Eight Things to do for Successful Social Media Marketing

Effective social media marketing has no magic formula! It blends disparate processes, technology and individuals together in a virtual world with no hard-wired environments or restrictions, ignoring  the time and space continuum!

Great Social Media Marketing has these elements:

1) An  understanding of disparate platforms and technology. Web 2.0 changed everything (sidebar: this link goes to Tim O’Reilley’s seminal blog in 2005 that defined Web 2.0) - to be successful in social media marketing, your brand needs to embrace many/many platforms, syndicate your content (text, images, video, audio, podcasts, blog posts, etc.) across all platforms.

2) Focus on task accomplishments - it’s critical to have specific social media marketing goals in mind; i.e. defined number of social goals (Followers, Likes, Mentions, References, Connections, ReTweets - engagement!) that are defined for a specific amount of time. The front end social media marketing processes involve taking specific actions across the social web that will engender some engagement, which should be task oriented and quantified.

3) Seize that social moment when presented - we are all insanely busy (the downside of being always on and connected across the social web) but when a form of interaction or connectivity occurs (this can also be a subset of CRM issues) take it and move from social interaction to real world (phone, email, Skype video conf call, etc.)

4) Focus on improving your knowledge - social media marketing is moving at a frightening pace. It’s a dynamic Eco-system with lighting fast changes in platform, processes and social interaction. It’s good to be mindful of the breakneck pace and slow down and take the time improve your knowledge base.

5) Be tenacious and realize your throwing digital paint on a wall and real social traction isn’t going to occur overnight unless your another celebrity on Twitter or Facebook. It takes time to build a meaningful social media marketing strategy and old fashioned grit.

Your going to get sick of seeing bios from attractive men/women on Twitter with thousands of Followers and no Tweets. Recognize many of these types of accounts are just empty social profiles and you need to wade through the social dreck, while keeping your eye on the prize.

6) Use a social filter at times - meaning, there is a lot of just awful junk  (dreck) going out on the social web. Do we all need to see another picture of a stupid pet trick, sunshine across a barren field (these are not Ansel Adams quality photos!) and/or another tacky political slogan meant for the social web.

We blame smartphone use and access for much of this crappy content - maybe “smartphones” may not be the right term. Regardless, you will need to wade through a lot of stuff on the social web that should never be shared.

7) Social relationships take time just like real world relationships. The positive is the social web has no boundaries and can be leveraged instantly; the down side is many assume once a connection is made it will move to a “real relationship” (ignoring Match.com and other dating sites) quickly - it will not in many cases. Social types want to see how authentic you are over a period of time. Taking a measure of your “pay it forward” personal or professional branding and the overall value of your social communications.

8) An awareness that there is a lot of disingenuous fools gold on the social web. We don’t want to sound too cynical. But, there are no barriers to social media marketing. Meaning there are endless reams and webinars about “instant success” on the social web. PT Barnum would have loved this medium. Just think, he did what he did with just newspaper advertising - Twitter and Facebook would have given him a market reach that would have made William Randolph Hearst jealous!

Go forth and multiply social readers. Comment away below - we’d love to hear your take on successful social media marketing!

Facebook Pages Embraces Brands

Facebook today announced a major departure in their advertising -  morphing their site from ads stuck  as an afterthought on the sidebar, into “front and center” advertising for new brands. Embracing a much more immersive advertising style for bigger brands - hello Madison Avenue, “we love you!!” Although, like any platform vendor, there is nothing wrong with leveraging user generated content to drive revenue and opportunity.

We see some of these advertising initiatives as a reflection of Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s increased focus on remaking the social marketing behemoth into a “Google killer” Ad Platform second to none in terms of ad reach and appeal to bigger brands. Although driving revenue generation for the upcoming IPO has to be part of the picture - they have to pay for those “McMansions” in tony Palo Alto, Woodside and Los Altos right?

The big picture on Facebook’s Marketing Initiatives:

  • Brands can now insert Ads, Videos and Coupons, etc. - any kind of marketing dreck big agencies can think of.  Just think: Miley Cyrus tunes in your NewsFeed.
  • Was Facebook’s Timeline roll out a “Trojan Horse” for ads? Looks like it. Now brands can build mini web sites right in the timeline - this will of course create new and much broader revenue opportunities and keep users in Facebook’s walled garden environment for longer periods.
  • This new strategy will also enable visitors to now see “friends” activity on a branded page - enabling Facebook to leverage it’s user community in a new way, driving relevance and social integration.
  • The Admin Tools section is also going through a much needed overhaul: admins will now be able to see the admin console at the to of any manage pages,  providing the admin with a new snapshot of activity and the ability to respond directly from messages from every day users.
  • This is to a certain extent a major overhaul of Facebook’s user interface - also featuring a new chronological timeline on the right hand side of the page that will enable brands to integrate milestone or noteworthy events in their history, which is a departure from the existing user interface and related advertising capabilities for brands.
  • Facebook embraces mobile  (40% of their traffic is via mobile access) - for the first time brands will have the abilty to target with ads for the vast droves of consumers who post a never-ending feed of pictures, graphics and images and believe the world needs more pictures of what they are eating for lunch……(we don’t think so).
  • Facebook is incorporating an algorithm (think Google’s still secret “page rank” sauce) that will have some impact on how/where a brand’s add appears in the newsfeed (or not). Details on this TBD for the moment.
  • This market juggernaut is being rolled out over the next thirty days and administrators will have the ability to react to and adjust their settings in a phased approach.

The jury’s out on these questions:

  • Will this breathe new life for Google+ (we don’t think so; they are late to market)?
  • How will the 870 million (and growing) Facebook user community react to “ad pollution” in their newsfeeds? Can you imagine a Porsche ad in a branded page for MADD? Expect to see reams of content in the Blogsphere around bad content and context moving forward. The opportunities for the latter will be endless.
  • Will big brands embrace this new format? Is this a trick question? No! Absolutely - let us be first to predict a new billion dollar plus (no pun intended) business has been born - ad agencies are already whetting their chops and thinking of new ways to introduce, impact, influence the user’s up till now protected content.
  • How will Google, Yahoo and Microsoft react? Read: lots of meetings, musings and anxiety in the Googleplex, Redmond and “new direction” Yahoo.
  • Who will take a stab at trying to integrate YouTube elements more deeply in the advertising experience via a branded page? Not for the faint of heart dear reader - Google has to pay to play in this new Facebook centric marketing world and this won’t be easy.
  • What are CRM implications for brands? Most are still struggling while trying to get their arms around CRM (customer relationship management) elements across the social web with challenges and processes via Twitter and Facebook alone. This new advertising immersive experience may require much more direct responses via a branded experience on Facebook. (App developers: opportunity awaits you.) The American consumer is not known for her/his patience!
  • Will the new admin tools finally give Facebook administrators much more robust analytics tools that are more closely aligned with Google Analytics? We hope so, these are needed.
  • How will the unending stream of game developers deal with a more intrusive adverting elements? Just think you may be able to play an exciting round of FarmeVille with friends and family and pick up an order of Round Up for your yard during the game…….marketers take note!

That’s out preliminary take on Facebooks new embrace of all things Madison Avenue - expect reams of digital content and much fawning of marketers moving forward over the next few weeks. If only Don Draper were here to think up a strategy.

Is Google+ Going the Distance?

Like every other social media geeks around the world we logged in to Google+ in awe for the first time and fell in love like George Clooney pursuing a super model du jour! It’s cool and we like the tight integration with other Google Applications, Products and Services.

Must admit, it’s about time somebody gives the runaway train known as Facebook a run for their money. It’s really two monopolistic behemoths battling each other for supremacy in the digital age. It will be fun to watch Facebook reverse engine Google Circles and Hangout in the not to distant future, judging from their past activities.

In the end, we think Twitter may have more to worry about than Facebook, although with a $7.7 Billion Valuation and having just raised beau coup bucks, Twitter should be in good shape. Although any company (Groupon, Facebook, Microsoft, Walmart, AT&T et al) looking at the Google freight train bearing down on them like the opening in Speilberg’s superb Super8 flick has reason to be nervous.

What we like about G+:

  • The User Interface is cool and not too geeky - clearly, Google has learned from their mistakes (Buzz) and come to market with an elegant, well designed and thought out robust social platform.
  • It’s easy to dive into Google+ (assuming you have some social media experience) and start building relationships and a stream.
  • We like Google’s categorization capabilities, enabling one to distinguish between Casual and Family (our terms).
  • The Google Profile, GMail, Picasa and related Google Apps/Product integration is seamless.
  • We love the “Twitter-like” ability to have non-reciprocal connections; you can follow anyone.

What we don’t like:

  • All together - “it’s another bloody social media platform that brands have to deal with.” Increasing time in the digital saddle and another set of apps, constructions, digital social mores, etc. to grasp and leverage. Your inbox just got busier!
  • This is not an application for a just getting started with social media person - it’s a Ferrari best taken out for spins by experienced drivers
  • One of the things we love about Twitter for our agency account and for multiple clients, is its inherent social glue capabilities; you can move that Twitter stream easily across a web site, LinkedIn, and many/many other platforms - Twitter personifies Web 3.0 connectivity. We don’t see this happening with G+ - this baby is going to be siloed forever within Google’s walled garden, unless Sergey Brin has a personality transplant.
  • The Privacy controls are anemic to say the least - this needs to be improved moving forward.
  • It’s a personal brand social network for now. Google avoided the still idiotic distinction that Facebook makes between Fan and Business pages. Maybe Google is going to sit back and think about this. Which is a good thing.

Stay tuned - the digital wars are just heating up! No words were harmed in this post………

Social Media Innovation Now Requires Effort

Social Media is evolving quickly - what you should be aware of:

  • Barriers to Entry are Rising.
  • Mobile usage is increasing.
  • Consumers getting “social media fatigue” (see Barriers to entry).
  • Social web is splintering into more diverse communities for some niches.
  • Creating high impact social media campaigns can necessitate usage of third party apps.
  • Noise Level is Increasing.
  • Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter are sucking some of the oxygen out of the social atmosphere.
  • Social Platforms are becoming more complex to use and leverage.
  • Bigger Brands are skewing ROI statistics and perception.
  • Video usage on the upswing.
  • Lots of confusion.
  • Old media embracing social web with uneven results.
  • Content costs are rising.

Offsetting these Trends:

  1. Creating and deploying high quality content is becoming increasingly important for your brand.  As more and more firms and individuals embrace social media, barriers to entry are rising and your messaging must be high quality to be heard in the marketplace.
  2. Ensure your social connections are more than that. Reach out and connect offline.  Move the social intro into a real world scenario that is conversation driven.
  3. Social babble (check ins, Twitpics of lunch, inane posts, etc.) creates an illusion for many. People are not necessarily what they seem to be online.  It’s becoming increasingly important to assess and weigh an individuals offline credentials to ascertain whether they are someone that you want to interact and/or work with.
  4. Use third party applications to aggressively build and measure your social media market presence. These can encompass relationship measurement tools like Klout or PeerIndex or for Twitter, third party apps like Social Oomph or TweetAdder that help you bulk up your account faster.
  5. There are a crop of startups that now help you to identify everyone you know across the social web by leveraging your email account including Nimble and CloudSponge.
  6. If your content messaging is not well defined and targeting you risk not getting heard in the marketplace. Relevancy is critical to ensuring your message is heard above the din in the marketplace.
  7. A YouTube channel is becoming an increasingly important tool for your social media marketing. Your account must be properly optimized to generate traffic. Like other social platforms, it’s becoming increasingly important to augment your presence with third party apps/services that drive high volumes of views and engagement such as Traffic Geyser.
  8. As content development costs continue to escalate, savvy brands figure out how to bring user generated content into the picture coupled with engagement. The former can be Blog comments (light UGC), guest blog posts, soliciting product reviews for usage via social accounts or web site, soliciting videos submissions to YouTube via contest. Engagement is just that - connecting with and interacting with individuals via the social web to move the relationship into the real world.

We’d love to get your thoughts, disagreements or challenges you are facing via comments below. Jump in and let us know………….

Social Media Marketing Has Turned the Page!

Clearly Social Media Marketing has moved out of the shadows into a front and center position in every marketing agency’s pitch session.  I don’t think this evangelical embrace of social media is all positive for many corporations and small to medium sized businesses. We see so much dreck that’s being passed off as “social media marketing” being foisted on unsuspecting businesses.

Good Social Media Marketing is not throwing up quick profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and having an intern start to push out a bunch of lousy content. Case in point, we talked with a client last week that wanted us to do exactly this and we told them no. End of story.

Great Social Media Marketing Campaigns Require these Elements:

1) Baseline understanding of and integrating Search Engine Optimization best practices with all Content, Platform Profiles and Web Site.

2) Setting up Google Analytics for ROI Analysis - if you don’t know where you started in terms of traffic, usability metrics you can’t measure a social media campaign.

3) Cross promoting social profiles to leverage content costs and to enable better content curation across the social web.

4) Building a social presence that is more than pushing out basic content. This may have been acceptable 12-18 months but it’s beyond the pale now.  This is about engagement.

5) It’s about call and response marketing. The wonderful underpinning of Gospel Music has always been “call and response” - a great Facebook marketing campaign necessitates comments on what’s being said on your fan page. You can’t let the conversation threads get pushed out without any dynamic interaction.

6) Measuring more than the number of Followers on Twitter, Likes via Facebook or the Number of Fans, number of Views of a YouTube account.  These metrics may have passed muster in the good old days but not now! You need to understand who is engaging with your brand by sharing, forwarding and/or moving your content to people they are connected with.  New Social Media Metrics:

  • Who is engaging with you via social influence aggregators like Klout and Peer Index. The real value of your social network will be determined by who is following and engaging with your brand, especially those that can influence others.
  • What actions are people taking in your social community that creates a lead, drives revenue opportunities or enables your brand to integrate CRM into your social stream. We called these “conversions” in the now ancient pre-Facebook days.
  • Who isn’t connecting with your brand via the social web. Take a holistic look at your customer focus so you can understand who isn’t connecting with you. This makes a comment on your overall social media marketing strategy.

7) Identifying reasonable demonstrable goals for your campaign that dovetail with your organization. Key word in this sentence is reasonable. Social media marketing shouldn’t be siloed, it needs to be integrated with PR, Print, Broadcast and Online Advertising.  You must set up a way to break out social media marketing analysis to properly measure ROI.

8) Grasping the fundamental dynamics of social media. Social media marketing is a superb tool for local businesses. A restaurant as an example can dominate highly targeted keywords using a simple Google Business Profile and then dovetail a vibrant campaign with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter that enables communication with and empowering new and existing customers.

If your a big national brand, then localized marketing is not a fit. Your entire baseline SEO and content development and curation strategy has to be targeted much differently. A blog should be the epicenter of your social media marketing, with a social platform strategy that dovetails with your Blog and that drives brand engagement.

9) Understanding how to position your brand above the noise level in the marketplace. I would wager 20% of the accounts on Twitter are just bot accounts with no human interaction. Whether we like it or not this is a reality for the time being. You have to work hard to build a brand on Twitter to make yourself heard above the incessant babble on Twitter that passes for content. How? Simple, create and curate good content and engage with the community. Everything else will fall in place.

Our social media platform of choice is Twitter - click here to connect! No words were harmed in this Blog!