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Marketing Automation: Manage Brand Reputation & Social Media the ROI Way

Posted byMon, Aug 12, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

Last week I went to hear speakers from Automattic/Wordpress, Angie’s List and law firm Barnes & Thornburg at Digital Deep Sea Diving, or really, how to work in the digital space. But I was struck by how the conversation hasn’t changed much since the, uh, old days—before the social media explosion of 2008.

Companies, especially larger or public corporations, are still trying to walk the line between being transparent while managing their message/online reputation (translation: controlling). How much and what is productive to say in an evergreen digital space? Can you really trust employees to represent your brand online in a way that doesn’t require micromanagement (again with the control issues)? And ultimately, how do we manage the work and create meaning from social media?

And that’s where I’m surprised people aren’t more progressive. One tidbit of advice was to focus on a few social channels, because social media is overwhelming. Yes. It is. But here’s what happens if you limit the channels you’re engaged in. You:

  • Allow others to potentially take your domain name.
  • Limit your ability to own search results/assets.
  • Limit the ability to meet/find potential customers.

The World is Your Oyster When You Think Holistically. Marketing Automation Makes That Achievable Online.

Instead of limiting your potential, why not expand it with the right technology? Why not  invest in an integrated marketing platform, which helps you to manage, monitor and publish social media updates (along with all other marketing functions) from one place?

Marketing automation is the only way to go as the space becomes more demanding. It simplifies and personalizes the work while encouraging your reach and engagement to expand. Win, win. Also, how can you discuss ROI without addressing tools? You don’t need to pull out the gloves and fight about software providers—but you do need a way to determine ROI. It’s more than just strategy, you need the right tools that will provide data.

I’ve just worked with too many small business owners who think Google Analytics can reveal the value of marketing activities. A good developer can jerry-rig a lot in GA, but it’s  ultimately resource to check the health of your website. Determining ROI from marketing activities requires a system designed to provide that kind of data.

Giving Up Control Creates Room for Strong Brand Advocacy

This idea didn’t come up in the forum, but it’s too important not to share: Your best defense against bad online press is to publish positive stories continually and develop a loyal social following. This is your moat, securing the castle from attack. And you can’t really establish that when you’re so focused on yourself. So let go. Build advocates by being so helpful they love you. Be rabid about customer service. When you are demonstrative in a positive way online, it spreads like wildfire. Negative press just gets pushed down the page when you’re on a roll. But you have to publish a lot of content and be helpful. Want examples? Look at Apple, HubSpot. Heck, Angie’s List has that loyalty—I just thought that point should have been emphasized for others‘ benefit.

I understand the desire to control the message. I was on that side of the fence years ago creating the message. But…today there’s more power in being open. You can’t really tell people what to think about your services. People are smart; they have their own opinions. And they are going to voice them whether you know it, like it or are ready for it. We’ve all seen how Facebook blows up for better or worse. Use it for the better and focus on being helpful.

Oh and you don’t typically hear this: engage an IP lawyer early. This will save money in the long run. I’m sure social media will be a hot topic of debate for years, but the IP counsel is one piece of advice there’s no debate about.

Terra Hoskins is the principal of inbound marketing consultancy, Hoskins Interactive. She tweets at @terrahoskins