“There is a fundamental shift in the way people communicate with people and organizations … the world is changing … those organizations that understand word of mouth are at a distinct competitive advantage.”
As a member of Worldcom Public Relations group, Nuffer, Smith, Tucker recently joined the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), an organization with which NST has long advocated and participated in via conferences and workshops. Last month, Bill Trumpfheller and I attended the WOMMA Summit, and while there were certainly good takeaways, case studies and a network of social media contacts, the event served as affirmation that NST is on top of its game when it comes to social media. While we’ve long stated that nobody is an “expert” at social media, the NST team makes staying up to date on the latest trends and technologies a priority; the conference was a reminder of that. Here are some key nuggets from the three-day event, taken from a variety of speakers and panelists:
- The role/future of social media — People struggle with where social media fits into the marketing mix – it’s at the center of it all; content is currency; 2011 will be the year of measuring value.
- The art of storytelling — Authentic stories are powerful; stories beget stories; people love something “secret;” funny is good, but heart is better.
- Social media strategy — Be strategic, not just experimental. Don’t use social media the way “other brands” use it; use it the way your fans want you to use it. Post like a friend, not a brand. For low-interest categories, examine what your audience is talking about and authentically plug into that conversation.
- Getting buy-in for social media — You must have commitment and investment in social media to be successful. Set up a shared learning model. Drive adoption through education, resources and tools, then evangelize efforts to learn from one another.
- ROI and key performance indicators (KPIs) – When measuring ROI, look beyond reach/frequency. With experiential tactics, it’s important not only to look at cost versus reach, but also cost versus impact. Also, what is the customer lifetime value or referral value? KPIs may include: volume, stickiness, the echo factor and – most importantly – action.
- Social media is testing the bounds of the law profession — New challenges continue to exist in social media. Get legal involved early, but remember, it’s about more than making your legal team happy. It’s about preserving and protecting your brand. Act with transparency, accuracy, honesty and respect, and don’t take shortcuts related to the FTC guidelines.
- Customer service is the new PR – Canned messaging is a “no, no” – and that’s not just in social media; it should apply to the phones as well. If you do a good job and your customers are your advocates, that means you will have a 24/7 response team – your fans. (NOTE: I recently wrote about this for the Union-Tribune. Check out the article).
- Many brands are experienced by the people – If your people are your greatest asset, leverage that. Lead with your employees; they can create brand impressions. Employee-generated brand interactions are growing.
- Sponsored tweets/conversations – Prior to the updated FTC guidelines, it wasn’t that “sponsored” conversations weren’t happening – they were happening in the back room. The FTC changed that. The key is not to look at these conversations as “earned media.” Sponsored conversations should be treated more like advertising, and more education is needed (among agencies, brands and publishers) about how to effectively use these tools.
- Beyond the “like” button – As a brand, if all you are concerned about is the “like” button, you are wasting your time. There is way more opportunity with Facebook. Not only are brands talking to consumers through Facebook, but consumers are also talking back. This is the kind of thing that could never happen in a banner ad. People want to have authentic connections to brands.
- People want to advance their social currency through doing good – Look for easy, not overwhelming, ways for people to get involved with a philanthropic effort. Think of your company as a marketing initiative for the nonprofit organization or cause versus a donation.
For more information on WOMMA, visit the organization’s website.