Category Archives: Social Media Strategy

Digital marketing platform fundamentals customer relationship Eileen brown amastra

Online marketing platform fundamentals

Digital marketing is a huge subject and getting to grips with the various platforms available can take some time as  you move from traditional marketing to digital marketing. Gaining platform expertise is a fast moving target. Channels come and go and are the darling of the marketing world one month, and out of favour the next.  There are a few commonalities however that cross all platforms which broadly cover a range of functionality. At a high level, here are the three main platforms that you will encounter in digital marketing on a day-to-day basis

Customer relationship platform (CRM)

Customer relationship platforms have existed for  many years. They are mainly focused on serving the customer in support issues. The sales team keep details of their prospects, leads and customers to help them manage relationships with potential customers. In support teams CRM platforms are used to gather statistics on which products or services generate the most customer complaints, and how long issues take to get resolved. Before the advent of web 2.0 – the interactive web – CRM systems centred around phone calls and postal mail. Today they integrate with live chat and email systems, and social media platforms.

The strength of CRM systems are their ability to collate data for analysis and automate some functions such as adding AI chatbots to resolve simple customer questions. If a business is not consistent with recording accurate contact information and records, the CRM system will not help the marketer.  The CRM  could be configured to measure certain details which means cross referencing, certain reports with results captured in other systems. A spreadsheet could help you significantly in tying these insights together.

Content management system (CMS)

The content management system is used to publish content, manage, schedule it, and organize it for end users. They initially became popular as blogging platforms became important to the business. In enterprises, corporate bloggers needed systems that would store text, video, sounds, images, and other assets. They also included workflow management such as scheduling and had a direct connection to the channel in which they were publishing.

Content management systems often have features that assist the administrators of such systems. There are tools to change the appearance of a blog or schedule when a blog post will appear. It also can incorporate spam detection and blocking tools, or anti-hacking features. It could also incorporate multi-user options, so that the publisher of the content may enlist moderators to help handle the steady stream of comments from Internet visitors.

Social or sharing platform

Social or sharing platforms are software systems designed in order to promote or share content from users to each other, and encourage online conversation between users. Generally their features tend to  include:

A user profile with privacy settings, so that the user can control who sees the content. The online identity of the user can be carefully crafted to suit your marketing goals (think of the Compare the Market Meerkat social profile of Alexandr Orlov)

A composing or editing feature, that allows the user to create the content, edit it, upload it, and then share it with other users.

The ability to share content. This could be controlled by the platform or by the user, and allows user-created content to be seen by other online users.

Larger platforms can include a component that enables advertising and promotion of content

Social channels and their advertising capabilities are central tools for marketing efforts which means that marketers need to be cognisant of the platform in order to use the platforms effectively. You need to make certain that you choose the right channel to get you the best online reach.

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Ad hoc social business campaigns often fail to engage

Is your organisation really satisfied with its social media campaigns – or do you find that the campaigns fall short of your expectations?

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If you are unhappy with the way that things are panning out you are not alone according to a report from Ragan communications.

Although many companies have engaged in social media activities, over 60 percent of companies report having no structured programs in place. Some organisations have no holistic approach to their efforts.

Only 27 percent of organisations have a dedicated social media team. 5 percent have both internal and outsourced teams. Only three percent have all of their social media activities outsourced to others.

A whopping 65 percent of organisations assign workers social media tasks on top of their current responsibilities.

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Most organisations have under three people managing their social media activities (82 percent) and a quarter of companies use interns to help with aspects of social media – especially Facebook and Twitter.

Social media monitoring gets strong measurements for engagement and interaction – but only 31 percent of companies measure sales. Most companies monitor mentions about the organisation but only 57 percent measure what is being said by their competitors.

Companies look for a good return on their efforts, relying on feedback and perception rather than sales. A good return on marketing investment (ROMI) is hard to quantify. and with almost one in five leaders indifferent or not supportive, it is hard to get budget for further activities.

So how do you succeed in your activities?

  • If the C-suite requires hard financial proof, focus on sales leads and hard financial returns. If you are asking for more marketing budget, you will need to justify this with real numbers. Engagement and likes will not cut it
  • Make sure all of your activities are trackable. Join social up with your CRM system and take conversations onto the medium best suited for them (phone / email etc.)
  • Collaborate with other teams in order to make sure that your message is consistent, and inline with your business activities. Make sure that teams work together well.
  • Make sure the implications of your social efforts drive the company in the correct direction. Compliance, legal and financial outcomes need to be taken into account when considering and planning your efforts.

And most importantly – once you have started your activities, watch them all the time. You never know what triggers a crisis – until one happens.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Online Social Media principles– Coca-Cola style

I like the transparency of Coca – Cola in its social media conversations online. It published its social media principles for online behaviour last year – but its worth having a look at why these principles work so well.

Coca-Cola works around its shared values which it uses throughout the organisation:

Cocacola

LEADERSHIP : The courage to shape a better future;
COLLABORATION : Leveraging our collective genius;
INTEGRITY : Being real;
ACCOUNTABILITY : Recognizing that if it is to be, it’s up to me;
PASSION : Showing commitment in heart and mind;
DIVERSITY : Being as inclusive as our brands; and
QUALITY : Ensuring what we do, we do well.

And in its social media activities, these values are articulated and summarised as:

Transparency in every social media engagement. The Company does not condone manipulating the social media flow by creating "fake" destinations and posts designed to mislead followers and control a conversation. We also require bloggers and social media influencers to disclose to their readers when we’re associating with them, whether by providing them with product samples or hosting them at Company events, and we need to monitor whether they are complying with this requirement.

Protection of our consumers’ privacy. This means that we should be conscientious regarding any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that we collect, including how we collect, store, use, or share that PII, all of which should be done pursuant to applicable Privacy Policies, laws and IT policies.

Respect of copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity, and other third-party rights in the online social media space, including with regard to user-generated content (UGC). How exactly you do this may depend on your particular situation, so work with your cross-functional teams to make informed, appropriate decisions.

Responsibility in our use of technology. We will not use or align the Company with any organizations or Web sites that deploy the use of excessive tracking software, adware, malware or spyware.

Utilization of best practices, listening to the online community, and compliance with applicable regulations to ensure that these Online Social Media Principles remain current and reflect the most up-to-date and appropriate standards of behaviour.

These values, whilst similar to other companies that have an online presence show clearly and with transparency  — how the brand interacts with its customers.  The company uses social media successfully as an advertising tool and demonstrates its commitments to its customers by publishing its  online shows just how much it wants to follow its own guidelines and make a success.

If only other companies would do the same…

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Long term benefits of adopting a social media strategy

imageI’m working with a client that wanted to present a compelling business case for adopting social media into the organisation. 

Being able to describe the value that social media brings can often pose challenges when trying to describe impact and value to the executive board. 

I’ve collated a few facts and figures that might be useful when you’re preparing your own strategic pitch to demonstrate the benefits of social media.

Benefits to business leaders:

  • Enhanced connection to customers, openness and honesty with communisation and transparency.
  • Market insight and research from your customers
  • Get the right talent by recruiting across the channels
  • Show potential employees that you use innovation throughout the business
  • Showcase your product news, company news and update your channels

Benefits of engaging with your customers:

  • Over 2 billion people online are now. There are only 7 billion people in the world. Lots of them are still too young to read. You can engage with 28.5% of the entire population of the world
  • There are 1 billion accounts on Facebook. If you have a Facebook page, potentially huge numbers of your fans can see it. Starbucks has 30 million fans, Coca Cola has 41 million fans and lady Gaga has 50 million fans.
  • 85% of customers expect that businesses should be active in social media. Where is your social brand?
  • Business is built on relationships. Are you passionate about your customers> Does your online engagement and social activity demonstrate how much you care about your customers? Customers believe that 80% of brands are not passionate about their customers
  • Do you blog? If you do, you’ll get about 55% more visitors to your web site ad 67% more leads than if you don’t blog. Demonstrate your credibility. Blog regularly, be credible. Keep up the conversation. Put blogging at the heart of your content marketing strategy
  • 77% of customers will read status updates from the brand. They probably wont comment – but at least they are listening to you.
  • 17% of your fans will comment on your messaging. Perhaps they will share your story amongst their friends. That is if you are communicating with them in the first instance.
  • 51% of Facebook fans say that they are likely to buy from you if you have a Facebook page.
  • 68% of subscribers to your email newsletter are likely to buy your services. You need to have a strong call to action to encourage them to purchase
  • Brands don’t always have a good listening strategy. 30% of customer questions and feedback do not get replied to.
  • On Twitter the listening strategy is poor. over 71% of complaints on Twitter are not responded to. implement a listening framework across channels and respond to feedback, good and bad.
  • 43% of social media users talk to brands, but brands don’t listen to their social customers

Benefits of implementing corporate blogging:

  • Blogs on company sites result in 55% more visitors
  • Blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines
  • Companies with blogs get 97% more inbound links than others
  • 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing
  • Blogs give sites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links

Benefits of measuring ROI

  • Measure your success in your activities. 34% of B2B firms don’t currently do this. Find your baseline and measures to make sure that you can grow your figures and improve upon.
  • Be credible. Get a blog. Demonstrate your credibility. The company will want to see positive PR and visibility. Employee blogs will add to these column inches as your presence increases.
  • Get case studies. Find recent stories that are relevant to your organisation. Position them to the budget holders who want to see ROI, not the amount of fans, page views or ‘Likes’. They want to see revenue. The Old Spice campaign worked. It led to an uptick in sales. Sales matter. Numbers matter.
  • Listen to the customer. Dell has a 24 x 7 Command centre. They listen to the conversations taking place about the company around the world. Credible insiders get a better response to their conversations than a Marketing or PR person.
  • You need a social media policy. Your social media policy needs to be good, it needs to be flexible. It needs to be followed and it needs to be monitored. For this, you need to ask the key questions of your organisation. What the business wants, what the employees are permitted to do, and what the interaction with the community will be.
  • Get sales from your efforts. Budget holders want to see a positive ROI or they will not commit. You’ll get a much better level of interaction if you can add your customer’s social media profile to your customer database. You’ll be able to engage with them at a whole new level. Think about which sites to focus on.
  • Get staff to execute on your social media plan. 60% of businesses don’t have staff dedicated to social media. Without staff to engage or without time to engage you will not have success.

Benefits of measuring growth:

Companies that experienced revenue growth
  • Social media programs for greater customer engagement, improved brand reputation, access to new revenues and access to new sources of innovation
  • 27 per cent of companies convinced of social medias impact on customer engagement
  • 39 per cent of companies ranked social media as very important
  • 39 per cent integrated social media with other customer initiatives
  • 15 per cent systematically measured return on social media investment
Companies with declining revenue:
  • Social media programs for enhancing customer engagement
  • 9 per cent of companies convinced of social medias impact on customer engagement
  • 24 per cent of companies ranked social media as very important
  • 20 per cent integrated social media with other customer initiatives
  • 0 per cent systematically measured return on social media investment

Image credit: Thomas Leuthard

Eileen is a social business and social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

7 questions to ask your social media expert before you hire

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There are a lot of social media ‘experts’ out there. almost everywhere you turn, there are people that tout themselves as experts in social media, and who are ready to help you get online, enhance your presence, configure your profile.  you name it, an ‘expert’ is ready to help you with your online challenges. 

They baffle you with acronyms, have the latest devices, hardware and terminology.  They live on LinkedIn, talk on Twitter and frequent Facebook far more than you think you will ever be.

So what questions do you ask them before you hire them so you can spot the social media snake oil salesman.

Here are some strategic questions to ask.

  • What influencer programs have you had success with?  Influencers are the core of a successful business relationship with the community.  There are several ways of discovering, organising and managing influencers.  Good social media companies should be able to highlight several success stories for managing influencers.
  • What are our objectives?  A consultant should have spent time listening to you and should understand your business goals and objectives. Unless the social media company understands your business, it will not be able to work well with you.
  • How will you measure ROI?  Success is tied to sales for companies.  I know social media is all about engagement and relationships but spending hard earned money needs to provide a positive return.  Scorecards measure sales.  The other stuff is just a ‘nice to have’
  • Who will be doing the work? Will it be a junior member of staff, social media savvy but not business savvy? Will it be someone with good business knowledge who can deal appropriately with any crisis that might happen?  Choosing the wrong member of the team to deliver the outbound communications can rebound badly.
  • What components should be need in our social media strategy?  The key thing here is to focus on frameworks instead of tools. Beware of someone who talks about Twitter or Facebook all the time.  Often your strategy will be multi layered, multi-channel, with several approaches
  • How will you measure our performance? Good social media companies will use a selection of reporting tools and add a manual component into each of their analysis reports. Often the hunch gives extra measurement insight to a bland set of reports
  • How do you  manage content?  Successful companies will tie content into a specific content calendar to align with your product development cycle, marketing or business plans. It always needs to be organised and structured and in line with the organisational needs and strategy. Ensure that the marketing communications plan is also included in the content strategy.

Credit: wildxplorer

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Tesco starts joining the dots with a co-ordinated YouTube strategy

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The retail giant Tesco is tidying up its YouTube presence with a co-ordinated strategy across its social media channels. Tesco has several channels:

That’s a lot of fragmentation.  It is about time that Tesco co-ordinated its social activities. The plan is to integrate the content and re-launch the channel later this summer.  Tesco has hired digital agency Zone to work with it on the initiative.

Tesco already has a co-ordinated approach on Facebook with over 800,000 fans and 3.82 per cent engagement – a good level of engagement.  It runs games such as Delivery Dash and Speed Shopping, posts regular updates to encourage fan engagement. It has several Twitter accounts too  — although sometimes updates get hijacked by followers – such as the ‘slave labour claims’ earlier this year.

Perhaps Tesco could follow the example of the WWF, which has a great joined up social media story across its chosen channels, linking its world-wide subsidiaries together holistically.  It will be good to see whether Tesco manage to achieve something similar as it pulls its social strategy together.

Credit: FWI

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Reasons to implement your Engagement strategy

Does your online strategy show how much you care about your customers?  Do you engage regularly with your audience, giving them value from your interactions with them? In this connected world, can you afford not to communicate with your customers?  Do you know what your ROI on your social activities is?  Do you even measure your ROI?

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There are some staggering numbers of people online these days, and there’s also an expectation that brands will have good workable social strategies.  Take a look at these facts:

  • Over 2 billion people online are now.  There are only 7 billion people in the world.  Lots of them are still too young to read.  You can engage with 28.5% of the entire population of the world 
  • There are 1 billion accounts on Facebook.  If you have a Facebook page, potentially huge numbers of your fans can see it.  Starbucks has 30 million fans, Coca Cola has 41 million fans and lady Gaga has 50 million fans.
  • 85% of customers expect that businesses should be active in social media.  Where is your social brand?
  • Business is built on relationships.  Are you passionate about your customers>  Does your online engagement and social activity demonstrate how much you care about your customers? Customers believe that 80% of brands are not passionate about their customers
  • Do you blog?  If you do, you’ll get about 55% more visitors to your web site ad 67% more leads than if you don’t blog.  Demonstrate your credibility.  Blog regularly, be credible.  Keep up the conversation. Put blogging at the heart of your content marketing strategy
  • 77% of customers will read status updates from the brand.  They probably wont comment – but at least they are listening to you.
  • 17% of your fans will comment on your messaging.  Perhaps they will share your story amongst their friends.  That is if you are communicating with them in the first instance.
  • 51% of Facebook fans say that they are likely to buy from you if you have a Facebook page.
  • 68% of subscribers to your email newsletter are likely to buy your services.  You need to have a strong call to action to encourage them to purchase
  • Brands don’t always have a good listening strategy.  30% of customer questions and feedback do not get replied to. 
  • On Twitter the listening strategy is poor.  over 71% of complaints on Twitter are not responded to.  implement a listening framework across channels and respond to feedback, good and bad.
  • 43% of social media users talk to brands, but brands don’t listen to their social customers

Further information and facts can be found in the infographic from BitRebels.  Avoid this at your peril.  Engage or be left behind commercially.  You need to have an engagement strategy and make it work with your audience and customers.

 

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Credit: Keoni Cabral