JC Penney logo backed by a football field

The Super Bowl is like the Super Bowl of customer engagement – brands across industries try to stand out from a cluttered crowd to connect with customers. Last year we witnessed the “Oreo moment” when Oreo took advantage of the power outage with a clever, quick tweet. 

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Map image with plot points showing a path

My last column began the process of digging deep into the challenge many corporate executives still ask about the best way to start the “journey to social proficiency.”  I began by focusing on governance and strategy. In this column, we’ll now get into the five major pillars of social activity: listening, engagement, content creation/syndication, community management and measurement.

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Accelerate Your Enterprise Social Meida

Social Media Accelerator based on research, insights and case studies

Chicago, IL – Nov. 5, 2013 – Starcom MediaVest Group announced Tuesday, an alliance with PulsePoint Group that will give SMG clients access to PulsePoint Group’s Social Media Accelerator™, a cloud-based application that automates social media strategy and planning, while accelerating social media execution. With this agreement, SMG can now offer the Social Media Accelerator™ to its clients. PulsePoint Group will continue to serve their clients directly.

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“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good [people] to do what (s)he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

With President Roosevelt’s perspective in mind, your internal social engagement policy should help those good people do their jobs, and it shouldn’t be designed to meddle with them while they are doing it.

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Why one + one is not proper integrated sales and marketing

Today I will discuss four commons silos that if not handled, will perpetuate the glass ceiling that often impedes true integration.

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Originally Published PR Week, August 12, 2011 (subscription access only)

The old adage, "I'm from Corporate and I'm here to help" is well understood for what it implies: Corporate help is an oxymoron.

It doesn't have to be.

But research indicates that a sizable gap remains between the value Corporate practitioners believe they deliver to their companies and the perception of those practitioners who reside in business units.


The principal driver of this disconnect is the certainty with which Corporate practitioners believe it is of strategic importance that all employees know of and appreciate the work of the total enterprise, and the equally certain perspective that business unit practitioners believe the overwhelming focus must be on what is most relevant and actionable and, therefore, must be about their business unit.

What to do?

Let me preface five tips I have to share with an acknowledgment of a bias: I believe there is a strong role for Corporate.  But executing it successfully takes equal measures substance and style.

Here are five ways in which Corporate can succeed:

Define your role and earn grassroots support... What's your purpose as it relates to the businesses? Strategic guidance?  Talent management? Leveraging scale to achieve optimal cost efficiencies? Driving big enterprise-wide ideas? What are the needs in the units in which Corporate can make a meaningful difference?

Be high value...Corporate practitioners usually play two roles: one is executing purely corporate activities (e.g. investor relations; executive communications; etc.) and the other requires some level of inter-dependency with business units (e.g. reputation initiatives; CSR; digital strategies; marketing support; etc.).  In this latter category, Corporate ideally is an advisor and co-strategist. To earn its place comfortably alongside the business units, Corporate practitioners must be the best, most qualified practitioners in the company for the niches in which they advise.

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Why one + one is not proper integrated sales and marketing


"Integration" is a hot term driven by a combination of seven environmental factors. I contend that "integration" means creating a consistent experience across the customer's interaction with the brand. The challenge is that it is often siloed into one-on-one situations that aren't tracked. For example, a customer service agent on the phone might not know that a customer has tried to return an item to the store three times.

The true catalyst of integration evolves around understanding and embracing the value of a customer's engagement. Experience and evidence shows us that the fully engaged digital and social B2B and B2C brands are the only ones that can fully deliver the promise of integration. Without embracing this philosophy, organizations appear somewhat doomed to poke around the promise of integration.

Digital and social brands that embrace integration reap far more benefits from customer journey-based integration because they get the double-edged opportunity to react faster to market changes, and gain insights ahead of the competition. This is based on managing the customer's journey and leveraging social and digital as the engagement mechanism.

A Set of POVs to Drive Your Future

In a series of points of views over the next few months we are going to walk through what it takes to be truly integrated, and not just with one or two functions, but across a wide range. We have seen evidence in best practices that the pressure to do social and digital "right" is even greater than before. A limited perspective (one + one) will miss the wider and more effective opportunity.

One + One is Not Really Integration

Integrated online and offline, integrated online and social, integrated sales and channel, integrated media and marketing, integrated communications and brand: These are the marketing (and sometimes sales-based) marriages, especially inside B2B, we increasingly hear about. We call this integration, the integration of one + one. One function plus another bonding together at some point in the customer's journey. This is a start, but it really is an old world way of thinking and taking advantage of integration.

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We've had a number of posts on our blog speak to the importance of social media monitoring in strategy creation, including a recent addition that highlights the need for improvements to technological platforms to better inform those strategies. Now, it appears as if some of those much-needed improvements are making their way into the world of social media monitoring tools, and via the wine industry no less.


Mashable writes about the rising success of Cruvee, a social media monitoring platform that specializes in identifying, decoding, and understanding online interactions in the wine industry. Currently, about 27% of all wineries in the US are using the service to inform them of their brand's conversations online, among other cool features the program has incorporated into their service such as monetizing Facebook pages by giving the user the ability to turn their page into a virtual storefront, complete with a "buy now" button.

But the most interesting aspect of Cruvee's service is that it addresses a number of issues currently facing users of other social media monitoring platforms. Cruvee has built-in solutions that aim to minimize the "clutter" associated with finding where your brand lives in online conversations. Think of it as a platform that allows your brand to focus on the strategy that results from conversation analysis, rather than the time-consuming process of receiving those results. Here are a few of the things the Cruvee model offers that should be incorporated into other platforms:

1. Comprehension of industry "jargon". By focusing on one industry, the platform has built-in identifiers for language that other platforms often do not pick up. For example, someone tweeting the about the great "cab sauv" they enjoyed is picked up by the platform and shows up in the conversation dashboard results, where in many instances they may not. By searching for language that influencers within industry actually use (including shorthand, as in the above reference), the result is a clearer picture of what is actually being said.

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Originally Published PR Week, June 30, 2011 (subscription access only)

I've noticed that many companies that instinctively know they should be active in social media are moving forward tentatively and would like to move faster.

These organizations have grasped the importance of social media to their communications strategy. But whether it's because they're nervous about diving into the online conversation, or caught up in internal bickering over who "owns" it, or lack confidence in their strategy, their tentative pace is denying them the benefits of a more robust online engagement. They know they should be moving faster, but they're not sure how to do it.

Last week, while I was participating in an excellent Arthur W. Page Society "Future Leaders Experience," the group addressed this problem. Three success factors for accelerating successful online engagement emerged from the discussion:

1. Pique their competitive nature with a "best practices" assessment

Companies are often risk averse and don't like to be too far out front in using new technologies. Reviews of "best practices" often provide a level of comfort that comes from knowing what their peers are doing, learning from the mistakes of others, and benchmarking their own progress against leaders both outside and from within their own industries.

But "best practices" reviews have another motivating effect: they fire up people's competitive instincts. Nothing concentrates management's attention so much, or motivates them to action, as learning that a competitor is stealing the lead on them, and the race to benefit from engagement in social media is no exception.

2. Identify the key digital influencers in your space, and the hidden successes in your company

Sometimes, organizations don't move forward because they don't know where to start. In social media, management may be aware of platforms like Twitter and Facebook as factors in their personal lives, yet have no idea how those two platforms - and the much larger online ecosystem - influences their customers, employees and other stakeholders. Without knowing where to target their attention or their resources, they end up doing nothing.

They may also be relatively unaware of the small, experimental efforts already underway within their organization.

The fix? Do a thorough audit of the "digital ecosystem" in which your company operates, together with a careful look inside the company to see where social media activity already is (or isn't) underway. Find opportunities to create small success stories, and make the people who have achieved them champions (and trainers) who can help bring other, less adventurous, units up to speed.

Don't be surprised if some of your best success stories come from tired, mainstay brands that are willing to take some risks to rejuvenate their image. Think about how P&G stalwart "Old Spice" shook up its category with the "I'm on a horse" video that went viral.

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Imagine that you are a global apparel company and you want to know how your new line of shirts are being displayed in department stores across the country. Now, imagine you have your very own nationwide force of "mystery shoppers" that could almost instantly and credibly report back to you. Even include photos. Anywhere. Anytime. Well, that's exactly what businesses are now able to tap into through a promising new mobile app called Gigwalk.

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