Well, as I shared in a recent post I have been conference hopping and having a blast! Today, I want to share my experience attending the Mesh Marketing 2011 (#MM11) conference. Definitely worth the trip. A wonderful conference with speakers who have been in the social media trenches and have surfaced as victors. My highlights were Greg Hounslow of WestJet (Community Outreach) Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion, Marcus Wilson of IdeaPaint (Value and Role of Content Marketing); and Joe Fernandez of Klout (Measuring Influence). By far the most charismatic was Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion. Having said that, the day was full of great practical advice and tangible tips. I have mined the tweets, the comments and my notes. As one of the great take-aways was the importance of questions (a topic I am very passionate about and you will hear more when I post Q for Questions), I am going to share the Mesh Marketing 2011 thinking in the form of questions! Hang on, here we go…..
Social Media and Business
- Help! How do I convince our executive to be in social media? Do the market research. Get the numbers. Do the comparison. Convince them that getting any form of customer feedback is a good thing. Post-conference, Marcus Sheridan wrote a blogpost further expanding on this question and response.
- Our business is different. Social media will not work for us. Gosh, if I had a dollar for every time I heard this when I led business initiatives, I would be a rich women! So it is interesting hearing “this crutch” for not doing social media.Yep, that is my perspective. This is being resistant to change. It was great to hear the panel address this with a consistent response. Guess what, your business is not the exception. The fundamental principles of content and social media remain the same regardless of what space you occupy.
- I am not sure what consumers are expecting of me in social media. Don’t fake it! We are in an age of subscription, not submission and so being transparent is key to your credibility. Even if you are operating in a digital world it is all about the brand experience and credibility.
- How does social media differ from the real world? “Social has everything to do with the real world. I cannot help myself, this gave me goose bumps. Social media is another channel to your marketing strategy. How is your audience experiencing your brand? This is how we should be looking at social media and follow-through accordingly.
- What social media platform should I use? Facebook? Twitter? What? I have said this many times so it was great to hear this emphasized at the event. “Don’t start your social media planning with a tool or platform”. First focus on your strategy and plan. What are you trying to achieve? This will dictate what social tools you will use.
- Where do I start with social media? Develop a vision for social media that aligns with the overall company strategy, values and vision. Define your brand. What is your voice? What do you intend to be? Be crystal clear on what the brand is before implementing your social media strategy.
- Is there a preferred way of using Facebook vs Twitter? Both are valuable and again it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Some have found Facebook is better for selling, providing recognition or awards as the messages stick around longer. Others have found Twitter is better for direct, quick conversation and broadcasting deals.
- How much is the workload for social media? You really need to plan for adding social media and guess what? Plan for success! WestJet did not anticipate how fast it would grow. If they had to do it again, they would definitely ensure the appropriate capacity within the organization right at the beginning. So, yes work is required and like all new programs you need to plan for it. Do not make the mistake that resources are not required.
- How do I control social media within my organization? Number one: trust your social media leader or team to make smart decisions and to do the right thing.
- I am concerned that I might make mistakes. What will I do? You will. Now isn’t that liberating! There will be bumps in the road – that’s a reality. What is important is that you own your mistakes. Again don’t fake it, be responsive and be transparent.
- At the end of the day, I am a business. When can I sell on social media? Brag when appropriate and in the appropriate space. Your blog is for your consumers – this is where you are building the relationship and therefore the posts should be written for them. The rest of your website can be all about you and your business! Knock yourself out.
- What about these deals? Should I consider this? Now, even the most savvy, wealthy consumer wants a deal! So you have to offer something of value. You always need to give value back to the customer. Integrate this into your plans. Ensure that your sales pitch, deals and discounts are delivered in the appropriate channels, separate from the customer service arm.
- I am not comfortable selling? Then become a good storyteller and teacher. If you can tell the story, educate your audience you will ultimately sell.
- What about legal? How do you bring them along? Point taken. Getting the Legal department’s buy-in and developing a process are critical to success. Ensure you have good clarity around accountabilities, decision-making and communications before you start. Then hold everyone true to the agreement.
- If I have many accounts on different social media sites, can I use the same plan on all of them? One strategy will never work across all the sites. Customize your content for each space.
- I have a Facebook page. Isn’t that enough? It is easy to set up a page but how you use it to drive your business is another thing. Think it through and ask the question, are you meeting your goals? Are you getting the anticipated results?
- I have lots of followers on Twitter. Now what? I love the following quote “There is power in numbers but sincerity in singularity”. There is so much value in developing the one-on-one relationships. When someone follows you, take time to make contact. There is such a big misconception out there, that the most influential contacts on social networks are those with the most fans. Wake up call! The most influential contacts have a really engaged audience.
- How do I involve the organization at large in social media? It is important that employees are clear of their parameters. Setup internal employee social media guidelines. Offer internal resources. Educate. Then trust them. For the record, the best content ideas come from front-line staff who work directly with customers. So you may want to consider starting there.
- How can I use social media internally? Many companies neglect to see the value of leveraging social tools internally. This is a such a missed opportunity. WestJet is an excellent example of a social organization. They essentially practice what they preach using social media to engage their customers AND to engage their employees.
- Who should be the organizational voice of social media? This really depends on your organization. You can have different people contributing to your social media platform as long as the brand tone is consistent and maintained. Be consistent with everything you do
- How can I recognize and award my customers? A really good tip from the Sales Lion and that is to write a blog post giving awards to your customers. Your competitor will also be compelled to link to it – bonus! Word!
- What does the future hold for social media? In the future, we will have access to very rich data. This will enable a) more targeted messages; b) more customization and personalization of your brand; c) providing the customer a choice where to receive their messages in whatever format they want; d) deeper social integration with the consumer; and e) more consumer listening capabilities.
- Where should we innovate as a company? Companies should be innovative at all levels in the organization.
- OK, what is content marketing in layman’s terms? Simply put, this is educational content for your customers that is also part of your content marketing plan or strategy. When you think about it, the core of social media is content. If you have compelling content, it will resonate with your audience. Marketing is storytelling. Every blogpost you write becomes a sales tool for your sales team or sales toolkit.
- I am worried about negative feedback I might get about my business.The reality here is that there will always be some form of feedback out there. This is a great opportunity to tap into it. In fact the best time to interact with consumers is when they are being very positive ( which you can leverage) or being very negative (which you can address). It is far worse to have negative feedback out there that you are neither aware of or in a forum where you cannot address it. Don’t let your competitors beat you to it. People may complain on social media but what is important is that you are there to respond. Do everything you can to convince your brand that it is OK to receive negative feedback.
- What am I going to blog about? Every business has customers. All customers have questions. There! You have topics to blog about and in so doing giving you content. Use the questions your customers ask to develop amazing content. If someone is going to spend money on something, they always have questions about it. Know your audience and produce content for them, not for yourself.
- How can I generate keywords to improve my search rankings? Again, talk to your customers to generate ideas for keywords you can include in your blog. Stop looking at Google (or Bing) for all your answers and ideas. For every sales call/meeting you have, write down all of the questions. This will generation great content and excellent key words. The best keyword tool in social media is not a search engine. It’s your customer.
- Well, there are some customer questions I don’t want to answer online. AKA Fear- Based Marketing. If you address the questions that you know customers are going to ask, that everyone else is afraid to answer, you will lead the pack. The items that often fall in this category are cost, price, competitive comparisons. The reality is, if a customer phones you directly, you would answer the question. So why not address them on your site. The Sales Lion did just this and in so doing increased his traffic significantly and set his site apart from the competition. Be proactive and address the questions no one else will- you will build credibility and quality relationships.
- It is hard to create content. Content should come naturally when you believe in your product and business. Find your passion and run with it.
- How should I write this blog?Avoid jargon. Keep it simple. Think of yourself as a kinder-garden teacher when delivering your message. Have you seen the movie “Philidelphia”? I have always liked the quote “Explain it to me like I am a 6-year old”. I have often used this analogy. It is consistent with the thinking shared at this conference. You should produce content thinking as consumers, in a language that people will understand.
- What about setting the tone in your blogs? It is important not to just talk at people, but to open it up and let people talk to you. Make it a dialogue not a monologue.
- I don’t have time to write blogs? The question here really should be “Do you have time to create value for your business?” If you believe it is of value, you will create time for it – integrating it as part of your daily business operation. So find the time.
- Do I have to add videos, isn’t writing enough? It is important to tailor your content to different thinking styles. Incorporating video, audio, and pictures supports this notion. You should also note that there are more YouTube video views than Google searches. So by adding videos to your blog, you potentially also increase the traffic to your blog.
- This sounds like it will increase my sales cycle. Does it? Content marketing actually reduces the sales cycle; Content is one of the best sales tool when used the right way.
- How do you motivate people to write the blog posts? For the most part people want to be part of the team, especially a winning team.Social media does that. When the power and value of good, quality content are understood, your people will be converts and selling is no longer the issue. Trust your people.
- Is there such a thing as too much content? You do need to find the balance and again, good quality content is key.
- Who should I share my content with inside an organization? Be sure to share your content with your marketing and customer service teams. Content created is a valuable asset for organizations and should be shared with customer facing departments.
- Not everyone reads the whole article or blog, so what is the point? Try adding a video or image. Cover different learning styles. An article with a video in it targets those that like images. You need to consider more than one format in your content to reach all types of customers (video for visual learners, articles for textual learners, etc.)
- How long should I use a particular post or content? It is important to use your content throughout the entire sales cycle. Once you have attracted a potential customer and you have converted to a buying customer think about customer advocacy as part of the next step in your marketing strategy.
- What about backlinks? If you focus on creating great content, the backlinks will take care of itself.
- How do I know if my online “shopper” is serious about my product? Tip: The longer the search phrase that is used by the potential cusotmer, the more serious the shopper. So if you own the long tail search phrases in your industry, you’re going to increase the traffic of potential “buyers” to your site.
- I don’t have time to respond to customers on Twitter? Or Facebook? Most of the time, the response required is quite basic. So find the time to respond, this will build so much goodwill. We must become a company of Listeners!
Influence and Klout
- Why has the Klout scores changed?! Globally, behavior is changing everyday and so Klout had to change to align accordingly. Secondly, there were a lot of Gamers pushing their scores that were not necessarily aligned to the intent of the rating. Key to influence is trust and context. As a result, Klout had to improve and change. There is a lot of focus right now in adding more context around the one score; It is not just about how many followers you have. It is more about the engaged followers you have.
- When does my personal brand matter? Quote “Once your real name is online your personal brand starts to matter.” I think we should note this and manage our brand and reputation accordingly. It is a very important point.
- Who really has influence? Everyone online has influence, it’s about finding out what they’re influencial about. Klout is a tool that can help with that
- How much data does Klout actually process? Klout processes 20 terabytes of data per day!
- I have a Klout rating of 50. Is that good? Yes. Ratings in the 50s are good. Joe Fernandez further expands “However nowhere else in your life is 50 ,52 a good number! And there is our dilemma.” The Klout Score is about engagement. The landscape is changing so fast, we have to keep evolving. The key is to explain to people why.
- As a small business owner, how does Klout help me? Klout is a good tool to assist you in the development of your personal brand. Online only about 30% actually create content . So if you don’t create content, you can use Klout to help target credible sources.
- Are Influencers a new concept? No. We have just added the concept of measuring it.
- How private is my data in the public arena? If you have decided to post public data, then Klout is going to analyze that data.
- Who does not have influence? Everyone online has influence, it’s about finding out what they’re influencial about.
There! My favorite word of the day was WORD!! and My favourite quote of the day: CONTENT IS KING
This was a day well spent with some really good people! I love these social media pearls. Now it is your turn. Do complete the poll below.
If you were there, feel free to add your perspective. If you were not there, still add your perspective. Lets continue the conversation.
As always, thank you for visiting. If you enjoyed do like or +1 the post. Feel free to knock yourself out and share the this post with your network. LOL!
The wonderful photos of the event were supplied by Alexa Clark! Thank you so much
Cartoon used with the permission of the Cartoonist.
- Social Media A to Z Series: K is for Klout. 10 Ways Businesses Are Using Your Klout Score, Whether You Are A Member Or Not. (socialmediapearls.wordpress.com)
- Introducing Social Media to Your Business (customerthink.com)
- Top 5 Myths About Social Media for Business (ipwatchdog.com)
- Content Strategy Lessons (Sandra Gornall)