by Matthew Smith
Is social media a fad or the biggest shift in society since the Industrial Revolution?” That was the question that flashed on the screen at a recent insurance conference in Washington, D.C.
Consider the impact of social media in the context of being more than the latest novelty in communications. Its impact on our society is worth deeper analysis and may be much more far-reaching than we comprehend today.
Most of us use—or at least are aware of the phenomenon of—social media. Even those from an older generation who may not fully understand its implications recognize, at least on some level, its impact on our society. Today’s leading social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, may eventually fade away as technology and newer trends evolve, but the basic concept is here to stay.
To understand the impact of social media, we must first consider a historical perspective. To reach 50 million users, the medium of radio required 38 years. Television required 13 years, while the Internet only four. In comparison, Facebook reached 100 million users in less than nine months. If it were a country, Facebook would be the fourth largest in the world.
We are truly in a new era of communication, and the question for those of us who handle insurance claims is not how we adapt, but rather how we thrive and utilize this new technology to investigate claims and battle against insurance fraud. To date, we have not done a very good job of keeping up with new trends or understanding how to use new avenues to our strategic advantage.
Social Media in Action
The value of social media as an insurance investigative tool is unequalled in recent history. It affects all aspects of the insurance industry, including how agents market and secure policies, underwriting, and especially how we investigate insurance claims. The adage “everyone wants to tell everything to everybody,” remains true. Think of the person who tells you their life story while sitting next to you on an airplane, only because they know they will never see you again. In today’s era of communication, the way people are telling things they would not ordinarily say is via social media postings. Therein lies a wealth of information.
We have seen both fire and theft claims withdrawn when in an examination under oath (EUO), the claimant is shown incriminating postings found on Facebook.
In one case, an Internet posting by the teenage son of a business owner on the morning of a building fire led to a petition being filed to compel the son’s testimony. The business owner refused to allow his son to testify, since he was not an insured on the commercial policy.
While legally correct, the judge ruled that sufficient concern existed in the social media posting to grant the insurer’s petition compelling the son to testify and ordering the insurer not to make any coverage decisions until the son complied. While rare, these are the first bold steps in creating new insurance law for the electronic era.
Utilizing social media effectively begins before the claim occurs. ISO and other similar organizations, including insurers themselves, are just beginning to consider what policy provisions need to be updated, added, or eliminated to comport with the electronic era.
Making changes to the policy contract is only the beginning, though. It will take decades for courts to fully address and interpret the changes that we are only beginning to consider today. By comparison, we have more than a century of case law interpreting policy terms, conditions, duties, and exclusions. In the time it takes most lawsuits to go from filing to resolution, social media sites will add more users than the entire populations of the U.S. and Canada combined. By the time current law has any chance of catching up, we may well be onto the next and newest form of electronic communication.
The reality is, however, that everything from the policy application process through the issuance or renewal of policies and the provisions contained in the written contract of insurance are changing at a greater pace than ever before in the insurance industry.
Consider whether your company has updated its policy language to include in the duty-to-cooperate provisions even the most basic of steps, such as providing electronic data, retrieval of information from computers, and providing access to electronic communications, including texts or social media postings. Most claims investigation authorization forms are outdated and do not include specific references to allow access to social media postings, electronic communications, and retrieval of electronic data.
In an abundance of caution, carriers should include authorization to access public social media postings and the duty of the claimant to provide access to private postings that may be relevant to the investigation. It is easier to change these types of authorization and claims forms than to undertake the rewriting of the insurance policy, which may require many layers of corporate review and state insurance department approval.
These same investigative updates need to be considered in matters as simple as taking recorded statements. When statements are taken, are your investigators routinely asking the right questions of both claimants and witnesses? This includes asking if any texts were sent, postings made, or photos taken at or around the time of the incident concerning the occurrence of the claim.
In a recent case, incriminating text messages sent in the minutes before a fire were successfully retrieved. On another claim, cell-phone pictures taken the night before a fire were discovered that showed the claimant went room-by-room photographing all contents, including the interiors of drawers and closets. Adjusters, investigators, and attorneys taking statements should secure as part of background information contact data, including email addresses, and identify information for accounts on social media sites.
An entire new industry exists to assist the insurance industry in the age of social media. While SIU or claims teams may not have the time, resources, or ability to monitor a claimant’s social media postings 24/7, there are companies that do so for a fee. These companies will monitor primary, secondary, and even obscure social media sites, blogs, and forums tracking specific individuals by their email addresses or user names. Even if a post is made and immediately removed or altered, these companies are often able to image the site and preserve the posting for later use in an investigation or litigation.
Many companies also provide background checks and reviews of the social media postings of potential jurors before they are seated for trial. Attorneys provide the court-issued jury questionnaires giving these companies sufficient data to locate, analyze, and report any incriminating comments or evidence of bias a potential juror may not otherwise candidly disclose. They also will monitor juror postings during and after the trial to identify actions in violation of the judge’s instructions. After the verdict is read and jurors are released from service, they might post candid comments about the case, witnesses, parties, or attorneys in the trial. Even if you are not using these services, it is crucial to be aware that your opponent may be doing so.
As part of an insurance investigation, also ask whether social media or electronic postings have been altered or deleted relative to the claim. You should specifically question use of services such as Reputation.com, Reputation Builders, and other similar services that promise to “clean up” a person’s social media or electronic postings. While this may be done for employment purposes, it also affords a potentially fraudulent claimant the ability to erase something that they wish they had never posted. These are the types of simple questions many fail to ask because they do not keep up with technology.
The duty also rests on investigative attorneys to be well versed in all forms of new electronic communication and cover these fully when questioning witnesses in both EUOs and depositions. Once a claim enters litigation, the insurance company and counsel have many more “tools” available to secure valuable electronic information. Many companies in today’s emerging social media and electronic communications fields will not release information, even with a signed authorization. Cell phone companies and social media sites are equally concerned about privacy issues and frequently require subpoenas for release of records.
Written discovery, whether interrogatories or requests to produce, must also be updated to address new areas of communication. Background identification questions should be modified to include email addresses and social media identifiers as routinely as mailing addresses or telephone numbers. Specific questions based on the facts of the case should be included relevant to social media, electronic, cell phone or other emerging forms of communication. Even the mostly ignored definition section of written discovery should be updated to include terms such as “social media,” “text messages” or “electronic communications.” You may want to include written instructions detailing the steps required to gain access to and produce a complete copy of a respondent’s social media site archive.
Attorneys and insurance companies need to be aware of the new area emerging regarding admissibility of social media evidence at trial. In the same manner that debate raged a generation ago over whether photocopies were admissible in lieu of originals, battles are being fought today concerning electronic communications. Questions arise about what constitutes the original of a social media posting or if the posting is admissible at all if you prove it is from the person’s account, but they deny it is their posting. Courts are sorting out these issues to decide whether evidence should be admitted, excluded, or admitted subject to potential impeachment or rehabilitation by the person claiming they did not actually make the posting.
The insurance industry has never been known to move forward rapidly or adapt quickly to change. The social media revolution is here and will remain for most of our work-life expectancies. Fifteen years ago, we would have thought the idea absurd of emailing information concerning a claim or lawsuit. Today, most insurers are moving toward email as the primary method of communication concerning policy issues and claims. While those from a generation raised on letters sent via U.S. mail and telephone calls may find this technology daunting, the reality is that they will soon be replaced by a new generation being raised on social media and which already finds email outdated. The generation which prefers texting and tweeting over emails will replace today’s adjusters and investigators in the workplace. The reality of the first “tweeted claim” is not something in the future; it’s already happening.
The new reality of social media is here, and it may be the largest societal shift in more than a century. How we use this technology will define whether we stay ahead in the battle against insurance fraud or allow time and technology to pass us by. The future is now, and we must face the challenge to adapt or be left behind.
A great feature of Facebook is that the messages you send have the potential to spread not just to fans but to friends of fans—known as the “multiplier effect.” Not only does this “multiplier effect” have the ability to spread marketing impressions, it also acts as a validation from a friend. Let’s take a look at a few Facebook fan pages and see how the multiplier effect might impact your marketing strategy. Data courtesy of businessinsider.com
, and comscore.com
by Mike Volpe
Twitter is a tool for "micro-blogging" or posting very short updates, comments or thoughts. In fact, since Twitter was designed to be very compatible with mobile phones through text messages, each update is limited to 140 characters. Truly, a micro-blog. Another way to think of Twitter is like a cross between instant messaging (IM) and a chat room, because it is an open forum, but you restrict it to the people with which you connect.
I have to admit I have not always been sold on Twitter. At first I did not get it at all. Then I thought I understood it, but thought it was stupid and useless. Then I used it a bit more and got some more followers and followed a few more people. Now I think it has some value, especially as a marketing and PR tool.
Ideas for How to Use Twitter for Marketing & PR
- Engage your CEO in social media. Social media is a great way to have a conversation with your market and make and mange connections with prospects, customers, bloggers and other influencers. But for a CEO, the typical routes to social media can be hard. Especially if you are a larger or global company. A CEO typically has little time to write a blog or answer lots of messages and friend requests on Facebook. I cannot tell you how many CEO blogs I have seen with only 1 or 2 posts because the CEO never had time to update the blog after the first couple entries. But, Twitter is limited to 140 characters per update, so it is all about short thoughts and comments. If your CEO can send a text message, they can use Twitter from anywhere in the world as a marketing and PR tool. Twitter is actually perfect for CEO or founder who is always on the road meeting with people and who has some interesting opinions on your market.
- Keep in touch with bloggers / media. It is really easy to follow someone on Twitter (see below). And you'll be surprised how often they decide to follow you as well. In fact, I have lots of people I consider "famous" in the marketing and PR worlds following me. In my opinion, this is a way easier way to connect with influential people in the media than calling and emailing them.
- Monitor your company / brand on Twitter. A while back we noticed that Guy Kawasaki mentioned Website Grader on Twitter. Well, of course we had to let him know a bit more about Website Grader and maybe ask if he would also blog about it? The result was this blog article on Website Grader which drove a good amount of traffic and leads. (See below for a cool tip on how to easily monitor people talking about your company on Twitter.)
- Announce specials, deals or sales. If you are a retailer or anyone who often has special offers, you can use Twitter to announce these deals instantly to a large audience. You know those commercials from Southwest Airlines about that "Ding" application you could download and would then alert you about specials on flights? Well, Twitter can be used as a kind of free version of that. Dell and Woot have done just this type of marketing, with a lot of success.
- Live updates on events or conferences. If you participate in a large trade show or run your own corporate event, you can use Twitter to announce last minute changes, cool events that are happening ("Just announced, David Meerman Scott book signing in the exhibit hall until 11am") and more. It is a great last minute marketing tool.
- Promote blog articles, webinars, interesting news and more. Its really easy to post a link to something in Twitter, and I often post links to blog articles on this blog, or other news articles relevant to HubSpot. A good idea is to post articles on other websites that are relevant to your business, like a customer success story or other PR coverage. If you have other content that is appealing to your audience like a free webinar, post links to those too.
Using Twitter for Marketing & PR - A Step-by-Step Guide
- Sign-up and post a profile. Visit Twitter and click on the "Get Started - Join" button in the middle. The rest is simple enough that I think you can figure it out without my help.
- Write some updates. The beauty of Twitter is that the 140 character limit is the great equalizer - I am about as good of a writer as Shakespeare on Twitter. Post a link to a news article you liked with a one line comment, mention an interesting thought you had, or tell everyone what you are cooking for dinner. Just write something.
- Make friends. Making friends on Twitter is pretty easy. Just surf around the web on your favorite blogs, people's Facebook profiles etc, and when you see a Twitter box that tells you what they are doing click on it. That will bring you to their profile and then you just click on the "Follow" button on the top left and you are now following them. Most of the time they will then follow you back, and the audience for your 140 character insights will have grown by one person. You can get started by following me: Mike Volpe on Twitter. You can also click on the people that other people are following to find more people to follow.
- How to post URLs. Twitter is based on 140 character updates. If you have a really long URL, that doesn't leave much room for Most people on Twitter use www.TinyURL.com to take a long URL and make it short. Give it a shot if you have a long URL that you want to market on Twitter.
- Monitor conversations about your company. Even if you don't join Twitter yourself you can monitor what people are saying about any person, company or brand. This is quite useful from a marketing and PR standpoint. Twitter has a search engine that lets you do just this. For instance, here is a list of everyone who is talking about HubSpot on Twitter. You can subscribe to these searches by RSS to keep yourself updated. Another tip is that you can "follow" all the people you find talking about your company (just click on their username to go to their profile). If they are talking about your company, they would probably be pretty happy that someone from the company wants to follow them.
- How to "chat". Using the @ symbol before someone's Twitter username is how people have "conversations" in Twitter. This makes their username a link to their profile so other people can follow the conversation (sort of). For example if you wrote "@mvolpe thanks for the cool blog article about Twitter today" that would be a way of telling me you liked this article. Try it out. It's not IM (instant messaging), but it is sort of like a publicly broadcast IM service.
This article is by Melissa Parrish, senior analyst at Forrester Research, serving interactive marketing professionals. She is an expert in mobile marketing, social marketing, and communities. Read her blog at blogs.forrester.com/Melissa_parrish, and follow her on Twitter @melissarparrish.
With more than 100 million active users, marketers have taken note of Twitter. While it’s not the largest social network, the potential for marketers is still huge, and the recent introduction of brand pages offers a stronger avenue to promote compelling and relevant content to consumers. Companies have successfully used Twitter already to bolster their brands’ identities —from aiding organizations in a crisis to acting as a listening post for the voice of the customer. But, just as my colleague Nate Elliott noted regarding Facebook marketing
, there is a problem here. The fact is, while many marketers have jumped on board the Twitter bandwagon, most are yet to see the tool as a strategic channel.
So what’s holding marketers back from maximizing Twitter’s marketing value? The main impediment is the unconventionality of Twitter. The technology doesn’t look, feel or act like traditional marketing tools, so it requires a different approach than traditional marketing channels. Companies need to consider the wide range of skill sets required in order to take full advantage of the tool—from PR to interactive marketing to Customer Intelligence, disparate departments need to come together to harness the use of the tool. What’s more, given the open nature of Twitter, marketers must be mindful of the classic misstep of saying the wrong thing. Companies such as Chrysler, Kenneth Cole, and Vodafone
are too familiar with the repercussions of one poorly thought-out Tweet.
The good news for marketers is that with the proper plan, current obstacles to success can be overcome, making Twitter a powerful marketing tool. To get the most out of Twitter, marketers should follow four steps:Determine its role in the marketing mix.
Whether you’re setting up just one Twitter account or many, you need to start by deciding why and how it fits in with your other channels. This requires getting to know how your customers use the platform—are they actively speaking, or just listening on Twitter, and deciding the purpose of each account within the larger marketing programs. Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows brands to have more than one account, which can be useful for managing separate segments with specific objectives (like PR, customer support, and direct marketing). But each account must deliver a clear value for the audience. For instance, HP has dozens of Twitter accounts that several different departments use for PR news, product content, and direct sales.Prepare your team to use it well.
Twitter may seem familiar in the evolving social media space, but as a marketing tool, employees still need to understand how the tool works and how you want them to use it. At many companies, employees are generally being trained on how to use social media well. But this is especially important with Twitter as the language, behavior, and uses of the medium are more unusual than more established channels like Google
, YouTube, or the company website. At Intel
, social media training includes required reading of playbooks for varying platforms (including Twitter).Build a strong base of followers, then catalyze them.
It’s going to take more than simply setting up a Twitter account to be successful. For content to have an impact, brands need to build an active base of followers , especially influential ones. Then, a variety of additional tactics can be used to activate the community of followers in order to meet brand objectives. For example, it will be important to keep the community active in order to ensure conversation doesn’t wane. One way to do this is by building a calendar that schedules when to publish content that will keep the community active and engaged with the brand.Drive conversation and sharing.
Once your Twitter accounts are developed and a strong fan base is solidified, marketers can use a combination of relevant content and Twitter ads to stimulate conversation and sharing. At Ogilvy, the director of its 360 Digital Influence team told us: “Twitter is a very effective trigger because it can be used to create deeper engagement with other content–” like blog posts, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The tool can also be used to ignite real-world brand interactions. The NHL used tweet-ups to spark engagement for the Stanley Cup among passionate customers. They energized more than 1,000 fans directly, and reached hundreds of thousands through Twitter and millions more through press coverage.
Remember, your job isn’t over once you’ve followed this four-stage action plan. Over the long term, it will be necessary to play a role in coordinating the use of the technology, and sharing best practices. Doing so successfully will require securing the appropriate funds, implementing guardrail technology around Twitter marketing, and making sure each individual company Twitter account stays consistent with the brand. But, it’s also important to note: in order to be successful, marketers must know when to step out of the way, making room for empowered employees to do their jobs.
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1. Maintain an Active Business Blog: Launching a blog
that covers important topics relating to the industry in which you're selling is perhaps the best way to establish and uphold your image as a thought leader. A well-written blog will make prospects and current customers confident that the products and services they buy from you are created using industry expertise. Not only will maintaining an active business blog reward you with a more credible industry presence, but when done right, it will also afford you additional business benefits such as improved lead generation
and a boost in search engine optimization.2. Contribute Guest Blog Posts:
Once you start gaining traction as a credible business blogger using your own blog, it's also a great idea to seek opportunities to contribute guest articles to the blogs of other industry thought leaders. Being recognized by already-established thought leaders as a credible source and contributor will further legitimize your industry expertise.3. Publish Long-Form Content:
Publishing longer form content such as ebooks, whitepapers, and even webinars shows prospects and customers that your knowledge about given topics expands beyond 600-word blog posts. By publishing well-crafted, educational ebooks or other downloadable content, you'll demonstrate that you're capable of thought leadership on an even higher scale.4. Launch Your Own Podcast:
An alternative or complement to blogging, launching a regularly scheduled audio or video podcast is another great way to exhibit thought leadership. Consider discussing important industry-related topics or news and inviting other industry experts to join you as guests to create an even deeper level of credibility.5. Speak at Conferences/Events:
Your thought leadership doesn't have to be limited to the web. Live, in-person conferences and events are valuable marketing assets, and a presence at these gatherings can be valuable to any business' marketing efforts. Apply to speak at these types of industry events. Start with smaller events to introduce yourself into your industry's speaking circuit, and work your way up to larger, more prestigious events once you've gained more experience and respect as a speaker. Once you've secured speaking engagements, always be sure to make your presentations as educational and non-promotional as possible to achieve maximum credibility.6. Answer Questions in Social Media:
This is perhaps one of the easiest thought leadership tactics to keep up with on an ongoing basis. Social media is littered with people trying to learn more or find answers to questions they have. Monitoring social media
sites for industry-related questions can help you identify opportunities to share your expertise. LinkedIn Answers
is the perfect platform for this, allowing you to search users' questions by industry and topic. Also consider using Twitter Search to find users' questions on Twitter. Quora and Facebook are also great places to search. Once you've identified questions for which you can provide a helpful response, answer it in an informative, non-promotional way. (Bonus points if you can link to a blog post you've written that expands on the topic in question!)
Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/22170/6-Ways-to-Establish-Yourself-as-an-Industry-Thought-Leader.aspx#ixzz1UcvXAiLs
The average person does more than 30 searches per day in Google. They also clock over seven hours per month interacting with branded content on Twitter and Facebook
. And its not just reading -- the Average Joe also watches more than 180 videos per month on sites like YouTube and Vimeo. These statistics all add up to one very educated consumer.
Knowledge is everywhere online, in every form, and your typical internet user has a voracious appetite for learning. But from the perspective of an online marketer, this consumer is also a click-happy and easily distractible one. Employ the below tactics to make sure they click on -- and stick to -- your website with a purpose.
Own Their Next Click Your visitors are going to click, but it's up to you to make sure the link is productive for your business. In addition to your main navigation links, make sure links to other web properties you own are prominently displayed on your homepage. Have call-to-action buttons and other offers above the fold so they're as front and center as possible. And wherever you can, prove that your clicks are worth it. Visitors will never know your blog is informative and bleeding edge unless they get there, so if its normal position is in your main navigation, experiment with placing a bigger, more-blown out linking image in the margin, or even a module that shows titles of recent posts. Also, make sure your company's social media accounts are front and center. A click to your Facebook Page or recent Tweets isn't a loss, but a click on the back button is.
Be Smart About Flash and Graphics Image sliders look great on home pages and give businesses the opportunity to convey multiple messages on their website's most prime piece of real estate. But if you have a scrolling mechanism that shows six images for five seconds each, what happens if your visitor only hangs around for 20 seconds? They won't see the fifth and sixth image in your sequence. What if those links direct visitors to your biggest money-makers, like your demo request page or free consultation landing pages? Low visibility will dictate a poor return. Lots of companies like to lead with brand messaging in these spaces, but avoid this. Prioritize your best offers, and show them first.
Position Yourself With Simple Language People are spending seconds -- not minutes -- on your site, so be as clear and concise as you can be with the language you use. Avoid populating your "Products" or "Services" drop-down lists with brand names, because people don't know the names of what they're looking for yet. Instead, use adjective-rich phrasing to explain what those products are, and introduce them to your registered trademark on the product page. And when folks click through to those pages, don't bury critical facts about your products and services under a mountain of text. Think like your customer. Ask yourself what you would want to know, and use that answer to craft a strong thesis statement for the first paragraph of each page. How are you ensuring you get the most out of each visitor?
Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/13662/How-to-Ensure-Your-Website-Visitors-Click-and-Stick.aspx#ixzz1M16kVnHT
Step #1: Identify Your Target Market and Listen to Them
The first step to measuring success in social media marketing is proper scope. There are new social networks popping up each week. It's a waste of resources to join every new social network only to find you have no time to manage them. Find out where your most active customers & influencers spend time online - then listen and take notes.
Here's some tools you can use to tune into the conversation: Technorati
, Google Blog Search
, Ice Rocket
, Twitter Search
and HubSpot's HubFeed
. More advanced social media monitoring tools include Radian6
. Step #2: Get Involved in Conversations
The second step towards success is consistently utilizing social media to engage prospective customers. When you start listening to conversations, you might hear some things about your company that aren't very complimentary. That's ok. Your job now is to engage these customers and find a way to help. Be willing to acknowledge mistakes when they happen. Customers are surprisingly forgiving if a company engages in an honest and egoless manner.
If you're one of the lucky companies who only has enthusiastic and happy customers, recognize their desire to interact with you and be generous with your time. Be open to engaging with them on their turf. They'll reward your brand with greater enthusiasm - which is a message that spreads through social networks like wildfire, and solidifies your brand.
For instance, on Twitter both Starbucks and Whole Foods share customer comments, local specials, and ask customers what their favorite items are. It's casual and open, yet subtly appeals to the attractiveness of the brand. Check out some of the brands on Twitter
, and implement some of their conversation techniques. Step #3: Give! Give! Give!
How involved is your team in communicating with prospective customers, influencers and current customers on social networking sites? How often are you publishing great content that helps your prospects do their jobs? How often do you blog, Tweet, post photos on Flickr, comment on other blogs, Podcast, upload videos, etc? The more content that you produce and publish on social media sites, the more traffic you can attract back to your website. If your site is designed well to convert visitors into leads
, these activities will help you increase sales. Step #4: Master the Tools of the Trade
"Social media strategy should tie to business and communication strategy, rather than being based on the available tools. But it is not possible to develop a social media strategy without at least having an understanding of the various tools that are available, their functionality and purposes, and the kinds of audiences and conversations for which they might be best suited." - Joel Postman, Principal Socialized PR
It's critical to tie your business strategy to your social media strategy. However, without a knowledge of what social media and social networking sites enable you to do, it's hard to know how to do that. It's important to establish a blog as your home base. Then, learn the capabilities of each site to help you interact. For example, Twitter provides an almost unfettered ability to connect with your prospective clients. But, it only allows you to type 140 characters at a time. So, maybe a video posted to youtube would be a better way to publish a "how-to". Linkedin & Facebook let you see who your contacts know. But, facebook makes it much easier to connect with them. LinkedIn Answers is a much better place to answer business focussed questions than any other social network.
It's important to learn how to use these sites in order to get business value out of your social media activity. Talk to an expert to determine where to spend your time to get the best return. Step #5: Use Website Analytics Software to Measure Leads and Sales
Many experts agree that social media will affect the next generation of search engine optimization techniques as search engines start to use the signals we collectively leave as we network and share media online. Even today, social media activity affects the success of many other inbound marketing techniques:
- Search engine ranking
- Social bookmarking activity
- Social networking connections
- Video/podcast views/listens
- Inbound links
- RSS subscriptions
- Comments on your blog
- Mentions of your brand
- Number of times people search for your brand
- Visitors (first-time and repeat)
- Leads & Customers!
The end goals is lead generation and sales. But, there are plenty of leading indicators as you ramp up your efforts.
Use tracking codes, a solid analytics package and closed loop marketing
in order to track the visits, leads and sales that occurr as a result of your social media activities.This article was co-authored by Peter Caputa IV from HubSpot & Ghennipher, a 10 year veteran of the Internet Marketing world. Ghennipher is an independent Social Media Marketing consultant and writes on Social Media's effect on business. Subscribe to her blog here.
Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/4359/5-Steps-for-Successful-Social-Media-Marketing.aspx#ixzz1FVM2IFfj
1. Craft a brand position rooted in a customer benefit.
An awful lot of young companies do a good job of describing a product's features rather than synthesizing them into a single benefit. A simple handle, either expressing what a brand stands for or declaring its point of difference, will serve you well in everything from appearing in search results to being remembered.2. Take your message and content to your consumer. Engineer your presence.
You may want a website where you fill orders, capture data, or simply demonstrate your product, but you shouldn't assume your customer will instantly come to you. Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and YouTube are all basically free tools. You need to go where your consumer lives online. If your customers, prospects, and influencers are there, you should be there: listening, engaging, sharing, and helping them.3. Find inventive ways to create or gather content.
For starters, make your website into a blog. Fresh content, the ability to post comments, and pages that get linked to will add to your online visibility. No doubt it’s challenging and time consuming to generate enough content to populate your network and blog, but there are smart ways to go about it.
First, whatever you’re doing, write about it. Report on your progress. Second, come up with a daily question you'd want someone to ask and respond to it in a blog post or video. Third, save time by collecting content from others. Place your product or service, even in beta form, in front of people willing to blog, make videos, and tell stories about it. Aggregate this content to your blog or video channel. Fourth, conduct polls or ask questions about a related topic and turn these results into future posts as well as “news” you can release to both bloggers and press.4. Get on Twitter and use it actively.
It takes time to build a large Twitter following, but it’s a quick way to connect with industry influencers, bloggers, and press that might matter to you.
No matter what you sell, someone on Twitter is having a conversation about it. It's your chance to listen, respond, and engage with potential enthusiasts. More importantly, on Twitter there’s a willingness to help each other that you just won’t find anywhere else. Perhaps it’s because re-tweeting information is virtually effortless, or that people practically vie to share new finds, or that users feel a sense of obligation to those who follow and promote them, but for whatever reason, you’re likely to find people who are willing to help promote your brand on Twitter, presuming you learn Twitter protocols and give more than you take.5. Connect your customers and prospects to each other.
One of the best things you can do as a young company is to foster word-of-mouth conversations among your earliest customers. Whether you do it on Facebook or on your own site, it's important to invite your customers to talk to each other and share ideas. Allow them to guide one another on how they use your product or service. Not only will you have the opportunity to learn what people like and don't like about your product, you may end up with a bunch of people you can ask to help you.6. Develop relationships with the right bloggers.
Every start-up in the world wants that article in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. But the fact is, the right bloggers might be more influential for a number of reasons. They have loyal readers. Their references or links to your site will drive up your search results. And these days, it’s more likely that ideas will bubble up from the blogosphere to the mainstream press than vice versa.7. Start Crowdsourcing.
There is no shortage of services - companies like crowdSpring (design) or Tongal (video) -- to help you source affordable content from designers, videographers, writers, and others. But there's an even better reason to crowdsource. You allow your customers to participate in the creation of your brand. If you want a great example, take a look at how HBO seeded True Blood
. Instead of advertising, HBO shipped samples of synthetic blood to popular videographers and bloggers, who, of course, couldn't resist making videos or posting pieces about the mysterious liquid. You may not have anything as cool as fake blood, but you can still learn to think this way.8. Read Brian Halligan’s Inbound Marketing Book.
Even if you have a product with enough mainstream appeal to justify paid advertising, consumers today spend more time searching than watching. You want to be found. Inbound Marketing
covers all of the basics you’ll need to know to make your content Google friendly.9. Give stuff away for free.
Take a look at what HubSpot does: free tools (Twitter Grader
and Website Grader
); free webinars (How to use SEO
, Blogging for Business
); free eBooks (Facebook for Business
, Getting Found Online
). If you sell food, give away recipes. If you’ve invented a sleep monitor, offer free tips on better sleeping. Free content generates awareness, builds loyalty, creates newsworthy topics, and spreads word-of-mouth. Remember, in this day and age, what a brand does is far more important than what a brand says.10. Make the time, build in the role, or hire the right partner.
As folks like Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuk have proven, you can do all this yourself if you have the right time, energy and commitment. If you can’t muster that, give this role to one of your first hires. If you’re less than comfortable identifying that person within your own company, (hint: it’s not an intern or a kid right out of school; Digital Natives
may know all the technology, but they often lack the strategic chops and the ability to create truly compelling content) retain the services of a public relations agency
with real experience in social influence. Make sure that if you go this route, you ask for case studies
as evidence that the PR team assigned to your business actually practices what it preaches.
Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/5297/10-Ways-a-Start-Up-Can-Use-Social-Media-to-Market-Itself.aspx#ixzz1ErR5W0lx
You're probably being bombarded with a handful of social media platforms that promise to give you or your business more visibility and drive sales on a daily basis. These 10 tips will help you get started now:
1. Clean up your website or online image
2. Plan out your branding strategy carefully
3. Sign up for a personal Facebook account
4. Start blogging
5. Create a Twitter account
6. Begin writing and creating content
7. Network, network, network
8. Make connections with people you know (on all levels)
9. Open up a Public Page on Facebook
10. Create an account on LinkedIN