29 April – Gamification for channel partners is the future

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Gamification, I have always found, is one of the best ways to drive results. The key is to encourage the action you want performing to be made a top priority. But what is the best way to achieve this?

 

I was lucky enough to meet Craig DeWolf from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, an expert at gamification and incentives, who works with some 75% of the fortune 1000 brands. I learnt a lot, and then applied it to social media. Here I will delve into the gamification world, so you can get to grips with all you need to know to help you apply this to your organisation.

 

But first, what is gamification?

Craig DeWolf states, ‘gamification is the use of traditional game elements to motivate, educate and engage participants.’ Examples include competitions, points, leader-boards, badges, rewards, self-esteem and recognition.

 

Gamification aims to drive engagement and overcome all challenges. This is a crucial area for brands operating within a channel. And with businesses spending over $1 trillion per year on software which is poorly adapted to their needs, little is changing. Enterprises want their channel partners to be highly engaged with their brand, sharing their content but with a measly 10-20% of channel partners even logging into channel portals, there is a long way to go to receive the level of engagement desired.

 

How it works

Gamification aims to add value by encouraging participants to perform a task that you would like them to do. This could be achieved by adding curiosity, status, reward, or achievement.

Gartner believes that by 2015, innovation processes will be gamified by at least 50% of organisations that manage innovation processes. Ensure you are a part of this 50%, otherwise your brand will undoubtedly get left behind.

 

Two types of gamification

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1. Structured examples

-Badges

-Points

-Leader boards

-Dials/ Gauges

 

Social Networks use this!

 

LinkedIn

The dial that appears on a user’s homepage indicates that their profile is only 80% complete. This encourages the user to increase their percentage, driving them to complete their unfinished profile. LinkedIn also uses the leader-board technique by showing a user how they are performing against their connections. The top skills section on a profile is another example of structured gamification. This appeals to the user’s self-esteem, through connections rating their abilities.

 

Twitter

Twitter has also followed suit, now allowing users to see how their posts are performing.  All these techniques are a way of changing our current behaviour. And I am sure you will agree, they are effective.

 

2.  Content examples  

-Creating a game to demonstrate certain content

 

Hitachi use this

Hitachi data systems recently used binary bees to promote their new storage products, illustrating how efficient it was at storing, segmenting and retrieving data. Those who registered for the game could then win prizes for understanding key components about the product.

 

Gamification applied to channel marketers

First of all I must point out that every channel partner has different requirements, so please remember that one size does not necessarily fit all. Try and adapt this to your organisation.

 

A success story

A large global IT brand, involved in virtualization, added gamification to their existing content for training purposes, and they received engagement of between 50% and 500%. A huge growth in their users’ experiences.

 

Your strategy to achieving gamification

First of all let’s consider the strategic processes for achieving gamification for your brand. Which values and behaviours do you value the most? A lot us have partner scorecards which are focussed on end results of partner performance, such as the revenue achieved at the end of the first quarter.

 

We are approaching this wrong

Instead we should focus on the behaviours that influence the end results, and how we can change these. One method, which I personally adopt, is producing progress reports, showing our customers how they are performing, against previous months. We also provide demos to our customers as a training method, helping drive their performance levels.

 

These two methods I would personally recommend as a starting point. I always find that keeping everyone informed and engaged does wonders. If you leave them to their own devices, they will quickly forget about your program/ brand and engage with other pressing issues.

 

Perhaps consider extending your incentives budget, focussing more time on this key area. I can honestly say that if you do this, your ROI will be worth it.

 

Are some of your partners more active than others, or maybe even users? Perhaps look at exposing this information, as a way to incentivise other partners to improve their act. It is a way to drive competition, and Craig DeWolf finds this to be particularly effective. This also works for improving the winners’ self-esteem, making them feel rewarded for their efforts.

 

Craig DeWolf states, ‘Use gamification for short-term needs such as introducing new products or programs, or to reignite existing programs. After this you can look to provide incentives, such as intrinsic rewards, to attain larger goals such as a partner increasing their revenue by 5%.

 

How can gamification work for social media?

If you operate within a channel, I am sure you must have considered how you could use social media as a means for promoting your brand to end users. A consistent, brand message is important for every organisation, and you want to be at the forefront of all your end users minds. Encouraging partners to share your content is a great way to increase your exposure.

 

Why is social media gamification important?

With a large proportion of your target audience using social media, and with 67% of a buying decision occurring digitally, it is crucially important that your channel partners share and promote your content on social media. These are the people that are selling your products, and end users need to be reassured in order to make that all important buying decision.

Our customers that use socialondemand® see the stats for each one of their posts, allowing them to share this information with their partners. This then rewards and builds the partners self-esteem.

 

We have also gone one step further, by building a leader-board that showcases all of our users within the company. This encourages competition. Some users receive a lot more activity than others and we have found it hugely effective to share this information, helping boost engagement elsewhere.

 

 

I am sure you will agree gamification is pretty incredible. The results you will receive will speak for themselves. I know what a different gamification has made to my company, so why not see what a difference it will make to yours. Trust me you will not regret it.

22 April – Enable Social Selling – Launch Employee Advocacy

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Have you given employee advocacy much thought? I’ll start by explaining what it is… Employee advocacy is the promotion of a brand through its employees. But the question is, how can this work for your brand? Here let me show you.

 

Why involve employees?

 

With two thirds of consumers buying decisions occurring digitally before they even interact with your brand; it becomes crucially important that you have a strong online presence. And what better way to promote your brand than through your employees’ social media accounts?

 

Whether you are a small or large organisation, your employees will certainly have a social media presence, with a mix of personal and professional connections. Think about how much further your message could reach, just by utilising them. And let’s not also forget that the message will be shared by the connections their followers trust, strengthening the promotional effectiveness.

 

Many of our customers use employee advocacy to increase their potential reach, and I cannot begin to tell you how happy they are with the outcome. One of our customers went from reaching a few hundreds of connections (Twitter followers, Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts), to 170,000 connections, just by allowing 160 employees to share their content.

 

Compete

 

Through increasing your potential reach, this undoubtedly will increase your competitiveness. Ensure you are at the forefront of potential customer’s minds when they decide to make the all-important decision to buy your product over competitors.

 

Create passion

 

Employee advocacy is also a great way to create a motivated workforce, who are equipped with an in-depth knowledge of their brands offerings. Also to their connections they appear as a professional, sharing their knowledge to others.

 

Thought-leadership

 

These posts also allow your employees to become thought leaders and trusted advisors in the social media world. They are providing value to their online community. To become a thought leader, all employees have to do is add their opinion to your post. It will provide a personal touch, whilst allowing them to appear up-to-date with the industry they work in.

 

Dedicated workforce

 

Your posts will create additional value to employees through improving their online professional status. This creates a real benefit to employees, which potentially increases their dedication to your brand. In return they will get more out of their place of work.

 

How to achieve this?

 

But the big question is how to achieve employee advocacy effectively. The good news is, there are social media platforms, such as socialondemand®, that allow brands to create, schedule and send posts to your employees. All employees then have to do is either click one button to share the content onto their desired social network, or create a personal thought leader comment and then click share. It’s that simple.

 

How can I get my employees to share my posts?

 

I will only briefly explain this part, as I am going to do another blog post on gamification next week, but to encourage all employees to share your posts, you may need to incentivise them. Some examples include:

 

  1. Rewards for sharing your posts
  2. Competitions amongst employees
  3. Publicising the level of activity the highest performers have generated
  4. Making the task feel like a game

 

So there are real benefits to employee advocacy, something all brands should get involved in. Many of our customers use socialondemand for employee advocacy, and this has really helped increase their potential reach. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself.

15 April – 7 signs your brand is doing social media wrong

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There is so much info out there about the best way to approach social media – it can be quite daunting. So I have summarized 7 simple things to help you on your way.

 

  1. Targeted Content: Do you often share content about a variety of topics? It’s fine if you are doing this for your own personal use, but if you are doing this for your brand, it can cause your connections to be confused. My first tip is; spend some time thinking about who you are trying to target. Who is your audience? I would suggest to start thinking about a maximum of 5 favourable topics you would like to post about and the type of audience these topics would attract. By identifying this you can post content around their perceived interest. But obviously it has to complement your brand.

 

If you operate within a channel, social media platforms to allow you to send targeted content to set partners. They can then share these on their social media accounts to their desired audience. Ideal, I know.

 

  1. Frequency: Regularity is essential for keeping your audience constantly aware of your brand. If you fall off the radar with infrequent posts, it is likely they will forget about you, unfollow you or even choose a more socially active competitor. It is important you plan when your content is going to be sent out and also what you are going to post about. I would suggest using a social media platform (so you can use multiple accounts) to schedule posts. Individual networks will allow you to schedule posts, but using a tool will allow you to schedule multiple posts across multiple platforms. For most networks, like Twitter and Facebook post around 4 times a day. But for the likes of LinkedIn Pulse, once a week is sufficient. Prior planning prevents poor performance, remember that!

 

  1. Original vs shared content: It is good to share others content but not all the time. I try to create at least 50% of the content I post, to prevent too much regurgitation of information. It is important I bring an alternative, fresh perspective to stand out from the crowd.

Also when sharing posts, I would suggest giving your opinion, where appropriate. This could include something as simple as ‘@purechannelapps makes an interesting point about social media mistakes, but how about…’ Show your thought leadership qualities and you will become a trusted advisor in your field. But don’t forget a trusted reputation does take time to build, so don’t expect a miracle overnight.

 

  1. Engagement: How much interaction do you receive from the content you post? This brings me onto tracking where your interaction comes from. This is important as it allows you to identify which posts receive the highest level of engagement. From this you can create a social media strategy, establishing; the most effective time to post, who you are reaching, which topics are receiving the most interest and the style of posts which receive the most interest. This could include posts with; rhetorical questions, statistics or perhaps posts with images. I personally find a mixture of all three tends to be the most effective. You will find your own perfect recipe for achieving positive engagement, but it takes time to work out!

 

  1. Followers: These are a fundamental element to social media. It can take a considerable time to build up a strong base of followers. Some connections will drop off as quickly as they arrived. Maybe your content did not fulfil their interests or maybe they were hoping you would follow them back. Forget about them, I prefer to focus on attracting and engaging worthwhile connections. But how do I find them, I hear you ask? It’s simple, post regularly and (I’m going to say it again) target your posts. This way you will build a steady stream of connections, interested in what you have you have to say. Our (new) sharing mentality is built on attraction and that is largely led by identifying areas of similar interest.

 

Follower to follow ratio: Are you following/ connected to more people than those following/ connected to you? This needs to be reversed. This will encourage more followers believe it or not. You will appear as an interesting thought leader. Trust me it works.

  1. Communication: How often do you shout out or start up a conversation with others on social media? This is important.. You will become an intriguing contact, and others will want to engage with you. They also want to be included in your conversations, as this could increase their potential reach. Start by adding a few people to the conversation and ask them a question.

 

  1. Hashtags: Avoid making the mistake #of #hashtagging #everything. First of all it’s confusing for read, and secondly you are not using them for their primary use. I started researching appropriate keywords which correlated with my brand and used some of these. This helped me to be easily found/visible on social media. It also increased my following base, another added bonus!

 

So yes, there are ways of improving your social media popularity. Simply follow my 7 social media tips. These are tried and tested methods I have personally found to be the most effective. I hope you find them as useful as I did.

08 April – 5 signs your brand is a social media addict- well done!

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Social media, it’s one of those terms that you know brings great importance and value to many. Whether it is for increasing brand exposure, social selling, connecting individuals together, or even just for fun, it has huge benefits. But when do these great benefits become so fundamental to your life that you/ your brand can no longer live without it. Sound familiar?

 

Here I will share 5 signs that you and your brand may be addicted to social media. Don’t worry it’s nothing to be ashamed of, if anything it illustrates that you are embracing social media for the greater good and wreaking the benefits. Good for you.

 

  1. Do I have any updates?

Is your work life dependant on receiving notifications that show your post has been accepted and embraced in the online world? For brands, this is really useful stuff. Being on top of their online communications shows they are managing their sites effectively. This ensures potential customers are receiving excellent customer service and also shows what a fantastic company you are. 2 out of 3 buying decisions occur digitally, before interaction even occurs. And with social media being an ever increasing platform, you can be right at the forefront of your target audiences mind, encouraging them to pick you over competitors.

 

  1. Multiple social media accounts

Do you actively use more than 3 social networks, and interact with others on there on a daily basis? I admire you, it shows you are taking advantage of the digital world and all that it has to offer. A diverse range of audiences can be reached on social media, due to the variety of purposes for each. A lot of skill is required when aiming to reach a wide audience. So if you’re achieving this, you sound like a genius to me!

 

If however you struggle to manage all of your accounts, why not use a social media platform, such as socialondemand®. You can schedule posts, send out to all networks, and if your brand operates within a channel or sells directly, you can also use it to send posts out to your partners and employees, who can then share this to their connections. And it’s so easy.

 

  1. 10 updates a day

Do you aim to send a high number of posts a day? Do you normally achieve this? Now here’s a question, do you receive much attention from sending these out? It’s alright just posting them, but if you are not receiving significant response or even worse if you are losing followers/ connections/ friends, this MAY just indicate your addiction has got out of hand and you need to act on this FAST. Book yourself into half an hour of purechannelapps rehabilitation, and read some of our blogs. Don’t worry, this will cure you.

 

  1. Share, share, share

Are you a sharer? Do you share a lot of others content?  It’s good to share; not just for the person that created the content, but also for your connections, who can now appreciate it just as much as you did. But be warned; do not share content that you have not fully read. This could make you look extremely bad, or worse you could end up promoting one of your competitors. You don’t want that now, do you?

 

  1. Increased followers

Do you receive A LOT of new followers? This shows they are liking what you are posting and want to read more. But do they go as quickly as they come? If yes, it sounds to me like they are only interested in one thing… for you to follow them back. Don’t fall for their silly behaviour. Only follow those that you are interested in. And be sure to check their follower to follow ratio. Trustworthy, interesting connections normally have more followers than those who they follow. Check when you decide whether to link with them.

 

 

So if you are in fact a social media addict, high five to you. It shows that you are embracing the technological world. It is the future and as I am sure you are well aware it will make a fundamental difference to any brand. Get it right and you are on to a winner.