Archive for Marketing

Marketing to the Medium – As featured in the MNAMA blog

Posted in Articles, social media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2009 by mediapirate

Featured in the MNAMA blog here.

So many people these days associate marketing in the world of social media with getting a business Twitter account or a Facebook page and advertising from those portals. Unfortunately this will get you about as far in social media as yelling about yourself to a group of people that don’t know you. The actual applications (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) are nothing but tools that allow you to connect much in the same way the post office allows you to send and receive letters. The real potential of social media is within the plan that you develop to engage with your audience.

Marketing has always played a crucial element in print, online and telephone communications. It is present in social media but in most cases it hasn’t been modified for the medium. In order to truly engage an audience, the marketing has to be designed to remain non-obtrusive. What this means is that you have to increase the potential for people to like or want to follow you by talking about things other than your business. This is the first crucial change that needs to occur in social media marketing mentality.

The second change that needs to occur is the actual engagement of your audience. Most businesses are used to sending out their message and crossing their fingers, but with social media this all changes. You now have the opportunity to listen to your target audience and what they like, want and need. Equally important are the things they don’t like. So take advantage of this opportunity because if you aren’t listening your competitors may be.

What I’m saying is that for the first time in quite a long time, you now have the opportunity to be ground level with your audience truly improving your business and product. I would just hate to see this medium wasted by companies only interested in the sound of their own voices. If we all take a moment to listen, just imagine the potential.

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!

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

Mediapirates Top Five Reasons To Use Social Media!

Posted in Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2009 by mediapirate

In the past few days I have used social media for so many things that I think I’m almost starting to take it for granted. It’s just SO convenient and I use it so much that I think that I would be lost if it suddenly disappeared. So for those of you not yet completely immersed in this fantastic new form of communication I present my top five reasons why you might want to consider it!

5) Driving Traffic – Who knows maybe this is how you found my blog! It’s just amazing how powerful social media is for driving traffic to your own media or things that you find interesting. I can’t tell you how many sites I visit daily because my social media community has recommended them. It would really show the power of social media traffic to know how you got here so if you get a moment leave a comment on this entry and just say how you found out about my blog.

4) Getting Work – Since starting our social media initiatives Sterling Cross Communications has received numerous business leads, speaking offers (Which have lead to business), partner projects and actual direct contracts. I believe that in the future this will be our largest segment growth for new business. Yeah, I know this one should have been higher but I like social media for so many other things than just work.

3) Searching For Talent Or Just Plain Advice – When I go to look for a specific talent or I need to know something, social media is the first place I turn. I can’t even tel you how many times I have needed to know something specific or needed a very specific service and have found it in my network. In fact last night I was looking for a PR arm in Ohio and within six minutes I received well over 30 responses! These people are amazing!

2) Posting Media – Posting my photos, videos, blog entries, etc. and being able to share these moments instantly with family and friends. Allowing people to share my life from a distance is very important. My girlfriend lives in Fargo, my daughter and friends live in Calgary AB, Canada, and my parents go between a lake place in Canada and a winter place in Texas so you see how crucial communication is to me. My social media campaigns allow me to feel connected to all of the people that matter in my life and that really rocks 🙂

1) Community – My favorite part of social media without a doubt is being part of something bigger and being able to rely on the support of a community. The reach of social media is truely unlimited and I have met some fantastic people that without social media I never would have met. Some help me in business (I hope I do the same for them as well) and some I just like to chat with but regardless of the reason the world seems just a little bit smaller.

If you ever had doubts about the value of social media I hope this helps. Please feel free to add me and say hi! Below is a list of just some of the social media portals I am on. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you.

All the best,
Scott

Myspace
Facebook
Plurk
Twitter
Friendfeed
Jaiku
LinkedIn
Hellotxt
Pandora
Mashable
plaxo
Ping FM
Hi 5
tagged
youare
Pandora
Blip.fm
Wordpress
youtube
bebo
yammer
tumblr
technorati
Flickr
ReJaw
Brightkite
Identi.ca
Kwippy
Utterli
Mahalo
poprl

Back to Social Media Bacak’s (Basics)

Posted in Interesting, Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2008 by mediapirate

I really wasn’t prepared to do another blog so soon but a situation happened this morning that changed my mind. This morning we were shown how social media in the wrong hands can create a backlash go viral and destroy a reputation.

The unfortunate target of discussion is a man named Matt Bacak (@mattbacak on twitter). I don’t know Matt. In fact all I know is what his bio says “Husband, Dad, Internet Marketer and Entrepreneur”. This guy could be a perfectly nice guy. The only problem is he released this. It’s a press release where he states “Anyone can call their promotional abilities ‘powerful’ but I actually prove that mine are,”. The problem is that this type of ego really contradicts the the overall social media mentality which is basically “It’s not about you, it’s about the overall community”.

The backlash that I mentioned earlier is shown here. Hundreds of comments naming him as “The Biggest Douche In Social Media”. I know, you all want that title 🙂 He has even been featured on Digg with this title (Matt Bacak on Digg) and at the time of this post has 197 Diggs. At this point it has gone viral and there isn’t much he can do about it.

I feel bad for Matt but this is what happens when you enter social media with a traditional marketing stance. Social media followers need to feel special and not like numbers. When someone goes and states that they are more powerful than everyone else due to their excessive follower numbers their followers end up feeling more like a stepping stone than a part of the bigger picture. It also didn’t help that Matt was only following back 32 people of the 1800 that followed him.

Let me know what you think of this situation. Do you think this punishment was warranted? or was it too harsh? How would you deal with a situation like this if you were Matt?

The Real Questions Behind Social Media In Business

Posted in Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2008 by mediapirate

So what is this social media thing all about? Do I get a blog started, or maybe chat with people about nothing on strangely named applications like twurk or plitter (Yes, I realize that’s not what they are called)? Can I make money with social media? Will my business look unprofessional in the context of social media?

The answer isn’t as straight-forward or as simple as “yes” or “no” but it’s not as complex as we seem to make it either. We have just been asking the wrong question the whole time. While I do appreciate that blogs are read by a large percentage of people and twitter is growing at a record pace it’s about more than these simple stats. Here is the magic questions…..dun dun dun….Can this fit into my companies existing marketing strategy? Do I really know how to use social media? Does my target market exist on these platforms?

So it’s really not a question of the tools. It’s a question of strategy and implementation. So without knowing your marketing strategy or your target here are a few tips to help you avoid the old school interuption marketing approach within social media.

1) This is an important one: Follow all valid followers. I’ve said it a million times but I always get questioned on this. Social media isn’t social unless it’s a two way conversation. This isn’t advertising on TV, print or radio you need to listen even more than you talk.

Once you have followed all of these people how do you manage them and interact with them? This can be tricky because the more people that you have following you the harder it is to keep that personal touch, but it just requires a different perspective on the situation. Look at your social media following like it’s a party. While you can’t be involved in all conversations make sure you respond to the people talking directly to you within a fairly short period of time and engage in interesting conversations that occur.

2) Don’t use auto follow and more importantly don’t use auto follow with a sales pitch attached. This is another form of interruption marketing that might sound like a good idea but in a social media context it will not typically be received well. Social media is all about the conversation so if it isn’t something you would say to someone you’ve just met in a social situation then don’t say it here. Build your relationships and listen to what people need. Once they learn what you do they will be more than happy making use of your services and passing out references.

3) Use a picture of yourself. Sure, you may work for the biggest company in the world but social media is about the connection between individuals. Seeing a face will allow your audience to get to know you on a completely different level while building your own personal brand. An amazing example of this is Frank (@ComcastCares on twitter). Frank has changed many peoples views on Comcast as a company including mine but we all know him as Frank. If he was just a number within the company we wouldn’t have the faith in him we do.

4) Allow people to opt out. You can’t hold people hostage to your subscription services. Respecting peoples space is very important. I have seen numerous situations where followers have tried to unsubscribe to services for one reason or another and were unable to. This hurts your credibility and can cause followers to share negative opinions of you online which of course isn’t a great idea in terms of reputation management.

5) Don’t remove yourself from the conversation. Allow people to comment on your blog entries and media portals such as Facebook and Myspace. By disabling comments to protect yourself from outside opinions you remove yourself from the conversation. This means any chance of building advocacy or reputation management is lost. People will still share their opinions but now they will be forced to do so outside of your environment resulting in even less control. Address negative posts and thank the positive. Remember, sometimes losing control to a degree is the best way to maintain control.

Please let me know your questions and thoughts. Social media is ever evolving opportunity so jump into the conversation and maybe we can all learn something.

For more cool social media and business awesomeness check out Above the Buzz

Thanks,
Scott

Curing Brand Schizophrenia

Posted in Articles, Media with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2008 by mediapirate

and keeping your business on the same page

Like most small business owners you deal with multiple tasks throughout the day, not the least of which is how to present a positive marketing image for your company. The question is, how do you present your company in multiple mediums effectively and consistently while maintaining the other aspects of your company?

For years businesses have hired separate companies each specializing in their own medium of communication; print, web, marketing, public relations, video and audio. These specialists may be the ideal solution for a company with internal brand management but what about the small business? Not every organization has the resources necessary to support the cost of independent services or the time required to manage multiple companies to achieve a cohesive package.

The answer is integrated services! Integrated services means that one company (Your chosen Integrated Media Provider) contains the knowledge to bring all of your media resources together maximizing the power of your marketing and the price you pay for it.

A common thread

The power of a consistent campaign is not unknown, but if you are like many small companies there is no one dedicated to ensure the sanctity of your brand. This can mean varied colors between web and print, skewed logos, inconsistent brand message and many other variables. It also usually means that the relationship between mixed media has not been successfully exploited.

A website is a powerful entity. However, if the relationship between it and the other media such as public relations, print, video, audio, etc. is not properly integrated there is wasted possibility for success. For example a PR event is great but it would be ideal if the PR event could be updated into the website which in turn would feed this information via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) directly to existing subscribers.

Depending on the business, this type of thinking can translate into increased confidence in the company, jump start sales of a new product, and many other possibilities. Granted, this is only a very simple scenario involving only two of the many mediums. So imagine the possibilities of fully integrated services.

Divide and conquer

So the question is, how can one company know everything about everything? And the honest truth is that one company can’t.

In today’s market one of the most effective ways to ensure consistency of brand and mission is through successful strategic partnerships. These partnerships maintained by your IMP (Integrated Media Provider) ensure that each individual aspect of your company’s media is being driven by the greatest depth of knowledge.

By counting on the quality control, account management and ROI awareness from a recognized IMP and its chosen vendors, you can experience an environment devoid of project pipeline delays, explaining and re-explaining your brand and the constant search for the most effective vendor for each media solution. In turn your mediums are thoughtfully planned out to feed off of one another and like a drop into water, generating a reach that is continually expanding and delivering you a calculated ROI.

This relationship between the IMP and their vendors also works to serve the end client in terms of cost as well.As each IMP maintains multiple vendors specializing in many medium, your project will be internally bid out to ensure the most cost effective resolution is reached within a group of proven and trusted partners. This internal competition for the work ensures that prices always remain at a fair market value.

A needle in a haystack

What do you look for in an IMP? Well, for starters, the experience and qualifications of the team core. These are the people responsible for the outcome of your project, so in order to pull off a true integrated media plan they will need a foundation in everything that their outside vendors offer. These elements include PR, media relations, creative direction, print media, web interactivity, video/audio production, new technologies (eg. wikis, podcasts, subsites, wireless technology, etc.) and the understanding of the limitations within each of these markets.

This might sound like a lot. However, in order to utilize the momentum from one medium to feed another, a foundation in all of these areas is crucial in integrated media. The easiest way to find this out is through online research, business to business networking or if all else fails, just ask to see some portfolio examples.

Consistently diverse

Understand this is not the only way, just the most effective way! For the small business owner this option can end up saving invaluable time in your busy schedule, save you money, and ensure that you end up with a consistent campaign generating the greatest amount of exposure. So in closing, one company can’t know everything about everything but then again, no one knows this better than your local Integrated Media Provider.

4 Questions to ask a potential Integrated Media Provider

What is your in-house knowledge?
How many vendors do you utilize and how long have you been with them?
How have you integrated campaigns previously? Who were the clients? And to what effect?
What is my potential ROI and what steps do you take to ensure this?