Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

December 06 2010

Writing is a Critical B2B Marketing Skill

I was reading an article written by Denny Hatch (a long-time copywriting expert) discussing why professional copywriting is critical for marketing where he shared this story he recalled:

"What do you do?" a guy at a cocktail party was asked.

"I'm a brain surgeon," was the reply. "What do you do?"

"I'm a writer."

"Ah," said the brain surgeon. "I've often thought that when I retire I'd like to try some writing."

"And when I retire," said the writer, "I plan try a little brain surgery."

The story resonated with me for a lot of reasons, but one of them is because I see a lot of B2B marketers without the passion or skill for developing content. I'm not talking about branding or corporate positioning as such. I'm talking about content creation and development that keeps pace with the demands of prospects and customers across their buying process or lifetime relationship with the company.

Writing is a skill. It's a skill that gets rusty if you don't practice it...a lot. The last few years, the role of marketing has changed from that of a conductor to the need to become an active participant. Instead of coordinating external sources for short-term campaign execution, marketers need to take real-time action. That means writing.

Things like blog posts, commenting in discussion groups, sharing on social media, creating articles for nurturing programs, email messaging and more. Sure, you can still outsource writing projects, but some of these arenas for participation require real-time content development with a personalized touch.

For example, if an immediate informational need arises and your agency says - sure, I can have that for you in two weeks - you've just missed an opportunity if you can't step up to the plate and write engaging content that can be published now.

[If you don't believe me, David Meerman Scott just published a book about Real-Time Marketing. Ann Handley's book Content Rules has also just been released making it a bit difficult to ignore the momentum heading in this direction.]

The other consideration is that there are certain mediums that require you to paricipate directly, without the help of a writer. LinkedIn is a case in point. Although not formal, the way you write is still a reflection on both you and your company.

All of this said, here are 4 things I think may be stopping marketers from improving their writing skills:

  • Thinking every content asset must be a masterpiece of formatting and graphic design.
  • Lack of understanding that short article formats work well if the content provides meaty, useful insights. An 800 word, tightly-focused article is more than ample for engagement and asks for less time than a bigger piece. Your prospects and customers are crazy-busy. You know that, right?
  • Not knowing buyers and customers well enough to write for them — being unsure how to flip focus from company and products to address their needs can be a huge obstacle marketers need to overcome.
  • Unsure of where to start. Think of this as blank-page syndrome that results from a lack of content strategy.
  • Being crazy-busy yourselves.

Yes, that last one will likely rise to the top. But here's the thing. Writing isn't optional. If marketers are going to succeed with content marketing and marketing on the Internet, we're going to have to close the writing gap and step up.

Marketing is driven by content. The Internet, publishing technology and social media will only demand more fuel (content) to feed the beast. Your best plan of action is to start tuning up your keyboards and flex those writing muscles. You're going to need them in top form to create competitive advantage for your company.

October 28 2010

It’s time to start holding social media accountable for ROI

No question, we’re in the midst of a veritable explosion of B2B social media usage.  Led on by numerous evangelists, increasing numbers of online marketers are pushing out wall posts, tweets, blog posts, etc., hoping to gain traction in their target market. We’d like to say, “It’s all good”;  but we know, of course, that [...]

October 05 2010

Make It Easier for Bloggers to Attend Your Media Events

branded event online management

I received many event invitations each week and I am amazed by how the PR professionals fail to use new technology. I will review what are the most common mistakes and how to easily solve them.

The typical media event invitation is received by email. The event details, including the RSVP email, is nicely published on an image file. I understand the need of presenting a design invitation but why not also type the RSVP email and show it inside the email message. It often happens that the RSVP email is not the sender email. The blogger needs to remember the email and type it to respond. Not very user friendly.

Then, you need to add the event to our calendar. Again, you have to remember the venue name, address and time to type it to our calendar. On top of not making typing errors, you must set a reminder alert. Frankly, it’s a cumbersome process that any of the Add to Calendar tools out there would streamline.

My question to PR professionals is “Why make it so difficult for bloggers to attend a media event?” when you hope to get press coverage from them.

The Easy Solution

I recommend to PR professionals that they continue to send media event invite through email with a nicely designed invite but that they add a link to handle the RSVP process. And do it via an online invitation management system like Eventbrite. It will make the entire process easier for you and your guests.

create an event with eventbrite

I used Eventbrite both as an event organizer and as an attendee. I like it in both scenarios. I will go as far as to say that there is absolutely no reasons not to use it since Eventbrite is FREE for free events. Practical features include:

  • Create a branded event page to manage the RSVP and provide your event details
  • Attendee management with contact information of the attendees. You can keep track of the number of attendees in real time.
  • Add to my Calendar button. They support Outlook calendar, Google calendar, Yahoo! calendar and iCal
  • Share buttons. Attendees can send an email to friends, tweet it, share it on LinkedIn, and like it on Facebook
  • Automatically schedule a brief reminder email to be sent to your attendees 48 hours before an event
  • Automatically generate customized name badge templates for all registered attendees.

If you are not tech savvy, do not worry. Eventbrite produced tutorial videos to get you started. Please make it easy for everyone to attend your event! Then, you can concentrate your efforts on organizing an event that bloggers would not want to miss.

+ Eventbrite

You might also like these posts

September 19 2010

How B2B Marketers Can Get More Leads into the Funnel via Inbound Marketing

At my previous company my success was measured by number of leads.  If I hit the right number, I was in the clear.  If the total lead count was high, I was awesome.  If I was short of my lead goal, I had some explaining to do.  Makes sense, right?  More leads equals more won deals.  Management could understand these metrics.  It was easy for the VP of Sales to see my results via a dashboard in the CRM system.  Life was good.  Well, that is unless you were a sales rep.  (Don’t worry. I learned the right way fast, becoming a demand generation machine!)

The problem with this kind of mindset is that more leads does not equal more deals. The goal is to find the right deals at the right time. Your sales reps know this. This is why when a marketer brings back a list of leads, they only pick out a few to follow up with.  They use their skills to tell them which are his (her) best bets and then starts working them until they purchase. 

So how do marketers find the right leads?

SEO

Many marketers are now optimizing for search, but are you really getting all that you can out of your efforts?  First, you need to decide which terms you want driving traffic to your site.  If not, you may end of with lots of traffic, but no new business.  For example, a few months ago one of my top referring terms was “Power Pack”, because of the deliverability power pack that Marketo sells as part of our solution.   This meant lots of extra traffic to my site, but very high bounce rates and zero closed deals.  

To make sure you are getting the right website traffic, create a list of the keywords someone looking to purchase your product, or learn about your industry, would use.  Then identify which content on your site you want to rank for each of these pages.  Optimize these pages for the terms you identified.  (Yes, I know it’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the gist.)  There are lots of free tools and guides to help with this. However, if you are a company with any marketing budget, you should really consider putting some of those dollars here. 

Spending money on SEO services will help you rank for terms other than your company name or names of your products, making sure you rank for the terms that will really drive traffic.  At Marketo, I dedicate a large part of my budget to SEO optimization (via Toprank Online Marketing) to make sure we are number one for most of the top terms in our industry.  Don’t believe me- go check out terms like B2B Marketing, Marketing Automation, Lead Scoring and Demand Generation.  With hundreds of competitors, this isn’t an easy thing to do. I would have never gotten there without a professional SEO team on my side. 

Content Marketing

Remember earlier when I said you need to find the right deals at the right time?  This is where content marketing comes in.  If you have content relevant for your audience, you will find the right deals.  It will give you content to optimize so you can rank in SEO.  It will give you something to share in social media.  It will give you pages for your Pay-Per-Click Campaigns.  It will give you something to right blog posts about.  It will give you something to share when you do paid advertising… 

Essentially, nothing listed above will work without good content.   But good content is only half of it.  You also have to get the lead at the right time.  Just because someone is looking at your website today doesn’t mean they are ready to buy. Here at Marketo, we use lead nurturing and scoring to help us identify when someone is ready to buy.  In order to do lead nurturing and scoring you don’t just need content, you need content that indicates if someone is ready to talk to a sales rep.  An example of this is this blog post!  Just because you are reading this blog post does not mean you are ready to buy marketing automation software.  Now, imagine you come back to the site a few days later and download our marketing automation buyers kit.  That would be a great way content can indicate you are ready to buy. 

Note: I will be presenting a webinar about this next month with Joe Pulizzi and Ann Handley (i.e. the King and Queen of Content Marketing).  During this webinar, we will talk about how to create the right content to make your inbound marketing machine work.  We will also talk about optimizing this content to ensure you get the most leads out of all your efforts, and can identify using content when someone is ready to buy. 

And just like SEO, you may want to consider some professional help here.  At Marketo, we write a lot of our own content, but use some other services as well (like Velocity Partners to design our Definitive Guides and paid white paper and webinar sponsorships).  Don’t be scared to get paid help to ensure your content is top-notch. 

Blogging

Blogging is a great way to get some of the content you need. It also has multiple extra benefits.  The biggest of these includes keeping Google aware of your site.  Whenever you blog, you are putting out new content. The more new content you add, the more Google will visit your website. 

There are a couple of caveats about this though.  First, traffic to your blog is often to a sub domain of your website.  Look for ways to integrate blogs into your core domain.  We do this with our resource and press centers, which run on blogging software (Wordpress).   This means Google visits our website and not just our blog, which we consider much higher-value traffic.   

If you want to use a paid blogging or content sharing software, I really like Compendium, who has services available to help you with your blog, plus some other SEO benefits not available with Wordpress.  I have never had much luck with tools that bundle blogging in with other software, so please beware of these offerings.  They are often not as customizable as you may need and have trouble scaling as you grow.   Even worse, they may be able to hold your content hostage because if you leave their service you may lose everything you have written and any rankings with it. 

Social Media

Social Media is also a great way to drive leads (and the links that are important to SEO) to your website.  I could write pages on this alone (and have in my Definitive Guide to Social Media), but want to mention a few tactics that stand out. 

First, some of our biggest social media wins come from unexpected places.  Share your content where your prospects are, including industry-based, geo-based, and other less popular social media sites.  We get lots of traffic from social media sites outside of Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. 

Second, ask those you know to share your content.  They will often have a bigger voice than you do.  This includes adding social sharing buttons to your content in both landing pages and emails. 

Third, remember that people will often find your social media content via search.  This means that even if your content wasn’t retweeted, or socially forwarded to others right away, it may still end up driving traffic to your website. 

Landing Page Optimization

Whether you are getting traffic to your site through your blog, social media, or search engine optimization, you need to do something with it.  The awesome content you create may educate, but your sales team now needs names in order to sell your product or service.  You get these names through forms on your website or landing pages.  However, all forms are not created equal.

Some people will never fill out forms.  Your landing pages should be able to use reverse IP look-up (don’t worry, you don’t need to know the technical parts of this) to see which companies were on the page even if they didn’t fill out the form.  The pages should then communicate to the sales reps who was on the web page by territory (no sales rep wants to see everyone else’s leads). 

The pages should also drop a cookie on their computer (again, some technical stuff you don’t need to program yourself) to let you know if this person has been on your site before and what they have done.  This way, when they do fill out a form, your sales rep knows their whole history, not just a part of it.  This will also let you know what pages are found first by your prospects, which search terms are driving them to your site, and what content helps them make a buying decision. 

Most importantly, these pages should allow you to test what is working.  Many people have landing pages but often  don’t convince people to sign up.  Your pages need to reassure the lead.  Many people think this is just about the right images or right title, but for us, it is a big mix of things. 

First, the most important thing for our pages is the form length.  We’ve run test after test and keep seeing this result.  Shorter forms will likely get you more leads.  Our forms only ask first name, last name, email, company and title.  We need information like city, state, zip and area code to route our leads properly, however, we use our own lead management system to do reverse IP lookup to populate this information.  We also need data like industry and company size to do proper email and campaign segmentation, so we append our data with information from a third party database (Jigsaw).  

Secondly, we find that a lot of other ‘rules’ for landing pages don’t apply.  For example, we have found that length of landing pages isn’t that relevant, and that the pictures can even be clip art.  Many argue that short pages with sexy designs work better, but this just isn’t the case for us.  This is cool to know, because instead of giving money to designers, I can use that for my SEO programs or other marketing initiatives. 

 A couple details about this post:

  • I mentioned vendors because I am often asked about what services I use.  No-one paid me for a mention. I also use lots of great vendors that I did not mention here.
  • None of the above would be much good if I didn’t have lead nurturing and scoring that could be highly customized with personalization and segmentation.  It’s why I bought Marketo at my previous company.  People that focus on inbound marketing but don’t have a way to manage these leads to a closed deal are likely wasting time and energy. 
  • This post does not mention all the paid sources we use for demand generation that are also great ways to find opportunities for your sales team.  Inbound marketing can be made even more powerful in combination with paid promotions. 
  • Inbound marketing isn’t free, though good inbound marketing will often be lower cost than some paid programs with higher yields.  Don’t rely on tools alone. Inbound marketing takes strategy, best practices, and some marketing smarts to achieve success. 
  • Finally, I know this was an oversimplified (and super-long) blog post. My fingers are getting tired from writing so much!  For more on inbound marketing I recommend Dan Zarella’s book, The Social Media Marketing Book.  If you happen to be the person who borrowed my copy off my bookshelf at the office, please return it soon.  I miss it.  Also, subscribe to the Modern B2B marketing Blog RSS feed or follow Marketo on Twitter to learn inbound markeitng and demand generation best practices.

How B2B Marketers Can Get More Leads into the Funnel via Inbound Marketing was posted at Modern B2B Marketing - Marketo Best Practices Blog. | http://blog.marketo.com

June 29 2010

How to integrate social media into a conference or event

Cicero The conference as we used to know it was very stiff, structured and didactic.

It's been the same since Cicero—the speaker spoke and the audience listened. Maybe the audience had a chance to ask questions at the end, or chat about the content at coffee break, but like television it was essentially one-way communication.

I speak at about 50 conferences and events all over the world each year. The best are those that integrate the physical event.

Integrate Social Media at your event

Now, at conferences all over the world, audience members connect with one another in real time while speakers are up at the podium. This "back-channel" is truly revolutionary as it allows listeners to discuss content as it is being delivered. What’s more, it brings a new virtual audience into the room—sometimes from the opposite end of the Earth.

Hashtags allow people in the audience and everywhere else can tune into the back channel. Many attendees post photos and video clips in real time too so people can see what's happening.

Crowdsourcing - when others post content to your conference site - is a terrific way to build valuable information.

It's not just Twitter either. Some people at conferences now use GPS-enabled mobile applications like Foursquare—which allows you to see where your friends are in the conference hall (or playing hooky at the bar). And with live video streaming services like Qik, anyone can upload a speech to the Internet in real time.

Ptc Alan Belniak, Director of Social Media Marketing at PTC, wrote about how he integrated social media into the PTC/USER World Event 2010 held a few weeks ago in blog post How to Leverage Digital and Social Media at Events/Conferences.

Here are some of the things Alan did:

Developed a single page where all of the social media feeds could be found.

Gave about a dozen people Flip Video cameras and had them create videos that were uploaded onto a YouTube video channel

Created a Flickr feed

Established a hashtag - #ptcuser10 – and then archived the Twitter feed

Aggregated 35 different bloggers posts.

Alan’s example is a good one. Check out his blog post for details on how he did it.

Archive the content forever

Here is a final, but critically important point. You need to archive all this great content so that people can find it in years (and decades) to come.

Sadly, many companies re-use their conference web sites year after year and delete last year’s conference content to create this years’. Don’t!

Keep each year’s content so people can go back and check. Additionally, the inbound links will help in your natural SEO.

Cicero Image: Shutterstock / Jozef Sedmak

Disclosure: I have done some coaching work for PTC.

June 13 2010

Proof: Twitter Is More Publication Than Conversation

On Twitter, most people aren’t conversing or creating. They’re following and reading what a few prolific people share. Here’s the proof.

NOBODY TWEETS

Harvard Business Review highlighted [...]

June 08 2010

Social CRM : répondez à vos clients mécontents sur Internet

Internet, est un formidable outil de veille et d’écoute des conversations pour les marques. Lorsque le dispositif d’alerting est bien mis en place et bien rôdé sur les différents médias sociaux (blogs, Twitter, forums, …), la marque doit pouvoir être alerté rapidement de toute conversation, positive ou négative, portant sur sa marque. Des outils gratuits comme TweetMeme, TwitterSearch, BlogSearch ou des solutions de veille payantes permettent ainsi à une marque d’avoir un dispostif d’écoute complet.

Mais cette écoute ne sert pas si elle n’est pas active, en temps réel, et ne débouche pas sur l’action. Je vous propose de voir différentes démarches mise en place par des sociétés pour répondre sur Internet à leurs clients mécontents. Ces démarches sont des exemples pertinents de l’une des branches du Social Relationship Management. En effet, ne voir dans les médias sociaux que la possibilité de médiatiser et promouvoir des contenus de marque (comme c’est trop souvent le cas), ou ne s’arrêter qu’aux aspects marketing d’acquisition (comment recruter de nouveaux clients / fans via les médias sociaux ?) serait omettre la partie relationnelle et service clientèle que peuvent jouer ces outils.

1/ Un compte Twitter pour le Service Clientèle : BestBuy et Free

BestBuy (@twelpforce) implique plus plusieurs centaines de ses employés dans la gestion de son compte dédié au service clientèle (puisque la marque a plusieurs comptes dédiés chacun à un usage précis : offres promotionnelles, service clientèle… à l’image de ce que Dell fait également). BestBuy est un équivalent de Darty en France et a fait de la qualité de son service client l’un de ses atouts. Impliquer fortement ses employés dans la démarche en ligne est, à mon sens, un parfait exemple de la transposition d’un service clientèle sur Twitter.

bestbuy_twitter_twelpforce

Free fait de son compte Twitter (@lalignedefree) à une démarche plus confidentiel mais qui vise à améliorer l’image du service clientèle de la marque, qui se fait souvent épingler pour la qualité de ce dernier.

twitter_free

2/ Une fan page pour répondre à la critique et comme outil de communication de crise : Acadomia

Même si la forme, je n’approuve pas le dispositif qui sent clairement la précipitation afin de répondre rapidement (côté assez cheap de la page), l’utilisation de Facebook dans le cadre d’une communication a désormais un exemple avec Acadomia : voir la fan page Facebook. On comprend qu’une fan page ponctuelle est un moyen peu couteux de s’offrir un espace public de réponse mais ce n’est pas l’objet d’une fan page (comme son nom l’indique d’ailleurs). On me dira que c’est mieux que rien faire ou que de faire un simple communiqué de presse en réponse sur son site, et je suis totalement d’accord. Toutefois, une communication de crise doit être pensée et mélanger vitesse et précipitation peut être un risque.

On voit de plus ici (à date ou j’écris cet article) que le mur est ouvert et que finalement on retrouve plus les articles relayant la communication de crise ou l’histoire de Acadomia que la réponse et la conversation engagée par l’entreprise. Plutôt que de diriger vers le mur par défaut, un onglet “Welcome” aurait permis de présenter l’objet de la page et le contenu principal du message (qui peut être mise à jour en fonction de l’évolution de la communication de crise de la marque).

acadomia_facebook_fanpage

3/ Une plateforme dédiée aux échanges, notamment sur les problèmes rencontrés : Opinions et Débats de SNCF

J’ai déjà parlé de ce dispositif à plusieurs reprises (cf Guillaume Pepy, PDG de la SNCF, à la rencontre des internautes de Opinions & Débats) donc pas la peine de le détailler plus ici. A noter, tout de même que cette plateforme pionnière en France que j’ai accompagnée pendant presque 2 ans est aujourd’hui copier, mais pour répondre à d’autres objectifs, dans des dispositifs de questions / réponses impliquant des experts (exemple du Crédit Foncier).

sncf_opinions_debats

4/ Offrir un canal de communication sur votre site

L’une des principales angoisses d’un client mécontent est de ne pas trouver comment exprimer son mécontentement directement à la marque. Pester sur son blog ou sur un forum peut permettre de se défouler mais ne place pas le client dans une démarche d’échange et plus construite. Mettre en place un module type GetSatisfaction sur votre site permet de créer un canal de feedback permettant à l’internaute de faire part d’une question ou d’une suggestion.

5/Le blog : principal outil de réponse dans le cadre d’une communication de crise

Difficile de passer sur le cas des blogs d’entreprise ou des blogs de directeur d’entreprise qui offrent probablement lorsqu’ils ont une audience importante un moyen pertinent, efficace et rapide de répondre aux éventuels clients mécontents sur un sujet général. En effet, ici à la différence des dispositifs présentés préalablement, c’est moins le problème personnel qui intéresse et plus l’éventuelle communication de crise que la marque doit mettre en place. On se rappelle, entre autres, le cas de Lesieur que l’on vous avait présenté sur ce blog (Lesieur et le scandale de l’huile de moteur : un futur cas d’école des médias sociaux ?).

Deux règles majeures à respecter

Josh Bernoff, co-auteur de Groundswell, livre sur l’évolution actuelle d’Internet, exprime également cela lorsque il dit :

“We’re in a world where one person, by their actions, can make a company look bad, and it can get echoed and amplified over and over again.”

En somme, deux choses importantes sont à retenir :

  • Il vaut toujours mieux agir que réagir en créant les outils permettant un véritable dialogue entre la marque et ses clients. La réaction peut créer de mauvaises actions lorsque la précipitation crée de la désorganisation. Le cas Nestlé est à date l’un des exemples le plus marquant : Nestlé et sa page fan Facebook : pourquoi l’échec était-il inévitable ?

  • J’insiste bien sur le “véritable dialogue” car utiliser les médias sociaux dans un but seulement de communication et donc de diffusion de son message n’est pas du dialogue et on est souvent plus proche du Social Media Washing (simple disours d’intention sur l’écoute et prise en compte de la participation des internautes). Je parle ici de véritable outil permettant de fédérer et d’animer une communauté. Il faut donc choisir les bons outils adaptés à la démarche dans laquelle on les utilise.

Conclusion

On voit à travers ses dispositifs que engager la conversation avec ses clients dans le cadre d’une mission de relation client ne passe pas seulement par aller commenter dans des blogs ou des forums parlant de votre opération ou de votre marque, mais bien de mettre en place un canal de conversation ouvert permettant l’échange.

May 24 2010

SEOh Canada!

Two weeks from now on June 9 - 11th, Search Marketers, Business Owners, and the media will converge in Toronto for Canada's premiere event for the online marketing community. Search Engine Strategies Toronto, taking place at the Hyatt Regency will showcase both Canadian and International speakers as search marketers from across the country and around the globe gather to share information and learn more about the unique online character and quality of the Canadian marketplace.

Like most conferences, SES Toronto carries keynote sessions, hands on training, seminars, an exhibit hall for marketplace vendors to 'display' their wares, networking events and parties.

It is shaping up to be an interesting year for the conference as organizers bring a number of 'new' topics including 'Video: the Next Marketing Frontier", "Twitter Nation", and "Search, PR & the Social Butterfly" along with all the usual suspects: pay-per-click (PPC) management, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, mobile platforms, link building, duplicate content, video optimization, site optimization and other topical subjects.

Day one, June 9th starts off with a Keynote by none other than the 'grandfather' of the discipline of Information Architecture and President of Semantic Studios, Peter Morville. Peter will be discussing his ideas about search patterns and website 'findability. Peter's bestselling books include Information Architecture for the World Wide Web and Ambient Findability and his most recent book Search Patterns: Design for Discovery, a practical guide for building effective search applications was published in January of this year. His ideas and work on the future of search have been covered by mainstream media across the United States including Business Week, The Economist, Fortune, NPR, and The Wall Street Journal. You can watch a recent Video of Peter Morville speaking about a previous SES session.

Day two, June 10th brings the always charming Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer at Google to the Keynote slot. A key member of the Google Webmaster Central Team, Maile organizes the outreach efforts and is responsible for the always helpful Webmaster Central Blog, answering technical questions and sharing optimization advice. She will be sharing new features and new techniques for getting the most out of Webmaster Central. Maile spent several years as a systems integration consultant in the pharmaceutical and technology industries as well as for the Department of Defense.

To learn more about the show, you can visit their website, facebook page or follow them on Twitter and we will be posting many articles throughout the show highlighting interesting speakers, topics and sessions.


May 19 2010

April 29 2010

April 21 2010

How to hire a great community manager

There are a number of eloquent blogs and posts dedicated to community management). I think we’ve reached a point where most companies understand the importance of community management. Unfortunately, understanding the importance and understanding the role and how to hire for it are two different things. The traditional way of hiring new employees is proving difficult when looking for a community manager or any other position involving community and social media engagement. How do you figure out who is good at what they do and will help your company engage others?

Jake McKee suggests hire young, then teach. This is a great approach if you have a community team already in place, but I suspect, if you already have a community team in place, you’ll know what you are looking for to fill the community manager role. Here are some other tips if you don’t quite know what to look for:

Understand the space. To perform well, a community manager needs you to give them clear goals and the resources to attain those goals. “Go build a community” isn’t giving anyone a fair chance. What will this community do? How will they stay engaged? The more you understand, the more your community manager will be empowered to make decisions that will nurture the community in the right direction. If you’re overwhelmed, learn a little (enough to know the good from the snake oil salesmen) and work with your freshly hired community manager to develop a strategy together.

Make a commitment. Dipping a toe into the waters of community engagement is tricky. You don’t want to spend too much money, so you let the summer intern handle it. The summer intern doesn’t have any experience, so you don’t see desired results. If you’ve been lucky enough to have had one of those rare summer intern gems, what will you do when the end of summer comes around? The only thing worse than wasting a small amount of money on a poorly planned community is to kill an engaged community because your community manager has to go back to school!

Be wary of someone who only sees black/white.  A good community manager loves hanging out in the grey area. Resolving disputes usually involves spending a fair amount of time listening before acting. When you’re looking to hire someone, ask how they resolve disputes. You’ll notice the good ones take time to listen to both sides, no matter how cut and dry a situation appears. If someone is quick to remove posts, or ban community members, they probably aren’t doing their job. Usually, community disputes are best resolved so that everyone continues to contribute in the future.

Take the time to look at their online persona more than one layer deep. Big numbers look impressive, but look for quality, not quantity. Some community managers legitimately have a large following because of the quality of things they have to say.  Others don’t, but are just as smart and just as valued. On the flip side, some community managers have a large network because they are power networkers, but are akin to door-to-door salespeople – no one really listens to what they have to say. Taking a few minutes to investigate how they interact with the people in their network can save a number of headaches down the road.

Eat/Drink with potential hires. If you can’t stand interacting with them, don’t hire them. This person often ends up being the face of your company and brand. This means not every great community manager will be a great fit for your company. They’ll need to have industry knowledge, be interested in the subject matter and be someone that community members are comfortable dealing with. For example, a partying teenager might not be a good fit for a financial services community, but might be perfect for a community of music festival attendees.


April 12 2010

Social Media is free, you are welcome to pick my brain

 

In its modern form, social often refers to the redistribution of wealth. Social is often directed towards people. Social usually contrasts with capitalism and therefore, we usually get the  connotation of public, social, cheap, free;  think of the social state, social worker, social insurance, social –ism ….it is all about catering to people at a decimal fee or even free.

I and some of my fellow social media professionals {using this term to overly generalize the profession}  will often get ask for coffee or lunch and then the supposed to be amicable encounter becomes a  brain-picking session.  Sometimes, I will get emails from long-lost acquaintances asking me if I can help them understand social media.  I am sure many consultants and professionals, in other fields, will relate to this.

The Social in Social Media may just be sending a remotely conscious or largely unconscious signal to the brain that Social media should be free or very cheap at the most.  Brain-picking sessions, in turn, send a conscious signal to my brain that as professionals, we are worth about the price of a latté per hour.

I am not even sure those who brain-pick even realize how much work it takes to understand a business and advise accordingly.  Social media is pretty new for mainstream, its integration in an organization comes with the price of solid knowledge and hands-on experience.  It takes different sets of skills and expertise, we are so passionate about our work, we love talking about the latest strategies, what works and what could be improved, and therefore,  we give out a lot of advice that can be executed elsewhere.

However, I am going to disappoint a few by confirming that social media integration into an overall business strategy does not come cheap. We are consultants, advisors, practitioners, professionals who have years of experience and expertise in fields like traditional or Internet marketing, PR, business consultants, project management and so on.  Our time is valuable.   The tools we use may be free for now but social media integration takes strategy, implementation, monitoring, measuring and a real understanding of how social media works.

I mean, really, would you ask a lawyer, a dentist or a doctor to consult for free. I have a few lawyer friends and I know when I see them there is no way I am asking any question regarding the law.

Some will say that we are not lawyers; well, can you expect to get an accountant to do your income taxes for free or ask a designer to decorate your living room for free?  The plumber charges us a pretty expensive hourly rate because he knows something we don’t. The concept is the same.  Just fill in the job category. 

I am going to generalize about social media professionals – thus enclosing a variety of people and skills – but ideally and without endorsing everyone in the industry, when you sit with a social media savvy individual, you sit with someone who has previous experience in a specific field other than social media, who will help you understand the social media landscape, someone who will dive  into your business practices, your web properties, marketing initiatives,  and help you define your objectives as well as  give you creative ideas, strategic concepts and  information on your industry. 

Even when we do an estimate, we have to look at your organizations, your online properties, your social media initiatives and right off the back, we can start giving you strategy and tactics.

I would like to add that I am helping pro-bono 3 associations and I do my share of free. Brain-picking sessions are not part of my charity work. If you want to know more about what I have done and what I do, please visit my Linkedin profile

If you are a company who does not feel you should pay for social media integration, I would love to hear your rational; if you are a consultant who relates to this, please leave a comment, and if you just want to add your 2 cents, please do.

Tags: social media

April 06 2010

Online Reputation Management in the Hotel Industry

Add managing your business’ online reputation to the long list of to-do items for hotel managers. Armed with a log-in account and numerous travel websites willing to give them a forum, customers are increasingly vocalizing their experiences online for other travelers to read. That’s prompting more managers (…) to respond quickly or fear losing business. Less than 4% of negative reviews on TripAdvisor get a response, according to TripAdvisor, which has more than 30 million reviews. But the review site says it saw a 203% explosion in responses from hotels last year.

Hotel managers may ignore customers’ reviews at their peril, some analysts say. Others say they’re just another way for hotels to find ways of improving operations. And those who are paying attention and responding to customers can earn some goodwill points at a time every room night counts.

via Hearing online critiques – USATODAY.com.

What it means: some good examples of what it means to listen to consumers reviews/comments in the hotel industry.

April 03 2010

Why should brands join social media…

 

Why should brands join social media……Or, how can an Easter Egg hunt give you perspective on social media.

On Saturday, my family and I were at an egg hunt in a Montreal park. There were many kids, some knew each other, others did not; different characters, different temperaments and attitude. My eldest daughter is somewhat shy; she needs to know people well in order to feel comfortable in a setting.
About 30 other families were all running to get the colourful eggs throughout the park. That was my daughter’s first egg hunt; as she was trying to figure out the game, she only got 1 egg, plus 3 that sympathetic parents shared.  She is competitive and wanted to go and get more eggs, even after the hunt resumed.  Afterwards, she wanted to play with the kids but stayed aback because she did not feel she could just join in and play with them. Eventually, she got helped by me and my husband to facilitate the intros…

The situation parallels with brands that come in the social media space and feel intimidated because they don’t understand the rules and their customers are already on the playground. I have spoken to a few managers and corporate executives who feel that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter – usually the only one they have heard of – are full of people only talking about what they had for lunch. Of course, this is only their perception because I can assure you that I participate in many conversations where lunch is not the topic of the hour. However, exchanging about lunch helps create a sort of intimacy and friendship. It humanizes the relationship.

Brands, as of now, they probably feel like the new kid on the block, the kid that is shy and a bit lost because groups have already formed. However, the advantage brands have over my daughter is they can hire specialists to help them break in the playground; brands can afford training and coaching.

An older boy nagged my daughter and told her she had lost. Fortunately, her father was there to explain that she was a trooper and that she had won 4 eggs. I am not worried about her, she will learn to handle all kind of situations, it may take her time but she will eventually get there.

As for brands, companies, entrepreneurs, I can only advise you to start listening to what your audiences are saying. Monitoring should be a huge part of your social media strategy and should be done before talking. You should understand that staying away from the conversation too long while others are playing the game and making friends is not an option. Bullying will happen, nagging too but it is how you handle your interactions that matters crucially. Not participating because you are scared will not prevent your customers and your competitors from participating on social media  and talking about you. Get to know who you want to talk to by actively listening to them. And… Get helped by a specialist.

Would love your insights and thoughts, so please leave a comment on this post and share it if you like it!

Tags: social media

March 01 2010

Mon ego est plus grand que le tien.

Avec la multiplication des outils, des plateformes de publication, du personnal branding et autres «community managers», on semble assister à une véritable guerre d’egos où le rayonnement personnel occulte la raison même qui nous motivait de joindre ces réseaux sociaux à l’origine. Lorsque la course à l’auditoire et au nombre de «followers» absolu finit par prendre le dessus sur la pertinence de nos interventions et la performance de celles-ci, il est peut-être temps de revenir à l’essentiel.

Est-ce que le temps égale toujours argent?
Car pour avoir une présence soutenue, il faut y investir du temps. Et pour être pertinent, encore plus. Mais est-ce ça rapporte? Tout dépends du but visé et des facteurs de performance que l’on s’est fixés au départ. Avez-vous plus de lectorat sur votre blogue pour autant, plus de commentaires de qualité, voire plus de clients? À force de vouloir être présent partout et tenter d’entretenir chaque réseau, on obtient certes une présence soutenue. Mais l’entretien de ces réseaux risque de faire enfler le temps que vous investissez pour un retour sur l’investissement qui en vaut pas toujours la peine.

Toujours plus gros
À ce sujet, je ferai une intervention au prochain IdentityCamp Montréal intitulée «La grenouille et le boeuf». C’est gratuit, organisé par des gars sympathiques et ça vous permet d’avoir un avant-goût de mes conférences sans dépenser un seul sou. J’explorerai en quelques diapositives les problématiques reliées à la gestion de l’identité numérique et surtout, aux problèmes que l’on peut faire face lorsque notre identité obtient le statut de marque personnelle. Comme à l’habitude, attendez-vous à des métaphores spectaculaires et beaucoup plus de questionnement que de réponses toutes-faites.

Est-ce toujours gérable lorsque l’on a des dizaines de milliers de followers sur Twitter par exemple? Gagner de l’auditoire est certes stimulant, mais il se fait parfois au détriment de la qualité des échanges.

Photographie par: Tiago Ribeiro

February 16 2010

HootSuite adds Social CRM Tools and Advanced Statistical Tracking

Best known for allowing collaborators to distribute messages across multiple networks starting with Twitter and then Facebook and Wordpress, the newest iteration of social media dashboard HootSuite features tools for customer relationship managment as well as tracking marketing campaigns.

According to their press release this morning, the new tools will be of particular interest to marketing departments and customer support teams by helping to:

  • Know your Audience - Consider this a “Social CRM” tool as you’ll learn who follows you, and know who they are  in a Friends and Followers chart – view profile, influence and activity level at a glance, and quickly engage to build relationships
  • Gather Intelligence – Discover what outreach tactics work best with custom URL parameters allowing deep analysis in Omniture and Google Analytics
  • Answer Efficiently - Create an archive of stock responses and “save as drafts” to plan your work and standardize common replies for customer support
  • Track Success – Examine click-through rates on messages, checkout time and region breakdowns, and export as CSV for custom reports or .PDF for printing

This software release follows on the heels of recent noteworthy announcements from HootSuite including raising a $1.9 Million round, releasing an iPhone App, and winning Mashable’s “Open Web” award for Best App.

Congrats to Vancouver's HootSuite on their evolution into the dream tool for any business wanting to get serious about social media.


February 05 2010

Utilizing Google Analytics to Track Your Facebook Advertising Efforts

You’ve likely heard that Social Media is the wave of the future. Companies will be able to target any exact demographic through Facebook like never before. This ability to pick only qualified traffic is so beneficial that numerous advertisers are testing the waters and trying a hand at Facebook advertising.

Facebook Interface

Figure 1: This is a figure of the Facebook advertising platform.

But while the Facebook platform appears easy to use and very straightforward, there are two major qualms advertisers have encountered. First, and likely most important, there is no surefire way to monetize Facebook (including sending traffic to a Fan Page and Facebook advertising). And second, there is no conversion tracking on the Facebook advertising platform.

How Do I Track Conversions from Facebook?

The lack of tracking leads advertisers to use the E-commerce function in Google Analytics. By affixing a specific URL to the Facebook ads, Google Analytics will track the URL as a link from Facebook only. In the same sense, having a unique landing page exclusively for Facebook ads will show only what clicks came from Facebook. You then are able to monitor all the variables you would normally track in a PPC Campaign, such as bounce rate, time on page, or transactions.

One thing to take note of; there does appear to be a discrepancy between the metrics tracked within Facebook and Analytics. Make sure to look through the Traffic Sources within Google Analytics to confirm that Facebook has everything tagged properly.

Below are two suggestions to get optimal results when trying Facebook advertising:

  • Do a Cost-Per-Click Campaign – Facebook has both a CPC or CPM (Cost-Per-Impression) option when creating campaigns. Historically it has been seen that Facebook ads get numerous impressions, but very few clicks resulting in a low CTR. To avoid unnecessary costs, stay away from CPM Campaigns.
  • Have an Updated Fan Page – People now, more than ever, have turned to the Internet to browse, research, and make purchases. The more fans engaging with your Facebook Fan Page, the more reputable your company will look. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.

To summarize, because Facebook does not have its own conversion tracking yet, using Google Analytics has been the preferred and free method for tracking. Make sure to monitor Facebook campaigns as closely as you would any other PPC campaign to ensure the data is being recorded and tracked correctly.

By Abigail Wolf
Paid Search Analyst

Sources:

http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Analytics/thread?tid=3c60ac1fe6a36c65&hl=en

February 03 2010

Matrix: Companies Should Factor ‘Social Influence’ Into Total Customer Value

Case Study: An Influential Mom Blogger Caused Mainstream Crises
Popular blogger, Heather Armstrong (@dooce) was dissatisfied with her non-working Maytag appliance.  Following protocol, she called their support number, yet her issue was not solved.  Stonewalled, she argued/warned the support staff that she was on Twitter, yet didn’t receive special assistance.  Escalating further, she then flexed a muscle and told them she had over 1,000,000 Twitter followers –yet the support rep did not budge.  Finally, she blogged and Tweeted against Maytag, initiating a boycott by her followers, “DO NOT BUY MAYTAG” and continues to chronicle her experience on her blog.  While critics suggest she wielded her power with irresponsibility, the point is moot, what matters is her social influence was not factored into the support triage decision making process –making a minor support issue a PR issue now on Forbes.

Just as companies factor in value of a customers celebrity status, buying power or customer loyalty –companies must factor in social influence or put themselves at risk. That’s right, customers with more Twitter followers are more likely to get better service and support than those that don’t.

Trend: Consumers Becoming Influential Using Social Technologies

  • Companies Already Give Preferential Treatment To Famous and Wealthy Customers. Companies have given high influence customers preference for years.  Take for example, shopping malls in the Los Angeles area have private entry ways for celebrities to enter the mall and receive priorty treatment.  Or, how B2B companies cater to their top customers with special event days, golf outings, or other clients with deep pockets.  Companies know that not all customers are valued the same, and as a result, treat them differently.
  • With More Consumers Adoption Social Technologies, the Problem Will Get Worse. The tide is rising, in fact with more consumers adopting social technologies, the amount of voices that companies will need to deal with will increase in volume.  Treating each customer with the best possible service and support (Like Zappos unique culture) is ideal –but not realistic.  Companies are ill-equipped to support millions of customers in real time on the social web.  They must have prioritization programs in place to handle the high risk/opportunity accounts quickly.
  • Companies Who Don’t Factor In Influence Put Themselves at Risk. Companies can choose to not factor in the social influence of customers, but will be putting themselves at risk.  It’s just a matter of time before a company has a social blowup, and by not trying to handle priority customers could cause a small issue to quickly escalate into a larger one.  Also, savvy competitors who factor in social influence can swoop and acquire high influence customers from companies that don’t. Your goal, is to stay off this list.

Matrix: The Four Phases How Companies Factor Social Influence

Description Benefit Risk/Costs Do not factor in social influence Companies treat all customers the same, regardless of number of readers, followers or social influence. It’s cheap, companies don’t have to spend resources to understand if a single customer can influence others. Run the risk of not prioritzing a customer that could influence others, resulting in missed opportunity or greater PR risk. Ad Hoc: Companies factor in social influence as it surfaces, such as a customer explicitly staying their influence, or a service member proactively having to find it. Companies don’t have to invest in a program or system that tries to calculate this influence. May miss opportunities of serviing a high influence customer, or may not realize a potential social crises till it’s too late. Absolute Influence: Companies factor in total number of Facebook book friends and activity, number of Twitter followers and assign a raw number. Easy to calculate, and expect future Social CRM tools to do this with ease in the future. Data may not be accurate: Numbers can be manipulated and gamed, resulting in companies misallocate resources. Risk of alienating consumers without social influence. Relative Influence: Companies factor in the true influence a customer has over their actual market –ignoring factors that may not be relevant. Finally, companies can focus on those customer with social influence that impact other prospects and buyers in their specific market Such a program is hard to setup and costly, and will require constant inputs and tuning.  Risk of alienating consumers without social influence.
Companies Must Factor In Social Influence
  • Recalculate The Customer Lifetime Value Quotient. For years, companies have factored in the total value of customers over their entire lifetime, Stanford has methods to calculate this called the Customer Lifetime Value formula.  These formulas factored in ability to be a repeat buyer, income level, and size of purchases over time.  Just as companies spend more time with customers with deeper pockets, they should also spend the appropriate type of attention with followers that don’t.
  • Yet Recognize, that Not All Social Influence Is the Same. To be efficient, companies shouldn’t reward those with spammy followers they got from an overnight follow script, but recognize that influence isn’t always about quantity, recognize there are at least two types of social influence:  The first, absolute influence is the total size of the individuals influence. Take Scoble for example, who has over a 100,000 Twitter followers and probally 100k subscribed to his blog is influential in a broad market.   However, his relative influence within the high-end fashion market is low. D&G must factor in both types of influence in understanding how to deal with customers, therefore while Scoble’s absolute influence is high, his relative influence to the fashion market is low.
  • Expect New Technologies To Address This Problem. We’re seeing a whole group of companies emerge in the Social CRM space that are trying to address parts of these problems.  Eventually, we should expect CRM systems to automatically indicate to customer facing employees the level of influence customers have.  In the most radical future, customers may choose to broadcast their preferences to retail stores before the walk in based on preferences and past purchases in order to receive a better experience. If this happens, companies can match with their social influence, and treat them accordingly.

I look forward to hear from you: have companies treated you differently because of your social influence?  What companies are doing this now?  What are the risks of doing it or not factoring in social influence?

January 13 2010

How to Make the Most of Your Social Media Time

The first rule of social media is that there are no rules. The second rule is what works for one person doesn’t always work for everyone else.

Peeking into another person’s social media approach can give you ideas on how to adjust yours to get the biggest bang. So in this post, I’m going to share my social media process.
While social media is my primary marketing tool, plenty of others spend more hours social networking than I do and for different reasons. For me, social media keeps my name out there, so people remember I’m here and available for hire. Based on these two requirements, I do social networking activities at least a couple of hours a day five times a week, which comprises a mix of the following:

  • Doing social networking at the same time every day. When I make something a habit, it becomes easier to stick with it and do it on a regular basis. I always start my mornings with social media and reviewing emails. I do another check around lunch and sometimes in the evenings. This schedule ensures I cover a variety of time zones. If all your clients are local or within the same country, you may only need to sign on once or twice a day.
  • Posting tweets spread throughout the day with a scheduling application. There’s some controversy surrounding automated tweets. But there’s a difference between just saying something without mentioning anyone and replying. My scheduled tweets come from responding to other people’s tweets. It doesn’t have to be an instant reply because most of us watch for mentions of our names. Rather than having a whole bunch of live tweets at 7:00 am, noon and evening, I schedule them.
  • Joining the right Twitter chats. I also join several Twitter chats every week, which run for an hour on average. Chats give me an opportunity to get to know people better and have some intelligent discussion. I select the chats to attend based on the topic and theme. Some chats have a different theme (announced in advance) every time. If a chat interferes with something else, I skip it. You can also multitask while chatting.
  • Reviewing Facebook updates once a day. Unless you change the settings, most of us receive updates when we post new Facebook statuses and people reply. So responding immediately isn’t important unless it’s related to an event. Once or twice a day, I review the feed on my home page and reply as needed. Since Facebook is less noisy than Twitter, it’s easy to see a few hours’ worth of updates in one sitting. If I write a tweet that would also suit my Facebook audience, I send it to Facebook by adding the “#fb” hashtag using the Selective Tweets application. I don’t send every Twitter update to Facebook because it’s a different kind of audience and it annoys some people. I obviously like and use Twitter, but I don’t like reading constant tweets in Facebook.
  • Updating my LinkedIn status a few times a week. Rather than checking LinkedIn daily, I just send tweets that contain the hashtag “#in” to update my LinkedIn status. You can turn on this feature in LinkedIn. I also visit LinkedIn about once a week to review updates and questions and answers.
  • Writing at least two blog entries per week. This keeps my site fresh while sharing free information, expertise and personality. It’s my home on the Internet.
  • Reading other people’s blogs. I browse blogs through links in Twitter or by checking people’s Twitter bios. This makes it easy to read a diversity of blogs. With many knowledgeable people out there, I like to mix it up and meet more people. I do this a few times a week. If my schedule is tight, I cut the blog hopping and commenting.

Before figuring out your process for social media, you might want to figure out how much time you should spend on social networking. Also, be aware of your clients’ preferences to make sure you go to the places where you’re likely to find them.

Notice I mentioned Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs while omitting video networks like YouTube. But this mix of tools might not always be the same. Social media isn’t going away soon, but the players might change. Besides, you might work in an industry or profession that has a social network worth joining, or video networking is a big thing with you.

How do you make the most of social networking?

Photo credit: Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

November 24 2009

Four Ways that B2B Social Media Marketing Builds Brands and Generates Leads

B2b-social-media-icons Yesterday, I described the important role that strong, risk-mitigating brands plays in inbound lead generation. This is where B2B social media marketing comes in, since it provides a way for any company, not just large multi-national corporations, to build strong brands that in turn generate quality inbound leads.

Here are four key ways that social media builds brands.

1. Social media can increase your awareness. As I wrote in 5 Ways B2B Marketing Professionals Can Leverage Social Media, social media lets you publish your company’s best practices and expertise without the need to get past gatekeepers such as editors and traditional media. In social media, the gatekeepers are your peers, and the quality of your content and ideas determines what gets promoted. Really good content can be distributed widely – and when prospective buyers read your content they are also learning about your company and the problems you solve.

2. Social media can build your reputation as a thought leader. This matters because thought leadership is a great way to build your brand. Buyers trust thought leaders who can demonstrate they understand buyer problems and how to solve them. While a reputation of thought leadership will never be as “risk-reducing” as a personal referral, it is a great way to build awareness and increase your chances that the prospect will respond to future demand generation efforts.

3. Social media can encourage promoters. Word of mouth is perhaps the best way to generate leads, since buyers trust referrals from their peers more than any other source of information. Fred Reichheld and Bain find that the company with the highest Net Promoter Score in an industry typically grows more than 2.5X faster than their competitors. Social media can help create promoters in three ways.

  • Social media can help people share the “remarkable expectation-beating experiences” they have with your company. This can be via reviews on third-party sites (such as the salesforce.com AppExchange), the responses people make to queries on LinkedIn groups of Twitter, the posts customers and prospects share on your own community, or a variety of other ways customers can interact with other prospects.
  • Social media can actually create the experiences that people want to talk about. Great content, a funny video, a useful tool – they can all be things that people want to share with other prospective customers. Although this isn’t always promoting your solution directly, there is a brand “spillover” effect that gives credence to your company.
  • Social media can make it easy to share on your site (e.g., one click share), and it can make the referrals more relevant since directly shared links come from a trusted friend or colleague.

4. Social media can build your SEO ranking. Buyers tend to trust the companies with the top rankings on a Google search. Whether or not they comprehend the mechanics of ranking, buyers understand the wisdom of crowds is at work in determining the top rankings. Since inbound links are the currency of ranking, social media can play a huge role in building your organic ranks – both as a source of links via the content on your blog, etc., as well as a way to promote your content and encourage other inbound links.

The action item for marketers from this is obvious: take some of the budget that you would normally allocate to trade shows, list purchases and other lower-performing demand generation investments and allocate it to generating great content and the efforts to promote it. By getting your company’s expertise out there, you create broad awareness and affinity for your brand, and this will translate into quality inbound lead generation.

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl