The Power of Social Media

Power of Social Media

Power of Social MediaBy now, I’m sure most everyone has seen/heard about the latest ad from Pepsi geared toward Millennials. Pepsi intended to “project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding”. What ended up happening was a Twitter firestorm. In 48 hours, the video saw almost 1.6 million views on YouTube with five times as many downvotes as upvotes. Social media lit up with criticism of the ad calling it disrespectful and tone-deaf.

Pepsi promptly pulled the ad just one day after they released it and apologized saying “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout.”

Whether you agree with their decision to pull the ad, one thing is clear. People are talking. It also got me thinking. Social media is now so powerful that it has put a stop to a global company’s ad campaign. 

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Three Steps to Make Your Social Media Content Strategy Amazing!

In a previous blog I talked about Jay Baer’s unique content strategy approach in his book YOUtility. Jay’s main theme in YOUtility is that content can be amazing or it can be useful. Having amazing content is difficult, while having useful content is more obtainable and engaging. I won’t argue that part of your social media strategy should be having useful tips and tricks for your audience. I will say that having amazing content is not only possible, but also quite valuable. I believe that graphics, promotions and special events can be amazing if a content producer is willing to try.

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Is your content strategy strong or a little soupy?

Graphics can be the bane of your existence when you’re coming up with an amazing content strategy. After all, graphics are time consuming and expensive. If you’re getting them out-sourced, that money is coming out of someone’s pocket. If you’re trying to do them in-house or on your own, a lot of time and energy will be spent on trying to find or create the right visual—perhaps without the skills needed for the task in the first place.

  • TIP: Make graphics amazing by hiring someone with the right skills and experience. If this is in-house, invest the time and money to hire a stellar graphic designer. If you’re outsourcing, go with the best agency or freelancer you can find and afford. You will save yourself so much time and agony by just spending the money on a professional. It’s also important to make sure you have a clear vision between your graphics person and yourself or your client. Amazing content will not come from miscommunication.

Promotions can be quiet troubling for content strategy. Jaded content producers will roll their eyes and try to repeat the same tired tweet or email newsletter about a new product. Uninspired social media strategies will involve repetitive contests because they tend to work, despite creating diminishing returns as followers get sick of the same old Facebook app.

  • TIP: Make promotions amazing by focusing on your intended outcome or asking more questions of yourself or your client. What do you/they want to gain from this particular promotion? Are you/they trying to sell a particular product, or just get people in the door? Those two desires require an entirely different content strategy. For example, if you’re trying to sell a particular brand of bourbon, you don’t want to do a Facebook contest where people name their favorite cocktail. People can post about any kind of alcohol they like. Focus is important for promotions.

Special events can be incredibly fun in social media strategy. They’re easy to talk about, fun to plan for and most followers are going to be interested by default. This built-in interest can be a curse for content producers, though. Easiness breeds stagnation, and even the best special events can lose attendance without diligence.

  • TIP: Make special events amazing by trying new things. I hate the phrase think outside the box. Forget the box. Throw the box away. If you have never tried to reach out to local news organizations for your special events, try it now. Perhaps you haven’t bothered with Facebook ads before. Now is the time to try. If you execute social media on behalf of a client, you also want to make sure you have all available information from them, because they can often help you find new and interesting ways to approach the subject.

In case you didn’t notice, communication is the central theme here. Know your brand inside and out, and if you work with clients, then mine as much data as possible from them or your content strategy won’t be amazing.

Do you have any special tips for creating amazing content? Let us know in the comments below!

Social Media Jobs: In-house or Outsourced?

social media jobs, social media sites

Social media jobs are in demand right now. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs involving social media and PR will grow by 23 percent between now and 2020. The value of investing in social media services to market a brand is undeniable. According to a recent study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies, 51 percent of Facebook fans and 67 percent of Twitter followers are more likely to purchase from a brand that they are a fan of or follow. Every business needs that sort of exposure, no matter how successful.

social media jobs, social media sites, social media strategy

Social media jobs are growing!

When it comes to social media jobs, the real question should be whether these organizations will add someone directly to their staff, or hire an agency to cover social media news for them. Below we will weigh the pros and cons of having social media jobs in-house or outsourced.

In-House

Pros: Hiring people directly for social media jobs means businesses have a bit more control over their selection process. Supervisors can really get to know these employees, and perhaps they can learn something about social media strategy along the way. Having social media in-house also means those responsible for it are at the business site when any news, media or sudden changes happen. All creative ideas and graphics can easily be approved by the business, because the person responsible for making those decisions is always nearby.

Cons: Having a social media employee in-house might seem like a dream come true, but it can also have some serious disadvantages. Unlike many other positions, social media jobs are typically needed by businesses without a lot of knowledge on the topic. An employer is bringing someone into the fold they might have problems coaching on a subject they know little about. While managers can certainly hire extremely experienced and knowledgeable people for their social media jobs, there’s no guarantee staff can stay informed in an extremely mutable field. Resources for those in social media jobs will be limited if they work for a business that doesn’t value marketing too highly.

Outsourced

Pros: Agencies live and breathe social media strategy. By virtue of being so plugged into the field, outsourced social media organizations will have more knowledge when it comes to social media news. Agencies can also get the best talent for their social media jobs, because those applying know they will be appreciated and given the resources they need to do their work correctly. Businesses that outsource their social media sites to agencies don’t have to do it themselves, or find someone they hope can keep up in a competitive field.

Cons: Outsourcing does mean businesses will have less control of their own social media strategy. They will need to find a trusted agency like StrataBlue to control all of their social media sites and identities. Getting information from businesses to agencies can sometimes be troublesome, and often requires a site like Basecamp to exchange information and media.

Is your business currently looking to outsource your social media jobs? Please get in contact with us below in the comments section!

What’s Your Social Marketing Voice?

Recently, we recorded the first ever StrataBlue podcast. As I was listening to a recording of the StrataCast episode with a couple of my coworkers, one of them asked, “Do I really sound like that to you guys?” After a few seconds, the rest of us replied, “Yep!”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. It can be a little strange hearing your own voice coming from a set of speakers instead of your own mouth. Our brief conversation about her actual vocal qualities got me to thinking about the topic in a broader sense.

In our roles, we’re responsible for representing and upholding the voices of client organizations across a wide range of markets and industries. For skilled communicators, this voice adaptation happens instinctively and seamlessly. However, the importance of doing so effectively cannot be overstated. A company’s voice underlies every piece of communication that it presents and greatly impacts how they are perceived.

Think it through. Before jumping directly into posting and interacting on social media, take the time to intentionally consider how to best represent your company’s existing voice. Imagine your brand being a person. What type of personality do you want to portray? A polished, suit and tie-wearing professional has a much different voice than the fun, easy-to-chat-with guy/gal next door. Selecting the appropriate persona depends on your particular industry and the intended audience.

This is a great way to think of your brand’s voice. Tone, on the other hand, can be thought of as a subset of your voice, adding different flavors depending on the channel, audience or situation. For more assistance in the initial stages of voice and tone development, take a look at this handy 4-step guide from Social Media Explorers.

Voice 1

Steady wins the race. In any form of communication, written or verbal, the recipients filter others’ words through their own experiences and perspectives. This is a common source of misunderstanding. Being consistent and clear in the way you communicate while carefully choosing the words you use can help ensure they hear (or read) what you intend.

To complicate things a bit further, larger organizations sometimes have multiple individuals who distribute content on the same channel. In these cases, it’s critical that brand and marketing communication guidelines are in place so that everyone has a consistent tone and voice. Followers and fans can easily pick up on small changes. Remember, the goal above in step one is to portray a single voice.

Don’t be the stereotypical used car salesman. This tip applies even if your purpose for being active on social media is to sell more used cars! There are few things less appealing than feeling like you’re being coaxed towards a cash register. Ending a tweet or post with “click here to purchase our great widget” or “contact us today to schedule your 30-day trial” are acceptable once in a while, but not as the norm.

Instead, strive to provide worthwhile, engaging content with calls to action that focus on the benefits to the audience. For example, you might develop a social campaign to educate and inform your audience about the important changes taking place in the widget industry landscape. End those messages with a call to action that invites those interested to visit your blog or subscribe to your email list. Social marketing is a great way to have frequent contact with customers and leads while gently moving them along your sales funnel. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it can replace the entire process though.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on social marketing voice portrayal. What companies have you encountered on social channels that effectively match their social voice to their broader brand voice? What specifically did they say (or not say) and how did they say it to accomplish that? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!

 

Big Data and Social Media Help NASCAR Lap the Competition

In 2009, NASCAR was in an unenviable spot. The economic recession, a changing media landscape and several other factors crashed down simultaneously on the racing company. “Rising fuel prices hit our fans badly,” explained Sean Daugherty, the company’s Director of Digital and Social Media Engagement. “Our fans travel more than 100 miles on average to attend our races, so increases in fuel prices have a direct impact on race attendance.”

This is how Daugherty opened his portion of a recent webinar titled How NASCAR is Using Social Media to Deliver a Dynamic and Engaging Fan Experience. The presentation was held in collaboration with HP, the company’s partner for much of the hardware and software its Marketing Communications department uses today.

Fast forward to 2014, and NASCAR is in a much better position. Race viewership is at an all-time high, the largest media deal in the sport’s history is in place through 2024, and pillar partner companies are renewing to long term agreements. So what happened? According to Daugherty: unprecedented research, a large investment in technology and a dedication to using live data and social media to offer fans a more engaging experience. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the company is doing just that.

Fan and Media Engagement Center

Fan and Media Engagement Center

NASCAR has developed a technology “headquarters” unlike anything else in sports or entertainment. Unveiled in Charlotte, the Fan and Media Engagement Center is a 500-square foot room with several 46” HD screens and three workstations. This hardware, and the HP “analytics engine” that supports it, allow the company to track and better understand the conversations trending across social, traditional and broadcast media that impact their industry. They then leverage that information to provide live updates to the team on the ground during each race and distribute detailed and customized analytic reports to key stakeholders after the checkered flag waves. These groups include its teams, tracks and partners.

Nascar Big Data

Live Interaction and Engagement

Just as important as their impressive infrastructure and software are the creative ways NASCAR uses its gained insights to drive an engaging, memorable experience for fans and viewers. During all races in NASCAR’s 3 national series, the Fan and Media Engagement Center is bustling. A team watches a live broadcast of the race and engages fans by answering questions and live tweeting from the official NASCAR social media handles. They keep an eye on live trending topics and fan sentiment during the race, dive deeper into topics that gain traction and relay insights to teams and drivers’ social media managers so they can live tweet and post on Facebook more effectively throughout and after each race.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Another impressive benefit of harnessing real-time clustered data is the ability to recognize when mistakes are made or negative comments are being shared. For example, during their most recent All-Star race, which is an exhibition race where drivers are re-ordered based upon fan voting and fan rules, a broadcast graphic was aired displaying the driver order incorrectly. “Even though the cars were in the correct running order on the track, it seemed like the wrong driver ended up winning the race,” recalled Daugherty.

Fans reacted negatively and reporters portrayed it as a big deal saying NASCAR had a firestorm on its hands. “Well we went back and analyzed the data and found that the issue was only 3 percent of the overall conversation around the race at that time,” Daugherty shared. “So, what the media portrayed as a firestorm was really just a blip on the radar and in an instance where we may have continued to issue a statement and extend that news cycle, we were able to, in this case…take no action and not extend that news cycle and let our broadcast partner handle that response.”

How Can Your Company Reap Similar Benefits?

Data collection, analytics and social media are driving value for companies across all industries and specialties, not just motorsports racing. If you’re interested in learning how the proper mix of marketing, analytics and cloud solution services can help your company win big, spend a few minutes browsing our website or contact us directly to discuss your unique business model and requirements.

Bridging the SMM and CRM Gap

Every day, 24/7 and 365 days a year, consumers voice their opinions about your brand. They review your product and/or service either explicitly via sites like Yelp or share information in comment feeds, updates, posts and tweets.

If they are looking for product support or answers to your technical capabilities, they also may comment directly on your social pages. These customers are not the only ones evaluating your company based on your response – their friends and subscribers are also developing a relationship and can see the public interactions as well.

In today’s increasing social world, social media management (SMM) encompasses more than single-source authoring or in-depth analytics. At the root of SMM is the aggregation of all social aspects to create prospects and support customers through an informal line of communication. Today, consumers opt for reaching out on social media rather than through a “Contact Us” form or 1-800 number, as these methods take too long and users are never really sure if someone has received their information. Social media, conversely, provides an additional, direct platform for connecting customers with enterprises, bridging a gap between social media and customer relationship management (CRM).

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World of SMM

In the world of SMM, there are a few core features that are necessary for businesses of all sorts and sizes when looking to merge with their CRM efforts. Let’s break down the importance of monitoring, analytics, and publishing.

Monitor: When consumers update, post or comment about your product/brand on their social networks, you want to know about it, right? After all, social media is a ripe stomping ground for unfiltered, honest and candid opinions.  Monitoring the social web enables you to discover these posts that may not be outwardly directed to your company networks or representatives.

For example, say Todd, a marketing professional for one of your high-profile clients, tweets that he is having trouble contacting your brand’s customer support. His tweet does not include your company’s Twitter handle but he has hashtagged the name of the product and your company. Your SMM platform should then be able to pick up on these hashtags because you identified these keywords as phrases of interest.

Ideally, you take this information and pass it along to one of your account managers and/or CRM specialists. This is an issue that might have been overlooked or bypassed had it not been picked up through your SMM tool.  The best of breed tools integrate with your CRM platforms, which allows you to take this particular social mention and directly assign it to the appropriate CRM representative.  This type of integration helps keep track of the entire process, ensuring that Todd’s issue is in the right hands and ultimately resolved.

Analyze: As you invest your time and marketing dollars on developing and rolling out a social media strategy, it’s important to look at the numbers to ensure your efforts are successful.  Taking a look at the analytics gives you that answer.

With over one billion people using the platform, a Facebook page can serve as a great channel of communication between your business and prospects. SMM platforms provide analytics to explain which of your posts were most popular by likes, comments and shares. For example, your customers may respond better to images versus text or video. You can use this information to analyze your social media marketing strategy and tailor your posts. When a user likes, comments or shares one of your posts, you amplify your reach by sharing this information with your users’ friends, followers and subscribers.

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If you’ve invested in a marketing campaign, then you’ve poured resources, manpower, time and effort hoping the campaign will result in some quantifiable success. But how do you track its progress? How do you measure whether or not you’re on track? Well, most SMM platforms can track the frequency of posts around a keyword or brand page, the sentiment of these posts, and who the major influencers are. Your platform should also be able to track the number of clicks a post receives. Use this information to measure your campaign progress and make the appropriate adjustments.

As your audience continues to reach out and engage on social networks, make sure your social team is on the look out for particular posts or users who may need to be patched through to support or sales. Perhaps a user has been engaging with your content more than any others – is it time to send him over to your CRM system for proper relationship building?

Publish: Gone are the days of logging-in and logging-out of individual social media accounts to publish to your company pages. A marketing suite is an SMM staple. You should be able to publish to most, if not all, social media networks through a single platform simultaneously. When picking out a marketing suite, look for features such as media integration, post scheduling and a link-shortener tool. Additionally, there should be a review/approval process built into SMM permissions. This is to prevent un-reviewed posts from making it out of your office. Use data from your analytics to target posts to your different customer demographics.

 

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Intersection of SMM and Customer Relations Management (CRM)

Now that you have a feel for what SMM is, let’s move to how it can manage your CRM workflow.

In the above Monitoring section, we covered why monitoring is important to CRM: social serves as an informal line of communication between customers and enterprises. When Todd says he is having trouble contacting your customer support, he is really saying, “I need help … now.” If you fail to reach out and address Todd’s concerns, chances are, he will not be a return-customer or give a positive review.

Word of mouth recommendations are the most trusted forms of advertisement so it’s especially important to keep positive relationships. SMM monitoring enables you to extract this information and assign it to a member of your team. Additionally, some platforms integrate with Zendesk so that you can create tickets and assign these to your customer support. Integrations with Zendesk and SugarCRM help to automate the CRM process. However, you will need an SMM platform to pick up on unsatisfied customers who express their concerns outside of your social pages (i.e. in personal comments and posts made available only to the customers’ friends and family).

So what about sales? Several SMM platforms integrate with Salesforce. This enables you to track the web activity and clicks generated from marketing. You can track clicks and impressions while also identifying trends generated by your social pages. An SMM platform will then take this information and integrate it into your analytics, helping you better understand what content and activities attracts the most prospects.

These are the core features of the SMM space and you have a variety of options to choose from. When looking into vendors, consider a tool that enables you to publish to multiple sources from one dashboard but that also includes monitoring and analytics across the social and general web. You will be able to access analytics across social media, measuring the sentiment and potential leads of individual posts. This information can be used to adjust your marketing strategy and maximize your social-generated sales pipeline.

However, if you lack the actual platform, how are you going to be able to know what your customers are saying? How best to support them? How to improve your CRM workflow? You won’t. So get out there, decide on an SMM platform that fits your needs and start your customers’ experiences.

 

Author bio: Trevor is on the Viralheat marketing team, where he spends the day perusing YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, TechCrunch, Wired, and Mashable for the latest social and general tech news. Despite his published work in Wired and across the web, Trevor will not consider himself a real writer until he has published a novel and wakes up in the morning forgetting to remind himself that he is a writer.  You can reach him at trevor [at] Viralheat [dot] com.

 

What Goes Into Social Media Management?

So you’re thinking about becoming a Social Media Account Manager? On the surface, the job looks fun and simple, socializing on Facebook and Twitter with people on behalf of a company. But social marketing takes time and effort to run a successful campaign. In order to be successful, you have to have goals and a strategy, and that strategy includes more than simply the fluff of posting cute animal pictures and making an office Harlem Shake video.

Every organization is different and the workflow is catered to work towards achieving your goals. But what really goes into social media management? Let’s break it down a little bit to help get a closer look.

  • Updating social networks by posting text, photos, videos and comments
  • Planning, publishing and socializing blog posts to the right audience
  • Research and planning, sourcing both internal and external content
  • Reading different feeds in your field, filtering through content and sharing it
  • Listening and monitoring brand mentions
  • Keyword searches
  • Building relationships and creating conversations by responding to follows, mentions, dialogue, questions and comments
  • Damage control!
  • Research
  • Community building
  • Strategy, planning and brainstorming
  • Analytics, measurement and reporting

 

In addition to all of these duties, Social Media Managers have to stay on top of the latest trends in the social media world. If there’s a new platform coming out (and it seems like there always is), you better be testing it and seeing how to jump on it to give your business leverage above your competitors. Conference, meet-ups and community events are vital for networking and learning new tricks of the trade. Also, you have to remember that unlike a regular 9-5 business, the internet never turns off.

Social media management is more than Facebook and Twitter; you have to be an expert in all platforms and networks from Google+ to LinkedIn to YouTube. It is a field that is always evolving and continuing education is a must. It is a demanding schedule of tweets, meetings, updates, replies, blogging, editing, designing, marketing and even sales. People skills, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness and creativity are all part of the job. Can you say multitasking?

Being a Social Media Manager can be a fun and rewarding job, but it is also one that is tough, demanding and time-consuming. Social media never goes to sleep. Do you think you have what it takes to run a thriving campaign?