Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

7 Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Marketing Campaigns

There’s so much talk about engagement and conversations when it comes to social media that it tends to overshadow how social media can also be used to drive a company’s marketing and sales efforts.

In particular, social media monitoring and analytics can be effective ways to monitor the success of an online and off-line marketing campaign to give brands the insight to make on-the-fly tactical tweaks that can have a major impact.

So what are the keys to having a marketing campaign supported by social media?

1. Establish a target audience so benchmarks can be created and monitored: An important consideration is making sure there is  flexibility to account for insight from social media monitoring. For example, there could be an initial belief the most reaction to a marketing campaign will occur on Twitter but, for whatever reason, it takes place on Facebook. This insight can let a brand shift in focus in mid-stream.

2. Make sure there is creative messaging: Keep in mind social media services are tools to deliver content and have two-way conversations. The key to a marketing campaign is creative content layered on top of the social media services being used. It could be the use of videos (e.g. T-Mobile or Old Spice), contests, compelling content such as blog posts, or beautiful photography.

3. Talk the way the community talks: By monitoring how language is being used (aka semantics), brands can better connect with target audiences by communicating in a way that resonates and makes sense.

4. Media placement: As part of a marketing campaign, brands will use a variety of mediums to reach consumers. Some of them will work better than others, and social media monitoring and analytics can help to determine whether one approach should get more attention, while another approach should be toned down.

5. Promotional offers: There may not be such thing as a free lunch but consumers love getting stuff on social media, even if the prizes are fairly modest. By offering prizes, discounts, coupons or special access, brands can encourage consumers to connect with them (e.g. a follow or a “Like”), as well as drive word of mouth.

6. Leverage key influencers: There is a lot of talk about influence and influencers because they give brands the opportunity to tap into someone else’s network to drive broader attention. By identifying influencers AND listening to what they’re talking about, brands can adjust their marketing efforts to drive better results.

7. Global versus local campaign changes: Knowing where your audience exists geographically is a key element because it gives brands insight into whether their overall goals and target audiences are being reached. By using social media monitoring tool, brands can determine the location of activity on a local, regional and national basis.

At the end of the day, social media monitoring and analytics can deliver the insight and intelligence needed to have marketing campaigns that feature flexibility and agility as part of the success formula. By being able to introduce tweaks along the way, it can help to drive leads and sales, which, after all, is the ultimate goal.

For more insight into how social media monitoring and analytics can be a key part of a marketing campaign, Sysomos has a free whitepaper within its business library.

What’s Your Tolerance for Twitter Ads?

It has taken awhile – probably too long – but Twitter is finally starting to deliver ads within the live streams of users.

In theory, these ads will subtly blend in, appearing as relevant and contextual as opposed to sticking out like a sore thumb.

The question is how much tolerance users will have for these ads. Will they accept them once every 25 tweets, once every 50 or once every 100? Right now, it’s hard to tell because the program has yet to go full-blast but the initial response seems mixed.

Some Twitter users have expressed various degrees of dislike for the idea, which isn’t surprising given they have enjoyed an advertising-free Twitter experience to date. On the other hand, there are some people who seem receptive to the idea, as long as it is not intrusive.

Like anything new, there will be different reactions Twitter will have to handle as its advertising business gains traction and more advertisers come on board.

At the end of the day, Twitter has little choice but to introduce advertising to monetize its 200 million users. In-stream advertising is such low-hanging fruit that Twitter can no longer afford not to enthusiastically embrace it as a way to finally create a business model to support its costs and the expectations of its investors.

Sure, there will be some grumbling from a minority of users but given Twitter has little choice but to accept advertising, any pushback will be the price of admission into a market that could prove to be lucrative.

At the end of the day, advertising within live streams will become part of the landscape – something few people will think about anymore or, for that matter, worry about it. After while, most people will probably stop noticing when ads appear in their Twitter streams. It’s not that they will ignore ads but the ads will no longer jump out every time they appear.

If Twitter can attract enough advertisers, it may be able to achieve the same kind of win-win scenario for advertisers and consumers as Google’s AdSense program, which has become a highly profitable multi-billionaire dollar machine.

The key will be making the in-stream ads so relevant they meet the specific interests of Twitters users and, at the same time, blend into the background because they seem like a natural part of the overall experience.

According to eMarketer, 600 companies were advertising on Twitter by June compared with 150 at the end of 2010. This is not a surprise given the size of the audience. It will be interesting to see how these ads are received and the benefits delivered to advertisers. Emarketer said 80% of advertisers have renewed their campaigns while the engagement rate for an ad has been an impressive 3% to 5%.

It will also be interesting to see how Twitter can grow its network of advertising partners, much like Google has done by striking deals with Web sites to run ads. If Twitter can make money from these partnerships, it could reduce some of the antagonism between the company and the developer community.

Despite it being early days, it would difficult not to see advertising becoming a major business for Twitter, which should relieve some of the pressure it has been experiencing as it scrambles for ways to make money.

Social Media & “What’s In it For Me?”

Many companies that have embraced social media promote this activity on billboards, magazines, newspaper and television ads, their Web sites and marketing collateral.

But far too often they fail to make it clear to consumers why they should actually follow, like or subscribe. Their social media activities are just put out there with logos slapped on a Web site, billboard or marketing brochure.

The problem with this approach is it fails to embrace the classic “What’s in it for me?” question that every brand should provide consumers who are looking for reasons to get involved. If there are no benefits, incentives or “carrots” (aka rewards, contests, prizes, etc.), there is little reason for consumers to make an investment (time, energy, etc.) in the brand. In other words, companies need to give consumers real reasons to get involved.

Instead, too many brands seem to think that simply promoting their social media presence is enough to encourage people to jump on the bandwagon. The assumption is once people follow, like or subscribe, they will quickly recognize the benefits being offered – whether its content, contests, giveaways, polls, etc.

In many respects, it’s like owning a store that has signs in the window that read “Come on it!” or “We’re Open” with no other information such as “50% Off Sale” or “Buy Two, Get One Free” signs. If you don’t provide people with reasons to come into the store, they probably won’t do it.

There is a lot of talk about engagement when it comes to social media but the engagement has to start before people become part of the corporate fold. Engagement needs to happen from the start of the potential relationship; it needs to happen as part of the pitch to get involved.

How Many Carrots Within the Social Menu?

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

And, for that matter, there is no such thing as a freebie within social media when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of consumers. At the end of the day, social media is a “what’s in it for me” medium in which brands need to reward consumers on a regular basis.

While it may sound somewhat harsh to describe it this way, the reality is most consumers need to be given incentives if they are going to be engaged or stick around. It’s something I describe as “carrots”. Brands put a carrot on a stick so that consumers are motivated to get involved.

Carrots can be something as straightforward as prizes or free stuff (e.g. a free bagel from Einstein Bros. Bagels or a free pastry from Starbucks), it could be a contest in which consumers have to upload a photo or video for the chance to simply be recognized by the community, or it could be a simple poll or question.

Whatever type of carrot is selected, the goal is getting and keeping consumers engaged and interested after the “Like”, follow, join or subscribe has happened. Without carrots, the number of people who stay engaged start to disappear. This means if even you have thousands of “Likes”, for example, but it doesn’t matter if only a small percentage are participating on a regular basis.

My take is that carrots and content – aka the two C’s – are a dynamic and necessary one-two punch when it comes to attracting and keeping consumers on social media. If you don’t feed consumers enough of either “C”, they likely won’t stick around for long.

Five Social Media Marketing Mistakes

A few days ago, Mashable had a good post about the five marketing mistakes made on Facebook, which inspired me to create a list on the five social media mistakes overall.

1. Unrealistic expectations. Even though there may be less hype about social media, many companies still believe it is a silver bullet or magical solution that will generate fantastic results in a short period of time – be it more sales, better customer service, more Web site traffic or more buzz. It often means companies are disappointed when they don’t get instant gratification from their social media efforts. As a result, they lose their enthusiasm for social media or abandon it altogether.

2. Not recognizing there is a lot of grunt work involved. Social media just doesn’t happen. It requires an awful lot of work on a day in, day out basis. After the strategic plan has been created, the real work starts to happen when the tactical plan is executed. It requires someone to invest the hours to create content, engage with consumers, build a community and establish a vibrant presence.

3. Adopting a shot gun approach in which multiple social media services are launched at the same time based on the idea more is better. What usually happens is companies spread themselves too thin and, as a result, their efforts are, at best, mediocre. Instead, they should focus on doing less but doing it as well as possible. Only after establishing some traction should additional social media services be considered.

4. Not listening. In the scheme of things, listening is one of the most important things a company can do on social media. As much as creating content and engagement are crucial, listening is a key element because it offers companies insight, information and intelligence to effectively target their social media efforts. Too many companies are so intent on talking that they forget about listening, or make it a secondary consideration.

5. Creating social media as a standalone or silo-ed activity. Social media can do a lot of wonderful things but it can’t succeed or even establish a solid foothold without support from other parts of the organization. Many companies, however, think social media is so magical it doesn’t need any support to thrive. Some of the common mistakes include not highlighting their social media services prominently on the Web site, or not mentioning social media within sales or marketing collateral. In an ideal world, social media supports a company’s other activities, AND a company’s other activities support social media.

Any other common mistakes that companies make? Leave a comment to let us know.

Love Your Social Media, Don’t Orphan It

When many companies get into social media, one of the strange offshoots of their enthusiasm is they place their social media efforts into a silo.

This often happens because a company is so focused on making social media happen they forget to integrate it into the other parts of the business.

It’s a situation that emerges because the effort to create and launch a social media strategy and then implement a tactical plan can take a lot of time and energy.

This means the idea of blending social media into their communications, marketing and sales activity may appear like a different project altogether – something that would take a separate plan to implement.

The reality, however, is social media must be part of the overall mix from the beginning.

When a company starts to explore the idea of embracing social media, it also needs to think about how social media will support its communications, marketing and sales efforts. As important, a company needs to consider how its communications, marketing and sales efforts will support social media.

In other words, you want to create an ecosystem in which cross-pollination makes 1 + 1 = 3.

The worse thing a company can do is put social media into a separate silo or make it a corporate orphan left to its own devices. Without the support of the organization, social media can suffer and fail due to a lack raison d’etre.

The bottom line is social media needs to be embraced and cherished by everyone. When that happens, there are benefits for everyone involved.

Who Owns Social Media: Marketing or Communications?

As more companies climb on the social media bandwagon, one of the key strategic and tactical questions is: who “owns” it within the corporate structure?

Is it the communications and media relations department that handles external and internal communications to a variety of stakeholders?

Or is the marketing department, which is responsible for determining how to engage and reach consumers?

It is an interesting question because both department have legitimate claims to social media given the roles it can serves. You could also make an argument for sales, although its claim isn’t as strong as marketing or communications.

As a former journalist, my bias lies with communications taking the lead role because social media has much to do with creating and delivering messages and stories, as well as building relationships with consumers. This is something that communications departments have done over the years, while marketing has been a one-way medium that talks to consumers but not with them.

By its very nature, communications seems better suited to embrace social media in ways that marketing still isn’t suited to do. And let’s not talk about whether sales should be involved.

Regardless of who you believe should oversee social media, the most important consideration is that a particular department take responsibility for managing and operating social media activities. This is a much better alternative than allowing social media to operate as a standalone entity left to its own devices.

What do you think? Who should be responsible for social media within the corporate world?

Will Social Media Kill Traditional Advertising?

In the scheme of things, social media marketing is a small drop in the bucket compared with the $450 billion global advertising market and the $50-billion online advertising market.

But given the growing interest in social media marketing as a powerful and effective way to connect and engage with consumers, does this mean seismic changes in the advertising world are only a matter of time?

Here’s another take: if social media advertising let companies:

- engage and build strong relationships with consumers
- gives consumers ways to share information, content and recommendations about products and services
- makes it easier for companies to measure the impact of their efforts

…..does this mean it’s only a matter of time before social media rules the roost?

We’re starting to see many companies (include large players such as P&G and Uniliver) allocate more of their advertising budgets to social media, although in the scheme of things, it’s still a small piece of the overall pie.

But there’s little doubt social media will become a bigger part of the pie. So the question is what other advertising vehicles will surrender turf?

Newspapers are already suffering as more advertising dollars move online while television advertising is under threat by the a fragmented universe that includes a growing number of online competitors.

Ironically, one of the strongest traditional advertising mediums is one of the oldest – radio, which continues to hold its own.

It would be unrealistic to suggest social media and online advertising is going rule the global advertising business any time soon but as more people get their entertainment, content and education online, more dollars will flow to social media marketing, and away from the old guard advertisers mediums.

For another take on the impact of social media on advertising, check out this post, which argues the outdoor ads will be the only platform to survive social media.

Social Media and the Art of the Soft Sell

It goes without saying that social media has emerged as a powerful and effective sales and marketing tool. It explains why a growing number of companies are happily jumping on the bandwagon as a way to boost their online presence.

One of the key lessons that many companies are learning, however, is that social media is not a place for the hard sell. Unlike other mediums, companies that try to blatantly pitch their goods and services are penalized rather than rewarded.

This is a difficult reality for many companies to understand or accept because it means changing their behaviour, as well as the way they have done business for years. Social media is not a broadcast medium in which yelling louder or more often than the other guy works effectively.

Rather than slapping someone in the face to get their attention, you give them a nice, friendly social media hug. Instead of repeatedly telling to consumers about how wonderful your product or service is, you whisper it in their ears.

In other words, it’s all about the soft sell rather than the hard sell. It’s about getting the message across without having to be blatantly obvious about it. If the product or service is any good, consumers will likely gravitate to it.

Here’s some tips about the “soft sell”:

1. Don’t try to sell.

2. Be subtle rather than blunt. Rather than selling all the time, relax and let your product or service doing the talking.

3. Provide information and insight about a variety of topics that engage, entertain or educate. This will provide the opportunity to also talk about your products or services without getting pushback from consumers.

4. Make sure you give and take. The more you give, the more you can take.

5. If you are going to promote a product or service, talk about the benefits and features. Provide consumers with a reason why they care or pay attention, otherwise they will quickly move on to the next conversation.

Sysomos Unveils Audience for Social Media ROI

We’re excited to announce the preview release of Sysomos Audience, an innovative and disruptive service that measures social media ROI.

Audience is aimed at digital marketers, community managers and sales professionals looking to learn more about their potential customers and their value. Audience fills the significant gap between Web analytics services, which provide information about what is happening on your Web site, and social media monitoring services that track who is talking about your company or brand.

Audience’s user-friendly features provide information and intelligence about what your potential customers are doing online, and the Web sites and blogs influencing them the most.

“We believe Audience will revolutionize the way that key stakeholders understand the online ecosystem around their brands,” said Nick Koudas, Sysomos’ chief executive and co-founder.

“Audience tells you why someone visited your site, their importance and potential value. Audience helps you optimize your social strategy by providing the ability to really understand what is working and what isn’t within your social marketing campaigns and engagement efforts”.

Continue reading the full release announcement for Audience and to watch an introduction video.