Social media expert Mack Collier shares his special insights about social media in general, and Twitter in particular. His business clients pay big money for his time-here, you can benefit from his knowledge, for free.
Mack Collier is a social media strategist, trainer and highly sought-after speaker, whose thoughts and expertise on marketing, brand advocacy and social media have been eagerly solicited by the world's most prestigious news sources, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNBC, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, CNET and MSNBC.
I recently had the chance to speak with Mack about the world of social media, how businesses are using it, the do's and don'ts, and what the future holds-especially for Twitter, where he is considered an innovator. Mack founded and moderates #Blogchat, the largest Twitter Chat on the Internet, where thousands of people meet each Sunday night on Twitter to discuss a different blogging topic.
Steve: Mack, if you hear the phrase "social media for business", what's the first thing that comes to mind?
Mack: I think of businesses using social media tools to connect with their customers. Basically, a business taking channels used for social communication and content sharing online, and trying to leverage them as business channels.
Steve: What are some of the more common mistakes you see businesses making, re: social media?
Mack: The biggest mistake companies make with social media is viewing it as just another marketing channel, and they send the same promotional messages they would via other channels such as their website, their radio ads, etc. If companies want to use social media to connect with current and potential customers, it requires that they understand the tools, and how their customers are using social media.
Steve: What's an example of a business that "gets it"? A business that gets social media and does it the right way?
Mack: Dell. And it's not just because they are using social media effectively, but because they are using social media to connect with their customers AND apply what they learn from their customers to their existing business processes. This is the true potential of social media that few companies can see: using the tools to understand their customers better. Many companies are so excited about the potential to use social media as a marketing channel, they ignore the value of social media as a customer research tool.
Steve: Before a business enters the social media space, what are some of the things they need to do and or/learn?
Mack: They need to decide WHY they want to use social media and specifically, what they want to accomplish. This will help them frame their social media strategy. Yes companies, if you are going to use social media, you need a strategy guiding your efforts, and it will make it far easier to measure your results.
Steve: Do you think every business should have a social media presence?
Mack: No, some businesses simply don't have the bandwidth and human resources to maintain active social media presences. But at the least, every business whose customers are using the Internet should be monitoring their brand mentions, as well as industry mentions and competitor mentions. All it takes are a few Google Alerts set up and emailed to you once a day.
Steve: Along the same lines, are there any businesses that should NOT be in social media?
Mack: That's an interesting question, because when you think about it, that's really asking: Are there any businesses that should NOT be paying attention to what their customers say about them online? Social media are simply tools that, in a business sense, customers use to create and share content with each other. If NONE of your customers are ever using social media and there's NO chance they would ever use social media to create and distribute content about your company, then maybe, at least in a defensive stance, your company doesn't need to use social media. But at the end of the day, social media are simply content creation tools that customers use. At the very least, companies need to be aware of how their customers are using these tools.
Steve: In terms of platforms, which do you think is best for businesses, or does it depend on the business itself?
Mack: Each business should do their own research to try to determine where their customers spend their time online. Yes in general, we can say that B2B companies may need to spend more time on Linkedin, whereas Twitter and Facebook are better suited for B2C. But if there is one absolute rule for using social media (either as a company or as an individual), it's that there IS no one absolute rule for using social media. Every situation is different and in short, companies need to follow their customers.
Steve: ROI is very often cited as a main complaint, if you will, among businesses, concerning social media. How do you respond if someone asks you how do you measure social media ROI?
Mack: You have to start out by laying the proper groundwork. First, figure out exactly what it is you want to accomplish. For example, you may decide that you want to use social media to increase sales of your business productivity software package. First, you need a strategy to reach that end. You decide to launch a blog or Twitter account that will create content that helps the small business owner increase online productivity. This strategy will help the company establish its expertise in helping the small business owner increase online productivity, which will increase the likelihood that they will purchase the software package.
Now that we have the strategy, we can measure metrics associated with that strategy that will help us to determine the effort's ROI. For example, at the end of our blog posts (or Tweets), we might include a link to go to the company website, and sign up for a free trial of the software package. Now we have several things we can measure:
- Amount of traffic the blog refers to the product page for the software package.
- Percentage of traffic that arrives on the product page, that signs up for the free software trial (conversion rate for referral traffic from blog).
- Percentage of people that sign up for the free trial that actually buy the software package (conversion rate for product trials).
Let's say we track all of this and we know that for every blog post we publish:
- 100 visitors will go from the blog post, to the product page for the software package.
- 35 visitors that arrive on that product page for the software package will signup for a free trial.
- 2 people that signup for the free trial will purchase the software package.
Now we know that for every one blog post we publish, we'll sell two copies of the software package. Now we just need to plug in the costs of writing the posts, maintaining the blog, etc, and the packages sold, and we can calculate the ROI of this effort. But keep in mind that in this scenario, we are looking at how effective the blog post is PLUS the content on the website. Both the blog and website landing page, etc., have to work together.
But notice, I couldn't measure any of this without a strategy. When it comes to measuring social media efforts, if you don't start with a strategy to guide your efforts, you are making it very hard if not impossible to accurately judge how successful your efforts are.
Steve: What role should social media such as Twitter play as part of a larger marketing or advertising campaign?
MACK: An integrated one. Companies today have to understand that the new commercial they run during the playoff game is going to be immediately talked about on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, if you go look at the top trending topics on Twitter at any point, you'll find that several of the top 10 topics are related to an event or show or movie currently being aired on broadcast TV.
Likewise, if a customer receives excellent service from a company rep on Twitter, and is then handed off to someone else in the company in the CS department that treats them like crap, that's a disconnect. You can't silo your social media efforts from your company's existing marketing efforts. What you're trying to accomplish via one channel, such as Twitter, has to mesh with the other channels.
Steve: What does the future hold for social media and business?
MACK: Ideally, it will result in companies and their customers having closer and more aligned conversations, because both parties better understand each other. Companies will hopefully begin to see the value in leveraging social media as a way to better understand their customers, and that better understanding will lead to more effective and efficient marketing efforts.
More effective and efficient marketing efforts lead to a rise in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Which leads to more sales, but more importntly, a higher level of trust from the customer. Which means the customer will communicate even more with the company, which means the company can even better understand them, and the cycle is created.
Source: Twitter For Business
Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email, Twitter , LinkedIn or his website.