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Can This Radical Change Increase Content Marketing Effectiveness?

23 Jan

2014 is looking like another big year for Content Marketing. Do a search and you’ll find a vast source of predictions from the Content Marketing Institute, Mashable, research analyst Forrester, the IAB and others.   All sources forecast business spending will be up for Content Marketing this year.  Depending on whose report you believe the CM budget will increase 58% to 75%.

While more is spent on Content Marketing are the efforts more effective?  At the recent Northern California Business Marketing Association (BMA) meeting in Silicon Valley, an experienced panel of Content Marketing experts tackled the question and shared their challenges and struggles to make content marketing a success.

Informative presentations, different perspectives and implementations were shared.  One that I found most insightful came from Jeremiah Glodoveza, Director, Public Relations and Social Media at NetApp.

Much has been written and said about the importance of SEO and content strategy for CM success – but we have not heard much about (if at all) the need for organizational change to support CM effectiveness and success.  Jeremiah shared that his company is in process of changing its marketing organization so it can better integrate content marketing campaigns – restructuring from functional silos to an interconnected organization.

Current Organization

Current Organization

New Organization

New Organization

(These charts are examples only, not NetApp charts).

The change will bring together marketing functions that often times are working independently and with goals that are not aligned .

The new organizational structure is intended to better support collaboration and consistency in messaging and campaigns as well as sharing common goals across marketing functions like PR, technical writing, and communications. Jeremiah believes that more companies will begin making this kind of change to their marketing organizations.

Hats off to NetApp for thinking out of the silo. Making a radical organizational change like this one isn’t easy.  It will be interesting to find out if NetApp’s Content Marketing is more effective as a result.

Resources:  NorCal BMA Meeting, January 22, 2014, panel discussion, Content Marketing:  Why Is A Publisher’s Point of View Essential Today

Social Media – Just Like Any Other Business?

22 May

Has Social Media become so complex that we feel like we’re losing our minds trying to make sense of it? For the majority of us, Social Media is complicated, even for those of us that use Social Media on a regular basis. It’s a young industry and new companies, tools, and applications are continuously launching. Trying to make all that visually understandable to us, Buddy Media and Luma Partners published a graphic categorizing Social Media firms, platforms, tools, and blogs. This graphic seems to have hit a few nerves about the complexity of Social Media today.Businessman with many choices

(Due to confidential and proprietary content, the graphic is not included in this blog. The graphic can be viewed at one of the two links below. )

In Eloqua‘s blog on the recent graphic, Joe Chernov compared the complexities of Social Media to that of the auto industry and its vast ecosystem.   Even if Social Media is as complicated as other businesses making that comparison doesn’t mean that Social Media isn’t complicated. And for most of us, who are not experienced digital marketers, Social Media IS complicated.  Yes, there is an almost endless amount of free Social Media white papers, ebooks, webinars and blogs to help get educated.  It still takes a lot of time to understand every platform and tool, their differences and then to decide which ones are the right ones to support the marketing plan.

Do we need to learn all the tools inside and out to be successful at Social Media? I don’t think so. Deciding which tools to use in Social Media is like other marketing decisions we make.  We start with goals and objectives, focus on the products that will help to achieve them and ignore the rest.  Buddy Media’s graphic depicts 28 categories and almost every Social Media platform and tool available. That doesn’t mean every one of those tools or even a fraction is needed to support our marketing needs.

And if Social Media is like other businesses, a time will come in the not too distant future when there will be a consolidation of companies and integration of products and features.

What do you think?

Resources:

Social Media isn’t “Ludicrously Complicated” Business Is, by Joe Chernov, It’s All About Revenue, Eloqua blog

This INSANE Graphic Shows How Ludicrously Complicated Social Media Marketing Is Now, by Charlie Minato, Business Insider blog

Are You Watching Social Media from the Sideline?

20 Mar

American football field at the 50-yard line.Many companies have Social Media strategies and plans in place.  Many still don’t. And it isn’t only small businesses. Even some large companies don’t have Social Media in their marketing play books. Social Media is the great unknown and risky unchartered waters for many businesses. They avoid any efforts to develop a program, instead watching Social Media from the sideline.  If this describes how Social Media is viewed at your company, maybe it’s time to learn to crawl before you run.

Consider trying one Social Media platform first.  Don’t wait to develop a comprehensive Social Media strategy and campaign. Having said that, it is important to have goals in mind and what you’d like to accomplish.  An initial goal may be as simple as creating a Twitter account and following leaders or competitors in your industry everyday for the next three months. Remember that your actions should be consistent with your brand and target audience messaging, no matter how high of a level you decide to initially participate in Social Media.

The Best Platform for a B2B to Start Social Media Activities

If you are a B2B, LinkedIn is a great choice to test the Social Media waters. This is the professional business networking platform.

Start by completing a LinkedIn Company Profile page.  You can add information, accessible to all LinkedIn’s 150 million members, about your organization including your logo, products and services, current promotions and job openings .  With a company page, once you have followers you can start a conversation and engage with them. LinkedIn members follow what matters to them professionally and to their business.

Next, build your company’s LinkedIn presence by identifying members within your company to join industry groups related to your business like customers’, partners’ and competitors’ groups.  Being a part of these groups is really where your business can benefit.  If this is a first time participating in a group, take some time to listen and get a pulse on the conversations of the group.  Establish your authority and expertise in these groups by becoming an active participant sharing useful information and starting discussions with the group. Another benefit of participating in groups is the opportunity to hear what customers are thinking about your product, your competitors and what is trending in the industry.

Increase your LinkedIn presence further by creating your own industry group. I like the HP and Intel group, Small Biz Nation that features good discussions on relevant topics for small businesses like the discussion on Techniques to Stay Connected to Your Customers. Another group I like is the American Express Business Knowledge Share with discussion topics ranging from Social Media and online marketing tips to How Participating in LinkedIn Groups Can Help Your Business.

The costs of not participating in Social Media are too great.  You don’t have to watch Social Media from the sideline.  Pick a platform and get started.

How to Create Your Brand Page on Facebook’s New Timeline

5 Mar

On March 30th, Facebook’s New Timeline will go live for all Brand pages, whether or not your company has updated its page.  Take this opportunity to create an engaging page for your brand over the weeks ahead. There are several changes you need to be aware of for your brand page. Below is a handy guide from hearsay social on what you need to know to create a brand page and links to blogs that cover the changes.  Make sure you review the blog by TechCrunch’s Josh Constine.  It’s thorough. For additional information and help go to the Facebook Help Center.

Here are a few key changes worth highlighting:

1.  Cover Photo – The cover photo takes up a large amount of space spanning the entire page.  Here you should choose a photo that supports your brand.  It is important to know that Facebook Covers may not display calls to action or references to Facebook Like or sales promotions, pricing or website URLs.

2.  Left Side Navigation – The navigation for page apps has moved to the right and below the cover photo with thumbnail photos above the text link.  Four of these apps are above the fold and one is default for Photos.  So, three of these four you can choice your apps. Pick your most important three. Unfortunately, this limits visibility for custom apps; contests, promotions, coupons, games, etc. since the default landing page for all users will be the Timeline page.  Users will need to click through to find additional apps.

3.  Messages – Messages can now be sent privately by users vs. posting on the public wall for all to see.  This can be a benefit if you don’t want certain comments visible.  You’ll need to determine a process internally to actively and timely respond to the Messages.  For some businesses, this may create a burden.  Try testing it for a few weeks to monitor the number of messages sent and your organization’s ability to manage it.

4.  Timeline Bar – To the right of the cover photo is a new timeline bar that allows users to view a brand’s history over the years.  It’s a great opportunity to highlight your favorite posts by you and your fans.

5.  Pinning – This feature will allow you to pin an important feature story, promotion or event and post it at the top of the timeline for seven days.

6.  Star a Story – You can also star a post to grab attention and highlight a story on your timeline.  When you star a story, it will expand the full width of the page.

Cover of Facebook ebook by hearsay social

The New Facebook Pages Brand Timeline by hearsay social.

Resources:

Introducing New Facebook Pages, Facebook website
Learn About Facebook Pages, Facebook video
How to Use Facebook Timeline for Brand Pages: New Feature Details, Josh Constine, Technology Writer, TechCrunch
Timeline for Brands:  How to Prepare for Your Company’s New Facebook Page, Jim Belosic, CEO Short Stack on Mashable
Facebook Timeline for Brands, the Complete Guide,  Christine Erikson on Mashable

How to Avoid Social Media ‘Soup du-jour’ Syndrome

27 Dec

A small business owner and I met the other day to discuss social media and how it can help her business.  She said she was overwhelmed by all the different platforms and sites and wasn’t sure which one was the best way to go.  Her perception is that social media tools are ‘soup du-jour’ and she felt as soon as she made a choice of which social media tool to use another would take its place resulting in wasted time and money and missed business opportunity.

The variety of Social Media options can be overwhelming and make each platform seem like the ‘soup du-jour’.  Look at Social Media as you do any other marketing tool in your mix and chose the platform based on how it will help achieve your goals and you will have success.  Social Media is no different from any other marketing tool you use to reach customers.  Both marketing tools and social media platforms should be chosen based on which will most effectively reach your target audience to meet your goals with the resources you have available.  How you message and how you communicate with your audience are the differences.

Commitment is Key to Avoiding Social Media Soup du-jour Syndrome

You can commit and believe in your Social Media choices if you do some work up front. That work includes taking time to set your goals and plan.  No marketing tool, social media or other will succeed in helping you reach your goals if you don’t do the work up front.  If you don’t, the result is you will have wasted precious time and money with little success.

Top Social Media Platforms

The top Social Media platforms can help a business meet its goals depending on the target audience and each requires different capabilities, time and resources and include; social networking, multimedia, blogs and microblogs.  Some of the most popular are Facebook, (social networking site), LinkedIn (social networking site for professionals), MySpace (social networking for the creative, artists/musicians), YouTube (video sharing site), Flickr (photo and video sharing site), Mashable (Social Media news blog) and Twitter (microblog).

Follow These Basic Steps When Choosing a Social Media Platform for Your Business

  1. Develop your Marketing Plan
  2. What are your Social Media goals – these should support your Marketing goals
  3. Develop your Social Media Plan
  4. Look at and focus on the top Social Media platforms and sites as a start
  5. Chose the most effective of these to reach your audience and based on your capabilities and resources. Who are your customers?  Do they even have a twitter account to follow your business?  If not, twitter is probably not your best choice.  Are you able to post blogs consistently?  Do you have the resource to develop content and video to post on YouTube?
Additional Resources

Monitor Social Media Activity – Track the Effectiveness of Your Twitter Conversations

5 Dec

Last week’s blog talked about the importance of listening and monitoring Social Media activities.  This week, we look at one of the many Social Media monitoring tools that are available today.

At the Women 2.0 Founder Friday event in San Francisco last week, Jenn Deering Davis co-founder of Appozite spoke about their product TweetReach, a tool that measures Twitter performance.  It’s been available for a couple of years in both a free and Pro version. TweetReach is different from other social media monitoring tools such as Google Alerts or TweetBeep in that it provides detailed reporting and analytics, not only alerts when a keyword or search term has been used on Twitter.

TweetReach Snapshot Report for #SantaClaus

The tool generates reports that shows the number of accounts reached and the amount of exposure your Twitter campaign generated. Providing you the ability to calculate the cost per reach and ROI for a specific campaign. The Pro version reports include detailed analytics on trend data and time period segmentation.

What’s also nice about TweetReach is you can see comments posted (either free or Pro versions).  A great way to find and tap into your advocates and influencers and uncover issues and prepare responses.  And you can monitor the Twitter conversations to find out what is being said about your competition and industry at the same level of detail.

Additional Resources
Finding Your Way Through the Social Media Maze, White Paper 

 

Why You Need to Listen and Monitor Social Media Conversations

28 Nov

It’s not news that customers seek out recommendations for products from their network of friends, family and colleagues. We ask for the opinions from those we trust.  Social Media is where much of the sharing of opinions takes place today.  By listening and monitoring social media conversations a company can find out how it’s doing and what’s being said about the company and its products.

Benefits of Listening and Monitoring Social Media 

1.  Find Your Advocates.  Learn who really likes your company and product.  When you find them, see if you can create a two-way dialogue.  This will give you the opportunity to learn more about what customers think of your company and product.  Once you have established a relationship, you may find that some advocates are willing to provide customer testimonials you can use on other Social Media platforms and marketing activities.

2. Find New Customers and Product Ideas.  Listening provides the opportunity to uncover prospective customer needs, creates new product opportunities and may result in more and better product ideas and requirements, faster time to market and lower product costs. (read my previous blog, Using Social Media to Generate New Product Ideas and Innovations).

3. Learn What is Being Said About You.  Learn what is being said about your company and product and where it is being said.  This not only provides the opportunities to find out what customers think about your product (positive and negative), you have the opportunity to take action to improve your business. Comments may help  your company decide to add a new marketing promotion for a specific product to increase sales activities or may provide insights into poor performance resulting in a product or customer service change.

4.  Learn More About Competitors.  Just as you are able to learn what is being said about your company and products, you can also learn how your competition is doing. Share this information with the appropriate departments within your organization and take action as needed.

5.  Create the Desired Results. Did the actions you took create the results you planned?  Are you doing the right things in the right places?  Qualifying and quantifying how well your Social Media activities are performing will help ensure funding and allow you to make adjustments to your social media plan to meet your goals.

Software Tools Available to Listen and Monitor Social Media Platforms

To fully realize the benefits of participating in Social Media you must listen, monitor and engage with customers.  In marketingviewpoint’s next blog, we’ll look at one of the new Social Media software tools that are available to help companies do that easily and effectively.

Additional Resources
Finding Your Way Through the Social Media Maze, White Paper 

 

Using Social Media to Generate New-Product Ideas and Innovations

7 Nov

by Susan Lowe

Benefits of Using Social Media for New Product Ideas and Innovations

Social media can be an ideal method for your business to collect information from customers for new product ideas and testing those ideas because of its mass reach and speed at which information is shared.  Companies that are using social media for new product innovation are realizing real business benefits, according to research done by Kalypso.  These benefits include more and better product ideas and requirements, faster time to market and lower product costs.

Traditional methods used for gathering data and researching customers’ needs can be very costly.   Social media has the potential to provide better quality information at much less cost.

How Companies are using Social Media to Generate Product Ideas 

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Wikis and Public and Private communities are being used today in a variety of ways to learn what customers think of existing products and for new product ideas.

Community chat rooms and Twitter are used by companies to listen to what customers are saying about their products. On LinkedIn groups are asked questions about a company’s product or service and group members’ responses are then monitored. Companies are testing new product concepts on Facebook and Twitter by polling fans to rank or choose their favorites from a list of choices.  Customers are asked to share their comments about a product, they watched on a YouTube video.

Your target audience and what information you want to collect will determine which social media and the best method (questions, poll, survey, listening, comments) to use.

Recommendations when Using Social Media to Generate New-Product Ideas and Innovations:

  1. Define your social media strategy for product innovation.  It should tie in with your overall product innovation strategy and broader social media strategy.
  2. Pull together a cross functional team that may include stakeholders from management, engineering, customer service, marketing and product management.  If possible, include someone from your company that knows social media.
  3. Choose a team leader to champion the effort.
  4. Set Goals. Determine what it is you want to accomplish.
  5. Develop a Plan.  Remember to determine your target audience(s) and what social media sites they engage. This will help you decide which social media to include in your plan.
  6. Define the Processes.  Determine before you begin, how will the information be collected, shared, and analyzed and what you will do with the results.
  7. Test it.  Before jumping in with both feet, consider starting out with a pilot program.
  8. Confirm the program is on track.  Meet often to review interim findings.
  9. Measure. Did you meet the goals?  Look at what worked right and what did not. Take your learnings from the pilot and make any necessary adjustments.
Related Links:

Harness the Power of LinkedIn for B2B Lead Generation

31 Oct

by Susan Lowe

If you want to get more from your social media marketing, look at including LinkedIn in your mix. LinkedIn is the social media site for business professionals.  Members total over 120M (million) that includes 12M small business professionals, 5.5M high tech managers, 2M C-level executives, and 1.3M small business owners.  You can be very granular when choosing your audience on LinkedIn. The site allows social media marketers to target key decision makers by specific industry, company size, geography, job function and other demographics.

Advertise on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Advertising is a great way to generate leads and grow your audience. LinkedIn offers several options when choosing the type of ad to run.  You can run a text only banner that runs across the top of the LinkedIn page of your chosen targets.  The other option is a text and image ad that again runs on the pages of your chosen LinkedIn targets.  Both have limits to the amount of characters you can include but, LinkedIn provides best practices to help you get the most from your ad. Provide your company URL to direct viewers to your website.  You may direct them to a special promotion on your website and a form to gather contact information.

Run a Promotion on LinkedIn to Grow Your Audience

In addition to advertising offered by LinkedIn, certified applications are available to help promote your brand and grow your audience through the LinkedIn network. One of these applications is Wildfire.  Wildfire allows companies to integrate branded interactive campaigns like sweepstakes, contests and give-aways with LinkedIn and it integrates with social media site Facebook and Twitter.

Ready to Go 

The nice thing about Wildfire is it provides several ‘out-of-the-box’ tools that can get your promotion up and running on LinkedIn in about four weeks.  And the app has several priced options to suit a small or large budget.  The app includes an ad for your company profile page (if you don’t have a LinkedIn company page – make sure to get one), a Microsite, a form to gather entrants contact information and a landing page for sharing.  You provide the content. Make sure to purchase the option that provides entrants data for your future engagements.

Combine a LinkedIn Ad with a Promotion for Greater Results

Run your promotion in combination with a LinkedIn advertisement to drive traffic to the Microsite. Place the ad in specific areas of the LinkedIn site to target your audience.  You can also use your website and current contact lists (newsletters and other marketing activities) to invite participation in your LinkedIn promotion. Entrants are able to share your promotion with their contacts and groups on their LinkedIn network or via email.  This is why social networks like LinkedIn help you grow qualified leads quickly.

Keys to Successfully Generating Leads Using LinkedIn

1- Strategy – Consider how your LinkedIn activities support your overall social media strategy.

2- Set up a LinkedIn Company Profile – if you don’t already have one.

3- Define your audience.  Remember LinkedIn allows you to very specifically define the target audience.

4-  Set your objectives and goals.  Decide what results you want to achieve from your LinkedIn activity. Include the kind of information you want to obtain from the entrants.

5- Plan and Tactics- Determine the right activities to generate the results you want with your target.  Is it a LinkedIn ad, a coupon, a giveaway or a combination?  Provide something of value in return for participation in the promotion. Remember in social media – it is  better to give then to receive. Don’t forget to include a definitive start and end date as a call to act.

6- Measure- Once your ad or promotion has ended determine how well it did in accomplishing the objectives and goals.

Additional Resources
Finding Your Way Through the Social Media Maze, White Paper

 

Is Social Media the Right Choice for Your Business?

3 Oct

By Susan Lowe

There is no denying that social media is the biggest thing to happen to marketing since the Internet.  Businesses are trying to figure out how to effectively be a part of this game changing phenomenon.  A friend and I were talking the other day about one of her clients who believed their company needed a presence on Facebook. When the client asked for her help, she recommended they focus their marketing activities in other areas.

Why? Facebook has over 800 million active users and plays an important role in many of the largest corporations’ marketing efforts.  For my friend’s client, a B2B supplier in a specialized industry, Facebook isn’t the best fit to reach their target customers and to meet their business objectives.  So, how do you know if  social media is the right choice for your business?

Start with a marketing plan.  A good marketing plan includes your business goals and objectives and which marketing activities can help you achieve them.

Here are a few basic elements that should be included in your marketing plan;

  1. Your business goals and objectives.
  2. Your target customers.
  3. The marketing activities that support those goals and objectives with your target customers.
  4. Your budget.

Determine if social media can further your business goals and objectives.  Is social media an effective use of your budget and resources compared to other marketing tools?  Answering these questions when developing your marketing plan will help you decide if social media is the right choice for your business.

Additional Resources
Finding Your Way Through the Social Media Maze, White Paper

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