Category: Strategy

Location-based apps make sense!

Don’t get me wrong. I love the social component of social media, including location based apps. But I’ve always taken a bit of a hard line on any app that tells the world exactly how far from home you are. It seems to me like it’s just inviting trouble.

But Four-square redeemed itself in my eyes this week. In the midst of an evacuation of a highly populated area, the Wall Street Journal used Four Square to notify people in the vicinity to evacuate.

It’s creative solutionizing such as this that could turn social media from a fun frivolity and potential revenue stream, into a serious component to contribute to critical operations at the business and public level. It helps that the evacuation was in Times Square, smack in the middle of NYC, which boasts the highest concentration of Four Square users.

Still, think about the implications for disaster preparedness and emergency response. This is just the type of thing I love to see.

Why Twitter Trumps Facebook

I have to give a hat tip to Jess at PRBreakfast Club for this one. As it turns out, Facebook has some great features, like inexpensive, highly targeted ads, but when it comes to business usability, a Twitter profile is much more useful than Facebook, or even LinkedIn.

The key to Twitter is networking – building relationships (often across multiple accounts, in this business) through tweets, conversations, and spreadin’ the news (cue cheesy music). And since your cousin and your granddad and your next-door neighbor are more likely to follow you on Facebook than on Twitter, tweets give you the business legitimacy unspoiled by cutesy comments from the peanut gallery, or Aunt Hilda’s bone spurs. You know what I mean, don’t you?

So do your research. Follow people in your industry or auxiliary industries. Interact. Converse. Share beneficial information. And don’t bother searching for your high school buddies. Save that for Facebook.

How to Hire a Social Media Rock Star – Part 1

So, your organization is ready to hire someone to manage social media. But how do you make sure your choice to fill the vacancy is the right one? The first thing to do – even before you start looking – is to define your strategy.

What will you do with your social media accounts and how do they fit into your overall business strategy?

Advertise/Market: Gain a following, advertise products and services, advertise company, increase market share.

This involves generating content with a high interest level and engagement. Harnessing word of mouth is your best bet, which means you’ll need an intensive engagement strategy to build a groundswell. Ford’s CMO, James Farley, says “You can’t just say it. You have to get the people to say it to each other.” That’s what social media is all about.

Customer Service touchpoint: Gauge the barometer of what people are saying about you, monitor and respond to your customers and users.

Search tools can help you monitor what people are saying about your company and products. Responding immediately gives your customers the instant gratification we all love. Besides, studies show that a complaint handled well is likely to bring repeat business. Use social media to connect with users, especially after a bad experience or to help them troubleshoot, and you’re likely to see some major returns.

Operational functionality: Using social media can help people connect across your business – employees, customers – vertically and horizontally.

Staff training combined with an innovative integration of technology can streamline business processes. Resolving issues before they become problems, facilitating communication, and collecting data are all ways to use social media to improve operational functionality.

Once you have your goals in mind, you’ll want to build your strategy around 3 basic factors:

  1. Be authentic to build trust.
  2. Be social to build relationships.
  3. Be useful to build value.

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.

Credit: Ross Dawson Blog

NY Times biting themselves in the patooty?

The New York Times will start charging for content on a metered scale starting in 2011. That means you can access a certain number of articles for free, and then they’ll start charging when you reach a predetermined quota.

That means they’re treating their website much like they treat their hard copy newspaper. You can read a few articles for free if you go to your local library, but you might not get the most up-to-date issue, and you probably won’t have time to read it cover to cover. If you want all that, you have to subscribe or purchase your own copy from your favorite newspaper vendor.

The same concept, applied to their website means you can read a few things, but then either pay up or – what I think is more likely – search for the same content on another news outlet. With the decline of newspaper and magazine subscriptions, I’ve been wondering when this would happen, but I’m afraid it’s following the wrong logic.

Old logic says charge the advertisers, charge the readers. That’s the logic that reigned prior to the digital age. As the media landscape changes the logic behind business models has to change too.

Paid content means fewer readers/visitors. Less activity means less return for advertisers. And since the bulk of revenue likely comes from ads, less returns will significantly impact turnover.

So what? How are dailies and monthlies to get their readers to pay for content, or at least generate another income stream in addition to advertising? What about subscription-based apps? Subscription-based RSS feeds? Let’s say I want to know anytime media in the US runs a story about corruption in Moldova. I’d be willing to pay $0.02/article, or so. For the convenience of delivery to my mobile phone – I’d pay for that. But content on the website when I want to read about the day’s events? Not a chance. I’ll take my business elsewhere – and chances are, so will most. When it comes down to it, I’m likely to get so used to not using sites that have metered rates for content that they’ll lose my participation altogether. I’ll go from being a regular user to an infrequent user, to abandoning it completely.

Update 1/21/10: TechDirt posted a nice article along the same lines, noting that NY Times is going to be caught in a dispute between 2 competing business models.

Earned media

We’re seeing more and more traction from the term “earned media,” referring to fan-generated publicity at no cost to the advertiser. Sean Corcoran of Forrester developed this chart to elucidate the different types of advertising:

The role of paid advertising is rapidly changing from the forefront of company marketing strategies to the last addition, and often used to contribute to successful earned media and owned media. As the way people perceive information and make decisions changes, so must the way we reach them – true both for advertising agencies and the companies that employ them.

According to the CMO of Ford, James Farley, “You can’t just say it. You have to get the people to say it to each other.” That is the heart of earned media, of social media, and it should be at the heart of our company’s strategies for growth.

Why businesses need blogs

Thanks to Social Media Examiner for pointing out the September study by McKinsey that polled global companies about their experience with Web2.0 (or Social media).

More than one-half of respondents (52%) said Web 2.0 tools increased marketing effectiveness, while 43% reported higher customer satisfaction and 38% reduced marketing costs.

Companies cannot simply adopt these technologies and expect their customers to use them en masse, however. Among firms reporting measurable benefits from Web 2.0, 74% said it was important to integrate the tools with other forms of customer interaction, and 52% said marketing the Web 2.0 initiatives themselves was a best practice.

Let’s take a look at how blogs, specifically, can be helpful.

  1. Internal communication with employees and staff. Blogs foster cross-functional knowledge sharing and collaboration between departments. They reinforce key company messages like vision and mission, and help the company turn its people into evangelists. The more the message is communicated, the more the staff will know how to communicate it to others.
  2. Customer-related purposes. Blogs are an ideal place to make yourself useful to customers, clients, and users. It’s a medium to share information about your product or service as well as complimentary products and services. For instance, a blog for a residential maid service might post articles on how to ensure your housekeeper is efficient, how to maintain a level of clean between service, and how to reduce clutter and organize well. It’s brilliant. Give your customers something useful and they’ll return to your site often. Any marketer knows that the more time a client spends in your store (and your website is your online real estate), the more money they’re likely to spend with you.
  3. Working with external partners/suppliers. What happens when you become known online as an authority in your industry (which is exactly what happens when you blog well)? You get attention. You get attention from resellers, industry publications, vendors, and all sorts of people and companies that you can partner with to raise your company’s brand.

The study above shows that 51% of companies polled worldwide are experiencing measurable return from their blog. We’ve just given 3 reasons why blogs are successful. In our experience we’ve seen blogs raise company websites to the number 1 link on popular search engines. We’ve seen blogs draw customer support for the brand and entice attention from industry experts. Does your company have a blog? If not, why not start one now?

Gov2.0

We posted a while back about Boston’s use of Citizens Connect iPhone app, but CNN picked up a story today as front page online, and Boston is just one of numerous cities using the technology. In New York, San Francisco, Washington, and who knows where else, citizens can contact city hall about non-urgent matters of public works upkeep.

This is more than just an inventive way of applying technology to routine tasks. This puts governance in the hands of the people. Instead of shaking our heads with downcast eyes as we pass newly painted graffiti, we now have the power to alert the correct department and reclaim the upkeep of our cities.

Local governments have posted sets of data for the use of developers, because, as CNN’s article says, “tech communities are better able to make government data useful than the governments themselves, said Peter Corbett, CEO for iStrategyLabs and organizer of a contest called “Apps for Democracy” in Washington.”

5 things to make or break your strategy

marketing strategy

Interactive marketing strategy. Market penetration strategy. Social media strategy. Here at Engage Them we develop these things for our clients to ensure that we meet their short term and long term goals effectively. But when it comes down to it, everyone uses strategy for different purposes in different venues.  That got us thinking. What are the common denominators that make a successful strategy? Here’s what we think it boils down to. Feel free to jump in to the discussion below.

  1. Long-term vision with short-term application. Your strategy needs to see where your business is heading in 5 years and in 10 years. And that vision for the future needs to have immediate applications in what you do today. A pie-in-the-sky dream of expansion into new markets will never be realized until you start taking steps to make it happen. On the other hand, acting on short-term goals with only a vague guess about what’s next is like a brand new driver who only looks at the road directly in front of his car. He veers all over the road because his focus is too short.
  2. Know your market. A narrowly defined target audience will keep your strategy focused, avoiding waste of time and effort on inefficient goals or advertising. Target everything in your strategy to your target market – from behaviors to benchmarks.
  3. Resource analysis. What do we have? Think of talent, time, budget, materials, technical skills, facilities… What do you already have that you can work with? What resources can you obtain creatively – through networking, barter agreements? And how will you obtain the other resources you need?
  4. Competitor analysis. You know what they say, “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.” Know who you’re up against and know how you can beat them. Maybe you can’t offer a better price, or maybe your raw materials aren’t as good as theirs. But figure out where you can better them, and maximize on that. If you can beat them hands down on customer service, do it well, and don’t apologize for the aspects you can’t compete on.
  5. Re-evaluation. A strategy is only as good as its keeper. Consistent re-visiting of the strategy and fearless modification when necessary will keep it relevant and useful. A strategy that sits in the back of the filing cabinet is of no use to anyone. Use it to bring continuity to your business. Use it as a yard stick when evaluating options. Redesign it as the market ebbs and flows.

That’s our 5. What works for you?

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