As more and more organizations begin to embrace social business technologies, the role of community manager is rising in importance every day.
This “front lines” role interacts directly with customers and constituents, and is tasked with providing an open ear and a responsive voice over public channels — and with crisis communications, should a problem arise.
It takes a unique type of person to engage on behalf of an organization for better or for worse, which is why The Community Roundtable was founded: to offer support, resources, and (fittingly) a community for those who foster community elsewhere.
This week, “The CR” released a report based on data and feedback culled from their members over the past year: the 2011 State of Community Management:
“Last year social business came of age as organizations got serious about executing in a new, more interactive and collaborative way. These organizations understand that using social technologies successfully requires both business process adaptation and people that understand how to manage these new social environments – at both a tactical and a strategic level. The conversation is no longer primarily about technology but about doing business effectively in a new communications environment. Community management is a critical element of managing networked environments effectively.”
From best practices to recommended tools to key strategies, the report delivers the kind of down-to-earth, straightforward advice and ideas that anyone working in community management or social business need to do their jobs more effectively.
Here’s to another year of building community and trust — and supporting the folks who support others across social networks every day!
When I was “trained” in marketing and communications starting 20 years ago now, I was taught — by implication as much as intention — that marketing was something that happened after.
After the business was defined. After the structure was put in place. After products or services were developed and tested.
Sure, maybe a package design or a campaign would be tested prior to an official launch, but by and large, “marketing” was about taking something that already existed and then finding, or creating, the market for it.
It didn’t take much time working in marketing and communications within organizations (and eventually as a strategist here at Sametz) for me to realize that “after” was too late: true marketing comes — has to come — before.
Whether it was a higher education institution trying to make a go of a redundant offering, a museum trying to “sell” an exhibition unrelated to its collection (and thus its audience), or being called in as a hired gun to help a company “fix a marketing problem,” the pattern was the same:
When marketing comes after the strategic and operational decisions have been made, it, at best, requires a highly inefficient use of resources — and, at worst, is a waste of them.
As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time championing something I call “Operationalized Marketing”: marketing that starts before, at the beginning, when core decisions about the business, its structures, and its operations are being made.
But perhaps more importantly, Operationalized Marketing keeps going and recognizes that marketing shouldn’t originate from from just one department, or exist only through a campaign. Marketing’s true function is not solely to find or create markets and prompt those markets to act, but rather to serve as a translator of the companies’ products and services for the marketplace and of the needs of the market back to the company… prompting action on both fronts.
The challenge, of course, lies in changing the prevailing understanding of marketing, in helping leadership and key decision makers within an organization see the truth: what may have been a good idea before is now a required mindset for success in our highly connected age: That “marketing” isn’t a surplus function, it’s a strategic one — and core to the building.
So, I’m curious: Do you see marketing this way, too? How have you seen it work? How have you made it work?
Image credit: Loren Sztajer
Categories: Strategy and Management
Sametz Blackstone Associates is honored to be taking part in the “Bridging the Gap” conference presented by the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University tomorrow, February 18th, 2011. Our Director of Strategic Initiatives, Tamsen McMahon, will be on hand to moderate two panels on social media use for business, and Meg Fowler (Associate, Business Development and Public Relations) will be attending as well.
From the conference website:
“Social Media and Inbound Marketing are making their way through business and culture. This migration of ideologies creates opportunities and complexities within all organizations. Bridging the Gap between academia and real world practices, strengthens the connection between the frameworks preached in schools and the practical applications being used in organizations.”
We’re looking forward to some great sessions and conversations!
Unfortunately, the event is sold out, but If you’d like to participate in sessions virtually, check out the #btg11 hashtag on Twitter, and follow Tamsen (@tamadear) and Meg (@megfowler) to follow their live tweets of the conference.
That’s exactly what Jay Ehret of The Marketing Spot and Power to the Small Business recently asked our own Director of Strategic Initiatives, Tamsen McMahon, along with two other marketing professionals, Kyle Lacy and Ken Briscoe.
This is the eighth roundtable-style discussion Jay has hosted at his small business blog, and as always, the participants offered some keen insights on the strategies and tools that would define marketing and set trends in the coming year.
Among other subjects, Tamsen addressed two major trends that will be on marketers’ minds in the months ahead:
You can check out the podcast (available on page, via iTunes or for download) at Jay’s blog here, including some highlighted quotes and ideas from each of the participants.
Lately there’s been a lot of talk about how social media is transforming marketing practices. Actually, we think there is a much more significant opportunity to talk about how communications—abetted by these emerging technologies—have the potential to transform how organizations work, not just how they operate their marketing communications.
We have the opportunity to frame a much more interesting question than “who should own our Facebook page?”
The marketer of the future requires a new ecosystem of consultants, agencies, vendors, and partners (not to mention army of empowered employees) for support. I think the old divisions of marketing communications, advertising, pr, and even the co-called “digital agencies” are inadequate alone, and not wholly compatible together. I think there is a big reshuffling of agency capabilities in the offing.
I’ve come across a bunch of reports from management consulting companies assessing the promises and problems of the new media environment. Though they are generally short on answers, they pose a lot of good questions and reveal clear trends. Here are my summaries of a few. Each of the reports is freely available online (or they were), so I’ve linked them here for your convenience.
Scaling the New Horizon: The Real Alignment Imperative for CMOs and CIOs
The Accenture one is basically a teaser for a bigger report, but it illuminates the potential of an alliance between the marketing and IT organizations (something like what Mitch Joel calls a “Chief Marketing Technologist” in blog posts like this one on the “agency of the future”).
The CMO’s Imperative: Tackling New Digital Realities
Boston Consulting Group
The BCG report is a good, thorough overview of the status quo, but I find it surprisingly conservative, and the authors shrug their shoulders when it comes to certain important questions. It also seems to focus on marketing alone, and advertising especially—overlooking the brand management and communication needs of customers, shareholders, employees, the media, business partners and industry communities, etc.
How businesses are using Web 2.0: A McKinsey Global Survey (2007)
The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday (2010)
This pair of articles, one from 2007 and a recent follow-up, speaks more of the actual changes in organizational attitudes and behaviors that can translate to stronger market share.
Got any other good reports or sources for insight? Please share them!
The team at Sametz Blackstone has launched into 2011 with plans for two very busy months.
Here’s a quick list of places we’ll be, both online and offline, in January and February:
We’ll update the blog with more presentations and events as the weeks go by — keep your eyes on this space for details!
Categories: Strategy and Management
Today’s post is by CT Moore, an account strategist with the SEO agency NVI. He has over 5 years experience developing content strategy and managing SEO & social media campaigns. CT also sits as a staff editor at Revnews.com and speaks regularly at events and conferences.
Between the success of the movie The Social Network and Mark Zuckerberg being named person of the year, Facebook has taken Google’s place in the limelight. For the meantime, however, Google still offers marketers a much better deal on their ad spend.
Granted, Google has chased Facebook all year, and the numbers haven’t been all that encouraging:
But whereas Facebook is expected to make $1.28 billion in 2010, Google reported $6.77 billion in revenue for Q1 alone. With that lead driven mostly through Google’s Adwords platform, it’s impossible to ignore the how ol’ fashioned pay-per-click advertising still trumps social media.
Both Google and Facebook (and most any social platform) make money by selling ad space in some form or another. So while Google might be slipping in what proportion of online ad space it controls, pixel per pixel, Google real estate is worth more than anything in a social media neighborhood. And a lot of that has to do with context.
Because Google’s ads are served by keywords that are either typed into a search bar or exist on a page, they help marketers reach users who have intent. A user that is searching for something and visiting a page about the topic is actively interested in it.
Their attention is already somewhat focused, meaning that advertisers don’t have to work as hard to get their attention. In fact, such users are often actively for specific products from the advertiser. This makes them much more valuable leads to marketers.
Now, Facebook doesn’t rely on keywords data to serve ads. They also can access your social graph to determine what interests you and the people you know. So why does Facebook’s average CPM range somewhere between 13 – 53% below the industry standard?
First off, your interest says nothing about your intent. Just because you’re interested in something, there’s no guarantee you’re looking to buy more. In fact, you might be so interested in something that you already have every thing you need.
A bigger part of it, however, is what a social media user’s intent actually is. While many Google sessions revolve specifically around making a purchasing decision, users log on to Facebook to socialize — not buy. In fact, in many respects, advertising on Facebook can make you look like the guy who sells insurance at a cocktail party.
That being said, social media’s appeal to brand advertisers is undeniable. For instance, how Facebook enables brands to integrate their Facebook pages into an ad experience. But for advertisers who are focused on results, it remains more challenging to convert social traffic into a sale.
Of course, Google’s lead probably won’t last forever. The social web continues to grow through mobile and location-based services, and Google still lacks a social strategy.
And as great as Google’s lead is, Facebook already has one foot in the future. If Google wants to maintain its lead, it will have to do something that socially significant.
For the meantime, however, marketers shouldn’t overlook search. In fact, search should probably still command a greater proportion of online ad budgets than social media does, but I’m curious to know what you think.
Is search a better deal? Or is social?
Logolution: evolution, revolution, devolution.
There are often good reasons to update your logo:
you’ve changed and your mark no longer reflects who you are;
your market and your customers’ needs and expectations have changed, and you need to evolve with those changes;
sales are down, so you’re making some strategic changes to increase your connection and value to customers, and you need a spiffed up mark to both increase attention and signal those changes.
Both Starbucks and Gap embarked on logo refurbishment as part of larger plans to gain back some lost sales and luster… but there the similarity ends.
Gap, for reasons that perhaps made sense in a boardroom—but certainly not on the street—took their highly-recognizable logo (its consistent, huge implementation on shopping bags turned every customer into a walking billboard and an unpaid member of a global sales force), and canned it.
The new mark—generic corporate-speak that could just as easily have been attached to a drug or office park—we presume was meant to signal that big changes were afoot. But what kind of changes?
Yes, the team of strategists and designers tried to bring along the original mark’s considerable equity by incorporating a pale blue square in the redesign, but the new affect-free configuration generated a crowd-unpleasing firestorm from customers and, after another mis-step (withdrawing the mark and starting up a crowd-sourcing contest for a “better” mark), the original mark is back in place.
(Maybe the brouhaha made the folks at Tropicana feel better.)
Starbucks took a different route. Their new (or renovated, more accurately) mark, the fourth in the company’s history, brings forward and simplifies their signature siren—and loses the type that encircled her. The new mark clearly signals evolution (beyond coffee, beyond markets who can read our alphabet), not the zig or zag that the Gap mark seemingly was trying to herald.
And it says to loyal customers, “you know us so well you no longer need the words ‘Starbucks Coffee’ to understand our logo; you’re part of the club.”
Starbucks could make these moves precisely because their mark had become a symbol (like the Nike swoosh or Apple’s apple) and was no longer something that people “read.” Like a stop sign (understood around the world by color and shape and four characters that now mean “stop” even if a driver has no familiarity with the English word), the earlier Starbucks logo was already perceived as a single stimulus: one’s brain didn’t read the words, take in the siren, and assemble. It was all of a piece, which then allowed Starbucks make the mark simpler and bolder—without losing any meaning.
As I write this, Matt and Meredith on the Today show are going on about the new Starbucks mark: “What’s the lady doing with her hands?” Of course, they, and others, could have asked that about the earlier versions of the siren. They miss the point.
The Starbucks mark succeeds, as did the earlier ones, because it is invested with what the Starbucks brand means; because it’s a platform for the company’s messages; because it’s differentiated, recognizable, and memorable; and because it helps to build connections and relationships.
All those people carrying Starbucks cups “believe” in the company (in ways Dunkin’ Donuts cup-carriers probably don’t); they want to be part of the culture Starbucks has spawned—and, to some extent, define their own personal brands through their association with the Starbucks brand.
The new mark should strengthen those connections and allow the company to invest the mark with additional meaning as it expands its offerings and geographic scope. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know what the lady is up to, really.
Postscript: Just to be clear, logos can, should, and do change in ways as significant as those Gap attempted.
Of course, it’s better if the new mark is a good platform for meaning and story-telling, and a badge people want to own. But even so, if Gap had stood firm, people would have gotten over it—if the company continued to make products that people wanted.
And let’s not forget the huge change at Gap’s sister company, Banana Republic: some readers will remember when that organization was all about mufti, bits of military hardware, and sawdust on the floor. They certainly needed a new logo when they radically changed direction and swapped out the camouflage for gray merino wool.