The JRT Agency Continues Growth with Addition of Veteran Writer and Brand Strategist

The JRT Agency today announced the addition of Loretta Martinez, seasoned writer and brand strategist, to its team.

Martinez brings a multi-faceted scope of journalistic integrity into the areas of marketing, advertising, CRM, SEO, technical, conversational and instructional design. Her 20-year career showcases extensive work developed for the major agencies of Campbell-Ewald, Wunderman Cato Johnson, BBDO, and also client brands including automotive OEMs, Whirlpool, Century 21 and Pizza Hut. Martinez is also a respected brand strategist in the Metro-Detroit advertising community.

“Loretta is one of those versatile players you can put anywhere,” said JRT Chief Creative Officer Terry Ayrault. “Her superior writing skills and strategic thinking bring added value to our team.”

Martinez is the recipient of several industry awards including Detroit Creative Directors Council CADDY Awards, Direct Marketing Association DMAD Awards and TARGET Awards. She is a graduate of the University of Detroit-Mercy.

The JRT Agency is a marketing communications firm that is pioneering an industry revolution as Creative Scientists. Driven by the power of everyday invention, this unique group of talented individuals is known for its strategic, cost-effective solutions to tough client challenges. JRT’s client base ranges across multiple verticals encompassing both B2B and B2C communications. These include, but are not limited to: automotive, energy, food and beverage, historical organizations, and consumer goods.

For more information visit: www.thejrtagency.com.

Digital Marketing Experts: It’s Time to Rethink How You Connect with Your Audience

By Daniel Lai

For many companies struggling to find their place in today’s digitally-driven world, lack of a clear marketing plan and failure to adapt to new platforms means getting left behind and losing business.

That was a key message marketing experts laid out to more than 200 attendees during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s first Digital Marketing Boot Camp last week at the College for Creative Studies. The event was sponsored by MLive and Motown Digital.

Sola Obayan, principal consultant at BTO Solutions and founder of the Social Media Association of Michigan, said at the heart of any good digital marketing strategy is understanding what a target audience wants and crafting that message to draw in potential customers to a company’s website.

“Oftentimes we get caught up in the ‘what’ or ‘how’ message when really we should start with the ‘why,’” she said, drawing on examples from companies like Hallmark.

The greeting card company reaps millions of dollars every year by playing off of customers’ emotional response.

“Think about how you want your audience to feel when they engage with your brand,” Obayan said. “By building that bond with your audience, you can drive action.”

Don’t Build Your House on Sand

Before a company jumps on the latest social media platforms, it must first take the time to invest in a user-friendly website. Two of the biggest “no-no’s” Obayan often sees from small and medium-sized businesses are confusing websites and stretching resources and messages across too many social media platforms, a phenomenon she called “shiny object syndrome.”

“Don’t build your house on sand,” Obayan said.

Michael Taylor II, creative partner for SS Digital Media, agreed that a company’s website is key.

“You have to do a good job of providing the customer with the content promised,” he said. “If you send someone to your website via social media, they shouldn’t have to spend time searching.”

Taylor was part of a panel of experts led by Eric Hultgren, director of marketing at MLive Media Group, that also included Lynn Haliburton, senior account executive at Marx Layne & Co., and Dan Fuoco, interactive marketing manager for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Hultgren said businesses must invest in websites that are mobile-friendly.

“If your brand is not here, you do not exist to the customer,” he told attendees, holding up his smartphone.

Fuoco said platforms like Facebook and Twitter are also good to promote a company’s news coverage, or “earned media” in order to increase brand awareness. However, he stressed that the platform a company chooses to use should correlate to its message goals and target audience.

“If you aren’t posting minute-by-minute updates than perhaps Twitter is not the space for you to play in,” he said.

Drawing on examples from her client, McDonald’s, and its use of social media to promote the limited release of its signature Big Mac sauce in certain stores across the country, Haliburton said social media can be a good tool to “shock and delight” loyal customers.

Putting Humans Back in the Social Media Driver’s Seat

The most important advice of the day came from Marcus Burrell and Eric Thomas, senior partners at Saga MKTG.

Thomas said too many businesses forget to talk like humans when engaging with customers online, a phenomenon that can have dire consequences for brand positioning.

“People often forget the ‘social’ part of social media. Don’t be afraid to engage and start a story with your followers. What do you want people to know about you or your brand?” Thomas said. “The most important thing we can do as digital marketers is speak to and with people, not as a robot.”

Understanding your audience and pushing out messages that connect with them is critical, Thomas said, pointing to the success of President Trump’s Twitter growth during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“He speaks in a way that makes people want to listen. He has mastered his digital messages for his demographic,” he said.

Finally, Thomas said when communicating with customers on any digital platform, “don’t tell stories you wouldn’t want to hear.”

To read more digital marketing tips, check out the Digital Marketing Boot Camp blog page.

Daniel Lai is a communications specialist and copywriter at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

Digital Marketing Boot Camp: Lessons Learned to Connect with Your Online Audience

By Nick Mattar

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s inaugural Digital Marketing Boot Camp, held on Feb. 15 at the College for Creative Studies’ A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, brought together more than 200 attendees for a half-day of dialogue on improving the digital marketing footprint of their businesses.

Keynote speakers and panelists provided attendees with recommendations and to-dos that could be implemented immediately.

View key takeaways from the event below and check out the Chamber’s recap of the day.

The Evolving Social Media Landscape and What It Means for Your Business

  • Before embarking on a major social media campaign, consider the overarching “why” as much as the tactical “what” and “how.”
  • Don’t fall for “shiny object syndrome,” which is the desire to have the latest and greatest tech or social media capabilities (i.e. don’t rush your company onto Snapchat if you cannot answer the “why.”)
  • Your company’s website is its home – it must facilitate the campaign’s end goals, so it needs to be user-friendly and mobile responsive.
  • Instagram is the social media platform with the highest engagement rate, whereas Facebook reaches the lowest percentage of followers.
  • Email marketing is the digital marketing platform with the highest conversion rate, such as sales, event registrations or anything else that involves turning a lead into a customer.

Trends and Tips to Improve Your Digital Marketing Strategy

  • Your company’s message should be adjusted to resonate with the audience that is being targeted.
  • When it comes to social publishing tools, do not “set and forget” but instead keep an eye on your posts at all times to monitor conversations and remain authentic.
  • Data and research are necessary to evaluate user behavior; your (the employee’s) experience is not the same as the user’s experience.
  • “Dark social” media is the social media conversation occurring without a hashtag or is otherwise difficult to find – more than 70 percent of your brand’s discussion could occur in this space.
  • If you are targeting millennials, you should probably be on Snapchat.
  • To combat Facebook’s decreasing engagement, set a budget for your Facebook page rather than depending solely on organic engagement.

Putting the Human Touch Back Into Your Online Presence

  • A brand’s online presence is a reflection of the brand’s story, thus it should not be solely focused on selling products and making money.
  • Successful online brands and names are rooted in the ability of viewers and customers to relate to the brand.
  • Your social media posts should not always focus on selling products, but rather writing materials that your audience wants to read.
  • Social media is the essence of speaking – use your voice and don’t try to “deliver” the information.

Looking for more facts and analytics to bolster your digital marketing strategy? Check out MLive’s Digital Marketing eBook, produced exclusively for the Digital Marketing Boot Camp.

Plus, learn more tips and read a full recap of the Chamber’s Digital Marketing Boot Camp here.

Nick Mattar is the director of marketing at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Can You Feel the Love? 5 Ways to Get Your Business Out of the Friend Zone.

By Sammie Schneider
Social Media Marketing Coordinator
AGA Productions

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

It’s that time of year again. Valentine’s Day is here, seeking to remind us all to love each other. Some are already in relationships, expecting cheap boxes of those Russell Stover assorted chocolates. Others are not quite there and depend on this day to push past the Friend Zone.

emoji faces - Digital Marketing Boot CampBut what does this have to do with digital media and business? Well, it turns out brands experience the same effects of Valentine’s Day. Brands are constantly in the Friend Zone with potential consumers until a contract is signed. Every company wants to share the sweet, cream-filled delight of loyalty with their consumers, but doesn’t want to take the cheap Russell Stover route.

Social media platforms are the key to being the Lady Godiva of your streets. To be bold, modest, and leave a legacy. I’m not suggesting you ride horseback and naked through your town to prove your allegiance to the people of your community. Just be authentic and stand by what you claim. After all, a brand is a promise to a consumer. Make sure your social media reflects and enhances that promise.


MORE: Learn more about improving your relationship with clients at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15


That being said, here are the five steps to help you move toward a relationship with a client.

1. Make a confident approach

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If business with this client is your goal, then approach them confidently and be ready with reasons why it will work and why you are the best option for them. Don’t just stand by, frustrated, as you watch said client “date” another company. Think about how many relationships start on social media. Someone “likes” an Instagram post and suddenly sparks are flying. How is this any different when it comes to business profiles? Win them over through social interaction. Figure out your brand’s voice and make it personable and honest. Be inclusive and open, whether this means posting a “selfie” at an event, or reaching out to possible clients in the area by “liking” their photos or commenting on posts.

2. Evaluate perspective

Ever think about someone close to you and wonder why you’ve never dated? You start going through a mental list of pros and cons and base it off of what you want, and never look at things from their point of view? If you’re a business who is only focused on superficial commerce, the likely result is a friends-with-benefits deal. Maybe you’re into that. But chances are your customers want a real relationship. They want someone they can trust with their finances and values. Knowing what your target audience wants will lead to reliable, long-term investment. Social media acts as a great resource in finding out just what it is that your consumers want.

Host a Twitter chat answering questions, or craft regular Twitter polls to accrue valuable and instant feedback. Many media outlets allow for businesses to build a customer service program with listed hours of availability dedicated to speaking directly to people. Consumers want to be a part of the brands they value; they want to be able to shape them. It’s not just about what you want.

3. Don’t play the sex card

This isn’t just about the appeal anymore. Consumers want transparency; they want to know the inside you. They care more about the intentions of the brand than your Instagram aesthetic and wordy, fluffed up mission statement. Take this time to post behind the scenes moments of a typical work day, or post a picture of your view from the office window. You can be creative in the ways you execute your purpose and promote your products, but there’s no need to pass yourself off as something you’re not. Build your brand organically without attempting to imitate others.

4. The “C” word

Commitment. The only word that might be scarier than that “love” one that saturates all of our timelines and feeds around Valentine’s Day. So how can you reinforce the commitment between you and your consumers? It takes time to cultivate strong relationships. If they’re not ready to take the plunge after your first interaction can you really blame them? There’s no need to trick them into purchasing packages they don’t actually want, or to give false information that will lock your consumers into an unchanging contract. Sit down with your potential clients, ask them what they want out of your relationship, and provide flexibility so that your relationship can grow and evolve as the company does.

5. Be persistent

Your client may need time to process this information; no pressure, and no demands for an answer from your end. There’s a difference between persistence and pressure. Use Facebook Connections to target those who might be on the fence about an upcoming event. Send a brief, light reminder encouraging them to attend. Use Instagram Insights to learn about your followers so you can tailor your content and post at the best times. Use software such as Hootsuite to manage Twitter and Instagram profiles. With this, you can post based on analytics so that your followers have a better chance of seeing your content more frequently. You can also rotate ads every three to five days for fresh, but effective marketing. This allows for persistence on a more subtle level, without direct pressure.

They have the information needed. You’ve given your pitch. Continue fostering that relationship by keeping up the friendly social media connectivity and being genuine in your posts. If a consumer sees the true face behind a company, they will be more comfortable getting to know you better. And you will increase the possibility of a relationship.

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Read more about customer relationships:

Think Like a Customer

 

5 Keys to Building a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy

By Robert Courtney Collins
Founder
Robert Courtney & Associates – A Boutique Branding Agency

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

Having a digital marketing strategy is paramount to survival in today’s business climate. While many people use social media platforms daily, very few understand how to leverage these platforms and reach maximum potential. Sometimes a strategy may appear to be effective, but without exercising certain building blocks you’ll likely find your strategy breaking down. Here are 5 principles every digital strategist must use to build a solid foundation and launch a successful marketing campaign.

1. Identify Key Channels

Everybody should have a primary platform and a secondary platform that’s properly maintained every day. Depending on your industry it’s very important to pick the platform that matches your audience best. If you’re in an industry that produces great visuals you will want to use Instagram. If you’re attempting to reach a younger audience, you will want to use Snapchat. Facebook should be everyone’s primary or secondary platform because of its reach and amount of active users.

2. Create Quality Content

Never shortchange your prospective audience with content that isn’t the best quality you can produce. Whether it’s photos or videos the quality of your content speaks to who you are as a brand. Content should also be informative or creative to make your brand stand above your competition.


MORE: Hear more about building up your digital marketing strategy at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


3. Don’t Sell, Be Authentic

Traditional business practices have conditioned us to do the hard sell and pitch our product. But, with good planning, research and a service or product you believe in you can be authentic and let the selling happen naturally. Communicate your core message properly, passionately and precisely and nobody will be wondering what you’re selling or if you’re selling — they’ll be thinking about buying.

4. Establish Brand Consistency

Brand consistency is about making sure your name, logo, tag line and hashtags stay uniform across all digital platforms. Because the digital landscape is filled with different mediums, platforms, and networks bombarding millions of people every day the most effective companies know there’s an amazing power to connect consumers to a brand when marketing campaigns are easily identifiable and connectivity strategies are consistent. A digital marketing strategist would do well to examine all social platforms connected to a business to make sure brand consistency is in tack.

5. Be an Expert in Your Field

Being an expert means you not only have a deep knowledge of your own business, consumer needs and industry trends but that you are constantly analyzing your competition. When building your own marketing plan it’s essential to know what your competition is doing so you can decide exactly where to channel your digital marketing resources. The best digital strategies are often directly connected to the most well researched, and educated ideas.

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Radio Steps Up in the Digital Age

By Kevin Ketels 
President
Kyrris Marketing

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

domMedia fragmentation and digital distribution have dramatically changed the way consumers listen to music and talk radio.  In my interview with radio executive Dom Theodore, he addresses why these changes took place and how broadcasters are leveraging digital technology to help compete.

How has the radio media landscape evolved since you and I were kids in the 1970’s?

Radio is a much more sophisticated business than it was in the 70’s. Back then, FM was just finding its footing, and most of the revenue was made on the AM dial. As the audience migrated to FM, and the FCC changed signal-spacing requirements, more FM stations popped up creating more of a splintered audience. Then, in the mid-1990’s, the FCC changed ownership rules and essentially lifted the cap on the number of stations that can be owned by one company in the same market. This brought in tons of new Wall street investors to radio, and as traditional broadcasters sold stations to mega-companies, these new owners focused on cost efficiency and finding ways to operate with fewer people and more syndicated programming. Then came the ‘digital disruption’ that made so many new audio entertainment technologies available to consumers, and you now have a much more splintered audience than ever before.

How does radio compete in an era of consumer media fragmentation?

It starts with recognizing that radio is no longer just radio – we are in the ‘audio entertainment’ business. There are more content delivery systems than ever before, but the secret to effectively competing in this new world is to focus on the actual ‘delivery’ – the content – and take an agnostic approach to ‘delivery system.’ This means that radio personalities need to be multi-platform, and available in both real-time during their live shows, and on-demand anytime through other platforms. They also need a social media presence and content that extends far beyond their radio show. But it all starts with a great talent.


MORE: Hear more about podcasting and radio at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Can you give us some examples of digital tools that are now being used in the industry to better connect talent, programming and/or advertisers with your audience? 

Terrestrial radio stations absolutely must have a presence across digital platforms – and most savvy personalities are using social media – particularly Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat – to better engage with audiences. Also, the audience expects content to be available on-demand, so you’ll find podcasts from your favorite radio personalities on iTunes, Soundcloud, etc. Radio stations also typically employ online research methods to determine what songs to play – often soliciting their listener’s opinions online and using that data to determine programming decisions. And of course, we use digital advertising campaigns to drive audience back to the radio station for contesting, special programming, etc.

And there are plenty of radio station audio streams available online, in addition to internet-only channels… like my own ‘The Blaze Radio network’ – which is Glenn Beck’s single biggest affiliate – producing a bigger audience than any one of our terrestrial radio affiliates. As the ‘connected car’ becomes a reality, consumers will soon have access to every streaming radio station in their vehicle. This will be a game-changer, and will allow real-time audience analysis and audience reaction measurement… what is now the broadcast business will really become a narrowcast business with very individualized media experiences.

Kevin Ketels is President of Kyrris Marketing, a Detroit marketing and communications agency, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. 

Read more from Kevin Ketels:

Don’t be a Social Media Bore

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Have we lost all sense of authenticity? Influencer marketing trumps passion for products

By Daniel Cherrin
Founder and CEO
North Coast Strategies 

I want Kylie Jenner to like my work as a PR professional and I want her to post it on Instagram.

jeansIt worked for Fashion Nova. Jenner, the youngest and most successful of the Kardashians, with her Kylie Cosmetic line, recently posted a picture (a pic for the Gen Y’rs) on Instagram (Insta for the Gen Y’rs) and simply said, “I love my Fashion Nova jeans,” gathering 2.2M likes.

Traditional media is great if you can get it and a good PR agency or publicist should have the relationships or wherewithal to help you determine what is news. However, influencers have followers and if they can promote your product on their Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter account, you will see visitors to your website spike.

Disney, BMW, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple are some of the most authentic brands according a recent article in Business Insider, but they too pay influencers to talk about them.

Adidas, for example, created a group of their own influencers, called the Tango Squads. These are groups of socially savvy 16-19-year-olds, in 15 select markets, creating content around soccer. According to Marketing Week, “Each group is managed by an Adidas in-house team, who share exclusive content and new products with the group, before they are even unveiled on Adidas’ Twitter or Facebook channels.”


MORE: Hear more about social media marketing strategies and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Influencer marketing goes beyond Adidas hiring Kanye West or Puma hiring Rihanna, or even Dunkin Donuts tapping Vine sensation Logan Paul to promote a donut.

This makes my job in PR much more difficult as well. Newsrooms are shuttering and the journalists that remain are working on multiple stories and being asked to post their stories first on Facebook and Twitter, even cover the event live using Facebook Live.

The trick with influencers is to find the ones who have significant followers, within the 10,000 to 100,000 range, but who also still illicit good audience engagement that drives results.

You can look for a celebrity and pay big bucks by working through their agents, you can work directly through the celebrity if you have the relationship, or you can also work through an influencer agency to find the right influencer for you.

In working with a celebrity or other influencer, you want to research their background, interest, and passions.  Make sure there is some connection between your product and the celebrity before contacting their agent. To gain an influencer’s attention, follow these four tips:

  • Find the hook. Make the connection and make it personal. Influencers are constantly being inundated with pitches. In your pitch, let them know you follow them and give an example of why you were attracted to them. This includes why they are the perfect fit for your product and how their followers could benefit from it.
  • Find the money. Influencers make a living by getting paid to promote products, so be prepared to budget for influencer marketing, but feel free to negotiate fees creatively.
  • Be prepared to give up editorial control. Influencers want to do it their way and don’t want you to tell them what to say or how to say it.
  • Know the law. There are laws now directing influencers to provide certain disclosures. Depending on the industry, such as medical devices, food and cosmetics, additional disclosures and diligence are required.

In advising companies today it is important for PR agencies to tell their clients that it is in their best interest to develop their own content and find the influencers to broadcast their message. Whether you pay them or not, it is important to find the right people to talk about you and your product.

Although I cannot offer you jeans, I encourage you to share this article, to tweet it, post it and tag me with any post at @DanCherrin (on Twitter, Instagram).

DANIEL CHERRIN | is the founder and CEO of North Coast Strategies and a partner with M10 Marketing, an integrated marketing agency. Through advocacy, collaboration and strategic relationships, Daniel Cherrin has built a successful career, as an attorney, lobbyist and public relations professional. This includes serving as the Communications Director for the City of Detroit and Press Secretary to the Mayor of Detroit, federal lobbyist for the Detroit Regional Chamber and the owner of an independent public affairs consultancy. Daniel believes the way forward is to engage! Through strategic communications, strategic relationships and something valuable to share, Daniel works to protect and enhance the reputation of organizations and people in the public eye. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCherrin or www.NorthCoastStrategies.com.

Read more from Daniel Cherrin:

Are you listening?

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How to Build a 24/7 Social Media Customer Service Program When You’re Not a Big Brand

By Steve Poole
Digital Marketing Manager
Michigan First Credit Union

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

In today’s world of instant gratification, consumers expect immediate and effective service when reaching out in any channel, including social media. Brands like Zappos, XBox and Delta offer dedicated support channels and teams to provide assistance 24/7. But, what if you’re not a big brand with fat pockets? How do you build a customer service program that scales to meet the needs of consumers 24/7, knowing that time, budget and resources are limited?

Social Media Marketing Meets 24/7 Customer Service

In 2014, Michigan First Credit Union rolled out a new program for our members to connect to a live customer service representative 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Dubbed 365 Live, this program added horsepower to our call center operations, ensuring that customers could call at any time and receive an immediate response and resolution to their issue. Our marketing team’s social media efforts needed to scale to meet this heightened level of service.


MORE: Hear more about social media marketing strategies and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


We already knew that social media customer service doesn’t live within a “9-5” schedule and our marketing team was already responding to opportunities and issues outside of traditional business hours. Now, we were being challenged to create a seamless experience for our customers regardless of the channel or the time of day. Here are some of the lessons our team learned along the way:

1. Gather your stakeholdersIt sounds elementary, but ensuring that all the right parties have a seat at the table right from the beginning is absolutely essential. Departments we spoke with included human resources, IT, marketing, risk/compliance and our existing call center. We also needed buy-in from our executive team to ensure top-level support.

Gathering these teams together allowed everyone to share their questions, concerns and comments. Additionally, it allowed all teams to play a role in setting the strategy and standards for the program. Standards focused on a set response time for customer service requests via social media channels and processes for managing customer inquiries. For example, our call center determined one hour is the appropriate response time for non-call requests. While we almost always answer social media comments and inquiries much faster than one hour during business hours, we needed to determine how this service promise would impact our ability to answer questions and concerns during weekends and evenings.

2. Determine who “owns” the social customer service program

Traditionally, stand-alone customer service departments have handled all customer requests via phone, email or contact forms. However, as everyone that works in social media can attest to, the volume of customer service inquiries via social channels is increasing. This creates the question: who is responsible for those requests? Should the call center team be trained to handle social channels or does the marketing team extend their reach to monitor social channels 24/7? Is it a hybrid approach?

Determining ownership can set the direction for the social customer service program. In many cases, the program can be rolled out in phases. Initially, marketing receiving additional resources to monitor at later hours. Soon we will begin a project to train call center teams on how to monitor inbound inquiries during non-traditional business hours, eventually moving the service requests away from marketing.

3. Address any security and compliance issues right from the start

If you’re already leveraging social media for customer service, there is a good chance that certain processes are in place to ensure customer concerns are addressed quickly and archived for reference. But what happens when the customer service team “leaves” the office and answers tweets, Facebook posts, reviews, etc. from home? Do processes need to be changed?

In regulated industries, such as banking and finance, it is imperative that everyone involved in customer service issues is aware of current industry standards for compliance and security. For example, we can only answer very general customer service questions via a public forum such as Twitter or Facebook. If someone wants to know what time our locations are open, we can absolutely help them. If a customer has a question about a specific account, we need to take the conversation off-line and interact with them in a secure way. That also means that certain types of situations may not be able to be addressed while on the go and via mobile devices. While marketers are often quick to criticize brands that reply to customer inquiries with almost robotic responses, it’s often missed that companies within certain industries are required to respond a specific way. Often times, we tailor generic, yet personalized responses to customer service issues on social media to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations. What is most important is the offline follow up in these situations.

Another common issue with scaling a social media customer program is how to deal with remote access. For example, remote access to client information is often limited due to the sensitive nature of certain documents. Marketing can often be one of the teams with restricted access. In our situation, the marketing team regularly found itself answering customer inquiries outside of the office. A valuable best practice is to flesh out how certain types of customer issues are handled when addressed inside the office and from a remote destination. That way, all parties involved know the appropriate responses to different situations.

Many brands are often operating within a strictly defined box and cannot step outside without running into security and privacy issues. There is little flexibility in these areas and social media programs must be built and adjusted accordingly.

A common theme found across these lessons learned is that planning to scale a social media customer service program involves more than simply managing channels. There are certain steps required to not only better service customers, but also protect the brand and ensure digital efforts are in alignment across the company. Being efficient with available resources, ensuring stakeholders are engaged, addressing compliance issues early and assigning ownership of channels will lead to a smoother, more impactful rollout of your 24/7 social media customer service program.

Steve is the Digital Marketing Manager for Michigan First Credit Union and its affiliates Michigan First Mortgage and Michigan First Insurance Agency. Steve oversees the social media channels, web strategy, digital advertising, in-branch digital, email campaigns and more. Michigan First Credit Union is one of the State of Michigan’s only state-wide credit unions and is amongst the first in the country to offer a 24×7/365 live and local call center with online chat and social media customer service.

Steve’s expertise lies in social media, content marketing and drafting astonishingly mediocre fantasy sports teams.

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Don’t be a Social Media Bore

By Kevin Ketels
President
Kyrris Marketing

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

We all know that you don’t give somebody the hard sell moments after meeting them. “Hi, my name is Joe. Would you like to buy my premium lead generation software?” No. First, you get to know them, then build a relationship and trust.

Social media is the same way. Most people don’t use Facebook or Twitter to look for new products or services. Instead, most people use social media to connect with others, laugh, learn something new or be inspired. Social media is like a giant cocktail party. People gravitate towards the funny, light and interesting banter; they avoid the dry, stuffy or boring person just talking about themselves.

Your goal is to create a social media presence for your company that interacts with people in an entertaining and informative, but not “salesy” way. If all you do is give them the hard sell, they will tune you out. They will never see your content and you certainly won’t engage them in a way that best takes advantage of the interactive social media format.

Find your company’s online personality that reflects your brand, audience and the values/beliefs of the people who work there, and then create content that reflects those attributes.


MORE: Hear more about social media marketing strategies and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Six ways to build your company’s social media personality

  • Post smart, thoughtful or funny content not directly related to your products.
  • Highlight the people at your company. Tell their story and share your humanity. People love to see others who have worked hard and succeeded. They also like to see those who care passionately about their work.
  • Share your insight. Help your audience learn something new. It can be related to your area of expertise or simply unique to the needs of your customers.
  • Demonstrate you are part of the community. Show how you care about more than just the bottom line.
  • Interact with your customers and prospects. Show they are more than just a transaction by acknowledging their comments, responding and engaging.
  • Sell your stuff in a way that respects your online relationship. More than ever, customers don’t want to be sold. They want authenticity and meaning in their commercial relationships and purchases. You can do this by sharing benefits, demonstrating use and incorporating mentions of your product in ways that are smart, thoughtful or funny.

Here are some examples of my favorite corporate social media accounts that have developed their own online personalities: Taco Bell, Dove, Denny’s, Charmin, Old Spice, Staples and Curiosity Rover.

If you create compelling social media content, it not only creates a viral social media effect, but programs like Facebook will show content with high engagement to a larger audience. Conversely, if the engagement is low, the potential audience will be restricted.

Your social media personality should be like your smart, funny and handsome neighbor. You like and trust him. He sells insurance but doesn’t constantly ask you to buy it. He makes you laugh and he can laugh at himself. He lets you borrow his tools. He gives you gardening, and sometimes, insurance advice. You like and trust him. When it eventually comes time to make a decision about which insurance to purchase, you buy his product, because it feels comfortable and right.

Kevin Ketels is President of Kyrris Marketing, a Detroit marketing and communications agency, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. 

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More from Kevin Ketels: 

Navigating the Social Media Maze

Will LinkedIn Change the Gender Gap in Boards?

Will LinkedIn Change the Gender Gap in Boards?

By Brenda Meller (Zawacki)
AVP Marketing. Nonstop Marketer. Connector and LinkedIn Ambassador.
Walsh College

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

This month, I spent significant time researching board members for an MBA class assignment. As is the case with many boards, nearly every person on this company’s board was male, despite the fact that women are more than half the workforce, the breadwinner 53% of the time, and make 85% of household purchase decisions (Source: 3percentconf). During my research, I discovered that the younger board members (typically age 50 or younger) had the largest presence on LinkedIn.

It also made me realize that the more comfortable one is with embracing technology and sites like LinkedIn to share your information, the more likely you will be found by board search committees.

If you’re not active online and are named to a board, it’s common to find that you were referred by other board members. Knowing that like attracts like, and that boards historically have been predominately male, the likelihood is that when a board has an opening, the selection committee is going to suggest people that they know. If the company is in a male-dominated industry surrounded by other male leaders, it is likely that male board members will suggest other men in their network. They may be doing this without even realizing their gender bias, a term commonly called, “unconscious bias” (check out this Fuel Leadership video on Freep.com featuring Inforum’s Terry Barclay).

However, as I was conducting my research, I reflected on organizations like Inforum and Crain’s Detroit Business that are emphasizing the importance of gender-balanced boards and actively working to move the conversation and initiatives forward. Numerous studies show that gender-balanced boards improve a company’s bottom line. The word is getting out, and I believe it is going to reach a tipping point.


MORE: Hear more about utilizing LinkedIn’s resources and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Over time, it is natural to expect that the more women who are active on sites like LinkedIn will help to increase the likelihood that board search committees will find them when they are seeking to diversify their boards.

There is also talks of the retiring baby boomer generation, and the “silver tsunami” of management changes ahead of us in the next few decades (read the Huffington Post article by Meghan H. Biro).

Certainly, increasing your LinkedIn presence is one way towards a board seat. Within LinkedIn, you should also read about how LinkedIn is helping organizations find non-profit board members: https://nonprofits.linkedin.com/find-board-members.

Ladies seeking a board seat: are you active on LinkedIn? If not, perhaps it’s time to refresh your LinkedIn profile, and get ready for those future board position searches. Then, inform your trusted connections in board positions (both men and women) to alert you of any board opportunities that match your skill sets.

Gentlemen: do you consider yourself an advocate of women on boards? If so, you’re in the growing group of “manbassadors” who are critical to helping us achieve gender equality and thereby supporting your company or organization’s profitability (read the 3 Percent Co’s article about “manbassadors” to learn more).

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