If you want to have a successful communications, marketing and/or public relations campaign or program, you must start with the basics. That beamed through clearly in talks this week by Krista Neher of Bootcamp Digital at Cincinnati IABC and Daniel Brockdorf of Caesar’s Entertainment at Cincinnati AMA. It’s vital to build upon those basics by implementing the latest and greatest available.
Brockdorf spoke about driving customer loyalty through content and measurement. It was interesting hearing how successful organizations start with the fundamentals to break through the ever-growing clutter of loyalty programs. As you can imagine, it can get quite sophisticated as marketers perfect the science of analyzing big data and delivering content at the precise point that an individual is receptive to it. But, as Brockdorf stated: It all starts with the basics… and many skip or shortcut the following steps for various reasons. They include:
Neher, meanwhile, shared 10 new strategies and tools for social media. She covered trends and topics, such as:
1. Sharing your story in a faster, more relevant way. People are overwhelmed, so you’ve got to get to the point.
2. Keep it short. In this era of Twitter and Vine, you must connect quickly and poignantly.
3. Real-time communication. If you wait, the story goes on without you. Speed is of the essence.
4. Real photos and real stories. User-generated content helps people buy into your messages. Only 14% trust ads, while 78% trust referrals.
5. Instagram and visual content. Our brains process images much more quickly than text.
6. Pinterest. Be creative with this visual social network. For example, use it as a resource guide for your target audience instead of forcing people to dig through your website.
7. Be interesting. Present content in a positive, compelling manner. Don’t be boring, or dull!
8. Be prepared to spend money on social media. It’s not just an earned or owned channel for interacting with your key audiences.
9. Stop talking about yourself. Get other people to talk about you. Partnerships are important.
10. Infographics. Include them in your marketing and communications mix. They can convey a lot of information quickly and are very sharable.
Both speakers went into detail about all of the above points. But, as Krista advised, I’m going to keep this brief!
Convergence of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Word of Mouth (WOM), Content Marketing, Social Media = Opportunity
After hearing Jason Falls‘ opening keynote talk at the SIMEngage (Social + Internet Marketing) conference May 15 at Memorial Hall in Cincinnati, I remarked to a colleague that I had already gotten my money’s worth.
Falls, a true social media marketing pioneer, spoke about the convergence of PR, Content Marketing and Social Media, with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Word of Mouth (WOM) in the middle — and the tremendous opportunity this presents for organizations to achieve their strategic goals.
He started with a quick explanation of SEO, and how Google crawls pages searching for keywords. The most relevant content comes up first, based on 200-some factors. Moving up in search rankings is our role, helping boost rankings in search engines. An old goal with SEO was getting more inbound links to your website, using tactics such as online press releases with links. This still helps, but two years ago Google changed the ranking system.
SEO has become an earned media approach. You need to provide content that people care about. Become a thought leader. Create great, unique content that resonates with your audience. Share content in social media. Promote it.
Falls pointed out that social media ranks high in searches. Social profiles appear on front page of Google and Bing results. Social media directly impacts how websites rank, according to Google. Google+ might be relevant only for that reason.
You have about seven seconds to win a customer. You must figure out your moments of truth. What are your audience members asking when they are getting ready to buy? When are they making decisions? What are they asking? When can you provide relevant content and engage them?
This is important because Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing is 62% more effective than an ad! And media coverage, paid, etc. boost SEO and WOM. Gets people talking about you online and offline.
“Search cannot exist in a vacuum” Falls said. “PR, search and social must be integrated for you to succeed.”
What does it take to develop earned content that will drive your SEO? Creative content. A great user experience. Relationships and storytelling. A dash of technical geekery.
“Content is the currency for building social relationships that boost earned media,” Falls said, adding these nuggets:
- What is great content — Original (from you), Simple, Valuable and Useful, Entertains, Emotional (laugh, cry). Above all the content must be relevant to your audience.
- Key considerations — Who is the audience you need to reach? Why will they care about you? What are you doing to earn their interest? What incentive do they have to share?
- Finding topics — Ask your sales team, Mine the buying cycle, Q/A sites like QuoraYahooAnswers, mine social media, follow industry and peers.
- Next: Answer questions with blog post, video… American Express Business Forum is a good example. Others: H&R Block and the American Moustache Institute to lobby Congress for $250 tax credit. The Stache Act. Million Moustache March, etc. Make your profile. Point: Got H&R block in conversation for men 24-30, and it worked.
I had just finished reading Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, the classic 2006 book that had somehow escaped my reading list. Krista Neher, author of the Social Media Field Guide, had suggested the book in her Bootcamp Digital last fall. Got it for 1 cent, plus $3.99 shipping and handling, on Amazon.
“Imagine a time with no Facebook, or YouTube, or Twiter,” I said to my daughter, as teenagers swarmed to the tables with iPads, iPods and iWhatevers. “How did we do social media? With blogs, podcasts, message boards, wikis… some of the online resources we now take for granted as we connect with family, friends and associates.”
That’s why I recommend that people still read Naked Conversations, even though at times it seems like something from the Three Stooges era of social media. (I say that because my daughter and I have been getting a kick out of the dated phrases and behaviors in the classic film clips lately. Who calls guys mugs, girls dames or toots, or tries to get laughs by smacking someone or biting their leg? Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck. Woo-woo-woo…Sorry, I digress. 🙂 )
Anyway… there is a lot of very helpful information in Naked Conversations. It served as a good refresher to me — and helped me better understand some nuances that hadn’t been clear to me before.
I particularly like the fact that two of the top bloggers in the world share their experiences with the medium. They give many examples of successful blogs. They do a fantastic job of selling businesses on the power of honest and open blogging.
They end with this recollection of their conversation with Yossi Vardi, the adult supervisor of ICQ’s four student founders:
“He pointed to us research showing that story-telling and conversations are at the essence of human culture. In that light, blogging is a point on a cultural continuum that goes back all the way to when our ancestors sat in caves shivering around fires and doodling on the walls. To paraphrase Vardi, blogging is storytelling and conversations on steroids.
“Ultimately, blogging has ended one era and ignited another. In this new era, companies don’t win just by talking to people. They win by listening to people as well. We call it the Conversation Era. It doesn’t change everything because as John Naisbitt told us, everything never changes. But something has changed, and blogging is impacting business of all sizes in most parts of the developed world. It has made the world a smaller, faster place.
“And business is the better for it.”
Next week, I’ll begin a new phase in my career as Media Manager at Catholic Health Partners — a Cincinnati-based organization with 34 hospitals and numerous other health care operations in five Midwest states.
Part of my responsibilities involve social media strategy — a key part of my job at the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services the past several years.
During the past few years, I’ve read lots of books, e-Books, blog posts, magazine articles and the like about social media marketing. I’ve attended many conferences, workshops, professional association gatherings, social media meetups… I’ve watched numerous videos and listened to helpful podcasts.
As I’ve mentally prepared for the new job, I’ve jotted down lots of ideas — based on my experience and reading/viewing — on various scraps of paper. I’ve sent myself e-mails. I’ve tried to keep track of every tidbit that might be helpful to my new clients.
At times, I’ve felt overwhelmed by it all.
Then, two weeks before Christmas, I went to lunch with Krista Neher, a Cincinnati-based social media marketing pioneer who gives talks all over the world. (We’re really fortunate to have such a knowledgeable and personable guru right here in the Queen City.)
Krista shared a copy of her new book, Social Media Field Guide: Discover the strategies, tactics and tools for successful social media marketing. I read it on the plane to and from a holiday-week vacation in California. My daughter looked on in amazement (and amusement) as I underlined many portions and jotted down notes.
This book takes all of the stuff I’d learned over the years and put it into an orderly process that will help me educate and coach my new clients about strategic social media marketing.
It offers easy-to-understand descriptions in a format that could help social media newbies as well as pioneers in this exciting area.
- The Field Guide begins with a Social Media Map, which takes the reader through strategy and objectives (the destination), target audience (the terrain) and rules of engagement for social media.
- It then leads readers through a Social Media Field Guide, with areas such as content, publishing, sharing, social networks, microblogging, collaboration and co-creation, discussion and review sites, social media public relations and mobile social networks. It concludes with a section on measuring results.
I highly recommend this book — and will share how I’ve used it in my new job as the year unfolds. Here’s to a great 2011!!!
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