Lesson 5: Social Media

A large part of the OMCA test is the definitions and concepts of social media and how companies use social media to reach customers. Social media has changed marketing. It’s empowered the customer in the digital marketing conversation that was usually one-sided. Customers now have direct, public access to communicate to and about companies. They can post reviews, complaints, and feedback and reach thousands of their peers instantly. So all conversation is now in the public sphere. Companies have little to no control over what is said about them and they have to react accordingly. But social media also provides companies with unique insights into their customers. It allows them to research customers more closely and target their marketing with precision. This trade-off of social media is hard to define, but it comes down to the basic principle of customer or social participation in marketing. With likes, reviews, promotions, and blogs, consumers are part of the marketing conversation. So where does a company start using social media? For starters, many companies simply use social media as a listening tool. This is called monitoring, listening to what the customer says for internal management. This mainly involves reading reviews and posts that mention the company or product, but not engaging. The next step is using social as a feedback channel by responding to questions, concerns, bad reviews, or attempting to solve customer problems. After feedback comes active participation and public conversation with customers. Companies actively seek to increase followers and engagement with those followers. They ask for feedback, create contests, and invite conversation. Finally, the high point of social media engagement is when the customer is an advocate for the company. Companies identify consumer influencers and use them to extend the brand. Through testimonials, sponsorships, or influence, they use the voice of the customer to promote the brand. Third-party customer endorsements tend to carry more weight than traditional brand marketing. While social media takes on many forms and can be used in many ways, it is ultimately a two-way conversation between a company and customers and a way to reach thousands of new customers.

Social media encompasses very different technologies, formats, and tactics. And they are used by both customers and companies alike. So let’s define a few. Blogging has had a large impact because it’s a simple process for publishing content online. For companies, it’s easy to update customers or provide news to them. When companies publish content on a blog, they manage their message and its distribution, as the blog is completely under their control. The programming, hosting, design, and accountability are all owned by the company. Blogs are powerful because they have a big impact on search engine visibility. They naturally include a strong link structure which makes it easy for search engines to find and index. And the content is usually focused, so it provides a strong context of information. Finally, the biggest benefit of a blog is its impact in driving targeted visitors to a website. With search engine visibility and constantly updated content, blogs are excellent drivers of traffic and new business. Other types of social media are on other platforms owned by third parties such as Google’s YouTube, and Facebook, which also owns Instagram. Social networks connect people. These sites provide updated information from our network of friends through a feed, a linear sequence of individual posts and updates along with advertising. The two best known social networks are Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook appeals to people as a perfect way to stay in touch with family and friends. LinkedIn targets the business audience and is ideal for business networking and professional development. There are two main advantages of using social networking for marketing. First is the extensive network a company can develop. Second is allowing that network to promote and share your content with their networks, thereby extending your reach exponentially. The main drawback is that few followers will always see what you post. When social video was made portable, it revolutionized marketing and social media. Users can post a video to sites like YouTube or Vimeo and then embed the video into a blog or a webpage and share links to view the video. Video sharing lets users post videos from other users, increasing the reach and exposure of the videos beyond YouTube into other channels. These familiar social media have greatly extended the networking, publishing, and marketing of companies and transformed marketing communications.

Not all social media is equal. Understanding each channel and its strengths will help you find the right audience for your content. In this video I’ll be covering the secondary group of social media channels which fall into a wide variety of categories. A broad category in social media is photo sharing. You see this in Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat. Pinterest’s focus is on developing pinboards with images, articles, and media based on personal interests, things like recipes, how tos, and funny animal pictures. These interests are organized by each user and shared across the network, allowing others to add to their boards as well. Instagram and Snapchat have been developed more for the in-the-moment selfie movement. They give users a publishing platform for their selfies, moments with friends, favorite places, and foods. Like Facebook, people follow other users and scroll through a feed to see what others have posted. The next category is microblogging, a form of blogging but with limited space. Twitter is the best known example of this format since it is posts with short statements or limited content that’s published to a feed. The advantage of Twitter and microblogging is their speed and immediacy for pushing out quick statements to a wide audience. A local business can even use Twitter for daily updates, specials, or promotions to increase foot traffic to a location. Next are message boards. These sites post articles or information for community discussions. These communities have hundreds to thousands of users who take part in the discussions. These are then kept online for many years, allowing the content to be found in search engines. Message boards are used to discuss a posted topic. For example, I use a message board for very distinct content like maintaining my old 1964 Volkswagen Beetle. Message boards attract very loyal participants and also thousands of visitors looking for information. But there are also large, multi-subject message boards like Reddit or StumbleUpon that have thousands of subcategories for specific content. Finally, reviews are a component of social media that appear in a variety of places. Reviews can be found on a website, in search engine business listings, on YouTube, or even on websites dedicated specifically to reviews like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Depending on the type of business, different review sites are more appropriate. Yelp for restaurants, TripAdvisor for hotels, and search engine business listings for local businesses. The key is in understanding the target audience you want to reach, where they are, and how each media enables your message to be communicated clearly.

Social media can be a scary place, especially for a business. What do you say to your audience? How do you build your business? I’ll walk you through how businesses can start with a scalable approach and work up to full fledged participation. The first place to start is with the established business goals for a company. What message is to be communicated, and how will that be practiced and executed? The goals set the tone for the strategy and how social marketing tactics are used. Monitoring or observing social media conversation is the next step. This passive approach to social media simply looks for mentions of the brand. There’s no plan to respond or engage, only to listen and learn. Then companies move into participation. Social media participation actively engages customers to improve the perception, visibility and reputation of the company. This happens through casual conversations, contests, and promotions. Social media takes the next step when it integrates with a company’s content marketing strategy. In this role, social media amplifies content published through other channels, like linking to recent blog posts, or video content. The content focuses on answering questions that are most relevant to customers. So if someone is looking to investigate a new email service provider, they would find articles, blog posts, social content, or videos in the search results. All of which ultimately point them to the provider’s website. In this mode, social media unifies with search engine optimization. The content is not only designed for distribution in social media channels, it is also intended for visibility in search engines, and the goal is to gain additional visibility which will lead to new customers. With this in mind, email is a natural extension of social media. Customers are more inclined to like and share social content when prompted by email. So you see, engaging customers who like and know your company is a key asset. Also, you’ve got to make it easy for people to like and share your messages on mobile devices to increase their participation. Another way of using social media is in leveraging influencers. Influencer can be celebrities, bloggers or YouTubers that command an audience. Macro-Influencers have over a million followers or subscribers. They typically cover a broad range of topics and are more entertainment oriented. Micro-Influencers range for 10,000 to 100,000 subscribers and are typically focused on a specific area of content, such as food, fashion, gaming or travel. Influencers are paid directly or given free products. But any compensation must be disclosed. In many cases, companies are simply attempting to increase their followers, but also receive the benefit of the influencer’s endorsement. Social media presents a scalable approach to brand marketing. It also easily integrates with the rest of a companies marketing plan, enabling greater visibility.

Businesses ask me this question every day. How do I know if social media works? I’ll walk you through what to measure from social media campaigns, and how to read those measurements. Measuring social media simply starts by finding the amount of conversation. This answers the question of how much the company or brand is talked about. Related to this, is share of voice. This metric calculates the total mentions of a single brand or product within an industry. By comparing the share of mentions to competitors a company can measure their visibility and brand awareness. The next step is measuring what is being said. This is the sentiment measurement of positive or negative statements made about a company, product, brand, or person. This is someone’s review of opinion of a product or brand. And it can be as simple as a love it, great experience. Or hate it, I’ll never go back. This can be tracked over time. To see the long term results of a social media engagement plan. The next question is how far? This is known as the reach, or amplification. This measures the sharing of a post or video. This leverages the most powerful aspect of social media: the network. The amplification rate measures the shares reposts, retweets, or video embeds. This provides a measurement of the content your followers find valuable, and interesting enough to share. Amplification also carries the value of increasing your network as you gain exposure to new users. So if you make a post, what are the measurement steps? At first, views provide and indication of an individual post’s reach. Then the social conversation rate. A conversation rate measures the number of audience replies per post. If conversation is the goal of social media, then comments on a post is a conversion. After this, look at the applause rate. This measures the number of likes for social media posts. Researching posts or content with high applause rates can help you find the content or subjects that people love. Then you can give them more of what they want. Engagement is the next metric which measures likes, video views, comments, and shares. An engagement rate is the number of actions or engagements divided by views or impressions. So if I have a post that gathers 400 likes and comments, and one hundred thousand impressions the engagement rate is .4 percent. Here’s a measurement example from my LinkedIn feed. There are 801 views of this post. There’s my starting metric. Two comments, divided by 801 views is a social conversion rate of .24 percent. The applause rate, 11 likes divided by 801 views is 1.4 percent. The engagement rate, 11 likes plus two comments equals 13 divided by 801. An engagement rate of 1.6 percent. Finally, the resulting business value. If you are driving people to click through a post to a landing page, then you measure the click through rate of the post to the landing page. If they buy or a complete a lead form, then you can measure the conversion and the return on investment of that post and the campaign as a whole. Social media has had a notorious past of lacking clear measurements. But now, use these metrics to evaluate your posts and find what works and why your followers love it.

Social media has given customers many more ways to complain about your company. So how do you deal with negative reviews or bad press? I’ll walk you through the basics of managing your reputation. This area within social media is called reputation management. It is the process of monitoring and dealing with negative social media posts and reviews. Negative comments may never go away entirely, but reputation management seeks to identify and solve problems. It increases a business’s credibility as one that listens and responds to customer issues. The first step in reputation management is to identify what you will monitor. Typically it is the brand or product name, and in some cases a high-profile person’s name, like the CEO of a company. Companies use social media listening software that gathers all mentions of the identified content across different media. These are reported and sorted by sentiment analysis, where the software assigns a positive or negative rating to each mention. A response team then deals with negative comments, reviews, or problems. Sometimes this is within the customer service department, who typically handles these types of issues. The best course of action is to validate the user’s comment or review and be sure that you understand the problem. This can involve contacting the user individually instead of in the public view. For negative reviews, contacting the customer offline to remedy the situation is the recommended course of action. Then offer solutions. Your response team should have the authority to offer product replacements, returns, vouchers or refunds. Companies can also be proactive about dealing with problems before they arise. The customer support team can identify issues earlier through social media conversations and posts so customers can be reached at the moment of their need. Dell was an early adopter of this strategy, and they employed hundreds of customer service reps to watch social media. When anyone expressed frustration with a Dell device on Twitter, the Dell representatives followed up within minutes to engage with and solve the customer’s problem. Dell was able to measure incremental revenue of over $3 million by moving customer service into an active social media role. Social media is the front line of dealing with negative press or bad reviews. Creating a management and response plan enables a clear approach to improve a company’s reputation through engagement.

Social media has done more than allow conversations. It’s provided an amazing side benefit to marketers, customer data. I’ll show you how that data has created amazing advertising opportunities to target your customers. On social media, people willingly provide information about themselves, their kids, pets, travels, relationships, where they go and what they do, In other words, what they like. This is a natural asset of social media. As advertisers can now target audiences based on nearly anything. If I want to target an ad for a Latino college grad, who has moved to a new city and in a new relationship, I can do that. In many cases, social media advertising provides better brand visibility than just making posts. Only through buying ads, can you guarantee that your audience will see your content. Most ads are bought on a CPM basis, A Cost per Mile, or cost per 1000 impressions. Some can also be bought on a cost per click basis, similar to search engine advertising. For targeting, the options are endless. Social media advertisers can target based on demographics, like age, gender, and family status. When users provide information on where they live, this allows for regional or geographic based targeting. As a example, advertisers can easily create a campaign targeting Millennial moms that live in the Northeast. Advertisers can really hone in when they include known interests, like Facebook users who lists movies, books, follow brands, or join groups like Dog Rescue Owners. This enables a pinpoint approach to reaching the right audience. Then, there’s behavioral targeting which is based on the websites that people visit. Website use helps identify people’s interest. For example, an advertiser in the food industry could target people who visit food and cooking websites and also list cooking as a hobby or interest. Beyond this, advertisers can also target people based on keywords they use in their posts or comments. When users express a need, they may see ads show up within seconds of using certain words that will trigger ads. When my daughter took up soccer, she posted it online, and within moments, ads for soccer gear took over our social feeds. What makes this incredibly powerful is the ability to combine all of these factors. Advertisers can combine demographic, geographic, interest, and keywords and create custom campaigns for very specific groups of users. I could create a campaign to target people in a higher income range, in a specific region, that are interested in home improvements, and only they would see my ad. I can also reach my existing customers on social sites like Facebook by creating a custom audience. By uploading a customer list, companies can actually find their customers on Facebook. This allows for a campaign to market to existing customers through Facebook, email, and display advertising, all of which drastically increases the response rate. Also, a brand can use Facebook to increase followers by targeting those who fit their customer profile. With the brands customers identified, Facebook looks at common factors to create a look-a-like target. Brands use this campaign to advertise to people who aren’t customers of the brand, but look like their customers. As you can see, social media advertising has taken a pivotal role in social media, as brands can easily target specific audiences with ads rather than just engage through the limited visibility of posts and comments.

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