What We Learned About Social Media in 2011 | Part 1 of 2


This is part one of two in the wonderful year end wrap-up.  If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s part two: “7 Marketing Predictions for 2012”

1.  Most Businesses treat Facebook wrong   Simply hosting a contest on Facebook doesn’t cut it anymore.  People are finding that after the contest is over they don’t understand how to interact with the community they’ve developed.  Inevitably they continue to push their “company news” as updates on their Facebook page because someone in the marketing department thought it was a “good idea”.  Eventually people see the meaningless one-way communication and quickly find the ‘Unlike’ button.

Just because you can be on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean you should be on Facebook.  But the smart companies that are on Facebook are allowing people to “waste time” with their brand.

The questions that should be asked a lot more in 2012 are: what do you do if no one cares about your company on Facebook?  And how do you tell if you have a captive audience?  And how do you measure success?

2.  No One Follows a Cliche  In 2011, more and more brands and people adopted Twitter as a new marketing and communication initiative.  But the vast majority of brands on Twitter don’t have a following and engage regularly.  If all you’re using Twitter for is another place to push your message at people, you’re losing.

Here’s the paradox: no one wants to follow a corporate Twitter account that’s politically correct, no emotion, and that sounds like Bill Lumberg from Office Space.  But to stand out amongst the noise, to be different and really engage with a community online is a risk to most marketing departments.  A risk few will take.

The brands on Twitter that have a following and are being talked about have what I call the “Cheez-whiz” effect. They have a personality.  They’re different, witty, funny, interesting, and they’re not afraid to sometimes be wrong.  As long as you’re following corporate communication policy’s, Twitter will never be utilized to its full potential for your company. 

I believe the secret lies in trusting your employees on Twitter.

3.  Google Adwords (what to do)  Test, test, experiment, and test more. If you’re doing a Google Adwords campaign, spend a large amount of your budgeted time on crafting irresistible headlines, not just one or two, create lots and test against your preconceived notions of what you think people like to click.  The other (more obvious priority) is to ensure your offer is relevant and focused on the smallest target customer you can possibly hone in on.  And for crying out loud create a custom landing page, nothing says “I don’t give a $%#@ about my Adwords traffic” like a link to a homepage.

The more targeted, the longer time on site, the better your chance to convert to a sale.

Oh and I shouldn’t have to tell you, but ensure you’re always testing new ads, new ad copy and different styles of landing pages.  You should be using Google Adwords to attract traffic but you should also be using it to run experiments on what people like or do not like to click on.  (if you’re interested in this let me know, we should chat)

4.  QR Codes don’t deserve to be a point on my “What we Learned List” but I hope all the people who were raving about them finally realize how useless this technology is for the vast majority of advertisers.

The one use I’ve actually found QR codes to be good for is checking in for a flight electronically and using the e-mailed QR code.  I’d love to hear if you have some examples of smart or interesting usage of them because I still think QR Codes are just the shinny new tool in the marketing tool box at this point.

5.  The Black sheep of Social Networks: Google+   Until the adoption in Canada increases to a point that justifies logging into Google+ every day, it will struggle. Having said that, Google owns many entities online, every time I check my email I see my Google+ notifications on the upper right hand side of my screen. I still don’t click on them regularly but in time this could become more normal for people.  Do you use it?  I’d love to know what for in the comments below.

6.  Facebook for grownups:  LinkedIn   LinkedIn keeps growing, it hit 100 million members this year.  I hope by now you have a profile, keep it up to date, add people you know and if you really want to please the LinkedIn gods begin writing recommendations for people. One of the easiest ways to show your appreciation for people who have made your life better, taught you something or were just an treat to work with, is to write them a recommendation.  Recruiters and HR departments will continue to find LinkedIn useful, though it still seems to be swayed to an older demographic.  This makes sense, young people have no major work accomplishments to brag about on LinkedIn so they generally dismiss it as a place to compare ego’s like the older generation.  Not saying that that goes on on LinkedIn.  Not saying that at all.

When I Google my name my LinkedIn profile is the third link on the Google results page, that should be enough reason to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date.

7.  You Better Start Creating Something  The average web surfer is reading, watching and listening substantially more now, let alone what Google is looking for on your website.  You must create something shareable, a social object if you will.

Over the Christmas holidays this year I observed my father show many people (pretty much everyone in my family) a video the BMW dealership had sent him instead of a Christmas card.  People will spread your message for you if you make is something worth talking about.

We’ve now hit the moment in time where my own Father is a part of BMW word of mouth campaign.  The smart brands know full well who their “sneezers” are and what they must create to influence them to want to share something.

Whether it be a video, blog or podcast, tell your story online.  Open up, show how you’re different, show your transparency, people want to do business with companies they know, like, and trust.   The more you open up on your blog and provide a valuable resource (education or entertainment), the more people will look to you for help (or in my Dad’s case, to shop for a car) as you gain their trust.

8.  No matter how you dress it up, spam is never going to be a smart marketing tactic.  What is spam you ask?   Well, great question.  I define “Spam” as any unsolicited communication with me to sell a product or service.

Sign me up for your e-mail newsletter without my consent?  Yup, that’s spam.

Asking me to Retweet your stuff on Twitter?  Unless you’re a close friend or we have discussed this before, you’re a spam sandwich.

Automatically posting to my Facebook wall from an App I “granted” my permission to?  Seems legit to most older folks, but to the younger generation it can seem very unauthentic, you’re beginning to stink like spam. (who am I kidding, I’d never grant my permission to one of these apps)

How do you get past spammy tactics in your marketing mix?  Develop valuable content.  Content that I’d want to retweet on Twitter.  Put enough effort into your monthly newsletter so that I voluntarily sign myself up.  You’re right, it’s not easy, if it were easy then everyone would do it.  That’s why the vast majority of “Newsletter’s” aren’t remarkably sought after pieces of work, because people don’t want to put in the effort to make them something worth talking about.

You have the choice to be different, you could make a spectacular newsletter, it just takes some hard work.

How would I sum it all up?  A warning, beware of the trap of Social Media noise.  Just because you can join a new platform doesn’t mean you should.  We are living in the age of a new social network to join every day.   Don’t forget, “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do” -Michael Porter.


Come back or subscribe to my blog by submitting your e-mail address in the top right hand corner for Part 2: What You Need To Know For 2012.

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