. Only measure what matters: This means that you will have to rework your objectives and KPIs for your existing social media platforms. For example, if before you where tracking “number of followers” as a key metric on Twitter, it’s time to bring that to the bottom of the list (or even not make it a KPI) and maybe focus on something more useful such as “number of interactions, number or positive mentions, number of sales queries”, you get the idea. If you can demonstrate a growth in these figures, it’ll be easier to make a business case to dedicate more time to specific platforms that impact the bottom line.
  2. Scan your audience: Ensure you understand who are your LinkedIn-company-page followers (linkedin.com/company/yourcompanyname/followers) and who is in your email database. Take the time to go through the names and companies. You’re putting all this effort in social media and as a result you’re building a valuable audience. Don’t think of them as just a “bunch of people”. If you take the time to understand who they are you’ll be able to serve them better, avoid spending unnecessary time pushing more messages and also detect any positive or negative trend on the kind of professionals your content is attracting. Investing time in your existing audience pays off, investing time in pushing random messages here and there (noise), doesn’t.
  3. Facebook is no longer free: Those companies fast enough to invest in strategic and creative Facebook advertising will be seen and stay ahead of the game. In parallel, you should keep posting everyday and talking to your fans of course.
  4. Integrate as much as possible any offline with online actions: This can take a bit more time but if it’s done well, it could deliver very powerful results for your company.
    Complement all current gaps in customer interaction with online interaction. As a result, your customer or prospects will keep you fresh in their heads. For example: write down in detail your sales funnel. Include every single step. Some people know this as the AIDA model (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action). Then, these type of questions should follow: What do we do currently to get a prospect talking to us? What do we do with prospects that are nor ready to buy righ now? Do we communicate / stay in touch with recent customers from the past three months? How and when do we knock on the door again?

In 2012, we will have to¬† get more creative. Publishing a few messages and having thousands of fans and followers won’t cut it any more. How are you going to make the most of your social media time to avoid the noise?

Before I proceed with this post and to avoid any misinterpretation,¬† I will not be talking about your company’s money vault. Other more qualified professionals can advise you how to manage your funds :)

There are two vaults we need to open (or improve)  in 2012 and more importantly, use wisely:

Open your knowledge vault

If there’s one major mistake that companies and brands keep making year by year is to keep betting most of the chips on “interruption marketing”.¬† I still see loads of organisations delivering “we’ve been 20 years in business” as their unique selling point or differentiation factor. We can do better than that.
Turn it around by sharing nuggets of the knowledge that you’ve phenomenally achieved during all these years. One of the best ways to do that is through a company blog but, please do not focus on the technology or think this is something for the “social media person” to be hired (hopefully) next year. This is your knowledge vault remember? This will be your golden avenue to share with the world “knowledge gifts” (no strings attached) that will help your audience of prospects and customers to make better decisions, to find you, to come back to you and more importantly, to trust you.
The fact that you will share business solutions (in the form of a blog post) for problems that people have doesn’t mean that they’ll get the advise for free and run away. Many professionals think this way.
Your company blog and outposts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube accounts) are in charge of connecting with people that are looking for what you have but still don’t know that you exist or for those who know you exist is helping answer the question “why should they go with you?” Your content should make that decision a no-brainer for them, whenever they’re ready to make a move.
Connect at a deeper level with your audience by listening to what they’re saying and write effective content as primary and nuclear fuel to propel your business beyond the competition.

Open your ideas vault

Facundo and I have been using for a few years two main platforms to save all different types of ideas (personal, for the business, for blog posts, new ventures, etc): Google Docs and Evernote. The latter is very handy since you mostly manage it through the mobile app on the go. You may take a picture of something, record your voice or write the idea, label it and it will stay there!
Imagine, in a 12-month period, the hundreds or thousands of ideas that you and¬† your team will come up with. The problem is that if you don’t save them somewhere, they’ll be gone with the wind and you’ll miss out on potential solutions that could make your business more effective, innovative,¬† profitable, fun and memorable.
Take the lead to create a space to save all ideas. If people tell you “I don’t have good ideas“, reply: “…tell me all the bad ones you have“, as Seth Godin would say.

2012 is another chance to make every minute count, every penny. Look around your business, your context. Are you saying you’re doing things differently already? Try harder because you are not. Do you have great ideas but the C suite can’t envision them? Get creative or get out of the comfort zone.

2012 is your best shot.