All posts in Branding

  • Social Media Isn’t About Marketing and Other Things I Believe

    I’ve reached some conclusions about marketing in the digital age, especially as it applies to social media, and I’d like to share those with you.

    1. Social Media Isn’t About Marketing.

    That may sound really disingenuous coming from someone who has made his living writing books and articles about social media marketing, as well as helping clients and workshop attendees learn to use it for that purpose. But I’ve come to believe something that, in all honesty, I’ve long believed, yet failed to voice – social media isn’t about marketing; it’s about communicating.

    Listen First

    Listening is as important as talking.

    Effective communications involves more than talking. A big part of it is listening. People are talking and what they have to say is important. They will tell you what their concerns, interests and needs are. That information forms the topical structure around which your content should be built.

    Real conversations with real human beings has always been social media’s hallmark. Brands that are willing to listen their customer’s concerns and respond with answers and relevant content are the one’s who will win the minds and hearts of customers and others.

    Make the Entire Organization Social

    The fact that social media isn’t about marketing means that marketing and PR shouldn’t own it. Everyone within an organization (the key players anyway) should be social. Sure, there should be a point person orchestrating social strategy, tactics and guidelines (Scott Monty at Ford Motor Company is a great example), but there should be many touch points, not just one. But you first have to get beyond the notion that social media is simply a marketing tactic before you’ll embrace that methodology philosophy.

    2. Brands Should Be Purpose-Driven and People-Centered.

    Brands should be purpose driven and people centered.Purpose-Driven

    In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, pastor and author Rick Warren asks the question, “What on earth am I here for?” Brands should ask a similar question.

    In chapter 12 of the The Social Commerce Handbook, which I co-authored along with Dr. Paul Marsden, I assert that brands should be purpose-driven and that they should “lead with purpose, not a pitch.”

    And I quote…

    [R]ather than coming out of the gate with a sales message, determine a genuine, authentic purpose that is consistent with your brand, that contributes to the greater good, and promotes the welfare of others.  It’s a clearly stated, compelling unique value proposition that will set your brand apart from everyone else; and everything you do in terms of customer engagement stems from it.

    In his book, The Art of the Start, well-known author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki said that companies should “make meaning” by letting the motivator be something other than money.  Instead, he suggests that we should seek to “make the world a better place.”

    That’s not to suggest brands shouldn’t be in business to make money (of course they should), only that the bottom-line be about contributing to the greater good in a way that is commensurate with their products and services.


    Not only should brands be purpose-driven, they must also be people-centered in their communication.

    Social CRM platform provider Hubspot asked this question in a recent blog post: Can a People-Centric Social Media Strategy Scale?

    My response is that, for me, social media has always been and will always be about people, not technology. That’s harder to scale and certainly more difficult to measure, but that’s the way it has to be, at least in my estimation.

    A song written in the 80s called Matters of the Heart says this: “You can show me your sales curve, plot my life on your flowchart; but there’s just some things that numbers can’t measure – matters of the heart.”

    I believe there is a very “matter of the heart” aspect to social media marketing communications. It’s that element – not measuring ROI – that keeps me in the game.

    It may be a “virtual” medium, but it’s “visceral,” as well because it puts me face-to-face with people in a place where I get to know their names and learn about their lives. As a result, they matter to me, and I’d like to think I matter to them. The same can (and should) be said of brands.

    There is a power to social media that cannot easily be measured. It is the power of personal connection. Social media matters because people matter. If it ever ceases to be that way, then I’ll find another way to make a living.

    I believe that social media, at its heart, is not only people-centered, but servant-oriented. There is a real “do unto others” aspect to social media that should be prevalent in all our communications. That’s why customer service has become such a hot topic. (In fact, I suggest that customer service is the new marketing.) It’s a role that social media can play very well. (Paul Marsden refers to this mentality as “social utility.”)

    And marketers, if that’s a hard pill for you to swallow, I’m sorry. Stick to sending emails or making TV commercials instead.

    Wrap Up

    These are more than just opinions – they are convictions, and make up the “manifesto” that I hope to take into all future business dealings with clients or workshop participants:

    • Social media is a form of communication that supersedes marketing and PR and extends to all departments and business units.
    • Brands should be driven by purpose with a focus on serving people.

    I know it sounds good in principle, but I believe it can work in practice. At least I hope so. What do you think?

  • Rebranding from the Social Media Handyman to Chaney Marketing Group

    Rebranding from Social Media Handyman to Chaney Marketing Group

    “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” said William Shakespeare. In a sense, parting is what I’ve decided to do with my business.

    For years, I’ve been known as the “Social Media Handyman,” a moniker given to me by a friend who said she needed a “handyman” to help her set up a blog. I volunteered, the title was conferred, and because I’m somewhat blue collar, it felt like a good fit, so I adopted it.

    However, both social media and I have taken a turn. Social media is now more or less an accepted part of an integrated marketing approach. It has found its place among SEO, PPC, email, demand generation and other forms of online marketing.

    I’ve tried to evolve along with it and am now to a point similar to where I was back in 2005, when I formed a boutique agency known as Radiant Marketing Group. In those days I referred to myself as an “Internet marketing consultant” and darned if I’m not doing so again, yet with a slight twist.

    Much is being made these days of content marketing. Clearly, content is what drives the Internet and my approach over the past few years, though focused primarily around social media, was very content-centric. That’s the direction I want to take what I’m now calling Chaney Marketing Group.

    From a business development standpoint, it’s a step beyond seeing myself as a subject matter expert and individual resource. That got me this far, but in 2013, I feel compelled to grow my business into something that’s bigger than just me as an individual.

    At the same time I didn’t want to take my name completely off the shingle; hence the new brand, which builds on my personal brand reputation combined with a description of what it is I do – marketing. (The “group” will evolve over time, or so I hope.)

    Needless to say, this decision was not easy in coming. I wrestled for a long period over whether to retain my current standing or strive to build something bigger. The latter won out and I’m glad the struggle is over. I know what I want to do, who I want to target, and some idea of how to get there. I succor your support and encouragement.

    It will take a few days (dare I say “weeks”) to make the necessary changes to this site in terms of design and content (mainly it’s my services that will change), so please be patient.

    In the meantime, consider this a “soft launch” of the new Chaney Marketing Group!

  • True Brand Advocates Can’t Be Bought – Interview with Rob Fuggetta, CEO, Zuberance

    Rob Fuggetta, CEO, ZuberanceIf someone is paid to recommend a brand or product, can they be classified as a true advocate? If you ask Rob Fuggetta, founder and CEO of brand advocacy platform provider Zuberance, his answer would be emphatically no.

    To Fuggetta, the term “advocate” carries a very distinct connotation. He defines advocates as “highly satisfied customers who proactively recommend brands or products without being incentivized to do so.”

    “If a brand is paying people to recommend, they are not true advocates. You’re getting into an area where you’re destroying trust with the people they are advocating a brand or product to,” he stated.

    In fact, Fuggetta refers to the act of incentivizing people to recommend a brand or product as a scheme. He said, “Schemes that are generating referrals by paying and incentivizing people are not true advocacy. True advocacy cannot be paid for and manufactured, but only earned.”

    “For years brands have been using incentives as a way to encourage new customer acquisition. Banks used to give away toasters when a person signed up for a new account. When that stopped working, they use modest monetary incentives. When that didn’t work, they increased the amount,” said Fuggetta. “This is not brand advocacy in action; it’s bounty hunting!”

    Citing data from word of mouth research firm Keller Fay, Fuggetta said that 3.5 billion recommendations are made offline each day in the United States, the vast majority of which are unpaid. “Not only that, the average consumer talks about brands 56 times per week without ever being incentivized to do so,” he added.

    This approach may ring true for social media purists like me, but does it work in the market place? “To date Zuberance has generated 30 million brand and product recommendations and no advocate has ever received anything in exchange for their recommendation,” said Fuggetta.

    How does the Zuberance advocacy platform work? Three steps are involved:

    1. Identify brand advocates. “Our platform asks the ultimate question: ‘How likely are you recommend?’ That question is served up through many channels including social media, email, mobile and on the company website. We continue to ask the question systematically over a period of time, while we constantly build an advocate army,” said Fuggetta.

    2. Energize advocates. Scores of 9-10 (based on a 1-10 scale) are given opportunity to share product information. Brands create offers advocates can use to share with friends, but with no personal incentive attached. It’s a “talking point” for customers to use to recommend products they’ve already purchased.

    3. Track results. Any activity taken based on sharing recommendations, is tracked, including product purchases.

    Fuggetta distinguishes brand advocates from social media fans and followers. He said, “Just because someone clicks on a like button doesn’t mean they will recommend you. It’s the lowest common denominator.” He also distinguishes advocates from loyal customers and cites frequent flyer programs as an example: “Many people are members of frequent flyer programs, but few would actually recommend the airline.”

    Zuberance offers a way to systematically survey customers, find out which ones are highly likely to recommend your company or products, then post those recommendations to sites like Yelp and share stories with their friends. Just how valuable is that? Since word of mouth is the most trusted marketing form, it could be of extreme value. At least that’s the way Fuggetta sees it.

    “You can’t put old wine in new bottles,” concluded Fuggetta and I concur. Customer trust, loyalty and advocacy is best engendered when accompanied by true genuineness, authenticity and transparency – not with an incentivized agenda.

  • Balancing Personal vs. Corporate Brands: Latest Post at MarketingProfs

    I haven't blogged for MarketingProfs Daily Fix in a while, so it was a treat to finally get a topic I felt confident to write about over there. It has to do with balancing your personal brand with your company brand and teaches lessons I learned the hard way. 

    Here's an excerpt:

    "There seems to be a new emphasis on personal branding, especially as it pertains to achieving a balance with the corporate brand. If you work for a company, should you focus on personal branding or keep the corporate brand at the forefront?"

    You would think that answer would be plain and, obviously, the latter. But, it's more complicated than that. 

    I provide five guidelines for employers and four for employees. Mostly, they are just good old common sense, but still worth reading if you have the time. 


  • Bringing my brand into line…the Social Media Handyman it is

    UPDATE: Almost as soon as I posted this, I received an email from a Typepad staffer saying he had just visited the site to see if I wanted to be featured in their beta program. Said he wanted to talk to me today to see if there is anything he can do to keep me in the fold. I'm willing to talk about it certainly. I don't dislike Typepad by any means. Just trying to find the platform that best suits my needs.

    To be honest, Thesis is proving to be more than I bargained for. It's not a WordPress "theme," but a WordPress "framework." Think of it as an added layer between the WP platform and the theme. Trouble is, there is currently only one theme designed specifically for Thesis that I know of (these are referred to as "child" themes btw).

    While I think it's imperative that I learn the in's and out's of Thesis, I'm concerned that it may not be right for my purposes. Jury is still out of course. And it didn't hurt to hear the staffer say, "We’re coming out with an incredibly great new TypePad and I’d really hate to lose you. You’re exactly the type of thoughtful, helpful blogger we are building the new TypePad for." (What can I say? I'm easily influenced by flattery. :->)

    Cherie HebertI may know a few things about social media marketing (enough to write a book anyway), but I'm a neophyte when it comes to branding. That's why I enlisted the expertise of Cherie Hebert, principal with BBR, a local branding agency.

    After some thorough Q&A, Cherie convinced me of the need to bring my brand under one banner, that being "Paul Chaney, the Social Media Handyman." So, that's what I'm doing. 

    One of the things Cherie said was there were two Paul Chaneys, the, uh-hum, "serious" pundit at Conversational Media Marketing and the more kitschy character, the handyman. (I've always told you I was a bit schizophrenic.) 

    At first, she wasn't sure the two could be married, but the more we talked the more it became apparent that the predominant brand, the one that would truly set me apart from other "serious pundits," was the handyman. 

    Debbie WeilLest Cherie get all the credit, another person who deserves equal billing is longtime friend Debbie Weil

    Debbie is someone I've admired and deeply respected for years. I've always thought she had the branding thing down, which is why I contacted her to consult with me about mine. 

    Like Cherie, Debbie suggested I bring everything under one roof. In fact, it was at her suggestion that I contacted Cherie in the first place. 

    Ann HandleyLet me also pay homage to one other lady, Ann Handley. She's the one who got this whole handyman brand going in the first place, back when she said she needed a "handyman" to work on her blog. I volunteered and the rest is history.

    John MooreAnd my thanks to a gentleman, John Moore, who has helped me shape the identity of the brand. The first time I met John, he was dressed in a lab coat, adorned with a stethoscope around his neck and handed me a toe tag as a business card! If anyone knows branding, it's John. 

    Proverbs 24:6 says, "In a multitude of counsel there is safety." I have to tell you, I'm feeling pretty safe right now. I've been the grateful beneficiary of much counsel from some very sharp people. I want to thank each and every one, including many I'm sure that should be named here and are not. 

    In keeping with this branding fruit-basket-turnover, I'm also doing something that I did once before years ago (and said I'd never do again), that's move from Typepad to WordPress. It pains me to do so, but TP does not provide the quite the level of flexibility to create a look/feel that I want. (And that's no disrespect to the folks at Typepad. It's just that my needs are different now.) 

    So, I've set up a new WordPress theme, Thesis, that I'm going to, over time, turn into something nice looking and highly functional. At the same time, I'm building a separate site for my book, The Digital Handshake, which should be ready shortly. 

    Long story short, this blog will have its posts 301-redirected so as to not lose too much Google Juice and I am putting it to rest. (You can see I've already dumbed it down to a basic Typepad theme.) It will still live, just won't be updated. I'm also going to update my RSS feeds at places where the blog content is syndicated to reflect the new site. Just keep in mind, for the next few weeks this will be a work in progress.

    I'm hopeful that this might be the last change I make for some time to come. But, I've said that before. As difficult a choice as it was, I know in my heart it's the right one. 

    So, is this adieu and farewell? I'm guessing so. From now on you can find me over at the handyman's shop. I hope to see you there.