Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Executives Can't Afford to Ignore Social Media

I recently spoke to a room of local Saint Louis area executives and business owners at a luncheon for the United Way of Saint Louis' de Tocqueville Society members. Membership in the Tocqueville Society is granted to individuals who contribute at least $10,000.00 annually to a member United Way. 

The topic was "Social Media for Executives," and based on my research, I decided to use an analogy to help these business leaders understand why now is the time - they cannot afford to ignore social media. I also added some figures showing that social media engagement in business can help drive results to the bottom line, and some tips for getting started. Below is an outline I produced for my presentation.

"The world has changed, and consumers, employees, and stakeholders now expect to engage with companies and their brands through social media," says Matteo Tonello, managing director of corporate leadership at The Conference Board. 

My goal today is to help you understand:

  1. Why your organization should be putting effort into social media, 
  2. Or...Why you as a person, as a professional, might want to take a step further into social media, beyond what you do today. 

Let’s start by taking a new look at something you’ve always done.

You are walking into a professional event. It's a Thursday evening, and you are by yourself as you get out of your car and check in at the registration table.

It could be a large charity ball, a banquet, an awards ceremony, or a meeting of the minds - a local networking group you enjoy.

Your mindset is focused on mingling -- for the next hour or two, you know you are about to intentionally allow the line between personal and professional to blur so that you can establish a rapport with the folks you're about to meet or re-acquaint yourself with.

You enter the room, and you notice a lot of small groups of 2 and 3 and 4 people each. There is a lot of lively conversation, some laughs burst out here and there, and a lot of hand-shaking.

You recognize a few faces, and you begin to look around the room to see who else you may know. You notice one or two folks you immediately want to avoid, for one very good reason or another...

And you certainly notice a few folks who are always fun to talk to: 
  • The guy who always has a new and interesting story to tell you 
  • The guy with the really funny stories you just can't get enough of
  • The woman who is always coming up with new and creative ideas, just a vibrant personality, she inspires you and always tells you things about your own industry that you didn't even know. She's on the cutting edge of things.
  • The co-worker who feels familiar, but you just can't get enough time with him in the office and you need to see how his team is doing on the latest project.
  • That woman who just took the CEO job at a local competitor, and you've been dying to introduce yourself - you see a few more powerful business leaders who are always making the news, and the ones you truly appreciate spending time talking to. 

This is just like the user base of any social media site.

Just like you have to walk into that room and make some decisions about where to cut your path.... you've got to cut through the noise and make the connections that count.

You'll be polite to everyone, but you also have to make the best use of your time at this event, because time is a precious commodity - especially for you.

Over the course of the next hour, you will move around the room, jumping in and out of conversations, sizing up the connections you make with each individual, making mental notes of names, job titles, and companies - and most importantly, occasionally making a special new connection that holds some future potential - new business, new relationships to solve complex problems, new firms you may want to hire to help you with particular projects, you name it....

This is just like engagement on social media sites.

Executives know that going to a cocktail party once a year won't be productive.

If walking into that crowded, noisy room of strangers and navigating the turbulent waters of a crowd of busy professionals felt like too much effort, you likely wouldn't just say "forget about it. I don't get it. I give up."

Building relationships takes time. People need to see your face, hear your voice, more than once to know you're serious, to recognize you as an expert, as a mover and shaker.

They need time to open up and get to know you. And fostering connections in order to move a relationship toward the closing of a deal or the comfort level of working together on something may be better the second or third or 15th time around.

If executives successfully work the room at cocktail parties and networking events, everybody remembers them. If you successfully represent your professional persona online, connect with like-minded individuals and stay connected with them, you are doing the same thing online.

I don't think anyone here would disagree that once you are a well-connected professional within your social circles, and you're someone everyone enjoys engaging with in person, others are more open to doing business and more confident in making referrals.

You can use social media to demonstrate thought leadership. Demonstrating your expertise, and fostering connections online (just like in the real world) generates interest, and fosters trust in the relationship. Ultimately, this means that social media:
  • generates leads and referrals, 
  • it helps to increase and shape brand awareness. 
Driving these new, incremental relationships, can lead to new revenue opportunities

Social media is a cocktail party. It's where you go -- voluntarily -- to 
  • meet new people, 
  • to converse, 
  • to learn new things, 
  • to build relationships, 
  • and to network with one goal in mind: mutual business benefit. 

And by the way, if you're like me, you'll say "Wow, this is fun."

It presents itself as the new conversation starter for connecting with utter strangers who might one day become your customers, your business partners, your employees, or your friends.

Challenges Executives Face with Social Media:

  1. RISK: Demands for quick, unscripted updates that can quickly go viral—poses risks for top managers and the companies they represent 
  2. TIME: they are too busy running a company 
  3. FEAR: fearful of sharing too much versus not sharing enough – not knowing what to say 
  4. RESULTS: the business case for using the site can seem unclear, with no direct correlation between Twitter followers and sales. 

Why you should do it anyway:

  1. Add a personal touch to your leadership style 
  2. Leaders can get help generating content from their teams
  3. It can be a personal toolbox for improving your practice of leadership.
    Source: Forbes, Better Leadership Through Social Media
  4. Companies that embrace digital technology are more profitable, generate more revenue and achieve higher market valuations than their competitors.

Here's how you can get started:

  1. Get Organized: Follow experts and news sources, organize them into lists, and use search to read about current events 
  2. Give it Time: Log on frequently for immediate and highly curated industry news & perspectives, and to learn how other experts engage 
  3. Know Your Own Employees: Seek out your socially savvy employees; Give them expert training, and encourage positive social content sharing 
  4. Free Market Research: Monitor brand mentions, competitors, and key industry keywords and trends to see how individuals across social channels reacts to each 
  5. Protect Yourself and Your Brand: Develop and share a social media policy internally that keeps social activity legal, compliant with regulations, and respectful/professional 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

St. Louis Social Media and PR Experts to Present at PRSA Tech Day

This Friday, I'll be speaking with a few awesome Saint Louis social media colleagues of mine at the Public Relations Society of America's Saint Louis Chapter "Tech Day." It's in the afternoon. Here's an overview of what I'll be speaking about. Hope you can join me!

Influencer Marketing: Finding and Targeting Online Influencers to Increase Market Awareness
Erin Moloney will explain how she has learned, over the past several years, to leverage social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as third party tools, to find and engage with highly influential professionals and members of the mdeia.

She will talk about how you can efficiently foster a professional relationship and rapport with key influencers, how to engage with them over time, and ultimately how you can best leverage these relationships to enhance your company's visibility and get the word out about your key messaging and announcements.

Erin will talk through the following and provide examples:
  • Some great social media tools (both free and paid) available right now for finding influencers
  • Examples of how to alter your understanding of keyword searching to really find influential professionals
  • How to effectively reach out and engage, establishing a meaningful rapport and relationship
  • Working your way toward a the right time to ask for a mention or a feature story

PRSA St. Louis Tech Day 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012, 1 to 5 p.m. -- Opening speaker and program to begin at 1:15 p.m.

Mercy Conference Center
14528 South Outer Forty Road
Chesterfield, Missouri 63017

PRSA members: $55
Non-members: $75
Students with I.D. $40


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Looking for a Financial Services Marketing Manager in Saint Louis

Our marketing team at Perficient has an opening for a Financial Services Marketing Manager here in Saint Louis, MO.

This position would work directly with me on a lot of great projects including social media marketing, advertising, website, event marketing, messaging, collateral, and the chance to work for a dynamic, fast-growing, Saint Louis-based national consulting firm!


  • Collaborate with key stakeholders in developing and growing an integrated vertical marketing strategy to include messaging, marketing tactics, and collateral;
  • Target marketing messages and strategies to the needs of IT and business professionals within the financial services industry; understanding the key challenges faced by companies within the industry (security, regulation, consolidation) and focusing on how the company's solutions meet those needs
  • Drive social media and website content strategy; Promote content generation from key subject matter experts within financial services, maintain an active blog and twitter profile by publishing SME thought leadership content and industry news
  • Facilitate the creation of white paper and webinar content from SMEs in the financial services vertical, driving attendance and awareness via social and online channels
  • Drive internal financial services industry knowledge and solution awareness (sales enablement) for sales and delivery teams; Work with national sales organization to identify, pursue, and develop key projects within financial services
  • Develop campaigns to leverage additional industry marketing opportunities, including: email marketing campaigns, internal business development campaigns, trade show planning and promotions
  • Measure marketing effectiveness through ongoing web analytics reports and relevant campaign metrics
  • Collaborate with broader marketing organization to leverage available resources on behalf of financial services stakeholders

This is a full time position with Perficient. At Perficient, we offer a full competitive base salary, bonuses twice a year, a full benefits package including medical, dental and vision, a 401(k) with matching contributions, 4 weeks’ vacation and 10 paid holidays per year.

Apply Online!

Senior Technology Decision-Makers are More Social Online Than Their Teams

Forrester published a very enlightening report today called "Tech Marketers Are Missing The Social Mark For Senior Decision-Makers." What's unique about the findings in this study is that Forrester found that senior level decision-makers, such as vice presidents and directors, making technology buying decisions, are actually more active on social media than those who report to them. 

Here are some of my favorite key findings from the report:
  • "Senior-level decision-makers are significantly more willing than lower seniority colleagues to use social channels at work."
  • "Fifty-nine percent of directors and above use social media sites for work at least once a week, and only 30% of their staff do also."
  • "About half of senior management — vice presidents and directors — use LinkedIn at least weekly, compared to just 30% of individual workers."
  • "Senior decision-makers are more interested in sources that have longer form writing." (Blog content over Twitter, for instance)

You can download the report here.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blogging Basics for Fund Raising & Non-Profits

Tonight I am participating in a social media roundtables networking event being hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Young Professionals here in Saint Louis. I am hosting a table on "Blogging"

Here are some of my favorite blogs about fund raising and non-profit marketing:
Beth Kantor's Blog for Non-Profits 
The Agitator
The Fundraising Coach
Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog
Nonprofit Marketing Guide

Here are some of the best non-profit blogs, from my experience:
Feeding America
American Red Cross
The Salvation Army
Holland Bloorview Childrens Rehabilitation Hospital
Operation Blessing
World Vision
Refugees International

I also produced a one-page Blogging Basics guide to hand out at tonight's eveng. It includes:
  • Stats on why blogging is an effective medium for businesses and organizations
  • Style and Tone best practices
  • What to include in a social media policy for your team
  • Blogging "Musts"
  • How to motivate bloggers
  • Great content ideas
You can also take a look at my presentation on Social Media for Non-Profits:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Join Me for Social Media 101, June 7th at Webster University

I am looking forward to joining my colleagues and some of Saint Louis' social media "best" Chris Reimer (@RizzoTees), Nick Gilham (@NickGilham), Matt Ridings (@techguerilla) and Patrick Powers (@PatrickJPowers) on June 7th when we conduct a Business Boot Camp called Social Media 101 at Webster University.

It's only 5 hours and less than a few hundred dollars, and attendees will see us present on what has worked for companies in social media, both locally and nationally, small and large, and they will get to pick our brains and network with us to stay on top of this rapidly changing space. More Info / Register Here
This special half-day seminar is designed for businesses (large and small), entrepreneurs and nonprofits completely new to social media, as well as those who don’t feel they are up-to-date with the latest online has to offer.
Social Media 101:  Business Boot Camp is sponsored by Webster University’s Office of Corporate Partnerships which engages corporate partners in concert with Webster’s five colleges/schools, faculty, staff, students and extended campuses by connecting business and industry partners to these Webster constituencies. 

This is the first time I've seen a true "bootcamp" around social media here in Saint Louis, and Webster University has really lined up a great team of presenters for this workshop.

More Info / Register Here

Read More about My Presentation

Monday, April 30, 2012

Let's Talk About Social Media Marketing in Saint Louis

Yesterday, I was invited to speak about social media marketing on 550 KTRS as part of the All About Business radio show. I enjoyed the segment, in which I was asked to comment on what it means to be a social media expert and explain the Social Media Club of Saint Louis. I think it went pretty well, but I will warn you that I have a case of laryngitis. ;) Here's the recording of the 11 minute portion of the show in which I was interviewed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How I Track Twitter Traffic for My Company

Until recently, it had been very difficult, and near impossible, to accurately report on traffic coming from Twitter posts to your website or blog.

Google Analytics has made changes recently that make it easier. According to a recent post in BtoB Magazine, "Rebooting Twitter Analytics":
The issue has to do with the way Twitter referrals were tracked through popular third-party applications such as TweetDeck and HootSuite. When a user clicked on a link embedded in one of these applications, the referral to your website wasn't recorded as a Twitter referral. Instead, Google recognized it as a “direct referral,” thus hiding some of the Twitter-related traffic under the direct referral column on your analytics report. 
“Now, whenever you click on a tweet, Twitter routes the URL through the t.co shortener,” said Tom Critchlow, VP-operations for Distilled NYC, an SEO and online marketing company. “So it shows up in analytics as a Twitter referral.” 
However, it's not that simple.

Here's what I've discovered. If we follow the advice of this article, then in our Google Analytics, we should be able to simply go to the "Social" reporting category in the left nav and click on "Sources" to see how much traffic we get from Twitter. I did this, and for the time period I am looking at, this report shows me that my company's blogs got 588 visits from Twitter in that time period.

Alternatively, you can try using "Advanced Segments" in Google Analytics to create a segment of your traffic (for reporting) that only shows traffic from Twitter. I set this up using the "Include: Source" filter, and then started typing "twi..." and it auto-suggests three different referring URLs that are part of Twitter: mobile.twitter.com; twitter.com and twitter. See screen shot:

So, that suggests to me that it would be in my best interest to include all three of these as part of this segment I am setting up. So I do just that, and I am sure to include "t.co" as well, per Critchlow's comment in the quote above.

My advanced segment setting ends up looking like this:

Save the segment as "Twitter Referred Visits" or your title of choice. Then, run a standard report on number of visitors in the same time frame as I ran earlier for Google's "Social" report that had returned a figure of 588 visits.

I get a total of 1,651 visits! That's three times what Google's social report told me was coming from Twitter.

I feel more comfortable relying upon my own advanced filter to show me a more accurate view of just how much traffic is coming to my site from Twitter. Why? Because I set it up myself, and I'm including what I personally know to be URLs that Twitter owns and uses to refer traffic.

The BtoB Magazine article ends with a quote that helps us keep a frame of reference around even attempting to track all inbound referrals accurately to begin with:
“It's a misconception that inbound traffic over the Internet is 100% trackable,” he [Chad Pollitt, director of inbound marketing for Kuno Creative] said. “It's not; it's just more trackable than the older print methods.”

How are you reporting on Twitter referrals to your company's web properties? If you're using Google's social reports or any web analytics tool's built-in social reporting, you may be missing the mark and leaving out a large portion of traffic actually coming from tweets. I recommend building reports on your own so that you have more control. Besides, I know our social media strategy involves a heavy Twitter component, so I want to make sure I'm giving that time investment in Twitter the most accurate data I can find to justify that it's working. 

I'd be curious to know if anyone else is seeing this kind of discrepancy and if you've set up your analytics in any different way to report on Twitter traffic.

Monday, April 16, 2012

When Amazing Design is Not Enough

Bet you didn't think it was possible! Being a great designer often isn't enough, and the surge of functional mobile applications and social networks is making this reality all the more apparent.

I've spoken with plenty of marketing and web technology folks who place a high premium on the design of their application, website, or product's user interface. Good design is certainly important and can set your site or app apart. However, as I came across a great article in TechCrunch today, I was reminded once again just how much usability and function can take precedence over aesthetics. It provided several examples of apps killing their competition on usefulness and function even when the styling was inferior.

I wrote about it on Perficient's Spark blog, a blog for all things innovative and experience design related. Check out my post here:

When Amazing Design is Not Enough

Friday, March 16, 2012

Copyright and IP Rules to Follow in Social Media

Some rights reserved. - Horia Varlan
I just finished reading this great article by Stephen Easley, posted today on SmartBlog on Social Media: "Why IP law still matters in a social media age"

Easley outlines three key learnings from South by Southwest Interactive, one of the largest interactive marketing & technology conferences in the U.S. - which ended this past week. These are his three key tips to follow as it pertains to copyright law applied to social media:

  1. Photos: "Be careful when using any picture, even one widely circulated through Twitter or Facebook.  If you use a photo, the best practice is to obtain express permission to use it, and at the very least do not use photos without proper attribution and links at a minimum."
  2. Copy: "Don’t just scrape content — instead transform content with your own unique creativity, and thereby avoid unfair competition or copyright violation claims."
  3. Criticism and Impersonation: "When dealing with criticism or parody of individuals, be careful not to “credibly impersonate” — so using the word “fake” offers a good deal of protection. When dealing with criticism or parody of a corporation, learn their trademarked logos and marks and try to avoid using them or at least transforming them so that you can argue that there is no consumer confusion, an element necessary under trademark law."

...and the full article provides some background on why Easley suggests you follow these tips. Read the Full Post Here

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Helping Saint Louis Lead in Business Technology

AdSaint - a local Saint Louis ad industry site - recently interviewed my boss, Bill Davis, Director of Marketing at Perficient. This link includes the audio interview

I think he does a great job describing what our company does. He also talks about raising Perficient's visibility as a company based in Saint Louis with our airport ads, and social media (which I do) as a key strategy.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

3 Types of Metrics that Demonstrate Social Media Marketing Success

Recently I have been thinking a lot about how we can demonstrate positive business impact from social media or content marketing initiatives. I report on social media marketing metrics weekly to my direct manager, and I often think about them in three major groups:

  1. Fans, Followers and Subscribers: People who have said they want to follow our brand. This gives you a sense of  Awareness or Brand Visibility as well as how it is impacting the brand's online reputation in its space.
  2. Clicks, Traffic: People who have visited your blog or site as a result of finding you online via social channels. 
  3. Leads/Sales: Actual interest in doing business with your company. I value leads coming from general inquiry forms higher than leads coming to us via incentive offers such as a white paper or webinar. 
Technically you could add a fourth category to this and actually quantify sales that started as a social media based lead. That requires adequate tracking in your CRM or analytics system, and is much easier for something like an e-commerce site selling products than it would be for a B-to-B firm. 

I also thoroughly enjoyed a recently published article by Jon Miller of Marketo called "5 CEO-Worthy Metrics for Demonstrating Inbound Marketing Success." In his post, Miller outlines the following metric types and gives detail to them:
  1. Month over month growth in organic website traffic, leads, and opportunities. 
  2. Social engagement, not just reach. 
  3. Lead generation by content, channel, and initiative. 
  4. Percent of leads with an inbound original source.
  5. Forecasted conversion through the funnel.
Very similar to my line of thinking but he's talking more generally about inbound marketing and not just social media. You can read his full post here
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