social success How to connect witH customers tHrougH

Presented by
Special Report
How to Connect With
Customers Through
Social Media
April 2013 I april 2013 1
Download this easy-to-use tool
and bring consistency and
efficiency to your social media
marketing efforts
“Social media
can be a powerful
tool if you use
it well. And it’s
easier than
you think.”
Looking for help with your
social media marketing? How
to tell the true social media
experts from the amateurs
ocial media makes it possible to engage
more deeply with clients and prospects
than ever before. And there are a myriad
of ways to reach out. But there are just as
many ways to screw up. What’s the best
approach for SMEs?
While there are some resources for SMEs looking to
leverage social media’s full potential, the amount of
advice and information out there can be overwhelming. Don’t get freaked out: it’s just another business
tool (albeit one with more cat videos than most).
This special report—Social Success—pulls together stories and columns that cut
straight to the point. What are you trying to accomplish and how can sites like Twitter and Facebook
help you get there? How can you organize your social
media efforts?
Social media can be a powerful tool—if you use it
well. And that’s easier than you may think. Read this
package and you’ll find specific and simple steps you
can take to avoid common pitfalls and truly connect
with your target.
Like the business world, the
Twitterverse has its own set
of rules, and those who flaunt
them will pay the price by
losing followers
With so little time and so
many platforms, it’s easy to
feel overwhelmed. Relax: social
media is simply another business tool
Thinking of social media as
far more than a marketing
tool is the first step toward
boosting your bottom line I april 2013 2
social success
How to connect with customers through social media
A Simple Spreadsheet
for Social Media Success
Bring consistency and efficiency to your social marketing
efforts with this easy-to-use tool
By Jacquelyn Cyr
hen you look at the social platforms available
to your business, you have more than enough
opportunity to get conversations going with a
variety of customer and prospect segments. But
it’s not just about creating social profiles and
writing the occasional post when you have time. That route will
only frustrate you when it appears that social isn’t working for
your company.
So, rather than putting a bunch of time or money against
social media marketing and hoping your internal or outsourced
experts know what they’re doing, you might want to start by
building out your own content strategy.
You can do this in many ways, but this is a simple guide to
refine your business’s approach to social.
Step 1
As shown in the sample spreadsheet you can download here,
build a table in a spreadsheet organized under three headers:
Audience, Distribution and Content.
Step 2
Under the Audience column, create sub-columns for the different stakeholder segments to whom you want to be relevant as
well as the desired objectives through that channel. Perhaps
you’d like to speak to your primary target consumer, say, mothers ages 25 to 40 who have a high household income, but you’d
also like to chat with your secondary consumer of first-time
urban grandparents. You may also want to target a top-10 list of
bloggers relevant to your industry, and sales staff at your largest
retail customer.
In the Objective column, you don’t need to cite specific sales
increase numbers, but generally aligning the business objectives
into the content strategy will keep your team consistently focused
on why you’re writing articles, pinning fun photos and finding
interesting stuff to tweet for hours every week.
Step 3
Under the Distribution column, you want to line up which
social platforms each audience segment is using. Maybe you
get the highest levels of engagement with your blogger influencers on Twitter, but they don’t pay much attention to Facebook. And perhaps your primary consumers are most attentive
to your Pinterest boards because these people are busy and
more visually oriented.
You want to suss out whether these stakeholder segments are
active and accessible through social channels. If they aren’t, drop
them from your content strategy. If they are, figure out the best
distribution channels through which to reach them.
Step 4
Under the Content column, build out your content plan by creating sub-columns labeled Tone and Topics. With a solid understanding of your brand voice, consider the type of tone variations
you’d use across the varying stakeholder segments and make
note of this.
Under Topics, start making a list of the topics that would be
relevant. Perhaps you’re looking at children’s bedroom design,
pregnancy fashion and overall kid’s street style for that primary
consumer. Look at websites, blogs and trade publications relevant
to these user segments and see the type of approach they take to
their own editorial. Use this expertise to guide your own strategy.
Step 5
Once you have the content strategy lined up, you’re ready to
build a preliminary editorial calendar. Rather than assigning
resources broadly—such as “update Facebook every day”—use I april 2013 3
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How to connect with customers through social media
this approach to figure out how often you want to communicate
with your varying audience segments and which topics are being
assigned to which days.
Once you’ve considered the above information and built a
strategy, go ahead and have someone on your team execute it.
But keep a close eye on it. Remember that, as with any communications materials you create, this is your brand voice. The
benefit to digital media is that you can consistently refine and
adapt your business’s content strategy.
Using a content strategy to figure out how to allocate the
time and other resources you devote to social media puts a
framework around something that otherwise can easily turn
into a time vampire. And it ensures that, like every other marketing activity, you’re treating social as a driver to achieve key
business goals.
Jacquelyn Cyr has spent the past 15 years building businesses and
brands, and is the principal of KEEN Collective Inc., a Toronto-based
brand consultancy and co-founder of R3VOLVED, a sustainable product design firm. Cyr is a strategy columnist, speaker on business and
brand building, and ranked on the 2010 and 2011 PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 as one of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs. I april 2013 4
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How to connect with customers through social media
Find Your
Looking to consult? How to tell the true social media
experts from the amateurs
By David Pimentel
ack Shapiro was floored. He had called a big marketing
agency to help his Richmond Hill, Ont. company, Speech
Therapy Centres of Canada, revamp its website and
launch a social-media presence. He didn’t expect it to
be cheap, but he sure didn’t anticipate a quote for a
two-year contract to come in at $1 million—a quarter of his company’s revenue over that period.
He was equally surprised—and much more pleasantly so—when
he found (and hired) an independent consultant
who charged $2,000 per month to maintain
Speech Therapy’s activity on Facebook, Twitter
and LinkedIn. Shapiro is happy with the service
he has enlisted, but the vast disparity in the fees
taught him a valuable lesson: “There are a lot of
people in this field trying to make a lot of money.”
He’s not alone in his experience. As Facebook,
Twitter and other social media evolve into critical
marketing channels, entrepreneurs—many of
whom lack the expertise or time to develop their
own online presence—find themselves seeking
help. According to the Social Media Examiner, a
trade magazine for marketers, 30% of businesses
outsourced some portion of their social-media
marketing last year.
Not coincidentally, a flood of consultancies
stocked with self-professed social-media experts
have entered the market in the past few years. They come in
every shape, size and skill level. Some are true experts who will
help you convert customers into fans, followers and friends. But
others are no more than amateurs trying to cash in on hype and
the desperation of bewildered business owners. So, how do you
tell them apart? The following questions will help you separate
the wannabes from the winners with the expertise you need.
to social-media experts. Even though the barriers to entry are
low, this is a tough game that’s changing blindingly fast. Mastering the various media requires some tech savvy, as well as a
deep understanding of how each fits into a broader marketing
strategy. Most business owners simply don’t have these resources.
So, where to start? Mark Evans, a principal at marketing consultancy ME Consulting in Toronto, says that business owners
are often so anxious to launch their social-media campaigns that
they fail to consider what their true objectives are.
“Is it better customer service? Is it brand awareness? Is it sales? Is it simply building stronger relationships?” In other words, is there a strong business imperative behind your campaign, or are you
just doing it because everyone else seems to be?
There are social-media strategists who can train
you and provide a high-level road map, and then
there are tacticians who will do the grunt work of
keeping various profiles and sites active. There are
consultants who specialize in a particular sector,
such as real estate or health care. And there are
even optimization experts who will audit your
social-media strategy.
If you know which media to pursue and the
frequency with which you want to do so, a tactician will suffice. If you’re unclear, strategic help
is more appropriate.
Evans does suggest that you (or your employees) post your
own content or, at least, vet it to make sure it accurately reflects
the nuances of your business: “External agencies aren’t living
and breathing the brand. They’re hired guns.”
“Don’t assume
a consultant is
competent just
because she’s
young. Age is no
guarantee that
you’ll get the
insight needed
to add value.”
There actually is a good reason so many businesses are looking
There are three categories of social-media consultancies: the big
agencies, the smaller firms and the solo practitioners. Realistically, a top digital marketing agency such as Edelman Digital or
Radian6 will be too expensive for the average SME. I april 2013 5
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How to connect with customers through social media
But even smaller agencies, which generally are cheaper, may
not have the cred to back up their claims, says Tim Kimber, owner
of Ottawa-based toymaker PlaSmart. His experience in hiring
social-media help has taught him to look for an expert with marketing skills, not vice versa. “You don’t want to hire a marketing
or video-production firm that treats social media as an afterthought,” he says.
Kimber believes that solo practitioners are more likely to have
a “pure” social-media specialty—and they also happen to be the
most affordable option.
There aren’t yet any widely respected degrees in the field. Avi
Goldfarb, a digital-marketing professor at the Rotman School of
Management in Toronto, says that while universities and colleges
now teach social media in business programs, the area is just too
new to assign value to credentials.
That means the due diligence is on you. “Ask what campaigns
[the consultant] has worked on,” Goldfarb advises. From there,
check out the social-media presence of the consultant’s clients
to make sure the look and feel is consistent across platforms, and
that the style and frequency of posts is in line with your goals.
Maureen McCabe, owner of McCabe Marketing in Toronto,
recommends you also review the consultant’s own socialmedia
presence. “You want to Google them,” she says. “Look at the
social-media platforms they’re on. How often are they posting?”
Bottom line: if they can’t manage their own social-media realm
professionally and proficiently, they aren’t likely to do a very
good job managing yours.
Don’t assume a consultant is competent just because she’s young.
While some CEOs, including Kimber, hire only Gen Y help (“Social
media is a young person’s game,” he says), age is no guarantee
that you’ll get the insight needed to add value.
McCabe advises staying away from consultants who try to
push long-term contracts; a three- to six-month probationary
period should suffice. She also suggests that you ask for recent
analytics reports on consultants’ client campaigns. If it isn’t
immediately clear what they achieved— that is, if the report is
shallow or incomprehensible— it’s a sign you’re dealing with
snake oil salesmen. I april 2013 6
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How to connect with customers through social media
The Five Tweets that
Lose Twitter Followers
Twitter is not easy to master, but it’s easy to mess up on the ubiquitous
social media platform. Avoid these common Twitter mistakes
By Kim Hart Macneill
witter offers business owners a fast and effective way
to connect to their customers. But the Twitterverse,
like the business world, has its own set of rules, and
those who flaunt them will pay the price by losing
Many common sense rules that apply to traditional marketing
also translate to Twitter. For example, you wouldn’t approve an
ad without checking spelling and grammar; the same should go
for your company tweets. But other rules are specific to Twitter,
and this makes it difficult for the uninitiated to understand why
their following isn’t growing.
If you want to engage your existing followers and win new
ones, here are five types of tweets you should avoid:
The broken record
Writing and scheduling your tweets in advance using a social
media management tool is common practice, but, unfortunately,
so is scheduling the same tweet to publish every few hours.
“You can share a blog post a good four or five times, but don’t
use the exact same words each and every time,” recommends
Lara Wellman, a partner in Ottawa-based Wellman Wilson Consulting, which helps businesses use online tools. Writing different teaser tweets refreshes your Twitter feed and entices more
followers to visit your links, says Wellman.
The robot
Twitter can be configured to automatically send a direct message to thank your new followers for subscribing, but the gesture
feels hollow when it pops up seconds after a user subscribes to
your feed. Instead, thank users with a personal message that
makes reference to the content of their Twitter feed (presuming
it’s worth referencing). This makes users feel good about following you and highlights your willingness to engage, advises Matt
Moccia, social media coordinator at Toronto-based Zenergy
Communications Inc.. If you don’t have time to assess and
thank every follower, concentrate your efforts on influencers
and customers.
The megaphone
Twitter is rife with shameless self-promotion, and “even brands
with a lot of social media presence are guilty,” says Moccia. He
recommends a messaging mix of 20% marketing and companyrelated content and 80% external information, like relevant
industry news, interesting articles and blog links.
The announcer
Linking your Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn accounts to post
your updates to Twitter can save time on your social media activities but it can also create its own social media gaffes. “A lot of
the messaging that you put on those other channels is longer
than 140 characters, so it gets cut off, which is frustrating for
readers,” explains Wellman.
Keep your tweets to 140 characters by publishing longer information on your blog and tweeting a link or by sharing the information on social media platforms with longer character counts.
The confrontation
Twitter offers your customers a new way to ask questions and
make comments, but it can also open your brand up to very
public, negative feedback.
“If you address it publicly,” says Moccia, “other followers
will see that you addressed the problem and that you actually
cared.” I april 2013 7
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How to connect with customers through social media
With so little time and so many platforms to figure out, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Relax: social media is simply another business tool
By Cybele Negris
’ve been speaking at a lot of events lately about social
media, entrepreneurship and marketing. The one key
message that I keep hearing from business owners is their
feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the numerous social-media platforms and the lack of time they have
to participate in even one of them. They already have to deal
with all the other aspects of running their business, so how can
they possibly find any more time?
Some business owners have resorted to outsourcing their socialmedia activities. Others are throwing their hands up and screaming for help.
Here are some ways you can start feeling less overwhelmed
and more empowered by the tools available to you:
Social media is a tool,
not a burden
The first step is a shift in attitude. Don’t fear social media. Most
people have conquered how to use a telephone or email over the
years. Social media is simply another tool to help you communicate with clients, potential clients and an expanded audience.
The tools are there to empower you and make you more efficient,
not the other way around.
Have a plan
Understand what you’re trying to achieve. At the very least, you
should be managing your brand and reputation. Set your objectives and targets so you can measure whether you’re effective.
Determine where
your audience is
Before you choose the specific social-media communication tool,
figure out who you’re communicating with and where they spend
their time. Facebook continues to be the most used social-media
site, but other popular ones in Canada include Tumblr, Twitter
and LinkedIn. You should also understand the demographics for
your industry. Pinterest, another popular and fast-growing site,
is dominated by women at an 8:2 ratio. So if, for example, you’re
in the spa or retail business catering to a female clientele, you
should probably be on Pinterest.
Choose the social-media
tools that work best for you
If you’re a great writer with good content to share, then writing
blog posts makes sense for you. If you’re grammatically challenged but are great on camera, try posting video clips on YouTube instead to share your ideas.
Stay focused
Master one platform before you move on. If a new social-media
tool comes along, don’t be distracted by the “new shiny object.”
Determine how much time you have weekly or monthly to allocate to investigating the new tools.
Reserve your name
Even if you aren’t actively using each social-media site, it’s important to be proactive and at least reserve your name and your company’s name so your competition doesn’t snap it up first. It takes
only a few minutes to set up your profile. The website NameChk
allows you to check your name across a variety of different sites.
Budget your time
There’s no question that social media can suck up time—and time,
of course, is money. Determine how much time you will allocate
to social media and prioritize this activity against the other things
you need to accomplish each day. And stick to your schedule. I april 2013 8
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How to connect with customers through social media
Use automated tools where
There are people who are completely against scheduling posts. I
take a more practical approach. I engage in direct conversations
in real time when I can. However, I am often up late at night
when everyone else is sleeping, so it makes little sense to post
messages then. I use HootSuite to schedule messages during times
that I know my audience will be listening. And this tool allows
me to choose which messages I post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
and Google+ at the same time.
Measure your effectiveness
The ROI from social media is complex and difficult to measure
because it’s part of a “multi-touch” approach to lead generation.
Survey your customers periodically to find out how they found
you and whether social media was part of that touch point.
Share good content
Try to give value to your audience by sharing good content.
Develop a trusted community of people who you interact with
who will reciprocate by sharing your content.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes: “Social media
is word of mouth powered by technology.”
Cybele Negris is president and co-founder of Vancouver-based Inc., Canada’s original .ca registrar and one of the country’s
leading providers of web hosting and other internet solutions. She has
been on the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 ranking of Canada’s Top
Female Entrepreneurs for the past nine years.
This column is reposted with the permission of Business in
Vancouver, which posted it originally on I april 2013 9
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How to connect with customers through social media
Social Media Made
Thinking of social media as far more than a marketing tool is the
first step toward boosting your bottom line
By David Kincaid
hen Lowe’s, the venerable home-improvement
retailer, was looking to boost its top line and
live its tagline of “Never Stop Improving,” it
naturally looked to social media. After all, these
days social media is supposed to be the Rosetta
stone for business success.
And Lowe’s was right—to an extent. It did generate additional
revenue—about $1 million worth of net new money—by leveraging
the principles of social media. But not in the way you might think.
Most companies see social media as merely a marketing tool
(and expense). But Lowe’s took a more enlightened approach by
applying it inside the company to foster idea generation, sharing
and vetting among employees. Lowe’s was able to take this different approach to social media—one that my firm calls “social
profitability”—thanks to having launched an internal socialcollaboration system. This social platform enabled a front-line
employee with a unique demonstration idea for, of all things,
Teflon paint trays to share it throughout the company, which
resulted in generating the additional revenue.
In order for you to use the social-profitability approach to
achieve the same kind of results, let’s first answer the question:
what the heck is social profitability?
Most CEOs believe “social media” is a tool their marketing departments use to “engage” with customers and prospects through
social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest
in order to create awareness, loyalty and (hopefully) sales. As a
result, most other departments in a company don’t have to worry
about it because it’s marketing’s responsibility.
However, at LEVEL5 we believe that the term “social media”
focuses too much on marketing and the channels used, and
not enough on the goal all departments should have: profitable growth and ROI. Social media’s true business purpose is
to drive revenue, EBITDA (earnings before interest taxes, depreci-
ation and amortization), earnings per share and competitive
advantage—not to tweet or post Facebook updates.
As a result, we’ve flipped the traditional idea of social media
on its head. In its place, we’ve coined the term “social profitability” to describe the set of technologies, processes, capabilities,
behaviours and culture that relate to a brand’s social networking
but have value only insofar as they positively impact overall
brand health and profitability. We use the term “social networking” instead of “social media” because it denotes a process that
can be used to develop a company-wide brand-building capability; not just a medium or channel dominated by marketing.
Reframing social media to social profitability broadens the scope
of social networking beyond marketing to the external market;
it focuses on the social processes throughout the company that
can be used to drive profitable growth, not only via enhanced
revenues but also through reduced costs.
So what does a social-profitability approach look like compared with a more traditional approach to social media? Where
social media generally focuses on the external market exclusively, social profitability looks inside the company as well to
see where social networking can drive bottom-line results.
Examples include:
Using real-time knowledge of consumer demand
in shift planning to ensure the right number and
type of workers are on an assembly line;
Having IT capture social-networking conversations
to incorporate feedback into future product
Making the purchasing group aware in real
time of the burgeoning interest in a particulate
product so they can obtain better pricing for
materials used to make it.
As a result, this perspective also places the responsibility for social
profitability squarely on the shoulders of the CEO, the ultimate I april 2013 10
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How to connect with customers through social media
champion of a branded business’s EBITDA. It also transforms
what are usually considered the “costs” of applying social networking into “investments” that deliver a tangible, financial
payoff. Not only that, but this approach offers the potential to
redefine information flows to result in better decision making,
enable cultural shift to a more customer-centric perspective and
develop new competencies that can drive competitive advantage.
A growing number of companies are embracing this view, even
if they don’t call it social profitability. Examples include:
To boost customer-satisfaction levels, RBC applied
the social-networking principles of social profitability
by implementing a social customer-care system
that was integrated with the bank’s traditional
call-centre applications. This yielded an 18% rise
in customer satisfaction;
To improve its purchase cycle, leveraged
the principles of social networking as it relates to
online reviews. By creating the ability for any user to
post a review, positive or negative, about a car, the
site gained credibility and increased engagement Web
pages that had ratings and reviews added to them
had a 16% higher rate of conversion, and a 100%
higher rate of traffic through to dealer sites;
By crowdsourcing new product design, Precyse
Technologies, a leader in real-time asset and supplychain visibility solutions, saved US$250,000;
TechSmith, which provides screen capture and
recording software, has saved about US$100,000
annually in staffing costs via the company’s social
CRM solution, which uses social-media services,
techniques and technology to enable better
engagement with its customers.
These are all examples of companies applying the principles
of social profitability by using social networking throughout
their organization to drive profitability. But even these
examples don’t show everything you can achieve by taking
this new approach.
So what else can you do to drive social profitability and get
the most bang from your social-networking buck throughout
your business? I’ll explore that in Part 2 of this column.
David Kincaid has been a leader of branded businesses for more
than 30 years and is now managing partner and CEO of LEVEL5
Strategy Group, a Toronto-based firm dedicated to driving profitable
growth for its clients through the power of their brand. LEVEL5 was
on the 2010 and 2011 PROFIT 200 rankings of Canada’s FastestGrowing Companies. I april 2013 11