Tag Archives: Marketing

Burger King – the double edge sword of social media and being hacked

During Presidents Day were subjected to who was the greatest President (my ranking – Lincoln, FDR, Washington, Jefferson and TR), were bombarded by deals on cars and watching a large brand’s Twitter account getting hacked! All good fun. Well not really for Burger King…

McDonalds-BurgerKing-on-Twitter1

Slightly embarrassing for the burger giant. Of course it also drew a tremendous amount of traffic to the handle, but some accounts it added 5000 followers in the first 30 minutes it was hacked! It also drove all kinds of news and discussions across all media – I was listening to 98.5 The Sports Hub spend a good 5 minutes discussing it today. Clearly Burger King got some unintentional bump from this hack. But based on some of what was being said in cyber world it was mostly ridiculing the King!

My favorite from @jorcohen“Is the Hamburglar behind this?

This incident is a great reminder for all those who are plunging into social media (which you should be doing!) keep an eye on your social channels. But also have a plan in place in case you do get hacked.

  • Shut down the hacked account quickly: Hacking is not a new thing, but when your social channel is hacked it becomes viral and public very quickly…and embarrassing! You need to have ways to ensure you can shut down an offensive tweet or facebook post quickly. What adds complexity is the 24-7 aspect of social media.
  • Action plan while you are containing the hack: While are you trying to control the situation, you need to leverage your other social media channels to communicate YOUR message, ensure that you are dealing with the hacking and that you will be back to usual in all channels.
  • Your message after the hack is controlled: Once the channel is back in your control, what will you communicate? Burger King was simple in their reaction – Interesting day here at BURGER KING®, but we’re back! Welcome to our new followers. Hope you all stick around! – Good reaction, addressing the issue and acknowledging that they gained followers due to the hack. Here is another idea, Tweet out a coupon for a free french fry or whopper or soda. Use the opportunity to drive some traffic to your stores…make lemonade out of the lemons.

Hacking will always be around. Now with social media, the hackers have a great place to target where  your brand can be quickly embarrassed and made to look less than professional! Be prepared, have a reaction plan and think of ways to turn the situation into a positive.

 

 

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Filed under Current Events, IT, Marketing, Social media

Personal marketing: beyond the resume.

The curriculum vitae (CV) or resume has always acted as our professional marketing document. It is our personal product sheet, allowing potential employers to look at our education, skill sets, work history and experiences to determine whether or not there could be a fit with their business. In the past, you would print out your resume on quality stock paper and snail mail the document to recruiters, human resource departments and hiring managers in the hopes of providing the right fit. Today we can email and upload our resume from a simple mouse click. What has provided us with increased ease of distribution – the web – has also given us other channels for personal marketing efforts.

When we think about marketing ourselves to future employers we need to think beyond the simple resume, not to say the resume is irrelevant. First let us assume we have a strong resume so what are some other tools that we need to leverage and be aware of  in our personal branding and marketing efforts?

  • Facebook: Ok not a surprise, but THE social media site (over 350 million users), is also a resource for your future employer to find you, learn more about you and make a decision about you. Keep that in mind when you post pictures from your trip to Las Vegas. Check your privacy settings as well as what has been posted on your wall as well as where you have been tagged. If there is any content you have to think twice about being viewed by your grandparent or future boss…then remove it. Remember that even if your page has the full privacy settings and you keep it free of any distasteful content, if you are tagged in a picture that is on another profile it can be found if privacy settings are not appropriately set.
  • Linkedin: Professional networking sites like Linkedin (others include such sites as Plaxo and Naymz) offer a wonderful way of expanding on what information you provide the world. Make sure your bio and information parallels what is in your resume, nothing more embarrassing than discrepancies between your resume and your Linkedin profile. When it comes to Linkedin make a concerted effort to accumulate recommendations for your past work – from your bosses, co-workers and those you managed. Try to maintain a balance as well – make sure any position you held for a significant amount of time ensure you have recommendations for that role. Of course utilize key word rich text in your bio – rather than saying “experienced consulting companies on web 2.0” state “experienced consulting companies with social marketing efforts.”  Ensure you leverage some of the widgets available such as Box.net and SlideShare more on that in the next bullet…
  • Speaking of…use content sharing sites such as Box.net and SlideShare. If you have articles, papers, blog posts, creative content or other relevant documents that demonstrate the work you have done – put them on Box.net. If you have some powerful PPT presentations do not hesitate to upload them to SlideShare. Of course make sure you are allowed to make any of these documents available for public consumption. Finally make sure you make your accounts available via Linkedin or hyper-linked within your resume.
  • Write a blog. Okay not everyone has something they are passionate about…but if you do…write about it! Of course you need to be aware that some topics – such as politics and religion – while are very interesting can also illicit very strong emotions. Not to say you should not write about these topics if you are interested, but understand that from your branding it could created some unintended consequences. The benefits of a blog is it allows you to share your thoughts and demonstrate you can communicate in a consistent and organized manner. The same holds true for Twitter the micro-blogging site, remember that what you Tweet can be searched and found.
  • Be aware of other sites that you leverage that can be searched. Photo sharing sites such as Flickr are wonderful tools to search and view user generated photographs. However, much like Facebook sometimes there might be pictures that are not ones you want your grandparent or future employer to see. Be aware of what is on these sites.
  • Google yourself! That is not just something to do for fun, but realize your future employer will most likely type your name into Google. Do it yourself to see what the search engine finds.
  • Think outside the resume box…Did you present at an event? Was there a news story about you? If it is on YouTube make it available! Alternatively you can use YouTube to create a quick video about yourself…your elevator pitch. Don’t forget to not only include your contact information, but also any relevant hyper-links:Linkedin, Facebook or personal web site for example.

The power of the web has allowed for us to leverage a number of tools to build our professional brand beyond the resume. Some of these tools can enhance our brand others need to be managed to ensure they do not damage our professional brand. Used properly they allow us to demonstrate our value beyond the simple 1 page CV.

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Filed under Marketing, Social media

Corporate Social Marketing – separate company from individual

More companies in the B2B space are turning to social tools to get their message out as well as improve their SEO. B2C companies, as usual, are ahead of the curve and have been doing so for a while now. The latest being the Old Spice campaign that has create the much buzz for the company. I am not sure Oracle or Dow Chemical could follow this path, however they can leverage many of the same concepts.

However one element of this has become more apparent as I have seen more firms using Twitter, Flickr, SlideShare, Facebook and a while host of other social media tools to push their message and thought leadership to the masses: how to separate company from individual? What do I mean by this? In the haste to set up your Facebook group or Twitter account some companies have a marketing person or some spokesperson from the company list in the bio. Not a huge issue at first, but as your social media campaign gains momentum it becomes confusing. Is that tweet from the Director of Marketing from Company ABC or is it Company ABC? I realize this might be nit-picky,  however when I read a tweet or a message from a company I expect it to be a representative of the company as a whole. If the person who is tied to the account has something to say I would go to their personal channel. For example – I follow the Forrester twitter which I look for general news from the company as a whole but I also follow specific analysts at Forrester as well as George Colony. Each of these channels, while representing Forrester at some levels, are each individual in their own right. The corporate Twitter is something I expect to learn more about big ideas and some of the latest thinking. The tweets from the analysts are more specific to what their focus is and I expect more opinions and thoughts from those accounts. I expect to be able to communicate with the individuals. The company account I expect any communications to be more formal and “traditional.”

My advice – if you are starting your social media program (which you should be if not already!) then ensure that the accounts that represent your company are clearly defined as so. The descriptions, image and content should be done as the company. If you want to do some communications as well, open your own account and clearly describe where you work and your role. The advantage – if you are the CMO of Company ABC you can leverage your twitter account to engage on a more personable level. Not a bad thing! But do not confuse me with corporate accounts that appear more personal!

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Make your HR department marketing savvy

When you mention HR (human resources) you rarely think about marketing. Human Resources role revolves around attracting, retaining and overseeing a companies’ labor force. For job seekers they are usually seen as a gate keeper – a hurdle that needs to be overcome to get to the real decision makers that will determine whether or not you will be hired let alone interviewed. Once hired by a company, HR is seen as the department that tells me about my vacation policy, how many personal days I can get and if I need to find talent or get rid of under-performers are the resource you turn to. Human resources is definitely seen as the “A” in SG&A. So why should we worry if our HR department is marketing savvy?

  1. Your HR department is the first point of contact for your future leaders. Look around your office, how many of the employees that are on your payroll have not gone through an interview process with HR? Most likely the majority of employees first real point of contact was with someone within the Human Resources department – and they also spent time with this department when accepting a position. Those that did not get a job were most likely told by human resources.
  2. The way your HR department handles prospects is indicative of how your company operates. If your HR department is not responsive to candidate demands or worse just ignores candidates who have not been selected, how does this reflect on your organization? If your corporation treats potential employees poorly during the process how will they be treated once within your 4 walls.
  3. HR communicates with potential future customers. Those who are candidates today might become customers tomorrow. Clearly if someone is interviewing for a role within your company they most likely want to be in that industry or are already in the same industry. This means those candidates could find themselves in positions to be your client…

Human resource departments have often times been regarded as important to recruit and retain human assets. However, rarely is the notion that Human Resources are the front line for marketing efforts and have a direct impact on how your business’ brand is viewed by the outside world. Take Ernst&Young and their efforts to leverage social media to reach out to prospective employees. They give their future employees a view into what Ernst& Young is all about from the current employees. Not only does this give future employees a great resource, but it portrays an image of openness and a human side that makes the firm’s image a angle it otherwise does not have.

Corporate leaders should take a look at their HR groups and ensure that the interactions with future employees and clients portrays the company in the right light.

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What is Analyst Relations and is it relevant anymore?

During my life I have worked at a Forrester Research as well as in the hi tech marketing world where I leveraged and managed services from similar market research companies.  Anyone who has worked in the technology space – either buying or selling the technology – is very familiar with the companies: Gartner, Forrester, AMR Research, ARC advisory, Aberdeen Group, Ventana Research, IDC, Jupiter Group, Meta, Giga, or Yankee Group  just to name a few. All these firms really emerged from the industry that Gartner and Yankee started back in the 1980s, the former looking at IT issues riding the wave of Digital Equipment, IBM and Wang while the former tackled the telecom space. Many of the other firms were founded by former Gartner or Yankee employees, the market research world is very incestuous!

Of course technology vendors are very familiar with the game we all play with these firms. We want to ensure they say good things about us so that when Proctor&Gamble or Toyota or Dow Chemical calls they will ensure we get short listed and better yet touted as the best solution and only option on the market! As vendors caught on to this game they realized they needed to tackle this with a dedicated resource or team of Analyst Relations professionals (something vendors with online communities need to replicate see my post from June 14 ) AR professionals were tasked with engaging with specific firms and analysts to ensure proper aka favorable, coverage. Many times the amount of money spent with firms was thought to have a direct correlation with level of coverage. Sometimes it did sometimes it did not. As time and the market has evolved and become more savvy, this pay for play model fizzled out.

What became more important was the ability of the AR community to build a true relationship with the relevant analysts. Analysts appreciated AR professionals that would share the inside scoop or gave them and advanced overview of a big announcement. Now, sometime companies would regret this sharing when the comments and insight ended up in a report. However good AR professionals took the time to learn the analyst community, who they could share sensitive information with and which analysts were just megaphones waiting for any “juicy” piece of inside information. A well developed relationship would start working both ways, with analysts being more open with that company, freer with some information shared and overall more of a strategic partner. So what does this mean in a world where market research firms have dwindled? Forrester went out and acquired Jupiter and Giga, Gartner has gobbled up AMR Research and Meta Group finally Aberdeen was acquired by Harte Hankes. Meanwhile the independents have only continued to spring up – that being analysts putting out their own shingle. With the explosion of Web 2.0 tools this has never been simpler. Look at what some former Forrester analysts have down with Altimeter Group…

Are AR teams still important? Can they play a role in a world that seems to be consolidating? I will say a resounding yes. I think having a solid AR team has never been more crucial. Why? With free blogging tools and Twitter more independents and more individuals will be sharing their experience and thoughts about technology and vendors! Hey look at this blog! So technology vendors must have an even keener eye monitoring and developing relationships with those in traditional market research firms but also with the blogosphere. In addition, one must keep good relationships with analysts at established firms because there is not much between them and becoming an independent still sharing their thoughts via blogs and twitter…

A good AR team will allow vendors to maintain positive relationships and open lines of communications. The trick is, once an analyst becomes independent they are not under a corporate umbrella that still has certain rules. Nor a corporate umbrella that a vendor can threaten to “pull the plug” on a contract if analysts are not checked. Now granted, some independents might rely even more on vendor revenue, but they tend not to be publicly traded firms – like a Forrester or Gartner – that needs to answer to Wall Street every 3 months!

So if you are thinking you no longer need AR, think again. Instead give your AR team greater responsibility to managing relationships in the blogosphere, while they will always need to manage and negotiate the contracts with traditional firms, they will need to pay greater attention to what is being said by single voices in cyberspace that can be easily found via Google, Bing or Technorati…

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To build or not build an online community?

A topic that many companies are gravitating to is the act of building and managing online communities. With tools such as Ning, Facebook, Linkedin as well as “old” online tools like email, the ability for companies to create and manage communities has become a must do for many marketing organizations. However do too many companies rush to create communities before understanding what their goals are for the community?

I have heard on many occasions the following – “We have an online community with 500 members! Success!” or we are starting a Facebook page and have “1000 fans!” Success!! I then ask the question, so what? What are you doing with this group?

Too often that is met with a somewhat blank stare or a simple – well we send them updates and press releases.Okay that is a start but a great opportunity is missed. So a couple of thoughts on good communities:

  1. What is your goal? Okay this seems obvious but too often over looked and not really given enough analysis. Is your goal to bring your existing customers a forum for discussion, do you want to elicit feedback on problems or product usage or have your community assist your product road map. Do you want your community to become a sales tool – have prospects experience a “day with” via the community? You need to be laser focused on what the goal is for your community. Do not feel as if you need to have one catch all community either. You might have a community built around certain verticals you target and cover, around a solution area, geography, or a whole host of other targeted groups. Depending on your goal will depend on who you will want to target to be part of the community.
  2. Who do you want to be in the community? Based on the above, you will need to determine who to target. Is this community open to all or is it targeting a niche audience? Do you want to engage with decision makers, influencers, thought leaders or external pundits? At times in the pursuit of numbers we forget that the quality is more important than the quantity. Clearly understanding the goal of the community will allow you to identify who should be part of that community – who you are targeting as a passive audience and who could be an active audience. Also do not feel as if the majority of the community will need to be actively participating – some might just see it as a source of information, that is fine. However you will want to target some part that can be engaged actively.
  3. What will make your community relevant? Based on the above 2 thoughts, what will make your community relevant and “sticky.” With the deluge of places we can become part of a group, many of us find ourselves part of dozens upon dozens of communities, so what makes a handful stick out? Why do I have to go to that community portal on a regular basis? For example, many professional communities I am a part of on Linkedin offer a job board, great resource! Unfortunately some get so much “spam” – aka “Join this group and learn to work from home!” – type posts it devalues the job board. Other groups I get articles from that are clearly being pushed by a vendor who is seeding the same content on as many groups/communities as it can. What value is that bringing? Before embarking on a community effort, be very clear as to what collateral and content will make it a go to place for your members. Re-purposed press releases will not cut it.
  4. Who is in charge here? This might seem obvious, but too often there is not a member of the marketing team that is responsible for the maintenance, direction, structure and on going leadership of the community. As the old saying goes – you get what you pay for. If you decide to turn over the community to someone who already has a full plate of responsibilities, guess what…community activity will not be what they need to be. If you feel like all you need to do is blindly push content to members – press releases or 3rd party articles to name some blind content – and then wonder why no one is engaging with you actively look at who is in charge. Or not in charge. Your community is just like your PR or AR or IR efforts – a full time job. If you want to maximize the results from that community you need a full time content savvy employee managing the process. This person needs to be given the responsibility to manage this entity with clear goals in mind: get 2 community members to act as sales references, secure 4 by line articles fro community members over the year or secure a 10% increase in membership of people with the X titles – to name some possible goals.

Communities are nothing new, we have had these groups in our personal lives and business lives since the dawn of time. However with new Web 2.0 technologies – Facebook, Linkedin, Ning to name a few – the ability to organize virtually, share thoughts and ideas have never been easier nor as far reaching. However with this comes the added need to ensure the content, value creation and purpose of these communities be clearly defined, constantly worked on and given the proper attention it deserves. Otherwise you will just get a nice mailing list or people that will ignore your emails just like you ignore the emails from a long lost cousin in Asia who wants to give you a percentage of their billionaire father in laws fortune!

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Filed under Marketing, Online Community