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May 26, 2010

Big Business ♥ Social Media 4ever

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This is a guest post by Tracy Falke and part of a series of guest posts that will be featured on the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog all week long. Tracy takes a daring dive into social media considerations for large organizations. Read on and enjoy!

She’s all grown up now, standing in front of you in a skirt so short you wonder:

  • Can you contract STDs from sitting on the bus?
  • Where did my baby go?
  • What happened to the days when I baby-proofed every room in the house so she wouldn’t trap her little fingers?
girls in dress up clothes
CC BY 2.0

Remember how proud you were when she had her first steps? As she turns to smile at you & step out of the door for her first prom night, you almost shout “Stop!” You want 10 more minutes to coach her on all the things you should have said, the things she needs to know to protect her innocence from the perils sure to come. But you stop. You smile back & let her walk away, praying that all the advice you’ve dispensed over folding the laundry together sticks. You’ll know she’ll be back & she’ll be ready to listen.

Your brand is your baby. Social media is…scary.

I work for a digital agency with a portfolio of clients who’ve just entered the social media space. After years of careful, reluctant acceptance of the ‘Learn, Measure, Engage’ model, they’ve moved from baby steps to full on careening round the house with the big headed balance of a toddler. Of course I’m scared. Of course I’m worried. But here’s how I sleep at night.

Good Old Fashioned Values: Social Media ROI for B2B Clients

So you taught her that it was better to be herself, to know what she was good at & to work hard to be the very best she could be. You taught her manners & the basics of how to get on in the world. But when she’s standing on the dance floor with some over developed goon breathing down her neck — will she remember these fundamental lessons?

For your business, it’s the same. CEOs, CMOs, PRs & marketers across the globe are worried about sending their darling brands out into the uncertain & tenuous world of social. They know they have to do it. They’re also expected to make this endeavour into a commercial & PR miracle. All eyes are on their interactions in these spaces with a global scrutiny that leaves little room to fail. So how do you prepare your brand for the adventures surely to come? How do you turn what you thought might be a new marketing fad into a profitable way to expand your business & satisfy your stakeholders?

Let’s lay it out in no uncertain terms:

Understand your unique selling points: Back to marketing 101. What does your business do very well? Why would I choose you to provide me with products & services? What would I look for as an investor to ensure your organisation was fit for purpose? Why would I want to work for you? What is your company doing that deserves column inches with my media group? If you haven’t hit all the stakeholder bases, go back to boardroom with some post it notes & your top level execs & hash it out.

Understand your audience & their issues: Beyond the simple “Who?” of your target market, think: “Who’s sitting on the other side of the computer screen?” What are their dreams? How would your business make their life easier? What are their sales objections? Have they been burned before? How do they educate themselves online to continue their development within the business they work? What might they type into a search engine to find this info? What are they interested in that might overlap with your company’s objectives (eco-friendly policies, corporate social responsibility efforts, innovative technologies). You get the gist. Find their need. Fill it.

Understand your objectives: It’s not all about the other person. When you enter the long dance of funnelling a big business lead into a tangible conversion, it’s also about getting what you need out of the situation. In the end, whatever you’re doing to engage with your audience & stakeholders, it should also come down to protecting & improving your bottom line. What can social media offer you in tangible, real numbers you can take to the boardroom? How will you use these metrics to get you from “We want a website/app/social media campaign” to a fully fledged, integrated digital strategy?

Understand SEO: If you do nothing else I say, please do this. Learn as much as you can about search engine optimisation (Bruce Clay’s training courses are a great start) & use this power. If you can find the words that people use to discover you or your offering, you’re onto the best thing since sliced bread. Sound keyword research & planning these keywords across your digital activities (from press releases to CEO blogs to how you create new content pages on your corporate site, or what you Tweet or upload to Facebook) will be the core of your success. Good SEO knowledge can help you discover where your audiences are, what they’re talking about, & how they’ll find you. Use this more advanced method to audit your keywords, & you’ll soon be on the way to completely targeted, perfectly crafted SEO, PPC & social media campaigns (read: more money with less time & effort!).

And when it comes to the pay-dirt of SEO — inbound links — you’ll find that your knowledge of the keywords & keyphrases you’ve discovered will not only allow your audience to find you, it’ll make them happy to link to your relevant content, too.

Understand Digital: Build with integrity from the bottom up. More important than any other weapon in your arsenal, digital provides answers. But only if you’ve married your analytics bone to your CMS, CRM & your Social bone. Execute your web development with every consideration for search, your audience, & your objectives. Work every back end system & front end interface to the max. But it’s not just about technology. Make sure you integrate the whole of your marketing efforts, matching your digital & social media strategy to every single outreach carried out in your organisation. Across the globe. Use analytics systems to prove increased traffic referred from social networks. Give these ‘micro-conversions’ a monetary value, just as you’d tag a banner ad. Use these systems to document your social interactions, then feed them into your CRM systems so that you can begin to prove the kinds of things that make financial directors smile. We promise.

Understand why IT departments hate Social Media: Imagine it, you rode the crest of the digital wave & found yourself transformed from closet computer games geek to Head of IT. Suddenly, you have power. With that power comes a lot of anxiety too. People come to you for everything from a faulty computer cable to a missing email. The last thing you want is the nightmare of potential viruses that social media can unleash. So how do you release the corporate shackles of group IT policies so that all relevant members of your staff can be your very own army of brand ambassadors? Give IT back the power. Ask an outside agency to audit their perceived challenges with opening up your business to social media platforms. Then ask them for solutions to these challenges (tiered security profiles for different levels of the business, restrictions on downloads, etc.) Re-package this feedback in a way that presents a good business case for social media & your job is done. Kick it up the chain as high as it needs to go to get it done. After all, you won’t find many boardrooms that aren’t chattering away about social media these days.

Understand Social Channels: Social media is dead. Gotcha. Never have four words elicited so much attention online. But it’s the truth: it’s just the way we ‘do the internet’ these days. So get out there. Experiment in the channels on your own time, use the platforms you hear about so that you understand their functionality. More importantly, follow the FedEx ‘Launch a Package’ model & spot the gaps in what these social environments offer so that your business can provide a solution. What else can I say about social media that you don’t already know? Be polite, be just as you would be when you’re standing in front of another human being. The clue is in the name of this new media: be social. Like you’d tell your daughter: you don’t need to wear revealing clothes & tons of makeup to attract attention. You just need to be there & be yourself. It’s about opening up, knowing the audience, being confident in your organisation, & using these channels to spread your word. If you build it, they will come. Which leads to my next point:

Understand Crisis & Reputation Management: Like your daughter, out on her first prom night, it’s important to understand that bad & weird stuff, so it’s best to be prepared. What am I talking about now? When you’re being ‘social’, you just can’t stop. You’re there. So if your organisation makes a mistake, or there’s a bump in the road, don’t lie. Be honest & open. Because social media platforms are much, much more than a campaign channel. If you begin to engage in these channels, you have to keep the dialogue going. Your social media properties (the Twitter handles, the Facebook page, the LinkedIn & YouTube accounts) are permanent digital communications. Get them optimised & running like a well-oiled machine so that if disaster strikes, you have a real & immediate way of both communicating your messages to interested stakeholders as well as protecting the first page of your search engine results. Remember: don’t go Nestle, get even. Flood your networks with well-optimised copy that protects your brand values & your corporate site’s position in the search engines.

It’s All About How Much You Put In

The way you leverage social media in your business & beyond is all down to the right upbringing. The success or failure of your brand & business in these environments depends entirely on how much you’ve prepared. If you love yourselves & your babies, do it right. Once you set this prolific marketing machine running, it will keep on going. Whether it comes back to take care of you in retirement is entirely in your grasp.

How Much is This Going to Cost Me?

Worried about resource, time & the amount of hard work that organising your social media strategy will take, don’t panic! Need to understand the finer arts of how to work each social media channel to your corporation’s best advantage? Get in touch — tracy@streetsmartsocial.com or sign up to Streetsmart Social’s  Corporate Social Media Marketing newsletter for more!





18 responses to “Big Business ♥ Social Media 4ever”

  1. Michael Martin writes:

    Great post Tracy…now you just have to come back stateside for PubCon Vegas!

  2. Tracy Falke writes:

    Hello Michael,

    Thanks for that! I’d love that!

    I’ve learned alot from experience & reading David Armano’s (of Edelman Digital) work on Social Business Design – big props!

    Thanks again,
    Tracy

  3. White Label SEO Reseller writes:

    What a brilliant comparison. Brands are very much a life-long tattoo of any business. A business going into social media will not be effective, until they’ve embraced the concept of it, fully. Looking into its flaws will get them started as to what plan of attack they wish to deploy online.

  4. ElizabethL writes:

    WOW. This is great – refreshing. I posted it on our Facebook page :)

  5. Omar Alam writes:

    Always good to see a well connected content flow on that Social Media thing.

    Especially like the Understand Crisis and Reputation Management piece. And the IT hating part is pretty cool also (spend time doing compliance and risk in IT in a past life!).

    Good stuff Tracy.

  6. Tracy Falke writes:

    Thanks for that.

    I completely agree. When I begin to dig down into an organisation’s infrastructure, I start to uncover major communication flaws that hamper their efforts and cost them lots of time & money.

    After IT buy in & removing the ties that bind (marketing/ compliance/approval of all content & engagement), I see a number of fundamental changes that need to be addressed:

    ♥ Digital Asset Management: get everyone across the globe sharing assets = major time & cost savings + increased brand control.
    ♥ Content Strategy & Development: It’s all about the words baby. In the end, everyone hits your site up because they like what they read, they can learn from what they read, or you’re providing them with the goods they need. You’d be surprised at how much content the sales guys produce on their own. Lots of decks to upload to Slideshare (sans confidential info), corporate videos that can be sliced, diced & apportioned appropriately. etc.
    ♥ Every employee is a brand ambassador: Make sure your whole staff is aware of what is/isn’t appropriate via a social media policy & procedures document. Take LinkedIn for instance – it’s one of the social networks with the most highly qualified business leads. So long as everyone who wants to interact knows how to augment the rest of your initiatives – you’re mint! As in gold :)
    ♥ If everyone says no & you can’t get higher up the chain: experiment on your own. Most businesses won’t argue with hard stats once you’ve built up intelligence and engagement.
    ♥ Corporate Social Responsiblity – It’s more than three fancy words: Use social media to promote the other areas in which your business operates. CSR is an important part of making big business more accountable & making our world a better place. There’s a huge audience out there who can help you spread the word.
    ♥ Social Media Monitoring: At the very least, you should be monitoring brand mentions. Lots of big businesses are reluctant to engage. So get familiar with the landscape and your competitor’s activity. Then – go in for the kill! :) Kidding.

    Thanks for reading and for your comment White Label SEO.

    Tracy

  7. Tracy Falke writes:

    Thanks Elizabeth.

    A friend gave me the analogy because one of our clients recently called me their “Social Media Nanny”. I nearly choked, until their other colleague said “I prefer Social Media Night Nurse”. :)

  8. Tracy Falke writes:

    Sorry, I got the comment thing wrong & replied to you below!

  9. Tracy Falke writes:

    Cheers Omar,

    I’m glad you might have had a chuckle from it. I love the whole “We can’t do it because Group IT says NO!” attitude. It’s funny how fast that changes when someone high up the food chain starts to see the benefits of LinkedIn activity or the instantaneous rewards of a Twitter customer service channel.

    I’m mostly happy that you picked up the Content element. It’s key. I won’t repeat the cliche, but if Content is ______ then Social Media is Queen. Neither work without the other. So much of big business still view their website as an online business card & press release repository. Not only is that terrible for SEO, it provides nothing for people to get excited about in the social sphere. So get clever. Use everything you have. Buy a flipcam and record team meetings. Start your own video diary. Upload your corporate assets to every channel available (and remember to tag them with advantageous SEO terms!) and you’ll begin to grasp the undiscovered power you have at your disposal.

  10. Andy @ FirstFound writes:

    Excellent post. Social media isn’t free, it takes effort and hours that could be spent elsewhere. It’s not some magical place where the normal rules for marketing don’t apply either.

    If we keep repeating that enough, people might get it!

  11. Tracy Falke writes:

    Boy do I know! Also, the goal posts are constant shifting. It’s a permanent digital communcation – visible to the world, so it’s really important that big business structure it correctly and allocate the right budget to allow experimentation in order that all of the methods of interaction, the typical routes a ‘consumer’ or stakeholder will take to the brand channels, and ‘issues’ have time to present themselves. That’s the only way to put together a really cohesive strategy.

    Thanks so much!

  12. Lisa from social care writes:

    A dedicated social media campaign can bare much fruit but it is like any other advertising campaign, it must be kept at.

  13. Reputation Management writes:

    It’s great to see professionals at the top of their game present material that educates, informs, and shines a light on their craft. This is especially true when the presentation holds value for both the inexperienced and the expert. Thank you for a presentation from the top of the food chain! Reputation Management Company

  14. Tracy Falke writes:

    Abolutely! Activity in the social space is ongoing. I do believe that you can hive off specific activity & apply a start and end date to that strand of communication, but the brand’s social presence as a whole must continue to be ongoing.

  15. Tracy Falke writes:

    Aww shucks! Thanks so much for that!

  16. Kingsley Tagbo writes:

    I agree with the point that social media is all about how much you put in to it. On the other hand, it’s also a bit of a popularity contest. Celebrities obviously command a lot of influence through Twitter. They don’t necessarily put a whole lot in to it, but people are extremely interested in every single word they have to say. The same goes for a business; if it’s extremely popular people will want to know about all the deals and knowledge that it has to offer. Becoming popular starts with status updates and continues with status updates. How popular would anyone be if they didn’t post anything for a year?

  17. Tracy Falke writes:

    This is true, Kingsley. The need to participate, as a starter, is very important. More than just being a wallflower at the dance, big business must be prepared to meet its interested audience’s demand for content – useful,engaging content. For those without built-in brand popularity, the road is longer but begins with audience discovery. People are out there, and if your business is any good at what you do, you’ll be able to find that audience. Then it’s simply a matter of hard work, perseverance and…a few tricks to boost reach.

    Celebrities provide a fascinating escape from our mere mortal lives and we’re willing to watch & read drivel that isn’t even true (all the gossip mags,etc). So, in social media, the idea that they’re connecting ONE ON ONE is overwhelming to many people and very exciting – despite the fact that most celebrities and big brands have agencies representing them who work our their strategies & do the actual updating too.

    Good point.

  18. Andrew Gaukrodger writes:

    Great post. Love your breakdown of these different elements which are vastly more connected that most think. Time and money are every so important to big brands but without spending time and money on social they are losing out customers are talking about them right how.

    Keep up the great work Tracy.



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