Tuesday, July 10, 2012

3 Key Components of Corporate Social Media Policies

With the recent spike in lawsuits regarding employees and social media, it is critical that your company has a clear and effective social media policy for employees. At the bare minimum, your corporate policy needs to include the following three components to help guide employees and prevent a potential media frenzy over an employee social media posting:

For social media accounts where you opt to identify yourself as a [company name] employee and plan to use it in a professional capacity, you should always go by your real name to make it easy for professional connections to locate and connect with you online and offline. It is also advisable to include a professional headshot photo to help establish a potential connection with people and confirm that they have found the correct person.

If you choose to publish social media content from a publicly viewable account in your personal capacity, you are likely to be seen as a representative of [company name]. In particular, if you publish social media content regarding anything industry or company related, you must include a content disclaimer to avoid having your opinions seen as a company stance. It is not unusual for journalists to quote a tweet or post by an employee when writing an article. Hence, including a disclaimer is essential to help avoid inaccurate or unwanted coverage. In the event that you will be regularly posting about topics that are industry or company related, you will want to include the disclaimer in your profile description, so that you do not need to add a separate disclaimer to each post you make.

Sample Disclaimers:
  • Opinions are my own and do not represent [company name].
  • Thoughts and opinions do not represent [company name]'s positions or opinions.
Be aware that disclaiming your opinions does not relinquish your responsibility to be socially professional.

Handling Mistakes
If you make a posting mistake, admit to the mistake and take full responsibility for the error. Be upfront, and be quick with your correction. When possible, remove posts or updates immediately and post the correction. If you are posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post; just make it clear that you have done so and why.

Does your company have a clear social media policy?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Targeting With Personas Part II - Example

Example: Software Company

Imagine a marketing manager for a software company that sells single-sign on software (password management software) in a B2C market.The marketing manager has developed four personas:
  • CEO, Executives, Managers (CEO)
  • New Internet User (New)
  • College Student (Student)
  • Professional in the Tech Industry (Yuppie)
Next, the marketing manager must gather the relevant demographic information, assess the needs of each group, and consider which situational triggers may cause them to buy the product. After some research, the following information is discovered about the target market:

Four hypothetical personas.
CEO, Executives, Managers (CEO)
  • Age: 45
  • Internet Experience: High
  • Spending Habits: Strategic
  • Trigger: Provide reasons to “upgrade”
New Internet User (New)
  • Age: 16
  • Internet Experience: Low
  • Spending Habits: Shiny Object (things of interest at the time – parental support)
  • Trigger: Educate to illustrate the need
College Student (Student)
  • Age: 20
  • Internet Experience: High
  • Spending Habits: Shiny Object (things of interest at the time)
  • Trigger: Discount
Professional in the Tech Industry (Yuppie)
  • Age: 30
  • Internet Experience: High
  • Spending Habits: Strategic
  • Trigger: Awareness

Based on these categorizations, it is possible to construct secondary target market personas. The Yuppies are the optimal target market. BUT if they’re already being bombarded by messages from the competition, it would be prudent to retarget the company’s messaging at secondary audiences. In this case, the company could gain market share with the students and CEOs through developing persona-specific messages.
For example, to target the CEOs, the message should be crafted to engender a need, which could be done through highlighting key product differentiators from the competition. Since students are missing the means (finances) to purchase the software, this hypothetical software company could offer coupons toward the students to lower the cost. A “buy-one-get-one-free” coupon would be one possible strategy, as would a discount for becoming a fan of the company’s Facebook page.

Let’s assume that after a few weeks the strategy to attract the student market is unsuccessful. This MAY mean that it is necessary to segment that secondary target audience even further. The following is an example of how this process could be accomplished:
Specifying the student persona even further.


The marketing manager can drill down even further within the optimal or secondary target audience but the key is to stop specifying when the cost of finding information is greater than the benefit to be gained by marketing uniquely to that subset. This will have to be weighed on a case-by-case basis depending on the available budget for market research and the profit from the offering.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Targeting With Personas Part I

Marketers routinely define intended audiences and craft messages tailored for those specific target markets. Social media has introduced a whole new set of powerful tools. It is now possible to easily locate where your target market hangs out on the social web and understand what they do there. As consequence, the most promising audiences (those with the need, interest, and means to purchase your product or service) are being saturated with messages. Your competitors ARE marketing to them, regardless of your industry.

The Challenge
Traditionally, marketers have focused almost exclusively on these prime target markets and for good reason—they are the folks most likely to buy your product or service. Breaking through the “clutter” to reach these optimal audiences presents are a real challenge for start-ups, small companies, and enterprises alike. There are always competitors with larger social media teams, better strategies, and more resources to spend on prime target audiences.

Naturally, primary target markets should remain a priority. But, when the risk of having your message lost in the crowd is significant, it is wise to also consider an alternative destination. The path less travelled. Like the wayfarer that encounters heavy traffic and chooses a desirable secondary endpoint instead, a marketer faced with overwhelming competition for a primary target market may find it efficacious to select a secondary target market. Although secondary target audiences are not optimal, they can still be quite lucrative. Less competition means more market share opportunities.

However, reaching any audience on the social web requires a high degree of precision. With traditional advertising, it was possible to take a broad approach. It was acceptable to share product information with everyone. In online communities, this practice is known as spamming. If you send the same message out through all of your social media properties, without consideration of the audience that participate on each platform, you will be deemed a spammer. Messages sent through social media have to be finely honed. These messages also need to be sent through the appropriate social platform or they risk being ignored completely. Worse yet, you risk having future messages being automatically ignored. Why risk your reputation? Avoid being seen as inconsiderate by tailoring your messaging.

The Solution

How can marketers reach secondary target markets and avoid being ignored? The answer is three-fold: (1) define the consumer landscape (target audience) in terms of personas, (2) determine the platforms where your intended audience participate, and (3) create tailored messages. To accomplish these tasks, it is necessary to define a few key terms:

  1. Persona – According to Ian Lurie, in his book Conversation Marketing: Internet Marketing Strategies, a typical persona definition includes:
  • Demographics of the Persona: Average age, level of Internet expertise, and spending habits.
  • Constraints: A persona’s technological limitations (type of Internet connection), a language barrier, or even vision impairment.
  • Needs and Wants: What are the challenges facing this persona? What solutions do you offer that will turn this persona into a real-life customer?
  1. Optimal Target Audience – Personas with a need, the means, and interest make up the optimal target audience.
  2. Secondary Optimal Target Audience – Personas missing one of the three attributes (need, means, interest) are the secondary optimal target audience. As an example, a persona that is a member of the secondary optimal target audience might have the need and interest in your offering but lacks the means to purchase it.
Fortunately, many marketers may prematurely write off secondary target audiences, which provide a golden opportunity for the smart marketer to tap these overlooked customers.

In the next post (July 5), I will cover an example of how to use this venn diagram.