Mark Clayson

Social Media and Business – 47

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The social web has a different flavor and feel to that of offline marketing. We might use the web to provide validation of our offline methods. Do they deliver what we thought they would?

The social landscape questions our established views of our services and, more than that, it shares the views of others whilst disregarding, in effect, ours.

People are searching for information rather than being spoon fed it by companies. They realise that the information they might receive will not be complicated by bias.

When the conversation gets down to a personal level, as on the social web, there has to be justification for actions and assertions. What is it that makes your product better than your competitor’s? How can you justify your prices and what is unique about the services you offer?

You are telling people why they should go with your business but they are also asking for more detail – a dialogue that traditional media was never able to sustain. Your potential customers are no longer interested in your promotional techniques. Just show them why they should put their faith in you and spare them the pitching.

Traditional advertising brings less participation and interaction. Blindness to these, usually biased, modalities reduces awareness of the marketing messages you are trying to convey.

You now need to think of how you can generate this awareness via the social sphere. How will you do it and with which methods? Which social media channel will be the best fit for your campaigns and which contact points with your customers will you use to generate this wholesome conversation that you are aiming for?

You are getting ready to discard the unproductive and expensive media in favour of your social interaction.

Social Media and Business – 46

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The powerful branding methods of TV and radio advertising are being offset by the humanistic interactive processes of social media conversation. Even TV and radio advertising methods are changing into more participative and entertaining events. Many forms of social media are now being integrated into traditional platforms.

Social reputation

What makes your social reputation – that which establishes you as a trustworthy member of the social set? It can sometimes be difficult to be sure but you can detect when it has happened.

Just like the popular guy at the party, social reputation depends in large part on being noticed and being a part of the activity. Even the popular guy doesn’t always do everything right or to everybody’s liking. But he is in the forefront of everybody’s visual and auditory radar and he gets known because of his presence.

Contrast that with the guy that rarely attends parties and you can see and feel the difference.

Your online party is this diverse and persistent social media world. To be the popular guy you have to be there and be seen. Not everything you do will be acceptable and recognizable to everyone that comes into contact with you. But, people just know you are there. That is a great first step and is a perquisite to becoming the regular guy.

Being there is not easily measurable. We still need ways of asking the popular guy how he knows he is well liked. Attending the party is not enough evidence, although being invited back to the same party or to an alternative one is a pretty powerful indicator.

In the social media world there are a variety of simple measurables to consider. We might look at the number of blog comments – are they increasing, are they positive, are they worthy?

You might look at your website visitors – are they increasing, do people stay longer and do they visit more pages?

We might also look at more quantitative measures – more on that later.

Social Media and Business – 45

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Building a social media campaign

Whenever you engage in a social media conversation then that interrupted conversation is already going on. As we have discussed, the conversation is continuing with or without your presence. By joining in you are effectively putting your foot in the door and saying “hey, I am here.”

If you were to interrupt the conversation what exactly would you be saying? How would you say it and how would you say it to the most people?

Companies have tried to interrupt conversations in the past and have been thwarted over the years. Interrupting people’s leisure time with TV and radio adverts has led to more and more people switching off metaphorically until scheduled programming returns.

The interruption of internet surfing by annoying popups has largely decreased due to popup blockers. We receive less (although still too much) spam email because of powerful spam filters.

The world, and the individuals within it, has become less tolerant to people thrusting things in our faces. We are more selective now.

With the development of the social web, the consumer is in charge. He or she decides on what they want to see and when. He or she will decide the form in which they wish to see things and the degree of interaction they wish to have.

People are now volunteers for the information you wish to provide. The power lies in the simple fact that he or she will choose if they do want to engage in the information you wish to share or not. You are a peripheral component to any such decision. In this case, as you are invited in, instead of being an annoyance, you are a powerful ally in the problem solving behaviour of consumers.

Paradoxically your social web presence can strengthen and validate your traditional advertising methods. We are now seeing the emergence of companies and brand names that use both modalities.

Social Media and Business – 44

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The conversations of people in the social media universe give evidential credence as a source of information. The mixture of positive and negative affirmations serve far greater than any advert that you could have ever devised.

But how do you go about finding what is being said about you? It may seem that you need to be there all the time in order to wait for somebody to flag up a reference to you or your products and services. This is clearly unworkable.

Luckily there are ways in which you can determine whether people are speaking about or not. I mentioned Blogpulse before. You can use this in order to search the blogs on the internet to detect the mention of your brand or product.

What you can also do is to determine who is mentioning your competitors and this can be useful information for you in developing your own strategy. I have already told you how you can search YouTube but you can search many other social media platforms as well.

For example you can search the microblogging platform Twitter and you can search the image hosting platform Flickr.com. Search for references about your company. Are there any? What do they show?

Social Media and Business – 43

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Many companies do, of course, survey their customers on regular basis. The outcomes as to how well people think you are doing needs to be taken into account. A social media campaign based on an already poor performance is not likely to be effective. If your customers think that you are already good and they recommend your products or services to other people then you might be ready for a social media campaign.

You cannot simply guess what people are thinking about you. Traditional advertising, as we have seen, means that you are in charge. You develop the message that you wish to give to your customers or potential customers. You decide on what you think the messages are that they are getting.

The modern world does the opposite. Instead of you deciding what message you are going to give your customers, social media messages tell it as it is. There is little leeway for guessing. People either like you or they don’t. The only thing you can do is to decide why they don’t like you and try to change.

Social media is the reality of the advertising world. People are advertising your worth without you being involved. You ignore this at your peril.

The other main difference between traditional advertising and social media networking is the fact that social media users are happy to talk about the negative side of your products or services whereas traditional advertising only talks about the positive. After all, who would commission an advert that reflectively denigrates their very own products?

Social media users are not so worried about the look of things. They are fuelled by the reality of what you provide rather than the utopia in your mind.

People are talking in the first person. They say “I did this” or “I did that.” They might say “I used this” or “I used that.” Unfortunately they also say what they are not going to use ever again and if it is your product or service, this is to your detriment.

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