Renee Prejean-Motanky

Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

The ROI of Social Media

In Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Social Media, The Internet, Tips You Can Use on July 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm

ROI

 

The most-asked questions  are “Where’s the ROI in social media marketing?” and “How much should I be spending on social media marketing?”  My answer is always, remove the term social media from those questions and ask them again:  “Where’s the ROI in marketing?” and “How much should I be spending on marketing?”

Social media isn’t a tool box of silver bullets given to us by aliens.  It’s simply a new set of technologies and concepts that we need to add and integrate into our existing marketing strategy.

And, there is always an ROI to marketing.

10 Skills PR Pros Will Need in 2020

In Communications, Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Public Relations, Tips You Can Use on June 27, 2013 at 12:58 am

Media Coverage

A year ago on June 12th, Arik Hanson Keynoted  the Puget Sound PSRA Pro Conference. The topic he spoke on — What skills does tomorrow’s PR pro need to be successful? — a topic he knows a thing or two about. Through his business in Minnesota; Help a PR Pro Out (HAPPO), he talks, at length, to a number of people about the skills required in today’s marketplace.

That’s not to say that traditional PR skills are dead. On the contrary, they’re more important than ever. But these emerging skills are also critical. And in most cases, they’re simply a layer on top of the traditional skills we’re all so familiar with.

This list is based on conversations Arik has had with recruiters, agency owners, and colleagues over a period of a few years. These are skills many employers are not just looking for—they’re demanding them. More and more, we’ll see this become a trend.
For now, let’s roll through Arik’s list of the 10 skills tomorrow’s PR pro must have to succeed (along with resources and tips):

1. Advertising copywriting

“Tactics I’ve seen include social media management, e-newsletters, Facebook advertising, Google Adwords, and more, and I expect that to increase. Because online advertising is often rooted in messaging rather than creative, it makes sense for PR agencies to drive a lot of it.” – Rachel Kay, owner, RKPR

Resources:Social Fresh Facebook Ad Report

2. Video editing/production

“I predict a large portion of our client budgets will be devoted to creating, editing, and distributing unique company content (blog posts, video interviews, photo albums, etc.). PR professionals will be expected to be savvy with several tools, from social networks to editing software (like Final Cut Pro and PhotoShop) to monitoring and analytics tools (like SM2, Sysomos and Radian6). ” – Anne Buchanan, owner, Buchanan PR

Tip:
“iMovie should be a standard skill that PR pros should be familiar with. Apple offers some great easy tutorials and, of course, free workshops at their stores for Mac owners. Baseline knowledge of Final Cut and even sound editing using Garage Band [is] even better.” – Scott Meis, director, digital strategy, Weber Shandwick.

Resources:
Tom Martin’s 28 ways to use an iPhone for blog content:

3. Mobile

“In the next few years, PR professionals will (hopefully) embrace and start leveraging mobile as part of recommended strategy and daily work. To date, I see too many poor examples of leveraging the medium (lazy slapping on QR codes, for example), and our PR peers not understanding the important nuance that mobile can add to campaigns today.

“Mobile should be a business driver, not a one-off add-on or neutered experience. Unfortunately, much like social media years back, it’s my assumption the PR industry won’t place importance on this channel until our clients start specifically asking for it.” – Greg Swan, vice president of digital strategy, Weber Shandwick

Example:
Mall of America uses QR code event to drive awareness, sales on Black Friday.

Resources:
Follow @aaronstrout and @schneidermike, both of whom are great location-based marketing experts. Or, if that’s too hard, just buy their book, “Location Based Marketing for Dummies.”

4. Social content creation/curation

“I think we’ll begin to own the content piece of digital marketing. Right now, too many executives, marketers, and sales people own it, which creates more sales-y content that doesn’t go anywhere. PR pros, by nature, are storytellers and the content will begin to shift to those who know how to write engaging and valuable content.” – Gini Dietrich, owner, Arment Dietrich

Resources:
Check out Joe Pulizzi’s blog, which is full of great content ideas and strategies. I also think Shel Holtz has some interesting ideas around content curation; he’s a big fan of Storify (which I love as a tool for brands).

5. Analytics

“The PR professional of tomorrow is faced with an unlimited source of data about their key audiences. It will be critical for the PR pro to be able to analyze large amounts of data pertaining to search behaviors, engagement patterns on Facebook and other social platforms and, most importantly, understand how to measure their contribution to the impact of a communications program and business objective(s).

“The time has long since passed where the PR pro can claim ignorance on how to gather, analyze, and develop insights from data. There isn’t an expectation that he/she will be a data analyst, but if he/she isn’t comfortable working with a data analyst then they will be left behind.” – Chuck Hemann, director of analytics, WCG

Resources:
The Google Analytics blog and KD Paine’s Measurement blog are must-reads for those looking to learn more about analytics.

6. Search engine optimization (SEO)

“Unless they’re trying to hide, PR pros must accelerate content discovery & distribution with social & SEO skills.” – Lee Odden, blogger, author, owner, TopRankMarketing

Tip:
Don’t let SEO take over your content.

Resources:
Lee Odden’s Online Marketing blog and SEOMoz are great resources if you’re looking to learn more about SEO.

7. Speed to information

“It’s a lot easier to anticipate opportunities and challenges when you’re aware of them before your competition or detractors.” – Len Kendall, Golin Harris

Tools for content discovery:
Diigo, Google Reader, Evernote, Instapaper

8. Programming skills

“The PR pro of the future (quite frankly, today) will definitely need to have a firm grasp of all the necessary tools to create, manage, and analyze digital content. For example, the ability to manipulate code in a WordPress site or a content management system such as Buddy Media has quickly become a basic requirement.” – Alex Tan, director, digital, Golin Harris

Resources:
CodeAcademy.com is a great resource for the average PR pro looking to learn more about coding. You can get a lesson a week send to you each week for a year to get you started.

9. Managing virtual teams

As more companies allow their employees to work remotely (in fact, some businesses are entirely virtual), the challenge of managing a remote workforce will come to the forefront. How will managers motivate, monitor, discipline, and inspire workers spread across the country, even the world? Not to mention foster engagement among them.

Tip:
Focus on results, not time in the office

Resources:
Check out Workshifting.org for some great posts and tools to help you better manage virtual teams.

10. Blogger outreach

“In PR, one of our core roles is to help brands deliver the right message to the right audience. Media relations is one effective tool. But a number of bloggers are also building strong readership in niche subject areas. If you’re ignoring bloggers, I think you’re doing a disservice to your clients. Pitching bloggers isn’t the same as pitching other kinds of media; however, PR people need to understand how to innovate media-relations best practices and incorporate blogger outreach into their strategies. “ – Heather Whaling, owner, Geben Communication

Tip:
Resist the urge to sell right away

Resources:
Heather Whaling’s PRTini is one of the better and more forward-thinking blogs when it comes to blogger outreach strategies. Subscribe now.

10 Reasons Why Your Network Is Your Greatest Asset

In Business Development, Communications, marketing, Social Media on June 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm

An individual’s greatest asset is his/her network. The network that’s an asset is the one made up of real relationships.

Facebook and Twitter have no value if you don’t use them properly.  In looking at profiles on these social media for a number of large and small businesses, I’ve observed that most of them aren’t going about it in the right way. Businesses jump on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagons with the hope of generating sales. They load their news feeds with sales plugs and expect   “friends” to buy whatever they’re selling. They use Twitter to make announcements rather than to engage conversation.

The right way to use social media is to focus on building relationships. Wish friends and fans “Happy Birthday”; “Like” their statuses, share information and even provide  useful content that’s OUTSIDE of your business area of expertise to help them out (for example: share an interesting news item, a great sale on computer equipment, a super auto repair shop, great business tips, etc.). Show that your thread is useful and that you are there to connect with them, not simply sell them something and you will see results.

DON’T create a business profile and start adding people as friends – users hate this. Get to know your privacy settings and use your personal profile as the “face” of your company.

Below is a list from Steve Tobak of BNET on what you stand to gain from building a great network:

  1. Introductions. Whether you’re an entrepreneur in need of venture capital or a marketing VP looking for the best PR firm, you’re more likely to find it through your network than by any other means.
  2. Opportunities. Over a 30-year career, most of my major career and business opportunities came from my network. Business associates, friends of friends, casual conversations, business meetings, social events, whatever. But you’ve got to pay attention.
  3. Sorting out thorny problems. Anyone who thinks they’ve never met a work problem they can’t resolve has never been a CEO. The problem with problems is that they keep getting escalated until there’s nowhere left to go. The buck has to stop somewhere. And getting a fellow exec to help sort out a monster problem is a big plus.
  4. Recruiting. Perhaps the most critical job of any manager is to hire talented people, and the best place to find them is through your network. And not just for direct reports, but also for recommendations on peers, key employees, board members, you name it.
  5. Ideas. I don’t know about you, but most of my best ideas come from bouncing them around with like-minded people.
  6. Competitive intelligence. It’s a big, hairy global market and smart executives dig for competitive intelligence. Much of that info comes from sales and marketing, but where do you think they get it from? That’s right, their network.
  7. Sensitive issues. Top executives often face sensitive issues they can’t discuss with others at the company. Sometimes they just need an outside perspective from another CEO. For example, some of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s friends are Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Mark Hurd (when he was CEO of H-P, as well). Makes sense, doesn’t it?
  8. Seeing the big market picture. A huge component of any manager’s success is her ability to anticipate significant market changes. While nobody has a crystal ball, if you get enough anecdotal data from enough sources, you can get a pretty good picture of what’s going on.
  9. Moral support. Business is full of tradeoffs. Rarely are critical and complex issues black and white. When top execs wrestle with gray issues, it’s nice to be able to pick up the phone for advice and support.
  10. You don’t know what you don’t know. While there are exceptions, know-it-alls don’t typically get ahead. Smart managers know what they don’t know and that means they depend very much on comparing notes with others in their network.

Is your network your biggest asset?

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Getting The Most Out of LinkedIn

In Business Strategies, marketing, Social Media, The Internet on May 11, 2011 at 8:26 am
Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

 I’ve heard a bezillion questions about LinkedIn, the most common of which is….”I signed up on LinkedIn, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it. Does it really have value?”

Think of it this way:  

  • Linked In has more than 20 million users with an average age of 41-years old and an average income of $110,000.00.  
  • Every Fortune 500 company is represented on Linked In.
  • 500,000 small and mid-sized businesses use Linked In.
  • More than 150 industries are represented.

So the answer to “does it have value” is a resounding, YES!  But it requires more than just “signing up” to have value.

You have to put the effort in up front when you set up your page  and then you have to remain active in a strategic way (that you’ve, of course, given some thought to on the front end.)  Once you’re comfortably established there are many valuable ways to use linked:

  • Prospecting. You can locate and introduce yourself to contacts in the accounts you are targeting. Communicating through Linked In significantly increases the liklihood to get a response over a direct email or phone call. You can learn a lot about your prospect by reading their profile (what they’re currently working on, their employment history, who they recommend and who recommends them, where they went to school, their personal interests, etc.)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Having a COMPLETE profile on Linked In will drastically improve your SEO results. You can include up to three URLs in your profile that are indexed by Google and other search engines, as well as create your own Linked In URL that is searchable. 
  •  Job Search/Recruiting and Reference Checks. If you are searching for a job or looking to hire someone, Linked In can help. Not only can you search for positions and candidates on Linked In, if you’re a recruiter you can verify job experience and contact other contacts within Linked In who were at a company during the same time for references. Or, as the job seeker, you can  pre-screen prospective bosses and co-workers.
  • Thought Leadership. LinkedIn has a Q&A section where members can ask and answer questions about pertinent topics. This is a great place to get some of your most pressing questions answered. OR, if you are trying to establish yourself or your company as a thought leader in a given field, this is the place for you to post brilliant answers to those who’ve posted questions. When doing so, you can include URLs and links to support your answer, or to drive traffic to your Website which will improve its SEO.

Linked In is a powerful business networking tool–one that no sales or marketing person should be without.

The site offers several membership levels, ranging from FREE  to $500 per/year.  It’s best to evaluate what makes the most sense for you and then Just Do It!

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Writing is a Critical Marketing Skill

In Business Development, Integrated Marketing Strategy, Social Media, The Internet on April 29, 2011 at 1:01 am

Denny Hatch (an expert copywriter) wrote an article discussing why professional copywriting is critical for marketing. He shared a story in that article that has remained with me:

“What do you do?” a guy at a cocktail party was asked. “I’m a brain surgeon,” was the reply. “What do you do?” “I’m a write,” the guy replied. “Ah,” said the brain surgeon. “I’ve often thought that when I retire I’d like to try some writing.” “And when I retire,” said the writer, “I plan try a little brain surgery.”

I loved that story! It resonated with me for several reasons, but most markedly because I have continually run into businessmen and other individuals who believe that writing only requires stringing words together on paper. Good writing requires both talent and skill. And if your goal is to market a product, idea or service, create content that interests someone other than yourself or simply to share information with others, developing the skill and having a strategy for your content is essential.

Over recent years marketing strategy has changed in one very important way. To be successful, it’s necessary to become an active participant. Instead of coordinating external sources for short-term campaign execution such as in advertising, marketers need to take real-time action That means writing of all kinds…which can mean creating a Blog and making regular posts, contributing relevant comments to discussions taking place on the Web, adding value by sharing tools and ideas on various social media, writing articles for e-zines and even the simple act of communicating directly with customers and prospects via e-mail.

While it’s still preferable to hire professionals for major writing projects, some types of writing require an authenticity that can only come from “the horse’s mouth.” The purpose of content development is not to spout the virtues of your own products or services, but to inform target customers and prospects about key industry issues, sometimes involving your products.

Let’s say, for example, that you have a client or prospect that you’ve been communicating with online and they have a need for immediate information. They request it from you –> If your response is; “Sure, I can have that for you in a couple of days,” you’ve just missed an opportunity or possibly lost a client!

The motivation behind content marketing is the belief that educating the customer results in the brand’s recognition as a thought leader and industry expert.

If you can’t step up to the plate and write engaging content that can be published now you’re not likely to survive in today’s highly competitive business environment. This is ever-so-clearly illustrated in David Meerman Scott’s book, Real-Time Marketing. Content Rules by Handley and Chapman also convincingly make the case for content marketing.

There are certain networks that require direct participation (without the help of a professional writer.) Linked In offers an example. Although it isn’t a formal network, the way you write is an important reflection on you and your business.

Remember:

• Everything you write doesn’t have to be a masterpiece of formatting and graphic design.
• Short article formats work well if the content provides meaty, useful insights. An 800 word, tightly-focused article is more than ample for engagement and asks for less time than a bigger piece.
• Know your customers/clients well enough to write for them — being unsure how to flip focus from your company and products/services to address their needs is a huge obstacle.
• If you aren’t sure where to start, it’s the direct result of a lack of content strategy.
• Being crazy-busy is not an excuse to avoid developing content.

Writing is no longer optional. Marketing today is driven by content. Tools like the social media and other Internet publishing technology only demand more fuel (content) to feed the beast!

So, tune up your keyboard and allow the writer in you to escape!

Once Again, Seth Godin Says It Perfectly!

In Communications, marketing, Social Media, The Internet on December 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

THE INEVITABLE DECLINE DUE TO CLUTTER

by: Seth Godin

Digital media expands. It’s not like paper, it can get bigger.

As digital marketers seek to increase profits, they almost always make the same mistake. They continue to add more clutter, messaging and offers, because, hey, it’s free.

One more link, one more banner, one more side deal on the Groupon page.

Economics tells us that the right thing to do is run the factory until the last item produced is being sold at marginal cost. In other words, keep adding until it doesn’t work any more.

In fact, human behavior tells us that this is a more permanent effect than we realize. Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.

And it’s hard to go backward.

More is not always better. In fact, more is almost never better.

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How to Get Others to Market For You

In Business Development, Business Strategies, marketing, Social Media, The Internet on August 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm

It’s a well-known fact that word-of-mouth referrals are a powerful form of marketing. When people speak positively about your products and services, they often influence others to work with you.These days, with so many people communicating via social media networks, there are many more communications channels open to entrepreneurs…many ways to help build new relationships.

Word Gets Around

Here are some suggestions for getting others to spread the word about your business:

1.      Twitter.  Twitter is a world filled with sound bites.  It’s a great way to create a following, direct Web traffic, build brand recognition, and get feedback from all over the place. Not only can you, your employees and customers Tweet about your business, so can other businesses.  It’s important to remember that the conversations must be authentic or Twitterers will know.  It’s also important that you or someone in your company monitors what’s being said in order to respond or jump into the conversation when necessary.  Just as positive messages can be Tweeted, so can negative.  The ability for an idea or thought or message to generate a huge following is fascinating on Twitter. Since the emphasis on Twitter is brevity (A post can’t be longer than 140 characters) it’s important to learn the lingo—lots of abbreviations to become familiar with.

2.      LinkedIn.   LinkedIn is a great place to go to network for business. It’s also a great way to see who knows who within a business network so that you can leverage existing business relationships. A couple of good ways to use LinkedIn as a tool are:
                   1.   Answer Questions. The more substantive your answer is the more likely folks will want to connect with  you, refer you and/or work with you.
                  2.   Ask Questions.  By asking questions that generate a lot of responses, you can identify “qualified  prospects” in many arenas.  It takes thought and creativity on the part of the asker.

3.      Offer customer incentives. Some of the most valuable references can come from current customers since they are speaking from experience and their words will be more readily accepted than the words in an advertisement or marketing pitch. You might even share the wealth you receive as a result of customer referrals by offering discounts on future purchases or by offering cash back if a customer referral leads to a piece of new business for you. Not can this encourage customers to be vocal about your products and services but, by giving back, you’ll be strengthening your relationship with them.

4.      Pay for links. Your business’ website is only a click away on the Internet. Take advantage of that by offering incentives to other website owners who refer business by linking to your site. You should, of course, reciprocate and always say thank you.  You can also offer a percentage — such as 5 percent — to the site for any referral that results in new business for your company. There are companies that will automate much of the process for you and act as an intermediary between your company and those with websites who are interested in doing this type of promotion.

5.      Make cross promotion work.  Every business need to do some kind of marketing. Look for other businesses whose products and/or services complement yours and strike up a strategic alliance where you’ll market for each other. You can promote each others’ businesses with your respective clients. The agreement can be as simple as linking to each other’s Web sites, or you can each share the other’s collateral materials with customers.

6.      Facebook.  Facebook is an extremely useful to keep in touch with and reconnect with people. Creating an online profile to inform your personal network of what it is that you’re doing and/or creating “Groups” that you solicit your network to participate in can be a useful means of driving traffic and it can be a great publicity tool. Facebook traffic has been increasing steadily, currently taking the position as the ninth most popular domain in the U.S., accounting for 1% of all Internet visits

Executing plans like these can be a highly effective way of building brand awareness which, in turn, motivates new people to try your products or services when they are in need of them.

If you want to utilize social media successfully as a marketing tool to grow your business, remember that you have to use social media sites and tools in the same ways that your customers do, and for the same reasons. You also have to accept each community’s rules, you can’t make your own. Social media isn’t a one-way promotional channel; it’s a many-way interaction/communication channel. The key is Audience. You’ve got to know who you’re talking to.

Anyone else have any tried and true methods to share?

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10 Tips For Social Media Marketers

In Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Social Media, The Internet on July 11, 2009 at 12:56 am
Social Media Very Basic Overview
Image by litbel via Flickr

Businesses these days are engaging with consumers in new ways through social media like YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook, Myspace, LinkedIn and others.  Many set up their own social site or designate an area on their existing Website. 

Whatever vehicle you choose for your business, these are ten key lessons about social media that every marketer using these vehicles would be well-advised to take to heart:

  1. Every Brand can and should be “Social.”  – Conversations about your brand and products are happening everywhere.  You need to be a part of the conversation (not to control it, but to add your voice!)
  2. Just Get Started!  It doesn’t require a large budget to get started in social media marketing.  Start by listening.  Set up Google Alerts to monitor conversations about your brand or product.  Use TweetDeck and set up a search to monitor what is going on about your brand or product on Twitter.  Then participate in the conversation.  Just remember to be authentic, honest and transparent.  If you take those first steps and engage in the conversation , you’ll l learn more about how your brand fits into the social media space.  This will guide future programs that you may launch.
  3. Integrated marketing VS Social Media.  There is a difference between an integrated marketing campaign that includes viral components or onllne/offline coordination and a social media program.  Marketing campaigns have a short life. They, generally have a particular focus and are designed to capture the attention of your target audience.  A social media program is a commitment to engage and communicate with consumers when and where (online) the consumer wants to communicate and at no other time. If you start a marketing campaign with social components versus implementing a social media program, it’s important to start with the end in mind.  The worst thing you can do is build a group of fans, friends or followers around an initiative without a clear strategy once the marketing campaign is completed.
  4. Find Your Own Unique Path.  What works for one brand in social media doesn’t necessarily work for another.  A movie franchise communicates very differently with its customer than, say, a video arcade.  Your unique traits should be reflected in the content you create, the tone that you use and the online programs that you develop.
  5. Expenditures for Publicity.  Companies can spend a lot of money trying to launch a social media program.  Most of those efforts can be classified as part of an integrated marketing campaign.  Your approach and funding of an integrated marketing campaign should  be in line with the size and scope of your overall marketing budget.  Social media programs are much more cost-effective when viewed strictly from within your “media” budget but they need people to manage them.  So, in many cases you exchange media dollars for staff time and its relative cost.  If you are at step one: listening to and engaging in conversations about your brand, for example, while there’s no media buy someone must be dedicated to scanning and responding to the network.  That person needs to be an employee of the company.
  6. PR Agencies can play a great role, but the “VOICE” needs to be your company’s.  Remember that the consumer wants to connect with you, not your PR agency!  Your agency’s role, if involved, should be to monitor and identify opportunities. But it is the company who must respond – Authenticity is key.
  7. Get legal professionals involved from the beginning, if you have legal considerations to comply with.  Your legal department or consultant can be an ally or a roadblock.  It’s important to understand that there is not a lot of legal precedent to reference in the social networking arena.  This makes your legal experts nervous.  You want them on your team, so involve them early and help them understand your goals. This should help solidify a partnership.  When risks are identified, ask them to help you find solutions rather than put the kibosh on a program.  There are usually solutions to mitigate risk.  Together you can find these.
  8. Have a Crisis Management Plan.  In a world of 24/7 communication, the brands that can respond quickly to a crisis will be the brands that weather the storm.  A good crisis management plan must begin with active monitoring.  Good judgment must be exercised to distinguish a customer service issue from a crisis needing management.  Once a crisis has been identified, it must be responded to quickly (with a couple of hours is reasonable.)  Taking no action will certainly escalate the issue.  Immediate response helps nip a crisis in the bud.  You may find that, if your company has been active in the social media community for a while and has amassed followers who trust you, they may lend to your credibility by defending you!
  9. Convincing the C-Suite.  One of the most popular questions  asked by corporate public relations staff about social media programs is; “How do we garner the support of the “C-Suite for a social media program?”  Having a clearly defined objective is critically important to gain support of any initiative.  Since the C-Suite is most focused on ROI (Return On Investment), it’s important to demonstrate to them, why social media have become so important to the bottom line.
  10. More about Return On Investment.  Discussions regarding the return on investment of social media are prevalent these days, and with good reason.  In a tightening economy, businesses are scrutinizing their spending, anxious to ensure, that resources are being allocated wisely.  In the emerging social media space, ROI has been redefined  by some as “Risk of Ignoring”.  So when  the decision maker in your company asks you the ROI question, your answer should be, “Yes. If we create a plan, and set goals, then we can measure the returns …”
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BUSINESS APPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA OR…as a recent study by SocialMedia Today put it; “separating the Biz from the Buzz”

In Business Development, Communications, marketing, Social Media on July 3, 2009 at 3:12 am
My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...
Image by luc legay via Flickr

The rapid rise in popularity of social media has been underestimated.  Companies have been using social media mostly as a general communication tool…primarily for public relations. But a shift is coming in how organizations use social media as businesses begin to discover the value of social media as an essential tool for generating leads and for keeping arms around customers through interaction with them.

In our current economic downturn where the customer pool is diminishing exponentially, finding customers and engaging with them have moved up the priority scale.  Social media is a powerful and persuasive tool.  What better example to cite than the recent election of the President of the United States?

There is, however, a glut of social media vehicles to choose from and all are getting lots of media coverage (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, My Space, etc.)  All are somewhat ubiquitous and I’d like to see demographic and psychographic data on users indicating the unique audience components to each service.  Each of them tout different features. That’s the researcher in me.  It’s not easy to understand which way to go or, for that matter, how to use them to advantage. 

For RPM Marketing, my company, it’s difficult to say that I get more value from one than the other, though. I’ve found that if you want to utilize social media successfully as a marketing tool to grow your business, then you have to use social media sites and tools in the same ways that your customers do, and for the same reasons. You also have to accept the community’s rules, you can’t make your own. Social media isn’t a one-way promotional channel, it’s a many-way interaction/communication channel. The key, as always, is Audience. You’ve got to know who you’re talking to.

I’ve been on LinkedIn for a while now and I’d say it’s where you go to network for business. It’s a great way to see who knows who so that you can leverage existing business relationships.

A couple of good ways to use LinkedIn as a tool are:
1. Answer Questions. The more substantive your answer is, the more likely folks will want to connect with you.
2. Ask Questions. By asking questions that generate a lot of responses you can identify “qualified prospects” in many arenas. It takes thought and creativity on the part of the asker.

I’m new to “tweeting,” (still making my observatons) and I can only offer initial impressions. On Twitter, the ability for an idea or thought or message to generate a huge following is fascinating. Since the emphasis on Twitter is brevity (A post can’t be longer than 140 characters) it’s important to learn the lingo—lots of abbreviations to become familiar with. Twitter is a world filled with sound bites that either capture your interest or not. I have found that it’s a great way to create a following, direct Web traffic, build brand recognition, and get feedback from all over the place.

I personally like Facebook and log into it every day, sometimes two or three times! I have found it extremely useful to keep in touch with and reconnect with my personal network. Creating an online profile to inform your personal network of what it is that you’re doing and/or creating “Groups” that you solicit your network to participate in can be a useful means of driving traffic and it can be a great publicity tool for a small business or for a specific business unit within a larger business provided that individual employees, NOT corporate officials are the ones posting.

I’m experimenting with Facebook now. Facebook traffic has been increasing steadily, currently taking the position as the ninth most popular domain in the U.S., accounting for 1% of all Internet visits —  Facebook has also moved the bar up…way up, with it’s integration of other software applications (at the user’s discretion) into its model!

A recent study conducted by Social Media Today 1. endeavors to provide guidance to managers regarding which  functions of social media are actually useful in business by measuring which vehicles are being used right now and by whom. The survey was conducted of its members and visitors who are actively involved professionally in social media.

A look at what other businesses are doing can offer valuable perspective.  To read the full white paper:  http://www.socialmediatoday.biz/separatingthebizfromthebuzz

 

 

1.     Social Media Today is an online community focused on issues in the social media world.

 

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