Tools of the Trade – Social Media

Hammer, screwdriver, social media – different tools for different objectives The tactical implementation of promotional tools is definitely the fun part of a marketing plan! It’s no wonder that sometimes the zeal to use those tools elevates the tool above strategies and into the objective slot. I don’t recommend that social media, or any tactical tool of promotion, appear as an objective in a marketing plan. Your objectives should measure outcomes, not outputs.   Social media is a tool the same way a hammer is a tool Did you ever watch the TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”? The network would choose a deserving family that was overcoming some challenges and their house was part of their problem. A crew of professionals and a whole lot of volunteers would re-create their modest home into a spectacular dream home designed for their needs and interests. The finale of the show was the big reveal. A drumroll led to large trucks moving out of the way to allow the family to see their new and improved home for the first time. How boring would the show have been if at the end, they revealed the output and not the outcome? Imagine if instead of seeing a drastically transformed residence, host Ty Pennington pulled out a tally sheet and revealed the number of hammer swings, number of rotations each screwdriver made, and how many times the cordless drill’s battery had to be charged. “Show me the house!” You’d scream at the TV and never watch it again. The outcomes are how happy the family is, how much easier it is for the wheelchair-using child to move throughout the now one-story ranch home, how the mom who prepares meals for a local charity now has a gourmet kitchen, and how security guard dad can now sleep at night having been relieved of the upside down mortgage payment. These were the objectives that were met. They reflect the intended destination. The outputs (the use of the tools) were supremely important in making those things happen, but they are tactics not objectives.   Objectives Match the Mission Here’s an example of an objective I would avoid: Attract 1,000 Facebook Likes each month of 2020. There are some obvious red flags here. Your Facebook campaign might garner you 1,000 new Likes per month (if it does, congratulations!) but that is an output. How does that output...
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When Profiling Gets Out of Hand (I’m talking Twitter)

  When I first created an account on Twitter most of my docket was freelance writing so I used my name, my byline, as my Twitter handle: @LeslieAMSmith. Using simply your name allows a lot of latitude as far as your brand is concerned. I could post about most any topic and it was fine. As my business ticked back toward marketing and public relations, I started posting more about those things. I could see followers increase when I posted about certain topics (#leadership, #entrepreneurship, #business, #consultant). I also attracted followers when I used hashtags with much different descriptors (#humor #comedy #creative #arts), but whenever I did, the followers of the other tweets went away. Juggling Personalities Recently, I separated the two and put the PR and marketing squarely with a new identity: @McCormickLA_PR (my company name). Feel free to follow me on one side or the other, or both. Of course, as soon as I created @McCormickLA_PR I noticed individual PR consultants going by their names alone and experienced some dissonance. I also have inadvertently shared things on the thread I didn’t mean to simply because I was logged in to the wrong one. It’s no big deal, really, but that is one of the reasons I had kept to just one place for Tweets—personal and business. I limited some of the snark, though, knowing that clients and potential clients might be following me and be surprised by my sarcasm or turned off. However, so far, it’s more good than bad by splitting my interests. I’ve also started to read more people’s profiles with a critical eye. Tips for your Twitter Profile If you are trying too hard to fit in everything that might make someone inclined to follow you, it might just be too much. I recently saw a person’s profile include his business interests, and “preemie issues.” I read it twice to know if he was calling premature start-up businesses “preemies” or if he meant babies. He meant babies. Sure, those are things that he’s interested in a 360º view of his personality. But I don’t want to follow him if that’s what he posts about. I can’t relate and therefore that one incongruent fact stands out more than anything. I love knitting and crocheting and therefore follow people who are experts in those crafts, but I don’t list that in my profile because I don’t post about...
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Creating Brand Ambassadors

On my recent vacation to tour the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, I learned some surprising things about the business of distilling liquor that started with the regulations that determine legitimate bourbon from whiskey and ended with the steps that made me a brand ambassador. I was posting on Facebook constantly throughout our trip and when I did so, Facebook’s location capability would find the distillery on the map and suggest I like that fan page. Turns out, these places, Buffalo Trace in particular, have some really great Facebook feeds featuring some mouth-watering photos of their bourbon recipes that include many desserts. I LIKE the photos, I SHARE the posts and have inadvertently become a brand ambassador. Added to my digital promotion, I bought plenty of merchandise from the distilleries and other Kentucky and Tennessee hotspots. One tradition of ours is to buy a Christmas ornament every place we go on vacation. And you thought a bourbon Christmas ornament was just a fantasy! Fear not … or be fearful, they exist! Beyond the realm of being a Facebook Fan, there are other added incentives for the true bourbon aficionado, including having your name on a barrel that’s still aging at Maker’s Mark. My husband signed up to be a Maker’s Mark ambassador a few years ago. They send him a cute little gift every Christmas like a knitted cap for his bottle. It’s just cute, silly stuff that says, “We appreciate you!” If you are in charge of your business’s promotional efforts, including the social media, then you know that it is not always easy to entice people to LIKE and SHARE posts. Here are a few tips that Kentucky distillers taught me about recruiting brand ambassadors. They successfully recruited me and I barely realized what was happening. 1. You need an online presence. There’s no staying in the shadows these days and hoping to keep a viable following and loyal stream of customers. People use their smartphones more and more and if you can’t be found, that’s a problem. Make sure the information online is correct. If you have moved locations, make sure you change that on all platforms—Foursquare, Yelp, Google, etc. 2. When people do visit your business, make sure they have a great experience, even if they don’t buy anything. There were tours and tastings that were better than others, but all of the staff were hospitable and...
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Reap What You Sow, and So and So …

This is a picture of the side of my house. The most neglected side of our property, for sure. That thing growing maniacally is a tomato plant. One that we did not plant. Upon spotting this unusual growth and learning that we really need to pay more attention to this side of the house, I realized a few other things that can be applied to business and life in general. Intention and Results First, it struck me as funny that my daughter had planted tomatoes from seeds in tiny cups in a window this spring. Once they sprouted and seemed like they could endure the great outdoors, she planted them in our garden on the other side of the house. It wasn’t long—maybe a week—before the birds or other critters had snatched away the sprouts leaving nothing behind. That the intention was to grow tomatoes and there are tomatoes growing on our property is what we wanted. That the tomatoes grew by means wholly unknown to us, is startling. Things like this happen all the time and it’s okay. Life just doesn’t always follow the path we expect or that we are trying to pave for the result. The key is to keep your eye on the result and not worry about who gets the credit or how the route changed. We have tomatoes and that’s what matters, right? Persistence We don’t know how long this rogue tomato plant had been trying to grow over there but it succeeded. The seeds that my daughter planted and nurtured inside for a few weeks were decimated quickly with no sign that anything was ever planted there before. Where did the seeds for this plant come from? Did they blow down the corridor between the house and the block fence? Did some mysterious gardener plant them as a gift? And does it matter? I don’t think it does, but it is mysterious. Conditions That this tomato plant did so well is certainly amazing considering there is no water source over there, the soil is little more than silt, and hardly any sun shines over there until the late afternoon, and then it is blazing. Evidently, the critters have yet to venture over there—at least critters who would be interested in tomato plants. Somehow the ideal conditions naturally converged and tomatoes emerged. Neglect or Freedom? That we had no idea this plant was growing...
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Insights of Your Success – How Do You Measure Up?

How do you know whether your promotional efforts are working? Of course, the answer is that you have to measure your success somehow. You have to ask your customers and potential customers. Most importantly, you have to be proactive and put those measurement techniques in place when you start. I asked my friend and colleague Laura Keene of Keene Insights a few questions to share with you. Laura is a self-proclaimed data geek, and an expert researcher–she’s definitely the right person to answer these questions and help your company or organization investigate your successes, not just in promotion. Just to make it simple to follow along, I’ve labeled my questions McLA and her answers KI, and the answers are in blue. McLA: One objective that almost all of my clients state is “to increase awareness.” I urge them to be more specific and develop an outcome that is easier measured (e.g. increase sales, donations, requests for a consultation). But some insist that this is all they want. How would you suggest a local nonprofit or entrepreneur measure this kind of nebulous objective? KI: Well, first and foremost, I have to say that I agree, it’s a good idea to take it a step further. Once a person knows more about the company or the cause, what do you want them to do with that information? That outcome may be more important and a better measure of success. That said, ‘increased awareness’ can be a first step toward action and may be helpful to measure. Assuming there is a web-based component to the work, some decent proxies (estimates) for awareness that can be easy to collect are: Website traffic (number of visits, time spent on the website, number of pages visited) Social media engagement (number of followers, number of shares, number reached) Blog subscriptions and visits Downloads of materials Mentions of the company/cause across platforms/websites (paper newsletter subscriptions) You can track these using built-in analytic features and see if they are increasing. Just be wary of focusing too much on ‘how do we get people to come to the website/facebook/twitter/other.’ Remember, these are just proxies or estimates for what you’re really looking to change, which is awareness. You may also want to consider asking people whether they’re aware of the company/cause directly. This requires getting access to a decent number of current and potential clients/supporters. You can partner with another organization...
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