Oh, the joys of Valentine’s Day. Those of us who have a special someone fret over roses or chocolates, a night out at a restaurant we know will be over-crowded and underwhelming, and whether to just stay casual or debut some romantic new bedtime apparel. Those of us who don’t have a special someone avoid crowds out of fear of being spotted as single, make a mad dash to find a hand to hold for the evening, or sit at home alone with said chocolates convinced next year will be better.
At least this year, we have Fifty Shades of Grey debuting in theaters.
In any case, if you’re looking for love or just to make your relationships better—and avoid a life that is fifty shades of boring—you may want to check out these 14 (for February 14 natch!) love, romance, and relationship experts on social media.
Klout has put together the “who’s-who” of trusted online experts this Valentine’s Day, to suggest some last minute romantic ideas, help people make this their last-ever “Single’s Awareness Day” or simply spread a little extra love and encouragement.
The list ranges from internationally syndicated sexpert and LGBT activist Dan Savage (with an impressive Klout score of 85) to Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger (who clocks in at 82), as well as stalwart standbys like Dr. Ruth (who at the age of 86 has a Klout score of 67!) and the “original Carrie Bradshaw,” Sex and the City writer Candace Bushnell (whose Klout score of 51 rounds out the list). Followers are sure to be well prepared to celebrate love this year on social media.
So here is our special Valentine’s Day Klout 14.
Cheers to learning something from them to help your own love life!
Dr. Alduan Tartt
Rachel Kramer Bussel
Twanna A. Hines
Eric Channing Brown has worked for more than two decades as a comms pro in Silicon Valley. Eric’s career has spanned almost every aspect of tech from chips and enterprise storage systems to Internet, media, and consumer apps companies. He has worked for some of the best-known companies in the industry including Sun Microsystems, NetApp, Yahoo!, Skype, and Microsoft.
Eric is now VP of Global Comms at Lithium Technologies.
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We are happy to announce that we made the list of winners on the 2015 CRM Watchlist!
The CRM Watchlist, as defined by Paul Greenberg, “is an impact award,” recognizing companies that make big contributions to the market. This year, 142 companies submitted their questionnaires but only 23 made the cut and we can proudly say that we are in those top 23.
It is thrilling to see ourselves on the list because the biggest impacts are ones we make for YOU, our customers. And the recognition that is most important is from the world’s biggest and best brands who rely on us to help them in all sorts of innovative ways. So thank YOU for recognizing our achievements on your behalf.
Being part of the 2015 CRM Watchlist is another proof point that community is stronger than ever, and we’re leading the pack. Community will be one of the pillars of the digital transformation within the customer experience industry. LSW and Klout make our community offering one of the most powerful available to brands: our total community approach is unique and compelling.
We are so excited to be recognized as a winner of the 2015 CRM Watchlist and will continue to make an impact on the industry with big contributions.
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In November 2014, we released our Klout 50 Retailer list that measured retailers that had the most social influence among consumers. While Amazon, Target and Walmart made the top three, we wondered how supermarkets are faring. How connected do shoppers feel in relation to their supermarket’s social media presence? Is it worth supermarkets’ time and effort to implement a social strategy?
And supermarkets are doing a great job. We pulled the research and identified the top 10 supermarkets with the highest Klout Scores. The ratings are based on the National Retail Federation’s 2014 Top 100 Retailers report and the supermarkets’ corresponding Klout Scores.
First place goes to Whole Foods, Kroger takes second, while H-E-B ranks third. We found that Whole Foods leads the pack because they post recipes and tips multiple times a day for their followers and this drives home their corporate health and wellness messaging. They also leverage great photography and videos for 3.9 million Twitter followers.
Kroger has 81,000 Twitter followers and they post daily deals, promote contests and announce big savings opportunities – all in line with their brand’s tagline “Great food. Low prices.” According to Anne Maness, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing at Kroger: “We really start with our customers. Social media at Kroger continually evolves to connect with our local communities and share stories that inspire, cultivate engagement and bring the brand to life in new and meaningful ways.”
H-E-B ranked third, has 100,000 Twitter followers and also takes an active, strategic role in providing their followers with the latest info on the brand, coupons, and giveaways. Videos and images play a strong role in keeping their followers connected with recipes, tips and meal ideas.
“It’s really about the power of social to create interaction between the brand and customer. That interaction builds trust in consumers as they see the brand helping them enjoy life, be healthier or save them time and money,” says Katy Keim, CMO of Lithium Technologies.
Supermarkets have much to gain by implementing a social strategy. We applaud these top supermarkets for their outstanding job in leveraging social media to engage and connect with their shoppers:
1. Whole Foods
2. Kroger Co.
For more info on how you can leverage social media to connect and engage your customers, please visit www.lithium.com.
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Lithium’s new Chief Revenue Officer, Ravi Kumaraswami ( @RaviK ), came on board a few months ago and has wasted no time in laying out his plans to build a world-class sales organization that he believes can (and will) double the company’s revenues in the next two and a half years. And that’s just for starters! Now that he’s had some time to get settled, we thought we’d sit down with him and have a quick chat about why this is such an exciting time to work in sales at Lithium.
You’ve got a wealth of experience in enterprise software and cloud sales. What motivated you to join the team at Lithium?
For me, this was a no-brainer. Lithium is an incredibly valuable asset to our customers. In fact, there are so many value levers in a company that we can impact in such scalable ways – from cost reductions to overall business improvement – that I feel Lithium, up until now, has only scratched the surface in demonstrating our true and unique value to the marketplace. When you are given the opportunity to grow a brand that has such a clear and measurable impact on our customers’ bottom line, it’s really hard not to be excited about what the future holds. Joining the team at Lithium was a very easy decision for me to make.
That being said, what do you feel is Lithium’s core value proposition to customers?
The short answer is this: we help brands connect, engage, and understand their customers and prospects like no other company can. But the way we deliver on that promise for each of our customers is just a little bit different. Some customers – major online and brick-and-mortar retail brands, for example – look to Lithium to help reduce shopping cart abandonment and grow overall e-commerce revenues. Other customers, like those in the telecommunications and financial services industries, may come to us to provide solutions that reduce either customer services costs or customer churn. We are a solutions-driven company, not one-size-fits-all. We work closely with our customers to match up the right solution to an unmet need. And from a sales perspective, that’s what makes us stand out from the competition.
It’s no secret that you’ve got some rather aggressive goals for growing Lithium’s business over the next few years. How do you plan to achieve those milestones?
The recipe for success is actually quite simple. First, we are moving quickly to vertically organize our sales team so that we’ve got the right resources focused on a core set of industry categories where we already have a proven track record of customer success. Our business will grow when we start digging deeper into our areas of core competency and effectively scale our solutions across a wider array of customers within those categories. But lead acquisition is really only one part of that equation. Second, we want to create deeper and more valuable engagements with our current customers, using our existing successes with them to create stronger, lasting relationships. We believe our value to customers is twofold: providing the right solution to address a specific unmet need and maintaining an ongoing dialogue with them to better understand and respond to how those needs evolve over time. Our customers are our partners. Their success is our success.
So, in your opinion, what makes working in Sales at Lithium so unique?
This is not your typical sales job. Joining the sales team at Lithium means being up for a challenge. We are selling an entirely new category of products and services to meet unmet needs that many customers don’t yet realize they actually need. And in the rare instances that they have, indeed, identified those needs, Lithium isn’t necessarily top-of-mind when it comes to addressing those organizational issues. Our typical customer doesn’t wake up in the morning and say, “I think I need an online community” or “I need a social service platform to reduce customer service costs.” They may be toying with those ideas in the back of their mind, but it’s definitely not up, front, and center for them. That’s where our team comes into the picture.
The job of a salesperson at Lithium is to, first and foremost, intimately understand a customer’s business so that they can then help identify pain points. This involves a lot of research and a solid understanding of a business’ key performance metrics. With that knowledge base in place, we’re in a much better position to help our customers work through those needs and identify the ways in which Lithium’s solutions can help alleviate those pain points. Then we work closely and collaboratively with our customers to build a business case that then can be shared within their own organization for buy-in from key stakeholders.
As mentioned before, our products and services aren’t one-size-fits-all – neither are our customers’ needs. But unlike many of our competitors, we offer a full suite of solutions that address a myriad of needs. That’s why we call it the “Customer Engagement Platform.” What makes our job challenging, yet ultimately rewarding is the simple fact that we are squarely focused on solving problems. We are researchers. We are storytellers. We are problem-solvers. We are trusted partners. The market’s ripe for the taking. We’ve got a strong value proposition and a ton of success stories to showcase our know-how. Now, it really all comes down to having a team in place that’s ready to hustle and grow this business quickly.
Speaking of teams, we’ve heard that there’s a big effort to hire new salespeople right now. How would you describe your ideal candidate?
My personal philosophy is: lead or get out of the way. For our team to be successful, we need account managers who are self-directed and self-motivated. We operate in a very entrepreneurial environment. There is a lot of room for growth and development at Lithium. We provide all new salespeople with training and a wealth of resources to help them do their jobs effectively. Then it’s up to them to make the magic happen. Anyone with drive, initiative, and enthusiasm will thrive within our team.
Ready to join the Lithium Sales team?
Take a look at our open positions and apply today!
Ravi serves as Senior Vice President of Sales and Chief Revenue Officer for Lithium, responsible for driving Lithium’s global revenue and worldwide sales strategies. Ravi joins Lithium with 24 years of enterprise software and cloud sales experience and a strong track record of delivering revenue growth.
Prior to joining Lithium, Ravi was SVP, Global Head of Procurement and Business Networks LOB at SAP, where he led a global sales force responsible for sales of Ariba and SAP products to the procurement, accounts payable and finance line of business executives. Prior to the acquisition of Ariba by SAP, Ravi held various management positions at Ariba, including General Manager Asia Pacific, Japan and Middle East and General Manager for the On-Premise business & Global Accounts, and he was a member of the Ariba management committee.
Ravi began his career at Accenture, where he spent 11 years managing projects across various business functions / industries, including Mergers and Acquisitions, Sales and Marketing, Corporate Finance, and IT strategy.
Ravi holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Delhi University. Ravi is also a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and a graduate member of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India.
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Why limited organic reach on Facebook will actually make us better marketers
Yes, my friends, you read that correctly. (And I know you did because I heard the collective gasp!) Whether we like the thought of it or not, Facebook is making us better marketers – and all for the sake of improving user experience. And while this may be the unintended result of bringing a brand’s organic reach on the behemoth of a social network pretty much down to zero, it’s undeniably true. Here’s why.
As with everything in this world, things change. Facebook is no exception to this rule. What started out as a rudimentary university-based student communications platform is now one of the largest display ad networks in the world. And, in my mind, that pretty much means one thing: if you want to advertise on Facebook, it’s definitely not going to be free.
So why is this seemingly obvious morsel of information important to mention on the heels of Facebook’s latest announcement explaining that its almighty algorithm would soon curtail the reach of brand posts deemed overly promotional? It’s simple, really. Facebook is telling marketers, “If you want your content to be seen organically, make sure it’s high quality and highly engaging; otherwise, do what you do in every other medium and...buy an ad!” So, as marketers, we really shouldn’t stomp our feet, shaming Facebook for making us actually pay to target their over one billion users with honest-to-goodness advertising. Who are we kidding? It wasn’t going to be free forever. And, truthfully, that’s not a bad thing.
It will force us to approach engagement and acquisition strategies from vastly different angles. It will get our minds off of constantly chasing for “likes” and “retweets.” It will inspire us to dedicate our time, energy, and, most importantly, budgets to building quality content that our target customers – new and current – actually want to see and experience. It will encourage us to think creatively about our social strategies and leverage a wide array of social networks in order to tap into the hearts and minds of our audiences. And it will serve as a reminder that adding depth to our own owned and operated branded communities will only further engage our customers in more authentic, relevant, and truly own-able ways.
It’s not surprising to me that a few thought leaders in the media and marketing worlds have touted Facebook’s announcement as “the end of social media as we know it.” After all, who doesn’t like a bit of hyperbole every now and then? But I think these criticisms are a bit self-serving. Facebook and Twitter, the two social networks that seem to be under the most scrutiny these days, are incredibly robust advertising platforms. They reach highly engaged audiences in vastly different ways – and that fact alone can add an interesting dimension to your earned and paid social mix. Sure, at one point both networks were squarely about building community and growing a solid base of followers. But we’ve hit a critical mass. The days of amassing followers have now given way to a focus on sparking engagement and converting leads to loyal customers. Again, as things change around us, we simply need to adapt and think about how those changes can positively impact future approaches to social marketing.
In spite of algorithmic changes, and quite contrary to what the critics say, we can still create and foster outstanding customer relationships through Facebook and Twitter; we just have to be willing to pay for it in order to reach the most relevant and targeted audience. And that’s one of the reasons why both platforms aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They will undoubtedly continue to be a major component of our social strategies, that is until the next best thing comes knocking (but who’s really holding their breath for that?).
But that’s even more reason why it’s so important to reinforce your own websites and on-network communities with quality content, useful information, and a myriad of ways for your customers to engage with you, as a brand, as well as with others within your community. This will ensure that your customers always have an enjoyable, immersive, and, dare I say it again, frictionless experience with your brand, whether it’s on your own branded properties or via all the social channels available to you.
It goes without saying that it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks. And I’d like to venture a guess that it’s even tougher to strong-arm a marketer out of a tried-and-true routine, even if change is staring them straight in the face. However, as marketers, we need to be nimble. We need to let go of the reigns a perceived status quo. We need to recognize that there are other means to engage our customers in the constantly growing social ecosystem available to us, besides our time-honored Facebook and Twitter stalwarts, that can also deliver unparalleled value and help us build equally dynamic and loyal communities. The future of social marketing is distinctly not about putting all of our eggs in one basket. And nor should it be. We’ve got a plethora tools and platforms to play with – including our very own websites and on-network communities – and that list keeps on growing. So, by all means, play away!
Though, as a final note, it fundamentally comes down to understanding the difference between developing great content and creating great advertising on today’s social platforms. When we consciously make that distinction and factor it into our social marketing strategies, success will follow. Guaranteed. That is, until Facebook changes its algorithm yet again… (wink, wink)
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