SEO, Cross-departmental Communication and the Extinct Career in Social Media?

Last January, when I wrote 15 Concepts to Make You a More Marketable Social Media Professional, I had not really planned to base an entire year of monthly blog posts on Maximize Social Business around it. However, once I wrote it I wanted to elaborate on each concept a bit more to cover some of the top concerns and questions I get in my Social Media Marketing courses.

After Analytics, the next topic I have some confusion in the classroom is SEO. Some students had not considered it a function of Marketing, but it is one of the best tools we have. As a marketer, some basic knowledge of SEO, why we need it, what it does, and how to best utilize it is a handy tool to have in your belt. While you may not be an SEO specialist, you should have an understanding of it in order to be a more effective marketer.

SEO, or search engine optimization, in my opinion boils down to great content. I am not an SEO expert by any means. However, relevant and timely content will drive visitors to your site. In order for this content to be discovered, it should have a headline that grabs the target audience’s attention and is actionable. By actionable I mean, likely to get clicked and shared. Rankings on search engines will be higher with the more frequency of sharing. Social media has a direct impact on this sharing by making it not only quick and easy to share and also making it easy to share across multiple networks.

Some quick tips:

* SEO should be strategic, not an aspect of “design”.

* SEO is long term, ever changing, and continual. Do not expect to address SEO and forget about it.

* SEO must align the website with set business goals.

* SEO can be the most highly leveraged, most productive item of a marketing budget.

* Tags are not categories, they are more specific but the two complement each other.

* Tags should be up to 3 words long

* Go easy on the “tags”. The more the merrier is not true in this case.

* Tags should not be redundant.

* Be helpful. Customers are looking for information, give them what they need and answer the questions they’re seeking. If they value it, it is shared.

* Word of Mouse is the new Word of Mouth.

* Social Sharing is good. More shares of your content, equals more inbound links and traffic.

* You must track web performance data to understand what people are looking at and what you could do to better improve the experience. Recall this is my number one topic I find students struggle with.

* You cannot improve what you do not measure. Consider one of these Analytics programs: Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, Clicky, Adobe SiteCatalyst, Webtrends Analytics, IBM Digital Analytics, iPerceptions, Yahoo Marketing Dashboard

* Website goals should be clarified and then further tied to how these goals apply to specific departments.

* Cross-departmental communication and aligning departmental goals with business goals helps produce an effective SEO strategy.

* Social media is not just for the marketing department. Keep in mind, functions in other departments may overlap with Marketing because of Social Media.

I saw an interesting piece targeted to Millennials with tidbits of career advice from Fox Business Network’s Cheryl Casone. Towards the end of the piece she suggests a career in social media will not exist in 5 years. While I agree to an extent, I felt she presented her position terribly. Those hoping to make a career out of simply tweeting are in for a rude awakening. Social Media is a tool for Marketing, Human Resources, Sales, etc. So yes, “Twitter Ninja” is NOT an idea career path. One must be a Marketer first, with a specialization in Social Media (as it applies to marketing) just as any other marketing related job like logistics, branding, or merchandising. However, unlike some of these other areas, social media will be tied to nearly every department within an organization in some way.

For all of the Millennials who saw that piece, “social media marketing strategist” or simply “marketing strategist” may be a better career option. Social media will be here in 5 years, but the need for someone who knows how to tweet will not. There will be the need for strategic thinkers and those who can make sense of all of the data we are accumulating; not simply folks good with “tactics”.

Suggested reading for the month:

Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Content Rules By Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman


Social Media Inspired by Kmart Big Gas Savings

I recently Tweeted about how much I liked the new Kmart Big Gas Savings advertising and subsequent social media presence, and what do you know Kmart tweeted back. Not only did they know I tweeted about them, but they also engaged with me. My post had no customer service request or action needed, I just wanted to share the advertisement and my thoughts with my followers and Social Media MBA students.

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In the past, I have posted customer service requests with mixed results. If I do get a response from one of my tweets, it is usually immediate and faster than a phone call initiated at the same time. Other times, the response via Twitter comes within 24 hours, or not at all. My non-scientific study on customer service response rates via Twitter versus phone call always begins with dialing the brand while simultaneously posting a tweet. Not only is utilizing Twitter easier for me as the consumer, it is actually faster (with a handful of exceptions). Imagine sitting on hold with AT&T for 2 hours. Now imagine a tweet from me, a call from AT&T directly, and a resolution in less than an hour. Other timely resolutions I have had via Twitter recently have been with @westelm, @LifeProof, @summerinfant, @Hootcampus, @coursesmart, and @AskADT to name a few. Then there are the small percentage that did not reply at all, possibly because of not monitoring their brand via social or not knowing the importance of social media monitoring and engagement.

Social media gives us the opportunity to hear from consumers, both the good and the bad. I would prefer my customers complain to me so that I have the opportunity to “fix” the situation. Those consumers reaching out to brands via social are offering the brand another opportunity to repair troubled relationships. To ignore this is to fail.

Social media allows brands to actively monitor conversations and arrive at resolutions more quickly than ever before. Brands must be religious about social media monitoring for customer service opportunities and initiate conversations on behalf of the customer. Social media monitoring is used to identify, predict, and respond to consumer behavior. Listening to the conversations surrounding our brand is key to getting great results from a social media campaign.

Choosing a monitoring tool will be very case specific and relates back to your business and campaign objectives. I my Social Media MBA courses, I choose to suggest (or highlight) free tools for the students to experiment with. Some of those selections are (in no particular order, however I depend on the top 5):

1. Buffer Can manage multiple Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, with the ability to spread out your posts to not bombard followers with tweets. It also allows for fast sharing of content right from the page you are viewing (add on to Mozilla Firefox). As a bonus, it includes detailed analytics for all your posts. Upgrades are available for a small fee.
2. HootSuite Allows teams to collaborate across multiple social networks from one dashboard. It is a web-based dashboard that includes the ability to create custom reports. Upgrades are available for a small fee.
3. Klout Assists in finding influencers in your audience.
4. Google Alerts Sends email updates based on your preferences
5. Pinterest Web Analytics Allows you to see how people are interacting with pins that come from your websites.
6. Pinpuff Very much like Klout, but targeted at Pinterest.
7. TweetDeck Desktop and and mobile application similar to Hootsuite in that it helps manage your social media accounts. However, it does not offer the analytics that Hootsuite does.
8. BackTweets Allows the user to track people talking about your brand. Users can search tweet archives for URLs sent via Twitter (and those posted via a link shortener).
9. Icerocket Monitors the web, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, and puts it together in a one-page report.
10. Social Mention Offers real-time social media search and analysis that curates user-generated content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Google, etc. into a single stream.

You must embrace connecting with current and prospective consumers directly. These deeper connections can lead to higher-level interactions, including advocacy and loyalty. Brands should use keyword search, start conversations, mention, and listen (both for your own brand and competitors’). Also consider the concept of ‘social proof’ in the buying process. Customers are online researching before they purchase, if they search your brand via social what will they see? Use some of the tools mentioned above, search Twitter, or simply Google your brand. As a consumer, I hope to see relevant content from brands as well as dialogue with consumers. I hope to not to see consumer requests going unanswered or one way dialogue only from the brand.

Some ways to connect with consumers beyond a simple reply to posts could be (in no particular order):

1. Post photos and videos. Photos are shown to increase engagement tremendously. Consider posting behind the scenes photos of your business, recent functions, or even share photos of your customers using your product (with their permission of course). However, not all photos (or content for that matter) should be of your products, services, or offers. You may also want to ask your audience to share photos.
2. Offer contests or sweepstakes. I like the idea of contests, but be careful not to over use this tactic. Nothing says spam (in my opinion) like posting and re-posting about a contest on my Facebook or Twitter Feed. This will be a quick way for folks to un-follow you, remove you from their feeds, or opt out of email.
3. Post some clever questions. These types of posts will inevitably spark a discussion that could provide valuable insight on your target audience. You could also incorporate a poll on Facebook or your blog.
4. Show that you are listening by responding to comments on your Social Profile (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
5. Post infographics that your target audience will appreciate. Again, this goes back to providing content that is relevant and resonates with your target. If it meets these criteria, it will likely be shared or commented on.
6. Include a little humor. Incorporate some fun into your Facebook posts, Tweets, Google+ etc. Pinterest can be a great source for fun quotes and photos to share.

The replies I received from Kmart made me smile and restored my faith that brands are listening via social and embracing social media as a way to reach consumers. The advertisements were just a way to start up a conversation that had gone stale.

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The entire unedited post can be found on Maximize Social Business.


Cheerful Givers – My Birthday goal is to make some children’s Birthdays more special

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I am now volunteering for a unique nonprofit organization called Cheerful Givers which provides toy-filled birthday gift bags so that less fortunate parents can recognize their child’s birthday with a gift. In the coming months I will be collecting crayons and pencils for the birthday bags. I am hoping to have a ton of supplies by my Birthday in March. Please help me spread the word and even donate some crayons and/or pencils! I plan to pick up donations 3/14.

You can also impact the lives of less fortunate children by joining the Cheerful Givers Birthday Club with a $10 (or more) recurring donation which will happen automatically each month via PayPal. You decide when they stop. Help provide a toy-filled birthday gift bag and a lot of self-esteem to a child living in poverty. Cheerful Givers is a nonprofit which has brought birthday joy to more than 700,000 disadvantaged children since 1994, but the need to do more is great. http://www.cheerfulgivers.org

Please reach out to me if you would like to donate crayons/pencils jessicar@consultant.com
Or contact Cheerful Givers directly
Karen@cheerfulgivers.org



Dear Abby, Crowdsourcing and Social Media Marketing

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Pauline Friedman Phillips (aka Abigail Van Buren) was loved across the US as the author of the very popular Dear Abby syndicated column. January 16 marks the one year anniversary of her death. She was 94.

In honor of her widely ready column, I want to extend the invitation to my readers on this blog, as well as the two I contribute to Maximize Social Business and {grow} to submit their Social Media Marketing questions. These questions will drive my posts on several platforms (these blogs included) for the next year.

Why
Over the past 2 years I have addressed topics I wanted to write about, topics I enjoy. Now, it is your turn to ask some questions! I encourage my MBA students chime in on topics they enjoyed or want further clarification. I urge small business owners to voice their concerns as well. I hope higher ed folks jump on board and also add topics of interest and/or concern.

You may comment below or email me direct at jessicar@consultant.com
Questions sent via email will remain anonymous

photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc


Social Media Strategy: Look for successes AND Failures

When planing a social strategy, we want to consider:
Who? Who is your target audience, where are they online, how can you reach them?
What? What are your primary objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
When? When will you evaluate the social media strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped.
Where? Where does the social strategy fit into the overall business? When utilizing such tools as Twitter and Facebook, brands are realizing that social media sites can provide support for not only the marketing and sales departments, but can also assist with educational endeavors, public relations, and even customer care. A social strategy often spans over different departments and objectives should be formulated accordingly.
Which? Which employees/departments will oversee social media, be responsible for posting, and reporting?
How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

Beantin webbkommunikation / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

As we prepare for a social campaign strategically, one of the first, and arguable most important steps we take is identifying what we will measure, and how. These directly correlate with our set objectives. I make sure to stress to my graduate social media marketing students that we will not (and should not) simply measure our social presence, or the number of fans and followers of our profiles on various platforms and blog. Social media revolves around the notion of engagement, not just activity. Engagement with your social network or tribes will ultimately be affected by the perception of “value” in what you post or share. Via social, I have surrounded myself with like-minded people that I can have a symbiotic relationship with. Many of the folks I follow on Twitter I follow because I can learn from them and I value the content they produce. This holds true for B2B and B2C social relationships as well.
Measure and Review

Measuring value makes significantly more sense than passive “likes” and quantity of followers. Measuring value can be done by considering “action”. What actions occurred because of value offered: Did visitors to the blog subscribe? Did a subscriber convert to a customer? Was a donation made (non-profits)? Did Facebook fans or Twitter followers share content from the blog? These build sustainable relationships that for businesses can increase revenue.

Clear, specific objectives, and measurable KPI’s need to be identified early on. Over time, effective social reporting can illuminate the impact (or lack thereof) of social media actions on customer activity. There are several very useful dashboards that give the user the ability to track and measure multiple platforms. Such as Hootsuite and Google Analytics (two of my top 3) Others worthy of mention (various levels of analysis and reporting) for you all to consider are:

AgoraPulse.com
Buffer (one of my top 3)
Cloze.com
Crowdbooster.com
Cyfe.com
Commun.it
Facebook Pages Manager App
GaggleAMP.com
LinkedIn’s Skills and Expertise page
PostAcumen.com
Reachli.com (formerly known as Pinerly)
SproutSocial

Measurement is an ongoing process, compare numbers weekly, or for some monthly. Plans must be flexible and be easily modified based on results and analysis.

Analyze Social Actions to Identify what Works and Identify New Opportunities

Look for the successes as well! Of course, acknowledging failures is a great learning tool, but identifying successes allows you to also identify possible opportunities you may be overlooking. Also consider missed opportunities. Both missed and overlooked opportunities are most often a result of lack of monitoring and/or engagement. Social media is two-way dialogue. Listening and replying when appropriate are key! Consider a classic missed opportunity to engage during Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s speech and sip of Poland Springs Water in February 2013. This was a huge missed opportunity for the brand to engage with the public, tweets that included the terms ‘Rubio’ and ‘water’ peaked at 57,466 mentions. This particular case would be best addressed in real time, but other not so obvious opportunities can be missed such as the opportunity to create loyal customers, nurture brand advocates, or even benefit from un-intentional crowdsourcing of ideas on a Facebook page.

By systematically reviewing data and comparing it, brands are better able to understand their fans, followers, and customers. In the case of my MBA students and our blog, previous semesters have found many opportunities for our “brand” to flourish! For example, some blog posts were shared and commented on more than others. By reading the comments carefully it identified a topic our readers really were interested about and wanted to know more about. We also looked at what posts were shared more on Twitter than others. It was found that some of our posts were more shareable than others.

For the full un-edited article, click here.


4 Things You Will NEVER Hear A Social Media Marketer Say About Content

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As marketers, we have long heard the saying “delivering the right message to the right person at the right time” when speaking of traditional marketing. This rings true to social media marketing as well. Consider the various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and Pinterest to name a few. Each has a specific demographic and can be optimized accordingly. What is often overlooked is the importance of relevant and timely content for these platforms.

Here are 4 things you will NEVER hear any successful social media marketer say when talking about content:

“I am not interested in trending topics or what my audience is talking about”.

Are you listening to what your audience is talking about? What are your followers, fans, and others in the blogosphere having conversations about? Social listening is much more than just responding directly to conversations on your Facebook page, Twitter Stream or blog. It’s about spending time on a regular basis researching topics that are of interest to your audience and producing or curating content related to these topics.

Several tools exist for marketers to better listen to the conversations about not only their brand, but other trending topics. In my Social Media MBA courses, I suggest (or highlight) free tools for the students to experiment with. I outlined a few of these tools in my blog post Social Media Inspired by Big Gas Savings. Some worth mentioning again are:

1. Twitter’s hashtag ( # ). This is by far my absolute favorite tool. It can be used to find content and conversations around specific topics. My favorites are #smm #socialbiz #socialmedia #marketing #branding and of course my hashtag I use for my classes #snhusmm
2. Klout: Assists in finding influencers in your audience.
3. HootSuite: Allows teams to collaborate across multiple social networks from one dashboard. It is a web-based dashboard that includes the ability to create custom reports. Upgrades are available for a small fee. Hootsuite can also be used to help identify what’s trending among your audience members
4. Google Alerts: Sends email updates based on your preferences
5. Pinterest Web Analytics: Allows you to see how people are interacting with pins that come from your websites.
6. Pinpuff: Very much like Klout, but targeted at Pinterest.
7. Social Mention: Offers real-time social media search and analysis that curates user-generated content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Google, etc. into a single stream.
8. Industry specific publications. I am an avid reader of The Journal of Marketing, Fast Company and Ad Age. Popular articles (or studies) in publications such as these can be extremely good indicators of timely topics.

“I do not have a stockpile of content. Why would I do that?

Starting with an editorial plan is great. But, after time you will need to progress to an editorial stockpile. My grad students are working on a class blog this term and have just created their editorial calendar for the term. This is a great way for us to plan their one or two blog posts they will each contribute. However, in a real world scenario, we would need a lot more content! This means, it would be necessary for some content to be created and/or curated long before the need to publish it. I suggest a collection of a wide array of topics relevant to your audience in your arsenal that could be used in a pinch. Of course, be sure they are timely! Also be sure you have done your research (as outlined earlier in the post). Content should resonate with your followers/fans. This is a basic skill but worth repeating. The more the viewer can identify with what you post, the more likely they will be to share or reply (engagement).

“I never time my content, I just post it whenever”.

One of the first steps in delivering timely content is monitoring, and then seeing what topics fit the content you already have ready to go. Using some of the tools above, you will be better able to see what your audience is talking about and when. Content is more effective when your audience is most receptive to it.

After looking at previous research and reading the commentary of many of the thought leaders in the social content space, here are a few suggestions I provide my students:

1. Blog: Publish your blogs in the morning.
2. Facebook: Post to Facebook when there are the most shares (between 8:30 and 10:00 am).
3. Twitter: Twitter appears to have more activity later in the day, so why not time your content appropriately (BufferApp and Hootsuite again are great ways to do this).

“I have no more ideas, so I am not going to post anything until I do.”

Often, you will no have content already created or curated to share. You may need to take some time to create it. Ideas are everywhere! Consider reading/re-reading comments to your blogs and seeing if there is a topic that needs further attention or elaboration, ask your audience what they would like to see more of, see what your competition is presenting, provide something educational, or even take an older piece of content and re-purpose it.

Not only do you need to be relevant and timely, but content should be compelling. There is a lot of “clutter” online and having content that is compelling (or actionable) is paramount to differentiating yourself from the competition. Content your audience finds valuable will be viewed and shared; you will want to be sure to be the source of that content. When content is “done right” you can create content that people want to share with their online communities.

Do you have an awesome approach to delivering relevant and timely content to your audience? Please share!

(full Article here).

photo credit: infocux Technologies via photopin cc


Whats on my reading list?!

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I have been asked several times of the past few weeks what is on my reading list over the Holiday Break. Well, I am busy working hard to finish grading Finals, Final Papers, and preparing material for the Spring terms so that I can truly have a “break” over the holidays. That being said, I have not come with some elaborate list, just a simple photo of my bookshelf that has been holding 3 books I hope to read for the past 2 months! Note I have linked to Amazon and author websites/blogs. I suggest reading the reviews on Amazon and exploring the authors site as well.

Big Data MarketingLisa Arthur
Maximize Your SocialNeal Schaefer
Brands & RousersLuis Gallardo

I hope you will join me and read one or all of these titles and tell me your thoughts below!


3 Labels I hate: Social Media Jedi, Social Media Rock Star, & Social Media Guru

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One of the first things my Social Media MBA students come to realize within the first 2 weeks of class is that the world of social moves at a rapid pace, changes often, and is constantly being evaluated and re-evaluated. You, the social media professional, carry the responsibility of ensuring you stay current with technology, methods, and strategy.

With this responsibility also comes the need to represent yourself in a realistic light. Resist the urge to describe yourself as a social media Jedi, social media rock star, social media guru or the like. However, ‘social media professional’ is quite descriptive in itself. As the name implies, you specialize in social media, you are proficient, qualified, practiced, and this is your career.

Specifically, to be effective in this role, you must be:

Open to trying new things

In the quest to find the right methods, the right apps, the most effective platforms, the newest technology and the like, one must be open to experimentation and trying new things. Just as constructive criticism is difficult for some to take, trying “new” ways to perform traditional marketing duties is also difficult for some to accept. Social media and technology are working symbiotically to drive business by not only making it possible to communicate with others over a variety of channels in real time, but also allowing it to be done in a way that fosters an atmosphere of collaboration.

Flexible

Anyone working in business knows the importance of remaining flexible. Inevitably unexpected obstacles will abound, and it is necessary to have the ability to be flexible. Meaning, having the ability to react, adapt, and prosper. Being flexible means different things in different contexts, and different things to different people. To me, it means bending a little, but not breaking; adapting, but not losing focus. It also means knowing where you are going but not ignoring opportunities that present themselves along the way that could benefit business. This applies not only to your career as a social media professional, but also to your business and its social media marketing strategy.

An avid reader

The social media professional must commit to reading daily. Whether it be blogs, books, trade magazines, etc. you must read constantly. I suggest my students set up a blog reader like NetVibes to curate valuable reading material surrounding social media, analytics, measurement, ROI, careers, and other industry specific topics. As Dr. Seuss said, ” The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”.

An avid researcher

This point goes long with reading. Not only should you be reading, you should be keeping relevant information as it pertains to your social media goals and specific objectives. Let me repeat, specific objectives. Research case studies similar to your brand, search aggressively for the latest trends and best practices. This is a must to keep you current in this ever-changing social landscape.

I have definitely over simplified these four traits. But, over the next four weeks focus on one trait a week. As with any new regimen (like working out), start off with small goals. For example, week one you may decide to focus on finding some blogs you find interesting and adding them to a reader. Then, begin to read and absorb the wealth of knowledge available. Then, week two you may decide to continue reading and also make a conscious effort to be open to new things. I am not saying to go sky-diving, I am strictly speaking about business and social. Something ‘new’ could be investigating BufferApp or another social media focused application.

Do not forget to be aware of your flexibility, moments when you need to give a little, and moments you do not. And of course, don’t forget to pick a week to do a little in-depth research (possibly over an application you read about).

By the end of week four you should have assessed your level of flexibility, found what interests you in regards to research, tried a few new things, and done a lot of reading! These suggestions are not only useful to the new social media professional, but for the seasoned one as well. We all need a reminder (and the motivation) to stay in touch with our industry and in touch with ourselves.

photo credit: Pedro Glez. via photopin cc


Creating A Social Media Marketing Strategy

medium_5688645738Another eleven-week term wrapped up for my students and I last week. As we reflected on all the topics we have covered in all three social media marketing related courses I teach, a common theme emerged. Almost all the work we did in our final project within the concluding course was dictated by set goals and long-term objectives. As with any business, students first began setting goals and objectives that accurately addressed our vision and mission. With this information, they began to brainstorm about specific tactics that we could use to accomplish short-term goals and choose metrics best suited to measure performance. All of the short-term work students did also fell in line with the long term goals of the project set by myself, the instructor/creator.

The ‘campaign’ was very short in length, but it definitely gave them the opportunity to not only strategize, but also blog, utilize Google Analytics, experiment with Hootsuite, explore video use in social media, and use best practices covered in previous classes for Twitter/Facebook community management, and more. Each facet of this project directly relates to initial goals and objectives. The first few weeks were a bit chaotic, as they are every term, but once business objectives were clearly defined, the social strategy fell into place. Similar to a real world scenario, if objectives and goals are too broad/ not specific enough, or not measurable, the rest of the plan will not fall into place as easily or effectively. In a few weeks I will have another group of eager graduate students ready to set their short-term goals and continue the fun.

This month we visit concept #10 and #11 from my series 15 Social Media Concepts to Make you a More Marketable Social Media Professional:

Concept 10: You must identify and understand your business-related goals. All content on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter profile, YouTube channel, etc., has to support your business-related goals.

Concept 11: As a social media professional, you must have the patience to go the distance. Social strategies are not short term. Long-term goals with specific objectives must be identified first, followed by specific tactics in place.

Before undertaking any type of social media initiative, an organization must begin with identifying objectives and then coordinating social media activities that address those objectives specifically. Most readers would choose to utilize social media to ‘increase sales’ armed only with an arsenal of tactics such as start a contest on Facebook, develop a blog with postings weekly; set up related Twitter feed. These actions in and of themselves are fine and could very well increase sales. However, what about the long term?

A viable social media strategy should start with these basic questions:

Who? Who is your target audience? Understand your target in terms of not only demographics, psychographics, and interests, but also influencers. Consider your targets behavior while on social media, do they create content, share content, or simply view content? The better you know your target, the easier it is to coordinate social media efforts to achieve desired results.
What? What are your primary goal/objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Or maybe you want to generate a specific number of qualified leads. By setting quantifiable goals from the get-go, you will be better prepared to prioritize efforts and determine where time is best spent. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
When? When will you evaluate the social strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped. You must evaluate periodically to know if you are reaching goals and if efforts are producing results.
Where? Where is your target audience online, how can you reach them? There are the mainstream sites like Facebook and Twitter, but do not forget to investigate niche sites that may be more tailored to your needs, each business is unique and may have various networks that are more effective than others. The State of Inbound Marketing Report found different industries experience different customer acquisition results with different social platforms. For example, Retailers reported success with Facebook, however Healthcare businesses did not and instead found more success with LinkedIn.
Which? Which social platforms will you use, it may make more sense not to use them all. This relates back to “where is your target audience online”. Keep in mind you may not use all of the platforms but you might consider securing your name on the main social media sites as a branding effort, being sure to incorporate elements of your brand into your profile(s).
How? How will you create a relevant conversation? How will you encourage sharing/referrals? This could be from something as simple as share buttons, to a call to action on a blog post, a “How-To” video, to Facebook contests. Again, your goals drive the type of content that you create and the calls-to-action you use.
How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

A key concept for business to understand is that a large portion of Internet traffic still comes from search, therefore, having timely and relevant content is paramount. Content with value will drive social influence. However, content must also directly relate back to the business goals and objectives. Great content can be a source of Internet traffic as well as assist in building authority and trust that ultimately leads to social influence. With this social influence, an organization can leverage this it to drive growth and sales.

Take a moment and think about your own brands social strategy or your personal brand strategy: Do your social media goals and objectives directly relate to set (organizational) objectives? Specifically, can you align each social tactic you employ to a social goal or objective that relates to a business/personal objective?

Traditional marketing and social marketing must be integrated and nurtured in order to realize the full potential of a very powerful combo. Traditional campaigns are easier to measure success than a social strategy as they typically have a defined start and completion date. With a social media initiative there typically is not or should not be a completion date as social intends to create connections and maintain long-term relationships. This is a huge difference.

For the long haul you will want to:

Plan for Content: Review last months post “4 Things you will NEVER heard a Social Media Marketer say about Content”. Not only do you need to be relevant and timely, but content should be compelling. There is a lot of “clutter” online and having content that is compelling (or actionable) is paramount to differentiating yourself from the competition. Content your audience finds valuable will be viewed and shared; you will want to be sure to be the source of that content. When content is “done right” you can create content that people want to share with their online communities.

Schedule the content:There are several ways to do this, I use the editorial calendar within WordPress but you could also use an Excel spreadsheet or Google Docs. You could schedule a week at a time, or a month at a time: it is up to you. I also suggest scheduling the corresponding Tweets and Facebook updates as well via a tool like Hootsuite (full list of tools I like here), be creative with your 140 characters, entice someone to click and read the link. Reminder, be sure to remove #hashtags when doing your Facebook posts. Term after term students tend to neglect this and it is a personal pet peeve.

Repeat: Consistency is key. Be sure to make time in your week to plan and schedule content religiously along with daily monitoring. Social media monitoring is used to identify, predict, and respond to consumer behavior. Listening to the conversations surrounding our brand is key to getting great results from a social media campaign. Understand that this is not something you do when you “feel like it”. This is a long-term investment in your brand. It is a continuous process that (in my opinion) is enjoyable. What better way is there to spend your day than to getting to know your customers?

photo credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin cc


20 Simple Ways to Integrate Social Media with Traditional Marketing Practices

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It is becoming less and less often that I see a national brand, or even a local Mom and Pop store without some form of social media profile. This is a good thing. However, more often than not they are only using Facebook and social profiles are not integrated with other marketing communications, or worse yet, not even tied to their traditional marketing strategy.

Wherever there it the potential to communicate with a consumer, there is the potential for integration. In teaching my graduate level social media marketing courses, it is often noted students can see so many potential areas their employers could integrate a social element. Many times a quick assessment of the competitions social media presence can incite a few ideas.

Traditional marketing and social marketing must be integrated and nurtured in order to realize the full potential of a very powerful combo. Without fully integrating the two, businesses can take on great risks related to over-dependence on one or over-use of another. Businesses must define their strategy, roles, and expectations of social media before both integration and implementation of a social strategy.

This month we visit concept #12 from my series 15 Social Media Concepts to Make you a More Marketable Social Media Professional:

Concept 12: The importance of integrating traditional with social strategy. This is often easier said than done and involves a lot of time, people, and patience.

Social is also a great way to help clarify the messages you send through traditional marketing. With social media, you can create a dialogue with your customers to ensure the right messages are relayed. The key is consistency and relevancy. Integration of social media with traditional marketing requires the understanding that there are differences between the ways we communicate. Keep in mind, anywhere communication becomes interactive can be considered a form of social media. With social, we are now talking with our customers as opposed to at them via traditional methods. Likewise, social media is both outbound marketing and inbound marketing.

Use the following a a checklist for your brand. They are just a few ways you can easily integrate social with existing traditional Marketing initiatives. Note that not all are suitable for all readers:

-Create an App
-Optimize your website for mobile
-Use social to promote inbound marketing
-Link all social profiles
-Incorporate social icons/links to the brand website/blog
-Incorporate social icons/links to all email marketing
-Offer the ability to share/like via share buttons/widgets
-Utilize social media for a virtual event
-Utilize social media at live events
-Promote Marketing events ( trade shows, seminars) via social
-Create video content/infographics
-Utilize Qr Codes (only if it makes sense for you, I do not suggest QR Codes on moving objects. Yes I have seen it done.)
-Use social media engagement for market research
-Use Facebook/Twitter (or other platform) touch points on advertising
-Incorporate your brand image/personality in all social platforms used
-Utilize Social for employee recruitment and retention
-Utilize social for sales team communication/prospecting
-Open up customer service channels through social media
-Include a ‘Call to Action’ in all communication (spark an action), give them a reason to go to
a social touchpoint
-Utilize Google Analytics to track visits and possible conversions

Drowning in Social Media


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