Good evening everyone and thank you for coming along to listen to me talking about social media this evening. I’d also like to say a big thank you to the committee members of Business on Toast and Yvonne Gorman in particular for organising this evening. First of all, I’d like to get a little energy going in the room. Could I ask you all to please stand up? OK – if you have a Linkedin personal profile , you can remain standing. If you have a Facebook page for your business, you can remain standing If you have a Twitter profile for your business, remain standing. If you have a blog and you update it at least once a month , you can remain standing. If you have a Linkedin business page , remain standing. Thank you for indulging me – I see we have at least a few active social media users in the room today. I could go on, but I think I’ll leave it at that. All you boffins can sit down now and relax . Just so you know: this presentation will be available online tomorrow, so there’s no need to take notes, unless you specifically want to. You will also see some feedback forms on the tables. I would very much appreciate it if you would complete these at the end of the seminar.
Today I’d like to talk to you about why and how social media can work as part of your marketing mix, what the typical reasons are for businesses to get on board with social media and what they can get out of it, Give you a very brief overview of some of the platforms businesses are likely to be using and a few tips for how you can measure your return on investment in terms of time, human resource and money.
I wanted to make sure that I answered some of the most commonly asked questions about social media for business, so I put the question out on Linkedin and Facebook questions. There were some recurring themes, which I drew on to select the 5 top questions ;four of which I’ll aim to cover in this seminar: Firstly, Why should I use it? I’ll explore some of the benefits of investing in social media and the value you could get out of it. As for “How do I use it? “ Unfortunately, this topic is just a bit too big to in a twenty minute session, but if you want to know more, you can look out for some tips in my regular blog on Altisona Media.com or get in touch to find out about social media training. What I will say about using social media is that the first thing every social networker needs to learn is that it requires a very different approach from traditional marketing. In fact, calling it “social media marketing” could be a bit of a misnomer, as it is really more about relationship building. It is about laying the foundations for two way communication – and then engaging with your target market in a way that encourages openness and honesty. It also requires a strategic approach, which will allow you to provide your followers with fresh, dynamic content that is regularly updated – which will in turn provide you with more targeted, quality traffic to your website. How do I make money using it (ROI) – this is what it boils down to – if it doesn’t have an impact on the bottom line, then it’s probably not worth doing. How do I choose which platforms to focus on? I’ll skim over this, looking at the most commonly used platforms, but with hundreds of them out there, I will only cover a few. How much time will it take to get positive results?
Social media can be a little addictive, so as with any business activity, you need to be disciplined with your time. It is also a good idea to keep your business persona separate from your personal, particularly with platforms like Facebook. You might want to share what you got up to at the pub with your close friends, but maybe not with all your business contacts! At the same time, it is a good idea to allow your personality to shine through in your business focussed communications. After all, the saying “people buy from people like them” applies to online networking as much as it does in face-to-face situations.
Why use social media? The following are just a few of the reasons why businesses decide to get on board with social media. You will probably find that only some of these apply to your business, but as you can see, the potential for achieving real business objectives is quite significant. Cost savings – you will be able to reduce the amount you spend on things like adword campaigns once your social media campaigns start generating more traffic, and more leads, which could significantly cut your cost per lead spend You could even reduce product development costs by using social networks for market research and customer feedback Customer communication – keeping in touch regularly keeps you in focus and reminds your customers of what you can do for them Improved customer retention – if your customers feel listened to they feel valued – this is likely to keep them loyal too Brand exposure – with around 200 million Twitter users alone and ability to target your audience, the potential for growing brand awareness online is staggering Creating signposts to your website – by posting interesting a relevant updates with links to your site Increasing online visibility (SEO) – Google is getting more and more sophisticated. These days it’s more about your social ‘clout’ when it comes to getting indexed by search engines – which will factor in elements such as the relevance of your content as well as the frequency of your updates By integrating social media into your overall business strategy and marketing mix, this can result in improved sales & marketing efficiency, which means - Bottom-line impact on your business: Increased revenues Higher sales margins Cost savings Now who here doesn’t want some of that?
Measuring success (Return on Investment) As with any business objectives, you will want to try and keep track of progress. We’ve looked at some of the benefits and the potential value that social media can add to your business. If you want to calculate the return on investment, you will need to take into account your investment in terms of time and money in relation to Setup costs Content creation Monitoring/Evaluation Tools & Integration Resources (in-house or outsourced expert)
Facebook Great for driving social interaction & getting feedback Can use pages as ‘persona’ to post on other sites (brand positioning) Be sure to use a business page, rather than your own personal page for sharing business related content (though it’s OK to share some of these on your personal page, as long as you’re not ‘pushing’ a message that sound like constant advertising. Twitter “ ultimate outbound messaging tool” Inbound messages quick & to the point Easy to manage & monitor Good for identifying and influencing the ‘influencers’ Linkedin Good for answering industry related questions, demonstrating expertise, showcasing testimonials – building trust Great for personal branding Relatively new business pages Excellent B2B tool – much more to say, but that will have to wait for another time YouTube Useful tool for responding to customer issues & damage ‘repair’ when things go wrong Excellent viral potential if used ‘cleverly’ Excellent for building links to your site and improving your search engine ranking Flickr Good PR tool for image sharing A major part of Google’s social search component Digg a social bookmarking site A great platform for ‘content discovery’ & sharing content Good for SEO (indexing pages) StumbledUpon Popular stories attract large traffic numbers Popular stories get good rankings Large user base What’s new(ish)? Quora – described as an “online knowledge market” on Wikipedia. Allows users to ask or answer questions, demonstrating their expertise. QR codes – you’ll see an example of one of these on my business cards – anyone scanned it yet? Where did it take you? (My Linkedin Page) stands for “quick response” and can be read by QR readers and camera phones. Can be used to display text, contact details and URLs and can also be used to track links. Audioboo – basically a ‘Twitter’ using sound files Tumblr – growing in popularity with the younger generation in particular, it is a microblogging site that allows you to post text, images, videos, links, quotes and audio (which could mean that it might make some of the other platforms redundant if it gains a larger user base) ReferralKey – this one created quite a bit of buzz in the Derby business community last week. The website allows users to swap referrals in an organised and trackable way Targeting local business? I’ll just briefly mention – Foursquare & Facebook places - as sites that could potentially be very useful for attracting local business If you’re looking for online networking within a business environment that has a built-in CRM (customer relationship management) tool, then WeCanDo.Biz could also be very useful. I have personally found that this one can work, providing you do some active networking & referral partnership building. There are also hundreds of forums and discussion boards, as well as blogs and that are relevant to particular demographic groups and it is important to keep these in mind. It’s also worth remembering that social media is sometimes referred to as ‘consumer generated media’ and it is driven by user generated content
Why is it a good idea to get on board before your competitors do? According to research “those companies engaging early and implementing best practices soonest will have a large engagement lead, better ROI potential, and therefore, an early mover competitive advantage” (Alinean report) Listen : The first thing you need to do when developing your social media strategy is to Listen – find out where your target market is spending time online (are they on Twitter, Tumblr or Linkedin? – which forums & discussion groups do they read or contribute to?) Engage: start following the people you want to influence and begin having conversations. Invite comment and contributions. Content: Provide your target audience with useful, interesting, entertaining content. This can take the form of independent reviews, video testimonials, case studies, blogs, articles, whitepapers, advice, comments & updates. Generate buzz: Get others in your organisation to take part (but set some ground rules and guidelines). Encourage some discussion by talking about what you’re passionate about. Touch people emotionally. Share good ideas, tips & ‘secrets’. Research shows content that is aligned with customer buying cycle, targeted towards ideas, value, credibility, personalization and entertainment, has greatest success in driving engagement Monitor & respond in a timely way and make time to do so. If customer relationship management is an important factor in your business success, this is even more crucial. Most importantly - build your presence & reach as this is the bottom-line for ROI & success.
As with any activity, how much time you put in, will ultimately relate to how much you want to get out of it, but bear in mind that with the right management tools and a strategic approach, ½ an hour a day is usually sufficient if you want to gradually build your online presence. This will probably be a bit more to start out, as you will first need to set up profiles and spend a bit of time on planning, for example developing a blog publication schedule. So - Decide what you want to achieve Decide how much time you can set aside Spend time on developing your strategy And remember – it’s an on-going process!