The Perfect Couple: Content Marketing and Direct Marketing

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By Sue Brady

Thanks EELECTRIK marketing‏. @eelectriklady for this oldie!

Thanks EELECTRIK marketing‏. @eelectriklady for this oldie!

Direct Marketing and Content Marketing are often seen as two very different aspects of marketing. But in fact, as Wayne Hendry @ideakid88 so aptly tweeted: They are two sides of the same coin.

Earlier this week I was honored to be the ‘guest tweeter’ at Content Marketing Institute’s content marketing Twitter chat (#CMWorld is the hashtag and there is a weekly chat on Tuesdays at noon Eastern). The topic was how Content and Direct can (and should!) work together.

I have pulled together some of the conversation here. Great insight and learnings from the crowd and hopefully you’ll pick up some ideas to help with your own marketing. This was a lively group of intelligent marketers!

The first question helped define what direct marketing actually is, along with why content marketers should care:

Direct Marketing (aka direct response marketing, aka DM) refers to marketing efforts aimed directly at a consumer to drive a specific action. It’s all about finding out what resonates with your audience so that they’ll respond.

Mike Myers ‏@mikemyers614 Direct marketing and content marketing are perfect compliments…getting a targeted #audience to do something specific in both.

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Next question was about using DM to inform your content.

Question 2

Angela J. Ford ‏@aford21 uses customer response to direct marketing and turns questions she hears into to blog posts with step by step solutions.

And Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital:

Direct marketing and direct engagement give you SO many content ideas – it’s straight from your clients! What are user questions? Issues? Ideas? How can you take that information and provide REAL value? CONTENT!

The real key here is seeing what your audience responds to in DM and using that to inform your content.

Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson:

A great way to develop content is by seeing what resonates with your audience. What do they respond to? Write that.

Remember that one method of communication with your audience can inform all your communications. Listen to your audience when they talk to you!

Rosaline Raj ‏@creativechaosc:

When you have direct feedback from customers, you have a major advantage in creating valuable content.

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Crowd Content ‏@CrowdContent

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Question 3

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And some quotable tweets:

From Varun Kumar ‏@varunkr842 – Direct #Marketing is the gas station for your #contentmarketing vehicle

And from Liliana GH ‏@Liliholl – DM warms up your leads and content marketing helps them to convert.

And from Blue Fountain Media @BFMweb – With direct marketing you’re saying check this out and with content marketing you’re saying here’s why

Liliana GH @Liliholl reminded us: You want your DM to have the customer asking for more.

Question 4

 

There are many answers but consider what content is read most. Test those themes in a mailer, DRTV or space ad. And if some of your content creates social media buzz, use that in your DM to engage your audience.

Regarding how social and community management can support DM programs, think about how you can use your social posts to reinforce messages from your DM. If DM is touting a product benefit, soc. posts can talk about the same.

Social and community are all about listening and responding to customers:

Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson: I think they go hand-in-hand. Your strategy should be integrated for better reach and exposure.

Lynn Suderman ‏@LynnSuderman also reminded the group that “affiliate & refer friend programs are an easy 1st step.”

Jeremy Bednarski ‏@JeremyBednarski “Your content, DM and social should all work together for a consistent message.”

Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital “It gives you the language for copy that your audience is using to understand the need for your service / product.

SurveyGizmo ‏@SurveyGizmo “If you know what your audience is talking about, you can better respond, and put yourself in the position to be of relevance.”

Importantly too, social and communities can ID hot buttons. If you hear ‘they use cheap materials,’ test a message around quality in your DM.

As always, keeping a tab on your competition is so important and social/community can help you do that, while giving you great ideas for your DM (and content).

The Gary J. Nix ® ‏@Mr_McFly When listening, you’re not only listening for brand mentions. You have competitors, industry thoughts/changes, sentiment, etc

Vanessa LeBeau ‏@VanessaLeBeau2 Social media is a great way to learn what your competitors are offering and how their consumers are responding

I’ve only just skimmed the surface! You can read the full transcript of this Twitter chat here.

The Death of Facebook has been Greatly Exaggerated (and other social media insights)

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By Sue Brady

social media montageSocial media has seen a lot of change this year, and the coming year will be no different. Social media is only going to become more important in our personal and professional lives.  A huge 73% of Americans have a social network profile!

Messaging. Messaging apps have taken off, enjoying huge popularity, especially with the younger adult crowd. WhatsApp (bought by Facebook for $16 billion) leads the pack with 900 million monthly active users. Facebook Messenger is second with 700 million. It’s an astounding number of people now communicating in a way that would have been completely foreign just 2 or 3 years ago. Back in the day at AOL, we used AOL Instant Messenger (aka AIM) to communicate with our coworkers and friends. It was easy to keep your buddy list open on your computer to see if the person you wanted to chat with was around. But now, with the proliferation of cell phones, and apps to make them even more useful, you can ‘chat’ with your friends/coworkers using your phone. Being near a computer isn’t important.

Popular Social Media Sites. What hasn’t changed much is the popular social media networks are still popular. The most used social media network is still Facebook with 1.55 billion monthly active users. In the US, Facebook is well ahead of the pack in terms of market share based on visits, at 45%. The next market share giant is Youtube, with half that market share at 22%.

Ebizmba just published its <slightly different> list of  traffic rankings and found that:

Facebook tops the list at 900 million unique monthly users

Twitter has 310 million

LinkedIn has 255 million (though 400 million registered users)

Pinterest has 250 million

The remaining platforms fall well below these sites, but still have millions and millions of users:

Google+

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Instagram

Marketing Spend. In terms of marketing budget allocations, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn rank the highest for investment. Facebook introduced the ‘buy’ button this year, adding to its usefulness as a platform for marketers. Advertisers are learning how to use Facebook and other social media platforms to sell product. It’s not a fad people! If you haven’t tested Facebook in the last year, you really should give it a try. Facebook made almost $4 billion in ad revenue in 2nd quarter, 2015, most of it from mobile. It’s working.

Checking In. What is dead however is the concept of ‘checking in.’ The idea of using your phone to let people know where you are at the moment you are there, didn’t really catch on. In fact, only 3% of Americans say they have ever ‘checked in.’

Videos. But what IS happening with increasing frequency is people are posting and watching videos. Youtube isn’t the only place, though there are over 1 billion users there watching 4 billion videos a day (with a billion of those views coming from mobile devices). 81% of US Millenials use YouTube, followed by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers after that (source: expandedramblings.com). Vine launched in January 2013 and has 200 million monthly active users. 12 million Vine videos are uploaded to Twitter every day. In one article I found written by Molly Buccini, she sited that Videos trump photos for engagement by 62%! She also states that ‘video shares’ have gone up by 43% since the start of the year. If you aren’t already using videos in your social marketing, now is the time!

Social media spend by brands has seen dramatic growth. According to Statista, spend will go from $7.5 billion in 2014 to over $17 billion by 2019. Make sure you’ve allocated enough of your marketing budget for 2016 to Social Media to take advantages of the opportunities!

Twitter Chats – What, Why, How and Who

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By Sue Brady

First a definition. A Twitter Chat is an online gathering of a variety of folks who are interested in discussing a particular topic. The successful Chats are regularly held so that someone interested in your topic knows that every Tuesday at noon for instance, they should tune in. The conversation is tied together through the use of a unique hashtag that makes the chat trackable (by participants).

In a Twitter Chat, the conversation is ongoing, meaning that a question is posed and multiple people will send through tweets that answer that question. You’ll see side conversations as well. My favorite Twitter Chat is #cmworld. If you do a search for that on Twitter, you’ll be able to see some of the chats.

Twittering

 

Twitter chats are useful on a number of levels:

They are a great way to learn about a particular topic.

They can position you as a thought leader.

They are a great way to identify potential prospects for your company.

If you are in need of a product related to the chat, it’s a way to connect with others who might be able to help you with recommendations.

Setup Steps

  1. Decide on your topic.
  2. Create a hashtag to identify your chat. Short and easy is best. This hashtag is used by the chat participants so that their answers/questions are viewable by those participating, so you want the hashtag to be easy to type and also unique to you.
  3. Figure out when to host it, keeping all time zones in mind. And also check that there isn’t a similar chat happening at the same time. You’ll want to do some research to try to find other chats that already occur on similar topics so that you can avoid those times.
  4. Post the chat on a Twitter Chat schedule. This one is a good source: http://tweetreports.com/twitter-chat-schedule/
  5. Write 8 – 10 pre-determined questions and post them in advance.
  6. Ask someone to be a subject matter expert (this can be you, someone else in your company, or someone else entirely). They should have the questions in advance and have pre-written answers.
  7. Make sure you know how to find your audience to invite them to the chat.
  • Search for related hashtags, find folks using them and send them a Twitter message about your chat.
  • Reach out to others in your field to see if they can help you spread the word.

6. Take a look at the various tools you can use to keep track of your chat when it’s in progress. You can use Twitter, but it can be hard to follow the conversation only there. I like Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck allows you to see all posts on your hashtag, alongside notifications that you might want to respond to. Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter and you use your Twitter account to sign in. You might also think about having someone help you to monitor a few different screens, because chats can be fast and furious.

 What to remember when starting your chat:

At the start of the chat, remind participants of the general format:

Question mark

  1. State the number of questions.
  2. Remind participants that when answering a question, they should precede their answer with A1, A2 etc. (meaning Answer for question 1, 2 etc.).
  3. Remind participants to always use the identified hashtag in their tweets.
  4. Introduce your host and mention their credentials.
  5. Ask participants to introduce themselves.
  6. It’s nice to acknowledge some of your participants with either a ‘thank you for joining our chat today’ or ‘hope you aren’t getting too much snow today.’ You get the idea.
  7. Post the first question. Make sure you give a few seconds for participants to start responding before the host posts their response.
  8. Have the host respond to questions that pop-up. The community will chime in, but your host should be able to chime it too.
  9. When you see answers to the first question start to slow, or to get a derailed chat back on track, post the next question.
  10. At the end of the chat, thank everyone for attending.

After it’s over, post a transcript from the chat on your website or blog (it’s great for SEO too!). Before your next chat, send reminders via Twitter to those that participated. Happy chatting!

7 Steps for Using Social Media in Times of Crisis

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By Sue Brady

Ambulance

There will be a time in the life of your company where you may need to manage a ‘situation.’ Thank heavens for social media. Social media has transformed the way companies can talk to their customers quickly and broadly.

One of the many advantages of using social media to manage a crisis, change of event, weather situation alert and the like, is that you can reach a large number of people quickly. Amber Alerts are a great example. You can sign up to follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and even have alerts buzz your cell phone. It’s a powerful way to use social media to have many eyeballs looking for a lost or abducted child fast.

If your company plans to (or might have to) use social media to relay timely information, have a plan. Waiting until you’re in need is NOT the time to create a plan.

Step 1: The first step of course is to know where on social media your audience actually is. This might require some research on your part that goes beyond looking at where you have the most followers (thought that’s critically important as well). Let’s say your customers tend to be active on Twitter. Look up some of your faithful followers that also Tweet, and take a look at the links they tweet out. You may find patterns that will give you some ideas of other websites/social media platforms where you’ll want to have a presence. Marketing tip: you can do this to find new places to advertise and attract new customers!

Step 2: Identify who in your company is going to post. This may be a team of people or just one person. If approvals are required prior to posting, make sure the chain of approvals is clearly spelled out, including who can approve posts if someone is not available.

Step 3: Know who your influencers are, so that they might be able to help you get the word out too. Influencers are consumers who follow you and have a large following themselves. Influencers can be a very effective way to spread your message even further.

Step 4: Craft your messages to be accurate and consistent. When creating messages to serve as notifications, make sure the facts are correct, the phone number you are showing is working, the URL you are providing works.

Step 5: Include a hashtag to make it easy to follow the topic. This also can give you control over where the conversation happens and is critical especially on Twitter.

Step 6: Monitor what’s being said about your situation on social media so that you can respond or change your approach as needed. If a statement you’ve made is being misinterpreted, you’ll want to correct that in a hurry.

Step 7: After the crisis is over, make sure to pull the team together to discuss how well your plan worked and whether or not you should make changes.

Last summer, I was on a train with the hubs headed downtown for an outdoor Lucinda Williams concert. The train was definitely not as crowded as we expected it to be (it was Taste of Chicago weekend, an event that attracts over 1 million people), but it wasn’t until we overheard a passenger tell someone else that The Taste had been flooded out and cancelled for the day, that we realized why. We wanted confirmation so of course pulled out the iPhone, and looked up #tasteofchicago on Twitter where the closing was in fact posted. If we had thought to look, Chicago had done a fine job of letting Chicagoans know of this unusual event cancellation.

Postscript: We thought it would be just like Lucinda to do an impromptu concert in her hotel bar and certainly didn’t want to miss that. We searched twitter to see if we could figure oGuitarut where she was staying. Alas, we could not. We hung out for a while downtown and then headed home. Epic social media fail on our part. The next day we found out that Lucinda in fact DID play an impromptu concert that night. She played at a local bar, and she told fans about it via social media. But we had stopped checking by then and hadn’t heard the news. We missed out on an opportunity for a concert by one of our faves, in a small venue, and at no charge!

#epicsocialmediafail

 

Get Your Twitter On: The Changing World of Customer Service

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It’s no secret that social media is playing a bigger role than ever when it comes to customer service. Customers expect responses fast when they tweet to a brand. A study by Lithium (social software provider), found that 72% of consumers who tweet a complaint expect a response within one hour! Twitter understands the role it plays in enabling Customer Service and  recently removed the 140 character limit for direct messages. Now brands can direct message responses to customers without worrying about how many words they are using.

I recently attended a Content Marketing World (aka @CMIContent) Twitter chat. They cover great marketing topics that I find relevant. If you’re curious about something, it’s a great way to gain insights (and no one needs to know you’re there!).

Last week’s chat was about social media and customer service, with @jaybaer. I thought I’d recap some of the content that was shared because it was so good.

The first question to get us rolling was: How has social media changed the game for customer service? Here are some of the responses:

@mikemyers614: (social media) means the lights are always on and the “phone” must always be answered. We’re all 24/7 now.

@dmboutin: brands are accessible where people are already spending their time, instead of a 800 # in the fine print

@sgoldberger12: Social Media Has Amplified It. Those Who Engage Expect Quick Answers. Customer Service Is Ever More Important.

@ardath421 (social media) means that customer service needs to be served up wherever the customer wants it

@LeadPath (social media) allows us to respond at real time to customer concerns and feedback. It lets us engage with our customers

On the topic of how B2B is different from B2C in social media:

@LeadPath: With both B2B and B2C you need to remember you’re talking to customers.

@mewzikgirl: the advancement and immediacy of response/resolution in B2C has changed expectations, and B2B has to grow and adapt

The key thing to remember is that you are still talking to people, in both B2B and B2C.

On whether you should answer all questions posed to your company in social media:

‏‏@dmboutin: Yes. Look at cost of customer acquisition & retention then tell me addressing all concerns isn’t worth it

@Magnani_Dot_Com: The user doesn’t see all the messages being answered, they simply see theirs going unanswered.

‏@LUCYrk78: It’s 100% realistic. You make the time and team to ensure customers are listened to. It’s today’s expectation.

@netvantage: Realistic, no, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

‏@CTrappe “Thanks for your tweet” is not that great of a #custserv response.

‏@flinds: An effort should be made to address all complaints on (social media), even if just to tell them to email. Being noticed goes a long way.

 There were many suggestions on dealing with negative comments online.

@mikemyers614: Removing or editing is a dangerous thing. Chances are if one person says it, 10 more are experiencing it. Deal with it. Fast.

@Jaybaer : Respond to every hater, both the Offstage Haters (phone, email) and the Onstage Haters (social, review sites, forums).

Jay has a book about to be published on this very topic that I can’t wait to read. It’s called “Hug your Haters: How to Embrace your Complaints and Keep Your Customers.”

He adds: But my best tip is the rule of Two. Never respond more than twice online. Take it offline.

I wrote a post a while back on dealing with trolls. That might help too. You can read it here.

And on handling positive comments, the common answer thread was to turn those commenters into brand advocates by acknowledging them, retweeting them, doing something nice for them, asking them if you can use them as a recommendation. What others say about your business is so important. 90% of customers are influenced by reviews!

My daughter works for a minor league baseball team and sometimes is assigned to tweet during the games. She seriously texted me this just this afternoon, and I swear I did nothing to prompt it!

I’m so proud.