Category Archives: strategy

#AskMadonna Was It Good For You?

MDNA booklet photo

The Material Girl (does she still go by that name?) graced the threads of Twitter Monday night to answer questions for 90-minutes. Billed as a “one night only” event, Madonna live chatted with fans at @MadonnaMDNAday who were encouraged to use the hashtag #askmadonna to help build interest in her latest studio release MDNA, her first album since 2008.

Meanwhile over at the design inspiration/lifestyle site fab.com Madonna is offering Web audiences a deluxe “web only” $7.99 version of her latest CD at almost 50% off the regular store price.

There’s also a giveaway with the digital music service Spotify for two listeners who play MDNA at least three times during the next two weeks who could then win tickets to one of her upcoming shows.

On Saturday (prior to the Twitter event) Madonna was on a Facebook livestream with late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon responding to fan submitted questions, again just for one night.

Hmm…smells like there’s a digital strategy at work here. All this activity indicates that Madonna is proactively taking steps to strengthen her social media following rather than rely on the traditional talkshow routes and news outlets to create buzz for her new album.
Consider Spotify’s recent integration with Facebook and the new Timeline feature which, among other things, allows people to view a small thumbnail of recently listened to albums and tracks. Madonna’s marketing people are clearly targeting the Facebook platform and things like the new listen with friends feature.

But the above mentioned events (the Twitter chat in particular) seem carefully choreographed—dare I say contrived, perhaps by one of Madonna’s PR marketing aides. After all, the 53-year old Madonna (is she a grandmother yet?) may have just a passing interest in connecting with fans on social networks. Why else would she engage with fans on Twitter for just one night? I suppose daily chats are out of the question, so how about once a week?

Check out the spike in the chart over at social media monitor Radian6 which reveals an interesting blip in Madonna’s recent Twitter feed exchange with fans.

The obvious comparison comes next: Lady Gaga, who arguably sets the bar for social media engagement with fans. No one does it better. With well over 21-million followers they don’t call her the queen of Twitter for nothing. Gaga is also fast approaching 50-million fans on Facebook and is in approximately 1.1-million circles on Google+.

The Material Girl on the other hand couldn’t possibly buy that kind of digital clout. Now could she?

The distinction one could draw between Gaga and Madonna is not simply the disparity between the number of Likes, Followers, and Circles (incidentally Gaga has 5-times as many Facebook fans over Madonna), but the consistency of engagement.
In Gaga’s case the fan engagement seems more authentic because it occurs on a daily basis and doesn’t start and stop abruptly to coincide with album releases as in Madonna’s case.

The Material Girl could learn something from mother mons†er —don’t you think?

Cradle To Cradle Social Media Engagement

It occurred to me reading George F. Snell III’s latest post what’s missing from a lot of social marketing strategies. The passage below may sound awfully familiar to those of us working in digital advertising:

Social and digital media activation is built-in as part of a new campaign or launch.  There’s a furious amount of activity during the campaign and then the Facebook page goes dark.  The tweets stop happening.  Fans and followers are wooed and collected during the campaign and then forgotten as the campaign winds down.  No one in marketing or communications is really sure who is now responsible for maintaining these new social channels opened during the campaign.  As a result they fall to the wayside or the activity becomes sporadic and almost exclusively one-way.  Sometimes these channels are even abandoned.

I think the short answer solution and logical first step for brands is to start hiring full-time community managers to proactively engage with audiences in the digital space. This needs to occur on a regular basis.
Perhaps next comes consistency, in the voice and in the creation of more sustained engagements. Developing strategies that carry on indefinitely, beyond the ‘open and shut campaign’ model.

I love the idea of using a cradle to cradle design approach in social media.  A strategy emulating nature’s regenerative processes by ensuring products (in our case marketing programs with a social component) have no waste or by-products. In other words, filling the gaps by addressing the dreaded end-of-campaign scenario of “what do we do now?”

Community Managers: The New Superheroes Of Social Media

Community Management SuperheroesGiven the brilliant rise of social media throughout business and marketing communications, community management has come to play a critical role in managing a brand’s identity in the digital space.

Community managers are like diplomatic ambassadors on a mission to convey a company’s brand—the external voice—in an open, accessible, and positive light.
*Update 07/28/2012: Perhaps it’s this feeling of too much sharing and openness on the Net why so many companies still fear social media.

The inherent transparency offered by digital conversations means the contributions of community managers will likely become increasingly important as more and more companies and brands tie their identities to social engagements with people online.

But the relative newness of community management and the growing popularity of social networks as platforms for interacting with customers perhaps explains why a clear-cut definition doesn’t seem to really exist yet.
Exactly what a community manager’s job encompasses remains somewhat open to interpretation as social media continues to evolve.
In essence though, community managers are savvy communicators in the most ideal sense, influential in nurturing the bond between people, products and services —a rather slippery slope on the Net.

Back in 2007 Jeremiah Owyang published a great post entitled The Four Tenets of the Community Manager in which he briefly describes several core concepts of the community management role. These definitions remain relevant to this day.

Interestingly we’ve seen a similar evolution occur over the past few years with the emergence of the UX field, specifically with regard to overlap among several disciplines including: art directors, visual designers, information architects, copywriters, and instructional designers. The common thread shared among these roles is to ensure the digital content is effective and appealing.
I imagine we’ll see a similar trajectory with community management as social media matures and a more clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities materialize.

While this evolution plays out it’s worth exploring some of the current parallels with more established fields, namely customer support. Christina Cacioppo makes an intriguing distinction between customer support and community management in terms of a cost (customer support) versus investment (community management) perspective.

Not surprisingly some people feel inclined to label community management as just a newer version of customer support (customer service 2.0, for the digital age). While I’m not going to delve deep into that debate I will say, at least from my perspective, one of the main differences is that customer support in the past and prior to the social Web generally wasn’t focused on proactively engaging consumers or necessarily nurturing relationships. Instead, customer service and support was primarily reactive in dealing with customer issues and complaints whereas community management could be seen more as a preventative measure.

September 2nd footnote:
OSL Marketing’s Jon Crowley and Jeremy Wright along with Dave Fleet of Edelman Canada will be spearheading a panel discussion at SXSW 2012 on community management. This should be a very interesting and informative session for anyone considering a career in digital marketing and social media strategy.