It was to a room full of partner marketing experts at Progress Exchange 2013 ( #PRGS13) that Todd Van Hoosear, VP Public Relations and Stakeholder Engagement at Hart-Boillot, and lecturer at Boston University College of Communication delivered a talk on how social media can be used to positively impact our businesses today.
As well as having his session captured in stunning technicolor by our guest graphic recorder Kelly Kingman, we made sure to take down some notes on what Todd believes are the critical things people should consider when it comes to using social media in both their business and personal lives.
Click to Tweet: Just because you can measure it, doesn't mean you should
One of the things that makes social media so appealing to marketers is its measurability but we need to be careful not to let the ability to measure every last click, retweet and expression of sentiment cloud our focus on making each interaction as rich and human as possible.
Click to Tweet: Watch out for 'talking head' syndrome
If you purely use your Twitter feed to retweet the opinions of others, what value are you actually bringing to your followers? And how much trust and goodwill are you building up with them? If you want to turn your customers and influencers into sales people then you need to be able to inform, engage or entertain them (or even better all three at once!).
Click to Tweet: Sociability is key to social media aka 'it's all about sharing'
Everything that you share, must be easy to share. Got a blog post that references source material or other contributors? Make sure you provide hyperlinks, and check the links work. Same goes for sharing videos or images via Twitter - if the click-thru doesn't work then you've wasted an opportunity.
Todd cited the success of HubSpot when it comes to being inbound marketing experts. While email may be seen as 'yesterday's technology' it is still the most successful way to drive inbound marketing. Think about the factors that make content newsworthy (see our other post 'Read All About It'), couple that with sociability (using working, compressed links) and get sharing!
And what about for the future? What does Todd see as the major trends / things to look out for?
Click to Tweet: Social is going to rule search
If you look at what Google+ is doing with endorsements that show your profile picture and details, and Bing's hook up with Facebook, search is about to get a whole lot more personalized. What these companies would like to do is use the 'likes', endorsements and recommendations from your friends, colleagues and connections to present more relevant search results to you. The idea of this is that you are more likely to make a purchasing decision based on the opinions of people that you are connected with, and are therefore more likely to trust, than people outside of your network.
Each change and refinement that Google introduces makes news because it has an immediate impact on where you or your company appears in search results. Keen to stop people / companies 'gaming' the system, the focus is increasing on the credibility of the author to consistently provide original and valuable content. This leads us on to Google's 'Author Rank'. You can read Google's detailed description here, but at a very high level it will take into account the content you supply and your presence and activity in social circles to assess how highly to rank you, and your content. So if you've noticed that you've slipped down the page in Google search recently, it's likely that this is a contributing factor.
Click to Tweet: Filters will begin to act as paywalls
In the same way that some online newspapers are now requesting paid subscription, Todd forsees that filters will become more complex. This means that if we want our content to reach a specific audience, we're going to be increasingly asked to pay. What we're seeing is that as social media platforms capture more and more data points about their users that are valuable to organizations and advertisers, these data points become an increasingly important way for the platform provider to generate income. With companies wishing to place their ads in front of increasingly well defined demographics, the platform providers know their in possession of some incredibly valuable data, and it's going to attract a premium.
We were delighted to have Todd's involvement in our conference this year and the attendees took full advantage of the opportunity to ask for his thoughts and advice in person. After the Q&A, Todd finished his presentation by inviting the audience to test his social credentials by joining him on Twitter - you can join him too at http://www.twitter.com/vanhoosear.
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