Social media — now for engineers too!

This week I’m turning {grow} over to the community this week and today offer a social media tale from an unlikely participant, my friend George Cooper. George is the engineer’s engineer and approached the social web with healthy skepticism. But as he explains here, there seems to be a place for social media even in the industrial world …

Social media is about connections.  No connections, no communication, and ultimately … no business benefits.  All of us start out with someone being the first connection, then a few at a time connect with us, then gradually we build a larger population… but why?

If connections are the “how” we are present in social media, our stories are the “why” our connections listen to us. Making connections and telling stories is something I can relate to.

Most of my work is with highly-technical industrial clients of one sort or another.  When I arrive at a facility, I know I’ll be talking with the client’s subject matter experts as well as incumbents in the job we’re there to work with.  I’ll need to establish my technical credibility with these folks, the quicker the better (the longer you drag it out, the less chance of success).  I always start out with who I am and why I’m there.  Sometimes, that’s met with the stony-eyed stare, the one that says, “You’re walking in the door to be an expert on our jobs?  Uh-huh.  Prove it.”

So, I begin to tell a few stories about places I’ve been and things I’ve done, usually from the perspective of when I had an opportunity to learn from others.  If I’m doing it properly, my audience’s concentration shifts from me to my stories, and they begin to connect to me through my stories

Then I get them to tell stories — THEIR stories!

Everyone wants to tell stories about what they do.  Some are better at it than others, some speak more freely than others, but pretty much everyone wants to make a connection and tell stories about themselves and what they do.  It’s the nature of humans as social creatures and the fundamental basis for establishing a relationship, work and non-work-related.

Which brings me back to social media, from an industrial perspective.

Those of us engaged in the industrial world have stories to tell, too.  I do.  I’ll shamelessly plug that I’m working to bring about an industrial renaissance in America, and see that telling those stories through the social web might be just the way to get things started.   I’m an engineer, here in the social media world, learning to make connections, tell my stories, and make things happen.  Hopefully, there will be people (maybe even you?) who will gradually hear about my ideas, become interested, connect with me and start a journey together.

I’d offer that social media – connections and stories – is about all of us, from marketing gurus like Mark to industrial folks like me, and everyone in between, who have a story to tell and a connection to make. It’s the next logical step, it’s the evolution of how we communicate and connect, isn’t it?

So if you’re struggling with colleagues and customers who don’t see a place for social media in their business, tell them to look me up. If I can work with it in my industrial and technical environment, they can do it too!

George Cooper of Development Concepts posts about an industrial renaissance in the U.S., workforce development, and things that matter.

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.

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