Babbling B’s Blog

Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Image from andrewcaswell's flickr photostream

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard many references to social media marketing – from praise to criticism. Listening to the conversation, I’ve come to a final conclusion: social media is NOT about the tools. You don’t get started by setting up a company Twitter account or your Facebook Fanpage.

How do you start? Monitoring.

Almost every conversation I have about social media immediately turns to a specific tool. The crutch for understanding the concept is focusing on the tools and how they work rather than the real question: Does social media make sense for my business?

The lightbulb went off for me. Whether you love social media or question the concept, you owe it to yourself and your business to start monitoring. That will guide strategy and, ultimately, the tactics and tools.

Monitoring doesn’t tie you to social media. In fact, no one even has to know you’re doing it. You don’t even have to do it in a formal manner. But you SHOULD have an idea of what’s being said about your brands in the social media. What’s being said about your brands? Where? How are your consumers interacting and using social media? Is anyone even talking about you? You should know how social media impacts your business.

Now, off my soapbox, and here are a few ideas to get started:

Begin by developing an initial list of keywords you want to begin monitoring. It could include your company name or brands, or maybe product categories, industry terms or thought leaders. You may also want to start monitoring your competition. As you monitor, you’ll start to see how customers talk about you and additional keywords will begin to make sense. Don’t forget common misspellings or slang terms!

Then, use some of the various free tools to begin monitoring. Many allow you to save the searches, so monitoring is as simple as opening the program and reviewing the new results every day (those are my favorite!). Here are a few sites or tools you can use:

There are tons – and if you already monitor, what are you favorites?

Evangelizing social media can be tough, especially when you’re explaining it to people who don’t live in the social world. As I’ve shared before, we’ve been doing a ‘social media road show’ around my company and corporation to provide a high level overview of social media and the value it can bring to the business.

I wanted to share the basic outline of my presentation. Feel free to use elements, and I would suggest providing specific examples of how the slides apply to your company. (P.S. this is my first presentation on SlideShare – it was so easy to use!)

I look forward to hearing your feedback!

I also need to thank and give credit to some people and organizations that I borrowed some content ideas from:
Hubspot, Marta Kagan, and MarketingSherpa.

About six months ago, we launched a social media strategy at my company. It’s been an interesting process that I’ve been dying to share with everyone. I’m no expert, but I think there’s a lot of value in sharing my process. Twitter has been the most interesting, so we’ll start there.

Step 1: Define Strategy
This is the part where you have to prove: Why Twitter? Twitter was a good fit for our company for a few major reasons: Our competitors were active, our customers were present and talking about us, and it would be a good channel to expand communication and participate in the conversation.  Twitter can be used for communications, customer support, thought leadership or promotions. If you’re not 100% sure which strategy will work best, don’t worry.  Your community will drive you to what they want.

Step 2: Monitor
Through the initial research for strategy, I set up searches in Twitter so I could keep an eye on what people were saying. I found industry leaders and key customers on Twitter so I could see what they were talking about and what they were saying about us. I monitored what the competition did and what people were saying about them. I truly think this is one of the most important parts of social media, and proving active communities piques management’s interest.

Step 3: Educate
Start spreading the news! Oftentimes, you’ll have to present, explain and evangelize Twitter – it’s not always easy for your company’s stakeholders to understand. I really did Steps 1-3 simultaneously, leading to…

Step 4: Gain Buy-in and Write the Plan
When I knew things were catching on, I started tying together the monitoring and strategy into a formal plan, addressing the concerns you’ve come across in the process. Make sure you have everything in Step 5 and 6 outlined so that it’s easy to implement once you have signoff!

Step 5: Build an Editorial Calendar and Crisis Plan
Once you’ve brought everything together and gained the buy-in, make sure you have developed a crisis plan to tackle negative comments. For us, it was making sure I had a chain of command with backups so I could quickly address questions that I may not be able to answer myself. I also built a 90-day editorial calendar to prove we had enough content to provide value, keep the content fresh and slowly generate conversation.

Step 6: Build Your Profile
Now comes the fun part! You should have everything specified for your profile, including your profile name, webpage you plan to link to, a short bio and a background to pretty up your page!

Step 7: Posting and Profile Management
Start posting! You’ll probably want to find a tool to use to manage your account and track your posting. One that I use is Hootsuite. It has a built-in URL shortener, it’s easy to track clicks on your URLs and very easy to set up your monitoring  – so everything is in one spot!

Step 8: Promote
Emails, press releases, websites, email signatures… include Twitter in everything so you build your network! You can also use lots of widgets to cross-post your Twitter content to your websites, blogs, Facebook pages, etc.

Step 9: Engage
Now that you’ve posted, start engaging. Begin responding to those that are posting about your company – both good and bad. You’ll be surprised how quickly the negative comments are turned around!

Step 10: Repeat
Start over. Reassess and continue to tweak processes. Continue to engage. Your customers will let you know what information they want from you. This isn’t a one-time deal – this is an ongoing investment in your customer community.

Image from the Huffington Post

I’ve only been engaged for about 3 months now, but I’ve done a TON of research online. Since I’m planning a Florida wedding from Chicago, I have lots to research so I can capitalize on my few trips to Florida between now and our April 30, 2011 wedding.

Planning from afar can be tough and you have to make a lot of judgments by photos and email correspondence alone. However, I have figured out some ways to cut through the clutter and I figured I’d share my findings, along with specific examples (most are going to be in the Pensacola/Panama City area, but you’ll get the idea).

1) Standard Wedding Planning Websites: Of course, TheKnot.com is a favorite and always recommended. I spent a ton of time on here to begin with, but soon became a little bored with the site. Since I’m interested in doing as much DIY as possible, I’ve really became a huge fan of MarthaStewartWeddings.com – plus their budget tool is the best one I’ve tried so far.

2) Photography/Event Planner blogs: This is my biggest finding and what I’ve been telling all my friends to check out (FYI I have TEN weddings to attend in 2010…). Photography and Event Planner blogs are great for ideas and getting a feel for what kind of wedding and photographers you want. It’s the perfect way for these businesses to showcase what they can do, and it’s a great way to get a taste of their style – not to mention you almost feel like you’re getting to know them by reading their blog posts. Personally, I’ve found that I definitely want a casual, intimate beach wedding, and I’ve learned I’m looking for a more photojournalistic photography style. No need for too many posed shots as far as I’m concerned – bring on the candids at our fun beach party!
Faves: CookImages.comMeg Baisden Photography, Pure 7 Studios, Shelby Peaden EventsBliss Event Group

3) Wedding Communities/Blogs: I’ve joined two wedding communities AND these communities happen to have awesome blogs as well: StyleMePretty.com and Marry Me at the Beach (just starting up). I would definitely recommend finding communities that fit your needs – these ones combine basic forums with photos and profiles to make it more of a dynamic experience to find brides with similar interests to you.

Next Time: Twitter. I haven’t gotten to a point where I’ve really built up my Twitter Wedding network yet, but that’s next on my list. Any suggestions?

Social Media CupcakesI have a presentation for my company tomorrow on Social Media. It’s a Lunch and Learn, so I figured I could at least provide dessert. Behold, social media cupcakes!

I came up with this idea initially and wasn’t sure if it would actually come to fruition. Some may call it being bored, but I call it being inspired by awesome social media entrepreneurs like @foiledcupcakes. I decided to spend my Thursday night baking up a storm and creating banana and chocolate fudge cupcakes topped with Twitter, Facebook and Yammer icons made out of Lorna Doone cookies and icing.

I decided to share my masterpiece with you – enjoy!

Ingredients: Cake Mix + ingredients, white icing, Lorna Doone 100 Cal packs, blue cookie icing.

How-to: Bake the cupcakes per the cake mix package directions. Put blue cookie icing on the backside of the mini Lorna Doone Cookies and let set. Put a spoonful of white icing into a ziplock bag and poke a very small hole in one of the corners. I practiced creating the letters for a while before I actually started to pipe them onto the cookies. Lastly, I iced each cupcake with the white icing and put an iced cookie on top. Voila!

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

Creating the icons

Creating the Icons

Assembling the Cupcakes

Assembling the Cupcakes

Yummy Social Media Cupcakes!

Yummy Social Media Cupcakes!

I recently came across a newly updated version of this presentation that I LOVED!

One year later, Marta Kagan has updated her ‘What the F is Social Media’ presentation with new stats—and pressed the envelope a little further with some of her commentary. My favorite slide? “Social Media is like Word of Mouth on Steroids.” I’ve used that quote in presentations already. Other things that have changed:

  • There are now 13 million articles on Wikipedia (compared with 4 million last year)
  • Over 100 million videos existed on YouTube last year, whereas now about 100 million are viewed per day
  • Last year, Twitter made one appearance (in a montage photo). This year, it’s mentioned at least 5 times

Congrats on getting mentioned on Mashable.com!

diving-boardThis post appeared on VitaminIMC – Medill IMC’s student-run blog.

While some companies are slowly dipping their toes into the social media waters, Whole Foods Market has dove in! Over the past eight months, Whole Foods’ social media presence has grown from corporate accounts to over 120 Twitter profiles and 97 Facebook pages.

Whole Foods is often cited as a social media success, but the details of its amazing tactics are what make them unique – taking a completely decentralized approach to their social media strategy. They have taken the close interaction between Whole Foods employees and consumers, along with team member empowerment and applied it to their social media strategy to create local relationships. This grassroots approach has fueled the explosion of their social media presence while supporting their corporate values system.

Their social media accounts range from umbrella corporate accounts to individual accounts for store locations. There are accounts that cover the many locations for metro-areas (think @WholeFoodsCHI) and topic-specific accounts discussing such topics as wine or cheese. They even created a social media presence around their participation at Bonnaroo.

Some may criticize such a fragmented approach to their social media, but Whole Foods learned from their experiences with their corporate social media accounts and expanded to fit their customer’s needs. They started to see that customers had very specific questions about local stores and quickly adapted, adding social media into the local marketing mix. Liz Bootz, the marketing team leader for Whole Foods Oakland, provides support to customers on Twitter. “One of the things I like best about being on Twitter is if a customer has a question, I can tweet the answer to them and provide that information to 200 other customers at the same time,” she said.

Other companies should follow their lead and apply unique company culture traits to social media, taking a personal and on-brand approach to their online presence. Their responsive, customer-centric method has seemed to work judging by the numbers. Whole Foods Twitter accounts recently reached one million followers.


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