As time progresses, social media is becoming a more integral part of marketing as a whole. With the explosion in adoption it would be silly for companies not to take advantage of this innovative way to communicate with their customers. With the mass adoption of technology and social media, human behavior and expectations have changed and companies must adapt to these changes to remain competitive.

The internet as a whole has forever changed how people communicate, interact and access information. Due to the fact that just about any piece of knowledge, any unanswered question, or any cat video can be accessed within seconds, people now expect companies to respond to them faster. Whether they are trying to contact the business by phone, email or tweet, people want their answers and they want them fast. When crafting a social media initiative you must ensure that you have resources and tools available to identify and answer social mentions within a timely fashion to ensure your customers are satisfied. As a matter of fact, Hubspot did a study on this and they found that “72% of people that complain on social media expect a response within an hour!” Now, I would recommend answering more than just complaints, even a regular brand mention warrants the occasional response to make that person feel special. This is also a great way for large companies to create special experiences with their customers that hadn’t really been historically available. Just look at how this could positively impact your business:

Taken from Hubspot, click to view post

Another thing for companies to consider is the growth and decline of certain networks. Over the past 10 years or so we have seen many social networks fail and succeed and companies must be aware of the trends before throwing all their eggs in one basket. A strategy that spreads a few of the top social networks is better than investing all your resources into one. If you decide to tackle them one at a time, make sure the network is here to stay, you would hate to be that guy who dumped all your resources into marketing via Myspace back in 2006. The safe bet in this case is to do your research before rolling out a strategy and try to incorporate a few of the top networks first before diving into some of the smaller ones. A great place to start is Facebook and Twitter.

One last thing to remember is that when it comes to technology, the only constant is change. The space is ever changing and a social media initiative must keep this in mind. You must account for the strategy to constantly be changing and evolving in order to succeed. Just a few years ago there were only a couple major social media platforms to worry about incorporating into a social media strategy. Now, I have over 10 of social networking apps on my cell phone alone. Not only are the social networks evolving but the way people consume the networks are. Incorporating all these variables into a holistic marketing strategy that ensures a flawless transition from screen to screen, network to network and device to device is a must at this day in age.

 

I know its been a while since I’ve updated this thing but, have no fear, I am back and hope to share some more marketing and social media goodness with you. In this post we will take a look at a couple companies in the same industry utilizing social media to effectively differentiate themselves from the rest. The industry is airline and the companies are JetBlue and Southwest. Jetblue was really the first mover in the industry to fully adopt social media and set the standards for best practices. I chose Southwest because I follow them on a few social networks and think they do a great job as well.

 

JetBlue’s early social media success came as a result of a public relations catastrophe that left thousands of people stranded on Valentines Day back in 2007. This was back when social media was still in its infancy but JetBlue saw the value early and jumped on this opportunity to turn things around. They market themselves as “bringing humanity to air travel” and social media is a great medium to act this out. JetBlue is extremely transparent with their social communications which is aScreen Shot 2014-09-09 at 8.56.28 PM large reason they are successful. They have created human like elements to a brand via social media that people trust and interact with. I have personally interacted with this brand (see image) on a couple occasions. In the one pictured, they actually reached out to me simply because I mentioned them in my post. Communicating them was like communicating with another person, as it should be. They took their initiative of “bringing humanity to air travel” and supported it with their social media usage. They also joke around and are playful with their postings, similar to that of a normal Twitter user. You can actually see both the brands interacting with each other sometimes as if they were friends.

Now to discuss Southwest. Although JetBlue does great on all social networks, personally, I think their strongest presence is on Twitter from and engagement standpoint. Don’t get me wrong, they have a TON of Facebook likes as well but from my perspective, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 9.16.55 PMSouthwest does a little better on Facebook. They have significantly more likes than JetBlue and they really utilize Facebook to push out everything. From new commercials to travel deals. They constantly promote $69 travel deals on Facebook which have me looking to where I can get away to for a weekend. They pride themselves on delivering the most value to their consumers and often times having the lowest fares. Whenever they have sales or just extra, low cost flights, they aggregate them onto a landing page full of links to purchase the flights and post it on Facebook. It looks a little something like this (see image) and I know every time I see this, I click on the link and explore.

 

Here is a couple companies in a historically boring industry spicing things up and leveraging social media to their advantage. Not only are they great examples within their industry, they are great examples for all companies to follow. They keep customers engaged through their social channels in  different ways with different networks but they have realized how powerful of a tool social media can be.

There are many different “best practices” out there for blogging, whether it be for a personal blog, the b2b audience or the b2c audience. The one constant spelled out in the book Groudswell that is consistent across all these audiences is that

“The prerequisite for starting a blog is to want to engage in dialogue with your customers.”

I think this rings true across all social communications as well. Too many companies take to social media and blogging solely to push their products and brands. You wouldn’t follow or friend someone who constantly talks about how awesome they are all the time…right? Blogging for a business should be the same.

 

Blogging is growing like wildfire across all industries. Its an integral part of our marketing strategy at my company and it appears as though it is across many other companies in my industry as well. The glory about the tech industry is that it is very easy to connect with customers via the internet. They are all tech savvy, connected and are not shy about engaging with brands. I’ve noticed a few best practices that I thought I would share to help you on the quest of taking over the blogsphere!

1. Be Genuine & Honest

This should be a no brainer but its important to be noted. In order for customers to want to engage with your blog and subsequently your company they must be able to trust the information you give them. It can be easy to exaggerate and tell white lies when writing blog posts. It is important to keep these in check because at the end of the day transparency is key. The more information you can share with your audience the better, it will make them feel like they are well informed and keep them coming back.

2. Relate To Current Events

One major benefit to blogs is that they contribute to the SEO rankings of websites. The more relevant content the better it will rank. One way to tip these scales is to connect current events or things people are searching the internet for at the time to your company. Dyn does this all the time, most recently was our Olympic post. Now you may be saying, what does a Tech company and the Olympics have in common? Truth is not a whole lot but this is where you get to be creative and make connections that may not be obvious.

3. Update Often

There is a fine line between too many updates and just the right amount. Most companies in the tech industry update it a few times a week which is a safe bet. Too many posts and your content gets lost in the noise, not enough, and you lose that connection with your customers. When people come to your site to do research and notice your blog hasn’t been updated in a while, they can lose trust in a brand. Truth is, it all depends on what you are looking to accomplish, About.com outlines this pretty well in their Blog Post Frequency Overview.

 

4. It’s Not All About You

Like I said earlier, blogs shouldn’t only be about your company and your products. No one wants to read a blog full of product sheets! For higher engagement, focus on industry topics, market education and helpful topics that will be beneficial to your customers. Once your doing all these things, then go ahead and mix in product and press releases as well as business cases surrounding your products. blogs can also be a great way for companies to showcase their company culture. This helps in two ways; people like doing business with companies they like and this can help them decide whether they like them and it can help get talent in the door to fill job positions. Check out the variety over at my company’s blog.

5. Sharing Is Caring

Blogging is social and should be easily spread over social channels. Be sure to add social share links to all your posts to make it simple for your readers to share your post. The more shares the more eyes on your site and thats what we started this whole blogging thing in the first place, right?!? It is also important for your readers to be able to easily connect with the author of the blog itself. Adding a little blurb like the one pictured below helps foster that connection and make it easy for readers to ask the author directly.

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I hope these points can help you in your Blogging endeavors. Remember blogging is to communicate with your customers, not to boast about your achievements like that conceited jock in high school. Don’t be that guy! It’s a two way conversation, talk about things people want and need and don’t forget to join the conversation if they leave comments.

Gunelius, S. (n.d.). Http://weblogs.about.com/od/startingablog/qt/BlogPostingFreq.htm. About.com Blogging. Retrieved March 2, 2014, from http://weblogs.about.com/od/startingablog/qt/BlogPostingFreq.htm
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.

I think since so many companies are having success with social media the decision of whether or not to take a brand social has gotten easier and easier. In the tech industry, personally, I think its a no brainer but thats not to say that there isn’t any risk involved. In this post I will discuss some of the rewards and pitfalls of adopting social media in my industry.

You will often hear me refer to my industry as the tech industry. For those who don’t know what it is, its simply the technology sector. Investopedia defines the technology sector as:

“A category of companies relating to the research, development and/or distribution of technologically based goods and services. This sector contains businesses revolving around the manufacturing of electronics, creation of software, computers or products and services relating to information technology.”

The cool thing about the tech industry is that its full of socially connected gen y-ers. This makes the decision to go social a no brainer. In order for marketers to connect with their audience they must go to where their audience is, luckily for tech marketers, their audience is already well adapted to social media technology. Seeing as how all the major social sites are free, the monetary risk is very low however if executed wrong, the risk of damaging your brand is high. The glory of the internet and social media is that it connects the world faster than ever before, the bad side to this is negative publicity can spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, people tend to pay more attention to the negatives than the positive things brands do.

One example of a tech brand struggling with poor social media choices is the cooking site Epicurious, which is a cooking website.  Following the Boston Marathon bombings they tried to capitalize and push their brand with a couple tweets. (Feloni, 2013)

After a major tragedy like that is not the right time to push your brand and Epicurious paid for it with a lot of negative responses. Social media marketers must have a good grasp on common sense and know their audience very well so they can predict how people will interpret and react to their social media communications

When done  correctly, social media can do wonders for brand awareness. One of my favorite campaigns was beautifully executed by a Belgian television company called Telenet . They launched a Youtube campaign back in 2012 to promote a new station they were offering simply titled “A dramatic surprise on a quiet square.”

This video quickly went viral and now has just under 50 million views on Youtube. Its hilarious, disruptive and conveys their message that TNT is coming and bringing drama to their network. Typically the rule of thumb with video’s is 30 seconds or less because people’s attention fades after that but this video is so outrageous, they are able to push that to almost 5 times the recommended length. This is a very elaborate example of social media success and isn’t necessary for all companies. Video is huge now a days in the social sphere and they don’t need to be as elaborate as this one to be successful. My company launched a series we call DynEdu which are short bits about general concepts in our industry of internet performance. They are simple to make and quick to execute. They do wonders for market education and really help us establish ourselves as though leaders in our space. Here’s one for example:

As you can see there are many different ways you should go social. Notice how I said “you should go social,” this is because in the tech industry it shouldn’t even be a debate. Your audience is highly connected with social media and its free. There is enough information out there for the newbies to read and learn what to post and what not to post. For the more seasoned marketers, it offers them a platform to be creative and connect with their customers on a more personal level. If you haven’t yet, give it a try! Start small, measure success and grow from there. And remember, the most important trait of a social media marketer is common sense, the more you have, the less risk is involved!

Feloni, R. (2013, November 21). The 10 Biggest Social Media Marketing Fails Of 2013 Read more: Http://www.businessinsider.com/10-worst-social-media-marketing-fails-of-2013-2013-11?op=1#ixzz2tvDfxd2X [Web log post]. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/10-worst-social-media-marketing-fails-of-2013-2013-11?op=1
Moth, D. (2012, December 3). 10 of the best social media campaigns from 2012 [Web log post]. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://econsultancy.com/blog/11244-10-of-the-best-social-media-campaigns-from-2012
Technology Sector. (n.d.). Investopedia. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/technology_sector.asp

So it’s no secret I work for Dyn, one of the biggest DNS companies in the world. Companies that make money off their websites pay us to ensure their website is always available and fast. Ok, so it may be a little more complicated than that but that’s it in a nutshell. When you look across our industry of internet infrastructure/ performance providers, you will notice a lot of trends when it comes to social media marketing.  I’ll dive into the 4 major trends I have noticed.

Product Support

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.12.35 PM

Many companies are using social media to communicate with customers. I know my company encourages it. People reach out to us via Twitter all the time whether they are happy, mad or just have a questions about our products. Our social media team does a great job at assisting people when they have questions. In one of my previous posts, I mentioned a social media tool called Tweetdeck which is a great tool to use when trying to monitor this. Not all people know your companies’ Twitter handle or they will use a hashtag instead of an @ sign. This helps pick up the stragglers. 

Updates/ Outages

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.13.09 PM

I think that Twitter is great for product updates, especially in the internet space. When DNS or Hosting companies have outages, it is very difficult for them to send updates out to their customers. Without working DNS you cannot reach a website or send an email in most cases, so companies will take to social media to update their customers. Since we are in the internet infrastructure industry, if we or similar companies have outages, then our customers’ websites would be offline as well. Because of this, it is  imperative that you notify people as soon as possible. As you can see to the right, Cloudflare has created a Twitter account specifically for communicating these updates. 

Product Releases

Since most of our customers and prospects are active on social media, it makes it a great place to announce new product releases. We find that when people are shopping around in our space they will follow all the major players like Dyn, DNS Made Easy, Neustar Ultra DNS, Cloudflare, etc to get a feel for their companies. As you can see in the picture below, DNS Made Easy just released a new feature that is in high demand due to recent web security issues.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.14.17 PM

This is a great example of how to communicate product releases and it would be a great candidate for a promoted/ paid Tweet as well. A promoted Tweet would help get this info out to non followers. It would be wise to target the followers of their competition (like us) because they are one of the few to offer this in their consumer level products.

Events

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.15.18 PMOne last trend I’ve noticed over social media is event marketing. In a world where most communication is done over the internet, it adds a whole new dynamic to actually meet the person that is interested in your products and talk face to face. At the end of the day, whether your marketing b2b or b2c at the end of the day you are selling to another human. Face to face interaction helps push this process forward creating  higher close rates and shorter sales cycles. This is why events are so important. In order to succeed at events companies must inform people that they will be there, where to find them and get them to stop by and talk. Social Media is a great way of doing so. In an effort to create social media buzz for our presence at SXSW, which is a huge music and technology festival in Austin, we created a contest which the winner will win a free trip.

There are certainly many more uses for social media in the business world but in the internet industry these are the trends I have noticed. It will be interesting to see where these trends go as social media evolves.

Throughout my marketing endeavors I have come across tons of tools/ applications I’ve used to leverage all of the social networks. Three of them that have withstood the test of time are Tint, Tweetdeck and Just Unfollow. I use all of these personally as well as for business purposes which means they are extremely versatile and powerful. They all have different purposes and I will dive into Tint first. 

For any brand that uses social media and has a website, I strongly recommend Tint. I know this is a broad demographic but it helps you understand the power behind this tool. In a nutshell, it is an easy way to embed all of your social feeds onto the web. As a matter of fact, I have a Tint feed on the homepage of this blog. I found out about them when they released a Wix plugin last year when I was building the website for my side business The Woods Collective. In case you haven’t heard of Wix, it is a drag and drop website builder and I highly recommend it if you aren’t efficient with HTML/CSS. Tint also offers custom options for mapping posts with certain keywords, mentions, and hashtags to displays for conferences and concerts. They operate on a freemium model which lets you add two networks for free and they strip out some of the customization options. The free version is more than enough for a personal user.

Next up is Tweetdeck. I was introduced to them within my first week at Dyn. At the time I was a business development rep, prospecting and trying to generate hot leads for the sales team. Tweetdeck helps keep a pulse on what people are saying about your company or your industry. It allows you to create columns which display a Twitter feed of a user specified keyword, hashtag, or twitter handle. Since I was generating leads for a DNS company I had a column for each of our competitors and for keywords such as “DNS Issues” or “DNS Outage” so I could see if people were having issues. I would then reach out via email or Twitter and offer up help. It can be extremely difficult to maneuver through all the noise on social media and Tweetdeck allows this to be possible.

Lastly, we have Just Unfollow. I found Just Unfollow when I was a business development rep for Dyn. Came across them while I was prospecting and started to email the founder to try to introduce Dyn’s DNS and Email services. Long story short, after about 8 months or so of talking with him on Google Chat he finally agreed to chat with us and he became a customer. Just Unfollow works with both Twitter and Instagram, which I heavily use, and monitors your followers. When people Unfollow you on either network you are able to see it and can make a decision to follow or un-follow them right from within the app. I use this more for personal stuff but it could be used by companies to maintain their followers and find new people to follow. They offer different ways to find similar people to follow based on your followers as well to help you grow your network. They are constantly adding features and its exciting to see this app grow.

I highly recommend these three tools to all the social media butterflies out there. I use all of them almost daily and they are a great compliment to social media in general. They help me use these networks to their full potential and, hopefully, I was able to uncover one of these tools for you.