Tag Archives: social media

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.

CEO Alert the courts want your Social Media Policy 2

Social media policy: Stern or lenient?

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 relentless. You find stories every day on Google that announce how someone got fired for posting senseless comments on social media. We call that getting “dooced”.

Sometimes, the comments are intended; other times, not. Who can forget the Royal Bank of Scotland Chairman Rory Cullinan who did not mean to go public when he sent Snapchat messages to his daughter saying he was bored at work. Cullinan lost his job after his daughter posted them on Instagram. It’s almost unbelievable that people will broadcast their most risky thoughts in a public forum.

And yet, they do.

This blog is not for those idiots. It’s for the vast majority of human beings who are sensible, generally respectful, and who appreciate guidelines to avoid the “lack of common sense” that occasionally befalls all of us.

You’ve probably already been alerted to potential disputes such as these:

  • Are you legally exposed when it comes to the rights of employees who want to freely post on social networks?
  • Who is liable when a disgruntled employee tweets about getting passed over for a promotion?
  • What about a customer who complained on Facebook about their restaurant meal to a reporter. Do you respond?
  • Should you just ban all employees from accessing their social media sites at work completely?
  • What exactly is the proper way to go about sensitive issues?

Your company—big or small—needs a social media policy advises social media pioneer Olivier Taupin of Next Dimension Media. He’s the guy who originated group rules for LinkedIn managers. The degree of leniency is up to you and your management team to decide based on the structure of your company. By the way, if you don’t have a policy, your lawyer’s hands are tied when it comes to an employee suing for wrongful dismissal because they dissed your company online. You will have a difficult time winning in court because you never told employees they couldn’t do what they did.

Examples of social media policies

Social media policies that are too broad may lose the chance to help employees develop good habits. You might even miss finding great “brand ambassadors” for your brand message.

Zappos is an example of a company that’s created a brilliant social media culture. Their policy is seven words long: “Be Real and Use Your Best Judgment.” It’s too brief for my taste and the Zappos policy is not for everyone.

Policy wonks generally refer to three approaches when making rules of engagement. The first is evolutionary to see which slip-ups—and opportunities—present themselves more frequently before scripting instructions. A second way is to establish a clear policy from the outset which leads to a third hybrid option. This method starts with composing a strategy based on your culture before determining what needs to be adopted over time.

For example, you may prefer this stern approach to social media:

  • Employees who develop and update social media postings will only do so with the approval of the president or his/her designate;
  • Only employees that have been chosen as “official” social media representatives are allowed to contribute to the brand’s social media;
  • Social media is not allowed in the workplace at all.

Oracle’s social media policy has evolved over the years. This global enterprise with 130,000 employees that designs and manufactures IT networks previously regarded social  media as a “hindrance to productivity because it could lead to too much personal use.” The company now encourages “…all employees to share official company social posts and content on their own social channels.”

There’s evidence this change-of-heart recognizes that employees with a greater voice are a happier workforce, says Eric Siu in The Globe & Mail.  He’s referring to research from the University of Warwick on how happiness makes people 12 per cent more productive.

Personally, I don’t think harsh policies are relevant today. It’s a switch-up from “Old Style PR” designed to focus on things that employees cannot do rather than what they can do.

Olivier adds that stern policies will not work in the context of social media since employees do have a life outside their workplace.These narrow-minded policies will not prevent some of the most damageable posts: Those made in the privacy of their home on personal social media accounts where they’re speaking with their friends and followers.

Don’t forget sites like Glassdoor, either, cautions Olivier. They encourage anonymous and identified authors to post reviews of current and former employers and company executives.

I like the IBM method which allows employees to comment on behalf of the company while retaining some of their personality. Here’s an example: “Lead Development Representative for #cloud at @IBM#Bluemix #Softlayer – I like fashion and news. Tweets are my own opinion.” 

IBM’s last item in their policy cheekily reminds employees: “Don’t forget your day job. You should make sure that your online activities do not interfere with performing your job responsibilities or commitments to customers.”

I also love this one from GAP when it comes to confidentiality: “Don’t even think about it. Talking about financial information, sales trends, strategies, forecasts, legal issues, future promotional activities.”

6 More Ideas for Your Social Media Policy 

When crafting guidelines, make are the 7 essential Must-Dos:

  1. Start Day One. Include briefing notes for new employees on policies in their employee handbook or however you hire a new person. Make sure that employees understand the policy is contractual and there are consequences for violating it. This early start sends the message that you’re serious about social media management.
  2. Update your Social Policy Regularly. Social Media is a fluid environment that reflects the laws governing the Internet. Expect your policies to change accordingly.You will need strategies in place as you learn this new marketing tool.
  3. Please use common sense. Yes, it seems everyone should know to resist sending a racial slur, demeaning or inflammatory comment. Yet, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and tell employees to be polite. Advise them to agree to disagree with others, especially on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, where things can go viral wrong very quickly.
  4. Create safe places. Have a genuine open-door policy. Organizational trainer David Meade says it’s the leader’s job to figure out how to help your workforce feel safe. Why? Because employees want to feel respected…listened to…and trained. So, if an employee has a grievance, encourage them to visit their supervisor before taking to social.
  5. Ask employees to amplify key messages. Social media more likely will pay dividends if employees are behind it. Give them access to content that framesss company positions and directions on key subjects. Ask them to share those messages. Also think about using social as a way to build buzz for upcoming products or services.
  6. Encourage Self-Monitoring. More and more HR departments are checking employee profiles and activities. Controversial? Yes, for good reasons. Informing employees they do not have reasonable expectation of privacy in their social media communication is often a good enough deterrent. But there is even a better one: Encourage employees to follow each other and invite managers to connect with them. The purpose is to create a team spirit, not a police state.
  7. Most important of all: Don’t stop training your employees after day one. Use the training sessions to update your workforce on policies and as strategies change.

Everyone wns.

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.

Olivier Taupin on crappy content

The truth about crappy content

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 

“You need articles for the website?” pressed the CEO. “Words are cheap; buy them from one of those content farms.” I instantly knew we would not be working together very long given such little regard for his corporate image or for the reputation of his employees, customers and partners. Including mine.

Irresistible content comes from knowing what you stand for and what makes you unique. The clarity that comes from truly understanding what you offer—and for whom—is the promise that informs everything you say, write, record, produce and post.

Content farms are websites that hire a large number of freelance writers, editors, and videographers to pump out dirt cheap content at $15 per article. You can spend as much time searching their enormous databases for possible writers than you will to research and write the piece yourself.

Don’t get me wrong. There are excellent services who hire experienced journalists such as www.TroyMedia.com and www.NewsCred.com that vet their editorial teams and supervise the editorial process from start to finish. (Full disclosure: I contribute to Troy Media which distributes to news desks primarily in Canada and the U.S.) As a former magazine publisher, I can tell you it takes time to become familiar with the strength and style of any writer to determine if they’re a match for your story. We want you to rise above the clutter in your industry by getting to the vision behind your mission and telling us what nobody else has bothered  to say.  You don’t get that from bad prose.

Olivier Taupin knows a thing or two about building communities in social media. He’s established over 100 groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million members. Olivier sees a gulf, though: The community builder too often receives regurgitated crap from companies who won’t pay for quality content to keep their prospects’ attention. After all, you want these people to become your customers.

The social media strategist urges you to, “Think about creating rich content that is useful and intriguing to your audience. For example, Oliver would not share a product brochure on Internet security from a Telco but he would be happy to share a well-written white paper on how to protect your business from hackers from that same Telco.

He encourages you to, “Demonstrate your expertise and forget about pushing self-promotional brochures.”

Today’s budgets are gradually moving towards providing good content—just not enough. The seduction is to avoid creating original content by professional writers in favour of buying cheap material that everyone’s seen before somewhere on the ‘net. People are smarter than that and expect more.

Marketers rely on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to improve search rankings, website traffic and lead generation. In June 2015 research by Ascend2, 72% of marketers cited relevant content creation as the most effective SEO tactic.

So, what are you going to write about?

First, you need to find the “why” and how it relates to your audience. That will be easier to do after you’ve identified your personas to satisfy the ABCs+ for your company.

A customer persona is more than a description of a target market. In addition to the traditional demographics, each profile describes:

  • A day-in-the-life
  • What keeps them up at night
  • Criteria they use to make a decision
  • Purchase cycle: impulse vs considered purchase and one-time vs recurring
  • Timeframe for making a purchase
  • Websites they frequent
  • Social footprint

The ABCs+ for your content 

Think about classifying your content into these categories: Acquaintances, Best friends, Champions, and Community. Your challenge is to create a digital hub that includes content to share, like, comment and refer on the social platforms. When content attracts and informs customers, it drives leads and sales.

Acquaintances. The first thing to appreciate in this group is that you barely know the person who has visited your website. Please don’t presume they immediately want to know you or like your message enough to purchase your products or services. They are researching other websites, too, and generally want to see value before returning for a follow-up visit. If they are intrigued enough to leave their email address, ask them a few discovery questions in your own lingo to know them better such as:

  • Have you identified a problem that needs a solution?
  • Is there a sense of urgency?
  • Have you had previous experience dealing with the same problem?
  • What will be the key factors driving your decision on this project?

Invest in this content:

  • Well-written blog
  • Infographics
  • E-books combined with video, audio, and written text
  • Landing page with CTA (Call-to-action)
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Curated content from quality sites such as swayy.com

Best friends. Just like personal friends, your top customers are those you trust in the best–and the worst of times. These clients purchase your products and services while you help them to grow individually and professionally. You can feel comfortable asking your Best Friends in business for references and introductions to their networks.

Invest in this content:  

  • Live and on-demand video
  • Newsletters
  • Photo albums
  • Landing page with CTA (Call-to-action)
  • Webcasts
  • Podcasts
  • Short videos
  • Open sessions with thought leaders

Champions. Business champions are your board members, investors and ideal customers as well as leaders of commerce and the community in the media and in politics. They take exceptional interest in your success and evangelizes your ideas within their networks.

Invest in this content:

  • Digital publications featuring your champions and their missions
  • Annual reports with a video message from the president
  • References in your blogs etc. to their efforts
  • Annual thank-you slideshow

Community members: Fever Bee, the people who study website communities, reports that technology has not made us better at building communities. The key is authenticity in your relationships…respect for your fans and followers… and recognition there’s a human being on the other end of a Tweet or website query. Communities can increase customer loyalty, buying behaviour, brand advocacy, and the exchange of knowledge while reducing the tendency to engage in negative behaviours.”

Invest in this content:

  • Weekly video updates
  • Groups discussons on LinkedIn with trained leaders
  • Webinar sessions on Facebook with trained speakers
  • Hangouts with subject experts on Google+

The list of ideas grows daily.  I like what Guo Guangchang had to say in a blog recently posted on LinkedIn. “An opportunity sustains an enterprise for a year; good management sustains an enterprise for a decade; good corporate culture sustains an enterprise for a century.” Guo is the chairman of Chinese conglomerate Fosun International with assets of $160 billion under management.

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.

 

Jim Prentice

It’s election time! Is your digital campaign ready?

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

It’s election time 2015. Politicians are going to the polls and candidates need to launch their campaign in record time.

Signs must be ordered, volunteers recruited, and constituent policies distilled to fit Party oratory for release to their respective publics. Funds need to be raised to carry out their best intentions.

Sadly, many candidates still are sending out individual emails to raise dollars, find influencers, talk to the media, and reach voters because they’ve not set up automatic systems. In business, we call it lead nurturing, and I will use the term here, as well.

Let’s back up a few months and pretend that candidates have an up-to-date email list of donor patrons and potential voters.

Lead nurturing is a digital marketing technique used to understand how and when a prospect prefers to make a decision. Automated lead nurturing saves everyone a pile of time.

For example, if it takes your prospects a few weeks to make a decision—either to financially support you or to vote in your favour—it’s a good idea to spread out your communications to keep them engaged throughout the decision cycle. Here’s five more tips.

  1. People support those they know and trust. The first time someone visits your website or sees your email, they probably don’t know you so well. Lead nurturing is an opportunity to show what you represent.
  2. Learn about your prospects. What challenges are they facing? What legislation are they interested in? By presenting different questions or types of content, and identifying who responds to what, you can qualify your leads and set yourself up for warmer conversations.
  3. Avoid the push style of messaging that emphasizes only your ideas. The best relationships are built face-to-face. However, in today’s world where people don’t always answer their phone, you can send a series of emails that outline your beliefs.
  4. Think video. Convert your text messages into short videos or podcasts and email them to people on your database. It’s more personal.
  5. Once you set up an automatic email system, the emails do the work for you by helping to move leads down the funnel faster.

How do you start?

Try starting with some general educational emails that outline your policies. For example, the messages could offer people links to more whitepapers, blogs, and videos that you genuinely believe will be helpful to the recipients’ needs.

MarketingSherpa found that segmented emails get 5 more clicks, so you should take any opportunity you have to segment your leads. This means you might want to space out your emails weekly or more frequently during the election crunch. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different times and see what resonates with your audience best. Here’s four more tips.

  1.  While we generally encourage you to send educational emails, your mix of lead nurturing messages should also include some encouragement to vote.
  2. Try to avoid boring content. Make them highly targeted and create a clear connection between the content and the first emails you send.
  3. Did a voter click on a specific message on your website? Then perhaps, that person would be interested in taking a phone call or seeing you at the front door.
  4. Headlines are the most important element for your emails. You need to capture readers’ attention fast and pique their curiosity.
    • Write a clear and direct subject line that will tell your recipients exactly what they’re going to get. Be as specific as possible.
    • Write a title in a way that creates a sense of urgency or importance. You want people to feel enticed to read your email when they first see the title.

Time to get personal

What happens if a prospect opens your email? This is the time to connect with the candidate or team member.

That way, the prospect gets a more personal touch, has a chance to ask specific questions, and gets to talk to a real person rather than being  part of an email group. It gives you a chance to offer extra attention and might be the moment a potential voter or donor becomes an actual voter.

Two more tips.

1. Include a photo of the candidate. Make sure your “reply-to” address is a real person, too.  This lets people know that you care about hearing from them by allowing them to reply to a real person.

2. Keep a list of additional resources, influential bloggers, and white papers handy to send to your prospects. They might appreciate the content and check out the suggested resources you have curated for them. For instance, if someone watched your video about health care, you can follow up with a list of ideas about mental health options.

Social media supports your electoral brand

You may not confirm votes using social media but relevant platforms will support your direct messages using email. The two channels complement each other and help you stay top-of-mind within your constituency.

Social media is a great way to stay in touch with leads over time and keep them updated on your campaign—especially with photos and infographics to convey statistics.

Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ would be good platforms for an election. LinkedIn is more for business but would be a good place to engage conversations around the economy. Students aged 18 to 24 love Instagram. Post your videos on YouTube, as well.

If you have followed the suggestions and best practices above, you are on the right track to creating a stellar lead digital election campaign.

However, the most precise way of knowing how you are truly performing is to keep an eye on some key metrics.  In order to improve the performance of your lead nurturing campaigns, you need to be engaged in ongoing measurement. Tracking your progress will allow you to see what is working and what isn’t. What is more, you will have a chance to optimize along the way and improve performance.

Pictured above: Premier Jim Prentice

 

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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.

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.

Kim Garst

12 Hard-earned lessons for 2015 from social media stars–and Me!

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

By now, you’ve laboured over new business goals for 2015 and crunched budgets to exceed last year’s results.

Maybe you’re opening a grocery store in SE Calgary like my friend, Teresa Spinelli , CEO of the Italian Centre Shop. Maybe you’ve decided it’s time that your 17-person sales team get serious about social selling on LinkedIn. Perhaps, you’re an executive director catching up on modern marketing methods for your association.

You’ve also opened some predictions for 2015 that started flooding your in-boxes this month. Below are a few more from people I’ve come to know and trust over the years–plus three hard-earned lessons of my own.

 1. The sky won’t fall if you don’t sign up for every shiny new object

Yet, the longer you take to establish a social foundation for your business, the longer it will take for you to catch up. It’s been 13 years since LinkedIn appeared on the scene, 11 years for Facebook. Meanwhile, those clients who’ve been living online all these years are checking out your competitors.

2. The website still is the heartbeat of your business

It is possible to create a website for $500 if you’ve taught yourself something like WordPress. However, good websites designed with marketing in mind range between $7500 and $20,000 and go up from there. You still must work out your branded message based on a thorough analysis of who you want to attract to your business.

Better copy is written if you can articulate your vision, mission, and strategic objectives. You don’t have those? Please just drop that $500+ in the next trash you walk by.

3. Social media is top-of-funnel. Email is your ticket to sales.

Yes, I love social media, too. Currently, we have 750 platforms from which to choose but they’re not all for you. More will come and go. It all circles back to understanding your prospective customers and creating content that best connects with them.

The purpose for getting active on social media is to fill the top of your funnel, so you can build your data base.

4. From Ann Handley, MarketingProfs: Brands are publishers 

Focus on enormous empathy and customer experience (and not just more blog posts). That doesn’t mean blog posts aren’t important, for the right company and the right customer. But it means we consider if that’s the best approach, rather than making a post the default.

 5. And another from Handley: Marketers become ridiculously proud of their writing!

In our online social world, we recognize that all marketers are writers.  Our words are our currency. They can make us look smart or they can make us look stupid – and so being able to communicate well in writing isn’t just nice; it’s necessity.

6. Jesse Noyes from Kapost calls it “Fat” content

He expects to see more white papers, videos, eBooks, and infographics. It’s content that can be broken up and used as the fuel for multi-channel campaigns.

7. From Kim Garst -Best selling author of Will the Real You Please Stand Up-Show Up, Be Authentic and Prosper in Social Media  (Pictured above)

Successful marketers are going to have to embrace a system to give their prospects information and content that educates and gives value around their products and services. Today’s consumer is savvy and time is extremely valuable to them. Those that can effectively give value in a way that is quick and easy to connect with and buy from are going to win.

8. Kim’s prediction supports Frank Strong, Lexis: Content marketing slides down from heightened expectations to disillusionment as brands begin to realize “content marketing” isn’t the same thing as merely producing content.

This means that strategy moves to the top of the pile again this year. It is painful to see how many people spend hours of time without doing  these things:

  • Determining your business scope: Local, regional, national, international
  • Knowing your Strategic Who
  • Researching your competitors
  • Summarizing your historical and current marketing efforts
  • Establishing a process. Think automated marketing

Here’s a handy checklist to help you summarize these activities:  World Gate Quick Audit

9. An extra moment on marketing automation because it’s big: 2015 will see most B2B organizations—large and small—shifting to marketing automation software for email marketing, newsletters, lead capturing, social media updates, and keyword analysis. A single window helps us in analytics and trend analysis.

I use Mike Koenig’s Instant Customer/Traffic Geyser but others to consider are MailChimp for entry level and AWeber for more bells and whistles.

10. Mike Koenigs and many others also point to mobile marketing

Mobile campaigns include smart phone apps, pod-casts of product videos, responsive websites, and chat integration inside websites. Not only will the search engines continue to favour mobile, the carry-me-everywhere experience will be critical and expected.

11. From Mike Stelzner, CEO, Social Media Examine

Those that pitch are becoming ignored. A little bit of selling here and there is great, but those marketers who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, are gonna get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by consumers and prospects. That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track, like answering customer questions and providing more value online.

12. DJ Waldow– Digital Marketing Evangelist, Marketo

2015 will be the year of HUMAN for digital marketers. Gone are the days of corporate-speak messaging and dull, boring campaigns. Instead, we’ll begin to see more marketers incorporate human-speak into their messaging – videos, pictures, humor, and human!

Here’s to a WonderFilled Year for all of us!

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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.

 

Know your persona

Persona: The online version of your target market

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

Last week, I was asked by a young marketer about the word “persona”. He heard the term from an online gooroo who talked about personas when it came to finding more customers online.

Traditionally, the phrase, target market, was the default to identify groups of people we wanted to reach for almost any reason.  A target market identified those who might buy our products…register to attend a special event…read our books…or donate funds for a charitable cause.

Building a persona for digital media is different when compared to traditional marketing; it’s more detailed. As a publisher, I can tell you that understanding your personas will help you focus and save time by creating content that people care about.

You also save time by avoiding confusion. When you can truly see the individual you need to reach, you’ll create better content for your website and email campaigns, videos, blogs, and social media.

Here’s a complementary cheat sheet to define your persona: Strategic Who_5 Steps

Each persona describes the day-to-day life, his/her likes and dislikes, the type of vehicle they drive, where they live, their hobbies. Today, the big brands call it being “customer centric” which means they want to focus on their customers rather than on themselves.

There are multiple ways of developing personas. An easy method is to collect data from a customer survey. Here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. Goals
  2. Challenges
  3. Interests
  4. Preferred publications
  5. Content preferences
  6. Social media preferences

It’s also a good idea to keep track of the collected data in a database for future connections. For example, some people don’t like receiving newsletters; they like ebooks. Knowing their social media platforms is a good idea, too: Some will respond through LinkedIn more than Twitter. Others want to receive your messages through email. Probably the majority.

Below are a few example questions I would ask in a survey.

  1. How do you like to receive your online messages?
  • Articles from experts delivered by email once or twice a month
  • Bite-sized information delivered to you on a daily basis
  • Short videos (90 seconds to 4 minutes) emailed to your inbox once a month
  • By mobile phone
  • Through your social networks

 2. What type of content would you prefer?

  • Industry insights
  • Video tutorial
  • Podcast
  • Case study
  • Webinar
  • News
  • Opinion Article
  • Other

3. Please indicate which social media networks you prefer 

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  1. The time of day you prefer to receive your messages?
  • 7 to 9 am
  • During the work day
  • After the work day

Here’s an example of a persona that I built for my company.

  • Name: Business Owner Bob
  • Company President
  • Age: 55
  • Location: Headquartered in Edmonton
  • With 5 branches in Alberta and B.C.
  • Annual Sales: $7.5 million

The scenario: Bob started his company 25 years ago.  He’s a commercial developer and owns five large facilities in Alberta and British Columbia. The native Edmontonian, married for 30 years, has three adult children, gives back to his community, and is contemplating buying property in Palm Springs for quick golf trips.

An A-type personality, Bob likes to feel in control; he grew his company from scratch. Bob’s a frugal man with strong work ethics carried on from his parent’s generation.

A savvy entrepreneur, Bob traditionally has done all the marketing himself. He invites clients to golf and dinner; came up with marketing strategies himself with friends who provided free advice; always buys local print advertising, maybe some radio; ran direct mail campaigns (too expensive); built a website (very pretty).

The needs: Bob likes to think of himself as a smart business man. However, he’s experienced 7% attrition in gross sales and worries about the numbers trending south. Bob and his company need help with online marketing because that’s where his customers now live. He’s willing and, in some cases, eager to learn how to proceed.

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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

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.