Social Leadership – Are you Stepping up?

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By Sue BradySONY DSC

 

Social Leadership has been defined in different ways over the years. I’m thinking about Social Leadership in modern terms related to social media, and not so much using social skills to effectively lead your team, company etc. Both are equally important, and in this post I’m focusing on Social Leadership as related to social media. Interestingly, what makes a successful social leader in the classical sense also makes a successful social leader in the social media sense.

I really like this observation provided by Julian Stodd, the founder of his own agency called Sea Salt, an agency that focuses on social engagements. Julian says:

“Social Leadership isn’t an optional extra: it’s a method and mindset for engaging in communities and deploying the power of your organisation that liberates INNOVATION and creativity. Organisations that lack this power will feel increasingly less relevant in the Social Age.”

Companies today need to be social leaders and it starts with the C-suite. The CEO is key to putting a company into a social leadership position. Social leadership is both external and internal. It’s how you create internal brand advocates and how you generate engagement with your external audience.

So what can you do? First, if you are the CEO, embrace the age of online social communication, and use it to your benefit. Make sure your employees (your internal community) feel free to use online tools to collaborate with one another. And encourage them to do so. Employees aren’t always physically in the same location. To ensure idea generation and keep employees engaged with one another, they need to communicate.

You yourself can engage with your employees more easily than ever before by using these tools. Help everyone feel like they are a part of your company’s journey. If they feel a part of the ‘big’ team and feel like their ideas matter, it will spill-over into their external social media. And then they’ll become employee advocates, helping you achieve success with their peers.

And that’s the second big thing you should do. Make sure your company is using social media to its fullest potential. You should have webcasts talking about things that are important to your customers and you should invite conversation. Be open to what your customers are saying in social media and explore the opportunities and issues that are being uncovered. This will help your company in so many ways, especially as you transform your customers into brand advocates.

Related posts:

A Peak Inside the Coffee Cup

How I’m Obsessed with Making my Company Customer Obsessed

The Customer is Always Right

Sue’s 2015 Marketing Predictions

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By Sue Brady

Fortune CookieAs you can see by my 2014 predictions post, My track record is just so-so, so take these with a grain of salt!

Social Media Scandals will Tank two Major Companies – No idea who or when, but it’ll happen. 2015 will be the year of uber transparency. Consumers demand it and I predict that at least two brands, in an effort to do this well, will crash and burn.

Explosion of the Chief Marketing Technologist Role – This hardly new role will become commonplace in 2015. The role will be actively recruited and become the perfect role for the IT leader who has become skilled in marketing, or visa versa. This person will be the go-to source for identifying and vetting marketing technologies such as CRMs, CMS’ and social media tracking systems. Modeling will also fall into this role.

The Customer will be King – Brands that don’t become obsessed with the customer will falter and be overtaken by those that do. CUSTOMER OBSESSION RULES.

Unified Customer Service Technologies – I really expected this to happen in 2014, particularly in relation to mobile tools, and it did somewhat, but not to the degree that I thought it would. By unified customer service technologies I mean that brands will make it easy for customers to contact them through a variety of methods: email, phone, chat, click to call.

Large Data Breaches will Continue – I fear that overseas hackers will cripple at least three major American companies (and I wrote this post before the recent Sony breach!), setting up a huge government initiative to not only prevent future attacks but to also identify and prosecute those behind them.

Content Marketing – This critical area will become even more critical because the public demands it. Added value content that’s available to everyone is not just the norm, but it’s how companies show their expertise. This continuing trend will create a new wave of key content marketing positions.

A New Social Media Platform will Emerge as #1. First it was MySpace, than Facebook, then SnapChat and Instagram making it to the top of the list of sites used by the younger crowd (over 90% of Instagram users are under 35; source=Business Insider). As soon as the ‘grown-ups’ adopt a platform that the ‘kids’ are on, the kids find a new one.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Happy New Year!

Sue’s Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

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By Sue Brady

I check my blog stats often to understand what’s resonating most with my readers.

Here’s the list of your faves from this year:

Happy reading!

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How I’m Obsessed with Making my Company Customer Obsessed

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By Sue Brady

Champions

I recently started a new job. I work for a fairly well-known satellite technology company. Part of my job is customer retention. As much as I’ve looked forward to this aspect of my new position, I’m also a little bit nervous. My company does a great job with marketing, but can make some improvements in the area of Customer Obsession.

I realize that it’s going to take a methodical approach to turn everyone’s thinking back to the customer. We get very wrapped up in developing a great product, in fixing issues as soon as we know about them, and even in improving the customer experience. But as a company, it seems like sometimes we fall down on keeping the customer in mind when we make decisions.

So here’s my plan. The first thing I need to do is to get buy-in from the top. Why? Because without C-suite support, I don’t stand a chance. The way I’ve started this mission is by mentioning the term Customer Obsession at every opportunity. I want to be known as the customer czar. I’m not in Customer Service, but as a marketer, I know that the whole company needs to start thinking like a customer advocate. I make sure to talk about the customer all the time, but especially when I’m in meetings with the senior folks.

Secondly, I need to get buy-in from everyone else. I want everyone to think this way. Last week there was an email conversation about some of the emails we send to our customers. They are, without exception, ‘no-reply’ emails. I asked why this was so and was told that we don’t have the resources to field random customer service-oriented questions. I have raised the question: Why do we want to make it hard for our customers to reach us? If we give them a great customer experience, maybe they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends…and well, you get the idea. So I’m trying to change that. If we email a customer, they need to be able to email us back if they have a question.

The third thing I need to do is work with the social media team. Social media is a customer service function at my company, because they are primarily dealing with customer service issues. And that’s okay, I can work with that. I hope to make those social media folks into the best customer advocates that we have. If I can do that, it means that it will spill over into other areas of customer service, and that means that the folks that talk to our customers the most will be better problem solvers, working with the customer’s best interest in mind.

And so it begins. I’ve had three people already come to me and say they support my efforts 100%. That’s three more than I had yesterday. This is just the start. I’ll post as time goes on to let you know how I’m doing in this quest. In the meantime, I have CUSTOMER OBSESSION written on the white board in my office for all to see, every time they come to talk to me.

Related Posts:

A Peak into the Coffee Cup

The Customer is always Right

 

 

Back to Testing Basics, & a Really Cool Website Redesign Method

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By Sue Brady

AOL Roms

I am proud to say that I used to work for AOL. This was back in the day when AOL was experiencing phenomenal growth. I worked with some Class A marketers while I was there, and I learned an incredible amount about the importance of testing. All marketers know that testing is key to continued success, but somehow not everyone is diligent about practicing it. There are some real basic Marketing 101 type things to keep in mind as you continue (or start!) your testing program:

Offer is important
Audience (aka targeting) is important
Creative is important (though perhaps not as important as #1 and 2 above)
Testing one thing at a time is important

Offer is key because it’s what will bring your reader in. At AOL, we started with a ‘10 hours free’ offer. The offer kept going up though, with tests around more hours and multiple days being a part of it. The number of free hours kept expanding. Why? Because response was greater, including conversion to a paid subscription once the free trial was over, and even when taking into account the cost of the extra free time. Free is a powerful word and should be tested as a part of your offer strategy.

Audience is really about knowing who will buy your product and understanding where to find them. Are you targeting the 25-40 crowd? Then your advertising probably shouldn’t show 50-year olds. Try not to fall into the trap of “everyone wants my product.” You need to be more specific than that. Figure out what really defines your various customer segments. You need to analyze your database to really understand this, and it’s worth doing (and should be redone frequently).

Creative is fun to test, but do so wisely and as always, learn from your tests. I’ll use AOL again as an example. We found, through repeated testing, that putting a person’s picture on a CD package lowered response. We tested parents, kids, grandparents, couples, singles. And we reached the conclusion that showing people didn’t work so great for selling AOL. Perhaps it was because the person looking at the CD couldn’t identify with the person in the picture. I don’t really know the reason. But, it wasn’t a hard and fast rule as it turned out. The person in charge of Hispanic marketing decided to test a photo of an Hispanic person and guess what? It won! And not just in that one test. It continued to win through roll-out and for a long time after that. The key takeaway is to realize that different segments of your audience may respond to different images.

Testing one thing at a time is the best way to figure out what is impacting your increase or decrease in response. I read a really interesting article about website redesign. The author, Chris Goward (@chrisgoward), explains a ‘new’ method called Evolutionary Site Redesign. He talks about using an iterative approach where you test one component of your site at a time to gradually redesign the site as different approaches/offers/layouts work. They’ve had dramatic success with some of their clients with this approach. It makes so much sense!