Social Marketing Steps To Success

Social media – the most overused term in marketing since Web 2.0 – is not simply changing the nature by which we consume online media, it has morphed into a way of life on the Web.

We are no longer talking about simply building websites, writing blogs, or optimizing Pay-Per-Click Advertising campaigns; the media world in which we live has become location-based, review dominated, App heavy, text happy, plug-in this and plug-in that – and do it all within 140 characters!

Planning a Social Media Strategy is about as straight forward as asking a toddler to “sit still for a minute”. So what is a Marketing Director (or Community Manager, or Digital Marketing Manager or anyone else for that matter, we don’t even know what to call ourselves anymore!) to do?

Social Media has morphed many skill-sets together and may be managed by a variety of different people or positions within an organization.  Generally, an outside agency should be brought in to set up a social strategy, as well as train and execute a brand social community – but long term, the heart and soul of your brand should be managed by trusted and skilled team members within your organization.

Having said that – stick with the three S’s and your digital media efforts will be integrated with your overall marketing efforts and will ensure success and ROI.

Strategic, Streamlined and Sexy:

1. Be Strategic

Build your Social Media and marketing campaigns with a strategy in mind, and with the right resources and a plan in place to make it happen.  Start with what channels you need to build a presence on.  Don’t jump in on every channel until you are doing one really well.  Maybe you have a killer Facebook business page but it’s time to grow the community.  Perhaps you have not had the time or knowledge to dedicate to LinkedIn for your Sales team, but you know the networking tool could really make the sales process easier.

Write a pain point about each social channel you are already using or think your brand needs to have a presence on.  What are you (or your competitors) doing well, how could you improve, how you measure your ROI, what resources are in place to manage it, and goals for each community for next year.

As one wise Chick on our team always says “plan the work, and work the plan”.

2. Be Streamlined

No one marketing campaign has ever worked in isolation.  At the same time, each of your communities will be different in the way you deliver content, respond and engage with your followers and brand champions.

Be smart and streamlined with your messages.  If you are looking to run a contest on Facebook – ensure you plan it out properly, and ensure all roads lead to a point of conversion.  Conversion may be more “likers” or traffic to your website, but ensure that your target audience follows a path to enter the contest and do what you intend them to do.

Also, be streamlined in your efforts overall – avoid trying too many tactics on too many channels.  Stick with what’s working and make sure you streamline your resources to be able to manage your social brand over the long term.

3. Be Sexy

Yes I said sexy.  Digital media allows us to think outside the box.  Try some unique marketing tactics and have fun with it!  If you are going to dedicate time and resources to develop a presence on social communities – you better use them to their fullest potential.  You have to stand out, shout out, and be proud of your brand on the social web.  Learn to listen and respond instead of pushing out messages to your target audiences.  The social web is the place to show the personality of your brand and really engage your consumers – not to announce a 20% off special.

There are many other must do’s as you are building out your digital media campaigns for 2012, but if you keep these points in mind, focus on good design and content, and at the very least commit to allocating resources to get in the game in 2012 – you will be ready for any “likes” “Diggs” “pokes” “plus’s” “sparks” “circles” or “huddles” we may be talking about next year.

 

Can the internet get full?

ORC2011A valid question posed at the most recent Online Revealed Canada Conference, held March 8-9 in Toronto.  From an opening keynote delivered by the inventor of Google maps, Michael T. Jones, who spoke about everything from how he and his colleges invented Google Maps at his dining room table, now used by more than 1,000,000,000 worldwide, to an interactive workshop presented by Alfredo Tan from Facebook Canada, which allowed for an intimate discussion about the inner workings of Facebook – this year’s Online Revealed Canada Conference hit a new level.

When I was preparing conference recap “sound bites,” which are traditionally delivered by myself, and conference co-chairs Patricia Brusha and Edward Perry at the end of the 2 day event, I was overwhelmed by the concepts and success stories that were shared, and the amount of information that we had to summarize.

This year, Online Revealed was presented in association with the Hotel Investment Conference and the new Canadian Tourism Marketing Summit.  The three events brought together the who’s who in the hospitality industry in Canada and beyond, culminating with the Google e-Tourism awards presented at a special luncheon, which featured such digital marketing success stories as….Newfoundland Labrador and National Capital Commission – Mosaika – what really stood out to me more than anything was the pride we had in our industry, and in each other for the work we have done in marketing Canada, and Canadian destinations, to a very global audience online.

Six years ago, the first Online Revealed Conference was held in Ottawa, where a group of 150 attendees gathered to share and learn about how to market ourselves in an new online world.  This year in Toronto a packed house of over 550 attendees gathered to learn, collaborate and share the many successes in digital marketing we have had in this industry over the past 6 years.

Back then, we were just starting to discuss the impact of the internet on selling tourism online, with concepts such as  search engine optimization, and building quality website content. Now, we are discussing concepts (then unheard of) such as mobile marketing and managing online reputation in a saturated online review-osphere that extends beyond Tripadvisor to include Blogs, OTA reviews, and niche social websites, where consumers are spending more time interacting online than actually viewing websites or even searching in search engines.

Who could imagine six years ago that in 2011 we would be discussing concepts like Google maps, a technology that is literally mapping out our planet?!

Our marketing reality is now a complex online ecosystem consisting of search engines, online intermediaries, review sites, social networks, news portals, niche discount sites, destination portals, brand portals – all of which are now being consumed on various platforms including mobile smart phones, tablets, laptops and beyond.  This digital evolution represents the largest shift in media consumption that we have seen since Television, and it does not seem to be slowing down.

In addition to the pride I felt in being part of an industry that has grown together and learned together to master this ever-changing online medium, and through the various highs and lows of the past six years including SARS, a world-wide recession and a Canadian Olympics to name only a few, it was overwhelming to once again see how coming together at an event like this, with a community of people willing to share and learn from each other makes a difference in how brave the new media world moving forward.

Thank you to all that shared in this year’s Online Revealed Canada, and those who have contributed to doing innovative things to market Canadian tourism.  As an industry we are doing amazing things, we are reaching our consumers in new ways and interacting with them in the digital places where they are living.  We are also doing what we have always done, and that is to tell stories and to share with the world the Canadian experience.

By the way, the answer to “can the internet get full” (according to Google’s Michael T. Jones) is No.

Facebook- more than just the watercooler

Facebook recently released “Facebook stories” which invites users to post their personal Facebook experiences related to everything from finding lost friends, to family connections, to sharing grief and beyond. When Facebook started a few years ago, it would have been impossible to predict how social media would change the way we live and behave online and how open we would become about our lives.

Now we can describe Facebook as the new watercooler, the town hall – for some it is replacing phones and other methods of communication (or simply becoming part of the phone experience – with mobile Apps that allow updates, mobile uploads of photos and videos as well as real time comments and conversations.)

We used to talk about online reputation management and security in information online in relation to making purchases online and sharing financial and other information.  Now with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and others following our every move (with our full support I might add), I think it is time once again to address the impact these sites can have on your personal, as well as brand or business reputation.

We all have the facebook friends who post everything from where they are eating, to when their child has a tantrum, to when they are delayed at the airport – but now sites like Twitter and Foursquare have location based geo-tagging and “checking in” functionality as basic features enabling us to be “followed” everywhere – all the time down to the exact location.

A little nudge here to remember that everything that we put online, be it personal information about health, jobs, or the ups and downs of every day life – it will live online forever, and will paint a picture of who you are to future employers, family, friends, and business colleagues and to the billions browsing (or creeping as they say for the obvious reasons) online daily.

Not to mention the obvious privacy risks we all take when we post photos,video’s and information about where we are, who is with us and what we are doing. Everything online is trackable and everything posted will live there in the virtual universe forever.

It bears repeating that although social networking has opened us up to communicating and interacting with each other like never before, and it has opened us to opportunities to market our ourselves, network and interact with more people at any one time – we need to continue to be cautious about what we share online, and how much attention we pay to security features that are available to protect us. (although I would caution that even those are not guaranteed).

Although Facebook and other sites like it have become part of our every day lives and have opened us up to communicating and sharing information for business, within families, and across networks of friends – perhaps it is time to take a step back and look at how we use it, and how much we really share with 400 of our ‘closest’ connections.

The line is blurry, and it will continue to be  until the next ‘Facebook’ changes the way we live online again. Perhaps then we will be brushing our teeth with a mirror that broadcasts our morning beauty routine via real time streaming media – with an ad for Crest toothpaste appearing in the sponsored ads.

Have fun, live and share your stories – but be careful about how you share them online – unless of course you are one of the Old Spice men who have already bared all for millions on YouTube – in that case, it is too late to hide your day job from your 82 year old grandmother.

Chicks…and Butterflies?

As Week #1 as the newest Chick comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the irony in being asked to write a piece for the official Chick blog on the topic of “The Social Butterfly”.  While I‘m typically more of a behind-the-scenes kind of gal – the opposite of a social butterfly in the traditional sense – just thinking about writing a Blog is actually causing me to have butterflies; huge-winged moth-like Jurassic creatures are literally wreaking havoc on my insides.

Can I write anything of relevance using more than 140 characters? (I’m a seasoned Twitter-er.) What if no one reads this?  What if everyone reads this?  Do I have anything important to say?  What if there is criticism, and I‘m attacked by the grammar-hammers?  And, more importantly, what if The Chicks think I suck???  Lot’s of what-if angst…

[insert deep breath here]

In Chick-dom we refer to “The Social Butterfly” as most commonly found between the age range of 15-25 and being big influencers on buying decisions.  Social butterflies “fly” or “flit” from site to site based on popularity or what’s cool amongst their peers – wherever the nectar is the sweetest.

Butterflies are sharing their experiences through sites like YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.  This group has grown up online and is comfortable sharing personal information and interacting with other online users.  I know this from personal experience with having a 15 (going on 25) year-old; as I’m constantly amazed at how they can chat, text, take photo’s and video’s, and put together a Christmas list (with links to the products and their websites) – all at the same time (yet the simple task of cleaning her bedroom is simply overwhelming!).  This is the same kid who put together a Powerpoint presentation at the age of 12 on why she should be allowed to go to a bon-fire party with no parents.

My point being that butterflies are multi-taskers and have a zero-tolerance attention span.  They do their research online and value the opinions of those within their online community through ‘word of mouse‘.  As marketers to said butterflies, we need to go where they are.  Must-haves include the capability for uploading media, personalizing their space and being able to invite their friends to visit; we need to accommodate the thirst and inherent need to socialize.

In January 2010 a Facebook Fan Page for “If you remember the L’OrealKids FISH SHAPED SHAMPOO BOTTLE” was created and to date there are almost 1.2 million fans.  Fans have uploaded pictures of L’Oreal products, and pictures of themselves holding L’Oreal products.

The page does not look like an official L’Oreal page, and the page creator goes by the name “Tanner Be”.  Tanner Be might be just a highly creative teenager with a lot of time on his hands, or he/she might just be a cleverly-disguised digital marketer (hey…we do what we have to) for L’Oreal.

This is a perfect example of a brand “being social”, whether intentional on the brand’s behalf or not.  This also illustrates the glaring fact that you need to brand yourself, or someone else will most certainly do it for you.

Get your butterfly nets out, and remember to have fun along the way!

Try Google Real Time Search – A Chick tutorial

Check out Google Trends to see what real-time search is going to look like. This is really cool – and a little scary! It looks like a live newsreel within search results.
Wow this is the future of search. A total game changer for us in the Search Engine Optimization world.
Try a real time search by clicking on Google Trends and then clicking on one of the trending topics. You will see a live feed of results happening real time associated with those hot trending topics. (would not want to be Tiger Woods today!)
Google’s Blog says that it will be rolling this out across all search moving forward.

Google Goes Real Time

This just makes me want to search all day to see what’s different!

Yes – my inner geek talking here. It is fun watching Google and Bing battle it out for who will be the first to incorporate Twitter and Facebook real-time results and garner the consumer adaption first (which is really the key here). This  is a great outline of the landscape in PC World – as of today anyway.

Let’s see where this Blog post ends up in new live results.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
alicia.whalen@gmail.com
905-401-2249

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