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The Road to Social Media Marketing Certification

Well going back a few years, I really didn’t know very much about Social Media Marketing. Of course, I had a LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter account starting around November 2007, but there was so much to learn… Avatar, Community, Hashtag, Permalink, Retweet, RSS, SEO, URL,Wiki etc. Like the many other challenges I have faced in life, I decided to address this lack of knowledge in Social Media Marketing head on. After all, would you hire a marketing executive now without this knowledge in today’s business environment? I didn’t think so. Late in the summer of 2012, I decided to start my certification in Social Media Marketing at George Brown College. Having attended Ryerson University and York University for executive level programs, I was a little reluctant to study at a college level.  OK, you can call me a snob. To my surprise I found that this academic institution is at par, perhaps even better than some universities. The facilities were bright, extremely well equipped and provided for an excellent learning environment. My instructors were successful industry professionals. So I didn’t get the textbook stuff, offered by professors with PhD’s – but I didn’t want it either, I wanted to be down on the street and learn from both the experts and the students, whom for the most part were obsessed with Social Media Marketing. The certification consists of four compulsory courses and two electives. For my certification I decided to focus on the follow: Social Media Marketing Community Management Facebook Marketing Social Media Metrics, Analytics and Management Tools WordPress for Blogging and Web Design Twitter Marketing Well after extensive research and studying over the last two years I have finally graduated my Social Media Marketing Certification with Honours and a GPA of 3.9%, next time I promise to try harder! Well even though this certification is completed there is still a lot to cover. Currently I am studying Video for the Web, to produce promotional videos for my clients. It has been a very busy couple of years; I can’t believe how much I know now about Social Media Marketing compared to two years ago. I encourage anyone that wants to enrich their marketing capabilities to take the same...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 17 Executive Summary

Successful business strategies will rely less on managing perceptions and controlling the message, and more on inventing new ways to get people to interact genuinely with their brands. A trans-formative change needs to happen across all key customer-facing functions to enable a more open, authentic, dialogue focused and customer value/advocacy driven organization.  To obtain value from adopting Wikibrand practices, companies must embrace both a philosophical and real transformation, including a change of attitude regarding transparency to external users, customers and Influencers. Wikibrand engagement is harder work than traditional branding.  The goal is “being social” verses “doing social” and this book provides excellent examples and references.  Of great importance, in Chapter 17 provided are 50 questions to assess your readiness for a brand community. I believe that for any organization that is considering a Wikibrand strategy than this book is a must! For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 16 Executive Summary

It is expected that by 2020 the term social media will have a very different meaning than it has today.  Marketing is transitioning from broadcasting to conversation.  Emerging technologies will enable companies to listen with greater acuity and respond more precisely and quickly to customer demand.  Marketers need to simultaneously embrace old and new media and develop a combined strategy.  Community management will be absorbed back into other positions in sales, marketing, customer service, product management and public relations.  Communication will also be less text dependent and more audible and visual. Chuck Brymer, CEO of DDB Worldwide suggests that the future responsibilities of a Chief Marketing Officer should include the following: Building a community around the brand using multiple channels, and ensuring the organization is living its message Knowing the community’s wants, needs and lifestyles and using this data for marketing efforts Monitoring, responding and interacting with the community to build relationships Facilitating and nurturing an environment that empowers the community to rally behind and feel co-ownership for the brand In future which social media platform will have dominance – Facebook, Twitter, Google or someone else? Regardless which is the dominant platforms(s) business and personal communication will continue to move away from email.  A Gartner Research study predicts that by 2014 social networking services will replace email as the primary communication tool for 20 percent of business users.  Over time, a sizeable majority of users will rely less on email and more on social tools. The key message is, those that immerse themselves in their customers’ worlds will find that the future is friendly! For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 15 Executive Summary

As technology continues to make it easier for people to build their personal brand, the bar for a quality profile rises.  However, once a personal brand gains momentum, it can quickly accelerate, provided the substance behind it is compelling to its audience.  Building a personal brand has become vital in today’s economy. The goal should not be to build as large a network as possible, but rather to judiciously generate a powerful one.  For most people LinkedIn and Facebook profiles are the most important social networking platforms.  LinkedIn may be considered a gray flannel suit and Facebook to be a Hawaiian shirt and therefore you must adapt different strategies for each.  LinkedIn is, of course, much more than just a vehicle for building your profile; it is a rich resource for various business requirements.  Due to the public nature of Facebook, it is wise to act professionally on this platform as well. Building a Twitter following is a great way to build your personal brand, but like blogging, it requires a lot of effort to be successful.  You will not remain popular with your followers unless your tweets are frequent and of value.  Twitter can be like a stream or a raging river, depending on your involvement.  If you follow a lot of people, you miss many posts unless you are constantly viewing. Remember, real networking is about finding ways to make other people more successful. For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 14 Executive Summary

Traditionally, marketers have measured effectiveness based on how much activity was generated, and fluctuations in awareness and brand equity.  These metrics only provide a measure of passive interest in a brand.  The more we learn about the measurement of brand power in the digital age, the more we recognize the degree to which engaged customers hold the key to brand success.  The investment in these users has led to a new definition of ROI – return on influence. If you can identify a benefit you’re seeking to get out of the community – reduced support costs, lead generation, increased loyalty – you can tie activities and metrics within the community directly to them.  Be careful with metrics such as the number of followers.  Unless Facebook “likes”, Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections are actively engaged in your brand, merely collecting them is ineffective and likely to be misleading. Anytime a Wikibrand strategy advances a customer along a purchase cycle or improves the after purchase experience, there is a return on investment.  Marketers should consider measurements that adequately track brand engagement, differentiation, participation, customer value and influence. Measuring how excited customers are about the brand becomes easier with social media technology and there are some great tools available now! For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 13 Executive Summary

A report published by Deloitte Consulting and the Society for New Communication Research, in an investigation of 140 companies, identified the following challenges to building an effective community: Getting people engaged in the community (51%) Finding enough time to manage the community (45%) Attracting people to the community (34%) Getting people to come back (26%) Getting people to join the community (22%) (Respondents were allowed to select multiple answers) Too many companies think that technology is the key; just building a community site with all the bells and whistles will encourage people to show up and participate.  There needs to be compelling conversations or interesting, refreshed information for them to return.  The goal is not to attract a million people to your site; it is how you will engage them when they get there. Unfortunately, one study found that 30 percent of online communities are managed by only part-time employees, and many of the most sophisticated communities have fewer than five employees involved.  Patience is also important; communities often take two years or more to mature.  Managers need to anticipate the evolution of the brand community. It is important to integrate the entire business into the community.  This drive for collaboration expands the role of the marketing function, providing more opportunities to service line functions and to exert a positive impact on innovation, sales, product management, corporate reputation, employee recruitment and brand insight.  Community Managers require an eclectic set of skills: part corporate journalist, part public relations, part customer service, part likeable host, part social, part technologist and part brand fanatic. A community manager needs to develop a team that can perform all of the following functions: product educator, brand ambassador, research filter, internal trainer, client agitator, program manager/administrator, content developer, responder/liaison, events host, strategist, problem solver, moderator, social networker, expert listener and personal concierge. WIKIBRANDS provides an excellent summary of each of these roles. For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 12 Executive Summary

In order to provide a great brand community, it is important for organizations to internalize the spirit of this opportunity. The voices of the employees must also be authentic.  If communication isn’t authentic, or companies try to use ghost writers, customers will realize right away. Once an internal community has been created, a firm can recruit external participants.  If governed correctly, it is incredible how much value volunteer contributors will provide. Think about Tom Sawyer convincing the other kids that painting Aunt Polly’s fence is actually fun instead of a chore. Sean O’Driscoll, Partner with PwC Advisory identified four types of community members, along with how to address their core motivations for participation: Critics: Make sure you listen to their concerns and close the loop on their complaints and suggestions. Connectors: They want special access.  Have them sign a non-disclosure agreement, and then provide them with sneak previews to operations, updates and so on. Creators: Stroke their egos; give them tools they need to create new offerings. Collectors: Provide them with the proof of their contributions, such as digital badges. The community needs to help people find the right answer quickly, but also provides a subtle undercurrent of confidence.  It is also important to let people who are involved in the same type of work, issues or situations to answer specific questions. Volunteer community experts offer the following as their motivations for participating in the community: They have a genuine need to help people They get a thrill from solving problems It makes them better at their jobs It builds their personal brands Helping gives them a sense of ownership in the product For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 11 Executive Summary

Customers are no longer faceless targets who have homogeneous tastes according to their age, gender, ethnicity, income or postal code.  They are vibrant pools of individuals who aggregate around interests, aspirations and hobbies. A brand community is more than a Facebook application, a corporate blog, or a Twitter initiative. It revolves around a shared interest in a company, product or brand It connects companies or brands with customers, Influencers, or other community members It connects members with each other It connects companies and members with nonmembers and prospective members It upholds rituals and traditions that involve public greetings to recognize fellow brand/community lovers A Deloitte study of one hundred brand-sponsored online communities showed that most of them fail to achieve their business performance goals.  In addition, only 25 percent achieved a membership of a thousand or more.  The study pointed to a number of reasons for such disappointing results: Putting the needs of the brand ahead of those of the audience it is trying to attract Being overly interested in technology at the expense of the community’s social infrastructure Having understaffed and under skilled custodianship of the community Focusing on metrics that are unconnected to objectives Devoting too small a portion of the brand’s marketing budget to the community Should this discourage you?  No… a well-developed brand community is a better tool for brand advocacy than conventional promotion efforts, because community members feel a high degree of affiliation with the brand and the community. For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 10 Executive Summary

With the accelerated pace of digital time, Wikibrand tools may change quickly, but the business goal will always remain the same: how do you engage your customers, prospects and Influencers across multiple platforms and get people to take action and feel a deeper sense of communication for your brand? In fact there are over a hundred different tools that play a balanced role in the development of Wikibrands and they can be grouped into four areas: Brand / Product-Based Design and Attributes (traditional) Marketing / Media Communication (traditional) Customer-Brand Interaction Digital / Social-Enabled Technologies Traditional product design and branding still needs to drive good valand differentiation, but one may ask the following: How do my traditional tools change in light of a new marketplace? To what extent do I need to shift to new tools? Which specific additions do I add? Perhaps you can consider this formula that has a lot of credence: Wikibrand Value= (Core product/service + Experience) x (Interestingness + Social + Intimacy + Authenticity + Reputation + Incentives) x (Presence + Value Adds + Advocacy) The big question of the day is whether the corporate website, the online community or the social network extensions will be the most important to your organization’s success?  If you look at the best engaged brands, they have healthy participation and integration in each of these areas. The six key considerations for building an effective community are: Then there comes the big question of community platform such as basic portal, hosted software platform, made-to-order platform or completely customized. Even though the trend is digital, the traditional mediums of TV, radio, print and outdoor aren’t going anywhere soon.  Eighty four percent of CMO’s spend less than 10 percent on marketing budgets experimenting through digital, collaborative media and nontraditional channels.  This needs to change – new resources, accountability and tools need to be applied. WIKIBRANDS provides an excellent overview of tools and platforms, especially the elements of building successful communities. For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 9 Executive Summary

Companies are struggling with the balance between the personal, transparent nature of social media technology and the traditional, close guarded secrets of corporate strategy.  How much flexibility and encouragement can a company provide to this new opportunity while maintaining a prudent amount of corporate oversight and governance?  A vast majority of companies impose an outright ban on the use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter at work and others allow for limited work-related or social use of these tools in the workplace. A small percentage of companies have established some type of formal policy for employee use of external social networking sites.  Companies that have a consistent and uniformly enforced policy with regard to customer and employee engagement and the social Web also have a much stronger legal defense.  The right policy will result in a more empowered employee base, a clearer set of principles to guide the member and customer community experience, and a confident and supportive executive team. However, rules and guidelines have to form around company culture and customers, or people will find ways around them. Think about how companies have dealt with journalists and traditional media for decades:  public relations people needed to be authorized; executives and managers needed to be trained for media interaction and briefed on key messages, context, and the news of the day before speaking to outside parties.  Why should social media be held to a lower standard? Addressing customer and prospective member wants is paramount in the Wikibrand universe, but there must be some rules or guidance regarding; Statements of Purpose, Initiation, Interaction, Exchange, Moderation, Legal / Ethical Terms and Ownership. In a customer-controlled marketplace, people (including your employees) have a lot more control than you think.  If your rules are too stringent, people will use tools and filters to find a way around them.  Good rules, guidelines and rituals set boundaries – many important, some fun, others socializing and often necessary: don’t make them handcuffs.  On the other hand, there is a myth of democracy.  Without good rules, guidelines, and rituals, as well as employees or community managers to enforce them, people – including your most fervent Influencers – will find it too taxing, too unpredictable, too compromising, or too chaotic to promote you through their passions and interests. This book offers a very in-depth consideration of rules, guidelines and rituals of Wikibranding, far more than can be covered here....
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 8 Executive Summary

As social media entered the mainstream, businesses assumed their online projects would attract a massive audience.  Perhaps many of these social brand projects used transitional incentives such as coupons, contests and giveaways to sustain follower interest. Phrases like “free”, “your chance to win” “giveaway” and “limited-time offer” still resonate with customer who want in on the deal.  They can be strong supporting elements in launch efforts, but how do you sustain involvement with your brand? Incentive offers that catch people’s attention are usually too expensive to sustain.  Promotional touts tend to appeal to the inherently brand-disloyal and unprofitable deal hunters.  Artificial contest buzz trains people to get involved only when there are deals to be had.  Reward-based enthusiasm doesn’t translate into genuine interest in the overall brand proposition.  Generally, promotion-based social Web efforts demean the value of your brand! Identified are three categories of Wikibrand incentives:  Intrinsic Motivations; people make the effort because it makes them feel good.  Extrinsic Motivations; people get involved because it makes them look or appear good to others.  Explicit Motivations; people participate because they feel rewarded.  The most successful Wikibrand efforts employ a mix of these three types of incentives. At the same time that you are choosing incentives for your Wikibrand effort, you also need to understand who will be motivated by these incentives.  Across the Web, a cross section of idea people, scouts, leaders, experts, organizers and charmers are making the marketplace, society, and culture tick.  By force of talent, charisma, and enthusiasm, they sway others’ decisions about what to buy, think and do.  We call them INFLUENCERS. As marketers, Influencers multiply the effect of your advocacy.  Apparently, 10 percent of people on Twitter are posting 90 percent of the tweets.  Forester Research claims that 80 percent of online influence comes from 16 percent of the people.  The four factors that have been identified that make these individuals influential are their reach, exposure, credibility and suasion.  To some, Influencers may seem borderline obsessed, while others perceive they are passionately committed. For further information visit: http://wiki-brands.com/ This is also an excellent short documentary that explores what it means to be an influencer and how trends and creativity become contagious today in music, fashion and entertainment, called INFLUENCERS....
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 7 Executive Summary

Well known internet commentator Clay Shirky believes we’re living in a period of transformation rivaling those surrounding the invention of the printing press, the inception of conversational media (telegraph and telephone), and the invention and use of recorded media (photos, sound, film, TV and the Internet).  Shirky argues we are experiencing the largest increase in expressive capability in human history and points to three new media innovations to prove his point: People can now have Web-enabled conversations with groups, allowing many-to-many conversations for the first time. In a world of hyperdigitization, media is less a source of information and more a coordinated site where like-minded people can meet. Members of the audience can perform the role of producer and consumer, sometimes simultaneously. Most successful Wikibrands also have a senior-level executive champion who enthusiastically leads the community effort.  It must be understood that you can’t assign your blog to the most junior staffer or tack it onto the end of someone’s to-do list and expect to make a splash.  Many larger brands’ customer engagement ventures are understaffed and under resourced.  Smart companies spend three to six months learning what resonates with customers before undertaking any Wikibrands initiative.  One must understand what their customers care about, talk about and the kind of language they use.  Knowledge, passion and time are essential for embedding yourself in your customers’ lives.  Insufficient passion in your communication will leave your audience cold.  Too often, many of the right elements are in place, but companies fail to connect emotionally with their customer base.  Wikibranding is a two-way street; it’s effective because it truly is collaborative.  Conversational affinity happens when we feel that others understand us and are genuinely endeavoring to help us rather than just trying to profit from us. We need to focus on “awesomeness” – the ability to generate not just communication but long –lived, cross-platform interaction that taps into some of the basic human instincts; to survive, connect, make sense of the world, reduce risk, benefit economically and relieve stress! At some point, the language and tools of social media will become as ubiquitous as e-mail or the phone call is today. For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 6 Executive Summary

Designing effective, engaged businesses for today’s marketplace is an essential skill that CEOs, CMOs and their organizations must master.  It takes strategically sound guidance, an aligned company effort and smart relevant tools.  Employee adoption of corporate internal media tools lags far behind the widespread consumer adoption and skyrocketing growth rates on external networking sites like LinkedIn.  Lack of “strategic focus” and “customer focus” were the third and fourth biggest sins in building social media and online communities behind “listening/ responsiveness” and “engaging content”.  Successful Wikibrands are built on solid strategies. They have a core business aim, a brand idea that motivates consumers, and links to an organizational culture and capabilities that can support the idea.  Perhaps most important, successful Wikibrand communities deliver what their prospective members and customers want.  Gartner Research predicts that IT led social media initiatives will only succeed 20 percent of the time and that when these initiatives are led by the business and customer side, success rates more than doubled. We must be very clear about our Wikibrand engagement, collaboration and community efforts.  Brands too often focus on the value of a community can bring to the company rather than investing in the community itself. Not having a strategic focus tied to business needs dooms Wikibrand experiments to attacks on credibility and criticism of potential business value generation. Not having a customer focus that identifies and taps real, deep seated customer wants, leads to apathy and dashed performance when members or fan expectations go unmet. Not having a resource focus that creates a passionate and accountable group of people willing and able to steer customer engagement efforts leads to eventual “ghost towns” of ambivalence, if not criticism of underlying business motives. Not having a brand focus leads to a failure to inspire a reaction and generate customer enthusiasm aligned to the rest of your brand and business-building efforts! For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 5 Executive Summary

Social media acts as an accelerant for good news about a brand as well as bad.  Consumers want interaction, to be inspired and get involved.  Engagement, interaction, user generated content, and citizen marketing are the new building blocks of the Wikibrand economy.  People value the time they spend engaging with family, friends and yes even brands. A marketer’s job is now becoming less about what to communicate and more about how to engage people.  However, a conversation cannot happen unless companies and customers talk and listen to each other as equal partners.  When consumers feel they are being superficially involved in conversation, they tune out quickly or, even worse, engage in negative behavior directed at the brand.  The marketer’s new role is to get the “Net Generation” group’s involvement in motion, start the conversation, get out-of-the-way (although not completely), and let members talk and produce.  When users get involved something magical happens. Wikibrands 2010 “The Buzz Report” suggests that of sixteen different elements, “not listening – not staying tuned in and not responding to what members/customers want quickly” was considered the biggest sin for not building an engaged, collaborative business. Significant value is no longer generated by slavish adherence to repetitive selling lines, increased media frequency or brash creative.  This has led to a transition from communications genius to Customer Experience Management.  Successful companies will reflect their brand culture and consistency in each important interaction between company, consumer and brand. For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 4 Executive Summary

I believe that Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman and CEO at OgilvyOne Worldwide summed it up very well.  Traditional marketing is like speaking to four or five-year old children; they may be rambunctious and misbehave, but they will eventually do what you tell them.  Modern marketing is more like speaking to an eighteen year old; your best bet is to guide them and make suggestions, but eventually they will make their own decisions. Fetherstonhaugh has developed a new framework for marketing and that is replacing the four traditional “Ps” (product, pricing, place and promotion) with four “Es” being Experience, Everyplace, Exchange and Evangelism. With Wikibrands, the goal is to develop media hubs where users actively seek content, entertainment, information and opportunity.  One of the leading benefits of Wikibranding has been in how companies get exposed and positively perceived by their audience.  Two separate studies conducted by McKinsey & Company and Thompson Lightstone suggest that more than two thirds of today’s consumer purchase decisions are primarily influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations. More frequently, customers do not want the marketer to give up margin; many of them prefer to participate in the process, be included in a fan group or have access to premium product (or even a sneak preview to a new launch). Key elements however will continue to anchor the brand to its sense of self and consistency of purpose; its logo, name, core idea belief system and community. For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 3 Executive Summary

This chapter provides insight of the grassroots of WIKIBRANDS.  Sean Moffitt’s journey really started back in 1997 as brand manager on Tide detergent, which was the flagship product under the Proctor and Gamble portfolio. At that time P&G’s employees couldn’t believe the time, effort, enthusiasm and length’s some people went to in providing new product ideas, uses, constructive criticism and industry intelligence without expectations of compensation.  P&G realized that they had put their most important asset… “customers” at the bottom of the value chain!  This was the turning point for Sean to doubt the traditional marketing methods. It appears still to this day that businesses and marketers are still surprised by the growth and impact of the web, social media, word of mouth, online communities and peer-to-peer influence. There is an instinctive need for prospects, customers and people to connect and socialize when given the tools to do so, which has strongly impacted brands.  They are not merely logos or a roll call of features; they are a point of view on how products and businesses project to the world.  Although the tactics may have changed, customers still place extraordinary value on them, pay more for them and want to participate in them. Many business owners now don’t need to be convinced of the need for change; that was last decade’s challenge.  The current challenge is how to do it sensibly and move not only individuals but the large stakeholder groups to rally behind these efforts. For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 2 Executive Summary

Previously,  a senior marketing executive from Research in Motion declared that compartmentalizing social media is nonsense. Wikibranding is an attempt to get true brand engagement, customer experience and social collaboration into the very nucleus of an organization.  This significant change is difficult, and perhaps for some it might be easier to tread water for the next couple of years and monitor.  However, eighty-seven percent of managers and executives believe managing the customer/brand experience is the key battleground for business. Wikibranding is about creating great experiences with-not at-your customers.  Brands are now losing on four key parameters; brand differentiation, consumer loyalty, brand trust and decline in ad watching on television.  Over the last century, brands have been challenged alternately by scarcities in scalable production, distribution channels, media and shelf space.  The new scarcities are customer time, attention and trust.  Do you really think your industry is immune to peer-to-peer interaction, customer collaboration, and deeply embedded stakeholder engagement?  Apparently, 79 percent of Fortune 100 companies are using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or blogs and 20 percent are using them all! For further information visit:...
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WIKIBRANDS Chapter 1 Executive Summary

Wikibrands, is a brilliant book by marketing experts Sean Moffitt and Mike Dover that has been introduced to us in 2011. wikibrands(s) noun A progressive set of organizations, products, services, ideas and causes that tap the powers of customer participation, social influence, and collaboration to drive business value. Ask yourself, does your brand deliver genuine participation?  Did you know that for many companies their brand has become their single most important operating and financial asset?  The brand will always remain valuable to a company, but it will be very important how business goes about building itself up in a customer-controlled marketplace.  Consumers found out quickly through the internet and peer-to-peer connection with social media, that they now have a voice in the brand conversation. Bass & Co’s Pale Ale, the very first trademark registered in the UK (1876) at the Intellectual Property Office. However, brands have never been more important to companies than they are today, even in an atmosphere in which customers have taken control.  Brands became less about satisfying basic needs and more about addressing desires and communicating social status through ownership.  It appears that in today’s economy it is more about how you live the brand as opposed to how you manage the brand as in the past.  We must bridge the customer and the organization better. For further information visit:...
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10 Strategies for Social Media Marketing Success

In the evolving world of social media marketing, it can be hard for a time-starved small business or organization to keep pace and know what to do when it comes to connecting with customers and members on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Yelp. While there’s no “one-size fits all” approach, we’ve assembled 10 best practices for social media marketing success that will help your business or organization, whether you’re just getting started or trying to take your efforts to the next level. 1. Have a Goal 2. Know Who You Are and Portray Yourself Consistently 3. Be Where Your Customers/Members Are 4. Tell Your Customers and Members Where You Are 6. Be Relevant 7. Be Engaging 8. Be Active 9. Respond in a Timely Manner 10. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due 1. Have a Goal Like most marketing and business efforts, it’s good to have a goal in mind as you delve into social media marketing. It doesn’t have to be anything audacious like increase sales 30% year over year. Something more along the lines of improving company/brand awareness; adding a new channel to interact with customers, members, donors, and prospects; or improving search engine optimization (SEO) will work just fine. It’s important to keep in mind that the return on investment with social media marketing cannot always be measured in hard dollars. While one can offer deals and make sales, the real power of social media marketing is in building relationships and remaining top of mind with existing customers. Plus, the viral nature of social media can help you find and connect with new customers. A July 2010 study by Gartner found that 74% of consumers rely on some type of social media network to guide purchasing decisions. That’s because people rely on what others have to say about a product or brand before making an investment themselves. The survey points out that marketers should use social media networks to target the people who influence others’ purchasing decisions. Doing so may not have a direct ROI attached to it, but it can indirectly help influence sales. If you’re new to social media, set achievable goals that will allow you to get your feet wet and start building connections with your existing customer base. As your comfort level and social media savvy grow, so too can your goals. 2. Know Who You Are and Portray Yourself...
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Are we truly sacrificing the value of print?

Traditionally, offset printing was focused on craftsmanship. The quality of the printed piece was very dependant on the ability of the operator to control the process, somewhat like traditional photography.  However, advanced controls have been implemented in the modern output device such as an offset or digital press to manage the process better.  Of course, to be able to produce a beautifully printed piece or a photograph, there still takes certain expertise. Offset Press Makeready on the Heidelberg Printmaster PM74-4 Often press operators would eventually take the entrepreneurial approach to become print shop owners.  However, there are significant barriers to entry in starting an offset printing company, such as the skill level required and the cost of capital-intensive equipment.  Those who had access to the financial resources and skills, were very often rewarded for their efforts.  Today though, printers are challenged by the declining demand for print in the communication mix and the intense competition.  With the introduction to the intranet and online marketing, it is both faster and more cost-effective to utilize this electronic media, but it is definitely not always the right and most effective choice. With new technologies, the craftmanship of printing has turned into industrial manufacturing.  This has resulted in commodity pricing characteristics as a result of loss of differentiation.  Printers have now been pressured into expanding their offerings with auxiliary services, to restore their profitability to acceptable levels. Many of these companies need to focus on emphasizing the true tangible values of print that we have benefitted from for centuries.  Very few printers invest in marketing to identify and promote their unique offerings to the market.  Yes, printing is perhaps a commodity as I previously alluded to, but each and every company has their unique strengths and offerings.  There are a few companies that stand out amongst the crowd that have been very innovative such as Pazzaz Printing, Montreal with their Printing’s Alive video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpAuDrs5ocg and Hemlock Printing, Vancouver with their Hemlock hPad Commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn65U_f5CO0 Perhaps printers should ask themselves…do we have a professional on our team to implement a strong marketing strategy on how to promote our unique offerings to benefit potential...
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