Persuasive Picks for the week of 02/22/10

sara_lee_fb Any Way It’s Sliced, Appeal of Social Media Grows
The integration of social media into marketing strategies continues to march into the mainstream, and this NY Times post provides many examples of big brands that are embracing social media as part of their current campaigns.

9 things I’ll never do again with social media
The Orange County Register’s Jon Lansner asked nine friends to share something that they’ll never do on their social networks any time soon. Some of the responses are entertaining, but they also provide some basic practical advice.

Five easy ways to maximize your social media content
Sometimes the simplest ways to boost the impact of your online social efforts can fall by the wayside. James Gurd from the eConsultancy blog provides five easy things you can (and should) do to help maximize your efforts.

Social Media Makes National Pancake Day Huge for IHOP
Chris Crum from WebProNews shares a look into IHOP’s (International House of Pancakes) use of social media techniques to promote this year’s National Pancake Day.

Digital Marketing Guide: Social Media
David Berkowitz from Advertising Age created this Q&A based social media guide that provides great answers to many common and current questions.

An Easy Social Media Lesson From The Peanuts: Talk With Me, Not At Me

One of the most famous cartoon dynamics could pretty much sum up the difference between successful social marketing and unsuccessful social marketing: The Peanuts. I’m sure you recall that when the grown ups are talking at the children, all the children hear are muffled, annoying sounds. But when the children are talking with each other, they are interactive, listening and clear with one another.

A lot of what we spend our time talking with clients and prospects about in meetings these days is social media. Obviously, it’s the hot new buzzword, especially in marketing and PR, and many companies are still trying to figure it all out: “Is it necessary for us, how will it help us, who should manage it, are we doing okay with our current presence?”

Most of the time, the companies we speak with have some sort of presence started in social networks – usually, with one of the more popular and well-known networks such as Facebook or Linkedin. Maybe they’ve posted a few photos on Flickr and some videos on YouTube.  They’ve taken steps to establish accounts and make a few updates, or they  might even be quite active on Twitter. But most of the time – if they’re asking for help – they lack the “Three I’s” – a strategy for integration, interaction and intriguing content.

Here’s a simple way to get started on a strategy that involves the three I’s – and ensures that your messages don’t come across like a Peanuts parent:

  • Social media is about community
  • Community is about relationships
  • Relationships involve hard work, consistent communication, trust, and emotion

If you keep these elements in mind, you’ll begin to see the subtle – yet important – differences between talking at your audiences and talking with your audiences. People tend to listen more – and remember more – when they’re involved in the conversation and you show that you care about them – either by asking their opinion, mentioning something relevant to them or connecting in a unique (intriguing) way. You can’t build a relationship – or a community – if you do all the talking (you know, like those Twitter accounts that are just links to a company’s news releases, or a Facebook fan page that never actually involves the fans.)

How are you integrating social media into your marketing plan to talk with your constituents and not just at them? Are you asking questions? Responding to answers? Listening to opinions? Have you integrated your content across networks to ensure an ongoing and compelling brand story? Are you putting the right resources behind your social media efforts to build a community and relationships? Step back and take a look – making some minor changes in your approach can make a huge difference in your success.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 02/08/10

Why Google Buzz is brilliant and deadly to social media 1.0
GoogleBuzzLogo68As fanfare over the iPad announcement dies off, Google amped up the online world with a new feature announcement. In this post, Christopher S. Penn shares his views of the positive and negative implications of the all new Google Buzz feature in GMail.

The Value of the ReTweet
Donna Maria from the Indie Business Blog explains the value of “re-tweets” through the result of a month long Twitter experiment she conducted with her fellow colleagues.

Toyota: Way too little, way too late & what they should have done
While the whirlwind of bad press haunting Toyota is far from over, B.L. Ochman recaps the events that started it all, how Toyota reacted and what they should have done to ease the harsh reactions.

Why Social Media Is the New Agency-Client Relationship Builder
Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni focuses on the need for companies to consolidate their agency relationships down to one that can provide multiple services (like we do!).

Examples of social media policies
The topic of a Social Media Policy comes up within almost every company when they first begin to engage in the space. This post by Drew McLellan provides a list of many existing examples to help you get started on your own policy.

When to fire a client

In a recent new business meeting, the prospect asked us if we’ve ever ended a relationship with a client by our own choice. While this may be a bit of a taboo subject – why in the world would an agency fire a client – the fact of the matter is that good agencies recognize when a relationship isn’t right on their end as well, and take steps to correct it. When those steps don’t work, sometimes breaking up is the only thing to do. So what are the reasons one might choose to end a client relationship and give up potential revenue? I’ve listed a few below. Remember – especially if you’re the boss – protecting your reputation, your staff and your ethics are priceless.

  1. Unrealistic expectations. You’ve heard this time and time again. Yes, clients have every right to be demanding and to push for the best possible results. But when the CEO insists that not only should he be on the cover of Fortune Magazine, but his wife (who works in a completely separate company) should be with him as well (profile of a “super couple”), let the red flags fly. One might even think this CEO is joking but alas, when he is not – and six months later when he berates your team for “not knowing the right people,” (even though you’ve secured coverage for his company in USA Today, MSNBC, The Wall Street Journal and more), because he is still not profiled on the cover of Fortune with his lovely wife, it’s time to consider that pleasing this client may never happen. Sometimes you have to know when to stand up from the game and walk away.
  2. Abuse of your staff. This may sound dramatic, but it’s not uncommon. When a client contact treats your staff in a way that you would never tolerate internally, you have to address the situation and demand respect for your people. No one should ever have to tolerate verbal abuse, sexual harassment or demeaning situations – and it’s up to you as a leader to ensure their safety and comfort. If a client consistently crosses the line, it’s time for you to cut the cord. Like a parent, encourage your staff to open up and tell you whenever an uncomfortable situation arises. They need to know when it’s okay to push back – and that you would never expect them to tolerate inappropriate behavior.
  3. Sudden change in metrics – without the accompanying change in resources. Any good PR agency is flexible and smart enough to alter strategies when a client’s company goals change. But when a client insists on adding five new programs and increasing metrics two-fold, with no additional resources (read: budget) provided, you have to reassess the situation. Often, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, and sometimes clients take that approach in requsting additional work under the same budget. While to some degree this can be tolerated, when significant changes are made and the expectations for your team to crank out results are not given the proper support, you have to assess whether or not the relationship is still returning value to your agency. Sometimes accounts simply become non-profitable. No one can run a successful business giving away free work. Talk to your client and explain that additional resources are required, or changes to the existing program need to be made in order to meet their new metrics. Most times, clients will understand and you can find a mutually-beneficial resolution. But if you can’t, be prepared to walk away and allocate that team to a more profitable prospect.
  4. Consistently late payments – or lack thereof. Every now and then a client has a reason that a payment arrives late – and the respectful ones will tell you about this glitch before you have to ask. But if you have a client who continually forgets to pay their invoices, or worse, hasn’t paid in over 30 days, you need to change course. Times are tough for every business, but just because you’re in client service doesn’t mean that you have to tolerate non-payment. If a client can’t keep their commitments to you, you should evaluate if this is a “healthy” relationship for your agency – and the future of your business.

Ultimately, although we are in the client service business, it’s important to remember that it’s a client relationship. And the best relationships must involve mutual respect and admiration. It’s up to you to ensure those elements exist on both sides of the coin – so don’t be afraid to speak up when something’s not working, and to walk away if it seems beyond repair.

Have you ever fired a client? Why or why not?

Persuasive Picks for the week of 02/01/10

Four ways social media can save you time and money
Larry Weintraub walks readers through four areas of business that can benefit from social media and provides practical tips on how to be proficient with each.

Hackers turn to social media to attack companies
This SFGate article provides food for thought for companies who have employees engaging in the social media space, and the vulnerabilities that come with the territory, as hackers find new ways to exploit internet users.

How the enterprise is going social
This CNET.com post by Dave Rosenberg recaps Gartner’s recent predictions of both success and failure for the social side of enterprise.

Social media: Listen less and sell more
Spring Creek Group principal, Clay McDaniel, suggests that 2010 is the year to leverage social communities to produce real sales – and provides some useful tips on how to move in that direction.

Tips for Promoting New Blogs
Enterprise companies and small business alike are starting blogs as part of their social strategies, and all of them run up against the same challenges. Thomas McMahon from the TopRank Online Marketing Blog shares 12 tips for getting your new blog noticed.