Social Media Strategy – Step 2

In my previous post I outlined Step #1 of creating a social media strategy: The Assessment. This time around I will go into the process for implementing the plan.

Step #2: Implementation

The implementation portion of your social media strategy is all about focusing on the nitty-gritty details and day-to-day tasks.

Create a Content Calendar

It is extremely easy to lose focus and, to put it bluntly, blow off your social media marketing. Even great plans and intentions can turn into sheer failure when one or two weeks of inactivity turns into months of neglect.

Social media marketing is like a houseplant. It needs sun, water and a little talking to…on a regular, scheduled basis. Otherwise, the day comes when you walk into the room and notice all the leaves are on the floor.

Having a calendar keeps you and your team on track. It makes you accountable and serves as a guide. Think of it as not only an actionable calendar, but an editorial one as well. The more information and detail you include, the better you can measure effectiveness.

Here are a few things I suggest you incorporate into yours:

  • The theme or purpose of your content.
  • Who will create the content (i.e., blog author or, perhaps from a third-party site/provider).
  • How the content will be delivered (i.e., blog, video, photo, etc.)
  • When and where will it be shared.

Have a Promotion and Growth Plan

There are a ton of ways to promote your content and all that you are doing on your social media platforms. But all of them are useless unless you have a plan built in for growth.

Not everything you post is going to be instantly viral. I would even venture to say the things you value the most, such as real brand-building, informative content, may even appear to fall flat. That’s okay!

The goal in social media is to resonate with and build an audience. It is from there that you can engage. In other words, it’s better to have 10 friends, even if only two of them seem to pay attention to you when you tell them about your day, than two friends who aren’t listening.

Your growth plan, therefore, must take into account content that is viral, fun, silly and in most cases, seemingly pointless. Intermingled in all that nonsense, which people love, is the relevant, focused and informative material that will truly build your brand and generate sales.  But, I caution, too much serious stuff is toxic. Think of the friend analogy again. No one wants a friend who is a Debbie Downer and is serious all the time.

Here are a couple tips for implementing a growth and promotion plan:

  • Integrate social media on your website with plugins, links, buttons and icons.
  • Include these buttons and links in your company’s email strategy (including employee signature blocks) on your letterhead and business cards.
  • Have contests and promotions or offer rewards that drive people to your social platforms.
  • Create virality by posting photos of mundane things (your lunch, someone’s shoes and other silly things) or fun videos. Bonus points if you can merge fun and informative.
  • Showcase your expertise and build a reputation by offering webinars and training programs, interviewing experts and guest blogging. Don’t be offended if those things aren’t as viral as the video of your cat chasing a shadow on the wall.
  • Always include humor and lightheartedness in your social voice.
  • Never stop promoting your social networks.
  • Never give up.

Identify Sales Opportunities

I realize I have made it sound nearly impossible to put social media to good (business) use, but there couldn’t be anything further from the truth.

While the primary goal is always about making and building relationship, and creating a loyal following, the opportunity to sell most definitely exists.

Once you’ve built those solid, genuine relationships online, you’ll have people who are ready to eat from your hand. But, like any wild animal, they will only eat from your hand occasionally and when the offered snack is truly enticing.

Therefore, your implementation strategy should definitely include an action plan that allows you to capture and nurture leads.

Just make sure what you are offering as bait doesn’t come across as bait (too pushy) or is too frequent. And, monitor your followers. If they start to un-friend you or disengage it’s time for another kitty cat video.

Next time around I will talk more about Monitoring and Measuring.

Social Media Strategy – Step 1

I recently implemented a social media strategy that saw the company’s Facebook “likes” swell but nearly 1000% and Twitter followers jump 3000% in just three months.

How did we do it?

We had a plan.

Achieving success with social media marketing isn’t difficult, but it will be an uphill and possibly futile battle without a pre-defined strategy.

Over the next few posts I will outline a basic three-step plan that can help you develop an effective, streamlined road map for social media success.

Step #1: Assessment

The first and most important place to begin is by truthfully accessing the situation. That means realistically taking into account where you are and where you want to be with social media. This isn’t the time to snow yourself or your management team. If you have been failing in the past, admit it. And keep the goals simple. Don’t shoot for the stars or you’ll become discouraged quickly.

You’ll also need to outline what you believe is your audience’s needs, wants and challenges. Re-examine your customer demographic data (hopefully you have that already). Run some surveys. Do some research.  You’ll want to know everything you can about your audience so you’ll be able to:

  1. Create content that resonates.
  2. Build trust through relevancy.
  3. Have a voice that your audience can relate to.
  4. Listen and respond to specific customers needs, feedback or complaints.
  5. Become a resource in your niche or industry.

You’ll also want to define the theme of your strategy. Are you looking to create awareness, generate sales or build brand loyalty?

It’s likely that you’ll want to do all three (or others), but it will only work if you set one goal and let the others nurture from the success of that singular theme. Consistency and simplicity are the name of the game here.

How will you measure your strategy’s success?

Another key component of the assessment is determining exactly how you will measure success. The simplest advice I can give here is: Listen.

Listen to what people are saying on Facebook, Twitter and on blogs all around the web. Use Google Alerts. It’s a perfect tool for people who are just starting out. It’s easy to set up and, best of all, it’s free.

Facebook also has some relatively helpful tools that allow you to see your “likes,” what is trending and your daily reach. I say they are ‘relatively’ helpful because the data can seem a bit arbitrary and speculative, and is only accessible for three month periods. Plus, I would not recommend getting too wrapped up in what the numbers say. Use the data to support the activity and comments you are seeing.

fb-likes

Put It All in Writing

Finally, you will want to finalize the plan by writing it down. This allows you to have policies and procedures in place as situations arise. For example, what if there is a negative comment posted to Twitter by a customer? The plan should tell you who deals with it and what the strategy is for diminishing the impact.

Other things you will want to include in your written strategy:

  • What is the goal?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • Where is the content coming from?
  • Where are your focused goals for each platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?
  • When are you engaging (days and times)?

Once you have your strategy in writing you are ready to get started.

Next time around I will explain the Implementation process, where you apply your establish strategy and focus on the day-to-day tasks.

Adwords: Click-Through vs Conversion

Once you have your Google Adwords campaign up and running, it’s really easy to get excited when you start to see your click-through-rate on the rise. It reaffirms your ad is worded well and has proven to be good bait for traffic. Plus, a high click-through-rate will always translate to a low cost-per-click as Google serves a well-performing ad more frequently.

But, is the click-through-rate really the thing you should be focused on?

Let’s take a look at a couple of example ads and the data behind them. But first, and to make this example work, we need to set the stage:

We sell green tennis shoes and nothing else.

Now, the ads:

AD #1

Green Tennis Shoe Sale
Cool green tennis shoes!
Now on sale for just $50
www.crazycheaptennishoes.com

AD #2

We sell Tennis Shoes
We have awesome tennis shoes!
Great prices!
www.crazycheaptennisshoes.com

As you can imagine, Ad #2 with it’s overall ambiguity will have a much higher click-through-rate and, subsequently, a much lower cost-per-click.

Ad #1, on the other hand, will do a great job eliminating clicks from people who may not actually be looking for green tennis shoes and don’t want to pay $50. Of course we’d also find that Ad #1, while having less clicks, had a much higher cost-per-click. That means the ad was more expensive to run.

Statistically, Ad #2 is the winner. It was cheaper to run and brought a ton of people to the website. Your executive management will be thrilled!

But, how do conversion rates figure into it?

Let’s look at the numbers in detail:

AD #1   

Clicks: 4,763
Impressions: 33,026
CTR: 14.42%
Conversions: 37
Average CPC: $0.14
Conversion Rate: 0.78%
Cost per Conv: $1.62

Ad #2

Clicks: 25,468
Impressions: 72,398
CTR: 35.18%
Conversions: 28
Average CPC: $0.03
Conversion Rate: 0.11%
Cost per Conv: $3.39

The data clearly shows that Ad #1, while generating fewer clicks, had a higher conversion rate and an overall lower cost-per-conversion.

That isn’t to say that Ad #1 is ultimately the better choice. After all, we can clearly see driving a lot of traffic for the least amount of money would be best accomplished with a more generic ad, like #2 above.

Conversion Rate vs Click-Through Rate

The choice will be yours based on your goals and online marketing budget. The main point I want to get across is, there are a variety of factors and outcomes that should be taken into consideration when starting an Adwords campaign. Make sure you’ve thought them through so you don’t have any surprises in the end that turn out to be disappointing or financially frustrating.

Happy hunting!

4 Quick Google Adwords Strategies

Google Adwords are a great way to reach your potential customers and make up for the deficit you may be encountering with search engine optimization.  But, it’s also an easy way to blow through your online marketing budget if you are not careful.

Here are a few quick strategies that will help you get the most from your Adwords campaign:

Target Languages

One of the simplest things you can do to focus your ads is to make sure you have selected a language preference. It really comes down to the languages you are ready to support through your website.

There’s no sense in having ads that will drive German-speaking consumers to your site if your site is strictly in English. Similarly, it isn’t very practical to have ads in English displaying in people’s browsers who speak German.

I’d venture to guess you won’t get a whole lot of clicks, so you may not be wasting money in a direct way, but you’ll be missing out on valuable ad impressions that could bring business your direction.

Target Regions

Along the exact same lines is choosing a region for you ads to display. You might think that setting English as your target language would take care of everything else.

What if someone in Kazakhstan who speaks English, and has his or her browser set to display English, comes across one of your ads. They click through to your website and attempt to buy what you are selling. If you aren’t prepared to ship to or provide your service to Kazakhstan, you just spent money on an ad and click through without getting a conversion.

Make sure your ads are targeted to a region where you are fully capable of doing business. Google is great at letting you drill down not just into a continent or country, but you can even select a state or city.

Depending on the nature and targeted reach of your ads, you may want to split them into different Adword campaigns according to region. This will allow you to track click through and conversion rates for each, which can prove especially useful when budgeting for future campaigns. I mention this because it is actually quite remarkable how different online shopping conversions can be for different regions of the world. People in the USA are, for example, much more likely to convert quickly as opposed to shoppers in the UK.

Graphic Ads

Most people assume that Google Adwords are just that, word ads. But, the fact is, Google serves up a huge amount of graphic or image ads through its Adsense program and the Google Display Network.

imgad

Anyone with a blog or website can sign up to be part of the Display Network and Google pays them to run ads, both text and graphic, on their website. You can actually choose to have your text ads included with those served in the Adsense program.

But, not all websites participating in the Adsense program allocate space for text ads, or the space in which they do is likely to be anything optimal (crammed with a bunch of other ads in a side column).

Graphic or image ads will be displayed through the Display Network at a higher rate than text ads and normally have a much lower cost-per-click and outperform text ads with clicks by a huge margin. In some cases, I have seen graphic ads get 300-400% more clicks than text ads, at 50% cost-per-click.

Google also makes it very easy for you to see the websites where your Display Network  ads are being displayed. Make sure you look through the list on a regular basis and if any seem unlikely to bring good, quality traffic, move them to the Exclusions list.

Quality Score

Another thing Google provides is a Quality Score warning. You’ll see this appear when it has been determined the ad and landing page are not in sync to make for a good conversion.

In other words, Google has scanned the ad and the landing page and found the keywords you’ve used in the ad are not relevant or found in the page where you are directing the traffic. It’s like having an ad that says “Sweaters Now On Sale” driving people to a page featuring running shoes.

Make sure to pay attention when Google gives a Quality Score warning, since you’d likely be wasting money on people who make clicks on that particular ad.

That’s it for now. The tips I have outlined above should help you to refine your Adword campaigns and reduce unnecessary clicks (and expense).

Happy hunting!

15 PR Experts to Follow on Twitter

I personally find Twitter to be a bit of an annoyance.

Sure, it’s a great place to engage customers with real-time customer support, but it’s also crowded, distracting and filled with nonsensical ramblings.

If you’re selective, however, you can find some excellent resources.

That’s how I use Twitter. I follow the select few who share informative, educational and insightful ideas, and links to relevant content.

Here are 15 Public Relations experts and contributors that I think are truly worth the follow.

  1. Bill Stoller – 25-year PR Pro helping others get their share of publicity; Editor & Founder, Free Publicity Newsletter.
  2. Joan Stewart – Publicity and PR expert, journalist, author, biker chick, gardener, foodie, Weight Watchers devotee, Sopranos junkie & proud Cheesehead.
  3. Paul Hartunian – World renowned free publicity expert, 1st person to REALLY sell the Brooklyn Bridge, making worldwide news.
  4. Deirdre Breakenridge – CEO of Pure Performance Communications, speaker, author of Social Media and Public Relations & PR 2.0, adjunct professor.
  5. Todd Defren – Principal at SHIFT Communications, and a PR blogger.
  6. Danny Brown – Chief Technologist @ArCIntel. Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing
  7. Barbara Rozgonyi – Public Speaker * Corporate Trainer * 3D Social Media * Photographer * SMCChicago Founder
  8. Pam Perry – Award-winning Social Media Marketing & PR Pro, Radio host, Author, Community Manager, Content Curator, Wife, mother & Branding Superstar!
  9. Dan Janal – Publicity speaker and PR consultant. I help people become thought leaders with effective and affordable services. Author of Reporters Are Looking for YOU!
  10. Petri Darby – Brand marketing, digital & communications strategist for Make-A-Wish America. Did agency, corporate and political gigs too.
  11. Dan Keeney – President of DPK Public Relations, baseball and cycling fan and beer enthusiast.
  12. Heather Whaling – Communicating … Connecting. PR & SM small biz owner (@GebenComm). Love nonprofits, sports, politics, news, pop culture, vino & my iPhone. Blog: www.prtini.com
  13. Sarah Evans – @SevansStrategy, non-profit, social good, fashion, #journchat and MediaOnTwitter, community mgr @Pitchengine, dog lover.
  14. Valerie Simon – SVP BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring and Measurement; Public Relations Columnist/ Freelance writer, Suburban mom of 2/still a NYC girl @ heart.
  15. David Meerman Scott – Marketing speaker and bestselling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR and the new book World Wide Rave.

Which PR experts on Twitter do you think should be added to the list?

Why Invest in Social Media

It wasn’t but a little over a year ago when I had the CEO of an online retailer tell me that they wouldn’t be “wasting” any time whatsoever on social media.  Of course, considering they made the majority of their money online, I didn’t let that go without some sort of back and forth. But, the day ended with him firmly entrenched in the notion that time spent on Facebook and Twitter was a frivolous use of resources.

The truth of the matter is, social media marketing is hardly a waste of time.

According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 85% of marketers report that with just 6 hours a week invested in social media marketing they have had a positive increase in brand awareness, and 74% say they have experienced a significant increase in web traffic.

For those who have been using social media for more than 3 years, 58% say it has definitely helped to improve sales. And, nearly half of those who spent 11 hours per week or more on social media efforts saw an overall reduction in other marketing expenses.

When it comes to acquiring a loyal fan base, social media truly plays a big role. Of those who have been using social media for at least 1 year, 65% found it useful for building a loyal fan base. Time invested made a significant difference with results. Sixty percent of those who spent at least 6 hours a week found benefit, compared to 46% of those spending 5 hours or less.

Even with those who spent as little as 6 hours per week, 61% reported a positive uptick in lead generation.

In the long run, each company’s social media strategy will be different—with unique results. But, the statistics show even a little effort will prove worthy in building a brand, finding leads or establishing a following. I’d say with the relative low-cost of investment, and almost guaranteed return, it is hardly a frivolous use of resources.

As Michael Stelzner, the author of the Social Media Industry Report and Founder of the Social Media Examiner has said, “The old mantra of ‘be everywhere’ will quickly be replaced with ‘be where it matters to our business.’…It will be essential to focus on where you’ll see results.”