Marketers & Advertisers: Give Up Control To Regain It.

It is hard being a marketer or advertiser these days. It feels like everything you were taught about marketing and advertising has been turned on its head. Most of the core principles, whether you practice the Four P’s or the Four C’s are about marketer and advertiser control. Yet, the problem today is that the marketer, their advertising agency, and PR firm have lost a lot of control over much communication about the brand.

With the rise of social media the power of the consumer’s voice is now equal or even more powerful than the brand’s voice. Consider the fact that consumers’ trust other people’s opinions online much more than any brand messages you can publish in ads or on the web. As mobile use increases, the consumer’s voice will only get more powerful, more immediate, and more frequent. Customer service departments know this very well.

Social Media Marketing Advertising Public Relations Strategy Keith QuesenberryWe are in the midst of a consumer revolution where the marketer, advertiser, and PR professional are no longer King. Content is King and consumers control what content is viewed, shared and created. Does this mean marketers, advertisers, and PR pros should simply give up? Not in the sense of throwing in the towel, but they need to understand one key lesson for today’s social media environment: Learn to give up control of your brand to regain it. Click To Tweet We may no longer be able to control much of the brand talk online, but we are able to influence it if we switch from our old traditional, mass media control model to a new social media engagement mindset.

A shift in mindset of this magnitude is not easy. The shift to Integrated Marketing Communication was relatively easy in comparison. We simply had to start working with and unify disciplines, partners and channels such as advertising, public relations, direct response and Internet (interactive). But now the consumer is also creating brand content. You can’t have conference calls with consumers and send them your brand standards, marketing plans and creative briefs.

If you want to find your brand these days you must be willing to lose it. This doesn’t mean that social media marketing has no strategy. On the contrary, strategy is even more important. More and more CMO’s are shifting budgets to social media yet most still struggle with integration of social into their traditional marketing, PR, digital and advertising efforts. Others struggle with focusing a strategy in social with such a dynamic environment and simply end up chasing the hot new social channels as they come out.

If you struggle with integration, if you’re missing focus and simply feel social media is out of control, it may be time to take a step back and look at the big picture. Reset your mindset about marketing, advertising, PR, and digital control. Take a 30,000 foot look at your brand, situation, and at what works and doesn’t work in social media to develop a framework that will work today with Facebook and Snapchat and will work tomorrow for whatever new network or mobile app comes out of the tech corridor.

A basic social media strategy framework:

  1. Identify your business goals, marketing strategy and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  2. Determine your target audience, discover where they’re talking online and what they’re saying.
  3. Engage the target on their social platforms with meaningful branded content in a way that leverages each platform’s key capabilities.

This list is incomplete, but it gets you started in a place rooted in your unique situation and drives a strategy of choosing social platforms and creating content based on your business objectives, marketing strategy and target audience. For a more comprehensive look and process for social media strategy I have written Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution. It will take any marketer, advertiser, PR pro, digital consultant, entrepreneur, or student through a simple step-by-step process to developing a truly integrated and enduring social media plan.

Before You Pronounce Traditional Advertising Dead Check For Its Social Media Pulse.

People love to pronounce things dead. In fact, the phrase “is dead” returns over 226 million Google search results. However, most media and marketing that has been pronounced dead, doesn’t actually die, it just changes into something else. Radio was pronounced dead when TV came along. Instead radio became a valuable local and promotional medium. I still have the cover of WIRED magazine hanging in my office that pronounced Apple computer dead in the 1990’s.

Many have pronounced traditional advertising dead as digital and social media have increased in usage and influence. In 2013 a Harvard Business Review article said, “Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.” The author’s evidence? More people find information about products/services on their own through the internet and social media. CMO’s lack credibility and can’t prove business growth. It doesn’t make sense to hire 3rd parties to try and sell your products for you. (I have paraphrased Bill Lee, please check out his arguments yourself).

From the evidence I gathered I see a different story. Instead of death, social media seems to be giving traditional advertising new life and this new life is growing evidence for the importance of integration of marketing methods. Instead of replacing the old, we should be including it. Even in my Social Media Marketing class focused on social media, I make it clear that it should never exist on its own. It is not a replacement for traditional marketing, but should be integrated into traditional efforts. But perhaps I am biased because I received my masters degree in IMC (Integrated Marketing Communication) so lets look at the numbers and you can decide for yourself.

According to Ipsos research released in 2013, the number one way to create awareness around new brands and products is still with TV ads followed by friends and family and then the Internet. Nearly a third of consumers also turn to magazine ads (31%), social networking sites (25%), entertainment (TV shows/movies; 22%) and direct mail (21%). Even in the younger 18-34 group, the Internet becomes the primary source of discovery (59%), but TV is still third (48%).

Nielson data reports surveys of online consumers indicating the more influential forms of advertising (ones they always or sometimes take action on). People I know and opinions posted online are number one (84%) and two (70%), TV comes in at third (68%). Ads in newspapers are still number five (65%), magazine ads are eighth (62%) and billboards are just out of the top ten (57%). These charts say “integration” to me, not “death.”

Brands that are integrating are seeing better results. Deloitte research reports Some 86% of US consumers (aged 14+) claim to always or almost always multitask while watching TV. Almost half of Millennials this year say they use a social network while watching TV. The brands that know this are acting on it and benefiting from integration. For example, combined print advertising with online has been shown to increase intention to take action by 85%. And combined use of Twitter has also delivered greater results for traditional TV by increasing awareness, favorability and intent.

I am still a social media fan and highly suggest that all brands need to jump into social media marketing. But in your enthusiasm for the new, don’t leave behind the old. Traditional advertising is still alive and kicking and gets a boost from social media marketing. The best marketing efforts combine both in IMC fashion. Do you agree or do you see a flat line for traditional?

 

If You’re Simply Adding To The Noise, Facebook Will Now Turn Off Your Organic Reach

One of my favorite bands is Switchfoot and their song “Adding to the Noise” is the inspiration for this blog. When I started it four years ago, there were roughly 200,000 million blogs and I couldn’t imagine why the world would need another one. I even wrote a post  “The Last Thing We Need Is Another Blog.”  Ultimately this question lead me to the debate between quantity versus quality. A recent Michael Stelzner podcast interview featured Jeff Goins, a successful blogger and author who had several blog failures when he was chasing subscribers (quantity focus) until he started a passion blog (quality focus) that now has over 200,000 subscribers.

Today Technorati indexes over 1.3 billion blogs and the focus on quality content has become more important than ever. For marketers this noise has been creeping up in another social landscape – Facebook. In August of 2013 Facebook revealed that “every time someone visits News Feed there are on average 1,500 potential stories … most people don’t have time to see them all.” By December 2013 Ad Age reported “Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads.”

The bottom line is that Facebook has changed its algorithm, formerly called Edgerank, and content from business Pages has seen a drop-off in organic reach. In response, Facebook is urging paid distribution for brands to get back into their fan’s News Feeds. Since the tweak some brands have reported as much as a 40% decrease in organic reach.

Facebook Drop Organic Reach
Decrease in organic reach from Edgerank Checker.

In the end, business may have to increase their Facebook spending to maintain or expand reach, but there could be another option. Switchfoot sings, “What’s it going to take to slow us down … If we’re adding to the noise turn off this song.” Perhaps we need another content revolution. If you provide content people want to engage with, not turn off, you will break through the noise. Brands could up their content game to emerge organically from the noise in users’ News Feeds.

But this revolution is fueled by more than quality content. It is also about quality time. Mari Smith, author of Facebook Marketing an Hour a Day suggests that marketers should focus more on community management. The more your fans like, comment and share your content, the more likely that content will show up in their news feeds.

It seems there is room for improvement in the engagement game. Social Bakers provides social media monitoring tools and has been measuring brand’s engagement levels on social networks. Their recent reports indicate that only 10% of brands respond to 85% of questions on Facebook.

A brand that steps up its engagement game could not only protect its organic reach, but also find a significant competitive advantage. We all love when someone listens to us. When your fans hear from you, their excitement will spread along with your reach and reputation.

Ted Rubin calls this a real Return on Relationship. Fight quantity (clutter & filters) with quality (content & engagement). With every post, update and comment ask yourself, “Is it adding something meaningful or simply adding to the noise?”