3 Essential Elements to a Successful Social Media Marketing Campaign

25 03 2009

Having spent the last year presenting the topic of social media marketing to a variety of small business owners and trade associations, I’ve had the opportunity to see how various individuals, companies and industries respond to the concept. Unfortunately, the most common reaction to many of the ideas covered in my presentations (i.e. concepts like Twitter and LinkedIn profile optimization), is a blank stare.

As such, I decided it was time to develop a methodology for explaining and implementing a social media marketing campaign that even my grandmother could understand. After a little brainstorming and a few discussions with the team, I developed the “2MCE” process, which is a simple but effective way to understand and leverage the value of social media marketing, as outlined below.

Monitor & Measure
The first step in the 2MCE process is to Monitor & Measure. As with any marketing or communications strategy, it is always best to get a feel for your audience and the tools before you developing an overall campaign strategy. For starters, create Google Alerts for your branded terms, so you can be notified the moment something on the Internet related to your business is published. You can also use search engines to conduct real-time research (i.e. Google, BlogPulse and Technorati). More advanced marketers may opt to customize Yahoo! Pipes RSS feeds or pay for social media monitoring services (i.e. BuzzMetrics, Cymphony, Radian6). The bottom line is that you need to build your overall strategies based on where your customers live online, and agree on a set of metrics and benchmarks to measure volume and sentiment of conversations over time.

Create & Communicate
Once you’ve developed an overall social media strategy and set up monitoring and measurement (aka Web analytics), it’s time to reach out. When creating content for social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, etc.) try to ensure the content is timely, relevant, unique and valuable. Once the content is published, make sure that it is properly optimized, syndicated and promoted to your target audiences within those communities and beyond. When creating a Fan Page on Facebook, be sure to utilize FBML and the API to create interesting custom applications that get shared virally. On LinkedIn, create and manage a Group. On Google and Yahoo!, create gadgets and widgets respectively. Tools like HootSuite improve profile management for Twitter, while Hellotxt helps syndicate profile “updates” across multiple profiles (including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook). If you’ve created a blog, make sure to promote posts (via search engine optimization, tagging and RSS syndication).

Engage & Empower
Last but most importantly, now that you have a foundation including monitoring, measurement, optimized profiles and valuable content, it’s time to engage with your constituents and empower them to become evangelists for your brand. One of the most powerful forms of generating awareness and credibility within your industry is to engage in knowledge expert communities like LinkedIn Q&A and Yahoo! Answers. Similarly, participating actively in related online communities and threaded forums can create a level of connectivity with customers and prospects ad dollars can’t buy. Furthermore, Twitter and blogs can be more than one-way communications vehicles. By monitoring the blogosphere and Twittersphere for relevant conversations, you can comment, reply and generally engage your audience on their terms, and bring them back to your site or profiles to continue the conversation and nurture the relationship.

By following the 2MCE processes, you can ensure your social media marketing efforts are focused and relevant. Don’t get distracted by specific tools, platforms or technology. Focus on the fundamentals and look forward to improving your bottom line. Of course Formic Media, Inc., a search engine and social media marketing (SEM) agency is here to help develop, implement and manage your social media marketing strategy.


Formic Media’s 5 Tips for Hiring

24 03 2009

Many HR Firms will give you advice on how to hire.  You’ve “Googled” and probably picked the best questions or suggestions out of the top “five things to know about hiring” and went about your merry way interviewing candidates.  Did it work?  Did you get the very best candidate?  Or perhaps it might not have worked out.  Was it unclear expectations?  Not enough information obtained from the interviews?  Were you unable to compare between the final candidates and make a good decision?

Formic is in the process of looking to add another person to our tight knit group.  Obviously each of us on the “hiring committee” has our own preferences and wishes for our new team member.  We thought it would be interesting to share our process, and the types of candidates we have encountered throughout our hiring process.   As the unemployment rate for Oregon reaches 11%, the candidate pool has increased, and there are so many talented candidates out there.  How do we sort through the tremendous amount of response to find that “perfect Formic employee”?

For this task, Formic has developed our own “top five things for the interview process“.  These are pretty common sense rules to work by, and have evolved over many years and candidates interviewed.

1. Telephone Interviews or Email Questions.

Have a few basic questions ready, this will help you discover from your candidate pool who you want to bring in for the real deal.  In this current job market, the pool is big.  Formic had over 300 replies to job postings, and from that point there was serious vetting to be done.  Telephone interviews helped us determine who was closest to our “prospective candidate” profile.  This saves you TIME since there is no set time to the phone interview.  It can be as long, or as short as you deem necessary.

2. Have a set of questions ready for the interview (phone or meeting).

This allows you to develop a quantifiable list to compare candidates to each other based on the day to day activities of the job, and of what potentially these people will encounter duty wise, and the skills that they will need to have to be successful.  How did we reconcile our own ideas and opinions into a group decision and process?  We started out by writing our own interview questions and then submitting them to the Formic group.  Just that simple process actually helped our own team by learning more about each other, and making us a more tightly bound group.  In hindsight, it really was a good team building task!  Another suggestion – throw in a bonus question, something that will surprise them and also give you a good indicator of their personality.  Don’t just make it about the job, their skills and what they can do for you.  Find out who they are.

3. A clear job description, and the skill set required to master the job.

This is a pretty obvious one, but one that small business owners tend to miss.  If you aren’t clear on the job, how can you even communicate that and expect your candidates to be able to respond.  If you say “bookkeeper”, that isn’t as cut and dried as you might think.  Also, if you have expectations and job duties ready to go, and this person fails – you have a clear outline of expectations with no ambiguities to the job.  Attached to this job description should be the range of salary, or hourly rate you are willing to pay.

4. Have more than one person interviewing prospective candidates.

Have more than one person interviewing the candidate serves a couple of purposes.  One, interviewing is highly subjective and based on a good deal of soft information. So, whenever possible, have at least one other person carefully interview the final candidates for a position. Two, you may be surprised with a fresh perspective.

5. Second Interviews.

You should always conduct a minimum of two interviews.   This can give you a fresh perspective of a candidate; they could relax and open up more, interview even better, or possibly worse.  Questions asked in the first interview could be answered differently.  It’s another opportunity to see the candidate in a new light.

Hopefully some of our experiences can help you in your own interviewing process.  We’d also like to hear what works for you.  What hasn’t?  Because of the current job market conditions and the increased candidate pool, you are going to have to be even more careful to hire the most talented and qualified candidate, not just the most talented job seeker.

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