The Four Pillars of Social Media Vol II – The Big Picture

We gave you a big chunk of information to think about in our first volume, with the hopes of helping you to focus your social media efforts.  But, before we dive into real strategy and tactics, let me give you a big picture view first.

 

Most small business owners have survived on what is now referred to as traditional ‘outbound’ marketing.  This is the stuff like direct mail, coupons in the paper; for some it may include a little bit of radio and spot TV advertising as well as other locally targeted media.

 

In a not too distant world, this was a very effective way to reach the local audience and raise awareness as well as drive people to the stores with your offer or call to action.  However, even with the best of marketers, it is impossible to know who is in the market, and where to properly position your message.  Add to it the segmentation of media today and it’s just about anyone’s guess.

 

If you ask most advertisers what their return on any particular investment in advertising is, they most likely will have no idea.  The old adage, “half of my advertising works, I just don’t know which half”, is a line many in the industry would still like to hide behind.

 

The reason I preface this is that social media is really the age of ‘inbound’ marketing.  All of your efforts in this space are about adding value to the audience that is actually searching you out.  Every day millions of people use the internet to find things, services, events, etc.

 

The buying cycle now has a huge piece of the pie called ‘research’ that continues to grow.  It is in this space that you have an opportunity to become relevant to the user and increase your worth by offering the value, information or insight the prospect is looking for.

One key take away is that this opportunity is not limited to a ‘one-day sale’.  Your ongoing efforts through time build a relationship that fosters trust and reliability. Whether you are in the oil-change business or the pizza business, the majority of your customers do business with you first, and the more they know you, the more business they do with you.

 

So, is ‘outbound’ marketing done?  Absolutely not!  I do not go to the extreme of some social media experts that a blog a day will keep the media reps away.  Depending on your type of business, it may make complete sense to actually increase your traditional ‘outbound’ spend, but your goal or message will be very different.

The Four Pillars of Social Media –

Is there such a thing as Social Media Baby Steps?

So, I’ve been helping local advertising companies in South Florida integrate their traditional marketing efforts with digital solutions for the past 6+ years, and now I am doing it for myself. After a successful career with The Palm Beach Post, I am tasked with creating the same synergy for” b digital agency”, an internet advertising agency in West Palm Beach, Fl.

Immediately, I am focused on what I call the ‘Four Pillars of Social Media’. These four pillars are made up of Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and You Tube. And if these are the Four Pillars than the cement foundation that they are built on is the almighty Blog! We also have a very close eye on Google+ since Google is such a dominant player in search, this latest product is showing promise and can soon be the Cornerstone of your Social Media efforts.

If you were looking for baby steps to make in this bold world of inbound marketing this would be your starting point. While you can ‘dabble’ in these efforts personally, you need to quickly decide just how much time you are willing to commit to inbound marketing on a daily basis, and if it makes sense to outsource as well.


Even with out-sourcing, there are no shortcuts. You may be able to take baby-steps by focusing on the foundation and four pillars described above, but to truly be successful it will require your consistent and dedicated personal attention. Whether that is you the owner, or you the marketing executive I offer one caveat: without skin in the game, you will be sadly disappointed.

I understand that a person can quickly become overwhelmed and spend time and effort on less beneficial efforts which only increase your frustration. In this blog series, The Four Pillars of Social Media, we will help you set the foundation and teach you how to create a strategy that requires a minimal amount of effort to achieve maximum results.
We will show you:
1) Where to actually start
2) How much time it takes to successfully update and manage your social media / outbound marketing campaigns.
3) How to set a 12 week strategy for each pillar
4) How to leverage your blog and properly position it for your audience.
5) The most effective tactics for each pillar.
6) How to work with a digital agency to maximize your return
7) When and where to use traditional / outbound marketing and advertising and how to truly integrate it with digital to grow your audience.
8) Outbound v. Inbound – the paradigm shift you need to fully understand and embrace.
If you’re a small to mid-sized company that has seen the return from your traditional advertising efforts dwindle in recent years, it’s time to stop ‘blaming the economy’. The fact is consumers don’t consume media the same way anymore, and the longer you wait to integrate a digital strategy the more difficult it will become for you to remain relevant and grow your company. If you would like to learn more sign up for our weekly blog below. To speak to one of our strategist or to schedule a free consultation, call or email us directly.

Is Traditional Media the White Elephant in the room?

Is Traditional Media the White Elephant in the room?

A recent study finds traditional media bests Social Networking in driving online traffic. Am I opening a can of worms with my first D.I.G. blog, or are there others out there that can attest to this?

I am currently employed as a Digital Solutions Account Manager for the largest Newspaper in West Palm Beach DMA. I know the challenges all too well, yet studies like this continue to prove that traditional media remains effective if used correctly.

More often than not, I go on calls where clients or prospects are complaining that their ads ‘aren’t working’. Many are desperate for sales and want to abandon their strategy and figure out how to get better results with smaller budgets using the internet/social media.

The mindset that ‘nobody reads the paper’, or that ‘radio has lost its audience to Pandora’ or that ‘TV commercials are skipped on DVR recorders’ is so prevalent, and has been pounded so deeply into their psyche, advertisers are convinced it’s time for a change.

Except, they don’t want to change, they want to completely abandon their traditional buy, and put it all into digital. As a Digital rep you may think I would welcome that, but all too often an account without a solid foundation, that shifts its strategy too quickly, is bound to fail for a myriad of reasons which I will D.I.G. deeper into on future blogs.

For now, lets’ focus on this study and whey traditional media has proven more effective at driving online traffic than it’s social media counterpart. For starters, let’s look at why it fails to do so. In yesterday’s A section of the newspaper I counted 22 advertisers, of which, only 1 offered a QR code, and none had any value-added reason to visit their site or to ‘Like’ on FB or follow on Twitter…NONE!

The types of advertisers ranged from one-shop operations to national chains. I challenge you to conduct the same experiment in your local paper and send me your observations. By contrast most radio ads I hear, and to lesser extent TV ads, do include a strong call to-internet action, which give each ad a ‘second life’ online.

If an advertiser wants to begin the shift to digital, it starts with traditional. The awareness stage of any campaign cannot simply be ‘skipped’. Traditional media continues to be a tremendous resource in this stage with its ability to engage a large audience. It is a key trigger to increase brand awareness, which triggers related Google searches, which places your prospect securely in the buying funnel. If you lead them to a well crafted landing page, FB page or Twitter account, and you can reach this prospect, for life! Give them a valid reason to join you in the digital space and reaching them can cost you substantially less in the future with better results.

I am all for increasing your digital footprint but not without the foundational support of traditional media. For smaller businesses in the world of retail, blogging every day and creating your own content is not always an option. Leaning on proven outlets with built in audiences is a better approach, as you start to shift your focus one step at a time.

Check out the study here, let us know what you think, and how you are leveraging traditional media to grow your online footprint.

Agency Portfolio

b digital agency, inc is focused on bridging the gap between traditional and digital media for maximum impact.  We call this strategy ‘tradigital’ and it leverages the power of traditional media to drive digital.

Our full-service agency will work with you to address  your needs and create a comprehensive marketing plan to achieve your goals.  It sounds kinda hokey, but the basics of successful marketing have never changed.  Craft a message that will resonate with your audience, and then deliver the highest possible level of customer service when they reach out to work with your company.

The key is that how you use media has changed significantly.  Ads with ‘call’ or ‘come in today’ call to action, are not offering the value or information that is truly being sought by today’s tech-savvy audience.  Ads need to offer a digital response, such as a custom landing page, a mobile website, or a specific page on a website that speaks specifically to that offer or message.

b digital can help you not only craft an ad that resonates, but we can also build all of the creative and digital assets.  Our network of contacts that span over 30 years in the business, also gives us the ability to buy media at the best possible rates.  Everything under one roof, with seasoned pro’s dedicated to the success of your company.  Don’t think your business is ‘too small’ to work with an agency.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

TRADIGITAL – Traditional media’s new role in a digital world

We hear it every day.  No one reads the newspapers, people TIVO passed the commercials, everyone tunes into Pandora instead of the radio…traditional media is dead!

Well, not so fast.  Just like consumers have changed the way they buy, advertisers need to recognize this and change the way they communicate with their audience in their ads.

A recent report:  Excellent Analytics Tips #12 Unsuspected Correlations are Sweet by Avinash Kaushik proved once again, that when traditional media and its messages are properly leveraged the correlating results in digital can be quite impressive.

In his report a radio campaign that promoted a vanity URL for an auto dealership showed just how powerful a medium radio can be to drive traffic to the site.  Upon further review, the report also shows a significant increase in branded searches, direct visits to that site and searches for the corporate site which was also mentioned in the copy of the ad.

As a Digital Solutions Account Manager I have seen all too often the less than optimal results when a campaign relies too heavily on an ‘outbound’ campaign with the majority of the buy going to digital media.  This is especially so for smaller companies that have a lesser known brand or product.

Typically, digital ads or campaigns can be less ‘expensive’ than their traditional counterparts, and with their targeting ability can seem more efficient.  That may be the case, but on their own, without any traditional media efforts in the local market the results often fall far below the advertiser’s expectations.

I heard it said recently traditional media can support itself but digital can’t, and I see the point.  Bottom line is the internet is a much larger world than say the local paper.  If the demo can be reached with a traditional medium, using it to drive your audience online, to your blog, to your Facebook page to your website can deliver much more effective results than a purely digital campaign.

Ultimately we are firm believers that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Your strategy should combine the proper traditional channel with an engaging message that offers the listener, reader, viewer, etc a value added proposition to visit the digital location.  The results can be tracked in an immediate increase in traffic directly and through search.

A proper conversion strategy awaiting this traffic will result in increased fans on a Facebook page, additional subscribers to your email or Blog feed, Twitter followers, etc.  The ‘ROE’ or ‘Return on Engagement, will ultimately be the best way to build your ROI.  All of this thanks t a proper ‘TRADIGITAL’ campaign, which effectively integrated traditional media with digital.

I know what I don’t know

Lately I have been coming across well-established advertising agencies with a long list of loyal clients. While they have proven themselves to deliver results in traditional media, most continue to struggle with the dynamics of digital marketing, and how to deliver the same results.

I can appreciate that no agency wants to turn away a new account, or not be able to offer an existing account a continued one-stop shop service, however, at what point are they doing more harm than good? The best agencies know what they don’t know, and at the very least hire vendors or small digital agencies to service the growing marketing needs of their accounts.

But how do you know if ABC Advertising has gone through these lengths to insure quality or if they’re just learning as they go and using you as the guinea pig? And as a follow up, can you really afford to find out the latter is the case?

When a ‘traditional’ agency all of a sudden adds ‘Digital Services’ to their list, I recommend you have a candid conversation and find out if they are doing this ‘in-house’ or if they have partnered with a reputable digital marketer that understands what’s at stake. A second post on this topic will feature a list of questions you should ask before hiring any agency that offers digital services, for now lets focus on the basics.

The problem I’ve found most often is that the ‘soft-sell’ of social media or inbound marketing has a disarming effect and many advertisers are lured into a false sense of security. By that I mean, advertisers are ‘sold’ on the long term process that it takes for social media to deliver results, as compared to an aggressive direct-marketing campaign through traditional channels.

I have seen enough examples to insure you that’s not the case. A strong social media campaign can deliver impactful results in short amount of time. I am a big fan of Michael Stelzner writer of the Social Media Examiner blog and a new book called Launch. His blog is already over 90,000 opt-in email subscribers in just about a year!

I have met with hundreds of businesses, even the very Newspaper where I work, which is the largest newspaper in 5 counties, that do not have a list of 90,000 email subscribers. Can you imagine what that would do for your business?

This kind of success takes dedicated individuals who have a yearning to learn something new everyday, and write about it. Successful digital agencies understand the true meaning of inbound marketing, which is often very polarizing to traditional marketing messages and efforts.

The digital landscape has created a new form of interaction between client and customer. In the digital space the client is first a student of sorts, that with the right type of content will lure that student in and out of his own free will want to be exposed to more.

We realize the old tendencies of ‘doing business’ will continue to rear it’s ugly head, and traditional agencies will more than welcome the opportunity to ‘print another coupon’. The point is the approach to the digital audience is very different than the approach to the traditional audience, but the lines are starting to blur quickly.

In fact, I am a big fan of using traditional media, be it newspaper, radio, tv or billboards to drive traffic to the digital space. The key is in the message…it must appeal to the audiences appetite for information, and not to push the agenda/product/service, etc. of the advertiser.

This is a conversation not easily had with most advertisers and most advertising agenceis for that matter. If you want to be successful in the digital space I suggest you partner with an agency that understands the inbound marketing philosophy and can work with traditional media to get the best results.

Knowing what you don’t know, can often be just as valuable as what you do know!

John Garcia
Digitally Inclined