The Long Run: Thoughts on Effective Social Media Execution and Marathons

IMG_1917As I write this, I am just under one month away from the Chicago Marathon. It will be my second marathon, having completed the Vancouver Marathon in 2007. It’s also a bucket list item for me – one that I am looking forward to putting a checkmark beside!

In thinking about how I approach marathon training, I have come to realize that there are a number of parallels with respect to developing a social media strategy. No, I am not thinking about social media while I run, at least usually as sounds from Songza occupy my head! But I thought I would share a quick comparison here.

Proper Planning is Required

Unless you are a uber-athlete, you don’t just wake up in the morning and decide that you’re going to run a marathon today. Well, you could, but that certainly isn’t advised! At the same time, a brand shouldn’t just execute social media in an ad hoc manner.

Experienced marathon runners will tell you that a planned and disciplined approach is a necessity in preparing for the big race. Ideally, runners set up a training calendar months in advance, encompassing regular runs and workouts leading up to the race – geared towards the objective of completing the race by a specific time.

Brands need to approach social media with similar rigour, first establishing goals and then developing a plan focused on achieving the goals. An ideal framework includes an overview of strategies and supporting tactics, along with a detailed calendar.

Perseverance and Dedication

Most days, I absolutely cannot wait to go for a run. The mere thought of running is enough to energize me. However, I will admit, I do have mornings in which my bed feels a bit too comfortable, and an extra kick is required to get my feet onto the trails or pavement. When these mornings happen, I again think about my end goal of running the marathon, and I find a way – knowing that hard work in the short-term will lead to long-term gains.

Similarly, social media also requires perseverance and dedication. It takes time and resources for brands to develop the right infrastructure for their social activities, and even more time and resources to develop content and cultivate healthy communities of ardent fans and followers. At times it may seem overwhelming as community engagement builds, and brands need to respond to and engage with more and more people. But remember, each awesome experience you provide for individual people through social represents another step towards nurturing longterm brand affinity.

It Takes a Community

Yes, in many respects, preparing for a marathon is a solo pursuit. However, maintaining a focus through the long hours of training is a lot easier when you have a community of family and friends supporting you. It really can be a team effort, leading right up to the cheering as you cross the finish line.

For brands, having an active presence on social media is one thing. Developing a community of ardent fans and supporters, people who will actually advocate for the brand, is quite another. There are many ways through which brands can create community advocacy on social media – common to them all is a genuine, personable approach. One that makes brands likeable.

Tracking and Measurement

In training for a marathon, I benefit immensely by tracking my runs – including measures such as distance and pace. Doing so enables me to monitor my progress, with the end goal of completing the race within a specific timeframe in mind. If my pace doesn’t match what I need to achieve in training to attain my desired goal, then I either need to ramp up my training or recalibrate my race expectations.

At the same time, it’s critical for brands to track social media progress and activity, with end goals always in mind. For example, if a target has been established such as attaining 60% share of voice by year end, and the brand is currently only tracking at 40%, then the plan should be reviewed and perhaps adjusted. Investing in measurement and analysis goes a long way towards ensuring desired outcomes are achieved.

Long-Term Focus

A marathon is 42.195 kilometres. That’s a long distance! Don’t even consider running it as a sprint, or you’ll soon be out of energy.

Similarly, social media should be a long-term investment.

It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Image courtesy of Benjamin Lipsman.

Brandtainment

Brands that invest in creating content that entertains and delights are poised to stand out, through genuine fan engagement and sharing of the content. It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Create a video, or a picture, or a blog post that in some way makes people glad they spent the time watching the video, viewing the picture, or reading the blog post, and they’re more apt to like what you created, comment on it, and perhaps even share it with their friends.

My question is very straightforward. Why are so many brands still creating boring content?

Here are a couple of examples of the kinds of videos brands should be producing more of. NBC Sports will be airing English Premier League games this year, and they created a very funny promotional video – “An American Football Coach in London”. The video could easel be a Saturday Night Live sketch, and in fact it stars SNL alumni Jason Sudeikis. One week after launching, the video has generated over 3.5 million views. Golden!

At Intuit, we were brainstorming triggers that would entice people to file their taxes using TurboTax in advance of the April 30th tax deadline. With a week left to go, I saw an ad on CBC mentioning that the NHL playoffs were starting on April 30th. Bingo! With the Maple Leafs returning to the play-offs for the first time in nine years, and the Canucks and Habs also participating, we found our trigger. Within 72 hours we assembled a team, authored a script and produced a video using iPhones – “The Great Canadian Face-off: Taxes vs. Playoffs”. No, we didn’t have SNL talent, but we did poke fun at the situation and managed to garner over 12,000 views.

(Guess who’s wearing the Canucks jersey!)

Brands don’t need to invest a lot of money to create an awesome video. However innovative thinking and creativity are definite musts. I foresee a lot more brands going this route in the future.

Thoughts on Rebooting

Thoughts on RebootingI recently finished reading Mitch Joel’s latest book, CTRL Alt Delete. In his book, Mitch shares thoughts on how businesses and professionals essentially need to do a reboot – transforming both processes and ways of thinking in order to survive and thrive in today’s rapidly evolving business environment.

Personally, over the last few years I have initiated a number of significant changes in my own career – shifting my focus to digital and social strategy after having gotten my start in traditional marketing, with a strong desire to play in the intersection of culture, technology and media. I can definitely relate to much of what Mitch articulated. What I have really come to realize however, is that the process of “rebooting” isn’t a one time deal – far from it. The truth is that businesses and professionals, from a career lens, must now constantly examine and adjust things as technology and people’s behaviours evolve.

Here are a few things that I am now thinking about:

1. Creating Utility Through Content

It almost goes without saying that any content a brand produces, whether for social, web or email, should somehow provide a tangible benefit and level of utility for readers. However, the stark reality is that people are getting absolutely inundated with content from all directions – and many brands are still not putting enough thought into what they produce. The end result? One big, giant mess of content.

It’s true that most content has value when it comes to search optimization and the long-tail. However, I think brands need to think much harder about what content they’re producing – perhaps with a “less is more” mindset. I am definitely keeping this in mind for a content strategy I am currently developing. I am also looking for ways to extend the overall experience people have when engaging with content – creating a richer experience through multimedia and deep-linking to my company’s website.

2. Escaping the Box

Over the last few years, I have invested a significant amount of time in digital and social strategy education – including reading an endless stream of articles online, maintaining a healthy diet of books through Amazon, and attending a number of events and conferences. I’ve certainly had my fill of digital and social. What’s missing, however, is exposure to new learning – perhaps not directly related to the discipline of marketing.

Gaining insights from a variety of subject areas can fuel inspiration and enhance creativity, potentially leading to unique and compelling solutions to customer pain points. Understanding digital technologies, including underlying architectures and opportunities for evolution, represent one such notable opportunity for strategists. Another might be learning a new language? Why? Because language is a gateway to culture, and a preliminary step in leads to better understanding – an asset given Canada’s diverse population.

To add further context, my friend (and digital strategist) Rachel Lane shared some thoughts on how she learns in her post “The Education of a Social Media / Digital Strategist“.

So, I am now looking at ways to branch out and broaden my exposure to new ways of thinking. In the immediate future, I am endeavoring to learn more about Design Thinking. Down the road, I intend to learn another language – this goal has now been added to my five year plan. There will be more added, but I think this is a good start.

3. Finding the Right Mix

This topic could entail an entire blog post … or even a series of blog posts. Lately I have read a lot of articles related to personal needs to “disconnect” more. I have felt the need myself. While I enjoy connecting with people online, much of the interaction is very “surface” in nature. At the same time, from a career perspective, it’s clear that 9 to 5 does not cut it anymore. At least not for those of us who work in marketing. The continual need to learn, combined with increased business demands and competition, necessitates that people spend more time focusing on their jobs and their careers.

It’s a reality, and one that I don’t mind because I love what I do. It’s not work. Case-in-point, I wrote the majority of this blog post on a Sunday afternoon.

However, I am still adjusting, and I realize that I need to find the mix that’s right for me. Increased career and job demands don’t necessarily mean that I need to be online all the time. So, I’m striving to manage my time better. I’m seeking (and planning) opportunities for quiet – for deeper thought, learning and reflection.

I’m also going to drink more coffee. No, not just for the sake of it!  I want to spend more time with people, reconnecting with people I’ve met before while also making new acquaintances – hearing their stories and learning from them. Hat tip to Elena Yunosov in part for inspiring me to do this.

These are a few things on my mind. What are some things that you’re thinking about?

Turning Search Insights into Content Gold

Photo: Giorgio Monteforti <http://www.flickr.com/photos/11139043@N00/>Content marketing has become an increasingly important focal point for many brands. However, even if a brand produces interesting, engaging and relevant for it’s core audience – efforts will be wasted if the content can’t easily be found or isn’t timely.

With that in mind, it’s important to consider the interplay between search marketing and content marketing, particularly with respect to social platforms. A key lever for “winning” the content game is providing content in timely manner – when people are looking for it. Having the right infrastructure and processes in place can help a brand do just that.

Here are several recommendations companies should consider:

  • Ensure that the search, social and web content functions are tightly intertwined. Team members should work closely together – or, if based in separate geographical locations, have regular calls. Establishment of strong relationships is key. In my current role at Intuit, I sit right across from our search manager and I speak with him daily.
  • Develop a mechanism through which search insights are regularly provided to those responsible for creating content. Through Google Trends, the search manager can create and share search insights that reveal what people are (and are not) looking for. Insights can, for example, include: most popular search queries, search queries that are rising in popularity, search queries that are declining in popularity
  • Be poised to act quickly based on insights provided. If search trends reveal gaps in your blog content calendar, have a writer available to create the content – perhaps an internal writer or a freelancer. If people are looking for content now that you intend to publish later, make the necessary adjustments to your content calendar.

Finally, and importantly, make sure that you are set up to measure the impact of your efforts!  Having the right content is one thing, to truly provide value it needs to be available when people are actively searching for it.

Cultivating Brand Advocates – Four Remarkable Communities

Perhaps the pinnacle achievement in marketing today is to build such a strong relationship with your brand’s biggest fans, that they become true advocates – speaking so enthusiastically and positively about your brand, that others might think they actually work for you.

It is, indeed, a rare accomplishment to develop such a relationship. In part I believe that many companies do not recognize the opportunities and benefits associated with nurturing and enabling fans to become true advocates. Nor do they fully realize the path they must embark on.

Serving as a guiding light, here are five brands that have done it right:

Fiskars

Hands up anyone who would’ve thought that Fiskars, a scissors brand, would be able to develop a successful online community? They make scissors! Scissors! But guess what? They recognized a core and common passion that many of their fans have – scrapbooking – and they built a community around it. In fact, the thriving community has evolved to include a variety of different artistic categories. See www.fiskateers.com.

The lesson: A successful community doesn’t need to be centred around your brand. Find a common passion your fans have, related to your brand, and build a community that truly unites your fans provides them with value.

Intuit

Intuit is an award-winning developer of business and financial management software, having developed a variety of leading products including TurboTax, online income tax software, as well as QuickBooks, accounting software for small business. The company truly has excelled in developing a customer-centric approach to their business. For example, when using TurboTax, people have access to an entire community of other TurboTax users – to ask questions and gain insights as they fill out their tax returns. Moreover, people can also enter into a private chat with income tax professionals, before they have even paid for TurboTax!

The lesson: Brands should do what they can to pay it forward. Provide value to people before they have even paid for your product or service, and imagine the loyalty, enthusiasm and sense of community that can be be generated.

Genius Crowds

Here is a company and a community with a big twist. The community creates the company’s products, and in essence, the community is the brand. Genius Crowds is a community through which people can submit their ideas for products they’d actually like to see manufactured and sold on store shelves. The community collaborates on product ideas submitted, in an effort to help improve them, and then they vote on their favourites. Genius Crowds then reviews top voted ideas, and selects a few that have the potential – based on a manufacturing and marketability assessment – to be sold in stores.

This is a great example of crowdsourcing. In fact the first product, the Speed Bather (a dog squeegee) is now ready to hit store shelves!

The lesson:  Companies can benefit from letting their customers collaborate and participate in the development, and evolution, of their products and services. By tapping into the collective intelligence of their customers, they create opportunities for innovation.

Disclosure: I was a Community Manager for Genius Crowds when I worked at Chaordix.

Vancouver Canucks

Sports franchise brands and social media go hand-in-hand, as social media provides an amazing opportunity for fans to bond with their favorite team – regardless of where they are in the world. Canucks fans have turned to social media to share their experiences and emotions, expressing themselves through compelling content ranging from short tweets to engaging videos. At the same time, the organization itself has really excelled at leveraging social media to encourage fan participation and build loyalty – and there is little doubt that the strength of the Vancouver Canucks brand has been significantly augmented as a result.

The lesson: Be open to having your fans generate content, and help them share it on social platforms. Doing so will result in increased loyalty, and will aid in building your fan base.

Are you aware of any remarkable online communities that have helped a company cultivate true brand advocates?  Does your company have one, or have you considered developing one?

Social Media Promotions: An Interview with Joeline Hackman from Strutta

Planned and executed effectively, social media contests and promotions have significant potential to help companies expand their breadth and depth of engagement with customers, grow their fan base, and identify their most passionate advocates. Companies have a plethora of options and opportunities with respect to creating promotions that will truly resonate and drive business. The primary challenge, however, lies in gaining people’s time and attention to participate amidst an increasingly fragmented media landscape.

Recently, I had an opportunity to chat about contests and promotions with Joeline Hackman, Director of Marketing at Strutta. Strutta, a Vancouver-based company, provides tools and expertise to power online promotions for companies, and possesses a top tier client list that includes Microsoft, Edelman and Coca-Cola. Joeline shared insights on the evolving social media landscape for promotions, as well as best practices that can help companies achieve success.

Q: How have brand metrics with respect to online promotions and contests evolved?

A: I feel like we’ve gone from a stage where people are counting likes and followers to one in which measurement is focused on engagement through shares, retweets and mentions. It’s also about identifying who those people are that are engaging with your brand, being able to talk with them directly, and identifying top influencers. It sets up this ecosystem where you can identify the most valuable nodes and communicate with them.

Q: How has Facebook’s switch to Timeline impacted social and promotional apps?

A: For us it’s all about engagement. I understand that Timeline has really impacted the experience on Facebook. It’s been mandatory for people to switch over, it was done so that there is more real estate on Facebook where people can engage on a company’s page with photos and other posts, with highlighted relevant content bubbling to the top. Tabs are still at the top and companies can directly link to them on their walls, using an image or any other content. It’s been great because it’s made Facebook a more immersive experience, and more valuable. Rather than just being a constant newsfeed, people have been able to assign a quality score to posts and drive traffic to elements within Facebook that are most relevant. With our clients, they post interesting content from within the contests, which drives more engagement from their fans.

Q: What best practices should companies consider in order to achieve maximum value and ROI from promotions? Are there any common traits you notice in successful promotions?

A: Just be responsive and engage with your audiences. Social is social. I see a lot of companies publish things, and there’s not that interaction. For us, we encourage companies to take us much data as they can – and understand there are individuals behind the data. Someone’s talking to you, then respond, take information and demonstrate you’ve listened.

Also, the prize should be commensurate with the value of what you’re asking someone to do. If you’re just asking someone to enter a basic sweepstakes, then there are guidelines for the value of the prize based on the amount of people you expect to participate. If asking people to enter a video for the contest, the prize has to be a lot more indicative of the effort involved. We recommend prizes are unique to your brand, no one is going to be engaged over period of time to win free iPad. We encourage companies to create unique experiences.

What are your thoughts on online promotions and contests? Do you have any best practices you’d like to share, or perhaps examples of innovative and effective promotions that have truly led to positive business results?

Building a Brand Presence on Facebook – A Great Example by Silk

Recently I’ve been paying particular attention to how CPG brands are leveraging Facebook. The reality, from what I’ve observed, is that most CPG brand Facebook Pages are literally engagement graveyards. Sure, the brands might have attained a high number of “likes”. However, for the most part, many brands are still treating Facebook primarily as a promotional tool and not as a social platform for nurturing a deeper level of engagement and brand affinity.

However, I came across one CPG brand that truly stands out for it’s focus on using Facebook in its proper context as a social platform – Silk. Silk is effectively using its Facebook Page to build conversation and brand engagement, while also creating sales opportunities through contests and coupons, and I believe that other brands can learn from them.

Here is a snapshot of activity on the page, as well as some thoughts on how engagement can be further enhanced.

Positive issues being discussed:

  • Numerous posts and comments about the delicious taste of Silk’s products, as well as the variety of available flavours
  • Notable community appreciation for product coupons offered by Silk

 

Negative issues being discussed:

  • A couple of concerns have been expressed regarding product quality (see post on June 24th by Kelly Elliott, post on May 15th by Suzanne Morrison and post on May 9th by Bill Gilchrist)

Synopsis and opportunities for Silk to better connect with people and spark conversation:

  • Silk has developed a very healthy, active and engaged community on Facebook – the brand is well-represented and the discussions, for the most part, are fun and light-hearted
  • Several opportunities exist to enhance and expand the conversation, further engaging with the community, building on what Silk has established:
  1. Entice community members to share how they use their favourite Silk products as an ingredient in recipes – potentially sparking ideas for others.  Include a related picture for each post, such as a dinner dish or a dessert.

    Sample Facebook posts:

    Do you have your own recipes using your favourite variety of Silk as a secret ingredient? Please share what they are in the comments below!Which favourite recipes do you like to include Silk in?

    Cobbler, cookies, and cupcakes – yum!  Do you have any favourite recipes that include Silk, which you’d like to share?

  2. Share how Silk contributes and gives back to the communities it participates in. Many people now look beyond the products and services a company provides, with a desire to know how a company participates in initiatives focused on the greater good. From Silk’s website and several mentions on Facebook, it’s clear that the company cares about health and environmental causes. Silk should communicate the partnerships they’ve established and the initiatives they’re involved with to the community – by doing so they can spark discussion, generate positive word-of-mouth, and enhance customer loyalty.

    Sample Facebook posts:

    Did you know that we are partnered with The Organic Farming Research Foundation, a national non-profit that fosters the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems? http://ofrf.org/ [link to The Organic Farming Research Foundation; include The Organic Farming Research Foundation logo with post]

    We are committed to taking care of our planet and providing healthy food choices. Here are some inspiring organizations we’ve partnered with: http://bit.ly/OaCegr [link to “Working Together” page on Silk website, listing partner organizations]

    We are focused on renewable energy – we offset the electricity used to make our products by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates, representing energy from sources such as wind and solar. What are some things you do to reduce your environmental impact? [include picture of wind turbines with post] 

  3. Silk products offer a number a number of notable health benefits, which should be made more prominent in discussions within the community. Focusing on health can help educate community members on benefits they might not have been aware of – generating conversation and helping to build word-of-mouth.

    Sample Facebook posts:

    My favourite health benefit of drinking Silk is __________.Have you had a glass of Silk today? Did you know that each glass of Silk True Almond beverage contains as much calcium and vitamin D as dairy milk? [include picture of glass of Silk, beside Silk True Almond carton, with post]

    Silk beverages are great sources of protein. Check out the recipes on our website for some healthy and tasty Silk-based smoothies: http://bit.ly/LsmVOx [link to recipe search on Silk website]

WestJet Takes Flight to NYC Using Experiential and Social Media Marketing

I enjoy learning about and experiencing innovative, well-executed marketing campaigns. In my opinion one of the best examples in a long time occurred on the streets of Toronto, and online, this past Friday. WestJet teamed up with agency Mosaic for an integrated experiential and social media campaign to promote the launch of WestJet’s new 7 times daily service from Toronto to New York City’s LaGuardia airport.

Given the intense competition from firmly established Air Canada and Porter Airlines, the latter of which offers direct flights to NYC from the conveniently located Billy Bishop City Airport, WestJet needed to launch with a bang – and did they ever. On Friday, 100 Statues of Liberty took to the streets of Toronto, visiting high traffic areas to give away valuable prizes to passersby – notably, 150 prizes for 100% off the base fare for a round trip to NYC and 23,000 promo codes for 20% off of the base fare.

The contest leveraged Facebook and Twitter to generate excitement and and provide hints on where people could find the Statues of Liberty. People also had an opportunity to win five free flights on Twitter by tweeting @WestJet and #NYCASAP.

  • @WestJet: Enter to WIN a flight to NYC! Follow @WestJet & send a Tweet that mentions @WestJet & includes #NYCASAP. Rules: http://fly.ws/nycasap
  • @MKRoberts: Sure would love to go to #NYCASAP with @WestJet 🙂
  • @Osfreddy: @WestJet I want to win @WestJet promo on #NYCASAP please I need to see my dear friend that just had a baby. Thanks @WestJet

Ultimately, this campaign will be best judged on whichever metrics WestJet has established – presumably including passenger loads and the redemption rate for the 23,000 promo codes. However, there are several reasons why I really like this effort.

First and foremost, the tone and execution of the campaign were well-aligned with WestJet’s DNA. They have already established themselves as being a customer-centric company, and they’re not afraid to joke around and have fun – I’ve noticed it in their ads and whenever flying WestJet. Complementing this, the company is firmly established on social media. They know how to use the platforms correctly as mechanisms for both promotion and engagement.

Further, a very significant value offer was provided. It’s hard to resist 100% off the base fare for a flight, with a reasonable chance of winning, even if taxes have to be paid – or the opportunity to receive a promo code for 20% off. WestJet wasn’t giving away swag, they offered tangible value.

Also, it’s an excellent example of integrated social media and experiential marketing. People were actively tweeting (I counted several hundred tweets in the last hour alone) – often identifying where some Statues of Liberty were.

  • @savagecookie: RT @lindacam75: @WestJet Found lady liberty at yonge & bloor! #NYCASAP! #Toronto http://pic.twitter.com/SecQuXpl
The message was simple and concise, helping to make the tweets easily shareable. There were A LOT of retweets, people shared the promotion with their followers.
  • @shepherd_group: Booya! RT @amydehaan: I would love to win this!! RT @WestJet – We’re giving away 5 flights to NYC via Twitter today! #NYCASAP
  • @AmyDeHaan: I would love to win this!! RT @westjet – We’re giving away 5 flights to NYC via Twitter today! #NYCASAP
It was a fun campaign. A lot of people wanted to get pictures taken with the statues, as evidenced by the number of pictures being shared.

  • @IamVenusMonroe: Hanging with lady liberty x 3 lolz #NYCASAP http://pic.twitter.com/rdpsiiFs

In addition to the Statues of Liberty, another iconic NYC figure also made an appearance!

  • @AllisonChoppick: RT @ashmarshall: And then that just happened… #NYCASAP http://pic.twitter.com/qjMR081i
Unfortunately I didn’t win, but here are a couple of happy people who did. Bravo, WestJet.
  • @sabrinakareer: Ran into these #NYCASAP ladies this morning and scratched a card giving me 20% off a flight to NYC! #Woohoo http://pic.twitter.com/waMuKi4f
  • @lditkofsky: Just won a free trip to NYC!! Thanks Westjet! #NYCASAP

Listen. Engage. Connect.

This post originally appeared as a comment in response to a post written by Mitch Joel. Mitch asked readers to provide thoughts on what it takes for marketers to listen, engage and connect in today’s world. The two people who submitted the best responses, selected by Mitch, won complimentary tickets to the 2012 Canadian Marketing Association Summit. I was fortunate to be selected (my answer was ranked third but one of the other winners wasn’t able to attend).

Hi Mitch,

Several keys come to mind which should be considered.

Recognize that social media is about people.

Companies need to have the right people in place, whether in marketing, communications or customer service, with appropriate skills and education on social media best practices. These people, on the front lines, are essentially the face of the company – they should be both empowered and trusted when engaging with customers.  Enable people (your customers) to like your people (your employees) and thus your company.

Spend time learning.

Given the nature of the rapidly changing marketing and communications landscape, continuous learning is a necessity for people at all levels – so that a company’s employees are well-poised to listen, engage and connect. Marketers should regularly spend time reading social media and technology blogs and books, as well as occasionally attend conferences (such as The Art of Marketing).

Understand that listening leads to engagement and connection.

Marketers should start by listening to their target audience, in an effort to understand them – their needs, their nuances, their language. Engagement should start once sufficient listening has occurred. However, any marketing outreach can’t just be about the brand. The conversation must be relevant and genuine from the perspective of the customer, and it must somehow add value. Marketers that focus first on listening and have customer-centric mindset, will have a better opportunity to establish true engagement and connection.

Be proactive and build relationships.

Related to the point above, marketers should be proactive in building relationships – both with key influencers and other people in the target market. Relationship-building can occur by commenting on a blog, interacting on a social network, or perhaps meeting in person at an event. Investing in a relationship can truly help at a later point, perhaps when an social initiative/campaign is being launched that could benefit from engagement of key influencers.

Provide great content.

Whether making use of a corporate blog, or sharing information through a social network, marketers need to invest time and effort in cultivating and curating content that is relevant and provides value to existing and potential customers.  Time invested in listening to customers’ needs can truly pay off here, as insights gained can feed into the content developed. By becoming a trusted resource for customers, engagement and connection with customers will be enhanced.

Show that you care.

Simply put, a little recognition can go a long way.  If someone mentions your brand in a positive light, thank them. If someone cites an issue or concern, ask them why and do what you can to help them – in a genuine and, ideally, expedient manner.  You may not always be able to please everyone, but you certainly can earn a lot of respect by showing that you care.  Again this goes back to listening, which provides opportunity for engagement and connection.