THE HP GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA
How to use social media in your business
Social media – sites like Twitter and LinkedIn – can boost traffic to your website, improve your PR and help you connect with customers. Find out how in this essential HP guide.
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The HP Social Media Guide
The HP Social Media Guide
HOW TO USE SOCIAL ME DIA IN YOUR BUSINESS
Social media matters .......................................................................................................................................... 1 Why use social media? ....................................................................................................................................... 2 Setting goals ....................................................................................................................................................... 3 Allocating resources ........................................................................................................................................... 3 Which sites? ....................................................................................................................................................... 4 How will you measure success? ......................................................................................................................... 5 Case study: Recruitment Genius ........................................................................................................................ 6 Case study: Naked Wines ................................................................................................................................... 7 LinkedIn for beginners........................................................................................................................................ 8 Twitter for beginners ......................................................................................................................................... 9 Blogging for beginners ..................................................................................................................................... 10 Ten ways to build your PR profile online ......................................................................................................... 11
Social media matters
Few business owners would call social media a fad today. In the Jive Social Business Index 2011, 78 percent of the 902 executives polled said having a social strategy was critical to future success. Ad spend is moving online and eMarketer predicts total social network spend will reach $6bn this year. Yet the Jive research also reveals a gap between executive aspirations for social media and business practice. Only 17 percent felt their companies were ‘ahead of the curve’ when it came to social media strategies, with smaller businesses the least likely to prioritise it. Yet it is small companies that will increasingly rely on social media for marketing, according to another piece of research, the February 2011 CMO Survey by the Duke Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association. It also found that only 11 percent of chief marketing officers believed their company to be “very effective” at integrating social media into their overall marketing activity. So while businesses may now be convinced
The HP Social Media Guide
of social media’s worth, they are less inclined to create a strategy, let alone one that is integrated into marketing and communications activity. This is a recipe for failure. In fact, some, including Altimeter’s Brian Solis, argue that social media’s contribution now goes beyond just marketing – companies should be creating coherent strategies that form part of broader business objectives and demonstrate a clear link to the bottom line.
Why use social media?
Part of the difficulty is in defining it, determining what the business wants from social media, and deciding how to measure it. ‘Social media’ has become a catch-all for the so-called ‘Web 2.0’ websites that thrive on user interaction – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, wikis and a growing number of new platforms are popping up to encourage online conversations and sharing. Businesses recognise the opportunity inherent here, but even social media’s staunchest champions shy away from discussing the term ‘ROI’. This is partly because its value is intangible, residing in the conversations social media enable, the access they afford to existing and potential customers, the engagement and collaboration they foster. Outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Xing and Quora fuel what Dachis Group’s David Armano called ‘the conversation economy’. They are a boon for small businesses, which now have the same reach as larger organisations and the ability to reach individuals on a scale that would’ve been prohibitively expensive pre-Web 2.0. The numbers alone should be persuasive: 750 million people are on Facebook, 200 million on Twitter, 100 million on LinkedIn, over 2,000 local meet-ups are arranged through Meetup.com. It’s also a great leveller. “Small businesses have huge opportunities to delight the customer using social media – and to take bigger rivals down,” says Chris Lake, director of innovation at digital marketing experts Econsultancy. Its research has also found people increasingly keen on using social outlets as their primary customer service channel. At its best, social media provide businesses with fast feedback, the opportunity to amplify messages virally, more business opportunities, contacts and potential customers, faster growth, a low cost promotional tool… But all this comes with a caveat: they can also be a serious time waster. “There’s a danger in small businesses being reactive, or getting involved to keep up with the Joneses,” adds Guy Clapperton, author of This is Social Media. “Just because a competitor is active on Twitter and Facebook, doesn’t mean they are profiting from it.” According to the Jive survey, 62 percent of executives believe social media have the potential to improve customer loyalty and service levels, while 57 percent believe a social business strategy could increase revenue or sales. And of course, there are intangible benefits around brand visibility and customer perceptions but the challenge is quantifying the benefit.
The HP Social Media Guide
“The first question that you should ask yourself when setting out to create a social media strategy is ‘what is our motivation’,” says Rob Begg, senior director of product marketing at Radian6. “What are you hoping to learn through engaging? Do you want to know what people are saying about your product? Maybe you’re hoping to get an idea of what your competitors are up to.” Any strategy for social media should begin with an outline of business-led goals. These are likely to include attracting and retaining customers. But while a divorce lawyer may use Facebook’s status updates to source newly separated clients, an airline may do so by answering questions on Twitter. CubeSocial founder Linda Cheung encourages companies to think in business terms -- so, delivering a ‘better product in faster time’ for a market researcher will include using Quora or Pearltrees to gather information quickly. Strategies should also specify who is responsible for replying to messages or comments and in what timeframe, adds Radian6’s Begg. Whether social media should be part of everyone’s job or not is debatable, but it should certainly be at least one person’s responsibility. It makes sense to decide in advance how much time and budget you can invest in your social media campaign. For smaller businesses, owner managers need to weigh it against other priorities. It’s easy to start small, perhaps by focusing on one or two platforms at first and expanding from them if they prove successful. Companies should also draw up a social media policy that clarifies tone of voice and ensures consistent messaging whoever is monitoring the company’s activity. All strategies should have a section outlining what measures to take in times of trouble. Don’t rely on common sense: Virgin Atlantic and Habitat are cautionary tales on careless social media use.
While very low cost, social media for business is not free and it’s unlikely most small businesses will be able to sustain quality content across every social media outlet. Successful companies tend to focus on those attracting the most followers – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter at the moment, with Google+ a contender when it creates its business pages in the autumn. According to a 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report it’s possible to maintain “a very respectable social media presence in six hours a week” – or less. The bare minimum should involve listening, using tools such as Buzzmetrics to chart brand sentiment, keyword searches, using directories such as wefollow and hashtags or Tweetchat on Twitter, Web analytics, social search to find out which social outlets are most frequented by the people you want to reach. “So much communication takes place over the internet, so it’s about finding those ‘water coolers’ online,” says Nick Barker, a founder of Awaremonitoring, a website performance business. You don’t have to speak directly with people in order to engage with them. “You can use their comments to improve your products while monitoring,” says Begg.
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Content remains the distinguishing factor, whatever the medium. “It needs to be something fresh that will go viral,” says Matt Sawyer, head of SEO and social media at digital agency Datadial. “The right idea will work just as well for a small business as a large one. The beauty of it is that the market decides.” Some companies will find it easier to produce good content than others, but it’s possible to stand out by using humour or creativity, or as a business that answers industry questions. Blendtec’s ‘Will it blend’ series is an example of the phenomenal success good content can deliver: the latest iPad clip has clocked up over 11,500,000 views, and 40, 190 Facebook ‘likes’. Social media sites each have a distinct ‘culture’, etiquette and user base and users’ preferences will differ from one site to the next, too. So the more customers can be segmented the better for engagement. “Ideally, you should have a strategy for every customer. That’s how we treat customers in face-to-face situations,” says Tracy Playle, director of Pickle Jar Communications. She created a Ning group for her higher education contacts while using Digg and Twitter to share interesting information among a wider audience. Both serve to build her reputation and widen her network, but in different ways. Cubesocial’s Cheung is a fan of “lurking and learning”, shadowing companies or individuals you admire on different social sites to determine what works and what doesn’t.
Ultimately, which social media sites are useful will depend on where your target audience hangs out. A recent survey found small businesses still more reliant on word-of-mouth offline, with those that use social media more apt to use Facebook or LinkedIn than Twitter. Yet Twitter is the easiest to get started with, it’s quick, free, news-driven – and favoured among journalists, bloggers, marketers and PR, so maintaining a presence is a simple way of raising a business’s profile among influencers. Active users such as King of Shaves’ Will King use it to create a buzz around the business as a challenger brand, sharing links on business and personal interests and joining conversations. Curating lists can mark you out as an expert in a particular field. (If others list you, it may be worth incorporating these terms into your keywords if relevant.) Others use it as a service channel -- Air Canada posts the most up-to-date travel information via Twitter, while Premier Inn has created a Twitter concierge service to add value for customers and non-customers alike. Some brands have started to separate out Twitter accounts – using one for service, another for sales. But personality and authenticity are important – any hint that followers are not genuine, or that tweets are automated will prompt people to unfollow, so small business bosses frequently find themselves tweeting personally, even if it is time-consuming. LinkedIn is arguably the most important because it is the only networking site designed for businesses and is therefore particularly valuable in B2B. The value of the traffic a business attracts by answering a LinkedIn question, notes Econsultancy’s Lake, could be 50 percent higher than elsewhere because of the potential to attract a decision-maker or CEO with your comment.
The HP Social Media Guide
LinkedIn incorporates the profile element of Facebook with the link-sharing features of Twitter and includes a little known LinkedIn ads feature that is highly targeted by industry, job title, groups, and industries. Individuals use it to build professional contacts and cultivate networks, while businesses can set up corporate pages to attract talent and share information. Groups and LinkedIn Answers are increasingly popular as industry talking points: companies can establish a reputation for expertise by getting involved in discussions and answering questions. One consultant claims to have sourced 75 percent of his business for his Hong-Kong-based consultancy via LinkedIn. Because of its authority on Google, adding your website and keywords to your profile can also noticeably improve your search engine ranking. “Being a member of the same group as someone else removes the barrier that LinkedIn ordinarily imposes that you must personally know someone to send a message or invite him or her to connect”, says Ivan Misner in this Entrepreneur article. Facebook is undoubtedly the fastest growing of the main media outlets, with Facebook ads rising 74 percent in the last year despite low click-through rate. “Consumers on Facebook are increasing their engagement with brands,” according to Efficient Frontier, and brands can use it to start discussions and poll fans, as Naked Wines does. Some question how receptive Facebook’s audience is to corporate activity, but it fits a certain brand profile and campaign approach: T-shirt retailer Threadless offers a discount to anyone who ‘likes’ its brand. “A lot of professional bodies now do their communications through groups on Facebook,” according to Victoria Tomlinson of Northern Lights PR. “They post news, set up discussion groups and put event details on Facebook.” Yet critics describe Facebook as a ‘walled garden’ and point to the increasing need for transferability between one brand and another. Certainly, the most effective social media use so far seems to span more than one site – when it launched last year, Old Spice’s YouTube campaign, Old Spice Guy, also used Twitter to answer questions – and claimed sales spiked by 107 percent in the following month. Walkers Crisps combined traditional filmed advertising with user-generated content and YouTube clips, Twitter and Facebook to make a big noise about a three-day marketing event in Kent. Video ad delivery firm TubeMogul’s work with Range Rover targeted Facebook games, Twitter, as well as YouTube and a mobile app.
How will you measure success?
Any strategy should be clear about what success looks like – and how it can be evaluated. But attributing financial return directly to social media activity can be tricky. “Brand metrics are notoriously difficult to measure – it’s like measuring the value of a handshake,” says Playle. Since social media activity tends to focus on conversations and sharing more often than sales, it can be difficult to trace a specific purchase directly back to social media.
The HP Social Media Guide
“It takes time to build a relationship with your audience,” says Andy Reid, managing director of Strange & Dawson. “Using social media as a sales tool in B2B can be tougher than B2C, it’s often more effective as a brand builder rather than a direct sales tool.” While it’s perfectly possible to track user behaviour, visitor numbers, click-through on advertising and so on using analytics and social media management tools, these will only tell part of the story. Likewise, companies can measure ‘social capital’ and influence using tools such as Klout, Edelman Tweetlevel and Bloglevel, Peer Index, Tweet Grader and Facebook Grader – great if you’re after ‘mindshare’, but is it your target audience? Ultimately, it comes back to goals and how you define success – is it quality of comments, visitor numbers, conversions? ROI on social media activity may be less relevant than other measures, such as how ‘viral’ a campaign is or how much your views are shared among networks. “Lots of smart marketers are having more luck tracking the ROI of campaigns, rather than their social media activities as a whole,” says Begg. “Suppose, for instance, you wanted to increase attendance at your next event and use social media to help. You could tweet about it, create a Facebook event and write about it on your blog and in your LinkedIn group. But how will you know if anyone signed up as a result? Create a landing page where people can sign up for the event. Create a shortened link to the page. Add a call to action to all your social media mentions driving traffic to that site. Your web analytics will tell you how many people came to that page from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.” From that point, you can calculate the event’s ROI. Social media outlets continue to proliferate, though they are becoming increasingly niche – Quora for Q&A; Foursquare for location-based sharing; Big Tent for creating your own trusted group; Meetup for organizing offline events. Sharing across platforms is also increasingly common, and with it, social media management. While social media is certainly no fad, it is still evolving. While integrated strategies are essential for small businesses that want to capitalise on the power of social search, those strategies should be flexible. Above all else, says one expert, your mantra needs to be, “adapt, adapt, adapt”.
Case study: Recruitment Genius
Geoff Newman is chief executive of Recruitment Genius, which offers recruitment for £199 or less – whether that is to find a financial director for a major supermarket or recruit its warehouse staff. With margins tight, says Newman, “We have to make a profit – we have no time for frivolous activities. And yet we use social media as part of the mix.” There is a ‘huge audience’ of job candidates ready made on social sites, says Newman, whose business has over 13,500 Twitter followers, and over 41,000 ‘likes’ on its Facebook page – the two media sites it is most active on at the moment. Initially, “we just wanted to be part of it. Everyone was talking about social media as a panacea for recruitment,” he says, but the reality is that only a small percentage of jobs are filled using social media, according to Newman. “We use it more as a customers service platform for job candidates, offering career advice and counselling, as well as jobs.”
The HP Social Media Guide
The business has a formal social media policy that includes advice on responding to negative comments (within one hour), tone (forget corporate speak, it should feel human) and approach to content – “encourage people to post on your fan page, ask questions and post opinion polls”. The business uses Sprout Social, cloud-based software, to organise the company’s social media activity and analyse user activity. “We’re careful about how we communicate – we treat our contact on social media as conversations and try to add value and encourage debate instead of posting a load of press releases. We ensure we are on a firstname basis with fans and followers and train everyone in social media so customers don’t feel they are being handed off to a specific ‘service’ department. The business now has a dedicated person to oversee all social media activity, with content planned using a daily storyboard that is updated month by month. The business measures core metrics on a weekly basis – follower numbers, visitors to its YouTube channel – but also engagement, based on the conversations people have had on, say, Facebook, or how someone has replied to a Tweet. Despite this, Newman is sceptical about how much companies can measure sales via social media. “I don’t believe social media activity leads directly to sales,” says Newman. Jobseekers don’t necessarily want to be seen scouting for work on Facebook. More generally, people don’t tend to buy spontaneously – especially in the current economic climate. Customers go on a journey, their buying criteria develops and becomes crystallized over time.”
Case study: Naked Wines
Social media is integral to Naked Wines’ model and to its image, and has been since its December 2008 launch. A classic ‘challenger brand’, it strips out the unnecessary costs that make wine expensive and takes the snobbery out of wine buying by putting customers in front of wine-makers. It supports small, independent wine-makers by getting customers to ‘invest’ in the growers in exchange for preferential rates on the finished product, so it was essential that the company create a community from the outset. It has made use of Facebook and Twitter and YouTube, as well as its own website, itself a hybrid of social networking and standard etail, to create a solid community of active buyers, who review wines and champion the business to their networks. By ensuring content is fresh and snappy it has been able to capitalise on the viral quality of social media for growth, while its scrappy image and independent values play perfectly to a digital audience. It takes a slightly different approach to each medium, says Francesca Krajewski, head of marketing and PR and the person who oversees the company’s social media activity, but is also highly aware that these are customer channels.
The HP Social Media Guide
“The Facebook page has built up over time, with steady growth and customers who interact with each other. We use it to let them know about new wine-growers or what’s going on in the office, but tend to avoid pushing promotions.” Content needs to be fresh and unique, with quick polls and snappy questions that interest users. Then there are three Naked Twitter accounts – Krajewski’s, Naked’s and that of the founder, Rowan Gormley. The business uses CoTweet to manage the accounts, with Krajewski in charge of answering enquiries, treating it as the business would any other customer channel. “It takes time, but it’s worth it for the real-time conversations,” she says. “And it’s great for the rest of the office to see what followers or fans have to say.” YouTube clips showcase some of Naked’s wine-growing partners – and if they are simple and a little amateurish, that only underlines the company’s stripped down and simple approach further. She is keeping her eye on Google+ and there’s a LinkedIn company page in the offing, but ultimately, the aim is to send people to the site, where real time updates, groups and its MarketPlace encourage the kind of interaction that social media sites do so well.
LinkedIn for beginners
Online business networking is a great way to widen your network beyond your own immediate circle. You can use it to raise your profile, reach potential customers, build relationships with PR influencers and solve business problems. LinkedIn, one of the most widely used professional networking sites can help you meet relevant people, generate leads, keep up with trends and promote your business. Unlike social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook, LinkedIn is geared to the business user.
Unique Profiles. Every LinkedIn user gets a profile page, where you can list your work experience, academic qualifications, interests, affiliations as well as display recommendations from other LinkedIn members you know. It's important to make the profile detailed as well as unique, especially the 'summary' at the top which is what most people read. LinkedIn profiles often come up at the top of search results, making it important to have a profile that generates interest and says something about the specific skills and abilities you bring. Participate in the Q&A. LinkedIn Q&A is divided into categories such as Marketing & Sales, Professional Development, Technology, Personal Finance, etc. Members answer questions on topics of interest to them, earning “expert” status for 'best answers.' Posing a question here helps you get a wide range of opinions while answering questions helps you meet newer people and participate in industry discussions. Network Purposefully. Business networking should have a purpose to it, whether it is to generate leads, keep up with trends, see what the competition is doing or meet people at your new workplace. Through your existing contacts as well as by participating on forums and Q&A, you can use LinkedIn to widen your network purposefully.
The HP Social Media Guide
LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn groups revolve around common work or other interests. Not all groups are equally active, but the more active ones in your area of interest can be a good place to watch industry trends or keep track of competition. Recruit. LinkedIn Jobs can also be used to recruit in a highly focused manner or find resources for projects that need highly specialised skills. Even if you don't post an ad on the Jobs section, you could still use your network on LinkedIn to identify talent (or search for a job!) Promote your business. By providing updates on your business or forming a business group for those interested in industry news, you can use LinkedIn to promote your business.
Twitter for beginners
Twitter is a free micro-blogging service that lets users update others in real-time with short messages known as 'tweets'. You can write your own tweets whenever you want and people can follow your updates. Following someone else lets you read their tweets. You can start twittering by sending messages through the Twitter website, through your mobile or through other applications that use Twitter. Like tying a tie, it's easier to do it than it is to describe it. The best way to understand Twitter is to sign up for an account and start following and tweeting. Using Twitter for Business
Track conversations. Use Twitter to keep abreast of conversations of interest to you, about your brand, product, company, industry or audience. Since many users apply a 'hashtag' to designate a topic (for example, #recession or #Boeing), it becomes easy to follow conversations that interest you. This can be a good way to generate new ideas or see what people are saying about your business. Interest and timeliness. Twitter allows you to connect with people with similar interests to yours. This can range from meeting a thinker in your field who happens to be visiting your city, to making plans to meet suppliers and customers at industry conferences. User engagement. Twitter can be used to send out updates on your business that users can follow. These could range from links to blog posts to news on product releases or upgrades. Twitter works for brand promotion and also for customer service. It also allows you to reply to tweets and engage in a discussion with customers. Businesses can use it to track customer problems that they might not see otherwise. Event updates. You can use Twitter to send out events that your company is hosting or that you will be attending. This can help you to meet others who are likely to be at the event. Hiring people. Since news on Twitter gets picked up very quickly, it's a great place to post information on vacancies that you're looking to fill, or if you need resources for a project. You are likely to get referrals in a short span of time.
The HP Social Media Guide
Blogging for beginners
A blog is a website maintained by an individual or a small group, with a focus on an individual point of view and on interaction with interested readers. Blogging can help your business by communicating your brand and activities and by helping you engage with users. Ten tips to get your blog going
How to start blogging. You have a choice between hosting your blog on your domain or on free platforms such as Blogger or Wordpress.While new users may find the free platforms a good starting point, hosting your own site with your own domain name looks more professional in the long run, especially for business blogs. Goal Setting. Decide what you want the blog to do for your business. Promote a positive image? Allow you to talk to customers? The goal will decide the tone of the blog and the content you should have. Check out other business blogs and blogs about blogging for ideas. Identifying a voice. Company blogs need to identify a voice for the blog. This depends on the blog content. For instance, if the blog is to keep consumers updated on the latest developments in your industry, a domain expert may do better than a PR person. Check out HP's blogs for ideas about how companies can balance individual voices and ideas with a collective, corporate image. Audience interest. Readers track blogs where there is news that they can use or find interesting. Blogging must represent a 'real' point of view and contain useful information. Readers are quick to identify and turn away from 'marketing-speak'. Frequency. While there are no hard and fast rules, it helps to maintain have a consistent schedule. This means a post every three to four days rather than two posts in a day and none for the next ten. Promoting the blog. While great content is the most organic way to grow your reader base, you can also adopt other strategies such as using the right keywords and tags (so that you show up in search results), linking to other blogs and using blog search tools. Company branding. Remember that like any other communication, your blog posts send out signals about your company. Being honest is important; at the same time, especially if many employees are blogging, make sure there are clear guidelines, such as HP's, on what can be discussed and how. Promoting your brand. While users distrust marketing-speak, this doesn't mean your blog cannot discuss your company at all. A good way to do it would be to talk of your work in the context of industry developments that are relevant to readers. Ideation. A blog is also a great way to generate new ideas by talking to others in the field, discussing existing problems and customer needs. Customer Feedback. Company blogs can be used to engage with users and identify product or service glitches. At times, the feedback may not be what you want to hear. Yet, it is important to
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respond in a professional manner and take criticism positively. It may even show other readers that you genuinely care about your customers.
Ten ways to build your PR profile online
In the age of web 2.0, public relations (PR) is no longer about pushing news to disinterested journalists; it is about conversations that get the relevant audience talking to you and about you. Ten tips to get your online PR right 1. A blog with a view. Create a blog with compelling content and a unique point of view that readers interested in your field will think of as a 'must-read.' Linking to other bloggers and updating regularly are pluses. 2. Create a story. Identify the leading bloggers who cover in your industry. Before you contact them, remember they may be flooded with such requests. All bloggers look for great ideas for that next post – make sure you have such an idea. Just sending press releases is not appropriate. 3. Keyword research. Doing some research is essential to identify the right bloggers or journalists who are really interested in your field. Keyword research using Google or another service can lead you to the articles these people have written before, which gives you a starting point to connect with them. 4. Twitter. Keep yourself in the audience's mind space by twittering your thoughts on industry developments and sharing relevant links using Twitter. 5. Go video. People love to watch rather than read. Why not upload a short and catchy video on YouTube? This can be a great option for product demos or interviews. 6. White papers and articles. Position yourself or your company as a thought leader by sharing your research and ideas in the form of white papers and articles. 7. Outreach to journalists. Technology makes reaching out to the journalist community easy through press release distribution services or journalist story sites such as PR Newswire. 8. Slideshare. While white papers and articles are great, not everyone has the patience to read them completely. Instead, create a concise slide show capturing the same content and upload it on networks such as Slideshare.net. You can also share documents using a service called Scribd. 9. Communities. . Identify the right community that is passionate about areas your product or service can play a role in. Participate in those communities as a sponsor or by contributing to a body of knowledge. This is a great way to create some indirect PR. 10. Online support. Having a web-based service through e-mail or chat-based technologies can also help shore up your reputation for prompt service.
The HP Social Media Guide
Well, of course, you can check out our social media sites: Blog: YouTube Twitter LinkedIn: http://hp.com/uk/bablog http://youtube.com/hpbizanswers http://twitter.com/hpbizanswers http://linkd.in/gVXsmj