This is a guest post by Robert Purcell. Robert is a member of the IIA Social Media Working Group which seeks to support businesses in the development of strategies for engaging with social media. As Marketing Manager for Post Consult International Ltd. (PCI), Robert’s main focus is developing the marketing and product strategy for the company’s Security Solutions offered under the corporate brand, Post.Trust. Post.Trust is a national-level Certificate Authority, wholly owned by An Post, providing security solutions that enable organisations to communicate with one another more securely and confidently in a trusted environment. You can find him on LinkedIn or @robgerard on Twitter.
Engage! Revised and Updated: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web
Brian Solis (Author), Ashton Kutcher (Foreword)
The second edition of Engage! written by social media thought leader Brian Solis really is a fascinating read. I haven’t read the first edition, but this instalment focuses more on enabling you to design a new media engagement program specific to your business and your customers. It empowers you to develop metrics and KPIs to measure the success of your activities and translate that data into bottom-line benefits. As anyone who has ever tried to champion a social media program within their organisation knows; the first question you are asked is, What’s the ROI of social media? This book will help you answer that question.
A word of warning though – Engage! is not a book you can pick up and read from cover to cover. Sections of the book are quite dense and academic – but then isn’t that what you would expect a Complete Guide to be? The book doesn’t define its target audience but whether you are new to social media or experienced in social media marketing, this book has plenty of substance and will serve as a source of reference in your social media activities. As Solis says, this is an opportunity to “hit ctrl-alt-del and restart with a fresh perspective”.
The book starts by defining social media and introducing the arsenal of social media tools available for creating touchpoints across the Social Web. It explores building a framework to amplify the visibility of your social objects, extending the reach of your online presence to new audiences, and defining the end game, ultimately guiding people to action through participating, listening and engagement.
Solis reminds us that understanding the rules of engagement is critical in this new world of socialised media. It’s about training and putting the necessary policies and guidelines in place to ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn book. The latter part of the book looks at the realignment and restructuring the organisation as part of this socialisation process. Finally, it focuses on the management of this social media activity; how to track, measure and translate that social data into tangible value for the business.
Solis discusses the concept of unmarketing as one of the most effective forms of marketing in this new genre of socialised media and really unmarketing underpins the ‘How’ organisations should use Social Media. Marketing is no longer about broadcasting brand messages – it’s about embodying the characteristics of your brand, being an active participant in the conversation, contributing value to earn relevance, build influence and create brand advocacy and loyalty toward a desired outcome.
At times, reading the book was a bit of a slog and I found myself going back over passages each time I picked it up because there was a lot to absorb. But on the whole, I found it uplifting and insightful, reaffirming my understanding of the real power of Social Media – so stick with it. Solis’s voice comes through the words on the page, inspiring the reader to embrace the social web, to champion new media engagement and become the expert to drive change within the organisation. The book is ‘peppered’ with frameworks, methodologies and tools to assist you in your journey towards building a two-way information bridge between the organisation and the online communities in those networks you choose to participate.
As Solis says, “The future of business is social”. Social Media cannot be confined to one person or department. The entire business must socialise. Organisations must embrace and ride the social wave or risk being engulfed by it.
“The greatest advantages of social media reside in its ability for worthy individuals and companies to shape perception, steer activity, incite action, and adapt to the communities that establish the market. Engage or die.”
Wednedsay 22nd April, Dublin – The Irish Internet Association (IIA) launched "Join the Conversation: The Guide to Blogging for Business" at a breakfast briefing in Dublin on April 22nd 2009.
This essential guide for Irish businesses is available to download from the Resources section of the IIA website from April 22nd 2009.
It includes sections
- explaining the fundamentals of blogging;
- investigating why businesses are adding blogging to their communications and marketing strategies;
- analysing the results from a survey of Irish business bloggers about their motivations and objectives and how they measure those objectives;
- with key advice on managing blogging resources, comments and content;
- and numerous links to further information and recommended reading for those who wish to take it further.
As part of the breakfast briefing, Brendan Hughes, eCommerce manager with FBD.ie and chair of the working group spoke about the need for businesses to start getting involved in social media, "We called this guide "Join the Conversation" because many companies may not even be aware that their customers are already talking about them online. Once upon a time your customers’ criticisms may not have spread beyond family and friends, but with the arrival of social media, the audience and reach has multiplied. These online conversations, good and bad, are happening. We’re encouraging businesses to join in so they can get involved in the conversations about themselves."
The Breakfast briefing at which the document was launched included experiences from the coalface of blogging with presentations from Michelle Daly, Communications Manager, Paddy Power Trader and Aedan Ryan, Director of Puddleducks.ie. Attendees included representatives from the banking sectors, to communications and public relations to start-ups to marketing companies and cultural and educational organisations.
Aedan Ryan, Director of Puddleducks.ie, an Irish company selling outdoor wear for kids of all ages, has been blogging for about a year now and explains their motivations for blogging, "Our business blog helps us to build and engage with our PuddleDucks customers. Not only do we tell our story of running the business but we also include our customers in the blog by giving them the opportunity to tell their own stories of their children out and about in their PuddleDucks gear."
Michelle Daly of Paddy Power Trader shared the experience of their team of bloggers, "Paddypowertrader.com was created in order to bring Financial Spread Betting to the masses in an accessible way. Trader education is also a top priority for us so that everyone can now trade on a level playing field on the global stock markets.
"Paddypowertrader.com blogs and tutorials also stand out as a way in which we go that extra mile for our clients. With interest from more and more retail investors, we offer unparalleled information and educational tools for prospective clients: for example, our daily market watch blog by real full time traders. This is one blog where you can follow the ups and downs of trading on a daily basis. "
This guide is the first in a series about business use of social media prepared by the IIA Social Media Working Group. This group comprises business people from a range of sectors who have seen the benefits their businesses have gained from social media and wish to share their experience and expertise. The guide was created collaboratively by the group using Wiki web applications. The group was also assisted by the Irish blogging and business communities through comments on the Wiki, blog comments, tweets and participation in a workshop last December.
"Join the Conversation: The Guide to Business Blogging" will be available to download for free for two weeks until Wednesday 6th May. From then on it will be available only to members of the Irish Internet Association.
As Brendan Hughes mentioned in the previous post, the IIA Social Media Working Group welcomed input from Neville Hobson this week at an open meeting. I live tweeted some of the meeting but unfortunately the free wifi in the Digital Depot where we held the meeting broke down – bad timing or what! One of the things I love about live tweeting on a purely selfish level is that it gives me a chronological re-cap of the event that I am attending so excuse me if the following bounces about a bit.
We had asked Neville to join us to talk to us about his experience of the business case for Social Media. Neville provided some insight into how some of the larger corporations that he is working with are embracing customer engagement by using social media and discussed that what they might lose in control they gain in new and more engaged stakeholders and customers. Neville said that it’s a given that social media is going to disrupt and businesses will have to change the way they work but that understanding this change relates more to understanding societal behavioural change in general. This point is echoed in a book I recently finished that was lent to me by John Beck, the director of one of our member companies, PillarProjects. The book was called Good to Great by Jim Collins and examined how a number of companies achieved sustained greatness. It included the concept which Collins called the Hedgehog Concept which suggested (put extremely simply!) that the great companies that his team examined had a core concept for the companies from which they did not stray. If one agrees with this one might ask why would one change one’s approach to communications and customer relations? However, I believe that a company with a strong Hedgehog Concept will easily take on the added challenges and benefit from the opportunites that social media offers because of the very strength of their core concept. A great company which is made up of great people will easily be able to engage and involve all their customers in their work.
Another great practical aspect of the afternoon that we hope to use for future open meetings of the Social Media Working Group was the addition of OnlineMeetingRooms.com. This doubled the attendees at the event and we had seven from Clonmel, two from Kildare, and one each from Dublin Southside, South Tipperary County Council, Limerick, Greystones and Munich!
I posed a question which many of the people I meet and talk to on the phone ask me: how to make time to use social media, how to know what is a good use of that resource in relation to it. And here I am breaking my own rule writing this post at 7.44pm on a Friday evening. Sad or what!? Like many who make a living out of their knowledge of social media and have the time to blog every day, Neville didn’t really have a straight up and down answer for this except that the whole discussion answered that question. He talked about CEOs who blog in their own voices and the value they place on that and indeed the value which is placed on it. He talked about social media tools allow him to use his time more effectively and (gratifyingly for me as I am writing the chapter on RSS for the SMWG’s guide to Social Media) he said, “RSS is the best thing ever invented!”
To finish he was asked what kind of goals could be set in relation to social media for a business to which he replied that businesses shouldn’t get hung up on return on investment (ROI), the goals are softer than that but you could look at things like Technorati authority which is based on linking, set realistic comparisons with the ROI on other marketing, subscriptions to RSS feed, citations or links, tools like StatCounter or Google Analytics could be used, your own comments and comments on your blog etc. could be evaluated.
Regular readers of this blog might be thinking “Good Lord, Roseanne, please get off your Social Media Hobby Horse!” and obviously I have a certain bias as I’ve been blogging since 2003. But one point that Neville made, with which I agree heartily and I noticed there was a lot of head nodding in the room, was that currently we make a distinction between the web and social media; soon we will not make that distinction. All media, even traditional media, will be social, in the new sense, in the not too distant future. Anyone who thinks it is not social already doesn’t understand how people interact with information. Your business is being discussed online AND offline, make sure you are part of the conversation.
Thanks to all in the SMWG who came along and also to Campbell Scott, IGoPeople.com, Damien Mulley, Emily Tully, Eoin Kennedy, Slattery Communications, Eoin from Bord Gáis, and the students from Tipperary Institute, our online attendees and anyone who I’ve left out!
To finish off I’ll share this slideshow I found today with you. It gives the lowdown on social media in a no nonsense way. Please excuse the title: relax it’s Friday and apart from the expletives this is very well put!
(Found on MediaThink)
Edit: Brendan Hughes, chair of the Social Media Working Group, has written a series of blog posts encapsulating his thoughts that arose from the Open Meeting. You can start with Part 1: Context.
Also Eoin Kennedy has since written a post on his thoughts on the above open meeting. As he works in Slattery Communications Eoin focusses on the public relations and communications opportunities that exist in social media. He obliquely makes a good point that PR company are content generators.