05 June 2013 9:00 AM | Kim Carter – ADMA
How did you get started in social media?
I like to say I got started in social media as soon as I got involved in this thing we call the Internet when I joined Seth Godin’s start-up, Yoyodyne, in 1997. Everything digital enabled sharing in ways never imagined before… so for me that is where it all began. Although I have always been social, and networking, building relationships, has been at the heart of what I do. It was in 2008 when I joined e.l.f. Cosmetics that social marketing became the core of what I do every day. Social platforms were first starting to dramatically scale and I was fortunate to be at a brand where making it the heart of what we did seemed to be the natural way to go.
Social CMO…a great job title! What is involved in being a Social CMO? How does it intersect and interact with the CMO?
It is a great title, and one I answer to although my official title is Chief Social Marketing Officer. For me the change was about an important shift in what I wanted to focus on, and how social needs to be a shell around everything we do. At Collective Bias, in effect, the role is the same. Since we are a socially focused company, being the Social CMO allows me to make certain that we integrate a social posture in all we do internally and externally. For other organizations, a similar role would most probably report to the CMO and be responsible for not only social marketing, but making certain social integration is thought through with respect to all other marketing initiatives.
You talk a lot about listening. Are companies still not doing that when it comes to social media? Is this one of the challenges? What are others you see still occurring in the space?
Companies may be listening, but the true challenge is making that listening part of how you evolve your strategy on a month-to-month basis. Are you allowing your marketing initiatives the flexibility to adjust according to what you hear?
I think the biggest challenge in the marketing world is recognizing the value of relationships and determining how to measure that value when it comes to connection and influence.
Another reason so many companies resist totally integrating social is that it takes a lot of manpower hours, judgment, and constant vigilance… it is not just ‘set and forget’ marketing.
Should all companies now be in social media?
All companies are in social media, the question really is… should all companies maintain their own social engagement???
How do you measure social media effectively?
Defining metrics around social media has been challenging, and early on many people said it simply could not be done. Now, however, we are learning that social media use and impact measurement is possible, but not by applying traditional metrics and methodologies.
One of the most important new ways to establish social media metrics is to set ‘conditions of satisfaction.’ In other words, what are the specific outcomes that will bring satisfaction to you, your brand, your business, and your customers? Notice how the word satisfaction here requires you to think not just about actions but about the whole experience resulting from the outcomes. This is absolutely critical for successful social branding. Since social campaigns need to be built on relationships, setting up conditions of satisfaction should include words like trust, engage, authentic conversation, and online reputation—all things that are at the heart of a successful social presence.
Every organization will have different social conditions of satisfaction based on the company’s specific and unique goals, vision, and values. This ensures that the information gathered can strategically inform your decision makers. Aligning your conditions of satisfaction with the heart of the company gives you the blueprint for planning engaging customer experiences with your brand. So don’t take another step until your conditions of satisfaction are set.
Initially, as you’re building your social media audiences and testing, there are three stages to measure: Audience growth, Reactivity (getting them to take an action), and Stickiness (keeping them coming back, engaged, and interacting).
We need to keep in mind that, going forward, long- term brand success will not be dependent on a specific social media tool (or a set of them); it will be relative to the depth and breadth of the relationships built (using the tools available) where the people find themselves communing. Building relationships and interacting with consumers is where the commerce of the future is heading. Yes, you can track ROI to a certain extent, but in the bigger picture, ROR looks something like this: Social Media drives engagement, Engagement drives loyalty, and Loyalty correlates directly to increased sales… ROR (#RonR) = ROI.
You’re brilliant at blogging and tweeting. Do you have some advice for people just starting out blogging or using Twitter?
Yes… get started now, just jump in, and don’t wait until you have a comprehensive strategy in place. Don’t worry if it is good or bad, just start publishing now. If you are a student simply repurpose all you wrote when in school. Anyone else… write about something you are passionate about. It can be as simple as a paragraph. As far as Twitter goes my most important tip is to publish original content and engage with others. Also see my post… Twitter Basics.
You’ve mentioned people called lurkers. How important are they to brands?
There are many lurkers, searchers and readers who may never tweet, but still have a great deal of value.
What is that value? Well, there are active users on Twitter who dominate the conversation the way some dominate a cocktail party. Then there are those that don’t. Although, they tend to stand out in other ways, particularly in numbers. For example, of the more than 100 million active users on Twitter, half log in daily, but only 60% have tweeted in the last month. What this should tell you is that so-called lurkers account for a large percentage of the average Twitter audience.
So you may feel inclined to unfollow anyone who isn’t participating in the conversation, but that can be shortsighted for several reasons. Your social brand is made up of a spectrum of followers, updates, messages and re-tweets over time. It is possible that those who listen in may offer something to that conversation down the line. Why would you rob them — and yourself — of that possible connection?
Also remember that Twitter is becoming one of the most used and valued search engines for real-time information. A lot of people use Twitter Search for research on any number of topics. People who find your profile this way may not be active, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in what’s happening in a given space.
But the biggest reason to value your listeners on Twitter, is not because they add to your reach, but because they’re people. Don’t lose sight of the whole reason for being social — to get in front of more people and make connections. You never know when one of your messages may strike a chord and cause a wallflower follower to reach out to you, take an action, or repeat what you have posted to others.
You had a book published in January — Return on Relationship. In a nutshell: what’s it about?
Return on Relationship, ROR, hashtag #RonR, isn’t a new concept in marketing; it’s the value that accrues over time through loyalty, recommendations, and sharing. It’s a back-to-basics measurement that calculates how well brands create authentic connection, interaction, and engagement with customers—and it’s time to relearn the concept.
By reading the book you’ll learn how social marketing differs from traditional marketing, how to converse with and convert potential customers, and the importance of practising persistence, patience, and brand humility. These may be watchwords of an earlier time, but we need to add them back to our business vocabulary in order to succeed today.
In my humble opinion, relationships truly are the new currency in today’s social connectivity age. Find some simple guidance about how to make cultivation of those relationships a permanent part of your business culture and turn ROR into ROI.
Finally, what is the future of social media and what’s next for Ted Rubin?
In my eyes the future is that Social Media simply becomes referred to as Social and Media. I believe this form of communication, participation, and consumer/brand engagement will become so commonplace that they will no longer have a differentiating name.
What’s next for Ted Rubin… I will leave that to your imagination, and to the stars to determine!
Read Ted Rubin’s blog about Building Customer Relationships with Branded Story-Telling.