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Setting up social media profiles is the easy part, but did you choose the right platforms for your business and how will you engage the community? Industry experts: Sean Carton, Chief Strategy Officer, idfive; Jeanniey Mullen, Chief Marketing Officer, Zinio; Heidi Cohen, President, Riverside Marketing Strategies; and Brian Boland, Performance Solutions Manager at Facebook dished out to-dos for companies eager to engage with the community on the SES Social Media Checklist panel . The session was moderated by Anna Maria Virzi, Executive Editor of ClickZ.

Regardless of which social media channels companies delve in to, developing the brand’s social strategy for genuine engagement must be the big-picture-focus. Whether selling goods, acquiring leads or providing a service– read this before you build or expand your company’s social medial profiles.


Virzi: What is Social Media?

Boland: It’s hard to define social media. It changes every year. All these different platforms make it difficult to define but it is:

  1. A dramatic change in how we use the internet
  2. Interactive. A shift from consuming to connecting, commenting, sharing and creating with others

Carton: personally I thinkcommunication social media is technologies that facilitate conversations. We’ve had social media around for a while. The question is: How can we use technology to help people talk to each other?

Cohen: It involves different levels of engagement. It’s not just the people who put content out there. It’s readers, commenters and creators. It includes photos, slides, webinars, video, .pdfs.

Social media has become so big because it has the ability to connect everyone. If something takes off it can go off quite quickly. Dialog can happen in real-time or asynchronously. We’re moving from the fact that it has to be on a computer and is now on mobile devices. Social media melts online and offline worlds. You can use social media to extend the reach of offline to online.

Mullen: Social media is something that is water-cooler worthy. It’s something that people want to talk about.

Virzi: The panel submitted their own 10 checklist items, 8 overlapped:

  1. What is your overall marketing strategy?
  2. What are your marketing/business goals for your social media marketing?
  3. What forms of social media will you use and why?
  4. How will you measure your social media marketing? (What metrics? How will you get the data? What do you do with the data?)
  5. Are you currently listening to what is being said about your company, brands and products?
  6. What types of supporting marketing will you use to promote and extend the reach of your program?
  7. What dedicated resources will you allocate to your social media programs: financial and headcount?
  8. Chose the right outlets.

Cohen: If you don’t have constant content that you’re putting out there, you don’t need to use Twitter. It’s not necessarily right for you. Use a blog. You can have .pdfs, webinars, audio, video etc. It’s not just Twitter and Facebook.

Mullen: You need to be able to measure your efforts. Understanding how you’ll evaluate social media efforts is extremely critical. Will the recent exposure from your social media presence really drive sales? In reference to #5 watch how people take the information and retweet or re-post. This will allow you to adapt your campaign and make it resonate with your audience.

Cohen: You can’t just post it and pray that they will come. Think about it holistically. It has to be a part of your marketing strategy & how are you going to integrate it. Are you putting it into your other online and offline media? Don’t overlook what you can put into packaging.

Carton: It’s kind of like the Field of Dreams syndrome. If people don’t know about it, they’re not going to get there. If you’ve ever dealt with getting a website going, it’s very much the same. It’s a real organization issue. If you don’t have dedicated people it’s not going to work. You must set aside resources for this, both financial and personnel.

Boland: There are multiple avenues to get information out there in social, both paid and unpaid. Think about the consumer: what do they want to experience?

Virzi: What about the nuances of the different elements?

Boland: With Facebook, the key thing is to be relevant. This is a very social environment; you must have a good understanding of what is relevant.

Understand the many ways you can engage with social media.

Virzi: Can you buy social media marketing?

Boland: Absolutely. The marketing strategies to drive engagement in social advertising such as: <your frined> likes this *thumbs up* does work and you see stronger engagement with this amazing aspect.

Get a sense of what is valuable to you.

Once you connect with people through social networks you will have a lot of data points: impressions, clicks, comments, fans, followers, posts, retweets. How do you value these interactions? (It depends on your strategy!)

Encourage the conversation. Create a dialog with those who respond to ads. It’s not one shot, it’s a sequence.

Carton: Don’t panic! This isn’t new.

Blogger has been around for awhile. Twitter has been around for 3 years already.

Don’t be reckless. Have a real systematic way of getting in to social media. You can go and experiment, but don’t just be throwing money at it.

Ask yourself: Why Social Media? Why will it provide better ROI? Also, what you’re going to do less of (e-mail/direct mktg)?

Are you willing to let go?

You can’t participate in social media without being able to let go of your brand a little bit. Even if you’re not engaged in the conversation, people are talking about you anyway. If you’re going to participate you have to be willing to engage in the conversation.

Cohen: I believe part of your strategy requires you to look within your orginization.

That means you have to think about your audience. When you use social media your audience expands from prospects to media, government, competitors, etc. Think about your former customers. Did they leave because they didn’t need you or because they have an ax to grind?

You have to think in terms of content. It’s not the 90’s where you put up a website and that’s it. You have to be there. Do you have a content strategy integrated with your marketing strategy? And it’s hard. You have to give people a reason to comeback and re-engage.

Set parameters for employees. Senior executives need to be on-board and policies set for employees executing. What can or can’t they say? How should they disclose themselves?

Mullen: I’m going to wrap this up with a reality check. In 23 days we’ll enter a new decade. It will be the decade of digital devices. When thinking about how to make your social media campaign successful you must be aware of the new tools.

iPhone apps - screen 2

Creative Commons License photo credit: love・janine


Apps are the new web. Users are not tied to laptops anymore. The average consumer has 6 web-enabled devices with access to 2 at any given time.

Users have access to communicate socially and easily whenever they see something great… or awful.

Measure effectiveness. Use tools that will help integrate and measure the effectiveness of digital channels, including e-mails, sms, etc Use a single platform: ie or Omniture.

I come from an e-mail background and we had about 10-15% click through rate (CTR). When we added social media the clicks we received were larger than the original list because of rebroadcasting.

Social media isn’t just about applications. It’s about being social. It’s about continuing the conversation when it’s appropriate.

Yesterday’s gone. If you’re reading any of the best practices that go back to 2008, they’re probably wrong. These things don’t exist anymore.

It’s not “send to a friend” anymore, it’s “share this on Facebook or twitter.”

The panel opened for questions:

Virzi: (Posed thought via Twitter: ) You don’t give up control of your brand by engaging in social media. The outside community has always shaped it.

Carton: I respectfully disagree; it’s so much bigger now. It’s not just about people telling their neighbor or friend, they’re telling the whole world. Social Media is a force multiplier.

Mullen: I think you gain control when you engage. It’s great because the person who cares enough to say something negative is a future advocate. A converted negative consumer will be your best advocate (if you handle it well). When you put a positive spin on these, take control and admit to your faults it will make you look better.

(304/365) Ohhh and ahhhh

Creative Commons License photo credit: Sarah G…

Boland: Comcast cares has done an amazing job. They learn if service is down in an area faster through twitter.

You can either participate and steer it in the right direction or you can ignore it and it will blow up.

Virzi: What impact do you see real-time search having on marketers? Do you think companies have to monitor more aggressively?

Mullen: Gathering what people are searching for is key and leveraging that. With real-time search you can find what impulse searchers are looking for. From a social media perspective it adds to the insights and has a lot of application for impulse.

Cohen: I think marketers need to think more broadly. Not just going towards purchase. Think of the entire process. Need, initiation, collect ideas, go back to circle of friends for advice, purchase and POST purchase. If you don’t provide information after that sale.

Audience Question: Social media is a viable market, but in the real world, with small business how do you leverage it? What are the demographics of people who use social media? Is it the greater size of the market? All I’ve seen about social media is pop-culture and entertainment stuff.

Carton: Excellent point. If you have 100 people signing up to find out about a sale, and you’re a small business, that’s probably enough. We all don’t have to be Ashton Kutcher. Pew internet. In terms of the demographics, it pretty accurately represents the U.S.

Cohen: There a lot of forms of small business. You have to decide what works for you. For example, bakeries shouldn’t necessarily use Facebook or Twitter, but they could have Flickr to show off the beauty of their baked goods. Small non-profits use yahoo groups for communicating. Create meet-up groups.  Say to yourself, I have a small budget, what can I do with it?

Audience Question: (works for senior living communities) We do social media but most of our followers are in the industry not seniors or their children/grandchildren. How can we get them as followers?

Carton: As soon as my mom friended me I got really scared. (Me too.)

Carton: You have to give them a reason to use it. If they don’t care about it, they won’t go there. (Amen!)

Mullen: There are a couple things you can do. Content is the key. The world changed in October 2008 with the recession. Buying patterns changed and our sense of trust has gone down but our resiliency has gone up. People have become happier because they’re becoming self-reliant. They get great joy out of being asked to comment, make them feel like a hero. Make it look like you’re helping others. For example, when you’re parents are considering an assisted-living home, this is what you need to consider <content>.

Cohen: I would change that slightly and change the social part. Make it positive for people going forward. Go to things like meet-up and create activities. Provide a greater engagement.

Photo Credit Flickr/today is a good day

  • Travis Norman

    forward thinking tips, thanks!