Questions? Feedback? powered by Olark live chat software

How to Set Social Media Up from Scratch

We just started working with a mid-size software company and, in digging in to build their marketing system, it quickly became clear they had no real social media integration.

social media set up

photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc

Sure, they had several Twitter accounts, many of their top folks were on LinkedIn and there was a Facebook page, but nothing was connected, no routine was established and certainly no strategy existed for taking advantage of the fact that their clients were increasing social.

In order to get them taking advantage of the strategy we were to recommend we first had to get social more deeply integrated into their daily work processes.

My experience is that this scenario is still quite commonplace – even as the buzz and hype around social has died down a bit.

So, since we needed to basically start from scratch to help them employ a routine for listening and sharing internally and externally, I thought I would document a bit of the process we put them through as it could be a good starting place for many organizations.

1) Created a list of industry related blogs that included publications, influencers, journalist, clients and competitors and set up subscriptions in Feedly RSS reader. (Used IFTTT recipe to make it easy to tag content to Salesforce Chatter)

2) Created list of alerts for key terms, brand names, clients and topics in Talkwalker and Mention. (I like to use both as they seem to pick up different things)

3) Set up Hootsuite for marketing team with Saleforce app integration. Used TacticsCloud tool to create and upload Twitter list of clients, journalists and influencers

4) Created Buffer account and added Buffer bookmarklet for scheduled sharing of content from Feedly or the web to all social networks.

5) Located and Liked Facebook pages of clients, prospects, publications and journalists.

6) Located and joined a number of active and relevant LinkedIn Groups and followed several industry related channels in Pulse.

7) Added mobile apps for Feedly, Hootsuite, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

8) Created Cyfe dashboard for single reporting interface to monitor and measure ongoing social media impact. (Also created some custom segments in Google Analytics and integrated it with Cyfe)

This basic set-up doesn’t get into the daily and weekly amplification, sharing and posting routine that we are also working to install, and there certainly are other more sophisticated ways to set this up, but this is a fairly simple and repeatable plan to work from.

Is It Good For Your Customer?

I get asked lots of questions about tools, tactics and networks these days. People want to know what to join, what path to take, what new thing is going be hot.

small_6996300227

photo credit: fabiogis50

The answer I find myself giving is almost always the same. The way you make decisions about such things is to ask yourself this question -  Is it good for my customer?

If you can use any tool or make any decision with your customer in mind, you probably can’t go wrong.

In the early days of Twitter people wanted me to prove to them why they should get involved in such nonsense. I showed them how to build a list of their best customers and listen and respond to what their customers were saying only and all of a sudden it made sense.

With any new tool or tactic, if you can find a way to first use it to benefit your communication, relationship building, service or outreach with your customers, you’ll eventually find a way to use it in general.

People often rush to the next new thing so they won’t get left behind, but time simply doesn’t allow most businesses to get deeply into every new social network, no matter how much hype it’s drawing. And ever when you do jump in, jump in and master ways to use it for your customers first before you simply start mimicking how others are using it.

When you have this focus it’s never too early or too late to start using some new tool or tactic.

Stay customer focused, analyze the benefits of every tool or tactic with that focus, and you’ll rarely be led astray.

“But My Business Is Different”

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Laura Roeder – Enjoy!

The “Problem”:

Ever felt overwhelmed by social media advice? Everywhere you look, there are articles full of conflicting information about Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter strategies.

Much of the available advice seems not specific enough to apply for your industry or business. So instead of sifting through the mountains of resources, you end up spending your time (and hours of it) on Social Media without much direction, unsure of your ROI, and posting pictures of cats.

So, how do you use Social Media strategically if your business or industry is different from most other online players?

It’s especially challenging to know where to start when your industry doesn’t use social media at all or the predominant opinion among your peers is that it’s too casual or too personal.

But, think of it this way, if others in your industry aren’t using social media (yet – it’s just a matter of time), then now is the perfect time for you to start. You’ll be ahead of the curve!

When you’re on the forefront of using social media in your market, you can take inspiration from all kinds of other businesses. Just because you have a different business model than the examples you see in articles doesn’t mean that the strategies discussed won’t work for you.

What you thought was a problem (“these strategies don’t apply to my business”), is really no problem at all, it’s simply an opportunity to learn to think differently (“how can these strategies apply to me and my business”).

Make a practice of applying strategies from across different industries and markets, and see what sticks!

When I read a blog or business book, I like to force myself to apply the ideas to my business – what if I HAD TO use this pricing model or marketing campaign? How would I do that? Not only does this expand possibilities for how I can grow my business, but it also turns reading and researching into a game!

Here’s how to apply this approach to your business, no matter what your industry or model is:

1) Start following people from all different industries on Facebook and Twitter. Look for thought leaders and brands that you
respect or admire. Bookmark their content that interests you and dedicate an hour a week to reading ideas, opinions, and strategies
from a variety of people and businesses.

2) Practice translating ideas. Just because it hasn’t yet been done doesn’t mean that the idea or strategy doesn’t apply to you or your
field! Think of it this way: the more “no one does that in my industry” the better, as you will stand out!

3) Get more personal on social media. Generally, your customers want to connect with you rather than your business or brand. (Would you rather interact with someone’s face or a logo when you’re at a networking dinner?) Whether or not it’s “industry standard,” it’s important to share your values, your personality, and your uniqueness in order to forge connections with your customers. Social Media is an amazing tool for building the all-important “know, like, and trust” factor with your audience. Don’t miss the opportunity to use these free platforms as a way to help your prospects and customers get to know you.

4) Look at what’s working. Many Social Media sites (and tools like HootSuite) offer critical analytic information to help ensure that the content you share is “sticky” – i.e. generating clicks to your site, social sharing, comments, likes, retweets, etc. It’s important for you to look at this data – whether on Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, or Google

Analytics – and then optimize the type (and timing) of content you share to what is getting the most activity. Don’t be afraid to find out that you’ve been wasting your time – you have a business to run! Make sure the time you spend on Social Media is giving you a return on investment! The only way to know for sure is to look at the data.

Ready to step outside of the industry box and try some new Social Media strategies? Great! Leave a comment below with three potential resources for ideas that are outside of your field, and then make a habit of playing the strategy game to see what new ideas will stick!

Image Credit:  Moyan_Brenn flickr creative commons

Laura Roeder, founder of LKR Social Media Marketer, is a social media marketing expert who teaches small businesses how to
become welcome-known and claim their brand online. Social Media Marketer is an online classroom and community for extraordinary entrepreneurs.

Laura is also the creator of Creating Fame and author of Facebook Fame: The Facebook Marketing Bible for Small Businesses. Follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

New Research Shows That Small Business and Social Media Are Coming to Terms

Over the course of the last few weeks I had the chance to team with Vocus (NASDAQ: VOCS), a leading provider of cloud marketing software, to analyze the results of a new survey of 400 decision makers at small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) and their use of social media, which shows among other things, that small business and social are coming to terms.

social media study duct tape marketing and vocus

The study reinforced something that I’ve been noticing more and more, that there’s finally this acceptance that social media not only isn’t going away it’s an essential element of the marketing mix and the real challenge now is to figure out how to integrate it into the total online and offline marketing presence.

The data supported two trends that I found particularly interesting.

First, the common social media wisdom of “more engagement over more numbers” has some room to be challenged. A large number of firms that cited social media participation as very helpful also claimed to pursue a strategy of big numbers of followers over more engagement.

There were other factors that came into play, but a case can be made for either approach when executed well.

The other trend suggested there are growing pains in social media that line up nicely with the size of a business. The smallest firms seemed to get by and benefit from a guerrilla approach, while much larger firms had appointed full time staff and consultants.

The firms in between, those in the $10-20 million range, found social media less helpful as they struggled to integrate it into marketing more formally. There is a strategy lesson in this data just waiting for consulting firms to exploit.

And now, the numbers

Thirty-six percent of SMBs spend on median average $845 a month on software tools for social media management – but 32% of that group also spends a $1,000 or more. Separately, another 22% of SMBs use consultants to aid with their efforts, though many SMBs have simply added social media to the list of existing duties of marketing employees. The median average of tools used is three and social media accounts for 25% or more in terms of overall marketing efforts for the vast majority of SMBs.

Frustration but also value

Analysis of the data points to the conclusion that SMBs are finding value in social media – yet it also demonstrates divergent philosophies on paths to finding that value. SMBs are acutely aware of the challenges with marketing through social media and though no single barrier stands out, many smaller nuisances add up to overall frustration. Overcoming the perception that social media is “free” was a frequently cited challenge.

Referral traffic the top measurement metric

While this study clearly demonstrates that SMBs are focused on tangible business outcomes, SMBs are also capturing a myriad of metrics to measure the results of their social media efforts. The measurement of increased traffic to a web site was the most commonly cited metric with76% of SMBs measuring referral traffic from social platforms.

Facebook is king, but Google+ is coming on

Facebook ranked as the top social site currently used by SMBs, but ranked second to last, leading only MySpace, on future intent suggesting near saturation. Google+ proved to be the dark horse with 44% of SMBs saying they currently use Google’s social network, however it topped the list in terms of future plans – tied with Instagram at 14%.

Other key findings include:

  • Social media is helpful: 87% of SMBs say social media has been somewhat helpful or helped a great deal; 10% said it had no effect.
  • Perception of influence varies: 40% of SMBs prefer a smaller but highly engaged audience; 27% would prefer a huge following with little engagement.
  • Healthy share of marketing efforts: 77% of SMBs indicate social media accounts for 25% or more of their total marketing efforts.
  • Sharing is common use: The most common use of social media is to share information 91%; only 46% see social media as a place to handle customer service issues.
  • Doubling up on duties: 73% of SMBs have added social media to the existing duties of a marketing person.
  • Spending set to rise: 84% of SMBs plan to increase their use of social media at least a little in the future.

The report is freely available to anyone interested in reviewing the study by downloading a copy from the Vocus blog: Path to Influence:  A Industry Study of SMBs and Social Media

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm from July 18-28, 2012. The survey looked at organizations with annual revenue between $5 and $50 million. No organization had more than 1,000 employees.

What Most Small Businesses Are Doing Wrong on Social Media (And 5 Tips For Success)

I’m taking some vacation time this week and I’m actually going to stand waist deep in the Columbia River in Oregon and cast for Trout. (Don’t worry I won’t hurt any I’m strictly a catch and release kind of guy.)  While I am away, I have a great lineup of guest bloggers filling my shoes.  This post is brought to you from Dave Kerpen.

Dave Kerpen is the CEO of Likeable, a social media agency that has worked with more than 200 leading brands, including Verizon and Neutrogena. He is author of The New York Times best seller Likeable Social Media. Dave recently launched Likeable Community College and Likeable Local.

Over 900 million people in the world are on Facebook, including over 180 million Americans, or 1 in 2 adults. Twitter recently surpassed 300 million accounts. Small business owners are trying to take advantage of these trends, but few are fully reaping the rewards. 

For most business owners, the temptation is to use social networks to promote themselves and broadcast their messages. But if you stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a customer, you’ll understand that the secret to social media is being human – being the sort of person at a cocktail party who listens attentively, tells great stories, shows interest in others, and is authentic and honest.  The secret is to simply be likeable.

Here are 5 tips for small business owners to be more likeable and ensure greater success using social media:

  1. Listen first. Before your first tweet, search Twitter for people talking about your business and your competitors. Search using words that your prospective customers would say as well. For example, if you’re an accountant, use Twitter to search for people tweeting the words “need an accountant” in your town. You’ll be surprised how many people are already looking for you.
  2. Don’t tell your customers to like you and follow you, tell them why and how they should. Everywhere you turn, you see “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter.” Huh? Why? How? Give your customers a reason to connect with you on social networks, answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” and then make it incredibly easy to do so. Note the difference between these two calls to action: “Like my book’s page on Facebook” and “Get answers to all your social media questions at http://FB.com/LikeableBook.
  3. Ask questions. Wondering why nobody’s responding to your posts on Facebook? It’s probably because you’re not asking questions. Social media is about engagement and having a conversation, not about self-promotion. If a pizza place posts on Facebook, “Come on by, 2 pizzas for just $12,” nobody will comment, and nobody will show up. If that same pizza place posts, “What’s your favorite topping?” people will comment online– and then be more likely to show up.
  4. Share pictures and videos. People love photos. The biggest reason Facebook has gone from 0 to 900 million users in 7 years is photos. Photos and videos tell stories about you in ways that text alone cannot. You don’t need a production budget, either. Use your smartphone to take pictures and short videos of customers, staff, and cool things at your business, and then upload them directly to Facebook and Twitter. A picture really is worth a thousand words – and a video is worth a thousand pictures.
  5. Spend at least 30 minutes a day on social media. If you bought a newspaper ad or radio ad, you wouldn’t spend 5 minutes on it or relegate it to interns. Plus, there’s a lot to learn, and every week, new tools and opportunities across social networks emerge. Spend real time each day reading and learning, listening and responding, and truly joining the conversation. The more time and effort you put in to social media, the more benefits your business will receive.

Above all else, follow the golden rule:  Would you yourself click the “Like” button, the Follow button, or Retweet button if you saw your business on Facebook and Twitter? Would you want to be friends with your business at a cocktail party? Just how likeable is your business?

Image credit: owenwbrown

5 Ways to Use Social Media for Things You Are Already Doing

One of the biggest road blocks facing small businesses when addressing social media is the question of return on investment. With so little time devote to what’s crying out to be done, adding something else or something new like social media can feel like a real burden. Sometimes the only way to rationalize and prioritize something new is to understand the benefits in relation to everything else your doing and take a new view based on that understanding.

puzzleSo much of what’s written on social media amounts to lists of things you should do, get on twitter, blog, create a Facebook fan page, and not enough on why you might consider doing it. While all those tactics may indeed be wise, I would like suggest a number of ways to use those actions to do a better or more efficient job doing things you’re already (or should be) doing.

Start to think in terms of doing more with less effort, not simply doing more. If I can let small business owners get a glimpse of social media through this lens, they might just decide to go a little deeper. Here are five ways to look at it.

1) Follow up with prospects

I love using social media tools as a way to follow-up with prospects you might meet out there in the real world. So you go to a Chamber event and meet someone that has asked you to follow-up. Traditionally, you might send an email a week later or call them up and leave a voice mail. What if instead you found them on LinkedIn, asked to be connected and then shared an information rich article that contained tips about the very thing you chatted about at the Chamber mixer. Then you offered to show them how to create a custom RSS feed to get tons of information about their industry and their competitors. Do you think that next meeting might get started a little quicker towards your objectives? I sure do.

2) Stay top of mind with customers

Once someone becomes a customer it’s easy to ignore them, assuming they will call next time they need something or, worse yet, assuming they understand the full depth and breadth of your offerings and will chime in when they have other needs. Staying in front of your customers and continuing to educate and upsell them is a key ingredient to building marketing momentum and few businesses do it well.

This is an area where a host of social media tools can excel. A blog is a great place to put out a steady stream of useful information and success stories. Encouraging your customers to subscribe and comment can lead to further engagement. Recording video stories from customers and uploading them to YouTube to embed on your site can create great marketing content and remind your customer why they do business with you. Facebook Fan pages can be used as a way to implement a client community and offer education and networking opportunities online.

3) Keep up on your industry

Keeping up with what’s happening in any industry is a task that is essential these days. With unparalleled access to information many clients can learn as much or more about the products and solutions offered by a company as those charged with suggesting those products and solutions. You better keep up or you risk becoming irrelevant. Of course I could extend this to keeping up with what your customers, competitors, and key industry journalists are doing as well.

Here again, new monitoring services and tools steeped in social media and real time reporting make this an easier task. Subscribing to blogs written by industry leaders, competitors and journalists and viewing new content by way of a tool such as Google Reader allows you to scan the day’s content in one place. Setting up Google Alerts and custom Twitter Searches (see more about how to do this) or checking out paid monitoring services such as Radian6 or Trackur allows you to receive daily email reports on the important mentions of industry terms and people so you are up to the minute in the know. (Of course, once you do this you can teach your customers how to do it and make yourself even more valuable to them – no matter what you sell.)

4) Provide a better customer experience

It’s probably impossible to provide too much customer service, too much of a great experience, but you can go nuts trying.

Using the new breed of online tools you can plug some of the gaps you might have in providing customer service and, combined with your offline touches, create an experience that no competitor can match.

While some might not lump this tool into social media, I certainly think any tool that allows you to collaborate with and serve your customers qualifies. Using an online project management tool such as Central Desktop allows you to create an entire customer education, orientation, and handbook kind of training experience one time and then roll it out to each new customer in a high tech client portal kind of way. This approach can easily set you apart from anyone else in your industry and provide the kind of experience that gets customers talking.

5) Network with potential partners

Building a strong network of strategic marketing partners is probably the best defense against any kind of economic downturn. One of the surest ways to attract potential partners is to build relationships through networking. Of course you know that, but you might not be viewing this kind of networking as a social media function.

If you identify a potential strategic partner, find out if they have a blog and start reading and commenting. Few things will get you noticed faster than smart, genuine blog comments. Once you establish this relationship it might make sense to offer a guest blog post. If your use a CRM tool (and you should) you’ve probably noticed that most are moving to add social media information to contact records, add your potential partners social media information and you will learn what’s important to them pretty quickly.

If you know how to set up a blog already, offer to create a blog of network partners so each of you can write about your area of expertise and create some great local SEO for the group.

So, you see, you don’t have to bite into the entire social media pie all at once. Find a tool, a technique, a tactic that makes your life easier today and provides more value for partners, prospects and customers and you’ll be on the path to getting some real ROI on your social media investment.

What social media tactics have you discovered that allow you to do more of something you’re already doing?

Social Media Infecting Every Aspect of Business

For this week’s post at AMEX OPENForum I outlined 5 Ways That Sales People Can Benefit From Using Social Media

Social media tools are incredible for engagement, amplification, nurturing and deepening relationships – all the stuff that sales is supposed to do. In fact, social media tools are probably more useful in the hands of the right salesperson than the entire marketing department.

Practical Guide to Social Media

Marketing podcast with OpenForum (Click to listen, right click and Save As to download – subscribe now via iTunes

ScreenSnapzThe above podcast is an interview I conducted with OPEN Mic, hosted by Monocle editor Tyler Brûlé, as part of a social media special. Guests also include Adam Ostrow of Mashable and several very interesting small businesses from around the world.

The project, sponsored by AMEX OpenForum, included a written guide to social media with contributions from Ostrow, Anita Campbell and myself. You can download the complete OPEN Book: A Practical Guide to Social Media