Week 5: Power of the Platform

All right, by now you’ve had the opportunity to think about and do some research on your ideal customer.  I’m looking forward to hearing about your experience with the Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA) worksheets!

With your ICA defined, this week we are going to begin looking at that platforms organizations can use to connect with their community in a “human voice“.  There is a lot of short online articles here.  We’ll go over the main points in class Monday night, but please do come prepared to discuss 🙂

Naturally, an organization’s marketing and communications strategy will support the overall  goals.  Social media is one piece of a marketing and communication strategy.  We don’t have time to go over the entire marketing portfolio in this course, but I want you to understand that social media fits into a broader communications strategy in most organizations. Ultimately, the platforms you choose to connect with your ICA must fit with your organization’s overall strategy.

Ok, time to chat about the platforms that facilitate conversation. There’s no way I can give you a complete overview of every tool.  But what I will do is discuss my experience with some of the most effective platforms, and provide links to further information.  I’ll also give you some “cheat” sheets you can use when defining your strategy.

A bit of history to start 😉 Fred Cavazza has been documenting and analyzing social media’s evolution since 2008.  It’s worth looking at his posts from 20082009201120122013  and 2014 to see how the platforms have changed.  It really reinforces the Cluetrain theses and gives a sense of where the consumer and business-2-business marketplace is going.

In Fred’s most recent post you will see the trends in platform use and the major tools.  The 60 Second Marketer gives a good overview of some strong social media tools for business. You should also look at the Top 20 Tools for Business – we’ll discuss some of these in class. 

What’s most important to note in these articles, is that social media tools form a complex ecosystem. It’s overwhelming how many tools there are! Social media marketers need to understand their audience’s behaviour and needs before really determining the tools.

Organizational goals, campaign goals, and audience should influence the mix of tools a social media marketer will choose.   For instance, in many of my campaigns I will use a mix of platforms including twitter, facebook, flickr, pinterst, tumblr, and YouTube.

The campaigns I create for a business-2-business audience are generally designed for a specific target market in a specific location.  So, my social media tools will vary depending on the goals of the campaign and who I am trying to speak with.

There is no  cheat sheet on exactly where to find your audience. This info graphic  gives some basic demographic insight as does this annual report put out by  Pew Research (Demographic insights 2012).  I particularly like Pew’s Social Project and the research they continually post.  Here is Pew’s latest research.  It should give you insight on which platforms are strong with your ICA.

We are going to look at a some of the most popular platforms in detail Nov. 10th. Right now I want to say a bit more about facebook business pages (mostly because they are wildly popular in all demographics, and they won’t be covered in much detail later).

Business pages on facebook have become standard in advertising. Especially with the business-2-consumer products.  In fact, several TV commercials and print ads direct people to their facebook page instead of their company website!  It’s common to see facebook.com/business name used in an ad rather than the company’s actual url.  Why might that be?  Well, we’ll get into that when we look at analytics, but a large part of a business’ motivation to use a facebook business page is the amount of information it enables a business to capture about their customers and or community.

For five years I hosted and organized an annual conference for game and web developers.  Here is a link to its business page on facebook. When we started using facebook for the conference in 2008 there weren’t many business pages on facebook.  So, we initially created a personal profile for DIG: (disclaimer – I no longer manage these pages, but am using them as an example to illustrate a point.)

With the growing popularity of facebook and increased commercial application, facebook has created many effective features for Business pages such as page analytics, campaign advice and tools to make it easier for communicators to integrate facebook into their existing platforms.

During our final year at DIG have worked on converting our facebook personal profile “friends” into followers of our DIG facebook business page with the plan to shut down the DIG personal profile.  The personal profile offers several benefits like being able to direct message our friends, but the business page is more appropriate and offers exceptional analytics that help us understand who is looking at our site and how they are interacting with the content.  We can identify “influencers” (those who have a lot of friends or reach) and engage them to share our content – thus, broadening our audience reach.

Building business pages is pretty straight forward! Here is facebook’s link on getting started with Business pages.  Read through it and get comfortable with the concept.  For your visual learners, here is a video.  Mashable has made an incredible guide for facebook.  It’s pretty high level, but worth a look. Check it out here.  With the increased popularity of facebook, the business pages now have some impressive features we can use. Check out this summary.

Organizations can take advantage of these applications to gain insight on their customers and community. The benefit, of course, for these insights is to enhance conversation with our target audiences.  Our lecture on analytics will dive into this in detail.

Take some time to review the facebook pages of your favourite brands: global, multinational, and local shops who you may already “like”.  You can see some quite impressive stuff with multinational brands!  Of course, it’s important to look at smaller local example.   Here’s a recent ranking for the Top 10 Small Business Facebook Pages .  Feel free to learn from the best practices you see and apply their tactics/principles.

For our class Edmodo discussion, consider Cavazza’s documentation of the evolution of social media.  Do you agree with his categorization? How can organizations work within his categories to achieve organizational goals? You may also want to consider your current employer and their use and mix of social tools.

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