[tweetmeme source=”barrydewar” alias=”” only_single=false style=”compact”]When I started this blog, it was never my intention to speak purely about social media, all the time. I thought I could banter about the interweb in general, pontificating on good ideas and bad ones. Talking about strategy as well as practice. Trying to be useful.

Didn’t turn out that way though. As the months have rolled by I find that everything I put on here has to have a social media angle. Sometimes I struggle to find a reason to post and it can all get a bit forced.

It’s not a good thing. I see it from other active social media types and it bugs me. No-one wants to read about social media all the time. Yes, it’s interesting, it’s new and in some cases it’s how we make our living. But it’s just one facet of what makes you a properly rounded person.

Effective branding

I advise clients to think about their brand. When they give me a 2d idea of what they think it is I poo poo it and tell them they need at least 4 dimensions in order to humanise it. Social media is about engagement and no-one wants to engage with a drone.

So expect more musings and less #socialmedia from now on. Don’t worry, I won’t stop (can’t stop) telling you how I think you should be doing it. I’ll just try and make it a bit clearer where that stops and where I begin.

*image credit Lorenzo González


Streamlining your LinkedIn strategy

[tweetmeme source=”barrydewar” alias=”” only_single=false]LinkedIn used to be rubbish. Really. It was nothing more than a glorified spreadsheet of contacts that you could show off to other people. It was for salesfolk to get worked up over who had the most leads.

In recent months it’s come on in leaps and bounds. It’s now, arguably, the most focussed social media website out there. Not only is it a cracking way to present your online CV (although pretty much everyone still asks for a paper one!), it’s also grown a number of routes for some genuine business networking.

It stands alone in that it’s targeted at the world of work. You can join groups, share expertise, email contacts, upload news, etc. But let’s be clear, it’s commercially focussed. If you’re creating a voice for yourself, a brand image, then there are better tools. LinkedIn can showcase this brand but it’s not the place to perpetuate it.

Brand building involves a great deal of trial and error

If you’re fully committed to it then you’ll be tweeting a lot, updating your Facebook status a lot and trying to find ways to get your content on just about every social media forum there is. Every update is something of a shot in the dark, a calculated one, but a risk all the same. If you spend all day crafting a single comment on someone else’s blog, it might be a masterpiece. It might be loaded with crafty keywords, it might link to all the right places and it might have all the right bait to drive traffic to your site. But while you were doing that one of your competitors threw up 20 tweets, 5 Flickr pics, 7 Delicious bookmarks,2 blog posts and a YouTube video for good measure. Who do you think generated the most buzz?

Showcase the very best of what you are achieving in the social media space

Don’t link all of your accounts on LinkedIn. Especially not your twitter stream, instead handpick the tweets you want to include (by using the #in hashtag). None of your potentially useful network of business savvy people want to know that you’ve just farted. Instead, craft regular status updates just for LinkedIn, answer some pertinent questions and engage in some good group chat. If your blog is business oriented include that, ditto your Amazon reading list. What you’re trying to avoid is extraneous information overload.

It helps to think about LinkedIn as you would your old skool CV. Get the best stuff on there and make yourself sound awesome. Otherwise it goes in the bin.

Dear Directors – a social media letter

Dear Directors,

You are ignoring social media at your peril. People are talking about your company right now and it’s not all good. Some of your staff are seeing this but they’re afraid to step in because you don’t have a policy which protects them if they do.

Do a search on your company name, it only takes a second. Try a service like Social Mention. It couldn’t be easier.

See what’s out there? Can you imagine what it would be like if you could get involved there and start to influence how your brand is perceived?

Why haven’t you done it yet? Are you:

If you don’t fix this situation right now your competitors will be tearing past you quicker than you can imagine. In many industries the social media space is virgin territory. Stake your claim now to get a head start.

That’s what I’d do.

Yours Faithfully,
Barry Dewar (Social Media Strategist)

How Do You Sell Social Media?

I had lunch today with an old boss from years ago. it was fun to catch up, he told me stories about where the company is at these days. I told him stories about working in the public sector and how I’m now focussing on social media. I really enjoyed it. And it came just a few hours after a breakfast networking event here in Edinburgh called #EdCM.Return On Investment

I don’t do enough of this. Despite telling you in my previous post that you need to get out there and meet people, I do it too rarely. As with most things, I’m working on it.

The reason that I found these meetings so stimulating is that it makes me aware of how social media is perceived, and, by extension, how I’m perceived.

What’s in it for them?

For the young (and young at heart) of #EdCM, it’s exciting. it’s how we stay connected. it’s a forum for sharing things. It helps us all to grow, and learn and have fun. Social media is the glue which keeps these people together.

For the establishment (and by that I mean people who have been in business, any business for 15ys+), social media is regarded with suspicion. These people are successful in business. They’ve seen innovations and paradigm shifts come and go over the years and they’ve learned not to get excited about it. They are happy not to adopt simply because they realise that there’s no rush, there’ll be another one along in a minute.

That’s on a personal level. On a business level, the establishment are focussed on results. They see social media as a tool and are happy to use it where they can see some ROI. They’ve learned hard lessons about how and where to invest and they have to spend their money wisely.

So that leaves a grey area. Between the geeks and the establishment. This is where business people are open to new ideas and are willing to attempt something for the sole reason that they THINK it might improve their business, if they change the way they interact with customers.

So where does that leave me?

It leaves me in an interesting place. As a social media strategist I need to be able to speak to all of these people, to help them understand the benefits. I need to enthuse about 4Square to the early adopter crowd, preach about listen/engage CRM to the open-minded and nail the cold hard profit for the establishment.

I think I make a decent fist of the first 2 but actually pinning down the financial metrics for social media is hard. There are hundreds of analytical tools which can tell you your reach, penetration, influence, perception or whatever else but the crux of the matter is that you can’t predict a Return On Investment because you just don’t know if the social media landscape is going to be the same by the end of the project.

For instance, if you were banking on third-party advertising on Twitter to make profit until the end of this financial year, think again. That’s a huge deal and it’s the sort of seismic change that is occurring constantly in the social media world.

So, how do I discuss figures with the establishment?

I can’t. No-one can. I can analyse the results of a campaign and point towards profit/loss by applying other metrics, but I can’t predict the success of any campaign. What do I do when they ask? Well, I show them case studies. Case studies are great because it allows you to show a profit, and they way it was achieved. It’s tangible evidence of success and it works. I ‘ve got some crackers, with graphs and everything. I’ve still got to be honest though, I tell them that I may not stay the charted course to get to the end goal. If I see something now working, or a new bit of kit pops up that I think will allow me to do it better, I’ll be changing direction. Focus on the goal. 9 times out of 10 we’ll get there.

And if we don’t, well, at least we can apply what we’ve learned to the next project.

*OK, so there are some good resources out there regarding ROI in social media, I’m not just coming at this cold. For your consideration:

What Brian Solis says
What Chris Brogan says

There are more, Google it.