Buzz marketing, word of mouth marketing, influence marketing. You know the buzzwords. You want people talking about you and your brand. There is nothing wrong with wanting such.
The question is are you generating buzz that leads to bucks? Or are you generating buzz wishing you had more bucks?
Hopefully you also want business results (i.e., bucks!) Buzz won't pay the office rent, salaries or the monthly subscription for all those tools you use to keep your influence scores up. ;)
What is happening to businesses today with the introduction of social media? Why are so many getting caught up in the buzz and losing grip of business and marketing 101?
We work with clients of all sizes. One of the first things we do when working with new clients is conduct a social media, marketing and digital audit. We dig in deep and do the double click to understand what they are doing and what business results they are driving or attempting to achieve. Doing such requires a look at their business and marketing plans. We take a look at their audiences, competition, digital platforms, and more.
It is a normal day's course for us to find that even many of the organizations who believe they are rockin' the social world aren't producing real bucks. They've fallen to a world of buzz and are left wondering where the bucks are. We see their budgets and teams getting slaughtered. Their management is not signing off on their plans and they are therefore not getting the executive and stakeholder support. It's a dangerous marketing cycle as they find themselves addicted to the buzz yet the buzz is not driving business outcomes.
Why are most businesses missing out on the social media bucks?
1. They are not aligning social media to business.
2. They are focusing too much on buzz instead of bucks and real business results.
3. They have not properly planned.
4. They have not set goals and objectives.
5. They do not truly know their audience.
6. They do not know how to measure results and have not selected Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
7. They are speaking the wrong language to executive management. They talk in likes, follows & clicks when management wants to hear how they will drive revenue, increase customer satisfaction and real business result.
8. They are not empowering employees and leveraging their greatest brand asset.
9. They are not creating content that is relevant to their audience and helps them solve real life business problems.
10. They are unprepared and impatient!
Moving From Buzz to Bucks
So how do you get out of the cycle? How do you delete the buzz dependency and shift the focus to business result? Here are 15 must do steps to help you move from buzz to bucks. It doesn't matter what industry you work in, what niche you support or the structure of your business. These are foundational business and marketing elements for any brand and any person wanting to see real result integrating social media for business.
These tips are not for the light hearted or those who expect to quickly scan a blog and get their problems solved. This post is written for the business leader who wants to drive real business outcomes (i.e. bucks), not just buzz.
1. Stop the Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs).
If you are seeing lots of buzz and not enough bucks, it is likely you have a problem with RAMs. RAMs will eat every last morsel of ROI in your business. RAMs love buzz. They love tactical to do lists that have nothing to do with driving real business result. The best thing you can do is eliminate these as fast as humanly possible. Start by examining your list of “to do's.” The first list you must create is the list of things you are not going to do. What are you going to cross off your list? No business has extra resources sitting around ready to execute social media. You must acknowledge changes need to be made fast. Eliminate the RAMs before they eliminate you! Check out this article for more information -> 15 Reasons Random Acts of Marketing Don't Work!
2. Listen more than you talk.
Regardless if you are seasoned marketing veteran or a newbie to the digital, online world, the first thing you should do is listen. Social listening and monitoring can help you better understand your target market, customers, and competition. You must know what you are getting into before you jump in head first. What are people saying about you? Who is talking about you? How is the sentiment? Where are they wanting to talk with you, your peers, competition? What tone are they using? How can you best become a positive part of the conversation. Chances are there is a conversation already happening in your honor. Now is the time to figure out how you can join the conversation in the most natural way possible.
3. Know your audience.
Knowing your audience is a requirement, not an option. Telling me you can sell your product or service to “anyone” who does “xxx” is not knowing your audience. Who is your audience? Who exactly is your target customer? If you are working in B2B, then who is your target business? Who is the role within the business you serve? What keeps them up at night? How can you help your customer, partner, consumer solve their problem? Download our audience analysis worksheet to get you started. It will help you prioritize your audiences and focus on their goals and objectives as a foundation for your strategy and planning.
4. Know yourself.
Who are you? What does your brand promise stand for? Are you representing that brand promise on the digital and social platforms? Or do you look like a one way spamming billboard blinking like mad and driving everyone off the road? Get real with who you are now and where you are going. Who do you want to be when you grow up? Don't wait. Be that person, that business today.
5. Think human brand experiences.
Humanizing your brand is not an option, it's a requirement. Social media requires you communicate with human beings, not just logos. What three words best describe how you want people to feel when they come in contact with you and your brand. It takes at minimum 6-7 brand touches for someone to remember you. Don't just focus on buzz and noise. Think experiences. Think entertainment. Think inspiration. Think meaningful connection and relationship. What impression can you leave with each and every touch that leaves your target audience thinking about your brand and wanting more. Your brand is much more than your logo or colors. It is everything you tweet, post, pin, say and do.
6. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
There is no way around it. You must take time to slow down to speed up and plan your course ahead. Develop a strategy with detailed implementation plan and tactics. Start with an audience based approach. Focus on the goals and objectives of your audience and how you can best serve them. Download this audience analysis worksheet to get started.
7. Align social media to your business.
You must know your business. If you don't have business goals and objectives, start there. You obviously can't drive business results if you don't know what you're driving toward. Align social media to the business goals where it can have the greatest positive impact. It is likely social media will not neatly align to all business goals. Select one, two or even three goals where it can truly have an impact and start there.
8. Get your team on board.
Don't try to go it solo if you have other internal and external resources that can help you better meet goals. We are always better off as a team than we are as one. Identify key stakeholders, executives, partners, employees and community members that should participate in the planning and execution. Start with a core team to drive the strategy. Then bring in other players as appropriate. Set clear roles and be open to new ideas and approaches. You are only as strong as your weakest link so don't be afraid to share your good stuff. Invest in your team and they'll invest more deeply in the task at hand.
9. Measure! Set goals, objectives and KPIs.
You must first know what you want to measure before you select how you are going to measure it. Don't fall to purchasing expensive social measurement tools before you know why you need them. Determine your goals and objectives as early as you can. If you don't know where you are going, how will you know how to get there? We see many brands afraid to set and communicate goals as they are afraid they won't achieve them. The reason for this is they usually don't know how to achieve them. They have often set goals to make an executive or stakeholder happy. Set SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound!
10. Stop faking it until you make it.
This again is where patience comes in. You may find yourself getting side tracked by such metrics as influence scores, buzz metrics and the list goes on. Don't go there. Don't fall for short term tricks such as buying fake followers, likes and fans. Doing such is no different than owning a restaurant and buying loads of blow up people to sit in your restaurant and trying to make people believe you are busy. We get contacted by numerous brands and thought leaders each week that have high influence scores, lots of buzz and absolutley zero bucks! Many have focused for two or more years on vanity metrics and have little to show for it. Don't be one of these fake casualties. Set a higher standard for yourself and your brand. Earn the trust of your audiences and community over time.
11. Create a real conversion funnel.
If you are wondering what a conversion funnel is, well start there. Creating buzz with no conversion funnel is unlikely to drive business result. You must make it clear to your audiences what action you want them to take as they enter into your conversion funnel. Do you want them to opt-in to an email list by signing up for a free download, sign up for a trial or take a test drive on your product? Should they submit a contact form for more information? Whatever it is make it clear. Have a method and process to follow-up with them and continue nurturing them through the conversion funnel. This is where the social rubber meets the road in driving real result.
12. Be careful who you listen to.
There are many people out there trying to make a buck. Many claim to be social media, marketing, conversion, social business or buzz experts. Do your research first. Know your business. Know what you want to accomplish. Don't fall to the tricks of the self-proclaimed gurus who will try to sell you on buzz alone or the fact all you need is a large community on Facebook. I've seen “experts” preaching and teaching that the average tweet lives only 30-60 seconds. This is wrong. If you create content that people want to consume and helps them solve problems, it will last hours, days, weeks and months! I'm shocked how deep people dig into our tweets and share them. We have tweets that are months old still getting retweeted every day! Remember, there is only one way to do social media and that is the way that works for you, your audience and your business!
13. Create relevant, useful content.
Hopefully I don't have to educate you that driving real results with social media is going to require useful and relevant content. If you create buzz worthy content, you will generate organic buzz. Too many brands and business leaders focus only on the buzz and not the “worthy” part. Your mission is to figure out where your audience is hanging out online and figure out how to have the most relevant conversation with them possible. Think context, relevancy, not just quantity. Create content that helps your ideal customer solve problems. Make it useful, understandable, digestible, and relevant to who and where they are in life and /or business. Start with an content inventory analysis of what you have so you can leverage what you have already invested in. Create an editorial calendar to ensure you are providing a healthy pulse of useful, engaging and entertaining information to your community on a regular basis.
14. Think relationships.
Relationships are the life raft to social business and technology evolution. Don't just focus on vanity metrics, number of fans, followers and likes. Did you know on average 98% of the people who like your Facebook page will never visit it again. Focus on creating memorable experiences and establishing, nurturing and growing relationships that are mutually beneficial to both parties. Give more than you take. Share your best stuff and you will organically attract the right people. Be part of the contributing positive and healthy heartbeat of the social world. Just because you CAN spam people using social media, doesn't mean you should. Focus on strategies, plans, tactics and content that will help you foster relationships, not destroy them before you get a chance to say hello!
15.Enjoy the social business journey.
Becoming a social business is not about arriving at a destination in a set period of time. It's a journey. You must invest in planning, training, and the journey to grow, learn and empower others. You must know where you want to go but know there will never be a day you have “arrived.” Social media, technology, business and the world is changing faster than most of us can keep up. Embrace the fact that you will be constantly evolving. Embrace the opportunities and look at them as such. Don't look at change as an obstacle. Build your team, pack your bags and get ready for the journey of a life time.
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- Worksheet: Download our POST audience analysis worksheet to identify and prioritize your top audiences. It is based upon the Forrester POST methodology.
- Worksheet: Download this content editorial calendar to help you plan, organize and deliver the most engaging and helpful content you can offer.
- Whitepaper: 50 Ideas to Energize & Inspire Your Audience
- Bridging the Social Divide C-Suite & Beyond!
- You are the Media [includes slideshare keynote presentation]
- Relationships are the Life Raft Social Business Evolution
- Can Your Social Business Touch Its Toes?
- Communities Create Markets: 13 Tips to Build Loyal Tribes of Brand Evangelists
- 13 Characteristics of Human Brands