Digital Spring Cleaning

GarbagecanWe all need to do a little digital spring cleaning. In fact, this blog post could be considered “digital littering” at some point. But let’s quickly explore the idea that every piece of digital content needs to have a “best by” date. We work in a business that iterates at a rapid pace and today’s thoughtful, timely, and useful content doesn’t last forever. Here are some things to consider:

  • Don’t just leave web pages and videos to languish in digital purgatory. Take them down.
  • A PDF produced more than 18 months is probably past its “best by” date. Either take it down or rework it. Look at the content and see if you can recycle it.
  • “I might need the content” you say. It does not need to be on display for the world to see…archive it.
  • “Everybody does it”. In real life and in the digital world, that is not an excuse. In fact, provide timely up to date content. It is everyone’s responsibility to delight the customer.

Take an honest look at what you have out in the digital ether. Is everything still relevant? To make things easier for yourself, adopt an approach where you assign a virtual “best by” date to different types of content (X for web, Y for PDFs, Z for Videos, etc).  You might even end up increasing the frequency of return visits from your customers.

Of course, iterative content like blogs are an exception to this approach. Here you want to build on the foundation that your previous posts provide.

Arby’s Deft Approach To Real Time Social Marketing- or Pharrell’s Hat Is Awesome

Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs
Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs

We watched the Grammys last night, but Diane and I had not planned to be wowed and entertained by a brand taking a real-time opportunity to be nimble and tongue-in-cheek and take the prize for social marketing. Arby’s social media team did a great job reacting in a positive way to Pharrell Williams and the close resemblance of his hat to the Arby’s brand. As of this afternoon Arby’s had over 81,609 retweets 46,489 favorites with the following tweet “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs” . Genius in more ways than one.

Pharrell and Daft Punk took the stage four times and the Twitterverse had a grand time making fun of his choice of chapeaux. It was opportunistic for Arby’s social marketing team to pivot on this and not only engage on Twitter but manage to get a positive response from Pharrell. It showed a real understanding of their brand and the ability to read a live situation correctly.

That last note is the important point here. Being cheeky and highly visible (by using the #GRAMMYs hashtag) could have been risky. Before going full steam ahead and trying to capitalize on live marketing opportunities:

  • Have a thorough understanding of your brand and your brand’s voice. If the brand you are representing has not established a playful tone, this kind of tweet could run counter to your brand’s image and cause some damage (a quick internet search will pull up some horror stories).
  • Does the event align with your business goals and can it provide positive brand recognition?

Above all else, you have to be a good steward for your brand.

Pharrell

Arby’s managed to opportunistically capitalize on Pharrell’s sartorial choice, and quick thinking with a simple tweet bought some real good will for the brand with digital natives. #YMO

Yours, Mine, and Ours.

socialblockHaving a good approach to social marketing in your business means going beyond just posting tweets, pins, pictures, videos, and updates. Our good friend Ted Rubin (@TedRubin) embodies going beyond with his Return on Relationship approach, #RonR, which is about building sustained relationships with consumers, peers, and others in your social graph. A good pivot from that concept to drive continued engagement and relationship is what @dianego and I (@Khodyg) are calling Yours, Mine, and Ours–#ymo.  While it may seem obvious, it’s critical to be mindful about the approach your business takes to social so that you can capitalize on the power of social now and in the future.

Here are some ideas Diane and I will explore in upcoming posts:

  • Understanding how to encourage and teach individuals in your organization to represent their expertise and areas of interest around your business for better customer perception and engagement
  • Striking a balance between using your social platforms for customers and prospects to keep them informed, engage them at the business level, and engage them as individuals
  • Extending the basics of good marketing practices to your non-marketer employees to help them be good stewards of your brand and messages without taking away their credibility and authenticity as individuals.
We’re excited about the idea of Yours, Mine, and Ours as a way for marketers to start to think differently about how to build their social plans to be more inclusive across their organizations and increase customer engagement and satisfaction.

Hawaii Social

Kaanapali Maui Honua Kai Resort
Kaanapali Maui Honua Kai Resort (Photo credit: Dave Dugdale)

I was sitting on a beautiful lanai in the breeze of the cooling afternoon trade wind, at the Honua Kai resort just two weeks ago, jotting down notes for this long overdue post. I was thinking about how well the businesses and people in Hawaii have tuned in to social media. This should not surprise me, especially knowing how Hawaii quickly took to SMS and had one of the highest engagement levels with text-based programs like American Idol when I worked in the mobile industry.

Over the last three years, in our trips to Hawaii, I’ve seen the digital footprints of resorts, small local brands, and local shops grow. They are not just using Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook to broadcast out, but are also using the social web to make a connection with the customer on a personal level.  While on our family vacation, I had the opportunity to have a “talk story” session with Jill Mayo (@JillzBeanz)  who not only drives Social Marketing for several local brands and resort, but is also a hub of IRL—in real life—connections.

Although to Jill the adoption seems slow, to me it seems faster than the mainland. Small businesses are making effective use of Foursquare to drive offers and highlight events. Twitter is used to connect with customer on a hyper-local level to raise awareness around services and goings-on with the brand or resort property. The Honua Kai, for example, leverages their @HonuaKai handle to broadly converse about the resort and share information, and they manage a concierge only handle (@HKConcierge) to raise awareness around concierge services, share local events, and connect with guests one-on-one. This is quite a nifty idea and I wish others would adopt this hyper-local approach. Honua Kai’s marketing manager, Darren McDaniel, is doing a great job curating not only “traditional” kinds of hotel-related content but is also curating the stories of guests, and connecting the online experience with real life.

Jill believes that local brands in Hawaii are still experimenting and there is room for greater engagement. I fully agree. But I am also excited by the spirit of experimentation and not having pre-set ideas about how Social Marketing can drive loyalty. After all, the best sales person is the one that is not working for you; she is the advocate—the one whom others trust to give them the unadulterated skinny.

I like what Jill had to say about taking the brand breaking the fourth wall to connect in the real world and drive unique experiences that foster loyalty and advocacy. Perhaps it’s the fact that in Hawaii the spirit of ohana (family, in an extended sense of the term) allows the opportunity to take a simple 140 character message and make a connection on a human level.

Wouldn’t be cool if we could all get together next year for a Social Marketing conference on Maui? Let me or @JillzBeanz know.

Full disclosure: my wife and I stay at the Honua Kai and actively compete on becoming the mayor on Foursquare the moment we land.

Some interesting handles to follow in no particular order:

Aloha and Maui No Ka Oi

What does all this have to do with Surfing?

Teahupoo, Papeete, Tahiti
Teahupoo, Papeete, Tahiti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Looking back on 2012, I was remembering what excited me about it and realized that I kept getting stuck on being stoked. To those that don’t know the meaning of the word “stoked”, it is simply to be intensely enthusiastic, engaged, and exhilarated about something. In my small circle of Northwest surfer friends, this feeling is the essence of being alive.

What does all this have to do with marketing, technology, or business? If you are not stoked about what you are doing then you need to make a change. Plus, it gives me the opportunity test out some surfing lingo:

Here’s what I was stoked about in 2012, and will be glad to do in 2013:

  • Catch every wave:  You can just paddle out there and wait for the perfect wave. But my recommendation is that you paddle hard and ride as many as you can. I did that in 2012 and will continue to do it in 2013. From a business perspective this means looking at every opportunity not for what they are at that moment, but for the promise of them evolving into something amazing.
  • Ride to shore: You can always kick over, but I like riding to shore, seeing my family, and paddling back with the full panorama of the ocean in front of me.  In other words, keep sight of what is most important to you and see the big picture.
  • Duck dive: Sometimes you need to go through waves rather than paddling over them. Duck diving is the way that surfers dive under an oncoming wave as they paddle out. This tactic allows you to maintain the progress made by paddling out by not being washed backwards by the wave. Same thing applies to business. Sometimes you have to go through obstacles rather than going around them in order to maintain your trajectory.
  • Paddle out: This is just something you have to do not just in surfing, but in life as well. Don’t stay on the sideline, jump in, take a risk, and enjoy the ride.

Yes, I know it is late January, but I genuinely thought about what I need to do. What are you going to do? Surf, or stay on the beach?

3 Basic Ingredients

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several early stage business founders. Each of them have amazing passion for the ideas they are growing, conviction about the market segment they are impacting, and are full of energy. The one thing I found surprising was how a couple of them did not realize the value of establishing a digital footprint.

While my own startup experience predates the social web, we had a great conversation about personal branding in the digital world. Specifically, we talked about the value of connecting their personal brand to help shore-up the value of their new ventures’ brand. This is important for an early stage company because investors are not only buying into your product’s value proposition, they are also buying into your vision and value prop. Do this the right way and capital and customers will come to you. Do it the wrong way or be absent from the social web, and you’ll have to do it old school by smiling and dialing your way to success.

Is there a right recipe for this? Well, it’s like asking if there is one recipe for macaroni and cheese. There are always a few basic ingredients:

  1. Set up Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles for yourself (not your company). Keep it simple, and clearly identify who you are and what you do.
  2. If you have more than 10 employees, set up a social media policy with some do’s and don’ts, agree on a posting schedule, and stick to it.
  3. If you happen to have a live website, connect your executive profiles to the social web. Include all the relevant links (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.). If, like some startups you list your whole team on the site, encourage them to connect their social links as well. Don’t be afraid of them leaving—exporting talent can be a great thing. They could be the next connection into a partner or customer.

These are the basics. As you grow, so will your digital footprint, and as one of my friends @katrinaklier likes to say, “if it’s online, it’s marketing material, whether it’s a person or a product.”

So get out there. Build your footprint and start participating in the social conversation.