Wondering Out Loud

Drive by social media

The good news and the bad news of social media are one and the same: Anyone with a computer and Internet access can do it. Whether from home, office, library or another venue, engaging in social media is as easy as opening your favorite browser and getting to it.

Social Media is of the people, for the people and, most importantly, by the people. As wonderful as that is, the fact that it is open to virtually everyone means we, the people, are responsible for the proper use and consumption of social media is all its forms.

What set me off on this journey of pondering is this article from gogamecocks.com, which is the official website of the athletic department at the University of South Carolina. The story is about the women’s basketball coach, Dawn Staley, and how she used Twitter to complain about how she was treated at a local restaurant. According to the story, she had previously used Twitter to rave about the same place. In this case, however, she told her followers she was treated badly and would never return. What happened inside the restaurant hasn’t been made public, so we don’t have all the facts, but the incident got me thinking about using Twitter and other social networking vehicles to lodge complaints.

Again, I don’t know what happened in this case, but, in my opinion, anyone faced with such a situation owes it to the company to bring the complaint to them, in private. I believe it is an abuse of the power we have as social media practitioners to give into the urge to spread word of a transgression as soon and as widely as possible, before engaging with management in an effort to resolve the problem. Let me say again, I don’t know what happened in this instance.

I’m sure there are exceptions, but most times a comany deserves the opportunity to make things right before being publicly pilloried

As consumers of the same social media we have a responsiblilty to view everything through a skeptics lens. Not that anyone is being dishonest, but a 140 character Twitter message, or a 500 word blog post for that matter, is written with built-in biases. In most cases they are biases we don’t understand and can’t detect because we simply don’t know the author well enough. Also, we are only hearing one side of the story and human nature dictates that, when we tell our side of the story, we do so in a way that paints us and our actions in the best light.

Practicing and consuming social media in a responsible way is good for everyone.

July 25, 2009 Posted by | Social Media | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Showing you the “How”

A while ago I wrote a post called “Show me the how”. It was written out of the frustration from reading yet another blog post about why B2B companies need to get active in social media. It’s my contention that we need to stop talking about why and start talking about how.

How does a B2B company get started, what do the objectives look like, and who should you target? All are questions that need to be answered before you even consider launching a blog or establishing a Twitter account, but that’s what everyone seems to want to talk about.

Well, I threw down the gauntlet and Albert Maruggi, @albertmaruggi, of Provident Partners and the Marketing Edge took it up and challenged me to a duel of sorts. So on August 12, Albert and I are hosting a seminar that focuses on the hows of social media. Among them:

  • How to get media coverage without pitching
  • How to effectively expose your expertise on the Web
  • How to use multimedia to tell a powerful story
  • How to identify and use game-changing marketing and PR tactics

You can register for Social Media – What Works, What’s Next at the Provident Partners website.

This is a face to face event especially for Marcom/PR pros who are trying to launch a social media strategy at their company, but are struggling with exactly how to get started. If this sounds like you, I promise the two hours you spend with us will be well worth the time.

Albert and I are looking forward to seeing you there.

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Social Media | , , , , | 3 Comments

Who should you target with B2B social media activities

In my last post I wrote about setting the proper expectations for your social media efforts. Today, I want to touch on the “who” piece of the equation.

It’s axiomatic, but I’m going to point out the obvious: who you target with your efforts is critical to meeting the objective you set. I’ve seen companies derail their social media strategies because they get hypnotized by the shiny new object that is the latest and greatest social media tool. Rather than determining it if it will help meet their objectives, they figure out a way to use it regardless of the results. Cool new stuff will do that to people.

Stay focused. Keep both eyes on your audience, the message you want to send, and the best way to deliver that message.

Let’s start with the first one: your audience.

I’ve written about it before and I will reiterate it here, the value of social media in the B2B space is primarily in the realm of public relations. Extending and enhancing traditional PR efforts through the use of web-based tools. But the beauty of social media is the ability it gives you to more quickly and easily build relationships with the gatekeepers of information and to reach beyond the gatekeepers directly to the final consumers of your PR messages.

And that brings me to the crux of this post; determining your target audience(s). Audience selection was one of the first decisions we made when launching the social media strategy at SoftBrands. We identified the six listed below:
Industry media
It’s true that social media makes it possible to bypass the media gatekeepers and take your message directly to the market, but industry media can as an objective source to corroborate the expertise you showcase in blog posts, podcasts, etc. Any time you are included in the editorial content of a publication your credibility is enhanced

Industry bloggers
Commenting on blog posts, tracking back, referencing a post in one of your own, are all ways to bring the first target down a level to one that is more personal in nature. When you are communicating with an industry blogger – even if he/she also writes for one of the trade publications – you are doing so one on one, person to person. It’s a great way to build a media relations and generate even more editorial activity.

Current customers are important because you want to continue to remind them they made a great choice in purchasing your product or service. Actively communicating via the several social media methods helps build customer relations and loyalty. Include your customers in your efforts and you can make a friend for life.

Why am I including prospects when B2B social media belongs in the PR space? Think back to the objectives I set out in my last post – credibility, thought leadership, etc.  People want to trust the companies they buy from and employing social media tactics is a great way to build that trust long before they are in the market for product or service. The early part of most sales cycles includes a time for getting to know each other. What if the prospect already trusts you, your company and what you’re selling? It would save time and money and give you a better chance of winning the business. Social media can do just that.

As a publicly traded company, investor relations are very important to us. Now my efforts at social media are not corporate in nature, but investors are interested in the company as a whole; all divisions and products are important to them.

Fellow employees
I trust the importance of this is obvious to everyone.

Each was selected because it could help achieve the social media objectives I gave you in my last post. Fellow employees are the one exception, but if you’re not considering them you have bigger issues to deal with. How we communicate may vary, but everything we do is targeted, directly or indirectly, at each of the six.

Like I stated earlier, it is a PR play for B2B at this time – and times always change – so the list of audiences is heavy toward those who can help me communicate my message to the market at large. And even though the market at large made the list the message is not product focused.

Remember these few tips and your social media strategy will stay on track:

  1. Who you target needs to flow directly from the objectives of your social media strategy
  2. Don’t get distracted by the shiny new social media app. Assess whether it will help you achieve your goals and act accordingly
  3. Stay focused on your audience and let everything you do inform your decisions for what to say and how

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Social Media | , , , | 1 Comment


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