Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Using Blogs and YouTube as Social Media Channels

Inappropriate use of Social Media channels can be a waste of time

One of the best media to use to gain visibility and visitors to your website is to engage in Blogs and You Tube.  But its not appropriate for every product or audience. The value in using social media channels lies in the effectiveness and delivery of marketing message or narrative via the right channel.  Using inappropriate channels for your message with only cost you time and resources for no appreciable result.
Most marketers focus upon two major concerns; HOW do they make money for their organisation and WHY do some marketing channels make more money that others.
When social media channels were first introduced every marketer adopted this new marketing concept and exploited the possibilities to solve their HOW and WHY concerns.  Some notable organisations claimed spectacular results.  However, engaging in Social Media marketing is a challenge particularly in integrating it into a companies existing marketing plan and to meet company expectations on profitability, and it’s not for everyone.
Most marketers do not understand the dynamics that social media may not be the appropriate medium to engage for the promotion of their product or service.  There are characteristics and special audience requirements to consider for each social media channel that will be discussed in this article for blogs and social media.
Most large organisations in the market place, activity engage in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn but, in most cases, the promotion only accounts for less than 1%-2% of total revenues.  Good Marketing Agencies warn Website owners should be aware and avoid being tempted by assertions that claim immediate and extraordinary success. 

Is Social Media Right for Your Organisation?

 There are some pre-requisites required before you engage in social media:
1.know thyself – know your enemy as well as yourself

2. Know your goals – have clear, achievable and measureable metrics 3. Know your limits – set parameters and do not exceed them.

 Once your organisation has answered these questions, then all organisations should ask themselves and develop four fundamental questions.
  •  Is engagement in social medium right for my organisation?
  •  What is the appropriate match of social medium to my marketing message?
  • Develop a four step social media strategy appropriate to the product/message?
  • Develop appropriate metrics for measurable and growth.

Companies and organisations should adopt a reality check and not get drawn into the latest and greatest money earning fade pushed out by so called experts that cite how Dell Computers made $6.5m using Twitter which when compared to a turnover of $61b is 0.01% of revenue – not very significant as incremental revenue. Perform a reality check and ask yourselves is this right for me. Decide what time, labour and budget will be allocated and do a “reality check” on the benefits.

The Intent of Social Media Channels 

Social media channels like Face Book, Twitter and LinkedIn were never intended to be a marketing channel – they were created for like-minded people to share like-minded experiences and referrals and not for marketing campaigns – although some recommendations from friends, fans and followers do originate from social media  that convert into sales but they are in small and insignificant numbers. 
Although these incremental sales might be useful but do come at an expense in time and resources.  LinkedIn was conceived as a professional job seeking channel, Twitter was conceived as a immediate sharing experience focused on the immediacy factor.  The exception is Google.  Google + (Plus) was created as a marketing tool and is having a hard time establishing itself in the marketing place because of that. Punters in the social sphere are not yet ready they want to give advice, recommend to friends, fans and followers and share superior knowledge. Likes are not sales.

Top Social Media Challenges

A survey was conducted by SEO Synovation the web marketing agency during July 2012 and asked 250 clients what was their top social media challenge? Survey results show consistent campaigns and integrating them into existing marketing strategy.
 When organisations activate their marketing messages to social medium campaigns they share four common characteristics:
1. Clear and consistent marketing messaging and what they offer the community
2. Progressive, gradual and timely development of a clear pathway to deliver the marketing message to the channel selected.
3. Ability to interact with their audience
4. Successfully planning the campaign distinguishes you from the crowd

Clear and Consistent Marketing Message

The marketing message is sometimes referred to as the internal narrative of the organisation. The board speak, the messaging of its representatives and the publicity language of its advertising departments and representatives that ll determine the marketing message. Examples of marketing messages or narratives are:

Nokia – the Finnish multinational communication and information technology giant has a simple, clear yet persuasive narrative: Connecting People.
Sony – the Japanese electronics group has a message that unifies all of its products into one innovative, clear and persuasive narrative: Make Believe.
Aston Martin – the British exotic sports car maker’s narrative sums up its product philosophy: Power Beauty and Soul.
The narrative used by Aston Martin is totally diverse to that of Sony and Nokia. The narrative is directed at an audience with totally different needs. Aston Martin focuses on the visual image whilst Nokia and Sony follow a features lead campaign to gain and master market share. This behaviour accentuates one important point: Social Media channels need reviewing in the different ways. Not all social media channels are equal as each carry inherent differences in communicating information.
The essence of social media is which channel will communicate who you are most effectively. Treating all social media channels equally to carry your message will just drain all your efforts, resources and budgets. So its best to identify first which medium will deliver the best results in communicating your message.

Blogs versus Websites as Social Medium Channels

Blogs are one of the best ways to communicate information and attract organic or natural search visitors. Websites do not change that often but blogs do or they should do. Blogs are more active and casual in presenting information and people tend to link to blogs as the information is usually current and up to date. Studies have shown that Blogs get more visitors than websites, get more links that websites, get more pages viewed and overall convert more that websites. From an SEO viewpoint blogs are fantastic for search engines to discover, crawl, index and return results to users’ queries.

Blogs Maximise Interaction

Blogs gain greater visibility than websites and as a consequence there is more interaction with your audience. Now here’s the conundrum. Which social medium do I choose to get the best possible results? The answer to that question lies in the type of interaction you wish to have with your intended audience.

The messaging and interaction could be one:

• To solicit support
• Announce research material
• To promote education
• To network with like minded people
• To present the latest news

You would use Blogs when you want to:

 Increase search visibility
 To build links for long tailed search terms
 To educate the market space and community within it
 Communicate high trust content
 To build lists for emailing and promotional purposes for higher conversions and reach
 To create brand value and equity
The way internet users begin to search the web for branded products also emphasis that Blogs are the best social medium to use. Studies (Emarketer May 2012) show that:
 57% use search
 20% via Brand Website
 18% via Retailer
 3% via Facebook
 2% via Twitter

Searchers Behaviour

A study by ComScore in late2010 discovered a prolonged buying pattern and buying intent from internet users than previous thought. The buying pattern of intent users has extended as users become more aware of what they want to buy, how to search for it on the web, and the specification of the product. The survey showed only:
 25% of searches are successful at the first attempt
 42% of all search queries need refining
 44% of all search queries postpone their intent to buy for more that a day, week or month
Email marketing has enjoyed a dramatic increase in usage as a result of using blogs to increase visibility. Blogs have been designed to capture email addresses due to the targeted, useful and pertinent content of the blog. There has been a dramatic increase of 28% (ExactMarketing 2010) and that‘s been dominated by mobile users at 41%.
The number one task a marketer, a sale person or an executive does every morning is checking his inbox. So that must be the best time to grab his or her attention. Get you promotion material to inboxes just before coffee time.
A study showed 58% of users check email while having their first cup of coffee, 20% checks their portal or search engine and 11% check Face Book. The study (ExactTarget 2010) went further and said:
 93% of internet users subscribe to an email or newsletter
 38% of face Book users subscribe to Brands
 5% of Twitter users subscribes to brands
Email is an incredibly strong medium when compared to other social medium channels and should not be overlooked in your overall strategy.

YouTube as a Social Media Channel

Although Google does not term YouTube as a search channel, preferring to call it a video search channel, it is nevertheless:
 The third largest website in the world
 The second most popular search engine in the world
 Gets four billion views every day
 Gets sixty hours of video uploaded every 60 seconds
 Three billion hours of video watched every month.
When do you Use YouTube as a Social Media Channel
There are enormous traffic flows into YouTube but when do you use it:
 To see it to believe it – good to demo new products and lastest gadgets
 To get highly visible traffic – good humorous videos get thousands of viws
 Portable video – copy and paste code to embed video onto websites, Face Book and other media
 Re-publishable – can present different layers of the same topic (repurposing). It may be easier for the video to rank instead of the website
 Influences search results by Google
 Presents content in different methods
 Extended reach – will reach out to multiple sections of the market place.
 Extended media content
When you combine YouTube as a social media channel with Google search your video and website will automatically gain greater visibility. Other benfits are”
 Increased rankings in search engine results
 Important additional channels for rankings and visibility
 Influences search results – captures attention

Is Social Media Right For Your Business?

Remembering that social media interaction although great for exposure and awareness brings little conversions and profits. Studies show around 2% of revenues is generated by social media channels. However it’s difficult to measure the impact that social media channels have on websites due to timing of a recommendation to visitors actually visiting the website as your analytics will show a direct brand query rather than from a social media referral. It has a place in your arsenal. It will bring results if used wisely and by directing your messaging via the most effective channel to maximise the greatest responses.

About the author

Vincent Sandford works for SEO Synovation a European web marketing agency helping small to medium sized organisation gain greater visibility in their market space. His passions are Search Engine Optimisation, Online Reputation Management and Internet Marketing, He writes for numerous blogs on Italian wine and food, and Real Estate.  

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