Krispy Kreme’s New CMO understands Social Media

In a recent Ad Age article interview by Maureen Morrison, Dwayne Chambers, the new Krispy Kreme CMO, provides his perspective on marketing the resurgent doughnut brand.

In a time when social media feels very much like the .com hype in 2000, I am thrilled to see that Mr. Chambers understand how companies can better leverage the power of social media. Mr. Chambers describes the opportunity that we are all enamored with: “Today, if you have 1,000 who love your brand, they could immediately tell 100,000 people who could tell 100,000.”

However, his primary focus is not making iPhone apps, augmented reality tools, or build your own doughnut contests. His focus is with the primary customer touch-point and epicenter of word of mouth, employees. “The ability for us to connect with our team members and guests in the store is important. We’re going to continue to spend as much as 50% of time and effort internally turning every team member we have into a brand marketer.”

If we believe the power of social media is true, 1,000 turns into 100,000, then we should all be scrambling to get our house in order to drive employee brand advocacy before we start chasing the latest shiny toys.

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Measuring what matters… in real-time

A new blog post and report from Forrester Analyst, Nate Elliott, Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter, defines a framework for social media measurement. There is some great thinking here. This image provides an overview of his framework:

The core idea is around segmenting social metrics by audience role: social strategist, marketer, executive. And while Nate correctly states, “if you’re focusing on fans and followers then you’re almost certainly doing it wrong” he goes on to suggest that social strategist should focus on just that.

Here is my problem with this approach:

The assumption is that there is a correlation between social activity (fans, followers, etc.) and real business objectives. Only if organizations are able to make that correlation, which will change over time, should they continue to track and measure social activity metrics and even then it minimizes the value of the social strategist role.

Secondly, this framework suggests real business value metrics are only evaluated on a quarterly or annual basis when senior management is involved. The benefit of social, or any interactive medium, is the ability monitor and adjust real-time. Only by empowering social strategist with real business metrics can they make the adjustments necessary to optimize your programs to maximize revenue, not retweets.

Segmentation makes sense, but all marketers need to take advantage of interactive mediums by measuring what matters and doing so in real-time.

Charmin hopes toilet paper can be sexy too!

I have always held the notion that social media is not for everyone. There are obvious candidates who benefit from social technologies because their audience is online and already talking about their brand, for example Dell tapping into the active tech community with product ideas through IdeaStorm.com. Other brands can create interest based programs by focusing on their customers’ problems or related interests that can then be associated to the brand, for example P&Gs beinggirl.com talking adolescence to sell feminine products. And then we have things like toilet paper… until now.

Charmin recently launched a search to find five super-fun, enthusiastic people to work at the Charmin Restrooms in Times Square this holiday season. Their new micro-site, EnjoytheGo.com, explains the program in detail. The job description is simple: Greet and entertain bathroom guests and then blog about the experience, and the payout is big: $10,000 for 1 month.

Before we focus in on the logistics around potty blogging, I want to highlight two key qualifiers that every organization should ask before even dabbling in sexy social technologies:

• Does my target audience use social technologies?
• Does my target audience use social technologies to talk about my brand, industry or a related interest?

While some or most of Charmin’s target audience might be active users, I find it hard to believe that their audience is using social technologies to learn about the brand, or toilet paper or a stranger’s bathroom experience.

This doesn’t pass my sniff test, how about you?

The Important Evolution of Engagement From Marketing Fluff to Metric to KPI

There has been a lot of discussion around the topic of engagement; what is it, why does it matter and how do I measure it, and is it marketing fluff or the new standard for measurement. From my research I see a valuable concept being poorly interpreted and executed by some marketers, vendors and agencies.

What is it? To start with a definition, most analysts and bloggers agree on two basic components. The interactions can be either individual or company led, and they are ongoing across every point of contact. These are all the brand interactions with the product, other individuals, customer service, marketing messages, applications, etc. over time, which requires a comprehensive cross-channel measurement algorithm to evaluate.

Engagement is not the “time spent” with your online video or the “number of posts” on your social media site; these metrics are only part of the equation. I agree with the critics who dismiss these “engagement” metrics, but the problem is not with the concept it’s with the current execution of measuring what’s available as opposed to what matters. Which leads us to our second point.

Why does it matter? Technology has exponentially increased the points of contact individuals have with your brand and social technologies have exponentially increased the reach and influence individuals have on each other. We also have the added benefit of being able to track and measure most of these new technology enabled interactions, and improve customer insight by measuring individual’s behavior.

Marketing leverages both quantitative/hard metrics like sales that are generally based on behavior, and qualitative/soft metrics like satisfaction that are generally based on surveys to determine success. Engagement is a new qualitative/soft metric, but is unique in that it is behavior based not survey based, which may deliver a more accurate indication of marketing and business success. If you have any question about the inaccuracies of self-reported survey responses, check out Martin Lindstrom’s new book Buyology, which uses brain scan technology to separate the truths from the lies about why we buy. In addition, the more “social” marketing becomes, the higher degree soft metrics will be needed to generate hard results. Which leads us to our third point.

How do I measure it? A metric is anything that can be consistently measured, like CTRs and time spent, where a KPI is an indicator, agreed upon with your partners that will determine whether you are attaining business success. As a result, engagement measurement cannot be a one-size fits-all because the number and type of interactions varies for every company and the relative weighting or value associated with each interaction in an algorithm will also differ.

Start by identifying all the points of contact individuals can have with your brand before, during and after the buying process. Next identify what measurement mechanisms exist across these points of contact to expose potential data gaps. Third, prioritize the points of contact lacking any measurement mechanisms and create a simple 2X2 matrix based on their value vs. their cost to acquire. Finally, work with your partners to define an algorithm that weights the values of each interaction, measure to define a benchmark, and evaluate your model as an indicator of business success. By discovering specific patterns of behavior across interactions, marketers can measure for their occurrence and proactively drive those indicator actions to occur.

Engagement is not a replacement of but another valuable tool that focuses on the individual’s new and growing number of interactions with a brand to help marketers assess and better influence their buying process. While the road to measurement may be long and hard, the time for action is now.

Marketers Have a Couple of Things to Learn From Project Managers

Recently, in the context of an interview, I was asked about my project management skills and what I felt were the keys to success. In thinking about my experiences as a marketer and consultant helping companies develop social media strategies, improve their search and email marketing programs, or redesign their websites I have found two common themes noticeable in the projects that went well, but especially apparent in the projects that did not go well.

From my experiences, the keys to success are properly managing expectations and proactively mitigating risks. While these concepts may seem obvious and simple in the context of project management, I think many marketers could benefit from leveraging these concepts in a variety of ways throughout their marketing planning and execution processes.

Project management is first and foremost about clearly defining, communicating and hopefully exceeding expectations. While this burden is placed on the project manager, the fate of any project is often decided well before the project is kicked-off. Translated to marketing terms, defining expectations is about setting business relevant marketing objectives and the appropriate metrics to measure them before the campaign is launched. Secondly, communicating those expectations with the rest of the organization in words they understand. This means translating things like Engagement into terms that business owners can understand and care about. Finally, exceeding expectations is not only about the goals you defined within the organization but also the brand promise you communicated to consumers.

Project management is also about identifying potential pitfalls and proactively mitigating risk. This concept has become increasingly important with the rise of social media and the technologies that have allowed consumers to shift power away from institutions. Translated to marketing terms, identifying potential pitfalls can be best highlighted by Motrin’s “Wearing Your Baby” campaign where a few mommy bloggers blasted the brand resulting in an apology and abandonment of the campaign. Identifying this risk could have lead Motrin to create a plan where they reached out to any detractors and leveraged their passion to further connect the brand with moms. Finally, proactively mitigating risk by using listening tools from vendors like Nielsen BuzzMetrics and TNS Cymfony to help mine a variety of data sources real-time and extract insights to help shape your marketing strategy.

Does it take Twitter to provide good customer service?

Growing at 1000% with about 10million users and lots of mainstream buzz makes Twitter an attractive platform. However, the real business benefits of Twitter are also clear, immediate conversations with users who choose to follow you.

Many organizations have found success using Twitter for customer support functions. For example, Comcast set up an account called “ComcastCares” that’s dedicated to answering Comcast support questions it detects from monitoring Twitter and Bank of America is answering online banking questions from its customers on Twitter.

While some marketers have found success on Twitter by answering customer questions real-time, they key takeaway is that customer want more immediate and responsive support. So what about the majority of your customers who don’t tweet?

Instead of Twitter companies need to focus on how they can address changing consumer needs and expectations. Two key reasons for this: the micro-blogging fad may fade as quickly as it came and by focusing on consumer needs instead of the latest trends marketers can leverage a variety of channels and technologies to help customers accomplish their goals.

Offering interactive chat on the corporate website, developing a mobile site or application or providing shorter response times for email support are other ways to help keep your customers happy. These existing channels serve a broader audience, provide better analytics and tracking, and allow marketers to better deliver the message and potentially cross-sell.

So, in addition to experimenting authentically with emerging channels, marketers must focus on the customer needs and push these learning’s across marketing channels and consumer touch points.

Transparency is not the solution.

A new BusinessWeek article Blogola: The FTC Takes On Paid Posts describes how new Federal Trade Commission guidelines want bloggers to disclose when they’ve been wooed with cash or freebies from companies they cover. Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff researched this topic, which Forrester calls “sponsored conversations,” and recommended the practice for marketers with a focus on transparency and authenticity.

However, transparency is only the solution if marketers are misusing the medium.

Still living in an old world mentality, marketers are now pushing their marketing messages through a paid medium called bloggers instead of TV. Yes, they get some credit for trying and risking the potentially negative feedback from an authentic blogger, but basically these marketers are buying reach in a new channel.

Instead of optimizing their sponsored conversations for transparency and reach, marketers should leverage interactive and social technologies to interact with engaged users and bring them closer to the brand before misuse jades consumers and limits the effectiveness for all marketers.