Posts Tagged ‘social media marketing’

SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

November 30th, 2010

social mediaSuccess begins with a plan. Yet when it comes to social media, most dive in without a thorough understanding of objectives, platforms, tactics, requirements, responsibilities and metrics for measuring performance.

Most marketers also fail to understand the pitfalls and shortcomings that can prevent them from achieving their social media marketing goals, including:

  • content that is overly promotional
  • content that is not engaging or relevant to target audiences
  • a one-way outbound approach to communicating (it’s all about me!)
  • failing to build a network (without reach, there is no ROI)
  • one-off isolated efforts vs. an integrated approach

What most lack is a comprehensive social media strategy.  To address this growing need, I developed a new presentation to help marketers understand the opportunities, challenges and pitfalls of social media marketing while providing an operational framework for developing a social media strategy.

My presentation “Social Media Strategy” addresses the following:

  • 5 point business case for social media
  • 7 common pitfalls of social media (and steps to avoid them)
  • 10 point outline for a social media strategy

This presentation provides the information you need to craft a social media strategy.  If you find it valuable, please feel free to comment below and share with others.  Enjoy and good luck with your social media strategy!

Steve Latham
Follow me on Twitter

Related posts and presentations
Business Case for Social Media
New Media Toolkit
Social Media: Shiny Object or Killer App?

Twitter Best Practices for Social Media Marketers (Updated 2010)

August 7th, 2010

twitter birdFor 2+ years I’ve been advising clients on how to use Twitter as a marketing platform.  Surprisingly, it seems that most brand marketers still don’t get it.  With the goal of doing my part to help the industry master this channel, I’m sharing my best practices for Twitter Marketing.  While these may not be comprehensive, they will provide you with 90% of what you need to be proficient at building your brand via Twitter.  In order of priority – here is my list. Enjoy!

Twitter Best Practices for Social Media Marketing (according to @stevelatham)

1. Brand Your Profile
Before you start tweeting, make sure your profile is appropriately branded.  Update your profile, including a tight summary of who you are and how you distinguish yourself.  Include your URL and use a pic that can be identified when viewing a stream on a mobile device.  You can now find personalized Twitter backgrounds for cheap so there’s no excuse not to have one (see ours here).

2.  Provide Interesting and Engaging Content
While Tweeting is easy, it’s important that you do it right, starting with a solid content strategy.  Content recommendations include:

  • Based on approved content guidelines, create Tweets that are engaging and relevant to target audiences.  It should be easy for potential followers to see that your tweets are valuable and worth reading.
  • Introduce your content.  People often provide links to articles without any explanation as to why it might be relevant to the reader.  I always try to provide my take on whatever it is I’m linking to.  I’d recommend you do the same.
  • Write tweets that will be shared.  Rather than simply posting links, introduce links with compelling copy that encourage clicks.
  • Allow time to pass between each tweet (at least 15 minutes) for several reasons: 1) no one likes to have their dashboard of tweets dominated by one account, 2) if someone is not watching they are likely to miss them, 3) spreading them out demonstrates consistency that yields brand benefits.
  • Limit Tweets to 120 characters so they can be easily re-tweeted without exceeding the 140-character limit. See “120 is the new 140” from @BrianSolis for more tips.
  • Leverage real-time search by prominently including buzzwords that will picked up by Google, Bing and other search engines.
  • For more on Content Marketing check out @juntajoe and his blog.

3. Remember! Engagement = Listening + Responding
Social media is about interacting, and you can’t do that if you’re not listening.  In addition to listening for your brand mentions, you need to keep an eyes on what your network is tweeting about and participate in the discussion.  Here are some tips:

  • Use tools to track when your profile or brand is being mentioned on Twitter.  Tools include www.Search.Twitter.com as well as the SM monitoring tools mentioned previously.
  • Use the native search feature in your Twitter management tool to follow topics that are of importance to you.  For example, I have a search column in Hootsuite for “Social Media Strategy“.  This is how I keep up to date on the latest tweets on this subject.
  • When your brand is being mentioned in a positive way, RT the message, follow and recognize the person who tweeted about you.
  • Acknowledge mentions.  Monitor when your Twitter account name is mentioned and RT to thank, and/or acknowledge those who are mentioning you.
  • Build credibility and goodwill with your followers by re-tweeting (RT) posts that will be of interest to your audiences.  If you RT a follower’s post, they may acknowledge the RT to their followers, thereby promoting you in the process.

When your brand is being mentioned in a negative way, you can either 1) respond, or 2) ignore it.  If you choose to reply, consider the risks, given the nature of their tweet, their motives and their objectives. A confrontational response is rarely successful.  If you want to address a customer complaint, ask them follow you so you can then send a DM and take the conversation offline.  As mentioned above, ignoring the mention is often best.  You can inadvertently cause much greater damage if you engage in a public scuffle with a crazy person.

4. Building a network of followers
Without a network there is no reach, and without reach there is no ROI.  Contrary to most hopes and beliefs, networks do not build themselves; if you want followers, you have to work on it.  The good news is that with Twitter, the process is relatively easy.  When you follow someone, they will receive an email notification.  Currently, the normal etiquette is to respond by following the person who followed you.  Judicious tweeters will read your latest tweets to determine if your content is worth following.  If the content is good, most will follow you back – at least for a while.

  • Start with your own employees, partners, vendors and community.  Announce your new Twitter account and ask employees to follow and share with others.
  • Identify the top 50 influencers in your category on Twitter as these people can provide visibility and credibility for your brand among their networks of followers. Use www.TweepSearch.com, www.MrTweet.com and www.Twollow.com to find users with shared interests.  Look for those who have large numbers followers and are active in sharing their opinions with the masses (aka influencers).
  • Follow people who follow your Influencers.
  • Include a link to your twitter account in email, on your site, on all social networking sites and in all correspondence.
  • Remember to maintain a favorable ratio of Following / Followers of +/- 1:1. While building your network, take time to check out who you are following that is not following you back at www.FriendorFollow.com.  For each person who is not following you, you can either: 1) stop following for good, or 2) unfollow and then re-follow.  If they do not respond on your 2nd attempt to reach out, you may consider unfollowing them for good.
  • Be careful with TwitterBots (AutoFollow) tools.  As you’ll quickly learn, building a network takes time.  If you are interested in using an network-building service, make sure  you use a credible tool or service that follows Twitter best practices. Failure to do so will result in suspension of your account.  While there are a lot of cheap bots that to avoid, there are some services that work (full disclosure: we offer one that works well).  Before you buy, do your homework and ask for references.

5. Managing Multiple Accounts
Many marketers maintain at least two types of Twitter accounts – one for their company and one for their personal tweets.   Twitter management tools (my favorite is HootSuite) allow you to manage multiple profiles.  Since many may follow your personal and work accounts, make sure you don’t tweet the same content at the same time.  Another common practice is to RT your company tweets from your personal account.  Remember that many will follow your brand and personal profiles, so make sure you space them out (no simultaneous tweeting!).

Common Twitter Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some common content mistakes many marketers make when Tweeting:

  • It’s all about me!!!  Too many still use social media a megaphone vs. a telephone.  Success requires that you listen, engage and interact with others in the community.
  • Using social media as a press release distribution platform.  While there are sites that are great for press releases, this should be the exception, not the norm.  As noted, conversations require an exchange of information.  If all you do it tell the world about your firm, audiences will grow tired of listening.
  • Boring content.  You should always seek to include and introduce links to video, articles, audio and other media that will be interesting to audiences.
  • Vague content. Doesn’t it bug you when someone posts a link with a cryptic introduction?  Make it easy for followers to see what you are presenting to them.  Introduce your links.
  • Sharing information that is confidential, sensitive or not appropriate.  This is especially important if you work for a public company or in a regulated, hyper-competitive or litigious industry.
  • Drawing unnecessary attention or being overly defensive when addressing negative comments.  Sometimes it’s best to ignore the haters.  If you respond, you may make something big out of a small issue, which may be exactly what they want you to do.

In Closing…
Again, this may not be all-encompassing, and I’m sure I’ve omitted a few important lessons.  That said, I hope these are helpful and that you find value in them.  If so, please COMMENT, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE to our blog.  Thank you for your feedback!

Steve Latham (follow me on Twitter)

Social Media for Sales and Marketing?

November 16th, 2009

buynowHow do you use social media to sell?  This was one of the questions on LinkedIn Answers today (BTW LIA is a great forum for sharing insights with industry experts). Actually, this is the full question that was asked:

QUESTION:
“How do you find business via social media? It can be a full time job, between LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, to stay updated, checking out what’s happening the with groups you’ve joined, posting questions, answers, etc. How do you increase your revenue/sales via social media?”

I thought it was a great question and am hopeful that some will take time to think about it.  I replied with my thoughts and recommendations, and thought it was worth sharing on our blog.  So here it is – verbatim.

ANSWER:
In my opinion, it starts w/ understanding the difference between marketing (creating opportunities) and selling (closing opportunities).  You also have to realize there is no silver bullet or quick fix.  And you need to think of business development as fishing vs. hunting.

Before I share my thoughts on how to do this, here is what you should NOT do:
1. Be overly self-promotional in your posts / tweets
2. DM followers with a sales pitch
3. Talk too much about yourself

Retailers have found that coupons and special offers (communicated via Twitter and Facebook) work well for impulse purchases.  But that doesn’t work for everyone.

thought leadershipFor the rest of us who market / sell strategic products or services (considered purchases), I believe the best way to use social media as a marketing/sales platform is by building your brand via thought leadership, engaging content or being memorable (in a positive way, of course).  The tactics you employ depend heavily on your audiences, market and products.

While I can’t illustrate this for every business, I can provide an example of how professional services firms can leverage social media to develop new business.  For a discussion on this please read “Social Media: Killer App or Shiny Object” at http://bit.ly/XUp4c

Please feel free to comment, share with others and subscribe to our blog. Your feedback is appreciated!

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Social Media: Shiny Object or Killer App?

July 28th, 2009

shiny objectWhile preparing for an interview I was reviewing questions I received from the journalist. One question was “how does your firm leverage social media?” It seems that social media is the latest shiny object that is on the wish list of most brand marketers.  Yet if you ask them why they need it, you’re likely to get a pithy, high level response such as “because we want to engage and interact with our customers.”  Ask how they plan to do that and you’ll often get blank stares.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of social media and I believe it is a killer app for many companies. This is especially true for professional services firms like mine.  At the same time, I frequently see a lack of planning, coordination and understanding of how to best use social media to achieve marketing objectives.  So now let’s go back to the opening question…

How do we use social media? We work in an industry where the cobblers kids (sans shoes) run rampant.  And for the most part this is fine; we can be great media planners and campaign managers, even if we don’t do a lot of advertising ourselves. However, when it comes to social media, I believe we have to lead by example.

If you are reading this, you may know that I blog, twitter, slideshare, facebook, link in, stumble, digg and tag things that are delicious.  Yes, it takes time, but I enjoy it. But above all, I do it because it creates value for my personal and agency brands. Through my investment in social media, I’ve expanded our network of partners, booked speaking opportunities, built awareness for our brand and generated several new client opportunities.

Social media can be a great platform for most businesses.  But as a professional services firm, social media offers some additional benefits that one could argue make it a killer app for marketing purposes.  In my world, the #1 benefit of social media is that it provides a platform for demonstrating thought leadership.

It’s important to remember that social media is a platform, not a message.  While awareness and visibility are great benefits of social media, they don’t build your brand.  You can get great visibility with a flurry of self-promoting posts and annoying solicitations for your services, but you aren’t building credibility.  You can use social media to connect with business acquaintances, recruit employees and show the world that you are a forward-thinking firm, but it probably won’t matter to clients. In my opinion, the true value of social media for professional service firms is the ability to demonstrate thought leadership on a large scale that gets even bigger if you have something unique and valuable to say.

Here’s another way to look at it: any firm can hire a web site copy writer to create a compelling message that says who you are, what you do, how you differentiate and why clients choose you.  While this used to be a key factor in engaging visitors, clients do not make decisions based on your home page. Case studies are great but we all know they present an air-brushed image of the results you produced for a client. On the other hand, a blog or tweet stream provides a relatively unfiltered view into how you think and how you act.  If you routinely produce strategic insights, unique perspectives and practical knowledge that are perceived to be of value to your clients, you can establish credibility and thought leadership in their eyes.  Clients hire consultants, agencies, bankers and lawyers because of their people.  Social media enables you to build your brand by showing off your greatest assets in a way that is much more transparent and authentic than it used to be.

In the past we relied on the static html, flash intros, polished copy and powerpoints to educate clients on who we are and how we can help them.  Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, LinkedIn and others now offer us a much more effective and efficient means for demonstrating thought leadership, regardless of your size, budget or location.  It’s not often that those of us in client services can point to a competitive advantage that we enjoy over other types of businesses.  But in a world where clients are seeking knowledge, insight and trusted advice, the social web gives us a unique opportunity to show them what we have to offer.

I’d love to hear from other service providers on this topic.  Comments are welcome!

Steve Latham
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Barriers to Social Media Marketing

July 15th, 2009

I saw a very good question today on LinkedIn Answers (great place to ask, answer and learn about things in your industry!) and thought it was worth writing about in my blog.  The question was “Why aren’t more companies testing social media marketing?”  I thought about it for a few minutes and crafted what I thought was an insightful answer.  Hopefully you will agree!

What are the barriers to Social Media Marketing?  In addition to legal  (liability? truth in advertising)? and brand management issues (what if our tweets violate our brand guidelines!), I believe there are three primary issues that impede companies from leveraging Social Media:

1. The Business Case for Social Media
While most intuitively believe social media is a low-cost way to extend your reach, build your brand and drive new business, most need hard data to justify the investment of time, energy and resources (people). And in this climate, few are going to stick their neck out to try something that isn’t embraced by CXOs.  BTW – I heard there’s a very insightful presentation available for viewing on the Business Case for Social Media.

2. Limited Understanding and Resources
In my experience, most brand marketers are overwhelmed and confused by social media. They usually don’t know what to do, where to start or how to plan and budget for it. Ask 5 members of your team what you should do, and you’ll probably get 5 different answers.  In better times, brands would hire an agency to help them figure this out (psst – I heard this agency rocks), but when dollars are tight and the risk threshold is low, it’s easy to push this off until the business climate improves.

3. Lack of Capabilities
There is a lot of noise in the social media space, and no shortage of self-proclaimed SM experts. But don’t forget great players are not necessarily great coaches. While there are thousands of individuals who have used social media to build their own brands, I believe most are very tactical in their approach. They can create a Twitter account and show you how to Tweet, but few have the knowledge and skills to develop a strategic plan that defines the audiences, objectives, resources, tactics, tools and metrics for measuring and optimizing results.  When your goal is to build your brand and grow your business, you need a strategy.  As reported last week in one of many articles I read, “Twitter is a tool, not a strategy”.  I couldn’t agree more.

As the market matures and the economy improves, more marketers will dip their toe into the Social Media stream (excuse the pun!). This creates opportunities for those who can secure C-level support, develop a solid plan and execute against defined objectives. IMHO these cases are quite rare these days.  But there is always hope!

If you like this post, comment and share it!  If you hate it, please keep it to yourself 🙂

Steve Latham
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Business Case for Social Media

May 8th, 2009

Social media is hot. Everyone’s doing it and everyone wants it. But how many marketers have figured out how to use social media to build their brand and drive revenue? Unfortunately, not nearly enough. I believe one of the hurdles to pursuing social media as a marketing program is the challenge of creating a compelling business case that frees up the resources (budget) needed to fund it.

I recently spoke to a group of business executives about how companies are using (or planning to use) social media, and how to build a business case for it. In my presentation I also included some new data on how the Inc. 500 is using social media, 5 reasons to pursue it, and a methodology for measuring ROI.

You can view the presentation below or find it at slideshare (note: sorry for some of the formatting issues caused by slideshare conversion).

I hope it’s helpful and that you’ll provide some feedback for improving it. And if you have any good data points to support the case, please send them my way!

For more info you can use, view our blog. And for updates follow me on Twitter!