Tag Archives: social media

Measureable Social Strategies for Corporate Communications – Part 3

5 Aug

We’re on day three of ideas for measurable social engagement strategies for corporate communications.  If you haven’t found a good reason to get your organization engaged in online social networks — even in a small way — as part of your day-to-day business, here’s a good place to start.

Idea #3 sits right in the wheelhouse of corporate communications:  Being ready for the crisis.

It’s true that if you keep your head down, you’ll probably be OK for a while. But eventually, something will happen. You’ll recall a product. Or well-connected customer decides to vent theirproduct/customer service frustrations on you.  Or some ‘enterprising’ employee decides to make a video ‘unbecoming’ of the brand. Or an energized group of consumers decides to be offended by your new ad campaign.  Should your brand’s first participation consumer and influencer communities online be an apology?

Again, it pays to be watching…and listening.  The earlier you catch wind of a brand or reputation crisis the better.  What if, like Comcast, you keep an eye on Twitter for service complaints and make sure they are handled? The better connected you are with those online communities, the easier it will be to respond.  The better you understand online communities and social networks, and how you’ll get the word out in crisis, the better for your reputation as well.

Measure in how long the sales hit lasts — if at all.

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Measurable Social Strategies for Corporate Communications – Idea 2

4 Aug

We’re talking about measurable social engagement strategies for corporate communications — reasons to get started for public relations professionals who haven’t made engaging in online networks a part of their day-to-day business.  I’ll be sharing an idea-a-day this week.  I’m suggesting ideas that can become part of your daily routine, and part of strategic programs, along with ideas for how to measure their success.  Here’s idea #2:

Idea #2: Getting in front of…or catching up to your competitors.

You might do a few searches and find that no one is talking about your brand and think, “My customers aren’t using social media — I don’t have to worry about this yet.” But…are you sure about that? Maybe they just aren’t talking about you… The first, most important step is to make sure you’re watching — that you’re monitoring the forums, topics and keywords that are important to your reputation and sales.

If your competitors are being discussed without you, there’s an issue to address — how can you become part of the conversation?

If customers are complaining about competitors’ products, is there an opportunity?

If no one talks about what you do…there may be an opportunity to start something new — a web portal, blog or partnership — or an indication that online resources need to better support offline interactions.

The remedy is to actively monitor, evaluate and plot a strategy that delivers for your company.

Measure by links back to your website from social networks, tone of key messages visible online, search engine positioning.

See also:

Monday — Intro and Idea#1

Contact me to talk about communications strategy, positioning and messaging for your organization.

Measurable Social Strategies for Corporate Communications – Part 1

3 Aug

The question at hand is this:  In corporate environments — primarily B2B — where the only new communications and marketing investments are those that deliver a return, what opportunities are corporate communications departments missing when they don’t engage with online networks?

As I’ve noted in the past, even B2B companies where there is little online conversation about their producuts or issues need to recognize at minimum that the ways people want to interact with businesses are changing.  Which means that “getting the basics done” in corporate communications requires a new look at activities that once seemed like unnecessary distractions — like monitoring and participating in online social networks, managing company blogs and making use of RSS feeds and mobile features — are now part of “the basics” that need day-t0-day consideration by internal resources.

What are some initiatives that deliver a measurable return — either in advancing the corporate reputation or protecting it? I’m going to post some ideas each day this week.  As always, I’m available to meet, discuss and deliver excellent counsel and support to help you make these initiatives happen in your organization.

Today’s idea #1:  Doing a Better Job at PR and Media Relations.

Do the reporters and editors that follow your company post on Twitter? Do they have blogs? Are they using RSS?  Are you outsourcing all of this to the agency?

You may be missing out for a couple reasons. First, reporters and editors appreciate having direct relationships with representatives of the company. Next, tools like Twitter and blogs make it possible to reach certain reporters in ways that you never could through email — commenting on what they do, sharing ideas and more.

But what is more interesting to a reporter — a Tweet or blog comment from the director of marketing at COMPANY, or one from an agency representing…who knows? Use the agency for strategy, ideas and formal pitching…in between, if you’re not connected with them, you may be missing opportunities.

Measure by clicks to your website, search ranking on key topics and sales.

Tomorrow:  Getting in front of…or catching up to…your competitors.

Justifying Social Media — Are We Still Running on Faith?

30 Jul

I’ve been turning over in my mind a social media survey highlighted this week in eMarketer. The study surveyed nearly 2,000 social media marketers on what works and what doesn’t in their world.  For example, social media marketers see these strategies and tactics as an effective way to do things that have typically fallen into the realm of public relations — influence brand reputation and increase brand awareness — as well as digital marketing practices to increase website traffic and search engine rankings.  They report less effectiveness at improving internal communications, generating leads and increasing online sales.

Marketing Sherpa Study, posted by eMarketer

Marketing Sherpa Study, posted by eMarketer

Perhaps more telling are their responses on their ability to measure social media effectiveness.  In a nutshell, that which the marketers feel are the most effective tactics are deemed the least accurately measured.

Over on the ShoppeSimple blog (a client blog), we noted that reports highlight the gap between creating and participating in social conversation, and turning converting that conversation into sales — there is a need for a way to connect consumers to brands and product offers outside of email.   

From a corporate communications standpoint, the study highlights the dilemma of where and how to invest in social media.  The most effective social  tactics appear to be seen by respondents as only marginally more measurable than that traditonal media relations — where you counted clips and assumed they were having an impact on awareness and attitudes (and while the web makes this more cost effective, most businesses do not have or spend the resources to directly measure impact of media relations on customers).

And yet…and yet…

It’s clear that we believe this stuff is working, just like PR has always worked, and maybe even more so.

There is not doubt that corporations ignore the online communications channel at their peril.  If only from a crisis preparedness standpoint, no company should want to risk becoming the next big case study on what happens when blogs and social networks your gaffe goes viral.  That’s a good place to start.

Beyond that, if you don’t look, you won’t see.  In an uncontroversial environment, the issues won’t be obvious.  I have some thoughts on the matter that I’ll save for my next post, but what do you think?

In corporate environments where additional spending is only for initiatives where you can demonstrate a return, what opportunities does corporate communications miss when they don’t engage with social media?

The Vision Thing and the Crowd Thing

20 Jul

I was reading Jeff Jarvis’ post reacting to the news that BusinessWeek is up for sale, and it got me thinking.  It seems to me that The News Media have two editorial/journalistic paths to address what the Web hath wrought:

1) The Vision Thing — Have an editorial vision and express it.  Deliver great journalistic product. Build community around “fans” of that vision. See The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and many, many independent news blogs.

2) The Crowd Thing — Have a brand that attracts an audience.  Have a brand that attracts and engages those readers — and encourages them to contribute. Deliver content that drives community reaction and builds audience.

The Vision focused media will need to see getting people to pay for their content as their primary source of revenue.

The Crowd focused  media will need to view delivering an audience to advertisers as their primary source of revenue, whether that is through links and clicks, affiliate relationships or advertising.

The Vision folks will reduce costs by not being over concerned with perfect  alignment with their readers, as Stephen Baker recounts the typical editorial process at BusinessWeek.   They will create ways to listen to readers, and for readers to interact with each other and the editorial staff, so that editorial is inherently in touch with readers, readers feel “a part of something.  And the product may challenge and annoy the readers as well.

The Crowd folks will play the vital role of filtering the news to meet the perceived interests of their audience. They will give up a measure of control to the audience itself — putting journalistic effort behind what interests the crowd and and bringing editorial standards to crowd-sourced reporting.

Newspapers cling to a Vision while dipping their toes into the chilly waters of the Crowd.  Media with a Vision risk trying to hard to activate a Crowd that would prefer to be engaged.

And since these days, every organization is a media organization — what path will your company take — will you drive your Vision, or run with the Crowd?

Chris Brogan on Presence Management

20 Apr

Chris Brogan posted a great piece on what he calls “The Undiscovered Country of Presence Management.”  If you’re a leader in marketing or corporate communications, it’s worth a read.  Brogan’s main point is that engaging online is a management function. You can do it high tech or high touch…or not at all.  He says: 

“In fact, think of it like this: a website is more like an automated phone tree, you know, “for English, press 1.” Social web presence is more like giving out everyone’s direct line.

Let that sink in. It’s every bit as much work to manage the relationships that come with online presence as it is to answer your phone without the robots to block people’s attempts. The payoffs are about the same, though. People appreciate the human touch of reaching someone online and having a “real” interaction. It might cost a little more, but it really shows a different level of care and service.

Is your company ready for that? Could your organization see shucking the phone tree in exchanged for a heightened sense of business contact?

“Just having one person on the “phone”,” Brogan concludes, “will rarely be the right answer.”

I’ve seen a strong temptation of clients to see social media as a lead and sales generation tool, and while that approach isn’t flat out wrong, it misses the part of being involved in communities — whether local, industry or client communities — that is simply part of managing any profitable enterprise, across multiple parts and functions of the business.  To whit: 

The issue isn’t Return on Investment.  It’s keeping your eyes and ears open to customer and market conversations that, before social media, wouldn’t let you in. It’s being where your customers are, sniffing out potential crises before they happen and managing them when  they do.  

The issue isn’t time.  If you are responsible for sales, and you know that customers and prospects hold regular meetings about your products, your competitors’ products, or the types of problems they solve, wouldn’t you go?  Why wouldn’t you be there online? 

The issue isn’t just for marketing and PR.  As Brogan points out, social media is an issue for customer service and sales. You might as well add business development, partner relations, channel management, public relations, community relations, investor relations, and, yes, marketing, too.  

Check out Brogan’s Part 2— it’s sure to be valuable.

Social Media for B2B–3 Ways to Take The First Steps

10 Apr

I picked up on a conversation a couple months ago about the role of social media in B2B companies. I noted that most B2B companies don’t feel like they have the resources to do justice to “the basics”, let alone start experiments in social media.  These companies, I suggested, should be reevaluating what they do today, and rethink the what they are getting for their communications investment…or, as Amber Naslund asked on her Altitude Branding blog, “Should the Basics Evolve?”

This topic seems to be popping up again in my conversations.  The answer clearly is yes, the basic “blocking and tackling” of PR and marketing communications — news releases, sales sheets, brochures, newsletters and the website — are evolving rapidly.  But perhaps not as fast as some would think.

For example, based on one inquiry, I did set up Twitter, blog and general web searches to see where conversations were happening around their issues.  The return was minimal.  The online, social media-type conversations just weren’t happening.  In other words, some industries just aren’t there yet. 

Now this is certainly an opportunity — fertile ground to be a leader that gets people talking — because the B2B audience is certainly online (they’re just not always talking about work).  But in a world of limited resources, it doesn’t have to be.  And as any responsible consultant will tell you, social media is different — you don’t dive in headfirst without testing the waters. This isn’t one-to-many mass communications — this is community and conversation.  Communities take on a life of their own and conversations can take surprising turns … truths that can take some time to absorb.  

But, the basics are evolving … as they have to accommodate the web and as they will again to accommodate the way people consume social media.  If I were inside a B2B company today re-assessing the basics today, I wouldn’t dive in headfirst. I’d start by looking at the following; tarting here will get your organization headed in the right direction, and gets your building blocks in place so that you can make smart choices — will I lead my market into social media or follow them? Or, will I be there when they get there?

1. Is my website a brochure, or a destination? Our web presence should be more than our products artfully presented. It should include a place where customers find insight on the kind of work they do with you.  For example, you can feature articles about the the company or industry trends on the home page.  You can create a regular space for featured news that goes beyond news releases toward and toward opinions, tech or how-t0 insights and audio or video features. 

This approach offers multiple benefits.  First, new and relevant content will improve search engine rankings, so more of the right people find you.  Additonally, it positions your company as a part of conversations going on across the web — engaging potential customers and keeping you top of mind with current ones. 

2. Am I meeting my market where they are?  For example, are our customers reading the email newsletter?  Are we tracking this?  Many business buyers and influencers are finding — and appreciating — new ways to follow companies and brands — from RSS feeds to mobile phones to Facebook.  When you start regularly adding new feature content to the site, get it to the customers in ways they want, and in ways they they can react by contacting you or sharing what they like.

At minimum, give visitors the chance to a) subscribe to updates via RSS or email; and b) share what they like with others.  This allows you to interact with a larger audience in ways you haven’t before. And it gives potential customers the control they want over their relationship with the company–there’s no cost to you, and they can enter the sale cycle when they’re ready.  These features are extremely simple to implement.  

4.  How are people using the website? Where does the traffic go on the website?  What’s most popular? What should be popular but isn’t? Are visitors being tracked and channeled appropriately and effectively to sales lead capture? If this information isn’t easy to obtain today, it should be.  

3.  Do I know what people are saying ‘out there’?  Every B2B marketer needs to find out what conversations are going on about their company and industry issues online.  This can be involve setting up Google News alerts, or aggregating news sources and searches in an RSS reader like Google Reader or My Yahoo, or investing in free/pay tools from a simple  Filtrbox to a comprehensive Radian6 dashboard.  You can track Twitter on search.twitter.com or enter searches on the free TweetDeck.  

You don’t have to participate right away, and if there’s not much happening, it won’t take much of your time. But you’ll know. And as GI Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.”

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