At the Bridging the Gap Conference last Friday, I had the privilege of seeing some impressive names in marketing, including CC Chapman, Erik Qualman, Dan Zarrella and others. One of the talks, the “ROI of Social Media,” presented by Paul Gillin, was a real eye opener. I've heard sessions before on social media ROI and read countless blogs but Paul's session really struck a chord with me: ROI in social media isn’t “return on investment,” it’s “risk of inaction.”
What did Paul mean by that? Well, it’s quite simple, really. Some out-of-touch executives continue to focus their marketing teams about what kind of money they can make from social media. What they don’t realize is that the days of questioning the value of social media are over. The benefits are crystal clear: It’s a chance to engage your customers like real humans while also promoting your brand, provided you do it with purpose.
An executive might ask questions like, “how many Twitter followers do we have?” or “how many hits does our website get a month?” Paul likes to define hits as “how idiots track success.” His wording is scathing, but it’s also true. If someone goes to your website, it registers as a “hit,” but that doesn’t mean the visitor who showed up understands your brand. He might have visited your site, realized it wasn’t for him, and left. Sure, that shows up as a hit on your analytics, but it doesn’t tell the full story.
Using tools that allow you to track where your visitors click when they visit your site will give you the information necessary to measure its success and adapt as necessary. We use HubSpot, and it has been great for us because it provides the context. Another way to track feedback is with a tool that Kampyle (disclosure: Metis client) offers, which allows for two-way communication between website visitors and your company. Using this feedback approach not only gives you engagement, it can give you quality leads and better conversions.
The biggest risk associated with social media in a business environment is the risk of inaction. Consumers are becoming more well-informed and savvy by the minute, and they know the first place to look for information on your brand is your website. If you’re not leveraging social media in addition to your website, all you’re doing is shouting. Nobody likes shouters.
As I left the office for the night a short time ago, it dawned on me that I couldn’t stop smiling. Not only that, but the smile had rarely left my face all day. That particular day had also been one of my most productive in recent memory. Coincidence?
Several studies support the benefits of laughter in the workplace:
- According to a study conducted by the Warwick Business School in the U.K., happy employees are, on average, 12 percent more productive than normal. Unhappy employees are 10 percent less productive.
- Chris Roberts, assistant professor of management at Missouri University, has published extensive findings supporting humor in the workplace. Moreover, he encourages employers to look for a sense of humor in interviews, citing a link between humor and intelligence.
- In his book, “Evolution for Everyone,” evolutionary biologist Dan Sloan writes that when laughing, “mechanistically, the brain releases a cocktail of chemicals similar to those that we take artificially to give ourselves a good time such as opium or morphine. So besides feeling good, we also act good." I think most offices would rather crack a joke or two than resort to morphine for a good time.
- The Global Coaches Network, an organization that provides leadership training, says those who laugh are more creative problem solvers, have better memory retention, and experience less stress.
So next time your boss comes down on you for cracking up, tell him to take a look at some studies like these. There’s a good chance your funniest days will be your most productive, and no one can argue with results.
But maybe they can laugh about them.
Here's some of the Metis crew on a particularly productive day.
Working with B2B startup companies is sometimes like teaching a child how to read. There are times when you feel frustrated by the fact that they don’t always understand how listening to you will benefit them, but the final rewards for the effort are great and long-lasting.
Here are some important tips for launching a tech startup:
- Have a story and a good spokesperson to tell it. If you can’t talk about how your company is going to affect the industry, then you should consider delaying your launch until you’re ready.
- Know your goal. Is your goal to create awareness for your company and product? To generate leads? Drive traffic to the site? Position yourself as a thought leader? All of the above? Know what it is from the start.
- Know your competitors’ and market value.The biggest frustration we see from our analyst and media contacts is when a new startup says, “We are the only ones that do this in the industry.” Of course you’re not. Know whose technology is similar, how you differ and what your market value is in comparison.
- Secure customer validation. This isn’t always possible, but it’s a big plus if you can get it. Launching into the market with confirmation immediately sets you ahead of other companies that have been in the market longer.
- Finalize company and product background materials. If your goal is leads or sales, you better be ready to provide information on your website.
- Optimize your site for search engines. If you’re going to create content and publicly launch, you want to be found. Optimizing your site with keywords will help you get found online.
- Know your limitations. If you don’t have it, don’t say you have it. If you can’t provide it, don’t say you can.
- Work with a marketing or PR resource that can help. It’s important and valuable to have a guide that can help you through each one of these stages and execute and strategize effectively to help you achieve your goals.
If you’re a startup, what other PR and marketing challenges have you faced?
Once a month we hold a summit of the minds – a formal brainstorm session on a topic of interest to the industry and to our clients – in order to get the undivided attention of our team. I say “formal” because we are constantly brainstorming together informally via e-mail, phone calls, instant messaging, etc. But we take these formal sessions quite seriously.
Brainstorming should always have clear goals, guidelines, rules and expectations for collaboration to be as effective as possible. Below are just a few of the guidelines we follow (and we suggest you do, too):
- Choose a brainstorm game from GameStorming. It’s our brainstorm bible. Using a game engages participants in different and unique ways and puts structure around how a session is run – rather than just a blind “brain-dump.”
- Be in control of the session. Pass around a prop to indicate who is speaking and when. And please, for the sake of the flow, do not allow overtalking.
- Record everything on a white board or have a note taker. This will help to accurately retain valuable ideas and results when you recap the session.
- Forecast roadblocks. Do you have new team members? Use ice breakers to make them feel comfortable. Or, grease the wheel a bit with fillers if it takes a while to get the brainstorm juices flowing.
- Be punctual and keep the team on track. A recap of who got kicked off last night’s “American Idol” or “The Bachelor” is probably not a goal of your brainstorm.
What’s our favorite BrainStorming game, you ask? Pre-Mortem, of course. What’s yours?
My boyfriend, Randy, is a chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu in Cambridge. When I met him four years ago, I realized two things: 1. We are so different, but, 2. We both have strong passion and desire to be successful in our careers.
Randy wakes up every morning living and breathing food. He teaches the craft – what’s new and desirable for today’s foodie and what will set his students apart from others when they apply for jobs. He then comes home at night and cooks, reads cookbooks, surfs the net for recipes, and watches the Food Network and YouTube videos on up-and-coming chefs. It’s inspiring, really, because he never puts cooking down and his passion has led him to a flourishing career.
Although my passion is not completely comparable to the culinary world, it is stoked by the clients with whom I work everyday. They inspire me to deliver great results, work hard and trust that my efforts will lead them to the next stages of development for their companies. It’s just one simple thing like passion that ultimately provides great reward. Reporters see it, clients see it and the team sees it. It makes a story real. Who wants a PR professional who doesn’t actually believe in what she does?
It’s that thing that makes both Randy and I get up to go to work everyday, as well. We’re the types of people who, when you ask us about our work, you fully understand at the end of the conversation why we do what we do and why we are where we are.
Passion is contagious, and it’s great to work with people who have and who use it to build something great, something that brings clients back again and again.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about getting real with your clients. In that same vein, we are finalizing our updated client questionnaire. Yes, we want to know all about you before we even start working with you.
How do you prefer to be contacted? When do you prefer to be contacted? Are you a morning person or a night person? Do you like a “Got it” e-mail when you send us a promised document so you know we got it, or do you hate the extra e-mail? Do you hate e-mail? Are you a press release fiend? Are you new to social media?
Sure, these things always come out eventually. And we look forward to finding out all the nuances of your preferences as time goes on and we get to know each other, but the questionnaire is more than the individual questions on the screen. It forces us all to slow down for a minute and spend time thinking about the relationship we’re about to start building. It gives us a framework to start to visualize how we will be most successful in working together. It’s a small, 20-minute commitment that can have long-term effects on the success of our venture together.
What do you think? Are questionnaires a good tool to set the framework of the working relationship?
Have you ever fallen victim to stereotyping? It’s no fun. Most of us prefer to build, manage and maintain our own reputations. Effective PR professionals frequently must fight toxic and false preconceptions about their work.
Sigh. Thanks a lot, Lois. (You may remember when TechCrunch had a field day with a PR firm that spammed the blog with a canned PR pitch).
What differentiates good PR from “bad” PR? How can we combat the ugly labels some of them have rightfully earned?
- Be goals-based. This means helping clients identify what they want to achieve and what is possible to achieve based on their resources.
- Read. Know what is happening through constant news, blog and social media scans from the most influential sources in the industry. Take a first-mover approach with issues response, positioning the firm and clients as relevant to topical discussions.
- Have a purpose. Build relationships with reporters, bloggers and analysts. Be personal. Choose relevant targets. Know what they cover. Know why they want to know the clients. Act fast and give reporters what they want. Be thankful; and therefore, be thanked.
- Relay the value. Have you ever come across a PR status report that lists monthly activities by the hour? We have, and it made us laugh. It is impossible to see any sort of progress, success or value. Client contacts should look like superheroes when they share reports internally, because the PR firm should be just as interested in the influence, metrics and analytics as they are. Track followers, circulation, impressions, sentiment, and leads from the results to illustrate why PR is worth every cent.
Thoughtfulness is the common denominator. Successful PR firms move fast to accomplish goals, but they aren’t hasty.
Every parent has that one favorite story she loves to share about her kid. You know the one -- the tale that is told repeatedly at family functions, graduations and other milestone events. It’s usually embarrassing to some degree, but there is a little part of each of us that enjoys hearing an old story about ourselves.
It was a birthday party. My entire extended family was gathered around the old, circa-1980 television set as my father explained the latest and greatest in technology. Behold: the VCR. As my grandmother marveled at the new machine and my uncles flipped through the book of instructions, my father smiled. He had a trick up his sleeve.
Dad turned around and called for his firstborn (me), then four-years-old. "Hey Caroline, wanna put on the tape?” he asked. So I walked over to the new, shiny machine, pressed a few buttons and voilà. Sesame Street was on the screen.
I don't remember much of this actual event, but I know every word of the story, which is lore in my family.
Today, I hear about the newest innovations firsthand from the people who develop them. I am the storyteller for my clients, and the media and analysts I speak with every day are my audience.
I like to think that my family gathering around the VCR prepped me for my future, at-the-time unknown career. Four-year-old Caroline had no clue about technology and public relations, but she knew how to set a goal, how to find a path toward achieving it, and how to create a story people would tell for years to come.
Tell the truth: did you ever learn to program your VCR before DVD and Blue-Ray players came on the market?
Every good story needs a storyteller. Costumes optional.