Author: Bonnie Harris

social media managerIf you are still letting an intern run your social media accounts, you are doing it wrong. There was a time when Facebook and Twitter seemed like low-stakes methods to self-promote and interact with customers. So some businesses were quick to hand off tasks that nobody else wanted to do to the young, low-salaried employee who just started six months ago. Although that thinking never made sense, it is downright destructive in 2015. You need someone smart, measured and in tune with the company's operations to lead the most-forward-facing parts of your brand. Because that's what social media is today. Before you hire your next social media manager, make sure he or she has the following three characteristics:

Savvy

A few years ago, when social media was still young, all you had to do to become a social media expert was say you were one. If you had a few thousand followers on Twitter and wrote "Twitter guru" in your bio, then by gosh that's what you were. Who could argue? Nobody really had any idea what the platform was really for or how to use it for business purposes anyway. The days of faking it 'til you make it are now over, however. The industry has evolved enough that there are many who really do shine above the rest. It is critical that you find a fully-formed professional who knows the lay of the land, not just a hollow windbag. Anyone can pretend to understand social media and all its potential pitfalls and opportunities. But few really do. LifeLock, for example, is one company that has found someone who can manage social media very well. The company isn't afraid to interact with customers and does a good job of humanizing its brand by taking the time to listen to user concerns. By using its Facebook page to inform the community about industry-wide issues — not just PR spin about its own services — the firm's social media manager is exhibiting a savvy understanding of why potential customers want to engage with a brand on social media.

Discretion

The NBA has long been forward thinking when it comes to social media. Many of its teams are on the vanguard of finding new ways to interact with customers — in their case, fans — and have adopted a playful demeanor on Twitter that works. While a game is going on, for example, the two teams may wage a friendly back-and-forth competition using funny animated GIFs or quirky jokes.

linked tactic toolkitI'm doing a webinar for WOMMA tomorrow (check it out here if you're interested - it's free!) and it got me thinking about linked tactics. This is probably the easiest way to inject a bit of IMC into your current projects. Creating an IMC toolkit basically means you're going to consciously "collect" the combinations that work for you. In order to build your toolkit, you need to really think about the tactics you're linking, how and why they work and how to make them even more powerful.
  1. First, carefully examine your current marketing processes. Identify everywhere you are already linking tactics, from social media to landing pages, hashtags, QR codes, etc.
  2. After that list has been created, try to brainstorm a third tactic that would boost the performance of the first two and predict the results. Just guess if you have to – testing and measurement has to start somewhere. The third tactic is often timing, or it can be another marketing channel.
  3. Now identify those tactics operating on their own and do the same exercise. Add another tactic, experiment with the timing, or even simply add a hashtag. Then measure what happens. This is the beginning of your IMC linked tactic toolkit.

[gallery ids="6721,6729,6730"] During the month of July it was nearly impossible not to hear talk of Amazon Prime Day, either through the press or the numerous emails the company sent to its customers. Now that Amazon Prime Day has come and gone marketers and consumers are left assessing their views on the manufactured retail holiday. It is easy to focus on the negative. Consumers berated the brand on social media and much of the post-Prime Day press suggested that the event was a dismal failure. But was it? Amazon announced Prime Day on July 6th just nine days ahead of the sale, to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. Prime Day was a one-day shopping event on July 15, 2015, with Amazon promising “more deals than Black Friday.” The real goal of Prime Day  was to acquire new Prime customers. (Industry experts estimate Amazon has somewhere between 30 and 40 million Prime customers.) We all know Amazon to be a ubiquitous mailer, having sent out 1 billion emails in the 9 days following announcement of the sale, with an average read rate of 23%. Of those emails 78 million promoted the Prime Day sale by using subject lines that referenced the sale. Many of those emails were intended to build excitement about the event. Subject lines included, “Prime Day is coming soon!” which prompted 41% of the recipients to read the email. A major goal of Prime Day was to encourage members to be more engaged with their accounts. Free shipping might be the most well-known benefit of Prime but members also get instant streaming video, unlimited ad free access to music, unlimited storage of photos, early access to deals and free books on Kindle. In an effort to encourage customers to benefit from the full value of the Prime Membership a big part of Prime Day was about getting customers to utilize its streaming music service. More than half the emails sent to promote Prime Day encouraged customers to play any Prime Music song for the chance to win $25,000 in Amazon Gift Cards. While Amazon’s music and video services aren’t on the same scale as competitors Netflix and Apple the real strategy might be in the devices that Amazon sells to work in conjunction with its services. According to the media Prime Day was panned in social media with many shoppers frustrated that the most coveted items either weren’t on sale or sold out too quickly. Many best-selling items were not included in the sale, making consumers skeptical of the company’s claim that Prime Day deals rivaled Black Friday deals. The social media numbers tracked tell a slightly different story. On July 15th there were over 500K mentions of Amazon, a 78% increase from the day before. Of those mentions, over 60% were positive. Despite complaints, customers focused more on shopping. Amazon said that by 1 p.m. the speed with which customers were ordering had surpassed 2014 Black Friday. If nothing else, Prime Day communication increased brand awareness and attention making Amazon top of mind for online shoppers.

Advertising seems to have less and less of an effect on consumers every day. More people are skipping commercials while watching television programs, thanks to recording services like DVR and streaming services like Netflix. And online ads are easily ignored by Internet surfers. So companies today are looking for new ways to reach people. Many are taking to the streets with guerrilla marketing campaigns that are designed to shock and awe those who experience their stunts live. And, if all goes well, videos of these stunts can go viral online through social media. Here are five of the best guerrilla marketing pranks:

1. Carrie Gets Coffee

Few people actually believe in telekinesis, the ability to move objects with your mind. But what if you actually watch it unfold in front of you? Well, as this promotional prank for the remake of the movie "Carrie" shows, most people will become believers — or at least terrified — if someone with telekinetic powers shows off her skills before their very eyes. The setup for this prank was genius. They rigged the cafe with remote controls, pulleys and springs so it all looked horrifyingly real when a patron flips out and lifts a man off the ground and makes books fly off the shelf.

2. MorphCostumes Has a Mannequin Army

stop wordsmithingFor lack of a better word, marketing and communications work is squishy. It can be hard to know if you're creating a strong deliverable. For most business owners, messaging can be the worst. Who hasn't sat in on an agonizing meeting waiting for the president and the operations guy to stop arguing over whether or not something is going to "move the needle."  Or worse, the horrible and annoying quarrels over the oxford/serial comma. In my short-lived career as a restaurant manager 100 years ago, we used to go to wine tastings all the time. It was really fun, especially if you liked to drink as much as I did back then. But unfortunately, none of us really knew anything about wine. So we came up with this phrase that meant nothing but sounded really impressive. "It's oblique, without being obtrusive" I would state, twirling my wine in the glass while lifting my best impersonation of an educated eyebrow. It sounded really good and most people usually got home or sobered up before they realized it meant absolutely nothing. What most business people are doing when writing anything, from a mission statement to a tweet, is coming up with stuff that just sounds good. We're coming up with our own versions of "oblique without being obtrusive."  I say let's stop this now.We need to focus on sending the right message, NOT using the right words. Here are five ways to help  create the best messaging ever for your company, product or brand: 1. Create a Core or Integrated Strategy Statement. This is the statement that covers what you do, why you do it, and how you do it, in a nutshell. It doesn't have to be pretty and it doesn't have to sound particularly good. It just has to resonate with the key players in your organization. It has to be the one where people say "yeah that's us" unequivocally. This is not the same as a company strategy statement. This is a simple 2-3 sentence phrase from which all messaging can be derived. These are the statements behind all the taglines, tweets, web content. Once you've got this, the conversation then revolves around whether subsequent messaging is aligned, or reflects, that core statement. NOT whether it's better to use the word "strengthen" or "empower." (Seriously, that was a 2-hour conversation.) Mine is this:  "Wax Marketing does integrated marketing and communications services." 2. Understand the audience you're trying to reach. I'm a firm believer in creating personas and writing messages for those personas. Stop writing stuff with you as the audience. If you know who your primary targets are - the media, your customers, your influencers, your employees, for example - you'll understand when someone translates those messages for that particular audience. Chances are your employees absorb information in quite a different context than your customers. Be cognizant of those differences. 3. Be aware of requirements for the messaging channels you need to use.  I have a client that is a group of super cool dermatologists. What I love about them is they really know their patients, even though they range in age from 2 to 90. They know that each patient is going to acquire information in a different way. And they understand that information in a medical journal needs to be presented differently on Facebook, for example. Our conversations revolve around where those patients get their information. The disagreements happen there, and they're productive. My point is, once you know your audience, you know the channels. Again, just make sure that messages translated for those channels align with your core strategy statement. 4. Understand that what sells well, doesn't necessarily read well. 

connecting strategyThis blog post first appeared on PRSA's ComPRehension.  Although most marketers accept that integrating marketing communications is a powerful approach, campaigns today seldom realize the full power of the methodology commonly known as IMC. Most of us  synchronize our earned and owned media in some way.  Many of us have learned empirically the right combinations of tactics that lead to the most engagement, or the highest landing page traffic. What’s often missing in campaigns is the ability to plan, manage and measure the synergy that occurs as a result of powerful IMC strategies and strong linked tactics.  It’s the acceleration caused by this synergy – the combination of marketing efforts that add up to more than the sum of their parts – that provides the best results. Synergy looks and feels different in every IMC campaign. The good news is there are common elements to successful IMC campaigns that result in increased synergy.  The first is message alignment. IMC requires a persistent, consistent messaging strategy across channels. A core, or integrated, strategy statement should drive every campaign message. This statement is rarely shared with an audience. It is simple, to the point, and states what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.  For a healthcare practice, it might be something like “We’re here to provide the best care in a safe environment.” An organic food company might use “Delivering the healthiest products to families.” Every single message should be aligned with this basic message. Another important ingredient to powerful IMC campaigns is of course to choose the best combination of messaging channels.  Most people understand the importance of selecting channels that are right for the target audience.  However, it is crucial to select a set of secondary channels that boost the performance of the overall campaign.  If you think about it, you know which messaging channels complement each other. It can be as simple as automatically linking your Instagram account to Facebook, or as complicated as buying digital billboards to supplement a PSA. The selection of channels is part of creating a strong IMC strategy.  Too many projects are defined with only goals and tactics, without the strategies that provide the bridge in between. A good strategy  should be a consistent, long-term part of an IMC plan.