Posts Tagged ‘social media marketing seattle’

Improve Your Social Media Strategy – Expert Advice

How many social media platforms are you on, as a company? At the very least, we expect companies to be on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. How do you use these platforms? This question might be a little trickier to answer. There is a lot of information on the internet about how companies and brands should be marketing themselves using social media strategy, which can lead to information overload and a desire to never tweet again. However, we at RoryMartin.com have been doing some research and have discovered key Social Media Takeaways from top social media experts which will work to improve your social media marketing strategy.

It’s not about creating accounts, It’s what you do with them – Krista Neher

You might have a wide social media presence, and be visible on every platform a social media consultant can name, but what are you doing once you’re there? You can do so much more than tweet and post company information. Use Twitter to respond to customer queries and complaints, and Facebook to promote sales and offers. Don’t just be visible, be personable.

Life is not about being liked it’s about being effective – Chase McMichael

Are your social media strategies geared more towards getting people to click that ‘Like’ button, or to share and recommend your carefully created content with their friends and family? Some companies chase after the elusive ‘Like’ at the risk of losing their brand message. Stay true to the essence of your company, and see real client engagement with your social media.

Twitter Golden rule – Give before you get – Hollis Thomases

In these times when everyone and every business has a Twitter account, people are becoming ever more aware of when they are being treated like a walking wallet. Provide followers with value on Twitter and they will want to share their experience of your product or service with their own followers.

What can be found, can be optimized – Bob Tripathi

Whatever medium you’re sharing content through can be picked up by search engines. Make sure to use the right keywords, tags and phrases, so that the people who go searching will find you. And remember to link back to your website!

We hope you found these tidbits of advice as useful as we did at RoryMartin.com where we are always on top of the latest news in social media marketing; all the better to pass our expert knowledge onto you.

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The Periodic Table of SEO

We found something cool today – from the folks over at SearchEngineLand, who say:

Search engine optimization — SEO — may seem like alchemy to the uninitiated. But there is a science to it. Search engines reward pages with the right combination of ranking factors, or “signals.” SEO is about ensuring your content generates the right type of signals.

They put together the Periodic Table of SEO to help readers get a visual idea of what goes into producing the right ranking factors that make your website shine.   At Rory Martin, we take all the factors into consideration when we’re building a strategy for SEOonline marketing and social media management.  Since we often talk about how important SEO and Keywords are to your website’s value, we figured you (our readers) would be interested in this graphic too!  (Click the image for a larger view)

As a Seattle Web Design company that specializes in Seattle Search Engine Optimization and Seattle Social Media MarketingRoryMartin.com is dedicated to helping you find the right tools to optimize your website, and bring you the most exposure to help your business succeed.

Trend Forecast: Social Media’s Immediate Future

social media trends

There are big trends happening in Social Media right now, from the use of scanned location check-in points, to social commerce. It can be hard to navigate the trends but we’ve compiled a few of the most common themes into 3 predictions on where social media is headed in second half of 2011.

Social, Mobile Entertainment –
Games have moved onto mobile devices, now that smartphones are relatively inexpensive, prevalent and readily available. Social media is giving users a way to take their entertainment on the go. Now instead of filling out a crossword while commuting, you may use Words With Friends. Or you might make a game out of being in the right place at the right time through Foursquare – ousting your friends, and letting people know where to find you. It’s a way to stay connected with other users while managing a busy lifestyle, from Facebook gaming to sharing last night’s football or Mad Men highlights over Twitter, even watching YouTube videos via an Android application. It’s entertainment to go, and integrating more social technology into your business and website will make it much more appealing to social media users.

Scanning, Scanning, Scanning –
When you’re using check-in services like FourSquare and the Facebook places application, you may be able to scan a barcode or QR code, checking you into your location on relevant social sites. With the emergence of social scanning, it’ll only be a matter of time until you can scan a barcode, which adds a “Like” to the business’s Facebook Page, or pulls up the latest Yelp Reviews and Groupon coupons for the location you’re at. It’s a business strategy – integrating social media and marketing in an easy-to-use way.

Mobile Workplace –
As smartphones become better and faster, we’re seeing users move from laptop to mobile (as desktops have been pushed out of the way for smaller, lighter ways to work-on-the-go). This means websites need to plan for mobile content that will load quickly on a mobile network. Businesses should start looking for ways to accept mobile payment, and will have to consider dynamic pricing to keep up with supply and demand. And since smartphones often double as media storage devices, it won’t be hard to keep your PowerPoint presentations handy for your next business meeting.

These are a few of our predictions for the coming year – companies will want to work these trends into their social media marketing strategy.  At RoryMartin.com we do the research on tips, tricks and tools of the trade when it comes to SEO, online marketing and social media management. As a Seattle Web Design company that specializes in Seattle Search Engine Optimization and Seattle Social Media MarketingRoryMartin.com can help you build a Social Media Strategy that reflects your unique brand and meets your business goals.

Social Media Marketing – The Value of Business Blogging

There is a common misconception among business owners as to the value of business blogging. Many believe that they do not have time to effectively implement a Social Media Marketing campaign or that there is little return on investment. RoryMartin.com a Seattle Web Design company that specializes in Seattle Search Engine Optimization and Seattle Social Media Marketing can help you build a marketing strategy that reflects your unique brand and meets your business goals.

A corporate blog is a marketing asset and therefore, an asset to your business. Properly executed, a blog will continue to drive traffic and leads to your business over time and should be viewed just like Search Engine Optimization, a due diligence process that is not a short term experiment, but a long term investment.

There are many reasons to consider a business blog.  By delivering fresh, compelling, keyword-rich, original content you will bring users back to your site on a regular basis, helping increase awareness for your brand and driving your site up in ranking. In addition to gaining search engine ranking and generating leads, blogs engage your current customers and place you in a position to provide thought leadership to your industry, strengthening your brand.

Optimizing a blog that engages customers and prospects while furthering your company’s mission and business objectives, is much like optimizing a website. By implementing search engine optimization, your blog can rank much higher than static website pages in the search engine results. Over time, this drives up the ranking of your company website.

In order to measure Social Media ROI you must define clear measurable goals. RoryMartin.com’s online marketing campaigns deliver both measurable revenue as well as ancillary brand building benefits for your company.   It is important to understand the value of a visitor. Each visitor becomes one of three things; a browser, an influencer or a transacting customer.  A transacting customer delivers immediate financial impact which can be measured as ROI. Browsers and influencers are measured as ancillary even though they directly affect your financial bottom line, just not in the immediate sense. Their value falls into the category of non-actualized potential.

Some of the most substantial benefits of a social media campaign will be difficult to measure directly. There is no concrete financial value that can be assigned to reputation management, branding and customer service. However, every business owners knows those values are indispensable.

Five Leading Contributors to Facebook Fan Value

As growing audiences migrate to social networks like Facebook, a brand’s ability to connect and influence these customers must shift from traditional marketing strategies.

Facebook offers a great platform for developing stronger relationships with your customers. Facebook fans represent a significant opportunity to drive revenue enhancement, brand, and loyalty without incurring the considerable cost-per-person of conventional marketing.

The five leading contributors to Facebook fan value are:

  • Product Spending
  • Brand Loyalty
  • Propensity to Recommend
  • Brand Affinity
  • Earned Media Value

How you interact with your Facebook fans is more important than the number of non-engaged fans your page has. So the question is how to manage this platform to build loyalty and generate sales? Fans are an extremely valuable segment of the Internet audience and should be addressed with specific strategies to nurture their ongoing participation and influence. RoryMartin.com offers comprehensive Social Media Marketing services to help your company tap into the power of social media.

Facebook Strategies Allow for a Discernible ROI That is Not Allowed by Most Other Approaches.

  • More than 10 million users become fans of pages each day.
  • On average fans spend an additional $71 on products for which they are fans compared to those who are not fans.
  • Fans are 28% more likely than non-fans to continue using the brand.
  • Fans are also 41% more likely to recommend a fanned product to their friends.

RoryMartin.com helps clients educate their markets and build brand awareness while winning and retaining customers with engaging and impactful websites and web marketing. As a Seattle Web Design company that specializes in Seattle Search Engine Optimization and Seattle Social Media Marketing, RoryMartin.com can help you build a Social Media Strategy that reflects your unique brand and meets your business goals.

Social Media Monitoring : Radian6 vs. ScoutLabs

Ever since I reported on the launch of Scout Labs, I have had people ask, fairly or not, how it compares with Radian6. It’s no secret that I use Radian6 at Doe-Anderson, am good friends with many of their employees and have recommended them to people left and right for a long time. Scout Labs appeared on the scene in February after two years of testing and development and they have a very nice social media monitoring tool.

To be completely fair, it should be noted that the two companies have slightly different target audiences, strengths, technologies and approaches. Scout Labs is a self-serve, web-based tool priced for small to mid-sized business and brands. Radian6 was originally positioned as an agency model where a single ad agency that worked with many brands could economically offer social media monitoring to its clients. It quickly moved on the market thirst for social media monitoring and expanded their approach beyond ad agencies and PR firms, but they are probably best suited for medium to large sized brands and businesses.

Still, if there is something to be had with Scout Labs for a better price, we ought to know what it is.

So, while setting up and monitoring mentions of a Louisville-area heath care system recently, I composed this comparison on setup, features and price. I chose the health care system because they have several different locations, thus potential keywords to search for, but weren’t a typical “national” brand so the volume would be manageable. Here’s what I found:

Radian6 offers a very simple setup. You start a “Topic” and add keywords. For billing purposes, you’re billed for each “Topic” so all of your searches need to come under that topic set up or you’ll pay more. I added several different keywords based on the name of the health care system and one of their locations. After testing the results returned, I quickly had to add some omission filters for a popular actor who has apparently appeared in several movies about hospitals and shares a name with the brand in question.

Still, the whole set up took 10 minutes. I’ve used Radian6 for a while, so it was familiar territory, but it is fairly easy to understand and navigate once you’ve had the tour from a Radian6 rep. (I wouldn’t say it’s particularly intuitive if you’ve never been in it, but it’s not hard to grasp.)

Just minutes later, I had a “River of News” that revealed 54 posts from the world wide web related to the health care system. You can sort that river in a number of ways to prioritize how you respond or weight the posts. A few clicks later, I had a topic cloud of popular words from those posts. With a few minutes of set up, I had some charts and graphs of some keywords I compared to see the volume of posts related to thinks like, “long wait time,” “terrible service” and “great service.” In Radian6, you can essentially compare any number of topics or keywords against one another, pulling frequency data from your river of news. You can also pull topic clouds or segment that division of data … they really allow you to slice the data any number of ways. Again, you need a little training to know how — even though all you do is click on the word or the bar graph to dive into it, you don’t get that from just looking at it — but once you do, you can slice more than a Benihana’s chef on speed.

Radian6 also produces an influencer report which gives you the most influential authors or sources from your river of news. This is good information to have, though the data is skewed a bit by the limits of your time frame (mine was set for the last 30 days). Still, I love the way Radian6 has added individual Twitter users as “influencers” on the chart. That is much more relevant to the live conversation of the day than which blog mentions the brand more.

Something new Radian6 has added to their River of News view that turns their tool into a much more actionable platform for brands and marketers is the Workflow view. You organize your River of News into a work space that allows you to mark posts for follow up, assign that follow up to team members and make the results actually work for you. Yes, this is a manual function, but one your company will want to use and participate in because it allows you to use your monitoring to realize results and proactively engage those voices talking about your brand.

Radian6 Workflow view with actionable step links to the left.

Radian6 Workflow view with actionable step links to the left.

This particular interface and function of Radian6′s tool would take me a complete second post to tell you about all the features and strengths. There’s tie-in with Google’s social graph API, automated alerts for subjects (giving you Google Alerts on steroids), tagging and activity logging of contact with specific bloggers, a completely mind-boggling integration with Twitter to manage communications with an influencer on that particular network. Oh, and you can have all your “River” results pumped to you via instant messenger so you are never out of touch with what’s being said about your brand.

Frankly, this dashboard functionality blows all other competitors in the social media monitoring space out of the water. If you’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the big boys, you’ve lost your mind. This alone beats them, hands down. (Unless, of course, you just have to have the 56 page PowerPoint with mindless pie charts no one reads.) For medium to small brands, however, it’s overwhelming and impossible to manage or use all the functionality without spending hours a day using Radian6 (which is, I’m sure, what they’re hoping for). The reason I say that, however, is that there’s normally just one or two people managing all this for smaller brands and that isn’t their only role. This is a tool best used by teams of communications staffers.

Oh, and the ability to slice and dice the data in Radian6 is just sick. Once you know how to do it, you’ll swear by this tool.

The only bad thing about my Radian6 experience is that it crashes my browser in Firefox. Maybe it’s too powerful. It works fine in Safari, so I just use it there.

That said, the Radian6 scorecard of results showed 54 total items found, including 17 posts from Twitter, two videos and four images.

In Scout Labs, I set up a “Search” much like the “Topic” in Radian6. The keyword or exact phrase setup was a little disappointing until I got them on the phone and asked about it. They were nice to (politely) point out there’s a big “Click here for help” button that I missed. What can I say? I don’t read instructions.

In order to play out the clumsy usage like the average person would, I used the brand name, then the word “Healthcare” and the name of one of the brand’s locations as qualifiers. (“Relevant” in Scout Labs terms.) Unfortunately, that set up yielded over 10,000 posts. Even adding all sorts of qualifiers (the actor’s name as an omission, etc.), I could only get it down to 8,500 posts. So, I set up one search for, “Brand Healthcare” and “Brand Location” where the brand and location are obviously specific to this particular organization. There was no real way to mash those results up (keeping in mind I didn’t read the instructions on how to do so), so I did that manually for comparison sake.

Once that was done, the information produced included 72 total items found, including 23 posts from Twitter, 22 videos and 18 pictures. For the record, I ran it the way I should have (having read the instructions) and the numbers and content were all but identical.

A sentiment trend view from Scout Labs.

A sentiment trend view from Scout Labs.

Once you’ve set up your search in Scout Labs, within seconds and a couple of clicks you have charts and graphs for volume of articles, share of voice compared to competitors you may set up to track as well and the kicker – automated sentiment so you know if the talk about you is good, bad or neutral. Since this is manually scored in Radian6, you just saved yourself a fair bit of time to produce a sentiment report, though it requires that you trust the automation. (I highly recommend manually checking any sentiment score from any service until you’re confident they’re accurate or you can at least live with the ratio of right to not-so.)

Scout Labs also separates results out by medium, giving you a tab to see posts or conversations and separate tabs for photos, videos and Twitter. With Radian6, they’re all together in your stream, though easy to delineate. You can delete or remove posts you don’t want considered very easily using both tools. Instead of a topic cloud, Scout Labs lists popular words discovered in your stream and goes the added step of indicating which words are new in the last 30 days. This gives you a quick and automated glance at what topic might be trending or a sore spot that consumers are complaining about.

Comparing the results, it’s clear that Radian6 has a much more thorough scan of the web. News items posted on WFPL.org, the website for the local NPR affiliate, were not picked up by Scout Labs, showing some apparent holes in their scans. They also don’t do a good job of catching message boards and forums, though I’m sure that will improve over time. Radian6 didn’t do that well with forums a year or so ago when I first saw their platform. They’re better now.

Of the nine posts returned by Scout Labs, Radian6 only had three of them, and while the tool should have found them, I would only consider one of the six relevant to the search as three were job postings and the other two appeared to be spam sites. While I’m not sure why there was an inconsistency in the number of Twitter messages returned, it may have something to do with spam/duplication filters. The entries Radian6 failed to return appeared to be re-tweets or exact duplications of bot-controlled feeds.

Scout Labs did out-perform Radian6 by returning lots more videos and images. There was a Flickr set of 17 images I found through Scout Labs of a newborn baby that wasn’t in the Radian6 filter, all tagged with the hospital’s name. However, none of the four images Radian6 returned, all of which were relevant, were to be found in the Scout Labs data.

Tit-for-tat comparison’s are relevant but not altogether conclusive, however. The thing that often sets the tools apart is the ease of use and quality/quantity of data returned. Scout Labs offers a more seamless experience in a web-based environment while Radian6 is a Flash interface. It can be clunky and slow, though it is noticeably faster now than in months past. Radian6 allows you to produce topic-related comparisons easier than Scout Labs, in my experience. And, as I’ve indicated, the Workflow tool in Radian6 is simply unmatched in anything out there. It alone is worth the cost of the service.

And while Radian6 has the powerful play of the Influencer Report, which now includes Twitter users in its consideration set (a far better insight than just blogs that mention the brand most often), Scout Labs counters with the trump card of automated sentiment scoring. It is currently time consuming to manually grade sentiment in Radian6. Even though the brand in question only returned 54 posts, it would have taken about an hour to go through each one, read, score sentiment and so-on. In Scout Labs, if I trust their tool, it’s done.

For the record, according to my friends at Radian6, automatic sentiment scoring is coming and soon. Until it does though, Scout Labs has that as a selling point.

While I’m not well-schooled in the back-end technology lingo, Scout Labs uses indexing which, as I understand it, is more nimble and flexible than database-driven information. Radian6 uses a combination of indexing and database technology. Is that a sticking point for them in the long, run? I don’t know and would love some technologists and engineers to chime in. Seems like both companies have good engines and continually improve what they have, so both can give each other good runs for the money for a while. I promise to do more research here to edu-ma-kate us on the differences.

So from a power perspective, I give the edge to Radian6. Both the Workflow panel and their breadth of data collection sets them apart. Scout Labs can probably catch them on the data collection pretty quickly but duplicating their Workflow panel will be tough to do knowing Radian6 is always improving their own tool as well.

From a data perspective, Radian6 also stands out because of their breadth of data, the Influencer report and the data slicing and dicing ease of their tool. (Did I tell you it’s just sick? Sick!) Still, it’s a close call because of Scout Lab’s automated sentiment scoring, which is a big time-saver and important when you consider the good vs. bad is sometimes all a brand manager or CEO wants to hear.

But when you look at price, Scout Labs wins. They don’t limit the number of users \and offer monthly plans starting at $99 (enough to handle a single brand or small business with monitoring of 3-4 competitors). For $249 monthly, you get more searches for competitors or divisions of your business. This would be the price point for the health care system I used. The most you’ll pay for Scout Labs, unless you have a large, customized solution, is $749.00 monthly. That’s almost the entry point for Radian6, which is a volume-based plan with 10,000 “posts” as the lowest price point at around $600.00 per month. And you’ll need to be very meticulous about defining your keyword. If I hadn’t eliminated the actor’s name from Radian6′s scan, I would have been automatically bounced up to the more expensive plans at the end of the month. (Though I can attest, Radian6′s folks will notice inconsistencies and call you to make sure you’re aware you have exceeded your post limit.)

So you get a better price with Scout Labs, but not as thorough a search. Radian6 has what is essentially internal project management software for response management, but Scout Labs offers automated sentiment.

And both firms have a strong footing in customer service and innovating based on their technologies. So both will evolve and get even better at what they’re doing. Radian6 today is far better and vastly different than they were a year ago. Scout Labs is going to trump even themselves in a month or so with new features and broader reach with their searches.

In the end, the decision is going to be unique to each organization or business, so it’s up to you to decide.

If you’re a small business or on a tight budget, Scout Labs is well worth the investment. If you have a little bit more money to spend and want to see a more powerful tool put to use for your brand, Radian6 might be a better fit. But both are infinitely useful and worth the time and money. And both will get better.

As a matter of point and disclosure, allow me to say that I have the utmost confidence in both of these services. I’ve paid a personal visit to Radian6 and am good friends with many of their employees, including CEO Marcel Lebrun. In my brief time getting to know Scout Labs CEO Jenny Zeszut and product VP Margaret Francis, it’s clear they know what they’re doing and are offering a valuable service at a very competitive price point.

Now it’s your turn. If you use one, the other or both, please fill us in on your experience. What do you like? Dislike? What could either do better? They’re monitoring firms, so you can bet they’ll be anxiously awaiting your feedback. Scout Labs is new, but they have a 30 day free trial. Go sign up and let us know what you think. The comments, as always, are yours.

Study Shows Time Pays With Social Media Marketing with RoryMartin.com

Have you asked this question: Is the time I invest with social media really worth it?  Whether you’re new or an old hat with social media, chances are you’ve wondered if the time commitment is really worth the return on investment (ROI).

Make no mistake about it:  a true investment of time and resources is necessary to see significant social media marketing success.

But the real question is, “Just HOW MUCH time is needed to see solid success?”

This question was recently answered in the new study, 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, authored by Michael Stelzner.  Based on the report findings, ROI is top of mind for most marketers using social media.

Top Social Media Questions Marketers Want Answered

According to the data, the number-one question marketers most want answered is how to track social media ROI.  A sampling of questions includes:

  • How can I tell a convincing story to management about the ROI for social media marketing?
  • What are the key metrics to follow for measuring ROI in terms of customer satisfaction, revenues and brand loyalty?
  • How effective is social media versus the resources needed to maintain the effort?
  • Are there any industry benchmarks that track the impact of social media marketing?

In the 2009 study, the number-one question from marketers was related to social media tactics, followed by ROI.  Now tactics have moved down considerably and the ROI question has moved up.  One reason for this could be that social media is maturing and more people have started using the tools and tactics.  Now they want to know if the long-term payoff for their time and resources is really there.

Time Versus Return for Social Media Marketing

When looking at ROI, you also have to look closely at just how much time you’re investing.  Unlike some other traditional forms of marketing, when it comes to social media, your investment is more time than money.

The industry report results shed some light on the amount of time marketers are really spending on social media marketing.

Out of the 1900 marketers’ responses, almost all were using social media for marketing purposes and the majority of these marketers were fairly new in the social media area.

  • 91% of respondents indicated they were employing social media for marketing purposes.
  • 65% of marketers have either just started or have been using social media for only a few months.

When drilling down to the actual hours spent using social media tools, the largest group was in the 1 to 5 hours per week range.  Of that group, 43% are spending 4 to 5 hours each week on social media activities. A significant 56% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week and 30% for 11 or more hours weekly.  It’s interesting to note that 12.5% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.

This chart shows the overall breakdown of marketers’ time spent using social sites.

But even more interesting than the time spent on social media marketing, the report also showed a correlation between the amount of user experience and the time spent using social media tools. The median weekly time commitment for beginners was 1 hour versus 10 hours for those doing this for a few months or longer. Because 65% of respondents indicated they were newbies or just a few months in, much of their time spent on social sites could be more trial and error than solid strategy. Perhaps the difference in time spent using social tools is because the marketers who have the most experience also have more well-defined social media strategies, allowing them a clear plan of action on the social sites.

Just like with anything else, experience is golden.  The more user experience one has with social media marketing, the more valuable every minute spent on social media sites becomes.  The time spent on social sites is not as important as the actual results.  What we really should be looking at is what kind of results are you getting for that 1 hour, 4 hours, even 12 hours per week?

Top Benefits of Social Media

When the respondents were asked about the benefits they’ve received from social media marketing, there were some clear winners that stood out above the rest.  When looking at ROI on social media marketing, money in the bank can’t be your only indicator of success.  Increased traffic, lead generation and happy, connected customers all are factors in deciding which social media strategies are working best for your business.

According to the survey, the number-one benefit of social media marketing is greater exposure (85%).  Improving traffic and building new partnerships followed next.  More than half of marketers indicated a rise in search engine rankings was a benefit of social media marketing.  The report states, “As search engine rankings improve, so will business exposure, lead generation efforts and a reduction in overall marketing expenses.  More than half of marketers found social media generated qualified leads.”

This chart shows how respondents viewed the benefits of social media marketing.

Outsourcing Social Media

Because time and ROI are such a central focus for many marketers, it was surprising to see that very few were outsourcing their social media efforts.  According to the report, some factors may be that social media outsourcing is fairly new and the majority of respondents were new to social media, perhaps yet unaware of what they should and should not be outsourcing.

The chart below shows how the majority of marketers are not outsourcing their social media activity.

Where we’re seeing the outsourcing trend is in the larger organizations.  According to the report, “the larger the organization, the more likely outsourcing is taking place.  For example, 25.7% of large businesses and 25% of mid-sized businesses are currently outsourcing, compared to only 10.6% of sole proprietors.”  Like many marketing trends, what starts with the “big guys” tends to make its way to the smaller businesses—therefore, we may be seeing more outsourcing overall in the coming year.

Check out the full report here.

Now it’s your turn!  Do you feel your time using social media marketing is worth the return? Does your own experience match up with the results? Share here—we want to hear from you!

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For Social’s Sake: Managing A Brand With Socialized Communications

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Don’t let your brand be a social outcast. Especially in Seattle, NY, LA, and Portland

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There was a time when media companies–and by that I mean magazine and newspaper publishers–employed entire “reader services” departments for each publication. There, dedicated operators would answer readers’ questions via a 1-800 number about products seen in the magazine. Just as advertisements today would never forgo mentioning their Web site addresses, years ago advertisers would always identify their 1-800 numbers in campaigns. How else could consumers get in touch or know who to ask?Now there are electronic robots scrolling Twitter and other social networking sites searching for brand mentions and customer concerns. Once a brand mention is found, a dedicated team of community managers is instantaneously alerted and go to work answering consumer questions or rewarding consumers for positive brand references via Twitter, e-mail, Facebook or other forms of social media. The distance between the seller and the buyer today is short.

It used to be that brands sought partnerships with publications to publicize their offerings, host events or write about their products. And many publications did and still do an excellent job at providing these services to help promote a company’s products to specialized audiences. However, the dynamics of buying and selling has shifted the power from the media over to the brand and consumer.

Now, in order to launch a new product, a brand needs to extend its identity in many more channels and to many more audiences. Thus in addition to promoting itself in worthy publications, a brand must have a strategic digital marketing strategy, a solid list of target–and often splintered–consumers, and a multitude of social networks to engage them. Many marketing activities are now direct-to-consumer instead of company-to-consumer. In fact, new research predicts that spending on Internet-based marketing is expected to overtake print ad budgets in 2010 for the first time. For these reasons, traditional media is now adapting to this new marketing reality.

Today’s savvy consumers will respond to a brand that speaks to a need they have identified, resonates with them on an emotional level, or solves a problem that they maybe didn’t even know existed. Brands today are actively harnessing social media platforms to create content and communities to find their brand loyalists or advocates. Once identified and engaged with, brand advocates do the marketing campaigns for them. These brand advocates might enter an online contest to help name a new product or create a new food flavor that then gets produced and distributed. They may select music they want to appear in a videogame. And they can decide to tell all of their friends and networks about how they have taken control of their brand relationships in this new marketing paradigm.

The new model of targeting brand ambassadors is about two-way, open, social engagement and not just top-down and inside-out pushing of products. It is as much from the outside in–from consumers back to the brand. While most brands are implementing social communications programs using one or two social platforms, only a handful are thinking holistically about managing communications across all media and touch points. The requirements are now to communicate who you are as a brand and what you stand for through social media in a far more consistent, strategic and global way. After all, unlike traditional media, online content and experiences are inherently open and accessible everywhere around the world.

RoryMartin.com helps clients educate their markets and build brand awareness while winning and retaining customers with engaging and impactful websites and web marketing. We offer a comprehensive set of services from website design and web development to search engine optimization and search engine marketing and social media marketing.

The Albert Einstein Guide to Social Media

11 February, 2010 | Written by Amber Naslund

albert-einstein1Albert Einstein knew an awful lot. And if you pay attention to his work and his most famous statements about it, you might just think he was talking about us, the social media crew.

We might not be looking for a unified theory for all things quantum in our day jobs, or pondering the discrepancies between particle theory and relativity, but here are a few things Einstein has managed to summarize for us just the same. Funny how some concepts apply pretty universally…

As a Seattle Web Design company that specializes in Seattle Search Engine Optimization and Seattle Social Media Marketing, I really like this stuff.

A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.
It all starts with the goals and objectives, but look around you, and you’re sure to see the folks that still think the Facebook Page is the holy grail of social media success. Know what you’re aiming for before you choose any one path to get there.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
We’re hell bent on creating convoluted indexes and formulas to calculate and measure the fuzzy stuff like influence, affinity, or loyalty. As if somehow putting an algebraic formula to it will make it legitimate. Are there simpler ways we can be approaching these seemingly complex problems from a more human level?

Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.
You can count a zillion fans and followers but what are you going to do with them when you have them? Are they moving you toward something, or are they just there? And things like having genuine intent or an authentic mindset (not one on a mission statement somewhere) are much harder to quantify and put on a report, but they matter a great deal. They’re part of the untouchable essence of outstanding companies.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
We need more clarity, accountability, and translation of social media into terms that everyone can relate to. Enough with the buzzwords and lingo already. “Joining the conversation” doesn’t explain anything.

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.
Teaching and guiding adoption of social media can be an arduous task. But forcing too many rules without context and understanding is a recipe for resistance and resentment. And dragging people unwillingly into the social web before they’re truly culturally equipped will undoubtedly end in failure. Understanding new concepts and ideas takes time, patience, and the willingness of some to make small strides instead of huge leaps.

People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.
We all wish that you could just throw up a blog and instantly see a lift in your sales numbers, but it doesn’t work that way. Cultivating a social media community takes more time than many businesses would like. They’re so anxious to know whether they’ve made a good or bad investment, so they demand results and guarantees before they start. But much like the business relationships you’ve built the old fashioned way, creating trust and loyalty is an investment, not a transaction.

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
In a world where content is everywhere, it’s not enough to just have a bunch of eyeballs see what you do. Value is a wonderful aim, if you understand that value is defined differently for everyone. Your definition of value doesn’t matter when it comes to offering it to someone else. You have to figure out how your customers, prospects, and community define it, and deliver that to them, relentlessly.

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Social media is, in many ways, a solution to some of the problems we’ve created ourselves. The divide we’ve created between the company and the customer is one of our own design, and social media is helping to shorten that distance again. As a result, we cannot try and cram social media into the same mindset we’ve used for sales, marketing, and customer service for the last several decades, or we’ll just end up right back where we started, and end up blaming social media itself for not living up to our expectations.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
We collected impressions for ads as if having a million people see a billboard without any notion of what they did with that information was actually effective. We build call centers to automate customer service. We talked in “key messages” and soundbites, and we buried our mistakes under PR gloss-overs. Customers are now pushing back on those ideas and demanding better from businesses. Yet, we’re approaching Facebook as an eyeball collection tool, or Twitter as a press release distribution service, or throwing interns to manage our customer support forums, and we’re wondering why we’re having trouble seeing value in these tools?

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
We’re talking about new approaches to business problems, here. We’re talking culture shift. Adjustments to our approach, the courage to evaluate our weaknesses, and the willingness to invest in things that aren’t the same as we’ve always done. All that means that mistakes are inevitable. And rather than lynching and publicly vilifying those that fall short, let’s learn from each other, from ourselves, and start allowing social media a legitimate place in business process innovation.

Not bad for a guy with crazy hair who never tied his shoes, but who managed to single-handedly and drastically change our understanding of the universe around us. I’m thinking we can help businesses do the same for the online world we’re creating here. You?

As a Seattle Web Design company that specializes in Seattle Search Engine Optimization and Seattle Social Media Marketing, I really like this article…for more information please visit our site at RoryMartin.com

The Seattle Social Advertising Trends of 2010

Forecasts and predictions about twenty-ten are EVERYWHERE. We looked deep into our crystal ball here at SocialMedia.com, but it seems someone swapped it for a beach ball.

So rather than try to guess the future, we put together a list of five emerging trends that are already stirring up social advertising. To be successful in 2010, you must plan for how these trends will impact your business.

As a Seattle Web Design company that specializes in Seattle Search Engine Optimization and Seattle Social Media Marketing, I really like this stuff.

1. No stone is left unturned when it comes to finding social data.

Social networks are gaining a larger chunk of online advertising dollars, in large part due to the effectiveness of using social data from these sites to deliver targeted brand messages. But data from social graphs is not exclusive to social networks. As more money shifts to social networks, traditional publishers will want to get a piece of the action.

TAKEAWAY: To offer social data to advertisers, publishers are working hard to uncover and grow their existing social graphs – and succeeding. Don’t get left behind.

2. Social relationships are more than just friends.

At SocialMedia.com, we break social relationships down into one of three categories: friends, influencers, and communities.

  • Friends are the easiest to spot; they are a one-to-one connection, approved by both parties (e.g. connections on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc.).
  • Influencers are characterized by a one-to-many relationship, bloggers and micro-bloggers being the best examples. For instance, a wine lover blogs about new wines she has discovered and others wine drinkers read her blog and view her opinions as a trusted source of information, even though she does not know the identity of all her readers.
  • Communities include individuals who are largely anonymous to each other, but relate to the group around a similar interest (characterized by a many-to-many relationship). For example, fans of new TV show might discuss recent episodes in a discussion forum. In this particular case the community may only last for the duration of the television series. In other cases, the community relationship may persist much longer, e.g. moms trading advice on a website dedicated to parenthood.

TAKEAWAY: Because communities have been largely overlooked as a significant social relationships, there is a tremendous opportunity to execute social campaigns on sites other than social networks, where the voice of a given site and/or community is leveraged as a whole. This opportunity appears even more promising when advertisers consider the upward trend of online users embracing social activities and identifying with online communities. (We believe that the nuances of social relationships are so important that we’ll be following up with another blog post that digs deeper into this topic).

3. Consumers turn to online social connections for recommendations.

The rapid growth (not to mention sheer number) of social media users is bolstering the credibility and perceived value of social media channels, tools, and most importantly, content. This larger base of active users allows people to connect with virtual peer groups in more niche categories. For example, a foodie follows a list of local restaurant critics on twitter, a CIO joins a LinkedIn group for IT leaders and discusses cloud computing, an indie rock fan blogs about new bands and other indie rock fans read her posts. These connections are real and authentic (establishing trust) and are hyper-targeted, which means users get highly tailored opinions by turning to these groups.

TAKEAWAY: More open-minded consumers actively seeking advice and recommendations from online peer groups, creates a gold mine for advertisers who can be armed and ready with real brand messages from real people.

4. Online endorsements are happening in real time.

Not only are more consumers using online social connections as an input for decision-making, but when they do they are also finding real-time information from other consumers. Reviews of retail locations are posted before consumers even leave the stores. Bad (and good) customer service experiences are tweeted, blogged, and posted to social networks within seconds, when emotions run highest. And all of the content created in real time is distributed immediately through viral actions like posts, shares, and retweets. Moreover, new services like Aardvark allow users to pose questions via web, chat applications, twitter, or Facebook to get immediate answers from an extended network of peers. What does it mean? Your reaction to real-time reviews must be in real time too.

TAKEAWAY: By monitoring real-time conversations, brands can put out fires, leverage positive endorsements, and participate in the conversation. But that’s just scratching the surface. Brands that go beyond monitoring may find opportunities to initiate endorsements at the time of interaction by providing prompts and channels to leave feedback, thus maximizing positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

5. The objectives of online creative are shifting from consumable to sharable.

As a social online experience becomes the new norm, online display advertising follows. Whereas in the past online advertisers wanted big flashy ads that shouted messages and captured eyeballs, now advertisers want ads that inspire consumers to take action, particularly using social channels to spread brand messages to friends and followers.

TAKEAWAY: Our experience and research at SocialMedia.com has shown that the most effective ads: 1) include real people, 2) spread real messages, and 3) are adapted to the environment in which they are served.

As a Seattle Web Design company that specializes in Seattle Search Engine Optimization and Seattle Social Media Marketing, I hope everybody does this stuff…it’s free and easy.

© Copyright © 2012 Rory Martin Inc.