Archive for strategy

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 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

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……………………………………..