Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The New World of Communication from Print to Online

Today's explosion of technology services have allowed businesses of all sizes, industries and budgets to have more options to grow their mindshare and sales. By increasing brand awareness or lead generation, social media tools offer new opportunity and a blank slate of strategies for businesses seeking to grow their share of the market. These online opportunities can seem overwhelming to professionals who have relied on the traditional formats of media and publicity and are challenged to stay abreast of the latest technologies available and suitable for business development. 

Are there manageable means to bring the two worlds of new media and the traditional printed world of marketing together? In searching for tips on how to merge these two worlds, I found a helpful resource from Facebook LIVE that I'd like to share.  

Facebook LIVE is one of Facebook's latest resources to offer business support with video broadcasts. A recent Marketing Talks video titled, "Connecting Your Online Community to Your Offline World" offers three tips during an interview with two social  marketing savvy representatives from hospitality and retail industries. To view the video, click here >

This webinar included advice by Director of Social Media & Digital Content for Applebee'sScott Gulbransen and Cathy Choi, Director of Social Media for Sephora who shared examples that they use with their million plus user communities on Facebook. The topic and content was intriguing however the information was tailored to an exclusive group of marketers with corporate pedigree advantages like
1. big budgets  
2. well known big brands and 
3. industries (like hospitality and retail) that are already highly social in nature.

Most businesses and marketers aren't lucky enough to play in a market of that magnitude and genre. Yet, despite the clear advantages these marketers had, there are still some key best practices that can be applied to the real world of B2B and professional service sectors. Here are the top level takeaways gained from this video accompanied by specific recommendations, from my viewpoint taken from my baggage of experience in the small to medium sized business sector. I hope you will find this list to be comprehensive and be encouraged to apply these best practices to your own real world:

1.  Keep message consistent from real world to online presence. 
Remember your brand and long term goals with each point of interaction.
Don't over-promote. Use the 80/20 rule. 80% of your interaction should be light and social, 20% of your messages can be promotional.
Don't get lost in the medium that you forget the message. 
Stay steady with your communication plan and only take on what you can manage, either in-house or with the support of a social marketing professional.

2. Create social experiences for engagement.
Tell the face-to-face stories, share photos from the real moments on-line. And vice-versa. Personally invite people, verbally and with printed signage and cards to the online community. 
Host and sponsor events and invite the public directly through your social media tools. 
Create profiles and check-in rewards with localization mobile media applications. 

3. Engage and mobilize.
Be available. Don't hide behind a web site. 
Communicate well when and where you are. Some examples: respond to comments online, answer your telephone, return your phone calls, say thank you, give eye contact and firm handshakes. 
Offer a variety of communication channels that meet the comfort zone of the individuals in your market.
Encourage feedback and honesty from your audience. 
Turn the feedback into action. Don't be afraid of negative messages. This can be an example to show strong customer service. 
Use the feedback as research and helpful data for future product development or campaign offers. 

Finally, when in doubt, do what works. If your marketing practice is becoming outdated and you are called to update your approach, don't get lost in a world in between. Have a plan, get support and remember that there is no silver bullet to success, no matter what planet you are from.

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