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Latest Insight on Social Media & Customer Service Practices

I have often written about the importance of internet marketing.

Today, if you want to find new customers, expand your business or grow your reputation, the internet is the place to be. By utilising the power of online copywriting, blogs, article marketing and social media, you can drastically improve your company’s exposure within the marketplace. Still not convinced? Well the lovely people over at Pingdom have generated a list of mind-blowing internet numbers for 2010.

When dealing with customer service operations, move carefully. Remember knowledge management? Ten years ago, the discipline was all the rage in business circles.

The imperative: As the dot-coms boomed, personnel began coming and going without warning. Crucial information was “exiting the building,” because it never got captured, forcing organizations to start from scratch when rehiring, thus putting them at a competitive disadvantage.

A social analytics startup claims it can isolate tweets that are potential sales leads.

Launching in beta on Tuesday, Viralheat‘s Human Intent simplifies lead generation by helping businesses pinpoint social media users on the cusp of making purchasing decisions.

Human Intent aims to eliminate the need to manually read and parse through large amounts of tweets and other social updates to determine potential sales leads. Instead, users set up keyword searches and the product automatically sorts through social updates to identify those that express potential purchasing intent.

Change typically percolates for a long while in the distance somewhere, then sidles into the periphery of the mainstream but doesn’t catch on all that fast, and then, eventually, what was “change” a while back starts to gain steam and become accepted. In other words, change is often slow, as most processes are.

What are the motivators and drivers that make us engage with social media with such generous endeavor, escaping from the clutches of  TV to instead, check your Facebook or Twitter site, to post photos, write articles, make comments on blogs and shoot videos and post them on YouTube, all for “free”.

Social Media has provided us with the ability to measure how much attention we are getting online and therefore we now have the  ”Quantification of Attention” that has never been measured so broadly and deeply. This attention seeking behaviour drives website and blog traffic.


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“Social Media Marketing Strategies for Restaurants”

The financial crisis is likely to hit the fine dining industry very hard. Already there have been reports of exclusive London restaurants slashing their prices in order to maintain a steady flow of clientele and therefore subsequent cashflow. Competing on price, however, is never a wise, or usually profitable, strategy, so dining establishments need to look for alternate ways to bring in the customers. One easy way is to develop a social media strategy to connect with your customers and create a community of regular diners.

While every restaurant should develop their own strategy in order to connect with their key demographic the ideas I put forward here should offer you an insight into how to go about it. The tools I’ll be using to implement the strategy are easy to learn and use. In fact you may already be using them, but not necessarily in the most advantageous way. Also the tools are either free or cheap so you should see a good return on your investment (ROI) in a relatively short period of time.

The core of the strategy is to open the lines of communication both from you to the customer and from them to you. This allows you to inform them about what you offer as well as allowing them to offer feedback about what you’re doing well and what you can improve upon. This later part essentially allows you to use your customers as a free, perpetual, up-to-the-moment focus group. Once you’ve opened up the lines of communication there’s then an opportunity there to create a community, which brings benefits like brand loyalty, reliable and trusted feedback and word-of-mouth marketing.

Though the big restaurant brands are the whales of social media, there is plenty of room in the long tail for the smaller, independent restaurant. Why? Because local is the new organic, and you can’t get local from Outback Steakhouse or Subway.  There’s no sense of place at the chain restaurants–the value that they provide is consistency across countless locations and close proximity to major highways.

So what about those smaller, independent restaurants that embrace their local clientele and cuisine?  My advice:  play up your local connections for all they’re worth. Tout your support of local organizations, growers, producers, and artisans. Promote neighborhood events that drive traffic near your store, and coordinate your social media efforts to support your organizational goals.

Social media marketing and the businesses that utilize it have become more sophisticated. More small businesses are beginning to understand how to best leverage online tools to build a community and recognize that engagement and interaction are the foundations of social marketing, but most don’t know what’s next.

What follows are five advanced strategies for small businesses that may already have small online communities and understand how to create an online presence, but don’t know what to do next.

Did you ever notice that the best local restaurants are the ones you never see advertised?  That’s because successful local restaurants wouldn’t see a high ROI on print advertisements.  They see a much higher ROI by focusing on their values. 

Hometown Heroes have 3 things in common

  1. They know their customers.
  2. They care about their customers.
  3. They evolve with their customers.

Here are 10 ways you can know your customers, show you care about your customers and evolve with your customers by using social media.

 

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“Examining Starbucks Social Success”

Marketing is becoming more digital and stores and brands that primarily rely on offline marketing such as newspapers, television and other mass media and continue to ignore the importance of  the digital world will find it increasingly difficult to engage with their customers and will be overwhelmed by competitors that understand that for most businesses the future is web and social online engagement, even if it is not an online store.

The challenge for bricks and mortar companies and stores is “thinking” digital and online and “immersing” your business in it.

Digital immersion does not come naturally for offline brands as it hard to develop that mindset when you are not a technology company or unfamiliar with the web and its fast moving channels.

Starbucks are arguably the worlds leading social marketers having been ranked #1 in online engagement, #1 on Facebook and the #1 Tweeted brand (until OldSpice came along I’d say!), this presentation by Alexandra provides insights on how Starbucks paved their way through social and the creative opportunities that it brings through empowering fans and helping the global community. One of the key points I pulled out of this presentation is around the importance of the content surrounding the conversation, lots of people preach it’s all about the conversation, but let’s not forget that being able to back that up with tailored, meaningful or fun content is what helps to complete the experience…

Starbucks has over 705,000 followers on twitter and over 5,428,000 fans on Facebook. You could say that they’re doing something right on the Web. What is it about Starbucks’s social media strategy that makes it so successful?

5 Key Aspects Influencing Starbucks Huge Success.

  1. Starbucks on twitter
  2. Starbucks on Facebook
  3. Starbucks on YouTube
  4. My Starbucks Idea
  5. Starbucks Blog entitled “Ideas in Action

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“Utilize CRM to Leverage Your Business and Maximize ROI”

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service. Customer relationship management describes a company-wide business strategy including customer-interface departments as well as other departments.

The three phases in which CRM support the relationship between a business and its customers are to:

  1. Acquire: CRM can help a business acquire new customers through contact management, selling, and fulfillment.
  2. Enhance: web-enabled CRM combined with customer service tools offers customers service from a team of sales and service specialists, which offers customers the convenience of one-stop shopping.
  3. Retain: CRM software and databases enable a business to identify and reward its loyal customers and further develop its targeted marketing and relationship marketing initiatives.

Customer relationship management is high on the corporate agenda. Recent research carried out by Business Intelligence reveals that six out of ten companies have already started out on the CRM journey, and a further quarter are planning to do so. Improved customer profitability, life-time value and increased sales are just some of the benefits.

But CRM is more than customer satisfaction or a new SFA system, more than developing a new website or call centre. Being customer-centric is a while new way of doing business. It could completely transform the way of doing business. It could completely transform the way your company operates and will have major implications for people, processes and technology. Planning for and managing change in these three key areas is crucial – neglect any of them and your CRM programme will hardly get off the ground.

If you have been tracking conversations around social media for business, you have undoubtedly come across people talking about Social CRM. If you are anything like me, the first time you heard it, you probably rolled your eyes and said, “Ugh, another social media buzzword!” And while I do take issue with the jargon itself (and will discuss that later), Social CRM is a central concept that businesses need to understand deeply and integrate fully, in order to serve the social customer.

Social CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.

For many large organizations — particularly those that have been through a series of acquisitions — managing customer relationships is not a matter of whether they have a CRM system, but how many.

Take, for example, Synopsys Inc. a maker of electronic design automation (EDA) technology for developing systems on chips. It grew its revenue from $500 million to $1 billion by acquiring more than 40 EDA companies in roughly 10 years, and with it came 17 different legacy CRM systems.

“When we had a new acquisition it would just add to the list of systems,” said Ani Bhutkar, group director of corporate applications for the Mountain View, Calif.-based company. “Halfway through the spree of acquisitions we [realized that we needed] a master system that things would integrate into.”

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“The Importantance of Developing a Social Media Strategy For Your Business”

social media how toAccording to the 2010 Social Media Marketing Report , 67% of marketers plan to increase their use of social media channels including blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

As more companies integrate social media into their marketing and communications plans, emphasis needs to be on creating a social media strategy.  Without a strategy, you’ll undoubtedly be sucked into a social media time sink.

So how exactly do you develop this strategy?

It’s easy.  Here’s a practical approach to developing a social media strategy for your business.

  1. Determine Your Goals and Objectives
  2. Research, Research, and Research Some More
  3. Create a Digital Rolodex of Contacts and Content
  4. Join the Conversation to Develop Relationships
  5. Strengthen Relationships
  6. Measure Results
  7. Analyze, Adapt, and Improve

I found this PowerPoint particularly interesting due to its broad focus on the importance of planning a  Social Media Strategy and leveraging your business through new Social Media Marketing Tactics.

Do you have a social media strategy for your business? Can you articulate what a social media strategy is? Don’t feel bad if you answered no.

What’s missing from most social media strategies? The correct answer of course is the strategy.  Strategy may be one of the most misunderstood and misused terms in business, probably because every business expert has their own definition.

What is the missing ingredient in most strategies I’ve seen? Actual strategy.

However, before I can really show you what a strategy is, it helps to understand what a strategy isn’t.

What a Strategy Is NOT

  1. Strategy is not a plan
  2. Strategy is not a timeline
  3. Strategy is not a goal
  4. Strategy is not what tactics you will use to achieve your goal

Perhaps the confusion is a result of the fact that many of the above elements are included in the overall strategy document or presentation. However, skipping or skimping on the actual strategy piece is never a good idea.

The Key To Developing A Social Media StrategySocial media is starting to take hold with brands, companies and organizations everywhere. While there are still stragglers, and it is probably incorrect to say most companies are getting with the program, a good number of them are. What we’re seeing in these organizations is a maturation process. Brands are done testing the waters, playing with the tools and saying, “We Gotta Facebook Page!” like it’s the corporate equivalent of an iPhone or Kindle. Companies are now approaching social media with communications strategies in mind — How can we effectively use these social tools to reach our audiences?
 
But therein lies the next challenge for those responsible for the social media planning for organizations. Regardless of the pedigree – public relations, corporate communications, marketing, customer service, research, etc. – today’s social media task masters are probably still operating from the traditional corporate mindset or training. First, you define your audience and your goals and objectives. Then you develop talking points to convince that audience to complete the action that fulfills the goals or objectives. Then you measure, report; rinse, repeat.

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“Personal Branding Resources and Tactics”

This digital tipping point is making the website the most  important portal and front door to your customers in a world where a digital optimized presence is not a luxury but a necessity, it enables potential customers to find you, engage with your brand and then buy your goods and services.

The challenge is that once brands have the website designed and developed they need to optimize and promote their website to those potential clients to let them know that their brand exists (you need to keep in mind that nearly 90% of all buying decisions start with an online search).

The top 10 essential activities that should be considered part of your marketing strategy roadmap that are becoming vital in a digital world and are quite often ignored by a generation of management that grew up in the age of the TV industrial complex and telemarketing.

 We live in one of the most exciting times in the world’s history where you can build a personal brand faster and broader than anyone has even imagined. Most people are underestimating the reach and power of the internet that has really only been available for barely 15 years. Facebook marketing  is less than 2 years old and YouTube and Twitter have only been in existence for a few years.

The previous generation built their personal brands on television, radio, magazines and newspapers. You now have the opportunity to build a personal brand utilizing the power and leverage of social media and blogs that can accelerate the process.

The potential of the web is still evolving and will continue to surprise us as it continues to grow and challenge established thinking and disrupt business models.

So what are 23 steps to build your personal brand in a digital world?

Today, Twitter() has roughly 6 million users and is projected to grow to 18.1 million users by 2010. With all those people, the chances for networking are endless and connecting with new people can lead to career opportunities, so it is essential that your personal brand exists on the service. Last month we showed you a step-by-step process for building your personal brand on Facebook, and today we’re going to show you how to do the same thing on Twitter. By leveraging the Twitter platform to build your brand you can showcase yourself to a huge and growing audience.

Twitter continues to confound and confuse, and many people I meet say “What is Twitter about? Well its about community, its about sharing, its about marketing and hey… it only allows 140 characters… but you can link people to a website or a blog.. you can play them some music.. you can show them some photos or a video… all in 140 characters… wow, are you confused yet. One thing I really like is that it brings back the art of the headline.. because you only have this small opportunity to grab their attention.  My teenagers have a very short attention span, and hey I am not far behind… if you don’t  get my interest in 3 to 4 seconds I move on…. The fact that Twitter is streaming past you, if you don’t grab it it passes you by.. this makes it more compelling and in the end … potentially a bit addictive, you keep asking .. what have I missed out on? … What was that?.. Was that worth checking out?  Its immediacy is both frustrating and compelling.

Branding one’s self in an online environment built on entropy and go-baby-go is difficult at best, and impossible if you forget to take your happy pills. To that end, I’ve come up with a quick list of 100 things you might do to help with these efforts.

Personal branding is a relatively new concept and is thought to have emerged in 1997 after a ground breaking article was published on the Fast Company website by Tom Peters.

We are in the age of the ‘knowledge worker‘ and the days of being an anonymous cog in the wheel of a faceless corporation are fast disappearing. The opportunity to stand out as a personal brand without having to know a politician, grey and grizzled powerbrokers or gnarly gatekeepers is now a reality and it is possible to accelerate the time it takes to make it happen.

Firstly what are the key elements and the questions that we need to consider to become a visible and effective personal brand.

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“SEO Tips: Strategically Boost Your Search Engine Ranking with Video”

Can adding a video to your e-commerce site really boost traffic and sales? Absolutely — as long as your video is relevant, entertaining and/or informative and optimized for search engines. According to studies conducted by Forrester Research, having a search-engine optimized video on your e-commerce site increases your odds of showing up on the first page of Google in an organic search dramatically — more than 50 times greater than if you just had text on the page.

Not only can a good product or promotional video increase your Google ranking, it can increase your sales. Just ask Zappos, which recently revealed that it typically sells between six and 30 percent more merchandise when a product also includes a descriptive video.

 

The use of online video is continuing to grow and develop as higher broadband speeds become more widespread worldwide and the appetite by the younger generation for viewing rather than reading.

The old chestnut phrase , “A picture is worth a thousand words” begs the question, “How many words is a video worth?”So how do Zappos utilize online video and how effective is it?

They use video to engage with the buyer as much as possible. The use of  video is to create “virtually” the reality experience of a bricks and mortar  store, as if the buyer were in store and “more”.

While many companies are still focusing SEO efforts on their websites, there are many other ways to boost search results, especially since results are now comprised of all kinds of content, including videos, images, maps, business listings, tweets and even Facebook Page posts.Old Spice campaign

So how do you expand your efforts without breaking the bank? To boost SEO, consider creating a YouTube channel. Every video you post to your channel can be tagged and indexed, increasing the odds your brand name will appear in natural searches for keywords associated with your business.

Creating your own channel is pretty simple — here are four easy steps to kick things off right.

We are seeing more and more videos everywhere; on business sites, corporate news pages, personal websites, video hosting sites, mobile devices, social networks, blogs, cell phones, email and postings to video portals, and posting for clients.  The Government even has its very own video channel on YouTube.

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