LinkedIn invitations don’t add value

Linkedin conenctions do not add valueMonths ago I ended what had become one of my living nightmares over the past years: invitations to be connected in LinkedIn.

This has cost me months of procrastination and indecision.

The disquiet resulting from not being able to answer each and every one of these invitations has been such that I’ve even considered closing down my LinkedIn account. Yes, the account that provided 35% of my annual turnover in 2011 and 20% in 2012. How is it that I’d even consider annihilating something that is profitable for me? Very simple: right now, it only offers me hundreds of requests to be connected, taking up time that I’d rather dedicate to more important things for the people who are really in my reach and for myself, of course.

The pace ran me down

Everything was fine until summer 2012 when I started losing the pace on LinkedIn: the time taken by actively taking part in groups, taking an interest in my network and contacting six or seven people with whom I considered I should be connected every week. Also, the time dedicated to personally and humanly answer everyone who had invested their time in sending me a connection request, regardless of whether they had sent a ‘template’ message or whether they bothered answering back after that. I continued doing it. I believe in human relations as the basis for the social web.

The more you connect, the more multiple connections you get

More and more invitations kept coming. I tried to use the weekends to answer between 60 and 100 invites. However, the more I accepted, the more I answered, the more new invitations I’d receive. This is easy to explain: the more requests you accept, the more visible you become in each contact’s homepage, the more visible and exposed you are to further connections. This would be great if those connections added value. However, from my experience, barely 5% of my contact network is useful to the end result, or to help other people. It therefore becomes a huge drawback as the more people you accept, the more requests you get from other people; especially nowadays when it seems that connecting through LinkedIn has become a national sport.

Changing things to improve the result

Result: more than 4,100 requests to answer. The dilemma for me is that I’ve always wanted to answer every request personally. Unfortunately, I cannot face such a deluge. It would only involve a meaningless sacrifice that I’m unwilling to make. The use given to LinkedIn no longer adds value. It’s become saturated.

So, in order not to give up my LinkedIn account or the human touch I wish to maintain, from a few months to now on I will only respond personally to those people who explain the reason for contacting me and those who can benefit from connecting with me. All other invitations I will accept without answering back. I think this is a fair exchange: I’ll bother with people who bother. Anyone else, if they want or need anything in particular, make this clear; at the end of the day, it’s you who started any action, so the result will depend on how you start it. Any of the people whom I’ve contacted through LinkedIn knew my purpose right from the start.

LinkedIn invitations add no value; the value lies in the connection you’re trying to make.

Photo credit: Deb Nystorm.

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Chronological Twitter-Use Analysis: 2007 to 2015

I’ve created a timeline from the moment I started using Twitter in 2007, analysing the strategy and use I’ve made of this platform, right to the present, just as we’ve just entered in 2015.

Twitter use analysis

These are the results of the analysis:

2007 and 2008

I couldn’t find my way around it! I needed to work out how this thing worked! Twitter? A bird? What a drag!

2009 and 2010

Twitter was a place where I would share my blogposts once a week. Yeah, it was OK. Everything else in it was just a machine gun endlessly firing information on social media and anything connected with it. Everything that fell into my hands was shared. I probably wasn’t objective enough yet. 95% of the content I shared belonged to external sources. I spent almost 4 hours a day reading, learning, implementing. I was sleeping 5 hours a day on average (less so in 2009.)

I was possibly using Twitter for up to 3 hours a day. Unbelievable.

2011

During 2011 I would massively share loads of links regarding social media, online marketing and Internet. Resources, best practices, newly-arrived platforms and tools, start-ups regarding the Internet and similar stuff. Most of the content came from blogs, platforms and English-speaking websites. This was possible thanks to the number of sources I was hooked up to on a daily basis. I spent two hours reading and filtering content (at night).

Meanwhile, among such content, I would also share the posts from both my blogs, in Spanish and in English. The workload then was less as I wasn’t publishing on isragarcia.es every day (that would start at the end of 2011.) The ratio then was 85% external content vs. 15% own content. I used Twitter 2 hours a day on average, or slightly more.

2012

In 2012, I decided to stay more human. I would look for interesting stories on my timeline and share them, without turning to the main platforms such as Mashable, TechCrunch, Social Media Today or the blogs on Social Media Examiner, INC, Brian Solis or Jeff Bullas to recommend valuable and interesting content with my community. This increased my interaction with Twitter users and significantly increased conversations regarding these stories. This, in turn, led also to my own content having more repercussion and a greater reach. This led to more connections, visits and, as a result, more leads.

I noticed how Twitter improved my efforts to market my contents. This made me take greater care on what I published. The ratio in 2012 was 70% external content vs. 30% own content. I realised at the time how important it is to becoming your own communication company.

I continued to decrease the time spent searching for information, reading and filtering contents, from two to one hour a day. The average use of Twitter that year must have been approximately 1.5 hours a day. Not bad at all!

2013

2013 came. One thing was clear: once you regularly share interesting content from the same platforms, it’s no longer a novelty, it’s accessible to all and it’s no longer relevant. If it becomes a routine, it no longer adds value. 60% of the platforms I was sharing from in 2012 had already reached saturation point. I say 60% as I’m always looking for places where I can find interesting ideas. Nowadays, the number of sources I work with is 400 blogs and 175 platforms or specialised sites. Of course, I don’t read them all. In fact, I’m reading less and less.

There has been a significant change in the way I use Twitter this year. I stopped sharing as much external content from other sources, although I continue to use what I consider to be the star platforms: Social Media Today, FastCompany, eMarketer, INC, Chris Brogan or SmartBrief. I’ve shared the best content from these, but in an irregular way. I’m no longer necessarily sharing content from these platforms every 2 or 3 days. The content I’ve been producing daily has been up to 5 times the amount I produced in 2010, for instance. Projects, ideas, collaborations, speeches, blogs, adventures, challenges, etc. I’ve simply become my own communication enterprise. Another great change is that I’ve stopped being connected to Twitter during the day. I never log on while I’m working at my computer. I only check it out using my smartphone or tablet and the time I spend on it is 30-45 minutes. Lucky me!

The ratio this year has been 30% external content vs. 70% own content. That 30% external content is shared as follows: 15% is from selected sources, 10% from contents I’ve come across during the day and the remaining 5% I dedicate to contents I’ve found from anonymous people who have great stories to tell.

The time I’ve spent to reading, searching, filtering and absorbing contents this year is 30 minutes a day, maximum. Obviously, my search is now more clearly guided and intuitive and my expectations much higher.

Above all, I’ve tried to stay human first and foremost. I’ve answered and connected 99% of the times, with the remaining 1% left to the “not worth my time” segment. One of the things that best works for me is asking questions. Asking specific users, or asking the entire world; asking out of curiosity. You always get some sort of answer.

2014

My ratio of external content continue to diminished. I stopped publishing so much of my own content. I looked for more personal stories to share and I shared them. I used Twitter for less every day. What was my strategy? I published less of my own posts per day. I continued to work towards creating and sharing the content that created a greater change in you and frankly, it worked.

2015

I frankly don’t know what is going to happen. What I do know is that I will be using less Twitter and keep reducing the amount of tweets I’m sending every day. Let’s see what happens.

Photo credit: Scott Beale.

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What needs to be done in Social Media so it doesn’t die?

During my intervention at the Madrid Music Days event last year, I stated my idea, reasoning and examples of why social media marketing as we know it is coming to an end. I rescue here four of the most important points of my speech about what we can do so that Social Media doesn’t die. Note: this won’t avoid its evolution, however.

what needs to be done in social media so don't die

What needs to be done in Social Media so it doesn’t die?

This is the approach we’ve been working on for the past two years and it’s working.

1. Social platforms are communication and marketing channels and, as we’ve proven, are still viable sales channels. However, they need to be led correctly. They need a coherent strategy and execution that focuses on results, on connecting with our community, therefore creating certain resonance with our people in a dynamic, interesting and brilliant way.

Social Media doesn’t create a different world; neither does it invent or define. This is something that only comes about with an idea, initiative, project or business. At the end of the day, it’s only marketing through a new means of communication. Navigate your project or brand through these channels, seeking a clear, defined project. Do so without losing track of the people because, most of all, you need them right now. The value you provide is the value that the world will give in return.

2. Symbiotic models have always worked best (except in the case of Spiderman and his alter ego). Throwing conventional communication and marketing out of the window was, still is and will always be a dumb idea!

Look for a cross media strategy. Traditional communication isn’t dead, PR is extremely useful for word-of-mouth, there are still a variety of offline means to cross over to digital communication. Use what you do well out there, such as sales, to bring your customers to your company blog or to have a 24/7 customer service over Twitter.

3. Companies that claim to care about people but who can’t be bothered to interact with their buyers can ignore all of this. We’re ignoring you in one way or another.

Ask, listen, do something with all of this. Look out for conversations, take part in them. Recommend services that are in line with your audience, become “the person to turn to if I need something” and let the results speak for themselves.

4. If you want to use the social web and the great opportunity that lies therein, at least attempt things, learn from them, fail often, experiment, fine-tune, use any feedback you get, be creative and try something different; all of this before, during and after using social media. There’s no other way. That’s my recipe to get to where you’re so good that no one can ignore you.

Should you advertise on Facebook? If that’s your concern, there’s so much more you should be concerned about. Is being on Pinterest worth it? Who knows. Should you programme your tweets? Have you ever tried this and measured the results obtained? The only way to get an answer to these and many other similar questions is to just go for it and try it out. You need to work with the social web thoroughly to understand what works and what doesn’t. The best –or worst– thing about this is that it’s a day-to-day job. What worked yesterday may not work today, or what works today may not work tomorrow.

The direction that such work is taking means that if you want to make the social web to work for you, it must become a part of all your business processes. It’s not less important but, rather, the driving current. The work you carry out is part of your marketing, your customer services, internal communications, human resources; it’s part of your company’s wiring. It’s a part of it all!

What else needs to be done here? What’s your role?

Photo credit: hollywoodhollows.

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How efficient is your blog?

I’m usually quite matter-of-fact in these actionable posts, so straight to the point! Here you’ll find 8 ways to help you measure how efficient your blog is.

blog efficiency

8 Ways to measure your blog’s efficiency

1. First of all, compare the natural growth of visits to your blog overall with regard to a similar period the previous year, and then the average visits for each post. Compare also the bounce rate, sources of traffic, social conversion, individual visitors, pages visited and average stay on your site and in each post.

2. Measure the number of people who unsubscribed to your newsletter, email or RSS subscriptions in the last month / quarter / semester / year. This way, you’ll understand whether your content is the right content for your community, if you have an interesting community and whether there is a connection with your readers. According to the measurements I carry out of my blogs and others I’m in contact with, the average rate is usually 2-3% per month at most.

3. Furthermore, check how may subscribers are RSS subscribers and how many are via email. If you have a newsletter subscription, how many subscribers do you have? Calculate this weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.

3. Volume of comments in each post. The more comments you get, the more popular your blog is; the more popular it is, the more it’s read; the more read it is, the more it’s visited; the more visited it is, the more conversions you should be getting.

4. The number of “leads” you get every week / month. By “leads” I mean business opportunities. These will be different for every person depending on the type of blog you’re writing, the field and industry you’re in and the objective you seek. This could be a request for a quote regarding the interior decorating of a house in a home renovation blog; or, a question regarding the clothes you described in your fashion blog; it can also be a company contacting you for a PR activity through your advertising blog; or the proposal from an agency who wants to hire you as a speaker at a gastronomy fair through your food blog.

5. What is the reach of your posts without the use of social tools (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Menéame, etc.)? This will help you measure your blog’s true influence, how influential it is on its own.

6. Of the visits you receive for each post, how many actually carry out the action you’re looking for. That is, how many visitors click on the “call to action” that will take them to your online store, to purchase the theme you’re recommending, to make the donation for the NGO you collaborate with, etc. Sometimes, this “call to action” may simply be for them to answer in the comments section the question you set in your post, or signing up to an event, webinar or conference.

7. Analyse the number of links on other blogs, posts or sites that each of your posts gets. This isn’t only positive at SEO level, but if you get many links, then you know your post is valuable and others are using it as a resource.

8. Recommendations that your blog receives between users in the social web: Twitter, Facebook, Google + or LinkedIn. Count also the number of times that your blog (or each post) is bookmarked in a social bookmarking site such as Del.ici.ous or Diigo.

What other ways to measure your blog’s efficiency can you think of?

Photo credit: Saurabh Shukla.

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Community Leaders and Social Media Managers In Depth

I want to go beyond some simple advice for community managers, the keys to handle social media efficiently, how to increase sales on social networks or tricks to optimise your social media strategy. I believe there are some aspects regarding the community manager and social media scene which have to be looked into in depth to understand their implications.

community management in depth

Understanding the play between Social Media and Online Community Leadership

These are some of the things we should pay more attention to when working in the field of the social web so that we’re able to understand what we have on our hands, what we’re facing and how to do something of relevance.

Hybrids

I have always believed, and have confirmed, that we will never be a simple Community Leader/Connector or Social Media Manager but a hybrid, located somewhere between Social Media, Community, Marketing, Digital, New Media, Communication, PR, Sales, and HR. That is where the potential lies. Oh! And also in remaining human.

That is, many tasks which aren’t fully defined or detailed. Are you dedicated solely and exclusively to leading online communities? I very much doubt it. You’re likely working also in Marketing, Communication, even PR if necessary, Sales Management, Customer Services and even in screening job candidates. We’re hybrids. You can take a look at this role in depth and how to develop it, here.

Online Leaders of your Brand

This is a delicate matter. Would you put your company’s Facebook page in my cousin’s hands? Probably not. Well we’re talking about the same thing here. There’s no one better than someone on the inside to learn and progress until they’re capable of taking on all of these tasks and responsibilities. There is an added complexity –and risk- in giving this task to an intern; representing the brand in the online sphere is, after all, a vital role, and isn’t limited to using Twitter, Facebook or Google+. Remember these people lead people, they’re not directing things.

How to Connect with the Community

Quite simply, don’t invade their space! We live in the era of permission marketing, an interruption of the system, processes based on a human attitude that intends to do something with a meaning, open innovation, creation and chaos. This isn’t an era of communication and marketing, once the interruption created an over-communicated society through intrusive marketing and mass communication a while back.

Now we’re at it again with the social media. Our sole intention is to get our message out there and for our message to have an impact on as many people as possible; feedback is unimportant if we have many likes and comments. That’s ‘short-term gain, long-term pain’! The people who want to reach you will do so because of your content, your interaction, your attention, humanity, closeness, humility, truthfulness and credibility. The only thing you need to do is to be visible at all times and create relevant content that engages your audience. Then, make sure you remain human at all times.

What to Do

Test, try, do something, review what you do, make corrections, launch something again, try one campaign, another one, and then another one, one of them will work, try not to risk too much, remain loyal to your brand value, what you represent as a brand and as a person, make the brand truthful, make the person behind the brand visible, manage the whole online fabric, follow the conversations, observe and measure your content’s scope, the state of your community; if you’re launching a campaign, whether you need to review your Apps, your landing page, the comments, likes, repercussions, etc. Creation and distribution means actions carried out with your content.

You can do whatever takes you where you want to be. You can specialise or not; the advantage of doing so is that you focus on a niche, and the smaller, the better.

How to Coordinate

Work in the distribution of tasks, create GANT charts, timelines for the different parts of the projects and actions, anything that helps you in the structure and architecture of your objectives, responsibilities and team work. This may help you.

Internal or External

An example: we work with a multinational company as Advisors and Online Project Leadership Team. When we arrived at the company and during the first few meetings to carry out an online audit, the topic arose of who would lead the online community operations. The company said it did not have the human resources and that none of them would be able take on any of the tasks as they were all up to their ears with work.

We always recommend someone who’s been trained on the inside. First of all, it’s easier to act as a consultant and educator and to train someone inside the company in the knowledge necessary to carry out the job than to bring someone from outside who needs to adapt to, understand and work in new surroundings.

However, what we did in this case was to bring an outside person; not an intern, but someone knowledgeable in Social Media, Communities, PR, Communication and some Marketing. We established a part-time job for six months (working Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 14:00). During the first month, this person did no online work but simply learnt about the company’s departments, lines of business, products, staff, culture, company ethics, suppliers and other important details necessary for them to carry out their job in an efficient, professional and results-oriented manner.

Once the month was up, this person (a freelance worker) understood the running of the company perfectly and was ready to start. It all went so well that this person now works permanently as part of the company as Head of Social Media and Online Community. We’re happy that this is the case.

Going Beyond

All of this goes beyond what we think is going on. I’m talking about leading, connecting, aligning, developing, integrating, implementing, managing, updating, building, consolidating, driving, comparing, executing, measuring, following, monetizing, listening, reading, commenting, understanding, acting, doing something, remaining human.

Photo credit: Text100.

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Strategic Areas to Run Online Projects Successfully

Leading online projects is much more than simply managing a brand’s social networks. It is a bigger challenge that involves great responsibility: you need to involve more people in this task, not robots who do as you say, look down and don’t ask questions, just receive orders. No, I’m talking about passionate people who are engaged, committed and enthusiastic. It is your duty to inject them with this enthusiasm at all times.

strategic areas to run online projects

Running Online Projects

Once you face the challenge of leading, developing and running online projects, you must consider a series of concepts related with some of the areas required to carry out this type of job:

Social Web Strategy: Develop, feed, maintain, optimise, grow and lead the online ecosystems.

– Web site/blog: optimise our strong points, focusing on improving “shareability,” usability and navigation.

Community engagement: build the foundations for participation, emotional bonding and passion by interacting, answering and sharing with fans, friends and followers. Create an interconnected community that increases the online scope, passion, strength and feeling.

Content generated by the user: seek this type of content in a way that can be shared in order to strengthen affinity with the community.

Newsletters: create dynamic newsletters that are effective and can be shared: indispensable to complete a good online marketing programme. This is a valid tactic to increase leads. Depending on how fresh you content is, how interesting your product/service is and how innovative or creative your strategy is, you can programme your issues on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.

Databases: every day that goes by, your database should more or less increase and should continue to increase. That is what we live and die for in marketing. This much hasn’t changed even if the game has changed.

e-shop / ticket system: think about becoming your own online distribution channel, managing your distribution, sales, customer services, middlemen and salespersons. How? Setting up your own online store or ticket service or whatever your product/service is.

To this end, you need an e-commerce platform, excellent and efficient logistics (try to deliver your product or service in less than 24 hours and see what happens…). I’m not talking about the quality of your product/service as we’re taking that for granted. Otherwise, forget everything I’m talking about here and make sure that your company delivers a product based on excellence and a value that will change whoever purchases it. Once you achieve this, get started with the marketing and social media side of things!

Mobile commerce: think about how to sell through mobile technology, create an App that encourages the interaction between consumers and the company, an interaction that simplifies any transactions that might take place. This can happen through a direct sales platform through the App, QR codes, “print at home”, etc. There are new systems that implement all of these improvements and others such as analytics, real-time results, SMS or email support, services like “entradas a tu alcance” which, furthermore, adapt perfectly to mobile devices.

Online monitoring and branding: monitoring the brand in the online world, in such a way that you’re able to see what happens around it. Whether you like it or not, there are conversations going on about your brand out there. Some of them will be positive and others will be negative; both are equally important and, yes, you should be taking part in them!

Online support: offer support to your audience and brands in terms of customer services, post-sales, pre-sales or guidance in the purchase process.

Marketing actions and campaigns: the idea behind this will vary according to the objectives and the strategy to reach them. It could be creating a database, reaching a new segment in the audience, creating brand perception and awareness, product penetration, market testing and the list goes on. Whatever the action, make sure it has a launch, execution and end dates, a budget, team/resources and monitoring/results.

Inter-department collaboration: collaborate constantly with the press, design, production or management departments, for instance.

Online promotion programme: develop and launch programmes aimed at promoting our service/product using the online media. The idea behind this is to boost sales.

Corporate social responsibility campaigns: design and launch this type of campaigns which aim to contribute to society in one way or another. Discover new talent, courses or training for the unemployed.

How do you carry out your online projects? How do you face this challenge? What other areas am I missing?

Photo credit: katrina_30.

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8 tasks that define a social media workflow

In 2010 I spoke about the social media workflow to handle and optimise the time and effort you dedicate to social web activity. I updated this in 2012 with a new version that included a graph designed by Luis Calabuig.

While adapting this for a new project, I quite recently realised that this workflow could be further completed by describing its steps and adapting them to the current times.

Which 8 tasks define a “social” workflow?

The following tasks will optimise the time and effort you dedicate to your social web workflow.

1. Reputation – Active listening.

Monitor and follow up on key words regarding what people say about the brand from one day to the next. Analyse and classify mentions according to their nature (positive, negative or neutral.) A new tool has recently appeared to help you with this: SocialVane. It has an interesting ‘artificial intelligence’ feature: the more you use it to filter words out, the more it can classify mentions according to their nature, offering better search and filtering results. There are other tools on the market that can do this, such as Pirendo or Mention. The latter is quite complete, boasting a more comprehensive search feature that searches not only across social platforms but in other channels too.

Once you’ve gathered and analysed this information, select the results that are of greater interest to your organisation. Present a daily report or document with active links to each news item, mention or post.

2. Updating and interacting.

First of all you will need to define your social objects according to a content plan (a day early or even previously for the entire week or month; see below.) Now you need to create this content and disseminate it using the different channels available, not only social platforms. Interaction is another significant moment in your workflow: respond to comments, offer and get feedback, provide information and connect with the brand’s community through bilateral interaction on any of your ecosystem’s platforms.

3. Content marketing – Distribution

Draw up a content plan for the next day (or for the next week or month) and decide how to promote and circulate your content through different platforms and channels. Decide also what pieces you will create: press releases, videos, audio, newsletter, pictures, etc. You must also take into account the call to action linked to every piece of content you publish and how you will measure its result: what action are you expecting once the content reaches your community? Make sure that the result is in line with your objectives: subscriptions, visiting the online store, download of ebook or podcast, contact form requesting more information or a request for a quote.

4. Blogging

If you have a blog or offer news on your website, you should previously define what this section will be like as part of your content marketing strategy. At this stage you simply have to write, optimise and publish your post, news item, event or whatever it is you will be publishing. If you’re writing a post that is meant for the following day, leave it ready to be posted by scheduling it. Consider sharing it on platforms or using tools such as Buffer, Twylah or ScoopIt.

5. Planning and brainstorming

It may be interesting, even advisable, to spend up to one hour every day thinking about creative actions, contests, promotions, campaigns and other tactics that are in line with your objectives. They must add value to your community and your brand. By doing this on a daily basis you will be able to run a tight operation that works constantly.

6. Community engagement

Identify the conversations held by your community and take part in them. Share content that is valuable to them, engage with them by putting them in contact with resources, allies or people that meet their needs and interests. Do this by being one more in the conversation, not the one dominating the conversation or the flow of content.

7. Search and analysis

Monitor how your organisation performs in online conversations. In this case, intervene in the case of both negative or positive comments (acting to put a positive spin on things or, in the latter case, to reinforce such comments). Remember to watch your tone in doing so!

8. Eventualities

The chances are you’re not only in charge of the “social” side of things. You therefore need to combine all of the above with any other duties you have outside this area. Don’t worry if you can’t always follow this workflow strictly; there will always be other distractions: emails, phone calls, unexpected meetings, you co-worker’s love life, etc.

Find your own formula

The best thing about this is you don’t need to follow the precise order of tasks and responsibilities I set above. Distribute them across your day however they work best with your strategy and time. You can repeat more than one task within a day; some may take two hours, others 15 minutes. This will depend on your objectives, the time you can dedicate to online tasks or how relevant all of this is to your organisation.

Everything boils down to what you require. The idea is for you to define and structure what tasks need to be carried out. Don’t approach them all at the same time and dedicate time to each one separately. Online activity is increasingly integrated into the day-to-day running of companies, so perhaps they’re part of customer services and you need to integrate the social media workflow into your own workflow mix.

What is your workflow like? Are there any other tasks you think I left out?

Photo credit: woodlyewonderworks.

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Improve your results using the social web

improving your results using the social webWhat goes on out there when we use the social web to communicate our product, improve our organisation’s marketing or connect with our potential target? After a year spent observing, analysing and measuring actions and cross-referencing behaviours, this is the pattern that I’ve seen repeated the most by brands, companies and even people and professionals.

Current strategy

  • Four tweets regarding business purposes.
  • Two or three updates of the company’s Facebook page; photos and videos mainly.
  • Spending about $400-600 per month on Facebook Ads campaigns to increase the official page’s fan base.
  • A couple of images in Instagram and Pinterest.
  • One or two links shared on LinkedIn and perhaps another in the group that is closest to our industry and has the most members.
  • Perhaps posting a news item on Google+; you know, for SEO purposes and stuff.
  • Very occasionally, carrying out a promotional video about our company or about what we do, basing it on a current reference that we liked.
  • If we’re lucky, our SME, business or personal brand has a blog. Perhaps we might publish something once a week or every two weeks; more often than not, on a monthly basis. Then we massively (sometimes, intrusively) promote our post (and blog).
  • Sending a commercial newsletter to every contact that has ever given us a visiting card, whoever we exchange emails with, whoever subscribes to our blog or whoever’s in our database through subscriptions.

I’ve also seen lots being said about content marketing and strategy. Although there are some large brands using content marketing (very well in some cases), there are still many smaller companies and organisations, personal brands and self-employed workers out there. I’ve read about 40 posts that talk about content marketing as the trend for 2014. Wasn’t it the trend for 2013? Of course, content marketing is very different from filtering and publishing links that are coherent and that build towards a common goal. This is what I’m talking about.

So, it’s hard to measure change. However, I know that when you’ve done the work that matters, your social media efforts will decrease and be more focused. The more people turning their heads to take a look at you, the more things you should be creating.

The deal here isn’t the content but, rather, the results you get. Create processes that help you achieve your goals. The following ideas may help you improve your results using the social web.

What else can be done?

  • Instead of (aimlessly) publishing on Twitter, try to link with your potential audience more and pay greater attention to your customers. Look for conversations, analyse and measure them and then take action in them.
  • Set up your fan page as a place to get test samples, special offers, peripheral services that are only carried out on this platform (for instance: a form for free samples). Publish blurbs from your customers or show different ways your product can be implemented.
  • Focus your Facebook Ads budget on achieving leads to your end point of sale on your website or online store.
  • Carry out visual contests through Instagram with attractive incentives. Use Pinterest as a catalogue for your products, experiences or featured services. In the case of products, include the price so they can appear in lists of “gifts”.
  • Try to connect through LinkedIn with the contacts that can strengthen your organisation. A sales agent in the UK, a legal adviser in Colombia, etc.
  • Create a community in Google+ with the people who have things in common with what you do and share with them. Use your Google+ page to tell funny, surprising and attractive stories that resonate with your industry.
  • Create a video every month or two explaining the craft involved in the work your organisation carries out (for instance, how you prepare your rye bread or how you prepare fruit milkshakes)
  • Publish the most important thing you’ve worked on at least once a week, explaining what you’ve learnt from it and whatever may serve as a recommendation for your potential target.
  • Work on content marketing based on your strategy, defining the actions you carry out and, most of all, measuring what happens with each piece of content. It should help you.

Was this useful? Did it help your ideas? How do you use your social web to get results?

Photo credit: ntr23

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Strategic Human Media Integration Model

How can we work in social media if we show no interest for people, if we don’t consider their relevance? How can we be professionals in the field and, at the same time, ignore what happens afterwards? Can we learn to accept change without doing the work, simply expecting applause and a standing ovation? What changes can we implement in the digital world to connect with and change our own audience?

I created the first theoretical social media integration model in December 2009. What I find fascinating is how it has evolved over the years, until now, with 2014 just round the corner.

How has strategic integration evolved?

New skills in an interconnected environment, the adaptation to social platforms, the different approaches to new online tools, the change in strategies and tactics towards further interaction, engagement and the consolidation of relationships, perception and understanding of ecosystems in the social web, and the digital revolution, of course. All of this has made social media integration become a more direct, human and connected model, creating a more powerful social and human web. The start of Human Media.

I have been working for a while towards understanding and figuring out how the new environment works and how a new conception of all the above changes social media integration in the business environment.

Human-media-integration-theory-model

The meaning of this

Users generally prefer connections over sales, sharing over creating, resonance over influence and relationships over promotions. This is further amplified by the sheer number of elements that take part in the integration of online platforms and tools in any communication or marketing model today. Platforms that humanise, filter and select contents (content curating) improve the chances of a social object being shared by a larger number of kindred spirits.

Connectivity between platforms results from the users’ “shareability” ratio: the more relevant, emotional and segmented the content you share, the greater connectivity you create with kindred spirits (you can call them potential clients or community). This will inevitably lead to positive visibility and will make it easier for your brand to interact with the people in the community to which you have gained access. This generates a continuous feedback flow resulting from the high level of input generated from visibility to a potential audience, connectivity with these persons and the resulting interaction. However, such inputs are meaningless without perception, understanding, assessment, implementation and reaction to the feedback channelled from social networks and from actively listening to these platforms.

It’s convergence, it’s connection, it’s human

Integration converges with an ecosystem that focuses more on connecting with users than on bombarding them with promotions. A good handling and use of the feedback provided will inevitably generate more traffic and trust, as does sharing what you’re interested in with your audience (usually as a result of feedback), only that it will also afford you credibility and exposure, and a certain authority resulting from having something of value to offer. Authority is a good thing, something you wish to have. Something which is helped daily by microblogging services, geolocation services and online publication services.

A factor to be taken into account is how, as a result of the emotional, human and relational impact of this economy, platforms remain on the outside of such integration; even in the case of a vital element such as a blog: the effects and properties that favour the people remain on the inside and build a crucial system, a resonance between brands and people.

Is there a happy ending to all this?

Of course! The agents that truly strengthen, influence and act as a lever in this setting and all its different channels, aren’t the social platforms or tools. These are only the means towards strategic integration.

How do you think that the social web converges, collides and integrates with this increasingly human and interconnected economy?

Appeared first on Social Media Today.

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Other metrics you may want to consider to measure the social web

Besides the well-known metrics, old and new that exist for social networks, why not use the following measurements to better define your activity:

  • Related comments: who’s talking about your brand beyond your own community?
  • Actions: actions you’ve carried out. How many, how well did they fare, how long did they last, what were their results and their qualitative and quantitative impact.
  • Statistics of the impact of your content in real time: what happened before, while and after you uploaded content at an event, meeting, presentation, gig, etc. What has changed and how?
  • Percentage growth increase: compare natural growth in other years and estimate how much you should be growing this term, comparing whether you’re above, below or at the same level as your natural growth.
  • Compare yourself with your competition: use tools like hyperalerts to do this job. Measure engagement, reach, popularity and rank in Alexa and Google.
  • Conversions: using URL builder and Analytics you can know how many people visit your website from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Youtube and go where you want them to go.
  • Reach, feeling, passion: use social mention to understand the qualitative state of your brand in social media.
  • Social assistance: how many interactions do you carry out with your community every day? What happens in these interactions, both positive and negative? How many are related to questions regarding your services and products? How many are related to direct or indirect sales? How many lead to future purchase? Which are the most frequent questions or doubts? What are the complaints about exactly? Then, do something with all this information.
  • Other tasks you have carried out: measure what else you’ve done besides the above. Work with other departments, collaborations in other campaigns, mediation with clients and suppliers. The fact that these tasks are less flashy or not directly related with your job doesn’t mean they don’t count!

We can always search for something simple instead of something complicated.

What other metrics would you consider in this list?

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