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Communication of the Social Message: Tips for Business

For every brand, it’s important to think about public perception. How the public, your customers, thinks and feels about your company is vital for maintaining a competitive edge. Companies make impressions through their corporate message and how it’s delivered. As your organization grows, and you add talented players to your team, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that every member of your staff is on the same page. The last thing you want is for a team member to send out a Tweet or status update that’s completely at odds with your company’s overarching social message.

It’s also important to realize that your message may experience some shifts throughout the course of your company’s life. Every company needs technology to help keep everyone up to speed on your company’s branding message. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the resources and tools companies of all sizes should consider and implement.

Tools for Unifying Your Message

—     Collaboration Tools: Collaboration is the lifeblood of the modern business structure. With tools like hosted SharePoint services, companies of all types can stay connected in real time with employees. This is one of the most effective ways to keep everyone up to speed on branding. In most cases, if your employees are engaged with your collaboration platform, it’s easy to disseminate information in a way that is both non-intrusive and easy to access.

—     Cloud Data Access: Another similar way to deliver this information is through an integrated cloud storage service. Not unlike your collaboration tool, a cloud storage platform is a seamless way to deliver complex branding information in an easy-to-access package. While some companies are still wary of the cloud, studies indicate that more businesses are experiencing both the financial and logistical benefits of implementing cloud resources.

—     Virtualization Infrastructure: Regardless of what platform you use to deliver sensitive branding data to your staff, every company needs a powerful infrastructure to make branding data easily accessible for everyone. The problem many SMBs are facing relates to infrastructure itself. Smaller businesses often don’t have the financial resources to integrate and manage a dedicated server to deploy and manage complex branding and messaging information. This is why many SMBs are migrating to virtualized infrastructure solutions like virtual private server technology, which gives you the control and computing power of the cloud without costing what an entire cloud platform would.

Branding Communication is Serious Business

Keeping your team up to speed on your overall social message is no easy task. Not only is it difficult logistically, but you’ll come up against employees that disagree with how you approach your branding. It’s crucial to maintain dialogue about branding processes with your employees. If your employees weren’t on staff, they would be potential customers, so their feedback is valuable. The fact that not everyone is in the same geographic location can muffle this communication. Again, having powerful collaboration and cloud storage tools can serve as the proper remedy.

Social Media Positives: Conversion is Achieved with a Personal Touch

Marketing strategies are always evolving, and chances are, even the best methods today will be outdated within five years. However, that doesn’t mean that your business should ignore them. You need to be up-to-date with the best ways to reach your customer base, and right now, social media marketing is one of the methods at the top of the list. Familiarize yourself with the rules of the road when it comes to marketing on social media, both in terms of what to avoid and how to reach people and convert them into customers.

Remember you’re reaching individuals: Even if the person you’re marketing to is representing a company, you’re still interacting with an individual. Therefore, your marketing needs to have that personal appeal that will engage people. After all, your content is going to be lumped in with everything people are seeing from their friends, too. A casual voice, lighthearted tone and a little bit of personality will go a long way in connecting with your audience. Before posting anything, ask yourself whether it’s something you would be interested in looking at during your leisure time. If it’s not, rethink your content and adjust it to make it more interesting and relevant for the people you’re trying to reach.

Be trendy, but don’t break copyright: Sharing viral content on social media is all the rage, but you have to do so in a way that doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. For example, many companies ran into trouble when they tried to post Harlem Shake videos because of copyright issues with the song. The safe method is to reference trends, while still keeping all of your actual content original. That way you’ll attract the attention of your customers without running into legal issues.

Keep the conversation going: Social media marketing isn’t your traditional outbound marketing. Rather, it’s a continual conversation with the people who interact with your company or brand. People are going to be posting questions or comments directed at you, or replying to questions or comments you make. Therefore, you need to be checking these and engaging with the people who have made the effort to engage with you. This often comes easily when people have positive reactions or honest questions about your products, but it can be more difficult with customer complaints. Remain polite and address everything, even the negative items.

Consider what people are interested in: People who are connected with you on social media don’t just want to hear about your brand and products all the time. Instead, they’re interested in information, fun facts, and news related to your type of product and services. Therefore, do lots of linking to interesting blog posts, news stories, and other content that will add value to those you reach. Go light on the promotional links, and tread carefully if you’re linking to anything that could be considered misleading.

Your business marketing strategy needs to include social media involvement, but it’s not going to be effective in converting customers unless you’re using the right tactics. Take a look at how companies similar to yours run their social media accounts and the results they’re getting in terms of customer engagement. Engagement often translates into sales, so if people are interacting with them, they’re doing something right. Of course, you don’t want to just copy your competitors, but to put your company’s unique voice and style into your social media marketing messages.

 

Customer Service: Your Social Media Tool Box

Like BackgroundJameson Brown of SocialMediaToday.com put it best when he called social media the “game changer” for the customer service industry. Instead of cold-calling and remaining in a stuffy call center, social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram have put a mega phone into the consumers hands. While they are tweeting or posting about their joys and woes about the products they use day to day, customer service reps are listening and (hopefully) responding.

One key factor that makes social media work for customers is the connection between the companies’ agent and the consumer. Without that connection, big name companies are using the networking opportunity to leverage their marketing position, which is only a fragment of what social media can do for a company’s growth. Here are a few ways that you can use social media and various networking tactics to broaden your scope of connection with your customer base.

Think Bigger

Think of the social media networks, like Twitter and Facebook, as platforms that allow you to make special announcements regarding new products, deals for your fans and followers, cancelations and service interruptions. Posting pics is great too, but customers really want to relate and interact with their company through these networks. After all, it is a “social” network, which implies that the customer is communicating a message to the company and the company lets the customer know that he or she is heard.

The Power of Twitter Connections

One great example of a social media/customer service connection happened when I bought a 2010 Ford Fusion. I was so excited, because it was my first hybrid car, that I immediately posted the pic on my Twitter page. About an hour later, I noticed that the Chapman Ford AZ dealership, that had sold me the car, had replied to my tweet saying that they were so glad that I was enjoying my new car. This connection made me smile and definitely made a difference.

In a recent study, conducted by Software Advice, four of their employees took part in an experiment where they mentioned in their tweets several large corporations, in various industries. For four weeks these participants tweeted complaints, compliments and requests for help, using Twitter handles (@nameofcompany) and the name of the company, so that the company could know who was mentioning them and respond. The results to the study were pretty alarming and showed how little customer service agents are using this extremely useful tool. Brands like Starbucks, Walmart and Apple were surprisingly non-responders, and their competitors took their sweet time and hadn’t even responded to half of the participants. If a customer is complaining about their awful experience at Starbucks and telling all of her friends to boycott the cafe on Twitter and Facebook and Starbucks doesn’t respond, they didn’t just lose one unhappy customer, it’s possible that they lost hundreds thousands if the customer was a celebrity with fans.

Be Efficient

Brown’s article in SocialMediaToday.com was singing the praises of a company that knows how to do customer service on social media networks the right way: Zappos.com. They have a customer service Twitter account that responds to questions in a timely and efficient manner. When a customer tweets about their Zappos shoes, they know that they will get feedback, even if it is just a smile emoticon and a quick “thanks!” Forbes’ Jenna Goudreau says that Southwest Airlines has been known to update flight delays on their Twitter page.

Most importantly, don’t let your Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or even blog lay dormant. Content is king, even if it’s a gallery of images that is regularly updated or brief updates on products and services, staying current and present lets your fans know that you are present and available to field requests, questions, or praise at any time day or night.


Yasmin Rose
A real go-getter, Yasmin encourages others around her to shoot for the stars and be the best in the world of business. She loves sharing tips on how to build your own start up and make it into a success.

Getting the message across: Best practices for Multi-channel Marketing

We’ve all seen the people who have stacks of papers, folders, and a dozen different electronic devices all spread out across a desk. Sure, they might just be messy, but often they’re some of the busiest people in an office, keeping track of hundreds of different things all at once. They might be the jacks-of-all-trades to whom everyone goes when they have a problem they just can’t answer.

Or, they might just be a marketer.

When it comes to Internet marketing, it’s always been helpful to be a multitasker. This is especially true if have a lot of clients. You can imagine the disaster that would happen if you cross-posted a status update to the wrong client’s Facebook account. No matter how quickly you got the rogue post deleted, you know someone would capture it. You would then have to deal with the public relations mess you created, and then you would likely lose a client.

Handling that to-do list

Cross-channel marketing isn’t as easy as hopping between social media platforms and making posts. Marketers could be handling email newsletters, SMS messages, social media accounts, websites – and all for multiple clients. If that sounds a little something like your reality, you may need to get some help from experts in cross-channel marketing, so you can always represent your clients in the best light.

Another advantage of getting some professional guidance is that you’re able to track how effective your marketing campaigns are. You want to know who’s reading your SMS blasts, your tweets and posts – and which form of communication is most lucrative for your client.

Sorting things out

Organization is your best tool in any marketing campaign. There are tools and software that can help you stay on top of marketing campaigns and allow you to focus on the platforms that appeal most to the audience you hope to reach.

Cross-channel marketing can be intimidating – especially if you’re someone who’s new to the world of hashtags, memes and viral videos. It takes some expertise to launch a marketing campaign across multiple platforms. You have to understand when to post, what to say, how to say it and how to time your message for the best results. Many companies report that they simply don’t have adequate staff to accomplish such a goal, or that their staff doesn’t have the knowledge to undertake such a campaign.

By bringing in an industry expert to help you analyze and fine-tune your cross-channel marketing, you can be confident that you’re getting the best results and making your clients happy.

Meeting Your Customers through Engagement

There’s a common suggestion many rock climbers have for those who want to start climbing: “Three on, one off.” This means you should have three extremities—two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand—touching the rock or wall at all times, ensuring multiple points of support. This is also a great way to think about cross-channel marketing. The more places you connect with customers, the more support you have. Even if a customer doesn’t connect with your business in one venue, they’ll hopefully connect with two or three others. This article will explain and highlight some tactics for cross-channel marketing, specifically in social media.

The pull method of marketing

Pull method marketing works when a product or service becomes so well-branded and valued that customers seek out the company’s stores and other places where their product is stocked. Rather than pushing the product at customers, marketers pull customers to the product through branding. How does a company brand their product or service? Cross-channel marketing to establish branding works like this: when customers hear about a product from a number of venues—like social media, email and television, as well as newspapers, storefronts and word of mouth—they then seek out and purchase the product or service due to the frequency and effective branding done by the company.

How should cross channel marketing work?

Pull method marketing is a simple theory, but a more complicated reality, as is cross-channel marketing. Cross-channel marketing creates a streamlined, repeated message that appears consistently in a variety of different venues, both physical and digital. But customers respond differently to emails than they would to ads on Facebook. Likewise, their presence and mentality on YouTube will be different from their mindset when sorting through the mail. Your marketing should be tailored to the particular medium—while repeating a streamlined message—so you connect with customers on a variety of levels. Cross-channeling focuses on meeting customers at each stop in a way that is applicable to the medium, re-establishing and repeating the company’s message.

What role should social media play?

Let’s look at an example when marketing on social media doesn’t work. The advertisements that appear on the sidebars of a website like Facebook or YouTube are often targeted to users based on their interests and search histories. While this is by no means a bad way to connect with new customers, it’s only doing half of the work that a streamlined, cross-channel campaign could accomplish. A more effective tactic would be to streamline communication with a customer through several venues, such as sending an email within a month of a similar-messaged ad that appears on Facebook and a video on YouTube. It’s important in a case like this to understand your customer and how they are likely to respond in a social media venue. Integrate data from multiple sources to better equip your cross-channel marketing strategy.

The fact is, customers won’t see every channel you employ for marketing. While it’s increasingly common for users to establish multiple presences online—Facebook, Twitter, blog, YouTube—they won’t be everywhere at once. What’s important is the availability and prominence of your message at each location so your message is consistent and streamlined when customers frequent a website or receive mail. This is a great way to achieve successful branding and your social media communication with customers will only grow from that point on.

Three Examples of How to Succeed in Social Media Marketing

Social media has made tremendous gains in recent years with both individuals and corporate users. While people use the popular sites as a means to stay in touch with friends and share important life events, companies have used Facebook and Twitter as a means to connect with their customers and fans.

Some companies use their social media as a way to deal with customer feedback while others use the unique channels as a way to market their products and services. Regardless of how they interface with customers online, the most successful companies have found the proper balance between the “what” (product) and the “why” (story and branding) of their marketing campaigns.

Oreo

We’re all familiar with the slogan that Oreo is “milk’s favorite cookie.” The iconic snack’s advertising has always had fun with the simplicity of the treat while incorporating an absurd sense of humor in its celebrity endorsements, such as the DoubleStuf Racing League. This sense of humor extends to their Twitter feed, which frequently retweets fans, drives discussion as to how their cookies are best eaten and shares contests and other opportunities for fans to compete for prizes. The strong unity of their central theme keeps the company’s voice from differing on its different media channels and keeps fans involved.

Try to develop a strong narrative voice for your company and incorporate it into all of your media efforts.  Keeping the tone fun and self-aware can encourage more interaction and personal relationships with fans.

BodyForm                                       

When a fan posted a mocking post on Bodyform’s Facebook page pointing out the misleading advertisements of feminine hygiene products, the company was given a golden opportunity: to better brand its company by being transparent on social media. In the popular viral video response, an actress portraying the company’s CEO breaks down the stereotypes of feminine hygiene commercials, all while breaking preconceived notions of accepted female behavior. The company has enjoyed more than 2.8 million views of its video and increased awareness and appreciation of its brand as a result.

Social media is full of jokesters and trolls. Sometimes when one serves up such a golden opportunity to better your brand, you must take it. Being honest with yourself and your public helps to drive brand transparency and build trust with consumers.

Southwest Airlines

Making travel plans in an increasingly expensive economy has become difficult as many different travels sites are available. How can you be sure you’re getting the best deal? Southwest Airlines, an affordable travel provider, has used its social media to share deals and perks for travelers, as well as direct complaints to a customer service page. While the methodology is simple, the classic approach to connecting with consumers puts the focus upon its customers and how to better serve them through special deals and offers.

Remember that your focus is on your customer. Put plain details in place to help direct them to proper channels to solve their issues and share offers to add value to their time on your site. Without the consumers that make up social media, you would have no business to run. Don’t forget that – most of the social media failures are big box companies focused more upon marketing than interfacing.

Social media represent a special opportunity for companies to interface with their consumers. Whether you tie your company’s voice, transparency or service to social media, be sure that the approach unifies your company and meets customers’ needs.

Cost of a Voter [Infographic]


Article first published as Social Media: What’s a Voter Worth? on Technorati.

Social Media Value of a Voter

It has been a matter of discussion for a long time. What is your follow worth on social media? As business owners we are constantly trying to tabulate what a followers monetary value is. But what about the value of a voter?

PC Magazine answered some of these questions for us and assigned the monetary value we so desperately crave.

Twitter Follower: $2.05 Facebook Like (Fan): $8

Tweet: $5 Facebook Share: $14

Cost per Follower: $2.50-$4.00 Cost per Like: $1.07

Cost per Engagement: $0.75-$2.50 Can’t proactively engage

However, these numbers drastically change when you look at the value of a vote. A new tool is out that can tabulate the value of your social media presence to the Presidential nominee’s.
Read more at Business 2 Commuity

The New Face of Email Marketing

In a recent article on the Business 2 Community blog, a contributing writer posited that a consumer was like a gorilla and you, a business owner, have a banana you need to give to the consumer as quickly as possible. Whether or not you agree with that statement, something about it does ring true: the faster you get products and services to customers, the faster your company profits. But how do you get your products and services out there? The answer to that question is well-known: advertising. However, in today’s world the advertising sector is changing. It’s no longer solely about TV commercials, billboards or magazine prints. You need more than that if your brand and products are going to stick in a consumer’s mind. Often, that extra factor comes in the form of email marketing.

Effective marketing, no matter the form, has always centered on the consumer and how the product or service affects their life. In order to have effective marketing, a marketer must be able to show how the world is connected and how their products or services can truly make a difference. Those principles still apply to email marketing, but there are other considerations to keep in mind. Here are some effective ways to use email marketing in today’s world.

1. Stories and testimonies

Who doesn’t enjoy a great story and personal triumph or someone overpowering a great fear or accomplishing a goal? Stories connect us as people and there is power in that. Reach out to the people that use your products and services. Find someone with an amazing story and ask if he or she would like to share it with the rest of your customers. By doing this, you’re allowing others to see what you are doing to help the world.

2. Engage

Don’t just write an email and then hit send. Think about the consumer that will read the email and how they will respond to it. As with other online marketing campaigns, be sure to wrap up your email with a call to action. What do you want this email to accomplish? What do you want your customers to do after reading it? Make it easy for a consumer to find their way to your company’s product page or to a landing page, alleviating the need for them to navigate several screens before finding the one they want. Encourage your audience to interact with you, whether they are responding to a survey, visiting your website or talking to customer service. Email is a way to establish relationships.

3. Format for mobile

In today’s world, almost everyone is constantly on the go, which means that people often check email from a mobile device. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make when sending out an email is not to format it for mobile devices. Doing so means keeping the layout simple, using a single-column format and limiting the amount of actions it takes to resize. Keep these things in mind as you are designing, writing and sending out email.

4. Use videos

Videos are a proven method for communicating with consumers. Like stories and testimonies, videos are way to show consumers how your products and services connect people all over the world. However, you shouldn’t merely embed the video in the email. By doing this, you aren’t directing customers to your website. Instead, simply insert a photo or screenshot from the video that redirects to your landing page when the reader clicks on it. The less customers have to do in order to reach your website and view your products, the better.

Email marketing is all about effective communication. Don’t bombard your readers with a lot of email; readers will send that message to a trash folder without being opened or unsubscribe from your communiques. Instead, make focused and targeted videos that readers will enjoy. Relate to the consumer and show how your products and/or services are vital to them. Don’t just provide empty copy about a product. Show your audience how that product can improve their lives.

Tweak and Repeat

Any business can apply multi-channel marketing, but cross-channel marketing is the ideal way to increase revenue and customer loyalty, especially when marketers apply the Pareto principle. Cross-channel marketing is more challenging than multi-channel marketing. Instead of focusing on disseminating a message via multiple channels, cross-channel marketing is customer focused. Companies must expend significant resources to capture adequate information about users and track their needs across all channels. Applying the Pareto principle cuts down the time needed to discover client needs while maximizing ROI.

The Pareto principle

Although originally not related to marketing, the Pareto principle stems from work by an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Surveys he conducted confirmed other countries had a similar ratio. The economist even discovered 80 percent of his garden peas came from 20 percent of his pea pods.

Pareto did not actually come up with the principle, however. A business management consultant named Joseph M. Juran discovered 80 percent of quality control issues stemmed from the top 20 percent of problems. He named the principle after Pareto. Over time, people have expanded the principle to explain other business matters, such as:

  • 80 percent of complaints stem from 20 percent of customers
  • 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of time spent
  • 80 percent of sales are by 20 percent of sales staff
  • 80 percent of sales are made from 20 percent of products

Perhaps the most relevant discovery for cross-channel marketing is knowing 20 percent of the customers are responsible for 80 percent of the profits. Knowing this, cross-channel marketers should focus their efforts on identifying and tracking those 20 percent.

The efficiency of the Pareto principle

Cross-channel marketing requires companies to track users across all channels, meaning each customer must have their own profile and sales staff must be able to match content to the customer. Taking the time to track all of a company’s customers is a waste of time and resources, according to the Pareto principle.

Only 20 percent of the customers possess exceptional brand loyalty. These one out of five customers are really the only people worth tracking because they produce most of the profits. Tracking the top 20 percent is a more realistic goal than tracking everyone as well. Once the top 20 percent is identified, sales staff can not only concentrate on marketing to them but they can also see who those people influence socially and push to expand their ideal customer base.

The Pareto principle and staffing

For the most effective cross-channel marketing, a company should identify their best salespeople and then expand. Cross-channel marketing relies on well-trained sales staff, especially in a call center. For example, a customer sees a product on TV or in a magazine he likes. He goes online to view the product on the company website, perhaps even scanning a QR code with his smartphone, before calling the company to ask questions. All of the data about what the customer wants is available. When he calls in, a salesperson has the chance to study the data and anticipate the customer’s needs, increasing the potential of a sale and the chance the customer will become part of the core 20 percent.

Companies can use sales figures to find the most effective employees, but they should also look for people who display leadership qualities, are self starters and who influence others. These people will attract more high-quality workers, ensuring the sales staff comprises only the best employees. The remaining 80 percent should be retrained, reassigned or possibly let go.

Companies can even use the Pareto principle when recruiting workers by looking for the natural leaders at other companies. Often times, recent college graduates who have not yet had the chance to prove themselves with sales numbers or a customer service history can become part of the top 20 percent. They are highly educated and motivated to prove themselves.

Bridging the gap between marketing within channels and creating integrated customers takes significant effort. Narrowing down the targeted group with the Pareto principle simply makes sense. After brainstorming the best ways to accomplish this goal, companies can even use the principle to narrow down ideas as the top 20 percent are most likely to result in 80 percent of the results.