7 Steps to Successful Content Marketing [Infographic]

Content marketing is a way of communicating with your customers and prospects without pitching your products or services. 

7 steps to content marketing successAlso known as inbound marketing, content marketing is non-interruptive. Instead of overtly trying to sell something to your audience, you consistently create and deliver valuable information that educates them. Ultimately they reward you by purchasing your products, recommending them to friends via social media channels and word-of-mouth, and acting as brand ambassadors.

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Facebook, Twitter, YouTube: Strategic Marketing Best Practices

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are, without doubt, the Big 3 of social media. They are important avenues for building brand engagement and influence. If your company has a presence on all of  them, you’re on the road to creating a name for yourself on social networks.

5 marketing strategies to rock Twitter, Facebook, and YouTubeBut these 3 platforms are very different from one other. Do you know how to effectively approach each one to achieve the best results?

Social media software firm Awareness has researched best practices for these dominant networks. 5 Killer Strategies to Dominate Social Media’s Big 3: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, a new white paper from the company, looks at the 3 social media platforms and examines 5 strategies marketers can use to grow brand awareness, foster brand advocacy, and generate leads and sales.

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100+ Social Media Monitoring Tools

From fans to followers, brands are actively working to engage their current and future customers via social media — and online reputation management is quickly becoming a vital part of doing business. Social media monitoring helps brands discover, in real time, who is saying what online and where the conversations are happening so they can respond in a timely fashion. Businesses also need to measure, analyze, and report on their social media efforts.

There are countless ways to track and manage your brand’s engagement and reputation on the social Web. Some simple methods consist of leveraging Google Alerts and Twitter Search. But there has been an explosion of more elaborate tools, including Radian6‘s solutions, which offer you a complete listening and engagement platform, and Scout Labs‘ tool that tracks social media and finds signals in the noise.

Here’s a list of social media monitoring tools that might be helpful in your quest to get your arms around social media engagement, measurement, and metrics. The descriptions come from the vendors themselves, but all of these solutions have merit when it comes to monitoring and maintaining your brand’s reputation. If you have experience using any of these, or if I’ve omitted a tool that you find particularly useful, please comment and share!

Services marked with a $ are not free, but many of them offer free demos.

Addictomatic Addictomatic searches the best live sites on the Web for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images. It’s the perfect tool to keep up with the hottest topics, perform ego searches and feed your addiction for what’s up, what’s now or what other people are feeding on.
Alterian Alterian’s social media engagement solutions make it easy to listen to the conversations taking place about your company and brand on the Internet. $
Analytic.ly Analyticly is a data mining, DIY analytics, and brand engagement service provider for enterprise brand managers, advertising agencies, social media strategists, and hedge fund managers. $
ASOMO ASOMO helps interpret and understand spontaneous opinion. Discover which topics and sub-topics are being discussed, the volume of comments, themes, and the relationships between them. $
Attentio Right now, millions of people all around the world are discussing a multitude of topics, including brands and products that matter in their lives. By continuously monitoring what is written in blogs, discussion forums and other social media, Attentio provides organizations with the ability to listen, analyze and react to what is happening in the “webosphere”. $
Awareness Networks The Awareness Social Marketing Hub provides marketers with the information they need to measure success and direct future marketing investment. Track the effectiveness and reach of published content across social media channels with one simple view of activity across your social marketing campaigns and drill down to see the details of how a particular piece of content is being consumed, shared, commented on, and favorited. $
Backtype Backtype is an analytics platform that helps companies understand their social impact and make sense of social media so they can make better marketing decisions.
Bantam Live Bantam Live is an online service for business teams to collaborate in a workspace and build relationships across the Web. With integrated applications for microblogging, CRM, and project management, Bantam Live is centered around a real-time stream, where people, applications, and data come together. $
Beevolve Track consumer-generated media, understand sentiment, identify emerging trends and use the resulting insights to improve products, marketing, sales and service. $
Blog Grader Blog Grader measure the marketing mojo of your blog and makes suggestions to help you improve it.
Blogpulse BlogPulse is an automated trend discovery system for blogs. It applies machine-learning and natural-language processing techniques to discover trends in the highly dynamic world of blogs.
BoardReader BoardReader was developed to address the shortcomings of current search engine technology to accurately find and display information contained on the Web’s forums and message boards. It uses proprietary software that allows users to search multiple message boards simultaneously, allowing users to share information in a truly global sense.
BoardTracker BoardTracker is an innovative forum search engine, message tracking and instant alerts system designed to provide relevant information quickly and efficiently while ensuring you never miss an important forum thread no matter where or when it is posted.
Brandchats Brandchats picks up the chat about your brand. You tell it what to look for and it will find it, whether it’s in Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or any other source. Slicing and dicing your data, Brandchats will instantaneously visualize the results. Powerful unique analysis and graphics capabilities support you to make sense of the “chattering”. Is it good news or bad news? Does it come from blogs or Facebook? Is it increasing or rather decreasing? $
BrandsEye BrandsEye protects your brand from attacks, allows you to tap into key insights which are integral to making the right decisions and harnessing positive word-of-mouth. $
Buzz Manager Buzz Manager constantly searches the Internet for information about your organization or specific individual subjects. It measures and analyzes the “Buzz,” and then accurately presents the results in time saving, easy-to-use reports. $
Buzzcapture Buzzcapture monitors places where opinions are exchanged to provide insight into how often companies and their brands, products, and competitors are discussed, what the sentiments are, and where discussions are taking place. $
BuzzGain BuzzGain is an online service for discovering and engaging with the people who will help your business thrive in today’s social economy — where attention is a precious commodity. $
Buzzient Buzzient provides a next-generation solution for social media analytics and integration of this valuable content with enterprise applications. $
BuzzPerception BuzzPerception provides comprehensive blog monitoring and analysis to help clients better understand and manage their brand perception online. $
BuzzStream How do you build credibility online? You do it by cultivating quality relationships with influencers across the Web. Until now that process was time-consuming and resource-intensive. BuzzStream simplifies this process, allowing you to efficiently cultivate and manage these relationships. $
Chartbeat Chartbeat is a revolutionary real-time analytics service that enables people to understand emergent behaviour in real-time and exploit or mitigate it. $
Cogito Monitor What is being said online about my company? Why do people like my competitor’s product better? How is our new marketing campaign going? My reputation has been damaged: why? These are a few of the questions that Cogito Monitor can answer. $
Collecta Collecta is a real-time search engine bringing content to you as it’s posted.
Collective Intellect Collective Intellect’s Social CRM Insight platform automates your ability to identify emerging consumer considerations and preferences, and to track your ability to change them. $
ContextVoice Tracking millions of daily micro-conversations from the real-time social Web, ContextVoice helps you get business intelligence and real-time insights and analytics about consumers. $
Conversation eCairn Conversation is a SaaS application that provides a cost-effective solution for marketing professionals who want to leverage communities and influencers. $
CoTweet CoTweet is a comprehensive Web-based social media engagement, management, and reporting solution that helps companies of all sizes engage, track, and analyze conversations about their brands across the most popular and influential social communities today: Twitter and Facebook. $
Crimson Hexagon By leveraging the Crimson Hexagon ForSight platform, customers can easily uncover consumer opinions and insights about their company, products, industry, competitors and more. They can then use that information to make meaningful business decisions. $
Dialogix Dialogix is a social media monitoring tool that shows you exactly what is being said about your brand, industry, and competitors on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, news Web sites, forums, MySpace, and more. $
Direct Message Lab Direct Message Lab provides one central platform for companies to effectively build, manage, and analyze their social presence everywhere across social media, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, plus other popular user channels including mobile applications, widgets, desktop applications, and video sharing sites. $
dna MediaVantage dna13’s MediaVantage solution provides real-time access to TV, print, online and social media content, providing communicators the insight they need to plan marketing strategies, securely align corporate teams, synchronize the delivery of corporate messages, and engage with key stakeholders. $
eWatch eWatch is the fast, easy, and cost-effective way to track what the media, investors, consumers, and the competition are saying about your organization. It scans hundreds of thousands of traditional print and Web-based articles and postings each day and delivers its findings back to you in an easy to read report. $
Facebook Grader Facebook Grader is a free tool that measures the power of a Facebook business page.
FollowThing FollowThing is a powerful, Web-based professional networking and media monitoring tool that informs inbound and outbound marketing decisions.
Gnip Gnip is a social media API aggregation tool that streams social data from Twitter, Facebook, and dozens more sources — all in one API. $
Google Blog Search Blog Search is Google search technology focused on blogs. It enables you to find out what people are saying on any subject of your choice.
GraphEdge GraphEdge measures changes in your network. Your first report is sent in 2-3 days. $
HowSociable HowSociable provides a simple way for you to begin measuring your brand’s visibility on the social Web.
IceRocket IceRocket is a real-time blog search engine.
iMooty IMooty is a next generation media monitoring tool that helps companies, PR professionals, and marketers gain real-time insights on the latest news and trends that matter to them and who the important opinion makers are.
ImpactWatch ImpactWatch is an easy-to-use online dashboard that gives you the power to monitor and measure all of your media coverage in real time. $
JitterJam JitterJam helps your consumer-facing brand or business capture relevant conversations on the real-time Web and turn them into lasting and trusted customer relationships. $
Klout Klout tracks the impact of your opinions, links and recommendations across your social graph. It collects data about the content you create, how people interact with that content, and the size and composition of your network. It analyzes the data to find indicators of influence and provides you with tools to interact with and interpret the data. $
Looxii Looxii is a social media analytics platform. It enables you to search for keywords on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Flickr, and more. It stores the search results and you receive easy to interpret, top-level insights into what’s being said about your keywords throughout social media. $
Maestro The Cymfony Maestro platform gives you real-time access to a comprehensive, custom-built archive of traditional and social media, filtered and classified to be relevant to your company, brand and business goals. $
MambaIQ MambaIQ tells you where people are talking about you, compared to your competitors, and segmented by all the relevant concepts (themes, type of media, sentiment, characteristics, reputation of the sites, and even universes (groups of sites) defined by you. $
Market Sentinel Market Sentinel has the technology to monitor, analyse and measure online commentary to inform your marketing strategy and help you make better business decisions. It trawls the Internet to find discussions on blogs, forums, in chat rooms, and on mainstream media which mention your brand, and then accurately calculates the sentiment, which provides you with a profile of your brand as it is perceived online. $
Marketo B2B Social Marketing By integrating with social media solutions, Marketo can help companies extend their marketing initiatives to include B2B social media and incorporate the conversations that happen on social sites. As a result, customer conversations that influence word-of-mouth opinion are responded to in real-time and relationships are developed across a variety of channels. $
Meltwater Buzz Meltwater Buzz is an innovative social media monitoring tool that enables comprehensive tracking and analysis of user-generated content on the Web. It enables users to monitor more than 200 million blogs, micro-blogs, social networks, forums, video and photo Web sites, product reviews, and other social media sites to gain a better understanding about end-user sentiment on hot topics, new products, companies, and the competition. $
Monitor Monitor is a  social media monitoring platform with support for 150 million blogs and thousands of news sources including Twitter, Youtube, Digg, Flickr, and Technorati. It is the only media tracking tool for monitoring brands and topics, that connects social media activities with financial metrics. $
Monitter Monitter is a Twitter monitor — it lets you “monitter” the Twitter world for a set of keywords and watch what people are saying.
Newsdesk Newsdesk is an easy-to-use business intelligence SaaS application for intuitive mining, finding, and sharing of real-time relevant information from a vast collection of world-wide daily news, social media, and industry publications. $
PositivePress Now, more than ever, it’s essential to track what people are saying about your brand online. PositivePress makes it easy for you to track and measure online coverage. It creates a complete historical archive so you can make better decisions over the long run. $
PostRank PostRank is the largest aggregator of social engagement data in the industry. Its platform tracks where and how users engage, and what they pay attention to — in real time. PostRank social engagement data measures actual user activity, the most accurate indicator of the relevance and influence of a site, story, or author. PostRank offers both free and $ plans.
Radian6 The Radian6 dashboard is a complete social media monitoring, engagement, and workflow management platform created to help you aggregate and analyze the comments people are making about your brand and products on the Web. View trends and dig deeper into specific posts to get a pulse on how your company is faring online. $
Raven Raven is an online software system that helps customers quickly research, manage, monitor, and report on SEO, email, social media and other Internet marketing campaigns. $
RepuTrace RepuTrace enables you to keep up on developments that affect your company and your industry.  It monitors, analyzes, and measures intelligence from Web sites, blogs, chat rooms, social networks, and other media sources. $
RESONATE RESONATE’s social media monitoring technology helps your business keep up with social media conversations. It analyzes content from over 200 million online sources in real time, enabling you to better understand and respond to customers, threats, and opportunities as they happen. $
Revinate The first enterprise-grade social media solution for hotels, Revinate brings order to the chaos of guest reviews, online reputation, and social media marketing. Hotels can now harness online reviews and social media as the ultimate measures of guest satisfaction and drivers of demand. $
RightNow Social Experience RightNow Social Experience allows you to monitor conversations on Twitter, YouTube, RSS feeds, your Facebook fan page, and other social channels, and then helps you respond quickly and appropriately. $
Samepoint Samepoint is a conversation search engine that lets you see what people are talking about.
SAS Social Media Analytics SAS Social Media Analytics integrates, analyzes, and enables organizations to act on intelligence gleaned from online conversations occurring across professional and consumer-generated media sites. It enables organizations to attribute online conversations to specific parts of their business, allowing an accelerated response to shifts in the marketplace. $
Scanbuzz Scanbuzz™ is the leading service for life science companies to track mentions of their brands across social media. With increasing numbers of physicians and patients sharing their experiences online, Scanbuzz™ allows you to discover, listen, manage feedback and develop relations with social network users. $
ScoutLabs Scout Labs provides cutting-edge technology and a collaborative platform for listening to customers and engaging with them across the Internet. The Web-based application tracks social media and finds signals in the noise to help your team build better products and stronger customer relationships. $
Silverbakk Briefing Room Silverbakk Briefing Room monitors and analyzes social media
based on relevance, activity, and engagement. $
SM2 Alterian SM2 is a business intelligence product that provides visibility into social media and lets you tap into a new kind of data resource; your customers’ direct thoughts and opinions. It allows you to easily capture and analyze data from social media channels to monitor your brands, identify key communities and influencers, address customer service issues, and generate new sales leads. $
Social Mention Social Mention is like Google Alerts but for social media. Sign up to receive free daily e-mail alerts of your brand, company, CEO, marketing campaign, or on a developing news story, a competitor, or the latest on any topic you choose.
Social Radar Social Radar allows you to track, measure, analyze, and understand chatter from all over the Web in an easy-to-use Web-based control panel. $
SocialToo SocialToo helps automate the management of your Twitter and Facebook accounts and unclutters your stream and social graph so you can focus on building relationships. $
Socialscape There have never been so many ways for so many people to say so much about your company, your products, and your competition. Socialscape tracks and analyzes all of that talk and turns it into actionable information that can improve your brand, your business, and your customer relationships. $
SocialSense SocialSense leverages social media conversation to fuel insights that drive smart marketing decisions. $
SocialTALK SocialTALK helps you better manage and measure your social media presence and impact. It is an is an innovative tool that allows brands to more effectively create, publish, and measure their content strategy and posting schedule. $
Spredfast Spredfast is an enterprise-class solution that empowers your company or organization to communicate across all of your social media channels, measure the effectiveness of each conversation, and prove the value of social media. $
StartPR StartPR helps you find, manage, and respond to mentions of your company, your brand, your products, your service, and your people online. $
StatsMix StatsMix allows companies to easily build and share custom dashboards for displaying and analyzing all the metrics they generate. It provides an overview of all your metrics and what drives them.
StepRep Reputation Intelligence StepRep Reputation Intelligence pokes an ear into every corner of the Web to find out what your customers are saying about your brand right now. These results are analyzed to reveal trends and stats that you can use to improve your marketing and customer service. $
SWIX Social Marketer SWIX offers social media analytics applications that monitor all of your social media properties (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, +20 others). Each day, SWIX gathers visitor and usage data for your sites, graphs it all over time and puts everything in one convenient place for you. $
Tealium Social Media Tealium Social Media lets social media marketers and PR professionals measure the true ROI of their activities. You can measure the impact of your social media and online PR using tangible numbers that make sense to your organization. $
The Search Monitor The Search Monitor closely watches your paid and organic search keywords and trademarks on search engines, Web sites, news sites, and blogs. It logs competitor activity, affiliate activity, trademark use, and who’s talking about you. $
ThoughtBuzz ThoughtBuzz is a real-time platform for tracking, managing, and engaging in conversations online, helping companies make informed decisions to protect their brand. $
Topsy Topsy is a new kind of search engine that sees the Internet as a stream of conversations. Topsy results are the things people link to when they’re talking about your search terms. Topsy ranks results based on how well they match your search terms, and the influence of the people talking about them.
TraceBuzz TraceBuzz shows you what people say on the Web right now about your name, brand, product, company or competitor. $
Trackur Trackur is an online reputation and social media monitoring tool designed to assist you in tracking what is said about you on the Internet. It scans hundreds of millions of Web pages — including news, blogs, video, images, and forums — and lets you know if it discovers anything that matches the keywords that interest you. $
Trendrr Trendrr is a business intelligence Web service for digital and social media. It allows you to listen, measure, and respond to the conversation about a product, service, or brand in real time. $
TRIBE Monitor TRIBE MONITOR is a social statistics aggregator that helps you find out where your fans are and where conversations about your brand are taking place by tracking your online presence once every hour.
Twazzup Twazzup operates a leading real-time news platform that enables users to filter the news out of live Internet content.
TweetBeep TweetBeep helps you keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything, with hourly updates. You can also track who’s tweeting your Web site or blog, even if they use a shortened URL (like bit.ly or tinyurl.com). It offers both free and $ plans.
TweetFeel Tweetfeel monitors positive and negative feelings in Twitter conversations about many things, including popular brands, and displays the results in a clear and simple way.
Twendz The twendz Twitter-mining Web application from Waggener Edstrom uses the power of Twitter Search, highlighting conversation themes and sentiment of the tweets that talk about topics you are interested in. As the conversation changes, so does the twendz application by evaluating up to 70 tweets at a time. When new tweets are posted, they are dynamically updated, minute by minute.
Twitalyzer Twitalyzer is the social media industry’s most popular, most widely used analytics application. It offers both free and $ options.
twitt(url)y twitt(url)y tracks and ranks the URLs people are talking about on Twitter.
Twitter Grader Twitter Grader is a free tool that allows you to check the power of your twitter profile compared to millions of other users that have been graded.
Twitter Search There is an undeniable need to search, filter, and otherwise interact with the volumes of news and information being transmitted to Twitter every second. Twitter Search helps you filter all the real-time information coursing through the service.
uberVU uberVU is the complete social media platform that helps your team collaborate on listening, reporting and engaging in social media. Perfect for agencies or teams inside businesses that want to deliver social media excellence. $
Viralheat Viralheat is a social measurement platform designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind. Built from the ground up to be timely and efficient, Viralheat allows users to easily comprehend social media. $
Vitrue Social Media Index The Vitrue Social Media Index is an easy-to-use tool designed to provide you a snapshot in time to help you measure your brand’s online conversations.
Vocus Vocus social media software enables you to listen to customers and prospects, find influencers, and monitor conversations, mentions and trends. $
WaveMetrix WaveMetrix tracks online buzz for major global brands around the world, using a unique methodology based on human analysts reading each post. $
WebDig WebDig is a next-generation business intelligence and analysis engine that finds, aggregates, and interprets digital word-of-mouth (WOM) content. Every study is reviewed, analyzed, and reported on by assigned industry expert analysts. $
Webtrends Webtrends Social Measurement offers a self-service platform for identifying and participating in conversations related to your products and brands wherever and whenever they occur on the social Web. $
White Noise White Noise is a DIY tool that lets you monitor the Web and understand what is going on without the need for hiring outside companies to do the work for you. $
Woopra Woopra is a desktop Web analytics tool designed as a client + server application. It creates a one-stop service for monitoring all your blogs and Web sites. $
Workstreamer Workstreamer is a business listening platform that delivers a competitive advantage to professionals by providing real-time social updates on competitors, customers, prospects, partners and more.
Xinu Returns Find out how well your site is doing in popular search engines, social bookmarking and other site statistics. Check PageRank, backlinks, indexed pages, rankings, and more.
YackTrack As a content producer, you can search YackTrack for comments on your content from various sources or other blogs that talk about your content. Another site feature, Chatter, gives you a keyword search for the social media sites — this allows you to see “chatter” on various sites that talk about a specific keyword.
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The Social Habit: Who Uses Social Media and How

Edison Research just released its latest report on social network usage. The study compares the behavior and demographics of frequent users of social media to those of the population at large. The data is based on a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,753 Americans (including 371 mobile phone interviews) ages 12+ conducted in February, 2010.

Here are the principal findings from the report:


1. With both usage of social networks and the frequency of that usage increasing dramatically, we are truly witnessing a sea change in how mainstream consumers communicate.


2. Though social networking is rapidly becoming more common throughout the wider population, it is still most popular among the young; students are especially overrepresented.


3. Women are bigger social media users than men.


4. The biggest social networkers are, unsurprisingly, more likely to be big Internet users and early-adopters of new gadgets. But they still think the mobile phone is the technology that has had the biggest impact on their lives.


5. Frequent social networkers are also more likely to update their status on those networks — i.e., create content online — which has implications for word-of-mouth marketing and search.


6. Not only are frequent social networkers posting more status updates, they are also more likely to follow brands/companies than the average social media user — which makes identifying and appealing to those with the “social habit” crucial for brands.


7. Mobile access to social media is almost certainly a significant contributor to frequency of usage.


8. The data for frequent social networkers’ usage of podcasts, online video, and online audio supports the assumption that a significant amount of content is being consumed on-demand, potentially at the point where such content is shared.


9. Americans with “the social habit” are watching significantly less traditional television, but potentially consuming (and sharing) more “video” through alternative means.


Download the entire report (PDF) here →



TurboTax’s Social Media Strategy

If you live the U.S., you’re probably thinking about next month’s tax deadline. You’re also probably using TurboTax Free Efile to file your tax returns.

TurboTax is a brand built on the principles of word of mouth. For 25 years, TurboTax (and its parent brand, Intuit) has focused on building relationships with its customers — even doing “follow me home” research to get 1-to-1 feedback about how people actually do their taxes.

Here’s a presentation by the brand’s Social Media Marketing Manager, Christine Morrison, in which she describes how the company is extending the fundamentals of word of mouth marketing to social media for customer acquisition and retention. She shares how social media is helping them build a persuasion engine, how they’re making user reviews more relevant, and how they’re using their Twitter presence for customer support.

Takeaways:

  • Help customers share the great experiences you create. Customers feel a colossal sense of joy and relief when they finish their taxes. TurboTax helps them share this with a “Publish to Facebook” option after they submit their e-file.
  • Customers trust each other more than your ads. TurboTax is reporting some striking numbers vis a vis the social-media engagement model anecdotes we’ve all heard. On Facebook, for example, they’ve found News Feed publications are four times more engaging than banner ads and have 30% higher conversion rates.
  • Customers love to help each other. Motivated by little more than the satisfaction of sharing their expertise and helping others, TurboTax’s community members are doing amazing things. One retired CPA answered over 50,000 questions last year, and more than 5,000 customers viewed his content.

Watch the  case study presentation and follow along with the slides below:

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Social Media Users More Likely to Buy From Brands They Follow

People who follow a brand on Facebook or Twitter are more inclined to shop that brand or recommend it to others, according to a new report by Chadwik Martin Bailey. The study, released on March 16th, showed that consumers were up to 67% more likely to recommend or buy products from a brand after following it on social networking sites.

The survey of over 1500 consumers showed that the top reason to friend a brand on Facebook was to receive discounts, followed by simply being a customer of the company and a desire to show others that they support the brand. Twitter users were more likely to follow a brand to receive real-time information and preferred offers; only 2% of respondents followed brands on Twitter to show their support.

The study also revealed negative consumer attitudes about brands that aren’t engaging in social media. When asked, “What does it say about a brand if they are not involved with sites like Facebook or Twitter?” they said:

  • “It’s EXPECTED that a company have some digital face – whether it’s on FB or Twitter I don’t know – but they need a strong electronic presence or you doubt their relevance in today’s marketplace.” (Female 50-54)

  • “Either they are not interested in the demographic that frequents Facebook and Twitter or they are unaware of the opportunity to get more exposure in a more interactive method.” (Male 35-39)

  • “It shows they are not really with it or in tune with the new ways to communicate with customers.” (Female 18-24)

  • “If they’re not on Facebook or Twitter, then they aren’t in touch with the “electronic” people.” (Female 55-59)

“While social media is not the silver bullet that some pundits claim it to be, it is an extremely important and relatively low cost touch point that has a direct impact on sales and positive word of mouth,”  said Josh Mendelsohn, a vice president at Chadwick Martin Bailey. “Companies not actively engaging are missing a huge opportunity and are saying something to consumers — intentionally or unintentionally– about how willing they are to engage on consumers’ terms.”

What’s your take? Have you followed a brand on Facebook or Twitter? Why?

(Images: Chadwik Martin Bailey, eMarketer)

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Social Media Ethics: Resources to Help You Stay Out of Trouble

Here’s a BlogWell presentation by GasPedal CEO Andy Sernovitz that recaps the latest FTC regulations on disclosure and social media. He teaches Word of Mouth Marketing at Northwestern, taught Entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of Business, ran a business incubator, and has started half a dozen companies. GasPedal is his consulting company, where he advises great brands like TiVo, Dell, Ralph Lauren, Sprint, and Kimberly-Clark on best practices.

Sernovitz covers the 10 magic words of proper online disclosure, his specific steps for keeping your brand safe under the latest FTC regulations, and his personal tips for staying ethical and legal. He always puts ethics and dis­clo­sure front and cen­ter when he speaks on this topic: “The num­ber one issue around ethics comes down to dis­clo­sure — being hon­est about your true iden­tity.” Dis­clo­sure is essen­tial and easy but requires edu­ca­tion: “You don’t tack on a dis­clo­sure state­ment later, you start with that. You start with ethics and that’s how you lead.” It’s not only the right thing to do, but “it’s essen­tial as a way to stay out of trou­ble. Almost every social media scan­dal involv­ing brands boils down to a lack of dis­clo­sure. The blo­gos­phere expects to know your motivations.”

Takeaways

  • This isn’t a debate among experts, it’s the law. The rules are clear, and the FTC will be cracking down. If you recruit people to blog about you, you’re responsible for the content.
  • Everything begins with ethics. Ethics is the foundation of a social media program. It’s not what you add later; it’s what everything else is built on.
  • Your biggest risk is a failure to properly train your team. Most companies don’t set out to launch a stealth marketing campaign. The scandals happen again and again from well-meaning employees who just don’t know it’s wrong.
  • The “10 magic words” for employ­ees ven­tur­ing onto the social Web: “I work for X, and this is my per­sonal opin­ion.” That dis­claimer goes a long way in help­ing to sep­a­rate offi­cial com­pany pol­icy from an employee’s per­sonal views.
  • Grab a copy of the Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit below. You could use it as the basis for a full-blown pol­icy that comes out of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions, make it part of your company’s employee hand­book, or use it as a set of infor­mal guide­lines for your depart­ment or team.

Watch the presentation and follow along with the slides below:

Dis­clo­sure Best Prac­tices Toolkit

The Social Media Busi­ness Coun­cil, of which Ser­novitz is CEO,  has cre­ated a Dis­clo­sure Best Prac­tices Toolkit — a handy and essen­tial resource for any com­pany involved in social media. This is not an impe­ri­ous one-size-fits-all list of must-dos — “we’re not a stan­dards body or trade asso­ci­a­tion,” as Ser­novitz says. Instead, it’s an open source toolkit to help you build your social media policy. “Adapt it to your com­pany, teach your team, improve, and share,” he adds.

Down­load the 10-page tookit as a single document (Word docx) or view each section individually online:

What steps has your company or organization taken to embrace disclosure?


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