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Online Brand Engagement: Is it worth it?

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In this digital world, many companies and brands are online: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. When Web 2.0 first emerged, it was all the rage! If you weren’t online, then it was thought that you weren’t engaging your audience.

As Web 2.0 has become the norm, companies still want to engage their audience online. But, why?! There’s no proof that social engagement translates to dollars. I’ve always believed that “liking” a brand on Facebook or following them on Twitter means nothing because I’m going to support them regardless of my social engagement.  An article in AdAge, titled Even Sexy Brands Struggle with Low Engagement on Facebook, on February 28th supports my skepticism.

The article says that “less than 1% of fans of the 200 biggest brands on Facebook actually engage”. This statistic is not surprising to me. If you’re like me, you may like a brand on Facebook or Twitter, but you rarely keep up with their postings. While I have no concrete evidence, I wouldn’t be surprised if people just “liked” or “followed” a brand just because they are loyal to the brand. As a marketer, I “like” brands online, but I support them in stores; I don’t engage with them online. Why? Because I’ve always liked the brand or company and me “liking” or “following” them won’t change that. And I will always be loyal to them because I’ve developed a good relationship with the brand offline, in more traditional ways.

A lot of companies feel that they have to be online to have that engagement, but I think companies and brands forget that there are other engagement opportunities, with greater impact, than following a status update or a tweet. Another factor that brands need to keep in mind when entering into social media is the target audience. Depending upon the target audience’s age group will determine the amount of online engagement you will receive.

Back to my earlier statement, how does a brand’s “likes” or “follows” translate into dollars? To my knowledge, there aren’t any measurement tools that prove that “likes” or “follows” increases sales.

In business, it all comes down to dollars and cents and brands need to determine which Web 2.0 tools and other marketing vehicles will give them the greatest return on marketing investment. At this time, there’s no proof that social media fits the bill. Maybe I’m a skeptic, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

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Online Brand Engagement: IS

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That’s A Wrap!

Thanks for visiting this blog, which was updated throughout the Summer of 2010 by the class participants of the Global Marketing In the Social Media Era communications course at Georgetown University.

This blog will remain live as an archive, but we’re done posting and there won’t be any new posts on this blog moving forward.  Stay tuned for another summer of global thinking from students of this program starting in June of 2011.

What Matters?

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A common thread I have seen throughout several speakers in today’s TED Conference is focused on “What Matters.”  From business to personal, this question is prevalent.

Today’s first speaker, Rory Sutherland, identified that it is the small things that matter for business.  He even suggested there be someone identified in organizations dubbed the Chief detail officer whose duty is to find the small things that can transform an everyday product/experience into something unique.

Rive said the often forgotten hour of 4 a.m. could have shaped history through a series of consequences.

Adam Sadowsky, talking about building OK Go music video ‘This too shall pass’, went on to say “the small stuff stinks,” but it is important.

But, the one who “hit the nail on the head” was Chip Conley.  Looking deeply into why certain businesses could maintain success, specifically through the lows of the dot-com burst, Conley came up with a Maslow-like hierarchal business model based on happiness.

Sticking on the small things, Conley traveled to Bhutan in 1972, to delve more into his philosophy.  Bhutan, a small country nestled between surging powers China and India, has awaken interest in 40 countries to look at measuring happiness versus traditional Gross National Product.

Conley summarized his presentation by saying that focusing on a habitat for happiness can be the basis for a good business model.  Inspired employees + profits = success.

In today’s age of social media, amplifying your inspired employees has been a big success for many companies.  Encouraging employees to talk about their work environment, products, e.g. can be the difference between a mediocre company and one that is admired and respected.  By counting on your people, instead of counting on the numbers, the people can take care of the latter.

Video uploads, tweets, Facebook posts, personal blogs are all ways inspired empolyees have brought their companies to the forefront of their industries.

From my personal point-of-view, Conley is absolutely right.  We need to focus more on wanting what we have rather than focusing on what we want.

Creating a 21st Century Business

Rory Sutherland, Dan Pink and Johanna Blakely are three TED speakers make us question our assumptions on what makes a successful business today.

Sweat the small stuff. According to Rory Sutherland, companies nowadays do the big stuff magnificently well, the small stuff are done magnificently badly because the people who are in charge of doing the small stuff are preoccupied. However, we should look at the things that do not cost a lot of money but has a big effect on our business. Sutherland suggest a Chief Detail Officer, ministry of details to

Use intrinsic motivation for results. According to Dan Pink, rewards narrow our focus and concentrate our mind–works for straightforward problems, clear set of rules. But not for complex problem, “if then rewards” don’t work. Providing employees autonomy, mastery and purpose is what would motivate today’s employees.

Openess and sharing fosters creativity and innovation. Johanna Blakley talked about how not having copyright protection actually improves creativity and innovation.

These ideas are great for building the 21st century business.

Sadowsky’s Metaphor for Life

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Adam Sadowsky, an entrepreneur and former actor, spoke on TED TV about his experience in creating the ever-complicated contraption in the band Ok Go’s music video, “This Too Shall Pass.”

He, along with his Syyn Labs team, created the impressive Rube Goldberg Machine, which (in his words) is an “over-engineered complicated machinery designed to accomplish a simple task.” Think  “Beauty and the Beast” and the wood-chopping machine that Belle’s father, Maurice, traveled through the woods to enter into the contest at the fair.

Sadowsky’s machine aimed to do a few things, with the following guidelines: No magic; Band integration; Machine action should follow song feeling; Make use of space (10k square foot warehouse); Messy; Machine starts the music, synched to the rhythm, hit specific beats, and ends precisely on time; and (most importantly) … All in one shot!

It took about 85 takes to shoot the video – only 3 of which were successful. Many things were destroyed in creating this music video (e.g., pianos, televisions, and even shoes). I especially enjoyed Sadowsky’s metaphor between the creation of this music video with LIFE LESSONS:

–       Small stuff stinks – but we need to start/focus on it. I can’t count the number of times I found myself complaining or stressing about the small things in life… then quickly caught myself and focused on overall perspective and the positive.

–       Planning is very important. I’m usually good about this, but usually find myself improvising and doing things very spontaneously.

–       Put reliable stuff last. In the video, Sadowsky put the trivial lego toy car first, and the real car last. In life, I try to generally get the more difficult tasks out of the way earlier in the day or week so I’m not stuck stressing out by the end.

–       Life can be messy. Stress.  Finances. Family. Death. Life is messy just like the many things we experience within it.

–       Many difficult moments in building the machine. Our lives are a series of difficult (and beautiful) moments.

–       This too shall pass. One of my favorite quotes. Great to remind myself of this when going through tough times.

One final thing that Sadowsky forgot to mention is that, much like the music video, we only have one chance at life. Let’s make the most of today in our personal and professional lives! 🙂

Inspire & Motivate Employees By Prioritizing Happiness

At the Ted Live Event, Chip Conley argued that companies should prioritize happiness over making money. Similarly, Dan Pink argued that the “if-then” system of motivating employees does not work, rather, giving them autonomy, mastery, and purpose does. And, numerous studies, such as this HP one, shows that all three of those things in some way contributes to creating a happy employee. Happiness is global so any company, entity, or organization can apply this.