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How-to articles for using Twitter abound, but we liked the way this article from Connected Marketer zeroed in on helpful tips for tweeting responsibly and building a B2B community on Twitter. Blogger Jeremy Victor outlines the how Twitter can help “start conversations and build real life relationships” that will ultimately benefit your business.
Our favorite tips:
Don’t: Flood your audience with self- or company-promotional tweets. A balance is critical.
Don’t: Post negatively about a competitor. Don’t post negatively about anything for that matter.
Do: Provide value and be selective in your tweeting. Only tweet about things that the community of people whom you are working to attract will find interesting or valuable. A great place to start is to share links to industry news or new product announcements.
Forrest Gump famously compared life to a box of chocolates, in that “you never know what you’re going to get.” Social media can be a little like that, but fortunately you can measure its effectiveness and fine-tune your approach to, ahem, sweeten the results.
At a recent Social Media Breakfast in Seattle Katie Paine, from KD Paine & Partners, outlined to a packed house a 7-step program to determine the ROI on social media.
As reported on the University of Washington “Web Tools for the Digital World” site, measuring social media effectiveness isn’t all that different from measuring other media.
As with other media, you need to define your goals, your audiences, your benchmarks and your metrics. Make your messages credible and closely track responses. Encourage word of mouth. Learn from mistakes and adapt – social media will tell you much more quickly than other forms whether you’re on track.
Above all, remember that social media is not a magical cure for deeper problems with a brand or business. If you choose to use it, you must see it as part of a suite of tactics to help fulfill your long-term strategy.
Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 reminds us about the challenge facing companies that embrace social media face—the social media policy.
He points to a couple of different organizations (different, as in, one university, one corporation and one nonprofit) to show how a policy can help or hinder a company’s efforts to use social media for marketing. The policy is important, no doubt, but it shouldn’t scare off employees from tweeting or mention the company on Facebook.
Joe has some great insight on what an effective social media policy should look like.
This post appeared recently on the eminently snarky and cynical website Overheard in the Newsroom: “Social media editor: “I’m too busy. I can’t use my brain.”
If your organization has leapt into social media, the people responsible for that may well feel that way. But it’s something they have to do every day, because a day online is like a month (or more) in more traditional marketing.
It’s also important to take the time to analyze your social media’s effectiveness – if for no other reason than to justify your efforts. Just make sure you use meaningful metrics, and understand what those metrics can and cannot say about their success.
For example, if you or others at your group blog, notes Galen De Young at ProteusB2B, business bloggers need to look beyond metrics such as numbers of visitors or RSS subscribers.
“In my opinion, one of the best ways to gauge the success of a B2B blog is to analyze how much traffic it’s generating, and to analyze how hard those blog pages are working for you,” De Young writes.
Those measurements include how people found your site, where people land on your site and how much time they spend there, he notes.
At Hammock, we call that a Content Marketing Intelligence Report or CMIR, and it’s what we do for every client at the start of a relationship and at regular intervals thereafter. That’s how we measure up.
Facebook is emerging as a very effective part of businesses’ online marketing strategies, but take care not to neglect your own blog—or website—for your interaction on the social networking site.
On SmallBizTrends.com, Lisa Barone discusses the importance of continuing to focus on your own blog “to create your own authority and brand.” She offers 10 reasons, including:
- “Blogging builds your house, not theirs”: Focus on building your site and your authority by placing your original content on your site, not someone else’s. It’s one thing to syndicate content to Facebook—in fact, we encourage that here at Hammock. But don’t give away your content and your audience completely to Facebook.
- Search engine rankings: If you stop posting original, dynamic content to your own blog, it will start to slip in search engine rankings. This not only hurts your authority but can end up hurting your ability to bring in new business.
- “You don’t own Facebook”: Barone reminds us that social networks evolve, change, and can always fade away (remember MySpace and Friendster?). “While it’s never smart to put all your eggs in one basket, it’s especially unwise to do it when you don’t even own the basket,” says Barone.
It takes more than establishing a presence on Facebook or Twitter, or launching a corporate blog to make effective use of social media. As Heidi Cohen points out, it takes a lot of work to make your social media marketing plans work.
As the new shiny thing on the marketing block, social media is filled with both mystery and promise. Many businesses are just beginning to get to acquainted with it, and may be infatuated with what it seems to promise.
If you read this blog regularly, though, you know we’ve said all along that social media is not magic. It’s a tool and like any tool, it takes time and effort to wield effectively and to learn what it can and cannot.
Cohen’s post summarizes points about effective social media that you’ll find in other posts on Hammock.com. These include:
• Frequent updating
• Consistent messages
• Participation by management and employees
• Clear guidelines for contributors
• Dovetailing online and offline efforts
• Buy-in and commitment by leadership
She doesn’t bullet-point it, but running through Cohen’s post is a point we cannot stress enough: Your social media need targeted, meaningful and creative content—content that instructs, informs, motivates and, yes, entertains those who access it.
We’d also add that media such as blogs and websites should embody good, functional design that makes them easy to navigate and to find desired content.
Each of Cohen’s tips suggests metrics to measure the effectiveness—or lack of effectiveness—of your social media strategy. That’s something we do for clients—we call it a Content Marketing Intelligence Report or CMIR. Measure early, measure often, and respond to what you learn.
Twitter is a great tool to expand the reach of your message beyond your website, enewsletter or blog. But you can’t measure your reach solely by the number of followers you have—you have to look beyond and consider the user who follows your followers.
Jay Baer of Convince and Convert makes some compelling arguments about why a company’s social media programs should be about helping, not about selling, and lists several companies that approaching their social media programs in this correct way. From a content marketing standpoint, Geek Squad really stood out among the companies Baer name-checked. He said:
“Geek Squad makes its living providing technology configuration and repair services, via BestBuy stores everywhere. But yet Geek Squad has a YouTube channel that includes hundreds of videos showing people how to do it themselves. They aren’t trying to sell you services –- at least not at that point –- they are being helpful.”
Sounds a lot like a good content marketing strategy, too.
“I want a magazine.” “I want a blog.” “I want a newsletter.” Those are some of the most common needs expressed to us by new clients. More often than not, clients come to us with the media they want already in mind.
Rather than immediately moving forward, we prefer to start the process with a conversation about a client’s content marketing goals, then let those goals guide a custom media platform selection. We’re looking for the platforms that will work most efficiently, rather than the trendiest or flashiest. We won’t recommend a client invest in a custom magazine, for example, until we are clear about what he or she wants the magazine to do. With such an array of media choices to choose from, we realize the decision can be difficult. That’s why we draw on our years of experience—and tons of research—to craft the most appropriate media for each client.