10 Commandments for Social Media Success

At the conclusion of Social Media Workshop for small enterprise and start-ups the  most common question among excited and energized participants was ‘How do I take this to my organization?’. How do I champion Social Media for my product?

Social Media campaigns are great tools for Marketing, PR, CRM, communication and community building. However, social media success is a function of intent, listening, participating and intelligence.

social

I have worked on building social media campaigns for brands of all sizes and this post I share my learning.

1. Success starts at the Top

Getting the top management involved is critical to success of Social Media Program. As the program champion you would require to pull in the best resources for the social media campaign ( from other functions) and you will need Top Management buy-in to get the resources. Top management involvement also ensures keeping the Social Media initiative in sync with company’s vision and goals.

2. Analyze and Select the Platform

It is advisable to spread you resources and time across platforms to start. Adopt a equal mix of content (i.e. a blog or micro-blog), social networking (maybe Twitter or LinkedIn) , and community building (Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or YouTube). Over a period of time you could tweak the mix based on the experience and ROI on each platform.

3. Train to Listen, Comment and Create Content

Social Media participation includes 3 activities: listening, commenting and creating content. Monitoring and reading your industry’s Blogs, FB posts, Tweets is a good launch pad. Google Alerts are efficient tools to listen to the ecosystem.  The next step is to start commenting on social networks and blogs and creating your own content. Commit equal time to these activities.

4. Set Content Approach and Frequency

On Social platforms it is important to be consistent in frequency and communication. Brainstorm and decide the pitch of your blog, Facebook/ Linked In Page and Tweets. To achieve maximum branding mileage the communication across the platforms should be integrated and synchronized.

Plan the number of blogs you will publish every week,  number of interaction on networking websites and tweets every day.

5. Content strategy

Identify the best talents for the 3 platforms ( Blogs, Social Networking and Community Building). Writing content for these platforms requires varied skills and 1 person may not bring the necessary skills to the table. Also, develop a strategy to crowd source content. Encourage your customers, followers  and other members of the audience to contribute.

6. Blogging / Micro Blogging Best Practices

Develop an identity for your Blog. Identity comes with consistency, tone, and character of content. Blog posts should engage your audience. Substantiate you assumptions with data, analysis and point of view. Encourage audience response with questions and other tools. Schedule your blog calendar and write down 1-2 blog ideas daily. Quote industry authority and experts in your blog.

Follow the trending topics for your tweets. Here’s a detailed post on Tweeting.

7. Social Networking Best Practices

Depending on your target audience you could select a platform like Facebook or LinkedIn or both to network. LinkedIn usually is recommended for B2B businesses and Facebook for B2C. It helps to have members senior members of staff active on the networking platform. Build out the company profile and encourage employees join the platform. Follow the Industry leaders and experts.

8. Community Building Best Practices

Social Platforms like FaceBook are great community building tools. You can use these platforms as formal/ informal channel to connect with your customers and audience.  Start by creating a custom branded page on Facebook and employees to join the conversation. Post regularly and be keep the audience engaged with information, polls, questions, applications and other tactics.

9. Optimize and Promote your presence

You would need to Optimize your social media presence and tune it to create visibility on the social media. Optimization techniques vary by the platform and I will discuss that in seperate blog posts. Here’s a detailed post on Optimizing Tweets. However, you could start with

Including  keywords in your Blog posts, Tweets and Facebook comments.
Placing social media buttons on your website, Blog helping the audience connect with you
Use tools to synchronize social media feeds across multiple platforms (e.g., tweetdeck).
Reward your audience with simple give-aways for answering, participating, commenting, retweeting, social bookmarking, etc.
Reply to the comments and suggestions.

10. Learn and Tune your Program

Dig into social media analytics to evaluate performance of of various platforms and decipher visitor behavior. Evaluate the ROI for each platform and the program to optimize social media spend. Evaluate skills and performance of the employees and deploy their time on the platforms they are best suited for. Learn from the Social engagement models  of your competitors and other organizations.

This post is a framework for Social Media success for enterprise and will help you champion Social Media initiative in your organization.  Each of these 10 Commandments needs to be adapted and fine tuned for an organization.

10 Commandments for Success at Outsourcing

Across the world organizations have taken to outsourcing for competitive advantage. Are there still organizations out there that question outsourcing? Here’ why you should consider outsourcing:

My main focus is on my game- Tiger Woods

One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.- Tony Robbins

I have spent more than 12 years managing the complexities of outsourcing. I have seen successes and failures. Here are my 10 Commandments for Success at Outsourcing for the business leaders exploring the strategic relationships.

Commandment 1: Get you Reasons Right

One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds.- Mahatma Gandhi

Answer to the question “why outsource???? is the first and the most critical element of the game. Do not outsource because everyone does. Outsource for your reasons; cost control, quality control, risk mitigation, geographic expansion, Human resources etc. Take your time to figure out the reasons.

Commandment 2: Plan the Route, Be Detailed

Failing to plan is planning to fail. – Alan Lakein

Plan the route, set the milestones and define the responsibilities. It is important to set the goals and expectations before you start to minimize surprises.

Commandment 3: Lead the change

Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.- John Naisbitt

Outsourcing is too important to implement Bottom Up in and organization. Outsourcing is a strategic move and is successful only when the Leader is convinced and committed to the cause.

Commandment 4: Build your Team, Get Process Champions

I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people. – Mahatma Gandhi

A leader is as effective as his trusted lieutenants.  Identify and nurture process champions in your organization and encourage them to spread the knowledge and build grow and motivate their teams.

Commandment 5: It’s all about people

You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Outsourcing will impact the lives of your employees and they will certainly be apprehensive about Job Loss. Address your people concerns. Involve your people in the process.

Commandment 6: Date, Court, get Married

Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without. – James C. Dobson

Outsourcing relationships are like marriages built on trust, compatibility empathy and flexibility. Spend time analyzing your partner organization’s culture, their vision and plan. Ask the right questions to find your match. Remember that the cheapest is not necessarily the best.

Commandment 7: Practice what you Preach

I try to keep in touch with the details… I also look at the product daily. That doesn’t mean you interfere, but it’s important occasionally to show the ability to be involved. It shows you understand what’s happening. – Rupert Murdoch

Your outsourcing plan will be put to test only when implemented. Lead the implementation process; get involved in the details initially. Empower the process champions with tools to take the vision forward.

Commandment 8: Process, Process, Process

We do not learn; and what we call learning is only a process of recollection. – Plato

Document your successes and failures. This documentation will be the reference points for the future. Organizations can benefit the economies of scale and outsourcing only by setting up the process and following in every time.

Commandment 9: Measure and Analyze

Round Numbers are always false. – Samuel Johnson

Measure the impact at every milestone, compare with organizational and industry benchmarks. Analyze the performance and tweak the process as needed. At times there may be no prior references, the Vision and strength of leadership is tested in such situations.

Commandment 10: Be prudent- Get the prenup in order.

Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient. – Voltaire

Relationships do go wrong. Give the Outsourcing relationship a chance however; you should have a Tactical Plan B ready if things do not produce desired results initially. On the strategy front, be wise to safe guard your interest and include an opt-out and other safeguard clauses in the contract. Change outsourcing partner, in case of cultural differences and insurmountable integration challenges.

10 Commandments for B2B Search Engine Optimization

How different is B2B Search Engine Optimization compared to B2C Search Engine Optimization?  What are the Best Practices for B2B Search Marketers?
The basics of SEO like Keyword Research, Targeted Content and Meta Data is no different for B2B SEO. The major difference is in Target Audience and Intent of Search Queries. B2B Marketers address an audience that is mature, not impulsive and follow a purchase process. B2B search queries clearly reflect the searchers status in the purchase cycle (Exploring, Considering, Ready to Purchase)

B2B Decision Cycle
B2B Decision Cycle

The ultimate goal of most B2B Search Marketing programs is Generating Inquiries.  This article lists the 10 Commandments for B2B Search Engine Optimization; The Best Practice for B2B Search Engine Optimization.

Commandment 1: Know Your Customer / Target Audience.
Clearly define your Target Audience. You should know who you are targeting. Audience Definitions like “CXOs of Automobile Corporations in United States??? or “Middle Management in Advertising Agencies in Europe??? is a must for a successful B2B SEO campaign.
Difference from B2C
: B2C Target audience is far wider and generally segmented on Socio-Economic and Demographic parameters.

Commandment 2: Design the website for your Target Audience.
Most B2B site address multiple target audience; Prospects, Existing Customers, Investors, Job Seekers. It is very important to focus the SEO for Prospects and Existing Customers. Investors, Job seekers may not be targeted in the B2B SEO program. Design a website that the prospects and customers can relate with. Include Industry Solution, Technology Solutions, Product Application in the main navigation or otherwise prominently on the website.
Test website’s usability frequently and keep the design and content fresh. It is advisable to make minor updates every quarter and major design change once a year. A professional Site Audit helps improve usability and conversion.
Difference from B2C: B2C websites are broader in their appeal and target multiple groups for every product/ service.

Commandment 3: Keyword Research: Forget your Terminology, Forget Google’s Traffic Prediction, and Optimize for Industry Lingo.
Optimize for the search terms the target audience uses and this may vary by industry. Let your organizations internal definitions and Search Engines Traffic Predictions take the backseat.
Difference from B2C: In most B2C scenarios Search Engine’s Search Volume and Predict data gives accurate information about the search terms target audience uses to find a product/ service.

Commandment 4: Keyword Targeting: 1 Keyword per page.
Do not target too many Keywords in a page. Remember you are targeting matured audience that is not impulsive. Limit to 1-2 Keywords per page. The keywords targeted should be related and relevant to one industry, product or solution.
Difference from B2C: Recommend Targeting 2-3 keywords per page on B2C websites.

Commandment 5: Link Strategy: Go for the Hubs; do not bother about the Spokes.
Target links form Industry Hubs and Authority pages. Few links will do the job (get your website visibility and traffic). Get Links from customer and vendor websites. Use variation of your product/ service as link text.
Difference from B2C: Spread out the links over more number of Link text.

B2B Search Engine Optimization
B2B Search Engine Optimization

Commandment 6: Leverage Paid Search Data.
Analyze the paid search data to identify converting keywords, include broader variations / Generic Variations of these keywords in your SEO Program.

Commandment 7: Industry Strategy: Sub-domain/ Multiple Domains.
At times the target audience across industries is very different and it may be a good idea to have sub-domain or multiple domains. You may not be able to address concerns of multiple industries on one website. If your ERP solution is targeted for Manufacturing and retail industries, you must consider and analyze sub-domain/ multiple domain strategy.
Difference from B2C: B2C websites are generally designed to up-sell, cross-sell. Consolidating products on one domain is the preferred strategy.

Commandment 8: Competition: Track Your Competition.
Identify and track your competition. Monitor the changes in the Keywords competition is targeting to track the industry trends and Optimization Strategy.
Difference from B2C: B2C websites are generally track competition for tactics

Commandment 9: Reputation: Monitor and Defend your Brand.
Your Brand is your biggest asset on the web. Defend your brand with all your might. Optimize your website for misspellings and phonetic variations. Set up alerts to monitor copyright violations.

Commandment 10: Get Social: Blog /Network: Be Thought Leader and Follow Thought Leaders.
Blogs allow informal, interactive communication with your audience. Create thought leadership blogs and run opinion polls and reviews to understand your customer better. Also, follow Thought leaders to understand the pulse and the trends of the industry. Recruiting a CBO (Chief Blogging Officer) may be a good idea.