We all remember the movie quote, "Build it and they will come," but reality is that it's not always the case.
Wikipedia states, “The term audience development describes activity which is undertaken specifically to meet the needs of existing and potential audiences and to help arts [and cultural] organizations to develop ongoing relationships with audiences. It can include aspects of marketing, commissioning, programming, education, customer care and distribution.”
Audience development is a key component when launching any type of new product. People read and absorb information differently, and our goal should be to promote the product in as many different formats as possible. For a finite audience, the easiest way to develop a plan is to review all the available communication vehicles available to you, such as newsletters, websites, journals, magazines and social media. From there, you can build out a creative plan with multiple touch points. If you are building an audience or have a wide target market, you may consider additional advertising outlets such as industry publications, press releases, SEO, radio or TV advertising, billboards and more.
Don't be afraid to promote the same thing in multiple ways within a particular communication vehicle. The same message can be communicated with graphic ads, contextual links, editorial coverage, footers. The marketing plan also should begin before the product is available. Start by telling your audience that it's coming, tell them it's available and then remind them why it's a beneficial resource.
The final component is tracking the marketing results. Being able to identify spikes in usage or response will help you refine your marketing efforts and become more efficient with your budget and resources.
What ways does your company promote your products and services?
One of my favorite marketing and entrepreneurship gurus, Seth Godin, is so practically wise that he’s more like a life guru. Major organizations regularly hire him to give inspiring, wacky speeches, and he has authored essay collections with titles like WhatchaGonna Do With That Duck?, Poke the Box and the fairly recent-but-now-classic All Marketers Are Liars. So if you don’t already know his work, let me introduce you:
“Micro trends matter more than macro ones, but most of all, people matter. Individual human beings with names and wants and interests.” — Macro Trends Don’t Matter So Much
“Going forward…the real kings of media will be local in a totally different sense. They will be the narrators and arbiters of interest for groups that actually have aligned interests.” — Understanding Local Media
“The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win. You might make a few more bucks for now, but not for long and not with pride. Someone will always find a way to be cheaper or more brutal than you.” — The Race to the Bottom
“Those [who] manage to capture the imagination, make sales and grow are doing it by perfecting the things that matter and ignoring the rest.” — Hard Work on the Right Things
Noise. There is a lot of noise out there right now about digital and print. Print is dead! Create a mobile app! You must have a tablet app! It only works if you have social media! You must social media yourself into a frenzy while waiting in line at Starbucks. (Side note: I wonder what Starbucks thinks of being the business bloggers’ litmus test of standing in line?) Tweet! Linkedin and websites are dead! Print is alive!
Want to dial down the noise? Then undertake a little data mining. Take a step back and find out exactly how your association members are using technology. And see how you can build a platform of products for you audience that reaches all their needs.
In business development I would call on associations that would tell me they had no interest in digital platforms because only 50 percent of their members used the technology available from smartphones and tablets. In all those many calls I only had one association see that data and recognize they needed to find a way to target technology to the needs of their members.
Why prevent 50 percent of the members from receiving communication in the format they find most accessible? This health care association undertook a data mining expedition to identify the needs of their audience and to source solutions for each niche.
Mining that data is must easier that you think. Analytics of websites, email marketing delivery and social media provide vital clues to how your audience accesses and responds to information. And with a fully integrated survey plan you can discover segments of your audience and how to best to reach and engage them.
Which brings us right back to the noise — there is so much of it because with so many communication platforms your members rely on getting their information in many different ways. Sometimes it just takes knowing that for abstracts they want online access, for white papers they want a mobile app and for hard-line resources they want a handy print guide they can keep all year. While all that noise can be maddening, once you define the needs of your members, you have solutions at the ready that will provide a return on your investment by giving you even better data to mine and more segments and trends to discover.
So, the next time you are in line at Starbucks, try a little data mining experiment of your own. Just stand there and observe how others are using all the modern technology. You will see that across demographics people want information delivered in a variety ways that are convenient for where they are at in their day. And with a little digging, your team can develop a mix of resource products that will service your entire association as a whole, and not just a slice of it.
There used to be a lot of rules, both written and “understood,” about that gulf between the professional and the personal. The process for how things get done, the science of effective communication … There was one way to do it in the confines of the office, and an alternate (and understandably more fun) way to do it NOT in the office.
Then along came social media and its importance to the work you do — at work. It has taken a predictable learning curve for people like me to figure out that, this time around, the formality of business can try all it wants to manipulate the structure of Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn to its peer-reviewed demands. And those attempts will mostly fail.
The very best social media platforms refuse to bend to your dull and structured corporate communications or membership outreach or attendee development strategy.
And if you try to force, for example, Twitter into your “best practices,” it’s not Twitter that will get hurt. It’s you. And, I assume, those people at work who are expecting great things from you.
The best way to master social media doesn’t involve a $169* lunch-and-learn or even three continuing ed evenings at your local community college. The best way to master social media is to steep yourself in it on a personal level. Truly, what catches your attention has, at its core, the principles for what will deliver results for your professional needs.
When you are trying to figure out how best to communicate with your followers, your dozens or hundreds or thousands of “Like”-ers and Retweeters, get out of the boardroom and onto your tablet — late at night in front of the television. As all of us often do, give half your attention to two screens. That is (maybe sadly) the best testing ground for how to create content that, over time, tells the story of your brand, your organization, your event, your goals.
If you do this enough, even you could pretend to teach a class on social media best practices, and your syllabus would include a mind-numbing rundown of so-obvious-that-it’s-brilliant bullet points like this:
• Post or point to pictures. People prefer pictures. (Pinterest, perhaps?)
• Video rocks. Did you know there are YouTube channels devoted entirely to happy birthday videos custom-created for individual names? Surely, you can figure out a traffic-building way to tell your own story on this platform.
• Write like you talk. Unless you talk like a Henry James novel. Then don’t write like that. Write like a Stephen King or Gillian Flynn novel. People like their books. Nobody likes Henry James.
• Don’t sell. Instead: Tell, share, create, join. Create a narrative that you would find interesting. Not a “mission statement” or “marketable asset” that no one, including your professional colleagues, finds interesting.
• Don’t ever talk about social media while wearing anything that could be described as “business casual.” Social media demands style.
I’ve already broken a social media rule by writing too much about this in one small space. But, hey, who cares about a rule like that in the first place?
Who among your workmates doesn’t even have a Facebook page? Share their names here!
*Send me your $169 instead, and I’ll telefax you a printed copy of this blog.
In the years following elementary, middle and high school, I became more and more reliant on communication and information via technology. Innovative platforms to receive news was (and still is) ever-changing. Marketing, in the wake of this social change, also has switched gears, with companies relying on digital campaigns to brand their company and products.
There is no denying in today’s world, marketing lends itself nicely to digital formatting, whether on a website or within an eNewsletter. Companies can receive a nice ROI on digital offerings, while also showing their particular message to a massive audience.
But there are major benefits to print that anyone can get behind and understand. According to Forbes, these major benefits include: tangibility, credibility, branding, target marketing and engagement.
• Tangibility: A print piece is a physical thing. Magazines and newspapers can stay in houses or offices for months or years, while Internet ads can disappear into cyber space instantaneously.
• Credibility: There is something about print that gives a sense of legitimacy. The saturation of pop-ups and banner ads on the Web can be overwhelming and the fear of spam and viruses is enough to make people wary of clicking. There is no imminent danger in a print ad.
• Branding: Print ads are excellent for solidifying your brand identity. Your ads should have a consistent aesthetic in terms of fonts, colors and types of images to establish brand recognition.
• Target marketing: Placing ads in publications such as specialty magazines can effectively reach niche audiences that may be more difficult to target online.
• More engaging: Consumers are more engaged when reading printed material, unlike websites, which are often skimmed in as little as a 15-second visit. A study shows that people read digital screen text 20 percent to 30 percent slower than printed paper.
Similarly (and maybe not too surprisingly), consumers prefer viewing traditional forms of media, with print being the most popular, according to an October study by Adobe.
“Consumers also appear to like seeing ads in traditional media better than on newer digital devices,” reports eMarketer. “Asked about their preferred venue for ads, 45 percent said they liked seeing them in their favorite print magazine … to just 11 percent who chose favorite websites.”
By Eric Jacobson, Vice President, Media Development
As you finalize your 2013 plans and goals for communicating with your members, customers, donors, consumers and other target audiences, check to see how many of these tips, facts and observations can be helpful to you.
I encountered them via Twitter, various web sites and research reports during the past few months. While each is important individually, many boost your outreach effectiveness when combined. Thanks to all the authors (listed at the end of this post).
• Focus on health (and wellness), rather than illness, in your content to create an environment of trust.
• Ensure your online content is:
• Create and distribute more Infographics. When done well, they can highlight your grasp of key industry concepts, ideas and trends. That demonstrates your organization’s leadership position in your field.
• Conduct post-event evaluations. Then use what you learn from them at your next meeting/event.
• Employ someone or work with someone with experience, not only in social media, but also in social media publishing and monitoring for a business.
• Sit down with every salesperson (or membership recruiter) and ask them what their customers’/members’ biggest pain points are.
• Stop doing the same old press releases and create them as engaging stories.
• Make sure your content is easy to read on both smartphones and tablets.
• Engage physicians (who are a vital source of content) and nurture collaboration among them, as well as among your writers and content creators.
• Use more bullet points, charts, pictures and graphics in your content.
• Take eight minutes now to watch Coca-Cola’s Content 2020 (part one) Creative Excellence strategy. It will make you think differently about how you likely will communicate in the future. And, then settle in to watch part two (10 minutes).
Facts and observations
• Associations must engage members outside their physical event all year via podcasts, webinars, forums, social media, white papers, electronic newsletters, etc.
• Executives seek intriguing, surprising or useful ideas in areas that tie into their greatest business challenges, as well as to solutions that push beyond common wisdom.
• Even with decreasing attention spans, members will read information that helps them excel in their careers.
• 62 percent of physicians own a tablet device, up from just 30 percent in 2011.*
• 50 percent of physicians specifically use an iPad for professional purposes.*
• Compared to their peers, health care marketers outsource content far more often: 63 percent versus 45 percent of marketers overall.**
• Health care marketers use video (75 percent) slightly more often than their peers (71 percent).**
• Digital content is different because it can drive conversations, promote sharing and let brands connect with consumers differently than they have in the past. That means that brands need to think about it differently. It means testing, learning and listening to what the audience is saying, and, most importantly, it means being nimble.
• About three-quarters of brands build content for print and repurpose that content for social media and the brand’s parent website.***
• Top four reasons for using branded content*** include educating customers, brand loyalty, up-selling and customer retention.
• The printed word is still perceived as more credible to many people than anything on the Web.
Which of these tips will you integrate into your 2013 communications plan? Which observation surprised you the most?
Thanks to the following for their tips, facts and observations: AhavaLeibtag, Margaret Coughlin, Gayle Hutchens, Giselle Abramovich, Joe Pulizzi, Jessica Davis, AaliyahMadadi, Hillary Ruffle, Michael Hughes, Pew Research, Content Marketing Institute World Health Summit, RoanneNeuwirth
*Manhattan Research (Taking The Pulse 2012)
**Content Marketing Institute
*** Custom Content Council
My good friend GwynethPaltrow, and by “good friend” I mean that I am subscriber to goop, her lifestyle newsletter, has become quite the it-girl when it comes to smart ways to use and monetize digital content and strategic partnerships.
The newsletter launched in 2008, and began as nothing more than a journal for Gwyn’s musings on places to go, books to read, restaurants to try and recipes to make. And in a textbook example of how to build a brand, goop has grown — with the use of innovative digital platforms — into a trusted lifestyle resource.
Her latest partnership with the company Birchbox got me to thinking of how it might be replicated by associations.
Birchbox delivers products and beauty items. Every month Birchbox members receive a curated box of beauty samples for the price of $10, including shipping. In partnership with goop, Birchbox offers a specially selected box of samples. Not only was this a clever way for Birchbox to reach the desirable goop audience, but those who receive the goopeNewsletter, were introduced to some great products and an excellent source to purchase full-size beauty and lifestyle products from the Birchbox store.
Clever, right? Highly valued content and products are delivered to an audience that will then become highly motivated to purchase products they loved from their goop/Birchbox sample kit.
And it gets better — the campaign uses every form of media: email, newsletter, video, direct mail and printed materials. It was a heady mix of communication that spanned the traditional to cutting-edge digital applications.
Can this be applied to an association model? Yes! The same exhibitors who provide samples at your annual conference or exposition can now buy into a monthly program similar to the Birchbox sample box. Video content imbedded on the association website and newsletter, printed materials within each monthly box and a portal within the site that can link members to the represented suppliers. Well, before you know it, you have launched an innovative and interactive strategic partnership that will deliver, through a multichannel platform, content and resources to your members.
You could think of it as the next generation of the door-drop bag. However, instead of once year, your members and suppliers are reaching each other every month across a variety of media.
A recent white paper (“Winning Exhibitions Strategies in 2015 and Beyond”) presented at the Society of Independent Show Organizers CEO Summit concluded that real opportunity and growth lies in increasing the visitor time outside the show. And the evidence is clear that associations must engage members outside their physical event because these integrated partnerships and Web-based resources are now an established information source for not only consumers but the members and exhibitors you serve.
In a way, it takes the old chestnut of thinking outside the box full circle by supplying a box full of branding. But do not take my word for it, just ask my good friend Gwyn.
In the trade show industry, there’s a problem. The show happens, it’s over and your attendees forget all about you — for a year, at least.
In recent months, blogs, articles, white papers and speeches have really begun to focus on this problem. It is a problem. Associations are literally leaving money on the table by spending jillions of dollars promoting an event and ZERO dollars post event.
At the annual trade show economic forum hosted by CEIR and recently held in New York for senior trade show executives, my old friend Frank Anton, with Hanley Wood Publishing and Trade Shows in Washington D.C. put it pretty succinctly. Frank’s analogy went something like this: “So, you meet a girl and ask her out on a date. The two of you go to dinner and a movie, have a really nice time. You take her home, walk her to the door and give her a kiss on the cheek goodnight. Then, you never call her. She doesn’t call you. Suddenly, six or seven months later, you run into her in the grocery store. You both had a nice time but there’s been no follow-up, no communications since that date. Consequently, there’s nothing there. No relationship.”
Well, it’s pretty much the same thing in the trade show business. Attendees come to the show, learn, have a great time and leave. They never hear from the trade show again. Or, at least until it’s time to sign up for the next show. Why is that? Why all that time and effort to create an attendee relationship and then let ‘em walk away?
In a recent white paper entitled “Winning Exhibition Strategies in 2015 and Beyond,” written by AMR International, executive DenzilRankine makes a compelling case for year-round contact and engagement with attendees as a means of increasing share of visitor attention and, ultimately, trade show ROI. He readily admits that nothing replaces the face-to-face experience. But competition for attendee time is becoming increasingly fierce. Thus, the need for total-year engagement and an ongoing relationship.
How is this accomplished? Quite simply through the power of content: compelling, useful, consistent, branded content. Content delivered through every imaginable channel: email, magazines, newspapers, directories, Internet, mobile, webinars, white papers, video and social media.
So what’s the problem? Why isn’t everyone doing it? It seems so simple. Makes so much sense. Well, in one sense it is all of that. It’s an easy concept to grasp. But, the devil is in the execution. Creating content is damn hard work. It’s hugely time-consuming. And easy to screw up if it’s not done right. Especially if the content has to be created in a media-agnostic environment and live in real time on multiple channels.
In short, creating, integrating and delivering content across platforms is hard. Really hard. Easily as much science as art.
There are a couple of possible solutions to execute a year-round trade show content and attendee engagement strategy. One option is to hire a staff of writers and designers. The problem is that creates a pretty substantial fixed cost base. Then, in addition, somebody has to manage them.
There’s an easier, safer and more effective way: Hire a custom content agency. There aren’t a whole lot of them around the country, but they do exist. And, even fewer of them that specialize in event and trade show media. Fewer still — those that have the expertise and track record to create a year-round and fully integrated, multichannel program using a team of degreed journalists and graphic designers. But don’t worry. Ascend Integrated Media’s team can help you engage with your attendees all year long.
I had an LOL moment on Facebook the other day. My friend, Thomas, who runs a digital agency in Washington, D.C., got a nice message on his wall from his former classmate at Northwest Missouri State.
Jerry: Thomas, you got a nice blip in the Northwest Bearcat Alumni Magazine. Congrats. Thomas: Really? Can you scan it and send it to my email? Jerry: How about if I just send you the damned magazine!? I am a tech Neanderthal, Thomas—you know that. Send me a private message with your mailing address. I will send it tomorrow.
This pales, however, in comparison to an experience I had while on a weekend getaway with my husband in Vermont. I wanted to send a postcard to my children back home. I bought the postcard at the hotel gift shop and asked the young, articulate clerk, Ryan, at the front desk if I could purchase postage from him. “Sure, here’s a stamp,” he said. I handed him the postcard, kind of expecting him to post it and keep it for that day’s mail pickup. “Um. You’ll have to tell me where to stick it. I don’t really use stamps.” He was holding the postcard and the stamp, one in each hand, kind of like a 20-something year-old guy might hold objects from his grandma’s top dresser drawer.
I applied the stamp, left the card with him and walked away, astonished.
How different are Ryan and Thomas, when it comes down to it, from your newest, youngest members or clients? Or your next influx of new members?
Ultimately, your communications need to be about giving your members or clients the content they want, how the want it, when they want it. That means you need to be versed and using every platform in some way, from print, to digital, to mobile, to social. Ready to start disseminating information via all platforms? A communications audit will assess your company’s communications goals and help your strategy planning.
I believe that marketers, by nature, are a curious lot. We are keen to know what engages our audience, why it engages, who it engages, how to make it more engaging and why the heck were they not engaged when we thought for sure they would be. With the answers to these questions we can steer our organizations to new business, develop new products and strengthen the core audience.
It is one of the reasons that I so enjoy marketing and business development. As I learn about new prospects I want to discover the road they are on, how they achieved their past goals and, more importantly, how Ascend Media can partner with them in achieving their future goals. There is no better navigator for business and product development than the modern digital landscape.
With the each new digital application, the straight and narrow might not be what will get you to your destination. It used to be that gleaning clues from email open rates and the ROI on direct mail was telling enough. But now you have eNewsletters, webinars, digital publications, podcasts, virtual industry events, tablet and mobile applications, white papers, online directories and the ubiquitous social media. All designed to inform, educate and promote your association, while providing marketers with tracking and analytic reporting that produces incredible statistics on your audience.
While that can make the task of identifying an effective communication mix seem even more cluttered, it allows for an association to gather a treasure trove of data that can be used to program and market to specific segments of their membership. Equipped with that data, association marketers become the driver in spotting trends as they emerge. And not only does that help the association grow and thrive, but it strengthens the bond of the members to their association, as they know they cannot navigate their way without the intelligence your association supplies.
The search for ‘found time’
We stand in a line each day, waiting for our coffee, our lunch order or our children all the while passing the time with our smartphone or tablet? That is found time, as Fran Hauser, president of digital for the Time Inc. style, entertainment and lifestyle groups explains. “There’s all this found time, and our strategy is to program to that.”
Studies have found that the average smartphone owner spends 1.4 hours a day waiting in line while browsing a device. The “Arc of the Day” study, which was cited in the same article, showed that morning readers want bite-size news flashes. In the afternoon, they are often at a desktop computer and want to grab a slide show or video, and at night they have time to engage in a deeper article. This means that there are countless opportunities to find time with your membership.
The exhibitor is along for the ride as well as they are increasingly seeking out these digital-based resources. They want to engage association members outside of the physical event. The found-time approach emerges once again, as digital platforms allow for an exhibitor to maintain contact and expand on the meeting experience. Exhibitors are able to do this with interactive and highly productive tools. That is the sweet spot, while those digital products serve a key communications function for the association they do the same for the exhibitors who will rely ever more heavily on the digital platforms your association develops over the coming years.
That presents some serious road to cover and a lot of questions to answer. But, as the saying, goes it is not just about the destination — it is the about journey. The journey to your annual event is most certainly a challenge, but it is an opportunity to explore the modern digital landscape and discover time with your membership and exhibitors outside of your annual event. And the best part? For every question you answer, there will be a new question right behind it to solve.
One of the biggest trends happening in the marketing world really isn’t much of a secret any more. Technology has created quicker and easier ways to communicate than ever before. Marketing has followed suit, as companies can now take advantage of such tools as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc.
Although I can’t say this to be certain, I would imagine the trade-show industry will almost always have a print presence. Print directories, guides, maps and daily newspapers are examples of just some of the materials that still create significant buzz.
All that being said, at Ascend, we understand the need for companies to communicate through different media. The days of communicating simply through the print medium are long gone — people are looking for more.
As the trade show industry and marketing world continue to grow in digital advertising, it is important for companies to diversify their messages to clients, particularly as the younger generation gains buying power, and as society as a whole continues to pick up on new communication trends.
Companies that are exhibiting at events can do themselves a great service by advertising, particularly when the advertisements can have a cohesive feel and structure. When you can hit a buyer with the same general message, in two different media (print and digital), your chances off success increase tenfold.
There are eight secret ways to make your advertising campaign great:
1. Make a news announcement, or ask a provocative question. Your intro is 70 percent responsible for the success of your ad.
2. An ad is not the place for a logical argument or justification. The job of the ad is to get a response. This does not mean that you don’t want to list factual information in your ads. You absolutely want to list facts that give benefits that create strong emotions.
3. A vertical photo attracts more attention than a horizontal one. Studies also show that the size of your photograph is important. When you double the size of a photo, you double the average amount of copy a person will read. That’s how you get more effective advertising.
4. Always use captions with your photos. Twice as many people will read the caption than the text copy.
5. Buy a bigger ad. Effective advertising communication takes space. Don’t try to cram it all into a little box. The best advertisements need room to bloom. A half page advertisement will pull 70 percent of the business a full-page ad will. A quarter page ad will pull 50 percent of a full page. Is the cost difference worth it?
6. Use the problem/solution format to create effective advertising. “Hungry? Try Our .99 Double Cheeseburger.” Always ask questions that get a, “Yes, that’s me,” reply.
7. Effective advertising connects your marketing together. Mention your newsletter in your emails, your emails in your ads, your ads in your brochures, your brochures on your calendars, your calendars on your business cards, etc. Connect them all as much as possible for more effective advertising.
8. Surprise your reader. Throw them a curve. Give them the desire to know more. Effective advertising leaves your audience a little curious.
Let’s play a game. How many do you remember?
1. Where’s the beef???
2. Got ___???
3. Be all that you can be.
4. Just do it.
5. Maybe she's born with it, Maybe it's ______.
6. Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
7. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.
8. What would you do for a _____ bar?
9. With a name like _______ ... it has to be good.
10. Every kiss begins with ____.
One thing that most of our client-partners have in common is that they hold the key to something valuable: audiences to which others want access. In a world that now hinges on targeted reach, it’s not an advantage to overlook, nor is it one to undervalue.
The very best marketing, or at least the most common marketing, now seeks quality and not necessarily quantity. Total numbers are nice, yes, but they rarely trump the power of an audience that has in some way pre-qualified itself for some type of behavior.
So if you’re a gatekeeper to one of those audiences, step back for a moment and take pride in what you have. For example, one of our clients, a leading medical association, produces the very best research in a particular specialty, then delivers that research throughout the year in a series of smartly produced educational meetings, some of which include exhibit floors. When a marketer begins to question the value of reaching the audiences at these meetings and on these exhibit floors, I sometimes want to bluntly ask, “Are you kidding me? Given the option to connect with influencers who pay to be part of this association, believe in this level of research and education, invest in these meetings and very likely are already at least somewhat aware of your brand, you are still questioning the potential return on your investment?”
Yes, “return on investment.” It’s a phrase that’s legitimate but frustrating because of how anonymous these audiences want to remain and how immeasurable is the path between brand outreach and a final transaction. Market research firm Baxter Research Center posits that marketers should actually be measuring the return on four “intermediate objectives”: exposure and engagement, audience involvement, preliminary buying behavior and active buying behavior.
And there’s no more direct way to get to these intermediate objectives than access to a pre-qualified audience. Exhibiting at a meeting or trade show, advertising in a membership publication or digital platform — these are unique opportunities to gain access to an audience that exhibits all of the behaviors of engagement.
If you hold access to one of these audiences, what frustrates you about a marketer’s lack of understanding about your audience?
If you’re a marketer, what’s your perception of “return on intermediate objectives” versus the traditional “return on investment?”
The U.S. comScore Video Metrix stats for February 2012 show that 179 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 38 billion videos of online video content during that month. Other interesting findings from February 2012 include:
• 83.8 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
• The duration of the average online content video was 6.2 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.
• Video ads accounted for 16.6 percent of all videos viewed and 1.3 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.
Were you among that 83.8 percent watching online video? If you were, so were your members. And now might be the right time to assess your video communications plan — or lack thereof.
Perhaps you have been dabbling with a flip camera assigned to one of your team members at your latest meeting. Did the resulting YouTube video inspire your membership and executive management?
We’ve been expanding our clients’ daily news video efforts here at Ascend over the last few months, and I thought it would be interesting to share some of our lessons. We mounted a full-blown news product at a large retail show last month. This client was deeply grounded in an Ascend-produced print daily news vehicle, but we had added innovative online extensions in eNewsletters and an event site with an online exhibitor guide over the years that kept their outreaches to their contingency fresh.
We collectively knew the product at this retail show was just made for video. The show floor’s color, size, sounds and fun is pretty legendary. We worked with our expert video partner to execute, but brought all of our deep knowledge of the client’s objectives and challenges to the script writing and production. The result was an exciting and successful first effort on-site, in the post-show communication — and pre-show promotion for the next event. Here were some of our lessons:
• We worked across the convention team and communication team to collaborate and get the pieces that would make each of their departments shine.
• We engaged a talent who seemed to — right off the bat — embody the corporate brand and give an injection of fun and life to the narration of their event.
• We used powerful sound bites from executives, mixed with candid reactions from pleased attendees to show the direction of the company and demonstrate why non-attendees need to consider attending the next event.
We included the videos in our daily eBlasts. One eBlast prominently featuring the video garnered a 54 percent open rate with a 14 percent click-through. We’re currently using some of the footage to develop a great promotion piece for the next event. The client is very pleased and we’re working on getting the underwriting for the next, expanded production already.
Have you been navigating the video world? What are some of your stories?
By Tricia Walsh, Vice President, Media Development
I recently attended the PCMA Partner Conference in Chicago. The conference was rich with idea-generation on how to fully maximize sponsorship dollars and discussions of activating marketing plans. I learned it is essential that we cut through the clutter and drive home richly integrated, targeted and personal stories. While this is important for Ascend's own campaigns, it also applies to our clients as they build their own marketing plans.
Rick Jones of Fish Bait Marketing spoke during the conference and exposed many truths to our society’s behavior toward messaging. Incorporating your customers’ stories — not always driving your company’s own story — is critical. Creating a message that allows customers to interpret their own story is far more impactful than painting a picture with no room for exploration. He referenced Las Vegas’ “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and Dos Equis’ “The most interesting man in the world” campaigns. Isn’t the lure of these campaigns the fact that we, as customers, fill in our own interpretation, therefore personalizing and ‘owning’ the campaign as our own? It is a campaign we will remember because it is comprised of our own stories.
We discussed too, that when building a media plan, a single ad buy will not have the reach we need. We need to develop not only the personal side to the campaign’s story, but then integrate that message across ads and also take advantage of the interactive elements at our disposal. A more driven campaign could take that banner and/or ad page, incorporate 2-D barcodes, and even incorporate a social element.
Perhaps the 2-D bar code could take customers to your website’s survey/polling feature, to a testimonial video, to your blog or to other marketing materials. Taking advantage of pre-meeting/conference materials is often an exclusive right to your audience — where you can begin telling your story and setting the stage for your campaign. Including special invitations to events where your service or product is showcased, or better yet, integrated into the actual event builds the personalization of your story. Consider a social element before, during and even after the event in which customers must check back to your website regularly to view contest or poll/survey results and post personal stories, for example.
It is a fun (and yes, challenging) time for marketers as we all explore how to cut through the clutter and develop a more personal side to promotional campaigns, while integrating campaigns into print, digital, social, video and mobile platforms.
When I first started at Ascend, I was told my primary focus was going to be in dealing with listing enhancements and options we, at Ascend, can create for the potential advertiser. At first glance, highlighted listings can seem mundane and possibly even inferior to larger advertising options, which certainly give advertisers great potential visibility.
When looking to create buzz about your product or company, there is something about a full-page print advertisement that still has great value in the various industries we serve. Not only does a full-page (or even half-page) give you ample space to create an eye-popping advertisement, it leaves you with options. Would the advertiser like to speak more to their brand, or a product they might be highlighting at their booth during the show? What different goals do you hope to accomplish with the ad?
One of the basic realities of the marketing world is that many companies do not have the advertising budgets for a larger ad. This is one thing Ascend understands. We create options for companies that can fulfill all types of budgets. One of those basic advertisements that make perfect sense, on a number of levels, is the highlighted listing with logo. Typically ranging in price from about $150 to $250, the highlighted listing with logo gives companies the opportunity to stand out within the A–Z section of a directory, by adding a company logo to a pre-existing, mostly meager listing.
After working with many smaller advertisers, one thing one thing I know true is that companies that purchase highlighted listings get their return on investment. Think about it — if one new customer comes by your booth because they noticed your listing, while browsing through a multitude of companies in the directory, your advertisement will have immediately paid for itself.
When I look back on a project, I often wonder why more exhibitors were not interested in this simple, yet very effective advertisement. It just makes sense that if a company has paid that much money for booth space, why not spend a little bit more to stand out?
I was having a conversation with one of my sales colleagues the other day, and she told me a story about how pleased an advertiser of hers was with the highlighted listing she had purchased a few months prior. With more and more companies exhibiting, inexpensively standing out from your competitors can go a long way towards having a successful tradeshow.
You think you’ve got it made: a captured, devoted person to sell your exhibits, sponsorships or advertising for your annual meeting or other publications. You can train and mold this person to success, right?
We often hear from clients that even though they have a captured team within their organization, the team is not meeting its goals. Reasons for this could be:
• Lack of marketing tools or outreach in addition to the actual sales efforts: Without a drumbeat of awareness in the background or a good sales toolkit for making presentations, the sales outcome can fall flat.
• Lack of assertive enough sales approach: We’re all averse to boorish salespeople, but sales efforts for top-flight meetings that don’t visit their top prospects or aren’t looking at a large enough universe don’t get the job done.
• Inferior knowledge of market and prospects: Your folks may be contacting the obvious players, but if they don’t have a sense of the market as a whole and a consistently updated competitive analysis, they will not be contacting the prospects that are next in line for your business.
• Prioritization problems: Your team may be tasked with selling too many things, or two things that are super-important and then a host of more minor campaigns. Focus and prioritization can be a stumbling block to reaching sales goals.
Times have changed. Many of our clients, who for years could expect booth reservations or publication insertion orders to come over the fax machine, now know they can’t handle their business the same way. These same teams are getting out on the road, demonstrating the value of their products in deeper and more competitive ways and calling on a wider universe.
One of the advantages clients have in working with us, or other agencies that sell for them, is that we see what works across a wide spectrum of meetings and publications. We can compare and contrast sales campaigns and results, and position new opportunities effectively. In the case of our medical meeting spectrum, many of the same product managers make decisions for a number of the meetings we represent. That means we’re talking to them all year long, versus once a year. They get to know our offerings, we get to know their objectives — and it usually means we’re considered more of a resource for information and current media strategies.
Another effect of our unique sales approach for the meeting communications is the thoroughness of the effort. You would think all sales efforts would encompass communicating with the entire exhibit list — and communicating appropriate opportunities to that list. But we have not found that to be the case. Many times, internal teams simply don’t have the time to contact everyone. Or it’s not in their DNA. For example, in the medical arena, coming from the years of pharmaceutical companies representing 90 percent of the revenue in some meetings, we have had to adjust offerings to include smaller entry points for small exhibitors. In many cases these opportunities don’t replace what has been lost through dwindling pipelines or regulations, but we are assured that each and every exhibitor gets educated on opportunities and has an invitation to participate.
In many cases, we can add a layer of sales power on top of what you already have by deploying our efforts against a selection of prospects or products that you simply don’t have time to work. And when we take over sales from other groups, rare are the instances we don’t over-deliver on either what was sold before, or the current sales goal.
What are some of your strategies to motivate your internal sales resource to success?
1. If you’re not speaking to your current and — sometimes more importantly — future customers, you can bet someone else is. Maybe you or your company’s financial holders don’t believe in the marketing spend. The ominous truth is that at least a couple of your competitors don’t share that same philosophy, and they now control the conversation in your marketplace.
2. Consumer sentiment is on the upswing. (See the most recent numbers here.) As the economy improves, a robust marketing presence lets buyers know that you’re strong and you’re in business.
3. You spend all of that money on raw exhibit space, the furnishings and branding expenses for that exhibit space, the personnel to man that exhibit space … And you don’t spend a dime to drive traffic to that exhibit space? Really?
4. Marketing is a revenue-generator, not merely an expense. Marketing builds awareness and generates sales leads. Successful companies market to make money.
5. Roll your eyes all you want at the concept of “branding.” At a time when every mega-celebrity is a “brand,” it’s certainly an overused word. But that’s because it’s an effective concept. Buyers respond to brands that have self-awareness and communicate with consistent messaging. So take care not to mock what works. “A strong brand” may be a tired phrase, but it’s still a better result than “lack of awareness.”
6. Even in a down economy (and things are indeed improving according to the Federal Reserve’s recent economic snapshot.), you need to demonstrate that you haven’t thrown in the towel. Can’t afford to talk about your products and services in your marketplace? You need to figure out a way to change that, because the only message you’re sending is that you have nothing to talk about.
7. A corollary to No. 6: Buyers want to develop long-term relationships with strong companies. Common sense dictates that the silent wallflower is going to have a tough time competing with the company that speaks consistently to the marketplace. Tough economy? Sure, but you’re not going to survive by retreating.
8. “I don’t know who you are…I don’t know your company…what was it you wanted to sell me?” Beware this old guy.
9. You joined your industry’s association to network and, ultimately you hoped, to sell something to its members. And the association delivered on that promise by creating multiple ways throughout the year for you to speak to that membership, both literally and through marketing platforms. Understand this: People who join associations have made an active decision to engage with others in the industry, including suppliers to that industry. Have you fully explored those relationships?
10. Call yourself a “word-of-mouth” success if you want, but unless I ask a whole bunch of people in your industry who you are and they answer with informed clarity, that’s the weakest of fallback positions. Everyone needs to market. Even Starbucks eventually started advertising!
11. Marketing is more than something to do “when we have the money for it.” Marketing is a necessary part of your business. If you don’t market, you’ll never “have the money for it.”
12. What’s YOUR 12th reason to market in 2012? Share your own “tough talk,” the very thing you’d like to say to the people in your organization who control the marketing purse strings.
For more years than I care to think about — nearly 35 — I have been attending trades shows. I have exhibited in, covered and “worked the show floor” at trade shows worldwide. 22 countries to be exact. These shows represent nearly 100 different industries ranging in scope from high-tech telecommunications, glamorous TV broadcast, film production, audio recording to the events and trade shows covering agriculture, country clubs, pools and spas, hardware, electrical supplies, lighting, gaming, mobile radio, automotive aftermarket, trucking, security, apparel and fashion, textiles, furniture and home decor, gifts, bridal, health care, pharmaceutical, retail and countless others. In total, I’ve attended hundreds of trade shows. I figure I’ve spent more than 7 months of my life in Las Vegas alone working trade shows.
Across all those events, all those years and all those continents, one thing continues to stand out and quite simply boggle my mind. In every industry and in every country, at least 80 percent of the exhibitors do absolutely no advertising or promotion to drive traffic to their booth or to call attention to themselves — simple steps that would allow them to maximize their exhibit investment.
In other words, the vast majority of companies are perfectly willing to spend hundreds of dollars per square foot on booth space — often tens of thousands of dollars designing and building a super-cool booth; thousands of dollars on labor, electrical, Internet, carpet, flowers, shipping and drayage as well as additional thousands in T&E for employees to attend and work the booth. None of that counts the soft cost of labor for all of that staff.
Yet, once all of that is spent, they are staggeringly unwilling to spend a single dollar on event advertising and/or promotion to ensure that they maximize their exhibit investment. Why is that? I must admit that I simply don’t get it.
While walking these shows, it immediately is apparent that there is a tremendous amount of competition for the eyes and minds of the attendees. There are anywhere from dozens to hundreds of other exhibitors. There are educational conferences and sessions and many social events, not to mention the time spent simply networking and playing tourist in a new town. That is a lot to compete with.
It is just so darn easy to get lost in the maze of a trade show. So easy to be heading to one booth destination and get sidetracked by something or someone that catches the eye.
Seriously, how does a 10x10 or even a 20x20 exhibitor stand out and maximize traffic if there are more than a thousand other exhibitors and they do no promotion?
Why risk it? Why take that gamble against an extremely large investment of time, materials and booth space? Why not buy the very wise insurance that advertising, promotion and sponsorships afford an exhibitor to rise above the clutter and drive more booth traffic? It might be easier to consider if there wasn’t such compelling research out there that empirically proves that advertising and promoting one’s existence at a trade show absolutely increases visitors to your booth.
That’s an increase of as much as 55 percent. What’s more, 33 percent of tradeshow attendees admit that they visit a booth in direct response to that exhibitor’s advertising. Those facts make an investment in promotion hugely cost-efficient. The ROI is compelling. In fact, it is cost-efficient to the point of being a “no brainer.” Yet, 80 percent to 85 percent of exhibitors don’t spend a dime to maximize booth traffic.
Now, for that wise 15 percent to 20 percent of exhibitors who do promote, the payoff is even greater, as there is so much less competition for attention and eyeballs.
Why not invest in maximizing your next exhibit investment? Build it into your next budget and really stand out from the crowd!
Sometimes we can get so caught up in the inherent excitement of “marketing” that we lose sight of its very purpose.
This reminds me of something an old journalism teacher of mine once called the “Brenda Starr School of Reporting.” (By the way, the journalism teacher was probably about my age when I first heard him say this, but that was so long ago that he is most certainly old now.) Mr. Dillon would ask us, “Why are newspapers in business?” And classmates would say things like, “To report the truth!” or “To inform an uninformed public!” or “To connect communities!” And Mr. Dillon would shake his head at our overwhelming innocence.
“Newspapers are in business to make money,” he said, stating what should have been obvious. “You’re all victims of the Brenda Starr School of Reporting,” he added, referencing the comic-strip reporter hell-bent on righting mankind’s wrongs through good journalism (and high fashion).
Why do we market? Right here, I’m speaking to a much more experienced audience than that journalism class of mine, but it’s worth a reminder. At the most basic level, we market to make money. We don’t market to “build a brand” or to “demonstrate that we’re viable even in a down economy” or even “because our competitors spend a lot on marketing.” Those are only paths to the ultimate purpose of marketing: to make money.
And what a novel concept that is. Yes, marketing is a revenue-generator, not merely an expense. So why does upper-management slash the marketing budget in tough economic moments like this (and sometimes even in the best of economic times)?
Because — back to that “Brenda Starr School of Reporting” concept — marketing professionals spend a lot of time glamorizing the more sexy aspects of marketing: design aesthetics, branding principles, relationships with media purveyors, social media, travel and hip content. Actually, these are all valid and important parts of effective marketing — but they also are mere paths to the ultimate goal: to make money.
Marketing is about connecting your products and services to audiences that buy. Boiling things down to something that basic may seem less exciting, but it also establishes marketing as a most necessary part of your business.
How does your company market its products and services on a limited budget?
There is something astonishing about the explosion of social media — there is the obvious power to influence with this medium. The stats illustrate a following — a degree of engagement that I never would have anticipated. You cannot go through a day without being invited to follow someone on Facebook or Twitter, receive an invite from LinkedIn or asked to view an astounding video on YouTube. This social media wave has swelled beyond simple friendly socializing. Organizations are building detailed strategies now that incorporate many social media elements for purposes that include branding, marketing and driving membership to name a few.
I thought you would find the following stats interesting as your own thinking about social media evolves:
• One of every nine people on Earth is on Facebook; 70 percent of users reside outside of the U.S.
• Each Facebook user spends an average of 15 hours and 33 minutes a month on the site.
• More than 250 million people access Facebook through their mobile devices.
• More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook.
• 30 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook each month.
• 300,000 users help translate Facebook into 70 languages.
• People on Facebook install 20 million apps every day.
• In March 2011, there were an estimated 225 million Twitter users, and500,000 are added each day.
• Twitter users are three times more likely to be “creators” — people who create and share content via blogs and YouTube — than the general U.S. population.
• 190 million average Tweets per day occur on Twitter (since May 2011).
• Twitter is handling 1.6 billion queries per day.
• There are 101 million LinkedIn members worldwide; 44.2 percent of which are in the U.S.
• LinkedIn is used by 69 of the Fortune 100 companies.
• Top LinkedIn users by industry: high tech 16 percent, finance 13.3 percent, manufacturing 9.5 percent, medical 8.5 percent, corporate 8.3 percent, nonprofit 2.8 percent.
• Top LinkedIn Users by job function: sales 12 percent, administration 10.4 percent, academia 10.3 percent, operations 9.7 percent, engineering 8.6 percent, info technology 8.3 percent.
• YouTube has 490 million unique users who visit every month (as of February 2011).
• Users on YouTube spend a total of 2.9 billion hours per month there (326,294 years).
• YouTube generates 92 billion page views per month (and this doesn’t include videos viewed on phones and embedded in websites).
• People upload 3,000 images to photo-sharing media site Flickr every minute.
• Flickr hosts more than 5 billion images.
Which social media elements will you build into your 2012 communication and marketing plans?
Right now, who can blame a business owner for looking at economic indicators and reacting by padlocking the marketing budget? The rollercoaster of irregularity that is the stock market. The stubbornly static national unemployment rate. The dramatic price increase of capital expenditures and non-negotiable costs of doing business. What’s a person in charge of the finances to do but retreat into a dark and quiet place, shut the door, stay as quiet as possible and hope things get better by the time she needs to venture out to eat?
While recent months have been a particular struggle for everyone in the business of connecting products and services to audiences that buy, these slash-the-marketing-budget trends make no strategic sense even though they seem to make logical sense. The role of advertising in a recession has been discussed as if it were a new concept every time the economy heads south. Twenty-five years ago, McGraw-Hill published a study showing that companies that maintained or increased their advertising during the 1981–1982 recession averaged higher sales growth in the immediate years following the recession.
Strategy: Advertising during a down economy can tip market share in your favor.
Less than a decade later, another study, conducted by Coopers & Lybrand and Business Science International, followed another recession (one that plagued 1989–’91) and reported results that also seemed counter-intuitive for someone with very real and daily worries about the idea of spending when top-line revenues are struggling. If you’re significantly slowed by the economy, marketing actions are most effective in coping with recessionary effects, the study reported. Does this make sense? Times are tough so … spend?
Strategy: Advertising when others are not can make a company appear more stable than competitors.
A look backward often can give guidance for the future. Another research firm of old, Meldrum & Fewsmith (I’m not making that name up), conducted six studies analyzing the role of marketing during post-World War II recessions. (For those who think that we’re dealing with something that is oh-so-2007-to-now, there were also major economic woes in 1949, 1954, 1958, 1961, 1970 and 1974–75. What is unique about our current economy is that the pain has dragged on for so long.) “Advertising aggressively during recessions not only increases sales, but also increases profits,” reports Meldrum & Fewsmith.
Strategy: “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you mustadvertise.”
That quote is frequently attributed to “one major advertiser,” so apologies to you if you coined the phrase and no one is giving you proper credit. Maybe you’re part of the Bud Light marketing team, which increased advertising during that 1989–’91 recession while other beer companies decreased spends. The reward? A 16 percent jump in Bud Light market share … And a beer toast to the oddly sensible logic of advertising in a recession.
Have you increased advertising during this recession? Why or why not?
By: Kate Crockett, Marketing and Social Media Director
Let’s face it — the immediacy of the electronic world we live in has made us impatient for recognition. When we send an email, leave a voicemail, comment on a blog, tweet, text, post to Facebook or update our status on LinkedIn, we desire instant gratification. We want the person we intended to receive our message to acknowledge it with an answer to our comment, question, issue or concern immediately — if not sooner.
Is this fair? No. Is it polite to be this impatient? No. But that doesn’t stop us from getting frustrated, aggravated and for some, downright ticked off that our voice is being ignored. Or is it? Are we actually being ignored or is the person on the receiving end just as busy and overworked as we are? Do they even have the answer to our question, resolution to our problem or response to our comment, or do they have to get that from someone else? Perhaps they are taking the time to formulate a well-thought-out response instead of firing back without thinking first, which is another issue we all seem to face. (But that’s a topic for a future blog post.)
As the person waiting for the response, we need to take a moment to see things from the other person’s perspective. While the issue/comment/question/concern might be the most important thing we have to worry about right now, it probably isn’t the same for the person on the receiving end.
With that being said, when we are the receiver, we need to acknowledge the sender. That person has one main need — to be heard. While “satisfaction” might rank up there, initially they just want to know that they have been heard. If you work in a world where a committee decides everything and communication requires approval from several people, you still should respond to the sender. Temper the sender’s impatience with an acknowledgment — for example, “I received your message and will get back with you as soon as I have an answer.”
Consider how many sales and potential new customers are lost just because the customer feels they haven’t been heard. The most successful organizations have made communication and acknowledgement a cornerstone of their corporate culture. Take Zappos, for instance. This brand has thousands of loyal clients and customers, and everyone else wants to know the secret. It’s not magic — all they have really done is made the most fundamental of human needs a priority.
But as the title of this blog states, great customer service doesn’t just make the retail world go round. Every organization, association, corporation — every person, for that matter — can benefit by acknowledging the need to be heard in their clients, customers and members.
How do you make sure you are acknowledging your fellow humans?
By: Kate Crockett, Marketing and Social Media Director
I have a motto, since I first started in marketing over 15 years ago and it goes something like this: Marketing is an investment, not a purchase. Following this motto has aided me in many ways over the years and has been an easy way for me to educate those in management and business ownership about the patience required to build a solid marketing program. Social media is no exception.
As a business-marketing tactic, it takes time to understand a new medium, find your place and then build your audience. You can’t spend two minutes on any social media page without tripping over the next Twitter marketing guru or Facebook marketing expert. It’s debatable whether these people are indeed experts or gurus of anything other than self-promotion, but what the truly successful social media marketers have in common is patience to invest. To get a big return on your monetary investments, you have to be patient and choose wisely; marketing is no different.
Social media as part of any marketing plan has to follow this philosophy as well. It’s what is called a “pull-tactic,” not a “push-tactic.” Conventional marketing avenues like print ads, radio ads, direct mail, trade shows, promotional flyers or, for that matter, even the old town crier, are all “push-tactics.” Their purpose is to “push” out your marketing message repeatedly, which makes a brand impression and eventually (sooner rather than later) causes a shift in habit, purchase or opinion.
Social media is different. It is a “pull-tactic,” and its purpose is to provide content that is of interest to your intended audience.
Over time, your content will generate interest among those you wish to reach, thereby creating a following of people who will engage with you, learning through repeated interactions that you are the provider of the content they need. Overtime this creates a trust between you and your audience, and when the time arrives that the audience you have created is in need of services or products that you provide, they have a trusted resource from which to purchase that service or product. The key is being a voice in the marketplace that your audience can trust.
You have to be respectful of the fragile relationship that you have with a social media audience. If, for one second, they feel that you haven’t been truthful, forthright or that you haven’t put all your cards on the table, they’ll drop you and move onto someone else who provides what you do and is someone they trust. But as with any relationship, building trust takes two things — time and effort. You have to be willing, capable and able to do both of those things before spending time on social media as a marketing tactic.
What ways are you building trust with your audience?
We would like to extend our warmest wishes to all of our clients, vendors, advertisers, staff & you. Please enjoy our Mad Libs® style holiday card. Click here and enjoy. Please stop by every Thursday for our newest Custom Matters blog post.
By: Kate Crockett, Marketing and Social Media Director
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
These are all things we learned as children, and they still have meaning today, though the thought that you shouldn’t say anything disrespectful is a broad-brush view. Criticism — even constructive criticism — sometimes doesn’t seem “nice.” But thinking before you speak has always been a hallmark of business communication, and today this means that you also should think before hitting “publish,” “send” or “print.”
In a haste to get content out into the social space, many organizations are not taking the time to read what they write through the eyes of others before sending it out for mass consumption. This is a huge mistake. Etiquette is as important in social media as it is at a business meeting — maybe even more so. At a business meeting you have the added luxury of voice intonation and inflection, which provides the audience with the context for your sarcasm or light-hearted joking. These things don’t always translate well in a 140-character post, and most times fall flat or even backfire in such a limited space.
Social media communication is like any other form of communication. It is not what you say or your intent that matters. What matters is how your audience interprets your message. The saying goes that there are three sides to every story — my side, your side and the truth — and the only side that matters is your side. Remember that on the other end of that “post” button are flesh-and-blood humans, and they have their own frame of reference through which they are digesting your words. Every number on your friend or follower list corresponds to a human being, with his or her own narrative and set of feelings. Remember to take that into consideration when posting.
The use of the cocktail party analogy for social media has been used many times in books published on the subject, and it's a good analogy to keep in mind. Before you click “post,” ask yourself this question: “If I were standing in a room with all those on my friend/follower list, would I say this out loud to them?” If you wouldn't, or if you would really have to think about it, then you shouldn’t post it online.
This is not to say that you should censor yourself or not inject your personality into what you post. Instead, I’m suggesting that you be smart and considerate — talk about others the way you’d want people to talk about you. It’s just pure common sense, and it seems to be lacking in some areas of social media these days.
If you are just venturing into social media, you might want to keep these 10 commandments of social media handy, the article is not all inclusive of what you need to know but it is a great start.
Do you agree or disagree that we’ve lost some of our manners in social media?
By: Kate Crockett, Marketing and Social Media Director
I hear the same question a lot, why should I participate in social media? It is a good question. Anytime you are about to venture into an area that is new to you, you should stop and ask yourself why? You should never enter into any arena without knowing why you are there, what purpose it serves or what you want to get out of the cost to be there. According to the folks at TopRank Online Marketing there are 19 questions to ask yourself before you determine your organization is ready for social media.
Think of it this way, what happens when you go into a grocery store without preparing a list? You buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need and forget to buy the one thing you went there for in the first place. In the end you get home feeling two things guilty and frustrated. Guilty that you spent money buying things you either already have or really don’t need and frustrated that the one thing you drove all the way there for never even made it into your cart.
Social media is the same way. If you don’t have a road map for participating as a company you are likely to wander the aisles of Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn spending time in areas that don’t make sense for your company. Putting friends, contacts and followers in your cart only to find out when you get up to the register that they are not what you came in for. No one has time to waste, that’s a given. So make a plan, set your goals, track your results and adjust your course accordingly.
If you wanted to make spaghetti for dinner you wouldn’t buy a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and some grape jelly, would you? If you want to reach your customer base you wouldn’t create a page on Facebook if they are all engaging on Twitter or interacting on LinkedIn. You go where your audience is. Allow me to state the obvious again no one has time to waste. Don’t expect people to add more destinations to their list of online interactions. Figure out where they are and go to them. Make a plan, have a goal and your spaghetti will turn out like spaghetti not a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
What’s your social media shopping list look like? How are you taking steps to go where your audience already is?