Is ANYBODY LISTENING out there?


Next up on {grow} “Community Week” is Kristen Daukus, a fellow marketing entrepreneur, social media lover and consultant:

“I am afraid to use social media because people will use it to complain about me and my business.”

I work primarily with small businesses and can’t tell you how many times I hear that sentence.

Here’s what I think about this:

  • If you really think that many of your customers are going to complain about your company and services, you’ve got a lot more to worry about than social media.
  • What about all the ones that want to talk about how great your service is? Don’t they matter?
  • And shouldn’t you be GLAD they are taking the complaint to you instead of their neighbors?

Consider complaints a gift!

And while we’re on the topic of gifts, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sent out a love message to brands regarding service I received (naming staff, too I might add) or how amazing their new widget is only to be met with the sounds of crickets.

Nothing! No “Hey @KristenDaukas we’re so glad you enjoyed your new widget!” – nothing!  I just gave you a huge box of love and YOU’RE NOT LISTENING?

Do you think companies are so hyper-sensitive to monitoring the BAD news through the social media channels that they miss a huge opportunity in addressing the POSITIVE pieces of news?  Are brand de-sensitized to LOVE?

I realize there are a lot of community managers doing damage control out there and putting out fires is a vital piece of social media.  People by nature, are much quicker to complain than to compliment.  They have been subconsciously programmed into thinking that if they yell loud enough, they’ll get what they want.

How did this happen?  Not only have we developed this habit of rewarding bad behavior, we EXPECT it.

You don’t like your meal?  Don’t pay for it.  You don’t like the room?  Here’s a free night’s stay.  We don’t have your size?  Here’s a 50% discount.

So you give them what they want and what … they love you forever?  They go away?  Do you think they’ll make as much noise about how you resolved the issue?  Do you think they’ll become brand ambassadors for you?

Maybe. Maybe not. Even if they do, I doubt the “love” will last very long.

But …

What if we took a page from the Dr. Spock books and rewarded the GOOD behavior?

When is there a better time to make a brand lover even happier than when they’re already happy? If I’m tweeting how amazing your company, service or product is, imagine what I’m going to do when you acknowledge that love!  I am going to turn around and blow even more sunshine around the world about you. There won’t be a person within earshot that won’t know how amazing you are. Sliced bread will have nothing on you.

And that’s just from the FIRST exchange.

What about when we start to have a conversation and share witty banter?? Wow … we’re FRIENDS now!!  And I don’t EXPECT a thing. Nothing. If you choose to give me a little freebie love, that’s only going to make me happier and make me talk more.   And then what happens if someone says something bad about my friend??  What do friends do?  They protect you, of course!  That very passionate person all of a sudden becomes your biggest ally..

See where I’m going with this?  It’s all in your approach — glass half full versus  half empty.

Are there people that do nothing but complain? Yes. Are there more people that want to see you succeed? Yes. Do them a favor and let them help you.

Kristen Daukas is a founder of Linking Winston-Salem, Social Media Club Piedmont-Triad and her newest pet project, TweetBroads.

How do you measure a personal brand?

I am so proud and happy to shine a spotlight on Rebecca Denison in today’s Community Week post. She was one of the first true fans of {grow} and one of my first guest bloggers, while she was still a student at UNC. She’s an Edelman measurement fanatic and here’s her take on the topic as it relates to her personal brand …

There has been an incredible focus on social media measurement lately, as well there should be.  If you want to convince business professionals and marketers to dive into social media, you need to be able to prove that there is value in it. Ideally value equals sales or dollars for most campaigns or projects, but is that really applicable to social media?

Is the bottom line really the only measure of success businesses focus on? Not exactly. For example, if you want to measure employee morale or satisfaction (arguably an important factor for any company), would you focus on dollars? Probably not. You’re more likely to track turnover or hallway chatter.

So why not measure social media the same way? Why not focus on the true goals of your social media marketing campaign?

Once you’ve decided that social media really is right for your business (and it may not be), your next step should be deciding what your definition of success is and how it will be measured.

Instead of trying to make social media try to fit traditional or common metrics, figure out how you will measure success.

When I first decided to put myself out there by joining Twitter and starting a blog, I did a bit of poking around to see how others were measuring their own social media success. A lot of the most common metrics and stats didn’t seem to fit my goals:

  • Number of Twitter followers
  • Number of retweets and @replies
  • Number of blog subscribers
  • Blog comments
  • Total page views
  • Unique page views

All of these metrics would only seem to feed my ego. I could never deny that it’s certainly nice to see these numbers grow, but to truly understand my progress, I focus on more specific numbers.

To understand my measure of success, you should first know why I joined social media in the first place. I wasn’t always such a digital nerd, but I’ve certainly always been a measurement nerd.

After I graduated from college last year, I took an internship focused on PR and media analysis. As I settled into my position and got a sense of the industry, I was curious to find more people who shared my interests and could offer expertise. And on a personal level, I wanted to meet more people in a new city. Lastly, something that is important to me both personally and professionally is to become a resource for measurement for others in my industry.

Knowing these goals, I brainstormed metrics and measures that were the most appropriate.

Social Media Goals & Metrics:

Goal: Connect and build relationships with other PR professionals and those interested in measurement. Metrics:

  • Number of folks added to my “Measurement” list on Twitter
  • Number of LinkedIn connections made with others interested in measurements
  • Number of conversations per week about measurements

Goal: Find more ways to build friendships in Chicago. Metrics:

  • Number of friends added to my “Close Friends” list on Twitter.
  • Number of clubs and organizations discovered.
  • Number of people I know I can count on in a pinch.

Goal: Become a measurement resource for others. Metrics:

  • Number of recommendations received on Twitter.
  • Number of guest blog posts written about measurement.
  • Number of times per week I’m asked for advice about measurement.

While many of these metrics may not be appropriate for business, they all fit the goals in this case. Even though I may never be able to measure social media in the same way I can track the amount of money I spend on groceries month-over-month, I can easily track whether I’m reaching my own expectations.

What’s your biggest social media goal? How can you measure it?

Rebecca Denison is a social media analyst at Edelman Digital in Chicago who is passionate about all things measurement and all things UNC.

A simple strategy to convert blog visitors into sales leads

If you’ve read {grow} with any consistency you’ll recognize Jon Buscall as one of the most vibrant intellectual voices in our community. Today Jon tackles the tough issue of monetizing a blog community in our next installment of Community Week:

So many people (including Mark!) have written about the SEO benefits of blogs that I’m not going to repeat that here.  But one thing that rarely comes up is how B2B blogs help businesses convert readers and traffic into sales. Or whether they actually don’t!

Repeat Visitors & Conversion Apathy

If you’ve drunk the business blogging Kool-Aid and worked hard over time to build a strong, vocal community on your blog you might well find that repeat visitors don’t convert into sales. Go on, check your stats!

Regular visitors are there for something else: the community, the discussion, or even the friendships that forms around a successful blog.

As a business blogger it can be worrying to see that even if you’re putting highly visible call-to-actions above the fold the stream of regular visitors to your site forget about your propositions.

Maybe it’s because:

  • regular visitors get used to your site and go straight to the content
  • you don’t vary the call-to-actions often enough so they become “invisible”
  • you don’t maximize the content space you’ve got to pimp your services
  • regular blog readers often read your site with a news aggregator like Google Reader or NewsFire.

Why I Love First-time, Unique Visitors

My own experience is that it’s easier to covert first (or second) time visitors into clients with a B2B blog.

Yup, without going into the nitty-gritty of my own site stats, the biggest groups that make enquiries about our services at Jontus Media are, in fact, first timers. They’ve googled something, clicked through to our site and, low and behold decided to contact us (and Oh, boy do I love it when that happens!).

Google Analytics tells us this, but so do our customers when we ask them.

Now this isn’t to say that we’ve got spectacular landing pages or catchy call-to-actions littered across our site; but it does seem to suggest that all that our effort to build a community might be wasted! That in fact, the trust and thought-leadership that regular b2b business blogging generates is spotted by a cursory glance.

Google Analytics tells us that it only takes first time visitors a matter of minutes (or seconds) to convert organic search traffic into sales.

Give Me More !

Now I’m not knocking first time conversions. But I do want more business from that 30 percent of visitors who come back to our website on a daily basis. Even if it’s just a percentage or two.

So when it comes to B2B blog strategy I’ve got a few suggestions for those of us in the B2B business blogosphere who aren’t converting repeat visitors to customers. And want some of it.

Ask Yourself:

  • Are our call-to-actions strong enough?
  • How is the site working to remind the community that this is a business and that services (or products) are for sale?
  • Is the overall site design geared towards conversion?
  • Could we refresh the site design more frequently to stop visitors getting blind to our call-to-actions?
  • Could we be making more use of our RSS feed to generate leads?

Finally, just to throw the baby out with the bathwater, maybe I’m wrong. And as I write it occurs to me that quite, possibly I am. Maybe I’m going after the impossible. Hell, maybe I shouldn’t think of a B2B blog as a conversion channel for repeat visitors in the first place?

Perhaps a B2B blog could / should just be a means to a different end. A great way of funneling visitors to an email list, for example, to be used for direct marketing.

Or perhaps it’s a word-of-mouth tool to help spread the news that you’re a kick-ass company with creative, insightful, quirky, talented staff.

So go on, help me out here! What can we do to really make a B2B blog a conversion engine? Or are B2B blogs for entirely different things?

______

Jon Buscall is head of Jontus Media, a creative content & communications agency working out of Stockholm, Sweden. You can follow Jon on Twitter.

No budget? Apply guerrilla marketing ideas to the social web

I first connected with Nathan Dube in 2009 when I fell in love with his now-famous destroy your printer contest. This guy has a knack for making something out of nothing and is the ideal person to talk about guerrilla marketing and the social web on our next installment of Community Week on {grow}:

Guerrilla marketing is about eclectic combinations of music, mystery, art, culture, humor and social dynamics coming together into a sales pitch that doesn’t appear to be a sales pitch. It manifests itself as a hip invitation to join or to be part of a movement.

One of the most infamous recent examples of guerrilla marketing was when the adult swim Network placed electronic signs for its Aqua Teen Hunger Force show around Boston, resulting in a bomb scare and eventual arrests. It didn’t work, but you get the idea. I’ve had to resort to guerrilla tactics myself in my job with Expert Laser Services, primarily because I needed to sell more stuff, but had no money for marketing. I had to get inventive. I had to get guerrilla.

An idea sprang from my own frustrations of having to deal with office laser printers and copiers which simply didn’t work … when you needed them most. In fact, I genuinely developed a hatred for certain pieces of office equipment.

Through Twitter, blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn, I promoted a contest that would award a small prize to the video depicting the most creative destruction of a printer. People blew them up, tossed them out of windows and crushed them with a backhoe. In essence, the social web was providing my content. Remember, I had no budget!

Soon, the project was featured all over the web and was the top video story in an online trade magazine for several consecutive weeks. We actually generated sales leads and new customers from this promotion.

But the most fun guerrilla social media tactic had nothing to do with business, it involved my band, Jabooda.

When the band formed four years ago, I produced several thousand stickers that read “What is Jabooda?” Through friends of friends of friends, these stickers made it on to random spots throughout the United States and even Europe.

When we came out with the second generation of stickers I included a small URL on each one to help people connect with us on the web.  In addition to hitting the streets with the sticker, we got guerrilla with the distribution process, too.

Two of the guys from the band worked for FedEx and started to put a supply of stickers in every truck they unloaded or loaded. Over the course of the year “what is Jabooda” became a bit of a sensation and we gained new fans at FedEx hubs in nearly every state and many countries around the world.  FedEx had become our own personal social media network!

The stickers drove people to our website where we were able to collect names for our mailing list.

About two years ago some of our new fans built a page on Facebook to lobby to get us on the bill at the Wormtown Music Festival, one of New England’s longest-running and most popular music events. We did not get the slot, but we were moving in the right direction.

The following year the competition heated up and Facebook alone wasn’t going to do it. To get into Wormtown’s Strangecreek festival lineup the next year, we had to win a battle of the bands competition. We actually made it to the finals but to win, part of the criteria was the size of our fan base. It was time to use that mailing list!

We got the word out to all those crazy Jabooda fans and were able to attract a large crowd from several different states. In fact, it was the largest crowd of the night and we won, securing our place on the festival bill.

Don’t have a marketing budget? Don’t let it get you down. Go guerrilla!

Nathan Dube has been a long-time member of the {grow} community and is a marketing and sales professional at Expert Laser Services near Boston.

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