Content marketing is so hot right now, and media conglomerates are positioned to best leverage it due to their ability to control both the production and distribution of mass media. For reference, “Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling,” according to the Content Marketing Institute. By its definition content marketing requires a continuous two-way dialogue with customers that slowly exposes them to one’s product, service, or offering and the added value that it can deliver. The following is a great example of content marketing as performed by one multinational mass media corporation.
The Walt Disney Company, which has vast media holdings, can attract, target, and engage with a variety of audiences across traditional, digital, and social channels through creatively engineered content. If you watch ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, then you had better save time on your calendar this July to watch Disney’s The Lone Ranger. Why? Because Baseball Tonight’s Karl Ravech and ESPN’s other anchors will more than likely continue to use phrases such as, “Matt Harvey continues to be the Lone Ranger on the Mets’ rotation…” in what seems to be a coordinated and strategic effort to plant the idea in your head to see the Disney film due in theaters on July 3. Is Ravech’s use of the Lone Ranger metaphor a coincidence or purposely placed?
As Hollywood studios begin to leverage big data analytics in order to predict blockbusters and avoid $275 million flops, It would seem that they’re approaching content marketing with similarly innovative techniques. On April 14, ESPN published a photo of a runner in the Vienna City Marathon with the caption, “Lone Ranger: Separate from the pack, a solo runner puts one foot in front of the other in the Vienna City Marathon on Sunday in Vienna.” The following week, Disney released its third trailer for The Lone Ranger. Just a coincidence? Perhaps, it could be that ESPN’s staff are currently saturated with internal communications from their parent company related to the upcoming release of The Lone Ranger, which could be leading to their unintentional use of metaphors related to the heroic Western character. Alternatively, Disney might have required its various businesses to utilize Lone Ranger references across their various channels. Nevertheless, it conspicuously exposes the reality that even sports reports can be “influenced” in their language by parent corporate interests.
Do you follow your favorite brands on social media? Surprisingly, 67% of US internet users use social networks, but only 33% have ever followed a brand on social media. In light of a brand’s limited online following, it’s necessary for B2B sales and marketing professionals to actively engage on social media. By doing so, they can serve as their brands’ online advocates and evangelists as well as reach online influencers and analysts. Accordingly, how do you motivate, or better yet, inspire your colleagues to become active on social media? Although it’s easy to collaborate with early innovators, early adopters, and sometimes even the early majority, it can be very difficult to convey the same sense of urgency to the late majority and laggards as defined in Everett Rogers’s Diffusion of Innovation. Certainly, it takes time before a company realizes the ROI and value from its social selling strategy. In order to help with the adoption process, I’ve pulled the following convincing statistics from the Aberdeen Group’s paper “Collaborate, Listen, Contribute: How Best-in-Class Sales Teams Leverage Social Selling”:
Best-in-class users of social selling reported:
Best-in-class social selling companies reported (industry average in parentheses):
Best practices as reported by mature social sellers:
The emergence of social media has given rise to companies, such as Klout, Kred, and PeerIndex, that measure online influence. There have been many critics of social scoring systems, including John Scalzi, a CNNMoney guest columnist who once dubbed Klout “socially evil.” It seems that over time, measurements for online influence and reputation will become standard tools used by marketers, recruiters, analysts, and perhaps even bankers.
In July 2012, McKinsey estimated that social technologies could pump $900 billion to $1.3 trillion per year in new value into the economy, based on an analysis of four key industries: consumer packaged goods (CPG), consumer financial services, professional services, and advanced manufacturing. Within CPG, social technologies could create anywhere from $212 billion to $308 billion of value because it receives some of the greatest value from the marketing and market research value in addition to any impact on business operations.
In light of the immense value potentially added to the economy by social media, it’s understandable that companies have begun to develop systems for assessing the influence and reputation of individuals’ online activities. For example, businesses need assistance with identifying brand advocates, influential consumers, industry leaders, subject matter experts, etc. In the process, social scoring companies are becoming clearinghouses of data related to users’ online activities and interactions. Social scoring systems are not perfect and by measuring only a person’s online activity they aren’t able to adequately capture a complete picture (including offline activity) of a person’s influence. Nevertheless, ratings provided by companies such as Klout may eventually become industry standards much like the credit ratings provided by S&P and Moody’s or the credit scores monitored by Experian, Equifax, and others. Imagine if at some point in the future loan decisions either individual or corporate took into account not only traditional credit rating scores, but also social media scoring?
I maintain activity on a variety of social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, Google+, Foursquare, Chatter.com, Yammer, and Vine. Fortunately, I save time via social media dashboards, which you can learn more about here. Even for a social media and digital marketing strategist my activity on so many social networks may sound overly ambitious to some, but it’s not. For example, I use Twitter for microblogging in order to highlight thought leadership, interact with influencers, and build my personal brand while I use Facebook on a more personal level in order to keep in touch with college roommates. Therefore, I try to extract as much value inherent in each social network in order to realize their respective opportunities, advantages, and benefits. Focusing on the added value of being active on each social network enables me to accept the fact that most - if not all - of the companies are collecting personal, behavioral, geolocation, and other data in exchange for the free use of their platforms. I suggest people perform from time to time cost-benefit analyses related to their social activity given the amount of data companies can now collect, analyze, and leverage to drive their businesses.
Recently, I started to rethink my activity on Foursquare. I began to utilize Foursquare after I transitioned from an Android device to an iPhone. I was curious to see how Foursquare compared to Facebook’s checkins and was also interested to learn how I might leverage it for B2B purposes. Soon my Foursquare account became a diary or memoir of the places I had been. On occasion I’d use it for a restaurant recommendation or for other tips - typically favorite items on a menu or a code to a locked bathroom - at the places I visited, but even those needs could be fulfilled by better apps and review sites. Over six months or 559 checkins, I never saw a deal on Foursquare worth using. Typically, I found that I could locate a better sale or coupon via coupon code sites such as Retail Me Not.
Unlike other social networks, Foursquare requires access to your smartphone’s location services in order to optimize the mobile app’s user experience. Accordingly, Foursquare can create a much more in-depth data profile for each user than other social networks, which often see their mobile app’s location services disabled by users. In light of the imbalance between the benefits provided in exchange for my vast quantities of data, I’ve decided to quit Foursquare.
Monitoring and contributing to various social media accounts requires a lot of time. Housing all of your social accounts on one main dashboard can not only save you money but also a few precious minutes during peak social posting hours (no more tabbing back and forth between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!).
Why should we maintain active social networks? For starters, an infographic on “social selling” by Inside View suggests that LinkedIn generates more B2B business leads than Facebook, Twitter or Blogging. It also states that companies with active blogs generate 67 percent more leads per month than companies that do not. For many of us, monitoring LinkedIn, Twitter, Yammer, as well as other social networks can be too time-consuming.
Social Media Dashboards:
Online tools known as “social media dashboards” help you monitor, manage, and even automatically schedule updates in order to maintain activity across platforms. A social media dashboard is simply just an online tool that will help you keep all of your different accounts in one place, side by side. Dashboards are also interactive, so you can tweet and share right from the dashboard as opposed to constantly going to a bunch of different sites.
HootSuite is the best-in-class, free solution for managing one’s social networks efficiently and effectively. In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin, HootSuite also offers connections to Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress, Ping.fm, and Mixi (Japan’s leading social network).
Setting Up HootSuite
The most useful aspect of HootSuite is that it enables you to schedule updates for any of your social profiles. You can learn how to schedule updates. Alternatively, you can select to turn Autoscheduling on which will then schedule your updates based on the time of day when the majority of your followers are online and when the potential for engagement is at its highest.
Scheduling Updates Easily with the Hootlet Extension in a Web Browser
HootSuite offers a “Hootlet” extension for web browsers. When reading a news item or web page online, clicking the “Hootlet” button automatically shortens the page’s URL and creates a message based on the page’s title. You can then select which social profile(s) you would like the update published to. It is recommended that you add a personalized comment or perspective in the message as well as any hashtags(#) for search engine and trending purposes. The following links provide you with steps for how to install an extension for any web browser:
Are you going to manage your social media efforts using a social media dashboard?