Social Media ROI – it takes a village

Last year, I wrote an article for Jaffe–the legal industry’s full-service PR and marketing agency, entitled Come Out from Behind the Brand. I guess you can call me a traditionalist; I am a huge proponent of staying true to what social media actually means, and how it was originally developed toconnect people with people.  If you recall (or recall hearing), “the Facebook” was developed by a Harvard student (most of us know who he is) to help students connect with students about the happenings around the university. People connecting with people and, as we all know, the rest is history. My back to basics mantra: “Social media works best when people, not the brand entities that they work for, communicate with people about what and who they like and know of, the latest news and incredible stories, etc.”

Here’s the key: the more people in “the village” (i.e. company, or really any organization of any sort) who are “talking about” various things in the social media channels that either pertain or relate directly to their organization or company (brand), in representation of that organization or company, the more likely others (people) will follow, engage and talk about these people and more importantly, about the brand (company/organization) that person and their “village” represents or leads. In doing so , all of this can and will lead to increased online visibility (digital PR and publicity!) for the brand/organization which will naturally lead to or provide new opportunities (namely new business, sales, leads, further mainstream publicity, and so forth).

>>>Read my guest post on the Jaffe Blog.


Social media network broadcasting: No sales pitch please!

twitterbroadcaster
One of the advantages of using social media networks for creating new business opportunities is the ability to share great information without having to rely solely on the traditional sales pitch approach. Absent the hard sell, “social media network broadcasting” allows for the opportunity to engage with people on a number of levels, from personal interaction to thought leadership. Broadcasting includes sharing your own original content/information, re-sharing other information and content (via your colleagues, friends or media sources), or having a conversation about a specific topic.

So, rather than looking at using your posts in social media networks as just another overt sales pitch method, try deploying a personal “broadcasting” campaign to encourage the people in your networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and so forth) to look forward to hearing from you. That will only add to your new business development process. The more frequently the people in your networks (or your “audiences”) read about you and all the interesting things you have to say or share in their various social media network newsfeeds, the more “buzz” you can create for yourself and/or your law firm.

With the right strategy and a consistent tactical plan, your social and other online media (blogs, groups/forums) network audiences will eventually start to share, like and even comment on your broadcasted content (original articles, shared content, or back-and-forth conversations, etc.). During this process, audiences will also share your content with their audiences, who may also then share with their audiences and so on. It’s a viral process (and it doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time to build up) that will eventually add to your online public reputation and increase your online publicity, which in turn will support your traditional sales and business development processes.

That’s a win-win situation, no matter how you look at it. Rather than simply telling your public what you offer and how valuable it is, social media broadcasting allows you to demonstrate – over time and in a very direct way – why you and your product or service is of benefit and why people should believe the person (you) or the company behind it. Reading what is being shared by others in your social media network newsfeeds can also give you insight into what’s on the minds of your clients or potential clients: what they like, what they don’t like, and what they’re saying about you and your competitors.

Good information is the lifeblood of social media networking. While it’s important to create a robust profile in a variety of networks, these no longer can remain static. The more you broadcast (on any level), the better your reach-out to your audience will be. This generates publicity and enhances your public reputation, and develops web- or blogsite traffic, direct email inquiries or calls. Social media broadcasting success also benefits from the sharing of non-competitor information through your various channels, from featuring guest bloggers to recommending the products and/or services of others to your audiences.

You can easily measure the effectiveness of social media broadcast efforts to gauge the level of impact it’s having on your business. Here are some typical social media measures I look at:

-Number of new followers and connections, such as “new likes” on Facebook, followers on Twitter, connections on LinkedIn, etc.

-Traffic to your website or blog measurement from social media sources such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

-Number of new email (newsletter) list or blog subscriptions compared to your old rates before ramping up your social media efforts.

-The “reach” of your social media broadcasting efforts (how many people beyond your own network channels read/see your posts).

-Level of audience engagement (number of comments, questions, etc.).

-Number of people buying your product or service as a result of a social media network referral.

-Physical sales numbers before and after starting your social media campaign.

What else?

Know your audience: Your audience cares much less about you than about themselves, so stop making your content about you. Understand what motivates your audience, and cater to that.

Entertain: If you’re asking people to invest time into your content, the least you can do is make it worthwhile. Don’t be afraid to use humor or drama to make your message that much more interesting to read. Bonus: Being entertaining helps make you memorable.

Inform: The worst reaction you can get from your audience is a collective “So what?” Write about current events, give your opinion on trending issues or add insight to popular topics. Anything you can do to educate your audience will help show your value.

Inspire: Getting people to read a piece of content is one thing, but provoking your audience to take action is something else altogether. Great content can turn your efforts into real-world results. For example, charities often find ways to tell emotionally powerful stories of their constituents as a way to inspire viewers to donate.

Engage: What’s more interesting, a lecture or a group discussion? Most people would probably agree that the latter keeps their attention longer. Think about ways you can interweave the comments and feedback of your audience into your content. Hosting guest blogs and curating third-party and social media content can be a great way to turn your one-way channel into a two-way street.

The bottom line: If you want to get results (or ROI) out of your social media participation (investment) effort, you must you engage in social media network broadcasting. Just as traditional advertising and sales approaches remain critical components of your marketing and branding toolbox, social media network broadcasting is also becoming more and more necessary. Surprisingly, even with numerous social media networking success stories and case studies there are to learn from, many attorneys and law firms are quick to brush these off as “fluff” or gratuitous. If done well, strategically and tactically – with the right mix of solid information, social media channels, audience engagement and tangible measurements – social media network broadcasting is a proven publicity and lead-generation strategy that can get and keep you in front of your target markets and set you apart from the competition. Interestingly enough, everyone who is part of this pay-it-forward process will also benefit!

Originally published for the Jaffe Blog.


About Social Influencer Marketing

I recently attended the Influencers 2.0 | ROI of the Influencer webinar presented by Social Media Today and sponsored by Act-On Software. I thought I’d share the webinar with you (click on the link above to listen; such good information!) as well as Act-On’s white paper…

Best Practices in Social Influencer Marketing

Social influencers have been around as long as society itself. A study on the 1940 U.S. Presidential election by sociologists Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz revealed that voters were more inclined to listen to the opinions of local leaders and political commentators than speeches made by the candidates themselves. In a subsequent book, Lazarsfeld and Katz introduced a two-step communication model which shows that ideas flow from mass media to opinion leaders, and then to a wider population. The opinion leaders themselves gain their influence through more elite media, as opposed to mainstream mass media.

Today’s social media fits this model precisely. For decades, retailers have seen increases in sales when trusted experts or celebrities endorse their products or services. Movies that get good reviews tend to sell more tickets than those with bad ones. Actors endorse beauty products, watches, clothing, more. Now, with social media woven into our daily lives, more and more business buyers and consumers are reading reviews, tweets, Facebook posts, and blog posts about products or services before they decide to buy.

Online social influence is powerful. Read the White Paper >> here.

The bottom line: Social influencers are a cost-effective, efficient way to raise awareness about YOU, your company, product, or services. People trust information from opinion leaders more than they trust what comes from your marketing department, so a business that does well with social influencers has an edge over its competitors. it’s important to remember that influencers are building their own reputation as they build yours (and in my opinion, this should include ,,. By giving them something to talk about that’s a good fit for their audience, you’re helping them remain interesting and relevant.


Storytelling Tips to Make Your Brand More Relatable

By Richard Brownell | PR News Online 02/11/2014

The ability to tell a story is a fundamental skill that all good brand communicators should possess. Storytelling not only shares information, it makes that information relatable to the audience, humanizing complex ideas and offering fresh perspectives.

Christopher Hammond, senior vice president of corporate communications for Wells Fargo, shares some tips here on how to enhance your brand’s message through storytelling.

#1. Take it to your audience!
Read the full article here


Is outsourcing social media right for you?

Originally published on the Jaffe PR Blog on Jan 22, 2014. Jaffe PR is a complete Public Reputation resource, devoted primarily to law firms, legal associations and vendors to the legal market. Legal Brand Journalism™, including media relations and content development, is at the heart of our work for clients.

Outsource social media activities

As we all know by now, a vast majority of today’s professionals are active on a multitude of social media networks — for personal and, with increasing frequency, business purposes. What was once considered a new phenomenon in the legal industry — being present and active on social (digital) media — is fast becoming a “must-do” for attorneys (and, I’d like to add, for just about every high-profile professional, executive leader or entrepreneur).

Yes! It’s important, if not more important, for law firm attorneys (again “the above mentioned” types of business professionals) to also “show up” online.

Read the article here (click over to): Jaffe PR Blog Continue reading “Is outsourcing social media right for you?” »


How to fashion a successful digital content strategy

Originally posted in Smart Blogs
By Sarah Lynch on January 21st, 2014

Choosing the right content to post on social media is a bit like picking the right outfit each morning. To be successful you need to have a strategy, shop around for the best quality pieces and accumulate a tidy collection.

Like matching a good shirt with the right pants, pairing the best piece of content with the most fitting social platform hangs on three important factors:

-Where you are headed as a brand
-What you want to achieve
-The needs of your audience

Shop around
Dressing your social channels with the right content necessitates careful planning and coordination. The ease and efficiency of sharing across multiple platforms has resulted in many brands slipping into the classic social fallacy: If it works well on one platform it will work well on every platform.

Repurposing content across all your social profiles is the fastest way for your brand to experience a plateau in customer engagement and a significant drop in conversion rates.

What to wear
Social platforms have been purpose-built to attract users for very different reasons. Content that is well-liked on Facebook, for example, could be a total disaster on Twitter. Tailoring the right content to the appropriate platform is essential to your brand’s success on social media.

Twitter
The little black dress of your marketing cache, Twitter is the most versatile item in your social wardrobe. Twitter audiences are notoriously fickle and demand targeted, varied and engaging branding. In order to keep your audience pinned to your brand’s page, it is critical to style tweets that are:

-Clear and concise
-Simple
-Varied
-Powerful
-Reflective of your brand identity

Combine fun business tweets with tips and tricks, links to interesting sites or articles, inspirational quotes, and links to original blogs posts.

Avoid posting the same tweets too often. You wouldn’t wear the same outfit two days in a row, so don’t expect your audience to be thrilled about seeing the same content recycled regularly.

Facebook
The eye-catching summer dress of your social ensemble, Facebook is an inherently visual tool. To delight Facebook audiences, cloak posts in high-resolution pictures and videos. Maintaining high audience engagement is as simple as:

-Raising the hemline on posts by keeping them between 100-250 characters long. This approach garners 60% more engagement from audiences than longer posts.

-Clothe images and videos with a clever tagline or hashtag

-Fold opinion-based questions and fill-in-the-blank updates into your daily strategy

Package posts with an interactive-fashion focus of fun-over-form. Competitions and giveaways are the main reasons why Facebook audiences follow brand pages, so keep your content light and entertaining.

Google+
The dress suit that rounds out your brand’s social media collection, Google+ audiences favor quality content over quantity. Where Twitter followers appreciate short-form instant gratification and Facebook fans enjoy visual stimulation, the Google+ community has shown a strong preference for informative and helpful content.

More than any other platform, keeping your Google+ community engaged requires:
Donning unique, novel and informative content to your brand page that avoids pushing a covert marketing agenda. Google+ users react strongly to brands they believe are inauthentic.
Adorning your brand’s Google+ page with 5-second GIFS as a snapshot of what your brand can do. Google+ is the only major social media channel that allows GIFS to be placed directly into your audience’s stream.

The perfect post
These days the biggest digital fashion faux pas is to repurpose the same content across other brand platforms. If your customers follow you on more than one channel, they will quickly tire of your content and, by proxy, the product or service your brand represents.

For dynamic businesses it is critical to tailor all online interaction to the personality of the audience who occupies each social space. This approach will not only gratify customers on multiple levels, but also leave them hanging out for more.

Sarah Lynch is a freelance writer and content manager based in Sydney, Australia. To hear more musings from Sarah, you can follow her on Twitter.


SEVEN SOCIAL MEDIA LESSONS LEARNED IN 2013

The seven lessons learned outlined in this original post can be applied, across the board, to every industry and for both corporate and personal brands.

Reblogged from Social ‘n Sport:

….one of the keys to being successful in social media is taking the time to measure, evaluate and tweak. In an industry (in this case, the sports industry) that is constantly evolving, we have to sit back and reflect. As 2013 comes to a close, now is the perfect opportunity to put all the pieces to your social media puzzle together—what worked, what didn’t work, what stays, what goes, etc.

Read more…


Is PR the new SEO?

google-hummingbird-1380545875

PR Pros (especially those who are engrained in new digital media like me) are buzzing about the introduction of Google’s Hummingbird. Earlier this month PR Week contributor Martin Jones’ wrote a fantastic article, PR: The new SEO? that provides further and valuable insight about the potential positive effects the latest and greatest Google algorithm will have on the public relations industry.

Jones: “Google’s new approach is putting more weight on meaningful stories when deciding where different links appear in search results – and that’s a windfall for PR agencies.”

In this short, easy to read, article he explains the three “PR-friendly” assets of Hummingbird:

1. Backlinks from third-parties linking back to company sites
2. Content that is easily searchable through “search-optimized blog posts and knowledgeable contributed articles”
3. Weighted “social shares” on social media

Read >PR: The new SEO?

Jones: “The best part about these changes is that PR is just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing: telling great stories, getting media placements for clients, and building relationships.”


Come out from behind the brand and start operating like Sir Richard Branson…

 if you want to see your business’ social media program succeed.

As you probably know by now (or are just starting to hear), a robust social media and general web presence has become a must-have for professionals who are looking to support the success of their personal as well as their own company’s online marketing and publicity strategy. Professionals (corporate leaders to politicians or artists to small business owners like me) now need to focus on social media thought leadership, public relations and reputation in order to compete for new and future business, career advancement opportunities, and even mainstream media attention.

A 2013 article in Social Media Today (10/15/12) by Sean Royer (CEO of Minneapolis-based Internet Marketing Agency SyneCore Technologies) discusses the latest IBM Study (2012 Global CEO Study) that surveyed some 17,000 CEO’s on the subject of social media usage and engagement.

The study found that only 16% of the CEOs currently participate in social media (I was not surprised to read that!). For many executives, (their own personal) social media public relations effort is one of the least-utilized methods of customer engagement–or for marketing and increasing the visibility of their business brand for that matter. The Study also found that social media will likely become the #2 way to engage customers (57%) within the next five years.

So what’s the bottom line? According to Branson, “Whether you are launching a start-up or leading an established company, you should start establishing your social media presence if you haven’t already.”  Read the article

Over the last 10 years in particular, I have found that most busy professionals (at least 75% of those I meet), simply do not have the know-how, ability and or (mainly) the time to stay on top of the production of personal content, building of network and targeted audiences, engaging and responding to people or monitoring social media activity as it pertains to her own personal or business brand and industry, (etc.)

While internal company brand marketing or public relations managers might be able to take care of (an executive’s) personal social media presence, I have found that most just do not have the bandwidth to do this. And it doesn’t really matter if it’s within a large or small organization. Then there are those professionals who might also be in career transition or those who do participate, but perhaps have not had the success they wish they could have in social media channels.

We all need to remember that social media was built for people to communicate and publicize to other people. Facebook was not built for Pepsi to market to consumers. It was built for individual people to communicate with other people on a mass level. The whole marketing of the “non personal” brand thing came along and everything got very confusing. Read the article!  Richard Branson (among other executives, like Dell and Trump) have gotten it right and got it right from the onset of Social Media. Now it’s time for the rest of the professional leadership world to step in and stop hiding behind the brand–for the good and the growth of the brand. Why wait five years or more. It takes time to build a personal social media following and thought leadership. There is no magic to it, just dedication and work.

I’ve been working with executives for years on personal branding, but mainly on a publicity and promotional level (from job search to business development to press/media placement). Social media has provided us with a new and improved personal publicity channel. However, there is a fine line to walk when it comes to personal social media publicity (promotion) and engagement–as it pertains to the promotion of a professional brand in a leadership role.