Category Archives: Strategy

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.

Creating successful social media marketing campaigns

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Salesforce has an interesting infographic on its blog that describes the anatomy of a successful social marketing campaign.

To puzzle out what makes a campaign successful campaign you need to consider these key factors.

Blog. You have to have a blog. Keeping your customers informed about your activities and sharing relevant, timely useful content is vital to the on-going relationship with your readers.

Facebook. Reproduce your blog content on your Facebook page and capture new leads from people who might not have found your blog by any other methods.

Facebook pages are an extra opportunity to engage your readers. Make sure that your scorecard metrics include both comments written directly on your blog entries and also comments on the Facebook page. You can find the hard link to any Facebook status update by clicking on the time stamp under your name. For example, here’s the hard link to a post I wrote back in March 2012.

Twitter. Twitter and associated tools such as Twitterfeed, Bufferapp and IFTTT are good automated mechanisms to get your blog content out to Twitter without any interaction from you.  Good content and links get retweeted and you are much more likely to get noticed by new followers.

Image and video sharing sites. Instagram, Flickr, Picassa, YouTube, Pinterest and Vimeo all serve to draw eyes back to your campaign. The images do not need to be all about your business.

Content. Focus on your content. Without great content you will get nowhere with your campaign or subsequent engagement.  Content and quality of content is the best gift you can give to your customers.

See the infographic at the Salesforce blog

Credit: FutUndBeidl

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.

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

 

5 reasons to put blogging at the heart of your content marketing strategy

Do you blog at your company?  If not why not?

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Blogging – even though it’s considered ‘old’ amongst all of the other new shiny tools is still the best way to win hearts and minds amongst your audience.  Blogging is not dead. You can demonstrate your credibility, showcase your skills and experience and really connect with your customers.

If your organisation supports social media communication, and is open to community conversations then you should be blogging on behalf of the company.  You can have great conversations with your readers which will help you develop the next version of the product, streamline customer processes and change perception about the brand.

Why?  Here are some stats…

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

Blogging should be a key part of your content strategy. The top 3 reasons why people follow brands on social media is to down to interesting content. Blogging gives you the vehicle to write compelling and interesting content for your audience.  As 70% of consumers say that they prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads, blogging seems a natural choice.

60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site.  It’s hard for them to feel more positive about you if all they have to go on is your standard site with dated web pages.

It helps with your marketing efforts too. 63% of companies said that posting content on social media has increased their marketing effectiveness.  They have gone beyond the campaign with conversational content. 

If you’re still not sure, have a look at the most social companies report from Netprospex.  all of these companies have a great presence online,  Most of them blog (in fact the New York Times has dramatically changed its business model as it recognised the shift to online activities.

Blogging works.  Honestly.  You need to be a good blogger, remembering to post your blogging update at the right time of day.  you need to have the ability to tell great stories.  If you’re stuck for content there are many ways to avoid bloggers block.

As a company, you need to encourage your employees to blog, either to benefit other staff by blogging on the intranet.  Give your employees time to blog

If you want a better way to engage your fans, then blogging should be top of your content strategy plan…

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.

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Credit: Annie Mole

8 ways to spot the social media snake oil salesmen

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Everyone is a social media expert right?  I mean social media is so pervasive that everyone must know about it?

Wrong…

There are lots of companies just starting in social media and wanting to take their first steps – their first correct steps online.  They need help to get it right.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who claim to be experts in social media.

They are advising companies on social media implementation without implementing a strategy or a plan.  They don’t have any ROI examples and they don’t have the depth or the breadth of experience to be able to offer balanced advice across the channels.

They don’t even have a plan implemented for their own company…

If you’re looking to hire a social media consultant to help you with your community implementation or social business strategy, there are some things that you can watch for when you’re looking around for a good consultant.

Be wary of anyone that is keen to push you towards one solution such as Facebook for your business.  Facebook is not right for every business, nor is Twitter. Make sure you talk through ALL of the possible choices with someone who knows the features and benefits of each

Watch out for over promotion.  Snake oilers are keen to promote their services over everyone else’s.  Watch what they write about.  If their blog is full of self promotion and self congratulatory posts, avoid them.  If their Twitter feed exhorts you to retweet them all the time, or like their Facebook pages, they are just trying to make themselves look good to other customers.

Look for longevity.  How long have they been working with social media?  Have they got years of experience across different platforms or are they new to the game – and only one step ahead of you? For example, Twitter has been around since 2006 and got popular at SxSW (South by SouthWest conference) in early 2007.  Enthusiasts and early adopters of the technology should have been on Twitter for at least a couple of years.  If you want to find out how long someone has been on Twitter use a tool such as When did you join Twitter to check them out

Personal disclosure.  Social media experts know how much personal and business information to share in their updates.  Whilst talking about business constantly can put people off, so can sharing too much information.  It might be ok for friends to hear their deepest secrets, but it doesn’t look good to businesses looking to hire consultants

Twitter follower / following count.  Lots of Twitter accounts automatically follow back, so some snake oilers follow these accounts to increase their follower count.  Be wary of people who follow thousands of users in the hope of getting a follow back.  The overhead of tracking thousands of followers means that quality engagement can not happen.   I know that tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite can sort followers into lists, but the rest of accounts followed will be ignored

Tools and channels.  Blogs, wikis and forums are equally valid social channels for social engagement.  Your business might thrive with forum based implementation.  Make sure your social media specialist can talk through all of the different forum, wiki and blog options including in-house implementations and proprietary solutions.  Remember, it’s not just about WordPress and Joomla…

Engagement models.  Your snake oiler should be able to discuss engagement best practices, frameworks and crisis plans.  They should also be able to give practical examples of companies in similar to your industry.

Are they ‘walking the walk’?  Is their blog up to date with practical, considered credible posts?  Do they engage with their customers?  Are they practicing what they preach?  Do they understand legal, IP and data protection issues, and more importantly – how to solve them?

Remember – you are the customer.  you don’t have to hire someone when you’re not sure about their experience or credentials.  Ask them why they are proposing this type of solution for you.  Ask for examples, ask for ROI proof.  Check them out, ask others about their credibility.

Look for history.  Look for evidence. Suss out the snake oil salesmen and become more savvy with your social business hiring.

You can then relax and know that you’re in good, safe, social hands…

 

Image credit: Tim & Selena Middleton

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.