Friday, 19 February 2010
Ten key focus areas for Social Media in 2010
I was recently asked to contribute to a book that was being compiled by Aprimo. They have been handing out said book at TFM&A, London, and will be doing likewise at similar events in the next few weeks.
If you want a copy then get along and are at TFM&A then go pick one up.
Otherwise, sign up to their twitter feed for news on further issues.
If all of that fails then read on for my ten key focus areas for Social Media in 2010...
A highly regarded speaker, lecturer and writer, Steve has worked with the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM) since 2004 on various courses and events and has been invited to speak throughout the world on the subject of digital marketing.
He has worked on digital marketing and strategy with many global brands including Cisco, ITV, IOD, npower, Skype, British Airways, Random House Publishing and Oracle.
Steve chairs the IDM Digital Council and is Director of Cyance, a leading data & digital marketing agency.
Have a strategy
Like any other marketing discipline, it’s vital that you resist the urge to dive into Social Media without a strategy. It’s not good enough to simply create a Facebook fan page “just because”.
Social Media can work very effectively, but you need to understand your objectives first.
Work out what you plan to do: be it to build your brand, drive leads/sales, improve your search visibility or perhaps to communicate with the market, your objectives will heavily influence the sites and tools you will use when you get going.
Work out where you are
What is already happening with social media in your business? Use monitoring and search tools (many are free, such as whostalkin.com) to see who is already talking about you (be them employees or the wider world) and use that as a starting place to build upon. Remember that some may be talking about you negatively as well as positively! And just because you are not looking, does not mean they are not there already!
Get the skills
With a well thought out strategy, the tactical side of Social Media is relatively easy to get into. The barriers to entry are low, especially to try and trial or target niche areas. But it is important to make sure there is a base knowledge for everyone involved in your Social Media activity. PR, Search, Email, Sales, Customer Services, Stores can all help or hinder so make sure everyone involved understands the basics. Organisations such as the IDM have a number of excellent courses that will help with this.
Get the tools
Although many social media tools are free to use, don’t underestimate the resource cost involved. A simple tweet once a week and getting on with your job is not enough. Social networks are fast-moving and evolving so being regularly involved in the threads and conversations is important. Using tracking tools to monitor buzz on your brands or areas of interest is important. Remember that social media is more than just Facebook - it’s important to have a toolset that will watch where the traffic moves to : driving email sign ups, website traffic, downloads etc
Find your influencers
Whatever your market, whatever it is you are selling, there will already be an established set of influencers. These people or bodies of people will already be talking about you and/or your market, so latching into this finite set of “Creators” (as classified by the excellent Forrester Groundswell work) is a highly effective way of virally spreading your messages.
Start to find these influencers by searching sites like blogpulse.com or Twitter search but don’t forget to look closer to home. In all web analytics packages you will be able to view the “referrers” report; showing which sites your website visitors were on before they arrived at yours. At the top of the list will always be search engines, but if you go further down this list you will start to uncover the sites - bloggers, customers or other interested parties - that are already talking about you and driving traffic to your site for you. These people are not only great places to start your social media, they are helping your search rank at the same time.
Industrialise video and welcome UGC
Many businesses have experimented with video in the last few years. 2010 will see them moving into a more mature way of producing videos. Making the most of high quality User Generated Content (UGC) videos will soon become easier and more frequent, due to the introduction of new generation HD hand-held cameras such as the Flip, meaning that employees as well as your audience can easily produce content via this medium. Think about what video can do for pre sales, post sales, training and brand building, especially pertinent given the ubiquity of mobile phones with video capability.
Use the right sites for your audience
Sites like Facebook and Twitter command an awful lot of traffic and therefore a lot of interest for social media marketers. But these sites might not always be the best place to start for your business. Use search engines to find the websites out there that have the best concentration of your target audience already using them. Industry groups or forums are particularly good; try LinkedIn groups for example. An example I love to use is www.countrychannel.tv – a special interest site for those interested in the countryside (think rambling, farming or agriculture). This may not interest you, but it’s a hub for like-minded people. If your brand or products fit this market, then spending time on the forums and discussions on this site will be far more beneficial than that Facebook fan page.
Integrate with other channels
The debates rage as to whether social media will kill email, and other channels. For me it is simply about complementing other channels. Email offers a more in-depth and personalised route to your audience, so use it alongside social media. Add your best tweets to your emails; make your email sign up page prominent on your social media sites and comments. Use affiliates sites and Search to drive traffic to your social media “noise”.
Monitor and review
By nature of it being a social media, your blog, website or fan page will start to grow a life and direction of its own. As more and more users come on board then so the conversation and direction of the site can progress. It’s therefore important that you keep a regular eye on what’s being said. It’s not enough to simply post a blog article and vanish until your next piece. Make sure you are monitoring the comments and noise, so you can stay involved and add value to the discussion.
The same should apply for other sites too. Start using alerts on certain topics, brands and words meaningful to you, so you can get involved in communities and sites that are talking about your brand and market.
Be ready for the next big thing
New social media innovations appear almost on a daily basis, but not all of them will be relevant for you and your brands. Be selective and yet open-minded. Most importantly, make sure you keep up. The name of the most popular site will continue to change, but the concept of social networking (and media) will not go away. It’s not a new thing after all, we have being doing it since the beginning of humankind, it’s just the web has made the world smaller and brought more like-mined people together.