Category: Social Media Opportunities


Marketers will spend more money on social media this year. However, they’re still mastering their use of social websites to reach consumers, according to a survey from integrated marketing services provider Alterian.

Marketers said 2011 will be a turnaround year when the spending cutbacks of the recession are reversed to increase engagement levels across digital media. More than half (57%) of respondents expect their budgets to increase this year, while only 10% expect budget cuts. Three quarters (75%) of those polled said spending on social and digital media will rise.

However, marketers said they are still struggling to get a handle on social media. One-third (33%) said they have little or no understanding of the conversations happening about their brand, while 40% said they’re using some ad hoc tools to parse them. Another 27% said they report those exchanges regularly to management.

“The primary issue here it that it is a new medium…people are figuring out how to tap into it,” said Donnell Wright, Alterian’s senior director of global research and insights and sales support. “The tools for tracking and analytics exist, but marketers are faced with a challenge in choosing among them what lines up with their business needs.”

She added that marketers need to set up analytics and key performance indicators to better understand social media.

“It’s new. It’s tough to wrap their heads around it, but they need to get very proactive,” said Wright. “Social media is there and it’s going to continue to evolve and mature, but your customers are waiting to engage with you now. If you’re not there, it’s really a disservice to you and your brand.”

The survey polled 1,462 marketers, agencies and service providers in December.

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An article by American Expess discusses ways in which some companies have leveraged social media to boost their business. To view the original article, click here.

Unlike any technology before it, social media lets marketers engage directly with customers and prospective customers. That’s important because when companies get close enough to build relationships, sales rise.

“You look at companies that are killing it on Twitter. They’re killing it because they’re connecting on a personal basis,” says social-media marketing consultant Paul Gillin, who has written three books on the topic.

Consider Ford Motor Co., which Gillin cites as one of Corporate America’s top users of social media for marketing. Last year, Ford gave 100 social-media savvy influencers new Fiesta compacts to test drive for six months. Their tweets and blog posts about the experience led 125,000 prospective buyers to register their names with the automaker.

Those kinds of results explain why marketers at companies of all sizes have embraced social media. In 2009, 43 percent of the Inc. 500 rated social media as “very important” to their marketing strategy, up from just 26 percent in 2007, according to a study from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Mid-size companies are using social media to connect with consumers whose buying habits are changing. “People are literally bypassing the home pages of corporations. They are bypassing the flyers in the mail and the television commercials, and they’re going to social media,” says Derick Schaefer, whose Dallas-based firm, Orangecast, manages social-media marketing campaigns for roughly 30 clients.

Many of Schaefer’s clients invest in social-media marketing to build their brands, and with good reason. In a March 2010 study, researcher Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) found that consumers who follow brands on Twitter and Facebook were more likely to buy after engaging with them in the social sphere.

While some marketers invest in social marketing to find leads, others use it to build community and still others to manage a crisis, all with impressive results.

Blogging for leads

Before the advent of social media, companies spent their marketing dollars buying lists, surveys and advertising campaigns to generate leads. Today, marketers are taking that money and pouring it into social media.

In Rick Short’s case, that means paying for blogs. Short is marketing communications director at Indium, a mid-size maker of electronic components in Utica, New York. In lieu of other marketing, Short uses a web-based program to create keyword-based blogs the company uses to generate leads. In all, Indium runs 73 blogs organized around keywords and phrases that pertain to its business, including words such as “heat spring” and “solder paste.” Maintaining 73 blogs is easier than it sounds. Thirty Indium engineers and other employees create the content, but blog software from a vendor called Compendium Blogware automatically repurposes a single post to any of the company’s blogs where the material is relevant. To capture leads, each blog runs with the employee-blogger’s contact information, allowing prospective customers to leave a comment, a question, and if all goes well, their email address.

“People are literally bypassing the home pages of corporations. They are bypassing the flyers in the mail and the television commercials, and they’re going to social media.”

Derick Schaefer, managing director, OrangecastThe company’s blogging strategy has paid off. Since adopting Compendium’s blogging software in the second quarter of 2009, Indium has seen its opt-in contacts rise 600 percent. “Most people would be happy with a 10 percent, or a 20 percent or a 50 percent increase,” Short says.

Linking up a community

Other companies rely on social media to cultivate online communities where participants could eventually turn into customers.

That’s the case at uTest, a Southborough, Massachusetts, company that gets paid to match professional testers with clients that have websites and software that need testing. Without a large enough community of testers, uTest wouldn’t have a business. To build that community, the two-year-old company uses a company blog, Twitter, a Facebook page and a LinkedIn group. The company has also created its own community-building tools, including a web-based app called “Meet the Testers.”

According to Matt Johnston, uTest’s vice president of marketing and community, creating all those groups helps the company build credibility by starting discussions that interest testers. “We do that because it’s one of the best ways to engage people in our community,” he says.

So far, so good. A total of 30,000 testers have joined uTest’s various social networks, and in 2009 its community building tools received a “Commendation of Excellence” award from the Society for New Communications Research.

uTest also advertises on social networks to prospect for companies that might need its services. On LinkedIn, uTest presents ads to members whose demographics suggest they have something to test, and therefore a need for uTest’s services. As a result, Johnston has been able to generate 1,000 leads from a single campaign for half of what he expected to spend.

Disaster recovery

Some companies use social-media marketing to get out of sticky situations, or prevent them from happening in the first place.

Boingo Wireless is one of them. On April 10, the Los Angeles WiFi company’s email marketing system malfunctioned and erroneously notified thousands of customers they were no longer eligible for unlimited wireless service.

Within minutes, Boingo PR and social media manager Baochi Nguyen’s iPhone and Nexus One smartphones buzzed with the epileptic frenzy of thousands of angry tweets forwarded from the company’s Twitter feed.

Boingo was quick to act. Within five hours of getting the first complaint, CEO Dave Hagan posted an apology on the front page of the company’s website. Nguyen followed with her own contrite blog post, resulting in kudos from customers and observers. Nguyen then spent the rest of Saturday through Monday morning answering 700 tweets, emails and Facebook posts, reassuring customers they’d been exposed to a bogus message.

The day of the malfunction, it was by luck that Nguyen was monitoring the company’s Twitter feed, since Boingo had no formal social media monitoring system.

They got one fast enough afterward though. Today, under the company’s new policy, during business hours Nguyen and a fellow Boingo employee respond to any customer tweet within 30 minutes. The extra vigilance has paid off. Since the email malfunction, the number of people following the company’s social media accounts – on Facebook and Twitter particularly – has risen 50 percent, Nguyen says.

“By and large they were really understanding,” Nguyen says. “After the apology, it was so amazing to see the folks that came forward to support Boingo.”

Gillin, the author and social-media marketing consultant, gives Boingo credit for acting fast. But he also credits the channels, arguing that social media’s ability to engage immediately and authentically sets it apart. Top marketers recognize this, and they’re mixing and matching services to meet customers where they are, instead of waiting for them to show up at their virtual doorstep.

Indium’s Short agrees. “The content that we publish in our blogs today is an answer,” he says. “Tomorrow, somebody’s going to type in the question.”

An interesting article on what larger companies are doing in regards to social media. From Entrepreneur magazine. Click here to read the article — Social Media and the Fortune 500

 If you find yourself using Facebook to send out work-related emails to coworkers, you’re not alone.

According to a new report issued by Gartner (IT), 20% of business users will use social networks as their primary means of business communications by 2014. Gartner says it expects e-mail clients from Microsoft and IBM (IBM) will soon start integrating with social networking sites, giving users access to their e-mails, contacts and calendars from their favorite social networking platform. What’s more, Gartner says that contact lists, calendars and messaging clients on smartphones will all be capable of connecting with social networking platforms by 2012.

“The rigid distinction between e-mail and social networks will erode,” says Gartner analyst Monica Basso. “E-mail will take on my social attributes… while social networks will develop richer e-mail capabilities.”

Gartner also predicts that more of these social network-enabled e-mail clients will move away from on-premises networks and into the cloud. By the end of 2010, Gartner projects that 10% of corporate e-mail accounts will be in the cloud, up from 7% in 2009.

An article in The Wall Street Journal. Interesting look at how social media is not the end all for B2B companies to boost sales. You can read the original article here

Bill.com Inc., a provider of bill-payment services, is trying to market itself on Facebook. But even though the venture-backed company has more than 10,000 clients, it has so far managed to secure only 67 “friends” on the social-networking site.

These days, even small “business-to-business” concerns like Bill.com are experimenting with social media, perceiving the popular online hangouts as low-cost, easy-to-use venues for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. But unlike their consumer-focused counterparts—retailers that sell smartphones, jeans, games and other personal products—so-called B-to-B businesses seem to be having a harder time connecting with their target audience.

Facebook “is so consumer dominated that it takes time to find a voice that cuts through what’s already out there,” says René Lacerte, founder and chief executive of Bill.com, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif.

A survey released last month of 230 B-to-B companies shows that 24% are using Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and others for marketing, and another 36% plan to try them in the coming year. “It’s certainly something that has taken off in the last six months,” says Michael Greene, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., which conducted the study.

In general, he says B-to-Bs tend to be slower to adopt new marketing technologies than business-to-consumer companies. But now that they’re catching up, it appears that many are having a tough time gaining followers. “B-2-B isn’t sexy,” says Mr. Greene. “It doesn’t have that same immediate attraction that consumer brands do.”

Bill.com so far has only about half the number of Facebook “friends” as the average user, and far fewer than many of its consumer-focused counterparts. For example, LegalZoom.com Inc., a small business that helps consumers file legal documents such as wills and divorce papers, has more than 10,000 Facebook friends.

Making fans of other businesses, as opposed to consumers (or actual friends), may seem counterintuitive to social networking. So B-to-Bs typically look to interact with workers who make buying decisions on behalf of the companies they target. Many attempt to acquire contacts by providing links to their social-media profiles from their websites and marketing materials.

“B-to-B buyers are people, which means they are on Facebook,” says Tim McLaughlin, president of Siteworx Inc., a small Web-strategy and design company based in Reston, Va., that is on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “You need to be where they are.”

Some B-to-B owners say social networking is actually ideal for their demographic since it can take months for their kind of buyers to commit to a purchase. The products and services they sell tend to cost significant amounts and often several people are involved in the decision-making process.

For example, Eloqua Ltd., a marketing-software company in Vienna, Va., charges between $15,000 and $800,000 a year for its technology. Regularly posting status updates about industry trends and related topics to its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Corp. profiles helps it stay “top of mind” among clients, says Joe Payne, chief executive. “There’s no question what we do in the social world generates leads because it drives people to our website,” he says. “We can see where they’re coming from.”

Sharing information or advice on social-networking sites is also a way for B-to-Bs to show off their expertise, says John Lopez-Ona, president of Six Sigma Qualtec Inc., a business-consulting firm in Princeton, N.J., that uses Twitter and has its own blog. “It’s about building relationships,” he says.

B-to-Bs are also running special marketing campaigns on social-networking sites, such as contests that give away prizes to winners. OnTimeSupplies.com, an online office-supply retailer, launched an initiative earlier this month in which it promises to donate 25 cents to a breast-cancer charity every time someone posts an update on Facebook or Twitter mentioning it. “We’ve always depended a lot on word of mouth… whether it’s people trading stories in the cafeteria or on Facebook,” says Miles Young, chief executive and co-founder of the Atlanta firm.

Some small B-to-Bs say they prefer to market themselves on networking sites specifically designed for businesses and professionals such as LinkedIn.com.

“You have to pick the right tools, and sometimes the tools are dictated by the kind of company you are and the kind of prospects and clients you have,” says Kathy Scheessele, a partner at Mastering Business Development Inc., a Charlotte, N.C., business-consulting firm that recently started using LinkedIn.

“The type of people we’re trying to engage with are at a certain level. They’re not the typical kind of person who’s going to be twittering or have a Facebook page,” Ms. Scheessele says.

Like many other types of companies, small B-2-Bs are also using social media to find out what’s being said about them online, as well as gather competitive intelligence and keep up with industry trends. “The big advantage of social media is listening,” says Eric Bradlow, a professor at The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

But he adds that once a business creates a profile on a social-networking site, it needs to use it on a regular basis to avoid stoking the rumor mill. “People build up expectations around communication,” says Mr. Bradlow. “When expectations are violated, people will infer stuff that may not be true.”

The following is an editorial I found on Linked In. It is fairly interesting, addressing why some people/companies do not find the success they hoped for on Linked In. Her Website is www.http://theconfidentcopywriter.com/.

So you’ve been on LI for months and you haven’t gotten one shred of business…except maybe a few inquiries here and there that didn’t pan out; a couple nibbles from companies that were wrong for you; and those endless MLM offers you won’t even consider.

That leaves you wondering what all the fuss is about. Who are all these people who claim they have gotten new, profitable business on LinkedIn?

Bad news: It’s not LinkedIn. It’s you.

To drive business on LinkedIn, you need an action plan and a system, just like any other business strategy. You’re only going to get back what you put in. Without a plan, you’ll waste a lot of time being sociable, with no real business to show for it.

This is the biggest complaint I hear about social media marketing…it takes a lot of time and results never seem to materialize.

I agree, it is time-consuming. But when done correctly (which means planning SMM into your day, maximizing that time, and maintaining a narrow focus), the results can be astounding.

It’s kind of like cleaning your house. You start out enthusiastically enough. Two hours later, though, you haven’t moved from the bedroom. You end up sidetracked, going through closets and drawers and…“ooohhh! What’s this? My high school love letters!”

Before you know it, you’ve walked so far down Memory Lane you’ll need to catch the bus back to the corner of Main & Reality.

8 Steps to Optimizing Your LI Connections

1. See the future: How much new business can you comfortably handle? Be realistic. One new client a month is 12 for the year. Not bad.
2. Choose a target market and do not stray from this focus
3. Join groups for those markets and actively participate in a meaningful way
4. Educate yourself on effective LI search…there are ways to search and findspecific information about specific people
5. Stand out: Be active! Be proactive! Be visible! Get out there and get involved. Create a highly compelling profile; not a resume rehash.
6. Answer questions to highlight your subject expertise
7. Accept connections and request connections. People want to connect with you!
8. Talk to people. I mean, really talk. Show an interest, look for ways to help each other…seeking connections isn’t only about having lots of connections!

Remember…this is social media marketing. You wouldn’t walk into your neighbor’s BBQ, announce your arrival, then sit in your neighbor’s favorite chair and start dominating the conversation, would you? The beauty of social media marketing is the opportunity to use natural, social strategies of communicating, connecting and collaborating to build your online visibility and attract the attention of companies you really want to work with.

What LI strategies have worked well for you?

An interesting article on the keys to using social media avenues to boost a company’s business. Here is a portion of the article.

  1. Analyze existing media, social media, and your demographics. Before you start, analyze existing media, demographics, and new social media alternatives for a fit to your rollout campaign requirements. Factor in the fundamental shift to ‘pull’ marketing taking place across the world in media and advertising. Then set your goals.
  2. Understand the basic tools – the social media trinity. Blogging (WordPress), micro-blogging (Twitter), and social networks are the trinity. Key social networks are Facebook (500 million consumers) and LinkedIn (60 million professionals). Get to know the five W’s of these and others – who, what, where, when, and why. Pick your fit. 
  3. Integrate your strategy into the trinity. Social media does not stand alone; it must be integrated into a balanced marketing strategy. Content is still king, so do the proper homework on what you blog, and the quality of the messages you deliver via social media. Put your social network links on your stationery, business cards, and email.
  4. Assess and commit the resources required. At this point you need executive buy-in, decide what you do personally, assess your staffing and out-sourcing requirements, and commit the budget. This is the time to get creative, run pilot projects to look at ROI, and educate the whole team on objectives and activities.
  5. Implement metrics and analytics. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Determine the proper measurement tools and set up the measurement process. Only then can you determine your ROI. Manage your expectations, and analyze every marketing channel. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The above was published by Lon Safko, who just published his Second Edition of the bestselling book, “The Social Media Bible.”

To read the full article, click here

An article in emarketer notes that more companies will be blogging about their company.

The personal blogosphere, while it still boasts million of online journals and participants, has largely stalled in recent years. Consumer use of social media has moved more toward social networking and microblogging, which seem to have eroded the perceived usefulness of full-fledged blogs. But in the corporate world, a different picture emerges.

Read the rest here

Video is hot! It adds a whole new dimension to your marketing. Are you looking to use video with your social media efforts, but feel a bit stuck.
In this episode of Social Media Examiner TV, Mari Smith shares important tips, creative ideas and what you need to know to integrate video into your social media marketing. Also be sure to catch her ninja marketing tip at the end of the video

Is LinkedIn Not Working For You?

Up to this point, you’ve probably focused on building up your connections to grow your online influence and visibility. However, the greater challenge lies in actually going deeper with those connections that you’ve made online. If you’re simply connected to someone but have no further dialogue, what have you really accomplished?

Read the rest of the article here — 5 Ways to Develop Meaningful LinkedIn Connections