The next time your boss insists you create a Foursquare scavenger hunt to make your brand “fun,” ask yourself who your audience is and what they’ll get out of the experience. Using location-based services such as Foursquare to build your brand is all about providing useful content like deals and offers, not games and status points, according to Geoff Ramsey, CEO and founder of eMarketer, who hosted a September 19 breakfast, “Location-Based Marketing: Driving Sales in a ‘What’s Around Me?’ World.”
According to Ramsey, eMarketer data show that Foursquare usage is leveling off and that gaming experiences on Foursquare “are getting old for consumers.” In fact, local check-in “is not the huge opportunity that the media was making it out to be.” His discussion suggests marketers need to first understand the audience for location-based services and provide valuable content they’ll care about. The hot areas of opportunity are geo-fencing (e.g., a clothing retailer on Michigan Avenue in Chicago offers you a deal on your smart phone as you stroll past the store on your way to lunch) and in-store (marketing to consumers as they use their mobile devices to browse the inventory in your physical store — and catching their attention with value-added services and deals that encourage immediate purchase).
Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler got it right. In their 2010 book Empowered, they argued the case for companies unleashing their employees as brand advocates especially through social media. (And they continue to discuss employee empowerment on their blog.) Progressive companies understand that building the corporate brand and investing in employee brands need not be mutually exclusive activities. Fortunately my employer iCrossing is one of those companies, as illustrated in two recently published blog posts about the value of employees as brand advocates.
In “How CMOs Can Empower Employees with Social Media Guidelines,” published April 4 on the iCrossing Great Finds blog, I discuss how social media guidelines can support, not restrict, employees as thought leaders and brand ambassadors. I cite the example of how iCrossing tripled the volume of employee blog contributions and boosted visits to our Great Finds blog by 74 percent in one year by helping employees find their social voices with guidelines (which we recently published). Our approach is to go beyond the predictable guideline do’s and don’ts and provide ideas for how employees can use social to speak to our audience of CMOs.
Meantime, in an April 6 Great Finds post, my colleague Nick Roshon asserts that “If Brands Are Publishers, Employees Are Authors” His post focuses on tools that brands and employees can employ to boost authorship authority (especially at a time when search engines like Google are increasingly rewarding content authority).
Nick asserts that CMOs need to “build up their employees as authors of thought leadership . . . Because Google and Bing are already rewarding content authors by making them more visible to search. As Google and Bing embrace technologies that reward the most prolific and authoritative content creators, CMOs that encourage employees to create thought leadership will build more visible and connected brands.
In other words: you can either ride a wave in the direction it is going or someone else will.
How well I remember being invited to participate in the newly launched Google+ in the summer of 2011. Right off the bat, Google Plus seemed different from Facebook. Its clean layout encouraged posting more long-form content and graphics. Its membership included luminaries like Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogan. If Facebook was the biggest network in the world, Google+ was the coolest. Less than one year later, Google Plus has grown to 90 million members and still feels like a more forward-thinking network than Facebook. Facebook now looks a Google Plus follower, introducing features like Timeline and video chat features in response to the robust graphics and video functions of Google Plus. Guy Kawasaki’s new book, What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us, provides an in-depth tour of the many Google Plus features that have made the platform so appealing to brands and individuals. On the iCrossing Great Finds blog, I discuss Guy’s new book. I read What the Plus! expecting to learn how to maximize the value of Google+, but I ended up finding broader meaning in Guy’s book. In advising people how to use Google Plus, Guy has articulated some new ground rules for prospering in the social era: think visually, be a content hustler, and treat social spaces like prized real estate — in other words, safeguard your own social turf (including your Google Plus page) and respect the social spaces you visit.
The best part about Guy’s book? His appeal for people to treat others as you’d have them treat you – and his frank advice to kick out jerks who invade your social turf and behave poorly. Let someone else be the arbiter of free speech while you focus on protecting your own brand.
How he’s used Global 14 to broaden his brand beyond hip-hop and into fashion, relationships, and other lifestyle interests.
The integration of Global 14 with the offline world, as seen through his recent Crown Life 1414 Tour, which saw Dupri visit 14 cities in 14 days to introduce Global 14 members to each other via parties he hosted.
The Social Media Week panel gained coverage in publications such as Black Enterprise, Differences, Mashable, Heidi Cohen’s blog, and PSFK. As I note in my Great Finds post, I think smaller, specialized sites like Global 14 are resonating because they speak to people and brands looking for an alternative to the sprawling and impersonal world of Facebook. What do you think?