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Action, Interaction and Reaction from the Ritz team

Are you ready to get engaged?

Posted: April 18, 2013 - 9:00 PM ET - by Elisabeth

Her version of “slapstick”was so entertaining and informative, our readers wanted to hear from Molly Watson again! She’s as engaging as always this week, sharing her thoughts on social media.

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The goal with social media is to “engage” with your target audiences and in doing so to establish credibility, build confidence, gain exposure and enhance reputation. Yet social networking still represents a black hole for many. Writing a blog, sharing online commentary, engaging on Twitter, Pinterest and in other social communities represent what initially feels like a big risk in an unfamiliar area of communication. What should I say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if no one responds?

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According to research conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project,
as of December 2012, 67% of online adults use social networking sites.

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Whether we like it or not, social media is powerful and influential, and here to stay.  It is increasingly important to understand whether and how it makes sense for your business and clients.

Understanding Your Audience

Like traditional media, the first step in effective social media planning requires an understanding of your audiences, to determine what sites you use and the type of content you need to develop or re-purpose. For example, women are mostly likely using Facebook and Pinterest; African-Americans, Latinos and adults ages 18-29 are more likely to use Instagram; urban residents are more widely using Twitter.[i]

Pictures & videos as social currency

Pictures are still worth a thousand words. Sites like YouTube and Flickr have changed the accessibility of visuals, making it easy to produce original material as well as repurpose events being recorded for other use – such as speeches, lectures, athletic events and ceremonies.

On creating content

YouTube is an online video sharing service that makes it easy to share videos by linking to them or embedding them in Web sites or blogs.  Most business leaders are very comfortable speaking, so recording a few minutes of her thoughts on a topic (i.e., a current news story) can be quick and effective.

On repurposing content

A big advantage of online resources is that you can reuse – “repurpose” – your news. For example, a strategic video message can be posted on YouTube and then used to enhance messages elsewhere – for instance, the video link can be posted on your Web site, Facebook, Twitter and more). This extends the life of the story and increases the number of people it reaches. Other examples of content that can be repurposed include footage of media interviews, lectures and news articles.

While it may initially feel overwhelming to tackle the world of social media, it can be an exciting medium to tell distinctive stories and build relationships where none existed before. The New Media world is hungry for well told stories. Exploring the options and choosing what works best for you will get you engaged.

[i] http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Social-media-users/The-State-of-Social-Media-Users.aspx

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Between hype and reality

Posted: May 17, 2012 - 5:30 PM ET - by Elisabeth

In Chicago this week all the buzz is about NATO, but not so much what this meeting means in terms of global politics, what might happen in Afghanistan or Russia’s missile-defense system. The buzz is mostly about the inconvenience to the city and our curiosity about the potential impact and spectacle of protests.

It’s hard to tell what’s hype, what’s reality and what’s really important.

It reminds me of the conversations I have – and the questions I get – about social media. Clients want to know how much inconvenience (additional time or resources) in exchange for what impact (engaged clients, increased sales, etc.).

The digital world has changed the way we deliver and receive information, and it can be overwhelming for business owners and marketers to sort hype from reality in determining which opportunities are relevant and valuable. According to a 2012 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, 79% of small businesses surveyed are using word-of-mouth to promote their business, 63% are using their company website, and just 39% are using social media channels.

Planning your social media strategy shouldn’t be vastly different from planning your overall communications strategy. You really need to ask yourself a few key questions:

  • What do I need to say?
  • Who do I need to say it to?
  • Where do I go to reach them?

Once you can answer those questions, you can adapt your message and tools according to the channels you select. A tweet of 140 characters might reach a mass audience and a press release of 300 – 500 words can be tailored to reach specific journalists covering your industry. Do you know which of these options will have the greatest impact on your stakeholders?

A few more interesting statistics from the poll may help you cut through the hype:

  • Since 2010, the use of location-based social channels, such as Foursquare, among small business owners has nearly doubled from 5% to 9%; 25% of small business owners using location-based services believe that the application is important for sales generation, compared to just 2% in 2010.
  • Small businesses with a LinkedIn presence increased from 25% in 2010 to 31% in 2011, a jump of 25%; small business owners are increasingly using the social forum for networking with other businesses and gaining awareness from other businesses and consumers in the local community.
  • Small businesses with a Facebook presence increased slightly from 41% in 2010 to 44% last year.
  • Twitter presence dropped slightly year-over-year from 19% to 18%.
  • Only 4% of small businesses are using daily deal sites (i.e. LivingSocial, Groupon) for marketing purposes, led by leisure/tourism/lodging, of which 14% are using these sites; of those businesses using daily deal sites, more than 90% are running promotions at least several times per year.
  • Three in four (75%) small businesses surveyed have a website, about the same as last year, with nearly a third (31%) having a mobile website – i.e., one designed for viewing on a smartphone.
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Social media marketing … are you buying it? Or selling it?

Posted: March 22, 2012 - 3:30 PM ET - by Elisabeth

Photos and videos captured on smart phones, opinions on everything and everyone … you can post them on your Facebook page, tweet them or blog about them. You too can be a citizen reporter or a pundit of the run-of-the-mill.

If you’re wondering what’s next, you’re already behind.

Today, you can be a connoisseur of … well, anything … on Pinterest. It turns out you can be a marketing guru too!

Earlier this month, American Express introduced a “Tweet your way to savings” program; cardholders can tweet current AmX promotions using hashtags and receive savings when they make a purchase. I guess it’s not so different from the online stores that offer you credits for referring friends … except that you’re telling the world, not just a few confidantes who like the same brand of shoes or electronics.

Privacy issues aside, I’d love to hear what you think about this variation on the theme of marketing through third-party endorsements.

Are you ready to move from “iReporting” to “iRecommendations”?

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