"The What, How, Where"

Social Media Best Practices

Posts Tagged ‘Marketing

Offline Meets Online, How to Use Your Social Networking Skills in Real Life Situations

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As much as business connections have moved online with the advent of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, “Face to Face” is still King when making new connections. But how do you leverage both in this Web 2.0 world? In this post I will examine best practices.

Recently over drinks I was chatting with a seasoned salesperson who eloquently informed me that “It’s never been so easy, yet so hard to do business”. The environment we’re in has created a double-edged sword. Through digital technology (blogs, social networks and websites) it’s never been easier to understand who our customers are and what they need. However, this has resulted in the bar being raised with customers who are more demanding, impolite and curt than ever before.

But as much as things are changing at a rapid pace, networking events are still very relevant. They may have evolved, but have not completely changed in that they continue to be noisy, crowded and full of libations.  So how do you make the most of them?

1-    Before the event

With many events powered by MeetUp, Eventbrite and Facebook it has become easier to see who will be attending. Not only does this give you validation as to whether it’s worthwhile, but also provides you with great insights as to whom you need to be in contact with. Use social networks to secure information on who they are.

 

2-    During the event

For most, meeting new people is one of life’s daunting challenges. If there’s someone who I find important that I might not know, I like to use my smartphone apps to locate their LinkedIn Profile. To dive deeper as to what they’re thinking I use Google Search to discover what they’re saying on Twitter (Google provides better results on finding the person than Twitter itself). Think this is intrusive? Within a few years facial recognition technology will allow you take a picture of a person and bring up their entire social graph.

The good news is that age-old rules still apply when making a new acquaintance.  A couple of points I find that work for me are:

A-    When the moment presents itself (do not interrupt an ongoing conversation), introduce yourself with what’s known as an  “Open Face”. This can be described as the warm feeling you get when you see a baby or puppy for the 1st time; pass that happiness on to the other person.  Smile, but be natural.

B-    If possible, shake that person’s hand and introduce yourself. Say something nice about them or their company, but be genuine.

C-    Be generally interested in what that person has to say and add value.

D-   When speaking about your own business, convey a one or two sentence value proposition that will instantly make that person understand what you do.

E-    Don’t talk at length about your business. Talk about their business or topic of importance to them.  Remember, that everyone wants to feel important and special.

F-    Don’t overstay your welcome. If that prospect is the decision maker, ask for a business card and leave with value; offer to do something for that person (send a case study or client example)

 

3-    After the event

For prospects you find want to build a business relationship with, your follow-up is key.  If you want to really stand out, a personal handwritten note will wow any executive, but a brief e-mail that is followed by a LinkedIn invite or Twitter follow is customary these days. Think of the e-mail like an actual handwritten note; but keep it short, sweet and to the point. Mention how you met, what you discussed, attach follow-up items (articles or case studies) and outline next steps. If you feel your impression was strong enough, by all means and ask for a follow-up meeting.  These executives are inundated with e-mails all day long, so make sure you have a strong subject line. I like to cite my own name as well as the value I’m offering in the e-mail “Derek Reese from XYZ, Case Study on Small Business”. Avoid terms like “Hi, Opportunity and Savings” because these are triggers for your e-mail to wind up in their spam folder.

If you think this company is a strong target, you might want to set up an RSS feed from their news page or Google alert, these will give you key insights into changes in the company.

Most importantly! Add value when you communicate in the future.

If you have any direct questions, please feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.

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Written by Derek Reese

July 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm

How H&M Approaches Social Media

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A couple of weeks back, when I was visiting Stockholm, Sweden, I had the chance to touch base with Miriam Kuronen, H&M’s Social Media Project Manager (http://se.linkedin.com/pub/miriam-kuronen/13/545/4a1). Over the last few years, H&M has grown from a local Swedish retailer to a worldwide phenomenon.

Shopping is a social activity, so I wanted to gain insight into their approach. What I’ve found interesting is that their overall strategy for social media is one voice across multiple local markets. They’ve found success in this realm by going after passion point customers; engaging with their core audience in a way that encourages them to discuss the brand and interact with others who have the same passion. According to Miriam, “Interaction is the key, simply pushing a sales message or marketing initiative is not enough.”

What’s in store for H&M’s social media future is local adoption and sharing of information across various platforms (social sites, company sites). Since every individual has their own “sphere of influence,” the ease of sharing and communicating is how they will find success.

A common theme I found throughout my discussion was “one voice across multiple markets.” In my experience in social media, I’ve found that there are often rogue strategies not aligned with their overall marketing objective of the company. It’s great to hear H&M is implementing a holistic strategy tweaked for individual markets. A great number of companies can learn from what they’re doing.

Written by Derek Reese

August 16, 2010 at 10:02 am

The First Rule of Social Media

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I’ve been pondering over the last few weeks as to why Facebook is the king of social media. With 400 MM+ members and 50% of membership active everyday, it’s a massive force. So why has Facebook succeeded where others failed? I reason it’s because THE SITE WORKS! Not only is Facebook the place where my friends are, has an open API that allows me to bring together other social networks (WordPress, Foursquare, Trip-It), but I’ve been impressed on how consistently the site performs. Not a groundbreaking analogy but very plausible.

Here’s why:

Being on the road, I’ve used many forms of social media, including Trip-It, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Twitter, Hootsuite to create a cross-network campaign to alert business connections and my friends about my travels. Facebook is the only site that has consistently worked.

Foursquare

I like the concept of location based networks, plus the badges are fun to earn. However, I’ve had numerous challenges checking into locations that weren’t in big cities or via WiFi. In fact, I’d estimate that I’ve only been able to check-in about 50% of the time, the other 50% I’ve either experienced error messages, site throttling or the inability to pinpoint my location.

Twitter

Twitter has become an important media tool to amplify a message to a larger group (such as this blog post). The site works well with other networks. For example, if I’m at a major venue or city, I can bring my Foursquare feed (on a case-by-case basis) out to a larger network on Twitter. However, I’ve been seeing Twitter over-capacity frequently.

Trip-It

Trip-It is an easy to use traveler application that works very well with both Facebook and LinkedIn. I can easily alert my connections of my whereabouts in Europe. While the service has been very helpful, I’ve found there’s no way to tether city-to-city. Currently, my status shows I’ve traveled over 100K miles, when most likely I’ve traveled 7 or 8 thousand.

In my opinion, each one of these sites is going through the usual growing pains that come with massive growth. As they mature, I hope these issues will be resolved.

What the Hospitality Industry Can Learn from Hostels

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Like many experienced career professionals, I’m hitting the road this summer. (according to Hostelworld, the 30+ crowd makes up 20% of their bookings). In my case, it’s to learn how Europe is approaching social media. Due to limited funds and the need for interaction with other travelers, I’ve chosen to stay in hostels for the majority of my trip.

If you’re not familiar with hostels, they’re typically a dumbed down version of a Motel 6 where you bunk with other travelers in your room. The advantage is they’re low-cost and have resources needed for backpackers (storage, internet, breakfast).

In the last decade we’ve witnessed numerous improvements to our lives including DVR, Smart Phones, Social Networks. I’m also pleasantly surprised that hostels have improved as well. Here’s how:

1- Reservations are completely automated

During my last tour in Europe (Summer 2001), I relied on Lonely Planet and Let’s Go Europe guide books to find accommodations. It’s no small challenge when you’re trying to find a hostel in Paris around Bastille Day (I wound up calling 40 places to find a bed, though it’s the spark that got me interested in sales). Since guides only come out on a yearly or bi-yearly basis, it was a challenge to find updated properties. The good news is this has changed and services such as Hostelworld, Hostelsclub or Hostelz are search engines to find rooms, even for last minute accommodations.

2- Reviews are in Real Time

These sites make it easy for members to share their experiences and rate hostels in almost real time. I can see numerous reviews on potential hostels from the last few weeks. Because they ask for feedback, I can see numerous reviews for potential hostels from the last few weeks. After each one of my stays I receive a short survey e-mail.

3- Strong Integration with Social Networks

According to Aisling White of Hostelworld, since their audience is on Facebook/Twitter they need to be there as an organization and have taken steps to fully integrate with these sites. What’s different is they don’t focus on the hostel, but rather the destination where members can share/discuss/collaborate. So it’s taking the environment of a hostel to the virtual world. Best yet it’s forming a community of like-minded people (i.e., if I see someone heading to X destination, I can establish a relationship, seek advice, or even travel with that person). The goal is not to push content out, but pull information in so their members can share experiences.

4- Strong FREE or low cost WiFi networks

What’s often a challenge during my hotel stays (note this does not apply to Four Points or Courtyard) is reliable internet access, even when you have to pay. Each hostel (no matter how dingy) has quick and reliable internet access.

So what can the hospitality industry learn?

When I’m looking for better accommodations or just need a break from the hostel thing, I turn to sites such as Kayak, Fly.com, Expedia, Orbitz. What I find challenging is reliable reviews and venue information. For example, I recently booked a hotel in Amsterdam. When researching venues I found some reviews dating back to 2001. Also, I couldn’t find where the location was near (points of interest, metro). These sites might want to take a page from the hostel industry by being more open and transparent. Allow for third party resources (external reviews) and focus on the destination, not just the property.

Also, sites such as Hostelworld and Hostelz are platform agnostic. They realize the social game is changing rapidly as their audience migrates to new sites such as Gowalla and Foursquare, as well as mobile devices

Benefits of paying attention to hostel marketing strategy

There’s a few reasons why the hospitality industry (not just hotels, but airlines/restaurants), need to pay attention to how hostels are approaching social media

1- They’re directly engaged with young travelers (18-24) (future customers)

2- People in hostels tend not to be leisure travelers but in it for the long-hall

3- Highly educated (Most have university students or have degrees)

In conclusion, it’s a great time to be traveling and with resources like these, it makes it easier.

Thanks for reading!