This review is part of a series of reviews that you can expect to see over the next while from the Social Media Working Group. This first one is by Eamonn O’Brien, Founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club. Here he reviews The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, by Joan Curtis and Barbara Giamanco:
This book offers an introductory guide for people who need to figure out how to both understand and harness social media in a world where traditional sales techniques may have had their day. As such, it probably won’t serve as more than light reading for seasoned social media pros.
The authors spend the first half of the book outlining the revolution that has occurred in the way businesses and customers/consumers communicate – and why companies need to learn how to adapt to a new sales era, dubbed Sales 2.0. They argue that since customers are now more in control of what they buy, and have instant access to more information prior to when they make purchase decisions, that a modern form of consultative selling (which integrates the power of social media to develop better relationships, trust and customer collaboration) needs to be used as a replacement for traditional push based selling techniques.
While there are many nuggets to be found in the first 8 chapters, including author observations, examples of how politicians and companies are adapting to/benefiting from communication changes plus a quite interesting potted history lesson on the evolution of selling approaches from the 19th to the 21st century, much of the information provided at the outset of the book appears to be rehashing of stories and observations that have been doing the rounds for some time (online and offline). Also, many of the points made in the first half of the books seemed be endless variations of a single theme; “Embrace the new technology… move away from old sales approaches, they won’t work any longer with the 21st century buyer”.
That said, the second half of the book (when the authors get into a more ‘how to’ mode) is likely to prove both interesting and genuinely useful to anyone who needs practical suggestions on how to harness social media for sales and marketing purposes. The authors did an especially good job on how Sales meets LinkedIn and Sales meets Twitter, including really helpful ‘do’s and don’ts’ tips.
Also, their observations on how to use blogging to drive better Google site rankings together with their suggested ‘rules of engagement for bloggers’ are spot on. But the real value in this book comes at the end, with a case study style 30 day social media sales challenge. This blow by blow demonstration of how social media can be used and why – together with suggestions re goal setting and performance measuring – sold me on this book, all on its own.
My Overall Book Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks a million Eamonn! More from the authors on their website.
One of the most popular features of our Annual Conferences every year are the breakout sessions. This year we’re mixing it up a bit and in addition to our usual practical breakout sessions we are holding three hosted conversations in the morning. These promise to be fascinating and a great opportunity to get your voice heard on the following topics:
- A conversation about collaborative innovation hosted by Amy Neale and Gary Leyden of NDRC
- Seán Baker, Irish Software Association Board and entrepreneur and Peter Finnegan, Dublin City Council host a conversation about Open Data and Open Government.
- Neil Leyden, Your Country, Your Call winner, will host a conversation about his plan for Ireland as an international content services centre.
In the afternoon we will be running 4 breakout sessions covering smartphone insights from Amárach Research, the reality of cloud computing with the IIA Cloud Computing Working Group, social media strategy with the Social Media Working Group and Ecommerce Best Practice and Emerging trends with Realex Payments.
Jonathan, you are running a breakout session on eCommerce at Open for Business, the IIA Annual Conference on the afternoon of May 12th in the Aviva Stadium. Which key areas are you going to be focussing on during these 2 sessions
The focus of our E Commerce breakout session will be Taking Your Business Online and the different elements that you need to take into account when developing your own E Commerce Strategy. Three speakers will present on different aspects of E Commerce to give the attendees an indication of what they need to do to get up and running successfully.
I’m going to discuss your online strategy as a whole including
- how to go about getting your Merchant Service Agreement,
- choice of web developers,
- what to look for in a Payment Gateway and how to combat fraud.
Bob Curran from Buy4Now will present on the different options available to businesses in E Commerce Platforms and Shopping carts and some tips on what to look for and best practice.
Aileen O’Toole of AMAS will look at the State of the Net and the importance of knowing what’s going on in the market around you, the emerging trends in E Commerce, spending patterns etc.
Realex Payments have been a great supporter of the IIA over the years, getting involved in the conference in some capacity every year; what are the biggest changes/ challenges you have seen for Irish businesses who are coming online or upping their online game in this time?
We’re always happy to support the IIA and the Irish internet sector!
In terms of changes, the biggest and most positive change has to be social media, a large majority of our merchants are now actively involved in Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn etc and have benefitted significantly from being involved in this area. Many of our merchants tweet specific deals, have discounts for consumers who like their product on Facebook etc, so social media has become an important sales tool for so many businesses. The ability to have frequent conversations with your online community offers an incredible opportunity, not just from a social engagement point of view, but from a commercial perspective too.
I think initially many businesses were a little reluctant to participate in social media, particularly those businesses operating in a B2B environment, but as times gone on, the likes of twitter and Facebook have become an integral of marketing strategies throughout the country, including our own!
If you have one piece of advice for an Irish business reviewing their ecommerce strategy in light of these new challenges what would it be?
Integration of social media with ecommerce has become a crucial element for every ecommerce business, for B2B as well as consumer companies. Whether it is integrating social sharing on purchases, offering special deals/incentives to followers or likes, adding facebook open graph to enable Facebook likes to see friends purchases on your ecommerce site or simply leveraging brand ambassadors who emerge on Twitter and Facebook, there are a wealth of opportunities for brands to enhance their ecommerce offering. It’s becoming more and more important for brands to have personalities, as people want to know and engage with the brands that they’re buying, integrating your ecommerce strategy with social media facilitates this process.
Thanks a million Jonathan! See you and everyone else on Thursday May 12th!
If you’ve got an hour to spare on your way to or from work, it’s worth watching this Web 2.0 Summit conversation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
It’s not email…apparently. It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Messages. Some call it the Gmail Killer, some doubt it’s viability at all and some are just confused by it. So, what is Facebook Messages?
Yesterday, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced details of his one stop shop for all your messaging needs. It combines your email, text messages and chats with a strong focus on the social element of online communication. When you select a contact, you will instantly see your entire conversation history regardless if it was through IM, SMS or email. This adds context to conversations – we don’t just converse with people using one method and now all methods will be integrated. Facebook says, “it’s like having an ongoing record of your friendship”. Aww, how sweet.
So far so good! It sounds like the ideal solution for personal emails. However, Facebook are at pains to say this is not an emailing system. Despite the fact that you will now have access to a @facebook.com email address, the Messages service is designed to act more as a ‘switchboard’ for your communications needs. Zuckerberg stated that Facebook believes modern messaging should be “seamless, informal, immediate, personal, simple and minimal”. “It’s not e-mail,” he said.
Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I happen to be quite fond of email. I like my Gmail account; I like having all of my different email addresses integrated into my Gmail account. I don’t think I’m quite ready to abandon emails just yet.
There is one area I can see Facebook outshining Gmail and that’s in the prioritising of messages. While Gmail has its Priority Inbox (something which is not as intuitive as they seem to believe), Facebook has its Social Inbox. FB knows who your friends are already. It knows who you converse with regularly. Your social inbox will likely only contain messages from people you deem important to you socially. Messages from everyone else will fall into your ‘Other’ folder. In fact, as with FB’s other functions and services, you can restrict who has the ability to message you – i.e. Friends Only, Friends of Friends, Groups, etc.
Why have Facebook launched this service? Well, with over 500 million current Facebook users, there’s definitely a market for the service. The pre-existing Facebook Mail is clunky and unintelligent, so a change was definitely needed. Furthermore, Zuckerberg explained recently that when he asked a group of high school students why they “don’t really use e-mail”, the reply was “it’s too slow”. Text messaging is near instant and Facebook wants its Messages system to reflect this.
Which brings us back again to the abandonment of email – “We don’t think a modern messaging system is going to be e-mail,” Zuckerberg said. For a system that claims not to be email, it looks a lot like email to me…
…except, not as good. Facebook Messages cannot replace email. It’s advantages will be in the instantaneous nature of the service, the swift responses, the quick back-and-forth. However, if you use email for more than short bursts of information (I definitely do), Messages won’t be for you. Granted, Facebook have purposely geared their service this way.
Every email someone sends to email@example.com will go into Facebook Messages as part of a single conversation. If you end up sending me several emails about a variety of topics, I’ll see all of those separate emails as one conversation. FB Messages doesn’t have Subject Lines. Again, I see this as a huge flaw, while Facebook call it a design feature.
I can see plenty of advantages to Messages, particularly for personal communications, and, as an upgrade of their current Facebook Mail service, it is a huge improvement. But will it change how I communicate online? I don’t see it. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong.
Frankly, with so much still wrong with Facebook – the privacy settings, the user interface for Facebook Groups, the lack of message archive accessibility and the fact that there are still no email alerts available to Page Admins, to name a few – I would rather Facebook get their core product right before throwing a new one at us.
If you want to know more about Facebook Messages, go to the Facebook Blog or if you want to request an invitation, you can click here and wait a while. And don’t forget, you can follow the Irish Internet Association’s Facebook Page too.
For the moment, Facebook Messages is invite-only – and each person has a limited number of invitations to share. Are you using it yet? Let us know your thoughts on Messages. Will it work or will it go down in the annals of Internet lore, alongside Google Wave, Bebo and Boo.com?
This post started as a comment on Krishna De’s blog post about the recent enormous growth that Facebook have seen but I felt it was getting a little long-winded! In the last six months Facebook report that they have seen an extra 100 million users joining the service, bringing their total to 300 million active users. Krishna has posted a video of Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg talking about what this growth means for Facebook. This video is well worth a look as Sandberg talks about how Facebook has seen constant growth not only in users but in cash flow through a recession, partly because of their strategy for creating engaging advertising and promotional models so head back over there to check it out.
What struck me about the information in this video and in Krishna’s post was the figure of 55 million users acessing Facebook via mobile. In the most recent State of the Net (available online later today) Three Mobile report that 43% of the mobile internet usage o ntheir network is to Facebook and Bebo. While I have not accessed Bebo from my mobile I do access Facebook on my iPhone. Their newest app is a vast improvement but I notice that there is no advertising! So I fail to see what it means to businesses that 55 million users are accessing Facebook via mobile when they’re not getting any of those eyeballs!
Then I wonder if Facebook is training me to get used to their app while they perfect it (because let’s be honest the previous incarnation of the app was as good as useless). While I’m getting used to and, I admit it, mildly addicted to this app, are they, in a similar way to how they rolled out and improved the functionality of their advertising online, working out the best, most social and engaging way to display advertising to their mobile users? No doubt those of us in Apps Anonymous will be the first to know!
Whatever their plans for our eyeballs there is no doubt that there is a place for business on Facebook now and I think that Facebook’s recent changes and developments in the way organisations can get involved in Facebook has had some hand in their recent growth. I’ve certainly been using Facebook more, including advertising and promoting upcoming IIA events from the IIA’s Facebook page. I’ll keep you posted on how that works for us but I know Puddleducks, an IIA Member, have been posting their progress with Facebook ads on their blog. Let me know if you have any further information about your organisation’s experience with Facebook ads. We’d love to roll it out as a Social Media Case Study.
UPDATE: From today (29 June 2009) Facebook pages with 100 fans or more can get their own vanity URL. We need a lot of help so please fan us up on Facebook today
Eoin Kennedy, IIA Vice-chair and Social Media Working Group (SMWG) worker has a great post on his blog about the key activities a company should focus on when setting themselves up on Facebook. This is a checklist that was developed by Matt Matheson of Thinkhouse (and fellow SMWG member) for the SMWG’s recent breakout session at IIA Congress 09. It is well worth checking it out, if only to satisfy yourself that you are doing a few things right.
A new addition to this list could of course be a Facebook vanity URL. A vanity URL is best explained as follows: www.facebook.com/yournameorcompanynamehere. These went live on Saturday and there was a land grab with no small amount of controversy in Ireland anyway. I managed to get my second choice for my personal Facebook page although my name does not seem to be associated with anyone else. I don’t care too much about my own personal brand but I do care about the IIA. The IIA are a real latecomer to the Facebook party and recent changes to how a company can represent themselves and use Facebook have tempted us to get involved. (Oh yes and of course a small matter of a keynote speaker but we didn’t want to seem TOO reactionary!) We also haven’t promoted our Facebook page much yet.
Photo right owned by jasonlam (cc) However I was a little ticked off that we couldn’t secure a vanity url for our Facebook page because we don’t have a 1000 fans! A quick gander at some of our members who have Facebook pages for a LOT longer allows me to feel that my irritation is justified. The Institute of Designers in Ireland, a member organisation too, has a very healthy 260 members at time of writing. Blacknight have 189 fans, the Flowers Made Easy Group has 184 members: I could go on. My point being that not many of these Irish companies groups or pages have 500 fans or members never mind 1000! (Okay so Barry’s Tea have over 3,000 but who doesn’t love a nice cuppa?) How are we going to ensure that we get our vanity URLs, people? The IIA is up against the Iraqi Interim Authority and the Indian Internet Alliance here and some others besides!
So in the vain hope that the powers that be in Facebook might read my humble wee blog post please reconsider and drop the required number of fans to a more realistic 250 fans, even just for Irish online businesses. Otherwise who’s going to pay for all those social ads…?
Of course I’ve just realised what I have to do next: set up a protest group on Facebook – Give Irish businesses vanity urls too or some such.
This week’s Social Media Case Study is written by Niall Devine of MyCharity.ie. He is also a member of the IIA Social Media Working Group. In his case study he writes about some of the social media they have used and the decisions they made about how they would implement and what they learned from those decisions. He writes also about how recent change to a popular platform (Facebook) made some aspects of their social media forays difficult but happily not impossible for MyCharity.ie.
Background – what do we do.
Mycharity.ie provides online fundraising services to charities. We will enable and process more than €2.5M euro worth of charity donations to our 250+ charity customers. It is key to our business that our customer base (the charities) know that we exist and what we do. It is also key that the charities “customers” i.e. fundraisers and donors know that that we exist and what we do.
Viral Marketing – it is essential for us – how do we make it work?
We are very lucky in the way that our business works. Through email, it virally markets itself. If someone creates a fundraising page (sponsorship card) on the mycharity.ie site for a charity, they then email all their friends with the link to the fundraising page looking for sponsorship. All their friends now know about the site and what it does. Multiply 5,000 fundraisers a year x say 50 friends per fundraiser and you can see the 250,000 people viral marketing affect.
Viral Marketing – using social media
While we count ourselves as very lucky in the way that our business works from a viral marketing point of view using email, we recognise the huge contribution that social media can make.
As we all know search engines and their ranking mechanisms like video. So mycharity.ie commissioned a video from Media Concepts Ltd (a video production company) and placed it front and centre on our home page www.mycharity.ie. The text about our video says “Click here to see a short promotional video about who we are and what we do, and what our customers say about us.” It does exactly what is says on the tin and saves us having to answer the phone all the time to explain what we do saving on office admin overhead. It works very well for us as an SEO ranking tool. It cost us approx €2,000 and was well worth the investment. We can’t quantify exactly in figures what is has done for the business, many of our current customers tell us they watched it and were impressed. It all helps with getting new customers on board.
Search engines also like blogs because they create new content all the time (if maintained) and if the information is interesting and relevant it will create lots of inbound links to your site. Let’s not forget that people also like new content that is interesting to them and relevant. The search engines are just set up to reflect what people like.
So mycharity.ie has implemented WordPress Multi User on the mycharity.ie site. We have yet to upgrade the live site with it but it is coming soon. We can’t speak of what has actually happened yet, but we can tell you what we anticipate will happen.
We are giving ourselves our own blog, and we are giving all our charities their own blog for free. We will put our latest daily news, musings, funny stories etc on the blog and if people like it they will tune in. We will also use it to garner our customers thoughts and opinions on various questions that we may have, such as what services would you like to see next on the site etc.
We are also giving all our customer charities their own blog to do exactly the same as described above. But the key for us is that ALL the blogs are hosted on our site. All the inbound links and all the new and updates information will be found on our site, and hence our search and ranking, and the traffic to our site increases. It’s important to point out that we are not “stealing” traffic from our customers sites. They are of course free to implement their own blogs on their own sites. But by us doing it for them (for free remember) we get the benefit of the traffic and increased search engine ranking.
Social Networking Sites
These are very powerful if you can make them work for you, and we are doing our best to make them work for us. Lets explain what we have already done and how we did it, and then explain what new stuff we are doing now and why.
Old Facebook – Facebook changed in terms of its look and feel in October of last year (2008). Unfortunately we started to build a facebook application for the mycharity.ie site in September 2008. We ended up chasing a moving target. The application was designed to allow users of the mycharity site to post a mini version of their fundraising page to their facebook profile. The idea being their friends could see it and donate to it. We chased the ever moving facebook and eventually got there. We used a designer for cost purposes based abroad. We got the application built for approx €1,200, and it did what we asked for. However the language barrier and time zone difference proved frustrating much of the time and we had to put in many more hours into the project than we wanted to. Also their knowledge of the abilities of Facebook as a site wasn’t brilliant so we had to tell them what we wanted rather than them telling us what we could, should or might do. We soft launched the application to the charities on the mycharity.ie. It’s free at the moment because it’s not viral enough as far as we are concerned (more on that in a bit). It’s actually the users (the public) that are asking for the FB functionality to be switched on for a given charity rather than the charity themselves. The requester recognises the benefit to them to their fundraising efforts.
New Facebook – This is where it’s at. Now that FB have more or less finished messing about with their site we have a non moving target to hit. Always helps! We have engaged an Irish company to develop further FB functionality for us. No language barrier, no time zone issues, and they know so much about what FB does and is capable of, that they are able to suggest to us what we should and can do. It’s in development at the moment. We hope the new application will be far more viral. At the end of each process on the mycharity.ie site (sponsor a friend, donate to a charity, create a fundraising page) the user will have the option to “share” what they have just done on the mycharity site with their friends on facebook (and Bebo, Twitter etc). “Sharing” might be a message on the users Wall saying “I have just donated €20 to Jane Smiths Women’s Mini Marathon Fundraising page in aid of the ABC Charity”. The message is posted to the users Wall on Facebook for all their friends to see, and hopefully follow suit and donate. Many FB users would have 200+ friends in FB. So once again the viral affect of promoting mycharity.ie, the charity and the fundraiser is huge.
The cost of getting the development done is Ireland is higher but the expertise, if you find the right company, is well worth the extra cost. They will also be able to tell you if your business / business model is likely to benefit from this kind of marketing…or not as the case may be.
So mycharity.ie uses email, video, blogs, and social networking sites to good effect to promote itself. We will in the future bring the ability for users to post pictures and or videos to their fundraising pages using www.flickr.com and www.youtube.com . There are other aspects of social media such as podcasting that we may yet use. Imagine you got an email or a message on FB from a friend with an audio file of their verbal request for your donation to their fundraising effort. Personal, fun and very different. Might just get you over the line to make a donation. Our strategy is to look at everything to see if we can make it work for us. You should too!
This week’s case study has been written by Gordon Jenkinson of Jenerate.
Bacardi Ireland distributor, Edward Dillon & Co, traditionally used normal micro sites such as www.blive.ie to promote their sponsorship of music events on the Internet throughout the year including the hugely popular Oxegen and Electric Picnic festivals.
In 2008 they looked at the possibility of using social networking to get better targeting and some viral penetration to a wider audience. Given the target audience and the fact that Bebo and MySpace were not receptive to alcohol advertising, Facebook was chosen as the platform upon which to build an interest in the brand, to run competitions in association with the Blive events and generally to help spread the word on the Bacardi Blive sponsored events throughout the year.
A Facebook profile page was set up and maintained as well as a Facebook application to manage competitions and acquire information for the Bacardi eCRM database. The general idea of the competition was a chance to win VIP tickets for you and your friends through a custom built Facebook application.
To encourage the viral spread of this through Facebook in the run up to the events the winner was the Facebook user that had the most friends with the application added to their profile. This gave users control over winning the competition rather than it being a pure lottery.
User positions were updated hourly and notifications sent to entrants on a regular basis telling them how many more friends they needed to add to get to first place. This information had the desired effect and entrants realising they only needed 10 more friends to get to the winning position started sending it around to increase there position. As well as this, they could see the top 5 people and also there current position at any time throughout the competition.
Banner advertising on popular Irish sites and flyers handed out throughout the year were used to seed the initial entrants and get the competition going. Other spot prizes for fans of the page and users of the application were given out between the events to encourage participation and interaction with the Bacardi Ireland Facebook presence.
As part of the competition sign-up, entrants were asked some brand questions to gauge brand recognition and opinions. Details were collected and stored in the Bacardi eCRM database and used for future campaigns and event notifications.
The final result was an almost four fold increase in the number of competition entrants and an even bigger increase in term of brand interaction across the Bacardi Facebook profiles and the blive.ie website.
A large aid to this interaction was the use of Facebook photo galleries where people were photographed at Blive events and encouraged to tag themselves in the Facebook albums. These photos were not only available on Facebook but also pulled directly from Facebook into the blive.ie website. These photo galleries created significant post event traffic to the Blive.ie websites as well as interaction and sign-up to the Bacardi Facebook pages.
One of the main lessons learnt from this successful experiment with Facebook was to create an application that runs with or without Facebook. As part of the process visitors were asked if they had a Facebook account and were directed to the normal competition site or to the Facebook one. Almost as many entrants came through the normal site as through the Facebook application.
Also, the integration of the Facebook photo albums using the Facebook API allowed the viewing of tagged photos within Facebook or from the normal site. It’s also useful to copy or mirror interactions with Facebook pages onto your normal site this allows visitors to what would normally be a static site to see some comments, events and other banter focused around the brand.
With the introduction of Facebook Connect late last year the options for this type of website integration to Facebook is even greater, allowing completely Facebook-integrated websites.
The other more complex aspect is ensuring that the promotion of the Facebook pages and application are sufficient to seed it and the rewards for sign-up are clear and worthwhile.
Monitoring of visitors and the decisions they make is very important. This was monitored using analytics during the campaign and the sign-up pages and the navigation from the initial page through to competition sign-up were optimised for more competition entries.
The IIA supports responsible drinking and encourages readers of this post to visit www.drinkaware.ie.
It’s beginning to look like I’ve been making my way through a directory of acronymised organisations in Ireland, what with IEG Design and the IIEA joining last week. And now this week a warm welcome to the Institute of Designers in Ireland who joined the IIA today. The IDI has a mission to promote design excellence and to represent designers from all disciplines in Ireland. Both myself and my counterpart in the IDI, Rachel Murtagh, are hoping for some cross-pollination of members so if you would class yourself as a designer do contact her about joining the IDI. However if like me you don’t cut the mustard, design-wise, but you are a bit of a design wannabee (yes that would be me too) and you use Facebook, you can join the IDI’s group there. The IIA are making a special offer on 2008 membership to IDI members to celebrate the IDI’s new membership so if you are a member of the IDI and not of the IIA, please email me at members at iia dot ie and avail of this special offer.