All posts by Vicki Blair

Small business owners can get by with just a few free social media monitoring applications and tools out there for only so long.  At some point, you’ll likely come to the conclusion that the time and effort involved makes it well worth it to pony up a bit more of your hard earned cash and assign a bigger budget to the social media component of your marketing plan.  This article should help you know when that time has come and what to do about it.

Signs that you need to upgrade to a professional social media platform or SaaS (Software as a Service) application:

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How do you determine the possible business impact one employee could have by interacting with a single customer? How do you measure the cost to a company if they never know what innovative changes would reduce an exodus of long term customers? What if you were missing ways to reduce the sales cycle and improve margins? One of the things I find so fascinating about social media for business is that it addresses all of these questions and much more – often bringing with it answers in the form of ingenious solutions. Yet, what successes and wins go unrealized if your corporate culture is stymied by old-school beliefs that ignore the role social media plays in shaping today’s business?

I attended the Network Computing Architects (@NCAnet) annual conference last week. With prestigious speakers such as Nir Zuk, founder and CTO at Palo Alto Networks, and Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO of EMC Corporation, you can imagine the highly technical topics of the day. Presentations and panels energized the audience around timely and valuable topics such as cloud computing, IT security, data centers, network infrastructures, compliance, virtualization, WAN optimization and so forth. As an adjunct to the technical agenda was a CEO breakout session on a topic that cannot be ignored regardless of the business you’re in. That panel discussion was The Effect of Social Media on Business Culture in the Next Decade.

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Senior VP and CMO at Dell, Karen Quintos, wrote in her forward to the new book Social Marketing to the Business Customer: “Embracing social marketing and finding a way to integrate it into the fabric of doing business can help B2B companies truly provide more value to the people they serve and create loyal customers for life.” Well said Karen! Alas, the choice of which social channels to use or how to make the most of them is not always so cut-and-dry. B2B sellers face a unique complexity of selling to multiple individuals and roles for a single deal. This is the subject I want to address today – figuring out how to take into account the specific needs of each stakeholder so that your social media strategy and tactics speak directly to all of them!

The Challenge

You have to be able to connect with a multitude of individual stakeholders at a company in terms of what matters to each one. What is important to the IT Director will likely differ significantly from the VP of Sales’ key interests. Yet the decision to buy your products may be influenced by both of these individuals, along with several others! For example, at Visible we often work with Marketing, Social Media, other specialized Marketing divisions, Market Research, Corporate Communications, PR, Research & Development, and Customer Care. Each business group has very particular objectives they need our products and services to meet.

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Social Media as an Experiment

Why an Experiment?

From my perspective, life is one big experiment. We are all just trying to get the formula right. In our personal lives the formula we seek may revolve around achieving happiness, security, love, acceptance, appreciation, or power – whatever we think we need to be successful at life. With social media, we’re also trying to discover the perfect formula to help us meet various marketing objectives, such as increasing revenues for the company or reducing the sales cycle. In business as in life, the perfect formula isn’t always obvious and can often take years to master.

Social Media Experimentation

When it comes to social media as a component of your marketing plan, you’ll read and hear a variety of ways you could or should be using this medium for business. But the practice of using social media for marketing objectives is still relatively new and the answers aren’t always clear.  In my experience, there aren’t cookie cutter approaches to making it work either. Whether you are the ‘Social Media Czar’ for a large marketing department or you are the Marketing department, if you want to determine how social media can be incorporated into your company’s marketing plan then it’s time to don the lab coat and head for the beaker station – you’ve got some experimenting to do!

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Does your company have a corporate responsibility program in place to tackle all aspects of doing business? My recent article, “Social Media for Social Responsibility” is featured in today’s Business 2 Community. Here’s an excerpt and link to the full article …

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While doing a little spring cleaning, I noticed the cover of a Yoga at Home (2010, Yoga Journal special publication). One of the featured sections advertised on the cover was “power up your practice” and the bullet points implied that one could “build strength, gain flexibility, and take it to the next level.”

Forgive me if this comes across as a bit esoteric, but I couldn’t resist thinking of the wise nuggets from yoga that are incredibly applicable to the business of social media!

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Although social media is becoming a hotter topic for more and more divisions within any enterprise, for many business groups the concept of monitoring, analyzing, or engaging on social media content is still a vague and sketchy sounding proposition. So how do you promote its use without just stating a bunch of boring facts that would lull even the most caffeinated into a comatose state?

Here are some fun ways that you might bridge the knowledge gap around social media business uses:

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Vicki provides some quick tips in this 2 minute video on using the advanced Google Blog and Twitter search functions for estimating how much social media content you can expect to find on your brand, products, or a general topic of interest.  Watch the video by clicking the yellow link below:

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Anyone who knows me knows I’m all about process and procedures and implementing tidy ways of getting stuff done efficiently and effectively (yes, some even call me ‘particular’!).  After seeing Stephen Colbert interview Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right, I was hooked.

At Visible I lead our Account Management team and we have 20 key processes within 4 major categories for handling accounts from the onboarding through renewal phases.  Numerous tasks have to be coordinated – each one critical to ensuring that we are delivering successful client account management for the life of a client’s project.  What are the tasks you face associated with designing, implementing, and maintaining a successful social media program?  What sometimes goes wrong?

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This post provides a quick overview of Shama Hyder Kabani’s book, the Zen of Social Media Marketing.  But if you don’t want to read the full review, here’s the short version: Buy this book!

Quick Specs

·         Author is Shama Hyder Kabani (@Shama on Twitter)

·         185 pages in length

·         Copyright date 2010

The Zen of Social Media Marketing: Vicki’s Take

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