Social Media Coaching for Executives and CEO’s

Learn about social media management in one-on-one or team executive coaching. Social media has become the most exciting shift in communication that business is currently experiencing. This shift spans across generational boundaries and has made a more convenient lifestyle for people as the socialize on the internet. Over the past year I have had the privilege to coach executives from Mr Price, The South African Presidency, the ACDP, Southern Sun, Three Cities, TomorrowToday and a number of Non Profit Organisations. The key areas that we cover in social media coaching are: How to use social media platforms? How does this affect my business? How does this affect people? How can I make the work for me? What makes social media coaching sessions different from social media workshops. The coaching sessions encourage conversations that speak directly to your needs or concerns One-on-one coaching can be done on your schedule (we can even do them over Skype if its more convenient). For more information please contact workshops@mikesaunders.co.za.

How valuable is your website in B2B purchasing decisions?

The invention of social media and blogging has left a big question unanswered in the online marketing realms. Just how valuable is a company website in business to business purchasing decisions? Well it seems that they are very valuable but not neccessarily influential in in the three stages of purchasing. This information comes from the Buyershpere report which I believe shows great insight into the platforms neccessary to create business to business sales leads from the internet. A Summary: How important is your company website? When looking at buying business services there are three stages of the purchase that have been identified: Identifying and defining the need Indentifying potential suppliers Final selection of the supplier In all three stages a company’s website was the primary channel used to gather information, even more than web searches. In stage one industry press, word of mouth and events were next in line as channels used to identify and define the need for the purchase. The company website in this case has the opportunity to establish brand, share product details and specifications and add value to the different purchase stages. the interesting fact that rose oot of the study though was that the company website had very little influence on the conclusion of each stage. The effect of social media on business to business purchasing decisions It’s all about influence! Every stage of the purchase cycle revealed that  social media channels and word of mouth were the primary influential channels that influenced the decisions...

New Keynote on Social Media – Consumer 2.0

I am happy to announce that almost a years worth of ideas and concepts are neatly wrapped up in my latest keynote presentation. Consumer 2.0 The past ten years have seen the world move closer and closer to a digital existence. The boomer generation confidently lead to way by integrating our lives with electronic banking, business intranets and cellular phones while Generation X and Y have continued the journey into blogging, instant messaging and social media. This digital life has not replaced the real “person to person” lifestyle but rather enhanced life to be more convenient and dynamic. Electronic banking opened the door to convenient banking and social media made relationships easier to manage. Does this mean that everyone is moving to using these new technologies? In our experience no, instead people are adapting to those technologies that matter to them. This has lead to a more complex consumer who is using various communication tools in their own way. Making it more difficult to engage with the consumer – regardless of their generation, income level or intelligence. The level of a consumers digital savvy will depend on how and when you could connect with your consumers and whether they will appreciate your presence or not. At the end of the day you have four questions that need answering: How does this influence the way we do business? How has this changed the consumer? How does this influence your reputation or brand? What do we do now? Consumer 2.0 is a...

Social Media can’t fix everything

I read an interesting article on Groundswell which highlights a very important aspect of BP’s current social media nightmare and what they should do about it. Basically the suggestion is to do nothing and actually fix the problem of the spill. In fact all BP’s resources should be focused on this one problem. In the same way not every single negative piece of  social media press can be solved with social media management. You may need to throw all your energy into fixing the problem. An example would be a public dissatisfaction with the level of service received at retail outlets of a major brand. The dissatisfied public have chosen to ‘vent’ on their favorite social media platforms and as a result their message is spreading like wildfire. A literal PR nightmare. You can respond to every single comment and produce all kinds of interesting media into the social realm, but if the root of the problem is not fixed then the bad social media press will continue. My advice (and Harvard Business’s Advice) is to tackle the actual problem first and train your employees to deliver greater service levels to your customers. Once the actual problem is solved, return to your Online Reputation Management and build a campaign/message around how you have dealt with the problem and how your customers can now visit the store and experience better service. This positive experience (subsequently felt by the customer) may make it onto social media and their opinion will be heard...

Coaching the South African Presidency in Social Media

Over the past few months The South African Presidency have been speaking about improving their communications to the South African public by getting involved in social media. In fact, I found out over twitter that this was a topic of conversation on 5fm a few days ago. I can confirm all the hype now after I sat with Mr. Vusi Mona, Deputy Director General: Head of Communications, from the South African Presidency. Over coffee at the King Shaka Airport we discussed the strategy to implement this new communication vehicle into the The Presidency. I found Mr. Mona to be incredibly insightful and passionate about exploring social media management. Mr. Mona had this to say about our consultation session together: “Thanks Mike. I derived lots of value from our discussion.” I am looking forward to serving our country in developing their new social media communication strategy.

Mike Saunders and Barrie Bramley talk about Social Media

I spent last week in Johannesburg and had a chance to chat to Barry Bramley about social media in South Africa. Barry has since put our conversation down on a podcast which captures a few clear points about social media management. Bearing in mind alot of the content here is just my opinion but we looked some case studies, why social media is important, how I launched my consultancy, the most important asset to social media and B2B marketing online. You can download/listen the podcast here

Should I focus on Facebook or Twitter for my business?

I am a fan of focus! It always gives you a better return for the same effort. Social media management is no different. When looking at Facebook and Twitter most people know that you can link Twitter and Facebook so that you only update one and the other updates automatically. I have warned people about linking Twitter and Facebook before and won’t go into it here. Assuming that you agree with my argument that you should treat Twitter and Facebook seperately, the question goes back to focus because if I am on Facebook – Twitter suffers and vice versa. According to an article in Hubspot Marketing a survey discovered that business to business companies benefit more from Twitter while products and services that are directed at the consumer can achieve better results on Facebook. This starts to make more sense when you look at the atmospheres that each network has. Twitter is more tolerant of business promotion because it is more of an information network than a social network. Business promotion is seen as more information and therefore if it is relevant to my need it is valuable to me. While Facebook adopts a purely social stance in the mind of its users. Think about a shopping center, its a social venue. People spend time in shopping centers when there are relaxing and taking time out of the normal work routine. However there is an incredible amount of business transaction that takes places in a shopping center and it mostly...

5 Fudamentals of a Good Internet Marketing Strategy

A good internet marketing strategy will include these five fundamental elements: Marketing Research Marketing research needs to take place before the campaign begins and continuously thoughout the campaign activation process. If the correct metrics are not in place you are in danger of creating the wrong kind of return. Even worse, you may not generate any return on your campaign. Facebook has done a very good job in providing its Facebook Insights on pages created in Facebook. These metrics can provide valuable information to the campaign and its return. A Willingness to Change All this research is available all the time. Some of it is even available in real-time. My suggestion when building your marketing strategy would be to identify your marketing decision maker and make sure that they are integrally involved in the strategy. You can make changes to your internet marketing campaign almost instantly, why not take advantage of this flexibility and make sure that your team is ready and willing to make quick decisions to activate intuitive marketing ideas as soon as possible. Clear Project Management There is nothing worse than a strategy activation where the team involved in carrying out the campaign are unsure of their responsibilities. Put someone in charge of making sure that all the task happen at the right time and make sure that everyone is clear about their responsibilities. Internet maketing campaigns often have alot of small but vitally important tasks that need to take place and these can easily fall through...

Whose on Twitter in South Africa

I am very happy to see South Africans producing great social media research. Fuseware recently released a report about Twitter in South Africa and I thought I would share a small piece with you. According to the report your top users of Twitter are: Designers Students Engineers Entrepreneurs Artists Writers Photographers DJ’s Managers Journalists Consultants It would seem then that if you are looking for intelligent, young and creative individuals then Twitter may be where you can find them. Makes me wonder why recruitment agencies are not on Twitter in force. You can download the entire report here: http://www.fuseware.net/reports/sa-twitter-2010/ Well done to Mike and the guys at Fuseware for putting this report together

Marketing Warwick Junction

Today we launched a website with a simple aim to sell tours around The Markets of Warwick. Warwick Junction lies on the edge of the Durban’s inner-city and is the primary public transport interchange in the city. On an average day the area accommodates 460 000 commuters, and at least 6000 street vendors. Given the confluence of rail, taxi and bus transport, this area has always been a natural market for street vendors. The Markets of Warwick includes between 5000 and 8000 vendors trading in 9 distinct markets. Currently this is the only informally structured market in a public space of this magnitude, and thus establishes itself as the single most authentic African market that South Africa has to offer. I was intrigued by the business and enjoyed working on this project because they seem to have found a niche in tourism that I have not seen yet. The tourism element is only a small part af a great vision for the founding company Asiye Etafuleni. I would encourage you to check this out and learn a bit more about the project. Even book a tour around the market (for a mere 50 bucks!). A note on strategy On a strategy side, due to time constraints, a full internet marketing campaign will be put into affect at a later stage. So the initial efforts were best spent in creating a simple, easy to use website that drove people to booking tours. The website also shows additional information for those looking...

Is Facebook getting bigger than Google?

A few weeks ago I wrote on the Ideat blog that Facebook had the potentional to become the King of the Internet. This was highlighted by the fact the Facebook had been the most visited website in the US a week or two earlier.More recently Facebook has become the most popular searched brand in the US. What has become more interesting is that in South Africa 82% of the online population are on Facebook and 74% of the population are actively involved in social networking.  In March we also saw the launch of Google real-time search in South Africa, which brings social media updates into Google. There are also develoments, made by google, that mean you have better search potential in Google if more people are following you on twitter. What is taking place is a fundamental shift in the way people use the internet. People are choosing to network, search, discuss, aggregate and understand the internet through social networks, of which Facebook is the largest. This has meant that Google has had to go to the social networks to get the information that people are intesteted in. So the question: Is Facebook getting bigger than Google? What about in a South African context? What do you think?

What on earth is a Facebook Community page?

The biggest question I am asked as a social media coach has been “what should I use to promote my business? A page or a group?” Well now we have something new to consider: Facebook Community Pages What it looks like and why have one? A Community Page looks and feels exactly like a normal Facebook page but it has a slightly different purpose. The page is meant to be used for all the unofficial band, brand and business pages that are out there. Facebook seems to be trying to bring a more official status to a Page by letting the unofficial pages have their own platform. What’s so different about it? Basically the biggest difference is that when these pages gain popularity they have the potential to be handed over to the Facebook community. This will mean that the community page will start to look like a wiki about the page topic. Why not just use a group? My personal opinion is that Facebook is trying to phase out groups but there is no proof for that other than my gut feel. Another thought would be SEO. Groups on Facebook are not indexed by Google. So if you would like to start a community of people and wish that community had a search engine presence then a Community Page is they way forward. The other thing to remember is that pages provide user statistics. So your community page could provide some interesting insight into its users. Allfacebook makes a...

Harboring a healthy skepticism for the internet

I was thinking about the opportunity that exists on the internet the other day and I started to think about how many people have jumped into the internet and failed dismally. I think that this has happened because of a disregard of the hard work involved in running an internet marketing campaign or online business. So many people speak to me about this amazing business idea that involves developing a small website and then sitting back and watching the money roll in. Unfortunately the internet does not work like that. I wish it did, but it doesn’t! It takes hard work, dedication, persistence and and innovative mindset to stay ahead of the pack. At time its even important to maintain a healthy skepticism for the internet and its possibilities. Just to keep us on our toes!!

Pepsi steals 2010 from Coke with Social Media

Everyone knows that Coke is sponsoring the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. We are also aware that Pepsi is spending almost a third of it marketing budget on social media management. Now how is this working out for Pepsi? Well Pepsi has just been able to attract half a million viewers and closely associate themselves with the world cup. This happened by launching an interent video that went viral and became one of the worlds most viral video’s last week with 512 243 veiws by the 8th March 2010. Pepsi may not be the official sponsor but they are doing a great job of aligning themselves to the event and getting great coverage. Without paying the hefty sponsorship fees!! Video on the internet is a great way to interact with people online. The viral opportunity is vast, especially for international markets. However this does not mean that there is no scope for internet video marketing in South Africa. You  Tube is still one of the Top 5 most visited websites by South Africans (more popular than Gumtree and Twitter) proving the the South African audience is very interested in consuming video online. To find out how to implement an online video marketing campaign email me to set up a meeting. Thanks to @case_studyinc for the tweet

Great search engine ranking comes from great content

The role of a search engine is to provide the searcher the most relevant content. So naturally it makes sense that you should do well by simply providing content on the internet that is relevant to your target market. I recently read an article that was retweeted by @QuirkEducation from Daily SEO Tip that made me very happy to see that the old school tricks of the trade are slowly becoming an historical method of search engine optimisation. In this article Christopher Holland highlights “7 widely believed myths of SEO” and I wanted to take some time to comment on my experiences with 5 of these SEO techniques. 1) Submit your websites to search engines “It has been at least 5 years since this technique has been necessary and all you need to do is obtain a few backlinks and make sure your not blocking robots from crawling your website.” I recently launched a website for a non-profit organization called LIV who have started a village for orphans and widows, where the website was indexed in about one day. This was achieved because the team at LIV sent and email to their loyal database announcing the new website. Someone on that mailing list linked back to the website and ‘magically’ we were indexed with Google. In the first two weeks the website was live  it was already experiencing a substantial volume of search engine traffic. 2) Keyword Densities “So instead of spamming, I recommend that you write great content targeted...

Five tips to beating social media overload

Yesterday I was emailed over facebook by a follower of this blog. I still get a kick when people touch base and tell me that they actually read everything I write up here. The gentleman that emailed (lets call him Frank) wanted to know how to do social media management and still have a life afterwards. Frank has stumbled accross a very important element of social media that is often under-rated. Social media is addictive and time consuming. Especially if you are marketing through social media. This only gives us a better reason to be ‘wasting or time‘ on our favourite network. If you want to make sure you optimise your time on networks like Facebook and Twitter here are a few tips that may help: Give yourself a time frame to spend in social media and stick to it. After your time is up – Close the web browser/programme. Use a Twitter Client. This helps because twitter clients are designed in such a way that you can tailor the information you recieve from twitter. This means you get less distracted. Twitter clients are now starting to offer Facebook, Linkedin and Ping.fm integration. Have a social media free day – Every now and then, spend a day away from social media. This helps in many ways, but the most important one for me is clarity. When I leave social media for a day, I start thinking about the marketing exercises that really work. Don’t flog a dead horse – If...

Breaking through the clutter on twitter

Twitter has millions and millions of user profiles. Each profile is doing its best to promote their message to their followers. As you can imagine this has become a fairly competitive place to promote yourself. Lets look into a few tips to help your twitter to break through the clutter of tweets, twits, twerps and retweets. 1) Get focused A profile with a single focus always generates a higher following. Even better, a focused profile attracts a specific audience interested in your topic. Meaning that your potential for meaningful engagement and lead generation is higher. 2) Brand yourself Part of branding yourself on twitter is deciding on your focus but once this is established bring your focus out in your profile design. Custom designed profiles give a more authentic and professional appeal. This often will cause people to feel better about following you. A brand audit will help to. 3) Search optimise your bio Once you’ve decided what you’re about, make it clear in your bio. People search for keywords when looking for people to follow. Much like search engine optimisation you need to make sure that your bio clearly uses your industry keywords. What good is a clever sounding bio if no-one is able to find your profile. Dan Zarella’s book provide some interesting information that bio’s that include the words “official, founder, expert and author” tend to have more followers than those that don’t.

Three reasons why social media does not work for you

So you jumped into social media and have found it to be a waste of time and of very little value to you. I want to suggest that maybe the problem is not social media but rather how you are using it. Here are three possible reasons why social media does not work for you: You are not worth following. The content your are producing is poor following and therefore you have been found wanting. This could be because you focused on self-promotion rather than interaction with the consumer or it may be because your content was not well thought out. You are not focused You posts may be interesting but you lack focus. Focus is what will create loyal followers. You need to give your users something to hold onto. In my own personal experience I gained five times more twitter followers once I found a focus and a plan for my twitter marketing strategy. You are not social Social Media demands your attention, or at least the attention of an employee in your company. This is not a one way street where you can shout down the social media channel with your meagphone and expect the masses to come running. Social media is an opportunity to build trust with your public, to make your brand more approachable and likable. This can only happen with a social media management strategy that actively pursues a two-way communication strategy.

Will your domain names ‘stick’ in the mind of your clients?

Is your internet portfolio sticky? Does your domain name stick in the mind of your clients, or even better, your future clients? Researching the available names for your product or service can be tiresome and confusing because of the different views expressed all over the internet. My advice (to add to the confusion) would be to make sure that whatever domain name you choose – it sticks!! In fact, in my opinion, nothing else matters with a domain name. In the area of domain names only two factors need to be considered to make the name stick – Simplicity and Consistancy Simplicity should be the king of it’s domain A simple domain will stick in the mind of a consumer better than a fancy, creative, obscure name. The following process has always helped me to find great domain names: Start with focusing on the purpose of the website – make sure that the purpose of the website is a part of the doman name. Research your target market – do the neccessary research to find out what keywords your target market are searching Look at creative way to combine your website purpose with the targeted keywords – make sure that in your creativity you remain simplistic! Consistancy makes you easy to follow When considering your domain name it is important to look at the social media channels you intend using as well. Social media URL’s can create a confusing environment for your client if they do not follow the same...

Get your custom facebook vanity URL now!!

Vanity URL’s in Facebook are a neccessity to effective social media marketing The ability to create your own custom URL’s for facebook have been around since about June in 2009 but for some reason the South African public have been slow to catch on. Custom URL’s are possibly the most important aspect of your social media campaign and business/product branding. The URL is the address that people type in to get to your website or facebook page. The usual URL for a facebook profile or page is very long and illogical to the everyday web user. As an example lets use my facebook profile URL which normally would look something like this: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6552729302392&ref=ts The URL now looks like this http://www.facebook.com/mikeasaunders The second URL looks neater and cleaner and is a better address to use when marketing yourself or your product. Act quickly My suggestion to you is to act fast because once someone has chosen a custom vanity URL then it is theirs for life. If they choose your preferred name then you have just lost out. To claim your vanity URL go to facebook.com/username. This page will let you name your personal profile and your business page profiles.

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