JC Penney’s social media strategy: the good and the mehPosted: September 5, 2013 | |
Had a chance to read the following post on Brainzooming about JC Penney’s social media strategy and I was struck at how simple it is to build a successful social media strategy for a big name brand known for giving people lots and lots of coupons, even when the brand is fighting for its financial life. What got me the most about it was the total lack of imagination…..
Why does this sound like I’m going to be hyper critical about JCP’s strategy? Well, because there are several key aspects to it that are really, when it comes down to it, aren’t the greatest way to handle social media. Why they appear to have worked for JCP is the clout that JCP ha with consumers well before the days of social media–and retains with them. This is the same clout–the same group of loyal customers–that have buoyed the company through its truly terrible leadership and bad economic times.
So, let me tackle what I find least egregious about the strategy:
1. Moving to a new fan page. Ok, not the worst. When your page is trolled to death, well, it’s like having your blog or your twitter stream trolled to death. You may not be able to get out from under it unless, like Gizmodo, you do the most crazy thing and shut down comments till the trolling stops. Can’t effectively do that on Facebook. So, yes, this is good.
2. Producing weekly social media metrics This is OK too, for a strategy. Especially when VPs, Pres’ and C-levels love to hear and see metrics vs. what they consider to be the “softer” skills–such as sales skills or writing skills. So, give them whatever kinds of metrics will show them positive results–regardless of the positive results on the sales floor–and you got it made. Give them trending topics and other such metrics and you will keep your job as a social media manager.
3. Develop an editorial calendar This one is not rocket science to anyone who has ever written a blog and knows how to capture traffic with content. An editorial calendar will save your life when you can’t come up with ideas.
4. “Reach into your organization” –as in talk to stakeholders–about your calendar Another “Duh!” moment here. You are in an organization. There are other people who know the company’s cycles, etc. Absolutely talk to them because they know more about the business than you do! Oh, and if they’re good writers, you might want to have them write something too, if they’re not too busy. Because they might be able to articulate information better than you can. But don’t stress them out (that’s my advice anyway–because if you do, you have the potential to kill good relations between social media and the rest of the company.)
So, what do I find MOST egregious? Here:
1. Creating an audience persona”: Ok, I’m not about personae, esp. one that appears to be concocted out of stereotypes. Yes, there have been successful character social media personae (“Col. Tribune” of the Chicago Tribune for one)–and there have been un-successful social media personae (the list is endless.) IMO, the one that JCP came up with is really insulting. Read the post, I won’t get into it here. The key, though, is to aim for an *authentic* voice. Honestly, JCP’s social media doesn’t really have a “voice.” There’s a lot of re-purposed marketing collateral with little statements or questions and links. Is this “voice?” Maybe. But it’s passive, doesn’t have much character, and could be anyone. see the photo below for an example. When a company has a big following, with a lot of talkers, there’s not a lot of work involved in plopping in a photo with a tiny bit of text and letting the audience do their thing. But that’s not always the case for companies….
2. What kind of professional makes a “strong” social media person: OK, this is also kind of, well, I don’t know….it sounds like JCP’s social media guy is touting his own creds to get people to approve of him. His particular skills as a reporter–well, those are good skills and can get you far in the content building department. Then there’s the “as a businessperson” skill. Huh? Actually, what that can be boiled down to–besides saying you have a background in marketing of some sort, or an MBA— is that you can put together some metrics that your superiors will like. I won’t say this is easy because you must have some knowledge of business functions, but if you know social media metrics, you can show your C-levels something positive. The truly strong social media people understand the language of the online audience, the customer base of a company, and can interpret metrics. When you neglect the audience, and the language of the online audience, your social media is, at best, lukewarm. Sure, you have good metrics, but are you really connecting?
3. JCP’s new page is mostly visual and upbeat. It doesn’t give a lot of written content,. It asks a lot of questions with pictures, and waits for others to do the talking. Here’s an example:
This is a super simple strategy for a very big company with a huge following (100K or more Likes) that will give immediate and positive measurable results. This is a strategy that every social media person should know and can easily, and readily reproduce, if one has an already established page with a big following–but it is no guarantee of any results other than more traffic and engagement numbers. It does not suggest nor guarantee conversion because the strategy has not tapped into what it takes to make a potential customer convert to a sale. So of course there are metrics successes! BUT how those metrics successes convert into in-store successes often remains unproven. When you can demonstrate a link between your social media and your in-store conversion, you’ve done something big. And that should be your ultimate goal.
So, you can be a genius in numbers and a zero in money-earning. Yes, social media takes time to build audience and then to build responsiveness in that audience. But don’t you think that conversion should be your main goal? And what are you, as the social media person, going to do to facilitate conversion to sales??