Marketing 2010 eBook – Some End of Year Thoughts

Marketing in 2010 - Social media becomes operational - eBook
I’ve seen many expressions regarding how glad people are to see the back end of 2009. I can’t say I blame them – it has been a tough year for many of us. However, 2009 has not been without progress when it comes to social media. In following the conversation as I do, several themes have emerged and coalesced as the months have gone by. The 2009 trends were very much geared towards how social media was defined; what the barriers to adoption were; how, or even if, one could measure the results of such an investment; and who in a company should own their social media? Also, in early 2009 there were very few practical examples of social media in action in business. Much of the conversation was based around theory – at least until the latter part of the year.

It was, therefore, with great interest that I read Valeria Maltoni‘s excellent free eBook ‘Marketing in 2010 – social media becomes operational: 10 marketers reveal direction’. For any marketers involved, or thinking about getting involved, in social media, this eBook is a ‘must read’. There are some very important lessons expressed in these pages, from many great authors on the subject, including some of the better known names in the field, such as Jason Baer and Olivier Blanchard.
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Now, I don’t want to repeat the points made in the eBook – you can easily read it for yourself. But, I did want to highlight some quotes that were relevant in terms of our clients’ experience. I hope they encourage you to download the eBook for yourself – I would certainly recommend it as being worthy of your time and attention.
The first key takeaway for me was this, from Jason Baer:
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“In many companies today … people are responding to positive and negative customer comments, on an ad hoc basis, with very little in the way of predetermined messaging, or desired outcomes. 2010 will be the year that the real-time Web forces marketers to act more like call center managers. We’re going to need to create or codify rules of engagement for who and how and why and whether the brand responds to or interacts with consumers.”
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We have heard many client ask how they can use social media to improve their existing customer relations management (CRM) procedures. Social CRM is another key theme to have emerged over the course of 2009, and one that will certainly expand during 2010. Jason also makes an important point about predetermined messaging. In many cases, in addition to the guidance the marketing department has about what is said to customers by call center (and by extension, social media) staff, the legal department wants to weigh in too. Our Social-smart Dashboard was designed with precisely this in mind. Different departments can login to collaboratively develop preset messages that can be stored for easy access by members of staff who are actively engaging with customers — providing consistent messaging where that is both desired, or required.
As Jason admits,
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“This will unavoidably remove some of the spontaneity and
spunk from social media interactions, but the tradeoff of a more logical, assured communication program will be a worthy exchange.”
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The second key point is raised by Olivier Blanchard -
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“As companies begin to realize that business objectives drive strategy, then tools and tactics (not the other way around) 2009’s focus on “getting on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube” will become last year’s little “we were all just learning how to crawl” inside joke.”
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Those of us in social media have known this for some time, but we are still meeting companies that have only just started their ‘getting on FaceBook and Twitter’ effort. As more examples of best practices and successful strategies appear, social media companies will have an easier time pointing their clients in the right direction and demonstrating how defining ‘business-objectives-first’ will help them in both the short-term and long-term. Jackie Huber reiterates the point in her piece, stating that ‘it is now time to get boring’.
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As Olivier Blanchard clearly demonstrates -
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“Effective, sustainable, scalable social media programs all have a basic underlying framework … 2010 is the year that we should start to see companies get serious about their investment in social media, get savvy about how to integrate and deploy social technologies and thought leadership across their organizations, and move away from “shiny object syndrome” to a more appropriate “business process and best practices” approach to the space.”
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Certainly, if there is any one lesson that has come out of the experience of 2009 it is that social media is a business process strategy. It is a fundamentally different approach to how a business engages both with its customers and its staff. To me, that is exactly what makes social media such an exciting thing to be doing as we head into 2010!
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Great stuff – enjoy with a glass of wine in front of a log fire – here is the link for downloading the eBook – http://conversationagent.typepad.com/Marketingin2010.pdf
Posted in Social Media | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Introducing Social-smart’s Events Services

There is no doubt that events, whether they be trade shows or conferences, real or virtual, are seeing huge benefits from social media technologies, particularly when it comes to audience participation and feedback –  as I found out at the recent at the recent Social Media Arizona [http://socialmediaaz.org] #smaz event. The Twitter #hashtag for the event tells its own story. Whether you could attend in person or not almost didn’t matter as you could follow proceedings pretty closely by following the Twitter stream – even the main talking points of the presentations were Tweeted as they were given.
This is certainly the future of such events and Social-smart is not slow in offering to provide the technology to companies looking to gain the most from their event. Jeramiah Owyang wrote a great piece about the importance of social media for events back in August -
http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/08/11/playbook-how-to-integrate-social-technologies-with-virtual-events/ – and I certainly can’t improve on that and I commend to read it in order to get a full understanding of the services we offer here. The key takeaways from that article are as follows:
Firstly,
“To be successful, virtual –and real world events must have a strategy that integrates social technologies, before, during, and after”
The 3 key principles of a successful social media strategy for both real and virtual events are:
1) Events should integrate with existing communities and social networks where they exist.
2) Events should have a strategy that includes the before and after –not just during.
3) The audience can assert control over the event, so encourage audience participation and know when to get out of the way.”
These are the core principles by which we offer the following Social media services and virtual event development and management.
We aim to increase the community-building and reach of traditional events. Promote registrations and participation, before, during, and after the event – with on-going engagement that continues the community experience long after the event ends, for increasing conversions, and building deeper customer relationships.
Our options include
Pre-event:
Integrate with existing corporate communities and social networks.
Build anticipation: blogs, forums, Twitter groups for attendees, vendors, speakers.
Synchronize and link online ads and email blasts to social media.
Promote attendance with registrations and messaging Ning
(private social network), Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, Twitter, etc.
During-event:
Increase audience participation, and include larger virtual audiences, by integrating live Twitter features (and video-to-video chat) into the event.
Monitor and moderate social web and chat rooms to react in real time.
Do live online/mobile polling.
Generate reports on social participation, sentiment, and influence of social web.
Post-event:
Keep virtual events open for 90+ days.
Launch surveys for feedback.
Accept user-generated content.
Aggregate all content, and offer transcript retrieval.
Blog about top reactions.
Offer regular on-going webinars, scheduled discussions, eNewsletters.
Use email to ask about follow-on opportunities, and drive conversions..
Continue the conversation…
Companies interested in our event services can contact us at events@social-smart.com

There is no doubt that corporate events and meetings, both real and virtual, are starting to explore the benefits of social media technologies, particularly when it comes to audience participation and feedback – as I found out at the recent Social Media Arizona [#smaz] event. The Twitter #hashtag for the event tells its own story. Whether you could attend in person or not almost didn’t matter as you could follow proceedings pretty closely by searching for, and following the Twitter stream – even the main talking points of the presentations were Tweeted as they were given. In fact, people are still Tweeting about it long after the conference.

This is certainly the future of events. So Social-smart is starting to offer services and technologies to companies looking to gain the most from their conferences, trade shows, and meetings. Jeramiah Owyang wrote a great piece about the importance of social media for events back in August - How To Integrate Social Technologies with Virtual EventsI certainly can’t improve on that and I recommend you to read it to fully appreciate the dramatic changes that are happening in the industry, and for the services we facilitate. The key take-aways from that article are as follows:

The 3 key principles of a successful social media strategy for both real and virtual events are:

  1. Events should integrate with existing communities and social networks where they exist.
  2. Events should have a strategy that includes the before and after — not just during.
  3. The audience can assert control over the event, so encourage audience participation and know when to get out of the way.      

These are the core principles by which we offer the following Social media services and virtual event development and management.

We aim to increase the community-building and reach of traditional events. Promote registrations and participation, before, during, and after the event — with on-going engagement that continues the community experience long after the event ends. To help build deeper customer relationships, and increase conversions.

Our services include…

Pre-event:

•    Integrate with existing corporate communities and social networks.
•    Build communities and drive inbound traffic with brand pages and groups on public social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter); and with a private social network (Ning).
•    Promote attendance with email blasts (linked to social media) and online ads.
•    Build microsites and landing pages for driving registrations, conversions.
•    Build anticipation: blogs, forums, Twitter groups for attendees, vendors, speakers.

During-event:

•    Increase audience participation, and include larger virtual audiences, by integrating live Twitter features (and video-to-video chat) into the event.
•    Monitor and moderate social web and chat rooms to react in real time.
•    Do live online/mobile polling.
•    Generate reports on social participation, sentiment, and influence of social web.

Post-event:

•    Keep virtual events open for 90+ days.
•    Launch surveys for feedback.
•    Accept user-generated content.
•    Aggregate all content, and offer transcript retrieval.
•    Blog about top reactions.
•    Offer regular on-going webinars, scheduled discussions, eNewsletters.
•    Use email to ask about follow-on opportunities, and drive conversions..
•    Continue the conversation…

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Posted in Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social-smart Services | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

5 Fundamentals for Companies Looking at Social Media

We are increasingly seeing  companies and marketing agencies looking at ways of leveraging social media for themselves or their clients. A lot of companies are both looking at, and asking questions about, how to monitor the conversation, or how to measure results, how to avoid bad PR, should they be using this tool or that tool – how, what, why, when, where – that is what everyone wants to know. There is also a lot of confusion out there. They all know they should be ‘doing something with social media’, a few dabble with it if it doesn’t cost them anything – like ‘being on Twitter’. But few are prepared to spend money on a properly planned out, strategically integrated social media presence – which of course is what they really need to do if they want to successfully engage with social media. I know – its the economy. That’s fine – we’re all in the same boat. In the meantime though, companies looking at social media need to understand one thing – every company’s requirements will be different – there are no ‘off-the-shelf’ answers – you are always going to need a solution that is customized to your own particular needs.
That said, there are five fundamentals of social media for business that will apply to almost any company, and of any size. Companies – if you focus your thoughts on these fundamentals as they apply to your own situation, when you are ready to seek the expertise of an outside expert, or hire one in-house, your customized solution will be all the more easy to implement.
1) You need to know who your ideal customer is
Who are they, what are the key aspects about your product or service are they interested in, what online media do they use to find out about it. I’ve talked about this before – http://socialsmart.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/the-social-smart-social-media-campaign-checklist/ – David Meerman Scott is a useful source on this topic – what he calls ‘buyer personas’. I have plugged his book ‘World wide Rave’ – http://www.amazon.com/World-Wide-Rave-Creating-Triggers/dp/0470395001/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248299183&sr=1-1   several times before and I make no apologies for doing so again here. This is such an important point that it deserves to be No. 1 in our list of 5 fundamentals to social engagement. You cannot even begin with social media until you understand this:
“By truly understanding the market problems that your products or services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, egocentric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization.”
2) You need to open up – humanize your company
Letting your potential customers & clients get to know who you are, what you do, what motivates you, why they should come to you and not the other guy is another fundamental of any social media plan. It is likely that the two primary tools for achieving that goal is the company blog, and video (your YouTube channel).  If ever there were two tools that I would argue every company should use, it is these two. Here is one example of a very simple, easy to do, video introduction I came across just this week, which I think is very effective in putting a human face on a small company – http://www.youtube.com/user/MarComPros#play/all/uploads-all/0/guyVDY8qg4Q – very simple, under 2 minutes, but instantly makes them much more approachable. People like to do business with people they know, or at least know something about and are comfortable with – they like to business with people, not companies, and especially not corporations.  For larger organizations and corporations, you don’t need to let people know all your staff, just introduce your bloggers and relevant personnel (see 4). You don’t even have to give their full name if they are uncomfortable with being publicly profiled – just their first name will do, as long as it is done honestly. Which leads us to point
3) You need to be honest
Social media is about engagement – if you can’t do it openly and honestly then don’t do it at all – you will be caught out, ‘named and shamed’, as we say in Britain, and publicly so! Laura & Jim’s folksy blog called ‘Wal-Marting Across America,’ is a classic case of dishonest blogging being ‘outed’. Supposedly written by two ordinary ‘fans of Wal-mart’, the blog turned out to be funded by Wal-Mart. Needless to say, Wal-mart’s perceived dishonesty got far more attention than professional writer, Laura & professional photographer Jim’s gushings about how fabulous Wal-Mart is. – http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/oct2006/db20061009_579137.htm – Another good example was also the huge backlash against 3M following the “3M Carjacks the Post-It Note Jaguar” story – http://www.murketing.com/journal/?p=1520 – that David Meerman Scoot also highlights in his book. You definitely do not want this happening to you. But it is not only about being authentic, it is  also about being responsive. You need to be monitoring what people are saying about you and your products and be prepared to answer any concerns people have quickly and honestly. It is your reputation – manage  it carefully – it can disappear very quickly if you don’t, or you try to ignore it. When it comes to social media ‘honesty’ is not only the ‘best’ policy – it is the only policy.
4) It is your story – it needs to come from you
There has been some debate as to whether a company’s social media should be done in-house or whether it can be done by an outside marketing agency or PR firm. Ultimately, it is YOUR story, it needs to come from YOU – that is to say someone who is a company employee and who knows the company and its products or services inside out. Who you chose to tell that story will be determined by what it is that your ideal customer is most interested in engaging with you about – that could be product developers, to customer service managers, to the company CEO – it depends on the particular situation. A good article to read on this subject is Jeramiah Owyang’s post – 3 Ways Companies Let Employees Participate in the Social Web –  http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/07/15/three-ways-companies-let-employees-participate-in-the-soical-web/
However, that is not to say that a marketing agency or PR writer cannot write on the company’s behalf (they can certainly be vital contributors in terms of strategy). But, if you do go down that route, I would suggest that not only should this be made very clear to the audience (see 3, Honesty), but also that the writer him/herself, needs to physically engage with the necessary personnel at the company, at least on a weekly basis, if any element of authenticity in your company’s story is to reach your audience. It is still YOUR story – you need to own it – you are the one who will ultimately have to answer the feedback that arises from it.
5) Be service orientated, not sales orientated.
I think this fifth point really struck home to me after I saw Dell’s Digital Media Manager, Lionel Menchaca’s presentation at the recent BlogWell Conference.  There has been a lot of back and forth over the question of measurability and Return on Investment (ROI) over the last few months, but the fundamental paradigm behind social media is that people will come to you because they are interested in what you have to offer – what has been dubbed ‘inbound’ marketing. That is never going to happen if you use social media from a sales mindset. That sales mindset is the primary reason that the old methods of ‘push’ or ‘outbound’ marketing are being universally blocked and rejected, and why so many marketers are looking at the alternatives of ‘inbound’ or ‘pull’ marketing to help companies reconnect to their customers. ‘Pull’ marketing, I would argue, can only work from a customer service orientated mindset – it won’t work from a sales mindset. However, as Dell has been finding, if you engage people honestly and from a service-minded viewpoint, people will naturally want to do business with you. Just don’t make that extra business the sole benchmark by which you measure the success of your social media. Dell doesn’t even factor it into their thinking. As we have quoted before, Lionel Menchaca’s view is:
“I frankly don’t care that we’ve done $3 million in revenue through Twitter – but I do care that Stephanie Nelson is out there answering questions and engaging with customers.” Obviously revenue is being generated through social media, and obviously it is measurable – even if it isn’t necessarily the focus. If it works for Dell it can work for you.
I hope that post helps those companies who are still looking for answers concerning social media. I am sure others will have views on other aspects of social media they think equally fundamental, and I am more than happy to see them expressed in our comments section. To companies I would say we do have the expertise to help you get the right solution for your particular needs, and have the tools that can help you plan – link checklist – and manage – link Youtube video – a successful social engagement. We are here to help – feel free to contact us today for a quote.

We are increasingly seeing  companies and marketing agencies looking at ways of leveraging social media for themselves or their clients. A lot of companies are looking at, and asking questions about:

  • How to monitor the conversation
  • How to measure results
  • How to avoid bad publicity
  • What tools to use (how, what, why, when, where).

There is also a lot of confusion out there. They all know they should be ‘doing something with social media’, a few dabble with it if it doesn’t cost them anything – like ‘being on Twitter’. But few are prepared to spend money on a properly planned out, strategically integrated social media presence – which of course is what they really need to do if they want to successfully engage with social media. I know – its the economy. That’s fine – we’re all in the same boat. In the meantime though, companies looking at social media need to understand one thing – every company’s social media requirement will be different – there are no ‘off-the-shelf’ answers – you are always going to need a solution that is customized to your own particular needs.

That said, there are five fundamentals of social media for business that will apply to almost any company, and of any size. Companies – if you focus your thoughts on these fundamentals as they apply to your own situation, when you are ready to seek the expertise of an outside expert, or hire one in-house, your customized solution will be all the more easy to implement.

1) You need to know who your ideal customer is

Who are they, what are the key aspects about your product or service are they interested in, what online media do they use to find out about it. I’ve talked about this before – David Meerman Scott is a useful source on understanding what he calls ‘buyer personas’. I have plugged his book, ‘World Wide Rave‘,   several times before and I make no apologies for doing so again here. This is such an important point that it deserves to be No. 1 in our list of 5 fundamentals to social engagement. You cannot even begin with social media until you understand this:

By truly understanding the market problems that your products or services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, egocentric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization.

2) You need to open up – humanize your company

Letting your potential customers & clients get to know who you are, what you do, what motivates you, why they should come to you and not the other guy is another fundamental of any social media plan. It is likely that the two primary tools for achieving that goal are the company blog, and video (your YouTube channel).  If ever there were two tools that I would argue every company should use, it is these two. Here is one example of a very simple, easy to do, video introduction I came across just this week, which I think is very effective in putting a human face on a small company – http://www.youtube.com/user/MarComPros#play/all/uploads-all/0/guyVDY8qg4Q – very simple, under 2 minutes, but instantly makes them much more approachable.

People like to do business with people they know, or at least know something about and are comfortable with – they like to business with people, not companies, and especially not corporations.  For larger organizations and corporations, you don’t need to let people know all your staff, just introduce your bloggers and relevant personnel (see 4). “It’s about people, not logos”  as Jason Baer so rightly said in his post on ‘maximizing your company’s social reach‘ today. You don’t even have to give their full name if they are uncomfortable with being publicly profiled – just their first name will do, as long as it is done honestly. Which leads us to point

3) You need to be honest

Social media is about engagement – if you can’t do it openly and honestly then don’t do it at all – you will be caught out, ‘named and shamed’, (as us Brits say), and publicly so! Laura & Jim’s folksy blog called ‘Wal-Marting Across America,’ is a classic case of dishonest blogging being ‘outed’. Supposedly written by two ordinary ‘fans of Wal-mart’, the blog turned out to be funded by Wal-Mart. Needless to say, Wal-mart’s perceived dishonesty got far more attention than professional writer, Laura & professional photographer Jim’s gushings about how fabulous Wal-Mart is.

Another good example was also the huge backlash against 3M following the “3M Carjacks the Post-It Note Jaguar” story  (that David Meerman Scott also highlights in his book). You definitely do not want this happening to you. But it is not only about being authentic, it is  also about being responsive. You need to be monitoring what people are saying about you and your products and be prepared to answer any concerns people have quickly and honestly. It is your reputation – manage  it carefully – it can disappear very quickly if you don’t, or you try to ignore it. When it comes to social media ‘honesty’ is not only the ‘best’ policy – it is the only policy.

4) It is your story – it needs to come from you

There has been some debate as to whether a company’s social media should be done in-house or whether it can be done by an outside marketing agency or PR firm. Ultimately, it is YOUR story, it needs to come from YOU – that is to say someone who is a company employee and who knows the company and its products or services inside out. Who you chose to tell that story will be determined by what it is that your ideal customer is most interested in engaging with you about – that could be product developers, to customer service managers, to the company CEO – it depends on the particular situation. A good article to read on this subject is Jeramiah Owyang’s post – 3 Ways Companies Let Employees Participate in the Social Web.

However, that is not to say that a marketing agency or PR writer cannot write on the company’s behalf (they can certainly be vital contributors in terms of strategy). But, if you do go down that route, I would suggest that not only should this be made very clear to the audience (see 3, Honesty), but also that the writer him/herself, needs to physically engage with the necessary personnel at the company, at least on a weekly basis, if any element of authenticity in your company’s story is to reach your audience. It is still YOUR story – you need to own it – you are the one who will ultimately have to answer the feedback that arises from it.

5) Be service orientated, not sales orientated.

I think this fifth point really struck home to me after I saw Dell’s Digital Media Manager, Lionel Menchaca’s presentation at the recent BlogWell Conference.  There has been a lot of back and forth over the question of measurability and Return on Investment (ROI) over the last few months, but the fundamental paradigm behind social media is that people will come to you because they are interested in what you have to offer – what has been dubbed ‘inbound’ marketing. That is never going to happen if you use social media from a sales mindset. That sales mindset is the primary reason that the old methods of ‘push’ or ‘outbound’ marketing are being universally blocked and rejected, and why the trend in marketing is heading towards the alternatives of ‘inbound’ or ‘pull’ marketing to help companies reconnect to their customers. (Eg. ‘Gap dumps TV ads for Facebook campaign‘) ‘Pull’ marketing, I would argue, can only work from a customer service orientated mindset – it won’t work from a sales mindset. However, as Dell has been finding, if you engage people honestly and from a service-minded viewpoint, people will naturally want to do business with you. Just don’t make that extra business the sole benchmark by which you measure the success of your social media. Dell doesn’t even factor it into their thinking. As we have quoted before, Lionel Menchaca’s view is:

“I frankly don’t care that we’ve done $3 million in revenue through Twitter – but I do care that Stephanie Nelson is out there answering questions and engaging with customers.

Obviously revenue is being generated through social media, and obviously it is measurable – even if it isn’t necessarily the focus. If it works for Dell it can work for you.

I hope this post helps those companies looking for answers for adopting social media successfully. I am sure others will have views on other aspects of social media they think equally fundamental, and I am more than happy to see them expressed in the comments section. To companies, I would say we  have the expertise to help you define the right solution for your particular needs, and have the tools that can help you plan and manage a successful social engagement. We are here to help – feel free to contact us today to discuss your needs.

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Posted in Social Media, Social Media Marketing | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

The Question is Not Can You Measure Social Media ROI? It is Should You?

A lot of interesting discussion has centered around the question of measuring Return on Investment (ROI) on social media in recent weeks.  The main themes are based around whether a) it is possible to measure ROI in social media and, b) how do you measure ROI in social media.  I would suggest that the question should be “Should we be measuring ROI in social media?”
The question of whether it is even possible to measure social media becomes all the more interesting once you have the input of a few marketing professionals. In a recent discussion on one of the LinkedIn Groups, Jacob Morgan argued that
“Marketing across the board has always been understood to be a “black box,” meaning nobody could really ever justify the ROI (and oftentimes impact) of marketing spend … The issue at large is marketing accountability as a whole, and social media is just one component of that.”
(See also his blog post fro MarketingProfs – Forget Social Media ROI, What About Marketing Accountability? – http://www.mpdailyfix.com/2009/07/forget_social_media_roi_what_a.html)
By ‘marketing accountability’ Jacob is referring to to the need to understand all the factors involved in the marketing infrastructure before you can ‘measure’ anything – such as knowing the customer life cycle, the target audience, the average price per transaction, the acquisition and/or retention costs, and so on. Either that, he argues, or pick abstract objectives and measuring impact – which can include brand building.
Roger Kondrat added -
“Despite these marketing accountability deficiencies the vast majority of organisations don’t seek out any marketing research either bespoke or off-the-shelf to support their objectives. Without research asking your business partners to give you a plan with relevant ROI or even Impact metrics is a huge huge request, one could say an impossible one”.
In a separate blog post, Olivier Blanchard  - http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/roi-and-social-media-101-financial-vs-non-financial-impact/ defines ‘ROI’ – in business terms – the ‘R’ = $ investment > action > reaction > non-financial impact > financial impact (measure the ROI here). With clear goals and ‘marketing accountability’ financial ROI should be readily measurable. But financial returns don’t really give you the whole picture when it comes to the benefits of social media.
Alex Schultze of Social Media Academy points out that -
“On the surface social media is a marketing and sales gig. Under the hood it is a major cross functional engagement model. Using customer engagement models for product feedback, customer integrated support models, social network based product launch, social media sentiment analysis for procurement planning and of course sales and marketing.”
Social media is many things and whereas it is relatively easy to see how you could achieve a measurement at the non-financial impact stage, measuring financial impact may not give you the whole story.
Therefore, it begs the question should even be trying? One of the most interesting – and telling – comments on the subject were from Lionel Menchaca of Dell in a recent presentation at BlogWell San Francisco.
http://vimeo.com/5484057  from the BlogWell San Francisco Case Study Presentation – http://www.socialmedia.org/video-case-studies/ – Dell’s Digital Media Manager Lionel Menchaca gave some important insights into the ongoing development of Dell’s social communities. Interestingly, right at the end of his talk and in answer to a question from an audience member about ROI, Lionel said that driving sales was not part of what they are trying to do, even though it may result in sales – so they don’t worry about that or try to measure it “that’s not the goal on the enterprise side, or the consumer side either for that matter”.
“I frankly don’t care that we’ve done $3 million in revenue through Twitter – but I do care that Stephanie Nelson is out there answering questions and engaging with customers.”
Their’s seems to be much more customer service orientated approach to social communities than sales orientated  - is there a lesson to be learned here? Is that the point when it comes to social media – as soon as you actively try to drive sales to a community you go back to the old methods of PUSH marketing and they are all turned off. Dell still manages to integrate their Dell.com eCommerce operation with their community activities, but they don’t do it in an overt way – just in a ‘how can we help the customer better’ sort of way. Isn’t that how it should be? Although costs are always a consideration for any company, perhaps, in terms of measuring a ‘return’ on something as encompassing as social media, the non-financial impact of engaging the community of our customers is as far as we need to look. However, Jeramiah Owyang today emphasized the  “The Importance of Social Media Audit”s – http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/07/28/the-importance-of-a-social-media-audits/
Just as brands conduct audits of inventory, employees, and budgets on an often annual basis, they should also survey the landscape to find out what customers, influencers, partners and employees are participating on the social web. Audits are key for identifying priorities, benchmarking previous efforts, and planning for future efforts; the same applies for social media.

A lot of interesting discussion has centered around the question of measuring Return on Investment (ROI) on social media in recent weeks.  The main themes are based around

a)  whether it is possible to measure ROI in social media and,
b)  how do you measure ROI in social media.

I would suggest a better question is “Should we be measuring ROI in social media?”

The question of whether it is even possible to measure social media becomes all the more interesting once you have the input of a few marketing professionals. In a recent discussion on one of the LinkedIn Groups, Jacob Morgan argued that

Marketing across the board has always been understood to be a “black box,” meaning nobody could really ever justify the ROI (and oftentimes impact) of marketing spend … The issue at large is marketing accountability as a whole, and social media is just one component of that.”

(See also his blog post from MarketingProfs – Forget Social Media ROI, What About Marketing Accountability?)

By ‘marketing accountability’ Jacob is referring to to the need to understand all the factors involved in the marketing infrastructure before you can ‘measure’ anything – such as knowing the customer life cycle, the target audience, the average price per transaction, the acquisition and/or retention costs, and so on. Either that, he argues, or pick abstract objectives – ‘we want to be the leaders in X’,  and measuring impact , say as part of brand building.

Roger Kondrat added -

“Despite these marketing accountability deficiencies the vast majority of organisations don’t seek out any marketing research either bespoke or off-the-shelf to support their objectives. Without research asking your business partners to give you a plan with relevant ROI or even Impact metrics is a huge huge request, one could say an impossible one”.

In a separate blog post, ‘Defining Social Media ROI once and for all, and understanding the action-reactive-return narrative’, Olivier Blanchard  defines ‘ROI’ – in business terms, as -

R’ = $ investment > action > reaction > non-financial impact > financial impact (measure the ROI here).

With clear goals and ‘marketing accountability’ financial ROI should be readily measurable with today’s analytical tools. But financial returns don’t really give you the whole picture when it comes to the benefits of social media.

Alex Schultze of Social Media Academy points out that -

“On the surface social media is a marketing and sales gig. Under the hood it is a major cross functional engagement model. Using customer engagement models for product feedback, customer integrated support models, social network based product launch, social media sentiment analysis for procurement planning and of course sales and marketing.”

Social media is many things and whereas it is relatively easy to see how you could achieve a measurement at the non-financial impact stage, measuring financial impact, though possible, just may not give you the whole story.

Therefore, it begs the question should we even be trying? One of the most interesting – and telling – comments on the subject was from Lionel Menchaca, Digital Media Manager for Dell, in a recent presentation at BlogWell San Francisco. Menchaca gave the audience some important insights into the ongoing development of Dell’s social communities. Interestingly, right at the end of his talk, and in answer to a question from an audience member about ROI, Lionel said that driving sales was not part of what they are trying to do, even though their activities may result in sales – so they don’t worry about that or try to measure it “that’s not the goal on the enterprise side, or the consumer side either for that matter”, he stated.

“I frankly don’t care that we’ve done $3 million in revenue through Twitter – but I do care that Stephanie Nelson is out there answering questions and engaging with customers.”

Their social community building seems to be based on a much more customer service orientated approach than a sales approach.  Is there a lesson to be learned here? Is that the point when it comes to social media – as soon as you actively try to drive sales to a community you go back to the old methods of PUSH marketing and you just end up turning them all off. Dell still manages to integrate their Dell.com eCommerce operation with their community activities, but they don’t do it in an overt way – just in a ‘how can we better help the customer’ sort of way. Isn’t that how it should be? Although costs are always a consideration for any company, perhaps, in terms of measuring a ‘return’ on something as encompassing as social media, the non-financial impact of engaging the community of our customers is as far as we need to look. That is not to say there is no accounting.  Only today, Jeramiah Owyang emphasized the  “The Importance of Social Media Audits”.

“Just as brands conduct audits of inventory, employees, and budgets on an often annual basis, they should also survey the landscape to find out what customers, influencers, partners and employees are participating on the social web. Audits are key for identifying priorities, benchmarking previous efforts, and planning for future efforts; the same applies for social media.”

Such an audit would soon highlight whether you were getting ‘value for money’ or not and, in the end, isn’t that what you want to know?

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Posted in Internet Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

The Social-smart Social Media Campaign Checklist

social-smart_free_checklist
Different companies (and agencies) are at different stages of getting a grip on how to effectively implement social media marketing campaigns. It is a new phenomenon to most marketers, and with new technologies coming online almost weekly, it’s a moving target. Although the Social-smart dashboard was designed to integrate a campaign’s search strategy, social media (social networks), and messaging and email strategies, together — it was clear that we needed to provide more than just a tool. We also needed to offer a roadmap of best-practices to help clients get to market quickly. That is why we provide a Social Media Marketing Campaign Checklist that clients can use to plan a customized campaign solution with.

Developed over several months, and combining many years of marketing experience, the Social Media Strategy Checklist is very much part of the value proposition of the Social-smart solution, and it comes in two parts:

The free Campaign Checklist is designed to let clients review the basic preparations for launching a social media marketing campaign, and see the professional Social-smart features they can use to monitor, manage, and measure the campaign components – I will detail this more below. Social-smart subscribers also get access to a more comprehensive online Wiki checklist — with regularly updated social media campaign best-practices information, industry resources, and valuable dashboard tips and tutorials. This is a great way to stay up-to-date with the new dashboard features that are added as Social-smart continually improves to respond to new marketing needs. It’s also a great way for new team members to get up to speed with the dashboard.

The FREE Campaign Checklist is available as a PDF download, and is split into the following sections:

Goals & Objectives
The first stage in any social media campaign is to define the business goals and objectives. This includes defining your Return on Investment (ROI) targets, a program plan and, of course, a budget. Without these being clearly laid out from the beginning you will end up expending a lot of time and effort without any clear direction or aim – and with no way to measure whether that effort is worth the time or money being expended on it. Depending on the set-up of the company, and/or the set-up and relationship of the Agency/Client Company, there may be several different people and/or departments involved in the setting of these goals. Which takes us to -

Campaign Management
It is important that all parties involved in the campaign understand their respective roles and responsibilities. Those roles need to be defined, social media experts and resources identified, and the team set up, whether that be an in-house company team or a combination of company and agency personnel. One of the key benefits of the Social-smart dashboard is ability for multiple moderators to login to the same dashboard, for instant access the campaign’s social networks, conversation, and analytics.

Search Strategy
A big part of any online strategy is bound up in SEO keywords, especially when it comes to monitoring the ‘buzz’. It also plays a big part in people finding your content in the first place. ‘Sharing’ plays a large role as well, but it is not the whole story. Therefore, defining your keyword and linking strategy early-on will increase the effectiveness of your campaign with more web traffic and social participation.

Social Media Strategy
THE most important first step of any social media strategy is to define your customer profile. what David Meerman Scott, in his book ‘World Wide Rave,’ calls the ‘buyer persona’ -

“By truly understanding the market problems that your products or services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, egocentric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization.”

In order to make that information ‘valuable’ you should anchor the campaign with a creative theme (supporting the brand image or product positioning); define a social policy that states what you are doing and want to achieve (to keep the team authentic, and focused on results); define the campaign’s social media channels (the media mix); and define engaging content that the target audience will want to interact with (and share, and subscribe to).

Messaging and Email Strategy
You then have to define how you will respond to customers when they interact with you. Are there specific brand, product or legal aspects you want to include in your messaging, for example? Are there ‘influencer’ resources you want to share in your responses, like a link to an industry blogger or review site for example? Have you other resources to offer – newsletters, promotions, etc that can be targeted to particular customers whose interests you have tagged in your customer database? The follow-up, or re-marketing, is an essential extension of the social engagement funnel — after you use Social-smart for automating list-generation, customer acquisition, and eCommerce conversions.

Business ROI
The one thing everyone wants to know how to quantify! ROI is totally related to the goals and objectives you have set for the campaign. It is completely quantifiable as long as you know which parameters to measure. It is therefore important to benchmark your results at each stage of the engagement, from search results, to web traffic, and community engagement. Be deliberate: regularly track social metrics, customer opinion and sentiment, conversions and, of course, your goals. Web analytics tools and social network insights are integrated in the dashboard to make campaign measurement, and results, a seamless process.

The Wiki Checklist that subscribers get access to is a more comprehensive “living document” from the developers of Social-smart, and with insights  crowd-sourced from our clients. The free Campaign Checklist helps organize the basic details for planning and streamlining a successful campaign — especially helpful for clients new to social media marketing. We hope you find it useful and would welcome any feedback you care to offer.

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Posted in Internet Marketing, Social Media Managers, Social Media Marketing | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

The Importance of Email in Social Media Marketing

Part of my daily routine is to check the latest stories on the social media scene while I partake of my only two cups of coffee per day. One of the stories that caught my eye today was by Stephanie Miller (no not the radio one – my wife is a big fan!), writer for Marketing Prof’s Daily Fix – “Creating Buzz – its the message AND the medium“. In this article she makes an enormously important point – one that we at Social-smart have been trying to make ever since we started – and that is that email is one of the most important of the social media tools. Here Stephanie is talking about a discussion she was involved in as part of a panel on a virtual event called “Creating an Environment for Viral Marketing Success,

“What I loved about the discussion is that while it was all about viral and the buzz generated from social networks, the emphasis kept coming back to email marketing as the foundational element for most marketers. Certainly email powers the social networks – it’s the biggest traffic driver. But more importantly, for most of us, email is the most powerful link between your brand and the largest number of customers simply because that is where our customers spend time.”

Yes, yes, yes! And, especially in terms of both the sales and customer service elements of the engagement funnel, that is where most of your engagement is going to take place.

So often the various aspects of online marketing are discussed in total isolation, whether it be search, email, or social media. In fact, all these things are integral parts of any online marketing effort. It is interesting that I am beginning to see more articles appearing on the importance of integrating email marketing and social media. Marketing Vox for instance, reports that a “2009 Marketing Trends” study shows that “two-thirds of email marketers plan to integrate their email and social media campaigns in the second half of 2009″. Stephanie makes a great point in saying that you need to ‘Match the content to the medium’.

“Email is great for lifecycle marketing, promotional broadcasts and content newsletters. Facebook fan pages are great for surveys or building loyal fan bases. Twitter may be great for customer service as well as broadcast. Don’t just repost your blog everywhere – send content that is relevant to the channel so that you appeal to customers who consume information in different ways.”

But how to do it effectively and efficiently – that is the question.

“Despite an increased focus and growing investment in social media, there is still widespread confusion about how a social media strategy for email marketing should be implemented,”

the Marketing Vox article states, and also poses the question “who owns social media?”

social-smart_solution
Naturally, we would advocate Social-smart as a solution – we certainly haven’t come across another – and, believe me, we look closely. The way Social-smart does it is to integrate all the social media channels, monitoring and alert tools, email client, database, and analytical tools though one convenient online dashboard. There is even a built in WYSIWYG editor so that you can build HTML emails and newsletters, including clips from pre-set messaging menus, seamlessly all in the one location. What is significant about this system is that it allows multiple moderators to contribute to the overall marketing efforts through this one location. So, for instance, if you have several different people (or ‘owners’), possibly in different departments even, dealing with various aspects of social media and email or newsletter campaigns, all can tap into the same resources without having to duplicate effort. It also makes for much easier coordination and planning. You might like to register for our new demo video which will show you some of these functions in action – you will be amazed at how easily it all works together.

As the social network becomes more complex and fragmented, being able to integrate multiple channels of marketing effort easily and efficiently is going to become more and more important. We at Social-smart are constantly looking for new ways of providing that integration and efficiency and when we have them you can be sure that we will tell you about them here.

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How Large Will Your Social Media Manager’s Department Be?

Has anyone noticed the rash of jobs ads for Social Media Managers lately? It seems that many of the larger companies and corporations are deciding that 100k per year for someone to manage their social media campaign is well worth the investment. Although there has been some discussion as to whether ‘Social Media Manager’ is a misnomer (see – Why the Heck do We Need a Social Media Manager?), it seems to work for those seeking to employ people to manage their social media campaigns, namely individual companies or agencies with client-company campaigns to manage.   So unless someone suggests a better term then ‘Social Media Manager’ it is.

Either way, one can’t help wondering if those individuals are going to be handling all the day-to-day posting, tweeting, commenting and befriending themselves, or whether they will have a team of people under them to do that.  The social media world is an increasing complex and fragmented one.  You may be able to hone down the key influencers and communities that encompass the ‘worlds’ your customers engage in, but that still may include dozens of different networks, blogs and forums.  Not only must you monitor and engage in all that day-to-day chatter (which could be considerable if you have thousands of customers), but you also have to be able to measure the effectiveness of that engagement!  It is doubtful if a lone individual could possibly cope with all that – at least not without going totally insane! Obviously, having a tool like Social Smart, where several people can contribute to the effort of managing a multi-channel campaign through one dashboard portal, is an enormous help. At least all the in-flow comes to one place and much of the out-flow can be built from preset messaging snippets.  But, with or without such a tool, I would be very interested in hearing from Social Media Managers, or prospective Social Media Managers, about their perspective on how many staff it takes to manage different levels of campaign – either through experience or expectation. Obviously there will be considerable variability in terms of campaign size, but that is why the question is worth asking. I think the responses would make for interesting and insightful reading.
We would also like to invite interested parties to join our Social-smart LinkedIn Group and, in particular, our ‘Social Media Managers’ Sub Group where we encourage you to share such insight.

Either way, one can’t help wondering if those individuals are going to be handling all the day-to-day posting, tweeting, commenting and befriending themselves, or whether they will have a team of people under them to do that so they can concentrate on achieving company/client goals.  The social media world is an increasing complex and fragmented one.  You may be able to hone down the key influencers and communities that encompass the ‘worlds’ your customers engage in, but that still may include dozens of different networks, blogs and forums.  Not only must you monitor and engage in all that day-to-day chatter (which could be considerable if you have thousands of customers), but you also have to be able to measure the effectiveness of that engagement!  It is doubtful if a lone individual could possibly cope with all that – at least not without going totally insane!

Obviously, having a tool like Social Smart, where several people can contribute to the effort of managing a multi-channel campaign through one dashboard portal, is an enormous help. At least all the in-flow comes to one place and much of the out-flow can be built from preset messaging snippets.  But, with or without such a tool, I would be very interested in hearing from Social Media Managers, or prospective Social Media Managers, about their perspective on how many staff it takes to manage different levels of campaign – either through experience or expectation.

Obviously there will be considerable variability in terms of campaign size, but that is why the question is worth asking. “Before we can discuss ROI, we first need to understand the proportions of the investment required“, Brian Solis so insightfully wrote in his post for PR 2.0,Unveiling the New Influencers‘ yesterdayI think the responses would make for interesting reading.

We would also like to invite interested parties to join our Social-smart LinkedIn Group and, in particular, our ‘Social Media Managers’ Sub Group where we encourage you to share such insights with fellow professionals and potential employers alike.

Posted in Social Media Managers | Tagged | 3 Comments