May 4, 2010
Ron Casalotti of Bloomberg Businessweek kicked things off talking about their Business Exchange social media platform: a people-filtered resource for business people. In order to encourage users to participate, he instituted a rating system for submissions, among other things. With over 40K registered users, BX serves as a folksonomy of topics that are of interest to Bloomberg Businessweek readers and gets used as a source of stories for print publication. It also helps direct content focus for the marketing department since they now know what readers actually care about.
Top Tip: Don’t get caught up in the numbers. 200 active participants are more meaningful than thousands of passive followers on Twitter, for example. What really counts is building engaged relationships.
Deirdre Walsh, self-proclaimed “geek matchmaker” and Community & Social Media Manager for National Instruments was up next. The cornerstone of National Instruments’ community strategy are their support forums which have over 140,000 participants and 50% of all questions posted are answered by community members. The community is used extensively by the organization for product feedback, R&D insight, etc. National Instruments also puts a big emphasis on recognizing and engaging with community “rock stars.” One interesting point of measurement for Deirdre are “actionable conversations.” She also measures community growth and number of posts per community member.
Top Tip: Don’t get overwhelmed by the technical options (Facebook vs. Twitter, etc.) but utilize something like the P.O.S.T. method to develop your plan. In other words, treat social media as any other marketing communication function.
Next up was Mike Travis of Equat!on Research who spoke about the process involved in producing their “2009 Marketing Industry Trends Report,” a research study “by marketers and for marketers” which relied on crowdsourcing to determine survey questions. The strategy was to use the survey methodology itself to engage a community where Equat!on wanted to be better known. These efforts resulted in greater exposure, site traffic, and a five-fold increase in leads generated.
Top Tip: Crowdsourcing is a good way to get in touch with a community and actually become part of it, as long as you have something of value to add to the conversation.
Kirsten Watson, Director of Corporate Marketing at Kinaxis, then spoke about her efforts to create a supply chain expert community. One key element of their strategy was to build a highly engaging, content-rich “home” for supply chain experts to learn, laugh (yes, there is comedy in supply chain management), share, and connect. Another key element was to leverage content to achieve SEO goals and beat out much larger competitors like SAP and Oracle. These SEO efforts pulled people primarily to the community and the Kinaxis blog, and only secondarily to the Kinaxis website. [Quotable quote: “You can always buy traffic.”] Note: 20% of community members are customers and 80% are prospects.
Top Tip: Repurpose and reuse content whenever possible (“Create 10 things out of 1 thing”) while always thinking about SEO.
What followed was a Q&A session. Here are some insights and tactics that came out of that:
- Keep communities open, even to competitors.
- Post content to relevant LinkedIn groups (but don’t play where you’re not welcome).
- Link editorial content to keyword strategy.
- Involvement in social media sometimes means “listen and don’t say anything.”
- Use the many conversations happening around your brand as a driver of internal collaboration. (Deirdre called this part of her “Social Media Pangaea” vision.)
- If you have people in your organization interested in blogging, send them to “Blog College” like the folks at National Instruments do. Give people guidelines and frameworks and let them go.
- “Social media” is not a campaign or a program; it’s a tool.
Christina “CK” Kerley moderated this session extremely well keeping things focused and the whole thing highly information-rich.