Category Archives: Social Media Marketing

10 Success Factors for Content Marketing in the Knowledge-Based Economy

Network Terms

A necessary precondition for a knowledge-based economy is the existence of a market willing to purchase the knowledge being offered. Literally, nearly all activity in the knowledge-based economy can be thought of as knowledge-process outsourcing (KPO). Why? Because the market for knowledge only works if the cost or effort of developing the knowledge exceeds the cost of outsourcing. In this respect, knowledge-based economic activities provide value-added by allowing companies to off-book the fixed and variable costs associated with developing the knowledge-based services in-house.

One of the keys to becoming successful in the knowledge-based economy is to develop a reputation as a valued content or solution provider worthy of consideration when a perceived need arises for your services. In my opinion, the best strategy for accomplishing this is content marketing.

Content Marketing Defined

A good definition of content marketing is offered by Cleveland-based Junta42:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

10 Success Factors

Much like branding, building a reputation for being a value-added service provider through content marketing takes considerable time and effort. The list of success factors offered below is not exhaustive but rather merely provides a starting point for establishing your content marketing strategy.

1. Demonstrate expertise in one or more content domains (don’t be unidimensional)

2. Be prepared to dedicate the requisite time and effort to build credibility, readership and your network

3. Start with the premise that your content must provide value/utility to your target audience

4. Write for your target audience: quality of content is in the eye of the beholder

5. Understand that content providers are selected based on perceptions of expertise, qualifications, success, trust and personality. Demonstrate yours without alienating your audience.

6. Offering free services, software applications, games, etc. is a good hook as long as they’re used to build your network and/or lead list

7. Use your blog as the foundation for your other social media marketing activities

8. Develop and distribute white papers – research that is timely, informative and possesses utility but ask those downloading your research to provide basic contact information or for opt-in permission

9. Soft-sell knowledge/education/information with the long-term goal of developing business relationships

10. Foster top-of-mind awareness through multiple touch points (personalized e-mails, e-mail newsletters, social media, etc.) with the goal of becoming the go-to source for the service you’re providing

That you possess unique skills, content or expertise is assumed, as is your ability to effectively communicate and demonstrate your expertise via copy-writing, video or both. If this isn’t the case, then content marketing isn’t for you.

Keep in mind that content marketing is an inbound marketing technique. Providing free content that demonstrates your knowledge, skills and abilities serves as a magnet to build your network and attract business. Active management of the content marketing process is required.

The knowledge-based economy provides micro-enterprises with the ability to compete head-to-head with large corporations and succeed. Develop your network via content marketing and chart your own destiny.

Share

It’s Not Your Father’s Marketing: The Problem with Marketing Education Today

It’s no secret: business schools are doing a less than stellar job of preparing marketing students for careers in the current marketing environment. Marketing professors are not in tune with the rapidly changing marketing environment and the curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate level is antiquated.

Business schools, in general, are so far behind the curve that the majority of our curriculum is designed based on the assumptions of, and using examples of, the production era (see The Evolution of Marketing). At best, the functional silos (accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and operations management) are remnants of the marketing department era. At worst, the department structure in business schools serves a living museum to an era gone by.

Credibility Gap

When did we lose our credibility? It started with our failure to acknowledge and to adequately prepare students for the service-based economy (see Tipping Point). As we move into the knowledge-based economy, the gap between what is being taught in business schools and what is needed in the business world continues to widen. The width of the gap is sufficient that today’s marketing students need to take charge of their own marketing education by supplementing the theories of the past with the realities of the present.

Honestly, my initial and somewhat visceral reaction to finding the website MarketingProfs was to question their credentials and their motives for daring to enter into my arena. In 15 minutes or less, my attitude changed dramatically. MarketingProfs serves as a leading-edge resource for today’s marketing environment. They are, in fact, better marketing professors than am I (or at least they’re somewhat more relevant). Likewise, six months ago HubSpot was not on my radar screen. Today, I can’t live without them and am completing the coursework for the Inbound Marketing University certification.

How Business School Marketing Departments Can Become Relevant Again

So how do the marketing departments in business schools become relevant again? We need to learn more about and catch up with the current marketing environment. Marketing, after all, isn’t stagnant. It is a living process that morphs and changes over time. The shift from traditional outbound marketing to inbound marketing went unnoticed in business schools. More interaction with those on the forefront of today’s marketing practices is needed. Joint research projects, marketing professors serving short-term internships in industry and partnering in curriculum design are three of the low-hanging fruit to consider.

Another source of change not utilized is the knowledge of marketing practitioners who serve as part-time lecturers in business schools. A quick review of the Top Marketing Professors on Twitter serves to support the contention that those in industry are more in tune with the current marketing environment than are many tenured or tenure-track marketing professors: four out of the top five listed and 23 out of the 64 included in the list are part-time lecturers. If you’ve earned your masters degree and are a marketing practitioner with skills in inbound marketing or social media marketing, please consider teaching part-time at a college or university near you.

Suggested Additional Coursework for Current Marketing Students

Although the game has changed, we haven’t significantly updated the business school or marketing curriculum in decades. In addition to supplementing their current marketing coursework through external resources, there are some skills that students can add to their marketing tool belts through their selection of elective coursework. Current marketing students may want to consider taking courses in the following topics as part of their undergraduate degree program:

Basic Web Programming (CSS, HTML, JavaScript, PHP, XHTML/XML)

English Composition (beyond English 101 and 102)

Graphic and Digital Photography Editing and Design

Interpersonal and Public Communication

Journalism

Video Production and Editing

Web Page Editing and Design

Am I missing anything? If so, please feel free to suggest additions to the list by leaving comments at the bottom of this post.

Summary

Given the snail’s pace at which things change in the university environment, marketing students need to take charge of their own education. The curriculum in business schools is likely to remain out of touch with the business environment for the foreseeable future. Some of us will try to change the institution from within but we need your assistance in requesting and demonstrating the need for change. Me? I’m looking forward to the first department meeting in September when I somehow work the phrase “stimulating link juice” into the conversation. I wonder what the reaction will be?

Share

Zero to 150: Guidelines to Establishing Your Social Media Presence in 150 Days

Are you among the early majority who are just jumping into social media? I am. My journey into the social media foray began in mid-January. Here’s how to establish your social media presence and to develop the foundation for your personal brand in 150 days.

Guideline 1: Stake out your domain on as many social media sites as you can manage

Unless you’re famous, or have a common name (such as Steve White), it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to select and establish your name consistently across multiple social media (the key is consistency – using the same branding for the social media selected).

Without question, the big three are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. MediaSauce describes the three like this: LinkedIn is business formal, Facebook is business casual and Twitter is a cocktail party.

Since Twitter is a micro-blogging platform, many famous Tweeple recommend blogging as the first step. Blogging takes time and discipline, and may not be your idea of fun, but it’s worth thinking about starting a blog if you’re willing to make the commitment.

There are many more social media options available. Part of the fun is trying to figure out which one is going to emerge as the next hot social media platform. And it gives those of us in the early majority a chance to be a part of the innovative crowd (or at least an early adopters) in an emerging social media platform.

Guideline 2: Use a flattering picture in your listing, write an interesting description and let people know (in general) where you live

There are probably a lot of interesting people worth following who will not be followed because they don’t provide us with any reason to do so. Although content is king, initial decisions (follow/not follow) are made on the basis of appearance, interests and location. My rule of thumb is that if someone isn’t into social media seriously enough to upload a picture of themselves or secure enough to let people know that they live in Massachusetts, then they aren’t worth engaging online.

Include links to your personal website or blog. Provide a way for people to connect with you on other social media sites. This is the speed-dating phase of social networking, so try to provide a compelling reason for people to network with you.

Guideline 3: Use Google Search to find and identify people to follow from your city, region, state and industry

An article from Twitter Power System changed the way that I found people to follow on Twitter. It provides instructions on how to use Google to find people on Twitter.

Start with location-based searches and expand from there. A word of caution: Google monitors the number of searches that you conduct via this method and limits your access each day if they believe that you’re a searchbot and not a human.

After establishing your Twitter account and gaining a couple of followers, use a service like Mr. Tweet to identify interesting people to follow.

Most social media sites that you sign up for provide assistance in identifying and connecting you with people who you know. Typically, this is done through access to your e-mail address book (it helps if you’re using gmail or yahoo as your email service), through other social media connections (Facebook and Twitter) or through a search function.

Using Guideline 3 and 4, plus screening your own new followers, try to add 10 or so targeted new people each day to the list of people who you follow (especially on Twitter).

Guideline 4: Your friends are my friends

LinkedIn refers to this as 2nd and 3rd level connections. After you’ve identified a friend, colleague or otherwise interesting person to follow, see who they follow or befriend. Select and connect with friends of friends to build your network. This works on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Plaxo. Likewise, click on Retweets on your Twitter home page and see who the people who you’re following are retweeting. Adding friends of friends is a fast way to build your network and you already have something in common.

Guideline 5: Not everyone that you follow will follow you back (and that’s ok)

Although the goal is to build quality, mutually beneficial relationships, on Twitter not everyone that you follow will follow you back. Likewise, not everyone that you invite to connect on Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo will accept your request.

Don’t read too much into either scenario. You’ve made the attempt. Just over 45 percent of the businesses, charities, causes and people who I follow on Twitter are not following me back. Yet I selected each for a reason and I have benefited from following their postings. My goal is to learn something from each person that I’m following and to date, I haven’t been disappointed.

Guideline 6: Use the power of the Internet to monitor and diffuse interesting content

I wish that I could remember who turned me on to this, but set up Google Alerts for topics that interest you. Daily, you’ll receive an e-mail digest of 20 or so links to articles, blogs, press releases, etc. that meet your search criteria. Post the links that you deem content-worthy to your social media accounts. However, before posting, check each link to make certain that the content is share-worthy.

This provides you with a way to stay current on a topic, to establish the content as a personal area of interest or expertise and to generate content to post daily.

Guideline 7: Not all items posted are worth sharing across multiple platforms

I’ve had a Facebook site for about three years. My friends and followers did not appreciate the automatic postings from Twitter (between five and ten per day) to my Facebook wall. Likewise, I unlinked Twitter from LinkedIn after someone commented that they were tired of seeing my face on their LinkedIn page 10 or so times daily.

Selectively decide what you share across your social media platforms. Be careful how you link these platforms together – you don’t want your Facebook and Twitter accounts automatically updating your Plaxo account with the same posting/same content (duplicate postings). In my opinion, you should have unique communication strategies for each of the social media options. A family branding approach works, but the content should be tailored for the audience. An additional benefit is that your provide fresh content to people who engage with you across multiple social media platforms (friend you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter and link with you on LinkedIn).

Guideline 8: Engage daily

It is, after all, called social media! And although it can seem tedious, invest at least an hour a day (or more if you can afford the time) in your social media endeavors. In a perfect world, you’ll update your blog daily and use the other social media to drive traffic to your website. It takes a focused and committed effort, but you are investing in yourself, you’ll learn more than you can imagine and you’ll connect with people globally. Thus, in the long-run the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Guideline 9: Make it Mobile

It’s no secret that I believe that mobile phones and devices, like the iPad, are destined to replace desktop computers, laptop computers and netbooks within the foreseeable future. Make certain that you have the ability to stay connected to your social media via your cell phone. Find an application or two that allow you to update your status and share pictures, videos, podcasts and music from your phone.

Location-based marketing platforms such as Foursquare and Gowalla will increasingly be competing with mobile advertising services such as AdMob and iAd for your attention soon. Mobile applications make it possible to be connected 24/7 from all four corners of the globe. Get ahead of the learning curve and stay connected.

Guideline 10: Advertise Selectively

Ok, so some of you think that this advice is heresy. But I come from an advertising background and view this type of advertising as an investment in my personal branding efforts. Be selective in how you advertise and where you advertise. I’ve used FeaturedUsers.Com with some success. Over five months, with a total outlay of less than $140, purchasing a small banner ad through FeaturedUsers has built my Twitter following immensely.

And although the quality of the social relationship established is much more important than the quantity, services like this provide you with a way of putting your name in front of a large number of people in a short amount of time. Ultimately, it’s their decision on whether or not to follow you, but at least you will have put yourself in a position to be seen.

Guideline 11: Separate the Wheat from the Chaff

Not everyone that you follow will live up to your expectations. You’ll be amazed at how many people ambush you with a direct message on Twitter offering to sell you something within hours of connecting with you. If someone consistently sends content that is too assertive for your taste, or sends links that you suspect are not reputable or secure (link hijacking attempts), it’s ok to unfollow them. Ultimately, you’re looking to build a network of people from which you can learn, share, connect and grow. You decide with whom to establish contact, from whom you feel that you can learn something useful and with whom to spend your time.

On the other social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo, you decide whether or not to respond to a request to connect (you have a say in your followers). Thus, unfollowing or unfriending someone on these social media services sends a more severe message. Proceed with caution if you’re considering doing this on social media sites other than Twitter.

Guideline 12: Have Fun and Let Your Personality Shine Through

The final guideline is, in my opinion, the most important guideline. Social media is all about being social. Provide insight into your personality, be playful and upbeat. Use your network to share content, ideas and expertise. Remember to keep things professional and don’t say or post anything that causes damage to your personal brand or endangers your future job-seeking opportunities. A word of caution is that a large percent of interpersonal and public communication is non-verbal. Written communications can be misinterpreted and/or misunderstood. Be cognizant of this when you’re posting. But conversely, don’t be afraid of sharing your personality or sense of humor. You can’t try to be who you aren’t – be genuine, sincere and true to yourself.

Summary

There you have it, 12 guidelines for going from Zero to 150 as you build your social media networks. Invest an adequate amount of time daily, strive for consistency of effort and provide value in your postings. You’ll be surprised at how much you grow both personally and professionally!

Share