Archives for posts with tag: business

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To assist me in articulating to my clients how online marketing aligns with a typical sales process, I produced a diagram which shows the different stages in the marketing and sales process and how online marketing is used to drive leads, prospects and sales opportunites down the sales funnel.

online marketing pipeline

1. Awareness

Using a combination of your company website, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, content marketing, your personal or company blog, social media marketing and smart phone and tablet apps, you create awareness and build credibility and encourage people to follow, connect, join your groups and subscribe to your blog and newsletter and interact with you.

2. Nurturing subscribers

People who have subscribed to your newsletter have given you permission to communicate with them on a regular basis. This is where you continue to build credibility and stay top of mind. Producing good content is crucial in order to retain subscribers and to encourage them to continue consuming your content and sharing your content with their respective communities.

3. Offline sales activity

This is where you make the transition from an online to an offline engagement and where the online channel can still play a part in building credibility. This is where you meet face-to-face with prospective clients, build relationships and present proposals.

4. Closing business

The is the last phase of the sales process and the start of an ongoing relationship with your new client. This is still an important element of your online marketing process because new and existing clients will (hopefully) provide favourable references online and can potentially allow you to publish case studies and testimonials on your website.

 

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LinkedIn may have played second fiddle to the likes of Facebook and Twitter for some time but things have changed. Besides the explosion of LinkedIn user numbers on a global basis, LinkedIn has introduced a whole bunch of new features and functions which has radically improved the user experience. If you are serious about exposing and enhancing your online brand from a business perspective, LinkedIn is the place to be, however if you are going to use LinkedIn, I advise you not to do things in half measures. Here is a list of LinkedIn “must do’s” to start your 2013 off with a bang.

1. Upload a decent photo

Statistically, there is a greater propensity for people to connect with you if your profile has a DECENT photo. LinkedIn is a business social network, so in most (if not all) cases, the accepted norm is a colour head and shoulders shot. If you want to project a professional image, then I suggest that your attire is business casual. Make sure the image has enough resolution to be enlarged without blurring.

2. Include job history

As you would do with your resume when seeking a new job, include a detailed account of your past employers and your role within the organisation. You wouldn’t go to a job interview with half a resume, so don’t do this online for all the world to see. Even if you are not a job seeker and you are using LinkedIn to promote your expertise, potential clients will want to know what you did in the past.

3. Provide a good summary

The LinkedIn summary is your “brag sheet” or 30 second elevator pitch. You want to create a good impression as quick as possible and this is the ideal place to do so. Use the summary to explain your core skills, where and how you add value with one or two examples.

4. Where were you educated?

Besides your job history, potential employers and clients want to know where you were educated and what qualifications you have. Besides schooling and tertiary education, make mention of the certificate courses, diplomas, short courses, awards achieved.

5. Add skills and ask for endorsements

A recent addition to LinkedIn is the ability to have other LinkedIn users you are connected with to endorse your skills. This is the LinkedIn’s version of word of mouth marketing. If I have heard from multiple sources that a person is good at something, there is a good chance that I will believe it. The best way to get endorsements is to endorse others and they will reciprocate. If they don’t, then ask them to.

6. Ask for recommendations

Reach out to your colleagues, clients, ex-clients, past employers and manager and ask them to add a recommendation. When applying for a job or tendering for a project you always include references. This is exactly the same. The more references the better. Just remember to reciprocate!

7. Connect!

This is what LinkedIn is all about. Reach out to all your colleagues, friends, associates, past employers, past and existing clients and connect with them. Remember to follow LinkedIn protocol when doing so otherwise this feature will be blocked. If you do not know someone personally, but would like to connect, ask someone you are connected with to introduce you.

8. Join groups

There are MANY LinkedIn groups out there so take your time joining groups. The idea behind joining groups is so you can interact with LIKE-MINDED individuals. If this is not happening, then leave the group. You also join groups to learn, so if there isn’t decent interaction and/or the subject matter is poor, then leave the group. You can use groups to build credibility and to let people know that you are knowledgeable around certain subjects. In order to do this you have to participate in discussions. Ask questions, post content, use the polling feature, but participate.

9. Monitor updates

Check updates on the LinkedIn home page. This is where you have visibility of all the updates made by your connections. If there is good content, read it, share it and comment on it. The more you do this, the more you are noticed and the more your connections will support you. Remember that your connections have extended networks. As soon as they start sharing your content and comments, the more your content is noticed.

10. Share articles where you have been published

LinkedIn provides a great feature where you can showcase articles that have been published which you may have wrote or where you have been interviewed or quoted. This just helps to build your credibility.

11. Include contact information

Make sure to include all contact information such as email address and telephone numbers. If you use Twitter and have a blog, be sure to include links to these platforms to. Just ensure that your blog and tweets are current if you are going to do this.

There are many other great features and functions available on LinkedIn which you should take the time to explore, but I will leave you with these 11 tips to enhance your personal brand for the time being. I can assure you that if you use this advice, you will see the results. Have a great 2013!

Do you have any other LinkedIn tips to add? Would you like to share any of your personal experiences? What is your opinion of LinkedIn?

I invite you to connect on LinkedIn or chat on Twitter

This article which I have reblogged from Schaefer Marketing Solutions, emphasises the importance of content in your social media marketing strategy. 

Kremlin cannon

The level playing field has turned into a content arms race

(This article was written by Mark Schaefer and was originally published on the Schaefer Marketing Solutions website. Click Here to access the original article).    

Have I ever told you how much I love Gini Dietrich? For me, she is such an amazing role model for dong it right on the social web. And if you’re one of the five people on earth not already following her Spin Sucks blog, go do that now.

Gini is a smart and savvy friend and we don’t always see eye to eye, which makes her an even better friend. Last week she penned a post about how Facebook seems to be unfairly squeezing money from us by forcing us to use paid promoted posts to reach people who are already following us. It’s a good point of course, but I fell off Gini’s wagon at this point:

The awesome thing about the web and social media, in particular, is it levels the playing field. No longer do you need millions of dollars to spend on PR firms and ad agencies in order to build your brand and reputation among the masses.

Today all you need is a good writer, a self-hosted website and/or blog, and organically grown social networks. With those three things, you suddenly are competing with the big boys for reputation and credibility. You’re seen as a thought leader in your industry. You’re creating kinship among your prospects. And you’re selling in a way that has never before been possible.

All of the tools are free so it’s a really low barrier to entry. And it works.

You see, I have been thinking just the opposite about our social media world. Yes, three years ago Gini was probably right. When the social web was young almost any foray into social media was novel and attracted attention. It was pretty cheap and the entry barriers were indeed low. You could post a video of a bride falling into a swimming pool and it would go viral.

No longer.

Today YouTube is mainstream entertainment fueled by slick corporate video content. People have increasingly sophisticated expectations about what they’re going to find on your Facebook page, Twitter stream, or blog.

I recently saw a statistic that stated there was more information created on the web in the last two years than all of human history combined. I don’t know if that is true or not and I rarely let facts get in the way of a good story anyway, so let’s just say it makes a point — there is an enormous amount of data to get through these days. Heck, even Mashable makes me dizzy.

The content arms race

To succeed on the social web today you better bring your A Game and a bucket of money. To connect with customers today you need to consistently provide useful, relevant, and entertaining content — and that is not cheap. And as the information density on the web increases, so too will the cost to produce that great content.

Yes, yes, I know there are plenty of companies who are still finding niche success with modest social media programs but as soon as their competitors get in the game, the content arms race begins.

As I wrote recently, the social web is NOT a level playing field. There is definitely a first-mover advantage for people who have the money to create useful content and overwhelming amounts of it (which then become entrenched in the search rankings). In the long term, you probably will NOT be competing with the “big boys” (as Gini states) with just a writer and a blog.

Here is a great article by Dave Thomas I discovered on ViralBlog which provides good reasons why your CEO should invest in social media.

Can you talk the CEO into doing social media?

You are the chief marketing officer at your company and you have to approach the big man or woman about trying something out. The goal, to get them to sign off on putting major time and effort into a social media campaign.

Yes, the company is doing well overall, but you and others know it could be turning an even bigger return on investment.

The sticking point, however, the CEO is not exactly tripping over themselves to integrate social media into your company’s marketing plan. So, where does that leave you?

As many who do marketing for a living know, one of the main goals of any business is to stay a step ahead of the competition. In your heart of hearts, you feel passionately that your company is missing out on a key area, promoting itself through social media.

For many chief marketing officers, it takes a little extra time and effort to sell the head of the company on all the good things that social media can do for your business. The CEO is oftentimes questioning the true value of social media, saying they have trouble getting a true read on its ROI to the business.

Social Media Continues to Grow for Many Companies

When you find yourself in that position, throw a few of the following statistics at the CEO from the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

Among them:

  • Ninety-four percent of all companies with a marketing department used social media as a portion of their marketing platform;
  • Nearly 60 percent of marketers are devoting what amounts to a full work day to social media marketing development and maintenance;
  • Forty-three percent of people aged 20-29 spend more than 10 hours a week on social media sites;
  • Eighty-five of all companies that have a dedicated social media platform as part of their marketing strategy noted a gain in their market exposure, while 58 percent of businesses that have used social media marketing for more than three years stated seeing an increase in sales over that period.

So, if those numbers still have your company’s CEO questioning the importance of a solid social media effort by your team, share some of these thoughts with them:

Engaging consumers – As more and more shoppers go on-line to browse and shop, not engaging them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media platforms is flat out wrong. According to a recent Forrester Research Inc. report, on-line shoppers in the U.S. are forecast to spend $327 billion in 2016, an increase of 45 percent from $226 billion this year and 62 percent from $202 billion in 2011. In 2016, e-retail will account for 9 percent of total retail sales, a jump from 7 percent in both 2012 and 2011, according to the report, “U.S. On-line Retail Forecast, 2011 to 2016,” by Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. That amounts to a compound annual growth rate of 10.1 percent over the five-year forecast period. With those kind of projections, companies need to be socially engaged;

Avert on-line problems – Another reason your goal as a CMO is to have a solid social media presence for your company is knowing what folks are saying about your business. Are customers turning to Twitter and Facebook to complaint about your products or services? Are they taking to social media venues to disperse unfounded rumors about your company? Lastly, is your competition talking about you in ways that do not truly define your company? Three more reasons to be actively involved in social media;

Be seen as an authority – Finally, a strong social media presence allows your company to be seen as an authority in its particular industry. Consumers are more apt to come to your Facebook and Twitter company pages if you are providing valuable links, authoritative blog posts, informative press releases and more. As your likes and followers increase, you can point to these figures in your brochures and other company promotions, giving you more clout with consumers.

While you will not always be able to sell your company’s top person on social media, your goal as a CMO is to promote it wherever and whenever possible.

By all accounts, social media is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Wouldn’t you rather be the CMO who was in front of the social media train than the one running to keep up with it?

Dave Thomas, who discusses subjects such as installing the right home gutter guards and starting a home business, has more than 20 years of experience as a business writer.

I wrote an article for Memeburn titled Social media is a Virtual Cocktail Party where I compared participation on social networks with a cocktail party. Along a similar vein this article (written by guest author Susanna Gebauer on jeffbullas.com), titled 11 Reasons Why Social Business is Like Dating, shows the similarities between social business and dating. Take the time to read what Susanna has written. If you apply this with your online social business activities, you will see significant and positive results!

11 Reasons Why Social Business is Like Dating

My brother Jonathan (with whom I founded exploreB2B) often describes our platform as a “dating site for businesses.”

This is one reason why, in a recent interview conducted by my colleague Erin for her ‘Unraveling Social Business’ series, her interview with Michael Brenner came as such a pleasant surprise. In talking about an effective social business strategy, Brenner made a comment directly addressing the romantic analogy. He said:

“It may sound like I’m talking about dating, but that is another often-used analogy for social business. Too many companies are out shopping for a spouse and jumping right to the big question of ‘will you marry me?’ and our potential customers are saying, ‘slow down. I don’t even know you.’”

Obviously there must be something more to the analogy of dating and business communication than just a playful and catchy slogan.

What makes social business comparable to dating? What useful advice can we take from our dating experience? The 11 tips below discuss how business communication relates to dating – what you can learn from the romantic world of social business.

1. It takes time to get to know each other and build trust.

This is the obvious takeaway from Michael Brenner’s above statement. The bigger the deal, the more intimately you want to understand your counterpart before you get in too deep. Sure there might be love at first sight, but the successful marriages based on a short-term meeting and elopement are rare.

2. It’s not all about scoring.

In dating we have learned (or haven’t we?): even if you just want to get in the sack, making this goal obvious will not get you any closer to achieving it. Courting and flirting are necessary to lead to any meaningful interaction – and if the build up is fun, both parties will want to connect (and come back for more).

The same goes for social business. Let real communication that is not focused on the “end deal” be part of the process. To establish a multifaceted professional relationship, allow the conversation to drift off topic – be creative, intellectual, lighthearted and genuine. There will be a time for closing the deal, when that time is right for both parties.

3. Don’t push too hard.

When I was young(er), there was a weird rule in dating: do not call earlier than three days after the first date. Even though hard time limits seem a bit out of order, there is some truth to it. If you haven’t decided whether or not you want to continue dating someone, feeling harassed into a decision will probably turn into a “no.” Giving time to ponder might get you curious for another meeting.

In social business courting, you do not want to let your leads feel forgotten, but part of successful marketing involves staying on your counterpart’s radar. In content marketing, this means allowing them to consume your high-quality information on their terms. Give enough frequent information and content to communicate, discuss, and be helpful – without constantly repeating, “So, what about that deal?”

4. First impressions can be deceiving.

It is not always the most flashy and shiny date you are going to marry and spend the rest of your life with. Some people know the game. While they often make for a fun “date” – they would be disastrous as a lifelong partner.

The same goes in business: it is not always the most flashy marketing campaign or additional discount that make for the best, sustainable deal. Take your time in choosing smart and reliable partners – and strive to elicit these qualities yourself.

5. Different needs, different partners.

In dating, sometimes you only have the time and/or desire for a casual fling. There are other times you are looking for a steady, long-term relationship. The more serious you are about a date, the more thought and consideration you will put into choosing your partner.

In business, some deals are of vital importance and long lasting; others are short-term commitments. Be certain you know which type of relationship you are looking for, before you invest time and energy into your commitment. Especially when making costly decisions, take the time and thoughtfulness to make sure you are getting (and giving) enough to support the type of relationship you wish to enter.

6. Self-promotion is a real bore.

Have you ever dated someone who was constantly praising his or herself? Was it a good date? (They never are.) Usually these turn out to be the most boring kind of dates. Even when you decide to grin and bear it, the self-inflation rarely turns out to be true or beneficial. Confidence is a key element of attraction, and over-promotion proves that it is lacking.

The same goes for social business. You need to be confident that your product or service is the best. Yet, shouting and repeatedly boasting, “I am the best,” will neither inspire trust nor get you any closer to a valuable deal. In social business, it is vital to communicate knowledge and expertise, rather than over-promoting your products or services. Be believable (and pleasant to listen to) by demonstrating rather than telling why you are the most eligible bachelor or bachelorette.

7. Sometimes, the best things grow with time.

Sometimes you meet someone you like, yet you do not date for various reasons: you are in a relationship, you are business partners, your best friend has a fancy for the person in question, you are leaving country next week… Whatever the reason, it might not be final. When the time is right, you might turn back, meet again and find that nurturing the relationship with time was worth the wait.

In business the same situation often arises: you like someone, you trust their expertise, you believe in their products, yet the time is not right for a deal. Circumstances change, new needs and business opportunities arise. When the time is right, someone who knows you and trusts your expertise will come to you if he has a deal to give in your field of interest.

8. Don’t try to make your partner someone they are not.

I am a woman, a mathematician and 6 feet tall. I have been on dates, where the guy obviously had a problem with who I am and constantly tried to make me feel like the timid small girl he really should have dated. This kind of misbalanced date does not work, and cannot be made to work by belittling your “opponent.”

A business relationship should be a balanced partnership. Everybody wants to gain; everybody has something valuable to give (and something to lose). It does not inspire trust, if you try to have the upper hand.

9. Know when it’s time to break it off.

There are many reasons a pair will be mismatched. How many terrible dates have you been on for every one good one? The reasons are plentiful for engaging with someone who isn’t right (your mother set you up, your couple friend has a friend, you agreed to go out with someone you met during last call at a bar). While there may be initial attraction, it is important to take action when you recognize that it is not the right match.

In social business there are also plenty of meetings that may take place. Unless you have unlimited time and a plentiful budget, know when to cut your losses.

Note: This is why understanding your clients needs and establishing initial trust are so important (to avoid having to cut your losses).

10. Be clear about your intentions.

You probably do not plan to marry every date you go out with. Still, you can have a lot of fun together. The most important issue is that both parties are open and honest about their intentions. To be dishonest in dating might help achieve short-term goals, yet it is a sure way of ending the relationship (with a bad aftertaste).

The same applies to social business dating. You might be able to fool someone into a bad deal, yet in the end, this will not pay off. A happy customer will want to engage for a long period of time – and provide you with positive recommendations when the deal is closed.

11. It’s not hard to smell a phony.

Have you ever gotten the feeling that the person sitting on the date in front of you is a phony? That what they are saying is not their own opinion, but merely an attempt to tell you what they think you want to hear?

Just like we value originality and individual motivation in those we date, we also strive to engage in business with people and companies who we believe will provide us with honesty, original ideas and solutions. Don’t be the person who fills their potential customers and clients with a mouthful of false promises. Strive to be both transparent and to provide something that no one else had produced.

Love and Marriage?

In today’s world of social business, behavior in dating and business courting can be strikingly similar. Some of the things you keep in mind when dating, should also be considered in business communication. (It is, after all, a long-term investment.) Even if you do not end up married, integrity is key for your reputation and for pursuing healthy relationships in the future.

Guest Author: Susanna Gebauer is one of the founders of the social publishing and content marketing platform exploreB2B. You can find more of Susanna’s content on her profile on exploreB2B. You can also find Susanna on Twitter.

What social media advice would you give to a Chief Information Officer today?

I am speaking to a group of Chief Information Officers from prominent South African companies on Tuesday 13th November about social media. My presentation will focus on my social media journey and my observations and key learnings along the way.

I plan on talking about crowd sourcing as one example of the “power of social media”. To supplement the advice I will provide at the session, I would like to include your comments, if you would like to make a contribution that is. I will be sure to include your name and contact details.

Yours Sincerely
David Graham

Hubspot released their 2012 State of Inbound Marketing ebook which is essential reading for any digital marketer. The report is based on a January 2012 survey of 972 professionals familiar with their business’ marketing strategy. The key takeaways are:

Inbound Marketing Brings Low-Cost Leads

Inbound marketing channels are maintaining their low-cost advantage. Inbound marketing-dominated organizations experience a cost per lead 61% lower than outbound marketing-dominated organizations.

More Spending on Inbound Channels

The distribution of marketing budgets continues to shift to inbound channels. The difference between inbound and outbound marketing expenditures grew by 50% from 2011 to 2012.

Social media Growth

2012 saw growth in social media use across the spectrum. 62% of companies said that social media had become more important as a source of leads in the past six months.

The Rise of Google+

Google+ has started to affect social media marketing. Within six months of its launch, over 40% of marketers consider it “useful,” “important” or “critical.” It’ll be interesting to see how Google+ affects marketers in the future.

Increasing Value of Blogging

Businesses are increasingly aware their blog is highly valuable. 81% of businesses rated their company blogs as “useful,” “important” or “critical.” An impressive 25% rated their company blog as “critical” to their business.

Click Here to access the full report

Did you find this useful? Please share with your network!

by David Graham 

Click Here to access the original article on Memeburn

Social media is a virtual cocktail party

Social media is here to stay and whilst most companies understand the benefits social media has to offer, many are still faced with the challenge of getting their employees on board. Social media isn’t something you can force on employees. It is something they WANT to do.

According to Wikipedia, “social media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue”. On the face of it, social media is a collection of tools and technologies that enable you to host a cocktail party with unlimited guests, spanning borders and continents. This may be a good way to introduce the concept to employees and encourage it’s use. Let us explore the analogy further.

Planning your cocktail party

Before you host a cocktail party, there is generally some planning involved. In most cases, a theme is required. From a business perspective, this would equate to an industry group or specific area of expertise. Other important ingredients for a good party are food, drink and entertainment. From a business perspective this would be your content and there has to be a lot of it and it must be good. You may want a draw card at your cocktail party such as a celebrity, in order to draw the right audience. From a business perspective this will be your guru or thought leader who talks knowledgably around industry and subject matter-related topics. The other important item is the venue of the cocktail party. From a social media perspective this equates to the particular social networks you will participate on.

Sending invitations to your cocktail party

If your party is going to be a success you need another key ingredient. People. But you also need the right people. Firstly, you will identify who you want at your party and then you will send out invitations. In social media this is done in a number of ways. You can invite people to “connect”, “follow”, “like” and so forth or you can reach out to specific individuals that you have identified. The more “like-minded” people you can attract to your party, the more will follow.

Having conversations at your cocktail party

In any cocktail party, there are generally many conversations going on concurrently. As a newcomer to the party, you have to join a conversation. This is exactly what happens on any social network. There are existing conversations taking place. The trick is to decide who you want to speak to and how to enter the conversation. Using this analogy from a business-to-business social media marketing perspective will help employees understand that it involves two-way dialogue. If you enter a conversation just talking about yourself, the conversation is not going to last very long. You have to establish your presence and be accepted before anyone is going to start listening.

From your business, you need the thought leaders, gurus and subject matter specialists to be available and participating, to seed conversation, to present points of views, to make predictions, to present research findings, to respond to questions and to answer questions. This is how you build credibility and become the trusted adviser, the basis upon which clients make buying decisions.

We generally attend a cocktail party to have “fun”, to connect and chat with like-minded people, to eat, drink, dance and be entertained. When employees tell you that “they do not have time”, when you are encouraging them to participate on social media, they need the “cocktail party” conversation. The companies that are doing well with social media are those that are participating and “having fun”. See you at the cocktail party!

This interview was published in Heavy Chef News by Wendy Tayler on the 10th April 2012

David Graham is the Digital Channels Executive at Deloitte South Africa. His primary responsibility is to connect and initiate dialogue across numerous digital channels between Deloitte industry and subject matter specialists and business decision makers at leading organisations in the private and public sector. Heavy Chef chatted to him about social media marketing and the common mistakes that many brands make.

DAVIDDo you think it is necessary for every brand to get involved in this particular form of marketing?

Any person, organisation, company, corporate that was engaged in traditional marketing 1.0 activities in the past, needs to transition to social media marketing. The tables have turned from a company-push to a consumer-pull model. Consumers are dictating how they want to make purchase decisions and the only way that companies can gain visibility of these preferences is to engage with clients and customers, and listen to them. The short answer to your question is a resounding yes.

What is the most common mistake brands make regarding their social media marketing?

Brands rush in too quickly without doing the necessary planning first. Social media marketing, as with any business function, requires a proper strategy to be defined first. Strategy, as you know, has to be owned and driven from the top down. Social media also has to be part of a broader marketing strategy and cannot be done in isolation. Companies also need to have realistic expectations in terms of what they hope to achieve from social media marketing. As part of the strategy, companies also need to define specific criteria to measure success, and they need to measure regularly and provide feedback to stakeholders. What many companies do not realise, if you go back to the middle ages, people would congregate in a market where people would meet, develop relationships, and as part of this process, people would buy goods and services from the marketers. Nothing has changed today except we do it virtually, more quickly and involve way more people. What I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that it’s all about value networking and conversations. Companies that get this right will succeed.

How can companies best deal with stopping bad information from spreading out of control?

Bad information is shared more readily by people and travels way quicker across the Internet. The best solution is do not mess up in the first place, but that is virtually impossible. If a client has a bad experience, ensure that you make it as easy as possible for a consumer to contact your company across multiple communication channels. Secondly, ensure that you have a reputation management strategy in place to deal with incidents. If a consumer is venting on social media, attempt wherever possible to take it offline and resolve the issue. The other consideration for all organisations is to invest in software that identifies negative sentiment.

What is the best way for brands to deal with the fact that their target market is constantly changing social network platforms?

It is up to all companies participating on the various social networks to keep a constant eye on their target market to see where they are participating. They also need to conduct continual research on new trends such as Google+ and Pinterest. You cannot change consumer behaviour, but having visibility enables you to proactively move with the masses.

Thank you David. Your insight into social media marketing for brands was really insightful. You can follow David on Twitter here.

Read more posts by Wendy Tayler

In the opening paragraphs of this article, Jeff Bullas states that  “90% of buying decisions start with an online search. Despite this, the marketing budget for digital media as a share of overall advertising spend is only 8%”.

This statement alone should prompt most organisations to seriously rethink their social media marketing strategies and associated marketing budget allocation!

3 steps to a socially engaged enterprise

The Three Essential Steps to a Socially Engaged Enterprise

Written by Jeff Bullas  Categories: Social Media, Social Media Marketing

Social media is democratizing marketing and is enabling the aspirational brands to challenge major brands for global mind and market share.

The gap between how companies market with media and how customers consume media is significant. In some industries, especially  technology, up to 90% of buying decisions start with an online search. Despite this, the marketing budget for digital media as a share of overall advertising spend is only 8%.

The CEO in most organisations has been raised on a diet of mass media and traditional marketing. Their paradigm in the past has often been to stick with the known because it was safe.

The CEO and the Socially Engaged Enterprise

Slowly but surely the “C-Suite” generation is realizing that digital media is where their audience hangs out and social media is much more than just having a Facebook page.

They are starting to wake up to the fact that a well planned and resourced social media marketingt strategy can lead to closer engagement with customers that is changing customer  service and how the business sells and markets its brand.

To be a socially engaged business is no longer an option, it is essential, just like the website was initially perceived  in the 1990′s.

A study by PulsePoint Group in conjunction with “The Economist” Intelligence Unit titled “The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise” has revealed that the socially engaged companies have a 400% greater impact.

socially engaged enterprise 400 percent better returns

The study also outlined the steps that are essential to becoming a socially engaged business.

Step One: Plan It

There are two phases to this step.

1. Get Executives Sold and Comitted

This requires getting the C-suite on board so that the time, money and resources can be allocated to ensure that is done properly. The CEO and the executives will need to be convinced that  there will be a return on investment to be a socially engaged enterprise before committing the budget required.

This was hard in the past as there was no case studies or leading examples of businesses reaping a reward from investing in the selection, design and development of the platforms and tools needed to start listening online to feedback from customers and prospects and then acting on it.

CEO and Social Media Engagement

2. Develop a Strategy

Developing a strategy that is clear on its goals and audience is the next phase. It includes weaving the strategy into the existing marketing plans so that they are synergistic and relevant.

Step Two: Build It

Essentially there are  four phases to step two.

1. Select your SWAT Team

This could be internal or a mix of internal and external staff that are passionate and skilled about teaching, training and evangelizing employees on an ongoing basis. This team will also need to choose the technologies required to achieve the strategic goals. In most enterprises the Marketing and Communications departments are seen as responsible for the project for becoming socially engaged.

Marketing and Communications responsible for social media

2. Create a Social Media Command and Listening Center

Obtaining real time information that provides feedback from your customers on Facebook and Twitter and other social networks will assist you with determining if your products and services are resonating with your market. Essentially negative feedback means remove or change and positive means do more of the same thing that elicited that response!

3. Integrate Social Engagement into every Department

Listening and then acting on what you are hearing is vital right across the organisation including sales, customer service and product development. A socially engaged company will make rapid changes to its products and customer service approach as feedback and comments that are monitored on the command center are received, taken on board and then acted on.

4. Create a Publishing Plan and Schedule for your Content

You will need to plan your blog posts, Facebook updates, YouTube videos and other updates to your social network outposts that will be relevant for your audience, goals and brand message.

Step Three: Drive It

This is going to take time and commit to spend the next 12 months making sure that the team is acting on the strategy plan. This will involve three phases

1. Keep the Technology Up to Date

Social media is a fast moving and ever evolving technology, ensuring that the technology platforms are up to date and are providing the right tools to be efficient is vital. Upgrades to your blog, Facebook, analytics and measurement technologies will bee needed to ensure that you are not left behind as new tools and tactics emerge.

3 Steps to a socially engaged enterprise

2. Learn from Your Mistakes and Celebrate your Wins

You will make mistakes as the socially engaged enterprise is still a new and and emerging marketing displine. Make adjustments quickly and move on. Celebrate wins with the team regularly to reinforce a success culture.

3. Assess Regularly

As with all proper business practice, develop a weekly management process that ensures that assessment of progress is made and the appropriate adjustments implemented. This will ensure long term success.

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