Here are all of the posts tagged ‘strategy’.
As part of our ongoing work on #ProjectReconnect with the WFA, we recently explored the premise that all brands today must be ‘purposeful’. They’ve been kind enough to let us share our findings here too.
In today’s competitive world, a great product is no longer enough for a brand to succeed.
A great product is still critical of course; no-one would willingly buy a bad product twice.
But as functional performance differences between companies’ offerings become ever more marginal, people increasingly rely on more intangible, emotional factors to inform and guide their choices.
As a result, the rules of the marketing ‘beauty pageant’ have changed. Today, brands can no longer rely on good looks alone; they need depth and soul too.
Above all, they need a higher-order ‘purpose’.
But what does a ‘brand purpose’ look like?
A Purpose Inspires Hearts and Heads
Given the choice between similar (and similarly priced) alternatives, people usually go for the option that makes them feel good.
Making people feel good isn’t just about hedonism though; brands that make a meaningful contribution to society, or brands that help people to reduce their impact on the environment, are also highly compelling.
A brand’s purpose doesn’t need to be about saving the world though; brands that offer people hope, or inspire them to improve themselves, are also well placed to earn a place in people’s hearts.
Tip #1: A great purpose engages people’s hearts, not just their heads.
A Purpose Goes Beyond Money
Ask businesspeople why their organisation exists, and most will offer a reply along the lines of “to make a profit.”
But if all businesses exist solely to make a profit, there’s very little differentiation between them.
Meanwhile, unless they happen to be company shareholders, none of your audience cares whether your organisation makes a profit. Indeed, making too much profit can actively turn people against you (think Occupy Wall Street).
If you want to compel people to choose your brand, you need to stand for something more meaningful than simply ‘selling stuff to make money’.
As John Willshire puts it, we need to focus on making things people actually want, not simply trying to make people want things we’ve already made.
Critically, you need to show people how you help them succeed, not just how you will succeed with their money.
Tip #2: Make sure your brand’s purpose articulates the value to your consumer, as well as to your organisation.
Define Your Promise Before You Define Your Product
People don’t buy what brands make; they buy what brands make happen for them.
Think of it this way: people don’t pay for shampoo; they pay for clean, beautiful hair – and the psychological and emotional benefits that beautiful hair brings (e.g. self-confidence).
Moreover, for your customers, products and services are simply means to an end, and these products and services are increasingly at risk from leftfield alternatives that deliver those same ‘ends’ in new or different ways.
In the most extreme cases, these alternatives can destroy entire industries in a matter of months (think Kodak).
However, by building your brand around the benefits you promise rather than the products you make, you can elevate your brand beyond product-centric comparison
At the same time, you also make it easier to extend your brand beyond a specific product category (think TOMS, who have credibly expanded from shoes into eyewear and coffee).
Tip #3: A brand purpose articulates what people can buy into, not just what they can buy.
Making It Different vs. Making A Difference
Too many brands mistake novelty and distraction for differentiation.
However, such an approach is very difficult to sustain. It may bring in the first sale, but novelty quickly wears off, and the brand must resort to increasingly impressive spectacle to keep people interested – which becomes increasingly expensive and difficult.
There’s an easy way round this though: by focusing on how your brand makes people’s lives better, or how it makes the world a better place, you stand a much greater chance of keeping people coming back for more.
The Essential Tip: Strive to make things better, not just to make better things.
This post first appeared on the #ProjectReconnect website.
More than 2 billion people around the world used social media in the past 30 days, and these numbers are still growing at an impressive rate:
This connected, vocal audience presents huge opportunities that marketers won’t want to miss, but social success requires a different approach in different countries and cultures around the world.
So how can marketers get global social ‘right’?
The answer lies in the 6Cs of Social.
There are hundreds of different social networks around the world, all built around different needs, interests, and technological functions.
All these platforms have one thing in common, though: conversation.
Without conversation, social media aren’t social, and for brands in social, it’s the conversation that really matters.
Conversations enable brands to become more engaging, allowing them to evolve beyond a straightforward product or service.
But managing a ‘regional’ conversation in Asia poses a number of challenges.
In Asia-Pacific alone, people speak more than 2,000 languages.
Even if your audience understands English, they may not be comfortable – or happy – conversing in it.
When it comes to social conversations, people prefer to speak the language that best allows them to express themselves.
Even when they do speak the same language though, there are invariably many different ways of speaking it – from the nuances of everyday slang to our constantly evolving ‘social’ vocabularies (think ‘LOL’).
The key is to remember that successful communication isn’t determined by what you say; it’s determined by what other people understand.
Recommendation: spend some time listening to your audience’s conversations in social media, and adopt a style that makes it easy for them to converse with you.
Humans are a highly diverse bunch, and this diversity can add significant complexity to the process of developing a unified global approach.
Firstly, people follow a wide variety of religions, each of which may impact how a brand needs to behave in social media.
Marketers will need to keep track of myriad religious festivals and celebrations, while attitudes towards things such as alcohol, styles of dress, and even colours may vary dramatically from one culture to another.
Similarly, many Asian cultures are guided by the concept of 面子 – ‘face’ as it is commonly known in English – and as a result, they may exhibit less ‘social volume’ than their Western peers.
Consequently, it may be more difficult to achieve high levels of audience interaction, which can impact organic reach and engagement.
Recommendation: make sure that your content development teams and community managers truly understand the culture of the people you’re trying to engage.
3. Content Neutrality
Qzone and Facebook still command the greatest number of active social networking users in the world, but most social media users are active across multiple platforms:
China’s Tencent is responsible for 3 of the world’s top 5 most active social platforms – clear evidence that social media users adopt multiple channels at once.
Chat apps like WeChat (Weixin), Whatsapp, LINE and Kakaotalk have exploded in popularity in recent months, while platforms like Weibo, Twitter and Instagram continue to grow too:
As a result, it’s important for brands to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket.
Marketers need to create content that audiences will be able to transfer from one platform to the other, allowing people to continue the conversation on their own terms with their different networks.
This approach will also help to avoid relying too heavily on platform-specific audiences.
Social media users are quick to adopt new platforms, and marketers may find that the ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ they build in one platform quickly become irrelevant as audiences move on to the newest network or app.
Recommendation: build communities around passions, not audience on platforms.
4. Country Needs
What does your brand need to do in order to succeed?
It’s unlikely that the answer to this question will involve the same set of challenges and opportunities in each market, so you’ll need to develop an approach that can adapt to your varying local needs.
Much of this relates to the audience context in each market – for example, how much they know about the brand, or the specific place it holds and role it plays in the local landscape.
Do you need to educate people, or just reinforce what they already know? Can you already harness ‘cultural equity’ like community in-jokes or evocative imagery?
You’ll also need to adapt your content and conversational approach to your brand’s specific needs for things like new launches or environmental factors (e.g. product shortages).
Don’t forget that local legislation may have a significant impact on your activities too. Many countries have strict laws governing aspects such as product claims, competitions, or even whether certain products (e.g. alcohol) can be overtly marketed.
Recommendation: even if you’re aiming for a global or regional approach, ensure that it’s flexible enough that it can adapt to a variety of local needs.
Social media is increasingly a mobile-first experience. Almost 80% of Facebook’s users access the service via mobile devices, whilst almost all 438 million users of WeChat – China’s hottest social platform – are mobile-only.
This mobility presents some great opportunities for marketers, whether it’s connecting with people when they’re actually using a brand, when they’re at the point of sale, or when they’re out socialising with friends.
However, the mobile context differs considerably from one country to the next, and mobile diversity isn’t without its challenges.
Firstly, data connections remain slow across much of the developing world, with barely one-quarter of Asia’s 1.8 billion mobile users able to access 3G networks.
Meanwhile, more than 80% of Asia’s 4 billion active mobile connections are pre-paid (versus 27% in the US and 42% in the UK), meaning that the cost of mobile data – and therefore of mobile internet access – is still an important challenge.
As a result, marketers need to build carefully balanced content plans. High-definition video may deliver the ‘optimum experience’, but video streams or downloads will be too slow and too expensive for the average mobile user in countries like India or the Philippines, so be sure to incorporate simpler, static content too.
Slow connection speeds mean brands need to deliver immediate value too; if the audience has any doubts about the relevance or utility of a brand’s post, they will scroll straight past it before the content even has a chance to load.
Recommendation: make sure all your content is tailored for a mobile-dominated consumption experience.
If you do need to take a global or regional approach to social media, avoid categorising your audience by country.
Instead, look for the interests, motivations and attitudes that the people you want to engage have in common, and use these commonalities to define your audience.
People are drawn to others whom they feel affinity for, and when it comes to the borderless internet, this affinity is far more dependent on passion than it is on place.
Recommendation: define your audience around their shared motivations, not their nationality.
A version of this post first appeared in my column on The Marketing Society’s blog.
For the 500,000 people who’ve been reading our recent reports on the state of Social, Digital & Mobile around the world, the next important question becomes:
“What should my brand do to take advantage of these amazing opportunities?”
To answer that question, and help marketers to translate interest and enthusiasm into action, we’re delighted to share a refreshed version of “Making Friends & Influencing People“, our popular guide to strategic social media marketing.
This guide is designed to help everyone across your organisation – from you, to your interns, to your CEO – to make the best possible use of social media.
We’ve split the guide into three parts:
- Some headline statistics to help you set the context when presenting the case for social media to non-marketers;
- The ‘10 Commendments‘ – the ‘mandatories’ for building strong brands in social media;
- Our robust 8-step framework for building a strategic social media plan
The ‘10 Commendments’ deserve a little more introduction though.
First up, the name – and no, it’s not a typo. Social media is a welcoming and inclusive place, and instructive commandments would seem out of place, so we prefer ‘commendments‘ – in other words, friendly recommendations and suggestions.
1. Focus On People, Not Technology
Social media is all about interacting with other people. Technologies and platforms are great, but ultimately they’re just means to an end, so focus on the human benefits rather than the technological possibilities. (More on this topic here)
2. Build Conversations, Not Campaigns
Many short-term marketing campaigns are like pick-up lines: they’re a great way to get the conversation going, but they’re hardly a sustainable basis for a long-term relationship. If it’s enduring value you’re after, think and plan for on-going conversation, not just a quickie. (More on this topic here).
3. Use Content As A Means, Not An End
Content is a fantastic way to start a conversation, but for most brands, it’s the conversation that drives the ultimate value. Whenever you’re planning or posting content of any kind – whether it’s a one-line status update or an hour-long video epic – ask yourself what happens next: “What do I want the audience to do with this content?”
4. Add Value To The Audience’s Life
When it comes to social media, a brand isn’t just up against its competitors; it’s competing with everything in its audience’s life: Photos of kittens. Updates from last night’s party. Those scandalous celebrity pics. So, if you’re not adding distinct value, you’ll likely just disappear into the stream. As a result, you need to clearly articulate how you’re adding relevant value to the audience in the context of their whole life, not just how you’re different to the other brands in your category. (More on this topic here)
5. Listening Is The New Shouting
Understanding people’s wants, needs, and desires has always been the foundation of great marketing, but building that understanding at scale has traditionally been too expensive or too complex. That’s changed significantly with the advent of social media listening tools, which allow marketers everywhere to stay in touch with what their audiences are talking about, sharing, and in some cases, actually buying – for example, restaurant brands might track the #foodporn hashtag on Instagram to identify the most popular dishes of the moment around the world. However, remember that the tools don’t do much on their own – you’ll need to analyse and interpret the data before it can add value to your brand. (Find out more here)
6. Spread The Love
Occasionally, brands strike marketing gold, and their audiences share their updates like wildfire. This is the one-in-a-million shot though; if you’d prefer better odds, putting some ‘financial amplification’ behind your social activities is a more likely way to ensure your investments deliver satisfactory returns. That’s not just about ad dollars though – remember that better crafted content is more likely to drive organic sharing too.
7. Be Prepared
The best thing about social media is that everyone can get involved. However, the bigger the crowd, the more likely it is you’ll have to deal with different, and sometimes conflicting, views. As the old adage says, “you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” In reality, there’s a very high chance something, somewhere will go wrong someday, so it’s better to prepare for that day now than to wait until you’re in full-on panic mode. Fortunately, you can read about that in much more detail here.
8. Measure Your Progress
If you’re still of the opinion that half of your ad dollars are surely wasted, but you just don’t know which half, we’ve got good news for you: that should never be a problem you face in social media. Sure, you’re unlikely to ever reach 100% ad efficiency, but if you’re measuring your social media activities properly, you should always know which half of your dollars is working harder for you, so at least you know which dollars to reinvest elsewhere.
9. Optimise As You Go
Following on from the previous Commendment, we have more good news: once you’ve identified which elements of your social media activities need to be tweaked, it’s relatively easy to change them as you go. Even paid media elements can be changed and optimised in real-time.
10. Be In It For The Long Term
Social media success rarely comes overnight, and if it does, it rarely lasts. Social media really is all about relationships, and as with all relationships, you get out what you put in. Invest with a longer-term view, and expect to ‘give’ plenty before you ‘get’ something in return. However, by offering a clearly articulated value proposition to your social audiences over time, they’re more likely to stay with you over the longer term. If you’re wondering about the ROI of that longer-term approach, take a look here.
These may be things you’re already practising every day in your social media work, but ensuring the rest of your organisation is on board too will help you succeed.
So, if you’d like to share a copy of the complete Making Friends & Influencing People guide with them, why not download a copy now (simply click here) and send it over to them.
Social Brands Part 2
In last week’s first post in our series on Social Brands & The Future Of Marketing, we noted that, “the most successful brands don’t just predict the future; they define the future on their own terms.”
We’re continuing that theme in today’s second post in the Social Brands series, exploring the importance of building social marketing activities around the people you care about, and not around specific technological features or platforms.
The Motivations Driving Social Networking
Most people visit social networking sites in order to connect with other people: to stay in touch with friends and family; to share things with colleagues and professional peers; and even to meet strangers with similar interests and needs.
Because of this, most people see social media as a means to an end, with that ‘end’ being social interaction.
Of course, there are many times when technology plays an important part in facilitating these connections; things like the filters on Instagram, or the sharing features common to most social networks, are all important aspects of our social networking experience.
However, people connect around the personal, social benefits these elements provide, and not around the functionality itself.
Critically, if those social benefits don’t exist – if the people we want to connect with are not present, or if our networks move on – then the platform quickly loses its value.
We’ve seen this happen many times before; the declines of Second Life, MySpace, and Friendster were all driven by the migration of their audiences, not by technical failures.
Sadly, when audiences move on from an incumbent Big Platform – and they invariably do – marketers quickly lose out.
The investments they’ve made in building large audiences specific to that platform stop delivering meaningful returns, because those audiences are invariably ‘non-transferrable’ (how many brands succeeded in migrating their Second Life audiences wholesale into Facebook without paying for the privilege?).
As a result, marketers need to stop relying on buying attention within specific platforms, and find a more resilient way of managing their social media activities.
From Platforms To Communities
The trick is to stop seeing social media as media, and to focus on the motivations and behaviours that drive people’s social activities instead.
Instead of buying attention in the hottest platforms of the day, tomorrow’s top brands will spend time understanding how to deliver value to the same people across different settings and contexts.
They will focus on nurturing active communities that choose to engage with and around the brand and its activities wherever and whenever they can.
Critically, they will use new platforms to offer incremental value – not simply as another means to interrupt people.
From Eyeballs To Heartstrings
The secret to building these ‘migratory’ communities is to understand people’s wants, needs, and desires, and to build engaging connections around them at every opportunity.
We need to understand what brings communities together, and build our strategies around their shared interests and passions, and not around technical functionality or platforms.
Above all, we need to add value to their lives at every opportunity – a topic we’ll explore in more detail in the next post in this Social Brands series.
Want to join the conversation? We’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions, so why not share them in the comments.
Over the past few months, we’ve been spending lots of time with senior marketers from some of the world’s biggest companies, and our conversations have culminated in a robust and actionable framework that enables brands to seize the opportunities presented by Social Media.
Today, we’re delighted to share the core of this new framework with you too.
It builds on our hugely popular Making Friends & Influencing People guide, which sets out We Are Social’s principles for effective and efficient Social Media Marketing.
As you’ll see in the full ‘Sharing Is Caring’ deck (above), this framework brings together a wealth of stimuli to help you start planning your own social media strategy, including:
- Best-in class case studies
- We Are Social’s core social media marketing principles
- Our powerful 8-Step Process
- Links to a variety of other resources that will help you maintain momentum and start bringing plans to life.
To give you a flavour of our thinking though, here’s an overview of our core principles:
Before you do anything, set your business objective: what do social media need to do? Only when you’ve answered this question should you start to plan your actual approach, as that approach needs to be tailored to deliver these specific results.
1. Start with people, not technology
At its heart, Social Media is a human discipline, not a digital one, and the most powerful social strategies start with the needs of your audience rather than technological platforms and digital novelty.
2. Build conversations, not campaigns
Broadcast comms do a great job of introducing brands through the marketing equivalent of a pick-up line. However, it’s difficult to build enduring relationships through one-liners and tag-lines alone. Instead, use social media to build the everyday conversations that deepen bonds with your audience and help to foster a real sense of brand affinity.
3. Use content as a means, not an end
As Cory Doctorow says, “Conversation is king; content is just something to talk about.” It’s true that content is always vital to a conversation strategy, but it’s what people do next, as a result of consuming that content, that ultimately delivers brand value.
4. Add value to the audience’s life
Spamming people with endless updates about your products through social media is the marketing equivalent of going on a date and only talking about yourself, and is unlikely to produce the desired results. You need to add value to the audience before you can add value to the brand.
5. Listening is the new shouting
The real value in a conversation lies in the listening. The good news is that people share a huge amount of honest and spontaneous information via social media, and there are a variety of tools available that enable marketers to listen to these public conversations and so learn how to deliver better value to their audiences.
6. Spread the love
Building a great social media presence doesn’t guarantee that people will come. Like all the best parties, you need to invite people to join in, and to keep the vibe alive once they’ve arrived. Advertising can help build this momentum, but engaging influencers and inspiring them to engage others is often more effective and more efficient.
7. Always be prepared
Murphy reminds us that if anything can go wrong, it probably will do sooner or later. Social media is a highly public environment, and things can go wrong. However, preparing a 3As plan – Alert, Assess, Act – can mitigate risks and ensure problems (and opportunities) are dealt with in the most effective way possible:
- Alert: set up tools and processes that raise the alarm if certain things happen.
- Assess: have a process in place that ensures the right people can determine the scale of the issue at hand, and what needs to be done about it, by whom, and when.
- Act: define clear roles and responsibilities so that everyone understands their role and can get moving quickly.
8. Measure your progress
If you can’t prove the ROI of social media activities, you probably need to rethink your approach. However, ROI isn’t just about sales and revenue, because everyone in the business ultimately contributes to those. When it comes to social media measurement, the important thing is to focus on your objectives, and track how social media is contributing to achieving them.
9. Optimise as you go
Social media are not a ‘set-and-forget’ environment; the opportunities for constant feedback and effective test-and-learn approaches mean that marketers can optimise their approach with every single activity, post and comment.
10. Make a commitment
When it comes to success in social media, The Supremes had it sussed as far back as 1966: “You can’t hurry love.” Meaningful relationships always take time to build, and the same is true in social media. Marketers need to make a concerted investment of time, effort and financial resource, but doing so strategically can deliver considerable returns on those investments.
As you may realise as you go though the deck above, the Sharing Is Caring approach is designed to prompt more questions than it answers, but does so from the perspective of ensuring that senior marketers understand which questions and processes can help them to build social media plans that actively contribute to their brands’ bottom line.
Critically, the framework delivers its greatest value when we share it in a truly interactive setting, so if you’d like to experience its full power for yourself and see how it can work for your brand, we’d be delighted to come in and present it to you and your teams; simply email us via firstname.lastname@example.org with some background to your brand and the opportunities and challenges you’d like to explore, and we can take the conversation from there.