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Archive for the category “Chapter Reflections”

Listen, Learn, Participate, Repeat

Chapter 18 of Brian Solis’ book, Engage!, focused on how brands can use the conversation prism to create the social media map perfect for their brand. He covered a lot of information this chapter so I will only touch on some quick key points.

One of the first things Solis mentions how companies were so focused on profit that they were pushing away their consumers. At that time they hadn’t realized that the long-term value of interacting with their consumers rather than leaving them to an automated machine or outsourced service lines. Solis mentions a survey authored by Jonathan Whitaker that showed directing customers to these services negatively impacted customer satisfaction. Being one of those customers, I agree with these findings. It usually makes the situation more complicated than it needs to be leaving me dissatisfied. The quote below stood out to me:

A happy customer tells several friends and an unhappy customer tells many more.

It’s so true! People are more inclined to tell their friend about how long it took to reach someone at Comcast than to speak about new channels. Solis says that sometimes brands stop seeing the customer’s viewpoint and only see the dollar signs. Taking a customer’s experience into account will give brands the opportunity to connect better with their consumers.

This connection can be strengthened by actually talking to consumers when they have a problem. I think what Solis said about brands bringing information and solutions to the conversation so that the conversation can be on their terms. I also think it was important that Solis said brands should “experience the nature, dynamic, ambience and emotion of the dialogue” instead of just talking to say you talked.

The last part of the goes into the nitty-gritty of the Conversation Prism and how brands can use it to identify where the most important conversations are, when they’re happening and how to gather this information for a presentation for the bosses.

Photo courtesy of briansolis.com

He touches on adaptation as well and how it will help your brand “evolve and increase in relevance, both online and offline.” Overall, the chapter was really informative but a lot to take in and understand upon first reading. I’ll leave you with this simple statement:

In the end, we are measured by our actions, and our words.

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Brands, What Do You Have to Say for Yourself?

Photo courtesy of cleanreputations.com

Chapter 15 of Brian Solis’ book, “Engage!” was pretty interesting. The main focus of the chapter is about distinguishing yourself and the brand you represent, yet being able to bring them together. One of the first things Solis talks about is how your reputation precedes you. At one point he says, “go Google yourself” and view what you see through a stranger’s eyes. What will the results say about you? I think this is a perfect way to see what the social objects you share online say about you. He then went on to say that, “Your actions and words online are indeed extensions to how people perceived and react to the brand you represent.” This is where a lot of brands get into trouble. When your name is associated with a certain brand, your mistakes become the brand’s mistakes, which can really put a brand indirectly in hot water. This is why some brands ask employees to reframe from posting things about their political affiliation, religion, etc. While you may not intentionally say something hurtful to the brand, people will see it that way. I also enjoyed Solis’ concept about social economy and how the relationships we create online serve as the ‘currency’ individuals can invest in their personal portfolios. It’s really an easy and cool way to look at it.

Photo courtesy of demandforce.com

Another great point Solis brought up was crafting a “constant profile that conveys what it is you stand for and the value you bring to the table.” I think this is something brands should definitely pay attention to, especially when there are multiple representatives online. It all relates back to Chapter 12 and the Brand Reflection Cycle. The last point I want to bring up is how you create the foundation of your online reputation by “listening and observing where, how, and why the conversations are taking place.” From there the brand can determine “the tone and nature of the dialogue” and see where they fit in the conversation.

A great line to sum up the chapter is,

With social media comes great responsibility…

Chapter 16 focused on how with enough learning and experimenting, a brand can use social media more effectively. Solis talks about how building a presence online requires “social architecture, engineering, and empathy.” He once again stressed the importance of using these tools to build bridges between the brand and its publics by using channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn for “listening, learning, and participating.”

A statement that really stood out to me was when Solis said, “As social media becomes accepted and practiced industry-wide, change will also stem from outside pressure.” I think we’ve already begun to see this within the last few months with the rejection of SOPA and Susan G. Komen’s reverse decision regarding Planned Parenthood.

One of the last points I want to bring up is one that I think is essential for brands to learn. Solis says, “It’s a matter of “being human” versus “humanizing the story.” He says not to necessary carry your brand as just anyone, but to humanize your brand enough that people can relate and sympathize with it. The brand has to know how to balance distinguishing themselves as a brand while not alienating themselves from their public.

Brands have to remember,

You are the voice, spirit, and mind of the brand and the people and culture that define it.

Both of these chapters had great information for brands and their reputations.

Who Are They to You?: Businesses Creating Social Media Personas

I really enjoyed Chapter 12 of Brian Solis’ book, “Engage!” This chapter focused on how companies can establish their online personas with their audiences. While reading this chapter, a lot of the questions I had about personas online were answered. Solis mostly spoke from a business’s point of view, but I was able to apply some of the suggestions he gave to my personal life.

When discussing the relationship between businesses and their online personas, Solis said the challenge was “defining and reinforcing the brand personality as it either existed prior to social media and/or how it should display and present to those across the Social Web.” I think this is definitely a good point to bring up. Maintaining an image or brand personality was easier before social media, but now with the new networks, companies have to modify their personality so that it reflects well in social media.

Listed below are the eight essential stages to establishing an online persona, according to Solis:

  • Core Values:  At the beginning, we need to form a common center of gravity to support the orbiting characteristics that support our mission and purpose. The only way for a team to continuously grow is to have a solid foundation to build upon.
  • Brand Pillars: Pillars that establish the principal, central themes that convey our uniqueness and value, fortified through the social objects we develop and distribute.
  • Promise:The pledge that paves the way to brand meaning and direction is the brand promise.

    Photo courtesy of briansolis.com

  • Aspirations: Our aspirations are representative of the stature and mission we seek over time, and it’s constant. You always want to have something to work towards. It keeps you motivated and relevant.
  • Brand Characteristics: Defining the brand characteristics will help us establish the traits we wish to associate with the brand represented through our actions, words, and overall behavior. What do you want people to see or hear when it comes to your brand?
  • Opportunities: It’s a combination of who we are and what we offer today and also the opportunities that emerge that allow us to connect to those seeking solutions we had yet to identify.
  • Culture: The brand team must examine the culture of the company, not only what it is today, but ultimately how it should embody our aspirations so that it is readily identifiable in social media. People need something they can align with, and it is our culture that serves as the magnet to our purpose and aspirations. We are all in this together.
  • Personality:  This final step in the completion of the Brand Reflection Cycle, is to identify and bring to life the personality and character of the brand through conversations, social objects, and stories. If the brand was a person, how would it appear? How would it sound? How would it interact with others? How would others describe it?

He then goes on to talk about companies having multiple personalities. I was actually surprised that he suggested having the personal and professional accounts. A lot the times I hear other professionals saying that you should be able to balance your personal and professional personalities on one account. This makes me feel a little bit better because I do have two accounts for certain social media networks because I have different audiences. Yes, I’m still Cherese on each account, but the topics I discuss with my followers vary and I feel it just keeps things in their own lane.

The example he gave of Zappos was cool. I think it’s great to have multiple employees tweeting on behalf of a company. I think it allows each of the employees to show their individuality as well as be a part of the company’s overall online persona. The main thing, as Solis says, is to make sure everyone is aware of the eight aspects of their brand’s online identity. The only problem I could see with multiple accounts related to the company is that it opens up the door for more opportunities for mistakes and to be attacked.

This had to be one of my favorite chapters.

The Dealio on SMO

Unlike last week, these chapters took me a little while longer to get. In Chapter 10, Solis introduced the topic of social objects and how they have become the connection between us and others. I guess you could say that social objects in any given network are the conversation starters. As a company, it’s important that this is recognized because without interest, there aren’t any opportunities to engage. Therefore, without engagement there are no relationships formed and no new customers gained.

Solis then went on to talk about social media optimization (SMO). This whole section was new to me. I had heard of the SMO, but never really understood it or its purpose. Now I know it basically means using the tools you have to get the most of social media searches. One of the first points Solis brings up is that you aren’t guaranteed a million hits once you upload your content. As he mentioned in an earlier chapter, content is not viral, it’s the people who make it viral. Companies have to find a reason why people would want to share the content they put online or as Gina would say, “So what? Who cares?” Solis specifically describes the concept as this: “We have to integrate digital seduction in the objects we wish to earn attention and notoriety.”  A company wants to give their consumers a reason to ‘favorite’ something so that it shows up in their feed and in turn catches the attention of the consumer’s friends.

Photo Courtesy of hubspot.com

In order to really get the most of social media, companies need to utilize the titles, tags and descriptions of their social objects. I was not aware that these three things that we sometimes pay no attention to, can make such a huge difference. The examples given by Solis of how to really use the three areas, helped me understand how paying attention to key search words and the terminology of your audience can essentially give your content legs.

Chapter 11 talks about the other aspects of SMO. This is where it got a little more confusing for me. I was able to distinguish the difference between synchronizing and aggregating, but it was the application part that lost me a little. My first thought for synchronizing was a company using HootSuite but I wasn’t really sure. Solis does mention that the process of synchronizing and aggregating can be complicated and I agree.

Something I was able to follow along with is the section about defining the journey for the consumer. A company has to know the best destination for their consumer to go so that the interaction and discussion can continue. The company needs to create bridges between their consumers and their social objects. Solis says an important part of that is leading the followers to resolution.

The last thing I found really interesting but not surprising was the fact that 54 percent of companies link back to Twitter instead of Facebook. I can understand this because while Facebook has more users, Twitter is able to reach more people in a shorter time. Smart.

Overall, I thought these two chapters were great content wise. I just think it’s going to take me a bit before I can fully grasp it.

How Businesses Can Socialize in Micro-Size

Photo courtesy of danpontefract.com

I enjoyed reading Chapters 8 & 9 of “Engage!” I thought the chapters were easy to follow, yet had very relevant information. One of the main focuses of Chapter 8 was the “personal broadcast systems (PBSs).” The author, Brian Solis, used this word to describe the trend of microblogging and microcommunities. I thought it was a great way to describe networks like Twitter because that’s basically what it is. We’re ‘broadcasting’ our lives to our followers every time we tweet. That’s why college students should be selective in what they tweet because future employers are in the audience. Another great part of the chapter was the top 21 tips for Twitter and other social media. All of them were relevant because I see examples of it every day. Sometimes being used effectively other times being pointless. Some points that stood out to me include:

Number  1: “The trick is to concisely introduce the value up front.” When you’re only working with 140 characters, this is important in catching the audience’s attention. Whenever you’re creating promotional materials for an event that involves free stuff or money, you have to make it seen. A lot of times they say words like ‘free,’ ‘food,’ ‘win,’ and ‘money,’ should be the most noticeable words on the flyer. You only have a few seconds to get their interest before they’re on to something else. Make it count!

Number 6: “There is a major element of Twitter that’s about listening and learning.” While a business’s success in social media is sometimes dependent on engaging with the audience, another important aspect is listening. If you don’t listen to what they’re saying, you can’t contribute anything of importance to the conversation. Also, listening can help prevent crises in the future. 😉

Number 7: “It validates us more when other people talk about us than when we talk about ourselves.” Someone once told me that if you’re a good person, you won’t have to say it because others will say it about you. I think that applies to businesses too.

Number 20: Social media has become a powerful vehicle for fundraising. In 2010, Alicia Keys recruited some of her celebrity friends to help raise money for her organization Keep A Child Alive for World Aids Day. The celebrities suffered a ‘digital death’ where they weren’t allowed to tweet until the organization was able to raise $1 million dollars in donations via Twitter. They reached their mark in two weeks.

Chapter 9 talked about mobile location networking, widgets and videos. One of the main things I took from this chapter is that you have to make sure your content is relevant to your target audience. Just because the different tools are out there, doesn’t mean that every one of them will fit your message and audience.

Very good chapters!

Where’s Everyone?

After reading Chapters 6 and 7, I saw the shared focus of how social media has made sharing so…easy. A few years ago, the only way you could share a story was through email. Now with Web 2.0, I can instantly share what I’m reading and how I feel about it. I also don’t have to wait until the next day in class to talk about something that happened because that conversation happens on Twitter and Facebook. It’s all very intriguing, especially how businesses can now take advantage of Web 2.0.

On the very first page of Chapter 6, Solis stated that images were, “One of the most understated categories of social networks.” He went on to say that it was also the most established. I agree that is understated, but I would have never have guessed it was the most established. I think this might be changing with the alarming rate that Pinterest is becoming popular. According to Techcrunch, it already has 11.7 million unique visitors a month, reaching that point faster than any other standalone site. For those who are not familiar with the social network, it’s basically bookmarking images with friends. You can upload pictures from your computer or just use your ‘Pin It’ button to pin an image you see while surfing the net onto your board. I joined because I thought it was fun, new and interesting. Now, every week there’s an article about how it can be used by businesses, journalists, you name it!

Photo courtesy of kateandaly.files.wordpress.com

Aside from the personal uses of image sharing sites, I thought JetBlue’s Flickr group was a cool idea. Allowing customers and employees to share their experiences through pictures is a great way to build the bridge between the company and its public. As Solis said, “these photos reveal the human side of the corporation.” I think the photo sharing also allows consumers another way to contribute to the conversation and the image of the company. If potential consumers see positive pictures on the site, they’re more likely to associate the airline with positive experiences and vice versa. This relates back to Domino’s having customers send in their pictures and using them for promotions or in one case, to fix any problems.

Chapter 7 focused on the various ways companies make it easier for their consumers to engage with them. Solis said, “We must produce and promote compelling material in the communities where our customers, peers, influencers and prospects are active – using the consumption methods and means that they prefer.” We briefly discussed this topic in class in Tuesday. You have to know who your audience is in order to know which social media tool is going to be most effective. Solis brought up social media dashboards. I’ve noticed more and more websites incorporating the dashboard. It’s a good way to allow consumers to choose how they would like to view the content.

I’ll leave you with a statement that is essential to any business using social media:

Go find your customers and bring them to you or participate where they are currently.

Once you know where your audience is, you can properly cater your messages to fit that network. Every message doesn’t fit every forum.

Bloggin’ the Blog

After reading Chapter 4 of Brian Solis‘s book “Engage!”, I’ve noticed he uses the word ‘bridge’ a lot when discussing social media. He stresses the importance of having bridges to allow the two-way interaction between the company and its publics. The time the company contributes to building those bridges is going to determine if social media becomes an opportunity for failure or success. He also points out that since it’s a two-way information flow, the company’s choice to ignore it or embrace it will not stop the conversation, it’s going to continue either way. Solis said, “We contribute to our perception through absence and participation. We contribute to our presence.” In other words, the amount of time and effort you put into developing your social media presence is going to reflect in your company’s image. The best method is to be immersed in the conversation so that if negative things do come up, you’re there to put out the small fires.

Another theme that comes up is the notion of ‘earning’ success in social media. Just because you create an account doesn’t guarantee your brand success. Solis stated, “…reach is not prescribed; it must be earned.” Yes, you may have the initial followers, but if you don’t keep them engaged you will lose them just as quick. Once again, the time and effort you put into communicating with your publics will determine how many people you reach.

In this chapter, Solis highlights the several different forums. The first was blogs. I’m not an avid blogger, but I do read a lot of them to catch up on the latest entertainment news. To be honest, I don’t really associate blogs with companies because sometimes they’re just miniature billboards. Solis brought up a great point when he said, “The best corporate blogs are genuine and designed to help people.” Readers don’t want to read pages of ads; we see enough of them on TV every day. I think a good method some companies use when blogging is having experts as guest bloggers. It keeps the blog fresh and it attracts different audiences.

Podcasts are amazing! I‘ve subscribed to a few channels for my favorite shows. It’s basically commentary from the producers and writers of the show. Every episode, they record a podcast to explain why they shot a scene a certain way or how the idea for a certain line came about. I really enjoy it as a listener and viewer because it lets me into their world.  It makes me appreciate the product (TV show) more because now I know what goes into creating it. I think podcasts are another great way to make the consumer feel like they’re getting exclusive information. It keeps them engaged.

Lastly, IBM’s Second Life virtual community sounds really cool! The fact that they effectively used the tools available to them and saved so much money (between $320,000 -$350,000 according to reports) is awesome. They recognized a way to connect all of their employees and executives from around the world, which was groundbreaking at the time.

Follow this link to a short video about the virtual community. Very interesting.

Another great chapter!

I’m Ready to “Engage”

Let me begin this post by stating the obvious. Social media is no joke and Brian Solis, author of “Engage,” does a great job explaining why. Within the first couple of chapters I realized just how much I have to learn about this tool and Solis says as much in Chapter 3. It’s a continuous learning process and you have to be ready to go with it because if you don’t, you get left behind. In relation to jumping on board the ‘new media’ train, Solis mentions just joining a network is ‘child’s play.’ You have to know how to use it for your advantage or you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. You MUST put in the work!

A major point Solis made is that once you begin participating and interacting with your audience, your organization becomes more humanized. Solis said, “People don’t participate in conversations with brands: they converse with the people who are the ambassadors of the brands.” More companies are getting rid of the automated recordings and actually having representatives communicate one-on-one with the consumers. This is where you begin to form the relationships or the build the bridges between the organization and its publics, which is something Solis brings up a lot. The public feels like they’re being heard and the fact that you’re taking time out to respond or converse with them shows that you care. Continued participation can lead to trust, loyalty and long-term relationships, which should be one of the company’s main goals.

At one point Solis stated that social media is “an opportunity and a privilege.” I never really thought of it that way, but it makes sense. It relates back to the ‘child’s play’ concept that anyone can join without having a purpose. Social media is such a powerful tool and can really open up several new opportunities for companies to expand their reach or improve their product. It’s definitely not something companies should abuse.

Chapter 3 was a great chapter and I was able to take a lot from it. It’s definitely got me excited to read the rest of the book!

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