Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

With all the hub bub these days surrounding social media/social media marketing. Is it a good idea to test your new hires knowledge of your social ecosystem and social media in general?

I would say yes, it is a great idea to test your new team members knowledge. When you bring on a new employee it is imperative that you do a formative assessment to fully understand where they are at in their social evolution. You must know where they are starting to fully understand what areas you need to help them grow. This growth should also reflect positively on the company and its social initiatives as they are expanding your presence online.

In regard to the test, I would not get to hung up on creating a formal test. You are not looking to scare people off by telling them to bring a number 2 pencil and a scantron on their first day. Look at this test as more of an interaction you will have with a new employee. Ideally, I think you create a series of 10 questions that you can interject during the course of a conversation/meeting.

Possible Questions:

In what ways do you see social media impacting our communication/business goals and objectives? What areas do you think we can improve?
What value would creating a Facebook page bring to our organization?
What tools do you see as up and coming that we could use to further our social presence?
Based on your knowledge of our company, rate what social channels would be most useful (Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Blog, LinkedIn Group, etc…)
What are the top blogs in our industry?

These are just a couple examples, however keep in mind that you will have to customize to your organization. When putting something like this together make sure to have a very open view of the potential benefits. By creating an open dialogue, you will not only learn more about your newest team member, but you also may get a little knowledge yourself.

This is also a fantastic opportunity to review your social media policy in depth with your new team member. At the end of the day it is your brand, your company, your reputation on the line (to a degree) so go ahead and make sure you are all on the same page. Obviously, we are all familiar with some of the recent “Twitter Meltdowns”, but if not check out the latest from a Marc Jacobs intern (Twitter meltdown: Marc Jacobs account goes rogue).

As you can see this is really not a true “test”, but more a conversation you will have with a new hire or even a potential new hire.

I would love to get feedback on what you all think about testing your new hires social media knowledge. Add more questions to this that you feel would be useful and I will update the post with the new info.

Cheers,

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Hey Folks,

This weeks blog post is located on the Marketwire Blog!!

Below is the beginning of my guest post on the Marketwire Blog, but go check it out for this post and tons of great information from Marketwire.

PR News recently hosted the PR Measurement Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and welcomed more than 250 PR, marketing and communication professionals for a day of strategizing, learning, and networking. With speakers such as Katie Paine (@kdpaine) and Tim Marklein (@tmarklein), the attendees were in for a treat and a vast wealth of knowledge on exactly what it means to have “influence.”

This morning PRSA NCC and Marketwire hosted an event focused on Facebook for Government, Business, Associations, and Non-Profits. As always PRSA NCC pulled in some industry leading social media practitioners to talk about how their organizations are leveraging this evolving communications tool.

Speakers:
Read Holman, New Media Strategist, US Department of Health and Human Services – @Readg
Steve Wymer, president, Senate Press Secretaries Association, communications director to Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NEB) — @stevewymer
Amy Ganderson, associate director of digital marketing, The Nature Conservancy – @amyganderson
Laura Hubbard, International CES, Consumer Electronics Association – @laurahubbard
John Wolf, senior director, public relations, Marriott International – @Marriottintl

We all know that Facebook is not just for your Kids anymore and businesses are looking to take advantage of this new opportunity to interact with their customers, clients, prospects, proponents, opponents, etc…

Steve Wymer kicked off the event talking about the use of FB in Government, let’s just say there is not a lot of use by Politicians. A couple good examples he gave for politicians using Facebook were John McCain and Claire McCaskill. Steve brought up a good point that “Social Media wants people to be authentic, but then you get in trouble for being real.” Steve also talked about how to deal with “negative” comments or discussions going down a slippery slope on Facebook and crossed over into Twitter as well. Essentially if a conversation begins to go down the wrong path try to jump in and moderate to get the conversation back on topic. If people are saying negative things on a consistent basis you should also use that material to put out a factual statement/post to help educate your fans. Another solution is to simply launch an all out assault of positive comments to drown out the negative. Now this is obviously not something that every organization should be doing, but in the Government space you can probably do it more frequently.

John Wolf followed Steve and gave one of the better lines I have heard in regard to not being in Social Media. He said “You are conspicuous by your absence in Social Media”. John also mentioned something I constantly bring up to clients/prospects in meetings about Social Media, he said “Social Media is a wonderful tool if it allows us to achieve our objectives”. While Social Media or Facebook to be more specific is a fantastic communications tool, it will be worthless if you do not have clear objectives/goals for why you want to be there. John mentioned that for every 10 messages/posts they get 9 of them are positive, now that is impressive and shows that Marriott knows what they are doing. The point was also made that your Social Media and Traditional Media should be integrated to form a cohesive communications plan. Overall I was very impressed with just about everything John said and it is very evident that he knows his stuff, which is why Marriott has had such Social Media success.

Amy Ganderson from The Nature Conservancy brought up some great points about how a large association can assist local offices who are looking to create Facebook Pages.

– Create approaches noting guidelines and best practices
– Start communication with Enthusiast, connect monthly to open dialogue
– Sync efforts, push top promotions/campaigns across all pages, not just the local page.
– Highlight successes of local offices

She also mentioned that you need to create custom landing pages on your Facebook page, don’t simply rely on the “Wall”. Your Facebook page should be treated just like your website in regard to separate landing pages. A huge tip she gave is that Facebook is Visual and that photo content always ranks high. Continuing this conversation the panel also mentioned that photos should be included in all blog posts (uh o, I better find a photo), pages, etc… The reason is that when you link that page to your Facebook page the photo will come through and people are more apt to click on a link with a photo and a clear explanation of what the link is. Also, if you are linking to external sites you need to be very clear about that or you will create a hesitation to clicking on your links. After all, I do not want to be directed to some random page after clicking on a link I thought would take me to your homepage, you would lose me instantly.

Read Holman had a lot of great points, but I think the major take away was that “having a presence on Facebook may be more important than having a page”. It makes perfect sense depending on what you are looking to accomplish after all, we all know conversations are happening regardless of the medium used. The page is not the final result Read said, sharing your information is more important. Making your site shareable and every post, page, etc… must have the ability to share and again, don’t forget to include your photo.

Laura Hubbard brought up some good food for thought as the conversation turned to pushing out content. Using Facebook insights you can tell who has hidden your posts. The last thing you want to do is push out so much content that your “Fans” start to turn you off. You have to walk the line and make sure you are getting out relevant content, not just pushing to push. CEA also allows others to tag so exhibitors can push out their info.

Overall I think the main point of today was that there is no one size fits all approach to Social Media, Facebook, etc… What works in Government may not work for Businesses, but lessons can be learned from each and put into a plan of attack. Remember when you are in Social Media there is no such thing as Failing, only Trial and Error!!!

If you would like to see more information check out the PRSA NCC site for the full presentation and podcast. You can also go to Twitter and search the hashtag #PRSA_NCC for tweets from today’s event (some examples below).

Podcast now available on the PRSA NCC site — http://www.prsa-ncc.org/blogcategory/new_media_downloads/

Thank you again to PRSA NCC and all the panelist for today’s event, it was fantastic!!!

Creating value for your clients is easily the most important factor for any vendor (DUH!), but how do you create value and separate yourself from the pack? I am going to tell you some of things that I feel are important for all sales people/vendors to remember in your day to day activities. Remember, value is something that you have to bring all the time; you can not just wow them once then get comfortable.

Take a look at the Communications Industry where there are several Press Release Distribution Services (Marketwire, PRN, BW, PRWeb, GN, etc…), Social Media Monitoring Tools (Sysomos, Radian6, Hootsuite, Brandwatch, etc..), Media Databases (Mediahub, Cision, Vocus, etc…) to help clients with their day to day activities. These tools range from free to several thousand dollars a year so how do you differentiate yourself enough to show the value that you, your company, your team, your product, etc…bring to the table? Disclaimer: I work for Marketwire/Sysomos, one of the industries leading news wire services, monitoring, and media database tools. With so much competition in the this space, how do I show the value that myself and my company bring to the table?

Below are the top 5 things that I believe you can do to show your value:

1) Customer Service — This does not mean smile pretty and act nice when something happens good or bad. This means you need to come down with what I call a Customer Service Disorder or CSD. When an issue happens, take it personally and know that it is your name and face that your client is putting the blame on regardless of if it was your “fault” or not. This is where I personally take things away from my company and put it on my shoulders, because at the end of the day, it is not my company that is interacting, it is me.

2) Sense of Urgency — Sense of Urgency seems like such a simple aspect of providing value, but it seems that so many sales people/vendors forget what it actually means. When you get a request an email or phone call, respond immediately. I hear about it so often that is dumbfounding to me how a client see’s any value in working with someone who does not respond to their inquires in a timely fashion. Maybe it is the fact that I believe in the Golden Rule, you know; treat people the way you want to be treated or maybe it is just that I hate things sitting on a to do list or my proverbial plate. It is pretty simple, when someone calls you, emails you, texts you, FB’s you, DM’s you, whatever, respond to them in a reasonable manor of time (personally that is immediately!!).

3) Your Bells & Whistles Mean Nothing — This one is super duper important and goes back to looking at your selling technique. By that I mean, are you a Feature or Benefit seller? When I say “Your Bells & Whistles Mean Nothing” I mean it. If you have not determined why those Bells & Whistles are important to your client, then they are not a Benefit and you have showed no value. Work on your Investigating Skills (they are on the list) and find out what your client needs first, dig in because what you think is a Benefit may be nothing but smoke on the water to your client.

4) Investigating Skills — Now hopefully you know that you can never stop investigating a client or prospect. Why you ask? Because the job is not over after determining that you are a good fit today. You must never stop Investigating your clients to find out what they are working on, where they are going, etc… so that you can continue to bring value beyond your initial dealings with the client/prospect. Investigating today is so easy so do not make this the reason you lost business. Take a look at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Company Site, etc… to find out what is happening and what they are saying. Depending on the tools you have, use a tool like Sysomos MAP to do some preliminary and ongoing research to stay in-front of issues surrounding your clients/prospects so that you can bring the issue to table showing them true value! Here is the extra mile on that last comment; figure out a possible solution to the problem and you are really starting to show why you are valuable to that client/prospect.

5) Customer Service — I brought it back to Customer Service simply because I think one of the biggest reasons a client/prospect will stay with you and see value is because of YOU! Again, there are so many companies out there competing in the same space with very similar products that a lot of the time it can be YOU that pushes the final decision. After all, if my product is as good as anything else out there if not better, but you see that I offer you more feedback, advice, trends, topics, etc… then you will probably stick with me as long as I continue to provide excellent Customer Service.

There are more ways to show value, but these are the things that I think you can really control and will differentiate you from the pack.

Please let me know what things you all feel show Value to your clients and ways you can create Value for your clients.

I spent the morning at the Bethesda North Marriott in Bethesda, MD listening to Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and developer of my.barackobama.com. The event was hosted by the Tech Council of Maryland as part of their TECHknowledge Speaker Series.

Chris who is a self-confessed nerd talked about the “New Information Revolution”. He talked about how information is simply the record of an idea. The revolution part comes into play when we look at how we receive that information and from whom. In the past we always received our information from the newspapers, news, etc… which comes out to be an extremely small group of people feeding the masses the information of the day. We are now in the middle of the revolution where anyone and everyone is part of the information sharing rather than a select few. Everyone today is an information creator by posting your status on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SMS, etc… Obviously with the creation of so many social networks at our finger tips and more to come we are just scratching the surface of information sharing. There are several different mediums to share your information and you can select which outlet best meets your needs. Chris mentioned that Facebook is a network where you are yourself & connect with “real” preexisting and new friends. Facebook just so happens to also be at the center of the information revolution in regard to being able to openly share and distribute your “news”.

You may wonder; How is this transformation affecting our society?

Transparency – with the absence of barriers and being able to reach out directly it makes it easier for us to get the accurate information.
Create & Choose – Technology extends our capability to Create & Choose what information we get. This equips us all to make better and more responsible decisions about what we are seeing and hearing.

One thing to keep in mind during the information revolution is that none of the new technology has introduced new social behavior. It has however made it easier to act on situations that you may not have known about previously. Think about it for a second; if your family member or friend posted something on their page that they needed help you would respond. This simply makes it more personal rather than reading about flooding in an area where your friends or family live as the message is directly sent to you.

I thought the three principles that Facebook were founded on were very interesting as well.

1. Trust & Privacy – Essentially you need to know who you are getting information from and trust them as a source. You also need to have the ability to be private (ie. you have those pics you don’t want you parents, co-workers, etc… to see).
2. Focus on Utility – Utility is the test if something will last. It is not about just being, but being useful!
3. Believe in the power of the crowd – Facebook did not do any advertising, PR, etc… when they first launched they simply left it up to the members to spread the word and what a word they spread!! The best example of this is that Facebook is translated into over 70 different languages. Interesting part about that is that it was the users who set up the translations, not an outside source. This stat amazed me when he was talking about this point; 70% of Facebook users are outside the US. I would have never thought that in a million years.

Chris then jumped into talking about his experience with President Obama’s campaign and how they utilized Social Networking. To be very basic it was about using Social Networking to help power the traditional tools such as fundraising, phone calls, etc… He broke it down into three sections.

1. Share – Give people a voice, harness stories of people to tell other people why they got involved rather than focusing on pushing President Obama’s image and video’s everywhere.
2. Connect & Empower – Used Social Networking sites such as my.barackobama.com, Facebook, myspace, etc… to connect with people and set up face to face interactions. After meeting with other supporters the push to was to then share that experience online about your offline encounter. This made action extremely simple as the efforts raised over 500 million online and all because it was so easy!!!
3. Act – use the networks to act and further empower your followers, clients, customers, etc…

I think the final point that Chris made was the best of the day, in my opinion. He said there is no need to re-invent the wheel, simply iterate. You need to get out there and try and adjust your efforts. Figure out what is working and improve on it and figure out what is not and move on to the next option.

TCM Chris Hughes Event, Marketwire, Tech Council of Maryland, Colby Cox, Chris Hughes

co-founder of Facebook Chris Hughes and myself at the TCM VIP breakfast!

Hello,

Glad you could join me to get some of my thoughts and experiences on what is happening in the world today. This blog will have a strong focus on Social Media, SM Monitoring, SEO, Press Releases, generally the Communications Industry, and a little mix of my personal flair.  I work for Marketwire and this blog will in no way represent any views or opinions that Marketwire has, just my own strange thoughts on this wonderful world of ours.

I hope you find some quality information here moving forward and please feel free to help me along the way with ideas.

Cheers,

Colby