03 Dec

Social Engagement Optimization

A few years ago SEO used to stand for Search Engine Optimization but today it could easily stand for Social Engagement Optimization.  How you get people to your site has changed.  The search engines are still the number one source of traffic but the sites that could be classed as search engines have changed.

Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, linkedIn, Pinterst and YouTube are allowing business to do something online that they have been doing offline for years, building connections.  Companies will sometimes try and hire their competitor’s best sales person.  They do this for a couple of reasons one of which is the network of connections the sales person will bring with them to the new organization.  Social Media is the online manifestation of this benefit.

An important part of any strategy that utilizes social media revolves around knowing the audience.  Social Media is about conversations, not broadcasts.  You most likely have a different kind of conversation with your spouse than you do with your employee.  You instinctively know the difference in your audience.   It is for this reason that simply using Facebook or Twitter to have conversations with your audience will not work if it is not executed properly.  Many companies look at something like Twitter as a great way to broadcast their message.  Do these kinds of messages enrich the conversation?

I have found there are five ways to engage your audience with social media:

  1. Enlighten
  2. Entertain
  3. Educate
  4. Equate
  5. Engage

The primary goal when using Social Media should be to create something worth sharing.  Your audience will only share something that they believe has value as defined by them and not you.

11 Apr

Social Media Success Stories

Even at this juncture I’m still asked by business managers if social media is helpful.  My answer is always an emphatic yes with one caveat, you get out of it what you put in.  One of the challenges I face is that as a consultant I only have so much control over the process when I’m helping clients.   It’s different when I’m helping myself, I have complete control.   When I have the control I need I can generate success.   Here are two stories from my own experience that highlight how social media can help your business.

Like many people I use a variety of social tools including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  This success story started on Twitter, moved to Facebook and ended on LinkedIn.  It would seem that you need to use more than one tool for maximum effect.   The end result for me was a small contract to help someone merge two domains without losing ranking.  At first I noticed that someone was retweeting some of my posts.   I sent a thank you tweet here and there.  It continued like that for a while then one day I posted a slightly more personal comment about a rock band that I liked.   This generated a response from my follower.  We’d been interacting for a while and we clearly shared the same taste in music so I added this follower to my Facebook account.   Our post, counter-post continued there until I noticed a plea for help.   I offered my assistance and we started working together.   The process of landing the gig was very short as we’d already built up trust and a rapport over social media.   Subsequent to the conclusion of the work the client posted a recommendation on Linked In further reinforcing the value of social media.

The second success story does not have a sales component but it does demonstrate the ability to use social media to establish credibility and domain expertise.   A couple of years ago Garmin decided to launch a service that competed head to head with a small company located in Seattle called Groundspeak.   I already had a blog about geocaching and would post to it from time to time.  One of my readers tipped me off to the impending launch of Garmin’s new site before it was launched.   My site was one of the few that had early knowledge of the launch.   I used Linked In to find a contact at Garmin so that I could verify that they were going to launch the site.  It was confirmed and I started writing more about it and my audience grew.  It was a very hot topic in the geocaching community.   I was posting some of the better information which prompted a call from the PR person at Garmin.  Credibility generates more credibility and I was soon talking with one of the co-founders of Groundspeak.   I wasn’t really looking to sell anything to these companies so there wasn’t a real sales opportunity for me.   I was able to leverage the relationships for some help in a related business endeavour.

These are two short success stories that highlight the tangible benefits of social media.   You will get out of social media what you put in to it.  Remember to be social, interact and share.   That’s what it takes to get the most from social media.

29 Mar

People Buy From People

I’m reading a post by Lisa Barone about the Social Media presentation at SES New York.  One of the speakers, Gini Dietrich, points out that people want to see inside  a company, they want to get to know the people that work there.   I’ve believe this for a long time, even before we had the term social media.   I have frequently expressed this idea as “people buy from people”.

I’ll admit this might be a personal bias.  I spent 15 years on the road selling various products and services before I struck out on my own.  Buying from a website is very impersonal.   Online purchases work well for commodity type purchases that are usually driven by price.   As a former sales manager once said to me “sell on price, lose on price”.

The idea that people buy from people is important to keep in mind when you are developing your eCommerce strategy. Will your site sell based on price?  Will people be available to assist?  Have you posted pictures of people that work at the company?  Humans are a social animal.  We want to see “who” we are dealing with.

If the idea that people buy from people sounds like common sense you’d be right.  Unfortunately business owners do not always apply offline common sense to their online initiatives.

02 Feb

Social Media Types

In a business context social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others act as electronic word of mouth. It has always been the case that businesses that ignore word of mouth do so at their peril. This is also true of social media.

Social media sites can be loosely grouped into three types: broadcasting, narrowcasting and filtering. There is naturally a little overlap from each to the other. This overlap is the social glue that gives social media the personal connection.

How do you know a site is a social site? If there is any kind of a member or user or some other kind of identity then the site is social.

Social Media Types Defined

Broadcasting – any site where the primary purpose is to broadcast content to the widest possible audience. Social interactions are not the primary focus. For instance the primary purpose of YouTube is to broadcast video. YouTube also has user profiles and channels where like minded users can subscribe to content they like.

Narrowcasting – any site that has in some way limited either the size of the audience or what the audience has access too. Any site that has a limited profile can be classed as narrowcasting. Social interactions are expected on these sites. Access to a member’s content is in some way limited. The primary purpose of Facebook is to provide ambient intimacy for people that know each other. Some of the content shared on Facebook becomes public but not all.

Filtering – these are sites that either group, limit, or provide some other means of filtering content. Yahoo started out as a filtering site. When launched it was a hand edited bookmark list. This was of great value. There are social sites now that allow their users to create lists and links to content they like. These lists act as filters either based on the personality of the list creator or on a specific subject that grouped together via an internal search mechanism.

Examples of Social Media Sites

Broadcasting Narrowcasting Filtering
Youtube Facebook Delicious
Flickr Myspace Digg
Slideshare LinkedIn Stumble Upon
Blogs FriendFeed Squidoo