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Referral based marketing with a social twist

November 6, 2014

Like iconIn the age of Angie’s List, Trip Advisor, Yelp and the ubiquitous “Like” icon, referral marketing has taken on new meaning. Twenty years ago marketers might have had a couple of go-to clients willing to serve as a reference and or possibly a catalog of case studies, but that is no longer enough.

Third party websites and services now provide commentary on virtually every imaginable business. Marketers need to recognize the importance of these websites and online communities to establish a presence and monitor them. I have previously touched upon why and how to do this in my post, The Fundamentals of a Social Media Listening Campaign.

The recent issue surrounding Apple’s iPhone6 Plus is a timely reminder why this is important. Referred to as “bend-gate”, after Apple’s new larger iPhone was shown to develop a slight bend after some customers purchased the product and carried it in their front pocket. The term actually started to trend on popular social media sites like Twitter. Apple quickly addressed the issue to ensure that the reputation of the new iPhone and the firm wasn’t compromised but more importantly / impressively, a chorus of customers also joined the conversation on these online communities.

Apple’s legion of fans in part stems from the fact that their customers feel a connection to the company. That connection is maintained (in part) through these online communities and websites. No matter what your line of business and regardless of whether you are a B-2-C or B-2-B marketer there are communities out there where your customers are congregating. Marketers need to understand how to interact with these groups and to leverage them in this new age of referral marketing because this is one instance where silence is not golden and unmonitored chatter is playing with fire.

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How to avoid social media fatigue

October 17, 2014

social-media-fatigueSocial media remains both a darling and drag for marketing professionals. The potential impact of social media has been well documented but such results can sometimes feel more like urban legend than reality. Many marketers and the companies they serve are still trying to figure out how to maximize their social footprint.

When I speak to colleagues about social media, I often have to overcome a valid hurdle – something I refer to as social media fatigue. Unfortunately, many organizations’ underlying strategies for social media is, “try them all”. Corporate accounts are set up for everything from Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Pintrest, Slideshare, etc… The list is really too long and always growing so is it really any wonder that people are starting to tune out?

I encourage my colleagues is to focus their social media marketing activities so they can give it the attention it deserves. Since I work in professional services, I direct my colleagues to use LinkedIn. I would rather have our people interacting with their network on LinkedIn multiple times in one week than posting on multiple social media tools / sites and only visiting them a few times a month.

Part of my social media strategy relies on adoption in large numbers from our practice to help share a consistent message. For those who show interest, I also encourage them to adopt Twitter and show them how to link accounts so a post on LinkedIn can also be shared on Twitter. For you, different tools may offer better outreach to your target audience(s). Knowing your customer and where they spend time online goes a long way in deciding which social media tools make the most sense for your marketing strategy. This targeted approach will help you and your colleagues avoid the dreaded (but otherwise inevitable) social media fatigue.

The fundamentals of a social media listening campaign

September 25, 2014

Social media listening campaign tipsWhat is social media listening? Think of it as a targeted approach to identify and review what is being said about something or someone via social media channels. Marketing professionals are conducting social media listening campaigns to monitor customer feedback, competition and/or to better understand what is being said about their product, company, brand etc… the axiom knowledge = power applies here. However, if you do not know how to listen then you may feel overwhelmed. The good news is you can relatively easily monitor social media channels if you apply a few common sense rules to your social media listening campaign. Here are four suggestions:

Search criteria: Your ability to “listen” will only be productive if you are listening for the right thing so be sure to think about what names, words, phrases or terms are most important for you to track. You can always refine these terms over time and any good social media listening campaign / strategy should continue to be refined.  Note: Use only a few broad terms to start – for example your company name or initials. It is easy to get overwhelmed if you create a long list of terms. You can always add terms as you get more adept.

Find the movers & shakers: Focus on the handles / individuals who are most active and have the largest number of followers / network. You will quickly be able to identify these “Power Users” who leverage social media regularly.  Note: Some of these contacts / handles could likely be competitors and may be worth following more closely for a variety of fairly obvious reasons.

Benchmark your findings: This can be tricky because one can quickly create so many ways to “measure” a social media listening campaign you can make this a nightmare. Things to consider including: the frequency of the subject matter addressed, the nature of the Tweets / Posts (negative, positive, etc…), and timing (is activity following a predictable pattern you can leverage in the future).  Note: There are many tools available to help you capture this information some are free but some have a nominal fee.

Have an end date: While a social media listening campaign can continue without an end date, it is a good idea to put some perimeters around your campaign – much like any other marketing campaign. A defined time frame will vary depending on your goals.  Note: Social listening campaigns can be extended or revived, but without an end date your campaign can become overwhelming.

A successful social media listening campaign should offer insight that you can leverage in your marketing activities (both on and off of social media). Think about the content you are monitoring and how this can be leveraged to help you become more engaged both on and offline.

The key to social media is content but not all content is equal

August 26, 2014

Social Media CloudThe key to successfully leveraging social media is fairly straightforward, despite that fact it remains a challenge for many so I thought I would share a few insights that I have learned in my job as a digital / social marketing media professional.

Perhaps the greatest challenge is having enough of the right content. Linking to a news article does not count unless you contributed to it or are providing additional insight. While it is perfectly acceptable to re-post third party content, if that constitutes all your activity then you are really just acting as a free “PR” agent. Striking the right balance with the materials you distribute and providing a point of view will be well received and help you broadcast your message to a wider audience.

One of the reasons that developing content can be tricky is because it should have a particular focus and sustaining that over time can be tough. Social media is all about bringing communities of interest together in an environment where they can share and discuss. If you post content on every subject imaginable you dilute your messaging and your social network. Target a niche where you can develop and distribute interesting content and don’t stray too far too often.

If you are able to develop regular content that remains focused and offer a distinct perspective, you will be more likely to succeed in building your personal brand as a thought leader; provided you focus on the social channels most beneficial to you. Today there are so many social media channels that one can get overwhelmed. Figuring out where your message is most likely to be best received and sticking to those channels will pay dividends. I focus my efforts on LinkedIn and Twitter to leverage our YouTube channel and website. These social media sites provide me with an excellent platform to share content and allow our organization to interact with thought leaders in our industry. For other organizations, other platforms may make more sense. A quick review of your competitive landscape and some social listening will tell you which platforms are most valuable to you.

I hope these tips are helpful and encourage you to engage and embrace social media as you build your personal brand and connect with peers and colleagues online. Keep in mind these three tips and you too will be able to successfully leverage social media.

  1. Consistently develop content that provides a strong point of view.
  2. Stay on message and remain focused.
  3. Only use the social media channels that make sense for you.

Scroogled

April 10, 2013

Microsoft’s search engine Bing launched in June 2009 but it has not made significant inroads in online search. According to a news release from comScore at the end of 2012, Google accounted for nearly 67% of the online market share and while Microsoft’s Bing was the second most used search engine, it remains a very distant silver medalist with 16% market share.

However, Microsoft is determined to challenge Google and they are one of the very few technology firms in the world with the resources available to make this online battle interesting.  Microsoft appears to be taking a page out of American political campaigns opting to vilify Google with a humorous campaign called Scroogled to change consumer’s perceptions.

The core of Microsoft’s thrust is that Google’s Android software shares your personal information with app developers.  I’m not sure how this might translate into people opting to use Bing but it does make for entertaining marketing.  For years Microsoft has been dogged by technology companies for being out of touch.  Can Microsoft redefine their image?  Is the Scroogled campaign a sign of more to come?  Microsoft certainly could benefit from an image makeover, but it is hard to see how they can get out of their own way based on the firm’s stumbles over the past decade. However, I’m enthralled and looking forward to watching this play out.

The 24/7 marketer

March 10, 2013

It is not news that one’s business day no longer necessarily resembles what is conventionally considered “business hours”. The advent of laptops followed by more mobile devices made everyone more accessible and therefore more accountable. This increased access online has resulted in significant opportunities to engage with customers most notably by using social media tools.

Clever Marketer

The Buddy Media study found that posts published on the weekends were found to have a 69% higher interaction, but only 11% of posts are posted on the weekend by Advertising and Consulting firms.

Although different businesses leverage social media differently, nearly all B2C and an increasing number of B2B companies incorporate Facebook in their marketing plans so understanding consumer behavior on this site is important.  A 2012 study from Buddy Media analyzed user engagement from more than 1,800 Facebook pages from the world’s largest brands for two months in April and May of 2012 and they concluded that night and weekend activity is so compelling that marketing professionals need to think beyond conventional days and times of day if they want to maximize their investments in Facebook.

Posts published between 8PM – 7AM receive 14% higher interaction than posts between 8AM – 7PM

This study was recently turned into an infographic that shares best days to post on Facebook based on several key industries including: advertising & consulting, automotive, fashion, CPG, entertainment, finance, food & beverage, retail, health & beauty, non profits, publishing, sports, technology, telco, as well as travel & leisure.  Many of these industries are most active on the weekends.  Does this mean that marketers now need to work graveyard shifts and weekends?  Certainly not, but those dates and times should be looked at more closely as opportunities to engage your client base.  Starting late last year, I modified my firm’s Twitter account slightly to regularly post Tweets on Sunday afternoons.  While I’ve not seen any evidence that Tweets sent on Sunday afternoons are more impactful than Tweets sent at other times in the week, I’ve not seen any evidence that they are less impactful.

Do you engage with consumers / customers on Facebook during the weekends? If you’d like to see the full infographic from Buddy Media link here.

Health care marketing must evolve

February 27, 2013

80% of patients go online for health info

Earlier this month I was reading an article by Stephen Moegling entitled, 7 Surprising Statistics That Impact Online Health Care Marketing. The article starts with the headline, 80 percent of patients go online for health information.  I don’t find this statistic surprising and neither should health care marketing professionals.  However this change in patient behavior may be the most important in understanding how consumerism is now flexing its muscle and causing health care organizations like physician groups, hospitals, health insurers and even pharmaceutical companies to rethink how they interact with customers.health care marketing

Savvy marketers can leverage this increased patient IQ and demand for greater access by using the web, social media and other online communities to help with brand recognition, fostering dialog with patients and communities, and streamlining services – but few do this effectively.  In the past, health care organizations have cited patient privacy and federal regulations as barriers to embracing many technologies, but one only need to look to financial services to see an industry that was faced with similar challenges.  The financial services industry has paved the way showing how to effectively use online communications, social media and the web to market products and services to consumers.