Would you expect a newly recruited chief financial officer to plan next year's budget without first understanding your corporate priorities? Or a human resources manager on their first day to choose which employees should be let go without first letting them know who are your thought leaders and outstanding achievers?
No smart business would hand over the keys to the castle and send a new hire in at the deep end without a solid knowledge of the brand, the culture and the company's future goals. But when it comes to adding a social media manager to the team, too many businesses simply supply them with their key pass, show them to their desk, and then leave them to it with the expectation that they will quickly begin to generate huge profits for the company.
Clearly this is not the best way to set your new employee up for success. Most companies know they need to do more to amplify their social media identity, but they do not fully understand what social media marketing is or, more to the point, exactly what a social media manager does. All too often, this leads to companies placing a new hire at the helm and crossing their fingers with the hope that all will go well.
To make the most of your new social media manager, you must at least begin with an awareness of the fundamental role they will play in your organisation: to be 'social', to be the centre of a network of social innovation that requires a connection and adequate communication with every other part of your business.
I recently attended the #140 conference in San Francisco. At the event, one of the many presenters made a rather poignant and relevant presentation titled "Why Small Business sucks at marketing". While the title may be arresting, the sentiment might be right given today's rapidly changing marketing environment.
Let's examine, for a moment, the impact of social media on small business. As the new networks and community platforms of social media have evolved, many experts have made compelling arguments that user-generated content would some day take a significant share away from the traditional media and message distribution pie. The reasoning behind this view was that there is no production cost associated with social media and that people can create it for free (really?). The thinking prevailed that user-generated content could better meet the demand for fragmented online audiences that have smaller sizes and more specialized interests.
The promise of shiny, new objects
Here are some solutions to some common mistakes that are overlooked when planning the steps to social marketing strategy.
How to correct eight common blunders of social media:
1. The first visual image most people will see is your profile image. Make sure it is consistent across all platforms. It doesn't have to be a professional headshot, but a good, clear photo. Don't post pictures of your pets or children and make sure your image is recognisable as a thumbnail.
2. Social media is not about selling but about building relationships. Do not push your message but build your relationships by promoting others and providing valuable content. Make yourself a resource for others and the sales will come to you.
3. Consistency is key to successful social networking. Posting updates consistently is crucial but what is the right number of posts per day? Each social network is different. Twitter followers expect more frequent tweets and love the engagement but Facebook fans engage best with one to two updates per day. Consistency on Google+ is necessary because of the SEO benefits it provides.
Get excited. The 2013 edition of the annual content marketing study of North American B2B marketers conducted by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Marketing Profs is out, and has a number of findings that should be of interest to anyone in the B2B space. Titled,"B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America," the study is the result of a survey of roughly 1,400 B2B marketers from a range of industries, functions, and company sizes. After detailing its findings, the study lists five traits of successful B2B content marketers that I believe are spot on.
Before I touch on the five traits, here's a brief review of some of the study's key findings.
Perhaps the most significant single data point is that 91% of B2B marketers surveyed are using some form of content marketing (I am left wondering what the other 9% are doing). Given the universal adoption of all things content over the last year, this probably should come as no surprise. Still, I think it's significant that over 9 in 10 B2B marketers acknowledge that what they are doing, at least in part, is "content marketing."
Larger companies (over 10,000 EEs) tend to use more content marketing tactics (18, on average) than small companies (who average 11). This probably makes sense, owing to the limited resources smaller companies are working with.
"Does your small business have a social media marketing strategy that takes time and effort but fails to deliver a positive ROI (Return on Investment)?" Most small business Internet marketing campaigns are in the same boat!
If your business puts more time, effort and money into its social media than the returns warrant, then it's time to take stock. Don't be afraid to make bold changes regarding social media strategy.
Like any business activity, social marketing needs to provide some sort of return - there's little point in wasting resources on it simply because that's what everyone else is doing. This article will contrast the growth in social media with its poor returns, and discuss how you can get more for less from your Internet marketing budget.
Business & social media
According to a recent report by email marketing company Vertical Response, who surveyed 500 small businesses:
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