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The social media opportunity - Messaging

Social Media doesn’t follow your brand into market – it leads it there! Our process will help you identify target audiences, articulate your value proposition, and generate a powerful sales language for your entire sales effort.

  • Target messaging to become a trusted “Thought Leader” wherever online discussion occurs
  • Leverage paid advertising against free message board and forum postings to gain prominence
  • Link what your sales people say to the promises you’re making throughout your marketplace

Strategy | Messaging | Online Advertising | Sales Tools

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Have you thought about who’s in your marketplace and what you should say to them?

infographic social media messaging Your success lies in the hands of many people, and not all of them work directly for you. It’s fairly easy to work out the contribution your staff and co-workers make, but who
else is important to your business? This list doesn’t end with customers. Some of the most important relationships that drive profits are with your suppliers, distributors and aligned professionals.

An effective social media program leverages a content plan that take all your stakeholder groups into account – to help build awareness and confidence among the countless consumers and business influencers that populate social networks. Brand-building flourishes when you take every opportunity to connect with these diverse audiences across multiple online discussions.

inforgraphic social media messaging The best brands share content that covers three basic subject areas – one involves the benefits they provide their customers, another relates to the
steps they take to deliver a quality experience, and the third is how they learn and interact with their marketplace. As you plan your posts, consider how your stakeholders contribute to each objective, and work from there.

Lots of great content can be developed from these starting points. But resist the urge to blindly trumpet your company’s worth and success. This just turns people off. Instead, scan social networks for discussions where your experience and knowledge can help other posters from each stakeholder group take effective action to benefit their own situations.

A commitment to this form of participation will be your best guide, not only helping you choose the kind of information to share, but also helping you pick from the thousands of third party posts you actually respond to. Effective messaging builds relationships by being of service, and as you do that for the full spectrum of your stakeholder groups, your results will grow.  

The power of social media lies in how many people with similar interests and needs read your posts. When you make yourself valuable to one person, you’ve undoubtedly impressed many others who have similar interests and needs. The strength of your brand and your market presence will grow in direct proportion to how often you contribute in this way.  

2. What should product-based companies say to customers across social networks?

Shopping, buying things, and being first to know about new products and services is always satisfying.  Making the best purchase decisions is also a blast! And if things go wrong with something you buy, knowing why it went wrong and what to do about it is just as good. Be sure to plan your social media posts and interactions with these customer experiences in mind!

Let’s start by looking at the kinds of posts that make sense for product-based companies. Since products are inherently visual, social bookmarking sites like Pinterest and Tumblr are ideal places to post photos that cross-link between blogs, product reviews, YouTube posts, as well as your website, Google+ and Facebook pages. Plan product announcements of all types this way.

In addition to sharing your own content, it is essential to respond to what others say about you and your products across social networks. Since it’s impossible to look in enough places to be sure you catch all references to your company, you’ll need to use specialized tools to help you find relevant posts. Depending on the kind of content you watch for, there’s lots of tools to help.

infographic social media messaging alerts One of the oldest, recently revamped services, is Google Alerts – a free tool that uses Google search engines and keywords that you specify to
monitor the web. Talkwalker Alerts is another free service that lets you select the sources you monitor to catch references to topics you pick; like your company name, your brand or competitors, or any other relevant topics you choose.

Another great resource is Social Mention. This tool monitors user-generated text, graphic and video uploads from more than 100 social channels in real time. Savvy social media marketers rely on Social Mention to identify any relevant discussions where they can engage and respond to customers, or share information on changes and news within their markets and industry.

Since your goal is sales, take every opportunity to post content such as product comparisons, reviews, and “how to” segments that show consumers where your products fit into their lives. Respond to customer questions and criticisms. And where appropriate, share tips on warranties, repairs and service; and steps you’re taking to improve quality and your customers’ experience.

3. What should service companies say to customers across social networks?

Service providers and companies that offer other intangibles – such as maintenance or security contracts, software applications, insurance, or even energy products – should also consider their customers’ experience as they build their social media content plans. And it’s important not to overlook the opportunity to create visual representations of all the benefits you provide.

infographic social media messaging video YouTube, and other channels that support video, provide an ideal foundation for engaging customers,
particularly when your videos offer a “how to” focus that answer common consumer problems. Lavish productions aren’t required to engage your audience. Impactful videos can be produced using consumer-level HD video cameras and simple, low-cost PC-based editing tools.

There’s lots of examples to pattern your own efforts on. But here’s the basics to consider. Do you have a customer you could interview? Are there before-and-after stories you could tell? Is there a way to show the step-by-step of how your service is delivered? And is it possible to show actual examples of customer problems being resolved as you deal with their root causes?

If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, then you have the starting point to begin planning your own series of video feeds. Plan to keep each segment relatively short, at maximum two or three minutes in length. Longer messages should be broken down into a series of bite-sized pieces – creating an opportunity to promote a rich catalogue of valuable content.

Your goal is to have frequent postings, to keep your messaging fresh and relevant. Short videos afford an opportunity to showcase your people, or to build your presence as a thought leader in your industry. If you’re at a loss for where to begin, start using the monitoring tools discussed above to track your competitors and the customer issues being raised across social networks.

Twitter is an invaluable audience-building tool for your video library. Each time you complete a new segment, launch a coordinated Twitter campaign that links not only to your company’s YouTube Channel – but that also cross-links to the blogs and other resources that comprise your larger social media program. Companies smaller than yours have mastered this approach!

4. How do you develop professional relationships and alliances across social networks?

infographic social media ewtworking Whether you’re a product or service-based company, or active in the consumer or business-to-business space, social media gives you an unprecedented opportunity
to deepen and broaden your professional network. And that’s important. There are many solid business reasons to expand and strengthen your relationships with suppliers, distributors and aligned professionals.



 

Take a minute to review your business goals. Are you looking for better qualified employees? Do you need a new source for quality materials, better information on new processes, or access to new technology? Or maybe you’re interested in expanding your distribution, breaking into new markets, or finding a new stream of referrals and quoting opportunities. It’s all possible!

Social media helps you leverage your networking investment, delivering unprecedented access, reach and efficiencies for building new relationships. Plus it provides a daily window into the key events and trends that are shaping your industry and markets. Accessing these benefits is as simple as participating with your peers and colleagues in online discussion groups and forums.

LinkedIn, Google+, and to a lesser extent Facebook, are three of the best places to find and access online discussions within your business space. All three offer access to information sharing and dialogue – but don’t limit your search to these channels. Search social networks for online discussions that match your needs, focusing on those that best serve your market space.

Take the same approach to relationship-building with professional peers as you would with customers. First lock in on the groups you want to follow, then begin monitoring group discussions, picking up on key themes. Pay particular attention to postings by group thought leaders, and when ready, join the discussions by answering and asking pertinent questions.

Building relationships takes time, so don’t over-extend yourself chasing opportunities. Instead, focus on posting to only one or two key groups. You’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish by being a regular and frequent poster, particularly when you focus your participation around clearly defined objectives. Remember, this activity is a key component to your social media ROI. 

5. How to grow a whole new “sales voice” and language across Social networks.

Few business activities pay better “sweat equity” dividends than your social media program. There’s no sugar coating the hard work involved – reading consumer posts, following your competitors, and crafting fresh content – it takes lots of effort. But it’s worth it, not just for the added market exposure, but because it keeps your head in the process of building your brand.

A company’s brand is their public voice in their marketplace. Social media carries that voice farther, but does something else that’s also important. Where traditional advertising operates as a series of “declarations”, social media is conversational, forcing you to continually evolve and expand the public record of what you stand for. And that’s a huge opportunity!

infographic scial media sharing ideas By just participating in social dialogue you bring your “voice” to a broader and broader range of subjects – dramatically
more than through traditional advertising – creating as you go a new sales language that digs deeper into the heart of what your customers want to know. Social media will make you a better marketer, clearer on every subject important to your marketplace.

Over a short period of time your customers will teach you exactly what they need to know before committing to your goods and services. As you post answers to online queries, expect to be questioned even further, and to receive immediate feedback about what is relevant in your communications. It’s a confronting process, requiring honesty while forcing you to grow!

But hang in there and use this feedback to shape not just your reactions and opinions, but also those of your staff and coworkers. Make a point to link your social media experience to the evolving culture of your organization. Talk to your workmates about what you’re learning, get their input, and then share how your collective efforts are received out in the marketplace.

You can expect your whole organization to shift – becoming increasingly more attuned and responsive to customers and market competition!  And this is a very healthy thing. The other by-product of social media participation is a growing library of well-crafted messaging that can be shared directly with your existing clients, helping your salespeople sell and build relationships.

6. Is there a way to accelerate your progress and to gain exposure faster?

Having immersed yourself in building your brand across social channels – wouldn’t it be great to reach a lot more people with your message? There’s plenty you can do to accomplish this, some of it involving more work at your own desk, as well as online promotion you can simply buy to increase your traffic. Let’s start by looking at paid services to enhance your online performance.

Begin by thinking of your social media content as a ‘product’ that you’re selling to your market. It is, after all, pretty important stuff, designed to build new relationships and sales. So invest in advertising its availability – using tools like pay-per-click keyword advertising, display ads, and remarketing strategies. Even a modest spend can generate substantial gains in web traffic.  

There’s no shortage of vendors you can use to help launch an integrated online ad campaign, some you might already be using to promote your products and services. And it’s surprisingly affordable to leverage these same tools to drive traffic to your blog, YouTube posts, and other content. The goal is to covert this interest into more followers and a better email list.

A service like ReachLocal is ideal. Working with modest budgets, this one supplier can build a promotion that combines key-word advertising, online display ads delivered to high traffic sites, as well as remarketing to responsive prospects. ReachLocal also uses geotargeting by IP address to focus your spend into tightly defined markets, and the service provides excellent reporting.

infographic social media targeting Another great vendor is AdRoll, which offers comparable services. They place click-through display ads and offer remarketing campaigns across
60 leading ad networks, including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter. And while they don’t support key-word advertising, they do offer great segmentation services across all platforms, including mobile.

The winning combination is to use paid promotion with best practices of your own. You’ve undoubtedly heard about cross-links, where key thought-leaders in your market link to your social media content, thereby endorsing your point of view while introducing you to their established audiences. The way to initiate these relationships is to acknowledge their work first.  

Make notes as you research topics you’re covering in your own online content, recording URLs and assembling a bibliography of links to articles you found useful. Then list these links with your original content. Eventually these sources will cross-link to your posts. Meanwhile you’ve demonstrated your work is well researched, and is drawn from the best thinking on the subject. 

Twitter is another great tool for building traffic to your posts. Tweet whenever you release new material so that people looking for news on your subjects find your posts. Also tweet when you find something interesting posted by others. Doing so raises your visibility while demonstrating you’re an aware industry participant. Most importantly, employ tactics to build your email lists. 

Don’t underestimate the value of emailing your followers whenever you publish a new post. If you can draw them out and get them to read your content you’ve taken a key step in selling to a new group of buyers. Be sure to establish proper expectations and show respect when using email, even to people who have given you permission to do so. Spamming is bad for business!

Permission-based marketing is all about value and respect. It is only possible to start once you’ve acquired an email list, and building your list should be central to your social media effort. Embed offers of feature tools, reports, and survey results as downloads to harvest emails. Run contests and offer regular newsletters and updates. And as your email list grows, stay in touch!

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