Back in March, McDonald’s Brazil made a super-size blunder in a social media marketing campaign that flopped.
The company launched a social campaign that illustrated the golden arches separated. The goal was to support social distancing measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consumers, however, weren’t lovin’ it. Many took to social media to vent. Some saw the campaign as virtue signalling.
Others complained about the company not offering its low-wage employees paid sick leave.
Truth is, we often present a version of ourselves we want others to see.
Our public persona is a highly tailored facet of who we are. Social media posts highlight what we want others to know.
But as often is the case, people don’t see us how we want to be seen, no matter how curated our content is on social media.
And the same goes for businesses, as the McDonald’s Brazil example shows. Today’s consumers seek brand authenticity. A business can have the most holistic values, and offer the most socially conscious posts on its Twitter account, but if that content doesn’t match the company’s actions, consumers will pick up on it.
So how can businesses figure out what others think of them? The answer lies in social listening. Social listening involves tracking conversations not only around your company, but also around your company’s competitors.
Social listening helps businesses understand how they’re viewed by others. It also helps them get a pulse of the culture they’re working in.
Why is this important?
For one, it allows you to monitor how well your digital marketing campaigns are being received by your audience.
Listening to what others are saying about your campaign can lead to valuable insights around how to finesse your campaign as it moves forward.
I’m currently working with several SaaS businesses, many of which depend on multiple rounds of seed funding in other to scale.
Venture capitalists want to know the inner workings of a firm and a quick Google search can help them do that. With websites like Glassdoor, it’s easy for anyone to see how a firm is rated by its employees.
While a disgruntled employee leaving a bad star rating on Glassdoor or Indeed is one thing, multiple employees doing the same is quite another.
After all, a firm’s success and future growth is partly predicated on its organizational culture – not to mention more seed money.
And if your company has a lower rating on Glassdoor than that of your competitor, it may raise eyebrows.
A simple social listening exercise can help firms better understand how both internal and external stakeholders view the company. A firm can subsequently act on what it hears.
Social listening helps you understand how others view your businesses compared to your competitor.
Is your software tool getting more love online than that of your competitor? Great!
If not, you can take advantage of the negative feedback and work to address it.
Social listening is a wonderful tool to help your business flourish in our content rich, digital world.
And for the record, McDonald’s Brazil did apologize for its split arches campaign.
I’ve never been a fan of acronyms and jargon.
But in my experience creating content for B2B SaaS businesses, it’s hard to avoid them (sort of like now).
If you’re a marketer who likes to throw around these and other terms, bear with me for a second. And keep reading.
Someone wise once told me that jargon is used by people to feel like they’re in the know. While it might make you feel smarter, it does a disservice to untapped audiences who don’t know yet they’re interested in your product, or service.
In journalism school, I learned one of the first rules of tackling acronyms is to spell them out. I’ll do that now and also define these terms.
Software as a service (SaaS) are enterprises that provide solutions to clients (often other businesses) through their software. This software is usually sold on a subscription basis.
Examples of SaaS businesses include HubSpot, Salesforce, and SurveyMonkey.
Business-to-business (B2B) are companies that make money by selling their product or service to other businesses, and not consumers.
Many SaaS businesses only work in the B2B space. A few, like Netflix, cater to consumers directly. These are called business-to-consumer (B2C) firms.
Whether you’re targeting B2B or B2C audiences, consider that on the other end of that content campaign is a red-blooded human who gets bored easily.
Creating content for such audiences entails using storytelling skills you see in newsrooms (the few left). Make the content digestible, which means avoid jargon and spell out acronyms.
Of course, if your audience has years of industry experience topped with technical prowess, it’s fine if you speak their ‘language’.
But if you’re targeting a CEO of a firm who specializes in strategy and not technical acumen, consider that she’ll likely zone out after your first sentence.
Audiences matter, yes. But all audiences crave good storytelling. So if you’re a content marketer in the SaaS space, consider that an industry leader might scroll off your blog the next time you belt out a bunch of jargon.
I was handed a layoff notice in the summer of 2016 while working at the Toronto Star.
I wasn’t alone. Dozens in the editorial department at the Star faced the axe during that fateful summer.
It wasn’t a shock.
Print newspaper readership continued its precipitous drop as audiences found different routes to read the news online.
It was at that point I decided to change my career trajectory. While many of my colleagues chose to stick it out in journalism, others went off into adjacent industries such as communications and public relations.
I decided to enrol into an MBA program. I had a goal in mind. It entailed pivoting my decade of journalism experience into a new realm: marketing.
Was it worth it?
I’ll aim to answer that question in the points below. And if you’re looking to get an MBA – or currently in an MBA program – keep on reading.
1. Career Pivot
If you’re like me and looking to pivot your career, it’s worth getting an MBA. For those of us who come from non-business backgrounds, it helps that MBAs now offer specializations. For example, I chose the Schulich School of Business in Toronto because it has a media specialization, which attracts a handful of students each year. Schulich’s MBA also has an amazing marketing department, with globally renowned instructors. You’re learning from the best.
The benefit of a specialization is that it helps you feel right at home in business school. Going to a school where you fit is important. After all, you’re dolling out quite a bit of money for a two-year-long program. You want to get the most value out of those two years. It also makes the career pivot less jarring.
Specializations also complement your work history. I found my MBA curriculum paired well with my work history as a media professional, and that in turn helps you with the job hunt post-MBA. An MBA is a viable option if you’re thinking of pivoting careers. And if you’re thinking of a management career in marketing, it’s a great route.
Every fall, top business schools attract a host of consulting firms during recruitment fairs. Many of my former fellow students were set on careers in consulting. They just needed those three letters on their Linkedin profiles.
And from what I’ve seen, most do land jobs at firms of their choice. Unlike marketing, where you don’t need an MBA unless you want to reach the C-suite of a firm, consultants often need an MBA to get that next gig. If a career in consulting is in your future, then you’ll already know the value of an MBA.
3. Business Parlance and Strategic Mindset
I completed my undergrad in journalism and while journalism schools teach you the invaluable skills of storytelling, researching, and reporting, they don’t tell you how your work relates to the bottom line. One of the most valuable aspects of an MBA is it teaches you to speak the language of business. From KPI to ROI, business school makes you understand how your work impacts revenue. You’ll learn an array of frameworks and methods to navigate ambiguity, and the language that goes along with it. This is especially valuable to those of us who have non-business undergraduate degrees and are looking for careers in management.
Top business schools are known for their networks, which are helpful in setting you up with the right career. I completed two internships during my MBA, and both of them stemmed from contacts at Schulich. One of the most valuable aspects of a great MBA program is the access you’ll have to a wide breadth of graduates. While you don’t need an MBA to access a great network, a great MBA program will give you access to a network you’ll always be a part of as you continue your career journey.
So, Is the MBA Worth It?
If you’re getting the MBA for any of the above reasons, it is worth considering. But it’s important to remember that the MBA isn’t cheap. My Schulich MBA cost nearly $100,000 for two years (though the school is great with grants and scholarships). Top MBA programs in Canada are about the same price. And if you’re going to school full-time, you’ll lose out on two years of salary.
Additionally, because it’s such a pricey and time-intensive investment, it’s important to know what you plan on doing with your MBA after you graduate. Take time to research the types of careers you’ll land once you graduate with an MBA. I’d recommend doing this prior to sending out any applications, or prior to writing the GMAT.
Finally, I wrote a column earlier this year for the Toronto Star on graduating with an MBA amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After posting the piece on my Linkedin page, several prospective MBA hopefuls messaged me about their concerns. With schools primarily run online today, many worried the MBA experience wouldn’t be the same.
I agree. It’s not.
Due to COVID-19, I took several courses online near the end of my MBA. It wasn’t the same. I feel the cost of an in-person MBA isn’t worth it when you’re completing it online. You miss out on so many in-person networking opportunities. If you are planning to do an MBA, consider the fact that even the top-tier programs are currently online. However, with a COVID-19 vaccine now available, schools will eventually open up their literal doors.
I help companies grow by telling their stories.