JKinslow's blog

Answers to 5 most asked social media questions

Posted on: November 30, 2009

Whether I’m consulting with business clients or conducting social media workshops, the same questions come up repeatedly. They are great questions and need to be understood before engaging in social media. I’ve attempted to answer 5 most asked questions, but in reality, I’ve only scratched the surface.

Does my company need social media marketing?
This question is a favorite of mine and one I’d like you to consider after reviewing the video below. Social media is not about what someone had for breakfast. For those of you harder to convince, be sure to watch through to the end.

Okay, I’m convinced. Now where do I begin?
Many start with tactics. They add their business profile on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter and then ask themselves – now what?  Or, worse still, they use the social networks to advertise their products without a full understanding of why they are there. What must be in place before implementing tools is a social media strategy. Here are 5 things to consider when building your strategy:

  1. Research and listen – where do your existing and potential customers spend their time? (use industry keywords in Google Blog Search, Twitter Search or SiteVolume) What is being said about your company? (look at Google Alerts, SocialMention or Socialcast).
  2. Identify goals – what is it you want to achieve with social media? To increase brand awareness, leads, conversion rates, etc?  With an eye toward adding value, understand what your target audience cares about and wants to read, and publish and distribute content they need.
  3. Begin a conversation – interaction is key to building trust, credibility and action among your prospective customers. (Conversation does not mean advertising to your audience as discussed in my previous post Using social media: how will you be human?) It does mean engaging with them. And, it means providing them with information they want, asking what they think and as a result, watching the volume of your fans and followers increase.
  4. Define targets – interacting with your online community, becoming one of them, and writing compelling content, will help you gain momentum with prospects by allowing them to see how your business can help them. Conversion is an organic result of establishing trust online and people buy products from those they trust. Be sure to measure your progress using tools such as Google Analytics. And, as with any good strategy, identify weak areas and redefine your targets where necessary.
  5. Establish parameters — as businesses using social media grows, so does the need to have a policy in place to help employees understand their role. The policy should set expectations of employee participation in both business and personal accounts which align with your company’s goals. Equally important is to have a crisis management policy to allow you to react quickly to a negative situation online about your company or brand.

What should I talk about?
Knowing what to say is probably one of the hardest things for those new to social media. Many businesses feel if they don’t make products, offer discount coupons, or are not a B2C company, they don’t have a real need for social media. But the fact is, no matter what product or service your company offers, social media provides a venue to engage with your existing and potential customers. It puts the control of improvements to products and services in the hands of your customers. Giving up control is tough, but critical for businesses to succeed with social media marketing. In return, businesses gain customer loyalty and trust through thought leadership without the direct sales pitch.

Still not sure what to say? Check out Alltop. It is a digital magazine rack where information is collected from different sources to help readers find sites of interest. It displays information you need on one aggregated page, listing the top 5 stories. To understand how it can be useful to you, read Eight Ways Marketers Can Benefit Using Alltop or How Business Can Benefit From Using Alltop. Alltop gives you industry news to share with your audience and saves you time. Which brings us to the next question …


How much time should I spend on social media marketing?
In his recent post How Much Time Should I Spend On Social Media #1 blogger and social media guru Chris Brogan talks about best practices for social media management. In a nutshell, he recommends spending about 2 hours a day, divided into chunks of time:

  • Spend 1/4 of your time “listening,” finding out what is being said about you, your competitors, your marketplace.
  • Spend 1/2 of your time communicating to your audience. This is your time to connect with potential customers by making comments and replying to questions.
  • 1/4 in creating content. Whether you’re blogging, writing e-newsletters or online articles, updating content is how you get found on search engines. (SEO is driven by updated content.)

Does 2 hours a day seem like too much time to dedicate to social media marketing? Consider the time and money you invest in SEO efforts, cold calling, conference calling, advertising campaigns, e-newsletters and customer visits. Social media reaches beyond territories, offering time-saving tools and an increase to Web site traffic at a fraction of the cost of other marketing methods.

How do I measure ROI?
Maybe you’re already convinced why you should use social media marketing. One question remaining is likely to be: How do I measure my return on investment? How do I sell it to company stakeholders? The ROI question is probably the biggest obstacle when trying to get buy-in from senior executives. Measuring social media ROI and its effect on the bottom line is still a challenge for even the best marketers. In Dirk Shaw’s recent post Moving beyond social media metrics to business outcomes he talks about early social media metrics having a loose tie to business goals, which raised the question whether social media could do anything for business. In a later post How do you report social media success? he examines how social media activity impacts business outcomes, which is key to achieving executive sponsorship. Also, How to Measure Social Media ROI for Business a post from Mashable offers tips on qualitative and quantitative measurement. And, if you still want more, read 6 Must Read Posts about the ROI of Social Media.

Social media strategy and ROI have yet to be clearly defined. As social media continues to grow and change, networks like Facebook and Twitter are looking for ways to monetize their own businesses, and will continue their efforts in making social media marketing more appealing (and profitable) for business leaders who will help keep them afloat.  

These are the 5 most asked questions I get. What other social media questions do you think should be included?

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20 Responses to "Answers to 5 most asked social media questions"

[...] See the original post: Answers to 5 most asked social media questions [...]

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Julia Kinslow, Dr. Harish Kotadia. Dr. Harish Kotadia said: Answers to 5 most asked social media questions « JKinslow's blog http://bit.ly/7yo9CE #sCRM #PR #socmed [...]

Too much SM is really slowing me down…..beside trying to add new FaceBook friends, I’m trying to study how best to use Twitter and not to mention using LinkedIn for finding new clients. My discipline is actually being creative and I notice I am slowly or gradually getting away from that.

Hi Dan:

Yes, participating in social media can definitely be a time suck. I think the best thing to do is begin to make your presence on the main sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Then with Twitter, use http://search.twitter.com/ to locate those in the industry you may want to follow. This may be other cartoonists, editors, or anyone in your industry that may be a potential client or interest to you. “Listen” to the conversation and at some point, you will find your time to jump in and join the conversation. This is when you get noticed and if you put great stuff out there (like your Web site cartoons!), you will see more and more interest.

I find that using TweetDeck is a simple monintoring tool which now allows you to generate columns for all three sites (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). It also shortens your URLs and provides a way to combine groups and Twitter Lists to make it even easier to monitor your interests on social media sites without the time suck. I leave TweetDeck on in the background and go in maybe 3 times per day for 15 minutes each time to tweet and retweet good information to my followers.

Best wishes to you, Julia

These 5 tips are helpful, but doesn’t include any ideas as to how to generate an audience.

You can have your name tither & yon between a blog, LI, Facebook and even Twitter, but if nobody’s is reading your stuff, then you’re basically whistling into the wind.

Hi Peyton:

You raise a good point. I’ve found by doing all the things I’ve mentioned, my clients experience growth organically just by being more visible online. I believe if in the spirit of social media you are putting good content out there, which genuinely adds value for your audience, word begins to spread and followers come from everywhere. This is not advertising, but truly connecting with those who are following you and being human. This mean having an opinion, sometimes being a little controversial and letting others see your authenticity as a person, and not just a business.

Unfortunately, I can’t include everything in one post. But your question makes me think I need to write a follow up on how to grow your audience using social media. Thanks for the idea.

Here are a couple of sites I’ve bookmarked that may give you a few ideas in the meantime.

http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/04/23/using-social-media-to-grow-your-audience
http://mainebusiness.mainetoday.com/blogentry.html?id=15577
http://www.onitmarketing.com/blog/?p=85

Thanks for taking time to comment. All the best to you, Julia

Nice post Julia,
I really loved the video, I may even include it in some of my presentations!

Thanks, Hanna! The video is pretty compelling (& convincing), isn’t it?

Thanks for taking time to comment, Julia

I liked it as well. We’re looking to make some edgy video content and it gave me some great ideas. Was this done in Dreamweaver?

Thanks, Lisa. I think it makes a powerful statement. I did not produce this video, but it appears it was done in Flash.

If you right click the image and hit: “copy embed html” and view in Notepad ++, you can see how it was put together.

Thanks for taking time to comment. Good luck with your video.

[...] This post was Twitted by framesdirect [...]

I have 2 audiences that I want to interact with- home owners for a kitchen/ bathroom remodel and 2nd builders/ architect- trade. How do I separate these two very different audiences?

Hi Jeff:

They are different audiences which means your key messages will be different to each as well. I suggest developing a marketing strategy for each audience. Once you’ve gone through this process, you will see areas of overlap. A well-thought out marketing strategy, including social media, will help you determine the best venues for you to effectively reach each group and the best ways to implement your plan.

I appreciate your great question. If you’d like talk more, find me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Thanks so much, Julia

Hi Julia,

Great presentation, but how about a word on outreach and advocacy? work that is not $-generating or retail, but education and action orienting? how best can I use social media for that?

Cannot compare with the Kormn breast cancer run which was also a fundraiser.

Hi Kaye:

By outreach and advocacy groups, I’m making the assumption you are speaking about nonprofit organizations in particular and how they can use social media to increase education, awareness and support of potential donors. With that said, here are few useful places to start to see how best social media can work for your group.

Thanks for the great question and taking time to comment, Julia

http://beth.typepad.com/
http://socialmedia.wikispaces.com/
http://delicious.com/JPutt1/nonprofits
http://lowriderlibrarian.blogspot.com/2009/11/five-ideas-on-social-media-and-advocacy.html
http://www.frogloop.com/care2blog/2009/11/9/is-your-nonprofit-too-social-media-dependent.html
http://eempc.org/outreach-and-advocacy/index.html

FYI, my family name is Kinslow. I discovered your article on Linkedin, where I would never have looked before. Thus the power of social media. Next week, I am going to outline a social media communications plan and measuring document. Thanks for the good info.

Hi Mary:

Perhaps we are distantly related. :-) I’m glad you found the post useful. Best of luck creating your company’s communications strategy and plan.

Thanks for taking time to comment, Julia

Great post- thanks for posting

You’re welcome! Thank you for taking time to comment. Do you get the same types of questions?

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