Being Grateful and Thank You!
Some may have heard by now that I am stepping down from my post at Telesian with my partner-in-crime, Shari Worthington. I was offered a spectacular new position at a company in Rochester, New Hampshire, and I could not resist the opportunity to try something new. For those who are curious, the company I am going to is eCoast Sales. I will be their Vice President of Marketing starting Monday.
Over the past ten years, I have worked with Shari and we have done some amazing things together. We have had many travel adventures, from lost wallets and hobbling around airports with crutches to finding every Starbucks known to man along our routes. I’ve so enjoyed working for all of our clients at Telesian, each situation presenting its own opportunities to make a difference. And it is all Shari’s fault that I’ve become so involved with ISA and became their Social Media Community Manager – another post I will surely miss.
The good news is….that I will remain involved with ISA as a volunteer leader so I will not completely disappear. And, ISA has contracted for a new social media community manager starting December 1st, so there is more exciting news on the horizon there. But I won’t divulge the official news until next week on the ISA Interchange…
Beyond saying goodbye, I wanted to share some final thoughts about what I’ve learned as ISA’s Social Media Community Manager:
- Social Media Shapes Your Brand Perception. I’ve had so many conversations about social media, its value, and whether or not it will last as a viable method to communicate with customers. So far, I have only seen evidence that this medium is here to stay, it has a huge impact, and needs to be taken seriously.All too often I have seen companies assign junior staff to be the face of their brand. While social media is something many folks do personally and young generations do it quite well, performing this activity for a brand requires a higher level of marketing expertise with brand positioning experience. Why? Well, remember that whoever is doing this role is the face of your company to not just customers, but to all market influencers. Behind every profile and status update is a person who could influence a buying decision or make one. Should you assign that role without a lot of thought?And then there’s the fear factor. Brands are afraid of brand backlash. Many of the biggest mistakes made in social media are from either pure stupidity or a lack of response time from someone who can make a difference in an outcome. So, again, what kind of person do you want in line of fire? A junior staff person who is not versed in handling crisis communications? Or someone who can handle a social-something-gone-wrong?
Just some food for thought.
- Having Customers Does Not Equal Having a Community . Everyone is talking about building community. I want to challenge companies out there – are you truly serious about building one? Just because you have customers does not mean you have a community. A well working community is self-supporting, self-correcting, and works from the outside in vs. the inside out. And it takes time to build that kind of trust in a community that offers true collaboration and problem solving. ISA is an example of a group working at developing a self-sustaining community, as well as Emerson and a few select others. It’s important to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. If you are unsure how to do it, take a look around at the companies who you think are doing a good job, and emulate their behaviors (as a starting point). Then figure out what works for your audience and serve it up their way.
- Always be experimenting. So much comes and goes in the half-life of a marketer, so it is essential to try out new marketing approaches to see what can work, what needs tweaking, and how to get the most out of the technology that is available. Everything else outside of experimentation or proven methods are just conjecture at best.
- Know the right place for social media. Can social media drive business? Absolutely. But is that the only role? Heck no. It actually plays a much bigger role in the dating process of buying vs. the final buy in the B2B space. Perhaps in the consumer space it might lead to more direct purchase action based on offers. B2B can get there, but in many cases, as brands are incorporating social media in their communication mix, it tends to be part of a “dating” process that builds trust over time, and allows a prospect to learn more about your company, the products, and the people. Both customers and prospects need to feel a level of comfort before they invest with you. Finally, social media plays a HUGE role in customer service, so be prepared for all sorts of questions about how to find information and connecting experts who can answer questions in a timely fashion <stressing this point>.
- Serving up Content: It’s Really Not About You. My final comment is that customers do not want a steady stream of information focused just on “you” – meaning your products, your events, your this, your that. What you need to do is give them what THEY want, not what you think they want. Go outside of your own walls to procure useful information from a market perspective. And have fun, throw some humor in there too. If you can make someone smile during their day, then that can never be a bad thing, right? Nothing like a little positive brand building through good feelings and smiles.
Overall, being a social media community manager was a very enjoyable role for me. I really liked being the point person for the members of the community, and helping people navigate the answers they were looking for. I feel so lucky to be able to experience that position and know how it can play a huge role in developing brand preference from a marketing perspective. And how it can eventually drive real business. But that cannot be the only goal, because you are always dealing with people. Behind every profile is a person who has issues, feelings, and their own problems. Never ever forget that. You will know that moment when you do. And you will hear about it.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being part of my last ten years at Telesian. It’s been a fun ride and I’m so grateful. I encourage you to stay in touch. Connect with me on LinkedIn if we have not already. I’ll see my ISA friends at the next Spring Leadership Meeting.
I look forward to seeing what the next ten years has in store for me and for the marketing profession. One thing I know for sure… I will need to buckle my seat belt because there are few dull moments!