Thomas Hoehn, director of brand communications and new media at Eastman Kodak Co., discussed the importance of social media in brand conversations. “The worst thing anyone can say about your company is nothing,” he said. “If they are saying nothing about you, you are not even in the game. If people say you stink, at least you are in the conversation and you can turn it around,” he said.
Hoehn presented a case study of how Kodak is using social media to promote its pocket video cameras. He called the company's approach “ripcurl,” saying it's based on proactive and reactive communications in social media.
“You can't control the energy of social media,” Hoehn said, likening it to a wave, with proactive communications at the top and reactive communications at the bottom.
“You do not have control over your brand and what people say about it. The sooner you get over that, the sooner you can use the energy of social media to your advantage.”
Also during the conference, panels of experts provided hands-on advice for how to use social media, search and content marketing more effectively.
“All the other stuff you're doing doesn't work without a content strategy,” said Joe Pulizzi, chief content officer at custom content company Junta42, who moderated a session on content marketing.
Mike Stelzner, executive editor of online publication Social Media Examiner, said that in developing a content strategy, marketers need to start with a needs assessment in order to better target content to users.
“Who are you going after, what is their title, what is their vertical industry and what are their attitudes and dispositions?”
Simon Kelly, chief operating officer of Story Worldwide, a content marketing agency, said, “The starting point is insight gathering. Your brand only exists in the hearts and minds of the stories your customers tell.”
Once marketers have built profiles of their customers and prospects, they can target content to address specific needs and engage in conversations about the brands, the panelists said.
“You have to continually survey your customers and prospects, really listen and integrate their feedback into your ongoing content plan,” said Lawrence Coburn, CEO of RateItAll.com, a consumer review Web site.
Coburn said marketers and publishers can use simple tools to add user-generated feedback on their sites. “You don't have to become a Facebook overnight,” he said. “There are easy ways to get started. For example, you can put a "like' button on articles and content.”
During a session on search marketing, experts provided advice on how to effectively use search to build brands.
“Search is changing the conversation about brands,” said Jorie Waterman, senior VP-director of search at MRM Worldwide. “We are looking at the language people use. When someone types something into Google, we can see patterns and trends over time. It's a very powerful case for marketers to change not only their marcom efforts but their business plans as a whole.”
Michael Mothner, CEO of search marketing firm WPromote, discussed ways marketers can build links to their site.
“We recommend that when they engage in relationships with vendors or other clients, they throw link-sharing right into the contract,” he said. “No one ever red-lines that. It's very valuable, and it has no cost.” M