Should you do social media?

I’m not talking on a personal level here – but specifically for businesses. For many companies, this is a question they are still asking and depending largely on the person you ask, the answer may be different. Sadly, many companies have not found the value in social media –  likely because they are confused on a viable strategy, how to measure the effectiveness – or just plain have a bias that social media is something that their kids do sitting at home all night. I like Beth LaPierre’s, Chief Listening Officer of Kodak, answer to this question: “Should you do social media? That’s like someone asking if they should buy a lightbulb after electricity was invented.”

Ok, so if you are going ‘to do’ social media? Does this mean all you have to do is stick a ‘Like us on facebook’ or ‘Follow up on Twitter’ on your website and in your email signatures and toss out a post or two on those platforms? Well you could – but that won’t be very effective. I know, that’s how I started doing social media for the B2B company I work for.

So what are some of the things that you can do to upon starting on the social media journey for your company?

  1. For starters, you need to make your Web experience more social. Many company websites are still static, one-way communication vehicles. An easy way to make that change is by starting a blog (if you haven’t already) and allowing visitors to discuss with you by adding comments to your blog. This is an excellent way to begin the two way dialogue with your audience, monitor their responses and opinions and then tailor future messages based on those comments.
  2. If you sell products, allowing ratings and reviews is another way to make your web experience more social and interactive.
  3. Polls and voting enable users to interact and engage with your brand and also allows them to get involved anonymously. You and your visitors can get real time results to an issue that likely matters to both.
  4. Bookmarking – make it easy for your web visitors to bookmark and share the content on your site.
  5. Establish facebook and twitter profiles for your business and listen. The content posted here should not be a complete replicate of what is on your website, but maybe a small piece of interesting information that can lead them back to your blog or website for more.

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Content, Relevance, Distribution…What about Strategy?

I have been reading alot lately about content marketing…in fact content marketing is the hot phrase today. Pair that up with the word relevance and you have the trifecta… relevant content marketing. And when it comes to content, relevance is pretty high on the list. But is relevance enough? We often get caught up in thinking if I put out relevant content, when my target market is searching, they will be interested because it’s relevant to them. And while that is generally true, it’s important to remember that there is masses of content competing for our targets attention. Not just our competitors content, but anything that is interesting to them, which  translates into what is engaging our target market when they are searching. Sure, they may set out on a search to find the best software for their needs, but how did they end up on ESPN checking out the football scores from the weekend? Something caught their eye when they WERE searching for software and it engaged them and ultimately distracted them from their original intent/search.

So while we may be pumping out content that is hopefully relevant and distributing it on our Website and social media channels, is that really enough? What about re-purposing that content into multiple formats, some that are thought-leadership and some that are entertaining? This is something that the B2C marketers have gotten for some time and it’s easy to see why. A company selling cosmetics or clothing can easily put together engaging and entertaining content on fashion and beauty.  But take a look at how some other brands are using entertaining content to get tell their product stories…

Emerging media enables us to put together a great mix of resources to tell our brand story and engage our target. And it all begins with content, yes relevant, interesting and might I suggest entertaining content. Understanding that our customers are not sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for our next marketing blurb and that even when we do send something relevant, it is competing with a huge universe of interesting and entertaining content is key to being successful with content marketing.

And don’t forget the strategy. Align a strategy for creating and distributing content to a set of objectives and find a way to measure them to some degree (this is a whole new topic).

  1. Do research to understand where your customers get information and what pain points matter to them. Is there a community that they connect in?
  2. Keep SEO top of mind using keywords and linking strategies for your content. Look for well-trafficked and highly ranked sites in your industry to post your content and drive visitors back to your Website or social media channels.
  3. Integrate everything and distribute through a well-rounded mix of social media channels where your customers are at.
  4. Re-purpose your content into multiple formats(blog posts, videos, podcasts, benchmarks, calculators, comparisons, thought-leadership reports, and sometimes just entertaining bits that poke fun at the issues in the industry).

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How effective is your brand’s social media strategy?

I asked myself this question today after seeing some results from a social media study by Harvard Business Review and SAS. According to 2010 study, only 12% of business executives feel that their companies use social media effectively.

At first I thought that seemed like a low percentage, but then thought about my own social media strategy and wondered exactly how effective is it? How do you measure social media effectiveness anyway? In order to measure the effectiveness of a brand’s social media strategy, you need to have clear objectives in place such as:

  • Increased awareness of company and products/services
  • Increased traffic to website
  • Monitor public/consumer perception of your brand (as well as positive/negative comments)
  • Gain insights on target market and what is relevant to them
  • Identify new business opportunities
  • Customer relationships

There are various analytical tools to monitor your social media reach. For our company in the biotech/pharma industry, we primarily use social media for brand awareness and increased traffic to our website. One of the ways in which we are able to monitor this is through web analytics. Using this, I am able to monitor where all the traffic is coming from, which social media tools provide the most traffic.

Website Traffic Source

Social media reach

Social media has a tremendous opportunity for brands to extend their reach, develop personal customer interactions, increase awareness and drive traffic to their website/blog. Social media platforms are starting to rank higher in use (87%) than blogs (58%) and review sites (22%). If you haven’t started using social media for your company, now is the time to start implementing it, beginning with objectives (start small) and a way to measure those to some degree.

ShareThis allows you to evaluate your social media equation. If you haven’t already, think about getting the ShareThis button for your website, blog and email campaigns and start benchmarking your social reach compared to others.

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Welcome to the Digital Media Spin

Here we are at the start of 2011. As I sit down to flesh out the remaining pieces of my marketing plan, I stare at numerous emerging media tools in front of me and begin to determine which ones might be the best mix… Twitter, linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, RSS, Web 2.0, interactive demos and the list goes on and on. I decided to start a blog to sort my thoughts on all the emerging media tools and how to best use them to engage my consumer. Join me on this discussion and throw in your opinions. No doubt we’ll all have various opinions, facts, experiences and tests to support the best mix of tools to use. Hopefully over the next few months, we’ll all gain some insight from a variety of industries and be able to share and exchange great ideas on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to engaging our consumers using content shared through emerging media.

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