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Knowing Whether Social Media Is Ideal For Your Business

The hype associated with Social Media Marketing (SMM) has been around for several years now. Since it has been on the lips of everyone and companies alike – both large and small – have taken the plunge and launched Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as blogs.

Social media marketing should not be embarked on blindly. Of great importance is getting to know whether social media is right for YOUR particular business.

Regrettably, this is a question that very few business people ask themselves prior to registering for a Twitter account or creating a blog. You must be asking yourself, ‘What is the best way of determining whether my business should employ social media to boost sales?’ The first step should be monitoring what your potential and current customers are saying presently and note which medium they use as their mouthpiece.

Having a Facebook fan page would seem very appropriate, but what if your fan base/followers are on Twitter only? Having a blog may seem like a no-brainer but if none of your clientele (present and potential) read blogs or subscribe to their feeds, it would be futile. You have to know exactly which media will give you maximum results and thus being worth your while.

I agree that collecting complete and accurate statistics for your Social Media Marketing campaign can be somewhat tricky and at the same time, very time consuming. Gurus in social media marketing have come up with a tactic that can help in determining the best way of deciding whether you should employ Social Media Marketing and if so, which media would be ideal for you. Begin pilot programs of various media campaigns and allocate equal time dedication per week. Post blogs, update profiles and statuses, and get to build as many relationships as possible. Keep this going for approximately two months since it is virtually impossible to create a buzz in a day or two.

After establishing your brand, analyze which ones have managed to generate the largest buzz. If more people are visiting and making purchases via your Twitter page or LinkedIn profile maintain them. If for whichever reason blogs aren’t getting you the needed attention, then you need to get to shut them down or dedicate less time and just make an online presence. In brevity, what I mean is that you should focus greatly on marketing outlets that are making you visible in the online fraternity since they are the ideal ones for your line and scope of business.

This is a vital process that allows you to avoid blindly following the social media hype which may end up being a waste of precious time. It allows you to join a social media where most of your customers can be found and allow you to converse with them whenever need be. It is important to be open minded when conducting the feasibility study knowing that NOT every business will require social media in order to be successful.

Happy monitoring 🙂 . Here’s to the future of your business and staying ahead of the game!

Untold Facts about Social Media Marketing

According to a study conducted by The E-tailing Group (an e-commerce consulting firm) and PowerReviews (an online customer review firm), Twitter and Facebook have undoubtedly seized the highest adoption rate in the realm of social media marketing, while customer reviews hold the highest ranking for a boost in increased customer engagement and sales.

This has caused numerous retailers and businessmen to rev up their social media marketing in the past 6 months by adopting Twitter and Facebook into their strategies. Out of the 117 respondents in the survey, three-quarters of them admitted to have accelerated their commitment and use of social media in the past half year.

The report dubbed “Community and Social Media Study” was released at an opportune time when companies were looking for breakthroughs that might help them shake off the effects of the economic crunch or the recession if you like, by cutting expenses. Social media marketing has been looked at as a very affordable way to promote various companies’ services and products compared to the basic online advertizing.

Considering that Facebook passed the 300 million mark [of registered members] towards the demise of last year, the customer base potential for retailers wishing to get their brand out there is so diverse.

The report goes on to reveal that 5 out of 10 social media tools reviewed in the study have been implemented by over 50% of retailers and brands in the market. It comes as no shock that the Facebook Fan Page tops the list having an 86% adoption rate.

Although the bulk of marketers prefer using Twitter and Facebook to promote their products, there are other equally good social media that can be implemented in marketing strategies. They include blogs and user or consumer reviews which have a 55% adoption rate by marketers and also viral videos which have been implemented by 50%.

“The intricate combination of social and community networking within e-commerce has reached a near-optimum level and thus is a benchmark that we will be monitoring yearly,” remarked the president of e-tailing group, Lauren Freedman. “Customer engagement in businesses has reached a critical mass and their involvement [via social and community media] or lack of, thereof can mark success or failure.”

What Continues Fueling The Already Stepped-up Pace?

It is a known fact that the chief reason of implementing social media marketing is to boost sales volume. Other than that, avid research discovered that there are three other reasons merchants have embraced this mode of marketing.

# 1 – All merchants want to be seen as trendy and current in their online presence – not obsolete using traditional marketing techniques such as promotional emails.

# 2 – Merchants fear that their clientele may ‘abandon ship’ and go to other e-commerce sites that are more socially engaging.

# 3 – Some want to clear their brand products or services especially if they are being degraded or spoken ill of by consumers or malicious competitors already on the social media sites like Twitter.

Freedman, in a statement predicts that the above named motivators which propelled the final wave of social media adoption will continue to do so in years to come.

Source: e-Tailing Group

Case Study3 – Spellbinders Paper Arts

Customers Make the Brand – Spellbinders Paper Arts Social Media Success Formula

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Much ink has been spent on writing about the meaning and uses of social media as a tool for enhancing your business and therefore I shall not go down that lane. Having said that, however, I feel it is important to mention certain success stories of companies that have used this tool in their businesses and benefitted from it.

Spellbinders Paper Arts is one such company that has made optimum use of social media marketing to expand its consumer base. Based in Peoria, Arizona for the past five years, Spellbinders is a manufacturing company that has been producing tools that paper craft enthusiasts require for their work. While the company sells most of its good through hobby and craft store chains like Hobby lobby and other similar paper crafting stores, it also sells directly from its own company website, directly to the consumers. The main reason for the popularity of this company can be attributed to the importance given to social media marketing by the company.
According to the company, consumers make the brand and therefore it is important to reach out to as many consumers as you can to develop brand loyalty and popularity. The company makes use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo groups etc to enhance its consumer base. Spellbinders paper Arts also has about sixty YouTube videos posted and is planning on starting its Flickr gallery in the near future. The best part of the social media campaign of this company is that it is not restrictive in nature. In other words, if you are a member of Facebook then you can also join the Yahoo group of the same company. The company believes that this multiplicity will only encourage loyalty towards the brand. In addition, to the regular blogs it is important to note that the company is an active participant in the various blogs related to craft and arts.

According to Spellbinders Paper Arts, each blog is created with a view to teach the consumers about using the various Spellbinders products. Additionally, the company invites posts from its consumers on the various innovative ways in which they have used their products. This encourages active participation from the consumers and also develops new ideas and craft recipes that others can effectively use in the future. In fact, very recently the company organized a contest to promote its new product and received many entries from its customers, which also showed that there was considerable awareness regarding the new product.

Spellbinders Paper Arts uses a very novel way to reach out to the public using social media. The company along with its team of marketing people, it has a team of five freelance designers who create the various how-to blogs that are posted on different websites. Apart from these designers, the company also has more than ten design team members, who operate their own blogs and promote the company and its products. It is pertinent to note that the company organizes a yearly contest where the best design team is awarded based on their project and the ways they have used to promote the products of the company.

Moreover, Spellbinders Paper Arts makes full use of the power of links to various related sites in order to create a better presence on the Internet. It is important to note that while creating projects, one often has to use material created by other companies. Spellbinders acknowledging the role of other companies in overall creation promotes such businesses through their sites and blogs and in turn these companies help promote Spellbinders Paper Arts, thereby forming a symbiotic relationship.

Lastly, where a company sells its products through retailers, success in social media marketing can be calculated through the participation of its consumers on the various blogs and contests. One can safely say that customer is the key to success in social media and they are the ones who make or break the brand. Therefore, success in social media marketing can be achieved if you integrate it into your entire company system rather than view it as a separate component.

Special Thanks to Jay Baer for sharing this case study

Know all about measuring ROI of Social Media?

Whenever any conversation arises about social media marketing, companies always involve the ROI of social media and try to define ways to measure it. Businesses using social media view it as any other marketing tool and expect it to provide similar returns, not realizing that this is not a simple marketing tool. Before asking how to measure ROI of social media marketing, it is important understand why you need to measure it and whether such reasons really warrant an in-depth analysis of ROI of social media.

ROI of Social Media

Traditionally, businesses used TV advertisements to promote their companies’ products or services. The impact of such marketing strategies was very easy to measure by measuring the change in sales during and after the advertisement period. Businesses feel that social media marketing works in a similar way and want to measure the ROI of social media in the same manner. Moreover, companies feel that as they have appointed a special person to look after social media marketing, there should be noticeable returns.

The problem with most businesses is with this basic assumption and comparison of social media marketing to traditional marketing. Social media marketing is a tool that is and should be used for effective communication with the community at large. When compared to a marketing tool, it can at the most be called a pre-sales strategy that involves chatting with the prospective customer with the hope of enticing the person to buy the product. It has been often associated with idle conversations and building relationships. Social media marketing is akin to the free trials of products that are given as part of traditional marketing, and also all types of technical support that is given before final sale. When defined in such terms, ROI of social media becomes very difficult to measure as it is very tricky to measure the ROI of conversations and relationships.

Secondly, it is important to note that social media marketing is most useful in post-sale customer service, where companies use these tools to maintain and develop their customer base. If there is a customer who does not like a product, then companies employ such methods to ensure that the problem is solved. By helping such customers, you are building a loyal base, which in turn will virally ensure future growth in sales. This again proves how difficult it is to measure ROI of social media in actual terms. While customer service and pre-sales strategies definitely cost something and are a necessary investment, it is important to understand whether such measures can be calculated and whether such measures actually reflect their impact on businesses.

Finally, proponents of measuring ROI of social media feel that people only oppose it because they do not know how to measure it and hence feel that it is hard to calculate. This is not true as it has been proved that while ROI of social media is difficult to measure, it is not impossible. It is pertinent to note that some people feel that this method of measuring ROI of social media is short sighted and completely wrong and that there are other ways of measuring than in monetary terms. According to such people, while value of a conversation and relationship cannot be measured in monetary terms, it definitely has some importance, which may or may not be directly visible.

In a nutshell, you will need to measure ROI of social media to keep a tab on the results that it’s delivering, and fine-tune your strategy, as and when needed, to reap the optimum benefits.

What attracts most: SMM or SEM?

Given the high use of internet for most of our activities today, it is important that we devise online marketing strategies. Two very important internet marketing strategies widely used today are Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Marketing. Both these strategies are different only in approach and the kind of traffic they attract. However, you should remember that these are two sides of a coin and need to go hand in hand for any internet marketing strategy to be successful.

Search engine marketing is a kind of internet marketing through which companies improve their rankings on search engines and ensure more traffic to their websites. Search engine marketing is largely of three types, using pay per click advertising method, placing strategic advertisements containing precise information on various search engine websites and lastly, with some search engines, it is possible to pay and be included as a higher ranking page. However, the best way to ensure success in search engine marketing is to make your website search engines optimized by using appropriate keywords, unique content and other SEO techniques.
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Social media marketing, on the other hand, is a way in which you engage with your customers by using various social media tools. By using various social media tools, you can actually disseminate information about your company to a group of people who are actually interested in reading about it. By giving people opportunity to air their opinions on a particular aspect of your business, you are actually building relationships. A good profile with excellent content and by directing good traffic to your website, you can use this strategy effectively.

The primary difference between the two strategies is the time taken by each to generate incoming traffic to your website. It is seen that search engine marketing brings in more traffic to your website at a much faster rate than social media marketing, which takes some time to generate quality traffic to your website. However, even if social media marketing takes time, it ensures long lasting relations with the people who visit your website.

Secondly, people often state that it is difficult to measure social media marketing but it is not impossible. Using the right analytics, it is possible to measure the ROI of a blog as well as the exact amount of traffic coming from social media sites to your website. Measurability is very easy in search engine marketing as the course of incoming web traffic to your site is more visible. In addition, pay per click strategy and placement of paid ads help in measuring the impact.

Third difference is the kind of traffic attracted by each marketing strategy. Search engine marketing attracts SEO traffic, which include people who are actively searching for your product or service, thereby ensuring high rate of conversion into customers. Social media marketing, on the other hand, attracts organic traffic, which may or may not be interested in what you have to offer. However, once you have managed to convince the person about the relevance of your company, the conversion is absolute and one that will continue for a long period.

In conclusion, it is best to say that for any internet marketing strategy to be successful, both strategies should be used in tandem, starting with the search engine marketing strategy to create large number of hits to your website and then following it up with the social media marketing strategy to ensure your customers stay loyal.

Factors to be considered for effective use of Hubpages

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Hubpages is a popular tool used by many businesses today whilst indulging in social media marketing. It has been effectively used by many to improve their page ranks by exploiting the provision of backlinks. However, like most social media tools, in order to be hundred percent effective, it is important to understand the basic principles that are absolutely necessary for a successful Hubpage. We all know that by using Hubpages we can create Hubs on different topics relevant to our website and back link it to increase incoming traffic. However, what most do not realize is that in order to actually be effective, the HubScore of your Hubs matter a lot. HubScore is a score given by the HubPages admin, which ranks your hub in terms of quality. HubScore ranges from 0-100 and determines the rank of your hubpage as well as your status as a member. For maintaining a successful Hub, it is absolutely necessary that your HubScore is above 70 on the percentile scale.

In order to maintain a HubScore of 70 and above, it is essential to understand how this HubScore is computed. Various aspects of a hub are considered while computing the HubScore and chief among these factors are:

• Originality of content
• Response given by the readers to your hub, which includes comments, thumbs up etc.
• Amount of traffic
• Reputation of the Hubber

Originality of content is perhaps the most important factor that determines your HubScore. It is important to remember that for your hubpage to be accepted and published, the content should be hundred percent original and there should be no duplicates anywhere. While this is the basic tenet for a high HubScore, it is also the most ignored as Hubpages publishes copied or duplicate content. What most people do not realize is that while it is possible to publish duplicate content, it defeats the whole purpose as you cannot back link to your site. Hence it is advisable that you use original content or at least modify the content so that it seems unique before posting it on you hub. Using keyword rich content, without overly promoting yourself will also help increase your HubScore and page rank on Hubpages, thereby directing traffic to your site. Another important aspect is that if someone is duplicating your content, be sure to inform admin at Hubpages and stop the duplication, as this will lead to your Hubpage being penalized and maybe even removed from viewing. Spamming is very common on the Internet leads to lower HubScores.

Originality of content and good quality hub will attract more traffic to it and will also attract favorable responses from the viewers or readers. Incoming traffic to your hub and the response of the reader plays a very important role in determining your HubScore. It is absolutely necessary to create a hub where people can interact with you, comment on your topic and give and receive inputs. Effective communication between you and your readers is absolutely essential for increasing your HubScore.

Status of the Hubber affects the HubScore and the better your status, higher the HubScores. You can improve your hubber status by publishing large numbers of quality hubs. It is pertinent to note that publishing more hubs will not increase your status but publishing more quality ones will definitely help you, emphasis being totally on quality. Secondly, the more you interact on Hubpages by reading and commenting on other’s hubs, participating in forums etc then you increase your status as a hubber. In addition, your HubScores, fan following, responses to your hubs also affect your status, which ultimately affect your HubScore.

Hubpages is an excellent Web 2.0 tool, which if used effectively can help you get quality backlinks and increase web traffic to your site. If you want to understand more about this wonderful tool and want to use it effectively to promote your business, then do contact me and I would love to help you in successfully using this tool.

Corporate Companies embracing Social Media Marketing

I spend hours on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and the likes, reading about various aspects of the social media. The fact remains that Social Media is powerful. I read about many successful “social media case studies” and also about corporate companies that trust social media, and how they are embracing these unique ways of promoting business. There are companies who fear using these unique ways of promoting their companies. The companies that ignore the efficacy of the social media are:

• The ones who are not aware of social media, or
• The ones who are interested but don’t know how to use it, or
• The ones who do not believe the power of social media strategy.

Here, I would like to highlight few corporate houses that are engaged into Social Media Marketing:

Procter & Gamble’s “Being Girl” is a site targeted at 13 year old girls. P&G used an indirect approach and created a community for young girls to discuss the issues that usually plague 13 year old girls. And it worked like magic.

P&G

Coca-Cola Conversations” is a blog written by Phil Mooney (Coca Cola’s archivist/historian) that focuses on Coke collectibles. The blog also has a number of Coca Cola stories, recipes that use coke as an ingredient; and just about everything from the world of Coca Cola.

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Jet Blue Travel Stories” is how an airline is telling a story about the travelers that use its services. It lets its customers upload their stories in a simple yet unique manner, and these can then be played for the world to see.

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On the Go with Amy” is a Blog that is sponsored by Best Western. Amy, the author, travels the country writing about her varied experiences in a manner that is fun to read, and also gives travelers/readers important travel related information from time to time.

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The Platform” hosted by Cisco addresses a variety of audiences for their global business. It discusses various aspects such as relevant news, security, collaboration, the web experience, etc.

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GM next- Driving Change” has blogs by GM to communicate directly with its customers around topics ranging from design to green tech. Besides, GM has also made its presence felt on social media sites such as Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.

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While this does make it seem like the pool is full to the brim, social media allows a business to do so much more. I would love to see some more corporate companies engaged into social media in the comment section 🙂