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Lee Odden

25 Must Read Social Media Marketing Tips

By Lee Odden     Interviews, Online Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Smarts

Social Media Marketing

For Social Media Marketing Services and Training, contact TopRank Online Marketing 1-877-872-6628 .

The benefit from a firm grasp of social media for companies is impossible to ignore. Whether you work in marketing, advertising, public relations or interactive, there are distinct competitive advantages for both individuals and businesses from a better understanding of the social web.

This post provides specific advice from in-house social media marketers including: Dell, Comcast, HP, Wells Fargo, Intel, Best Buy, General Mills, Ford, UPS, Home Depot, Cirque du Soleil and a mix of SMM consultants/agencies: Altimeter Group, Crayon, Ogilvy 360, Future Works, Doe Anderson, New Marketing Labs and others. Advice includes justifying investment in social media strategy, how to decide on tactics and measuring success.

Our 25 contributors include:  Charlene Li, Richard Binhammer, Chris Brogan, Katie Paine, Valeria Maltoni, Joseph Jaffe, Dave McClure, Tac Anderson, Brian Solis, Rohit Bhargava, Jim Cuene, Jason Falls, Michael Brito, Scott Monty, Gary Koelling, Jessica Berlin, Tim Collins, Dave Evans, Brian Clark, Debbie Curtis-Magley, Geoff Livingston, Frank Eliason, Lindsay LeBresco, Nick Ayres and Shonali Burke -  an impressive mix of social media talent that we’ve interviewed in the past at Online Marketing Blog.

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Charlene Li – Founder of The Altimeter Group and best selling author, ”Groundswell: Winning In A World Transformed By Social Technologies”.

So much of social technology and media engagement is centered on listening – not something many people, let alone companies, are very good at. What are some of the significant corporate cultural shifts and behaviors that you see as necessary to understanding, energizing and embracing the groundswell?

We lay out in the book five key objectives that you can achieve by tapping into the groundswell: Listening, Talking, Energizing, Supporting, and Embracing. All of these activities are being done today, but as you say, they aren’t always effective and in many ways, some existing techniques are becoming obsolete. Companies need to realize that they have to give up control — or as I like to think, the semblance of control — in order to engage with the customers and employees in the groundswell. It’s really, really hard, and most companies don’t “get it” initially. And even if you do get engaged, you’ll constantly be making mistakes and learning along the way.

So we offer a few words of advice on how to do this:

  1. Never forget that the groundswell is about person-to-person activity. You are not speaking as “the company”, but as a person. Most companies don’t know how to do this, and it takes a lot of practice to find that voice and feel comfortable with it.
  2. Be a good listener. All companies say they listen to their customers, but do they really LISTEN and let people know that they are listening?
  3. Be patient. This takes a long time because you are going to be transforming your company, one person at a time.
  4. Be opportunistic. Start small with the people who are most passionate about building relationships with customers.
  5. Be flexible. You never know what’s going to happen so you have to constantly adjust your thinking and learn.
  6. Be collaborative. You need people from up and down the management chain to buy-in.
  7. Most importantly, be humble. Remember that you are not as powerful as the groundswell. If you forget this, they will let you know.
richard-binhammer-dell

Photo Credit briansolis.com

Richard Binhammer – Senior Manager, Dell

What’s your decision making process when it comes to testing and implementing social media engagement efforts with specific tactics?

We are constantly “testing” and experimenting with different social media initiatives and opportunities.  In fact, we are encouraged to experiment and see what works and learn from it, versus guaranteeing success.  Our CEO, Michael Dell talks about experimentation, as well as social media in this recent online interview over at Small Business Advice TV. (interview starts around the 8 minute point, he talks about experiments at the 9:15 point, social media around 21 minutes).

Decision making and tactics for social media  “initiatives” depend on various factors, such as: circumstances; the specific social media initiative contemplated or planned; the business organization involved; among other things.

The key principles underlying Dell decisions and actions in social media are:

1. Listening, Learning and Engaging in conversations with our customers where they are.

Dell’s outreach to customers or others who blog about us and joining those conversations is an example of this.  Other examples include: presence on Twitter and involvement at YahooAnswers.

2. Telling our Story: Is there a social media “tool” or technology we should be using to connect, converse and share our story with customers and others who are interested in Dell?

Direct2dell, our first blog, was established at the urging of Michael Dell.  He wanted the company to have voice in the connected era, as well as establish a place for our customers to be able to connect and converse with Dell.

Michael Brito Intel
Michael Brito – Social Media Strategist at Intel

You’ve given great advice from an in-house corporate social media practitioner. Can you share some insights on how you’ve been able to evangelize social media within Intel and also, have you had opportunities to work with existing partners on coop social media projects?

Evangelizing social media within an organization that truly embraces the pure “essence” of conversations is not that difficult.  Of course, there are always some who question the true value of social media and often want to see the metrics (i.e. click throughs, page views, web visits, etc.) These metrics, however, don’t tell the whole story. The true value of evangelizing social media is finding those conversations that you wouldn’t normally find in a web analytics solution and make them visible to senior management.

Wepc.com is a joint venture with Asus and Intel. It is an effort to leverage the community as a source of innovation; a place where users congregate to share ideas, images and inspiration about the “ideal” PC. And, we are taking it one step further. The designs, feature ideas and community feedback will be evaluated by ASUS and will influence the blueprint for an actual notebook PC built by ASUS and Intel. I am the “official Intel” spokesperson of the community and have been involved in several conversations within that particular community. ASUS also participates.

Bald Chris Brogan New Media Labs
Chris Brogan – President of New Marketing Labs

Companies get involved in the social media space for many reasons, ranging from the perception that they’re on the cutting edge of marketing to increase sales to a  sincere interest in creating more powerful relationships with customers. What advice do you have for larger companies that are looking for “roadmap” level advice on how they should best approach participation on the social web?

These tools permit an opportunity to build relationships around your business communications. They empower a new chance at building a trust relationship that translates into precious attention. Learn to listen. Extrapolate the potential points of touch between your customers and your organization, and enable participation in some of your processes, in some way. It’s not one-size-fits-all, but definitely a toolset worthy of serious consideration. To me, it’s no less than the next telephone.

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Rohit Bhargava – Senior Vice President Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence

As companies try to figure out the “ROI of social media”, there are many that have suggested comparison models that involve comparable revenue or cost savings to benefits gained from social media to advertising, PR and customer service. To justify social media budgets and the cost of participation, what advice can you give about social media value measurement?

Our 360 Digital Influence team at Ogilvy has spent a lot of time tackling this question. It’s one that is crucial to helping our clients to get the right value out of social media, and to use it strategically where it is the best fit, and not blindly or on a whim. I’m the first one to admit that social media is NOT a solution to every problem, and looking at it that way sets up you up for almost certain failure.

So my vastly simplified response to your question involves two big choices that many companies forget to make. The first is what the ultimate aim of a social media campaign will be. Is it product awareness (measured in conversational terms) or is it real sales (measured by actual sales figures), or is it something else? You’d be surprised how many efforts are launched without answering this fundamental question.

If you don’t have a clear picture of what you are aiming for, you’re definitely not going to be able to measure it or track results against it. Once you have an answer to that question, then there are a whole host of specific metrics that you can align against it. For example, you can measure volume or tonality of conversation. Or link frequency and actual clicks. Or content generation and influencer engagement. We have been building a model that has dozens of these types of metrics, that we can customize for each client engagement.

The point is, measurement of social media has to involve more than counting empty impressions. But the hard part is really nailing a smart strategy – not dreaming up new software tools or wishing for one big golden number that someone will eventually create.”

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Geoff Livingston – Senior Vice President at CRT/tanaka

A lot of companies frame their experience with social media from an individual user perspective and as a result begin their participation tactically, rather than develop an overall strategy. Do you think it’s better for companies to experiment with certain channels before investing in an overall social media program or should they really nail down higher level strategy first?

I think they should nail down a higher strategy first.  It’s a common error, and one I face often where I have to unify and re-activate littered social media properties that have been abandoned due to little interest.  The reason why there’s no interest is because of a core communication failure in two-way principles, from control to truly understanding the value a company offers a community.  Going back to that core strategy, that core value an organization has to offer is the heart of where social media strategy begins.  Not playing with Twitter because it is hot.

Valeria Maltoni Conversation Agent
Valeria Maltoni- Conversation Agent: blogger, speaker and consultant.

Social media strategy, tactics and measurement are not the entire picture of a social web program. Part of being able to sustain and grow a company’s social media participation relies on internal communications. Can you offer some advice on how companies can do a better job of tracking and then reporting to the right people, successes and opportunities with a social media marketing effort?

The first thing a marketing communication professional needs to do is get everyone who could be a stakeholder in a room – include legal, HR, sales and anyone else on the business side – and help answer questions and address concerns. Those people become those you report back to on a regular basis so it’s important they understand what you’re working on. At this time you need to make clarity on what you’d consider a success and how you will share opportunities. Setting expectations will also help people sign on to help with follow up where necessary.

When you map the objectives for participation in social media, you want to communicate them company wide. If you know people in sales, you probably know that they don’t do much sitting around and they may already be involved in several activities. Results are better when all activities are aligned and people know what you are working to accomplish at a minimum.

You may need to refresh your objectives and strategies on a regular basis, make sure you’re still on target and remain flexible. Once your content is socialized, the conversation may take you to unexpected places. It will be easier to determine the strategies and tools that support the company’s goals and at the same time respond to the community if you remain flexible and check in often. The “social” part makes this an ongoing activity instead of a program or campaign.

Training and an understanding of how social media tools integrate with the company’s overall digital marketing strategy is important if you wish to enroll a larger team. This step also helps you communicate the importance of tracking activities to objectives, and being flexible on changing course when needed. At this point you also have communication lines open with both senior management and the colleagues who will be involved on a day to day basis.

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Dave McClure – Man of 500 hats including, entreprenuer, software developer, investor and currently runs Founders Fund.

What do pirates have to do with internet marketing and web 2.0?

About a year ago I began doing a talk on a Five Step Model for startups to make better decisions about product and marketing using simple, actionable, metrics. That model was based on Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue. The acronym for that is AARRR, so I decided and get a pirate mnemonic for people to remember that and make it easy to remember, maybe a little easier marketing idea for them to remember as well.

One thing that’s kind of interesting, even though Silicon Valley and San Francisco are at the center of a lot of start up action, I think people are still learning the craft and lot of that craft is, “informed guesswork”, I would say.  It’s important to figure out how to collect metrics that don’t overwhelm people but allow them to iterate more quickly and make better decisions so that they can grow and hopefully make money or get acquired by a larger company.

The great thing about web 2.0 and the internet, is that you have real-time customer feedback, being able to see what people are clicking on and spending time on, really understanding what they are using and enjoying is really, I think, the unique thing about building a web 2.0 business. You can tell in real time what customers want and use. If you use that information to build your product, then you can probably find a lot of really great businesses. Sometimes people, start-up entreprenuers that are smart, think they’re too smart, and try to make those decisions on behalf of customers without letting them help them figure it out.

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Tac Anderson – Social Media, Global Enterprise Marketing Group - Hewlett Packard

What arguments or business case justifications have you found to be the most effective for investing time, people and other resources into marketing efforts that include social media participation? How about insights on justifying corporate blogging?

You have to start with two things. I always used to say you had to start with one thing but my time in corporate America has taught me that it’s two things.

The #1 thing has always been, who’s your audience. What matters to them?

As an example if you’re trying to reach consumers then the case for blogs and social media is about reaching them where and how they interact. It’s about building trust and being open,which are all trends I’m sure your readers are more than familiar with. If your customers are CXO’s (CEO, CIO, CFO, CMO) then the reason you have a blog is because the two most influential factors to a CXO’s decision making process are the Two G’s: Google and Gartner. Google is speaking to the importance of all search and Gartner is speaking to the importance that analysts play. Blogs are great for reaching both. There’s no lower bang for your buck tactic to reach the two G’s than having a high quality blog.

The #2 thing I’ve learned is to start with what your company is already measuring. Then look at Return on Total Investment.  How much does it cost you to do something today? Can you do it cheaper and more effectively with social media? At first don’t try and recreate your companies measurements and reporting. If they have stated KPI’s (key performance indicators) work with those. How can you use social media to impact those numbers. Once you prove that you are capable of moving certain needles then you can broaden what your measuring.

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Brian Solis – CEO Futureworks, blogger, speaking, author and PR/Social Media evangelist.

Which drives which, technology or communications?

It’s a collision between technology and communications. If anything, it’s technology slamming into communications and we’re all trying to figure out what hit us.

Conferences like SNCR and Web 2.0 Expo are the epitome of all the hottest, coolest, shiny objects, tools and networks from social media to enterprise 2.0. It affects us as communications professionals, as marketers and even as business professionals as the social graph has now been enhanced and streamlined through all of this stuff, at least it’s supposed to be.

What we’re seeing in terms of the collision between technology and communications is that technology is not just forcing communications but all of media, causing us to evolve in a way that’s making us better communications professionals because we’re actually communicating with people and not at them.

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Jim Cuene - Director of Interactive at General Mills

What are some of the common issues large organizations encounter when trying to evaluate and adopt social media technologies? Are you seeing more internal or external facing applications? (ex: building a private social network vs engaging in existing/public social networks)

The only stuff I care about right now is consumer facing. I don’t care too much about Enterprise 2.0 (though I know that I need the same tools for internal communications that I’m seeing take off in the consumer space).

The phenomenon is just getting started, even though to those of us who are on Twitter and compulsively reload Tec meme it feels like it’s been around a while. It’s still so early in the game! Big companies that have been historically reliant on mass media are just now beginning to realize the extent to which their worlds will change as a result of social media.

A couple key issues:

  • Efficiency is elusive/It’s hard to execute social media efficiently- Large companies have made a science out of finding efficiencies in media, and have been pretty successful squeezing most of the fat out of production budgets. But, social media, in a lot of ways, is the exact opposite of mass: Labor intensive, highly involved, non-standardized.
  • Who to Turn to – Big companies are critically dependent on their agencies as a way to run lean internally. But 90% of ad agencies are still trying to figure out how to deal with display and SEM. Social media is going to be a total mind- f*** for them. And a lot of the “social media agencies” are making it up everyday, as they go along. No one has this figured out, and big companies aren’t really staffed right to figure it out themselves.
  • Evaluating success – What’s a good result? We all know home runs when we see them in other media, but what does a a successful social media campaign look like? How big does that success have to be to drive the business?
  • Velocity -By it’s nature, social media is slower than Mass. The Blendtec guys were at it for a while, before “Will it Blend” went big. Viral hits like “elf-yourself” don’t just happen overnight in most cases, even if it seems like it to us. Tv-centric companies are used to turning on the ad (or dropping the FSI, or starting the promotion) and seeing the results immediately. For companies that are used to the velocity of impact that comes from “mass” media, the slow, steady approach may be frustrating

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Scott Monty – Head of Global Social Media at Ford

What insights do you have for other large organizations, Fortune 500 at least, on things they should think about when looking at social media as something to invest in?

I think so much is made of social media, there’s a different tool nearly every day that’s being developed, but the bottom line is, it’s just online conversations. It’s learning how to speak to your customers again and getting into the channels where they are, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, whatever.

And when legal departments freak out as they normally do, I’d remind them that 15 years ago email was very much in the same cusp and look at how that’s worked out for us. Nobody has spilled the beans on some corporate IP secret, or at least very few people have.  It’s just another way of communicating.

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Gary Koelling - Senior Manager, Social Technology at Best Buy and co-creator of Blue Shirt Nation

Can you share a few high level tips for companies that are in discovery mode when it comes to tasks such as deciding on social platforms and applications, internal management and success measurement?  Or should they take a less evaluative approach and just jump in?

If you’re ready to count more failures than wins and if you can get honest admissions of fear – you’re almost ready to jump in. But first ask yourself “What kind of relationship do I (not We) want to have with my employees or customers? Give yourself an honest answer. If it’s a purely transactional relationship that’s fine. If it’s something else, try to plot it on a line of intimacy somewhere between “Someone I see a couple days a week in the elevator” and “Soul mate.” Hopefully, for their sake, it’s somewhere in the middle. Then practice. Keep it small. Say hi. Get to know each other. Try things. Learn. If a jaded old ad guy like me can figure it out, the rest of you should be fine.

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Photo Credit briansolis.com

Jessica Berlin – Social Media Manager, Cirque du Soleil

Can you share an example of how you’ve successfully employed a social media effort and how you measured success? (marketing, online reputation management, branding, etc)

Our efforts have so far proved to be successful internally and externally. Internally we’re successful because of the team effort developing and maintaining content for our channels. The publicists are the primary content producers and are always looking for interesting things happening at the shows that a fan might want to know about. With Facebook and Twitter, we’re primarily measuring success by continuing to steadily grow our fan numbers as well as the positive feedback we receive from people about the content we are posting.

For instance, we recently launched an on-line quiz with a widget component (www.getcirqued.com/quiz) exclusively through social media and it has been a great success just in terms of the number of people taking the quiz and then word of mouth as a result. This goes back to us showing people can engage with Cirque du Soleil without going to see a show.

Eventually we will leverage our fan base to spread the word about ticket promotions developed exclusively for these channels. We will monitor the response from the community and track the ticket sales revenue.

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Tim Collins – Senior Vice President of Experiential Marketing Wells Fargo

Do you outsource any social media work and if so, do you have tips for other large company social media marketers for finding and managing consultants?

Most of our work is done internally.  But on the small portion that is external, the same rules apply to other media:
• Get referrals from people you trust
• Check their work with other clients
• Set clear expectations and hold them accountable
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Dave Evans – Social Media Strategist at Digital Voodoo and Author, “Social Media Marketing An Hour a Day”

Can you share an example of how you’ve successfully employed a social media effort (large scale or a specific tactic)  and how you measured success? (marketing, ORM, branding, etc) URLs to examples are very much appreciated.

Three come to mind immediately, as all are fundamentally different in their goals.

First, Meredith Publishing and its communities like Parents/American Baby and Better Homes and Gardens. Working with Meredith’s Community Manager we developed a strategic roadmap guiding their use of the Pluck community platform. The objective was stronger engagement between individual print and online subscribers via the content discussions in which they were engaged. In this case, we gauged success in terms of page views–the base line indicator for publishers–and the size of the community as it grew over time.

Next is Premiere Global, a provider of scalable electronic messaging services. Premiere’s platform powers many of the financial trade transaction confirmations that people receive, hurricane evacuation notices, and similar. Premiere developed an API around its platform, and then invited developers to build monetized application using these tools. Working with Austin’s FG SQUARED, we developed a support and learning community built on the Jive Software platform for application developers to facilitate the spread of tips and knowledge in order to build more and better application based on PGI’s underlying API and service platform. We are measuring the number of applications developed, and the revenue associate with them. This is essential a direct measure of ROI.

Finally, working again with FG SQUARED and its client, University Federal Credit Union, we implemented Techrigy’s SM2 social media monitoring platform to engage the credit unions marketing and operations units with conversations of interest. This is the first step in what will be a larger social media based implementation, and is a great example of the ways in which innovators within organizations can take initial steps into social media. Measurement in this case is related to the conversations uncovered, and their value in terms of intelligence to the firm.

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Joseph Jaffe – President of Crayon and best selling author of multiple books on advertising and new media.

Can you share 3-5 tips for companies trying to make sense out of defining a social media strategy?

  1. Don’t cede control completely to your consumers. They don’t want it. Meet them halfway. Partner with them. Work with them
  2. Marketing is not a campaign; it’s a commitment. If you want lifetime relationships with your consumers, you need to invest in them…genuinely…for life. Begin with investing in what we call at crayon, “commitment to conversation” (monitoring, optimization, response, outreach etc.)
  3. Learn to deal with negativity. You want the love, but can’t deal with the hate. Criticism is not your enemy; apathy and indifference are. Any negative response from consumers (whether by blog, e-mail or customer service inquiry) is a cry for help AND an acknowledgement that they care (enough to reach out to you…)
  4. As per my earlier point, think strategically. We’re currently working with some of our clients to define a social networking strategy BEFORE cart before the horse deploying a “Facebook App” for example
  5. That said, we also advise companies to invest in “well-structured experimentation”. We distill this into a very real and workable number – 4: 4 experiments over a calendar year. Is 1 experiment per quarter that unrealistic or irrationally exuberant? I think not.

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Lindsay Lebresco – Public Relations and Social Media Manager, Graco

What arguments or business case justifications have you found to be the most effective for investing time, people and other resources into social media engagement?

Making a business case justification for social media investment will wholly depend on your company’s business objectives.  For Graco, our business goals for the brand, we felt, could be achieved through the use of social media to build relationships with our consumers to help enable brand advocacy and to build upon trust, which is paramount for parents choosing products they will use with their infants, as a brand attribute. It’s also important to note that we see Social Media as just one part of our overall integrated marketing effort to build our brands.  At this time, specific measurements tied directly to sales are not yet achievable for our brands.  However, we do feel that Social Media has a long term impact on brand preference.  We are currently evaluating and/or experimenting with services that will more closely measure our social media efforts and their potential impacts.

brian-clark-copyblogger
Brian Clark – Owner of Copyblogger.com, new media writer/producer, entrepreneur and recovering attorney.

How much does SEO play into your blog marketing efforts with copyblogger.com and the other sites you work with?

Well, it’s absolutely vital and yet absolute optimization never happens too soon for us. I’m a firm believer in building trusted authority sites, and sometimes that means foregoing the best keyword optimization in order to attract more links and subscribers. Once you have that trust (with people and Google) it’s easy to dive in and optimize certain pages or sections of a site.

What are the most common mistakes you see people make that get in the way of blogs or web sites from having better search visibility?

I think it goes back to my last answer… Obsessing over the perfect keywords in your title before you have any readers or any links is backwards these days. Google wants to rank trusted brands highly, and creating a brand goes way beyond keyword research and placement.

debbie-curtis-magley-UPS
Debbie Curtis-Magley – Public Relations Manager, UPS

What strategies do you use to measure the effectiveness of social media?  What metrics make the most impact upstream (C-level) in your organization?

Ultimately, our management will evaluate the success of a program on its ability to deliver business results.

One example that I can share is our launch of UPS Delivery Intercept in 2007. To complement our media outreach, we used MySpace and YouTube to promote the service. Delivery Intercept has exceeded its revenue plan. During the first 12 months that the service was offered, UPS received well over 1 million requests from more than 165,000 distinct customers for this fee-based service.  In a company that is highly focused on numbers, usage continues to run significantly above plan.

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Jason Falls – Director of Social Media at Doe Anderson, blogger and speaker.

How can we get the public relations industry to wake up and smell the social media coffee?

I think public relations needs to own the responsibility for social media. I’ve always thought of social media as online PR if you really want to whittle it down to what it is. The first thing we need to do is to understand that everyone that “gets it” needs to start teaching and telling the people that don’t get it, especially in the world of PR, “Look, you really need to start focusing on this.”.

Part of that is going to have to be education, because the biggest hurdle that public relations professionals have to overcome right now in order to get up to speed with social media is a fear of technology. They don’t understand the technological side of things well enough.

They don’t know how to do a blog, they don’t know what SEO is, they don’t understand RSS. So we need to teach them basic social web, web 2.0 skills. Once they see that it’s not about the technology, that it is a communications platform, they’ll see the technology only supports what you’re trying to communicate – they’ll get it.

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Nick Ayres – Interactive Marketing Manager, The Home Depot

How do you decide whether to blog vs setup social networking profiles vs Twitter vs image and video sharing or other social media tactics? What’s your decision making process when it comes to testing and implementing social media engagement efforts with specific tactics?

It sounds a bit like strategy and marketing 101, but you really have to start with who your customers are and what their expectations and desires are from you in the space. Based on what you learn, you can much more easily lay out your objectives, strategies and tactics to meet those wants and needs. If you aren’t already doing so, one of the first things you need to do before even thinking about a tactic is to just start listening to what’s already being said about you. Whether it’s on blogs or on Twitter or in existing online communities – wherever your customers are already talking about your brand – you can learn a lot by just paying attention to what’s already being said. I’m a big fan of approaches like Forrester’s POST methodology, or frankly any method that starts with customers and their expectations, and works towards technology, versus the other way around.

For us, if you look at what we’ve done with Twitter or with our video syndication efforts (posting our how-to videos on YouTube and other video sites) we’ve had the most success when we’ve approached the spaces from that direction rather than a “hey this is cool so let’s do it” mindset.

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Katie Paine – CEO KDPaine & Partners

Building a business case for PR and influence based digital marketing can be a challenge in a down economy. What practical advice do you have on how analytics and measurement play in that effort?

Be very clear about your goals. Goals drive the type of measurements you are going to use. So once you get everyone clear about the goals, then you can develop a meaningful measurement system. Are you trying to spend less money, then you need to measure cost savings, not “HITS”  if you want to change your image in the marketplace you can’t measure that with hits either, you need to look at positioning and messaging. Remember that you become what you measure, so you need to make sure your metrics line up with what you were hired to do.

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Shonali Burke – Principal, Shonali Burke Consulting

What strategies do you use to measure the effectiveness of social media? What metrics make the most impact upstream (C-level)?

In my opinion, the smartest way to approach strategic communications is to outline the measurable outcomes you want to achieve at the beginning. Even though this is a fundamental of classic communications planning, it still amazes me how many practitioners focus on outputs and outtakes, rather than the actual outcomes. Katie Delahaye Paine, of whom I’m a huge (and known) fan, frequently posts on this at her blog.

If you approach measurement from an outcomes point of view, then defining your metrics for social media becomes no different than defining them for traditional media. What do you want to achieve? What are the outcomes that will make the most impact from a business point of view, both qualitative and quantitative? Those are the metrics that are going to be most meaningful to the C-Suite. Aaron Uhrmacher wrote a brilliant post on this for Mashable a few months ago. And recently, Jason Falls posted an extremely thought-provoking article on his blog about social media ROI.

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Photo credit shel israel

Frank Eliason – Director of Digital Care, Comcast

As far as deciding what social media channels to engage in, what’s your decision making process when it comes to testing and implementing specific tactics?

Two key factors: Searchability and Timeliness. We can not continually look at the same website to see if anything is being said, so we use a variety of search techniques. This brings me to the second key factor. Searching but not getting the results for days or weeks after something is posted is not going to be effective. So we use methods that are immediate. One of the reasons we like Twitter is the real time search at search.twitter.  Google blog search also allows you to sort blogs by 1 hour, 12 hours, 1 day, 1 week or 1 month.

To our readers: What questions about social media would you like to see asked in future interviews?


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