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The Power of Social Media

This year during SXSW (South by Southwest), an annual Austin music festival for all of you not in the know, a few colleagues and I decided to go out in search of celebrities!  We wondered aimlessly amidst the throng of skinny jeans and plaid shirts until one coworker received a tweet about a secret comedy show featuring Aziz Ansari that started in a couple hours.

My co-workers and I made our way to the venue about 2 hours before the show started. Imagine my surprise when a line of around 200 hundred people awaited us. How could this be? We had the super secret Tweet! The truth is, that tweet spread like the flu in my niece’s 2nd grade class.

The question is why?

So often an advertiser wants to have this type of rapid fire success with social media outlets. What most don’t understand is “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Social media, as with any effort, requires patience and string-will. In order for this to happen you must constantly update your profile, twitter, and other tools with cool, new information. One of those tidbits will be your rocket to the moon.

Going Viral happens over night, but Going viral cannot happen overnight.

Content is Key

Maneuvering the social media landscape can be a tricky business: DON’T link your Twitter to your Facebook account; DO feed your blog. DON’T deactivate commenting on your fan page; DO monitor the conversation for inappropriate or offensive comments (which you are responsible for managing.) DON’T self-promote; DO send out valuable content and engage with your customers. There’s a lot to remember, and the fact that it’s constantly evolving with new best practices being developed almost weekly, using social media as a marketing and branding tool has become a full-time job.

Research shows that social networking sites aren’t the best medium for advertising… yet. Users are still resistant to social media ads as being intrusive in this particular space. If social media is one of the most effective marketing tools but advertising isn’t being well-received, then it’s engagement that customers are seeking.

Content is key to effectively building a brand and generating word-of-mouth. Some recent stats published by eMarketer show inbound marketing channels as the most cost effective approach to generating leads over outbound marketing, with LinkedIn and blogs being at the top for successfully turning leads into customers, meaning brands need to allocate funds for creative and valuable content creation. There’s a good 70 / 30 rule of thumb that branders and marketers should follow when publishing updates on any social media site. Only 30% of status updates should be self-promotional content while the remaining 70% should be valuable content that is interesting, educational, or sparks a dialogue with followers. It’s also a good idea to monitor the frequency of status updates depending on which platform you’re utilizing. For example, it’s common practice to tweet 3 – 5 times a day, whereas Facebook and LinkedIn only require your attention once a day.

As Jeffrey Eisenberg summarized during his keynote at PubCon last week, “meaningful interaction with your audience will result in conversions and a positive relationship with the customer. –Marketing Pilgrim

So Know That You’ve Liked Me – Are You Going to Buy Something???

Now that your business is branching out and reaching fans through social media. How do you keep these users coming back to your site and interacting/purchasing over and over again from these sites?? Through these new advertising channels, you are now tasked with turning these first-time purchasers into advocates of your brand. A pretty cool article from eMarketer on How Marketers Can Keep Brand Fans on Board tackles this dilemma.

What are users looking for and what keeps users around?

Users are still drawn the most by incentives – although new-media users expect deals, these users also search for brands to help solve their problems and get their feedback on products and services – this will help make a larger connection with online users and shoppers.

Marketer Beware: What can lose a user’s interest and loyalty?

The top three reasons users stopped following a brand?:

  1. The brand sent too many messages
  2. The brand acted irresponsibly
  3. Content was irrelevant

The Magic Recipe: Keeping Users A Returning Consumer and Raving Fan:

There is a fine balance in what we see above to gain return visits and create fans on our clients’ brand – too little communication won’t help engagement, but too much communication where it seems impersonal or off-base will lose a user’s loyalty.  It is up to your marketing team to ensure online new media users are served with balanced, targeted information that keeps them returning for more and spreads positive feedback through online communities.

Social Media Brand Series- Who is Watching Your Brand? Part 1

Social Media- Protecting Your Brand

Kevin Smith

Its a Saturday night, comedian/actor/director Kevin Smith has just boarded his flight on Southwest airlines ready to take flight.  Minutes later Smith, who is a frequent Southwest flyer, is asked to leave the flight due to his weight and escorted off the plane immediately.  Within a matter of minutes, Smith’s experience is shared with his 1.6 million twitter followers and is National news by Sunday morning. The series of events that took place, while an extreme example, show strike fear in businesses across the land.  One of the top brands in any industry, a brand that took a decade to build through strategic PR moves….tarnished in a matter of minutes.

THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA – Who is watching your brand?

Think about all the investments (both time and money) in understanding how the general public views their brand /products / services and neglecting the unbiased opinions being shared online.  In the case of Southwest Airlines, their team was alert and responded immediately on all mediums to Kevin Smith and the 1 million followers they have on Twitter:

@ThatKevinSmith hey Kevin! I’m so sorry for your experience tonight! Hopefully we can make things right, please follow so we may DM!

Hey folks – trust me, I saw the tweets from @ThatKevinSmith I’ll get all the details and handle accordingly! Thanks for your concerns!

I read every single tweet that comes into this account, and take every tweet seriously. We’ll handle @thatkevinsmith issue asap

I’ve read the tweets all night from @thatkevinsmith – He’ll be getting a call at home from our Customer Relations VP tonight.

@ThatKevinSmith Ok, I’ll be sure to check it out. Hopefully you received our voicemail earlier this evening.

@ThatKevinSmith Again, I’m very sorry for the experience you had tonight. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do.

@ThatKevinSmith We called you on the number you had on file in your reservation. If you prefer a different number, please DM me. Thanks!

Our apology to @ThatKevinSmith and more details regarding the events from last night – http://cot.ag/96KHC7 #Southwest

Southwest also used their Media site: http://www.swamedia.com/ to issue statements to the general public about the occurrence.  This public response was also followed by private and personal responses to Kevin Smith.  Whether it was the right response, the most important piece was that Southwest was monitoring their Brand and thereby able to react immediately versus having a bigger surprise come Monday morning.

In some of the following posts, we will cover the next steps that occur… damage control!!

Here are some great tools available for monitoring your brand:

BLOG MONITORING:

Technorati: http://technorati.com/

Google Blog Engine: http://blogsearch.google.com/

Blog Digger: http://www.blogdigger.com/index.html

BRAND ALERTS:

How Sociable: http://www.howsociable.com/

Google Alerts: http://www.google.com/alerts


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