Regardless of how popular or visible Twitter is currently, your corporate social marketing and new media strategy still need to maintain an effective blog. Twitter or FaceBook alone cannot solve all your marketing challenges, but a corporate blog remains a very strong and viable marketing channel. Whatever you do, you’ll need to pay special attention to 2 key elements of corporate blogging: content relevancy and trackable analytics.
Content has been king, and will always be king for your corporate blog. It’s hard to defeat great content using anything else, tricks or otherwise. If you don’t have great content, then whatever you do won’t affect your site’s popularity or traffic in any meaningful manner. In fact the goodness of your content correlates directly to how relevant you are to your prospects and customers. Are you providing the right information that your prospects are looking for, at the time they’re looking for it? Are you making available help to solve your customer’s dilemma in a timely manner? Are you providing solutions that eliminate your clients’ problems before your competition does? In short, your corporate blog is a very powerful tool, and it can help you provide relevant content that is totally under your control.
Analytics play several different important roles. One, it can help you find out what visitors are looking for and how they are finding them. It can also show you how your company may be able to satisfy that need. Two, it can be used to help guide your content generation plan. As we discussed before, relevant content is critical, and knowing what content is relevant before you generate it is a no brainer. As a bonus, trackable analytics can also give you a roadmap with which to directly engage with your audience, at the specific time and place in the blogosphere when they congregate.
Tips to Running Effective Corporate Blog
So how do you maintain a strong corporate blog in order to engage with your customers, build your brand, while at the same time drive potential sales? Consider these following tips:
- Go where the buzz is. Know where the conversations are taking place that either talk about your brand or discuss something that your brand can help solve. Get involved with genuine desire to help, to build relationship and to establish yourself as subject matter expert. No marketing spiel is needed here; just stick to the facts. That’s what people are looking for. To help with this discovering and listening task, there are social media “listening tools” available to help.
- Making and maintaining contact. Once you find out where you can beneficially contribute to the conversation, interact with both those already familiar with your brand and those new to it. Think carefully before you engage to make sure you understand the conversation and meaning behind each and every conversation thread. Again your involvement in the conversation must be relevant and helpful, or at least contributes on an informational level, otherwise you’ll be looked at as someone just out for personal gains. Lastly, maintain all social networking etiquette at all times, because you need to. To read more on social networking etiquette, here are a couple of articles to help: SEO and Social Networking as Reputation Management Tools, and Putting Twitter in Your Marketing ToolBox.
- Maintain a powerful corporate blog. Make it exciting. Make it attractive. All rules about good website designs still apply, including easy and clear navigation, fast loading speed, simple yet effective interface, etc. And most importantly, post fresh and relevant articles often, and invite interaction and feedback.
- Stay in control and work smart. A successful corporate blog doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg. Once you established your plan and strategy, it’s easy to post new posts, it’s cheap to use monitoring tools and follow/track the blogosphere, and it’s painless to participate in dialogue to help other people. Corporate blogging does take time, so it helps to keep it simple and institute a routine and stick with it.
- Continuously develop your social networking and new media skills. Common stumbling blocks abound. They include falling behind with regular posting of fresh and relevant articles, failing to follow and keep engaged in conversation threads, running up against corporate policies that should have been created at the beginning of your corporate blogging venture, and not taking advantage of all possible effective social networking traffic channels. You may be leaving free customer traffic on the table without realizing it.
“What Women Want.” That’s how Ford did it.
Getting bloggers involved. Prominent, well-known women bloggers. And get instant buzz in the process. It’s focus groups at work in the new social media space. There’s nothing wrong with it and it’s not a new trend. Pepsi did it in their Pepsi rebranding campaign. The Air Force is doing it in their Air Force social media push. And you remember 3M’s Post-It Note Carjacks? Now Ford is doing it with refined social media skills. But really, bloggers watch out, you may be part of a bigger PR machine without realizing it.
Check out any of these Ford YouTube videos. Here are some samples of blogger reviews.
Ford describes the event in an article titled “Ford Wants to Know: What do Woman [sic] Really Want?” which included breakfast with a Ford executive, a day packed with hands-on tours, test drives and roundtable discussions, and I’m sure schwags. By the way, the event was conducted during the 5th Annual BlogHer ’09 Conference, July 23-25, 2009. Quite timely and convenient.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always advocated that businesses need to get more into social network marketing and develop strong new media strategies. But there’s a grey area that both companies and bloggers need to be careful not to cross. In this case, to me anyway, if Ford really wants to get women’s input to help design future cars, the company probably won’t get them just from this narrow group of women demographic. But they will get a lot of free blog posts and discussions out of it, that’s for sure.
The final score: thumbs up for Ford marketing, a “huh, what were you thinking?” for the bloggers.
Think lawyers are expensive? Maybe so. But it’s cheaper to bring them in before you have a problem. This common wisdom holds especially true for your corporate social media strategy, which is why your social media team should have a legal representative as well.
It should be a requirement to make legal professionals part of your team from the inception. Bringing them in on the back end to clean up a mess is never desirable. Plus it doesn’t make for a great collaborative relationship, because you messed up and you now need legal’s help. And solving legal problems on the back end is never pleasant. It’s far better to know and establish legal rules of the social media road before you’re entering into and engaging in conversations on social media sites. Let’s face it, corporate social media activities are really public relations (PR) in the new social networking space. Therefore it makes sense
Part of the POST method, your new media team should, at a minimum, get legal involved in the O (Objectives) and S (Strategies) phases. At a generic level, legal can help you stay out of trouble, guide you in all policies relating to news media and customer-facing communications. Legal can also provide you with guidelines on what an employee can and cannot (or should and should not) do in the social media arena. Here are some specific roles of legal participation within the social media team:
- Social Media Policies. Comments, backtracks, discussions on and off of your site. This covers locations both within your own websites, blogs forums, and on other websites, blogs and forums. It also controls how your employee(s) should start new topics, and how to resolve complaints and negative feedback. Legal can provide guidance.
- Authorized Corporate Bloggers. If you’ll have just a few key individuals actually doing the engagement with the outside world, establish rules for them to follow. Otherwise if you encourage a wider employee participation, then have a different set of rules applied to all. The key words here are guidance and coordination, not hindrance. Legal can help establish rules.
- Social Media Interaction. We all know that the Internet is always open, and with the global reach that it provides, the corporate social media team (and therefore your company) is also always open. Consumers worldwide are active in the social media space all the time (and especially after work within their local time,) your social media team must be ready to engage at any time of day, within reason. This is especially critical when a potential issue (positive or negative) about the company and its products is going viral. So you’ll need to be involved early. Legal can help define the dos and don’ts.
With all these guidelines in your pocket, you are now ready to go all out and promote your company, products and services. They will protect you while you’re out there engaging, supporting and solving your customers’ problems.
So go ahead. Build your social media team. Select the best and sharpest marketers, PR people, and technologists. Just don’t leave out the legal rep.
We’ve all been bombarded with Michael Jackson’s news in the last few weeks. While many, fans and non-fans alike, were affected by his death in some way, MJ’s father went on the offensive to promote his new business venture just days after. In these modern days, I guess there are still salesmen so blinded by money that they sell their souls too. So now’s a good opportunity to get back to basics. Marketing basics, that is.
Marketing – whether push or pull, traditional or online, outbound or inbound – is a game of either creating your own buzz, or riding someone else’s buzz. Creating your own buzz is tough to do, unless you have something new, unique with mass appeal to tell people about, or you can ride on your own reputation built over time. Riding someone else’s buzz, on the other hand, is quite easy. It’s popular for those who want a quick spike in their marketing performance and return on investment. It’s a legitimate marketing technique if done properly.
Here are a few “riding someone else’s buzz” ideas:
- Associate with well-known or recognizable brand names. It’s all about attention grabbing, and household names and celebrities give you instant buzz and attention.
- Hot topics or stories of the day. By definition these are already hot, so huge attention base already exists. All you have to do is make it relevant to your products, services or situation.
- Controversial or outrageous people and stories. These can come from anywhere and take many shapes and forms, but the bottom line is the controversial and the outrageous command free publicity, which also benefit from its natural viral characteristic.
- Stealing someone else’s great content. Even though this works well, it’s short-lived. Therefore it’s not recommended, and it’s against many laws, including the social networking law.
I may be guilty as the next guy who mentions MJ is his post. And maybe I am. But more importantly, if this post can stop a few marketers and help them think about what they do just for a little while, it’s done its job.
So, no, marketing basics do not start with what you may learn in business schools, from others in the industry, and certainly not by your desire to be successful. They start with you and your integrity.
Okay I guess the buzz on Bing has died down a little. When it first came out, everyone is eating up their marketing spiel about Bing’s capability to “help you make decisions.” My initial reaction was: “What!? Somehow they have gathered enough information on me, and know how my mind works, to help me make my decisions now?” I had reasons to worry.
But a few quick searches on Bing helped put my worries at ease. Bing gives search results. Bing doesn’t help you make decisions, it’s just a search engine. I said “just” because Microsoft had search engines before (MSN and Live) and it’s not meant to belittle Bing. But to me Bing looks like a search engine with some pre-programmed searches, if you will, plus other new features.
Some people can argue that if Bing gives you search results then it’s helping you make decisions. They must have been living under a rock, because all search engines do this! What matters most to me is being able to find relevant information to make my own decisions.
According to Bing on itself (meaning I typed “what is Bing” into Bing,) this is what I got
Bing is a search engine that finds and organizes the answers you need so you can make faster, more informed decisions.
The question becomes, how does Bing find and organize the information I need to make my own decisions, that live.com or msn.com didn’t? Microsoft (MS) has been consistently third in the search engine war and is trying to improve traffic. With a reported marketing campaign upwards of $80-100 million, I think MS would be better off revamping their search (which they did,) and running $100 lottos every hour with the winners selected from Bing searchers. That would get their usage up against Google and Yahoo.
But do you know what’s real interesting? I still can’t get Bing to help me make my decision to use it regularly, or at all.
For SEOs who want to take a closer look at Bing SEO, Benj Arriola has some good views in his article “MSN, then Live, now Bing – What do SEOs need to know?” at BusinessOnLine.com.
You know what I’m talking about. New media. You know, social media, social marketing, blogging, and Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc, for your company? Many have found success where many others have failed. In the corporate environment, pursuing social media marketing is a full-time job.
Corporate social networking functions require individual special skills and knowledge, plus clear corporate objectives and goals. For companies that want to get with it in social media and marketing, don’t just try a few things here and there using inexperienced resources. What you need is focus and dedication. The key is to develop a clear reason why you want to be in the blogosphere, and provide dedicated resources to achieve those goal.
Here are the minimum considerations that must exist for your social media marketing to stand any chance of making a difference. Anything less will be just a waste of your time, money and human resources.
- Establish a clear corporate social networking policy, the rules of engagement so to speak. It does not have to be detailed or elaborate, but it needs to have the basics in place. Remember this is still emerging technology.
- Create your team from enthusiastic and knowledgeable individuals. They don’t have to be your best marketers or sales persons. In fact they should not be. The key characteristics you’re looking for include: being savvy with new technology and tools, being passionate about the company, its products and services, and above all, being honest with high ethics.
- Empower and authorize team members to do what’s best for the company. If your team is knowledgeable and passionate, then they’ll do anything to ensure the best interest and protection for the company and its reputation. They are smart, and they’ll do the right things.
- Always be on the look out for opportunities to go viral, especially in support of customer-generated viral media. All you need is to be there, provide support, and maybe give a little nudge. It’s social marketing after all. Do it right and you’ll attract loyal followers.
What about corporate legal? Do you need to get their blessing all the time? Probably not. Just do what’s right. Here’s what I mean. As long as you’ve made the proper communication with legal department and addressed corporate policies from the beginning, legal may just be your best friends in the company to get your social networking job done.
Trending topics on Twitter is a double-edged sword. It gives users instant snapshots of what the hot topics are on Twitter. At the same time it opens the floodgate for Twitter spams and misinformation. I’m all for pushing the latest and greatest tools for marketing use, but it should be done responsibly.
We all know Twitter is free (at least for now.) And because it is a social tool, interestingly, Twitter itself can potentially be destroyed by how its users use it – mass destruction so to speak. Spams and misinformation will only have negative effects on Twitter, which eventually will hurt the whole community.
So here are some tips on how to use Twitter trending topics to your benefits while maintaining your own integrity and ethics.
- Get involved in hot and active conversations.
- Stay on topic and be relevant.
- Have fun, be yourself, and help others.
- Leave self-promotions at the door (or at the keyboard.)
- Un-follow those who regularly and knowingly start and/or re-tweet spams and falsification.
- And most importantly: Don’t try to benefit from Twitter trending topics.
Share your views with a comment below.