Archive for the ‘Social Media Marketing’ Category
One of the most powerful impacts of social media is the way it has democratized brands. No longer is the brand, or corporate image, tightly controlled by a few senior executives, marketing communications specialists, and PR spokespersons. Every stakeholder in an enterprise—every customer, prospective customer, supplier, channel partner, employee, industry blogger, shareholder—has a voice. Those voices collectively shape the brand.
This reality can be scary as hell for brands, but it also creates new opportunities. Treating customers well produces an army of advocates, with far greater credibility and at far lower cost than traditional advertising. Invite bloggers to your company events, give them a peak “under the hood,” and the collective “media coverage” generated can be tremendous.
The most natural and knowledgeable group of brand ambassadors would seem though to be employees. They know the company’s products, people, policies and procedures from the inside. They (presumably) want the company to do well, as their livelihoods depend on its success. Those on the front lines, in areas like consulting and customer support, have a unique perspective and level of credibility. And collectively, particularly in large organizations, they can be a powerful amplifier of brand messages and values.
Yet companies big and small have struggled to capitalize on this potential. Asking employees to use social platforms on a brand’s behalf can easily feel awkward, or forced. Employees may not want to talk about the company on social media, or may not know how, or may want to expose too much, or may even use it in ways that damage the brand.
Of course, most organizations of any size now have social media policies in place; but these often only set the basic ground rules for discussing the company in social media (e.g., don’t discuss financial details, don’t disclose customer data, don’t talk about products in development). They don’t turn employees into effective and impactful brand advocates any more than merely knowing the traffic laws makes one an expert driver.
Into this milieu have stepped Cheryl and Mark Burgess with their book, The Social Employee: Success Lessons from IBM, AT&T, Dell, and Cisco on Building a Social Culture. A must-read for any executive or manager who wants to understand how to unleash the social power of a properly trained, motivated and incentivized workforce, this book goes far beyond the do’s and don’ts of social media policy. The authors have gone inside some of the most respected brands to discover and reveal how these companies have made social media work by enabling and empowering their employees.
In today’s social online world, the linear model of brand engagement (awareness, interest, desire, action) is obsolete. Rather than being the end goal, the sale is often the beginning of the true relationship between customers and brands. It isn’t just the product that matters, but the entire customer experience with the product, with post-sale support, even with a company’s values, that shape the brand image in the social realm.
To introduce their concept of a non-linear model of customer engagement, the authors invoke the image of a Möbius strip: a geometric shape that is “somewhat unique in the physical world. While the Möbius strip appears to be a closed band like a bracelet, because of a twist in the band itself the object technically has only one side—although it appears to have two…
“We like the metaphor implied in this famous mathematical conundrum: here is an object that is easy to understand by experiencing it, but incredibly difficult to produce through attempts to quantify it. Such a riddle creates an unmistakable parallel with the nature of social employee engagement. Any brand can see the value of social of social collaboration once they’ve jumped into the fray, but it’s much more challenging to try to define the precise formula for why it works…Each of us behaves as an employee, brand, and customer—sometimes simultaneously—throughout the course of a single day.”
Later in the book’s opening section, the authors quote a McKinsey Quarterly article which argues that “senior leaders can harness social media to shape consumer decision making in a predictable way…(social media) is much more than simply another form of paid marketing, and it demands more too: a clear framework to help CEOs and other top executives evaluate investments in it, a plan for building support infrastructure, and performance management systems to help leaders smartly scale their social presence. Companies that have these three elements in place can create critical new brand assets (such as content from customers or insights from their feedback), open up new channels for interactions (Twitter-based customer service, Facebook news feeds), and completely reposition a brand through the way its employees interact with customers or other parties.”
Social media is fundamentally changing the nature of marketing, and employees are crucial to successfully navigating this transition. In the sections titled Employees Already Own Your Brand and Marketing is Everyone’s Job, the authors contend that “strong Business-to-Business (B2) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) communication outside of the brand’s walls begins with strong internal employee collaboration…Because of the many new demands that social media has created for internal organization as well as B2B and B2C interactions, brands are quickly coming to the realization that the act of marketing is no longer just the responsibility of the marketing department…This isn’t to say that each member of each department has to be on the frontlines of branding, just that everybody should have a role in spreading the brand’s message.
“The only thing preventing organizations from connecting employees with the necessary information and resources to drive real change is the willingness to develop a proper infrastructure…Many companies simply don’t know how to handle the changes in the work styles and attitudes that are emerging within the workforce.”
And that is what sets up the core of this book: lessons the authors share from seven leading companies in how to harness the power of social employees. Among them:
- • IBM: let employees develop the company’s social media guidelines. “In trying to determine the best way to address questions regarding the proper protocols of a social business, IBM struck on a novel idea: rather than confining a small group of people to a conference room to hammer out social policy, why not take the question to the people? IBM quickly set up an open wiki accessible to the entire network that would allow IBMers to establish their own computing guidelines…The results of the wiki experiment were quickly adapted as the company’s official social media guidelines. According to (IBM executive Ethan) McCarty, everything is still holding up quite well. ‘IBMers treat it like their Magna Carta’…The guidelines, which McCarty affectionately refers to as IBM’s social media Woodstock, have become so renowned in the business world that hundreds of other organizations have contacted IBM seeking permission to adopt them as their own.”
- • Adobe: promote social media policies and best practices as “guardrails” for employees, not straightjackets. Adobe’s Corporate Social Media team knows it can’t control or dictate every social media interaction, so it has instead “adopted a policy of `influence without authority’ in order to spread the brand’s social message…Larger brands simply don’t have the resources to micromanage social adoption practices for an entire enterprise. `We had little to no authority over (other internal) teams to mandate change,” (Senior Director of Social Media and Public Relations Maria) Poveromo said. ‘So instead, we had to learn ways to encourage these stakeholders to see the value of working together.’”
- • Dell: use tools and structure to monitor and address the torrent of social media activity happening outside the brand’s direct sphere of influence. “Listening to over 25,000 conversations daily produced a wealth of data, but the brand has had to be creative in how it sorts and utilizes this information. In 2010, Dell established the Social Media Listening Command Center (SMLCC) Led by Maribel Sierra. The brand has since designed over 300 monitoring categories in order to aggregate information by product line, customer segments, and various business functions. The SMLCC is able to sort data by criteria such as location/geography, basic demographics, reach, sentiment, subject matter, and social platform. To accomplish this kind of sorting, the SMLCC team uses Saleforce’s Radian6 technology to assess and report on the trending social media topics related to Dell.”
There’s much more, from Cisco (representing leader authentically builds tremendous credibility); Southwest Airlines (founder Herb Kelleher: “If the employee comes first, then they’re happy…A motivated employee treats the customer well”); AT&T (use social media to humanize the brand: “A fundamental trait of the social age is the fact that people expect information to come from a trusted resource with a human face”); and Acxiom (create a social employee “PACT”—short for passion, accountability, creativity and teamwork).
While the book showcases examples and practices from large organizations, many of the lessons are applicable to companies of any size—such as the importance of executive involvement on social platforms on behalf of the brand.
I’m thrilled and honored to have worked with Cheryl Burgess for the past three years honoring the #Nifty50 top women and men on Twitter. Cheryl and Mark have written an outstanding book for any leader seeking a roadmap to building and optimizing employee engagement on behalf of the brand in social media. As legendary management guru Tom Peters said of the book, “Social media is wasted without social employees…my social business favorite books #1: The Social Employee.”
Despite the reputation Google+ has in some circles for being the social network that everyone has joined but no one uses, marketers are increasing viewing it as a vital platform for branding and engagement.
After all, Google+ is now the second-largest social network; it’s more business-oriented (and less about sharing pictures of friends and grandkids) than Facebook, and more flexible than Twitter; it’s important for SEO (though not in the way you may think–see below); and it’s connected to everything else Google (Gmail, YouTube, Maps, News, etc.), making it a critical component in an overall web visibility strategy.
As further evidence of the network’s increasing importance, as noted below, 60% of Google+ users log in every day (compared to 50% on Twitter); sites linked on Google+ tend to be indexed in search quickly; Google+ is aiming to become the “social platform of the future,” for example, by using its technology to replace other services like Yammer, Skype, and EventBrite; and it may well become the dominant source of business ratings (not good news for sites like Yelp and Epinions).
So what are the best practices for posting and sharing content on Google+? Building an audience and networking? Using Hangouts? What are the secrets to making your posts stand out? What are the best tools for analyzing Google+ activity and results? And how exactly does Google+ impact search results?
Find the answers to these questions and many others here in 18 Google+ marketing tips and guides from more than a dozen experts.
Effective Content Marketing on Google Plus: 5 Tools to Measure Success by Content Marketing Institute
Britt Klontz specifies nine key metrics “that really matter when it comes to understanding how effective your content marketing presence on G+ is,” then reviews five tools to help track those metrics, including All My + Statistics, which she says “may just be Google+ Nirvana for marketers who want to understand how their content, as well as that of their competitors, is being received on Google+.” And it’s free.
Noting that “In just over two years, Google Plus has become the second most widely used social network with approximately 350 million active users,” Ray Hiltz (who is to Google+ what Rebekah Radice is to Pinterest) states “2014 is the year to take the Google+ plunge if you haven’t already,” then delves into strategies for producing content, using new features in Hangouts, and networking on Google+.
Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Google Plus by ScottBuehler.com
***** 5 STARS
For those who are new to Google+ (or who struggle to see results with it), Scott Buehler provides an excellent 10-step guide to understanding circles, generating activity, formatting posts, using hashtags, hosting hangouts, creating company pages and more.
5 Big Reasons Why You Should Consider Google Plus Marketing by Jeffbullas’s Blog
Guest author Allison Rice contends that “Google+ is quickly becoming a significant player in the social media marketing world because it has one thing going for it that no other social site has: Google,” and backs that up with five specific reasons, including “the coveted right hand space…Google search is constantly updating with new information, and the most recent and relevant information posted in Google+ that’s related to your search is likely to appear in that right hand space. If you’re regularly posting on topics relevant to your industry and your Google+ site shows consistent updated content, then your Google+ page — and articles you’ve posted that are relevant to someone’s search — are much more likely to appear in that space.”
Frederic Lardinois reports on the details and impact of two announcements regarding Google+: the embed feature (“millions of people already produce lots of content on Google+. Until now, that content was locked up in the platform, however. The embed feature will…be available on public posts”) and authorship results through WordPress and TypePad connections (“the select number of sites that currently support this will automatically assign the right kind of markup to authors on their service, and Google will highlight their Google+ profiles on search results that include their posts”).
The Anatomy of a Perfect Google+ Post by dustn.tv
***** 5 STARS
Dustin W. Stout shares a number of unique and helpful tips here for making your Google+ posts stand out, such as using and asterisk before and after your post title to make it bold; writing a meaty summary (“This isn’t Twitter, so don’t worry about it being less than 140 characters. Google+ers like substance”); and using hashtags (three or less, directly relevant to the post).
7 Point Checklist to Dominate Your Personal Brand Using Google Plus by Rebekah Radice
Calling Google+ “a key component to your marketing strategy,” Rebekah Radice offers seven tips for optimizing results there, from making the most of your profile (“Do you know what search terms people are using when looking for your business? Google is eager to tell your story, but without your keywords you could create a situation where consumers have to hunt and peck to find you”) and creating great content to joining niche communities and paying attention to your ripples.
9 Tips for Getting Started on Google+ by NewRayCom
Ray Hiltz (again) lays out “the basics along with some tips to optimize your Google+ experience,” starting with identifying your goals (SEO, building brand authority, generating leads, etc.) and progressing through setting up your profile, engaging, organizing your circles, and using Hangouts.
Infographic: Google+ for Business by Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan shares an infographic stuffed with “all kinds of factoids and thoughts” about Google+ and its value for business, such as that 60% of Google+ users log in every day (compared to 50% on Twitter); sites linked on Google+ tend to be indexed quickly; and one key to success is approaching your Google+ presence as creating a magazine.
The 2013 Google+ Marketing Guide by KISSmetrics
***** 5 STARS
The insightful and prolific Kristi Hines presents “everything you need in order to have a successful Google+ experience,” from setting up your profile in an optimal fashion to building authorship authority (“You do this by linking your Google+ personal profile to the content you create throughout the web, from your own site to other blogs and online media outlets”) to planning your content strategy, building an audience, “hanging out,” analyzing results and more.
Google+: It’s Bigger On the Inside by SteamFeed
Like Doctor Who’s TARDIS, Google+ is “bigger on inside” according to Ray Hiltz (yet again), who details both the SEO benefits (“Search and influence is increasingly being affected by ‘authority.’ It’s the quality of friends and not the number that count. Just like in real life.”) and the social networking opportunities afforded by Google’s social platform.
4 Steps To Improve Your Google Plus Profile for Business by Small Business Trends
Timothy Carter outlines “four easy changes to your Google Plus profile” that will lead to “better local search engine rankings and…more action on your site.,” starting with the obvious (professional photo, strong tagline) and progressing through getting your visibility settings right, as “Google Plus more emphasis on protecting personal privacy than Facebook and some of the other social networking sites. The defaults are private and you have to manually set them as public.”
Steve Hart makes the case that Google+ will be the “social platform of the future,” for example, by using its technology to replace other services like Yammer, Skype, and EventBrite; by becoming the dominant source of business ratings (not good news for Yelp); and through Google Hangouts, which he says “may be the most powerful tool, yet.”
How to Use Google Plus Ripples to Build Momentum by New England Multimedia
Photographer Ed King shares his strategy for using Google Plus “Ripples” to recognize brand advocates, starting with what Ripples are (a little-known feature of Google’s social network) and how they work, and proceeding through a detailed yet easy to follow six-minute video tutorial.
3 Reasons to Dust Off Your Google Plus Business Page by SteamFeed
Writing that he’s “now paying serious attention to my Google Plus page and here’s 3 reasons why you should too,” Ray Hiltz (one more time) details developments that make Google+ a more attractive and productive platform for businesses, such as that “Google+ Pages are people too. Unlike Facebook, Google+ Brand Pages will have the ability to interact and engage with any Google+ user. This will open up more engagement opportunities and increase chances that users will add business pages to their Circles.”
Google+ and SEO
Matt Cutts: Google +1s Don’t Lead to Higher Ranking by Search Engine Watch
Jennifer Slegg reports that while it isn’t often “Matt Cutts comes right out to debunk a highly publicized blog post regarding something to do with ranking in Google,” the head of Google’s Webspam team did so in response to post on the SEOmoz blog which claimed that “Google +1s had a direct correlation with higher search rankings in Google – and that it was higher than any other ranking factor.” According to Matt, “If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking…+1s and rankings are not related.” Hmm. Maybe.
Direct Measurement of Google Plus Impact on Search Rankings by Stone Temple Consulting
Eric Enge details the results of an exhaustive study of the causation–not just correlation–of Google+ shares on search ranking. So does his research jibe with the statements from Matt Cutts reported above? Pretty much. After extensive study, Eric concludes that while Google + shares do drive discovery, and “probably” drive indexing as well, “We saw no evidence of Google+ shares driving ranking.”
Well…it turns out that while Google+ shares may not boost search rankings universally, a person’s (or brand’s) following on Google+ can certainly affect personalized search results. Rand Fishkin walks through several examples of how the search results one sees when logged in can differ dramatically from general results, even for short, high-volume, head-type search phrases like “data science,” “Patrick Stewart” and “happy Halloween,” based on which brands and individuals that person follows in Google+.
Thanks to its brevity and informality, Twitter has become a phenomenally successful social network, particularly for sharing news and updates, with more than 560 million active users collectively posting 5,700 tweets every second.
While powerful on its own, the 140-character social chatter site is even more useful when extended with tools to accomplish all sorts of tasks, from analyzing current followers and finding new ones to identifying influencers and trends, creating custom Twitter feeds, monitoring brand conversations and more.
Check out the posts below to find reviews of more than two dozen helpful Twitter tools, from a handful of top social media experts.
Expert Reviews of Top Twitter Tools
8 Twitter Tools Every Content Marketer Should Have by Streetwise Media
Caroline Lyle reviews her favorite Twitter tools, among them FollowerWonk which “offers valuable analysis of your followers, and more importantly, helps you find new ones,” and TweetBeep, a simple tool that “sends you an email every time your brand is mentioned” on Twitter.
3 Very Useful Twitter Hashtag Analytics Tools by Razor Social
Writing that “Analyzing the activity around a hashtag on twitter can help you identify the influencers, find useful links, analyze trends and much more,” Ian Cleary reviews three hashtag analytics tools including Tweetbinder, which lets you “analyze a twitter chat to see who is engaged in the conversation, who is most influential, what tweets were shared, what links are shared” and more.
7 Free Tools to Find Twitter Influencers Who Interact with You by Small Business Trends
Frequent best-of contributor Ann Smarty reviews more than half a dozen tools for identifying and engaging with influential Twitters who follow you, such as Who Tweeted Me, “a new tool from Hubspot that finds all people who tweeted your pages and sorts them by number of followers. You can thank them with one click as well.”
Find the RSS feed for any Twitter user with Twitter RSS (Update) by Social Media Slant
Twitter has killed off its RSS feeds, but Cendrine Marrouat recommends using the RSS 4 Twitter tool as an alternative. At last check, the site worked well for capturing individual Twitter feeds, but hashtag support was temporarily out of order.
5 Tools to Research the Demographics of Your Twitter Followers by Small Business Trends
Ann Smarty (again) reviews a handful of “great apps that will let you get the proper stats to start engaging your followers in a real and dynamic way,” such as Birdsong (“Do a quick analytics search of any social media profile and find out exactly what conversations your brand is generating”).
Twools: Social Media Unleashed by iag.me
A more powerful alternative to the issue of Twitter RSS feeds is Twools, a tools from Ian Anderson Gray. It allows you to create a number of Twitter feeds including your home timeline, any user timeline, mentions, favorites and more, and filter these by keyword, hashtag or screen name.
Company blogs have become virtually essential, and very powerful, component of digital marketing. In addition to their SEO benefits and role in maximizing web presence for brands, blogs produce sales and leads. According to recent research, more than half (52%) of consumers say blogs have impacted their purchase decisions; and 57% of marketers say they’ve acquired new customers with their blogs.
But creating and maintaining a successful blog takes more than just producing helpful and original content; as social media expert Heidi Cohen recently wrote, “The most epic content will FAIL without content distribution. If no one sees your content, what good is it?”
So, once you’ve created great content, how do you get it “out there”? Which content promotion tools are most useful? Which blog post promotion tactics are most effective? Is it still worthwhile to get listed in blog directories, and if so, which ones?
Find the answers to these questions and more here among hundreds of recommendations about tools, tactics and techniques to promote blog posts.
25 Easy Ways to Promote Your Blog by Kim Garst
Kim Garst shares a list she’s compiled of “strategies that will help you promote your blog and drive traffic to your website,” such as promoting posts to your email list, commenting on other blogs, participating in industry forums, creating a Slideshare based on a post, and buying “cheap banner ads on niche sites.”
50 Experts Reveal How to Promote Your Blog with Just 3 Tools by clambr
***** 5 STARS
Richard Marriott curates answers from 50 (actually 53) experts on which tools they would use to promote their blog content if they could only use three. Among the tools mentioned are Buffer, Triberr, Wistia, Facebook, and several others; but according to this group of experts, the three most helpful tools are…(read the post).
120 Marketing Tactics for Blogs [Infographic] by Customer Think
***** 5 STARS
Pam Dyer outlines five steps for creating a successful blog—from understanding your goals to using marketing tactics to create visibility—then showcases an infographic illustrating 120 blog marketing tactics, from social networks to eBooks to PR to video, contests, “egobait” and forum posting.
How I promote my new blog posts by The Social Media Hat
Mike Alton updates a detailed post about post promotion, helpfully advising readers not only how to promote their blog posts but also which tactics to avoid or drop, as they are no longer effective; for example, regarding social sharing sites, “The New MySpace no longer allows link sharing. And I have dropped Bebo and Diigo and Viadeo.”
25 Smart Ways to Promote Your Latest Blog Post by Rebekah Radice
***** 5 STARS
Pinterest diva Rebekah Radice here outlines more than two dozen tactics for promoting posts, from social networks to blogger communities like Triberr, Social Buzz Club and Viral Content Buzz, to manual and automated social bookmarking sites.
25 Tactics to Promote Your Blog via Facebook and Twitter by Heidi Cohen
Heidi Cohen serves up more than two dozen tips for promoting your blog through social media, among them: writing “regular features responding to your audience’s needs and interests;” including sidebar links that make it easy for readers to follow you on Facebook and Twitter (and other social networks, as applicable): and thanking people for sharing your posts.
50 Ways to Promote and Market your Blog Posts by jeffbullas.com
***** 5 STARS
Guest author Samuel Pustea suggests more than four dozen ways to promote blog posts, from the big social networks to newer tools like Pinterest, Triberr, Pligg and Scoop.it to RSS directory posting, infographics and guest blogging.
Active RSS and Blog Directories List by Buzzkeep
As Arvid Linde notes here, there were once hundreds of blog directories across the web—but most existed solely for “spam purposes.” This post provides a short list of 43 still-active, reasonably high-quality directories that can actually drive traffic, even if the links no longer have much SEO benefit.
Though social media marketing has now become almost a universal practice, the question of whether or not its value can be quantified with any precision remains open.
Does social media marketing produce measurable ROI—and if so, how does one measure it? Or is social media marketing just a required practice because of its value for content marketing, customer service, market engagement, web presence optimization, and SEO—whether its ROI can be determined with any accuracy or not?
Despite well-crafted arguments from sources like John Heggestuen on Business Insider that social media ROI is a myth, and Angie Schottmuller on Search Engine Watch making the opposite case (and providing more than two dozen formulas for measuring the return on social media efforts), the social media ROI debate rages on.
Six experts continue the argument below, three on each side of the issue. What do you think?
You can’t calculate ROI from social media…
Analyze This: A Social Media Measurement Process by FeedBlitz
Yvette Pistorio shares tips from Jay Baer on social media measurement, such as the importance of selecting the right social media marketing metrics to track, and doing so as early as possible in the social marketing process. She contends that calculating the ROI of social media “can be difficult with social media so you may want to take a look at how your efforts tie to business success over the long haul.”
Are brands moving away from trying to quantify the ROI of social media marketing? Yes, writes John Heggestuen, who reports that “Between 2010 and 2013, the percentage of marketers using a revenue-per-customer metric on social media went from 17% to 9%, according to the February 2013 CMO survey.” Brands are instead focusing on reach, engagement and sentiment metrics.
CMOs On Social Media – Where’s The ROI? by Forbes
Dorie Clark reports on a survey of CMOs which found that “Almost half (49%) said they aren’t able to quantify whether social media has made a difference for their companies, while 36% said they had a good sense of qualitative – though not quantitative – results. Only a meager 15% said they’ve seen a proven quantitative impact.” Lack of a clear strategy often contributes to the inability to quantify results.
…of course you can! And here’s how.
Social Media ROI: 11 FREE Tools for Measuring Social Media Success by Search Engine Watch
Can the ROI of social media marketing be measured? Chuck Price reports that Nicole Harrison is “adamant that social media done correctly will deliver results and recommended the following list of 11 free tools for measuring both ROI and social media success,” including SocialMention, TweetReach and Keyhole.
10 Examples of Social Media ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] by Social Media Today
Contrary to the story above, Pam Dyer presents an infographic which illustrates 10 real-world examples of social media ROI for brands, such as Kraft’s “National Thank You Day” campaign for Toblerone, which drove half a million website visits and increased sales of Toblerone by 132%.
Calculating ROI from Social Media – Problems, Pitfalls & Breaking all the things… by Distilled
***** 5 STARS
Contending that “ROI is a woefully poor measure of the success or failure of social media activity…(not a bad metric but) it’s misunderstood and often misappropriated,” Hannah Smith proceeds to explain the calculation, uses and limitations of ROI analysis, and suggests other metrics (related to brand perceptions and reputation management) that may be more suitable for measuring the value of social media initiatives.