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August 20, 2008

Social Media Marketing: What Is It And What Is It Good For?

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Pauline Ores (IBM Corporation) is moderating with speakers Erik Qualman (Search Engine Watch, EF Education), Brent Csutoras (Brent Csutoras), and Vanina Delobelle (Monster Worldwide). Also, my battery is about to die. Guess who forgot to charge it last night. Blogger Fail.

Up first is Vanina Delobelle. She’s going to introduce us to social media in case you’ve been sleeping the past year or so and haven’t heard of it.

Social media includes viral universes, the social networks, forums, microblogging, multimedia sharing, diggs, and blogs & livecasts. The tools belong to users with the communities being built around those tools. It’s very user-centric.

What can you use social media for?

  • Connect with people: Reach people where they are, the way they are used to.
  • Keep brand positioning: Keep brand awareness to relay offline marketing campaigns.
  • Generate more traffic.
  • Enlarge the targeted segment.
  • Increase the user experience.

Use social media to leverage current marketing results. Get better brand awareness, better brand management, better user stickiness, better quality products, and better sales. Better, FTW!

The requirements for social media: Global means local; we deal with communities and therefore need to be close to them. Community managers need to get more focus. You want to be consistent. The effort must start and last or you’ll lose your community. People are coming to you to entertain them and you have to continue sharing with them or they’ll abandon you. The content needs to get more focused.

She shows how Monster has grown in social media since 2007 and where they’re planning on going next.

Vanina moves on to search’s golden triangles and how well social media does. Social media ranks well because of all the links and because of how often the content is updated.

Next up is Erik Qualman to talk about some stuff he’s done with EF Education.

They decided to make an application on Facebook where users could go in and tell everyone where they had traveled in their life. People loved it. They had 50,000 downloads a day for the Global Footprint application. They treated it like a direct response application.

Erik says you don’t have to create a new concept in order to be successful on the Web. The Internet has always been about “beg, borrow and make better”.

They created another application which they’ve sinced dubbed a “Field of Nightmares” because they build it and nobody came. Hee. Erik says to figure out what you offer and go for that.
Most of the times you don’t want to build out your own community, but sometimes you do. Live Mocha is site they launched to help people learn new languages. You go in and they have different tools there people can use to learn. There’s a social aspect where you can instant
message with people who live in countries that language is spoken.

In a different application, they wanted to allow people who were going on trips to see who else would be on the bus with them. To avoid creating a backend nightmare, they’ve let users find each other. You don’t have to do it through your system. Give them the tools and the marketplace to do it and they will.

The biggest thing on Facebook is updating your status. The app lets them update their status so they can brag about what they’re doing.

Common Questions

  • Where should I start? That comes down to where you think you have the most chance for success. Don’t try and tackle all the social networks at once.
  • When should I start? Today. Don’t wait for the perfect thing or idea. Just get it out there and slap beta on it. Give it a month or two so people can see what they like and what they don’t like, and then fix it.
  • Can search engines crawl social media networks? Until you stop seeing it rank high, it’s obviously working.
  • Does Facebook PPC work? It depends, but go in there and test it out. Twenty percent of their traffic comes from Facebook (from their Fan page).
  • What’s the easiest way for my company to use Twitter? Just go in and put in your company name to see what people are talking about. Keep an eye on it. Be transparent.
  • What else is exciting? In 2 or 3 years its’ going to be search. The search engine’s aren’t really delivering to the needs users. If you need to buy a car and use a search engine, Google will give you a bunch of listings. You’d spend 20 hours doing research. But in a year’s time with social media, you’ll be able to see how many of your friends purchased a car in the past 2 years, of that, 30 have the same demographics as you, 20 purchased an SVU and here are their reviews. It will eliminate individual replication of the same tasks.

Brent Csutoras is next. This should be awesome.

Social media is really broad. There’s Twitter, IM, etc. One of the most viable aspects of social media is utilizing it as a way to increase your visibility and your ranking and getting links to your site all through pushing your content.

There are a few basic things that are important when you get into search engine optimization. You look at your domain, if it has a lot of authority, how short it might be, on page factors, linking, etc. One of the most important things you’ll do is try to get links. Links are getting harder and harder to get. The engines are saying it’s evil to buy links and it’s pushed lots of people underground.

That’s where social media comes in. It can increase the visibility of your content and get it more eyeballs and links. There’s traffic and branding, but the links are the most important.

You have content. You have a service, a Web page, whatever it is. You’re going to create content and then you’re going to find communities that you think you can work well in and you’ll submit it there. Next you want to engage the people in these communities. You want to have a network so that you can acquire votes. Everyone submits content and the votes that come in within that first 24 hours will determine if you go popular or not. The good thing about this is that there’s a mass audience on the Web looking for content every single day. People are willing to link to you as the source in order to get your content. But you have to put it in front of them first. When you put your content into these communities, you put an authority stamp on your content.

When you get to this popular point, a lot of people get caught up in what links they’re getting. You’re getting community links. These are big powerhouse sites. They won’t last very long but there’s a couple day window that will give you a boost in your rankings. The people who find you through the engines are the ones more likely to convert. That’s where the targeted traffic comes from.

And this is all natural linking. Google wants people to find interesting content on the Web and link to it. The search engines embrace this kind of link building.

He talks about two campaigns that worked really well for him – one was about a guy who’s name sound liked Batman and Superman together and the other was some inappropriate Chinese to English translations.

They got 3000+ Digg links for each and lots of StumbleUpon links. They got 8,196 inbound links from that superman bait.

Social media has an amazing effect to increase PR, authority, links, and branding. You can make almost anything viral, especially if you look at this from the viewpoint that you’re an SEO trying to build links.

Social Media Tips

  • Have a site that is social media friendly: Wait to put the ads on your page. Social people don’t look at them anymore.
  • Pick communities you relate to: Don’t go trying to do politics in a dog community.
  • Check what worked before: Go to the sites and type is [most dog] or [top dogs] to see what stuff has been popular in the past.
  • Create high quality content: Take the time to create something that’s going to work. You don’t want to put the work into it only to get no links because you’re content isn’t good.
  • Understand how to submit and push social campaigns: How does the community work? What kinds of comments do they respond to?
  • Understand what to with success: Know what you’re trying to do and have a plan for how you’re going to get there.

Brent is teh awesome.

How do you deal with the time management issue of social media? Also, for people who do search engine optimization, how do you segment your time to fit social media into that?

Brent: It has to be what’s important to you. Social is not something you’re going to do as one of your 10 things to do for the day. If that’s all the time you have, then I suggest you stick more to bookmarking. Stick to trying to create content that would be viral on its own and that you won’t have to push. You really have to spend the time. The thing about social is that these are the same people you’re going to be talking to every day. You can’t BS them. You need to be involved. You need to understand how it works. If you don’t have a lot of time, pick one community.

Pauline: The challenge with social media is that it’s very resource intensive. The holy grail right now at IBM is how are we measuring the value of social media?

Vanina: They have one person per country working on social media.

What are the different third-party applications for Twitter? Which one is the best and why people would benefit from using Twitter?

Brent: Apps making people use Twitter more because it gives people what they want in the format they want. There are a lot of tools out there. It’s more a personal thing. There’s a tool called TweetPro that allows you to search certain keywords and add people based on keywords. He doesn’t want to name too many because some are pretty dark.

Can you talk about online reputation management?

Brent: You don’t have a choice. People are going to talk about you whether you’re in social media or not. If you participate, at least you have some sort of say in the conversation. If you find a campaign that starts getting negative, you need to bring it to your Web site. Engage the conversation on your platform and then in a few months delete all the stuff. [Yikes, Brent.]

Vanina: If someone leaves a bad comment about you, respond. Don’t stay quiet.

Brent: In social communities you have a say on the comments. If the comment is really out there, you can report it to the community and see if you can get it removed. He gets people to down vote comments so they disappear. Know what the community’s functions are.

Where do you see social media going in the next 2-3 years?

Erik: You currently pay people for referrals. Paying people for testimonials is just building on that. The search results you get in the social graph are going to be much more valuable to you.

Brent: He believes that social media is about interaction. It’s a mechanism that corporations like.

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