The 5 Fundamentals of Cause Marketing

Guest post by Corey Pudhorodsky, Senior Client Partner at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast.  Originally posted in the Spredfast blog.

Cause Marketing – the word is tossed around more than a caesar side salad, but what does it actually mean? What are the components of a strong cause marketing campaign and how do you make it relevant to you and your audience and consumer?

In a recent strategy session comprised of industry thought leaders, we dissected cause marketing and uncovered five essential ingredients for a powerful campaign. Participants shared their own interpretations and uses for cause marketing, along with tips for final evaluation.

Attendees included:

Audrey Tiger, Senior Product Manager at Spredfast

Kristen Haga, Director of Client Services at Spredfast

David Modigliani, Creative Director at Flow Nonfiction

Alana Kalin, Account Executive at Blippar


1. Know Why You’re Doing This   

Simply put, Cause Marketing is the intersection between a brand and a cause whether that’s a cause through a third-party nonprofit or a cause that a brand adopts. Marketers are using this tactic for several reasons, both to promote a brand message and also to produce social good.

The beauty of cause marketing lies within it’s ability to add value and reinforce a brand’s image with audiences – all while using that social impact to make a difference in the world. It sounds like a perfect marriage for all parties involved but before you slap together a cause marketing campaign, some planning has to happen.

2. Be Yourself

Authenticity in cause marketing means choosing the right campaign for your consumer. Brands these days come with predefined images of what audiences already believe a brand to be, so planning a cause marketing campaign means choosing the cause that already aligns well with the image your brand portrays. If you’re a weapons manufacturer, it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for you to select an anti-gun cause for your campaign.

Choose a cause that’s relevant to the brand and those who receive it. Once you have this connection it becomes easy to tie the cause to your product in a way that the brand can openly discuss. That my friends, is authenticity.

3. Alignment is Everything

Similar to authenticity, selecting a cause that pairs well with your brand is essential to the success of your campaign, but how do you know what resonates with your consumer? Well, that’s where social really steps in – with social you can see what your consumers are talking about, what they’re saying in their everyday conversations through social and word of mouth, and what their interests are. Take this collection of knowledge and match it up with a cause.

Below are two examples of cause marketing campaigns that clearly took brand alignment into account:

Lucky Charms


During Pride Month, General Mills celebrated diversity with a campaign around the Lucky Charms brand. The LGBT community and its allies were engaged by a call-to-action asking audiences to submit Tweets or Instagram stories using the hashtag #LuckyToBe while aggregating that content to the brand’s Tumblr page.

(RED) Campaign


The (RED) campaign was created in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to involve people in the widespread fight against AIDS. To bring social to the forefront of their campaign efforts, Spredfast created “Pulse of (RED)”, a display of images that brought in social posts from (RED) campaign supporters. There, (RED) connected with supporters while observing how audiences were interacting with their organization.

These brands selected causes where they knew they could make an impact. With absolute certainty they could say, “your cares are aligned with my cares” when talking to their audience. Once they’ve reached that point, brands can give the audience some control vs. the brand trying to sell to the audience. The brand becomes the giving facilitator and this option becomes very organic, like the grocery store adding $1 to your final bill.

Of course there are other factors to consider such as timing – when are people in the giving mood? Take that authentic message and content you’ve worked so hard to craft and capitalize on it at the right moment when your audience is feeling philanthropic. And by capitalize I don’t necessarily mean money either. These campaigns aren’t always asking audiences to do something – they could also be simply raising awareness. When brands tell a story in their cause marketing campaign, audiences are compelled to give back which is actually more effective in many cases. People will be more inclined to give later, but in the meantime they can interact and participate.

4. Extend Your Caring By Sharing  

So we get that it’s nice and all, but aside from that, why do cause marketing? Brands can only exist within a certain amount of mindshare of every consumer’s space and level of interest. When you align with a cause, you’re increasing the level of impact that you have around what those consumer interests are. With Hollister, for example, teenagers are only going to be thinking about clothes so much. Maybe they’re also thinking about surfing or the environment or a whole other set of interests that brands can tap into to show that their ideas are shared.

By creating an extension of your brand formed around other interests, brands can attach themselves to causes and extend their impact. We think about mechanics (where will they share and how will we host it) but first, we must think about the story. Tell an impactful story.

Now it’s finally time to spread the word – it’s actually a step that people miss, believe it or not. Brands need to ask others to engage and share, look at the share/retweet/follower to follow ratio on Twitter. Are you going to promote a hashtag or use a celebrity endorsement?

5. See How You Did

The end is just as important as the beginning and evaluating the success of your cause marketing campaign is the only way to learn from past mistakes or pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

How do you know if it was a success?

That has a lot to do with what you’re planning to measure. If you’re looking at reach, it would be based on the total potential reach or number of interactions that you’ve had. If you’re looking to raise money, it would be based on the total number of funds that have been donated either through your audience of consumers or your brand, based on the number of activations you’ve reached from people who’ve participated. If you’re looking at awareness, you might do some surveying before and after to see what’s been the increase in education about the cause.

Whatever your goal is, it must be established beforehand. If you’re partnering with a nonprofit make sure that you know their goals too because the best cause marketing campaigns are the ones that aren’t just performed one time. It’s the brands that have an ongoing partnership with a nonprofit where the brand is really increasing their interaction with a cause of a period of time.

Ready? Set? Plan!

The best cause marketing campaigns are the ones that have a lot of thought behind them. Reach beyond the obvious with a campaign that resonates with your audience and tells a story that the consumer can relate to. There’s so much more beyond the business aspect of a brand where clients are interacting with products in uncovered ways – it’s up to brands to get in touch with these storytellers and raise awareness. The people who care and causes already exist, brands just have to connect with them.

Social Commerce Success

“Brandi Temple went from sewing dresses for her daughters to make ends meet to running the most talked-about, $11 million company in e-commerce – all because she picked the lock on using Facebook for sales.”  Inc. – June 2014

Lolly Wolly Doodle, Inc presents a great success story – propelled from a home-based business to an $11 million corporation thanks to the power of social media. Where many major corporations have failed, CEO Brandi Temple succeeded in creating a highly effective social commerce model, with sales made directly in her business’s Facebook Page. In addition, she created a powerful “social feedback loop” that helped shape her business’s growth and continues to influence key business and product decisions.

The story made the cover of Inc.’s June 2014 issue and can be read in its entirety here. In the video below Brandi Temple shares “7 Tips for Social Commerce Success.” Her advice:

  • Treat Each Channel Differently
  • Experiment, Experiment, Experiment
  • Be Yourself
  • Make Transactions Seamless
  • Don’t Be a Business
  • Keep Them on Their Toes
  • Buckle Up

View the video to hear Brandi expand on each point and offer valuable insight and lessons learned from her business’s incredible social media-driven success.

Top Ten Social Media Resources

Top TenWe’re pleased to share our latest “top ten” collection of social media resources – a carefully curated list featuring a valuable mix of tools and checklists, practical guides, and insights and case studies from leading industry pros.

If you would like additional resources sent direct to your inbox every other week, you can subscribe to our free email newsletter.

Top Ten Resources:

1. Facebook Marketing Goals for 2014 – Now more than ever, success in Facebook marketing takes strategic planning and execution, and a working understanding of the many tools and resources Facebook makes available. In this post, Jon Loomer does a great job in identifying, outlining and explaining 14 key Facebook marketing goals for the new year. A great resource. >> READ MORE

2. Three Questions to Answer Before Your Social Media Campaign Launch –  What is the objective of this campaign, what are my key performance indicators, what does success look like? This post from Ignite Social Media provides a valuable walkthrough of these three important questions you should ask and answer before launching any new campaign.  >> READ MORE 

3. The Social Experience: 12 Leading Brands & Visionaries Explore the Elements of Great Social Programs – Social media leads from Whole Foods, RadioShack, Caterpillar, ARAMARK,, and industry pros such as Jay Baer and Ann Handley provide valuable insights in this free e-book from Social: IRL partner, Spredfast. A highly recommended download covering issues such as content marketing, building engaged communities, social customer care, and converged media strategies.  >> READ MORE

4. Ten Tips for Reputation and Crisis Management in the Digital World – In the online era, it becomes critical for businesses of any size to have a social media crisis management plan – or even better, a crisis prevention plan. In this post, Ekaterina Walter discusses some key ways to avoid social media disasters, prevent them from escalating, or even to handle things if everything goes sideways. >> READ MORE

5. Influencer Outreach and Employee Advocacy – One of Social: IRL’s most popular interviews from 2013, features our in-depth discussion with Walmart’s Senior Director of Digital Communications, Chad Mitchell. Chad shares valuable insights on creating meaningful influencer relationships and outcomes. He also discusses the power of employee advocacy and steps Walmart is embarking on to engage, activate and empower their associates.  >> READ MORE

6. Digital Transformation and Disruptive Trends: What to Watch in 2014 – As we’ve headed in to the new year we’ve been bombarded with the typical “predictions posts.” Two we would recommend come from Altimeter’s Brian Solis and Charlene Li.

In his post, Brian shares his agenda for 2014, with some key issues around social business, customer experience and digital transformation. >> READ MORE 

In her post, Charlene discusses disruptive trends she is watching in 2014, and shares thoughts on the implications for organizations and actions they should take. >> READ MORE

7. Social Pros 100th Episode  – Convince & Convert President and Youtility author Jay Baer, recently celebrated the 100th episode of his popular Social Pros podcast. This 50 minute Google Hangout features great conversation and valuable insights from Jay and special guests including Brad Walters from Lowe’s, Jessica Gioglio from Dunkin Donuts, Vanessa Sain-Dieguez from Hilton Hotels, and more. Highly recommended viewing.  >> VIEW VIDEO

8. Digital Marketing Lessons Nonprofits Can Learn from charity: water –  charity: water, a nonprofit that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, is leading the way when it comes to redefining nonprofit marketing; they are exceptional at inbound marketing, focusing on creating powerful content to inspire people to join their cause. This post from Beth Kanter’s blog shares nine valuable marketing lessons from charity: water that other nonprofits (or really any business) can take and apply in their own organization. >> READ MORE

9. Building an Audience-Centric Content Distribution Strategy  –  To fully harness the power of content distribution, brands should shift from serving internal executives with branded key messages to serving journalists, influencers and advocates with relevant information focused on the end reader. >> READ MORE

10. Monitoring and Measuring Social Media: A Practical Guide – Eight practical applications for social media monitoring are highlighted (with examples for each) in this presentation from Social: IRL partner, Sprial16. Applications include competitive intelligence, industry research, market research, lead generation, customer service, crisis management, and campaign monitoring.  >> READ MORE

Smart Social: Concluding Our Conversation with Walmart’s Senior Director of Digital Communications, Chad Mitchell

Walmart logoChad Mitchell is Senior Director of Digital Communications at Walmart.  Positioned within Walmart’s  Corporate Affairs division, he and his team are responsible for managing and supporting all aspects of Walmart’s corporate digital presence, including the corporate website, social media platforms, and email communications both internally to associates and externally to customers.  They are charged with managing and protecting Walmart’s corporate digital reputation, both reactively and through proactive influencer outreach.

Chad recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

The first part of the conversation can be viewed here, featuring in-depth discussion on approaches to influencer outreach and brand advocacy, including details of a new social media-based employee advocacy program Walmart is launching in 2014.

This second instalment moves beyond Walmart’s corporate programs to focus a more personal conversation with Chad, including lessons learned in dealing with negative comments and attacks, and then stepping back to consider the ongoing theme of the interview series and discuss what “smart social” means to him.

In continuing the interview, Chad shares personal takeaways and learnings from the last 12 months and talks in particular about dealing with negative comments and attacks, the challenge in not taking them personally, and understanding how and when to respond. He also gives a valuable reminder that despite so much focus on social, not to lose sight of the value of your corporate website and of how powerful of a channel that can still be.

In concluding the interview, Chad explains how he defines “smart social” and talks about the importance of truly understanding our audience and being able to deliver the right message, to the right audience, in the right channel, at the right time.

Join us at Kansas City’s 2014 Direct Marketing Symposium

DirectMarketingSymposium14We always enjoy sharing and recommending events we feel will offer valuable learning and networking opportunities for our clients and online audeince, and are pleased to be able to offer a special discount to the 2014 Direct Marketing Symposium hosted by the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association. The event is all about data-driven marketing – from targeting, segmenting and customer insights to metrics and analytics – a great learning opportunity for savvy marketers. Featured speakers include:

Jeff Fromm, author of “Marketing to Millennials” and founder of the “Share. Like. Buy” Conference.

Alessandra Souers, Senior Product Marketing Manager at JibJab Media.

Roberta O’Keith, LEAN Six Sigma Master Black Belt at GE Power & Water.

Rocky Longworth, VP of Insight & Strategy at The Integer Group.

Brian Olson, President of InQuest Marketing.

Jordan Sass, Assistant Director of Admissions, University of Houston.


Event Information:

The 2014 Direct Marketing Symposium

Thursday, January 23, 2014, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

At the Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Rd, Kansas City, MO 64111

Registration: Regular rate $225. Use promotional code SOCIALIRL25 to save $25.

Register Now

For additional information please visit the KCDMA website.

Smart Social: Walmart’s Chad Mitchell on Influencer Outreach and Employee Advocacy

Walmart logoChad Mitchell is Senior Director of Digital Communications at Walmart.  Positioned within Walmart’s  Corporate Affairs division, he and his team are responsible for managing and supporting all aspects of Walmart’s corporate digital presence, including the corporate website, social media platforms, and email communications both internally to associates and externally to customers.  They are charged with managing and protecting Walmart’s corporate digital reputation, both reactively and through proactive influencer outreach.

Chad recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

We’ll be sharing the interview in two instalments. In this first instalment, conversation focuses on challenges and opportunities around influencer outreach and employee advocacy.

Part One: Chad discusses how his team defines, identifies and engages influencers in the social media space, and shares valuable insights on creating meaningful influencer relationships and outcomes.

Part Two: Chad discusses the the challenges and opportunities social media brings to influencer outreach, both in terms of identifying potential influencers and in creating the right content and message for the right audience in the right channel.

Part Three: Chad addresses the need for transparency and authenticity in influencer outreach, and to understand the scrutiny a brand such as Walmart is under with today’s outreach initiatives being conducted in full public view online.

Part Four: The conversation moves from influencer engagement to employee advocacy and Chad discusses the tremendous value of employee brand advocacy and steps Walmart is embarking on to engage, activate and empower their associates to fill this valuable yet largely untapped role.

Part Five: In concluding this first instalment of the interview, Chad discusses identifying and overcoming challenges to effective employee advocacy, from both corporate and associate perspectives.

Continue to Part Two of the interview here.

The Nice List: The Best Campaigns from Holidays Past

Guest post by Courtney Doman, Digital Marketing Manager at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast.  Originally posted in the Spredfast blog.

You have probably already seen tinsel and garland in the aisles of your favorite department stores and may have even grumbled that it is “too soon!” But if you are a marketer, particularly for a retail brand, there is no time like the present to put a bow on your holiday strategy for this year.

Social activations are becoming bigger and better parts of many brands’ holiday strategies. We’ve assembled a “Nice List” of standouts from the 2012 holiday season. Check it out for some social inspiration.

Provide a One-of-a-Kind Experience.

A personal touch goes a long way. REI wowed with their #giftpicks campaign in 2012. REI called on their Green Vests—passionate in-store employees who are knowledgeable and helpful, to create real-time video responses to REI members asking for help buying gifts. The team shot about 90 custom videos for this campaign. Not only did the gesture deepen relationships between the brand and members receiving responses, referral traffic to REI’s site doubled. Want to read more about this campaign? Ekaterina Walter wrote a great recap last year.

Nice List 1Give the gift of great content.

The holidays are a time to celebrate and look good doing it–whether you’re scoring facetime with your boss at the office holiday party, sitting around a feast with family, or ringing in the new year with your friends. You might guess that Brooks Brothers, America’s original clothier, has your outfit covered. But did you know that they also provide scores of tips and tricks on how to navigate the holidays with style and ease? The Brooks Brothers blog, Of Rogues & Gentlemen, covered everything from creating a knockout charcuterie plate to writing the perfect thank you card last holiday season. The holidays are hectic. By providing useful lifestyle information, Brooks Brothers was able to create value for customers and stay top of mind, with something other than a sale.

Nice List 2

Invite People to Share their Wish List.

81% of U.S. Consumers are influenced by friends’ social media posts. Getting consumers to actively discuss preference for your brand’s goods or services is a powerful tool that can drive further awareness and preference. Last year, Sephora asked their twitter followers to tweet the Sephora products on their holiday wish lists to “@Sephora Claus” and granted the wishes of 30 users. The campaign garnered over 50,000 entries. The great interactive user experience allowed entrants to discover other wishes and engage with the campaign.

Nice List 3

Surprise and Delight

Many brands are tapping in to the visual, inspirational nature of Pinterest to stage their holiday social campaigns. Pinterest collaborated with people, businesses, non-profit organizations, and celebrities to reveal 30 holidays boards in an interactive calendar for their 30 Days of Pinspiration Campaign.

Nice List 4

H-E-B, a Texas grocer, ran a Pin to Win campaign during the 2012 holiday season, asking customers to pin their favorite holiday meal ideas to a Pinterest board for a chance to win a $1000 gift card. It was a great way to start a conversation about holiday food traditions and get users engaged.

Nice List 5

Are there any other holiday campaigns that stood out to you last year? Shoot me a tweet at @cjdoman to discuss. Looking for ways to make your holiday campaign memorable this year? Check out this tip sheet for 5 Social Media Best Practices for Retail Brands.

Advocates vs. Influencers and Steps to a Successful Brand Advocacy Program

Guest post by Eric Melin, Manager Marketing & Communications at Social: IRL sponsor, Spiral16. Originally posted in the Spiral16 blog as the second instalment of an event recap of Social: IRL’s recent workshop in St. Louis MO, with social business pioneer and Your Brand: The Next Media Company author, Michael Brito.

Michael Brito | @Britopian

Michael Brito | @Britopian

Tuesday I blogged about Michael Brito‘s advice concerning the need for businesses to become their own media companies. At the St. Louis Social:IRL workshop, he put forth a lot of great material that brands should be thinking about as they plan their social strategies.

Today’s blog concerns a topic that he spent a good amount of time on — one that has vexed social strategists and community managers for some time now.

His presentation was called Brand Advocacy: How Customers and Employees Can Shape Your Brand Story.

First he started off by defining the difference between a brand advocate and an influencer. An influencer has a high degree of reach. Maybe they have a large Twitter following or a popular Facebook page. An influencer’s relationship with a brand is incentive-based. To get an influencer on your side, posting about your initiatives and talking positively about your brand, they’ll often do things like fly the influencer to an exclusive event or offer them a prize if they post a certain amount of things.

The thing is: Conversation from an influencer stops when the incentive is over.

A brand advocate is someone that actually loves your brand wholeheartedly. They may not have a large reach, but they have a natural affinity for your company and emotional equity built up from years of satisfaction. (Think Apple or Starbucks — brands people are passionate about.) A brand advocate doesn’t need incentives. They deliver long-term business value because they talk about the brand in everyday conversation. If your business is smart, you are already listening online and can identify these advocates.

The thing is: They are so real and organic that they don’t know we’re even paying attention to them!

Because of social media and mobile interaction, conversations are influencing consumers at all stages of the purchase funnel — sometimes even influencing people NOT to buy. And many times, these people are employees of the company itself. Think about it, if your friend works for Sprint, you’re going to ask them a question about your service first, right? Here are some stats Michael referenced to prove his point:

  • 92% of consumers say that peer recommendations are the most reliable
  • 65% of business professionals are asking each other for advice in social media. (Knowing this stat, an advocacy program might be a good idea!)
  • 67% find employees of a company reliable when seeking info about brand/products

Use these insights and turn customers and employees into advocates, empowering them to share long-form stories that deepen brand affinity and influence others.

Advocates can:

  1. Drive awareness
  2. Change perceptions
  3. Educate customers and prospects
  4. Solve customer support issues
  5. Provide feedback and insight
  6. Influence peers to buy

Why try to actively turn customers and employees into advocates? What’s in it for the brand?

First off, you can gain third-party content, which — I can vouch for this being a content marketer myself — is always nice! Secondly, the amplification opportunities for the brand are enormous. Lastly, these advocates will develop into trusted sources for insights about the brand. They’ll tell you when you’re off course and when you’re kicking ass. And their opinion will matter. After all, they’re already in your court.

OK, well what’s in it for the advocates?

Advocates will get all kinds of rewards: Public recognition as a elite community member, access to exclusive content from the brand, a platform for sharing thoughts with a wider audience, and the opportunity to develop thought leadership. All these things will make them very happy.

Three Advocacy Programs to Think About Creating

  1. An employee activation and brand journalism program
  2. Customer advocacy or evangelism (make it campaign-driven or goal-driven)
  3. Brand storytelling – should be happening all the time, train employees to talk about brand externally, mobilize customers to do this
Five Steps to a Successful Advocacy Program
  1. Define the program
  2. Identify the right tools for advocate identification
  3. Activate them: Mobilize your advocates – enable brand sharing, empower them with quality content and rich activations
  4. Amplify advocacy in realtime: share advocate content
  5. Measure and optimize: top shared content, reach impressions, earned media value, sentiment/share of voice, community growth rate, number of trained employees

Help, Not Hype: Jay Baer Keynote at Expion’s Social Business Summit

Expion Summit 2013Expion’s third Social Business Summit took place last week in Raleigh NC, bringing together an impressive group of brands and agencies for a discussion focused around the challenges and opportunities in managing social media programs.

Opening day two of the Summit was Convince & Convert  founder and New York Times best selling author Jay Baer, who delivered a powerful message on the value of smart marketing based on “help not hype”  – the theme of his new book YOUtility.

We’re sharing below a Storify recap of attendee tweets, edited to highlight key audience perspectives and takeaways from Jay’s presentation. Many valuable insights are included.

For additional recaps of all key Summit sessions, you can visit Expion’s blog.

Mission Possible: Insights from Expion’s Social Business Summit

Expion Summit 2013Expion’s third social business summit kicked off today in Raleigh NC, bringing together an impressive group of brands and agencies for a discussion focussed around the challenges and opportunities in managing social media programs.

Expion will be posting recaps of key sessions here in their blog (they’ll be added as the event continues). To supplement that we’re sharing below a Storify recap of attendee tweets, edited to highlight key audience perspectives and takeaways.

Today’s sessions included included:

Earn It. Don’t Buy It – Ignite Social Media’s Jim Tobin  How earned and owned social can save your brand money and create advocates without paying for them.

Your Brand, The Next Media Company – Edelman’s Michael Brito  How organizations can evolve into a fully collaborative social business.

Inside Social Enterprise  – DoubleTree’s Diana Plazas, Group1 Automotive’s Sajeev Mehta, IBM’s Tina Williams, and Whitewave Foods’ Lori Anderson. Moderated by Expion’s Zena Weist  How top brands are aligning the organization to operationalize social throughout the enterprise. 

Generation Z – Students from NC State, Duke, University of North Carolina, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. Moderated by 360i’s  Matt Wurst  How Generation Zs  interact with brands via social and what they think brands are doing right and wrong.

Brand Advocacy – American Dental Association’s Bridget Houlihan, H&R Block’s Matt Staub, Jeep’s Vicki Carlini, 360i’s Matt Wurst  Brands and agencies discuss how providing content suggestions to employees and customers assists with social selling and influencer marketing.

Client Keynote – Mondelez International’s VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Bonin Bough  The beauty of real-time engagement often lies in improvisation, it’s also about planning ahead: building the right muscle memory, culture and technological backbone.


Smart Social: A Conversation with Ignite Social Media’s Jim Tobin

Smart Social SmallJim Tobin, is president of Ignite Social Media, widely recognized as being “the original social media agency.” He is also author of 2008’s Social Media is a Cocktail Party and a new book publishing in the fall of 2013, Earn It. Don’t Buy It. The CMO’s Guide to Social Media Marketing in a Post Facebook World.

Jim recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, and Expion VP of Strategy, Zena Weist, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

During the interview Jim discussed issues ranging from the evolution of Facebook and challenges it’s now facing in keeping users engaged, to Facebook’s advertising model and its impact on user experience, to frustrations with the current state of social marketing and an over-reliance on buying impressions rather than earning engagement.

The interview was conducted via Google Hangout.

Part One: Jim discusses the title of his new book, in particular the reference to a “post Facebook World.” From there Jim discusses where the onus lies in keeping users engaged in the channel – with Facebook in the UX, or with brands in the quality of content created and shared? Jim also discusses Facebook’s current advertising model and whether financial success had come at the expense of user experience.

Part Two: Jim discusses social media advertising vs. social media marketing and the need to move beyond simply buying impressions to develop a deeper understanding of your audience and what they care about –  why they care about your brand, what gets them to react to your content, what gets them to advocate for you.

Part Three:  Jim discusses the current agency environment and the role of niche specialty agencies, such as Ignite.  A key point of emphasis, the need for greater agency collaboration with a focus on the end-user experience.

Part Four: Jim shares some of the frustrations he feels towards the current state of social media marketing and a too common reliance on buying impressions rather than earning results. It was these frustrations that ultimately proved to be the motivating factor behind his new book.

Smart Social: A Conversation with H&R Block’s Scott Gulbransen

Smart SocialScott Gulbransen is Director of Social Business Strategy at tax giant H&R Block, and is the veteran of 13 tax seasons.

Before H&R Block, Scott helped create the social media platforms at both Applebee’s and TurboTax.

Scott recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, and Expion VP of Strategy, Zena Weist, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

During the conversation, Scott provided valuable insights on some key issues, including empowering employee advocacy, the “local social nugget”, aligning social initiatives with business strategy, marketing with the unexpected, and the role and responsibilities of the company’s social media department within the greater organizational structure.

The interview was conducted via Google Hangout.

Part One: Scott discusses where the social media department is housed within the H&R Block organization, and the role the department plays in “leading and empowering,” rather than controlling social.

Part Two: Scott discusses the “local social nugget” and explains how and why H&R Block are working to empower local offices to tap into the power of social communications.

Part Three: Scott discusses employee advocates and explains why, even in a regulated industry, empowering employees to speak about your brand in the right way is not only powerful advocacy, but is actually safer for the brand.

Part Four: Scott discusses the”Stache Act” – a marketing campaign that earned H&R Block a great deal of attention and acclaim. Scott explains that while the campaign was about having fun and playing on the unexpected, the key to its success revolved around “making a business case and having real business reasons for what you want to do” and ensuring social was aligned with the greater business strategy.

Part Five: Scott answers the question, “During your time at H&R Block, what are you most proud of?” His answer is not what you might initially expect, shifting focus from the ‘Stache Act and other high profile successes, to strategy and team members.

Part Six: We conclude the interview by focussing back on the “Smart Social” theme, and Scott explains what “smart social” means to him.