I like to say I got started in social media as soon as getting 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. We were selling to women, without which, in my humble opinion, there would be no social marketing; we were selling a fun aspirational product, cosmetics; and since e.l.f. was a family owned business there was no legal team to get in the way of my social experimentation. The brand thrived, we built the first aggregated social content site for a brand, and consumers and influencers (referred to as “bloggers,” content-producers at the time) felt like they were a part of the success…. which they most certainly were.

I shifted to the title of Chief Social Marketing Officer after I left e.l.f. and joined OpenSky. 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 where I was on the Advisory Board since 2010, CSMO and a partner from 2011-2013, in effect, the role was the same. Since Collective Bias is a socially focused company, being the Social CMO allowed me to make certain that CB integrated a social posture in all they did 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, PR and customer service activities.

I believe that a big part of who I am is how I think so here is a little insight into my Social Marketing perspective…

Listening is so important now for a brand. 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, advocacy, and influence. Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more they are engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become. At Collective Bias we were aggressively working to define a set of metrics to measure ROR, Return on Relationship, and determine a direct link to ROI.

An important, often overlooked, 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. For me, this is what makes it exciting and interesting… the daily engagement and interactions that bring the consumer into the picture as a regular participant.

So welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships and make a difference.

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