Archive for Communication

Blood from a stone III – Discovering the ROI within your social media campaign – The ROI of Reputation Management

Posted in social media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2009 by mediapirate

This blog entry has been a long time coming so I do apologize. I had some personal issues that I needed to address and that involved me moving back to Canada and getting established which takes a lot more time than I ever wanted to invest. A hard transition but much needed and worth it.

So onto the task at hand. Your online reputation. It really comes down to the fact that there is a conversation online regardless of whether or not you are a participant. People talk about everything and sometimes they will talk about you. Sometimes in a good way and sometimes not. It’s the latter that I will be discussing today.

If there are negative comments about you and your brand they do need to be dealt with. Most people these days Google companies or services prior to purchasing. What you don’t know about yourself online could be hurting your bottom line. Social media will give you the opportunity to change this by becoming part of the conversation and if you use it correctly it actually gives you some control of your online reputation.

Here are some simple steps for you to maximize control of your reputation online:

Step 1 – Join in the conversation
Get yourself on the tools that you are being talked about on. This will at least put you on the same page as your targets.

Step 2 – Search out negative press
Search for the people that are talking about you and follow them. This will allow you to watch the conversation unfold and see what the issues are. Also, make sure that you do Google searches for negative press and make a note of contact information of each of the unsatisfied parties.

Step 3 – Research the situation
Prior to responding determine what the real issues are and where the real fault lies. Was it your companies fault? Was it one of your staff that over promised? Was the product at fault? Or is it the end client that is simply over-reacting.

Step 4 – Come up with a strategy

Don’t wade into the middle of a hostile conversation unarmed. Have a solution ready to present. In fact, have multiple solutions ready. The unhappy party may just want to be acknowledged and talked to. That can actually diffuse most situations but be prepared with a secondary strategy should the situation escalate.

Step 5 – Communicate
Just the act of communication is a positive step online for your company because it immediately shows that you care. Go over the entire situation with the end client. This will make sure that you are both on the same page. It will also allow the end user to reflect and realize if they maybe over-reacted. Make sure that your main goal is listening. You aren’t the one with the problem, the client is.

Step 6 – Attitude

No matter what the other party says or does, understand that you are working for a company and this is not personal. Maintain a level of professionalism and continue attempting to resolve the situation. The public will see this and even if you can’t come to an understanding it at least shows that you cared enough for this client that you made this very personal effort.

Step 7 – Document
Record all occurrences of communication between you and the end client. This can build up a great social media case study for you to showcase on a blog. It can also be a necessary component if it ever comes down to a legal battle. This information is invaluable to your organization because it is honest feedback and may allow for these type of situations to be minimized in the future.

Step 8 – Transparency
Above all remain transparent. If you lie or try to manipulate the situation you could be providing the ammunition that an unhappy client needs to damage your brand even more. It’s all about connecting with your community on a human level. Say that you’re sorry, help your client and move forward in a positive manner. We all just want to be acknowledged and these days there aren’t many accountable companies. Become one and you may have just found the key to stand out in your industry.

There are many more elements in a solid reputation management campaign but by starting with these few basic steps you will be well on your way. The end result of a properly maintained reputation management campaign is to address negative press and convert it to a positive case study by developing brand advocates. Doing this also assists in the build of your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaign and increases your overall brand equity. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you!

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Blood from a stone II – Discovering the ROI within your social media campaign – The ROI of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Posted in Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2009 by mediapirate

Another way that social media can truly impact your bottom line is in terms of your SEO. To be honest, these days it’s pretty difficult and considerably more costly to manage an effective SEO campaign without utilizing social media. Social media’s power to drive SEO is actually quite incredible, and properly utilized it can assist you in minimizing your overall PPC (Pay Per Click) maximizing your organic search while building overall traffic and reach.

Social media allows you to build an incredibly strong organic search structure built on a foundation of community development. So how can social media strengthen your SEO campaign while saving you money?

Brand Engagement
Building a community around your brand is one of the best things that you can do in terms of strong SEO. By developing and nurturing a community you increase your chances for discussion and the potential of brand advocacy. This means the potential for independent reviews increasing the inbound links and dynamic content (discussed in the next points) while reaching an audience that you possibly never had access to before. The conversion of even one brand advocate can be of significant value in terms of raising your search engine ranking. Your online community build is simply the key to top rankings in the long term.

Inbound linking
As any SEO professional will tell you, inbound links (Coming from professional and related sites, i.e. good neighbors) are a great way to boost your overall search rankings. Social media can yet again help you in this regard. By linking back to your own sites from your profile and getting your social media audience to broadcast these links within their stream you not only gain immediate traffic but you develop a very strong foundation of inbound links. Granted, the nofollow tags on sites such as Flickr and Twitter can minimize the overall link value but I believe the value is still passed at a lower value. So while nofollow makes it possible to debate the link value these links do get put into Google and Yahoo’s backlink checker and nofollow still allows spiders to cache and index them. An additional way to build a strong backlink structure is by publishing RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds from your social media sites and submitting them to aggregators such as Ping-O-Matic and Technorati.

Dynamic Content
Social media portals such as blogs and microblogs allow you the potential to provide dynamic, ever changing, keyword dense content for the search engines to index. Providing relevant and keyword dense content to the search engines on a regular basis is a great way to make it to the top of SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages). The more independent portals that house this content and link back to your website the better. Just make sure you have the resources to manage and update these portals.

Traffic Generation
At the mere click of a button (Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc.) you have the potential to send thousands of interested potential clients to your site or blog. If you’ve written some great content there are really good odds that by the next day you will have a decent stream of targeted traffic as well new inbound links. You really can’t pay for that sort of immediate response. A subscriber based service such as Twitter or Plurk can also be used to drive effective and targeted traffic but careful attention must be paid to avoid spamming your followers. RSS feeds are particularly useful as they are subscriber based and the XML code is very indexable by search engines.

So while SEO may not directly convert to a specific dollar figure it does bring the traffic to your door and opens up the opportunity. Social media just allows you to target your audience more precisely, engage them immediately, allow them to help you do the work of building your online brand and gauge how your money is working for you. Can you really say that about your PPC campaign?

Please feel free to ask me any questions. I would love to hear from you.

Join me next time for: Blood from a stone III – Discovering the ROI within your social media campaign – The ROI of Online Reputation Management

The De-Evolution of Advertising

Posted in Media, social media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2008 by mediapirate
De-Evolution of Advertising

In the beginning… Advertising was a word of mouth business. One person would communicate to another about a crazy new innovation like fire, the wheel, etc. and that person would pass it to the next and on and on. This communication made it possible for the world to grow and overcome obstacles improving the quality of life.

Advertising then became more clever with the advent of new technologies and studies. Research was done on keywords, unique selling propositions, primal behavior and targeted manifesto’s making it considerably easier to convert a potential consumer into a buyer. Combined with television, print, billboards, etc. Thus advertising had become a game of numbers. The companies that could afford to get their message in front of as many people as possible usually succeeded due to brand recognition and superior marketing while the smaller companies that couldn’t keep up with the cost incurred from the design and placement of traditional media were left without a way to communicate to the masses and thus typically suffered.

Unfortunately though, people don’t like to be generalized and herded like cattle (Actually, I doubt cows do either but that’s a whole separate topic) and have begun to think for themselves again. This has resulted in our landscape changing again. Free and cost-effective tools now exist that allow the general populace to choose who is marketing to them and how. The consumer no longer wishes to have brands forced down their throats. Not when they can decide how they receive their information.

E-commerce sites can make the smallest shop appear the size of any Super-Target, the advent of TiVo has allowed consumers to rid themselves of the majority of TV advertising and search engines have allowed people to research product and news of choice bypassing print and TV for the most part. Social Media has brought the advertising model full circle and now allow people to once again communicate their biased or unbiased opinions allowing the consumer to once again be in control of the products that will succeed or fail, determine which news is important, and support a local business in a overcrowded market.

I guess all that remains to be seen is if the smaller businesses take advantage of this situation or not. Smaller businesses are typically late adapters due to financial restraints, lack of education and lingering doubt. Without the prohibitive costs to deter you can you really justify missing this opportunity because you were unwilling to learn and adapt?

Is too much social media a bad thing? (Part II)

Posted in Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2008 by mediapirate

In response to a comment from my last entry (Andy in specific) – I did tweet (a post in the twitter application for those not familiar with tweets) some time ago about the ineffective use of social media and how too many social media portals has the tendency to become advertising or spam. After a number of discussions with SM professionals though I decided to investigate some of them. I ended up applying for twenty or so to see what they were all about. I quickly found I didn’t have time to manage the relationship building. I then discovered hellotxt thinking it was a way to manage communicating to these multiple portals but this just wasn’t the case. I was only talking and not listening.

To me the “social” part of social media is the overall exchange of ideas, links, and conveying your overall personality in an online arena. This is something you just can’t get across if you aren’t actively reading and responding to other peoples postings. I have since ended up using my many accounts through hellotxt as a way to reach the masses and using the most active of my social media accounts to engage and showcase my presence. This still of course isn’t ideal but neither is being spread thin enough that I render them all ineffective.

So how do all of you manage your social media applications to effect. I know that my business audience would be greatly interested in your insight as would I. So please feel free to share your practices in as much or as little detail as you would like. Maybe we can actually find a way to manage our social media so we can have actual lives offline too.

By the way Arik, the link you sent me was great!

To check out all of the previous comments, Arik’s link and my last entry: Is too much social media a bad thing (Part I) click here

Also check out Em’s related blog here

Is too much social media a bad thing?

Posted in Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2008 by mediapirate

I’ve had much discussion lately about social media applications and how to adequately utilize them in order to expand a network. A number of people have said to me that in order to know the best route to take, you really have to subscribe to as many social media portals as possible and utilize them all. While I understand that developing a familiarity with all applications is ideal, is it really feasible? I mean, in order to see if one application is more effective you really have to commit yourself to it, and with the time required to develop real engaging relationships in a social media application is there enough time in the day?

Granted, there are ways to utilize technology to conserve some time while reaching the larger masses such as hellotxt which allows you to send out messages to multiple social media apps such as facebook, myspace, twitter, linkedin, (Even an Asian social network with the lovely name of feecle lol) and many, many more, but isn’t this closer to spamming than developing engagement? I am very torn right now due to my love of playing with new online apps and my need to effectively communicate.

Can we develop real engagement and response with multiple apps? Is it necessary to understand every app on the market? Is this a contest to see who can be found in the most avenues or is this a sad exercise in self gratuitous futility?

Please let me know your thoughts on this. I can be reached by:

email: scott at sterlingcrossgroup.com
LinkedIn: Scott Baird
Facebook: Scott Baird
Myspace: Scott Baird
Twitter: mediapirate
Plurk: mediapirate
hellotxt: mediapirate
Pownce: mediapirate
Jaiku: mediapirate
Blog: mediapirate.wordpress.com
etc……………………………………..

Expectations Where You Least Expect Them

Posted in Customer Service with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2008 by mediapirate

A few days ago I was having a bad day. Not a horrible day or anything but one of those days where a lot of little things pile up on the fact that you were exhausted in the first place and everything drives you a little crazy. In the midst of this my girlfriend and I decided to grab a quick snack. Not in the mood for anything in particular we went to Applebees.

Our server Aaron brought us our drinks and we ordered some apps. About 10 min later Aaron returns with the news that they have a deep-fryer down so our food may take some time. The food did take a little longer than we expected, but when it arrived it wasn’t the food we ordered. As we were a little pressed for time I could just feel this adding up to become the proverbial straw breaking the camels back in my day. I called Aaron over and mentioned the issue with our order. And then it happened…

Good customer service!

It’s actually been a long time since I have witnessed this amazing phenomenon. People who care enough about their business to actually help the customers that support it.

Aaron disappeared into the back and within minutes a manager by the name of Brett appeared with our corrected order and his apologies for the confusion. Before leaving he then told another staff member to bring us a couple of complimentary mini-bacon cheeseburgers as well. I think I was actually in shock. I didn’t even complain and I had a managers attention. I felt my day taking a turn for the better.

Our mini-bacon cheeseburgers arrived and with them another manager named Casey. He apologized for the complications and delay in our order and asked if we needed anything else. We thanked him for the good customer service, finished our meal, paid, tipped, and left the restaurant. It was when we left that I noticed it though. My day had become better. My stresses were lighter on my shoulders and I felt as if it was a new start on my almost completed day.

This is what a good customer service experience is truly all about. Now can you imagine if every place you visited had this respect for you. We would all have a little less stress in our days and a little more reason to smile. It really puts it into perspective for me. I may not always get to choose who I do business with, but I do know who deserves my business, and all it cost Applebees was a little time with their customer and maybe a buck or two if even that for the mini-burgers.

So if you are ever in Fargo ND and feel like a bite to eat, stop in to the Applebees just off 13th Ave S. and maybe your expectations for customer service will become just a little more than you ordered.

Quantity vs Quality

Posted in Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2008 by mediapirate

I’ve been thinking a lot about the quantity of media lately and if it’s as effective as it should be.

I was driving down the interstate and noticed about 10 billboards on each side of the road. They were so close together that as I drove by I realized I didn’t have enough time to really grasp the value that each one was driving as I tried to stay on the road. I caught a couple logos (I’m sure the golden arches were in there somewhere 🙂 ) but they were SO close that I didn’t even have time to read where to turn off if I was hungry. Has it really come to the point that marketing and advertising is strictly a case of brand recognition based on the number of times we can get a logo in front of our target? Because if thats the case then theres no point in doing quality creative work or even defining the value of our products.

As I walk down the street I see advertising and cross advertising everywhere but no real value proposition. I see Harley Davidson logos on trucks, Jimi Hendrix branded energy drinks and I feel like I am missing the point sometimes. Now this isn’t to say that I don’t believe that there is a time and place for cross branding, I would just like to see some sort of connection between the products.

I feel that this oversaturation is not only diluting our messages but we end up with our lives covered in advertising without the element of choice involved. There’s even a Kentucky Fried Chicken Logo visible from space. Thats a high class way to introduce new life to our planet!

I’ll get off my soapbox now though, because I do see a change happening now with the onset of social and viral medias and I think that it could really change how we position advertising and how the public receives it. This is not to say that billboards or traditional medias will go away because that’s just not going to happen. The point is that now the consumer has the choice and its the message we present that will determine whether the consumer passes it on or endorses it themselves. I feel that this will really give us a chance to start communicating again with the end users.

Please feel free to comment. I would love to hear any views. That said I will leave you (and contribute to social media by choice) with one of my favorite social marketing links Will it Blend! (If you haven’t seen this you really should)

– Scott