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What can Social Media do for your business?

May 25, 2009

I’ve been asked to participate on a panel discussion for the upcoming Marketing Profs B2B Forum. My fellow panelists are: Greg Verdino (@gregverdino) from Crayon, Ann Handley (@marketingProfs) from Marketing Profs, Donna Tocci from Ingersoll Rand and Monique Trulson from Hello Direct. Excited to be considered and to share my experiences in a company of such great folks.

To prepare for the session, Greg recently asked all panelists to come up with five responses to the question: “What can social media do for your business?” Here is what I put togheter:

1. FIND AND ACTIVATE YOUR BRAND AMBASSADORS
Social media can help you identify and engage your brand ambassadors. These are folks who are passionate about your brand and are not shy to talk about it using social media. You can find them by continuously monitoring your branded keywords across all social media channels. Once found, you should develop lasting relationships with these folks that are based on respect and mutual admiration. Consider engaging them in your new product development, provide them with a window into your company’s culture and continuously supply them with information so that they may continue talking about your brand. Do not bribe them or in any way  influence their opinion. Their independence is what should work in this relationship.

2.FIND AND HELP THOSE HAVING PROBLEMS W/ YOUR BRAND
Similarly to using Social Media to find your brand ambassadors, you’ll find many of your existing customers who are having issues with your products or your customer service and who are not afraid to use social media channels to let their voice be heard. I see that all the time on Twitter and by monitoring my company’s branded keywords on Technorati or through Google alerts. You can choose to ignore these folks or you can jump in to help. Your participation in social media gives you a unique opportunity to reach out to these customers through channels they might not expect to receive customer service through. Comcast has done it through @comcastcares on Twitter and many other brands are following in their footsteps including my employer. Remember though that once you decide to get involved, your participation in social media will involve setting up processes at your company to help your team stay responsive once your next project will take your attention elsewhere.

3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA CONVERSATIONS THROUGH SYSTEMATIC MONITORING
Have you started monitoring social media for your branded keywords? How about your competitor’s keywords? Add to it your branded product names, industries you play in and verticals you are venturing into. Social media gives you an incredible opportunity to listen in on conversations from your current customers and prospects (including your competitors’) who openly discuss their needs, generate new product ideas and alert you of issues with your existing products. You must take advantage of it by developing a plan for ongoing social media monitoring. Once you have your monitoring data share it with a wider audience at your company including your R&D group, your customer care department, your marketing and PR folks and analyze in a way to take action.

4. PRACTICE CONVERSATIONAL MARKETING
Social media is not about constantly pushing the same marketing message through every available channel and hoping that 0.2 percent of your recipients will actually pay attention to your ad. That’s traditional advertising. What you are hoping for is to energize social media participants through conversational marketing. How? For starters consider using social media to amplify your company’s philanthropic activities. Set up social media channels with content about your initiative and make it easy for others to virally spread it to others. I did not understand the power of social media viral spread until I become involved in the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” initiative my company was sponsoring. Social media outreach took the campaign to the next level and made me a true believer in the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN YOUR WORKPLACE
Finally, don’t forget that social media is not limited to your customers and external stakeholders. Through Enterprise 2.0 tools including wikis, blogs, instant messaging, internal social networks and microblogging apps, social media can help improve your employee communications and help them collaborate with one another regardless of office location, business unit association or positioning on the corporate ladder. At my workplace we are exploring several social media applications to help us share information in real time and be  more productive which, in today’s economic environment, is no longer an option, but a requirement.

I am curious to find out where the conversaiton will take us during the pannel which is scheduled to take place on Tusday 6/9 at 11am during the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston. Follow the conversation on Twitter. The hash tag for this event is #mpb2b.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2009 2:37 pm

    Good observatins Aneta.
    I’m wondering if you would modify any of your comments if we were to discuss customer acquisition in the business services segment?

    Perhaps buyers inside large organizations respond in much the same way as a consumer might?

    Catherine McQuaid
    Big Game Hunting

  2. Aneta Hall permalink*
    May 26, 2009 7:04 pm

    Catherine, thanks for your comment. I think engaging in social media with a clear purpose (e.g. customer acquisition, event activation or brand awareness) is absolutely the right approach to your social media strategy. Must have clear objectives before setting your tactics.
    And I also agree that when approached through social media you should treat both a large B2B prospect as well as an individual consumer with the same attention to the individual with whom you interact.
    Not sure though why I would need to modify any of my comments since I agree with you. Do you have a particular one in mind you want to discuss further?

  3. May 28, 2009 2:32 pm

    Aneta,

    Social media is also just emerging as a key tool for SALES people. We call this phenomenon “Sales 2.0″

    There are some great things that social media can do for your business in the sales department as well as in the marketing department. Sales organizations are behind in adoption of social media versus their marketing colleagues but the movement to change that is gathering momentum very quickly now.

    Thought your readers might like to be aware of what is happening on the “other side of the wall” in the sales organization.

    Nigel

  4. Aneta Hall permalink*
    May 28, 2009 2:36 pm

    Agreed. Do you have particular examples to share? I think it’s important to mention that if you treat social media as another sales channel you will not get far.

  5. May 28, 2009 2:50 pm

    Aneta,

    I shy away from self promotion (of course) on a blog but the logical way to answer your question is to point you and your readers to my new ebook – “Don’t Cold Call. Social Call”.

    The ebook gives an example of using social media for sales prospecting and lays the context and rationale for Sales 2.0

    The ebook can be downloaded here: http://budurl.com/S2Ebook2 (free and no form)

    Nigel

  6. Aneta Hall permalink*
    May 28, 2009 2:56 pm

    thanks for sharing. will take a look.

  7. May 28, 2009 3:00 pm

    You have offered up an excellent summary with great insight. Your additional remarks are on point as well. Thank you! I serve the SMB community who is not as quick to adopt for a myriad of reasons but your ‘5 reasons’ might help the momentum. Your blog will also help me as I explain the difference and the risks as well as understanding that as you say this is not ‘another sales channel’.
    THANK YOU!

  8. Aneta Hall permalink*
    May 28, 2009 3:22 pm

    Mardy, thanks! Two major parts of my job at Pitney Bowes is 1) educating others on social and emerging media and 2) participating in various channels to show others in my organization what’s possible if only they get engaged and are willing to participate. If you stick to this basic strategy long enough and continue to bring up the benefits you will get traction. Good luck!

  9. May 29, 2009 3:47 am

    Thanks Aneta for a neat summary. We’ve been preaching and practicing Point3 with clients for several years now. The challenge comes in breaking down the organisations silos so that you can: “share it with a wider audience at your company including your R&D group, your customer care department, your marketing and PR folks and analyze in a way to take action.”

  10. May 29, 2009 12:39 pm

    Aneta – Well put.

    In representing some familiar B2B brands, my experience has been that personalising what you are doing in social media is important. It is about engagement and connection, if you get this right, then the opportunity to ‘slip-in’ the odd hard sell advert will be tolerated.

    I believe that the other thing to understand as compared to other forms of campaigning is that social media does not necessarily garner instant results, it takes time, you need to build trust and you need to experiment with what works for your brand and demographics.

    Twitter works for some others work better in different circumstances or where the objectives differ.

    Also what are your desirable demographics? These vary from platform to platform. Executing really does come down the same old marketing principles of understanding your segments, how to message and engage those segments and get some pro-branders to assist you with feedback and understanding the external perception to your activities.

    It all comes back to data, analysis, metrics then the application of new marketing ‘conversation’ skills. IMHO!

  11. Aneta Hall permalink*
    May 29, 2009 4:19 pm

    Jon, agreed. What also helps in situations like this is to have a strong executive champion who gets employees to pay attention and can rally people behind the idea.

  12. Aneta Hall permalink*
    May 29, 2009 4:46 pm

    Jules, I know you are right, but when you put it that way: analysis, metrics, demographics… it clearly sounds like treating social media just like another marketing channel. I think there is way more to it than that and treating it as a new tool in your old toolbox often prevents us from looking at opportunities for fresh ideas and new approaches. Now, I am curious about your reference to new marketing “conversation” skills. Could you elaborate?

  13. John Rudy permalink
    June 1, 2009 8:47 am

    While I whole-heartedly agree with all of these points; and by now if marketers aren’t clued into this they have missed the boat. But, everyone forgets some of the other benefits of engaging in SM marketing, particularly the off-site SEO benefits achieved. Most social media sites have built in Google Trust rank and authority, which make them great places to start with your inbound link strategy. The will shoot through the rankings and you can dominate the SERP if done correctly.

  14. Aneta Hall permalink*
    June 1, 2009 8:51 am

    Amen to that, John.

  15. August 30, 2009 9:32 pm

    How long did it take you to write this blog.

  16. Aneta Hall permalink*
    August 31, 2009 10:56 am

    How long did it take me to write this post? Not long at all, but the length of development for some of the social media corporate practices I describe … well, that’s a different story :)

  17. April 29, 2010 1:07 pm

    Hi Aneta,

    I saw you present this material at MarketingProfs last year. A Fortune 50 client asked me today how big companies are using social media and I immediately went searching for my notes on your session. Your presentation left an impression on me – it was very helpful to see how a company the size and breadth of Pitney Bowes was approaching and executing upon social media. So, a year later, your material is still making an impression. Thank you!

  18. August 19, 2010 11:11 pm

    This is an excellent post. You made good points and generous in sharing it with us. It will benefit many individuals.thanks

Trackbacks

  1. MarketingGeekAustin » Back in the Interactive saddle again! I ain’t dead yet!
  2. Greg Verdino » Want to get the most from social media? Look inside…

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