Just last week, I attended BlogWorld and New Media Expo. It was jam packed with sessions giving businesses ideas on planning, executing and tracking social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc). All with the end goal of building your brand online and/or monetizing.
Each session can very well warrant a full blog post, but I am going to share my favorite key takeaways from a birds eye level – some points taken from multiple sessions.
If I was to sum it up what I have learned at the conference in a few words, it would be:
#1 The Little Guy Has Heart and Sole – We Can Learn From Him.
If you listen, learn, care and serve well on twitter without selfishness, you can reach social media excellence. Laura shared with us that a lot of big brands still don’t get twitter (excluding some like @zappos) but the smaller guys do and they are really rocking twitter (like @kogiBBQ). Its “about heart and sole” Laura Fitton (@pistachio) says. Play and try is key too. Be yourself, stay positive in stream as well as challenge and inspire. Your awesome message or ideal can spread. You have no control to anyone over twitter.
#2 Relationships First and Business Second.
She sums up her theory on how to make Twitter and Facebook work for your business and says “If content is king, then connection is queen”. Everyone has knowledge and expertise for an audience, but the most influential marketer is someone you know and trust. So turn that around, gain relationships with people you want to influence. Passion is also the secret weapon – you need people that really care behind your Facebook or company Twitter account. Mari expands on what Laura Fitton says about caring and serving “Thanking and acknowledging peoples tweets is important. Those can happen to be the pebble and become the ripple in the pond!”
Mari shares with us 4 ways social media is changing businesses, you need to understand these:
- Changing from trying to sell to making connections.
- Changing from strategy from large campaigns to small acts.
- Changing from controlling your image to being yourself – the lines are getting blurred from personal to professional. People are connecting with people and not “businesses” per se. They want to know who is behind that Twitter and Facebook account. Let your personality out. We should no longer look at B2B or B2C for marketing, but P2P (people to people marketing).
- Changing from hard to reach to available everywhere.
Just make sure you grout in time within the day to go in and out of Twitter and Facebook and consider building relationships first.
#3 Two Great Facebook Tips
Mari Smith (@marismith) shared two great tips with regards to Facebook – anyone that has a fan page should consider adopting them.
- Next big thing is combining mobile marketing with Facebook. You can grow your fan base by telling people to become a fan of your fan page just by texting on their mobile. Note: the fan has to have enabled “mobile” within their Facebook settings – it s simple verification process, read it here. Imagine that you can ask 10 people in a board room to take their phone out and become Fans, or even 100 people at conference or event. For example: you would tell them: text “fan [your fan page name]” to 32665 (which spells out ‘FBOOK’ on your phone). Twitter already does the same thing on its service by letting you text “follow [username]” to their short code – 40404.
- When creating your Facebook fan page, use the Static HTML application.This is a “must have” for a business Facebook strategy. What you are doing here, is really making your page stand out than the regular default page. You first use the Static HTML app, then customize it with slick images, text and hyperlinks (with of course keyword phrases to lift your site up for SEO). Then you define that tab as the default one for when people land on your page.
#4 Social Engagement Best Practices for Business: Listen and Research First.
The most important tip for B2B social media implementation is to listen and research first.
- Create an account start with Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. Spend first couple of weeks just reading, before starting to broadcast yourself. Most companies just send links to their whitepapers or their own blog posts and it’s not the perfect attitude on connecting. You have to mix it up, learn from others.
- Look at your competitors, then look at those followers they have and then follow them.
- Research keywords on twitter (not same as Google), conversation keywords are different. And use the right tools. Get someone to do the listening and engagement if you are not a twitter advocate.
- You can use PeopleBrowsr for Twitter chatter and gauge the sentiment (good or bad). Look at your competitions sentiment as well. You can compare and build buckets of positive and negative and rank them. Sentiment flows is most important for big brands and you can do it with machine algorithm and/or manual filtering.
- There are a lot of twitter tools for filters, grouping and searches. Use Seesmic desktop, Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Get into PeopleBrowsr vs something that is one strip view. You can look through a needle hole- which gives you a different and clearer perspective.
#5 Social Engagement Best Practices for Business: Have a Plan and Get Buy in.
Some organizations can have skeptics of social media strategies (Facebook, Twitter, blogging etc.), a task force or council can help the process of adoption and implementation.
- If you are a larger organization, create a “marketing 2.0 council” or task force that may include PR, legal, R& D and marketing.
- Hash out areas between the evangelists and the skeptics. The evangelists can make the skeptics feel better and open their eyes a little more.
- Once council agrees, you have some drive and authority to run with it vs being a dictatorship.
- Create guidelines and do not dictate everything people should or shouldn’t do. Bring in most people as possible to educate, so all executives and stakeholders understand.
- The most important thing is that the guidelines should have positive examples. People may read the guidelines and not really get it or what do do, so positive examples can help. Also makes it much more interesting to read.
- If you have an extensive social media plan (like 20 pages), sum it up and then narrow it down to 25 overall principles to follow (rolled up as a one pager) and 5 underlining objectives (value principles).
#6 Social Engagement Best Practices for Business: Motivate Others to Contribute.
Creating consistent quality content for your blog is one of the many “must haves” for a social media strategy. It won’t work if you dictate and tell employees they must create “X” amount of posts over “X” time.
- See who is interested in contributing to the corporate blog. Ask around the organization, some would volunteer that you never would known about.
- You can also find out the folks that are already blogging and approach them. See number #10 (below) on Third Generation Blogging – it ties in well to this point.
- Important thing is motivating employees and showing them how it helps – it’s so powerful. Don’t show them readership or viewership, show them solid dollars if you can (visits that came in and converted and tracked right down to the CRM).
- Offer employees training on best practices. Supply pizza and do lunch and learns on Twitter, Facebook and blogging. Get expertise from others. Also use this time to brainstorm topics for your corporate blog.
- Once you have employees willing to blog about given topics make sure you follow up on getting those topics.
- Matching the people with desire, not necessarily public speakers or people that write white papers.
- Match good subject matter expertise, get the smart people to contribute.
- You need to free people up to blog. Monitor the content if you are worried about it.
- Good grammar is important. But if you need to edit/proof the posts before publishing that is ok as well.
#7 Social Engagement Best Practices for Business: Mind Your Manners.
You can become an outcast, seen as not a credible source or have no influence in the social sphere. Avoid these issues by interacting with manners.
- Manners 101 – have a twitter background (with company info) that reflects your brand – it shows credibility. Read my blog post on Pimping Out Your Twitter Profile Background.
- Also very important to link back to your Twitter account from your website.
- If you keep on getting a repeated question on Twitter, have a landing page for the answer(s).
- Warning, for those Tweets who are doing marketing via twitter via Adly (sponsored tweets) – it can harm you. Stats show that it leaves a negative impression and lowers the possibility of you being a credible source – you will not gain influence in the social sphere.
- For customer service, if you @ reply people that give negative feedback it may not ride with them. Try to use DM’s when appropriate.
- Twitter is no place for robot behavior. Get the hell off twitter if you don’t want to be human. Avoid using auto responders and auto posts.
- Read mu blog post Twitter Tips – Do’s and Don’ts.
#8 Social Engagement Best Practices for Business: Track and Measure.
Not measuring or tracking is the #1 reason people fail with social media. Also, only using tool names like twitter will not get you support from the executive team. CEO’s want measurable results! So before you start anything, make sure it has a clearly defined objective(s) and it is track-able.
- First decide what needs to be tracked and if it is aligned with your main objective. How are you going to evaluate and look at it? For some businesses, social media for b2b is not quantity but quality. Maybe it is influence (how large your audience is, how much of that audience actually listens to you, how often that audience interacts with you and sees you as an expert), or sentiment (good or bad), or conversions from a promotion (sales), or warm leads (sign-ups for a webinar), or eyeballs (click through to site from blog). Just define main objectives first, then what to track will be easy to define.
- For a return on investment view, make sure social media tactics are track-able and within a closed loop system. Some CRMS’ can now track tweets (like Salesforce) and with form leads back to blog posts.
- For corporate blogging, Chris Baggot tells us that we can look at it in a different way. Just compare similar keywords phrases between organic traffic vs traffic for Google Pay-per-click. Its very easy to justify from ROI if you do, because Pay-per-click has a price to it.
- For your corporate blog, measure engagement like bounce rates, new visits and converts. Think of your corporate blog as a bunch of organic landing pages. Goal is conversion, so have clear call to actions integrated.
#9 Online Influence Will Come Naturally, Focus on Credibility and Trust.
Influence within the social sphere can be very powerful. It can include how large your audience is, or how much of that audience actually listens to you, or how often that audience interacts with you and sees you as an expert. For example, on Twitter “retweeting” is a viral phenomenon and for the most part reflect the credibility of the person who is being retweeted, it is a “thumbs up” for what you are sharing. Twitter referral traffic can be pretty high for some sites with blogs. Sometimes in the top ten referrals for source traffic.
So how do you get other people to toot your own message?
There are no exact tactics to tell you how to grow your influence. You just need to focus on credibility and trust. Trust = consistency of action, being reliable & independent. Be trustworthy and online influence will come naturally!
Here’s some things that can help you build credibility and trust.
- Trust comes when you show expertise. Know a lot about your topic.
- If you tweet articles that are not on your site but same topic, you can still be influential and respected. Mix it up and tweet other relevant posts with your own posts. Just keep it consistent and on topic.
- When writing content, show your knowledge and resources. Explain what’s in your brain and give alternate ways to look at things.
- Reference or document books, some people use writing or media and display expertise in different ways.
- Aggregate and embed. Comments use to be a way of showing the world that you are influential. Now you need to show off and display third party comments from twitter for your blog posts. Use Disqus and JS-kit, or Intense Debate, they aggregate and measure relevant tweets and it’s real-time – more than just your blog internal comments.
- If you aggregate and embed all comments and other assets from third party sites (YouTube, Twitter, Flickr), it’s very powerful to show that your blog is updated and helps influence lots.
- For the most part make one medium your center. And it will mostly likely be your blog. Think of the Starfish principle – your brand is not just on your blog but everywhere else. You want to pull everything or display all areas you know, so people get a clear idea of who you are, and if they don’t get to know you, there’s no value.
- Show all your representations how you can be found. Post it on your website, blog and third party profiles.
- Use other assets that back up your claims. Imagine if you say the price of gas increased 300% over 3 years, but you actually embed in a graph or a sample of media that backs it up. It is more credible and you will be more influential.
- Don’t dismiss transparency- it is the most powerful tool you have! It’s funny how mainstream media is trying to be like a person and person is trying to be more mainstream, but the real gem you have as a publisher is being yourself and showing your personality!
- Think of passive selling – leave a subtle trail of your product or service everywhere.
- Think about things you can do, where you are influencing a single person and if they are a part of a larger group, it will just happen.
- You can use tools like Klout, Tweetmeme, Tweetburner and Bitly. They will tell you how influential you are on twitter.
#10 Implementing Third Generation Blogging Boosts Your Efforts.
There are only three ways to direct traffic to your blog: first is direct navigation from the other pages from your site (your blog should be knitted within the corporate site), second is referrals from external website pages to specific posts or your blog home page, and third is from the search engines. Search traffic is the most important and can be controlled and increased, it is keyword generated and you can get the most traffic from it.
Just to give you some numbers to reflect on. Overall on the net we are doing 43% more searches than last year. You can grab a piece of that search traffic to your blog. Don’t worry if you don’t have an audience right now (that’s old school thinking of blogging – first generation) – most blog traffic is first time visitors anyways. Consider acquisitions via keywords and keywords for problems your target audience may be searching for.
Chris Baggot explained the 3 generations of blogging. If your company is not in the third generation, it is missing out on tons of opportunities.
- First generation blogging - This was way back when. It’s about power to the people, citizen journal. No real benefit in driving relevant traffic that can convert for a company.
- Second generation blogging – Corporation gets involved “thought leadership”. The value is there, but has a too formal tone and the verbage doesn’t really connect with ideal readers (your target audience). Your target audience may not be searching for the keyword topics on the search engines.
- Third generation blogging – Is really about empowering and bottoms up approach. “Employee bloggers are 5 times more credible than CEO bloggers”, states the Edelman Trust Barometer. Employees are blogging, it is no longer thought leadership from the top guy ( Second generation). Blogging strategy is all about inbound marketing, telling stories about products and services, and the people behind the product – all with intent to introduce you to people.Telling the stories of your business. Really that simple. Goes back to main reason why you are in business. Comes down to who needs the information – the only audience that matters is the ones you have the solution to their problems. Use the keywords your target audiences uses. Don’t use thought leadership words. Make happy searchers = business that converts…really simple.
3rd generation blogging = targeted messages delivered around specific keywords + aiming at your target audience’s problems.
Understand that readers are multi-tasking. They are looking for credibility when they land on your blog. Can you help them with their problem after they read your post? If no, then they are gone. If yes, then they click on to the rest of your site.
Third tribe is a blogging movement to watch for in near future.
Question yourself if are you a Blogger or a “Content Marketer”, if it is the latter you are on your way to joining the Third Tribe movement. It is what the panel( Sonia Simone, Brian Clark, Darren Rowse, Chris Brogan) introduced during the session “Internet Marketing for Smart People”. I would say that they share a lot of similarities what Chris was says about third generation blogging, what Mari says about being a matchmaker/tribal and Laura about being passionate and transparent.
The four pillars of online success are:
- Content - Your readers should be better off after reading your blog.
- Relationship - Sometimes people may call your website “their site”. You see yourself as a matchmaker and it’s not really “you and them”. On top of connecting with readers you are matchmaker by talking about selling something and what you have to sell.
- Direct Response – Having clear call to actions.
- Having something to really sell – This about where you bring peoples attention to once you have their attention. The new kind of marketing that we trying to advocate, selling and persuasion is good and being authentic and transparent. Avoid obvious deception. Honesty works today, use it until it doesn’t work anymore. The nice people knows it is all two ways.
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If you want to add your key takeways from BlogWorld and New Media Expo or have some different insights, please feel free to comment below!
Oh ya, here are the tweets for the sessions I attended and used some of their insights for my key takeaways. Feel free to follow them: @marismith @armano @1timstreet @ewanspence @leolaporte @dough @pistachio @wingdude @nickhalstead @chrisbrogan @julietweets @GuyKawasaki @kyleflaherty @davidbthomas @mica_mon @kdodnar32 @copyblogger @probloggerUncategorized | Tags: blogging tips, blogworld, blogworld 2009, blogworld expo, facebook tips, new media expo, online marketing tips, social media tips, twitter tips | Comments (5)