Posts by Chris Boudreaux
Here are three ways to create differentiated and compelling content, that you won’t find mentioned in blogs about content marketing:
1. Web Apps
Build a unique and compelling web application to drive ongoing, evergreen traffic to your property. Common examples include a dealer locator on the web site of a tire manufacturer, but that is somewhat obvious. If you really want to differentiate your brand, create an application that no competing brands offer, like, oh… I don’t know… maybe an online database of social media policies — a simple example, but that page has generated thousands of visits per day for three years.
What kind of web app could you create to give your customers something of value, establish a relationship based on trust, and keep them coming back? Bonus points if you build it atop an asset that your competitors do not possess.
Do you know the attributes of your content that generate the greatest engagement or sharing? Most brands don’t. Most brands outside of the media industry don’t think about it at the level required to optimize content development at large scale.
3. Intent Research
When your marketers, or SMEs, or agency staff are writing content for the brand, they should have ready access to the latest search trends and conversation insights to understand the language that online audiences are using at that time.
Most use cases do not require the information in real-time, up-to-the-moment, but many campaigns would benefit from daily updates, if not weekly or monthly. When was the last time you wrote a press release whose keywords were informed by SEO and SEM goals, and the latest search volumes on those keywords? These tools and approaches iare growing more widely understood and blogged about, but almost no large brand is executing it with consistency.
Chris Boudreaux leads Converseon’s Strategy and Measurement practice, which designs and delivers social and digital measurement and content optimization services to global brands. Follow Chris on Twitter, or email Chris to continue the conversation.
A company’s social media policy should support the unique qualities that make the company successful. In fact, the elements of a successful social media policy must exist in concert with the unique culture and business context of any organization.
In Apple’s case, secrecy has been a critical key to success. While many social media pundits claim that Apple should be more open, very few of those people are running billion-dollar corporations, and the notion that all companies should apply the same level of “open-ness” is, at best, over-simplified.
Comparisons to other technology companies abound, but that just makes no sense. Those companies and Apple take completely different approaches to differentiation, which has led them to create very different cultures. They also rely on different business processes to create growth and value. Many are well-run and highly successful, but for very different reasons.
And those differences are the keys to understanding why they use different social media policies.
The chart above shows the business factors that companies should consider when developing an effective social media policy (which I published in The Social Media Management Handbook earlier this year).
Chris Boudreaux leads the Strategy and Measurement practice at Converseon and created SocialMediaGovernance.com to help companies govern social media, including the largest online database of social media policies. You can Contact Chris on his web site, or by email: cboudreaux [at] converseon-dot-com.
Michael Maoz recently wrote that CIOs these days shake their heads at the fact that marketing, sales and services leaders are able to obtain funding for social media projects without a business case, instead of being held accountable for the same level of quantitative rigor as other IT-enabled investments. While it is true that most social media investments still travel with no business case, anyone who wants to change that fact needs to undertand a bit of history:
One challenge is that most communications professionals and social media consultants don’t have much experience in organizational change. They’ve never led cross-functional change programs. They’ve never built a business case that had to stand up to the CFO’s rigor. So they just don’t know how to do those things.
And, in the corporate communications arena, they never had to measure business impact from their efforts. Clippings were all they ever counted.
But that is all changing as marketing, sales and customer service leaders begin to ask for real dollars for social media.
However, the one critical factor that is changing the slowest is that CIOs are simply not getting in the game. CIOs and their teams are simply not at the table when cross-functional social media efforts are launched. And, ultimately, the CIO has to change that. CIOs need to start reaching out to their VPs of Communications and Marketing, and start figuring out how enterprise IT will enable the business goals that social media supports.
The bottom line is that CIOs can not sit back and wait for other functional leaders to bring them a business case or a well-defined social application architecture. CIOs need to get out of their foxholes, and go be the smartest person in the room about how the organization should use technology to solve challenges in marketing, communications, sales and service.
In 1966, Harvard Business Review published a study by Ernest Dichter that identified four motivations for a person to communicate about brands, as follows:
- In 33% of the cases, people shared because of product-involvement. The experience was so novel and pleasurable that it had to be shared.
- In a quarter of cases, people shared because of self-involvement. Sharing knowledge or opinions was a way to gain attention, show connoisseurship, feel like a pioneer, have inside information, seek confirmation of a person’s own judgment, or assert superiority.
- One-fifth of sharing occurred from other-involvement: the speaker wanted to reach out and help to express neighborliness, caring, and friendship.
- In another 20% of cases, message-involvement drove sharing. The message was so humorous or informative that it deserved sharing.
Implications for Brands
If we assume those trends to be valid and normal expectations for online sharing today, we can use that distribution as a benchmark to assess the health of the conversation about any brand, based upon the extent to which the conversation about the brand deviates from this average distribution.
For example, we might expect 33% of conversation about a brand to focus on people describing their experience with the brand. And when we see more than 33% of a brand’s conversation being generated by customers based on product or service experience, we might guess that the brand is doing something exceptional — either within the customer experience, or within their social media marketing.
When we see a brand whose customers create significantly less than 33% of the conversation about the brand, we are likely to discover flaws in either the customer experience or the brand’s social media capabilities.
Dr. Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne recently published findings indicating that web users tend to trust web sites 20% more today versus 2007, but are 30% less loyal to ecommerce sites versus 2007.
1. Why He Believes Trust Increased
Dr. Coker said the increase in online consumer trust is largely linked to the visual appeal of websites. “As aesthetically orientated humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. With websites becoming increasingly attractive and including more trimmings, this creates a greater feeling of trustworthiness and professionalism in online consumers.”
Anyone interested in web credibility should also visit the Web Credibility Project at Stanford University.
2. Why He Believes Loyalty Decreased
“The biggest source of frustration is the inability to find relevant information on a website. The best way to stop defection to other websites, and increase loyalty, is to be interesting. Being pretty, but with nothing to say, is not enough.”
The research found that if a website has poor navigation or access to information, or is slow (i.e. more than two seconds to download), web surfers are more likely to opt against purchasing and navigate to an alternate website. (No surprises there.)
However, it is interesting that, in the last five years, the frequency of referring others to websites has increased by 32%. Largely due to social utilities, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Anyone running affiliate marketing or influencer outreach programs requires a mixture of automated and human analyses to design and operate their program. Automated algorithms are great when you need a quick decision in real-time, but when you are choosing 5, 10 or 50 influencers for long-term relationship development, you need to be sure that they are the true influencers in your category. That requires human analysis.
While Klout can now include LinkedIn connections and activities into the calculation of Klout scores, brands should be very careful about using Klout scores for affiliate marketing or influencer outreach, for the following reasons:
- The only way to identify influencers within a category is through a combination of automated and human analyses.
- Klout can not measure influence within a category. For example, Ariana Huffington has a high Klout score, but she is not relevant to most brands. For example, if you sell baby diapers or desktop virtualization products, Ariana is not an influencer. And Klout is not capable of telling you who influences the conversation around baby diapers or desktop virtualization products.
In recognition of the need for category-specific influence scoring, Klout recently launched a +K button, which lets Klout users tell Klout when someone else influences them, but the method has two weaknesses:
- +K is subject to significant self-selection bias. The inputs come only from Klout users who choose to contribute, and
- +K does not capture the extent to which one person passes along another person’s messages. Therefore, the scoring does not adequately allow a brand to choose influencers based upon the extent to which the influencer will drive messaging into the market.
- +K does not associate the influence with a category. For example, I might say that Seth Godin influences me, but does he influence my decisions about car purchases, laptop purchases or the foods that I consume? No.
Analysis by Will Bottinick, Research Manager and Chris Boudreaux, SVP of Business Integration.
Congressmen and women follow more than 450,000 people on Twitter – but which publications, politicians, pundits and Beltway personalities does Congress watch the most? This post is the first in a series that will analyze the Twitter habits of Congress. Today, we focus on the media sources that appear to influence Congress via Twitter.
The top media sources Republicans and Democrats in Congress follow on their Twitter accounts mostly align – but the parties differ widely for a few sources, including several mainstream news outlets.
Similarities Between Republicans and Democrats
- Both parties follow C-SPAN more than any other news source.
- 21% of Republicans and 28% of Democrats follow NPR accounts. That seems consistent with the 2011 finding by a team from Duke University this year which concluded that NPR is near the middle of the U.S. political spectrum, after examining the political ideology of 2010 primary candidates.
This afternoon at the WOMMA School of WOM in Chicago, I had the privilege of sharing lessons from enabling the social workforce at IBM with my clients, Susan Emerick and Bill Chamberlain of IBM. You can view our slides here, including a few transcript notes at the bottom of the page.
If you’d like to know more, all of our contact information is listed in the slides, or feel free to contact me:
cboudreaux [at] converseon [dot] com
According to the National Labor Relations Board, companies can not fire or discipline workers who criticize the company or their supervisor in social media.
The New York Times reports that the National Labor Relations Board agreed Monday to settle a case with a company that fired an employee after she posted disparaging remarks about a supervisor on her Facebook page from a home computer.
While her employer, American Medical Response, claimed that her statements did not qualify as protected activity, the National Labor Relations Board — for the first time — asserted that companies can not discipline workers who post criticisms on social-networking sites.
According to the NLRB, this employer will:
- Revise its “overly broad rules” to ensure that they do not improperly restrict employees from discussing wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers and others while not at work, and
- They will not discipline or discharge employees for engaging in such discussions.
Based on this clarification by the NLRB, I know a lot of companies who will be changing their social media policies right away.