Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Case Study in The Power of Social Media :It's All About Relationships

I recently participated in a case study without really knowing about it.  We hear so much about the power of social media, and we are equally asked what the results we see. This short case study will give you insight into the power of social media, but more importantly what your campaigns really need in order to convert into theh dollars or actions you are expecting. .

An acquaintance from college posted a request on Facebook for blood donors.  A friend of hers -- a father of two young children-- was recently diagnosed with leukemia and is requiring numerous blood transfusions (specifically white blood cells and a certain blood type).

I saw the post on Facebook and although my blood type didn't match, I thought how hard could it be to share the request with my network. "Sue" was a person I knew pretty well and I respected her.  I posted a request for blood donors (of the certain blood type) with some information about the person in need. My post gave a specific request--Blood donors (blood type), time commitment, and how to get into touch with me. 

 Within 30 minutes, I had four people offer to donate blood.  Within an hour, I had them connected to the patient's wife and lined up with the hospital donation team.

Case Study Summary (Why this was a success):
  • The request was specific.  Readers didn't have to guess what they needed to do. The request specifically asked for blood type, time commitment, etc.
    • People don't want to have to think about what they are doing.  Take the guessing out.  It's like a seating chart at a wedding.  People want to be told what to do/where to sit in these situations. 
  • The request was personal.  Social media is all about relationships.  I only sent the request because I knew the other person and she has good character, etc.  
    • You need to be respected/known by your audience, especially if you are asking for personal information. 
  • The request had an emotional element.  Make the request for action about the readers/person involved. In this case, the readers needed to know that the person in need was a father of two young girls and he has been in the hospital since he was diagnosed just three months ago.  
    • People  inherently want to do good, and if you give them more info on how their time and efforts will directly impact someone or something, they will be more willing to take the action you want them to. 
    • On the flip-side, if you are a B2B or a B2C firm, the emotional aspect comes into play of how what you are providing will impact your ready.  For example, if you an estate planner, you may talk about children, grandchildren, etc., something that has an emotional appeal to your reader. 

Hope you find this helpful..  Anyone have anything to add to the points above?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Best Practices for Content Marketing: Start With Common Sense and Then Strategy

I've being doing quite a bit of research lately on content strategy and what content types, channels, and resources are the most effective for companies to reach their target audience.  As you read the research and my summary, I'd be interested to hear if you come to the same conclusion, sounds like common sense, right? But, as we see in so many situations, common sense takes a back seat to politics, resource constraints, and fear of new technologies. 

Detailed below are what I see as the most common mistakes companies are making and the key characteristics of successful firms.

  • No Content Marketing Strategy.  According to a Pennypacker survey, only 46% of firms responding had a content marketing strategy. I find this extraordinary.  Producing content is not cheap.  It's like selling a house without doing any staging.  You might get a buyer, but are you getting the maximum result for your efforts?
  • Content marketing is not an integrated cross-departmental program.  Create a piece of content, do a press release and then ? Most do not see content production and marketing as something that needs a project manager.  But that's exactly what you need.  Someone to ensure all possible stakeholders for a campaign are involved and that all possible outlets are being used to get maximum results (PR, SEO, social media marketing, employee advocate training, etc.).  
  • Employees are not seen as advocates. They don't have access to the tools or empowered to step into the market for you.  This is crazy to me.  Most often employees are not empowered because they are not "official" spokespeople of the firm.  WRONG.  If you trust them to be your employees and deliver on company promises, train them to live your brand.   Accenture is a great example where all employees live the brand and exemplify who they are. 
  • Firms look at competitors to define content information needs.  Copying your competitors or trying to do the same thing just a bit better is not going to ensure you meet your audience's needs.  Differentiate yourself.  Also, how do you know your competitor is getting it right.  Have the self-assurance to put yourself out there and meet your audience where they need you.
High-Performing Observations:
  •  Companies partner with other firms, organizations, and institutions that can both solidify and elevate their position within the identified target audience group.  How many times have you heard, "they're just trying to use our name."  Partnerships do not always need to be with a company that is as big as you.  Look for those firms that have creditability with your audience and who will reach users that typically you may have not attracted before.  However, you need to make sure their core values and ethics align with your firm's.
  • Create a hub-and-spoke distribution model.  As Mequoda Daily states in their Content Marketing Strategy 2011 Whitepaper, rule #2 is to use many platforms.  I couldn't agree more. Today, we have so many options.  The trick it to pick the right number of channels, use them for the right intent, and inter-link them.  Similar to personal branding, each channel should support the others and always lead back to the main hub.  You will select your hub based on your goals.  Are you branding building, generating sales leads, or trying to drive revenue through e-commerce?  Answering those questions will help you identify your hub.
    • NOTE:  Do you not repeat the same message everywhere.  You should have a strategy/approach for each channel and they should be differentiated. 
  • Success comes in solving problems and addressing pain points.  According to a post by Chris Koch and  ISTMA's research on How Customers Choose Solution Providers, "nearly 60% of respondents said that idea-based content plays an important or critical role in determining which providers make it onto their shortlists." Although the survey is geared for B2B, this practice is even more critical for B2C.
  • Good marketers go directly to the source and ask their audience.  DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.  How silly will you look when your boss asks why the content campaign didn't accomplish the established goals and ask you come to realize you failed by delivering the information that your audience isn't craving or you used the wrong channel.  With easy-to-use and low-cost tools such as Survey Monkey, Google Docs, and simple focus groups, you have no excuse why your content wasn't aligned with audience needs.
    • Pennypacker and Mequoda provide an overview on the most common types of content used and how firms view their effectiveness.
There are so many other components of content marketing and strategy, but I found these to be the most common-sense, easy to apply, and valuable.

What did I miss?  Do you have anything to add to the list above?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lessons Learned from Twitter Chats

Over the last two years, I have been the co-moderator of #careerchat on Twitter.  We originally started the chat to help professional manage their career better.  Like any involvement in an online community, you can go in with one idea but you have to be open to the community driving what they are really looking for.  Over time, the community of users participating evolved more to industry experts and other career coaches.

Is this a failure or just the community driving their needs? By reaching career coaches, university career services departments, and other career services companies, aren't we ultimately reaching our target population.  It's very hard to quantify brand growth through the use of social media tools, but the latest numbers from provide a compelling argument that the exposure may be worth the investment of one hour over lunch.

Reached 29,052 people via 50 tweets 
Exposure: 57,442 Impressions

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

5 Steps Overcoming Frustrations With Your Work and Life

Lately, I've been getting restless at work. Am I in the right place? Are the things that challenge me the right things? Over the last week or so, I spent some time evaluating where I am and where I want to go. The process, which I have to say has been a surprise to me, has re-energized me and helped me completely appreciate everything where I am.

I'm not a sappy person who "found the light." But, I did find that I'm where I'm supposed to be, at least for now.

Here's My 5 Step Process To "Enlightenment":

  • Inventory. Think about what your happy with and more importantly what's driving you crazy.

  • Identify what you can change and what you can't. Sounds easy right? But this is actually the hardest part. You need to make sure that if you are attempting change within your job and company that it will be accepted and appreciated by your manager and your coworkers. If you're making change at home and you're married; you better be talking with your spouse.

  • Change what you can!

  • Talk with your manager. If you've built the right typjavascript:void(0)e of relationship with your boss, you should be able to be open about your frustrations. There may be things that you're not aware of that could help in your decision process about change. Also before you move into the fifth bullet, you should always tell your manager you are evaluating options within your own company. Most HR teams require it. It's also better that your managers hears you're scoping out other jobs and departments from you than through the office rumor mill.

  • Talk with others. I met with other managers, vice presidents, and colleagues to see what else was available, where I might fit, and if there were other options for me. This step requires you to be completely honest with yourself (especially if you haven't been up to now). You might just find out that the right place is exactly where you are.

And last but not least. When all else fails: Take a Vacation. Getting away and clearing your head might just be what you really need.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Don't Treat Me Like a Doormat!

You work at home, but your neighbors who work out at an office see you as their personal assistants. Sound familiar? You're not alone. Jeffrey Zaslow of the WSJ recently covered the topic in, "At-Home Workers Say Enough is Enough". According to Zaslow, "the assumption is that working at home means that you have the are torn between their willingness to help and their resentment about the way their help is sought."

From someone who has worked at home, I can tell you that the assumption about flexibility if WRONG. You know what I mean. We've all looked at the clock, realized it was 4:00 in the afternoon and couldn't believe we were still in our p.j.s? Our days fly by and all of the things you had planned to do are still waiting for you. I can see why the women featured in this story feel the way they do. They are "easy marks." Why couldn't they pick up the kids, run some errands, right?

Read the rest on on my 28 Hours blog.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A True Milwaukee Weekend

I was flying solo last weekend. My hubby was trying to win, or more importantly, not lose our retirement in vegas. So what's a girl to do? Do what I did, catch up with family and friends and enjoy the great city we live it.

Itinerary for the weekend:
Friday: Worked out with the trainer at the Brickyard. If you haven't been to this gym, you're missing out on our very own version of Average Joe's (from Dodge ball if you didn't get the connection). There's always something ridiculous going on there.

Following the Brickyard, visit friends at Sugar Maple. A great bar in Bay View:smoke free, awesome beer selection, and not at all pretentious (but also not dingy). A ride home from a friend and a good night sleep.

Kate and I explored Bay View alla a 5 mile walk. Starting in the deep south of Bay View (Clement and Morgan), we trecked our way to Groppi's and were delighted to find a free cheese, bread, salami and beer sampling. God, I love this city. We continued along Lake Shore drive, down Superior, down Oklahoma and back to my house. We even popped into a few open houses along the way (yes, we're the nosy ones). Note: $419k for an outdated, smelly house is not a deal (even with the view of the lake).

Saturday night: Ohhh yeh, dinner at Honeypie. How can you not love a restaurant that put bacon on nearly everything they serve. Amazing dinner followed by fantastic ice cream at Babes.

Could Sunday top Saturday, you betcha. Awesome coffee and the Sunday paper followed by yet another marathon walk with Kate. This time, we did her hood, Shorewood that is. We started on Oakland and Capital and trecked our way to North Ave then to Prospect to the new Savoy at the Shorecrest. Onmiwlaukee was wrong, they don't serve brunch. So we made our way to Brady street and hiked down to Tracedoro--45 minute wait, no way. I guess everyone else heard they re-opened. Alas we arrive at Roots. Breakfast, a mimosa and one of the best views of the city--again great Sunday.

We headed back to Shorewood via Commmerce to North/Oakland. Still sad seeing the vacant land where Pizza Man once stood (RIP).

Dinner on Sunday, well of course. Sunday is dinner with grams. I pick her up at her assisted living home and much to the jealously of her neighbors we head out. I take her through Grant Park to enjoy some sunlight and joke about the old men acting like they own the golf club house... Grams replies "show me a man who doesn't think he owns a place." Still funny at 85 with dementia. Dinner at Polenze. Best Polish food in Milwaukee.

Sunday night is spent catching up on work and reading my new Food and Wine magazine.

What a great weekend!