We have been talking a lot lately about… talking. When we should be doing a lot more… doing. So the thought for this post, interestingly enough, bubbled up from a client request, that I should supply a document that mapped out the ways that you can blend social media into your marketing mix. So what I’ve done is supplied the tool or the platform, how I used it, what was the time suck and what were the results. Hopefully this will shed a little light on what the heck we’re doing and why we talk about it so much. Keep in mind one thing though- I do not get into the number of hours I put into meetings, documents, strategy docs, client objectives, client objections, proposals, pitches, the number of clients I pitched, the number of proposals rejected, the number of times I’ve been told that it doesn’t work, the number of times there is no response and the number of times I’ve educated the client and then have had them put into action on their own, what I have told them they need to do and why they should use us…So this is also for them. If you’re going to do it, at least do it with some knowledge of what you’re doing!
1) Twitter. You’ve heard of Twitter but why use it? Twitter helps you monitor conversations about anything that might be relevant to you and your company. You don’t even have to actively participate to monitor it.
Time suck rating: Depending on how much you want to monitor and participate. Give it a rating of 5/10
Use case: Created structured conversations around hashtag to create community, market under the radar, build credibility and lead source. Monitor clients,products,industry,city,state,region. Ex: hashtagsocialmedia.com
2) Search is not going away soon. Universal search is looming larger and larger by the day. Universal search blends listings from news, video, images, local and book search engines as well as social media elements compiled from Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube. By understanding the value of Search and it how it plays into the overall strategy of your company and it’s goals and objectives, the better you will understand the importance of having more than just a “cup of coffee” type of presence with each of the above listed elements and sites. There is such a direct correlation between search and everything that people do on a day to day basis that to underestimate or devalue it is a grave mistake.
Time suck rating: Extensive. 9/10
Use case: Created reputation management program built on all elements of search using Flickr micro-websites, robust white hat SEO tactics and product specific blog sites. Results were reduction in negative websites and mentions. Increase in traffic and visibility.
3) Social Bookmarking- In recent years, social bookmarking has become more sophisticated, somewhat diminished and yet no less important. Important to what? Social bookmarking adds a great deal of efficiency to your searches-That’s right, SEARCH, for useful information on the web. That information will be about you and your company. Not only are resources easier to find, but your company is easier to find as well. This means additional promotional opportunities for you and your brand by being able to better target people who will be interested in what your company is about. Example sites of Social bookmarking are Digg and StumbleUpon and Delcio.us
Time suck rating: Not bad 3/10
Use case: Created corporate profiles on the top social bookmarking sites, seeded each site every day with a new blog post or link revolving around relevant product, service, company, or industry. Resulting in hundreds of links, tags and bookmarks relating back to corporate and product. Results were seen in less than 6 months in the SERPS.
4) YouTube-Video is permeating our lives. It had been for awhile, but we just didn’t call it video, we called it TV or we called it,”the movies”. Today we call it online video. You don’t have to look farther than YouTube, and Hulu to see the value of it. But did you know how much video is tied into search? That’s right we’re back to search again. As another channel to push out content you’ve created, which search engines love, to tag that content, which search engines devour, and to find ways for others to take your content and embed it on their sites perhaps, means that video is a perfect vehicle to take your message further than any other content that you might have, short of a widget. What does it require? A $30 webcam and some creativity. The payoff? The chance that your content can go viral. Example: Musician hoping to get a million views in one year of his music video appeal to United airlines about his damaged guitar-gets 4.5 million in less than a month.
Time suck rating: Pretty easy 4.5/10
Use case: Created and embedded Youtube videos on client site and blog with relevant tags and keywords resulting in continuous and steady traffic every day to blog site. Blog site links back to product site resulting in sales growth of 11% directly attributable to video.
5) Flickr- We all have cameras embedded in our phones now right? Digital cameras are dirt cheap and you have products, employees, conferences, meetings and content just waiting to be tagged and… searched upon. Understand this, “every digitized element that you have in house, now has the potential to be searched upon”!. What makes that point more important and relevant, is that there are now more social sites than ever before to accommodate and house those elements. For what it’s worth, and or until the top SE’s change their algorithm, there is a very strong tie between search and social networks. Which means that your Flickr photos and their associated tags, will show up in image searches as well in some standard searches. What does this mean to you? A chance to push out more content about you and your company…Again. Requirements? Your ability to understand the upload function of social sites and how to manipulate and tag your pics.
Time suck rating: Nominal 5/10
Use Case: Created Flickr product accounts for CPG’s with relevant tags and keywords all pointing back to product/e-commerce page as well as to customer forum; and additionally corp. blog site. Results were direct and indirect traffic, as well as image sharing requests with requisite track backs to product and growth in the SERP’s.
6) Facebook- Facebook cannot be ignored. Does this mean that it becomes the primary focus of your organization? Not necessarily. But Facebook fan pages are a great way to market to people that are not registered with Facebook. Which means that fan pages are indexable. i.e. show up in search! The difference between fan pages and group pages are that with fan pages they are, for the most part, better for a long-term engagement with your fans, brand champions, and customers because the barrier for entry is low and the ability to push out information is real time and quick and easy to manage. Group pages are generally better for attracting quick attention but can be tough to sustain, though group members have the potential to become recruiters of the group site and can take it viral quick.. The requirements? Some type of comfort level of the tools, bells, whistles and apps available for the administrators; as well as and this important to note: The Privacy settings. FYI read them and understand them.
Time suck rating: Above average 6.5/10
Use case: Created fan page and group page sites for CPG, and Twitter site, which resulted in ongoing growing list of targeted brand champions, evangelists and new customers, as well as placeholder for announcements, offers and polling and 2-way messaging.
7) LinkedIn- Personally speaking, not only should each person within yours or any organization have a Linkedin profile, but even from a professional standpoint as well. What can you do with Linkedin? You can, in short order, join thousands of groups and associations, ask and answer questions associated with you and what your company does, create your own group or organization, find people and groups that do what you and your company do, and link to them and research the people or company that you are getting ready to hire or work with. If they are not on Linkedin. It is now an immediate red flag. The requirements: A little time to set up.
Time suck rating: Below average 3/10
Use case: Created interactive Q and A series resulting in corporate branding exposure, development of database of contacts, companies and potential partners. Also created Linkedin group resulting in over 300+ contacts.
8) Blogs- Don’t think their importance is diminishing just because of the advent of micro-blogs. They are still very relevant, very link friendly and can be integral to the success of some organizations. As well, they are not just place holders for the written word. They can now hold video, audio, podcasts, images, widgets and more.
Time suck rating: Blogging can be somewhat time intensive if the intent is to create another relevant, visible, and valuable vehicle for your message: 7/10
Use case: Created multiple corporate blogs to create 2 way conversation between customers and company, push down negative press and improve a tarnished corporate image as well as criticism stemming from negative public sentiment. Also created CPG blog to support product launches, latest consumer information as well as provide tips, links and resources to consumers and tire kickers.
9) Microsite development- Developing small relevant websites that revolve around your products, your company and your keywords is a great way to drive links, push out content and otherwise add to the search results for your product or company. They don’t need to be robust. They can be text heavy, link heavy or even video heavy, but creating content laden sites is a way to not only you’re your main site, but also as a way to amplify your message. If you are adept at HTML or if you prefer to use a CMS to fire up your micro-sites, either way is effective.
Time suck rating: Fairly laborious on the front end 7/10
Use case: Able to create multiple micro-sites for multiple clients resulting in positive search results, reputation management success and increased product and customer awareness as well as positive SERP results.
Note: Short of coining a new phrase I decided to call this blurb “macroblogging.” Twitter is called microblogging and the next step up would be these next 2 sites. Tumblr and Posterous. These 2 platforms are redefining what it means to blog. What these 2 sites/platforms are providing is a more, if that is possible, streamlined way to push out content to the masses in lieu of using a traditional blogging platform like wordpress or typepad. The upside? You guess it, search. They are simple to fire up and easy to Market, share and build. I have not yet used them extensively to provide a use case.
10) Community development- A number of years ago I started an online community to support a very popular consumer product at the time. To me it just made sense from a communication standpoint. It also made sense because we had a built in sounding board for new product releases, customer support and polls. Not only was the community an immediate success, it gave us insight into our typical customer’s mindset. We were able to test and float ideas before we took products to market. For the people of the community, all who were very passionate about the product, it gave them a place to hang out and bond. I’m not saying all products have that potential but there are numerous ways to create online communities around your brand champions and evangelists and customer service initiatives. They can be done via Facebook groups, Ning, Groupsite, Google groups and half a dozen template based sites.
Time suck rating: Can get labor intensive 8.5/10
Use case: Built, managed and recruited online community to support CPG. At its peak, it had 5,000 members contributing hundreds of posts and comments per day.
So as you can see from this list, these are only 10 scenarios of what has worked for me. There are other smaller examples that I have employed with a minor degree of marketing and branding success from podcasting, creating a nationally recognized personal blog, co-authoring a book, creating successful email campaigns, and personally building close to a 100 web sites. But let me reiterate This is what has worked and works for me when working with clients. I am comfortable with these 10 activities and their associated tools. I know there are more, and I’m learning more as I go, but I thought I should share what has worked for me so that others might learn as well. If you want to specifically explain how to do it, let me know and we’ll go from there!
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