Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

Brands have evolved from asking “Should we be on Social Media?” to “How can we improve our Social Media activities?” At the same, they want to understand “What is the value of Social Media?”  That simple question of value transcends company size, industry and focus.

Three months ago, Awareness set out to answer the question of uncovering the value in social marketing by conducting research and meeting with social media practitioners and experts alike. During the interview process, they asked the group to tell them what advice they would provide Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) as they set out to design, manage and measure their social marketing strategy.  Here are their insights:

  1. Have a plan! – Jason Falls, principal of Social Media Explorer:
    “Go into social with a plan. Social channels are like other marketing channels – treat them with the same diligence. Don’t just test the waters – commit to social. It is the way of the future.  Test and iterate. Integrate social with your marketing and business initiatives – social marketing cannot exist in a vacuum.”
  2. Passion is contagious – David Berkowitz, senior director of Emerging Media and Innovation for 360i
    “Don’t think of social only as a way to drive leads and sales.  Social is about passion – Oreo has over 22 million fans because the brand has given voice to the passion of its consumers.”
  3. Focus, test and learn – Paul Gillinauthor of “Social Marketing to the Business Customer
    “Focus on a limited number of tools initially and build your portfolio where you see tangible traction.  Develop a center of social marketing expertise to avoid repeating the same mistakes other brands have made.  Consider hiring social marketing experts to help you develop that expertise.”
  4. Think like a publisher – David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR
    “In the world of social, companies need to think like publishers. The first thing that companies need to do is understand where they rank in search engine results. Smart companies know what their prospective customers are searching on. They then create social content – blogposts, YouTube videos, webinars, etc. that leverages key words to improve search engine rankings.”
  5. Integrate social into your business – Nathaniel Perez, head of social experience at SapientNitro
    “If your level of maturity with social marketing is low, rely on agencies and consultants to help you succeed. You will need carefully integrated content, processes, and governance in order to succeed. Social is not media-centric, it is customer-centric. Once you have gained experience, work towards integrating social deeper within your business. Plan your resources around the following key functional areas: research and insight, engagement and community building, media planning and integration, and data and analytics.”
  6. Understand your goals and tie into existing business processes – Andrew Patterson, manager of new media at MLB Advanced Media
    “Start with understanding your goals with social. Where and how you want to participate is a business decision. Look at your industry and beyond for best practices.  Choose a social media publishing and monitoring platform that serves your specific needs. Social requires full integration with your current analytics systems – make sure you partner with your vendors for success.”
  7. Budget and prioritize – Jeremiah Owyang, industry analyst with Altimeter Group
    “Allocate your social marketing budget based on your level of social marketing maturity. In our February 2011: How Corporations Should Prioritize Social Business Budgets, Altimeter reported that the average social media annual budget in 2010 was $833,000, but that figure fluctuated based on annual revenue and social marketing program maturity. Use industry benchmarks to allocate your budget.”
  8. Commit to social long term – Jonas Nielsen, co-founder and managing partner of Mindjumpers
    “Go in for the long haul, and don’t put social in the hands of junior brand managers.  Social is one of the one important channels of the future – your own media that will position you to spend less resources over time – for marketing, customer service, and product development.”
  9. Start by focusing on existing customers – Erik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business
    “The best companies understand social touches every aspect of their business. Start with answering why you want to run social programs and what success looks like.  Remember: only a portion of your social efforts can be tracked directly down to sales.  Most of social is relationship-based – it is a longer-term investment in your brand. Focus with your existing customers – they will spread the word for you. Welcome to the world of mouth.”
Advertisements

The headline isn’t meant to mislead. There is actually a very good parallel between the two. Just as the over-abundance of foreclosed homes lowers the property values in a given neighborhood, a preponderance of Social Media “experts” in a given job market cheapens the value of the labor pool to potential employers. While this may seem like a good problem on the surface, as we dig deeper, we find that the reality of this situation is fraught with caveats. As businesses start to recognize the reality of SMM and make the decision to buy in, many are tempted to go after bargains. The potential for failure and frustration facing these companies is enormous . . . the effect of this trend on gifted candidates is the devaluation of their earning potential.

Like realty signs on foreclosed properties, we see business owners displaying signs of their cluelessness, caving in to the idea that Social Media Marketing is something “simple” that can easily be added on to an existing employee’s duties. I recently talked with a successful business owner who was looking at hiring an SEO expert as well as an SMM expert. In our conversation she declared that “Social media is easy, so I can probably just do that myself.” Easy? Really? I wonder if she has ever tried to attract fans to a page that has limited sex appeal or name recognition.

The signs are also showing up on job postings where the oxymoronic “Social Media Marketing Intern” title is thrown about as if it was something relative to anything. It is not. An intern may be able to set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account, but when it comes to making that account viable, they are a recipe for imminent disaster. And if you plan to trust your content, message and interaction to such inexperience, you will not get my sympathy.

The truth is that there are very few real Social Media Experts in the world. There are individuals with solid backgrounds in business management and marketing that have made the effort to embrace this new culture and are willing to change their views on how to engage with their audience. These realists are finding that the ever-shifting sands of SMM are exciting, but at the same time challenging, testing the mettle of even the most gifted and experienced marketer.

We are in the midst of a new frontier, a new “gold rush,” if you will. While many hope to stake their claim on this potential windfall, only a handful will succeed. The successful Social Media Marketing Manager/Director/Consultant will not be an intern or someone who simply has a background or even an advanced degree in marketing. Rather, the new breed of SMM leaders will be those who understand how to run a business first and who are then willing to embrace and immerse themselves into this unpredictable and often hostile environment.

If you take anything from this article, let it be this; Knowing how to set up a Facebook page no more makes one a Social Media Expert than having a camera makes one a professional photographer. Until employers put an end to their foolish quest for cheap Social Media “fixer-uppers,” legitimate users of the craft who deserve more attention will continue to see their value diminished.

My business mentor, my father, liked to use the term “business avoidance tactics” to describe business practices that seemed to intentionally turn customers away. My wife experienced just such a blunder today in her business. After contacting one of her specialty suppliers with a significant order, she was told that her account had been terminated 9 months ago due to lack of activity. Seriously? What business can afford the luxury of “terminating” accounts for any reason (other than perhaps non-payment) under current economic conditions?

So, I decided to compile a list of my Top 10 ways NOT to use Social Media Marketing (SMM) in your business; a list of “business avoidance tactics,” if you will. Why 13 then, you may ask? First of all, everyone does Top 10 lists, so why cave in to convention? Secondly, as I scratched my list out on a napkin, I had to stop at 13 when I ran out of space. I actually considered whittling the list down to 10, but as I was creating the graphic, my font selection looked so much better as a “13” than as a “10.” So 13 it is!

My list is not in any particular order of significance. My reasoning for this is that every marketing plan is different and the order may vary from business to business. I also felt that there are so many important items on this list that giving them an order might diminish my readers’ attention to the lesser-ranked DON’Ts. So here they are . . .

TOP 13 Ways NOT To Use Social Media Marketing


1. OVERPOSTING

There is no better way to be “Unliked” on Facebook or “Unfollowed” on Twitter than to overpost with meaningless messages. Nobody likes to open Facebook to find their News Feed filled with multiple posts from your business or organization. Take Lexus, who is known for posting two to three times a day. The scary thing about overposting, particularly in the world of Facebook, is that you may never know the real impact of your posting frenzy. You may not lose numbers in terms  of “Likes,” but the quality of those likes goes to zero if they block your posts from appearing on their wall. Also, if you use a utility application like TweetPost to automatically post your Tweets to Facebook, you may unwittingly be overwhelming your Facebook fans. Celebrities and musicians are notorious for this.

TIP: If you have several pictures that you are posting on Facebook, don’t “publish” them until you are finished uploading to avoid multiple posts on your followers’ pages.

2. TAKE A “DO IT ONCE AND WAIT” APPROACH

Your Social Media Marketing strategy requires a time commitment to work well and, until further notice, should have no end. It is naive to assume that you can build a fantastic Facebook page and expect it to take on a life of its own. Think of your SMM campaign as a pet. New puppies are so cute and appealing when you see them at the pet store. Then you bring them home. They need to be given food and water and be let outside and taken for walks. If you’re not ready for the commitment, don’t buy a puppy. The good news here is that in most markets you can affordably hire someone to take care of your Social Media puppy . . . and it’s still YOUR dog!

3. ADVERTISE

I am not saying that Social Media cannot be used to advertise your company’s products or services here. I am saying that advertising should not be the focus of your SMM campaign. Advertising is something you direct at your potential customers to persuade them to make a purchase. While your ultimate goal is for your SMM campaign to convert followers into customers, the way in which that conversion takes place is quite different than traditional advertising. In SMM, your goal is to get your followers engaged in spreading the word about your company. They become the medium and share your message with their friends and family . . . Viral Marketing.

4. CONTROL AND LIMIT CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

One of the greatest fears that business owners face when they are considering getting into SMM is that of negative feedback. The mindset of Social Media Marketing is contrary to what we have been taught. The idea here is to encourage consumer engagement and provide an open forum for them to discuss your company and share their experiences within their circle of influence. You will need to separate yourself emotionally from your SMM campaigns. You may be able to control what you publish, but not what happens from there. Obviously the better your corporate image and customer service reputation, the less you need to worry about negative feedback. In my experience however, a company that quickly and sincerely responds to negative public feedback stands to gain far more than their competitors who fail to actively engage with their following.

5. MEASURE YOUR ROI QUANTITATIVELY

Yes, of course you want (and need) to measure the effectiveness of your SMM campaigns quantitatively. But, when it comes to Social Media, the quality of your efforts is what will ultimately generate positive quantitative metrics. Having 15,000 followers is wonderful, but if only 150 of those fans are actively engaged in your posts, you may as well only have 150 followers. Key in on those 150 fans and give them a reason to spread the word. Most people love to have their opinions heard and influence their friends and family. Assuming that every Facebook or LinkedIn user has 100-150 friends/connections, imagine the impact of 150 people sharing one of your posts! You can easily track the spikes in the website or phone traffic that result. When done correctly, quality will generate quantity.

6. INTERRUPT

Who of us likes to be interrupted when we are trying to make an important point? We all like to be heard! Take time to listen to what your followers are trying to tell you. Some points require some digging on your part to bring them to the surface. You may very well find that your next great product is inspired by a fan of your page.

TIP: Asking questions at the end of a post is a good way to encourage engagement and feedback.

7. COMPENSATE YOUR FOLLOWING

Brad was the new kid in my small town. Word quickly spread that Brad was a bit of a bully. In order to make friends, he resorted to bribing kids to befriend him by giving them candy or money or toys. How often do you see companies that try to lure people into “Liking” them online by offering prizes? Sure, this manages to drive their fan base numbers up, but are these fans really engaged? To illustrate, I recently “Liked” Ray-O-Vac on Facebook in order to enter their prize giveaway. Knowing that I needed to be on their “Like” list, I stayed on, but immediately blocked their posts on my News Feed.

I have a circle of friends that enjoy having fun get-togethers with lots of great food and beverages. It doesn’t make me like them more, but it is one of the experiences that makes these friends enjoyable to be around. Think of your SMM campaign as if you were hosting a party for friends. You treat your close friends differently than you treat strangers. As you develop your rewards strategies, use rewards as an expression of gratitude towards your loyal friends, not as a way to lure new, uninterested acquaintances.

8. MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA YOUR PRIMARY MARKETING MEDIUM

This is so obvious that it really shouldn’t need to be stated. But it does. Some people still think of Social Media as a replacement for traditional marketing campaigns. The truth is that SMM is just one tool to add to your marketing toolbox. Its primary purpose should be to get people interested in and buzzing about your company and ultimately get them to visit your website or storefront as customers.

9. THINK OF FOLLOWERS ONLY IN TERMS OF POTENTIAL FINANCIAL GAIN

This goes back to the somewhat immeasurable aspect of SMM. Don’t focus solely on connections that you can convert to a customer. Here is an example: Jane Doe is connected to you on LinkedIn, yet she really has no interest in your company’s line of cat care products since she is allergic to cats. While Jane may never convert to be a customer of yours, because she enjoys making recommendations to her circle of friends and acquaintances, she may very well influence them if the conversation ever turned to cats. Let’s assume that Jane has 150 contacts on LinkedIn and 200 Facebook friends. Suddenly this connection has the potential to influence 350 people who, in turn, can potentially influence their friends. Always be cognizant of how your SMM campaigns might influence the influencers.

10. SCARE YOUR FOLLOWERS WITH HIGHLY TARGETED CAMPAIGNS

In my previous company, our clients were either wheelchair users or family members of people who used wheelchairs. In my early days as a Facebook marketing fanatic, I decided that it would be a great idea to target people whose profiles included the words “wheelchair,” “disability” or “disabled.” Within a few hours of launching the campaign, I was being deluged with negative responses about how “creepy” it was to be targeted just because they use a wheelchair. While Facebook advertising allows you to fine-tune your target audience, it doesn’t mean that you should necessarily do so. Always be sensitive to your target audience and consider the “Creep Factor” before you launch any targeted marketing campaign.

11. SHOOT FROM THE HIP

The old adage, “Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan” comes into play here. If you think you can wing it, you are certain to be disappointed with the results. SMM can be a great way to share impromptu happenings with your fan base, but to really be effective, you need to make a plan in advance and stick to it. Lay out a 6-month calendar that parallels your other marketing efforts and prepare your content ahead of time. Even the time of day that you publish your posts should be strategic to maximize exposure when your fans are most likely to be online. You can always augment your plan with additional posts on the fly.

12. KEEP YOUR MESSAGE STRUCTURED AND STERILE

While you may wear a business suit to work every day, would you want to wear one when you’re just hanging out with your friends? It will be much easier to know how to behave in the Social Media environment if you remember to think of it as a gathering of friends. SMM gives you an opportunity to let your hair down and get comfortable with these friends. I know of companies that even post pictures of little events that happen from time to time at their office just to inject a human element into their otherwise polished personas.

TIP: Post a picture of the store owner or manager with your customers (be sure to get permission to post the photo) and see what happens!

13. LET THE KIDS DO IT FOR YOU

One of the most common mistakes I see business owners make in their SMM efforts is to hand off this responsibility to their kids or to young employees because they “get” social media. The reality is that whoever manages your SMM really needs to have an understanding of sound business principles and an even deeper understanding of your corporate mission and philosophy. Things can quickly go South if your 21 year-old intern is left in charge of responding to negative fan posts. Always have a key employee monitor your company posts or hire a Social Media Marketing Manager who has a strong business background.

*   *   *

Well, there you have it, my Top 13 Ways NOT To Use Social Media Marketing! Take some time in the coming week to review your Social Media Marketing strategy against these items and see how you stack up. Many of the changes that you need to make should be relatively simple, but the payoff could be huge!

Welcome to my new blog site. I will be using this as a forum to help people develop their Social Media Marketing strategies as it relates to their businesses. Social Media is the new frontier in how we communicate and connect with each other, with businesses, with prospective employers/employees and even with complete strangers.

I believe that Social Media, by its very nature, is transforming the way we live our lives. In particular, I believe that it can transform businesses into viable and relevant entities that are personally engaged with their clients. Businesses must first transform their way of thinking when it comes to marketing. Yellow Pages advertising no longer works – perhaps never did. TV has become an expensive shotgun approach to reach customers with hundreds of channels trying to hit the right demographic in the right numbers in the right time slot. Newspaper advertising is all but history as people get most of their news electronically. Radio is expensive and only marginally effective. None of these mediums generate the return on investment (ROI) that they once did. Today’s consumers use the internet to educate themselves, source and compare products, compare prices, and finally, to select who they plan to purchase from. Businesses have advertising budgets, but are running out of places to spend them. It is no longer a question of whether to utilize Social Media or not, it is a question of “when?”

In future posts, I will explore the value of Social Media and how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media to reach out to and interact with your clients and prospects. Social Media will help you to grow your business, but not in the way that you are used to thinking. Social Media is not about controlling and delivering a carefully calculated advertising message. In fact, Social Media will require you to let go of your conventional understanding of marketing. Social Media engages your clients (and potential clients) in a living marketing organism that is controlled, in large part, by them. It is a little scary. It will leave some business owners feeling out of control and vulnerable. Trust me, it will be worth it!

Admittedly, not everyone will “get it.” Many business owners/CEO/COO’s don’t even know how to get started in Social Media. Others have tried, but with disappointing results. For that reason, Social Media Managers are perhaps the most sought after employee in America today. Since many companies cannot justify a full-time Social Media Manager, it makes sense to work with an independent consultant that can assist you or actually run your Social Media Marketing Plan. The important thing is that your company gets on-board. Not as a part of next year’s budget or even next quarter’s . . . the time for Social Media Marketing is now! Will you be the company that blends in or will you be the one that stands out in the crowd?

I want to help you to be a standout . . .

David James Peterson