No matter how much time you spend thinking about every conceivable scenario that might play out on social media, it is impossible to think of them all.
Opportunities arise, competitors emerge, trolls attack, sites go down, preferences change, and sometimes, pigs fly.
This is the nature of social media and the world in which we live and our businesses operate. Things change fast. Really fast.
And this dynamism sometimes makes stakeholders, colleagues, management, clients and coworkers uneasy – all of this unpredictability. Sometimes it can even make those managing and overseeing social media marketing uneasy.
The good news is that there are ways to plan and prepare for those events that can seem impossible to prepare for.
With a little forethought, you can be ready to tackle uncertainty with confidence and great effect.
Following are a few ideas for how to plan for the unplannable:
Have a social media leadership team in place
When the unplannable happens – be it positive or negative – you’re going to need to react smartly and swiftly. Having a team in place with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for addressing these types of scenarios is of critical importance. You can’t afford the time of organizing a team when opportunity or crisis occurs, and you can’t afford indecision. For this reason, ensure you’ve got at least one member of your organization’s senior leadership team on board and available to make tough decisions, provide top level insight, and grant approvals when you need them.
Define a process for the unplannable
While there is no way for you to know the exact nature of the opportunities and challenges that will present themselves, there are some constants that you can build process around. For instance, you know that there will be opportunities and challenges (obviously). You know that creative and divergent thinking will be required to address those opportunities and challenges. You know that you’ll need approvals, potentially from senior leadership, legal, or regulatory bodies. You know that content will need to be created, or that responses will need to be crafted. These are all things that can be planned and that can be incorporated into a process to ensure your team will have a plan of attack when duty calls.
Believe in yourself, your brand, your audience and objectives
Having a firm belief in yourself, your brand, your audience and objectives can help you to think clearly and act with confidence. Without this firm understanding and belief, opportunities will be missed or not fully capitalized on, and challenges will hit you with greater impact than they should.
Avoid complacency and never think of social media as being ‘done’
Embracing the fact that changing market conditions, global events, pop-culture, and any number of events can, and will, throw your social media marketing efforts for a loop will help to keep you ready and prepared to deal with uncertainty. Continue iterating on your processes, strategies, tactics and tool sets. Never stop thinking about how things can be managed and executed with greater efficiency, or to address changing conditions. If you can work this into the culture of your social media team, you’ll be better equipped and educated on dealing with change, even when it is abrupt.
Sometimes the unplannable is only so because not enough thought has gone into it
Plain and simple, sometimes the things that catch us off guard only do because we haven’t spent enough time thinking about things from every possible angle. Thinking about, and planning for, opportunities and challenges is a worthwhile endeavor and shouldn’t be overlooked because of a lack of immediate return. All of the planning, preparation and thinking that you put into these types of scenarios will pay dividends when they need to be acted upon.
How have you planned for the unplannable on social media?
When has your preparation for opportunity or crisis paid off?
What types of scenarios have you planned and prepared for?
Have you ever been caught off guard, completely unprepared?
It would be great to chat with you about your answers to these questions, and discuss any additional thoughts you have in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
It’s no secret that people are making more purchases, and purchase decisions, online. Consumer purchase behaviour is undergoing a dramatic shift that is getting more pronounced every day, and unprepared retailers are seeing declines as a result.
Over the course of the last week or so, there have been several revealing statistics released to support that consumers are not only spending more time shopping online, but that brick and mortar shopping behaviour is being influenced by digital interactions, which of course includes social media.
These changes are even more apparent coming out of Black Friday, which is typically the United States’ biggest shopping day, with consumers flocking to stores hunting, and in some cases fighting, to get a great deal in preparation for the holidays.
Defying the trend toward online shopping in recent years, Black Friday has managed to sustain steady growth, until now.
This year, brick and mortar retail shopping on Black Friday was down for the first time since 2009. Bloomberg reported the decline to be 3.9 percent, which seems marginal, but considering that tens of billions of dollars are spent on this crazy shopping day, is actually quite significant.
Brick and mortar shopping is down, while shopping online is up… way up
It’s no major revelation to learn that while brick and mortar retail shopping has decreased, online shopping has largely filled the void.
But, the dramatic truth of this is how sharply favour has shifted to shopping online. A recent Nielsen study revealed that nearly half of consumers – 46 percent – stated that they intended to shop online on Cyber Monday this year instead of facing the crowds on Black Friday. Now for the dramatic piece of information; that’s a 16-point increase from 2012, just one year ago, when that number was 30 percent.
You don’t need to be a statistician to see how dramatic of a shift that is.
Digital interactions are even affecting consumer behaviour when brick and mortar shopping
Digital interactions aren’t just causing consumers to make more purchases online, they’re actually affecting the way that consumers shop when they visit brick and mortar retailers. It’s worth noting here as well that social media is playing an increasingly important role in shaping even non-social experiences online, which makes it doubly important.
Around the world, shoppers are making fewer shopping trips, and when they do shop, they’re making a smaller number of purchases.
They’re visiting stores prepared, armed with the information they need to make a purchase with a very specific product in mind. The days of impulse buying might not be behind us, but that behaviour is certainly waning.
The auto industry is a prime example of this. Adweek recently reported that where car buyers used to visit 7 dealers to make a purchase decision, today they visit an average of 1.2.
That’s targeted and informed shopping, which is reminiscent of the trends observed this Black Friday. The idea of ‘shopping around’ when it comes to automobiles is virtually nonexistent, and this behaviour likely isn’t isolated to this category.
Where there is change, there is opportunity
This, of course, isn’t all doom and gloom. Not even close. In fact, these trends are hugely positive for those who are openly embracing the power of digital media channels be they owned or paid.
As you’ve undoubtedly observed, and this article has hopefully illustrated, it is no secret that consumers are increasingly making purchase decisions online. They’re researching competitive products on brand websites and comparing prices with apps like Amazon’s Price Check.
They’re also turning to social media to ask questions, discuss products and brands with their social graphs, gain unbiased perspectives, and weigh pros and cons of ownership.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to embrace digital and social media
If you haven’t already embraced the power of digital and social media for your business, now is the time to wake up and come to terms with the fact that consumer behaviour has long since shifted.
These aren’t flash-in-the-pan trends we’re observing. After all, we’re talking about the Internet and social media, which clearly aren’t going anywhere. Also, the explosive and exponential penetration of smartphones is giving consumers constant connection to both, so the influential interactions they’re having online, are also happening at shelves in physical stores.
The proof of shifting consumer purchase behaviour from this Black Friday and Cyber Monday I believe to be precursors to even more dramatic change moving forward.
Where there are rules, there are certainly always exceptions, but I believe the reality for many businesses is that if they don’t have a strong presence online and on social media, it’s not going to be long until they won’t have a presence at all.
Are you braving the crowds to do your shopping for the holidays?
Or, are you doing the bulk of your shopping online?
Are there certain categories of products that you prefer to buy in-store versus online?
It would be great to chat with you about your thoughts on this subject, and learn a little bit about your own shopping behaviour in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
I can’t believe it, but it’s already December, and the holidays are bearing down on us.
While you’re undoubtedly busy planning your personal social schedule with family and friends, now is also a perfect time to be planning your social media activity for the coming weeks. Planning can be critical to ensure you’ve got your ducks in a row for when you inevitably take a bit of time off to enjoy the season, and to sustain activity and engagement with your audience during this time.
In the interest of avoiding over-used clichés and long-winded rambling, let’s get into it:
Plan your content calendars
This is an obvious one, but certainly worth noting. Be sure that you not only have your December content calendar ready to publish (which you should already have), but that you have your January calendar ready to go as well. If you work with a team on content creation, or require any approvals from management, clients, legal, or anyone else, they aren’t likely to be around during the latter part of the month to accommodate your requests. Therefore, be sure to have your January calendar prepped and ready for approvals well in advance of people taking off for the holiday.
Spend a few extra minutes thinking about your holiday-specific content
If Christmas, Boxing Day, or New Years Eve have any relevance to your business, brand or audience, which they likely do, then it might be worthwhile spending a bit of extra time thinking of how to create special content for those days. Sure, you can keep things simple and wish everyone a safe and happy holiday, but you could also embrace these days as a creative opportunity with your content.
Have a monitoring schedule in place
It would be easy to forget about your social media communities during the holidays, but the reality is that you should really try to keep an eye on any activity that might be going on during this busy time of year. Keep it simple by setting a schedule for yourself to login, quickly monitor and moderate, and then get back to enjoying some time off.
Reflect on the year that is largely behind us
There is a tremendous amount to be learned by reviewing past performance, amazing successes, and dramatic failures. Take some time before the craziness of the holidays to reflect on how things have gone for you and your business in 2013 on social media. You might be able to identify helpful trends, reinforce activity to avoid or not replicate, think about new ideas that haven’t been explored, or more. Without a doubt, dedicating some time to reflect will be revealing, and of great benefit.
Set goals for the coming year
New Years Day represents a fresh beginning, and opportune time to enact resolutions and find ways to build upon successes of years past, and the same holds true for businesses, many of which have a fiscal year that mirrors the calendar year. While having a personal resolution to lay off fried food, or visit the gym more frequently are easy to identify and put into action, business resolutions – or goals to be more direct about it – should be more thoughtful and strategic, and thus, require more time to think about. So, if you haven’t been thinking about your social media and content marketing goals for 2014, now is a perfect time to start.
Take some time for yourself
Taking time away from social media can be reinvigorating, energizing, and save you from being made fun of by your family and friends for your unhealthy obsession with checking Twitter and Pinterest. Remember to take some time for yourself and to not stress about the craziness of social media and content marketing; you deserve it. It’s the holidays, and you really should be spending some quality time with the people who matter most to you.
What are your tips and tricks for prepping for the holidays?
If you have anything to add it would be great to hear from you in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Determining the ROI of social media marketing activity is a convoluted and complicated challenge that many – if not most – businesses and brands struggle with.
In an effort to better measure the value of social media marketing, a recent Business Insider article reports that, ‘many brands are moving away from metrics that purport to measure ROI on social media’.
This indicates that even many of those businesses and brands that thought they had a formula for placing a monetary value on their social media marketing activity have since reevaluated their methods and abandoned them as a result. This is likely due to a realization that their own valuation criteria were fraught with issues.
The article continued, ‘They’ve realized that social media isn’t a transactional engine or sales machine, so they’re dropping half-baked indicators that gauge secondary effects, such as financial return. Instead, the new metrics evaluate social media strategies in terms of audience-building, brand awareness, and customer relations’.
For most businesses, correlating social media activity directly to sales is a difficult task due to the non-linearity and complexity of many consumers’ purchase paths.
What I find most interesting about this is why an organization would attempt to make this direct correlation in the first place. After all, there are many factors that contribute to making a sale, some of which include brand awareness, brand affinity, price, distribution, shelf placement, availability, seasonality, economic conditions, customer support, loyalty, prior brand experience, brand trust, perceived referral value, and many, many more.
There are a huge number of factors that contribute to consumers making a purchase decision.
Measuring sales as a return on social media activity is equivalent to measuring the sum of all influencing factors for those sales, many of which can be directly impacted by social media.
So, to accurately measure the activity required to influence a purchase – in this case social media activity – you actually need to measure the various influences to that purchase – brand awareness, affinity, loyalty, and on.
Perhaps the problem many of us have with determining the ROI of social media isn’t with how to measure ROI, but is instead with how we define ‘return’.
If we stop thinking about the ‘return’ of ROI as end sales, and start thinking about ‘return’ as a sum of the value of all of the relevant aforementioned factors – which ultimately lead to sales – then calculating an ROI of social media can be much more achievable; not simple, but achievable.
In the cases of the businesses represented by the Business Insider article, I actually don’t see them abandoning their ROI calculations so much as I see them taking the beginning steps in redefining how they see a ‘return’, which is a step in the right direction.
How do you measure the business success of your social media marketing activity?
What ‘returns’ do you look for from your social media marketing efforts?
It would be great to chat with you about this further in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Did you happen to notice anything strange last week?
If you did, it was probably a result of the immense number of mentions of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on social and traditional media, and not that I took the week off of social media.
Believe it or not, while I took the week off of social media, the world kept spinning, my business survived, my face didn’t melt off, and no other catastrophes occurred as a direct result (as far as I know anyway).
Of course I’m joking about the dramatic overestimation of my importance to the world of social media, but I did gain some perspective I’d like to share while taking this bit of time off recently.
It’s perspective that is relatively simple to understand, but I’ll tell you that having lived it has given me a new appreciation for the validity of the following points:
Before anything, take care of your business.
Sometimes there are more important things to do than sweat every detail of your efforts on social media, particularly as a small business owner. If your business requires your full attention, it would be foolish to let critical business requirements slide in favour of managing your social media presence. If your business is comprised of a small team, be sure to have your priorities in check and take care of what’s best for your business first and foremost.
Taking a break can be reenergizing.
It’s obvious and cliché, but it’s true. Taking a break from anything, even if it’s something important and that you’re passionate about can be incredibly reenergizing. Because social media marketing is demanding of your time and attention on a daily basis, taking a few days off can really help to refresh your motivation for building relationships with your targeted audience, providing huge value, and generally killing it on social media.
Stepping back can give you fresh perspective.
There are times when the best way to progress something, is to step away from it. Being removed can give you fresh perspective, and let you think about things in new ways without needing to take care of the day-to-day. I’m convinced the same holds true for social media. Not being so involved in the daily requirements of managing your social media properties can better facilitate those magical moments when ideas and fresh thinking comes to you almost subconsciously.
If your efforts are consistent, the odd hiccup isn’t going to disrupt anything.
And the reality is that nothing terrible is going to happen as a result of a few days away from social media. You’re not going to lose your entire audience, and you’re not going to jeopardize the relationships you’ve built. Your business will be fine, and maybe it will even be better as a result.
What were the negatives of taking a week off?
After returning to my business’s social media efforts, and my personal social media networks after a week away, things were pretty well where I left them. Sure, I lost a few followers on Twitter, but I think that number was literally 3 or 4.
I published only one blog post last week instead of the two that I typically do, which wasn’t technically a cheat because it was pre-scheduled to post from weeks prior. This resulted in my page views being down about 10 percent for the week, which is within my blog’s typical range of fluctuation, so nothing really dramatic.
These were the most dramatic changes that I noticed as a direct result of this experiment, so certainly no irreparable damage done.
So there you go. If you have pressing needs to take care of that keep you from managing your social media and content marketing efforts as strictly as you’d ideally like, don’t sweat it, particularly if you have a track record of consistency and you don’t make it a regular habit.
As a result of having done this myself, I might actually suggest taking a break every now and again to recharge and reinvigorate your efforts upon your return. And an alternative to letting things stagnate is of course to have someone capable stand in for you while you take a bit of time away.
When is the last time you deviated from your regular routine on social media?
If you’ve ever done this, what happened as a result?
Do you have a plan in place to facilitate taking time off of social media?
It would be great to hear from you in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial