This is a guest post from Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing for Awareness and author of Stand Out Social Marketing: How to Rise Above the Noise, Differentiate Your Brand, and Build an Outstanding Online Presence. This is the second in a series of posts about social media books, where I invite the author to share something about themselves and why they wrote the book, and what in the book might be of particular interest to association or nonprofit audiences.
Maddie’s Take: “Standing out” is more important than ever, as every company and organization on the planet starts adding to the social media noise. But the key strategic point of this book is that you stand out NOT by shouting louder than everyone else. My favorite chapter is titled ‘Stand Out by Paying Attention”. It’s all about listening to your community, and more than that, operationalizing the listening so you can do it to achieve business results.
Verdict (Buy, Borrow, Skim, Pass?): Buy.
In an already over-crowded social landscape, brands face stiff competition for the attention of the social audience. My new book, Stand Out Social Marketing: How to Rise Above the Noise, Differentiate Your Brand, and Build an Outstanding Online Presence tackles this problem with next-level social marketing tactics and strategies. Here, I tackle 5 questions about standing out to provide some details on the book.
What is Stand Out Social Marketing about?
Stand Out Social Marketing is all about differentiation. I set out to answer the question: “With so many brands competing on the social web, how can your brand rise above the noise?” The book provides the strategies and tactics, using real-life examples to enable brands to accomplish the goal of being distinctive and standing out.
Why did you write Stand Out Social Marketing?
While it was a life goal to write a book, the answer goes a little deeper. My work as VP of Marketing & Sales at Awareness affords me the opportunity to work with some of the world’s largest brands in formulating their social marketing strategy and I’ve found they all share a similar dilemma. As brands get involved in social, they quickly realize they are not only competing with their direct competitors but with every other brand and individual competing for the attention of the social audience. While they may state it differently, their biggest social marketing challenge can be summarized in one word: differentiation.
Can you give us an example of company that does a great job at ‘standing out’?
One of my favorite examples is the story of ‘Foiled Cupcakes,’ a Chicago based company that sells cupcakes over the Internet. Surprisingly, they have no physical fully-operational retail locations to date and all products are sold directly online.
A blog post written by Brian Quinton for Entrepreneur.com describes a bit about the company and their approach to social media:
Foiled fills about 1,000 dozen orders a month at an average cost of $38 each. But what’s interesting is whom Foiled sells to. Founder and owner Mari Luangrath says 94 percent of her clientele was developed through leads received in social media, specifically Twitter.
She was able to generate these leads within social networks through what might be described as “targeted listening”: identifying online conversations that she and her company could become a part of organically, and building trust by contributing useful content and comments to make herself a welcome guest.
“I’m very comfortable with traditional marketing,” Luangrath says. “But I don’t want to market to everybody. I want to find the people who want to hear what I have to say and then, at the end of the engagement, purchase my product.”[i]
Mari’s approach to paying attention is distinctive. Instead of targeting online individuals talking specifically about cupcakes, she began communicating and relating to people within her target demographic (women ages 18-40) about something else she knew a lot about: shoes. In this case, being distinct is all about knowing your target audience and connecting with them.
What are some of the key concepts behind standing out?
In the book I lay out six keys to build and implement a Stand Out social marketing strategy. They include Paying Attention, Interacting, Content, Presence, Management and Measurement. Together these six keys define a stand out approach to social marketing. Inside of each there are multiple concepts and tactics that can be implemented immediately including things like social scoring, social prospecting, hyper-targeting and defining a social path to purchase.
Why the book is important for associations and nonprofits?
The book actually features case studies from several non-profits and membership organizations (like American Cancer Society) to highlight the challenges they face on the social web. Noise is particularly high for both groups as they are competing for the attention of audience for donations, volunteers and membership. The principles of the book are of particular importance to this group because differentiation is paramount to their success in social marketing. Paying attention is probably the most important area of focus for them because it allows them engage in the right individuals based on life events and/or issues they may be experiencing at the right time. One example of this is a cancer charity that listens to the social web for individuals that are battling cancer personally or have a family member battling the disease. When they learn about their battle they reach out to them directly to offer support and direct them to a knowledge bas of resources that may/may not help. They never ask directly for donations or volunteers however this direct outreach has proven a show a significant spike in both areas (donations and volunteers) through social channels.
What is the one thing that you hope people take from your book?
In the 1999 blockbuster The Matrix, Neo is asked to make a choice. Choose the red pill and gain greater insight into the world of the Matrix or take the blue pill and return to the normal, everyday life he already knows. Modern marketers are at a crossroads and face the same decision. Choose the red pill and stand out, or take the blue pill and continuing operating in a world of marketing sameness.
The one thing I want marketers to take from the book is a stand approach to social marketing is well within reach. I want them to take the red pill. Don’t let the crowded and noisy social web intimidate you, but rather embrace it and follow the simple steps to stand out and rise about the noise to realize that it is possible to stand out on the social web.