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how to increase your twitter followers

January 28, 2009

twitter

This is a quick and succinct post from Kevin Rose that gives some great tips on increasing your audience on twitter. Perfect to consider when starting a personal or company twitter account.

I particularly recommend getting involved in conversations and trending topics, especially if you’re at a large event or tradeshow in your industry. Great way to increase your audience with valuable followers.

Social media for social change – help us make a difference

December 16, 2008

This year my company is working to raise money for donation to micro-financing organization Kiva. No monetary commitment is required from you, all we are looking for are your comments and your thoughts on the charity of your choice to share with our audience.

Your participation means that your charity may be chosen at random as the second charity we donate to this season, so everyone’s help is needed. Check out our company blog for more information and to participate. Thanks so much for sharing your time and making a difference.

Anya

Please pass this link on to your friends and family!

facebook for business purposes

November 25, 2008

facebook-logo1I’ll be presenting a 45 minute webinar tomorrow as part of BrightTALK’s Conversational marketing summit. The webinar will focus on using facebook effectively for business purposes, some do’s and don’ts in this process, and some great examples of successful use of facebook by brands today. 

To join us, click here and register to attend. I’ll also post the webinar live afterward for reference purposes. 

Hope to see you there!

PR is not dead… or dying for that matter

November 13, 2008

pic7982656_stdThanks to Jeremiah Owyang over at Forrester I have finally been inspired back to the blog to tackle one of my favorite issues… the evolving PR industry. His thoughts on business opportunities in PR are both insightful and vitally important for the survival of the agency industry. Note that I do not say the survival of PR. “Public relations” as a practice will always be an incredibly important part of any organization’s business, and I’m going to tell you why. But before I discuss what awesome change IS taking place, I think we need to tackle an important myth:

PR does not equal media relations. PR has not been defined as media relations in DECADES. PR is only defined as media relations by AGENCIES. 

That’s not the definition of PR as it is taught in business school and communications schools, and it isn’t the way most internal PR departments work. It’s the way most traditional AGENCIES in PR work. And they are a different animal entirely, and also much less likely to be able to change with shifting economic and industry demands, because an agency’s entire business is designed around the media relations model. Asking a PR agency to act differently is like asking Coca-Cola to start selling cars. It’s not that easy to change a business model overnight. 

Public relations in today’s world is a term that refers to managing an organization’s relationship with its various publics. This can include any number of constituencies: customers, employees, local community members, investors, environmental activists, moms, teens, politicians, you name it. Any given organization manages a large number of diverse and vital relationships with different publics. This does also include bloggers, mainstream media, industry media and analysts. But they are a small part of a much larger pie. 

So I want to make a quick argument here…

If we rethink our definition of PR, we would arrive at a much better practice of communicating in all channels, including social media. We should be managers (consultants, counselors, thinking big, thinking strategy…) We should not be thinking just about the media, but about our clients’ businesses, the bottom line, the sales cycle, new markets to explore, new insights into doing business that includes new ways of communicating, building relationships and strengthening brand awareness and brand loyalty. If we’re helping to launch a product, we should be involved in development, market research, user-interface design, website content editing, beta-testing, feedback analysis, and finally launch. We should have a hand in marketing and advertising strategy as part of the entire communications package, we should have a strategic approach to PR, marketing and advertising that all works together with a cohesive message. And that message should have been developed with clear business goals and strategy in mind. 

There are thousands of tactics and tools out there to tackle these efforts. But before you start telling your clients to join twitter and start a blog, tell your clients you are going to help them THINK about what strategy can be assembled to take their business to the next level. The most valuable differentiator you can offer your potential clients is your MIND. Your IDEAS. This is a knowledge-based industry first… showing your clients that you’re thinking about their business in a unique way, that you didn’t pull most of their proposal from one you did last week for someone else, and that YOU bring something to the table others don’t will go a long way in showing that your work is a notch above the rest. 

Finally, it’s time to realize that there is a burgeoning group of new consultants and agencies that GET IT. In a blatant act of self-promotion I’m here to tell you that this is EXACTLY why I joined Kate in the Other Side Group venture. We like to think we take a new approach to communications consulting, and that often takes a variety of forms depending on the clients we work with. But it does NOT center on media relations. We are business consultants, and we are focused on helping our clients improve existing business and communications practices or develop unique new ways of interacting with constituents, identify new markets and opportunities and achieve the best results possible. 

So if you’re thinking PR agencies are a dying breed, you’re thinking in the wrong direction. They are evolving, they have new ideas, a foundation based on strategy and a nimble and personalized approach to what for decades has been a cookie-cutter method of media blasts. Check it out. PR isn’t old, it’s new. You just have to be looking in the right places.

new marketing summit – recap

October 16, 2008

Thanks to everyone who has given great feedback on the live-blogging kate and I did for the New Marketing Summit this week. Just wanted to pull it all together with one final post – the below posts are all full versions of summit panels, interviews and talks over both days of the event. Kate and I split the task, so what you don’t find here, you’ll find over at our company blog. Please feel free to leave comments and follow us on twitter @anyawoods and @just_kate. 

Thanks to Chris Brogan for a fabulous event, and it was great to meet all the movers and shakers in this industry!

new media summit – email marketing is alive and well

October 15, 2008

Greg Cangialosi – Blue Sky Factory, Inc. 

Richard Evans – Silverpop

Pamela O’Hara – BathBlue Software

Chip Terry – ZoomInfo

Is email dead? Is it still going strong?

Pam – No it’s not dead. Both from working with clients and our own company, there are a lot of ways to be having a conversation, and email is sort of a deal closer, a way to get to the conversation and the biggest tool in your tool set. 
Richard – Growth continues, organically as well as with people who have started and dabbled at it in the past in blast email format and are now moving to new methods in transactional email etc. Every interaction that happens in social networks carries the email channel in the background. We see marketing and social media merging with email technologies. 
Greg – Email is the workhorse, staple of all online marketing, when you have the direct marketing association saying that for every dollar spent in direct marketing campaigns they can expect a $48 ROI you start to see how valuable it still holds. Email has lost its sizzle, we have proliferation of new techologies, things like twitter, facebook and myspace, and compared to these, email is traditional, but at the same time we see incredible ROI. There are three kinds of email: social email, marketing emails and transactional emails, all key drivers of commerce. Its not dead, its role is changing and becoming a digital glue and a driver of other forms of communication and interaction. 
I know email is tried and true, but is it trusted?
Greg – If you’re doing it right it absolutely is trusted. Begins with relevance. e-relevance is the new spam. If you’re getting msgs from me that are not relevant you see that as spam. Trust and then execution of one-to-one dialogue is key. 
Chip – Traditional email marketing in terms of blasting same email to thousands is dead. But carefully crafted list that is monitored well, with a good offer and targeted recipients is definitely still useful. Be relevant, that’s going to matter. 

Bulk email is ok, unsolicited email is ok. How do you define spam, and how close can a marketer get before crossing the line?

Chip- There needs to be a clear opt out, needs to come from a real email address, must not be sent again to someone who has opted out. But the question is, how do we look at standards that go beyond what’s legal? You have to be very careful. Is bulk email sending 500 emails to a targeted audience or sending 10 million emails to anyone you can get an address for? 

Pam – Really, spam is in the mind of your customer, and is different for each person. You’re trying to build a relationship. You’ve got to slowly walk in, give people tons of opportunities to say back off, and it’s an ongoing definition you’ll have to build on with each individual. 

What happens to te companies that people learn are definitely spammers?

Richard – When a customer engages in spamming people, we address that and first and foremost work with them to understand that what they’re doing is a violation of law and horrible biz practice. We don’t see it that often, but do terminate contracts with those that abuse the system. 

Greg – We’ve set up our network to break out each sender and measure the reputation of that sender. We can find out how many are complaining or hitting spam button when those emails come in. We run a strict policy, and three strikes you’re out 

Richard – Relevance is a term that keeps coming up here, and is key. When you think about email and how it’s related to new media in facebook and myspace, if it becomes irrelevant then it’s spam. If i log onto twitter and all i see is corporate ad-related tweets, that becomes spam. There is alot that has been learned in the email industry that can be carried over into other communities. 

Chip – email marketing is part of a marketing mix. It’s not send an email and hoping you get a response, its being on facebook, myspace, linked in, sending a postcard, going to an event, engaging with customers. All of that combined. Email has the benefit of being highly trackable, but I think that trackability has led to overuse of the medium. Find the right list, have a compelling offer, and that’s most of it. 

Pam – You can send email but also see if people are talking about your brand on other networks so integrating these mediums is important. If someone is complaining about your product or advertisement you can take them off the list or engage with them personally. 

Email marketing as an acquisition tool?

Greg – There is a big difference between list rental and list purchase. You can pay a lot for the list You have to have a clear call to action and a very catching message. Need to tread very lightly in this space. 

Richard – Using email for acquisiton purpose is broken. You come off as spam, pay a lot, people end up on your list who are not engaged or interested to begin with. Better to use other methods (viral marketing, your website, social networks) to find targets. You can use emails sent to current customers and then seeing who they forward it on to and have relationships with so there is already a more relevant list. 

How many emails is the right number, and then when is the best time?

Richard – It’s the time that the recipients are in the inbox. When an open or a click occurs, you should be able to see that time stamp. That’s a fairlyl good indicator of when you should send an email not just to that list or segment, but to that individual. Over time you can pinpoint when is best to send an email to every individual on your list. 

Greg – We’ve found the same thing in terms of looking at the reporting and it comes down to the client. Some of our clients email quarterly, some daily. Also depends on the type of program you’re running. In terms of specific day and time, look at your data. 

Email tracking is great for positive relevancy, how do you cull list and figure out when you are no longer relevant?

Chip – We go through and say if you haven’t opened in the last three months or six months, we’ll make that cutoff, send some final message, and then take you off the list. 

Greg – It’s all in the data again. See when people have stopped responding. Different clients handle it differently. 

Pam – Make sure whether its your CRM or email sources, you need to be able to figure out who is silent and not responding, its just as important as knowing who is converting. 

Is there is one thing to help people improve their email marketing, what would it be?

Pam – You should have a flexible, customizable solution that meets your specific needs. Embracing and understanding that the data is out there and knowing the tools. 

Richard – We talked a lot about data and relevance. Think about the other channels that you operate in. Whether it’s media, networks or other mediums, the time that you spend understanding those mediums, take that time and go back and apply it to email. It used to be that you could just send out mass emails. So take time to look at the data, look at the content you’re sending out, and think about it as relationship marketing. 

Greg – Fitting in with the theme of social marketing and this event, I go back to talking about email being the digital glue. I recommend that everyone try this with your email list. If you have presence on other networks, platforms, blogs, etc, use email to tie all those other assets together. It’s extraordinarily successful, spreading our message all around the social web. And be consistent. It’s just like blogging. Telling people what you’re going to send, what to do with it, and then following up. 

Chip – recognize that email is part of overall marketing mix, marketing people have different sets of expertise than they used to, they are going to be data driven, processes are different, are going to look at microsegments of  your audience, technologies used will be different, you’re going to be using different technologies, to have that you need the right people, right technology, right processes.

new marketing summit – community platforms panel

October 15, 2008

Aaron Strout – Head of Social Media at Mzinga

Karen Orton – Lithium Technologies

Alan Lepofsky – Socialtext

Scott Deutsch – Orbius

You don’t end up doing work with communities by accident, most of the leaders in this space really believe in its importance. How do you start turning that evangelism into real marketing value? How do you go from saying you understand community deeply and telling people and businesses how it can help them? 

Aaron – We have a lot of folks in marketing that understand the value and then they go from there to try to educate others. We try to educate, have our employees read Groundswell and other important books. We also find that numbers don’t lie, if you can go in and talk hard talk not soft, show how the community can benefit the company, and talk goals and numbers, then we can get buy in from senior management. We can give names and examples of other big companies we’ve worked with as well to demonstrate how we can help in building a valuable community. 

Alan – One of the things I’ve done to take the value of communities and spread that to customers is finding that one defined goal. We’ve had a lot of talk around reaching out to customers and defining a brand. But I like to start around business partners. You partners are integral to your success so starting with that audience and allowing employees to use communities to communicate with partners is a great and easy way for employess to start seeing value, finding a way that the people inside your company can see value in communities.  

Karen – We believe that one of the first things to do is to research, see what peers are doing, if you don’t have an exact example in your space look to similar kinds of audiences. Communities are not new, many companies have been doing it for a really long time. There are tried and true ways of doing this, and we have seen a lot of these projects, so you need to think really carefully about what you can do. You need to have numbers. We believe you also have to have some scale and traffic to your website, otherwise you have to go back to driving traffic. 

Scott – I hear about great successes of big brands, but how many of you have budgets of over a hundred thousand dollars to get started? Thats the problem in this industry. Social media has failed to reach the masses, and the first step is to make this affordable. There are a lot of marketing folks that would love to get involved, but they don’t have the budget for it. How does a biz to biz smal company move into this space pragmatically?

Cost is an issue, but many companies that help you create communities also help manage them. There is practice behind these tools. Let’s talk about services, how do you help people manage their communities?

Aaron – Some of the smartest people in the community space, Jeremiah Owyang for example, keep hitting on the idea that it’s not about the technology tools, it’s about community management, understanding technology  in terms of what your goals are. We have people come and say they just want to buy our platform, but we’re big believers that you only get one shot with your partners, employees and customers and we’ve been doing this for many years, so we insist on measurement, value and management and help you figure out getting people engaged, senior management on board, get people in. This primarily requires good content, good programming, etc. We are big believers in the know-how behind the plagtform. One good tip – if you want people to give you content, you need a rewards system so people are recognized. 

Alan – Seeding info in the community and then providing a goal or reason for people to go to the community is important. This info has to be useful within the flow of what people are already doing. Having the people, pics, tags etc all integrated together is key. One of the most successful things I’ve seen is not trying to get people to stop using email but creating a bridge instead. Wikis can have email addresses associated with them. Let people send an email to the wiki and it posts automatically. Scavenger hunt within the wiki, taught people how to use it, this becomes a training seminar without the boring training aspect.

Karen – Community management in itself is about rewards and recognition, you can give them a badge, but there are specific ways to reward members for diverse behaviors, not simply quantity of posts, but formulas of tagging, quality of content, ambassadors that are most trusted etc. 

Scott – Watching the success and failure of other companies shows us what many community creators have done wrong. Community success is driven by value. Adults are in it for value, and they are not in it for reward. If you start by creating value, you will be able to create a strong community. 

How are people using these tools in a way that is not ‘gee i love x product’?

Aaron – For example Dell. They’ve turned this into an innovation engine. Community knows what it does and does not like about their machines, so tapping into this base allows Dell to get feedback. Tap into that pent up desire in their customers to give feedback and then make it actionable. 

Alan – Your internal communities are very important. If you don’t build a culture internally to help your employees become ambassadors to the community, you won’t be able to build a strong external community. 

Karen – Gives the example of Future Shop (like BestBuy) Some people don’t want to jump into a community conversation. They created a little video avatar. You can ask the avatar a question, and it will go back and search the community and bring back answers. He will also ask question anonymously in the community and e-mail user the answer. 

Scott – trust in the environment is key. Adults in the wider community are very nervous about this environment and do not feel protected. 

Alan – Security has always been a big thing, and it extends beyond our online IDs and onto our devices. The problem is everyone wants to own the data so they’re not willing to give extended data portability. 

Karen – Most companies allow you to reveal as much or as little as you want. You should have control where you are and your identity within that community. 

Scott- If I can get 200 people who love my brand that join my community and talk about my brand to their wider community, that’s perfect. You don’t need tens of thousands of members, and you should bring value to those who are there.