The Five Must-Haves of Building an Integrated Social Media Plan

So how do marketing professionals take the reins and steer a cohesive, integrated social media marketing plan? I had the pleasure of presenting to a group of local marketers at a recent IABC Phoenix Luncheon on the topic of building a cohesive social media marketing plan. Here, I lay out five must-haves when building an integrated social media plan.

You start by understanding your marketing and content marketing model well enough to integrate social media practices and tools into the overall program. That takes good internal planning. My “5 Must Haves of Social Media Marketing” will help you get there. These must-haves are:

1. Shifting + Controlling of Consumers and Audiences

2. Planning with Internal + External Customers in Mind

3. Aligning + Orchestrating Integrated Content Strategy

4. Executing as a Team

5. Measuring Impact to Business with Focus

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Demand Generation for the C-Suite: How to Hit the Right Spot

Blog Post Originally Published in BtoB Magazine

Marketers are constantly under pressure to prove value by bringing in leads for sales. This in turn creates a vicious cycle where marketers will cast a wide net in hopes of bringing in as many hand-raisers as possible. It’s not always a win-win, as oftentimes those don’t turn out to be quality leads. Today, it’s a different ballgame: We need to shift to a more targeted accounts-based approach, which means creating content and messaging to support the many buyers and influencers throughout the buying process—especially C-suite. Let’s face it— the holy grail of marketing is to get to the influencers— the C-suite—who have the ultimate say in how an organization invests its dollars.

I recently spoke on a panel titled Demand Gen for the C-Suite, sponsored by Loop Demand, alongside C. Edward Brice (@cedwardbrice), senior VP-worldwide marketing at Lumension Security.  I’ve summarized some of the interesting tips from that panel in a two-part Q&A blog series with Ed. Here’s part one:

Why is it important to target the C-suite in your demand-generation efforts?

Brice: Let me first say that my point of view comes from what we observe in the buying process as an IT security software company. I believe that the C-suite is more involved in the operational side of the business than in the past—and maybe even more than what has been traditionally perceived. I suppose there could be a few C-level executives locked away in the mahogany halls of the ivory tower somewhere, kept away from all the dysfunction of the day, but I haven’t encountered that in my own environment or in our customers’ environments. I find that most C-level leaders are either searching for answers to operational problems or researching best practices, strategic issues and emerging trends.

The C-level isn’t going to take a cold call or enthusiastically sit through a sales-oriented or product-centered webcast, so make sure your demand gen efforts are holistic by developing content across key topics that these individuals will find relevant, and deliver that content through appropriate channels.

How does this differ from your traditional demand-generation marketing campaigns?

Brice: Here’s an example: In our annual program planning, we identify key problems or scenarios. Then, we develop content, which is based on the context of a buyer’s journey, that’s designed to help drive inquiries and convert those inquiries into opportunities to support our sales cycle. We don’t intentionally target C-level folks with these messages, because they really aren’t our primary target audience. We then have thought leadership topics that we consider the industry’s hot topics, and we develop content related to these topics, which may be targeted to C-level roles. The objective with this content is to educate and to deliver our point of view on these hot topics, and to provide recommendations for company execs to consider in developing a strategy.

CEOs and other C-level executives are guarded by many gatekeepers. How can you pierce those corporate shells and get to the right people?

Brice: A few years back, Sirius Decisions did an interesting study that identified three major roles that a C-level leader plays across a buying cycle: Champion (guides the buying process); ratifier (validates and signs the PO); and influencer (advises throughout the buying process). I think in most cases it may be more effective to focus on producing relevant content across a buyer’s journey than spending 100 percent of your effort on trying to reach the C-level. It’s likely that they are part of the process anyway, but may or may not be driving the process. There are times, of course, where you’re trying to educate the market on a very new and innovative strategy, and that might require a more C-level-targeted approach.

In my next blog, I will write about content marketing for the C-suite.

Quit Blogging And Go With…Facebook?

Blog Post Originally Published in BtoB Magazine

Wayne Usie (@waynejusie), SVP of Retail at JDA Software, recently shared a USA Today article with me titled, “More Companies Quite Blogging, Go With Facebook Instead,” by Roger Yu. According to the article, more companies are replacing blogs with nimbler tools requiring less time and resources, such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

Why? Nora Ganim Barnes, professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, stated in the article: “Blogging requires more investment. You need content regularly. And you need to think about the risk of blogging, accepting comments, liability issues, defamation.”

This article raises an interesting question: Should companies quit blogging and just go with a nimbler tool because it’s less risky and requires less time and resources? Anything related to social media is risky; it’s not just limited to blogs. That is why you should have social media and blogging policies in place.

Corporate blogs fail when companies don’t understand why the blog exists as part of their brand extension. They fail because their content is there solely to promote their products and services. Why would people read your blog if they can just visit your website for that kind of information? Blogs should be written for the reader – to educate and inform as well as to gather insight from the readers. Here are my recommendations for building a successful blog:

Establish Intent

Establish your intent first. Is it to build thought leadership and expertise in the industry? Is it to educate your customers and prospects and help them improve their performance? Is it to articulate industry issues and help your readers address fundamental challenges?

Then Go All-In

Commitment is key. When you start a corporate blog, you need a long-term strategy to carry out the intent in every piece of content you produce – but it takes commitment from the top down and dedicating proper resources to feed the content engine. Further, you should always have a plan to regularly promote your blog internally and externally – across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google +.

Unique Content is King

Companies invest a lot of time in whitepapers, webinars, videos, bylined articles and podcasts. When you create different content for all of these marketing initiatives, you spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. Develop a content marketing strategy – and use the blog as a way to launch some of these topics to a more in-depth piece such as a whitepaper, webinar, etc. (Check out Altimeter Group’s blog for a great example.) Always be thinking: How can I create one piece of great content and optimize and repurpose?

Blogger Buddy Program

Develop a blogger buddy program where you identify your key bloggers who will be contributing content on a regular basis and pair them up with folks on your marketing or social media team. Establish goals and metrics for the bloggers so they understand the cadence for your blog and the frequency for posting content.

Bloggers should represent a wide spectrum of your business so that you can create content across a broad range of topics that will interest your readers. Then, educate them on blogging best practices, content strategy and ways to engage with the readers. This program is successful because you’re working closely with your bloggers to develop content strategy, plus you can feed them information on industry news and topics that people are talking about. Invite them to respond or comment on that topic to keep the conversation flowing.

Integrate

Your success also hinges on your ability to integrate your blog program with PR, marketing and communications. Silos don’t work in today’s world. It’s about integrating your blog content with what the rest of the marketing team is doing, campaigns they’re driving, webinars they are promoting. Work closely with your marketing team on the content development and strategy to support your key topics, campaigns, messages, etc.

Also, work closely with your PR team to help drive visibility and coverage. Remember, if you have the right content strategy, PR can pitch to the media and blogger communities to reuse that content or commentary to gain additional coverage. Why create a separate byline when reporters and bloggers can work off of the blog content?

Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Company said it best in the article when he stated, “Still, engaging blogs can serve crucial marketing goals – especially executives out to establish expertise in their industry.” I believe blogs can serve crucial marketing and corporate goals if done right. What do you think? Do you agree that blogging is dead and companies should move on?

Adapt or Vanish: 5 Ways to Integrate PR and Social Media

I recently gave a talk at a Businesswire seminar here in Phoenix on Adapt or Vanish: 5 Killer Tips to Integrate PR and Social Media. The introduction of social media has changed the playing field for PR professionals. PR is no longer relegated to drafting press releases and bylined articles. Today, PR pros support business goals, connect and support customers, amplify demand-generation efforts, and take social listening to a whole new level to move the company’s brand forward.  This presentation is a call to arms to all PR pros out there to move outside their comfort zone and adopt more advanced techniques to help them strategize and execute successful, integrated campaigns that reach far beyond just PR.  

This presentation outlines key strategies to help PR pros make an impact and work across functional marketing areas to raise the profile of their company, brand, message and campaigns.

  • How to use social media to build and connect influencers
  • How to utilize social in your PR efforts in real time
  • How to integrate social into your demand-gen program and outreach
  • How to integrate social into your events to amplify voice and reach
  • How to build listening mechanisms to support and energize your community

Why Content Alone Cannot Rule the Kingdom

In 2010, I wrote a post on why bad headlines kill good content and why you need great content to support the headline to captivate the audience. This time, I’m going to take it a step further and touch on why content is more than just your currency; it’s the keys to the kingdom.

With so much content out there, a battle is heating up right before our eyes – the battle for attention and readership. Companies are getting more creative with ways they lure readers to click. By doing so, companies are 1) losing trust 2) missing a chance to build that relationship 3) wasting valuable time and 4) creating bad word of mouth.

The old wisdom says that content is king and headlines rule in today’s information age. With so much information flying across the web and consumers’ limited time to read, you have limited space and time to capture and captivate your audience. Unfortunately, companies are missing the boat on many levels. Why?

Content is not king. Valuable and optimized content is. It’s also the new currency by which you build your brand equity and thought leadership. In a blog post titled “What’s a Content King without a Kingdom?” (by @Copyblogger), the writer says, “I think it’s smarter to say that content is indispensable. It’s what people go online to find, and it’s what Google loves. There are only a few online marketing models that don’t require valuable content, and those few are getting tougher by the day, and result in no long-term assets.”

Some marketers think that building great content is enough. Post it and they will magically come and download/read your stuff. Untrue. You need to use methods to spread the word and build awareness around the content using new and old ways.

Build the Kingdom First

Getting back to what @Copyblogger wrote, you have to have the kingdom first in order to anoint the (valuable) content as king. Building your kingdom takes time and the right amount of investment. But once you build it (Facebook Page, LinkedIn, Slideshare, YouTube and Twitter), it’ll be well worth it. However, companies should not mistake social media as the holy grail of new marketing. While it’s great to leverage these channels to gain additional awareness and create word of mouth buzz, this strategy will not sustain as a standalone. Mix in traditional marketing to ramp up your efforts. According to @Copyblogger, your content has a right to the throne thanks to its valuable information, clever hook and killer headline. But brave and loyal allies are needed to create an insurrection against Queen Inattention. These allies are not impersonal Facebook “friends,” they’re real friends and colleagues, and they believe in you and your content.

  • Create a Facebook Landing Page that links to your website or landing page (see sample).
  • Create an editorial series to help promote the content by extracting key information from the collateral, such as stats and quotes to provide a continuous stream of related information to drive awareness.
  • Upload the content on Slideshare and bring it into LinkedIn. Use key search terms to ensure the content is SEO-friendly.
  • Upload your videos on YouTube and pull in the YouTube video into your website. Also, promote it on the front page or a landing page with all of the related information around that content.

Leverage Traditional Marketing

 Marketers and companies invest a lot of time building their database and their customer base to help push information out. This is an investment that companies make over time. The challenge is not everyone in your database will be part of the social communities that you have so diligently built. Combining these two areas will ensure you’re sharing your valuable content across your “dream” target lists to ensure the continuous nurturing and education of your database.
Our job is to inform and educate – build content that will ultimately add insight into the trends and challenges faced by your customers and prospects. Using traditional marketing tactics to reach your target groups will help continually touch them on an ongoing basis. This can be done through:

  • E-mail campaigns – Bring the most compelling aspect of the content up front and sell readers on the value of the content and why it’s going to help improve business performance.
  • Monthly newsletters – This is probably one of the most important tools you can have. This is where you can consolidate all of the content you’re building for your prospects and customers and deliver it to them on a regular basis. One stop. Done. This can include thought leadership, product news, company updates, a personal note from the CEO, etc.
  • Targeted nurturing campaigns – You have a database of warm leads, but they haven’t moved to the sales cycle. This is a great opportunity for you to continually touch them with great educational content to keep them warm, and hopefully it’ll get them to act. But if you’re not top of mind, they will forget about you so why not find a way to take the content you have worked so hard on and nurture them and help them move along the sales process.
  • Customer/partner communication – Get your customers and partners excited through continuous education and by sharing critical information. Turn them into your evangelists and, in turn, encourage them to share with their communities.

Why Public Relations is Marketing’s Best Friend

PR is an invaluable tool. No longer is PR just about media coverage; it’s an extension of your marketing initiatives to drive leads and awareness at the same time. This is a great opportunity to show your thought leadership through press releases and help with sentiment and share of voice. Using a press release, you can highlight the key areas of the content and how the content will help companies address specific challenges. Another important purpose the press release serves – it’s a central resource center for everything related to the topic that you’re pitching.

Leave the readers with the option to download the collateral, view your video on YouTube, check out your Facebook Page for more info, follow you on Twitter to get information like this and future news.

Never miss an opportunity to promote in some shape or form. If there are channels and tactics out there that you can use to get as much mileage as possible, do it. Just because you have it doesn’t mean people will find it. Today, it’s about getting the right information to your customers and prospects.