All posts in “marketing”

How Content Marketing is Changing Everything – Free SMG Webinar March 22

SMG Content Marketing

Content Marketing is the latest buzzword – but what does it mean for marketers?

On March 22nd at 12pm ET, explore How Content is Changing Everything during a live webinar hosted by Leona Hobbs, VP of Social Media Group.


Webinar Overview – How Content is Changing Everything

Disruption. It’s one of the most common buzzwords used to describe the social web. But when we use it, we have largely been referring to technology and platforms – broadband web access, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. But what about content? In some places, there’s too much, in others, not enough – causing major problems for established business models. In this presentation we’ll explore how content is emerging as a major challenge (and opportunity) for marketers, how progressive programs and partnerships are changing the way branded content moves across the web, and how it can effectively be used to earn attention and shift marketing from push to pull in a billion-channel universe.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What is Content Marketing?
  • Why should I care?
  • What can I do with it?
  • How do I find my target audiences?
  • What kinds of results can I expect?
  • What do I need to get started?


About the Presenter

Leona Hobbs

Leona Hobbs, Vice President & Partner. With over a decade of experience in communications and marketing, Leona leads the SMG account teams and provides social media and digital communications counsel to SMG clients. A specialist in digital communications and social media marketing, Leona frequently speaks about Internet-powered communications to students and at conferences. She is an advisor to the Public Relations Program at Loyalist College and a volunteer organizer of the Toronto Girl Geek Dinners and PodCamp Toronto. In 2010, Leona received The International Alliance for Women World of Difference 100 award in the Community category. / @flackadelic



Make that Social Content Shift… 5 steps to creating social content assets out of what you already have!

Most companies and organizations already lots and lots of content. There are likely some real social content gems in those archives of Powerpoint presentations, pdf files, binders and Web pages that have built up over the years. In mining your existing content archives, the challenge becomes finding the time, energy and motivation to unearth those “gems”.

Here is a quick and cheerful set of five steps, to undertake the task:

Step 1: Go through a “back of the envelope” upfront analysis of your goals for social content creation. Some questions to get you started include:

• What social networks do are important to post content to?
• Who is the target audience?
• What action will the user take they’ve consumed your content? Visit your website? Share it to their social networks? Determine your main Calls to Action.
• Consider time and budget. What format and quantity of assets can you afford to create?

social media groupCreative Commons License

Step 2: Conduct a content audit to determine what do you already have? If you’re like most organizations, you’re going to be looking for…

• PowerPoint presentations (they may contain some graphs and diagrams)
• PDF’s, Case studies, sell sheets…
• Webinars, tutorials
• Your own Web site – is there could be some great material that could be refreshed in a new format?
• Expertise from employees – think interviews, profiles, quotes… lots of possibility!

Step 3: Pick your content themes, and create a short list of content ideas. Some hints:

• Where does it make the most sense to focus time and money? The area of focus should be strategic.
• Creating content takes time, so start by picking 3 or 4 key areas that are popular with the target audience to highlight via social networks.
• Determine what “success” looks like. What metrics will make the most sense for your business? Do you want to build your brand awareness? Generate new leads? Create the appropriate metric for your social content project, and make sure your content can support it.

Step 4: Brainstorm some content formats for each identified idea, and create a brief for the person or team who will be producing the content.

• Keep your mind open, and don’t be shy about exploring new and different formats. Consider slide shows, info-graphics, animations, video… there are lots of options!
• Determine the budget available for each format. Costs will increase as you consider new graphics, copy, animation, video, interactivity etc.
• Talk to the team who currently manages the organization’s social channels about any input they may have into this process. They will be able to provide some valuable insights into what resonates with your audience.
• Write the brief, which should include some basic information such as:

  • Objective of content asset
  • Target audience
  • Content format
  • Call to action
  • Brand guidelines
  • Your timeline
  • Requirements- e.g. do you need copy developed? Graphics? Animation? Be specific about what you envision for the asset, and what you need!
  • Budget range

Step 5: Once you have your brief, you have to figure out who is going to produce your content, and do a reality check on budget, feasibility etc. Some pointers:

• Determine if you have the skill set to produce the content asset internally. You can likely handle a blog post, but many organizations do not have in house graphic designers or video production crews.
• Determine if your agencies are familiar with creating content for the social Web – you may be pleasantly surprised, or not…
• Do consider talking to an agency with a strong track record in the social media marketing space.

I’ll write next time on what to do with all that content once you produce it. Content marketing has the potential to generate results, but it is tricky to do, without great content!

Best Thinkers Webinar Series: Disclosure, Transparency and Ethics in Blogging

Join Maggie Fox on October 18th at 12pm EST/9am PST as she hosts an exclusive, live webinar from Social Media Today on Disclosure, Transparency and Ethics in Blogging.

On the social web, it’s not always easy to distinguish marketers from regular citizens. With the explosion of online marketing in recent years we’ve seen all sorts of ethically dubious practices, like PR agencies posting “impartial” product reviews about their clients and “independent” bloggers failing to disclose freebies and other considerations from the companies that they write about. In the latest installment of Social Media Today’s Best Thinkers series, ethics guru Randy Cohen (former ethics columnist for the New York Times Magazine), and marketing expert Paul Rand discuss the emerging ethics of blogging.

Our panelists will explore the following questions, and yours:

  • How do we distinguish opinion, information and marketing in the blogosphere?
  • What are appropriate disclosure requirements for corporate bloggers?
  • Can you be an objective blogger?

Maggie Fox and fellow panelists, marketing expert Paul M. Rand and ethics guru Randy Cohen as they discuss these emerging ethics of blogging.

Will definitely be a great discussion! Register now, click HERE!

Social Media Roundup for October 7th, 2011

The Shift of Marketing

Marketing channels are shifting as more and more people are starting to realize where they can achieve the strongest effect on their target audience. Recent research conducted by Jonas Colliander and Micael Dahlen from the Stockholm School of Economics compared the publicity effectiveness of social media (blogs) vs. traditional media (online magazines). It was found that blogs can result in a special type of relationship between the blogger and the reader, called a parasocial relationship. This is the illusion of a face-to-face relationship, where readers have a feeling of closeness towards the blogger as if they were friends. On the other hand, magazine writers are seen to just be completing a job and so they are not as trusted.  It is clearly important for marketers to find bloggers that are honest about disclosure and genuine in what they write about brands and products because this is what will build that parasocial relationship and level of trust, making it more likely for readers to then build their own relationships with the brands the blogger has endorsed.

We know that agencies need to put time and effort into researching each blogger and what they are all about before pitching them to promote a product.  Build a relationship with them: get to know them, actually read their blog posts, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, send them an email to introduce yourselves and ask questions. If not, things could take a bad turn for your company and your client. Learn from “The Bloggess” about what not to do when pitching a blogger here or you could be very sorry, about 3 million people sorry. Caution: some of the language may not be SFW!

To further show the shift from traditional marketing channels to social media, check out this Infographic on the ROI of Social Media: Is social media marketing effective? Looks like companies are catching onto this shift in marketing channels, as we can see that 75% of companies plan to increase their use of blog marketing in the coming year!

Taking a closer look at the infographic, we can also see that the majority of marketers are integrating social media into their marketing plans. And not only does social media result in significant drops in marketing costs over the long term but 72% of the marketers researched said social media helped in closing business!


The Great Steve Jobs

This was a very sad week for Apple and everyone really, as we have lost the great innovator, Steve Jobs. My Twitter timeline was filled with tweets about Jobs, everyone tweeted, replied and retweeted until Twitter froze because it could not handle all of the updates! His products have changed our lives and I think he deserves some thanks for the growing numbers in the above Infographic of the ROI of social media because Apple products played a big role in the rise of social media. What are you using right now to read this? Your iPhone, iPad, Macbook? Of course he is not the only maker of this technology but without these devices, I don’t think I would spend as much time on social networks as I do. They definitely make checking your favorite blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts a lot more convenient! And when you like your device you want to spend more time on it.

Take a look at this incredible tribute to Jobs that Twitter employee Miguel Rios put together using all of our tweets expressing love, support and condolences.

Not only did he personally read the 1,000+ tweets in the image, he took the time to order them starting with the most retweeted ones at the top. View the original image on Flickr and  you can actually read the tweets yourself. It is quite amazing.

Marketing… with user manuals?


We’ve been talking about how effective marketing is increasingly shifting from “interrupt and repeat” to a value exchange, i.e. the marketer gives you something you want in return for your attention. It’s a fairly simple (though still somewhat revolutionary) concept, and we have seen some incredible results using this approach in our emerging area of expertise, scaling social media.

This week I came across this article, written by friend and colleague Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of Mindtouch (one of the leading open source collaborative platforms), and published on In it, Aaron talks about how Mindtouch and their customers are using MT technology to expose their documentation on the web, and how this, in turn, is driving sales,

“Documentation, once siloed in the realm of how-to guides, is actually feeding top-of-the-funnel activity. In fact, some companies… are reporting that their documentation is bringing in over 50% of their qualified leads. I can report that [Mindtouch] receives 70% plus of our site traffic from organic sources, and our documentation generates more than half of our overall site traffic. Furthermore, over half of our lead generation is driven by our documentation.”

This is essentially marketing with user manuals, which sounds absurd. Except that the audience in this case wants it, and it is helping to generate sales. So the questions I leave you with are: since you are now a publisher, what other materials might you have inside your org that online audiences are eager to consume? How can you work to expose and make them sharable on the social web in order to impact your bottom line?

[Photo courtesy of Peter Merholz]

Nov. 4 – Webinar on Social Media Today: When PR and Marketing Collide

Social Media has disrupted both PR and Marketing and left them wondering who does what. The lines have blurred and some professionals are ready to fight to regain control of their traditional communications departments. VPs, Execs, get back to your corners and step out of the ring. You don’t have to put on your boxing gloves for this one. We’re going to talk it out in the most civil way possible – a webinar!

Maggie will be moderating a Social Media Today webinar on November 4 about the relationship and impact of social media on Marketing and Public Relations with Peter Kim, Managing Director, North America at Dachis Group, Cathy Brooks, communications expert and founder of Other Than That and Paul Gillin, writer, speaker, online marketing consultant.

Learn what these expert think the ideal new relationship between marketing and PR looks like, who is best suited to manage a campaign that includes social media and how to create strategies that include both new and old tactics. Does the blending still sound like a train wreck to you? Let the experts explain how the collision between social media, marketing and PR can become a serendipitous marriage!

The webinar takes place on November 4, 2009 at 2pm ET, 11am PT at If you miss it, you can check back here for archived audio!

Engaged social media? Ready, set, integrate.

“Social media is one more tool in your marketing toolbox. Social media-based marketing is one more ingredient in your overall mix. Sure, it may have a different set of rules, but then so does copy writing for outdoor versus magazine versus online. Once you’ve learned the new rules, it’s simply an integration problem, and my bet is that you’re already very accomplished as an integrated marketer.”

Dave Evans, ClickZ, Take Control by Letting Go (via)

It is pretty difficult these days to deny that social media has changed the game and introduced a whole new set of rules for engaging your customers in conversation. As Dave Evans so appropriately noted, once you’ve learned the rules, the next step is to integrate social media. When you look at a given function (like marketing) integration can mean providing training for staff in order to make social media part of daily operations alongside other activities. The larger opportunity for leaders and organizations who are ready, is to weave social media into the mix across the organization. While you’re undertaking this integration, it is important to not abandon your proven approaches for the new shiny social media object. It is also important that you not spread yourself too thin trying to do everything all it once. Instead, focus on those social media activities that provide you with the most value.

A study released last week by Wetpaint and Charlene Li at the Altimeter Group shows a correlation between financial success and a high degree of social media engagement for top brands. Included in the research is commentary about steps each company took to become highly-engaged in social media. Leaders like Starbucks, Dell and SAP (disclosure – SAP is a client) are profiled along with rankings of other top brand performers across segments.

Is your organization ready to get serious about embracing about the significant cultural change to truly reap the benefits of using social media to have conversations with your most important audiences? Here at Social Media Group, we’re helping our clients move their social media integration mandates forward. This is applied social media at its best. If you’re ready, here are five steps to tackle along the way:

  1. Develop a clear mission and purpose. Once you’re ready to move beyond experimentation into a deeper integration in your operations, decide what you are trying to achieve using social media. How will you evaluate your success? Make sure this is clear so your executive sponsors and your key internal stakeholders understand.
  2. Start with the leadership of your organization, and then get others involved and invested in success. Truly integrating social media means work across functions – marketing, public relations, product management and human resources, customer support and sales. To achieve that level of integration, an organization’s leadership must understand and be prepared to act on the tremendous opportunity integrated social media can bring.
  3. Define roles, responsibilities and communications processes. Internet communications is dynamic and the social media-fueled conversation happens in real time. Plan ahead to make sure you’ve got your monitoring and response workflows, message creation and internal communication process sorted out. Plan for what you’ll do when things don’t go as you expect, or you find yourself in the midst of a crisis.
  4. Identify some low-hanging fruit for quick wins early in your integration program. Celebrate those wins internally as a way to gain visibility and generate excitement. Share case studies and learn from your mistakes. At this point, much of the work in social media integration is unprecedented. What works for in another organization may not work in yours.
  5. Evaluate your success as you iterate on your approach for constant improvement. It is easiest to start small and build your activities in phases. Because, (as I mentioned above), work in online communications and social media is frequently done in real-time, so you’ll find yourself making decisions as you go, iterating on your approach to incorporate what you learn.

Our client, Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motor Company, celebrated his first anniversary with Ford earlier this month and has begun a series of blog posts about his time with the company and how he has approached integrating social media. On Wednesday, Maggie wrote about the recognition Ford is getting for the incredible progress made to date. The journey continues for Ford and many other organizations who are making bold strides in the shift from social media experimentation towards honest-to-goodness strategic enterprise-wide engagement with social media.