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Five nuggets to make sense of the crazy world of social media

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I presented at BtoB's NetMarketing Breakfast (#BtoBNet) in San Francisco last week and wanted to share my slides in this blog, along with some food for thought based on my presentation:
  1. Not all social media participants will converse, comment or create. Forrester's social technographics ladder outlines six active social participation categories that also include people that are spectators (e.g., read your blogs), joiners (e.g., maintain a LinkedIn profile) or collectors (e.g., bookmark your content). Don't lose sight of these groups when planning your social engagement.
  2. Lead with listening. I have spoken and written about this many times before, and the new nugget here is that visualizing conversations about your brand and related topics can help you quickly uncover issues or opportunities you can act upon. If you don't have a big budget for a robust listening center, start small. It can be as simple as using one screen and a free program to show conversations. Just make sure the right people are aware of your efforts and use this as a pilot to show business value. Business value will come from the results of you acting on the data you find.
  3. Plan the customer journey ahead of time. You have heard me say and write many times before that social media works best when it's part of a bigger effort. Integration between social, digital and other online and offline outlets is key. For example, think of your website as only one touch point in the customer journey. Ask yourself "How can I encourage customers to explore the rest of the story?" Maybe you add live social feeds or live chat functionality to your B2B site where customers can experience dynamic content and conversations about your products in addition to your static white papers. Or, consider bringing your web experience into a mobile environment through mobile-friendly web content and mobile apps so your customers can stay connected on the go. The possibilities are endless.
  4. Engaging content in social-friendly format triggers conversations. Break down complex ideas into easily digestible outputs. Use simple language, images, infographics, videos and other props to help you get your message across. If the concept is too difficult or too long to explain in one deliverable, chop it up into smaller pieces and make it a series. It will give people a reason to stay engaged and come back for more.
  5. Embrace the power of your employees. Encourage social media participation by your employees rather than limit it. Your employees can be your greatest brand ambassadors and your eyes and ears on the social web. These employees can come from any parts of your organization: engineering, sales, HR, marketing, product management, etc. In his book, "Smart Business, Social Business," Michael Brito wrote: "People 'put a surprising amount of trust and credibility in employees of companies'. "41% of people believe conversations with company employees to be the most credible specialist sources of information." Teach them the ins and outs of engaging online, offer guardrails and guidance, and arm them with content and activities they can choose from.

Hope these tips will help you live "la vida loca" a little less….well, crazily.

Check out my presentation.

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