Category Archives: Influencer marketing

Olivier Taupin on Who's on 1st in social media in the c-suite?

The CEO, the Executive Assistant or the Hired Help?

By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog.  You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here. 

It’s agreed: Social media is here to stay. Studies increasingly report that executives (76%) would rather work today for a social CEO. MBA Central also found that 3 in 4 customers say a company is more trustworthy if its high-level leadership participates in social media. The proviso is that clients don’t like brash business styles and that “controversial personal opinions can turn off consumers.”

How do you get started in social media? Find the “why” behind your professional brand and tell us what inspires you to do what you do. Digital pioneer Olivier Taupin of Next Dimension Media reminds us that Tom Peters introduced the concept of personal branding in 1997 – five years before LinkedIn was founded. Peters said, “Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the age of the individual, you have to be your own brand.”

CEOs are being asked to write blogs that enhance their professional brand…frequent the company website…self-author posts on social networks. And, oh yes, please be authentic; no more company platitudes.

How do you manage these new demands on your time and resources? We’ve detailed a list of things-to-do but, first, here’s four general guidelines.

  1. Find your own way to express in words the company’s vision, mission, and culture. Nobody wants to hear slick and packaged slogans, anymore. “The ability to clarify your corporate culture,” emphasizes Oliver, “helps to synchronize external messages with internal communications.”
  2. Developing your online brand requires that you first build distribution networks while you create and publish content to engage with followers. It takes time to build trusted relationships in person – and online.
  3. Please don’t vent on social media…”You’re going to regret it later,” cautions Olivier.
  4. Avoid talking hard-core sales in the networks. You can talk positively about your product and services but don’t offer fans, followers, and contacts 20% off your products or get-rich-schemes in the networking platforms.

CEOs DO THIS

Start listening online to monitor your name and brand. You can gauge how often your company is discussed, the sentiment (positive and negative) and the reach. Terry Williamson of Boom! Social likes SocialMention, Hootsuite, and Topsy for these services.

  • Thoroughly complete your LinkedIn profile; reach for all-star status. By the way, your profile is not a resume emphasizes Olivier. You are not looking for employment. Also don’t forget: If you do get a new job, update your profile.
  • Ensure your headline serves your connections on LinkedIn, followers on Twitter and Google+. Think beyond the position title on your business card.
  • In your LinkedIn summary: Include the mission statement for your company in addition to describing the culture of the business. Remember that your website bio parallels your LinkedIn profile.
  • Read mentions about your company each week.
  • Set up your accounts on Twitter and Google+ or ask your EA for help here.
  • Grow your contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. You will probably want assistance here, as well, after the social media strategy is defined and approved.
  • Olivier is a strong believer in connecting with people who have viewed your profile but who also suit your purpose. It’s worth your time to pay attention to this strategist who founded over 100 groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million contacts. Be very careful that your connections reflect your strategic mission.
  • Write a blog in your voice. Sources of content for blogs are found in myriad places—either original or acquired to reflect your strategy. There are numerous tools to assist you with this task.
  • People helping with your social media will need to use your accounts and passwords. They should work under existing privacy policies or NDAs (non-disclosure agreements).

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANTS DO THIS

Your right-hand person understands your business, comprehends your mindset, is proficient in technology, and is able to write. It’s a good idea for EAs to be trained to post in the social networks, too, based on strategies designed to support your business goals.

  • Monitors your reputation using software such as Hootsuite or other social media management tool.
  • Helps grow distribution on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and FB, if applicable.
  • Manages your personal database and contributes to the company CRM for overall company database management.
  • Knows the optimum number of contacts for your network. Olivier suggests a relatively small organization could have 10,000 but a multi-national probably needs a million. Think quality over quantity.
  • Once a week, creates an event to report on Twitter or a Q&A with the CEO using the up-and-coming blab.im.
  • Sets up an information funnel from the management team.

DON’T HAVE AN EA…BUT YOU DO HAVE A SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER? 

The above duties also could be assigned to an individual in these departments. We are seeing sales and marketing working more closely together these days as departments join forces when it comes to social media.

  • Understands branding and storytelling.
  • Manages the company CRM.
  • Finds images, creates infographics, and writes ebooks to accompany posts.
  • Attends events and takes photos or video shorts.
  • Joins in the company sharing of social media content.
  • Content creators may be found throughout the company – from the receptionist to the CEO.

HIRED HELP DOES THIS

The above duties also may be hired out to a specialist, mabye even a team. A good content creator will be able to write blogs, create copy for better automated email opening rates, and manage event campaigns; another individual may know more about SEO. In addition:

  • Creates a plan.
  • Helps design social  media policies.
  • Defines personas to inform all forms of content published across channels.
  • Trains and educates the c-suite and employee groups.
  • Establishes an editorial calendar.
  • Recommends social media tools to speed up tasks.
  • Asks for an audit of all relevant content previously authored.
  • Posts, trains employees to post, or sub-contacts to social media posters. By the way, Twitter is like a radio station – tweeting once a day is not enough. LinkedIn is a different culture that benefits a great deal from group participation and management.

Did we say that social media takes time? Yet, easier to manage with time-saving tools and worth the effort in this age of the personal brand.

Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.

Olivier Taupin on This Just In...CEOs are Going Social

Social change underway in the C-Suite

By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog.  You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here. 

CEOs finally are deciding to engage online and in social media.

Much has transformed since last year when blogger/author and former high tech executive Steve Tobak decried C-level involvement in the digital world. He supported CEOs who avoided social media because they “had better things to do such as run their companies, make great products that beat the competition, make money, and negotiate with big customers.”

It’s old news. Olivier Taupin of Next Dimension Media who has coached C-suite executives on social media for the last 15 years, says, “Yes!” to the message that executives have better things to do with their time. Think competitor knowledge…product research…influencers who drive followers to your business… partnership deals…and expert status.

Tobak needn’t worry for CEOs concerned about the downside risk of saying something awkward in a public network. Astronaut Chris Hadfield defined risk management this way: “Knowing what the next thing is that might kill you” and taking action to mitigate that. Most CEOs have figured out social media.

CEOs engage in social media

Weber Shandwick, a leading global public relations firm, released 2015 survey results that asked 50 of the world’s largest companies about their attitudes to social media. The firm found that 80% of those chief executive officers today engage in digital media.

The PR firm is familiar to me and I trust their work. Suffice to say that Socializing Your CEO: From Marginal to Mainstream  reveals CEO sociability has more than doubled since 2010 when only 36% of CEOs were social. This is good news; we increasingly are looking for leaders to take responsibility for building respect online among customers, employees and investors. Weber Shandwick defined CEOs to be “social” if they did one of the following:

  • Opened a public and verifiable social network account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Weibo, or Mixi;
  • Engaged on the company website through messages, pictures, or video;
  • Appeared in a video on the company YouTube or YouKu channel;
  • Authored an external blog.

It stands to reason that forward-looking CEOS don’t want to get left behind. They typically enjoy inspiring others…have a clear vision for their company…are good communicators…and are focused on their customers.

Weber Shandwick’s research shows that CEOs say their social media presence makes them feel inspired (52%), technologically advanced (46%), and proud (41%). Sociability indicates a “leader is listening, open to engaging in two-way dialogue with stakeholders, and comfortable with change.” Social CEOs also help to attract and retain employees.

Online MBA reports almost half of a company’s reputation is attributed to how people view the CEO since half of all consumers believe that a leader engaged on social media is more in touch with customers. Eight out of 10 consumers stated they’d be more likely to trust a company whose CEO and team engaged on social media and they would be more likely to buy from a company whose leaders were involved in social media.

Why did it take CEOs so long to join this shift in culture? Probably because most decision makers wanted first to see social media ROI. Don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon; the 2015 CMO Survey reveals 41.8 % of marketers have a good qualitative sense but not a quantitative sense of social media impact on business.

Might be better to think of Return on Influence.

Mark Schaefer’s phrase, Return on Influence, is a logical measure for me.  “When companies such as Disney, Nike, and Microsoft are creating successful marketing efforts centered on people’s social influence scores,” said Schaefer, “as a business professional, you’d better take that seriously.” The more followers you have, the more influential you are to those looking into your niche.

Social media benchmark results

Still, marketers want to satisfy the boss when it comes to expectations. Webmarketng123 reports that Return on Investment continues to concern marketers in their 2015 State of Digital Marketing Survey of over 600 U.S. marketing professionals. They learned that revenue maintains top billing but proving ROI continues to pose a major challenge.

LinkedIn came in first when it came to answering the question for B2B: “Which of the following social media channels below have generated revenue for you?”

  • Facebook – 20%
  • LinkedIn – 37%
  • Pinterest – 3%
  • Twitter – 19%
  • Other – 12%
  • Not sure – 46%

How about the power combo of the blog and email marketing? Yes, 60% of B2B brands now blog, at least once a week. And email marketing remains the clear favourite at 93% among B2B marketers followed by social media (87%), SEO (78%) and paid search (56%).

Back to Weber Shandwick and my top 4 take-a-ways for CEOs.

  1. The company website is the top destination for executive  A no brainer here. This is a simple entry point for executives where messages are easily controlled.
  2. Corporate video is fast becoming the new normal for CEOs. Executives trained on camera for media interviews will be more comfortable appearing on video. As Weber Shandwick recommends, think about repurposing video clips of CEOs giving quarterly earnings presentations at industry-related events. Different videos may be created for customers.
  3. LinkedIn is considered a safe network for business. The rate of CEOs using LinkedIn nearly quadrupled to 22% from 4% since 2010. They are beginning to understand that LinkedIn is useful for purposes of research, networking, and business development – in addition to job recruitment.
  4. CEOs can help position companies in their respective niches by establishing themselves as a trustworthy leader. They also are able to identify and nurture other influencers from within their industry to drive attention and demand for their products and services.

Finally. The CEOs have arrived at the helm of social media.

Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.

Olivier Taupin on Vertical Markets

How to generate revenue from Vertical Markets

By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog.  You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here.  bit.ly/1JuaV8k 

Vertical markets are irresistible for their direct connections. In the world of print publishing, some of our most successful editions came from creating special publications tightly focused on a specific industry.

Investopedia defines vertical markets this way: A group of companies that serve each other’s specialized needs and that do not serve a broader market. For example, a company that manufactures furniture would belong to a vertical market while a company that sells furniture  would be described as a horizontal market for its various target audiences.

Niche groups have been around from the time of trade magazines. The 21st century version of trade magazines is the vertical network. Of course, networks are much less expensive to operate than printing and distributing paper to reach industry members. I can tell you it’s a tantalising business model for former print publishers.

How to generate revenue in social networks

Yes, there’s money to be made in these social networks. Think about LinkedIn where brands pay for these opportunities:

  • Sponsorship;
  • Advertising;
  • Profile-matching to help identify potential job candidates.

According to Jon Reed, writing on Diginomica. “Company pages are OK, but it’s the topical groups that spur the most engagement… thousands of members, but more importantly, active, on-topic discussions…”

Brands have always wanted to get their message in front of audiences that align with their mission. Think how pharmaceutical companies have disappeared from mass advertising over recent years. Their names do appear, though, amidst conversations hosted by subject experts and contracted by the pharmaceuticals on matters of great medical concern to their groups. Think diabetes and Pfizer.

There are more than 2 million groups on LinkedIn notes David Sumner Smith of www.NextDimensionMedia.com. The vast majority are very small, with less than 100 members. Just over 200 groups (i.e. 0.01%) have more than 100,000 members. Forty groups have more than 250,000 members, while each of the top 10 have more than 500,000 members.

Sumner Smith and his partner, Olivier Taupin, remain committed to LinkedIn. After all, it was Olivier who founded LinkedIn:HR, the largest professional group on LinkedIn and the largest HR community worldwide with 975,000 members.

Yet, both gentlemen are captivated by the prospects that come with emerging Vertical Networks.

Sumner Smith likes to quote Ben Boyer who says, “LinkedIn groups represent a slight verticalisation of the horizontal network itself by allowing people to populate themselves into these defined buckets.” The managing director of Tenaya Capital couches his comments, though: “They are very different from Vertical Networks.”

Branded Vertical Networks own their IT platforms. They also serve a specific profession by offering tools, resources and information that is practically useful to members of that profession. For example, Spiceworks delivered a network management tool that is now used to manage 170 million hardware devices and more than 10 billion traditional and cloud-based application installations.

Here’s a few more examples.  Avvo.com is a U.S.-based network that connects lawyers to other lawyers, and also enables their customers – individuals or businesses – to obtain speedy online responses to legal questions.

Chef’s Roll is a global culinary community of professional chefs, food authors, and industry professionals. Their website recently posted an opportunity for brand ambassadors to represent their flavour smoke products.

The Alumni Advisory Council for my own alma mater, MacEwan University, is exploring the benefits of building a Vertical Network for graduates. The educational institute could align with potential sponsors who want to get their name in front of future job candidates and clients. Of course, such close alignment between vendor and audience is something that businesses handsomely support.

More ways to generate revenue in Vertical Markets

Sumner Smith describes two more ways for Vertical Networks to generate sales:

  • Revenue sharing of products sold through the network between vendor and network owner;
  • Tools provided by networks to help professionals do their job more easily. “Usually those tools (developed by the network owners) are provided for free,” says Sumner Smith. “But paid extensions can be made available, too.”

Olivier Taupin created a Business Directory of Vertical Professional Networks defining the more high profile Vertical Markets. He says that Academia.edu claims membership growth of 10% per month while Spiceworks states a high-growth revenue category of 20% year on year. Edmodo for educators says it’s averaging 5.5 million new users per year.

Here’s 4 more Vertical Networks

StratasysManufacturer of 3D printers and 3D production systems for office-based rapid prototyping and direct digital manufacturing solutions. It surprised the investment industry, since there were very well known suitors for the acquisition: Adobe and Autodesk.

GrabCAD (now Part of Stratasys)- A mechanical engineering community platform that connects mechanical engineers with manufacturers and product development companies. GrabCAD is leading the open engineering movement, helping engineers get products to market faster by connecting people, content and technology.

Edmodo operates a social network for education in the U.S. It enables teachers, students, and parents to connect, share content, and access homework, grades, and school notices. The company’s network enables teacher-to-teacher resource sharing, global professional development, and networking opportunities.

Doximity Doctors/Physicians Founded: 2010 Launched: March 2011 Headquarters: San Francisco, California Number of Employees: 105 (June 2015) Membership (Registered Users): Over 400,000 verified U.S. physicians (December 2014), which represents more than 50% of US Physicians.

It’s worth your time: Keep your eye on Vertical Networks.

Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.

Speed to Market with Olivier Taupin

Social Media Stage 2: Distribution Networks

By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog.  You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here. http://bit.ly/1cKPcjn

Business executives often want the secret to “going viral” for their brand when it comes to social media.

Yet, the concept of viral marketing is nothing more than “influencer marketing,” says Olivier Taupin who owns 100+ groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million members. “There’s confusion about first steps, though,” says the social media expert. “People are doing tactics before setting up their distribution networks.”

A social media influencer can be defined in two ways: First, by the number of followers the person has on social media. Second, by the expertise demonstrated on their subject.

Last week in this blog, we talked about Stage One: Change the Mindset. We asked you to do these 3 things:

  1. Train your employees and trust them;
  2. Link everybody;
  3. Agree that responsibility for becoming the eyes and ears of a company belongs to everyone—not just the receptionist.

Stage 2: Establish your distribution networks 

The list of networks—each with its own personality, rules of engagement, and secrets to discover–now count over 800.  More are added weekly. The Big 5 are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Goooge+, and LinkedIn; Instagram and Pinterest are strong in certain categories and Periscope is picking up steam. LinkedIn and Twitter are the two networks we favour for C-Suite business in addition to requesting permission from employees to engage their personal networks on Facebook.

First: Find the influencers among your employees. These individuals could be authorities in a variety of subjects on Facebook and have major accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter. You will never know unless you carry out a social audit to discover how your employees participate in their networks. Also think about reaching out to customers, partners and sponsors who have the potential to become company champions.

Step 2:  Send a letter to all employees asking for help by explaining their contribution benefits everyone. Employees benefit by increasing their social influencer score for their own careers. Imagine the reach sparked by your company if 1,000 employees tweeted favourably on the arrival of a new vice president, launch of a new product or results of a community event hosted by your company. Think about the powerful reach when everyone retweets!

One way to find your influencers is to check for Klout scores. Klout is a number between 1 and 100 that represents social impact. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout where the ideal score is above 60.

On the company side, an organization benefits if employees agree to:

  • Use their personal Facebook accounts from time-to-time to like, share and comment about their place of work. Of course, this is delicate ground and all privacy settings must be respected;
  • Re-tweet, favourite, and comment on Twitter,
  • Like, share and comment their company’s LinkedIn updates.

Step 3: Educate your organization on influencer marketing and the use of social media. Here’s why:

  • Employees understand the culture and customers of their company;
  • Brands leverage word-of-mouth through personalities that consumers follow and admire;
  • Those with social authority have a wider reach. They often are researched by followers who value their opinion;
  • Content published by influencers is considered worth their followers’ time;
  • Influencers engage their followers on topics of mutual interest;
  • Experts keep themselves informed about their industry and form respected opinions on their industry.

Here’s an example of how influencer marketing worked beautifully for Technology Concepts Group (TCG) of Illinois which recently partnered with IBM. They collaborated in the development of Predictive Analytics and the new service was being launched at IBM’s conference that drew over 21,000 delegates with 200 breakout sessions, 13 keynotes and 3 general sessions.

We identified important technical bloggers inside and outside IBM as well as tech journalists. All were followed on the IBM Twitter conference hashtag with introductions carried over to LinkedIn. People watched the TCG story evolve and the owners found themselves with a growing list of contacts on both networks.

Step 4: Grow Distribution 

People expect brands to talk with them rather than at them. They no longer expect brands to sell to them, but to entertain and inform them. In every case, the CEO connects with key employees. Here’s 12 additional tips:

  1. On Twitter, all employees are encouraged to follow each other. Otherwise, people view you as a broadcaster who doesn’t really want to hear back from anyone. Networks are about engagement;
  2. Company champions are invited to like the company page on LinkedIn and FB;
  3. Encourage participation in industry conversation.This increases the chance that your Tweets will be seen – and that people who see it will follow you and become customers;
  4. Everyone is invited to use the #company and #division hashtags published on Twitter bios to make it easier to like, comment and share;
  5. LinkedIn does not fully support hashtags. Therefore, Olivier recommends creating a unique handle with a key word for participants in this professional network;
  6. Pay special attention to all those who retweeted and favourited comments on Twitter which helps to increase influence. Do the same for updates on LinkedIn and posts on FB. Remember it’s pay-to-play on FB;
  7. Annual general meetings give ample opportunity to recognize outstanding employees and important sponsors that lead to finding new customers;
  8. Establish a private group on LinkedIn and FB around interests of the company. Rather than using the name of your financial investment enterprise, create a group around retiring with wealth;
  9. On LinkedIn: Ensure your company is registered. Otherwise, employees cannot like the company page;
  10. All participants are encouraged to get 500 connections on LinkedIn. Unit heads help their employees to identify potential contacts;
  11. As ever, common sense prevails when involving the entire company and its wider community when sharing information, recognizing confidential documents, and posting personal images;
  12. Above all: Employees are reminded they are not being judged. However, they are asked to respect company social media policies by not posting personal comments on company time. 

The lines have blurred between offline and virtual life. This means there are many new opportunities to enhance your company by involving employees and champions as you grow together.

Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.

What are you doing with all your contacts asks Olivier Taupin

You’ve got 5,000 social media contacts. Now what?

By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog.  You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here. http://bit.ly/1cKPcjn

It’s a rare person in business who is content spending time making friends on social media without an endgame. You want to know there’s a reason for trading your precious hours for liking, sharing, and publishing endless blogs.

Yet, so many people are growing lists without seeing results. Who’s got the time to waste? Not you.

First, identify your motivations. Are you trying to boost your credibility among clients? Do you need to establish authority to attract investors? What about a higher public profile to book speaking engagements?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want to achieve with all those contacts on your lists?
  • Have you identified the characteristics of your ideal investor?
  • Do your contacts reflect the characteristics of your model customer?
  • What exactly do your customers want from you?
  • What have you prepared to offer them?
  • How will you deliver on your promise?

Next, determine the number of contacts you need to make and work back to see how you will meet those goals.

The 3-D Effect to growing your online business

“Make sure you’ve got the right 5,000 accounts,” says Olivier Taupin of Next Dimensions Media. Olivier owns 100+ groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million members.

“What’s important to me is that the people make sense,” continues the social media thought leader. “If you were in the energy industry, and there was somebody in the hospitality sector who wanted to connect, it won’t work for you.” He recommends that you evaluate all your invitations by first studying their profiles.

What about those people who’ve viewed your profile. Should you invite them to connect? Yes, says Olivier.  If they align with your organization’s mission.

Olivier’s developed his own 3-D process to determine the value of a connection but cautions, “We live in an imperfect world, so each element is flexible.” His go-to tactics are published here for the first time.

  1. Industry. Start researching your preferred field of commerce. If you’re having challenges reaching into the auto industry, for example, discover who is speaking to your targeted dealer. It might be the tire people who will give you clues—including potential contacts.
  1. Function of the people you want to reach. Is the purchasing agent not available to you? Instead, try their colleagues for your second choice: people in marketing, production, or finance who might help get you a connection.
  1. Geography. Decide the range of of your business reach–from local to international. If it’s not possible to connect with HQ, try going through a local branch office to reach inside the company.

Now, you see the chief reason to have an overall strategy that involves your CEO and other key players in your organization. If you cannot connect with a preferred individual, perhaps your CEO can provide an introduction. Or someone else in the organization has a connection to help with the contact. This is where LinkedIn’s Navigator function serves larger organizations well to keep track of team interactions. It’s likely too expensive for small business who can do a lot at the freemium or premium level of service.

There’s also a great deal that can be done for free on Twitter. Or you can enhance your Twitter strategies by following Michael Kawula’s blog  and checking out his  software service at http://www.socialquant.net.

Did your invitation get accepted? Good. Olivier relies heavily on the tag function in LinkedIn and the list function on Twitter to categorize contacts. Here’s the 3D Effect he personally uses to stay organized.

  1. Champions are your door openers and influencers at the level of CEO, VP, journalist, politician or industry influencer. Nurture these relationships by retweeting their comments and blogs and generally showing yourself to be a fan. Don’t ask them for favours or introductions to their world before you’ve first shown them a lot of respect.
  2. Prospects reflect the characteristics of your ideal customers in each of the niches you serve. Same idea here: Don’t ask for their business before you demonstrate your worth to them.
  3. VIPs are your customers or those you would love to have as customers. Say hello to these individuals on a regular basis and send them salutations. But not too often.
  4. Fans are people who want something from you. We are grateful for fans because they easily like your posts…share your content…and comment on your insights.

Share respect for people online 

“One of the biggest problems I see,” says Mr. Taupin: “People look at who I know and ask for an introduction to someone on my list. But I don’t even know the person asking for the connection.”

This also is the #1 complaint reported by HubSpot from successful people like venture capitalist Mark Shuster and entrepreneur Paul Brunson: “We need to give (many times) before asking for anything. We need to provide value up front.”

Take a look at their L.O.V. Graph showing how to “add value”.  HubSpot published their insightful graph that visualizes ways to strengthen relationships. The inbound marketing agency says that sharing value six times gives you a 50% chance of getting some form of response. Increase that shared value to nine times before asking for something gives you a 90% chance of getting what you want.

Here’s some ideas on how to show the love.

  • Introduce them to someone
  • Appreciate them
  • Offer your expertise for FREE
  • Make them laugh
  • Add value through social media
  • Comment on their blog
  • Feature them in an article you write
  • Buy them a book (Kindle is easiest)
  • Give them insightful feedback on their product, company, or work

Final counsel from Olivier Taupin: “Don’t try to sell me today or you’ll get kicked out.” That’s old style.

Instead, demonstrate your worth by showing you’ve thought about their challenge enough to have worked out a solution beforehand. Give to get.

Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.

IBM InterConnect

Zero to 60: A social media case study for industry

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

Rinnnnnng! “We’re registered for the big IBM conference at Las Vegas in six weeks and we don’t have a social profile,” said Blaine McGillivray with some urgency.  “Can you help us, Sharon?”

Blaine is Business Development Manager for Technology Concepts Group (www.gotgc.com) headquartered at Illinois. The IT firm specializes in computerized maintenance, facilities management, and Maximo for industry. Their new solution, Predictive Insights, is all about the “cognitive era”. That means complex mathematical models for analyzing data that help plant operators detect and prevent faults and outages before they occur.

Blaine organized a conference call with President Mark Rogers and Managing Partner Robert Januzik to help me understand their business challenge. “I didn’t really know where to go with it (social media)”, said Mark in debrief.  “I also hadn’t realized the time involved.”

An audit of TCG’s social footprint revealed accounts for LinkedIn and Twitter and a static website —functioning much like a brochure.  No blog.  I’ve seen similar medium-sized companies that want to catch up with digital marketing; nobody wants to risk getting left behind today. TCG was a solid enterprise in business for 16 years and the principals were respected armed forces veterans.

The important detail was that TCG had finished integrating Predictive Insights with Maximo for computerized maintenance and case management systems. Think big industry—chemical plants, oil gas refineries, even car manufacturers. The new service was being launched at IBM’s conference expected to draw 21,000 delegates with 200 breakout sessions, 13 keynotes and 3 general sessions. Seven TCG personnel were making the trip to host their booth and Blaine planned to present a session on Predictive Insights.

The special event meant a serious investment for TCG.  They had six weeks to create a brand presence and promote the session.

It’s not a great idea to launch a marketing strategy in zero to 60 for any company, let alone one with little or no profile.  The better idea is to establish brand presence over time and take advantage of special event opportunities along the way.

By the way, just having a social media presence—such as a LinkedIn account—isn’t actually a social media strategy. It’s a good idea to define a plan, and more importantly, execute that plan daily with your customers in mind as well as prospects and other interested parties.

So, the plan for TCG looked like this:

  1. Determine best platforms for speed-to- market;
  2. Discover relevant influencers and build relationships;
  3. Fill the sales funnel with potential prospects and existing customers;
  4. Acquire and create content to post on platforms;
  5. Capture names of prospects at the event to follow up after the show.

Here’s how we did it.

1. Best platforms for TCG: This was easy enough. The LinkedIn/Twitter combo provides business with the best customer intelligence available today. We needed to quickly build up lists for Mark, Robert, and Blaine, though—especially on Twitter which had no brand image or followers. We corrected that by immediately taking professional photos and creating a slick banner with a relevant message for Twitter. The bigger challenge: where and how do you find prospects?

2. Relevant influencers: IBM global marketers were brilliant. They identified important technical bloggers and provided introductions to the people that TCG needed to meet. We still needed to make the case for support, though. Influential media reps also were researched and contacted. All were followed on Twitter and LinkedIn and interviews arranged where possible.

3. Filling the funnel: There was no time to manually build a database for prospects, so we chose to automate. Of course, there are hundreds of platforms, maybe thousands, which promise the world in social media. The key is to know which software-as-a-service to engage and how to apply it for the mission. We chose Socedo. (This is not a paid commercial.)

Socedo is an automated system that matched our custom criteria in a search for prospects inside Twitter. Once we approved a contact, Socedo also searched for them on Linkedin and engaged with them automatically on both social networks. We estimated finding 200 prospects per day and we had 20 days left to build up and engage with those followers.

4. Acquire and create content. TCG did not have a blog and they had not created content on a regular basis. The content bank was virtually empty. However, Blaine did have the power point he created for the IBM session which led to the publication of his first blog. Of course, the social media challenge is to find followers who believe you’re worth their time. Fresh content is key.

The good news was that IBM did have many relevant blogs, and IBM gave us permission to re-purpose for TCG. We did not need permission but it was the respectful way to go.

A lineup of blogs, articles, infographics and videos was queued up using SocialOomph and we published all day long. People noticed and followed. They’re still following three weeks after the event including Veteran Radio.

5. Capture names at the event for follow up. TCG was clever here. They created a fish bowl to capture names of interested persons in their service. Not the regular iphone draw but a free Data Analysis valued at $2,000. The complementary proof-of-concept shows how a maintenance plant can avoid catastrophe by spotting the problem in advance; qualified prospects put in their business cards.

For another occasion, TCG could take advantage of a strategy I like from Instant Customer’s Crowd Catcher method. It works this way:

  • Identify serious prospects at an event;
  • Create urgency for prospects to sign up for services;
  • Automate the client’s payment process;
  • Build a mobile site for prospects;
  • Create customizable pricing packages to offer prospects;
  • Automatically re-bill customers and makes payments to a PayPal account.

What happened for the seven TCG people who attended the event? “There was not enough time to handle the line-up of visitors to their booth,” said Mark.

And, yes, there was positive ROI with respect to the TCG social media campaign and the IBM show.  “Absolutely,” replied Mark Rogers. “Especially the combination of LinkedIn and Twitter.” He was surprised by the “amount of followers we got so quickly.” He also was impressed with the willingness of people to talk about their needs.

There’s more. Mark and his team are in the middle of quoting on four proposals for multi-national clients who asked not to be named for purposes of publicity.

A successful social media campaign often fits best with an integrated approach to marketing which likely accounts for finding the multi-national prospects. Mark Rogers and his team with Technology Concepts Group showed impressive leadership and collaboration in meeting their objectives for the conference.

They risked going Zero to 60—and won’t be left behind. Look for TCG at the front.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

Troy Media Publisher Gary Slywchuk

Build an editorial experience for digital media

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

It’s been five years since I sold my print magazine.  I’m excited to get back in the game with a weekly Digital Marketing column for Troy Media, an innovator in the journalism marketplace.  You can read my first column here. http://bit.ly/1E1piPf

Other publishers haven’t been so lucky.

For example, Calgary’s Fast Forward closed its doors last month after a 20-year run. Understandably, there’s some grief and, maybe, bitterness attributed to the publication’s demise. The popular weekly joined the obits of the Montreal Mirror (1985-2012), Boston Phoenix (1965-2013), Victoria’s Monday Magazine (1975-2013), and Knoxville’s Metro Pulse (1991-2014). My magazine, Edmontonians, lived for 21 years. Postmedia—the company that swallowed up Sun Media last year—is expected to further slash operating costs.

Of course, it’s advertising that fuels all media and traditional media continues to suffer for the lack of it. The 2014 Pew Report suggests that the journalism marketplace is still struggling to identify revenue streams to sufficiently sustain an industry reeling from the sharp declines in print advertising. Television isn’t doing much better.

Digital advertising is expected to grow, says the Pew Report, though not nearly fast enough to keep pace with declines in legacy ad formats.

So, why am I still enthusiastic despite the bad news?

The last five years of learning and working in the digital world has opened my eyes to a world of new opportunities for everyone with a story to tell. Troy Media provides non-partisan editorial content to over 1,800 print and online media outlets within Canada and around the world. Publisher Gary Slywchuk (pictured above) figured out a business model that combines legacy newsrooms (in print, television and radio) with their more nimble digital counterparts .He uses digital-first strategies ranging from audience engagement to free content, and he’s been evolving the model for 10 years. It’s working.

The need to deliver content by all organizations—not just media outlets–has reached into the stratosphere. Everyone wants to create or acquire content to satisfy the algorithms that keep their story on the first page of search engines.

Some media entities are displaying exceptional dexterity. I applaud those visionaries and other leaders of commerce who jumped on the bullet train early.

NewsCred is another good example. This growing service matches companies which need content to feed the dragon of (dis) content with words, images, audio and video. It’s another option for larger organizations to turn their branded messages  into editorial experiences. Services like Troy Media and NewsCred provide an extra layer of expertise for day-to-day publishing by curating articles and images, leading custom content brainstorms and assisting with story development and writer selection.

Building a story vs telling a story 

Speaking of storytelling, in 2015, stories are no longer being told, they are being built for followers. Story-based pages are becoming much more interactive, incorporating rich images, embedded video, enhanced infographics, and personalized content based on user data.

Keep these tips in mind while building your editorial experience.

Creating content is more complex today. Good content for websites, social platforms or email is written specifically for different categories of your visitors. For example:

  • How many different channels are available to present your content?
  • What are their information needs?
  • How do they want to receive their content?
  • Is written text preferred over video?

Here’s the process to follow:

  • Identify what type of content needs to be written.
  • Get clear on the personas for whom you write.
  • Review and edit content to ensure consistency across all pages.
  • Load content into selected platforms.

Search engines don’t see content like humans do. To achieve naturally high rankings with Google, you need to structure and format your content so search engines can find it. This is where key words and phrases come into the mix.

“The creation and growth of Troy Media Marketplace has been an absolutely terrific addition to Canada’s marketplace of ideas,” says The Vancouver Province. “While we publish material from a host of sources, I find we rely on Troy Media on at least a weekly basis for columns.”

Yes, I’m glad to be back in the biz—alongside these new journalism innovators.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

Don’t get left behind: Modernize your marketing in 2015

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

Still not convinced that social enterprise adds to your bottom line? You’re not alone.

“Only 52% of companies say that executives are informed, engaged, and aligned with their company’s social strategy,” reports the Altimeter Group on the state of social business. The path to social enterprise is being limited by a dearth of executive buy-in, says the research authority.

Too bad. CEOs might take social enterprise more seriously if they knew that modern marketers deliver on average 20% more revenue and 60% higher profit growth. McKinsey and Company-named in the top 10 of Fortune magazine’s World’s Best Companies for Leaders says leaders must champion social change if it’s ever going to happen for an organization.

Can you afford to be beaten to the bottom line by your competitors? 

HubSpot hands out these stats: 72% of salespeople who use social media outperform their colleagues who aren’t using it. That includes your competitors.

Here’s more evidence from these experts.

Melonie Dodaro: Over 55% of profiles on LinkedIn are incomplete. Translation: lost business. Optimize your online presence for both the company and for sales reps, says Dodaro.

I agree. Only a third of the contacts in my own list on LinkedIn have been completed properly. Very difficult to enjoy the fruits of social selling if the seeds have blown away.

Jesse Noyse, Kapost (pictured above): Marketers need to practice accountability and answer these questions:

  • Who creates content and what role will they play?
  • How will we prioritize topics?
  • What resources do we have to create content?
  • What resources will we need to add?
  • How do we get content out of the door?
  • What can we do to ensure our content gets seen externally and internally?
  • How do we measure return on investment?

Nick Johnson, Incite Marketing and Communications:Incite recently polled their network of big brand marketers on The Future of Content. Only 21% of respondents felt they were even close to approaching audience saturation. There’s still a lot of room to grow.

Nataly Kelly, MarketingProfs: Take some training. This may include social media boot camps to get your leadership team on the same song page.

Here’s one from my client files: In the case of Affordable Storage Sherwood Park, Sharon Romank and staff thought self storage was too boring for a newsletter topic.

That theory was disproved soon enough with open rates reaching 55%. The industry average for products and services: 16.4%.

How did we do it? Affordable agreed to revisit their vision and mission statements…get clear on customer personas for a tighter writing style…deliver relevant copy for their customers.

It’s time business leaders get onside with social selling. Yet, marketers also must be prepared to demonstrate results.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

 

Kyle Wong and Influencer Marketing

The influential world of blogging and influencer marketing

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

We know now that creating content, especially blogs, tops the list of every how-to strategy for marketing online.

You’ve got a few choices: You can publish your own blog, infographic, video or podcast, to name a few methods. Or you can distribute content acquired from other sources.

Another option is to find people with influence to help share your story through the clout they’ve built up across the different platforms.

We call this influence marketing. It’s the practice of working with prominent people online to spread the word about your products and services through social media.

I keep reflecting on how traditional publishers previously owned the influencer market. No more. Today, an assembly of bloggers can do the same thing—maybe better.

Here’s how Kraft foods recently handled a promotion for Christmas. Kraft cherry-picked 180 bloggers with verified fans and readers who fit the right customer profile. Each influencer wrote an original recipe that featured a Kraft ingredient and each recipe drove readers to a redeemable coupon at Target.

The national brand spent $43,000 to generate nearly 760,000 blog post views from around 180 recipes. Kraft engaged a snappy new platform called TapInfluence and the campaign was less expensive than traditional advertising.

Small and medium-sized business can do the same thing with sweat equity on a smaller scale by building their own lists of bloggers and developing relationships with them.

Influencers help with everything from increasing sales to public education campaigns, event promotions, fundraising, and new product introductions.

Yet, where do you even begin to find influencers?

Start within your own networks and move out from there. Build a database to keep track of these elements:

  • Name of influencer
  • Preferred network
  • Audience size
  • Age group
  • Engagement: Clicks, comments, shares, likes, retweets, pins, re-pins
  • Advertisers represented
  • Notes from conversations to remember what you heard them last say

Of course, there are hundreds of directories for over 250 million bloggers on the planet. When you run out of names from your personal circles of influence, try expanding your search of these directories:

Be prepared to give ideas about your audience to prospective influencers, as well:

  1. Topics important to your audience
  2. Background information for your clients who are considering making a purchase
  3. Answers to questions that your customers have not  thought to ask
  4. Online sources that customers research for information on similar products and services

What flummoxed me, though, was a way to rank bloggers with whom to develop relationships. Below is  what Kyle Wong, founder and CEO of www.pixlee.com pictured above, figured out. I love it.

 Influence = Audience reach (#of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers.

Here’s 8 more points to remember:

  1. Don’t confuse volume of contacts with influence.
  2. Set objectives: Know what you want to achieve and make sure that you reach your targets.
  3. Think long term. Invest your time, attention and interest in the other person. Be careful not to be seen as only making contact when you want something from an influencer.
  4. Spot opportunities. Are you able to introduce the blogger to people within your network? Do you see potential partnerships or sponsorships to involve the blogger?
  5. Don’t forget your “everyday” customers and brand advocates. More than celebrities in your niche, this type of influencer/follower can boost small no-name companies to higher profiles.
  6. Mention the blogger on your own website or blog.
  7. Link to them – both hyperlink and other social media channels. Follow them on Twitter and retweet their best tweets. Suggest involving them in other more interactive ways – e.g. interviews or video
  8. Remember that bloggers are legally required to disclose if they are being compensated much in the way that traditional media must identify advertorials as paid messages.

In addition, when a blogger writes about your story and receives compensation, it is deemed a “sponsored post”. This means any hyperlink must be classified as ‘no-follow’ links which means they are not counted by search engines when calculating page rank.

Establishing presence in the digital world can seem overwhelming. Publishing a blog and identifying 10 influential bloggers to form relationships is a good place to start.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.