Where Can Social Media Marketing Take Your Career?

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Social Media MarketingSearch Google for “social media consultant” or “social media expert” and you’ll find millions of search results. I’ve been in the online marketing game since 1997 and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an emergence of expertise out of the blue. Web design in the late nineties and SEO in early 2000′s was close, but social media as a career choice is as pervasive as anything.

While it does appear that there may be more social media consultants than there are companies to hire them, the truth is the opposite. The ease of publishing online with blogs and social networking makes it seem like there are more qualified consultants than there really are.

Every company that I know in the online marketing space where social media is a key practice area is hiring. The problem is, there’s a lack of people with real social media marketing experience. Many that do have such experience are accustomed to a “big fish, small pond” situation and often overestimate current capabilities.

For online marketing agencies like ours, a Social Media Marketing Specialist needs to have more experience than setting up social accounts on Facebook, Twitter and a blog. They need to have an understanding of social content planning, personas, social network research and development, light SEO, social content promotion, social monitoring and analytics for insights and reports.  Not many people 3-4 years out of college have that experience. But they could.

Experience and training are what help passionate users transition into those individuals that can provide business social media advice and insight with impact. Experience without a job in the field can be acquired in a few different ways:

  • Become a super user with social applications
  • With that first hand knowledge, start marketing a personal site and/or offer pro bono services to a non-profit or small business
  • Document experience on a personal site or blog
  • Participate ON and offline with networks important to your areas of focus (specific industries, geographic areas)
  • Make it clear that you are available for hire in your social profiles and what you can do with examples
  • Until you have your own examples you can share insights into work others have done or you could provide sample audits of companies that you’d like to work with/for.

While I was already working as an online marketing consultant with my own business when I started blogging and offering blogging services to clients in 2004, the path above is essentially what I followed to get into the social media marketing consulting business.  Things have turned out pretty well, but I will always be a student, forever testing and learning.

One significant area of focus at TopRank Marketing is finding the right people to work with our team as social media marketing consultants, copywriters and project managers.  Cross training existing staff and clients is also important.

Are you just starting out in a career focused on providing social media marketing consulting (either on your own or for a company)? What are some of the challenges you’re facing in growing your expertise and getting experience?

If you are well into your social media marketing career as a practitioner or in a senior position, how did you make the transition from where you were, to your current state of expertise and knowledge? How do you stay current and competitive with your social media expertise?

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5 Social Media ROI & Measurement Books to Grow Your Social Business

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Books Social Media MeasurementOne of the most compelling challenges for companies entering the world of social business is measurement. The ability to attribute cause and effect directly can be elusive when it comes to measuring business outcomes like increased sales, improved customer retention and lowered support costs. But that’s only because this is new territory.  Business participation with social media on the web at large and internally has absolutely made measurable progress for numerous companies and organizations. The trick is to learn how, create a model that works for you and to sell it internally for testing, implementation and adoption.

One way to facilitate learning about Social Media ROI, Measurement and Analytics is through books from subject matter experts. Here are 5 that I’ve found useful and hopefully, you will too.

Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization
by Olivier Blanchard

There are many other books on social media strategy, but in your pursuit of social ROI enlightenment, I’d start with this one (it’s also very new) because it covers social program development and management as well as measurement.  Olivier’s presentation on the Basics of Social Media ROI from a few years ago completely opened the eyes for many (including myself) on basic ways to approach the impact of social media on tangible business goals. It’s damn funny too.

Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment
by Jim Sterne

This may be one of the first books dedicated to socia media metrics and Analytics guru Jim Sterne does a great job of setting ground rules. This book isn’t about justifying social media at large or a collection of tactics. It takes you from goal setting to audience, influence, sentiment, action, conversation and business outcomes. Once you have all that, there’s advice on communicating your newfound social media measurement wisdom to the organization.

Measure What Matters: Online Tools For Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships
by Kattie Delahaye Paine

Katie Paine is the master of Public Relations and Social Media measurement and her new book is a great complement to our mix because it comes from a perspective of measuring and affecting influence, engagement and relationships – not just sales and revenue. Katie outlines how to get started with a measurement program, how to choose the right tools and she answers measurement “how” questions related to marketing and public relations, events, thought leadership, community, internal staff and crisis situations. This is a measurement bible for the social media and public relations savvy professionals of the world.
(Read our Public Relations Measurement interview with Katie)

Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity
by Avinash Kaushkik

If you’re even remotely familiar with web analytics, then you know the blog Occam’s Razor by Google’s Analytics Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik. In his enthusiastic and entertaining style, Avinash explains the next generation framework of web analytics including social media measurement and includes specific guidance on hiring analytics resources, practical advice on the practice of  gaining insight from clickstream data and analysis, plus how to help managers become more data-driven in their decision making.
(Watch our video interview with Avinash at SES Hong Kong)

Mining the Social Web: Analyzing Data from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Other Social Media Sites
By Matthew A. Russell

After you’ve read the books above and you’ve either tasked an internal analytics guru or hired someone for your social media measurement and analytics, then they really need to dig into this book. When business, marketing or PR managers ask question like, “How can we create our own tools to mine our prospects social web activity?” this is a great guidebook into the mechanics of making that happen. Matthew covers “data hacking” for Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Google Buzz and LinkedIn plus how to visualize that data in a meaningful way.

While this is no comprehensive list of social media ROI, measurement and analytics books, it is a great collection to start with.  What books social media measurement books would you recommend?

(For the first time in 7 years, I’ve added Amazon affiliate links to these book URLs. Since we don’t sell ads here, I’m hoping you can appreciate  that effort).

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3 Benefits of Content Promotion for B2B Online Marketing

May 4, 2011 by  
Filed under B2B, B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Online Marketing

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B2B Marketing Content Promotion“Build it and they will come”.

It’s a well-known and often over-used quote from the movie, “Field of Dreams”, used to describe the fallacy of great content as a marketing tool. In my opinion, great content isn’t great until someone shares it. And they share it with their friends, and so on and so on.

With content marketing, great content is the beginning not the end objective. An effective content marketing strategy includes information about target buyer personas, search keywords and social topics, an editorial plan and a plan for promoting all the high quality content being created. Today’s Internet and social web are full of information overload. Buyers can easily be distracted and so it’s important to stand out and stay connected.

Here are 3 basic reasons for B2B marketers to plan content promotion:

  1. Many B2B buyers rely on information to be pushed to them because finding and trusting new sources on an ongoing basis isn’t practical.
  2. Promoting content through social channels can lead to exposure, traffic and links. Links from social channels and web pages can influence search engine visibility, adding an additional source of relevant traffic.
  3. Content promotion can inspire syndication and citations from other blogs and online media. Getting on the radar of other influential bloggers can lead to inclusion in future stories, blogroll links and engagement.

A particularly effective model for coordinated Social SEO and Content promotion is the Hub and Spoke. Depending on your content strategy and target audience, the hub might be a resource center, a blog, Facebook Fan Page, YouTube Channel or a Website. The spokes are distribution and promotion channels leading to off-site networks or communities. Each spoke has it’s own unique content and social network characteristics. When coordinated, relevant content promotion across the right mix of channels can amplify overall distribution, reach and engagement.

Understanding the communities of interest and involving them in both content development (crowdsourcing, social engagement, polls) and promotion (Retweets, shares, comments, links) keeps topics fresh and relevant as well as interesting for the community to promote to others.

If you’re a B2B online marketer, how are you including content promotion in your content marketing strategy? Do you plan targeted promotion or do you promote to the same channels every time? Do you plan on the repurposing of your content as well?

(Photo credit “arukasa” – Flickr)

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Importance of Social Media & SEO for Public Relations

May 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

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Social SEO PRMany would call the age we’re in, “Information Overload“.

Consider: Facebook is approaching 700 million users and Google handles over 11 billion queries per month. World-wide there are over 5 billion mobile subscribers (9 out of 10 in the U.S.) and every two days there is more information created than between the dawn of civilization and 2003. The age of communications and digital relationships between brands, the media and consumers has changed faster and in ways few could have anticipated.

With an ever increasing universe of data and ways to connect, PR and communications professionals are in a compelling position to master the new rules for consumer information discovery, consumption and sharing. As participants and content creators savvy about the search and social web, PR professionals can directly impact online brand visibility, customer engagement and acquisition.

A big part of how Public Relations pros can show more value for their efforts is to understand how the intersection of search and social media provides a powerful means to reach and engage media and consumers that inspires interaction, sharing and meaningful business outcomes.

Some of the fundamentals online PR and communications practitioners should seek to understand in the world of Social Media and SEO include:

  • Stay on top of future trends in search, social media and content marketing for PR
  • Gain insight into how social and search strategy can amplify media and public relations outcomes
  • Understand how to develop search & social personas – think like your customer’s customer
  • Be able to conduct strategic and on-demand research for keywords and topics relevant to search and/or the social web
  • Know best practices of SEO for Blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and any other digital media produced for news distribution
  • High level of expertise with tools to improve quality, efficiency and scale

Call it convergence or consolidation, but no matter how you look at it, marketing and public relations expertise is unifying to bring brand messages and influence to the new search and social web.  It’s a compelling thing for PR professionals to gain an understanding of how search and social media channels can improve reach and placements. It’s even more impressive to step into the shoes of their customer’s customer as a marketer would and really understand how news is discovered, consumed and shared.

If you’re a public relations professional, have you begun implementing search and social media optimization into your news content strategy? How are you educating yourself and your teams on these best practices?

Later today I’ll be speaking to a soon to graduate class at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, MN about these topics and I’m also giving a 1-hour presentation at the upcoming Vocus User’s conference in Baltimore to a group of experienced PR professionals on Integrated Social SEO & PR.

While I have a few ideas and expertise to share, I’m most looking forward to the discussion and questions unique to each group.  If you have questions about incorporating Social SEO into your news content, leave a comment below.

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