Social Media Optimisation, SEO and Channel Linking: The Bigger Picture

Search Engine Optimisation

It is said that the hype around SEO will die down and businesses going forward will rather only be concerned with Social Media Optimisation, an all-encompassing concept that includes all elements of SEO. So what is SEO or search engine optimisation in the first place?

Search Engine Optimization is a tool deployed to more effectively market your products, services, or brand by utilising all aspects of the internet.

At the core of SEO, is the art of understanding how search engines are used, and therefore the importance of your website, your website content, social media content and strategy, as well as how you deploy your social media platforms.

I like referring to the above as Channel Linking. To support your SMO and SEO effort, ensure your channels are linked effectively, both amongst social media channels, social media and other website channels and all of the above, with your traditional multi-channel.

SEO loves a blog and your corporate blog should sit at the heart of your Channel Linking effort. When posting on your blog, and having linked your blog with other social platforms, a notification of your blog post will automatically be posted on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, posted on Google+, posted on LinkedIn (and specifically groups on this network) and so on. This requires a single action – posting that blog post, yet you enjoy double, triple or a fourfold reach as opposed to reaching your audience on your blog only. Within your blog post itself, make use of links as search engines are specifically on the lookout for this. Link the right content to the right pages on your website to drive traffic to your site.

Another good example of Channel Linking can be found where platforms such as Twitter can be used to drive traffic to a desired location on your website, where your sales force or marketing team can further engage with visitors via more traditional communication channels, such as live web chat. By deploying a website visitor tracking tool, you can track the effectiveness of this strategy by monitoring the start journey of your visitors from a link posted on Twitter. Having the right KPIs to track the effectiveness of your Channel Linking effort is critical to shape, amend and improve your strategy in the future so make sure you have the necessary in place to track what you are doing.

Developments are happening fast and Colayco forecasts several trends website owners can anticipate in 2014. He argues that, Social media is more important in the context of marketing across the internet than it has ever been. According to Colayco:

“Today, the algorithms in the search engines are geared more towards understanding and appreciating the important of social signals. Having shares, likes, posts, comments and followers will expand your business ot only in the branding aspect of your business, but the search engines as well.”

It immediately becomes very clear that there is a bigger picture here and that social media cannot be treated in isolation of your SEO. At the same time, SEO is never only relevant to your website and channels can be linked as part of a more integrated and effective strategy to drive your marketing effort and generate traffic. The key is to approach your SEO strategy as an tool that has benefits for various functions in the business. Bring your ICT, marketing, customer engagement, creative and social media teams together, and plan your SEO strategy across the full spectrum with the input of all interested stakeholders.

Your fully integrated SEO strategy coupled with a SMO and Channel Linking effort will yield great benefits for your business in the short and long term. The sooner you learn this art as a whole, the better it will support your marketing effort.

The Digital and Social Workplace: Driving a Happy and Engaged Workforce

Virgin Richard BransonSir Richard Branson could not have said it better: ‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to’.

 
Is this true for your business? If the answer is not an unequivocal, no, or if you hesitated in answer this question, then perhaps it’s time you consider a new approach?

The digital age has brought about many challenges for businesses across the board and while many choose to ignore the many rapid changes and continue business as normal, smart businesses have turned to modern technology to drive a social enterprise strategy thereby embracing the social age and are deploying new digital workplace technology that creates a positive climate resulting in driving a great culture in the organisation through enterprise social collaboration and networking.

 
So, how is this relevant to Branson’s quote above?

It’s quite simple actually –  the social enterprise engages its workforce, gives the workforce a voice, involves them in every aspect of the business, create a platform for them to sharing ideas, opinions and views, and to collaborate on projects, and ultimately drives a communities effort. This ultimately leads to creating a belonging for your staff to the organisation and will result in employee loyalty. Of course, many other factors need to be considered as well but this may be a very good place to start.

Still feel your command and control leadership style works best and we can continue to ignore the many changes that are happening all around your business?
The developments in digital workplace technology have brought about massive benefits for the enterprise which I would like to share. In a follow up post, I will discuss ten of these benefits that will hopefully convince you to explore social enterprise technology a little further. The sooner you embrace this new form of working the better, it will not go away.

The power of the Influencer for your WOM campaign: 4 Points to remember

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Do you know who your key Influencers are?



The first steps to consider in using social media to support your WOM marketing programme is to deploy a social media tracking and analysis tool that will allow you to identify key influencers you may want to consider engaging with to support campaign. Influencers may be in the form of bloggers in your industry sector, bloggers who talk about products and services similar to those your organisation offers, bloggers who have an extensive and influential following,  Twitter users (outside our community) that can be tracked for this purpose, journalists and so on. Consider both internal influencers to your community and external influencers outside of your community.

 

Devise an individual strategy to engage with each Influencer:

 
The next step is to devise an engagement strategy. How can these influencers support your campaign, and how will you engage with each individual to maximise your chances of obtaining the support for your campaign you need? These are some of the questions you may want to answer. The focus of your engagement strategy should always be to build individual and effective relationship, and in turn showing support for the influencer. Remember any relationship is a two-way process. A single strategy to be adopted across the board may not work for your campaign so be very careful with adopting this approach. WOM is about quality, not quantity. You may want to consider sending one of your products to the individual to try out, for example.

 
Track and measure your success:

 
You need to be able to track the success of your WOM influencer campaign by ensuring you have a suitable tool that will allow you to measure sentiment, comments and conversations (impact and volume) taking place following your successful engagement. You will be interested in measuring the impact of their mention, comment or conversations by carefully analysing the reach achieved. Your social media analysis tool will allow you to obtain the insight you need here.

 
Maintain the relationship:

 
Now you now know who your influencers are, what their authority levels are, you’ve successfully engaged and have tracked the impact of your efforts, but the process does not end here. You need to have a clear strategy with clear actions and touch points in place to maintain the relationship. The same rules you would apply to maintaining a relationship with your brand loyalists and brand advocates in the form of customers, would apply here. Ensure you nurture and grow the relationship to increase the strength of that relationship through time and trust in your brand, its products and services.

 
Social Media is all about WOM and can deliver great results for the marketer. When a clearly defined strategy is adopted with clear guidelines, processes and a tailored approach, it will yield great results.

Social Sales: 5 Factors to consider in B2C and B2B organisations

B2B_SocialMedia_InsideviewThe minute you mention social selling you have the attention of your business audience. There are generally those who are interested in exploring all the opportunities social media has on offer, including social selling, and those that seem to be unable to get their head around the idea of using social media to support their sales process. Either way, you’ll have the attention of your business audience on this topic.
Before you embark on a proactive social selling effort, the key word here being, proactive, there are a number of important factors to consider. In the coming weeks I will discuss each of these, including the bonus tip separately.

1. Develop a clearly defined social sales strategy

Your first step is to ensure you have a clear social sales strategy that is aligned with the rest of your integrated digital marketing communications. It is imperative in social media business communications that your marketing message is consistent across these channels. You will be interested in which conversations to target, who will action these conversations, how will this process work, how to engage with prospects, what success will look like, how will you measure success (KPI’s), linking up your efforts with other sales activity and so on.

2. Use a suitable Social Media tracking tool to access any opportunity:

If you are interested in social selling my advice would be to invest in a good social media tracking and monitoring solution. These solutions allow you to build a query (search terms) and apply a set of tags (filters) that allow you to track conversations across the social web that would be of interest to your sales team or community manager. Usually the system will allow for a workflow process that will enable you to direct the conversations, posts and comments to the right individual to take action. Twitter specifically is a wonderful platform to support your social sales efforts so ensure you go for a tool that has access to the Twitter Firehose giving you a hundred percent access to all Twitter mentions – you don’t want to miss any opportunities to engage.

3. It’s all about conversation:

Don’t be aggressive, it’s all about having a conversation and building rapport. The number one reason why there is reluctance to embark on social selling, relates to a concern that the effort will be met with hostility and damage your brand efforts. Remember every engagement, with every person, every time, is a reflection on your brand. Try and be subtle in your approach but work for it and put the necessary effort in.

4. Link your social efforts up with other sales channels:

I’m a big fan of the concept of Channel Linking. Try and think outside the box. Here is an example – if you have an existing sales team using traditional channels or more modern customer communication channels such as live chat on your website, you want to make sure you drive traffic to the desired location on your website to complete the sales process while engaging across the social web. Not all customers will be happy to engage until the end with you on social media. Deploy a tracking solution to measure website traffic emanating from your social sales activity, so this can be measured and reported against. Where you do obtain contact details from a potential customer via social media engagement, have your community management team trained up to pick up the phone and get in touch with the prospect. Alternatively, establish a process where this can be passed directly, ‘with priority’, to your sales team to take action. Lastly, give the customer a choice by providing inbound contact details, email address or a web address, but only fall back on this as a last resort.

 
5. Get your sales team involved: Cross-promotion

Many sales professionals are already using social media channels as a gateway to networking and finding information on the right decision makers (in the case of B2B). Get these guys involved in your social engagement efforts and have regular meetings with your community management team. It’s a single linked up process and effort, and should never be a fragmented approach. The best way to drive brand reach and to support the sales effort is to ensure your sales team become more active on social media. Your organisation’s reach on social media is limited as is our won individual social footprints. By on-boarding your sales force you can effectively increase your brand reach a great deal. Encourage your sales team to become ‘super social’ and cross-promote your brand message, product promotions and other marketing efforts, share information, videos, recoded webcasts and so on.

Bonus Tip: Go after the customers of the competition

Yes, you heard me right. It’s a free marketplace and we need to be creative in our approaches to the modern sales effort. By using your social media tracking and monitoring solution you can create queries with specific search terms relating to unhappy customers of the competition. Trust me there are many of these conversations and may just be the right time for you to step in and offer the customer an alternative. Again here it is important to be professional and business-like about it, so don’t be blatant.

As with social media, social sales will not go away. Rather it be you doing something about it than your competitor chipping away at your customer base with you still pondering about if it is the right thing to do – very few customers lost will become a customer again!

 

No make-up selfie + make up + a whole lot of pouting + no wallet = an ordinary selfie

No Make UpWe have recently seen a whole lot of ‘selfies’ being posted on Facebook and for a very good cause need I state. The onset of the selfie started with necnominations and well, the more braver attempt by men to support testicular cancer followed – ‘Cock in a Sock’, yes I said it. Will I do it? Absolutely not, no. Do I support the cause, very much indeed. One thing I did observe with the latter is the overwhelming ‘more athletic types’ fully embracing this effort. Although I support the cause I can’t help myself but to feel this to be any narcissist’s dream – a good excuse to drop the clothes, throw that sock on and show the world my body.

The ‘No make-up selfie’ makes for a better discussion. We have all been bombarded with the no make-up selfie on social media and earlier today I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine Yolandi, where she voiced her ‘dissatisfaction’ with some of the selfies she had seen over the past couple of days. At first she thought, ‘what a  brilliant idea’ but then the flood gates opened – the start of a pouting contest. More like, my pout is better than yours! Have you come across many ‘selfies’ with indeed a lot of make-up on? The idea of the no make-up selfie is to strip your face bare yet Yolandi could not help but to wonder how many of you actually spend quite a bit of time preparing for your no make-up selfie, by applying just the right amount of make-up.

The biggest problem however, is that the idea relates to making a donation, then taking your selfie, and loading it up making sure you encourage your friends and those in your community to follow suit. It is important to remember to actually share a link or indicate where you can make such a donation, before nominating your friends. That is the whole point. Problem is, selfies are flying around left right and centre ‘for a good cause’ but the cause is not helped without that valuable donation. So I challenge those of you who partook in this and did not make the donation, to actually go ahead and do it. Share the link and inform your friends of how this work and where a donation can be made. Strip ALL the make-up, we won’t feel any different about you beautiful creatures, your support for the cause is what makes you beautiful. As for the pouting, well, you can pout all you want ladies!

How Lean is too Lean: Has your business become too thin?

Lean Let’s be truthful about this. The methodology and principles applied by the business as part of a Lean approach to operations management can be very effective and have had a massive positive cumulative effect on the operations of many businesses. Thanks to the Toyota Production System we now see methodologies around Lean commonly implemented across manufacturing product companies and service organisations ranging over a broad spectrum of vertical sectors.

Whilst I am a big fan of Lean and its consequential benefits for the business, of late I have seen, how the over application of Lean or adopting the ‘wrong end of the stick’ can lead to dire outcomes. This is where we have to ask ourselves a couple of serious self-reflecting questions which I will get to in a second.

Lean is aimed at inter alia reducing waste in the organisation. One of the fundamental elements of Lean adopted to support your continuous improvement and innovation management process is the involvement of the employee. By bringing the employee into the process and supplying the employee with a voice to actively participate in improvement efforts by making suggestions and producing ideas. To ensure this element is met, a climate must be created and sustained, that will stimulate idea sharing and suggestions being produced. It should indeed become part of the culture of the organisation and calls for the correct management style to be adopted. Command and Control as we know it, is a no-go area and will not support this way of working (a topic I will cover off in another blog post).

Lean2What bothers me is the many ‘Lean’ businesses I have visited over the last couple of years, that are perhaps not as Lean as they initially thought they were. Well they invested in nothing, if that is what you want to call being Lean. Going into a boardroom I have the CEO proudly and eagerly announcing ‘we are a Lean business’.  When doing any consultancy I like to do a gap analysis and this often involves rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on ground level in the relevant business area. After all some of the best ideas come directly from front-line staff. My diagnosis – we have a serious case of a Cheapskate business, dressed in Lean clothing. It’s a management style, a way of doing things.

Some organisations like to hide behind Lean principles to go on redundancy sprees, limiting investment in the staff of the business, overloading employees with too much work, and in the process creating a very unhappy workforce. So how does this support Lean? It does not. A happy workforce is key to your Lean strategy and must never become just about cutting down where the opportunity presents itself. You will soon find yourself with a much bigger burden and expense to carry – that of an unsatisfied workforce and big turnover of staff. Your suggestions pot will be empty, creativity will be out of the door and there will be no business left before you know it. Do you really champion your people though Lean?

Your Intranet: An information dump?

Information DumpI recently attended a course at Warwick Business School where I’ve had the privilege of ‘touring online’ and seeing examples of quite a few intranet solutions of many well known organisations. It was indeed an eye opener. There were fewer great intranets with employee engagement at the core of the solution than there were intranets that appeared to be nothing more than a one-way data repository or information dump than anything else. On some of these ‘tours’ I felt a bit like sitting through an awfully long company policy induction session of a financial services organisation. One of the interesting trends is  ‘The message from our CEO’ that has become very prominent of late, boldly displayed on the main intranet page. But there was something missing. Comment features had been disabled or removed so as to prevent employees from commenting on any posts by the CEO and where this was not the case, I was told, ‘the comments you do see have all been moderated and anything in disagreement with the CEO has been removed’.  Come on now, where is the fun in that? What happened to employee engagement and giving the employee a voice?

The real purpose of your intranet solution ought to be to provide the employee across any function and on any level, with a single one-stop-shop solution that will allow the employee to obtain any information he/she may need, anywhere and at any given point in time, a platform where employees can engage with one another, with management and share ideas and views. It should also be a place where we can collaborate, connect and play an active part in the organisation.

Orgnisations are realising how powerful enterprise networking and collaboration software, systems and tools have become, and many are now integrating these tools in the intranet solution to drive business objectives, provide the employee with a better experience, and a better way of working. Such a fully integrated intranet solution with applications designed around the needs of your employees drives a climate that will stimulate employee involvement and collaboration. If anything, it will drive the desired culture in your organisation.

It would be good to hear your comments. What do you think of your intranet solution?

The Social Dinosaur is still ‘Alive and Well’

Social DinosaurOver the past couple of weeks I had conversations with various professionals and companies asking for help with their social media strategy. It may come as a surprise to some of you that many companies still has no or very little presence on social media, to some of you it may be no surprise at all.

One of the most common objections I get is from b2b organisations and a very good objection I had from a CEO the other day. ‘We are a b2b operations and Twitter will not help our business in any way’ he quickly stated  when I brought up Twitter. The company in question is an entrepreneurial technology company specialising in idea generation and idea sharing software. My obvious response was that Twitter is one of the most effective platforms in driving a brand presence and brand reach, and as such, can play a fundamental role in driving website traffic, supporting your sales process, help you establish thought leadership and drive traffic to all your other online profiles apart from all the other benefits presented for a b2b business targeting the prospects they target.

It has become clear that the old Social Dinosaur is not dead and still very much alive. The resistance element from senior management and lack of buy-in continues to be a problem and businesses are loosing out on the many opportunities presented by social media. There seems to be many more common misconceptions out there than you may think.

Another interesting development is where companies have a small presence, for example a Twitter handle and Facebook page, and are of the view that they have fully embraced social media. When having a closer look, there appears to be nothing more happening than the odd update and a one-way push of company information and irrelevant posts or tweets.

The critical thing to remember is that social media spreads across functions in the business and a clear social media strategy is not as hard to develop and implement as one may think. Social media has been created by the people for the people and businesses need to embrace that, get on with it and figure out on a learn-as-you-go basis instead of pondering on about if it is the right direction for the business to go or not. We all started somewhere and then gained valuable knowledge on how to do things along the way along the way. It is pretty simple, so the sooner you start, the lessor the chance of your business staying behind.

The excuse of our time – Time!

Despite having helped various organisations and people with producing and setting up their own personal and corporate blogs I have, like many others, used the excuse of time and never really got my own version off the ground. After much consideration and endless excuses floating through my head I decided to dive right into it.

My motivation for starting this blog is twofold – to get all those interesting topics that keep me up at night ringing through my head out on a platform where I can share my ideas and thoughts and  to develop my personal brand. My new motto is to keep myself busy with the things that interest me, at least on a professional level.

Having entered the final leg of my difficult, yet very rewarding MBA studies, and now completing my specialisation in the areas I have a real passion for, I thought what better time to start and get the discussion on some of these very relevant modern business challenges going.

For a long time I thought there was merit in my excuse to not have enough time. You see, since we live in a world of fast food, fast fashion, fast information and literally fast everything, my excuse has always been that I spend a lot of time working with Twitter and blogs in my professional career, therefore I do not have the time to focus on this in a personal capacity. This does not include LinkedIn and Facebook since I am a bit of a junky on these networks. So, I have now combined the two and will make it my business to bring you some interesting views on social media, innovation, the digital workplace and other areas that I am working hard at gaining as much knowledge in as I can.

Over the next 15 days I have set myself a challenge to produce one blog post per day and I hope to hear your comments on the views expressed in my posts. I also welcome you to connect with me on other social platforms.