To Blog or Not to Blog? Join the Conversation!

To Blog or Not to Blog? Join the Conversation!

It’s no secret that the social media scene has exploded over the last year or so and the blogosphere is no different.  It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry are blogging their thoughts to the world.  But beyond personal blogging, companies often wonder if they should have a corporate blog as well.  Many companies ask if it’s really that important to embark on such an initiative – I mean, who will read their blog and what value will it really add to their business?

Well, I’m glad you asked!  Companies can greatly benefit from starting a blog and joining the conversation because, guess what?, that conversation is already out there and it’s going on without you!  Whether it’s about your specific industry, line of products/solutions, or even just your general geographic area, you should be there showing these online communities what you have to offer.  This kind of contribution helps establish your company and its executives as thought leaders in your area, but even more importantly, it shows that you’re listening to what’s being said beyond your own little corporate bubble.

As I’ve noted before in my posts The Key to Social Media: Balancing Observation with Participation and Using Social Media to Generate Leads, with social media, more so than anything else, you have to take into account what everyone else is saying in order to make the most of your contributions and get others to observe you and take account of what you’re saying. 

It seems questions about whether or not blogging is advantageous have been floating around a lot recently and now there are some great statistics to prove my point.  HubSpot recently found that active business blogs draw 6.9 times more organic search traffic than non-bloggers.  It’s no secret that having a blog can increase your SEO, especially since the blogging culture itself encourages cross-linking between posts, but what’s the catch?  That little word “active” is the key.  If your company doesn’t have the time or resources to devote to blogging at least once a week, then perhaps it’s not your time.  While blogging is fun and certainly beneficial, it’s also work.

Maybe you’ll want to find the missing time and resources though since it’s been found that blogging business experience 126 percent higher lead growth than non-blogging businesses.  It’s also interesting to note that a 2008 research study by Cone found that 93 percent of social media users think companies should have a social media presence with 85 percent believing companies should also interact with its community via social media.

The benefits are clearly out there, so get your company to jump on the bandwagon and join the conversation!

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Using Social Media to Generate Leads

Using Social Media to Generate Leads

Last week, I attended the webinar “How to Use Social Media for Lead Generation” led by Rick Burnes, Marketing Manager at HubSpot.

Rick described how traditional marketing channels like TV, radio, newspapers, direct mail, and cold calling are like a sledge hammer.  They keep banging people over the head with their messaging, which is oftentimes more expensive and less effective.  The companies Rick used as prime examples of this tactic were P&G, McDonalds, Pfizer.

Traditional Media = Sledge Hammer

Traditional marketing, however, is falling by the wayside as companies are finding ways to leverage social media tools instead.  Rick likened these tools such as TwitterFacebook, and YouTube, not to a sledge hammer, but to a magnet that draws potential customers in.  This technique is called inbound marketing and examples of companies that have used this tactic to their advantage are Google, Amazon, and Facebook… no surprises there.

Social Media = Magnet

The webinar described how inbound marketing is like a funnel.  At the top there are all the people coming in to your website through successful approaches like press, promotions, and optimization – made all the more successful through tools like content management, blogging, social media, SEO, and analytics.

Once people have found your site, the next part of the funnel comes into play – converting visitors to customers.  The three conversion tactics to achieve this are testing, targeting, and nurturing through tools like special offers/CTAs, landing pages, email, lead intelligence, lead management, and analytics.

Funnel

To achieve the magnet effect through the funnel with social media tools, you must work to build relationships and trust with clients.  It’s not only important to join and listen on social media sites, but to participate as well.  Participation is easy through things like Facebook discussions, Yahoo! Answers, and LinkedIn Q&As.  When you answer questions and make contributions, you begin to build a reputation and, eventually, relationships with influential community members and potential clients.

Social media tools are a great way to distribute your content, but it’s not just about yourself, you must interact with people to achieve the optimum results.  You need to balance your conversation and distribution to get the most out of social media.  Good content spreads fast, so you’re not only reaching a select group like with a traditional ad.  Worthy contributions not only reach the people associated with your social media accounts, but also everyone associated with their accounts… that is, if they deem your content good enough to be shared.

Content that gets shared is interesting, fresh, useful, and relevant to target audiences.  New data, top blog posts, and funny videos are among the top things to get redistributed.  Product info, free trials, or software documentation is typically not redistributed, though it can still be useful and interesting – so this is where striking a good balance comes into play.  Blogs, podcasts, videos, and photos in combination with presentations, eBooks, and press releases will generally achieve a good mix of information that people will want to share.

Overall, the webinar had some great insights for “inbound marketing” through social media – something that more and more companies are making use of (often through PR agencies who conduct social media campaigns) to generate new customer/business leads.