In a now infamous moment, Sen. Marco Rubio made a hilarious gaffe during his response to the recent State of the Union Address when he awkwardly reached and sipped from a tiny bottle of Poland Spring Water.
While the moment was definitely embarrassing for the Senator, Poland Spring should be embarrassed, too, for not capitalizing on this superbowl-sized marketing opportunity! The brand had a rare moment of free marketing – it even went viral! – but they failed to engage. Despite being a Fortune 500 company, it seems Poland Spring failed at some basic, best-practices for social marketing:
A sad possible explanation is that the company was not using brand mention monitoring tools. In other words, they weren’t listening. Every brand, from small business owners to Fortune 500 companies in the digital marketing age needs to adapt listening software. How else can you know what people are saying about your brand in real-time – not just on the platforms you’d expect like your company blog or Facebook page, but on review sites, online forums and community groups, or the latest social network or app?
Monitoring mentions of brand name, products and services in real time is critical to managing brand reputation and responding to feedback, both positive and negative, in a time sensitive way. Brand monitoring is also needed to identify content opportunities that help your brand deepen its relationship with a specific group of your target demographic, get feedback on a new product, and explore other marketing opportunities.
Although there are a few free tools available that can be used to monitor your brand, your best bet is an all-in-one social and SEO tool. (*Ask us about our secret “listening” software, included in our Social ROI™ Program).
Staying on top of Trends
This can seem like an obvious tip, but the day-to-day of running a business gets in the way. Take advantage of technologies to stay in the loop about the latest industry news: follow influential blogs with RSS feeds; set up Google Alerts; follow your competitor’s social media sites; and solicit direct feedback from your fans (Twitter and Facebook are great for this) to see where you can improve.
One of the challenges for Big Brands is that the decision making process can be really drawn out, and by the time creative gets the go-ahead on a project, the moment has passed. Keep in mind social content has very short shelf life. Open the creative discussion process to include your employees (who are definitely using social media – and probably at work!) to get a range of ideas about the type of content that is most relevant, the most efficient way to create it, and the fastest channels of distribution.
Businesses don’t always have the time and budget to create high-production content, especially video. Fortunately, there are numerous readily available tools to assist. Video tools include YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, SocialCam, Viddy, Tout, Keek, Klip – to name only a few. For written content, try one of several alternative blogging platforms like Tumblr or Overblog that require no custom design and have built-in social functionality.
Leverage User Generated Content (UGC)
Now that you’ve created an engaging piece of content and the moment is still ripe, skip the traditional vehicles for distribution and put all efforts into social. Distributing a marketing campaign through Facebook, Twitter or YouTube increases the speed at which users pick up and share content, and in best case scenarios take it viral. Instead of manually managing all of the responses, use crowdsourcing techniques to let your fans do the promotion- encourage comments, make them public, reward the best ones with a mention, gift certificate, or other real reward. Consider developing a simple social media contest that runs in tandem with the ad, for example, have users film their own response or parody (video contest); or a Pinterest contest where fans re-pin their favorite piece of branded content. Lastly, do not neglect the technical details that making sharing easy and accessible.
At the same time you plan your content, set up proper social media marketing analytics to track and measure the success of your campaign. Having a complete set of social data (not just number of likes on Facebook, but conversions and sales from social efforts) will help you determine if social media marketing makes sense for your business. Use social ROI data to make a case for integrating social into your broader marketing strategy. Now you’ve come full circle, and are ready to draft a comprehensive social media strategy for your business.