Wondering Out Loud

Are you self serving or self promoting

As the adoption of social media by business expands at an ever increasing rate, its misuse grows along with it. When you engage in social media activities are you self serving or self promoting?

Have you ever considered the difference? Both deal with the self, but if you choose to practice the former over the latter, you are headed for social media failure.

Here are the definitions from dictionary.com:

Self serving: Serving to further one’s own selfish interests.
Self Promotion: Promotion, including advertising and publicity, of oneself effected by oneself.

Done correctly, self promotion will result in all the benefits – increased leads, sales and revenue – you can get through self serving means, without turning away a good chunk of your audience. If this sounds difficult to achieve, it’s not. Promoting the self – you, your colleagues, and your business – is as easy as showing your target audience what you know. How you show them, however, goes a long way toward defining which side of boarder you are on between serving and promoting.

Let me illustrate with an example of a LinkedIn discussion:

Q: My boss wants me to buy a list of emails we can use for marketing. We’ve never done this and I’m looking for advice on picking the right provider. Thanks for your help.

A1: You can buy any list you need from my company Lists-R-Us. We specialize in providing 100% opt in lists for every conceivable industry – and a few you can’t conceive of. Call me at 555-1212.

A2: Before you pick a provider you’ll want to ask several questions including how they compile their lists, what information they gather about the individual and the company, can they segment based on SIC codes, and what are the counts within the SIC’s you are targeting. Also ask to see a sample cut of the data and what accommodations they make for non-deliverable addresses. If you want more I’ve included the links to a couple of credible resources below. Hope this helps.

I will grant that the example I provided is fictional, but it is most certainly not extreme. Go through the discussions and you’ll find any number of questions and answers that are commercials. But LinkedIn is by no means the only site that suffers from sledgehammer marketing. Blogs – posts and comments – are not immune, nor are Twitter and facebook for that matter.

Provide help with information the individual can use to solve their issue. It is a way of promoting yourself, without selling yourself. Over time, as your credibility grows, you will find a growing number of people who follow you, listen to you, and offer your name to others a resource that can be trusted.

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August 24, 2009 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Customers
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.

Prospects
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.

Investors
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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