The key to pushing social media jobs is teaching businesses how they can use social media to make money.
So take a crack at it.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Write a good one, and we'll publish it across several networks. Be sure to leave contact information if you're a consultant or want to get hired.
Update: Feel free to promote your business and contact info at the bottom of your post. But only if it's good. Spammers get deleted without warning. What Nathan did is A+ material, but I'll leaving anything that's at least a gentleman's C up.
I'll take on the financial sector, because not only is the sector I work in, but I think it's the least active in the social media space to a fault that's only been highlighted by the recent turmoil.
Banks and financial professionals that face the retail client are in the business of selling trust. They are selling the relationship they intend to deliver on over the course of your relationship with them, and in most cases they want to capture that relationship from top to bottom, front to back. Nearly every financial outlet, if it's worth its salt, has something to offer nearly every aspect of your financial life.
Still, they're relying on a website with CD rates along with online banking/bill pay to interface with their customer, stuck in a very old economy mentality.
I don't work at a bank, but I'll focus on a typical bank as a subject.
The Community - Blog, Twitter, Ning
- The bank's blog should be from employees at every level, and virtually product free. Posts focus on culture and ways the bank is a part of their community; non-profit sponsorships, community events, donations. It should highlight employees for their community service and allow them to share their off-hours accomplishments...artistic and athletic endeavors, etc.
- The group blog format lessens the time and money it would take to get started, with a communications officer approving posts (a position that already exists due to regulations).
- Nearly every bank has groups participating in recreation sports leagues and local charity runs and walks...blog updates would include updates, photos, and videos from participants.
- Twitter would undoubtedly have huge 'listening' value, and customer service opportunities would abound in the way that @comcastcares revitalized that brand. In this environment this is a desperate need.
- Twitter might actually be a more appropriate place for brief products announcements, as long as the focus is on listening and interacting with the customer/community.
- An Ning like community could be built around empowering people's financial decisions. Aim to bring people together who are interested in good financial decision making, frugal living, fiscal responsibility, and build product or service offerings around that discourse.
- Highlight inspirational stories from the network on the company blog and twitter.
The focus would be on Community, Financial Health, and Humanism. Conveniently, due to regulators the one thing that would be hardest to get past compliance/corporate communications would be product and investment advice language, which IS EXACTLY THE STUFF THAT SHOULDN'T SHOW UP on these sites! The process of becoming a financial partner to someone, especially the web-savvy next generation, is a matter of facilitating and participating in the conversation about people's money, and putting a human face on the bank.
The Icing On That Cake
The following are ways to spread influence, gain some attention, and otherwise augment a core SM strategy:
- Video: Aside from producing some original content (advisable, but might require time/effort), it would be thoughtful to direct readers to informative video spots on current money events.
- For a national bank, invite personal finance bloggers in for a Blogger Day or Panel Discussion; redistribute via your digital outlets. This would build credibility and engage your peers in the digital space.
- Organize photo events around 'money saved' or 'the best way to spend $100' and solicit user content for your Flickr group and Ning pages.
- Sponsor TweetUps, or have your digitally savvy employees connect local Twitterati with your business customers interested in hosting TweetUps.
How To Measure ROI
I think the environment we're in makes the PR value in humanizing our banks a no-brainer. Those brave enough to get out there and talk to people will win in the long run. There are ways to concretely measure success, though:
- The online only offerings; standard idea.
- Online banking; ask for client's twitter usernames! Banks can then track how many of their clients are following them, and which new clients are a result of digital interaction.
- Run network only promotions. Offer referral incentives to your online communities.
I could go on, but it's late! I hope this was entertaining, at the least!
I agree with your point regarding the need to teach businesses. For that reason, back in December I released an ebook for the banking community called The Community Banker's Guide to Social Network Marketing. It is a primer on social media and social networks from the banking perspective. It was received tremendous positive response. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.tinyurl.com/cbgsnm. If every bank in the industry had its head of marketing and operations read this piece there would be a greater positive response to social media. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Theresa and others, I would assume that folks don't search online for furniture too. However, based on Google statistics, I'm pretty sure there are at least 100,000+ searches on furniture per month (especially if you consider the bedroom searches for furniture) in the Nashville area per month (not to mention Brentwood and Franklin). A very small sampling of the google stats:
33,100 18,100 12,100 4,400 3,600
Its really quite amazing what the Google keyword tool can tell you and your clients. Looking for consumer activity online via Google, Compete, and Quantcast is the best way to make decisions like that.
Other free tools include Wordtracker free keywords tool and Keyword Discoveries' free tool, the later of which is not as trusted in the search industry (the data is somehow askew).
Google though is a FANTASTIC place to learn about what consumers are doing online.
1. Wow. This looks like a lot of work. I assume I can pay someone to get me started, but how much of this will I actually have to do to get these things rolling?
I think launching a blog and getting content rolling out twice or three times a week should be sufficient. If you don’t have that kind of time
2. For that matter, what kind of ongoing investment of time and resources should I expect? How often am I going to have to write in this blog? What do I do if people comment on it? What about the Ning thing? How much of my time is this going to take up? Because, of course, I also have to make 400 lemon tarts by Saturday at 2pm.
Two to three hours per week should be sufficient. As you start out, the commitment might be slightly more like 3.5 hours or 4. Its fun so it shouldn’t be a huge time commitment. So while the tarts are in the oven you can write our an enticing description or recipe or your excitement about your upcoming event. And you can take a picture when they come out. A picture is worth a thousand words and in this case probably 1000 in booked catering events. Its all about using the time you have more efficiently as moving forward at the speed you are most comfortable with.
The ning thing can be down the road, but makes a ton of sense. I don’t know how much time Jim takes on his ning, but adding seeding the content and adding content weekly could be 30 to 45 minutes a week.
3. If I create these things, how will people find them? How am I going to get the word out? What happens if I invest all this time and money and no one shows up? Or, equally likely, people show up, but they're folks who are not particularly useful to my catering business here in Chicago? Am I going to have to do direct mail? Send email to my client and supplier list? How many? How often?
The strategy is implicit on using search (Google) to find most of the catering juicyness. There are several other search based techniques I would add as well as some common sense marketing tactics to prime the digital pump. If you’re not comfortable with that level of risk—don’t choose to do that part of the plan. But as a business owner, if you are that worried about risk—you wouldn’t have started a business in the first place. Doing nothing is an intrinsic risk. And in the weird scenario where no one shows up, give it away to the local homeless shelter and hopefully leverage something from that. Second, hopefully you can use a group that already is doing stuff, so you can benefit from their momentum.
4. How much time do you think it will take for me to see some return on the investment in these social media projects?
Generally two to three months. Some results are quite possible before that.
5. Should we roll out this social media effort gradually? If so, what should I do first? Second? What on this list is likely to show the most immediate results?
I think blog and Ning are the most important and should be rolled out first.
6. Isn't there some research and/or "listening" component we need to do first, to figure out what my competitors are doing with social media, what content my suppliers and wedding-planning partners might actually find useful, where brides and bar mitzvah parents are hanging out online and asking questions I might be able to answer? Isn't there a way to do some of this without reinventing the wheel?
I think some listening is smart. I think equally smart is asking some of your potential customers on a one to one basis by phone (but email might be sufficient or you could create an online poll)
I hope I answered most or all of your questions. Feel free to ask any other questions...
It seems that the real estate industry has really taken off lately on major social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. A large number of friend and follower requests that I receive for my website, www.rubiconseo.com, seem to be coming from real estate professionals. They seem to be really utilizing these sites to promote their upcoming real estate events or listings. However, with the large number of them on Facebook and Twitter, and with the dismal real estate market, it would be interesting to learn how many of them are using other social media sites. Does anyone know of any niche real estate sites out there? Or just other sites being used by the real estate industry?
I was particularly impressed with how people shared their experiences so openly without plugging their own agenda – a true example of an effective knowledge society.
So many interesting topics in here, hard to know where to start. I'lll try to limit this to just a couple of thoughts, for the sake of brevity.
First, I think the issue many businesses have with social media and social marketing efforts is that they equate everything online with direct selling, and social media isn't about that. It's about building relationships, being authentic, and creating a dialog. Ultimately, yes, it should help with sales, but it's not going to work the way banners or search work, which, in this era of immediate gratification, can be a tough sell.
Second, I did want to comment on sweimer's statements about radio and DJs. I too was in radio, but on the marketing side. The one component that isn't inherent in broadcasting is the dialog - it's a one to many sending of info, whereas social media starts with the one to many initially, but ultimately enables engagement and discussion, building a personal connection. To me, in a way, it brings digital marketing full circle, by bringing the human element back into what was initially a form of broadcasting. It takes the one way emission of info to a two-way communication, which, while scary for some (and some industries.... like banking) offers an immense amount of opportunity. It's all a matter of learning how to deal with feedback, which isn't always going to be positive.
I work for a furniture store and I can attest to the fact that most are family owned and need web/seo/smm help.
Key term: Continuity Across all Medium
Let me take Paula Deen Furniture as my example. We introduces the products by setting up a landing page with the custom URL, Title and headers. This page links to our Brands page for Paula that list all the items we carry from her. Basic on site SEO.
Then I hit the road with my YouTube video of Paula and our Blog and other blogs then a few Twitter post with individual items and Facebook again linking to the items. This took a bit of time, but the results were amazing. We are a small <$6M store in Delaware ranking Page 1 on Google for Paula Deen Home Furniture (our YouTube video) and Paula Deen Furniture (our blog) within 2 weeks of posting.
What I want to again point out is constancy. Everything was "Paula Deen Home Furniture at Furniture Barn" Follow up a week or so later with some cross blogging post linking to the YouTube video for strength. Change a keyword or two out to broaden your search engine result page (SURP) listings.
Then once that fades out a bit, which happens over a few months; go deeper into other SM corners that you may not normally travel. When I visit these sites, I check for no-follows and if I am good, I anchor text Paula Deen Home Furniture for the site link and link to the landing page, NOT the home page. Home page already has link juice, the idea is to build PageRank for the landing page.
When you start to blog again the second or third month, I suggest to talk about individual collections (bedroom, dining room) or unique pieces making sure you keep with the Paula Deen Home Furniture - Dining Room Sets or Paula Deen Home Furniture - Bedroom Armoire.
I also like to include model numbers in the event people search using the exact approach. "Paula Deen Home Furniture 932200 Paula Deen Daybed". When mentioning pieces I point the link to the actual piece rather than the day bed. All this linking looks to Google as you have authority on that topic, as well you should if you are showcasing the item.
Using model numbers is the same as ISBN numbers for books or MLS numbers for real estate. Very important.
This approach works so well, we now do it for each new collection we welcome to our showroom.
We are currently Page 1, # 7 for Paula Deen Home Furniture and Page 1 #1 when adding Delaware to the end.
So where do you start? With what you know, then ask Google. You know you own industry best, so make a list of keywords for your industry or product as in this case, then put them into Google's Keyword Tool and see what ranks best. Use these keyword and phrases as you build your links.
I use YouTube for the manufacturers videos and Facebook for the individual pieces by using the exact URL to that item for the link from Facebook. You do not get any link juice, but Google does index these.
Try to make your Facebooks post engaging to your fans so they comment. "We just introduced a new Paula Deen Home Bedroom Set, tell us what you think, then share with your friends."
Hope that helps. Have any questions, or need outside SEO/SMM work, please follow the link below.