In assessing the many reasons video is leading in marketing popularity what stands out most is that it can capture an audience’s attention and tell a compelling story in as little as 35 seconds. Video enhances trust as a potential buyer is able to assess a company’s brand essence and/or a person’s expertise through motion, sight and sound quicker than the written word or still images alone.
Following is a testimonial video we produced for a client who is a real estate developer out of Calgary, Alberta. Their recreational development, Mountain Shadows RV Resort, is a beautiful piece of paradise located in Radium, B.C.
The video was created to give potential lot purchasers an idea of the experience they would have in owning at the Resort. The footage was shot impromptu using a point and shoot camera (which I wouldn’t normally recommend), however our amazing videographer Mat, did a great job putting the entire production together as a high quality video.
Other interesting facts about video:
It’s 6X more likely to turn a website looky-loo into a buyer.
20% of people may read text on a web page vs 80% who will watch the same content in video format.
A company’s website is 50X more likely to be ranked on the 1st page of Google with a video on it.
100 million online users watch at least one video per month. (This includes silly viral cat videos but still…)
90% of online shoppers say video influences their shopping decisions and retailers say it helps them sell more product.
Search engines rank videos higher than most other content on the web, especially if the video is “tagged” properly.
75% of executives told Forbes that they watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week.
Did you know that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine? People enjoy having a more personal experience which is what happens when we picture ourselves in a production whether it’s “virtually” meeting a potential service provider speaking on a topic of interest or placing oneself in the natural surroundings of Mountain Shadows Resort.
Video is also a powerful way to reach a large audience given the production targets the right buyer and is entertaining, touching or interesting enough to go viral. If so, it can be shared amongst thousands or hundreds of thousands of social media users within days. A video acts as your 24/7/365 a day sales professional that works on your behalf even while you sleep or are having fun on the golf course!
Companies of all sizes need to make video part of their integrated marketing strategy and it doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive as demonstrated in the Mountain Shadows example above. Take note however, a video should be professionally produced in order to set the right tone and try to keep it under 3 minutes long or you may loose the viewer. We only have so much mind share available in today’s busy world which is why video is an ideal medium for influencing the customer and telling our company’s story.
Now’s the time when many people are preparing to spend the holidays with family and friends, wrapping up another year of business and looking at what 2013 will bring. For us here at Activ8, it’s been a fun and progressive time working with great clients and adding another component to our business, training professionals to be social media savvy.
We love what we do in the creative industry sharing ideas and strategies that help people and businesses to succeed. What we enjoy most is empowering others to be highly effective communicators delivering their talents and value offerings to the world through their businesses. I recently taught a class for the Squamish Nation’s Small Business Program where entrepreneurs can learn how to use social media to advance their business communications. The new course was a huge success and I’m grateful to program administrator, Geena Jackson for presenting us with this wonderful opportunity.
And a recently fun find for corporate Christmas gifting is a company called Sugar Cookies and Confections who I think does a fantastic job of helping businesses to spread festive cheer with their customers while sending a brand message in a fun, tasty and memorable way.
Another fabulous idea whether for corporate clients or personal purposes is to give the gift of art and culture throughSpirit Works Authentic Aboriginal Artwork. These beautiful bentwood boxes in Coast Salish style are an excellent way to express your gratitude to someone important.
The boxes are also quite practical for using in the home or at the office!
Merry Christmas to all! May this Christmas season bring you together with your favorite people sharing in the holiday spirit. Best wishes for a happy, healthy and successful 2013.
On October 30th, I co-hosted an evening of enlightening conversation on “Trust, Values and Investing” with Bonnie Foley-Wong of Pique Ventures.
Wet weather aside, there was a fantastic turnout of diverse entrepreneurs and investors interested in learning about a values-based approach to investing and intuitive decision-making, in addition to how effective, authentic communication helps to build trust and rewarding relationships.
The evening consisted of an open dialog where people candidly shared their experiences, whether it was entrepreneurs seeking investors aligned with their values and strategic vision or investors looking for companies they can believe in and support.
Some questions that arose included:
How can I find out if a business or individual is the “real deal” and not simply hiding behind a slick web presence?
Does social media provide a good foundation for connection with others? Do I need to be visible online as an individual?
How do I identify alignment to assess a fit with investors or when making an investment?
What role does intuition play in the decision making process?
Reputation was the starting point to the conversation. Learning about an individual or company in order to assess a good fit on both sides of investing or deal making is crucial. How do they communicate through all touch points with their audience? What is the individual or business known for? Do they walk their talk? What is their tone of voice, values, brand character and culture saying about them? By asking around and checking social media channels and conventional media, you can gain an idea of who the person or organization is and how they operate.
Research shows that consumers believe 90% of word of mouth and online feedback on a brand verses a meager 40% trust in paid advertising.
A big brand like Nike or Apple has developed a high degree of trust in the marketplace as a familiar household name with quality products, consistent customer service and brand awareness built up over an extended period of time.
What does a start-up company or an entrepreneur do without a visible web presence? Get one. A LinkedIn profile at the very least will assist a potential buyer with their due diligence when they want to find out about you and your business. Google is the first place most of us check when considering what restaurant to eat at, what car to buy, what stock to invest in and who to do business with. Information that shows up in a targeted search provides the first point of contact. This helps to create a degree of trust that connecting with an individual or business will lead to a positive experience. Done correctly, it’s a powerful door opener.
I’m always surprised when I meet the odd entrepreneur that says they want to stay anonymous online as it will definitely stifle business opportunities when a prospect is searching for what their business offers. That said, there are circumstances where a company succeeds in using a direct sales approach only. While still possible to reach targeted prospects, it ups the game tremendously when an individual or business has an online profile that is active and engaging.
Most people in the room that night agreed that the digital age we live in creates many opportunities to deliver a compelling message and connect with a large network of like-minded people who could become customers, investors and loyal supporters; although it doesn’t replace face-to-face meetings if the stakes are high.
When it comes to raising sizable venture capital from the angel community or other financiers, nothing beats an in-person meeting where an entrepreneur can share their passion, experience and business acumen; and a potential investor can use the tried and true method of “gut instinct” combined with facts to decide if the business and individual are a solid investment.
I encourage you to visit Bonnie at Pique Ventures and follow her social media channels as she offers a tremendous amount of valuable insights and advice for investors and entrepreneurs looking for the right investment connection. Think of her as your personal entrepreneur/investor matchmaker where she puts people together who are aligned in values, vision, interests and investment style. She is turning the old school investing model on its head to create a better world by bringing together innovators and social capital that results in positive change.
People used to invest in businesses they knew well – their neighbour’s business, local businesses, a friend’s business…
Stock exchanges and mutual funds made investing more accessible and more efficient, but we’ve become more distant from our businesses. The economic crisis of 2008 caused many people to lose confidence in stock markets, in banks, and in their financial advisors.
However, with new technologies, social media, and crowdfunding platforms, things are changing. Or are they? At our Crowdfunding event in August, some people asked how we could tell the difference between a scam or an authentic project.
Building trust in an investment relationship between investors and entrepreneurs
What are investors relations or corporate relations?
What roles do social media and marketing play in building trust and investment relationships?
This is the fifth of a series of events held monthly to talk about a different approach to investing. We thought we’d cut to the chase and start talking about the things that help us or prevent us from investing with our values.
Social media and potential legal issues can strike the fear of God into any corporate decision maker, especially the CEO of a public mining company who must abide by strict securities and environmental laws, not to mention brand management of the company’s good name.
It is clear that business sectors with tight rules and regulation such as finance, healthcare and mining are late to the social networking party because they are most often not sure how to implement it effectively and are afraid of provoking the regulators or facing a lawsuit by a disgruntled investor.
Although their concerns for hesitation are understandable, there can be, however, more potential risks in lost opportunities and a lack of reputation management online by not being “in the room and in the deal”, so to speak.
Canada ranks fourth for having the highest Internet users per capita in the world, and over half of these users are on social media. In fact, we Canucks spend almost twice the number of hours online (43.4 hours) over others in our global community each month. Sites such as Facebook (845 million users), Twitter (465 million users) and LinkedIn (150 million users) continue to grow exponentially in worldwide daily use.
Social networking also influences consumers’ buying decisions. When we read posts of others’ experiences with companies, either positive or negative, we tend to listen and weigh our decision to engage with the business accordingly. Consulting firm Booz & Co. thinks that social media is a great way to influence buyers and will eventually result in $30 billion in global social commerce revenue ($14 billion in the U.S. alone).
It’s important for companies, both public and private to recognize the opportunity that exists to capture their audiences’ attention online and manage their brand’s reputation. This can safely be achieved while reducing regulatory risk by following some basic rules and ensuring that all employees are well versed and know the policies for interacting in social networks.
As brand advocates and communicators, we regularly receive questions around data privacy, copyright, spam and compliance. For this reason, we asked an expert Internet lawyer, Jeffery Wittmann (Partner at Wiebe Douvelos Wittmann LLP, to provide guidance to companies that want to participate in channels online with greater confidence and ease. When I met Jeffery, he was personable, knowledgeable and open to sharing his fascination with the law and how technology is changing our lives, and our businesses.
Q. Can you tell us about your background and your experience with online communications relevant to the law?
A. I’ve been practicing law for 20 years. 15 of which have been in advising companies that rely heavily upon the Internet, either as a marketing tool or through which to provide wares and/or services. As Canadians are among the highest Internet users in world, it serves companies to know their way around the benefits and potential pitfalls of using the Internet, including social media.
Q. How do you advise companies to navigate this rapidly evolving area?
A. Depends on the company and its business, however Canada’s privacy laws are the first point of contact for businesses collecting personal data. In drafting ‘Privacy Policies’ for their websites, we ensure that the companies’ customers know what use, if any, will be made of the information they may provide. This information includes any credit, personal or vital statistical information or such digital information as the “cookies” users leave behind when surfing companies’ websites.
If the company is publicly traded then counsel focuses on the rules prescribed by the Securities Act. For example, a public company should never post about any event that could be considered to be “material” information under the securities legislation before the material event takes place and is announced through proper disclosure channels.
Q. In relation to employee privacy, does the employer have a right to use social media channels to “check-up” on an employee? e.g. To see if he/she is actually sick or posting information on Facebook that proves otherwise?
A. Several provincial and federal laws govern privacy. In BC, companies should be aware of the provisions of the provincial Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection Act and the federal Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act.
There have been cases whether employers have used information found online to investigate persons seeking employment. There have also been cases whether employers used social media to check on employees. It’s really a question of balancing competing rights or privileges. The Federal Privacy Commissioner has sought to strike a middle-ground between an employer’s right to manage its business through monitoring and an employee’s right to privacy. The Commissioner has recommended that companies should monitor the online acts of their employee only as a last resort. The monitoring must be effective in its stated purpose, proportionate in benefit to the privacy sacrificed, and no more intrusive than any other form of action.
If an employee has set his or her privacy settings on the relevant social media site so that his or her status and profile are visible, then such information may be treated as being public and the employee should not be surprised if the employer makes use of such information. In addition, employees need to be careful in posting about their employer on social media sites. Companies have a right to protect their copyright s and trademarks and to ensure that they are not the subject of defamation.
Many companies that we (Activ8) work with are publicly listed and have fear around posting a statement online that could get them into hot water with the securities regulators or even sued by an investor, both understandable concerns.
Disclaimers are to be placed on all social media pages belonging to the company
No misleading information and the company should be completely transparent
Links should be posted to SEDAR filings with any reference to the filing discussed online
Third party endorsements such as analyst reports or media coverage should be linked to the author and state a company disclaimer
Social media training for employees online is highly suggested
Corporate governance and employee policy should be in place
Q. Is there anything else, we should add to this list?
A. Taking your last point, I’m often called upon to draft corporate governance policies for my clients. These policies could include a code of conduct for online communication (for example, proscribing the use of foul or potentially defamatory language); whether or not postings to the site are monitored by the client; and, as mentioned earlier, what use the company will make of information provided by users of its website.
Q. If a comment is posted on a company’s Facebook page by an Investor Relations Representative and an investor or financial professional regards it as misleading, how can the company best manage this public communication from a legal perspective?
A. This is where disclaimers come in. The posting needs to clearly state that the information may be based on certain assumptions that may change and that such changes may be material. As a result, the user needs to know that there is a risk in relying upon the given posting. If disclaiming language was not used, the company should not seek to redress the error on its own. It should always seek legal advice before trying to address the investor’s concern.
Q. What are the Canadian rules and guidelines around electronic public dissemination?
A. Companies and particularly public companies need to abide by proper disclosure regulations. Several months before Twitter was even created, Bill 198 was passed in Canada giving investors a statutory right to act against public companies for material misrepresentations made in public disclosure and for failure to disclose material changes in a timely manner. Companies have to ensure that information imparted in this matter is not out of context or is carefully thought out in advance of being posted.
In addition, several provinces have enacted legislation the result off which is to treat electronic documents or contracts in the same manner as those made on paper. For example, in BC, the Electronic Transactions Act provides that electronic contracts are just as binding as contracts on paper provided the electronic contract is accessible by the recipient; capable of retention by the recipient and capable of being stored for subsequent reference.
Q. What of Spam in social media channels?
A. In December 2010, the Federal Government passed legislation with the rather unwieldy title: “An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act”. Otherwise known as Canada’s Anti-Spam legislation, some provisions have yet to come into force; however, companies are well-advised to start preparing now in order to comply with the Act.
After speaking at, exhibiting and attending Vancouver’s only dedicated IR Conference at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel on January 20th, I was impressed by the caliber of people who I had the pleasure of meeting and networking with. Congratulations to conference producers, Howard Fitch and Neil Lock of MarketEdge Media for their incredibly well organized show filled with engaging, timely topics on all subjects related to public company success.
I hope you find my talk educational and that it delivers insights into the benefits of having your company active in the social media space. Let us know if you’d like some help navigating this rapidly evolving area by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us at 604-687-2004.
I just read an amusing comic created by Amit Agarwal who writes a technology blog called Digital Inspiration. The cartoon addresses a PR rep pitching an invite to their client’s event in hopes of having him cover their product or service favorably in his popular blog. When he politely refused a second time, the rep asks him for names and contact addresses of his blogger colleagues. Obviously, a one sided exchange in communication just happened here.
It inspired me to write a thought about how some company representatives in the age of relationship centered selling, still don’t quite get it. We live in a sophisticated buyer environment where information is available at our fingertips, and products and services are commodities due to the sheer volume of choices available. It’s really time companies train their people how to establish relationships and learn about the prospect’s needs before attempting to make a close.
In the situation illustrated through this comic, the PR rep could have been less one-sided and instead thanked Amit for his time, following up with an article that he might of found useful based on what she learned about his interests. Such action shows she is thinking of him, not just herself. This opens the door to a potential business relationship where perhaps next time, he might attend her client’s event.
As human beings, we instinctively want to do business with people that we believe have our best interest at heart. Time is so precious in today’s fast-paced economy. We don’t have even ten minutes to waste on those who are completely self serving. I’m not suggesting that as sales people we don’t put our intent forward or be honest with the buyer on our objectives. The idea here is that we do so with integrity and customer care learning what matters most to the prospect so we can then deliver a solution (or invitation to an event) that makes their lives better.
It may take longer to get the sale this way, but the end result will be so much more rewarding….for all involved!
In an increasingly technical world filled with so many choices of “help yourself” websites and automated telephone systems, it’s still good old fashioned customer service that keeps the customer coming back.
Case in point. I was with my other half yesterday at a neighborhood pub. The bartender, “Dash”, was friendly, funny and created the best muddled cucumber infused Bramble I’d ever tried. He was so personable and service-oriented that it made me want to tell my Facebook friends so they could have the same great experience. He had a Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) from the 80′s movie “Cocktail” way about him. I took a few pics and posted them to my Facebook wall with a description of his signature drink.
I don’t know how many of my friends have been to Vancouver’s Winking Judge Pub but I bet you the next time they are downtown on Burrard and Smithe St., they may head to see Dash for a cucumber infused Bramble and some fun, friendly interaction.
Now that was a stellar customer service experience which has helped make the pub as popular as it has become. That, and the quality of the food and drinks they serve is high.
Whether B2C or B2B, the key is making the customer feel special while delivering an exceptional product or service. This is what builds a great business, and with social media now a mainstream communication channel, word of mouth/click gets around pretty darn quick!
Written by Loa Fridfinnson, Chief Creative Strategist at Activ8.
A public company’s marketing dream or compliance nightmare?
Social media continues to grow in popularity and is now used by many Fortune 500 companies. In the venture world although slower to catch on, management and their investor relations representatives are beginning to recognize that investors are active online and a significant opportunity exists to build a community of targeted followers.
Communicating through social media reaches people in a conversational manner, humanizes the company’s brand and allows it to connect with stakeholders in a meaningful way. In addition, as venture companies are often overlooked by the press and sell-side analyst coverage, social media sites like Twitter have shown to improve direct connection to investors and affect the liquidity of the company’s stock. Read this interesting Stockopedia study republished by IR Web Report.
Transparency is an important factor in building trust with any potential buyer, especially when people are investing their hard earned money into a public company’s future. Companies with closed cultures that aren’t listening to the communication needs of their target market are being left behind for those that do. It’s highly beneficial for all businesses public and private, to learn how to harness new technology and cultivate key relationships online. And remember, conversations start by being a good listener.
Fact: 58% of institutional investors and sell-side analysts in the U.S. and Europe believe new media will have increasing importance in helping them make investment decisions (Brunswick Group)
“The internet, and in particular specific social media sites, provide access to a much broader range of opinions which enhances our decision making process on investments”, said Brent Woyat, Senior Portfolio Manager with Ocean Forest of Raymond James Ltd. “There are now thousands of intelligent individuals worldwide presenting commentary and analysis on everything from macro-economics to insights on individual stocks, adding so much more perspective.”
A major concern for publicly listed companies, and rightfully so, is that social media remain compliant with securities regulation. Online communications related to the capital markets presents new challenges for regulators wondering how to catch up with evolving digital platforms and how to effectively monitor the massive volume of conversation happening every second of the day.
Public companies that are already active or want to be engaging with their audience through social media must be compliant with existing disclosure rules and be cognizant of how to behave online. The overall level of business transparency has certainly increased therefore it is more important than ever to ensure what is said in social media channels is honest, clear, consistent, straightforward communication consisting of information that has already been publicly disseminated and, would be suitable for the corporate website. Review the TSX electronic disclosure guidelines for more information – slightly dated but still generally applicable where the rules are concerned.
Previously disclosed information is easily distributed through all of a company’s core social media channels. Thanks to the rise of search engines and sharing of information between like-minded investors, items such as corporate news, reports, videos, pictures, media coverage and other relevant content can be posted by public companies to engage investor audiences. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare and other popular social media channels make it a breeze for businesses to get their message out, although it should be done correctly and as part of the company’s overall marketing strategy.
Another benefit of social media is when a question is posted by an investor publicly everyone in the company’s social media “room” has access to the answer. This helps to reduce incoming telephone inquiries and increases the time available to spend on other marketing activities.
The number of financial professionals using the Internet for their businesses and research purposes is growing. Although finance is a late comer to the social media party due to compliance requirements, regulators are coming to understand that they can’t unwind the digital revolution and must adapt to 21st century communication methods.
Soon a greater number of financial services firms will be using social media most likely starting with blog entries vetted internally by compliance officers. I suspect LinkedIn will be the next logical step for financial advisors to reach out as the firm can more easily monitor their profiles, posts and the groups that they belong to.
Following are a few guidelines for public companies who are interested in communicating effectively online:
Most important ensure that your company’s website, the hub of all your communications (on and offline), is professional and up to date with all corporate information in one concise location.
Do your homework and gain knowledge of how social media integrates with corporate growth objectives and other marketing strategies.
Have a solid understanding of the social media ecosystem beyond putting up a Facebook and Twitter page.
Set internal guidelines and policy around what to post and not to post, learn proper online etiquette.
Employee online conduct is critical to a company’s reputation. Use the Internet for good, not for evil!
Become familiar with each specific channel and the objectives, strategies and tactics best for it.
Include disclaimers and the company’s position on the corporate website and in its social media channels.
Listen intently to what your audience is saying about the company and industry. Learn the “tone” of the conversation. Tools such as Google Alerts will help you track keywords.
Good content to distribute is press releases, e-newsletters, images, blog entries, media coverage on the company and industry articles, to name a few.
Engage where the conversation is positive, create a dialog and never “poke the bear” if someone is being antagonistic. Address concerns in a diplomatic manner.
Only disclose information that has already been made public. Regular securities rules apply.
Do not post any misleading or vague information on the company or its stock – this is a no brainer.
If there is a drop in your share price or a sudden rise due to events which were made public, this can be explained through your core channels. Anything material requires a news release as per the status quo.
Utilize your internal communications people by sending them for professional social media training. Do not simply “try it out” without knowing all the pitfalls and strategies or it could hurt your brand, and your stock.
Social media is a powerful addition to existing Investor and Public Relations outreach however it doesn’t replace face to face meetings, phone calls or regular news release dissemination and filings. It is a place where every public company needs to have representation as investors large and small ARE discussing your business.
It’s better to be aware and in control of the message by delivering relevant and timely information that people can easily find, share with their networks, and engage with you as part of the community.
As our world continues to evolve and technical advances bring us closer together, niche communities will drive the reputation and ultimate success or failure of businesses everywhere. And yes, this will affect your stock price.
Still not sure if social media is important to your public company? Check out the newly expanded “Social Media Revolution” video by Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business.
Loa Fridfinnson, formally a registered investment advisor, is the Chief Creative Strategist at Activ8 Corporate Relations, an integrated marketing agency empowering its clients with digitally enhanced engagement programs. Contact her at 604-687-2004, email@example.com , www.activ8inc.com or www.twitter.com/activ8inc
(Published in Mining.com Magazine, Mar/Apr 2010 Issue)
As consumers or corporate purchasers we tend to conduct research online before making a buying decision on products, services or investments. When a company does not have a website, most of us look elsewhere to find the information we are after.
A company’s lack of social network engagement will soon be equivalent to not having a website. If a company is not involved online, it will significantly reduce its chances to connect with those who are most important to its success– its buyers and their influencers.
Social media is now used by 80% of adults (of all ages), with the fastest growing demographic being those 35 years and older, according to a recent report by Forrester Research. The term Social Media includes, but is not limited to, online networking and information sharing, user reviews, videos, blogs, book marking sites, wikis and podcasts. Its growth is expected to soar and become the third-largest interactive marketing spend category within the next five years.
Many C-level managers coming from industries that are slow to adopt new media such as mining, finance, medicine, manufacturing or real estate, fail to see the value of investing marketing dollars in online communications as they don’t understand how to measure the returns. This is a point that needs to be addressed.
Our Peers Have the Answers
The way we communicate every day has changed thanks to the Internet and advances in technology. It is truly a second reality where we research, post and share information 24/7/365 with each other in the click of a mouse. If that post happens to go viral (online word of mouth) watch how fast the message spreads.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, “the most credible source of information about a company is from ‘a person like me,’ which has risen dramatically to surpass doctors and academic experts for the first time.” The survey relates that in the U.S., trust in “a person like me” increased from 20% in 2003 to 68% today.
Conversations are happening in multiple online places and companies must know what is being said about them. They also need to leverage the huge opportunity that exists to build relationships with customers, shareholders and prospective buyers.
Being “in the room and in the deal” gives a company a certain degree of control over the conversation, allowing designated spokespeople to post accurate content and gain valuable feedback for their company’s brand, products and services.
What would you say if I told you that the fastest growing demographic on Twitter (UK research) right now are those aged 50-64 year olds? This doubles the 18-24 year old audience.
Public Companies Are Rightfully Hesitant
Online communications is a particularly scary place for public companies, as they have to be cognizant of compliance and disclosure regulation. Done correctly, with sound policy, consistent messaging of public information and a proactive social media strategy, this communications channel delivers immense opportunity to connect with shareholders and potential investors.
Information sharing platforms such as Twitter allows companies to directly engage with their audience building relationships with all stakeholders. According to a Q4 Web Systems report growth in the number of public companies with a Twitter account grew by 338% since August 2009.
Another report by The Brunswick Group commented on the fact that institutional investors are integrating blogs and social networks as part of their day-to-day routine. 58% of respondents in the survey believed that new media will become increasingly important in helping them make investment decisions in the future.
Real life example Barrick Gold, uses Twitter to connect with its shareholders and investors online, offering ongoing updates and the ability for its audience to interact with a real person rather than a behemoth organization without a human face. They also use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to push their information out through personalized news feeds and have incorporated sharing tools such as Delicious or Digg that help their search rankings.
What could a public company representative talk about online when there isn’t recent news to report? Here is where social media has a lot to offer. A company could easily post or “retweet” industry specific information from other sources, such as a newscast BNN clip (video), discuss an upcoming conference that the company is holding, provide a link to the quarterly newsletter or even post a general interest piece. Another strategy is to educate the audience on a topic the company has expertise in. For example, if you are a geologist providing consultant services you might offer a short piece on “How to assess good drill results,” which also builds your profile as an expert in the field.
There are always interesting bits of information to share that don’t necessarily have to be news directly related to your business. Social media is about connection and building relationships, sharing relevant knowledge and opinions that keeps people engaged with information they will find interesting and useful.
Measuring Social Media
When a company conducts an audit of its existing marketing efforts to assess how effectively it is reaching its audience offline, it should do the same to measure its online programs. It is important to determine which programs are the most successful. If the ultimate goal is an increase in sales, site visits, greater awareness or customer/shareholder sentiment; have these been achieved? If not, why? Do you have a proactive and strategic plan in place with social media policy, messaging around various topics and ongoing measurement?
Businesses need to assess where their buyers, centres of influence, employees and potential partners are online, in order to best address how to communicate with them there.
It is crucial to benchmark your social media efforts, measuring and analyzing the change and what caused it. Thanks to the various measurement tools now available, there are many ways to assess the online mood of your audience to learn how well your community building is going. Some of the tools are: Technorati, Google Alerts, and Google Analytics. These are starting points in online listening that will help your company understand who is talking about you and where to start joining the conversation.
Other ways to measure are monitoring the number of visits to specific sales related landing pages. How many new people signed up to follow your business on Facebook and/or Twitter? Has your e-news subscription increased? How many retweets did you get on a particular post? How many times has your YouTube video or SlideShare presentation been viewed? Was your last email marketing piece shared with others? How many unique visits did you get to your website this month? Is it growing? How informed are the people making inquiries about buying your products, services or stock?
Are your call centres less busy with customers having their questions answered by peers in social media communities or through your online spokesperson? This shows a reduction in service support needed contributing directly to the bottom line. People can help themselves online to all sorts of information and are paying attention to what is being said about a business and its products and services if they have an interest in that company.
Quarterly surveys that measure net ratings and customer satisfaction allow for greater response in how your company is doing obtaining its ultimate objective, customer satisfaction. Nothing helps a business grow faster than testimonials from pleased customers and shareholders, or travels faster than the impact of viral word of mouth.
Social media is a new frontier and it is understandable that executives and marketers are struggling to build metrics around how the online channels stack up against more traditional marketing efforts. That being said, there are tangible ways to measure its effectiveness and many examples of companies, large and small doing it with positive results. Simply Google “Social Media Case Studies” and you will be reading for days.
There is vast opportunity to advance corporate communications and gain a competitive advantage for progressive businesses that understand our world has changed. The way we communicate in our social and business lives is not going to revert to the old days before the Internet. Therefore companies and their executives need to learn how to participate in social media or at the very least hire experts with know-how, in order to ensure their businesses remain “in the room and in the deal”.
Loa Fridfinnson is the founder of Activ8, an integrated marketing communications agency. You can follow her in Twitter at www.twitter.com/Activ8Inc