Category Archives: eMarketing

Social media can destroy your brand – a case study in how not to do it

Companies who have a social media pages or fan groups need to rethink their service policies. You might get away with poor service in the real world, but in the social media space it could go viral. Even worse someone could pretend to be managing your media for you.

Recently my Mum went to Dubai to visit my sister for Christmas. While she was there she bought an expensive walky talky set from Hamleys for my son. She paid 159 dirham for it, not a small amount in anybody’s books. When she got back to South Africa, we found that it doesn’t work.

She tried turning to their websites for recourse and wrote eMails to both the Hamleys in Dubai and England, to no avail.

Eventually in January she went onto the Hamleys Dubai Facebook group and wrote “I bought an expensive toy in Hamleys in the Dubai Mall while on holiday and now I’ve got it home it doesn’t work. I wrote to you but have had no response”.

Later she commented “I wrote to Hamleys in England but they won’t exchange it. What is your return policy for overseas purchasers? My grandson is so disappointed.”

Six weeks later she wrote “I would still like to know how to exchange the broken toy. Do you ever look at this Facebook page?”

In April she received this message from an “employee” of Hamleys Dubai on their Facebook group “U can not exchange it.” We thought that this was extremely rude and reflected very negatively on the Hamleys brand.

It used to be as a rule-of-thumb that unhappy customers would tell between three and ten people if they were dissatisfied. Between my sisters and I we have over two thousand “friends” on Facebook. That’s a lot of people who potentially have been made aware of this appalling service. Not only that, but all the members of the Hamleys Dubai group page can also see this interaction.

I went to the group, the same “employee” had posted “I love Hamleys”. I commented “You shouldn’t, look at how badly you treat your customers! See post below where you have ignored a customer who bought an expensive toy which was broken and you refused to exchange it. Hamleys Dubai should be ashamed of themselves!”

Now, there are three negative comments in a row on the Hamleys group.

One of my friends then pointed out to me that there was no group administrator and this might be a rogue group or an abandoned site, left over from the days before companies could set up Facebook pages. So I went into the profile of the person who had answered my Mum. From his photograph, he looks like a young man, may be even a teenager, from India. It is not clear whether he works for Hamleys, or whether they have outsourced their social media management to a company in India or whether he is just a (misguided) fan of Hamleys.

On his profile he had a link to the official Hamleys page. I clicked through and it was even worse. There was a deluge of comments about how unresponsive they are.

Here is a sample “I would be grateful is someone from this company would reply to any of the many hundreds of emails, calls or message that have been left for you in the last twenty four hours about your stupid idea of having live penguins in your hot and noisy store. You have removed all reference from your website but the public are not stupid and you can not just keep ignoring this issue because thousands of us are not going to let you. Oh and if you delete this I will just keep posting messages, emailing and calling until you put out an official response to this issue.”

There are some positive comments too, to be fair.

Social media is incredibly powerful, not only because of the sheer numbers of participants on line, but also because of the viral nature and the ease with which it can be shared, not to mention the risk of rogue curators who can manage your brand to your detriment.

If you don’t manage your digital footprint, you can be sure your customers will.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create business cases, digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

 

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Filed under Digital Communities, eMarketing, Facebook

Social Media and the Mix

The marketing world is full of “social media experts” running around proclaiming the end of marketing as we know it. Many of these experts have a technical background rather than a marketing one. People are creating Fan pages on Facebook and marketers are tweeting left right and centre, writing keyword dense articles for SEO and blogging like mad. But has our world really changed?

Although there is a strong correlation between some companies’ growth in share prices (notably Nike and Starbucks) and the number of followers and fans of their social media, this is probably more attributable to the fact that they are growing their brand awareness and engagement. But there is more to marketing than promotion. These companies are getting the rest of their marketing mix right too.

We were all taught about the famous four P’s – Price, Product, Place and Promotion.

The term “marketing mix” became popularised after Neil H. Borden published his 1964 article, The Concept of the Marketing Mix. Borden began using the term in his teaching in the late 1940’s after James Culliton had described the marketing manager as a “mixer of ingredients”. The ingredients in Borden’s marketing mix included product planning, pricing, branding, distribution channels, personal selling, advertising, promotions, packaging, display, servicing, physical handling, and fact finding and analysis. E. Jerome McCarthy later grouped these ingredients into the four categories that today are known as the 4 P’s

Recently the four P’s have fallen a little out of favour but they are still relevant. Some academics have also included a fifth P – People – the value your people bring to your business by providing service to your customers and this is critical to the social media mix as your employees network and engage with your audience.

As marketers, social media is changing our advertising, branding, promotion, fact finding and analysis, but we still need to get the other ingredients right in order to be successful. When we incorporate social media into our marketing mix, we need to make sure that the novelty and technologies don’t overshadow the strategy and we need to focus on the rest of the mix too..

http://www.netmba.com/marketing/mix/

http://homebusiness.about.com/b/2007/07/24/search-engines-and-the-5-ps-of-marketing.htm

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create business cases, digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Facebook, Google

A quick guide to writing for the web

The contemporary web and the way we use it is changing. Gone are the days when you developed a website and forgot about it. These days, websites are much more interactive, accessible and transparent. With more and more people going on line to find information, websites are becoming a powerful way for businesses to serve their audiences.

The Internet is all about collaboration, sharing ideas, information and concepts with people. Writing for the web is different to writing for print media because of the way people consume information on line.

Think about how you use the web. You’re in search of information and if you don’t find it on the page you’re looking for, you click away and look elsewhere. In this attention deficit era, it is vital to serve the right information to the right users in the right way and retain their attention.

Internet users, in general, “snack consume” because of information overload and time constraints.

When writing for the web it is important to remember that great content is vital and being able to find what you are looking for is of paramount importance. It is the key for convincing audiences to take your desired actions and conveying commitment to them.

Good writing techniques will enrich your reader’s experience by making information accessible and creating value for audiences. Websites need to be dynamic to keep them relevant and interesting. You need to provide them with timeous  updates that offer them a reason to return to the site regularly.

Content writing that’s current and kept up-to-date makes a positive statement. Here are some steps to achieving this:

Analyse the audiences

You have many audiences that need to be catered for. Understanding your audiences is important to evaluate the specific needs of each niche group. This will help you organise the information in a way that makes sense to them and direct the content you create.

Before writing:

  • Know your audience – which audience are you writing for?  Find out their levels of digital literacy, who they really are and what they would like/need to know;
  • Know your services –understand your offering and look at it from the view point of your audiences, What actions do I want them to take?; and
  • Understand the users’ emotions – tap into their positive emotions like generosity and pride. What information do they need in order to take action?

“It is not about digital. It’s about people.” – Robbin Phillips

Aspects of good copy

Research into the way that people use a website, indicates that adoption will take place if three conditions are met:

  • They must see the point, they should have a reason to read the content;
  • It should be easy to use; and
  • It should make them look and feel good.

Here are some essential guidelines for writing content that will fulfil the three overarching principles of engaging the audience; delivering on user requirements by providing the information they require, being easy to understand and making the user look and feel good.

Good headlines will attract attention to copy before images. The first couple of words are the most important as readers will scan this before deciding to read further. Headlines must therefore be specific to the topic to attract and retain attention.

Make the page name the heading name as this will improve the SEO. The keywords in the heading or title of the page need to be the keywords for the topic of the page and to be about the content as this will also assist when the topic comes up in search engine results.

Descriptive headings are more beneficial on the web rather than a play on words that attract attention in print media.

Subheadings need to be intriguing and informative, too.

The information that you provide needs to stand out to the reader. Layout techniques help to attract or prevent users from reading the copy. The content should be easy to read.

Content structure complements the information and message. When you share information provide the background information which will help them understand the core message.

It should be easy to skim through and to find the information they are looking for. They will be attracted to information if the writing is simple. A long paragraph will have fewer users reading the content rather than a concise description which address and highlight the main points. Paragraphs should contain between three and four sentences. You can even include single sentence paragraphs.

Useful points to help make content easy to scan include:

  • Clear and concise headings;
  • Bulleted and numbered lists, three bullets is usually the optimal number;
  • Short paragraphs with short sentences and one thought per paragraph;
  • Do not use all capitals in any sentence as it feels aggressive and is hard to read;
  • Use Bold and italics for emphasis; and
  • Use descriptive links for example “Click here for a map”.

Your writing should take the shape of an inverted pyramid in which the main point is introduced first. The supporting sentences follow to allow the reader to scan over the points and decide what is relevant to them. Create a flow of information that will convince the viewer to read each page by:

  • Introducing the main point;
  • Incorporating key facts in the body of the text; and
  • Concluding with the least important details.

The writing style you use will not only influence users but will assist search engines to find the content that you have produced when your audience is looking for it.

If you want to cover a complex topic, consider breaking it into a series of posts. This gives the reader time to understand each piece of information separately. Line breaks make content more readable. The white space offers a friendlier environment.

Leave out what readers tend to skip. Go through the copy and look for parts that don’t communicate something meaningful. Make sure every word, every sentence is strong and pulls the reader through the copy.

Try reading your subject line, headline and introductory paragraph out loud. If the first paragraph or two sounds nice, but it’s really the third paragraph that gets to the “meat” of the copy and says anything substantive, get rid of the first two paragraphs (the “warm-up copy”) and start with the meat.

A call to action (CTA) is a short, descriptive instruction which tells a user, who is scanning the web, what to do next.

Write in the active voice, telling the user what is needed rather than using the passive voice which is less instructive. The difference between active and passive voice is that in the active voice the subject does the acting. In the passive voice the subject is acted upon.

Grammatical errors, typos, broken links and pages “under construction” are embarrassing and should be resolved and avoided prior to publishing content.

Forge a personal connection with your audiences by being natural, honest and sincere in your writing. Use similar techniques to what you would to persuade your family and friends.

“You” is the most powerful word in the English language. Readers are interested in information that will meet their needs. Focus your attention on the readers by speaking directly to them. The goal is to inform them within 10 seconds.

You are talking to a person not a vague group or demographic. Personalising your writing immediately shows that you are talking directly to your audience, as a person in front of their monitor looking at your website.

Addressing your audience as “you” will also bring about a more conversational use of language. Think about how DJ’s on the radio converse with their audiences. The modern web is really much more like radio than print.

Asking questions is an effective way to get your point across. Involving your audience in the topic will make them feel important.

It is important to understand the tone that you use to appeal to your audience. Be informative yet friendly and come across as approachable.

Avoid jargon, you may understand it, but your audience isn’t as intimate with your environment as you are.

Quotes lend authority to a story. They should not be lengthy repetitions of the update’s merits. The quote must add value. Decide who you want to quote, why you want to quote them and make sure that the quote adds to your writing.

In summary, the key ingredients to writing for the web are:

  • Understand your audience;
  • Use good unambiguous headlines;
  • Create interesting relevant content;
  • Write simply and clearly;
  • Be personable and keep the tone conversational;
  • Keep what you want to say short;
  • Get to the main point about your subject faster;
  • Update regularly;
  • Use bold words to emphasise and bullet points to list; and
  • Use keywords to tag your content.

By following these simple steps you will attract more readers and keep their attention. It will also help attract internet users who are unaware that your website has the information they are looking for, through search engine optimisation.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create business cases, digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Blogging, Business, eMarketing, Internet, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Know what you want before embarking on BI projects

Businesses are facing more sophisticated competition in the market every day and the race is on to constantly deliver higher levels of customer service. Delivering better customer service first requires a greater insight into customers’ preferences and behaviours. Social media is a good source of additional behavioural data. This is a sound basis to develop a strategy for retaining those customers who are best suited to the organisation, while “incentivising” those customers not suited to the business, to switch to the competition.

While many organisations do not know where to start gathering information about their customers, others know exactly where this information resides- hidden in the company’s data and call centre stores and locked in sales and marketing databases, on social media sites and in back-end financial systems.

The irony is that while many organisations possess this information, it is often not usable. Companies that attempt to use this information in its ‘tangled’ format soon give up, pleading ‘data-overload’. Business intelligence (BI) gives organisations the ability to unravel the hidden knowledge in this knotted data and deliver actionable insights to the decision makers.

But implementing a strategy is not a simple task of acquiring some software, pointing it at the relevant stores of data and expecting answers to begin rolling out. In order to achieve success with a BI project a company needs to consider its key business goals and the actions that it needs to take to deliver on these objectives efficiently and effectively. BI provides the bridge between the goals and the performance. For example it delivers the insights required to enhance customer relationships through effective interactions with customers in terms of both content and medium, it streamlines the distribution of goods and services through demand forecasting, or it can reduce risk by predicting fraud or identifying consumer attacks on your brand.

With a clear understanding of how BI will underpin the business’ delivery goals over the long-term, an organisation must ensure that the supporting data has a high level of relevance and integrity and that it is intimately understood. This will ensure that it will be effectively and efficiently interrogated so as to deliver meaningful insights that can be actioned across the organisation, with the resultant outcomes being tracked and measured over time.

Best practise dictates that the company’s customer data is centralized into a single, accessible and useable repository and then analyse it. Sales data should be linked to marketing data and combined with all other data related to customer interaction, including data from back-end financial systems so that a customer centric-view of the customer can be created. This in itself is a huge advantage for the organisation, since it will identify the same customer in all his guises across the organisation’s data stores and present a consolidated view of the company’s transactions and interactions with each unique customer. To further enhance this data as a platform for analysis, it should also be enriched with relevant external market data, including key demographic variables and the like.

Having built the necessary data repository and ascertained the required insights from the analysis function to support the strategy of the business, the analysis should commence with five simple objectives in mind: who; what; why; when and where.

The ‘question’ or ‘end-goal’ could be, for example, to identify: who the ideal customers are after incorporating any hidden costs associated with servicing them. Then one can plan on incentivising or engaging with customers with these same characteristics to begin doing business with the company and encourage the non-ideal customers to move to competitors.

A good first step to this process is to analyse the company’s revenue streams and build an ideal client portfolio around each of those revenue streams, taking into consideration the fixed, variable and hidden costs associated with these revenue streams. It is imperative that the entire organisation is involved in this process.

Sales, social media behavioural data, marketing, manufacturing, procurement, delivery and management input is key to the successful implementation of a BI project and ensures that the results gained from a BI initiative are actionable across the organisation.

It is imperative that the company has the appetite to act on findings. It is pointless embarking on a fact finding mission, like that involved in a BI process, if the business is not prepared to respond to those findings by investing in or re-engineering business processes.

When it comes down to it, BI only presents real value to an organisation if the integrity of the underlying data is sound, the data is intimately understood and the organisation is prepared to action the findings. It is only after “actioning” these findings that the organisation will begin maximising the benefit from attracting and retaining ideal customers, reducing costs and ultimately becoming more profitable.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, Google, Internet, Web 2.0

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 16 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 59 posts.

The busiest day of the year was March 9th with 37 views. The most popular post that day was Using the Balanced Scorecard to design your Digital Strategy.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were digitalbridges.co.za, en.wordpress.com, facebook.com, blogs.hbr.org, and bigextracash.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for challenges of collaboration, interactive intranet, modern intranet, intranet objectives, and ratios in the media.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Using the Balanced Scorecard to design your Digital Strategy December 2009
18 comments

2

The Role of the Intranet in the Modern Organisation February 2010
10 comments

3

Meeting the Challenges of Collaboration January 2010
4 comments

4

Employee Engagement using the Interactive Intranet November 2009
8 comments

5

Configuring the Intranet to deliver on the organisational objectives November 2009
6 comments

27 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0

Social Media Optimisation

A few weeks ago, in an article called Man verses the Machine, I wrote about the search algorithm (as used by search engines, for example Google) verses digital curatorship (whereby the people using social media like Facebook drive the information and content delivery, through posting, sharing and liking). Here are some more thoughts on the subject

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a critical strategy for driving people to your website, but it is only one aspect of the modern digital strategy. With social media there are more meaningful and effective ways of bringing in audiences. The term for this is social media optimisation (SMO.)

SEO uses algorithms to rank top search results. SMO uses audience behaviour to determine what’s important. SMO differentiates and distinguishes individuals, making sense of their specific content wants and needs. Real people articulating real interests eliminates the algorithm as middleman.

The social network is starting to replace the search engine as the average web user spends more time on Facebook than Google. We need to reengineer our approach driving traffic to our content and building our digital brands. Here are some elements of an effective SMO programme.

Find out and evaluate what the audience wants

SEO is based on pandering to search engines to bring you more audiences, by using key words and metatags. But with social media, the new formula is to grab people’s attention in such a way that they will bring you more audiences.

The first step is winning the attention of the audience and knowing what it wants. The key question is, who are they, what do they want from you and when and how do they want it? Fortunately, this data is abundant. You can find it in your social media sites, analytics system, in customer research, in your competitors’ wins. The trick is to make use of that data and experiment to find these insights.

Knowing what the audience wants means asking and observing them and then delivering value that they want to be associated with. Then track what gets consumed when and by whom.

By asking the audience you also get people immediately engaged in the conversation.

Build your community

The tactics of SMO will change over time, in much the same way that social media will change. Today, Facebook and Twitter are the two significant social media platforms.

An effective SMO strategy is about getting the community started. Set up a marketing drive to bring your fans to your community page. Use Facebook’s advertising platform to help make potential friends aware of you. Use viral networking to get people to invite their friends. Build a base of influencers to a size that approaches critical mass, so that you are fully connected within the social network from the beginning, rather than sitting outside just looking in.

Create content worth spreading

Once you know what your audience wants, and you have a community to appeal to, now comes the part that great marketers are good at. Designing for sharing is much more than just designing for consumption. In some instances the practices that help marketers succeed in SEO are deadly in SMO. If you stuff a page full of keywords, match the URL to the keywords and keep the content readable by algorithms, you will that find a boring website which falls flat on your users and they will not distribute.

Instead, publish content that is worthy of being shared and wrap it in experiences that your users can’t wait to share with their friends — with pride — which is the emotional fuel that powers the “Like” button.

Package to get attention

These days you’re competing for attention in a Facebook feed or Twitter stream.

Facebook and Twitter are networks and so their value is to be found in quantity (the more there is the more value to each user) but for successful marketers it’s about quality. Standing out in the crowd puts the focus not just on what you say, but on how it’s said. What are the iconic images and headlines that appear in a Facebook feed?

Design for virality

Viral distribution is about much more than the content itself — it’s also about an experience that promotes sharing. Your site, your experience, and your Facebook page all need to be designed for virality. Turn content into interactive features with sharing. It starts by making sharing easy:

  • Include the familiar “like” and “share” icons;
  • Place them in obvious places next to the article you want them to share; and
  • Pull social conversations relevant to your content in as a live feed on your website. Let people see what other people are saying on your Facebook page and Twitter and let them participate in the conversations right from your site.

Previously I have written about The Porous Web where your audiences seamlessly osmosises from areas of low value to high value. Doing all of these things provides a tightly integrated social experience.

Engage and reward your audience

Get involved in the conversation to stimulate dialogue, talk alongside your users and ask them what they want. Engage your audience like a community member not a marketing executive.

Validation is all about appealing to people’s emotional desire to look and feel good. Rewards for these people are intrinsic to the sharing itself.

Measure and experiment

On every page measure how many people viewed it and shared it, and how many more people that brings. You can test and vary every element, from the tools that promote sharing, to the content itself. Test rigorously and learn what works for your website, community and your audience.

These are just some of ways that SMO can be effectively deployed. The most important thing right now is recognising that SEO is important but that social media is changing the rules.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

 

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Facebook, Google, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Six principles of social media management

Many of my clients want to create a page on Facebook, because they see it as a free way of exposing their products and services to potential customers. How many times have you been asked by someone you are friends with to “like” some arbitrary page? You do it out of a sense of politeness, in the hope that they are not going to pee with the exuberance of a puppy all over your news feeds.

Many pages start off enthusiastically and the dwindle into the metaphorical attic, never to see daylight again, but at least “we have a Facebook page – check social media box”.

The ability to post on social media is a right, stealing your audience’s valuable time and attention is not.

There are no hard and fast rules, but in my experimentation I have developed six guidelines to effective social media management. The list is by no means finite.

1.         Be the DJ

For those of you who listen to the radio, you do so to be entertained and informed. Consider who you or your company are and entertain your audience in the same way as radio DJ’s do. What would they find interesting? Why should they see what you put out there? Are they really interested in being spammed with product price lists?

If you keep them entertained, they will look forward to seeing your posts in the clutter that is social media. You will be top of mind when they are in the market for your offerings.

2.         Take a strategic approach

Just because it is on Facebook doesn’t mean that your brand is frivolous. It actually means that you are even closer to your (potential) clients. Decide why you want to use social media; is it to position your brand in a certain way, or to enhance your relationships with your clients?

You cannot allocate a junior resource to manage your social media brand. This is particularly true if you have a knowledge brand like universities, ICT’s, media, pharmaceuticals, finance houses, management consultancies etc. You need someone with the experience and strategic insight to represent your brand in real time on line.

3.         Not everyone is going to like you

It is impossible to be all things to all people, but you can improve your relevance to the groups of people who follow you. Experiment with your posts and see who “likes”, “retweets” what.

Your audience consists of real people. Divide them up by demographics or into other groups that make sense and try different things. Some people respond to comedy, others to interesting articles. Look at what other people are doing and who responds to them. This will let you improve the value you provide your audience.

Of course you can’t see the lurkers who just watch what you are going, but then that is the nature of the beast. There will also always be people who don’t appreciate your efforts. If they are not your target audience, it is OK if they go. If, however you find yourself losing friends and followers who you would like to keep, you need to question the quality of your work.

4.         Reciprocate

Comment on what other people are doing, retweet and like what they are saying. People like responses and validation. The magic of social media lies in your ability to have conversations.

5.         Be real

Organisations are not people. The choice of your digital presence depends on who you are. Are you your brand or is it a separate entity, an amalgamation of the people behind the brand?

The people within the organisation should be visible behind the brand if you decide to create a company page.

Organisations can make announcements about events and competitions, but real people should ask questions, joke or comment.

6.         Be present

Decide what the optimum number of posts should be and be prepared to put the time in. Make time to engage with your audience regularly.

Social media is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, but it is not necessarily an easy one. It takes time, effort and strategic insight to reap the rewards. It doesn’t replace your real world marketing, but should seamlessly complement your physical engagement with your customers.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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