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Do You Need a Social Media Makeover?

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Do You Need a Social Media Makeover?

by Lori Dicker

Among the more than 3 million businesses creating Facebook pages and groups—not to mention millions of special-interest and community-driven blogs, up to 70 percent of which blog about brands—many have failed to leverage social spaces to drive awareness and engagement among their customers and fans. They simply aren’t having conversations about their brands in the places their audiences share most.

Because I run a social media marketing agency that helps organizations and individuals connect with target audiences and build word of mouth in the communities where they live, I’ve learned to recognize the signs that indicate the need for a social media makeover.

Is your brand wasting its social media marketing opportunity? Read on to see if you’ve bought into these common misconceptions and counterproductive strategies.

Your social media marketing campaigns are short-term. I’ve seen a lot of companies plan a social media marketing campaign for the same window of time as they would an online advertising campaign. Benefits from social media marketing require a long-term commitment.

Social media marketing has a large residual value because the content posted by influencers stays online for long periods, and interactions with this content continue to accrue over time. Ultimately, the longer the content stays up, the longer your audience has to engage with it, and the longer search engines have to find it.

Social media campaigns should last for more than a few weeks. Start the process by listening to what is being said about your business or brand, connecting with those having conversations, building trust, and fostering long-term relationships and word of mouth.

Takeaway: If your social media campaigns are short-term, you might want to rethink your strategy.

A Facebook page and Twitter profile encompass your social media strategy. Many people equate social media with social networks. While it’s important to harness the word of mouth characteristic of social communities, social media marketing means much more than how you’re represented on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Tapping into the power of influencers, bloggers, and tastemakers who specialize in your cause or subject matter is equally important. Those who place their stamps of approval on your brand generate awareness among their readerships.

Likewise, it’s important to tap into the power of conversation and, when possible, engage in dialogues with consumers who are talking about you or your brand.

Takeaway: If you’re not including blogger relations, influencer outreach, and conversational marketing in your social media strategy, you might want to think again.

You’re not using social media because that could open the door for negative feedback about your brand. As long as social media continues to grow as a mainstream mode of communication, negative comments about your brand are inevitable—and are most likely already being made.

Fear of negative feedback keeps many companies from using social media, but addressing negative comments—and doing so quickly—shows your customers that you’re listening and that you care. Managing your reputation is the key to connecting to your audience.

Takeaway: By listening and responding to your customers, you not only demonstrate that you care; you also take advantage of a huge opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

An intern handles all your social media efforts. Does a company really need senior-level involvement or outside help to execute social media marketing, or can interns do it? While it might not be a bad decision to have junior-level staff managing your Facebook and Twitter updates, tapping into the power of influencers, bloggers, and tastemakers who specialize in your cause or subject matter requires skill.

You’re up against a lot of clutter and competition when it comes to getting your messages and calls to action heard. Interns can have a role in updating content and making sure your audience is engaging with your brand and content through social channels. But it’s wise to have a strategic game plan that defines where your brand will be represented, how consumers will engage with you, and the likelihood they will spread the word.

Takeaway: From a strategic standpoint, it’s important to involve skilled senior-level marketing specialists who understand the nuances of social media and how it fits into the overall business plan.

Our competition generates more online buzz than we do. Are you listening to what your customers and fans are saying about you online? Are you measuring and incorporating this feedback into your overall marketing plan? Putting your ear to the ground and assessing your online buzz is not only important in assessing brand sentiment; it also helps identify opportunities for getting your message in front of people who are likely to share it with others.

An abundance of social media tools—some paid, some free—can help you get your arms around the level of buzz surrounding your brand, and the level surrounding your competition. (See “A Social Media Toolkit” below.)

Takeaway: Don’t let your competition beat you in the social media game. Incorporate social monitoring in your marketing strategy. It will give you a useful sense of consumer feedback and an opportunity to expand word of mouth.

You’ve allocated a large portion of your marketing and media budget to social media. Many people assume you have to spend a lot of money to generate awareness through social media. This isn’t necessarily true. You can spend very little money—compared to the costs of more traditional media campaigns—to make a big impression. Visibility through social media and word of mouth doesn’t have to be bought.

Takeaway: If you’re effectively leveraging your assets and information, the currency you need to gain visibility isn’t money. It’s content.

Your company does not have a social media policy for staff. With social media as a mainstream mode of communication, companies need to recognize not only that their customers are talking about them online, but also that their employees are. When you set up your social media programs, you need to establish corporate guidelines for communicating in the online social space.

The social Web has new implications for every brand, and each person within the organization has a personal brand that becomes folded into the company’s brand. And yet, it’s not something you can fully control.

Takeaway: Companies should train their employees on best practices and effective use of social tools.

Your video strategy consists of repurposing your 30-second spot. Telling engaging and compelling stories is what works on the Web, not hard corporate sells. The more interesting a video is to your customers, the more likely they are to engage with it and share it. Video content can live forever, continually promoting your brand.

Make a video about the work you do and what it means to you—and get it to as many people as you can. If the concept for the video is clever enough, there’s no end to how many people might see it and pass it along.

Takeaway: People love a good story, so why not get your story out there?

All interactions with your video occur on your Web site. Nothing frustrates me more than seeing companies pushing content on their Web sites and stripping that content from blogs and communities.

By limiting viewing options to a corporate Web site, you are limiting the potential for fans to engage with the content in popular social channels. Engagement on social channels creates more conversation, word of mouth, and potential for tune-in. It’s important to make sure content reaches consumers where they engage.

Takeaway: It’s not about more traffic on your properties; it’s about more traffic in the minds of your consumers, regardless of the channels they’re using to consume your brand.

Your social media efforts are minimal because they can’t be measured. Not a week goes by that I don’t see yet another article or blog post bemoaning the fact that social media marketing cannot be measured. Such articles and blogs usually tout a new, “revolutionary” way of measuring word of mouth.

Social media marketing can be measured, and most campaigns can be evaluated on an ROI basis.

Social media usually isn’t measured properly because companies do not take the time to define what their social media goals are in measurable terms so they can determine what their success metrics are. Word of mouth, social media, and nontraditional online marketing analytics are as accurate as traditional offline and online analytics. They just haven’t been standardized yet because the marketing methods themselves are new.

Takeaway: You cannot manage what you do not measure, and you cannot measure what you do not define.

Lori Dicker is co-founder and CEO of KARMA Media Labs (karmamedialabs.com). At Twitter, follow her at @LoriDicker and follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

A Social Media Toolkit

Social Mention (socialmention.com). One of my favorite free tools to monitor conversation and buzz across social media, Social Mention gives a great snapshot of blog, forum, and microblog buzz, sentiment, and keywords. It also tracks video, image, comment, and social bookmarking tags and mentions.

It’s somewhat rudimentary in its search capabilities, but my colleagues and I use it daily not only for finding the places where people are engaged in dialogue, but also for reporting buzz to our clients.

Addict-O-Matic (addictomatic.com). When we want a quick visual picture of brand, personality, or meme buzz across the most popular social spaces, we use Addict-O-Matic’s social search engine. This free tool shows real-time placements in social networks, communities, and blogs.

Radian6 (radian6.com) and/or SM2 (techrigy.com). When very specific data are needed, we often use these two paid analytical tools. Both offer easy-to-use interfaces, powerful data retrieval (and good coverage), agency administration, graphing capabilities, workflow control, and dashboard and exporting functionality. And at very reasonable prices.

Alltop.com (alltop.com). A great free tool for finding communities and influencers related to your audiences’ interests. With Alltop, you discover some of the most relevant sites not only for reaching influencers, but also for getting your content in front of the right people who are likely to engage with it.

Quantcast (quantcast.com) and Compete (compete.com). Quantcast and Compete—both free tools with for-pay premium functionality—are great sources for getting basic Web 1.0 metrics such as site/blog traffic, user demographics, page views, and unique visitors. They also include relevant information on the appeal of a site and any related subdomains.

TubeMogul (tubemogul.com) and Vidmetrix (vidmetrix.com). A video marketing campaign can generate massive amounts of buzz and enhance branding strategies in a very short period. Our favorite tool for automated mass upload of video content is TubeMogul, which also has powerful analytics for the uploaded videos. With 27 UGC sites supported, it covers all relevant mainstream and slightly off-mainstream UGC sites.

Vidmetrix is a good runner-up to TubeMogul and offers similar functionality.

Facebook Developer Wiki (developers.facebook.com/docs) and/or Inside Facebook (insidefacebook.com). Any marketer who has built a presence on Facebook knows that it constantly keeps everyone who administers Pages or Groups on their toes with changes, improvements, and guidelines.

To help plan our strategies for a Facebook presence, we subscribe to the Facebook Developer Wiki. This platform, developed as a community for developers, gives a glimpse into what’s coming up.

Another great site we visit almost daily to monitor developments on Facebook is Inside Facebook. Built for developers, agencies, and marketers, it helps administrators understand the benefits and challenges of building a presence on Facebook by providing reports, metrics, and insights on campaigns being deployed. It also provides updates on the ever-changing rules of the Facebook game, ranging from new promotions guidelines to design features.

Twitalyzer (twitalyzer.com), Twitter Grader (twitter.grader.com), and Klout (klout.com). Free tools are plentiful for Twitter presence measurement, management, and identification of top influencers. Our favorites include Twitalyzer and Twitter Grader, which can help you get an idea of how influential a Twitter profile is. Twitalyzer is especially sophisticated in its approach to what constitutes true influence in the Twitterverse.

Another free tool that is fast becoming a favorite is Klout, which includes a Twitter List engine that identifies and ranks the top 25 influencers for any topic of interest. It scores someone’s authority by the number of clicks driven through their links on Twitter.

Sendible (sendible.com). Although social media marketing is about dialogue and two-way communication, we like Sendible for communicating our clients’ messages through text messaging, social network messaging, and good old-fashioned email. There are price packages for all budget levels, and the interface makes it a breeze.

Google Alerts (google.com/alerts), Google Trends (google.com/trends), and Google Analytics (google.com/analytics). My favorite Google tools—the ones that help us plan, deploy, and measure social media campaigns—are easy to understand; they are free, and they get the job done.

Anyone running a social media marketing campaign should be setting up Google Alerts to get instant email update alerts of the latest Google results—a blog or site placement, news item, video, or tweet. You may have to experiment with Google Alerts for a few days before choosing the one(s) that will deliver the most meaningful results for you. Google lets you create as many as 1,000.

Google Trends can be used to monitor the popularity of certain search terms and enables marketers to gauge how top-of-mind their brand or message is. You can easily export Trends data to be opened with most spreadsheet applications.

People who already have a social media presence need to know whether it’s working. For a simple and inexpensive way to track activity on a Web site or blog, it is difficult to beat Google Analytics. It’s pretty self-explanatory and easy to set up and use.

Foursquare (foursquare.com). My pick for the social network and marketing tool most likely to gain popularity in 2010, Foursquare is already gaining popularity with iPhone and Android users. It lets people check in when they visit locations and awards points for various activities. The opportunities for marketers are huge, from special offers at locations, to gaining valuable insights through consumer behaviors, to promotions.

 

 

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