Highlights of Social Media Success Summit 2011 – Day 3 with Stelzner & Thomases
Mike Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner and author of Launch, kicked off Day 3 of the summit with an enticing caveat that his recommendations would go against conventional marketing wisdom, but they’ve proven to be especially effective over the last few years. Hollis Thomases then overviewed numerous examples of how businesses can effectively use Twitter. She also pointed to a number of tools you can use to get the most out of Twitter.
Mike began with an analogy of your business as a rocket that you must navigate to new heights. What propels you forward is catering to people’s core desires:
- access to great information and insights,
- access to great people and
Attaining these is more important to your prospects and customers than buying the products and services you offer.
What complicates your challenge of reaching potential customers are the non-stop marketing messages that bombard us all – ads in texts, emails, billboards, subways, even in bathrooms. People tune out, seek refuge and adopt a default attitude of distrust.
To break through the noise and establish trust, you must meet people’s core desires and help them solve their smaller problems at no cost – and with negligible self-promotion. When you give people access to information and experts for free, they’ll wonder how much more they will gain if they actually buy your offerings. Because you’ve helped them address their smaller problems, they will trust you with their bigger issues.
Mike summarized this “elevation principle” in his formula for success:
Great Content + Other People – Marketing Messages = Growth
There are two types of great content:
1. “Primary fuel” or regularly produced content such as how-to articles and product reviews. This fuel propels you forward day to day and keeps people interested. Its effect is short term, lasting about 3-7 days. Two examples are Social Media Examiner’s regular blog on its homepage and Hubspot’s free webinars. Tips on producing regular content:
- How to articles: Pick topics your readers are interested in (survey them to find out); include details and make the article readable with bolded key points, screenshot images and videos; make it printable with printfriendly.
- Expert interviews: Approach experts speaking at local events. Note that experts who are authors are most open to interviews when their new book is launching. [Use Steve Garfield's video tips for interviews, especially remote interviews with ScreenFlow for the Mac and Camtasia for PCs. [SnagIt for simple screen capture and editing.]
- Case studies of people or companies in your industry: Start with the problem, explain how they addressed it and what the results were. A nice byproduct is that working on their case study will often lead to strategic partnerships. For example, SME did a post on “How Microsoft Xbox Uses Twitter to Reduce Support Costs” and then Microsoft later spoke at one of their events. [Same thing with 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report , Top 10 Social Media Blogs – 2011 and Top 10 Social Media Blogs – 2010, as well as Hubspot’s website grader. Note that even this extremely valuable content is free.
- Reports based on large surveys: These are highly viral and typically have a long life and enjoy strong SEO. Tip: Include a retweet button in the pdf file for even more viral spread.
- Contests juried by experts: These appeal to people’s need for recognition and are very important for building relationships. Process: Recruit judges, ask for nominations, announce finalists, announce winners and give them an electronic badge to post.
The “Other People” part of the equation is often overlooked but extremely important. Other people are outside experts, successful peers and authors/speakers. When you lift other people, they will lift you (e.g., with a future partnership opportunity), so it’s a win-win. For example, if you are a cooking products manufacturer, you could showcase different chefs. Your audience will get cooking tips and the chefs will get exposure; both will view you as a resource and problem-solver.
By using the elevation principle, Social Media Examiner generated $1.7m in revenue in its first year. Its only marketing messages were an occasional small ad on its website and reminders through its “back channel” email list.
Two other companies that uses this principle are The Pioneer Woman and Hubspot. Note that both websites are devoid of obvious marketing messages. Yet, when Pioneer Woman released a cookbook, it became a #1 New York Times best seller because so many people had enjoyed the recipes and photographs on her website. Similarly, Hubspot, which started in 2006, has grown to a $20m company and generates 25,000 leads monthly. Mike Volpe, Hubspot’s VP of Marketing, said you only need a drop or two of the marketing message for every gallon of content.
In summary, build a gathering place with great content and the support of outside experts. If it’s a place without marketing messages, you’ll quickly attract a big following, increase partnership opportunities and grow sales.
Mike’s book, Launch, releases on June 6. His first chapter can be downloaded for free at ElevationPrinciple.com.
Hollis Thomases – 19 Ways to Use Twitter Marketing to Grow Your Business
First, the Twitter landscape: Twitter currently has over 200 million users and 1 billion tweets per week. It continues to grow exponentially, adding 460,000 new users in March 2011 alone.
In general, Twitter allows you to quickly share information, build relationships, reach out to prospects, service customers, and gather intelligence and feedback. Specifically, here are 19 ways businesses are using Twitter:
- Build branding and awareness, as pfizer_news does. Note Pfizer’s bio and how it lists resources for safety, journalists and press.
- Direct-to-consumer marketing – Black_DeckerUS which typically sells through retail stores
- Provide direct customer service – comcastcares
- Build loyalty and retention – cakemail, an email marketing platform
- Promote events, locations, etc – kogibbq mobile food carts
- Generate leads and sales – TheMontereyCo [Side note: while looking at TheMontereyCo's tweetstream, I ran across a tweet by JetBlueCheeps
- Get instant feedback – mysolutionspot
- Market B2B events – PharmaMarketers Use a hashtag so attendees can communicate before, during and after the event.
- Deliver localized information – dbctfx traffic alerts within Delaware
- Conduct market research – What human spa service would you like to see here at @themacspa? Take our poll at here.
- Recruit members or personnel – aigaidaho, the Idaho chapter of AIGA professional designers
- Thought leadership (being intentionally different from people’s expectations): Online banking company INGDIRECT providing fun facts, tweeting in Pig Latin, etc
- Change attitudes – post facts to influence others
- Gain competitive advantage – be on Twitter to listen to others talk about you, and then respond.
- Manage crises – BP_America took a very long time to post about its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, at least, its profile page has restoration and contact info on it.
- Create spokespeople… for free SouthwestAir often has raving fans who post.
- Entertain (why celebrities are popular on Twitter) – funnyordie
- Raise search visibility – tweets have their own URLs and are indexed by the search engines.
Hollis then gave an overview of Twitter fundamentals, including setting up a profile, choosing who to follow, using lists, searching, establishing goals and objectives, and actually tweeting. (This overview starts at about minute 17. ) A few general take-aways:
- Your Twitter account is a company asset which should not be given to an intern or temp to set up or manage.
- You can more easily manage Twitter using popular clients such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Seesmic. Take full advantage of Twitter lists and consider Listorious, Formulists and Twibes.
- You can use some of the above management tools to schedule your tweets and automatically push them to other social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, but don’t overdo it. Rather, engage uniquely and authentically in each of your social media channels.
You can actually do a lot with 140 characters and a URL shortener, but here are tools to enhance your tweets further:
- Video - twitlens, twitvid
- Audio – twaudio, hark, audioboo, soundcloud
- Photos – twitpic, yfrog, twitgoo
- Surveys & polls – twtpoll
- Contests, coupons & invites – twtQpon, TicketLeap, twtvite
- Chat – tweetchat, tinychat, tweetworks
- Music sharing – blip.fm, twt.fm, song.ly, soundcloud
- Tweeting more than 140 characters – deckly (by Tweetdeck), twitlonger, tinypaste, jumbotweet
For tracking and monitoring your tweets, start with URL shorteners such as bitly, su.pr, budURL and owly. You can also use Twitter alerts such as TweetBeep, Twilert or BackTweets to notify you of tweets containing the keywords you specify (similar to what Google Alerts does). For analytics on actual Twitter users, see Twitalyzer and Klout.
More general social media tracking tools that include Twitter tracking are SocialMention and Viral Heat at the entry level, and Trendrr, ScoutLabs and RapLeaf at the mid-level. Hollis did not discuss the more expensive enterprise-level solutions.
In summary, Twitter at first glance is one of the easiest social media tools to use – just type in 140 characters. But to get the most out of Twitter, you need to decide what your objective is, see how others are using it well, start by listening, and learn some basic tools.
So many new tools, so little time! I’ll start with the idea of Twitter alerts, because if they are as useful as Google alerts, then let me at ‘em. Has anyone tried Tweetbeep, Twilerts or Backtweets yet? Or SocialMention?