How Social Conversations Uphold Your Influence

With over 600 million users on Facebook and consumers spending more time on social platforms, brands are now using these channels to connect and engage with customers in the hope of influencing their purchasing decisions.

But not everyone is happy about this.

Fear

As we speak many business executives around the globe are quaking in their boots at the thought of losing control of the conversation or exposing their company’s soft under-belly.

Unfortunately for them the business opportunity in social media is no longer in question. That ship has sailed. The challenge for them is to create a social business model that aligns with their organizational values in order to capitalize on the reality of today’s market place.

Opportunity

They can learn a lot from American Express – OPEN Forum for example is an online resource and social networking hub for small business owners and entrepreneurs to communicate and share ideas with one another.

The fact that American Express – a highly regulated financial services company – has not shied away from reaping the benefits of social conversations, is an important lesson for undecided brands. Every day through OPEN Forum they connect, engage and influence potential customers without openly discussing their product.

Wells Fargo is another pioneer in the arena of regulated industries and social media. Their blog too treads lightly on their product and instead focuses on connecting, communicating and solving customers’ problems.

The new market place

Social conversations have created a permanent change in the way companies do business. And every industry must take note – whether you’re selling to consumers or to other businesses – in retail, financial services, technology, health care and even government.

At first this will not be an easy jump. There will be many threats for sure and things will happen quickly.

But “…the first step is to dip your toe. Once you’ve done that you can begin to see where your company can, potentially gain some advantage.” ~ ‘Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies’, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

Over to you: How will you take advantage of social conversations to influence your customers?

Not Blogging? 5 Reasons Why You’re Missing Out

The numerous strategic benefits of business blogging are HUGE, and quite frankly I’d have a tough time trying to scratch that surface in this article.

But supposing for one moment that you’re one who knows the benefits of blogging, but hasn’t got around to doing it. Let me tell you what you’re missing.

  • Content Marketing:

Content marketing is the use of content to attract and retain customers. It’s a trend that’s hard to ignore these days, especially since it has relegated the  ‘hard sell’ approaches of yester-year to a very tough and endangered marketing space.

Brands that have something interesting to say – something that educates and brings value to the consumer – are saying it through dynamic and versatile content i.e. business blogs, video, slide-share and social-media. Not only do these platforms provide a subtle marketing approach but they also facilitate the kind of responsiveness and customer engagement that ‘push’ tactics cannot.

  • Community Building

When readers have a personal attachment to your content, then they will return again and again.

A blog that creates and sustains its own community (via comments, track-backs, RSS etc) is one that engages readers and creates a positive impression about your brand. At the same time, that sense of community creates more loyal readers and leads to the growth of the community. Think of Seth’s blog and the ‘tribe’ that he has created through that platform.

What ties a community together is your leadership (as a blogger)  and the ideas that you generate through your blog. This opportunity provides HUGE  potential benefits for your brand.

  • Social Media

In a world where consumer information changes fast and furiously,  customer demand for new information is insatiable. This morning’s news is history! If you’re not blogging then clearly you’re missing the opportunity to create fresh content. And this has a social media implication.

Social media is primarily a distribution channel for fresh content. Think of brands such as Huffington Post and Mashable – they generate new content several times a day and their social media influence is unparalleled in their respective industries (according to Technorati.com). Without fresh content, your social media existence is at risk of a quick demise.

  • SEO

Blog pages are naturally search engine friendly because they contain rich key-words, links and frequently up-dated content that search engines love. In turn, search engines reward fresh content with increased traffic.

This means that your site can be ‘crawled’ or indexed more frequently, allowing your content to be found faster and therefore encouraging new visitors.

Also blogs that post product or service information can link anchor text to purchase pages or landing pages within the website, facilitating the conversion of visitors to customers.

  • Influence

Fresh content is a sign of an authoritative website. Kevin Gibbons a highly respected blogger, founder and CEO of UK search agency SEOptimize offers good advice:

The potential benefits of a well-executed corporate blog are simply huge. In addition to boosting your organic search engine optimization (SEO) by filling your pages with keyword-rich link bait, it also builds your reputation as an industry authority.

Because of the social nature of blogging, blogs link very easily with other blogs much more than static websites do. By employing highly sharable content such as video, audio, breaking news or trending topics, blogs attract in-bound links which enhance their credibility and authority in that particular industry.

Now I realize that consistent blogging is tough for those who are not bloggers by profession (or passion), and I have some special tips for you to help you start or improve your blogging experience.

However I think we’re in agreement that the ‘social content revolution’ is here to stay. Web site platforms are now being built as content management systems (with the assumption that they will support and manage new, versatile, and user-friendly data). I think consumers will gradually come to expect corporate brands to provide key product information through their blogs as well.

What are your thoughts on blogging? Can you think of other reasons why non-bloggers are missing out? Please share.