Bringing Social Media into the Strategic Planning Tent

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of presenting at Federated Business’s Strategic Planning Skills event.  When the invitation to present arrived a few months earlier, the topic at first blush seemed a little awkward.  Once I started to research it, I was amazed at social media’s potential impact on all the key facets of corporate strategic planning:  Sales & Marketing, Legal/Regulatory issues, Human Resources/Recruiting, and Customer Service. View or download the presentation at the link below – mind bending stuff, I promise.  Looking forward to your comments.

OMG, is Social Media just a fad? Part II


Last week I promised to follow up with metrics from a recent study conducted on the growth of social media. Note: In my last post I indicated that the metrics I will list came from Pew Internet & American Life Project.  While Pew was quoted in one of the articles I read in writing the post, the metrics that follow are from Search Engine Journal (the sources SEJ relied on are at the bottom of the infographic).

Here we go.

The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic
Source: The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic

OMG, is Social Media just a fad? Part I

September is on the calendar and school back in session.  While enjoying the sunshine by the lake, I still received a steady stream of questions about this crazy world of social media.   One of the more common ones – Is this thing here to stay? Is it worth investing marketing dollars in? Will it be a distant memory come next year or the year after?

My views are on the record but I think it is important highlight a number of points:

First, is social media marketing based on completely new principles?  No.  The fundamental principles of sales and marketing that have been with us since we started selling to each other still apply.  What social media does is provide us with a revolutionary set of tools to apply these principles with.  These tools deliver nuggets of timely relevant information – a perfect fit for the ADD society we currently live in.

Second, you don’t have to take my word for the impact social media and networks are having.  You need simply look around you.  What other companies in history have accomplished what Facebook, LinkedIn, or Groupon have in the same amount of time?  Many other companies over the years have also had a great impact, but none that fast.  This does not mean that these companies will be around forever but the speed at which users have adopted their services is nothing short of astounding.

I’ve heard it said in the past by business experts that really successful companies are great for a generation and then begin to fade or have less impact .  It is possible,  given the speed at which some social media/networking companies have grown, that they may also see their influence diminish faster.  Assuming that’s right, does that mean you should keep your company out of the social media world for the next few years and wait until it all shakes out?  Good luck with that.

Third, you can also take a look at recent studies from respected organizations to get a third party view of where the social media world is at.  In my next post I will give you some highlights of a recent study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

In the meantime, for the latest on social media and Web marketing for corporations follow me on Twitter at  

Go Mobile or Go Home

A recent study covered by the tech site Mashable indicates that consumers are now spending more time on mobile apps than the Web. In June, consumers spent 81 minutes per day using mobile apps, compared to 74 minutes of Web surfing (see chart below).   This change in user behaviour is further confirmed by a recent report by Mary Meeker, a partner at the legendary venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which found that for the first time combined tablet and smartphone shipments eclipsed those of desktops and notebooks.  All this data also backs Wired Magazines’ article last year “The Web is Dead”, which predicted that apps would soon overtake the Web.

What does that mean for your company? If you’ve developed and implemented a mobile strategy, you are well positioned to benefit from this coming shift.  If you have started to give some thought  to this and you move the process into high gear, you should be OK as well.  If you’ve done neither, you better drop everything else and make this your top priority.  Now.

Will mobile rule everything? No.  But a significant segment of your current audience and your future one will spend an increasing amount of their time on their mobile devices.  The question all companies have to answer is whether not they will be able to serve and create value on the devices and media on which their customers choose to spend their time.

You can find a links to the reports mentioned above here:
Mobile Apps Put the Web in Their Rear-view Mirror
Top 10 Mobile Internet Trends



Goupon Groupoff – Part II

In the first part of this post we established that all is well for Groupon.  Are the merchants using the service enjoying similar success?  By the company’s sheer growth, the answer would seem to be a resounding “yes” but it is a little more complicated than that.  The cost to the merchant who signs up for a Groupon deal, after taking into account the coupon discount and Groupon’s share, can be pretty steep. 

Let’s look at this in concrete terms:  assume Mikey’s Kona Coffee Emporium is offering $40 worth of wholesome Hawaiian beans for $20 dollars (minimum participation is 10).  Two hundred people take up the offer, paying Groupon a total of $4,000.  Groupon keeps $2,000 and $2,000 goes to Mikey’s Kona Coffee Emporium.  So we just sold $8,000 worth of beans (200 x $40 coupons) and collected $2,000.  As it turns out, most merchants make no money on the Groupon experience. BUT they do get is exposure to a large number of potential new customers. 

The challenge in the model is that many smaller merchants, as well as some larger ones, may not have the skill set to convert this rain shower of mostly first-time customers into repeat customers, let alone lifetime ones.  That, in my view, is one of the challenges facing the company on a go forward basis.  Will merchants that use it once or twice without getting repeat business come back? Remains to be seen.  The key for Groupon is to make sure it helps merchants build relationships and engage the customers brought on by the coupons.  If it can do that well, the go public valuation mentioned above can turn out to be cheap.
So what is it the take away? If you are considering a Groupon deal (or one by the many competitors that have popped up) make sure you do the following:

1.    Crunch the numbers – what exactly is this going to cost per potential new customer (you may also want to re-read the blog post on Metrics at
2.    What is your average customer’s lifetime value? 
3.    What information on the coupon buyers, if any does, does Groupon (or other providers) give you at the end of the promotion?  Note:  Some of them may give precious little, not even an email address. 
4.    It is incumbent upon you (especially in light of 3 above) to collect as much information on the coupon presenting customers.  Do everything you can to get an email address – that will present your best chance to convert the coupon buyer into a repeat customer.  No email address – your  product or service better be ranked in Zagat’s to bring them back without further marketing.
5.    Have a follow up campaign ready to go no later than  2 days after the first visit.

Follow these tips and chances are the group of potential new customers you just spent money and resources on will not group off.

Building Brands and Booking Business with Facebook

When it comes to leveraging social networks for building your brand and generating leads, Facebook has not typically been the first site that comes to mind.  That honour usually went to LinkedIn and small business-focused Networks. Well, the times they are a’ changing. Facebook is increasingly becoming the focus for companies and professionals who are looking to leverage its fast growing user base, currently pegged at 600 million users. If you’d like to learn how to use Facebook for business, here are some good links collected by the smart folks at Mashable.

·  Essential Apps for Building Your Brand’s Facebook Page

·  Elements of a Successful Facebook Fan Page

These links should provide you with a good starting point for a Facebook campaign. Please share any experiences your company has had with Facebook in the comment box below.


Is having 600 million friends a good thing?

Some of the greatest challenges our clients face today include managing their employees’ use of social networks and enacting social media policies that work in the real world.

Crossing the line between the personal and the professional happens in the click of a mouse and most often, in my opinion, on Facebook.  This largest, and Oscar bound, of social networks began primarily as a gathering of folks looking up, and connecting with, school and summer camp chums.  Businesses soon realized the potential and started to get in on the action with corporate Facebook pages.

The most important means of getting yourself noticed on Facebook is by having lots of friends and being “liked” by lots of people – just like in high school.  Natuarally, companies figured out that the best way to build their Facebook presence was by “friending” their employees – one big happy family, right?  Not quite.  Although Facebook is fairly easy to use, it also makes it easy to forget who all of these newfound friends are.  This can prove to be a challenge when one of these friends is your boss.  For one of the epic Facebook exchanges between an employer and an employee – click here (I would have replicated it in the post but this is a family blog).

Let me be clear. I believe that a corporate Facebook page can have a profoundly positive impact on your business.  The wrong approach, in my view, adopted by numerous companies, has been to block Facebook in the workplace.  This solution is both counterproductive and unworkable.   It takes most or all of your front line team (your employees) off the social media playing field, and they can all still use Facebook outside the office.  Sensible social media policies coupled with employee training are a better answer. For Social Media Training information click here.

For the latest and greatest in the world of Web and Social Media, follow me on Twitter at

Social influence – Do you have any? Does your company? Does your Boss?

While many of our  clients are starting to leverage the power of social media for their companies, some are further down the path then others.  The ultimate test for effective use of social media is whether it influences opinion, propels action and engages the intended  audience.  The question then becomes: can you measure social influence? The answer is yes and it’s called the Klout Score (, defined as the “measurement of your online influence.  The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.  The final Klout Score is a representation of how successful a person is at engaging their audience and how big of an impact their messages have on people.”  When you go to, enter you organization’s name, your name,or your CEO’s name in the box provided and get your score.

Check out these “5 lessons from business leaders on social media marketing” –