Tag Archives: marketing plans/strategy

How Can Quora Fit Into Your Social Media Marketing Toolbox?

Now that you know all about Quora and how it works, Weber Media Partners gives you three ways that it can help you and your business manage and build its online reputation.

1) Monitoring Your Brand

Quora is a unique way to monitor your brand’s online reputation. The site’s “Account Settings” provide a comprehensive list of options for e-mail notifications. You can choose to receive e-mail messages alerting you to new questions and answers, actions of specific users, and summaries of actions relating to a specific topic. Silicon Valley analyst Jeremiah Owyang recommends tracking brand and product mentions, for it is “likely if one customer is asking questions in Quora, it’s an indicator others are too.”  He further suggests escalating recurring questions or problems to the correct group within the company.

Weber Media Parents agrees, and we would be happy to work with you to develop a Quora monitoring program. We’ll help you identify FAQs, desired product or service changes, potential blog topics, or other industry trends. Contact us for more information.

2) Sharing Your Expertise

You and your colleagues know a lot about your industry – why not share this wealth of wisdom? Since corporate accounts are not possible, companies should instead encourage interested and knowledgeable parties to set up Quora accounts, identify themselves as employees, and comment on questions in their chosen area of expertise. Quora gives employees the opportunity to share valuable information with their contemporaries across the globe, and perhaps even become thought-leaders on a given topic.

These experts can be powerful spokespeople for the company, but they can also cause headaches if they are not given the proper guidelines from the beginning. A meeting among managers and the marketing team to establish ground rules – such as style guides, the discussion of new product details, or non-work-related submissions – is highly recommended before introducing Quora to the social media plan.

3) Responding to Your Customers’ Queries

Quora revolves around questions and answers, making it a powerful customer service channel. Mashable blogger Heather Whaling singles out Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom as one user who is performing this task particularly well on the site. Systrom, who created the popular iPhone photo app, provided in-depth answers to a number of questions about his company. Thanks to his clear authority and knowledge, his responses have shot to the top spot on the pages. By answering his customers’ questions thoroughly and openly, Systrom has both ensured that the correct information is distributed and garnered good will for himself and his company.

The Weber Media team is excited about this newest tool, and we hope you are, too! Share your thoughts on Quora here or via Facebook or Twitter. And please let us know if you have any questions about integrating Quora and social search into your social media marketing program.

Quora: The Social Search Engine

It’s 2011, and Quora has emerged as the latest social media tool that has marketers buzzing. The site, which was launched in January 2010 with Facebook’s former Chief Technology Officer serving as co-founder, has already attracted significant attention from the top social media blogs and from venture capitalists. Quora’s innovative “social search” is being touted as “future of blogging“ and “much, much bigger than Twitter.”

Yet what exactly is Quora, and how can it fit into your social media marketing strategy? Weber Media Partners will answer these questions in a two-part series. Today, we will introduce this increasingly popular new search site. On Friday, we’ll take you through the three ways Quora can help your business.

What is Quora?

Let’s start with the basics. Quora defines itself as “a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.” Users can search the site for specific questions, browse questions by category, or post questions that have yet to be posed by a user. All users can also contribute to the answers, responding themselves or “voting up” their preferred response. Registration is free, and it is easy to connect your Quora account to your Facebook and Twitter profiles, and your blog.

Quora is a powerful tool, but it is not the most user-friendly one. The best way to learn is to practice. After creating your account, start following topics of interest to you. To do this, simply begin typing the topic into the search bar and select from the resulting list. Once you follow a topic, questions relating to the topic will appear in your activity stream (similar to your Twitter stream or Facebook news feed).

The next step after selecting your topics is to post answers or questions of your own. Click on the image at right to see an example of a Quora question and answer page. The answers appear on the page in descending order based on user votes (e.g. “up” votes make an answer rise up the page) and the author’s previous record (e.g. the higher their previous posts, the higher their answers appear).

The Quora team is quick to note that it has protections in place to prevent users from “gaming” the system, and thus negating the accuracy and value of its content. In addition to monitoring its users’ submissions, Quora requires you to use your full name to register. While it encourages users to share titles and employers as a way of verifying the source of the knowledge provided, the site does not permit the establishment of business or brand accounts. Quora has been actively removing accounts that violate this policy, including the blog Mashable‘s account. There are currently no plans to add this feature to Quora.

To learn how this new tool can help your business as part of your social media marketing plan, check back with us on Friday for the second half of our Quora series. And as always, share your thoughts here or via Facebook or Twitter.

Businesses Benefit from Strategic Social Media Programs

Bridge to CustomersWhile social networking began as a consumer activity, it has become a crucial component of most business marketing strategies as it allows companies to reach highly targeted audiences with custom messaging to build brand awareness and establish a relationship with the customer who now expect companies to be reachable and accountable.

Business Benefits
Businesses are now regularly using tools such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn for hiring, customer support, product development, brand recognition, and, of course, client acquisition and retention. Social media has another benefit: the cost of acquiring customers is significantly lower than placing ads, and creates a lasting relationship.

The benefits of a quality social media marketing program include:

  • Transparent, authentic feedback from your audience
  • Integrates well with conventional marketing programs
  • Reach highly-targeted audiences
  • Improves search engines positioning
  • Lower cost than advertising
  • More long term and wider impact than conventional public relations

Listen first, Act second
Buyers look to objective internet sources to compare business products and services including existing customers who are more than willing to share their experience with these products. Companies can’t control the chatter, but they can learn what customers want.

Brands such as Comcast have made major strides in customer service by listening on Twitter. When their brand is mentioned, they know. When someone has a problem, they help them within minutes. They follow the first rule of social media: listen first, act second. Maintaining a regular monitoring program helps to understand customer sentiment and how it changes as you implement online programs.

Defining Success
Measuring the success of a social media campaign is possible only if you define your targets in advance. Whether they include increased traffic, website conversions or leads, you must have clear targets for successful campaigns, at short-term and long-term time intervals. A few examples of what success might look like include:

  • Gaining a better understanding of your customers
  • Increase brand exposure in ways which were not possible before
  • Reducing costs for achieving the same targets using other marketing tactics
  • Increase sales and conversions

Some great resources to compliment this blog post:

Social Commerce, Social Media Today, November 2, 2010

Content for People, Not Robots, Impressions Through Media, September 18, 2010

Best Back To School Campaigns, Part II: Target’s Social Checklist

On Wednesday, I kicked off my series on the best Back to School marketing campaigns of 2010.  I sought out campaigns that are innovative, fun and helpful, both to the shopper and the community at large.  In Part II of the series, I will highlight Target’s innovative and extremely useful “Roomates” Facebook app.

Target is a popular destination for college students stocking up on dorm necessities.  To help ensure these coeds get everything they need, Target has developed an interactive checklist accessible via Facebook.  The checklist has three options (“buy,” “have” and “pass”), and includes links to purchase specific products on Target.com.

The best part about this campaign, however, is the roommates option.  This part of the app allows students to share their list with their roommate(s), helping ensure that one suite will not wind up with four vacuums and only one lamp.  The app also features messaging, calendars, and even a bill splitter – definitely something I wish I had in college.

Once the checklist is complete, students can select the print option and bring the list along on their shopping trip.  The checklist is even available on Target.com in a more traditional PDF format.  All in all, this campaign is a helpful tool for college students, as well as an ingenious way to show off the megastore’s seemingly innumerable product offerings.

Stop by our blog on Monday for the conclusion of this series, in which I discuss two innovative and cost-effective alternatives to the traditional college bookstore.

Best Back To School Campaigns, Part I: Staples Makes a Difference

Two weeks ago, a milestone was reached: I received my first school-related e-mail message.  It opened with a jolly greeting from my professor, and moved quickly to talk of future assignments and course requirements.  That’s when it hit me – I need to get ready for back to school!

As a grad student, I’ve done the Back to School ritual more times then I’d care to count.  So, to liven up the hunt this year, I’ve added an additional item to my usual list of notebooks, highlighters and (of course) new shoes – find my favorite Back to School marketing campaigns.  I sought out campaigns that are innovative, fun and helpful, both to the shopper and the community at large.  A lucky few made it to the top of the class, and I will detail those campaigns in a series of three posts.  Today, I will profile Staples’ philanthropy.

Students and parents browsing the aisles (or web site pages) of this office superstore for back to school necessities can do more than just buy – they can give back, too.  For the third year in a row, Staples has partnered with teen-centric non-profit DoSomething.org to collect school supplies for children in need.  Donation bins have been set up in Staples retail locations across the country, and school supplies of all kinds will be collected now through September 18th.

This year, Staples used Facebook and a celeb-filled online game to help students get involved.  Teen can vote to join their favorite celebrity’s “pack,” and in the process donate $1 to the cause.  Donations are also accepted via text message.

All in all, I loved Staples’ idea and its execution.  These simple donations are a great way to teach everyone from preschoolers to high schoolers the importance of generosity and kindness towards those who are less fortunate.  Furthermore, through their Do Something 101 microsite, they provide helpful tips that help students run their own school supply drives – the lesson being that teens can really “do something” big to help their communities.

Judging by the 28,000 Facebook fans and thousands of votes on the contest page, this event is a proving to be a success.  Even Staples’ archrival Dunder Mifflin is getting in on the action!  With that endorsement secured, I now know where I’ll be purchasing my paper…

I hope you have enjoyed this first installment of my survey of the best of Back to School.  Be sure to visit our blog soon to see who else made the list!

Social Media Leaders and Laggards: Healthcare, Retail Sprint Past Financial Services, Energy

It may be early on in the race to Social Media marketing success, but there are already some notable leaders and laggards emerging.  Which industries are the ambling tortoises, and which are the speedy hares?

In this post, we will review the findings of a recent report from intelligence provider Social Media Influence (SMI), and share our own analysis to help you handicap this race to success.

In their June report entitled “The State of Social Media Jobs 2010,” SMI surveyed the marketing departments of all Fortune 100 companies, to find out whether they have in-house social media resources, outsource their social media campaigns, or have little to no investment in social media marketing.

The graph below shows the results of their survey.  The blue line represents the total number of companies in that industry, while the red line represents those companies in that industry that SMI deems “social media-savvy” (i.e. they devote significant in-house resources to social media marketing efforts).  As you can see, the leaders of the group include Tech/Consumer Electronics, Healthcare, Retail and Automotive.  On the flip side, the laggards are Petroleum/Energy, Financial Services/Insurance and Utilities.  (Click to enlarge image.)

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Q & A with Steve Garfield, Author of Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business

If you’ve thought that having a working knowledge of YouTube covered your video bases, you’ll be in for a wonderful treat by reading Steve Garfield’s new book, Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business—which lets you in on some of the best kept secrets out there.

I was completely engrossed in Steve’s book which I read in one day, only stopping to try out many of the things he references. Within a short period of time,  I found myself streaming video from my iPhone on qik, creating blog posts on posterous, developing unique videos on animoto, researching mics for iPhones, checking-out vimeo, blip.tv, how to create a playlist of our videos on youtube, making a screencast on jing.

By half-way through the book I was convinced how no social media marketing campaign will be complete without video.

While high-end video cameras and experienced videographers are certainly one way to go, Steve demonstrates how by having an interest in shooting video and a wide range of tools to choose from, video is within every business’ reach regardless of your budget. Above all, Steve demonstrates how interest and passion will be your ticket.

Steve is right here to tell you about his book himself (in his video, of course!) And after viewing, keep reading our exclusive interview.

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Social media profiles: A disconnect in the corporate strategy?

switchboardI’ve been wondering lately about the concept of integrated social media strategies for businesses.

There’s no mistaking it but some social media will work better for certain types of businesses and industries than others. Some will excel with the use of videos, and some with the written word. Some will adopt the use of multiple social media— running the gamut of blogs, twitter, linkedin, youtube, and facebook.

So here’s the question which has been plaguing me for a while: Who’s doing it well? I mean, who’s doing a good job tying them all together, cross-linking and integrating them into a full user experience.

I became even more curious yesterday after reading a post, Which Twitter Strategy is Right for You, by Rodger Johnson. The post describes the twitter strategies of  six companies you may have already heard about: JetBlue, Rubbermaid, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dell, Zappos, and Comcast. So, with these key twitter players in mind, I thought I’d do a little experiment, and see whose doing what and how well are they linking all their profiles and web sites together e.g. how would a user know about all the profiles these companies have?

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Is that Seat Taken? Getting on the Social Media Bus

busAndrew Goodman’s post, “Social Media as Signaling Strategy” raises an important question when he asks, “What if you just didn’t do social media at all, and kept on doing the things you know generate leads, partnerships, repeat business, etc.?”

The question I immediately thought in response is why? Why would you do that? Why would any forward-thinking business today take an a no-can-do attitude towards social media? The short answer comes down to fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of doing it poorly.

But what if I was to tell you that it wasn’t hard. It’s not going to require a major shift in your company’s paradigm, or financial investment.  What if all it really takes is a willingness to learn, to stay current, to ask questions, and to ask for help when you need it.

I know from first-hand experience the feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do your job and learn the necessary steps for getting started in social media. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and either was social media. Start by asking yourself what social networks and social media marketing make the most sense to you. Bite off a little at a time. If it’s LinkedIn and Facebook right now, and you can’t commit to writing regular blog posts, so be it.  There’s no magic formula. There’s no one-size-fits-all.

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The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web−A Book for the Social Media Enthusiast

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O’Reilly’s new book by Tamar Weinberg, The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web, is an enthusiast’s dream. If you’ve already crossed the bridge to marketing on the social web, or are still thinking about it, there are many gems waiting for you to discover.

As Tamar writes:
“There are online conversations about your company, product, or service going on right now, and they will happen regardless of your participation. It is your responsibility as a marketer to find out what people are saying and how they perceive you.  By becoming involved, you can facilitate that conversation, sway your audience, and engage community participants in a dialogue that will be beneficial to both them and the entity that you represent. Such an engagement can translate into tremendous successes for your marketing message, from reputation management to increased brand awareness, and then some. What are you waiting for?”

If you’re brand new to Social Media, The New Community Rules will provide you with a comprehensive lexicon of Social Media. Quickly, you’ll become familiarized with the essentials: blogs, microblogging, social networks, and social bookmarking. But where some books stop short, is the very place where Tamar continues.

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