This week’s blog post comes from Will Fraser, CEO and Co-Founder of Referral SaaSquatch. Follow him on Twitter @getFraser.
When we started Referral SaaSquatch, we spent a lot of time educating the SaaS/subscription market about our platform and how we’re different from ‘competitors.’ Honestly, a lot of the questions, while valid, were the same. What is a referral program? Isn’t that an affiliate program? Can’t I build that in-house? (more…)
In 2013, the most popular pieces of content on both BuzzFeed and the New York Times had something in common.
Was it that they were well-research pieces by respected journalists? No. In fact, the NYT piece was created by an intern. Did they break news? Nope, no new news was made. Were they beautiful, Snowfall-like visual constructions? Nope. They were designed from templates.
They were quizzes. The writing is on the wall: interactive content is the future of content marketing.
When you understand what your competitors are saying and doing, you become more confident in what makes your brand different and special. You get better at targeting and create more compelling messaging. An audit of your competitors’ marketing campaigns is a great place to start.
The following process will help you conduct an audit of your competitors’ marketing campaigns.
Today’s post is from one of our favorite customers, Ethan Lyon. Ethan is an SEO Consultant at SEER Interactive in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can follow Ethan on the SEER Interactive blog, Twitter, and Google Plus.
Before I jumped into SEO, I wrote marketing and business plans for small to medium sized businesses. These often entailed customer interviews, audience segmentation, need state analysis and finally, creative marketing initiatives broken down by cost and time.
My next job was doing SEO for a lead generation site. At the time, it was about how many emails could you send, how many directories could you submit the website into, and how many comments could you leave on PR 3 sites.
Why was I spending all of my time writing BS comments and submitting to directories that probably would never post a link when at the end of the day, I was marketing to people? Nothing changed from my traditional marketing to SEO positions, yet I was running around spamming the internet to get links.
The focus was on revenue and leads without ever giving thought to how that revenue and those leads were generated.
So, I want to go back to marketing’s roots and that is: PEOPLE.
It’s so simple, it’s embarrassing that I was running around spamming the internet when I should have used some of the traditional marketing knowledge and marketed to people.
People have unmet needs that search marketers overlook because they’re marketing to keywords, not people. People build relationships with brands that can last a lifetime. Do keywords do that?
The true irony is people tell Google their deepest, darkest secrets. In theory, Google knows people very, very well. I want to show you how to use the core principles of marketing and inject them into search optimization.
We’re going to use the corpus of knowledge about people that Google provides, free of charge, to inform our marketing campaigns. We’re going to use keyword research to segment our audiences, develop content to meet their needs and finally, find internal and external linking opportunities to promote that content.
Let’s start big.
Yeah, I Foursquare. I even have a Foursquare profile for BuzzStream. You can watch me check into one of three coffee shops in the morning, the office for the afternoon, maybe a happy hour spot around 6pm and then a couple random spots at night. Am I always at where I check in? No. I try to Fakesquare a few places when I’m stuck at a stop light. Foursquare is doing its best to catch cheaters like me. This begs the questions, why do I Foursquare? I’m not sure yet, but I keep doing it and now that Twitter “Places” is live many more will be joining me in the location game.
What does this mean for PR? What’s compelling is the opportunity to integrate location data into a relationship management service. Think of a SCRM or like platform keeps tabs on the location of your contacts in proximity to you. What if you got alerts when specific contacts came with in “range”. A kind of “set it and forget it” option that thinks for you in the background.
Twitter says, “By turning on this feature, you can include location information like neighborhood, town, or exact point when you tweet.” Exact point? That might be a little much. It feels a bit too “big brother” and I see the opportunity for a whole new level of stalking. But the advantage of knowing the proximity of your contacts provides for possible offline interaction. A more memorable and personal interaction that builds the relationship in ways that phone calls, emails and Tweets can not. It builds trust, faster.
For this to make sense we need mass adoption. Twitter is the first step, especially for B2B and last month Facebook said they were getting into the location game. If that’s true for Facebook then the lever for mass adoption will be pulled and with it comes a profound increase in location accuracy because it’s not a game. There’s nothing to win, so trying to game the game goes away. No more random check-in’s but specific locations attached to everyday communication. If done right, this information could be a boon to the busy PR pro wanting to efficiently connect with their contacts offline. Perhaps my Fakesquaring days are over.
It’s about that time. Time to lay out what we’ve been up to since our last post. It’s been a while; we know it and it’s no OK with us. Why the blackout? A ton of new customers, continued product enhancements and infrastructure upgrades have had everyone juggling fire. We don’t like burns so unfortunately the blog has taken a back seat. Now that the acrobatics are over, we’ve got a bunch to share. Let’s get to it.
Speed of the Link Buzzmarker
If you’re using BuzzStream for Link Management, you’ll see huge improvements in the time it takes for the Link Buzzmarker to scan the page. This will make your link research and link documentation efforts much more efficient. I was testing sites last night that had been taking 10-15 seconds to load and they’re now loading in 2 to 3 seconds. We’ll make similar improvements to the Media Buzzmarker in a future release. This will be a continuous process…the end goal is to get it to where there’s virtually no wait time when you click the Buzzmarker.
One of our most frequent requests from people who have been using the product for a long time is that tags quickly become unmanageable once you have a lot of contacts or a lot of people using the product. We’ve taken the first step to addressing this by adding tag management capabilities. Now you can select multiple contacts and add, edit or delete contacts for those contacts. So suppose one person was using the tag “social media” and another person was using “social_media,” you can now fix this by filtering on the tag you want to remove, selecting all the contacts, removing the one tag and adding the other.
Enhancements to Tasks
We continue to extend our Task Management capabilities so that you can better track and manage your influencer outreach efforts and your link management activities. Here’s a list of the things we added since our last Release blog post:
In addition to Tag Management, we’ve added a number of other operations that can be conducted on multiple contacts at once. This is particularly useful when you’re working with a large number of contacts. Our bulk operations currently include:
Improvements to Search
We implemented Lucene as our search technology, which will give us much more power for searching. In the near-term, this means you can now search on any term in the fields we look at. In the long-term, it’ll mean that we’ll be able to search across much larger data sets. This will become much more important as we enhance our influencer monitoring capabilities (i.e., you’ll be able to do things like look for any of your influencers who have written about a certain topic in the last X weeks).
We added a number of large customers last week and we’re optimizing to make sure that performance keeps up. We’re addressing this both with code optimizations and by adding more hardware. Things seem to be humming, but please let us know if you see any issues.
Usability Improvements and Bug Fixes
In addition to these new features, we also made a number of usability improvements and fixed some remaining bugs. Here’s the list:
Lots of tasty goodness in our near-term roadmap as well…some of the things we’re working on:
“Message to clients of ‘on demand’ spam PR firm Vocus PR. Please stop using them. I’m setting up a filter to delete all their pitches.” — Peter Kafka
Drew then writes, “Let me save you a lot of money and aggrevation: if you want to ‘engage,’ first get an RSS reader like FeedDemon and actually read the journalists and bloggers you are contemplating.“
My eyes filled with tears of joy at that. Yes, yes, yes! The problem is the tools. Vocus is a spam-enabler because it invites PR people to build a giant list of reporters and blast the same pitch to all of them. PR people aren’t bad people, they just have bad tools.
Drew’s suggestion that you subscribe to the RSS feeds of journalists on your media list is spot on. I’ll take that one further and say that you should build your media list based on social media monitoring. There are perfectly good free tools to do this, which I’ve covered in a previous post.
The Vocus process looks like this: SEARCH DATABASE -> PITCH
What I’m suggesting works like this: LISTEN > RESEARCH > ENGAGE > PITCH
Instead of searching for reporters, you start by LISTENING to what people are writing. All it takes is setting up the right searches in Google Alerts or Social Mention. Monitor for mentions of competitors, obvious keywords, and a few non-obvious phrases or jargon that pinpoint people who know your space. Once you find someone, then and only then should they be added to your media list. And ideally, you should follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their blog, friend them on FriendFeed, and generally try to get as much information as you can about them. As a side benefit, this technique will surface mid-tail influencers that may be invisible to Vocus, and enable you to get to them before they’re bombarded with pitches.
BuzzStream will soon be unveiling our PR & Social Media product to connect the dots between identifying a journalist (or other influencer), researching them, and managing engagement (i.e. relationship-building) efforts over time and across mediums.
If you want to stop spamming, get the right tools.
This week’s guest post by Kyle Flaherty who writes a blog using insight, lessons learned and horror stories from his nearly 12 years in high-tech public relations, communications and marketing. He is currently Director of Marketing and Social Media at BreakingPoint Systems and of course you can find him on Twitter.
What’s the first rule of social marketing? Listen!
What’s the second rule of social marketing? Listen!
I first started thinking deeply about the concept of listening when I came across the term “lurker” at an event featuring Jackie Huba of “Church of the Customer Blog” and Society for Word of Mouth. The conversation came up in relation to stats that say 90% of folks involved in your social media activity are lurkers and 10% are active participants. Immediately the idea of lurkers turned into ‘listeners’ for me; people who are reading a blog, quietly joining a LinkedIn Group, reading Twitter and much more. Listeners are often your most dedicated readers and for your company they often become the most educated about your product and service and when they are ready to participate it is most likely as a qualified business lead.The best comparison is the person who walks into the auto dealership with a ream of printed materials from automotive websites, collected over a few weeks of ‘listening’, versus the person who walks in and just wants to talk with someone about their cars. The former is already in negotiating mode, the latter needs to go through the research stage in real-time, with a sales person who just wants to close. Which situation would you rather have, not only for selling, but for the customer experience? Well, what if the auto company was listening at the same time and had the new features and financing options that people had said they wanted on all of those sites. We just may have a match!
Listening is important and will set you up for success in your social marketing, if you are in any type of marketing role you must become a good listener because:
1. Listening is inspiring. Listening to your prospective community base will be the inspiration for the social media tools you use. Listening to our community on their blogs and microblogs led us to learn Ning and Facebook was of no value, for them, but rather LinkedIn was the key and we know spend a lot of time in that social network.
2. Listen before you jump. You must always listen to people first, for an extended period of time, before you jump into the conversation. For example; I have hundreds of searches within Twitter sent to me through RSS every morning, based on the pain points of our potential customers. I end up listening to these people on a daily basis, but often time take no action immediately.
3. Often silence makes the loudest noise. A great personal example is a person I listen to through his blog and his LinkedIn updates. Over the past two months I’ve learned about his pain points at work, his background, his skill set and more. He recently joined our LinkedIn group for network engineers and I could now easily reach out to him, set up a time to connect and listen some more.
4. Listening makes you a better communicator. I learned this one when I was actually in PR when my manager would tell me first to listen to how a reporter answered the phone. Was the reporter’s greeting a “hello” vs “yeah” or was the tone “speedy” vs “thought out”? I would then adjust my introduction accordingly.
The more you listen, in terms of quality of listening and quantity, the more you learn about your potential community and the better you will communicate with them in your efforts. However the question becomes how can you sort through all of the noise that is currently online. It is simply staggering to even sort through the noise on one medium like Twitter, however it is this medium that can provide you with some of the most important and impactful insights. I’m not going to write about ‘what’ you should be listening to, that obviously depends on your overall goals for Twitter, whether personal or business. Instead I’m going to go through three ways to better listen to Twitter conversations in order to get more out of your experience, consider it your Twitter Miracle Ear.
1) It’s All About the App: One of the great aspects of Twitter is the open API and the ability to use different applications when Tweeting (yes, the API restrictions are also horribly annoying, but that is another post). Originally I was on Snitter, moved to Tweetr, switched to Twhirl and now am devoted to TweetDeck…for now. I didn’t make changes for the sake of changes, in each case I need features and functionality that made listening to conversations on Twitter easier. The reason I’m now on TweetDeck is very simple; the ability to create personalized lists of conversations based on people or search terms. Using an app like Tweetdeck you can create a list of local people, sports-chat, social marketers or colleagues. All of a sudden you have created a filter on top of the firehose that is Twitter and can really catch up quickly on conversations. I’m hoping that TweetDeck, or someone, adds some features to allow for easier reading of conversation threads, but the point is to use a variety of applications and find the one that can help open up your Twitter ears.
2) RSS Is Your Friend: Each morning part of my routine, as a social marketer, is reviewing thousands of RSS feeds, most based on Twitter search terms. It all starts over at Twitter Search, where you can put in any term that you want and generate an RSS feed to track in your reader. For any business this is a critical tool in tracking the conversation about your own company, your competitors, partners and more. One recommendation when setting up these searches is to use the same keywords you have gathered for SEO purposes or the terms people are using to find your website. You will end up refining this over time for sure, but getting these set up now will help you get in on the conversation as soon as possible.
3) Routine is Your Friend: Like working out or parenting, listening on Twitter is all about setting up a routine. You’ve set up your application properly and your RSS feeds are feeding, now you have to schedule time each day in order to catch up on all of this data. Some folks might argue that “Twitter is too organic, man…you have to let it wash over you like a moonlight swim”, I’m not exactly sure who those people are, but trust me they are all over the web, avoid. But you need to set up a routine for yourself that will allow you to keep up with the often insurmountable amount of data that will be coming your way. I’ve found that my best listening is done in the morning, so I make sure to review all my RSS feeds during the first hour in the office. Then I use my Twitter application about once an hour for five minutes to review the conversations. All in all it helps me find the right conversations and listen to what folks are saying.
Each morning and throughout the day you are going to find people that are important to your business in some way or another, now it is up to you to engage. And that of course will be in my second column!