Tag Archives: social media

SocialDreamium

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I decided to take a minute to highlight my latest endeavor, joining the team at SocialDreamium. SocialDreamium is a privately-held Milwaukee-based company committed to building strong web-based communities centered around a companies products and services.  Started in October of last year by my brother Ryan Graves, and quickly expanding. I jumped on board a little over a month ago to help author the blog, (Get Audience, Get Going, where you will often see my posts from this site as well), assist with client writing (as we start to build a client base), and editorial assistance to what eventually will be a SocialDreamium book entitled,”The Dream in Action”. (I’ll keep you posted!)

At SocialDreamium, we believe in the power of the collective social web. It’s what we love and have a passion for, and want to help others understand.. and then utilize for their brand.  We also love people and we see the internet as a way to meet more people and create value for these businesses. We work to create two way relationships and conversation between our clients and their customers.  I hav posted before about online communities, and what that means. SocialDreamium dives into this concept and works to first create and then managing these communities. It is so much about listening and contributing to the networks that exist, and we help our companies to do this. We also help companies to develop a successful blog for their brand and build a social web presence that they can stand on.  Through these outlets we allow our clients to grow a relationship with their customers.  We also now have a larger team that allows us to build web based software to help you manage your community.  Currently, the SocialDreamium team is made up of Ryan (in Milwaukee), David Abrahams and Dien Nguyen in Sydney, Australia and myself in San Diego. We’re still growing and looking for great writers and developers to join our ranks…(e-mail taylor@socialdreamium.com)

SocialDreamium currently has a working relationship with SOHO Magazine (out of Milwauke), and our clientel includes of SOHObiztube.com and budgetpulse.com — check ’em out! It’s all very exciting I know… just wanted to keep you all in the know, and I will keep you posted as this exciting new start up gains speed!

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Community…not to be confused with Social Media.

Social Media can help foster communities, but it isn’t a community in and of itself.  Social media simply allows conversation around certain content. For example – if multiple people post comments about the new Verizon – Blackberry Storm, to say what they do and do like about the phone – this is conversation centered around a common theme or object. It does not mean, however, that a community is created.   In a recent post by Rachel Happe, “Social Media is not Community”, Rachel lays down the facts that these ideas are often confused.  She outlines communities – what makes them and what their characteristics are.  In doing this, we can separate the ideas and realize that communities can be built, they allow communication, they are continuous and they are based around content.  We must then see social media as a tool that can be used for your brand or company to help the building of a community.

NOW…Realizing that you may not already have a community where you thought you did,  that it was simply discussion around the content of your brand/company etc, the next step is to figure out how you go about building this network or community. Focus on building community first, and then on how to encourage discussion through social media for your community.  In a Now Is Gone post The Seven Principles of Community Building there were a few I thought were the most crucial.

1. Provide value, create content
You need to give your community something value-able to talk about. The content is obviously step one, and as the community continues to grow, and as you work to build it up you should be focused on more than numbers. You should be focused on keeping the value and content evolving. This should be the first focus of any company or brand looking to build a network — you must always be giving valuable content to your users.

2. Participating in your community.
Yes – you create content and put it out there, but if you don’t comment and give feedback on that content with your community – it wont work as well.

3. Don’t talk AT your community.
It is outdated to talk to your audience. Consumers/Users don’t appreciate that kind of marketing or information anymore. They wanted to talk with you, they don’t want to be talked at. This is all about control. You can’t control your community, you need to provide content and then observe and join discussion around it.

Think about it…
What communities would you consider yourself a part of? Are you a frequent commenter, do you join discussion often? Try to draw the line in your own action – are you just part of a discussion – or would you consider yourself a member of certain communities online?

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Why Not Exploring Social Media Marketing for Your Company is a Mistake

Jim Tobin, who heads Ignite Social Media in Cary, N.C. said of social media,  “There are tons of studies that say word-of-mouth is more effective than any other marketing, and this is essentially word-of-mouth on-line.” He also wrote a book called Social Media is  Cocktail Party.  (I haven’t read it, but I just ordered it because I love the title.)  However, I keep hearing that social media isn’t for everyone, and many companies simply are NOT interested in learning and incorporating social media into their efforts. My question is why? If it really is as great as everyone all say it is then why isn’t EVERYONE jumping on board? Other than an attachment to the traditional methods (which is hard to break away from), why are some companies uninterested?

There are a few different answers to this question. Some don’t want to deal with regulations, or being held accountable for what is said in discussion on their websites.  Others don’t have the man power – blogging and social media involvement and upkeep is definitely a time consuming branch for any company. Also – there is a huge risk of opening doors to negative criticism , like this example below found in, “More Companies are Using Social Media for Marketing

In its work for a financial services company, Capstrat detected a popular YouTube blogger who had posted a video slamming the customer service he had received from the company. The video attracted more than 100,000 viewers within 90 minutes.

The client’s vice president of customer service e-mailed the blogger, expressed regret for the problem, and gave the blogger a number to call to discuss the situation. The executive also posted a contrite message on YouTube.

The problem was resolved, and the blogger quickly posted a second video praising the company’s response.

In the end — it really ended up benefiting the company because their positive response was widely heard of, and their customer service turned it around for an unhappy customer, SUCCESSFULLY.  That’s real, that’s transparent, that’s honest… and that’s word-of-mouth at it’s best. That’s what social media marketing is all about.
I have come to a conclusion about these companies that think social media might not work for them, or are uninterested in giving it a shot to see what it would mean. I’m going to go out on a limb here and saying- bad idea.  I think they are wrong. Wrong not to look into social media, work not to explore how it might benefit their company. Just because  not every outlet of social media works for every type of company doesn’t mean there isn’t at least one outlet or way you can be using social media. There are different tears, different levels, and so many creative ways to use social media.  Not ever opening that door is 100% of the time going to be a big loss for that company.

My advice – get yourself out there. Hire a social media expert to evaluate what your company or brand can be doing on the social web. Just do it.

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Online Profiling: Speaking to One vs. Many

There has been a shift in the methods that defines on-line marketing on customer outreach.  Today the efforts are not so much like using megaphone and getting your message out there as loudly and as noticeably as you can —  so that as many people as possible hear what you have to say and know what your brand is.  It has gone from more of an outreach measured by quantity to a direct and personal message outreach towards an individual. This individual is who you have created the message for. You altered and molded that message for what this person likes, what they think about, what they do in their free time, what kind of family they have, and what they are passionate about. Web technology is now more and more geared to collect personal information about you based on what web sites your visiting, and what you are talking about in your e-mails.  Is it invasive or…awesome? It’s a little process called “on-line profiling” and I vote awesome.  (I would much rather see a Michael Kors add pop up on the left of my monitor than one for Home Depot.) Companies (and on-line brands especially) SHOULD tailor our ads to what a customer likes, especially companies that aim to have an active social web presence.   Cater to your audience, as individuals, instead of using broader advertising and marketing to capture a group.  Sometimes you have to figure out what your average individual customer would be like based on your target group.  What would your ideal customer be like? (Someone that would be most interested in the tool/services/products that you have to offer.)   What music would that person listen to while jogging on a Saturday morning? What kind of connection tools are they interested in on-line? What types of circles do they run in? What are their interests and goals? You use those things to connect them with your brand on a more personal and intimate level. Speak right to the heart of what they want and need. The social media tools that currently exist are rapidly developing to allow marketers  to become much more personally involved with their audience and community.  Eric Imbs talks about how giving the customer an opportunity to choose their favorite color or favorite car, then cater to them based on their choice. He says, “colour is… a much more personal piece of information, which if used properly could make an ad much more targeted and….personal.” Through the on-line profiling that is possible today, we are allowed to get to know our customers at a closer level.  Use this.  Stop shooting for the crowds attention, and connect with your customers on a more intimate level.

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Building an Online Community

Social web presence.  Building a brand on-line. We know it’s an important part of Public Relations and Marketing and Branding. But once we recognize it’s importance, the question is…. how do we do it???

Are you sick of hearing the answer that you need to first find your target audience, talk to them directly, so on and so forth.  If so, you aren’t alone.  While these steps are important building blocks, we are constantly hearing them. We need to know more don’t we?  We need new direction. What is the real NEXT step, what do we do after we figure out who to target, and how do we target them? Now that we’ve realized how important it is to build a social network, how do we do it?  We need to help to figure out how to build a buzz about our brand and create our on-line community.

An important question to ask ourselves is how do we want to disseminate information? Do we want to send mailings, do we want to allow consumers to talk amongst themselves via message boards and live chats? What modes of communication do you want to introduce and build your community around? Blogging and twitter, or forums, e-blasts and pod-casts? What combination of networking methods will work the best and make the most sense for your brand?

Mega Star Media wisely says that you need to consider if you can run the community by yourself, you need to determine what type of resources it will take to build the on-line community that you want. This is important to recognize from the very beginning. Hosting a web presence and on-line network can definitely be a full time job! This may mean hiring someone more equip to take on the task and manage the on-line branding.  If this is financially an option, get in touch with those who know more about social media than you and bring them on board to become a part of your brand/company.  For example companies like SocialDreamium who offers a  collection of tools and services that help you take full advantage of the social web for your brand. Think of it as outsourced community management. SocialDreamium works to grow your audience, and is built to help brands who may be struggling with the how to’s of social networking.

It’s sometimes difficult to figure out what comes next, but in the world of social media, many of us are learning as we go.  These are the first few steps, a couple of important things to think about as you begin launch your brand on the social web. So get out there, get started, and good luck!

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How to use Social Media in Personal Branding

According to Forrester’s 2008 Social Technographic Profile, three out of four U.S. adults use web technologies and tools to connect with other people and to share information. Adoption has grown from 56% just a year ago. (Keep in mind this survey was conducted online so this is three out of four that have access to the web.)

According to Danny Flamberg’s “Making Sense of Social Media”, (and I think he’s nailed in on the head here) the critical questions for marketers are: How do we insert ourselves credibly into these networks and conversations? What’s the optimal use of this two-way communication and distribution channel?

I reviewed Flamberg’s advice on how to seed social media into a marketing strategy and I’ve altered his steps here a bit, condensed them into what I believe to be the important 3 points.

1. FIND YOUR PEEPS
Who is your target market/audience? Find them and intersect them! Once you find them watch them and learn about them, look for patterns, do this until you understand them!

2. PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD
Social networks give brands the opportunity to expose and share their knowledge and “showcase their expertise and float trial balloons”. This is an opportunity to show the confidence you have in your brand! (Most successful entrepreneurs aren’t shy — so this shouldn’t be an issue.) Put the best product you have to offer out there!

3. DON’T BE AFRAID OF TRIAL AND ERROR
These are the early stages. It’s a chance to bounce ideas of your people, your fans, your customers, see what they like and what they don’t. Gage how they feel from their response to the content you’ve put out there. Ask them to participate and give you feedback. This is a chance for trial and error. This is a chance for your brand to learn the way to success.

Another good point that Flamberg makes is that “social media is like talk radio”. Only a small percent of listeners actually call, but everyone is listening. The point of having a network is that seeing what’s going on and watching people experiment. So remember, that even though there are active players, there is a much larger inactive passive audience watching what you do, and you need to cater to them as well — after all they are the majority. Remember, three out of four of  U.S. adults (with web access) are social web-ing to share info! Let that be your information that is being shared. Follow these steps to get you or your company’s personal brand out there as part of the information that people are sharing. Everyday you aren’t taking advantage of the networks that are out there is another day of opportunity for your brand that goes un-embarked upon. Go back and see my blog from July,  How to use Social Media in PR, for some good points on why it’s important that you begin to use social media for your company/client/personal brand if you haven’t already.

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The use of Social Media in PR

Social networks are a mainstay in Public Relations today because of their unique ability to host interactive communications as well as allowing us to connect with our target audiences directly (its true two-way communication.) It is becoming the way to communicate with consumers.  We can communicate directly with target audiences and learn the industry trends and consumer habits.
 
Sometimes senior management hesitates to spend the money on social networks because it’s a non-traditional method of marketing. It’s a mistake to overlook it because if used correctly it can accomplish so much more than traditional methods. It’s only one tool in the PR box, but it’s an extremely important one.  We need to learn how to use social networks to our advantage.

 

Participating in social media will increase visibility, increase customer loyalty, will give you the ability to watch your customer’s behaviors and then allow you to respond quickly. (And it is also a lot cheaper than a focus group!)


 
Example/Case Study:
 
In Delta’s PR fight against a proposed takeover by US Airways they hosted a pro-active PR campaign centered around a website called “keepdeltamydelta.org”, and when they generated supporters through this site and those supporters attended rally’s, they posted video footage of the rally’s on YouTube. Obviously their unlikely campaign was a huge success.

 

 

Dos and Don’ts of Social Media in Public Relations

 

DO

  • Use social media in PR. We can’t claim to know anything about it if we aren’t using it ourselves. (We can’t suggest our clients use it without knowing how to use it ourselves.)
  • Introduce your clients to the benefits of going online. The web is a great platform for businesses to market their services and communicate with customers.
  • Think about audience first and message second. (This may sounds backwards) because there is a huge range of audiences available through social networks and you must cater who you are targeting before you put a message out there.
  • Consider the context of digital give-and-take conversations. When using social media networks, you can’t tightly control messages because the consumer has a voice, and they will speak up if they aren’t in favor.
  • Find your customers. Before jumping in, find out where your customers are, are they blogging? Are they on twitter? Then write up a detailed strategy and make sure you’re using the right social media platform.
  • Be authentic.  You must be yourself, customers can see right through fakeness.
  • Be prepared to receive negative feedback. Be prepared to fix customer-related problems and have a code of conduct. Someone should have the responsibility to monitor the content of the blog or independent site.
  • Be prepared to respond quickly. Respond quickly to all customer complaints and questions.

 

DON’T

  • Don’t be scared to use social media because it’s new. Older forms of advertisement are becoming outdated. Internet advertising and communication is a much more financially efficient way to reach target audiences.
  • Don’t abuse social media.If we abuse the use of social media, for example: using fake on-line user profiles as part of a campaign, or using without understanding, PR could be rejected by Social Media communities. We need to take time to know these communities so that we can operate well within them.
  • Don’t just do it to do it.  Have a strategic plan, and use social media as a strategic tool.
  • Don’t just sell.  Traditional advertising campaigns won’t work. Customers don’t want to be sold to, but rather engaged and listened to.
  • Don’t be reluctant to participate in other social media. Participating in another company’s (or individual’s) blog, Website, etc., can actually benefit your company.  The whole point of social media is to establish a community. If you link to them, they’ll link to you and you’ll see more customers on your site.

Think about it:
How can you be using social media in your public relations work place? How can you suggest the use of social networks to your clients?

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