This is a guest post by my dear friend and colleague Scott Klososky, former CEO of three successful startups, including Webcasts.com, which he sold for $115 million. For more on how to leverage social media to grow your sales, join Scott and I in a complimentary online training session this Friday, Nov. 16. Register now.
By Scott Klososky
Social technologies provide a powerful collection of marketing tools, and they are inexpensive compared to other forms of marketing. Companies including Starbucks, Nike, Pepsi, Dell, Dirt Devil, IBM and JetBlue have already seen tremendous results from social marketing methods, and they are gaining traction with tools like customer intelligence, email, word-of-mouth campaigns and viral video—all tailor-made to provide huge benefits for businesses.
Let’s take a closer look at three techniques that can make an immediate positive impact on your marketing efforts:
Customer Intelligence — Most organizations simply maintain a database with a name, contact information and company. A customer intelligence strategy would increase the data to 20 or 30 fields of information and would include a mix of business and personal data. This data can be gathered by simply asking, or through harvesting the information from online social sites where your customer already belongs (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Many businesses now automate this process by connecting their CRM systems to services that find every new customer online and harvest social profile information automatically. It is now possible to monitor online actions of customers for keywords that might create alerts at the business so action can be taken. For example, if a customer updates a LinkedIn profile with a job change or promotion, your database could be automatically updated, and you could send a congratulatory message.
Other actions that could be monitored include blogs, posts or tweets that customers put online. By using social listening and setting up alerts on keywords that are important to the industry, you can stay aware of what is on customers’ minds, or where they are leaning on topics. Acting on this information by engaging customers, or promoting what they have written can be invaluable in building tighter relationships
eWord of Mouth marketing – Word of mouth has always been the most powerful driver of human behavior. People believe their friends or a trusted expert. They rarely believe advertising. Social sites and tools have created a dynamic in which people now “talk” to thousands of connections with the touch of a button—in some cases many times a day. An eWord of Mouth strategy involves identifying centers of influence (e.g. bloggers or Twitterers) in your sphere and providing them with content they want to pass on to their audience. This will help you create entirely new distribution paths for industry information that will cost you nothing, and yet expand your reach.
With a few simple searches on sites like Twellow.com, Listorious.com and BlogSiteList.com, you can find these people who are centers of influence. There are people connected to many thousands of readers in every industry and on every topic. When people read content delivered from these human broadcasters, they have a high degree of trust for it. This new marketing method must become a staple for every organization.
Viral Video – Most people welcome the occasional viral video emailed or sent to them via one of the social sites. These can be cute cat videos, or clever business-to-business videos. They are viral because people like them enough to share them at escalating rates. What is amazing is that many of these videos will get millions of views and cost the video producer ZERO. Distribution is free and completely scalable.
Sadly, most organizations are wasting the opportunity to create viral videos that would be popular within their industry, or could be used to promote it. After studying what makes videos go viral, I believe it is not magic or luck. There are clear formulas that, when followed, afford a great chance of getting a large audience and high pass-around velocity. The mistake that most organizations make is having an unclear strategy for the development of a video that will actually be intriguing. They compound the problem by not engaging the right specialists to script and create the video.
There is a formula for producing winning online videos; they must be funny, clever and somewhat true. This combination provides the best odds for getting a video passed around— in some cases, to millions of people.
Another concept to consider is creating a series of five or six videos, labeled Episode One, Episode Two, etc. In this way, you have multiple properties. If one strikes a chord with viewers, they will come to your Web site to see the rest.
Don’t overlook these three marketing techniques. They have the potential to yield a huge return on investment for the savvy marketing team.