Medium 9780596806606

The Social Media Marketing Book

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Are you looking to take advantage of social media for your business or organization? With easy-to-understand introductions to blogging, forums, opinion and review sites, and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, this book will help you choose the best -- and avoid the worst -- of the social web's unique marketing opportunities.

The Social Media Marketing Book guides you through the maze of communities, platforms, and social media tools so you can decide which ones to use, and how to use them most effectively. With an objective approach and clear, straightforward language, Dan Zarrella, aka "The Social Media & Marketing Scientist," shows you how to plan and implement campaigns intelligently, and then measure results and track return on investment. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the social web, this book will take you beyond the jargon to social media marketing mastery.

  • Make sense of this complicated environment with the help of screenshots, graphs, and visual explanations
  • Understand the history and culture of each social media type, including features, functionality, and protocols
  • Get clear-cut explanations of the methods you need to trigger viral marketing successes
  • Choose the technologies and marketing tactics most relevant to your campaign goals
  • Learn how to set specific goals for your campaigns and evaluate them according to key performance indicators


Praise for The Social Media Marketing Book:

"Let Zarrella take you to social-media marketing school. You'll learn more from reading this book than a month of research on the Internet."--Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Alltop.com

"If I could be any other person for a day, it would be Dan Zarella. Either him or Brad Pitt. But Dan's smarter. This book is why I say that."--Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs

"This book demonstrates a beginning to the endless possibilities of the Social Web."-- Brian Solis, publisher of leading marketing blog PR 2.0

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1. Introduction

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Something strange is happening. Your advertising doesn't work anymore, at least not like it used to. You used to be able to buy some TV time or put an ad in a newspaper, but nowadays everyone has TiVo or a DVR and gets their news online. The conversations that took place under industrial broadcast media about your products happened in small groups, and their words disappeared as soon as they were spoken. Now the conversations happen in front of millions of people, and they're archived for years to come. Not only is your brand no longer the host, most of the time you're not even a welcome guest.

But it's not all doom and gloom. You don't have to try to outspend the biggest companies anymore; now you can outsmart them with viral videos. You don't have to spend thousands on sterile focus groups; you've got your market's pulse at your fingertips with quick Twitter searches. And you don't even have to do all the work yourself; the stuff that your fans create will blow youand your competitorsaway.

 

2. Blogging

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A blog is a type of content management system (CMS) that makes it easy for anyone to publish short articles called posts. Blog software provides a variety of social features, including comments, blogrolls, trackbacks, and subscriptions that make it perfect for marketing purposes. Blogs make great hubs for your other social media marketing efforts, as they can be integrated with nearly every other tool and platform.

Every company with a website should have a blog that speaks to its current and potential customers as real people. Blogs are not the right place for corporate-speak press releases; blogs should be conversational in tone. Every time your company does something new or cool, write a quick post about it. Blog about your take on news that affects your industry. If a related blog posts something you think is particularly interesting or incorrect, link to it and add your thoughts.

Figure2-1.LiveJournal was one of the first easy-to-use blogging platforms.

People have been keeping journals for thousands of years (an example is Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius), and have been able to write them online since 1994. Justin Hall, a student at Swarthmore College, was one of the first web diarists when he started writing about video games and gaming conventions in the mid-1990s. Originally, these journals were nothing more than parts of regular sites that were updated regularly, by hand, in HTML. The technical knowledge this required prevented the average person from starting an online diary.

 

3. Twitter and Microblogging

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Microblogging is a form of blogging that limits the size of each post; for instance, Twitter updates can contain only 140 characters. This limitation has spawned a set of features, protocols, and behavior that are entirely unique to the medium. Twitter started to take off in terms of popularity in the first half of 2009 as a result of high-profile celebrity members and a mention on Oprah, and now it has become more mainstream than other similar social media tools.

Most companies should be on Twitter; it's easy, requires very little investment of time, and can quickly prove worthwhile in increased buzz, sales, and consumer insight. You can use Twitter to announce offers or events, promote new blog posts, or keep your readers in the know with links to important news stories.

Figure3-1.TXTmob was an early inspiration for Twitter.

In 2004, a group of technologists and activists created an organizational tool called TXTmob that allowed protesters at the 2004 political conventions to communicate through short text messages that were widely broadcast through SMS to the cell phones of a group of people.

 

4. Social Networking

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A social network is a website where people connect with friends, both those they know offline and those who are online-only buddies. Social networking sites are a hot topic for marketers, as they present a number of opportunities for interacting with customers, including via plug-in applications, groups, and fan pages.

Each social network presents its own possibilities and challenges. Users of individual sites have different expectations of commercial behavior. In this chapter, I'll introduce you to the three most popular networks and their unique features.

The roots of online social networking can be traced to the 1980s bulletin board systems (BBSs). These systems allowed users to log inthrough very slow connectionsto share software and data as well as send private messages and post to public message boards. Due to the high cost of the long distance calls that would be required to access BBSs in other parts of the world, most of these were very local communities.

Figure4-1.Friendster was one of the first popular social networking sites.

 

5. Media Sharing

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Media-sharing sites allow users to create and upload multimedia content, sometimes called user-generated content (UGC). With the advent of easy-to-use digital cameras and camcorders as well as high-sparaeed Internet connections, media-sharing sites have become extremely popular. Marketers can create videos with very little expertise and upload them to YouTube to reach millions of users.

Although these sites include social features for members, most of the users of media-sharing sites are not members, but are merely viewing the sites' content. When you create content for use in your blog, upload the content to a sharing site to allow others to use it as well.

Figure5-1.IFILM was one of the first social mediasharing sites.

Figure5-2.Tags are used on a variety of sites, and come in many forms.

One of the earliest media-sharing sites, IFILM.net, was launched in 1997 as an online collection of short videos where users could also submit their own work (see Figure5-1). Back then, video was streamed using browser plug-ins such as Windows Media Player, QuickTime, and RealPlayer, and most people had dial-up connections, which made watching videos a very slow process.

 

6. Social News and Bookmarking

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7. Ratings and Reviews

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According to an April 2009 Nielsen Media Research survey, 70% of consumers trust consumer opinions posted online, compared to the 62% who trust TV ads, 61% who trust newspaper ads, and 59% who trust magazine ads (see Figure7-1). A 2007 study from Forrester showed that 19% of online consumers in the United States comment on blogs and post ratings and reviews on the Web at least once per month. It's likely that in the two years since that data was published, an even larger portion of the population is commenting on blogs and posting ratings regularly.

Users are already talking about your products, services, and brand online whether you're involved in the conversation or not, so you might as well join the discussion. Burying your head in the sand and ignoring rating sites will do you no good; every local business should have a presence on local review sites.

Users of other types of social media are typically more into socializingthey're simply having fun. But no one searches for a dentist in Boston to amuse herself; review-site visitors are in the midst of making a purchasing decision, and you should be there for them. Compared to other forms of online advertising, and even many other types of social media marketing, engaging review sites requires a much lower investment of time and money, making it one of the most cost-effective things you can do.

 

8. Forums

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Arguably the oldest type of social media, forums are a modern version of community bulletin boards. The focus of these kinds of sites is discussion. Users will make posts to them and others will respond. Become a valuable and respected member in one of these communities by answering questions and contributing useful information.

Unlike other types of social media, where there are a few major sites, there are thousands of popular forums on the Web, each centered on a single topic or community. Find the ones that are relevant to your business and engage them, but be careful, as forum users typically dislike obvious advertising.

In 1979, a distributed communication system called Usenet was created as a joint project between the University of North Carolina and Duke University. It was a type of mailing list that allowed users to post an article that other people could respond to. Conversations on Usenet were called message threads because of the linear post-and-response pattern. It is one of the oldest social networks still in existence.

 

9. Virtual Worlds

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Promised by science fiction for decades, large-scale virtual worlds have begun to emerge that are centered on games and social activities. Many extremely popular worlds are games, such as World of Warcraft, but the social marketing possibilities in these worlds are often very limited. Therefore, this chapter will focus on Second Life, where marketers have a variety of techniques at their disposal.

Building places and objects in Second Life requires a technical prowess that is likely too advanced for a new user. If you decide that a virtual world presence would be valuable to your company, a number of companies and individuals can assist you in creating one.

Figure9-1.Snow Crash is one of the most influential novels in technology's history.

The 1992, Neal Stephenson's cyberpunk novel Snow Crash (Bantam Spectra) inspired web technology in much the same way that the Beatles inspired rock music (see Figure9-1). The idea behind Google Earth, the use of avatars on computers, and my own interest in social and viral marketing all sprang from different parts of Stephenson's classic work.

 

10. Strategy, Tactics, and Practice

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Strategy and tactics are inseparable. You can't design a strategy without deep, firsthand knowledge of the tactics you'll be using, and tactics are aimless without a strategy to guide them. In the preceding eight chapters, I introduced you to eight different categories of social media tools and how you can leverage them for marketing. Now it's time to start thinking about them as parts of your whole marketing mix.

If you've been doing other kinds of marketing for your business, you'll have some understanding of your "brand" and positioning in your market. This is your vision, and your social media strategy should fit with your established identity. But don't let the dead hand of history limit the new ideas you're willing to try out or the risks you're willing to take. One of the worst mistakes a new social media marketer will make is to apply the same strategies from the offline broadcast world to the social Web.

Before you launch into a social media conversation, listen. As you do when joining a new forum, lurk in every medium you're going to enter to get a sense of the rules and customs, and of who the influential people are.

 

11. Measurement

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To show business value and return on investment (ROI) for social media marketing campaigns, effective measurement is key. This chapter will focus on how you can prove the merit of the time and resources you invest in social media. It will help you convince your boss you're not just wasting time playing on Facebook.

In addition to conducting demographic research to identify which social sites your audience is using, you should also set goals with clearly defined levels for success. This chapter will discuss both of those topics, as well as teach you the basics of analytics on- and off-site.

Figure11-1.This is an example of closed-loop marketing analytics using HubSpot software.

A metric is a standard unit of measurement; you measure how tall you are in the metric of inches or feet. I think about metrics for social media marketing in two categories: on-site and off-site. On-site metrics measure activity that takes place directly on your site, whereas off-site metrics measure activity that happens on other sites where you and your customers interact.

 

A. Acknowledgments

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This book would not have been possible without the help of a lot of people, and I'm sure I'm going to forget some names.

First, I would like to thank Pete Cashmore, Brett Tabke, Luther Lowe, Tara Kirchner, and Jennifer Zeszut for their valuable insights and inside looks into their businesses. Sharing the experiences, opinions, challenges, and successes they have encountered over the years provided me with a unique perspective on how social media can, and should, be usedas well as how it shouldn't.

Thanks also to Laurel Ruma (@laurelatoreilly), Rick Burnes (@rickburnes), Alison Driscoll (@alisond), Matt Robinson (@mrobins), Samantha Strauss (@sfsam22), JD Lasica (@jdlasica), Tristan Walker (@tristanwalker), and Jordyne Wu (@jordyne) for their obsessive yet ultimately helpful edits, suggestions, criticisms, and comments. Everyone needs an editor, and I was lucky enough to have so many who excel in their specialties and never scrimp on feedback.

Last but not least, thanks to @bwhalley, @ellieeille, @mvolpe, @kylepaice, @dharmesh, @abdinoor, @karenrubin, @bsimi, @tedChris, @ed, @guykawasaki, @briansolis, @GabVaz, @eddiehebert, @webaddict, @yourfriendEVAN, @TheRealBenSmith, @YoavShapira, @SharonFeder, @adamhirsch, @tamar, @msaleem, @joselinmane, @repcor, and countless others who have helped me in one way or another. Every interaction went into this book, in some way.

 

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