“People doing small things can have a huge voice,” says Adam Helweh, CEO of Secret Sushi Creative. “It’s a matter of testing things out.”
Helweh gave a lively presentation on how to effectively use social media at the San Francisco International Association of Business Communicators’ (SF IABC) March 14 ICR Roundtable Brown Bag lunch. He was accompanied by Jennel McDonald and Irene Nelson, two SF IABC members who have had an ongoing commitment to the use of social media as a powerful tool in a sole practitioner’s toolbox.
Based on his experience at Secret Sushi Creative, a digital marketing/design Web-development company, and other endeavors, Helweh shared what he called a social media B2B primer. He emphasized the importance of crafting digital experiences for the audience at hand.
“Social media is about using multimedia to bring your story to life,” Helweh said.
Helweh defined social media as content that is spread through social interactions online. People engage with others about their thoughts, experiences, and interests. Relevant content might include text, video, audio and images. Helweh believes social media transcends space and time and that hard copy has a shelf life. The great thing about social media and the Internet is that it can be used anytime and in any place.
Helweh cited the results of the Via Penton Marketing Study of 3,000 marketing professionals. The study found that 63 percent of B2Bs (business-to-business) are either vaguely aware—or not aware at all—of what is being said online about their companies.
Helweh gave an overview of channels and tools that fall under the umbrella of social media, such as blogs, video, slide decks, photo sharing. He said that a lot of people can’t quantify how affective these channels are, and he noted the sheer volume of usage (which has grown since he gathered these statistics):
• YouTube has 180,000,000 videos viewed per day in the United States, or the equivalent of 34 video hours uploaded each minute.
• Twitter has 110,000,000 tweets posted per day. They measure the impact of certain events in terms of Tweets per second.
• Facebook has 845 million active users.
• Linkedin has 120 million members in over 200 countries, with half outside of the United States.
One component of social media that Helweh believes people don’t typically think about is SlideShare, which has 60 million visitors per month—and these are just the people consuming content, not creating it.
Helweh reviewed what social media marketing can do for your clients, from aiding in branding and awareness to protecting your reputation. He showed some examples of “social media in the wild” by way of examples of how some companies are using social media.
• Meltwater uses their blog and video to show off what their products do.
• Broadcom uses Twitter to see who has engaged with their clients.
• Cisco has created an entire social media hub that includes blogs, YouTube, and Facebook.
• Cree LED lighting has created a website, Lighting the LED Revolution, to rally people around their brand (and ditch halogen bulbs) by letting people engage with them. They let users generate their own content.
What is a good social media marketing strategy? Helweh encouraged people to think of it as a digital approach. He offered some suggestions:
• Consider how social media ties back to your strategic approach for your company for recreating goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics.
• Understand how your audience uses social media: if it’s not simple and straightforward, people are not going to use it.
• Listen before you leap. Before you do anything, have a strategy to listen.
• Balance broadcasting versus engagement. Broadcasting includes curating, creating and sharing content. Engagement includes asking, discussing, and connecting. Think about the blend of the two.
• Determine whether a discussion is between you and the consumer, or between two consumers and facilitated by you.
• Stay on brand. People want to hire people they know and trust. Think about selling by educating, empowering and indirectly adding value.
• Measure, rinse, and repeat. When you take a strategic approach, make adjustments on a regular basis.
“Social Proof is one of the most powerful things about social media,” Helweh says. Making the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, they will deem the behavior of others as appropriate or better informed. Endorsements on Amazon serve as one example. The transient trust you have of a friend is transferred to trust for a brand.
“The biggest way to make an impact on your customers is to share in their conversations,” said Jennel McDonald, who spoke about B2B for one’s businesses. McDonald serves as the marketing and media specialist at KMD Architects, as well as director of Social Media and Community for SF IABC.
McDonald says a good approach to take is to consider where you want to drive your customers. Her suggestion? To your website! “If you want to reach a certain sector, chase after them,” she says. “Toot their horn.”
McDonald believes that a lot of it is sharing and being part of the community. Authenticity drives business. “The more you can celebrate your client’s achievements, the better you will do because your name is attached to it.”
In terms of resources, McDonald suggested using
• HubSpot, a great source of information, to track people who came from Facebook to your website
• LoopFuse, a marketing automation platform, to drive sales leads
• Batchbook, a CRM (customer relationship management) site that gathers social data
“Twitter opened up my world, said Irene Nelson, a graphic designer and visual recorder who has run Irene Nelson Design, a graphic design firm, for 20 years. Upon going to the 2009 IABC conference, she found everybody tweeting. As a result, she began to spend a lot of time on Twitter. She was determined to learn to use Twitter in a way that might help her business.
On Twitter, at @irenelson, Nelson follows design, communication, and local events. She also started using Prezi, an online presentation tool that is dynamic and, she believes, supersedes PowerPoint in every way. On Twitter and with Prezi Nelson got entrees into nonprofit foundations that she had never been able to connect with through her traditional graphic design work.
Nelson has heard that people on Twitter tend to connect with people in the same fields or cities. For Twitter beginners, Nelson suggested that a good place to look is at the SF IABC tweets. At the Discover tab, search for topics and conversations; look for people. And put #iabc at the end of your posts.