We have these conversations among peers. Depending on where social media is layered inside an organization, what gets measured and valued changes. That's because there is a different way of looking at it depending on what social media is employed to achieve.
It's important to know if it is clicks, impressions, relationships or conversations that matter most, as Michael Brito writes. It is even more important to know what the business is trying to accomplish before we determine which tactics to use when and which of those metrics gets measured and has validity accordingly.
Michael has the advantage of having worked on the client side and knowing about the internal challenges we face. His points (in bold) on what one can see from the outside and my commentary:
- Organizations need to be aligned in their communication strategy - every conversation each employee has with anyone about your company is a PR impression.
If the conversation is not elevated from a mere recitation of what we do (services) to one of what problems we solve (solutions) as they map to an outcome (customer results) you miss the opportunity to create a cohesive picture of what your business does.
Most importantly, you fail the "so what?" test. This matters to your brand.
- Companies need to integrate their go-to-market strategies - this is another opportunity for good brand stewardship. What is the final customer experience you want to deliver? Can you translate that into your go-to-market strategies?
Multi-channel marketing works because it integrates many different tools and options to allow prospects to auto-select on the basis of their communication preferences and listening habits.
With the integration or layering of social media, the funnel - awareness building, stimulating consideration, driving preference and purchase intent - reverses.
Brand relationships may be formed with meeting, then intensifying encounters and integrating conversations. From those actions we create bonds and eventually/potentially advocates.
- Internal communication, planning and collaboration is the key - unclear definitions of individual roles and goals can prevent an organization from having a strong, unified presence in the marketplace.
This matters to your brand as much as how customers experience your services and products matters to your reputation.
Building on Michael's points further, Harry Joiner has an excellent digest and set of recommendations and key takeaways for recession marketing. From where I sit, here is what I see:
- Leading brands lead - branding is one of the most misunderstood allies today. My simple 5 x 5 rule is that brand is the fourth word among five very important ones. Let's take a look:
How am I doing on the order? What would you change?
This is how marketing conversations work.
I start with the customer in mind, their story, which matches their worldview, how that and what you deliver brings the value they are willing to pay for, which takes us to brand, the sum total of what you say (story) based on their outcome (needs/wants and value) and experience. This chain of dependencies then delivers trust.
- 10 ideas to make your Web site sticky matter to leveraging SEO and SEM, they also matter to increasing conversion rates. Design and usability matter in marketing conversations - how you write what you write and how that helps answer the "so what?" question can lead to engagement.
Search is very, very important in your strategies. Research for technology buyers shows that 83% use Google. Go ahead and search your business. Do you come up when you google the keywords a prospect would use?
If not, you have an opportunity to take another look at your story - the language you use - to improve your SEO. Are you buying the right keywords for an effective SEM? The more specific (differentiated and matching) the more efficient in cost and results.
When prospects find you, have you paid attention especially to whether you are asking people to sign on to download information? Research shows that you could be losing 75-85% of the people just by putting that barrier in front of them. Find other ways to measure downloads.
Here's a place where you can take advantage of participation in social media.
After the initial search, people will gravitate towards peer to peer communities to get advice and information. Peers first, experts second. Remember that if you are layering social media tools to your company Web site, your SEO improves when your content strategy is holistic and includes the whole site.
We've discussed it here before so I won't get into that now, I believe that in the future editorial impact, marketing conversations and community (peer to peer) relationships will be horizontal instead of vertical or siloed considerations as they are today.
- Content matters as much as experience does - when you create meaning and value, you earn the opportunity to have the conversation with your customers in the first place. Yes, customer service is filled with missed marketing opportunities.
I work in the technology space and what I am observing is that in addition to the further lengthening of the sales cycle, there are many more people involved on the buyer's side.
That means that it's become more demanding to fill the content needs for all of these various buyers. In some cases, they may not know exactly what they are each after (their organization is also siloed).
The technologists have very literal questions about delivery of what and how. Business executives want to know how that technology is going to help them grow the business and the effects of it on the day to day. Hint, if it is invisible, you'll need to figure out the value to them or it becomes a commodity. The controller wants to know how much it's going to cost. In operations they want to know about customer support.
Marketing conversations can help here.
That's because despite all of your efforts to be everywhere with your content - trade shows, direct marketing, permission-based newsletters, free white papers, webinars, etc. - your customers buy when they are ready. Which means you have to be there to be top of mind.
It's easier to be there when you have developed a relationship through conversation than when you are catching up with the marketplace and stretching budgets to be everywhere your prospects might be.
Back to your question of what you are trying to achieve. In the coming days and weeks we will discuss desired outcomes, how to go about layering social media tools onto multi-channel marketing strategies and ideas on measurement.
[image courtesy of Brian Solis]