How not to suck at social

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All year I have been writing about several underlying concepts one should have a grasp on in order to be a more marketable social media professional. We have covered everything from being flexible, Analytics, SEO, content, and integration of social into a traditional marketing plan and beyond. For a re-cap, read here.

These concepts are not only necessary for today’s marketer, they are almost demanded. By this I mean they may not be skills that one would encounter in one specific job description. But, they are skills that will over lap from department to department. Having an understanding of their application to not only your specific role, but others as well will give you a broader view of the overall marketing picture while also making you more desirable, more effective and ultimately more successful. We have made it to the last concept in the series, and perhaps the most basic yet often overlooked and underutilized.

Do you know who the top Influencers are in your sector? Your competitors? Industry specific trends?

For my Social Media Marketing graduate students, I suggest that they follow a few Social Media Marketing thought leaders and companies on Twitter, follow a few blogs, and read a few books. This applies to the seasoned professional as well. Please take a moment to click on the previous links to bookmark, save, share etc. As you browse the internet and search and read about topics of interest, you will notice several names pop up continuously. These will likely be your thought leaders. By reading related blogs and keeping up to speed via other social channels, you are more able to identify and connect with other like minded professionals, identify industry leaders, identify and track competition, and often identify opportunities.

Be proactive and use social tools to stay informed and relevant even if you are not a social media marketer.

For those within the SMM industry, you are likely already doing this. If not, please be sure to take a moment to read “20 Minutes a Week to More Connected and Intelligent You: Are You Ignoring These Basic Social Media 101 Concepts?”.

Blurred Lines

As social business progresses, I feel that the departmental lines are getting blurred (more on that here). Roles and functions are being re-defined and those working in one field that may not seem to be related at all to social media marketing are being impacted by social media in one way or another. Yet another reason I love the field of social media marketing and subsequently chose it as my research focus in my doctoral work.

Historically, skills that are valuable in one department were not as valuable in others. In this social age, this is no longer the case. The marketer who has an understanding of SEO and Google Analytics is far more valuable than one only proficient in writing basic content. That is not to say that every marketer will need to address SEO And Analytics, but it does help if everyone is on the same page given marketing projects related to social tend span several departments. This is not a new concept. Businesses and marketers know that communication between departments is key, but more so now than ever with the all encompassing role of social media.

Get a move on

Today’s ‘real time” business environment makes it necessary for all departments to move quickly and nimbly. With this increase in social media use for Marketing comes an increase in the need for departments to seamlessly present one brand and communicate in one voice. This consistent image and voice contributes to not only the customer relationship with the brand but also the customer experience.

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Whats on my reading list?!

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I have been asked several times of the past few weeks what is on my reading list over the Holiday Break. Well, I am busy working hard to finish grading Finals, Final Papers, and preparing material for the Spring terms so that I can truly have a “break” over the holidays. That being said, I have not come with some elaborate list, just a simple photo of my bookshelf that has been holding 3 books I hope to read for the past 2 months! Note I have linked to Amazon and author websites/blogs. I suggest reading the reviews on Amazon and exploring the authors site as well.

Big Data MarketingLisa Arthur
Maximize Your SocialNeal Schaefer
Brands & RousersLuis Gallardo

I hope you will join me and read one or all of these titles and tell me your thoughts below!

3 Labels I hate: Social Media Jedi, Social Media Rock Star, & Social Media Guru

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One of the first things my Social Media MBA students come to realize within the first 2 weeks of class is that the world of social moves at a rapid pace, changes often, and is constantly being evaluated and re-evaluated. You, the social media professional, carry the responsibility of ensuring you stay current with technology, methods, and strategy.

With this responsibility also comes the need to represent yourself in a realistic light. Resist the urge to describe yourself as a social media Jedi, social media rock star, social media guru or the like. However, ‘social media professional’ is quite descriptive in itself. As the name implies, you specialize in social media, you are proficient, qualified, practiced, and this is your career.

Specifically, to be effective in this role, you must be:

Open to trying new things

In the quest to find the right methods, the right apps, the most effective platforms, the newest technology and the like, one must be open to experimentation and trying new things. Just as constructive criticism is difficult for some to take, trying “new” ways to perform traditional marketing duties is also difficult for some to accept. Social media and technology are working symbiotically to drive business by not only making it possible to communicate with others over a variety of channels in real time, but also allowing it to be done in a way that fosters an atmosphere of collaboration.

Flexible

Anyone working in business knows the importance of remaining flexible. Inevitably unexpected obstacles will abound, and it is necessary to have the ability to be flexible. Meaning, having the ability to react, adapt, and prosper. Being flexible means different things in different contexts, and different things to different people. To me, it means bending a little, but not breaking; adapting, but not losing focus. It also means knowing where you are going but not ignoring opportunities that present themselves along the way that could benefit business. This applies not only to your career as a social media professional, but also to your business and its social media marketing strategy.

An avid reader

The social media professional must commit to reading daily. Whether it be blogs, books, trade magazines, etc. you must read constantly. I suggest my students set up a blog reader like NetVibes to curate valuable reading material surrounding social media, analytics, measurement, ROI, careers, and other industry specific topics. As Dr. Seuss said, ” The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”.

An avid researcher

This point goes long with reading. Not only should you be reading, you should be keeping relevant information as it pertains to your social media goals and specific objectives. Let me repeat, specific objectives. Research case studies similar to your brand, search aggressively for the latest trends and best practices. This is a must to keep you current in this ever-changing social landscape.

I have definitely over simplified these four traits. But, over the next four weeks focus on one trait a week. As with any new regimen (like working out), start off with small goals. For example, week one you may decide to focus on finding some blogs you find interesting and adding them to a reader. Then, begin to read and absorb the wealth of knowledge available. Then, week two you may decide to continue reading and also make a conscious effort to be open to new things. I am not saying to go sky-diving, I am strictly speaking about business and social. Something ‘new’ could be investigating BufferApp or another social media focused application.

Do not forget to be aware of your flexibility, moments when you need to give a little, and moments you do not. And of course, don’t forget to pick a week to do a little in-depth research (possibly over an application you read about).

By the end of week four you should have assessed your level of flexibility, found what interests you in regards to research, tried a few new things, and done a lot of reading! These suggestions are not only useful to the new social media professional, but for the seasoned one as well. We all need a reminder (and the motivation) to stay in touch with our industry and in touch with ourselves.

photo credit: Pedro Glez. via photopin cc

20 Simple Ways to Integrate Social Media with Traditional Marketing Practices

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Photo Credit: source

It is becoming less and less often that I see a national brand, or even a local Mom and Pop store without some form of social media profile. This is a good thing. However, more often than not they are only using Facebook and social profiles are not integrated with other marketing communications, or worse yet, not even tied to their traditional marketing strategy.

Wherever there it the potential to communicate with a consumer, there is the potential for integration. In teaching my graduate level social media marketing courses, it is often noted students can see so many potential areas their employers could integrate a social element. Many times a quick assessment of the competitions social media presence can incite a few ideas.

Traditional marketing and social marketing must be integrated and nurtured in order to realize the full potential of a very powerful combo. Without fully integrating the two, businesses can take on great risks related to over-dependence on one or over-use of another. Businesses must define their strategy, roles, and expectations of social media before both integration and implementation of a social strategy.

This month we visit concept #12 from my series 15 Social Media Concepts to Make you a More Marketable Social Media Professional:

Concept 12: The importance of integrating traditional with social strategy. This is often easier said than done and involves a lot of time, people, and patience.

Social is also a great way to help clarify the messages you send through traditional marketing. With social media, you can create a dialogue with your customers to ensure the right messages are relayed. The key is consistency and relevancy. Integration of social media with traditional marketing requires the understanding that there are differences between the ways we communicate. Keep in mind, anywhere communication becomes interactive can be considered a form of social media. With social, we are now talking with our customers as opposed to at them via traditional methods. Likewise, social media is both outbound marketing and inbound marketing.

Use the following a a checklist for your brand. They are just a few ways you can easily integrate social with existing traditional Marketing initiatives. Note that not all are suitable for all readers:

-Create an App
-Optimize your website for mobile
-Use social to promote inbound marketing
-Link all social profiles
-Incorporate social icons/links to the brand website/blog
-Incorporate social icons/links to all email marketing
-Offer the ability to share/like via share buttons/widgets
-Utilize social media for a virtual event
-Utilize social media at live events
-Promote Marketing events ( trade shows, seminars) via social
-Create video content/infographics
-Utilize Qr Codes (only if it makes sense for you, I do not suggest QR Codes on moving objects. Yes I have seen it done.)
-Use social media engagement for market research
-Use Facebook/Twitter (or other platform) touch points on advertising
-Incorporate your brand image/personality in all social platforms used
-Utilize Social for employee recruitment and retention
-Utilize social for sales team communication/prospecting
-Open up customer service channels through social media
-Include a ‘Call to Action’ in all communication (spark an action), give them a reason to go to
a social touchpoint
-Utilize Google Analytics to track visits and possible conversions

Photo Credit: source

Help me improve my students future successes: What do you demand from your Marketing staff?!

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So, I find myself evaluating what skills my students bring to the table once they graduate with a Masters in Marketing and/ or a concentration in Social Media Marketing or Digital Marketing. I am hoping that you, my loyal tribe will help give some insight to what you want from your marketing staff! What skills do they lack, what concepts of skills are under-developed,what skills do you see pertinent to business in the next year, 5 years? I see a lot of room to grow with analytics and big data as well as mobile, but I really want to hear your input. How can I improve the quality of the candidates out in the market?

What say you from deep in the business trenches?! Please leave a comment below ( brief is fine) and your business. You may also wish to share via Twitter @drjrogers.

Also, please share via your networks as I would love to get a lot of feedback over the next month.

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Are You Ignoring These Basic Social Media 101 Concepts?

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At the beginning of each term, I ask my students in my first of three levels of social media marketing courses to utilize our class wiki to list their name, blog, and Twitter handle. In the last 2 years (and 12 courses later), there are fewer and fewer students without a Twitter handle and LinkedIn account when they begin class. This is a great sign, and pleases me to no end! At the beginning of my journey teaching the Social Media MBA, many students had not used Twitter for personal or business purposes, with a majority not even having any social accounts other than a personal Facebook page and the occasional Instagram. These platforms offer so much more than sharing pictures with family and humorous memes. They offer brands a way to connect, engage, and nurture relationships with the consumer.

You cannot see what folks are doing in social media (this would include your customers) if you’re not in the trenches with them. Just as we integrate a marketing campaign for a product, you do this among social platforms. All of your social profiles should align to present a digital footprint- one that is of “you”. This may seem to be a very basic concept, but students sometime forget the over-all goals and objectives they have set for their own personal brand, and veer off into left field with tweets and blog posts. Your Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, and blog etc. are a puzzle that when put together represents you and your brand.

Be the seeker and the sought after

Through Twitter, a user is able to search the social networking site using industry specific words to read posts, links, and even discover thought leaders for various industries. The user can follow these folks and also have relevant two-way dialogue. For example, a simple search using #smm would reveal all posts related to SMM (AKA social media marketing) using that hashtag (#), or the top posts (your choice). After viewing the posts, one can browse, follow, and network. The #hashtag is a powerful tool in that it not only allows you to find the information you seek, and also allows the information/posts you share to be found.

To Hashtag or not to Hashtag?

One of the things I have noticed about the beginners in my social media courses, is the absence of a #hashtag in their tweets. I am not saying every tweet needs one, but it is a great way to filter out the noise. Your hashtags must be relevant in order to establish yourself as a credible and viable source of information. Overuse and misuse of the hashtag #pretty #much #negates # your #professionalism. Another blatant misuse of the hashtag is hijacking. Last year, we saw #McDStories hashtag hijacked and used for purposes of negative bashing of the brand as opposed to the sharing of happy moments and good things surrounding the brand. I will admit as a social media marketer, I enjoy (for lack of a better word) seeing these scenarios because I want to see how the brand handles it. Grab a bag of popcorn and watch a live case study unfold. It is very unfortunate that there is such misuse. However, those of us in social media know once we expose ourselves via social, we open up a host of possible crisis situations that must be planned for. More on that in a few weeks.

Professional Connections

Also relevant for the social media professional is LinkedIn. This professional networking site allows you to post and view profiles. It is a great personal branding tool allowing the user to post relevant information, a photo, Twitter ID, and blog site etc. LinkedIn offers many groups that are industry specific that can be used as a sounding board, advice, and even support. The Texas Young Professionals group would be a great place to start for my Texas students and The Social Media Strategies for Business Group for the professional interested in social media.

I am sure most of the readers of this article are already on Twitter and LinkedIn and active. Kudos. If you are not, and refuse to due to privacy issues and not wanting to go on to “yet another social platform”, I urge you to reconsider. Both Twitter and LinkedIn can be a huge asset in not only networking with like-minded folks, but also to research topics, news, and subject matter thought leaders. Similarly, it can be an asset for B2B’s to get to know prospective clients prior to meetings and to network, and for B2C’s to share valuable content and become more accessible. By no means is this an exhaustive list of benefits, but you get the idea.

Be a Life Long Learner

In this age of a technology and being able to have access to a wealth of information, why ignore it? Be a life learner by way of other professionals out there willing to share what they have learned. I mentioned in another article here that I have surrounded myself with like-minded people that I can have a symbiotic relationship with. Many of the folks I follow on Twitter and connect with on LinkedIn were chosen because I can learn from them and I value the content they produce. You should do the same. Set aside 20 minutes each week this month and explore these networks to add to your “tribe”.

Social platforms offer brands (both corporate and personal) the ability to learn, share, connect, and create opportunities!

Read the entire, unedited post here.

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Social Media as a tool for educators and students

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Most college courses incorporate some form of social media into learning material (I have been known to go a little Social Media crazy), so most students are familiar with basic uses of the medium. Considering most students are already using such platforms as Facebook and YouTube, it only makes sense to utilize these tools for education. Students are using social media to view supplemental information pertaining to their courses via blogs, wikis, forums, YouTube and more. For example, Stanford Graduate School of Business has a YouTube channel that offers viewers lectures, interviews, and an insight into many of its graduate level courses. Similarly, blogs (such as this one) are introduced to students to offer additional resources for review in order to achieve an over all goal of comprehending course topics. Social offers various ways to present material. One of the most common and widely-used categorizations of the various types of learning styles is Fleming’s VARK model (sometimes VAK) which lists learners as:

1. visual learners: info-graphics, pictures, diagrams, video presentations.
2. auditory learners: lectures, discussions, podcasts, online videos.
3. kinesthetic learners or tactile learners: Physically “doing”.

Using social media can assist instructors in universities in catering to these needs.

Networking capabilities alone make the use of platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter a must for university students. Social allows the users (students for the sake of this discussion) to not only forge relationships with others in their field of study, but it also enhances the educational experience. Platforms such as discussion boards, Facebook, and individual blogs help to foster a feeling of community for those taking online/distance education courses (as well as those taking courses on campus). For example, I have a Facebook group for my present and past students. Via the page, students can network with each other, I post employment opportunities and Marketing related materials, and the students do the same. Students from both universities (thousands of miles away from each other) are utilizing this page. In addition, I use Twitter in the same fashion. Further, all of my level one students (those taking class one of three) have personal blogs as a requirement of the course. They ‘follow’ each other via Twitter and their blogs and give support and critique when needed.

I believe there is less emphasis on social for employment searches, career advancement, and personal branding than I would like to see in undergraduate courses. For example, the use of a LinkedIn profile and the groups found within could be utilized for job searches, industry specific news, networking with those in your field, or perhaps following an organization you hope to work for. A personal blog can highlight a student portfolio, and a Twitter feed may further enhance the students’ brand. Personal branding through social can help a student position themselves for success. Every undergraduate student should be able to utilize social in the following ways:

1. Networking
2. Researching
3. Job Searching
4. Personal Branding

Social Media as introduced in graduate courses go beyond the above mentioned basic use of social media platforms. (See my last article). The series of courses is introduced with the first week centered around students learning about the evolution of social media and comparison of the various social media tools. Often students do not realize how often they are using social media because they have never actually defined social media beyond Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter. Similarly, they may have never considered the business uses for social media or their benefits to consumers and businesses. Always an interesting topic for discussion for the first week of this first course is the state of current business practices using social media. It is a great way to get the students realizing what social media marketing is, and what it is not.

I am always surprised that one or two students each term questions if they ‘have’ to get a Twitter account and create a blog for the course. The answer is yes. Anyone wanting to learn about social media needs to be “in” social. I always look forward to seeing my students create their blogs. They have addressed various topics and I truly love watching them get creative with the design, layout, topics, and promotion of the blogs. Many of them choose to keep the blog private for only the class and myself to view, and that is completely acceptable. My main concern is having the student experience the creation and maintenance of a blog and understand the role it has within business.

Read the entire article on Maximizesocialbusiness.com

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My top 15 Social Media Marketing Blogs worth subscribing to

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As I am wrapping up a Graduate term, I wanted to share with my students a few of my favorite blogs! I have posted a few of my favorite folks to follow on Twitter in my post 15 folks you must follow if you’re “all about” Social Media Marketing, and some Feeds/blogs will be duplicated to some extent. But, take a moment to visit each of these sites and subscribe! This list is by no means exhaustive, just a short list and a great way to not only curate content but to continue learning about this ever changing facet of business.

Of course to top the list are two sites where I have contributed blog posts:
Neal Schaffer’s http://maximizesocialbusiness.com/
and Mark Schaefer’s http://www.businessesgrow.com/
http://ericttung.com/blog/
http://www.jeffbullas.com/
http://searchengineland.com/
http://moz.com/blog
http://www.copyblogger.com/blog
http://soshable.com/
http://www.socialbrite.org/
http://www.briansolis.com/
http://socialmediatoday.com/
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/
http://www.likeable.com/blog/
http://www.mackcollier.com/
http://socialfresh.com/

And if you liked this post, subscribe to THIS blog!
https://drjrogers.wordpress.com/

Traditional Marketing and Technology Driving Social


Approximately half a century ago the American Marketing Association coined the term the “Four ‘P’s” as a way to describe the essential elements of the marketing mix: product, price, place and promotion. By the 1980s, “Relationship Marketing” was used to describe a new focus on understanding customer segments, delivering ongoing quality service, and achieving high customer satisfaction. The 80’s saw the emergence of database marketing, however, chaotic databases did not provide much insight for businesses at the time.

In the 90’s, companies began to improve on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) by making it more of a two-way street. Instead of simply gathering data for their own use, they began giving back to their customers not only for the obvious goal of improved customer service, but in incentives, gifts, and other perks for customer loyalty. This marks the beginning of frequent flyer programs, bonus points on credit cards, and other resources that are based on tracking of customer activity and spending patterns. CRM was now being used as a way to increase sales passively as well as through active improvement of customer service. The 90’s also saw computer systems become available to support sales and service processes, and by the mid-1990s, “CRM” became the umbrella term as it became clear that multiple departments should share information. By the late 90s, the growth in Internet gave way to e-business applications to manage online customer and partner relationships, often called “e-CRM” and “Partner Relationship Management,” respectively. Similarly, “Multi-channel” systems were becoming available as well to support various channels, while allowing users to use whatever mode of communication they pleased.

With the previous (very brief) history lesson, you can see that social media marketing is part of the natural progression of business. Social media marketing is not a new concept; it is still focused on the traditional principles involving targeting audiences and engaging. However, social media and mobile technology are creating new, and very substantial opportunities for marketers while necessitating an entirely new set of methods to integrate with traditional marketing. With this transition, many businesses are finding gaps in how and where they engage with various consumer segments. These gaps are potential opportunities for tech companies to create better tools to connect with consumers as well as provide metrics.

These new ways to connect with target audiences and customers continue to evolve, and with that comes the responsibility of businesses to evolve as well. Traditional and social strategies should be integrated for an overall effective marketing strategy. Brands should consider the following six concepts:

1. Social media is changing everything. For a many brands, social media will become the primary communication channel to connect with customers. For some, it already is.

2. The customer experience should be seamless across all channels. Meaning, social should be thoughtfully integrated with other customer-facing initiatives.

3. Brands must think like a customer. Instead of asking the reasons a company should engage in social media, ask why a customer would want to interact with your company via social media.

4. Utilize traditional methods to create connections via social.  If you want to use social media for customer engagement, you should be creating marketing campaigns in traditional channels like advertising and direct mail to encourage people to your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other social media sites.  This could be done in many ways, such as offering a premium, discount, or a unique experience (this is case specific of course).

5. Make offers redeemable via social. If the goal of your company is to build more social media relationships, you should be creating offers that can be fulfilled by way of your social media platforms.  The company webpage and toll free numbers are still important, however Facebook and your other social media platforms should be among your primary response channels.

6. Provide relevant and timely information.  Content you provide on Twitter or Facebook should offer value to your consumers, and be integrated with content and information utilized on your other, more traditional channels.

Companies now know significantly more about consumers and must use this insight to talk, engage, and interact with their customers more often and more meaningfully in new and innovative ways.  The use of social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and blogs are being used to drive engagement and participation to ultimately create relationships with customers and potential customers.  This is an exciting time for marketers with the technology available to manage customer information, data, trends, and relationships as well as the new social environment that creates a one on one marketing opportunity.

It is encouraging to see new companies address gaps between social media marketing initiatives and technology.  It illuminates the progression traditional marketing as it makes it way through the ‘social/mobile age’, into a realm of so many possibilities for both the consumer and the marketer.  What do you as see the next un-tapped opportunity for marketers made possible by social and mobile?

The views expressed are those of the author, and do not represent those of Southern New Hampshire University unless stated explicitly.

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Translating Business Objectives into Social Media Objectives

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This month, my Social Media MBA students are working on a project that involves a website, blog, and multiple peripheral social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The objective of this project is to give them a virtual sandbox of sorts to put into action what they have learned in my previous two social media courses. The project involves creating a social media strategy from the ground up. Quite a challenge with the limited amount of time in a semester. However, they are moving right along and will pass the torch so to speak when their course ends.

The first hurdle we faced this term was setting goals and objectives that accurately addressed our vision and mission. This is often the case for many businesses. Initial goals and objectives are either too broad, not specific enough, or not measurable. Once we clearly defined our business objectives, the social strategy fell into place.

Regardless of the type of new business venture, organizations should evaluate their business objectives, strategies, and tactics beforehand. The world of social media is no different. Each organization is unique, and their approaches to social media strategy will vary according to set business objectives.

Before undertaking any type of social media initiative, an organization must begin with identifying objectives and then coordinating social media activities that address those objectives specifically. Most readers would choose to utilize social media to ‘increase sales’ armed only with an arsenal of tactics such as start a contest on Facebook, develop a blog with postings weekly; set up related Twitter feed. These actions in and of themselves are fine and could very well increase sales. However, what about the long term?

A viable social media strategy should start with these basic questions:

* Who? Who is your target audience, where are they online, how can you reach them?
* What? What are your primary objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
* When? When will you evaluate the social strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped.
* Where? Where does the social strategy fit into the overall business? When utilizing such tools as Twitter and Facebook, brands are realizing that social media sites can provide support for not only the marketing and sales departments, but can also assist with educational endeavors, public relations, and even customer care. A social strategy often spans over different departments and objectives should be formulated accordingly.
* Which? Which employees/departments will oversee social media, be responsible for posting, and reporting?
* How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

A key concept for business to understand is that a large portion of Internet traffic still comes from searches, and mobile use for these searches will soon exceed those done via personal computer! Read the entire article on Maximize Social Business.