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  • bob@smsrd.com
  • 800-272-0887

Tag Archives: Social Media

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B2B Social Media Marketing

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Social Media marketing is one of the most powerful tools in business to business (B2B) industries. B2B marketing is about connecting to the right people, with the right message, at the right time. No social media network does that better than LinkedIn. If your business needs to reach the consumer you need to look at Facebook but if its B2B then let’s talk about LinkedIn.

Marketing is not sales although sales are the reason that you do marketing. Marketing is about communicating to the market the value that your business creates. One way to get this done is to connect to the right people and get to know them. Like all marketing challenges this is about reach and frequency where reach is your network and frequency is your newsfeed contributions. Another key element that businesses sometimes miss is that Social Media is a conversation not a speech.

Pick Your Players

The first step in Social Media Marketing is to decide who in your organization will be market facing. These are the people in your organization that are responsible for connecting to the market and that is all business relationships not just sales (although sales will be our focus for this article). Picking market facing people is a big deal and it should be carefully considered. In most organizations you will have people with the mission of connecting to prospective customers but others could be for strategic partners.

Create Amazing Profiles

Once the Market Facing profiles are identified, the first task is to evaluate the profiles and fix any problems on them. Incomplete profiles with no pictures, no background, or few connections scream to the market that you are there to do the minimum work, probably not a message you want. Make sure that every word on the profile is evaluated and that you create great content for these profiles. Ask customers for referrals, join related groups, and start to read (and ‘Like’) some of the discussions.

Upgrade Your Profile

To use LinkedIn professionally you need a professional profile and that costs a few dollars. As I write this the basic professional service level is $47.99 a month or $575.88 a year. There are lots of other services from LinkedIn but this basic one will get you the services you need. The problem with the free profile is that after a very small number of searches the search results become blurred forcing the upgrade. LinkedIn is earned media so while there is no cost per click there is a subscription cost and a labor cost.

Keep Score

Reach in social media is measured by the size and quality of the network connected to your profile. While measuring quality is a complicated conversation, measuring the size is easy. Look at your profile and display the metrics of your reach somewhere your team looks at all the time. In our office, this started out on the whiteboard and was promoted to the electronic dashboard where it is visible to everyone every day. Reach is as simple as three numbers; Starting, Current, and Additions.

Ask the Right Person

Once you have selected the Market Facing Staff the next step is to create a model of the ideal contacts for that person. The search process in LinkedIn is simple but your target may not be. To target a list it has be less than 1,000 names because the system will only show you the first 100 pages. Our process starts by limiting to the 2nd level connections and then we start slicing it with other settings. There is no one way to do this but common slices are geographic location, title, industry, etc.

Introduce Yourself to the Right People

Marketing 101: “If you do not ask for the connection then your rejection rate will be 100% and your growth will be 0%.” Where people fail in this step is by being lazy and not thinking about the person they are contacting. If you want a connection, tell the person why and make it as personal as possible. If you cannot make it personal then you have not really thought about the person you are contacting. I start this process by thinking about the profile of the person I want to connect to. This becomes a search profile that we use to find those people and deliver a targeted connection message to. The mission of the message is to clearly state in 300 characters or less why connecting to me will be of value to them. If you fail to reach this standard you will have problems with LinkedIn and will be eventually blocked from future connection requests. People who are in interested in what you say will accept the connection. A good guideline is if your yes rate from your message is less than 10% you are in trouble, 10-20% is average, and over 20% you will earn a positive reputation.  

Watch Your Timing

Marketing is about timing and social media does not change that but it can help. When we work with clients on this we often look for events that trigger or are associated with demand. In the business world, this can come in many forms but a common one is conventions and seminars. A recent example of this was a client in the tourism trade that wanted to rent accommodations to business travelers. We found several venues in the local area that hosted conventions and then requested connections to the managers most likely to be involved in the event logistics. This allowed us to communicate with the person that was most likely going to set the accommodations for the team that would staff the convention. This is an example of using events and social media to get messages to the right people at the right time, after that all we needed was the right offer.   

Engage with the Conversation

Once you have a network you need to invite a conversation and avoid shifting into speech mode.  Businesses often fall into the trap of only talking about themselves and it comes across as something between arrogant and conceited. Messaging in social media needs to be of value to the intended audience and failing to meet that standard is a big problem. Communication in LinkedIn is part of the newsfeed and needs to be thought of as a mosaic that you put together one posting at a time. Your posts taken as a collection is your story.

Measure Response

In our social media plans we decide on the frequency and message content and then measure the engagement we get from that. We use a simple Excel spreadsheet as shown below as a management summary. What we are looking for are topics that engage our audience, aka network, and our reach outside of our established network. If the audience finds your content interesting they are likely to read more from you and the system will see that and give you better distribution.

Yes, It’s a lot of Work

Social media is earned media not paid media and as a result it has more work in it. Earned media has been around for generations although in the olden days it was called PR. Earned media is 10x more powerful than paid advertising but less controlled. If you want to build you network we do offer this as a service and we would be glad to discuss this in detail – call us 800.272.0887 and ask for Josh or Bob.


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Social Media Basics

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people on social media devices

So many different social media devices

This article is for the people within a B2B business that are responsible for the management of social media for business networking and communications. In most businesses this will include key executives, sales, marketing, and purchasing staff. Learn to manage your social media voice.

Budget Your Time

Managing your social media is simple but you have to continually refine social media to improve your business reach and voice. The key to this is that you have to invest time on a regular basis to build your network and exercise your voice. Social media can be a captivating technology that can consume untold hours and as a business you have to put some common sense limits on this. This is a process not a project so it will never be finished and it must be managed as such. Decide on the right balance of effort and then stick to that.

It’s simple…The right people in the right seats talking to the right people

The first step in social media is going to be picking the right people and they typically fall into three categories; Executives, Sales & Marketing, and Purchasing. The reality is that business value comes from communication for either sales or purchasing as those are the common external connections of a business. Executives are different in that they often reach into both areas with their contacts. In larger organizations this can be many profiles divided into territories. Once you have the profiles identified you need to create a profile of the connections. That profile should include their network which is simply made up of who they should be speaking to.

Audience Profiling – it’s not really a bad word

The media has given profiling people a bad name but the reality is that for each social media profile you should have an audience profile describing the audience that is targeted for that profile. For example, if you have a product sold to medical offices in Chicago and the profile has sales responsibility then the audience profile might be:

  1. Medical Office Decision Makers
    1. Common Titles
      1. Office Manager
      2. Practice Manager
      3. Medical Office
      4. Practice Administrator
      5. IT Manager
  2. Doctors
    1. Common Titles
      1. Medical Director
      2. Managing Partner
      3. Managing Physician
  3. Negative Contacts
    1. Competitor
    2. Out of the area

This profile is then used to qualify additional connections. The first thing some people might say is “well that’s dumb, I know who I want to connect to.” However, you will sing a different song when a key person leaves the organization and the network has to be rebuilt. The last item you might notice is the negative contact profile. These are the people we do not want in our network and the common example is the competitor but there are special considerations here. We have often accepted requests from competitors and then used that to check shared contacts to assess risk or to identify opportunities and then we disconnect them from the network.

Set Goals & Budget Time

Network building goes on for an entire career so the time involved can get out of balance with its true value. For this reason it is best to set a time-budget and then make sure it gets used. Spend half an hour each week introducing yourself to new people that fit your audience profile. All the social networks provide utilities for this network building process so make sure everyone is trained on how to use these. With each profile we recommend setting a weekly goal for network building and then tracking it on a monthly basis. In many client profiles that we manage the goal for a rep is to add 5 new people each week and while that seems like nothing, over the course of a year that is 250 additional contacts that are hearing your message.

Plan the message but react to events

With the network in place and evolving as it should the next area to address would be the messages that you will put into the network. First, remember that you are a person and that should not get lost here. Your messages paint a picture to your business and it needs to be what you are about but this is not advertising so it is not a constant sales message. The people that go into social media screaming at the top of their lungs are always surprised that they did not get the response they expected. That is because as a net-citizen they are being rude. The golden rule is that people do business with those that they trust and if your message is a constant “me, me, me” people will react badly to your messaging. A common plan is to share 80% personal and industry information and 20% or less direction promotional copy. Remember that the postings you make are painting a picture about who and what you are as a person and a person that spends all their time talking about themselves is boring.

In Summary: Build your network, refine your voice, and keep on keeping on.


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Marketing-Strategy-Team

Marketing Teams & Operations

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Business success or failure is tightly related to the strength of its teams and the marketing team is often on the front edge of that sword. To build an effective marketing team you need a variety of experts that work effectively together. An effective digital marketing team will need at least 5 different skillsets to make the magic happen. So here they are:

  • Strategy
  • Content
  • Advertising
  • Conversation
  • Analytics

Each of these teams requires a different skillset and a person that is great in one might be a failure in another. Let’s explore the roles of these teams and the skills they need.

STRATEGY

This team needs to start with a representative from the Executive Management Group and the higher up the better. In a small business, this is typically the CEO or Owner and even if they know nothing about marketing they HAVE to be on the team. A strategy team without a representative from the executive group is very likely to fail. This does not mean that the executive has to become a marketing expert but they have to engage in the process. Many small businesses are owned and run by technical experts that lack the marketing skills. However, they bring to the team an understanding of and unquestioned loyalty to the business. This team can be subdivided into committees to deal with the detailed planning of specifics.
The strategy needs to answer these broad questions:

  • Audiences – Who are we going to communicate with?
  • Messages – What are we going to say?
  • Campaigns – When are we going to be in market?
  • Channels – Where are we going to be?
  • Performance – Why are we doing this?
  • Budget – How much are we going to invest?

I am sure most will instantly see the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How structure used for building a strategy. The challenge here is that these stages have many relationships that can be very difficult to document and think through.

Audiences – Who are we going to communicate with? This is a more complex question than many think. The simple answer is that you want to talk to customers and prospective customers but it is way more involved. The challenges are that communication is sloppy, messages between audiences can work against each other and channels overlap. Audiences evolve through stages of suspect, prospect, customer, client, and evangelist (aka Brand Advocate) and the communication evolves as the relationship does. The key thing is to know who we are talking to so we know how to talk. For each audience, we recommend building a persona that the planning groups can refer to in the later planning processes. It is much easier to remember a persona if you give them a name, image, and profile. At this stage, you need to gather some basic data on these audiences. At a minimum, get the number of people at each stage because one truth that will shortly be in front of you is that there is always more market to reach than there is budget to reach that market. This means that you are going to have to make priority decisions and the potential of each audience is a critical item in the thought process.

One sign that you have an audience problem is when someone says “Everyone is our customer” and even if this were true – and it never is – you still have to develop messaging that moves the person to action and that requires a defined audience.

Messages – What are we going to say? The marketing messages are independent of the audiences but they are assigned to the audiences. Over the years, we have discovered that many planning groups work better if they focus on an audience and then develop messages for that persona. As you move to subsequent audiences, the pace will pick up because you can assign already developed messages to the new group and discuss only what is different about messaging to that group.
In the old days, messages were largely one direction but social media changed that in a big way. Today messages are part of a two way conversation with the market and that means that all customer facing staff have to know these messages and who they are intended for.

Campaigns – When are we going to be in market? Armed with the audiences we want to communicate with and the messages we want to deliver, the next phase is putting them into campaigns and detailing out the specifics of budgets, content, specific performance goals, and other channel specific details. Campaigns ultimately are what bring audiences, messages, and channels together with performance goals.

Channels – Where are we going to be? This is a simple inventory of the channels that the strategy intends to use and every possible channel needs to be explored. There is no reason to be in every channel or every placement within the channel but you do have to consider it. Much of the research here is use by competitors, audience match to your audiences, and effectiveness of the placements. At a minimum, you need to consider search, display, remarketing, and social placements.

Performance – Why are we doing this? Performance is the reason we do all of this and it is what brings us back to the strategy. Within the strategy, we established goals for the various campaigns and in the performance we are checking to see what really happened and make adjustments as needed. Performance is not without its challenges and the first is that measurements in marketing are never perfect nor are they simple linear processes. We would all like to have an action to reaction relationship but the reality is that there are multiple actions to a reaction and the number of these varies greatly. There are many, including myself, that believe that action to reaction can be as high as 20. This means that for any one specific reaction, there could be 20 contributing actions that were taken.

Budget – How much are we going to invest? This is always one of the tough items in any plan. The answer to this is almost always the same. You want to spend as little as possible but as much as necessary.

CONTENT

Content is king and creating it is magic or so many would like you to think. There is no question that the team in this area has to be insanely creative with the ability to create visual and textual content that communicates the messages to the audience. While this has never been my strength, it is certainly one that I appreciate; when it is done right. The challenge sometimes is keeping the creative in-line with the strategy. One item that is very different in digital marketing (as opposed to print) is that the creative can be tested in the market to see if the message resonates with the audience.

ADVERTISING

Advertising is the blocking and tackling of the process. With the channels and budgets decided on, the goal of this team is to take care of the details. Digital advertising is very different than conventional placement in that the key is to run the system properly and keep the audience on target. This task is about running a fairly complex computer system to get maximum output from it. The team here tends to be strong on math and system process mechanics.

CONVERSATION

Conversations have always been part of marketing but social media has made them much more important and have changed the nature of these conversations. No longer is a conversation between the parties involved in the dialog because it now includes the thousands or even millions that will observe the conversation. An exchange with a prospect on Facebook can easily go viral resulting in millions of impressions for an offhand remark. This part of the team normally will fall to the customer service and sales department, which means getting them on board with the audiences and messages is now critical. Social media can be thought of as the dinner networking meeting of today only with an unlimited audience attending.

ANALYTICS

Analytics is an area that has existed in marketing since the first ad was run and someone wanted to know what it did. What has changed is that the depth of the data has increased and with that came some good things and some new challenges.

  • On the positive side we know a lot more about the interactions of people with our content and placements.
  • On the negative side we know a lot more about the interactions of people with our content and placements.

It is very easy today to bury decision makers in data while they starve for actionable information. The real magic in Analytics is reading the tea leaves and transforming data into information. You have to be very careful today with what you think you know and what specific data actually means. The Analytics team is responsible for transforming this data and feed the information back to the strategy team that can make adjustments in the direction of the business. This is typically done on a regular schedule and we recommend no more than one month between these cycles.

SUMMARY

In closing, you need smart people with different perspectives to the challenges that your business will face. In strategy, you need broad thinkers with a handle on the mission and goals of the organization. In content, you need creative people that can transform detailed messaging into easily understood visual and textual elements. In advertising, you need smart math skills with the discipline to execute. In conversations, you need people that understand how to relate to others using new means of communication like social media. In analytics, you need people that took Stats 450 for the easy A and that can communicate with the strategic thinkers, creatives, advertisers, and customer service.


Call us to see what's next for your marketing.