Social Strategy

The Google+ Party

There’s a lot of buzz (no pun intended) about Google+. The entry of another major social network into the scene has caught a lot of people's attention, and has forced many to ask, "Should I be on Google+ too?".
I'd like to step out of the excitement and flurry that Google+ has caused for a minute to remind marketers that, as with all social networks, you need to ask yourself a few questions before jumping in head first:
1. Is your audience using Google+?

Before signing up for a brand page, conduct a little recon. Searching through pages, conversations and sparks will help you identify whether your brand or industry is being talked about on Google+, and whether you should be there too. Also look at the demographics of Google+, as of a few months ago comScore reported they skewed slightly younger and wealthier than Facebook users. While this will likely broaden as Google+ grows, it should indicate whether now is the right time for you to put resources behind it.
2. Do you have the resources to manage another online community?

We all know how much time and energy it can take to manage a community effectively. By now, many of us are probably managing at least two. Do you have the resources to throw another one into the mix? Since optimizing content and experiences for each channel and audience will drive the best results, simply re-posting content on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ won't allow your distinct communities the chance to shine.
To this point, I have monitored a few brand pages on Google+, comparing them to those of Facebook. Many are indeed publishing the same content. This may be temporary while they experiment and develop a proper strategy for Google+ but they will need the time and resources to do so.
3. What role will Google+ play in helping your brand achieve its objectives?

Brands aren't on social networks for kicks. They are there to achieve real business objectives. Before signing up and getting your hands dirty with a Google+ brand page, make sure you have outlined the role Google+ will play in driving towards these goals. Once you have nailed this down, you can begin to flesh out a proper strategy and measurement framework that will drive towards and demonstrate success.
There’s is no rush to do something unless you know you can do it right, and that it will help achieve your objectives. No one wants to be late to the party, but there's something to be said about arriving with all your clothes on.
- Heather
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Why More Brands Should Put Some Heart on Their Sleeves

Brands that tap into the emotional drivers of their audience have a definite advantage over their more rational, Spock-like competitors. We have seen proof of this time and again with brands that develop nearly identical products yet experience dramatically divergent success rates: Nike vs. Reebok, Dell vs. Apple and Red Bull vs. any other energy drink on the market. I also witnessed this firsthand while conducting competitive research on three major car manufacturers: Kia, Mazda and Volkswagen. I was interested in finding out how their social programs stacked up, expecting to see Mazda and Volkswagen take the lead. Instead I found the opposite.

All three competitors have social programs that span the usual suspects of social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs), they all run regular contests and sweepstakes and are all fairly engaged with their audience. But Kia was mentioned over three times as often as any other competitor and had far more on-platform engagement, despite having less than half of the reach of a brand like VW. Why? The reason appears to be that Kia was the only brand that did an effective job of tying their content strategy, contests and brand messaging to the emotions and motivations of their audience.

Kia’s brand attributes hinge on environmentalism and social responsibility. This resonates loud and clear throughout every piece of online content and contest. Social content that touches on these attributes, connecting with the emotions of their audience, receives the highest amounts of participation and engagement. Kia has managed to outshine their much larger, older and well-known competitors by understanding the emotional drivers of their audience (what makes them tick, what they care about) and then developing social and content strategies that align with these values. It’s not brain surgery but it can have a big impact on driving social engagement and relationships.

Are you currently planning content or social strategies? Are they aligned with the emotions and motivations of your audience? Please share your deepest hopes, dreams and feelings with us—it will be good for our blog, and your brand.


Photo Courtesy of Skate_AM12, PhotoBucket