Building an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy

Image Courtesy of Brian Solis

1) Get executive management buy in and support - much more challenging if you try to develop your strategy and then sell up into the organization.

2) Develop a Social Media Policy and Procedure Doc; this doesn’t need to be a huge document, you should be able to map this out in one or two pages. Don’t get too detailed, this is a creative marketing process.

3) Base budget on Personnel,  Timelines, Platforms, Content Strategy. Much of social media marketing is “free” in the purest sense of the word in terms of advertising expenditures. The cost kicks in when you factor time involved for marketers involved in the process.

4) Define a Content Development and Syndication Strategy; i.e. where is the content coming from (if outsourcing), who is going to develop it in house, what’s your focused strategy for content, how will you repurpose all or part of your content across the social web.

5) What Platforms or Communities do you want to establish a presence on; i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube (the top tier), Company Blog; Niche Networks such as LinkedIn, Ning, Plaxo; Customer Service Networks such as: Yelp, Google Maps, et al?  You also have to consider other Vertical Platform Categories including: Events, Music, Wikis, Blog Conversations, Micromedia, Social Bookmarking, Crowdsourcing, Video Aggregation and others.

6) Once you pick your Social Media Platform you can develop a cohesive Content Development and Deployment Schedule - who is going to post and where, how frequently, who will be monitoring the communities and responding and engaging.

7) Select a group of third party applications to help you leverage your Content Syndication processes; HootSuite is an all in one free Application that has a broad suite of Platform Support; Tweetdeck does not have as broad a platform of support but their interface is cleaner and more efficient.

7) Depending on the sophistication of your Social Media Marketing mix you may want to use a listening or monitoring platform. There is an large number of these that can be segmented by feature set and functionality. Two of the best are Radian6 and Trackur - Radian6 provides a broader set of features and collects more data but is more expensive than Trackur.

8) Last but not least, identify some first pass metrics that enable you to measure Return on Investment for your Social Media Marketing processes. This can encompass using Google Analytics for inbound traffic and keyword metrics, “social mentions” using a Social Media Monitoring platform, number of new users via Communities or Platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Yelp Reviews, Comments via Google Maps, etc.

Think about broadcasting and more importantly engagement on these communities as an indication of social media marketing success - you don’t want to get too focused on ROI metrics during your first 60-90 days.

Get your feet wet and then add more sophistication to your Social Media Marketing Strategy in the form of additional communities, tighter controls, more sophisticated ROI analysis,  cross purposing content, utilizing video and podcasts, etc.

Social Media Trends and ROI

Social Media Trends are finally starting to emerge from the primordial soup we call Web 2.0. Are they easy to identify? Hardly! Like nailing jello to a wall that is sliding faster than a Speeder Bike in Return of the Jedi. Here’s our short list of Social Media Trends.

1) Budgets are morphing to finally include Social Media Marketing - just look at this week’s Old Spice Social Media Marketing Campaign and you quickly grasp bigger companies and their agencies (nice job Wieden + Kennedy) are jumping on the bandwagon with beau coup bucks.

2) Social Media is getting integrated with traditional marketing campaigns - you can see the PR agencies are starting to blog more and more about Social Media Trends (queue next year’s Social Media Expert).

3) Return on Investment in today’s resources-challenged global economy is starting to rear it’s ugly head.

4) Big brands are embracing “listening” to Social Media Trends - we don’t think Radian6 will last the year through before some behemoth gobbles them up via an acquisition.

5) Twitter is moving from fad status to “how quickly can you build a Follower base for me” discussion in every snazzy meeting room filled with geeks nervously eying their iPhone for that all important Foursquare check in opportunity.

6) Corporate firewalls are no longer an obstacle to Social Media - it’s everywhere you want it to be.

7) More and more vertical social enabled communities and sites are emerging - the market  is fragmenting rapidly.

8) Social Media Rock Stars are not just men - if you really look hard at the digital cognoscenti/movers and shakers we are pleased to report most are women.

Makes sense right? It’s all about conversation and men aren’t exactly known for making small talk around the dinner table. Sport stats maybe - but who cares, that’s so yesterday and Tom Cruise 80′s.

9) Social Media Trends are clearly moving into the Customer Service Realm - companies are listening, engaging and reacting to what is being said.

10) Real Time Search is emerging as much more than a Social Media Trend - you can’t argue with 19B searches per month on Twitter. That’s a lot of real time of anything………….

11) We disagree with many. B2B Lead Generation via Social Media is not hitting on all cylinders yet - the medium is red hot for B2C  but B2B Lead Generation is late on arrival……

12) Marshall was right (we do mean Mcluan) - the medium is the message. Advertising is for better or worse,  being integrated with Social Media and this trend is only going to accelerate. You ought to see those stacks of business plans hitting Andreesen Horowitz from next gen Social Media Companies.

13) The home page for many will shift from MSNBC (that site redesign is awful), Yahoo, et al to their Social Media Profile page.

14) Facebook growth will continue to stall (hint: Privacy policy DOA), assuming Rupert doesn’t buy them and do to them what he did to My Space. It can be a cruel world if your in the sight of an Aussie Media Mogul. Forget his US Citizenship, that’s a flag of convenience if you catch our drift matey.

15) Shopping will be integrated with Social Media -  Groupon and Flash Sales should ring a bell……er cash register if you will.

So we say good by with that traditional salutation from years past - breaker, breaker I’m gone - that’s our report on Social Media Trends. Come back and see us if you enjoyed the muse.

Add Your Business to Google Maps

Add your business to Google Maps is not exactly an eye catching title - it’s about as exciting as taking third place in the World Cup.

Bu, using and optimizing Google Maps is a foundation marketing process we utilize for any Social Media Marketing or Search Marketing Campaign.

It’s free, takes 1-3 hours to optimize properly, drives significant very targeted traffic and most importantly,  gives your site a powerful immediate presence where GEO targeted locals are searching for information about sites, products and services.

Add Your Business to Google Maps

1) Incorporate a well written Listing, with Complete and Comprehensive Information.

2) Utilize Keywords in your Company Name if this works logically but don’t spam the listing.

3) Utilize the proper City and State Keywords in your Title and Tags; make sure your address is correct.

4) Select the right Category with Keyword driven search terms: i.e. Realtor, Restaurant, Retail Store, etc.

5) Identify your location properly that relates to the center of the city or area.

6) Be Creative with your Listing and convey value: i.e. incorporate Images and Videos (up to five), directions to your place of business and where/how to park, type of credit cards you take if applicable, list coupons to create sense or urgency or seasonality, as these are easy to change, etc.

7) Can also be beneficial to list your address with Directories that offer local addresses including:, and similar sites.

8) Solicit Reviews from satisfied clients in a diplomatic manner - the more of these (assuming positive) the better, as this drives credibility and branding. Also, more Stars (reviews) can mean higher listing positioning.

9) Google typically verifies your listing via instant call back (once it is completed) or postcard - phone call is typically the best method for obvious reasons. Make sure you follow through on this or your Google Maps Listing won’t go “live.”

Google’s Streetview is now included with most Google Map listings - another reason why you want to Add Your Business to Google Maps.

Social Media Not a Panacea

Social media is not a panacea for businesses! It seems as if each day another expert/guru is jumping on the Social Media Marketing bandwagon or VCs are funding some new wizz bang technology company that will save the world through social media.

Don’t get us wrong, we love Social Media Marketing and believe it is an effective marketing tool. But, this marketing methodology serves business to consumers much better than business to business companies, especially if the former is a larger size business.

Most Social Media traffic hitting a B2B focused site coming in from a Social Media Platform (Twitter or Facebook) is typically going to visit the Blog, as opposed to firing off an inquiry via a Contact Form.

Why? There is no no simple answer. But,  if you contrast Search Engine Traffic as an example versus Social  Media Traffic you’ll find search driven visitors are moving around a site, visiting key pages (Technology, Services, About Us, etc.) and some percentage are filling out inquiry forms; i.e. converting in marketing terms.

This is not usually the case with Social Media traffic - these visitors will click through to a Blog to read more about the company and then click away into the digital ether. They may register for a Newsletter or Blog (engagement) but the vast majority don’t make a request for sales assistance.

So, is Social Media Marketing beneficial for B2B companies. Yes, but should be done in tandem with Search Engine Optimization, Blogging, PR and other marketing methodologies to drive reinforcing brand awareness and lead generation.

Where or how is Social Media Marketing most effective for B2B companies? It can be extremely valuable for engaging with customers (Customer Service comes to mind), driving broad brand awareness that compliments other forms of marketing (again SEO, PR, Blogging). But, at the end of the day B2B companies are not going to drive lots of leads via Social Media.

For those of us in the SEO biz, one maxim we’ve used for years is that not all traffic is created equal. When you apply analytics to inbound traffic the source will vary often determine the quality of the traffic. This same maxim holds true for Social Media Traffic versus other types. We’ll talk about B2C and Social Media at a later date - come back for an update.

Worst Portal Design: Yahoo vs. MSNBC

We can’t decide which major portal has the worst Interface Design Yahoo or MSNBC’s latest updated design.

At least the MSNBC index page is not as bad as the interior pages. The latter have perhaps the greatest mashup of Content we’ve ever seen - Ads, Social Bookmarking and Text and Video Content are all squashed together with (count them!) four rows of Universal Menus at the top of the page and bottom.

And, just to make sure the visitor is overloaded with data they’ve added a “More From MSNBC” Section at the bottom of most major pages. The whole site is sensory overload at it’s worst - it’s the digital version of a Lady Gaga design! Toss this design out and start over!

Yahoo’s Days of Yesteryear

Yahoo’s design is now as ancient as an Atari game console! It’s time for a much needed makeover of Yahoo’s index and interior pages - Yahoo has had this Directory look since the .com days on their index page. It’s crying for a dramatic makeover as befits a portal with this much great digital DNA.

What’s the deal with the links from the index page into other Yahoo properties?  Their is no design continuity at all among most of these island sites.

Your looking at a textual directory site one minute with random images and ads - one click in an your looking at a web property Yahoo has either bought or created. with an entirely different menu, user interface, social media enablers, etc. New meaning for dazed and confused!

Our vote for the worst site from a visitor’s perspective - a dead heat! It’s like comparing being told you have jury duty to getting that postcard from your dentist letting you know it’s time to come in for a checkup…….