Panelists discuss using social media to grow your business

Podcast 36: Panel Discussion – Using Social Media to Grow Your Business

Welcome to episode 36 of the Waiake – My podcast to help you take your brand to new heights online.

In this episode I wanted to share with you the wisdom of my three co panellists from the recent Harcourts Real Estate Conference. We talk about digital marketing and using social media to grow your business.

We were interviewed by Troy Rawhiti-Forbes who has for the last few years been the conduit between New Zealand’s largest telco and our nation on Twitter and Facebook. Having experienced the highs of branding brilliance and the lows of national outages and email hacks Tory is in good space to bring out the best in my fellow guests and to prompt me to say a few things of merit too.

Coming from quite different backgrounds it was really interesting to get some diverse perspectives – yet hear some common themes as to whats best when using social media to grow your audience and business.

I’ll let you hear Tory give the impressive introductions (I cringed through mine) and I hope you find it of worth as the topics covered work in many industries.

If you’re keen to follow along the other panelist are:


Key takeaways:

  • Know your Unique Selling Points and incorporate this into your online presence and SEO.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new networks, find out what fits best with you.
  • Always be transparent in your actions.
  • Think – “What would I want to hear from a brand?” and “How does this help my customers?”



4 tools to help you master B2B social media sales


Earlier this year LinkedIn celebrated reaching 1 million users in New Zealand – or around a quarter of the population. Their growth globally is also impressive at over 277 million members and 2 new members a second.

It is no wonder LinkedIn profiles are fast becoming the preferred source of truth – from tradespeople, right through to global enterprises – that are struggling to maintain their CRM.

Coupled with this mass adoption, I’ve also heard some startling statistics from the folks at LinkedIn. 75% of B2B purchases are influenced by social media and 57% of the buying process is complete before sales reps are involved. That really hit home the necessity to get social media sales working efficiently for you. A personal brand on LinkedIn and regular engagement with your audience and clients is a must.

You’ve no doubt got more than the basics mastered for B2B sales. But what about some of the advanced features LinkedIn offers, or the many other free tools available, to open and maintain relationships with clients?

LinkedIn Sales Navigator lets you mark a target and tells you when a new person enters the role

What if instead of searching for someone at X company in X industry you could save a search and narrow it right back. Sales Navigator lets you add: job function, shared groups and seniority level. You can save that search and be alerted when a new person enters and meets that criteria.

Better still, filter back the search to a company name and limit the results to the CXO you’re targeting. You can save it as an alert so when that CXO leaves – you can target their replacement. You could use this for gatekeepers as well, or for leads into brand new organisations if a great contact moves on.

TeamLink as part of Sales Navigator lets you see any contacts to leads from within your team

The short description sounds like sales utopia, the place where everyone is a brand ambassador and making sales for the business. TeamLink, when connected, allows you to see any person in your organisation that has a first or second degree connection to the potential client you’re searching for. You can leverage them for a warm lead or better insights into your next pitch. If you are using sales navigator you could also include interests to see if a team member plays golf or sails with the potential client or is a supporter of the same philanthropic cause.

Salesforce and Sales Navigator can show latest LinkedIn updates and Tweets from a select group

This allows you to create a group that you may be targeting within an organisation. Say the digital marketing team to sell them your analytics tool. You can monitor updates and tweets from the whole team or narrow to a specific contact. If they have questions or are posting about an area you have expertise in, why not flick them a copy of your research or a relevant white paper.

Newsle monitors and alerts you of press mentions of your contacts

As a backup to monitoring them on LinkedIn, why not plug your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles into Newsle. Scraping the public internet, Newlse sends you a notification and snippet when a contact is featured in the news. A fantastic opener for meetings or to rekindle a lead.

If you’re on Gmail – Use Rapportive to show latest posts from that email contact

In a similar vein to Newsle, Rapportive, allows you to see the latest social media posts from your contacts, again a great opportunity to garner insights into their world.

What do you use?

There a number of other tools I am sure to have missed. I would love to hear what helps you find leads, nurture relationships and ultimate win business for your organisation.


How brands survive in a photo rich online world

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#Latergram . Throwback to Wednesday's sunset.

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

With the latest Twitter update your stream on desktop and mobile features landscape shaped thumbnail previews of photos. This coupled with Twitter cards for blog posts, videos and many more media types, means far more images in what was originally an SMS like feed.  Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and the attention Pinterest is getting all echo the fact that social media sites are getting more visual every day.  Pinterest and Tumblr are just outside the Top 20 sites in New Zealand.

Thinking through our Facebook feeds and what gets me “like”-ing I’ve come up with a starter for Five.

Five image subjects that will appeal to 90% (made up stat) of your audience. Sharing a picture that includes or combines one of these five should out-do a branded/text filled ad. I think they apply to videos too.

In no particular order, but in one that rolls off the tongue well it is:

  1. Pets
  2. People
  3. Places
  4. Faces
  5. Food

Each in moderation of course, and linked to your brand. The images should support your brand’s perception, yet be honest like the images you would see from friends in your feed. Some might have a great Canon or Nikon, but remember most friends don’t have professional lighting studios.

That said they might share pictures of a pristine Ferrari, a meal on a white background, or an airbrushed pop star from time to time.  Some of my favourite TV shows are behind the scenes, the making of and brand stories. Unpolished and engaging.

So let us see how many I can work in over the coming months.


Image is everything online. Be it words, images, audio or video.

Image is everything. Conveying the right message to visitors irregardless of the page or area of your website they land on is paramount.

Your site needs to sing your brand message.

That’s not just through SEO optimised prose, but also each and every media element on your site. Be that images, colour palette, videos, audio or pictures. It’s not just how they perform on your website though, it’s also the singular story they tell when shared on social media or adapted by your fans.

Audio and video convey the strongest messages. Think of the Intel Inside ditty (dom dum dom ding) or the McDonalds whistle or that ever evocative chime of the ice cream van in childhood. Fisher and Paykel spend significant time at a product level honing the beeps and pips your washing machine makes when finished, or overloaded. Much like Harley Davison and Lexus spend time tuning engine exhaust notes. Items that can connect you with the brand as you use the product.

In marketing, sounds can evoke strong emotional connections with brands.

Recently BMW spent millions updating their signature jingle, a series of notes to sign off their video ads. The jingle is perhaps hinting to the sound of a gear down change, but the overuse of a synthesiser leaves it hard to recognise. I’m left thinking Transformers rather than BMW.

I’ve also just watched an Audi ad and realised that, in response they have upgraded there signature too. Far more evocative they play the sound of a low solid heart beat as the four rings of their logo appear. “Duh dum, duh dum.” Relatively fast paced, the beat reminds you of spirited driving, yet (with your Audi all wheel drive) you’re not out of control. A great piece of media, exemplifying the brand.

It is of course fine for global brands to create emtional storytelling through vidoes yet rich media is often out of reach for you average SME. Small businesses, even with the budget can find the time needed to create a quality video too much of a commitment. Still, if done well, smart phone quick updates on industry changes or products or services can be enticing for users to watch.

Take the time to include up to date shots of real people and real products.

The use of photos and images is within reach of most business. Even if it has to be the dreaded stock footage. The old adage ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ is as true online as when first penned. Product shots either static or in use or motion are a great way to connect users with your products. For services where, more often than not, success is defined by personal relationships between employees and clients – staff photos or the lack thereof conveys a strong message. Using stock footage when talking ‘about us’ says a lot about a service provider…

Images are so powerful and such a part of the modern mobile web that sites are now switching focus to portrait shots rather than landscape. The endless scroll and sites like Pinterest and Tumblr promoting the quick re-posting of images, the more vertical real estate your images can acquire the better. Infographics, visual interpretations of data or stories, are a great way to explain what you’re saying in a method that is more accessible for visual learners. When presented as vertical graphics they’re great for sharing on social media sites as well.

As with all marketing, images need a purpose and goal. Think real estate and target audience with each piece of multimedia. What pain point is it addressing, which user, which phase of the buying cycle and how does it speak of your brand’s promise.

Images and multimedia should augment an article or website, adding value to the user and creating affinity or demand for you brand.

Given also that many videos and infographics are shared using social media, they should also be able to stand alone conveying their message without contextual copy or written introductions. They should also drive, in some way, users further down the the sales funnel or closer to the brand for loyalty. Always asking for the sale, even with a subtle whisper, is key.

content marketing, social media, Uncategorized

Mobile – Our Last Chance to Ditch the Ad Fixation!

Interruption is part of our every day life. We battle constantly to find delightful interruptions to the mundane and to fast forward unwanted disruption.

As Neville and I discussed this morning.  Marketers KNOW we fast forward ads, have banner blindness, ignore adwords campaigns and hate popups.

So fixated on the ad model, eyeballs and exposure – brands are excited when someone finds a way to create a  “Slowmercial”. A commercial you can still see even when fast forwarding through the ad break.


And it is not just mass media, which is not going away any time soon. New media and social networks are still forced to focus their monetisation around ads because they are so entrenched in our  marketing mix.

Thankfully for a while they didn’t feed us ads in their mobile apps, a few months reprise from the interruptions. Even so this didn’t stop us marketers from: pushing ads into Instagram, hashtag photo competitions, “like us to win” and all our other techniques to PUSH our products to the target audience.

We need to draw the line.

Mobile, the personal device we take with us everywhere, our trusted assistant, could be the deal-breaker.

With data prices still restrictive we are precious about our online time over mobile. We focus our core activities around checking email, checking Facebook and updating statuses. Maybe exploring news sites or YouTube if we find a free WiFi signal. We don’t spend the time visiting brand’s websites, and we most certainly resent them interrupting us.

Content marketing in my mind is the logical non disruptive method of bonding with customers on the go.

By this I mean creating content good enough that people will subscribe to our channels, follow us and maybe even download our app. Content that is truly informative, educative and entertaining. A step back to traditional soap operas if we can.

If we do this right clients will opt in to PULL content from us into their RSS reader or subscribe to our channels. I am not saying it will happen over night, but it will happen.

It is a slow road to rehab, but hopefully the big four social networks will realise soon that: big data can power content strategies and  product directions – not just hyper-targeted ads.

content marketing, Uncategorized

Tried and true vs. something new on Pinterest

It’s often possible to try something different in beta. Soft launch or A/B test your marketing campaigns and  in fact turn them into iterative waves of content.

I’m into residential architecture and my Pinterest board Modern Residential Architecture has been gaining real traction since Pinterest added the “Also pinned to:” feature. From 100 odd  followers last week to 801 today. The site really seems to be taking off. Stats about it being the third largest are highly believable. With good content the instant gratification of a like or repin comes with ease, vs. getting someone to retweet my posts.

Yet I digress, a few days back I posted this to another board, as a tester. Something new. It was far more popular than my architecture pins in plain likes and repins.

So the challenge this week is to find an architecture related motivational pin. The combination of the old and new that doesn’t alienate my followers and target audience.

Being agile, I can always tweak the idea as I go. Launch, analyse, learn and adjust. Of course if the analytics don’t support it I can still roll back to my tried and true without investing in a big campaign.

Follow me if you want to see where the iterations lead.

content marketing, social media, Uncategorized

Co-creation in Social Media, Risky but worth it!

In business and marketing we are seeing a number of co-creation initiatives sprouting up. Partnering on projects, with an upstream or downstream business partner, or even with a competitor for scale, is now common practice. Some lead to acquisitions for the lucky few, and others form powerful networks.

I’ve got my headphones on as I write now listening to a mix of a bunch of “latin pop” that has 19 million views on YouTube.

Sorry about the thumbnail they have chosen, but I like the song and the title proves my point.

It fits well together and the combined works actually appeals more to me than each song on its own. Admittedly it’s a mash-up made by one individual, but already within each tune there’s a collaboration of at least two artists.  This singular mash up is common, but we are also seeing collaboration with influencers and brands.

Here are a few sites and tools focused on this. is a great example of co collaboration for authors and also a nice way for writers to create a portfolio of work, and find work. Here’s mine: (No affiliate link, just love the idea).


Has functionality to invite authors to pin to your boards, but doesn’t have a workflow, so your trust has to be absolute.


Enables you to add team members and editors then give them access to create drafts for all of the top four networks.  You can check the schedule and optimise timed posts. Ensure you have a good mix of content each day, and even add Google analytics tracking to your shortened links.


Yes, superfans can create drafts straight into your wordpress blog, ready for review and publishing. Much like a full blown WCMS you can manage workflow, scheduling for the month and report metrics.

What else do you need?

The tools are readily available. The next step is managing the change in your marketing team and managing the way you interact with your infuencers and superfans. Gone are the days of the “Dear Robert Scoble, could you do us a solid and write a post about our product”. Or the bribed guest post, or endorsement. Both of which are the owned media managers shoddy attempts a doing blogger outreach.

This is business, so quite why we thought the above would work or was appropriate I don’t know.

Their impartiality to internal business silos, conflicts, politcs or the way we have always done it, will also bring more resonant content marketing into play. They’re a customer, so they know what their pain points are.

Formal contracts, NDAs, brand guidelines and tone of voice are all in a good writer’s vocabulary. I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised by the uptake of cocreative influencers – if we take a professional approach to their professional work.

It is up to us to give superfans the power, tools and access to evangelise.


Does your website have a patina of conversions?

It’s important for a website, as the main online conversion tool for the majority of businesses, to perform at its peak.

Part of that peek, beyond pulling new leads with SEO and SMO or sharing thought leadership, is to convert leads to sales. And having the look of a consistent converter is important. Customers who can see others have purchased, commented or liked and shared their purchase of X or subscription to Y of course feel more at ease with their purchase. Without this, your conversion funnels could be stuck in reverse. 


I’ve always thought that in my older years I’d love a classic car. Something with carburettors not fuel injection and without all the driver ‘aides’ our common cars force upon us.

For those that are interested I’m thinking a Series 1 RX7 (peripheral port) or Mark 1 Escort Mexico. Either way, with well tuned Webber carburettors. I want something that looks like it has been driven every day but still, well maintained.

The paintwork should reflect its life. Worn round the door handles, the leather seats stretched and squished. It won’t have won any showroom shine competitions.

The owner will tell me that among 5 other flaws, the synchro is worn on 2nd gear, but that you can drift it into Stowe with the speedo bouncing past 100mph. She’s honest, and tells me EXACTLY how it performs, flaws and all. Which is why I am so compelled to buy.

But to the point of social badges and brand advocates 

Social media tools and networks allow even the freshest of websites to have that well visited, worn in feel. A feeling and look that will instil confidence in a visitors mind. Sites with little feedback, or low numbers of shares have the opposite effect.

Here’s a post with plenty of patina from Jeff Bullas – you can be confident, just by the number that what he’s saying is of interest to his community. 


A step further is to be open and transparent in your comments area.

I feel patronising writing this, but many blogs still moderate comments. Sure, moderate for profanity and spam, but if someone is negative, leave the comment there and reply. Successful bloggers will find their community weight in and support their argument as well. 

Honesty and transparency instil further trust in your product or service. Recommendations and support from your brand advocates and your community of supporters takes it one step further. 

B2B, crisis management, social media, Uncategorized

Does your brand have a clear crisis management plan?

Each day I hear more and more statistics around the majority of FTSE 100 or Fortune 500 companies getting into social media.

The reluctance to allow clients to communicate with brands is being overpowered as it becomes mainstream.

Brands that are not on Facebook or Twitter are:

  • At least, feeling the peer pressure.
  • At most, developing highly formulated infrastructures to support social media marketing and social business as their businesses are transformed by close relationships with their clients.

This pressure to “do social” doesn’t always mean brands are entering with clear plans objectives and tactics. They let the pressure build, dive in and open themselves up to customers. Unprepared for a face full of coke.

All Shook Up
© eviloars

We’ve seen some epic fails in recent time. Here are 14 for example.

Many PR and community managers are thinking – if I have to face a nightmare like @O2 – will I be able to respond with such finesse.

A lot of which could be avoided by establishing ground rules. On my list of priorities for any social media effort are:

  1. What is our crisis management plan?
    This should cover:

    • What constitutes an “issue”?
    • Who is authorise to respond?
    • Who do you call in what department?
    • Where will we respond – offline, in private or in public?
    • When – what real time quick response team is in place?
    • How will you respond? “Sweep and hid” or “my bad” ?
  2. What is our Objective?
    • Content syndication?
    • Brand building?
    • Advocacy?
    • Engagement?
  3. What does success look like?
    • How will I measure it?

Only from there will I move to looking at what success in a “campaign” or action might look like and how that fits with the overall strategy and path. Where the questions and answers vary, but having the following is key.

  1. A product owner – the task master that will ensure all content providers are in place, and that their content is on time and on brand
  2. A content calendar – however simple or elaborate.
  3. Regular content meetings – possibly even daily stand-ups where – “Each member talks about progress since the last stand-up, the anticipated work until the next stand-up and any impediments, taking the opportunity to ask for help”

But coming back to dealing with crisis – make sure you have the fallback plan in place. Know who is the second backup, who can respond with a video if nexessary, comments to the press, TV etc. Then at a smaller scale, preset authorised refunds or “gifts” as apologies.

Refreshment. Ice cold!Its important to have it all in place before the bottle explodes.


Especially over the hot summer months when someone’s server or service is bound to be brought down by the heat – just as half your team are on vacation sipping cool drinks.


What I learnt from start-ups at #LeWeb

I had the pleasure of attending LeWeb last week and given my focus on B2B and corporate Social Media, I was bound for the Social Business stream.

Beyond harping phrases and taunts to the effects of “get social or perish” and evangelising social media – the social business track also offered up some nuggets of interest. Here is my short summary of the day and of the sessions I attended on the Social Business track.


The ability to innovate and scale that innovation will benchmark success
My largest takeaway from the day was the velocity at which the start-ups and businesses present were growing. Each one reaching X million users faster than Facebook and Twitter – in part because many are leveraging their networks for promotion, but also down to the appetite for niche apps that is developing thanks to app stores and smartphone growth.

In order for them to sustain this growth technically they are deploying cloud based products and development, scaling for demand and keeping costs pinned to user numbers. They focus on their core product and open their API to let others explore peripheries.

Their marketing – mostly crowd sourced or leveraging brand advocates – is as innovative as their products.
They have the capacity and thick skin to run with a marketing campaign around a feature, test the water and ‘pivot’ if the feature or even the entire app is a failure. Their marketing – Agile in nature – reflecting the way their products are built.

I suspect the market share these companies take from slow moving larger organisations to only increase…


We are still not engaging enough on Social Media

Jan Rezab from Social Bakers introduced us to his new measurement ranking Aimed at encouraging organisations to embrace social media as a way to talk with their customers and respond to messages. With ~90% of big brands on Facebook now only – 30% are actually doing it correctly.

According to Jan’s manifesto, correctly is:

  • Opening up your wall to fans questions- 25% of global brands still close their walls off from comments.
  • Responding to fan questions – respond to at least 65% of questions posed to your brand on Facebook.
  • Communicating in a timely fashion – the industry standard is (a surprisingly slow) 28hrs

Here are how the industries stack up

The main headlines include a saddening statistic, given the uptake of social media marketing – that 70% of all fan questions on Facebook go unanswered. The equivalent of not answering more than 2/3rds of your incoming calls! Interestingly, despite our perception as users, Airlines and Telco as an industry, topped the list in response rates.

For brands, there is also a name and shame list of all brands with some surprising names at the bottom of the list…
As a parting note, Jan offers: “Social media is about being personal, please don’t automate responses! ”


Organising your company/business to be social internally, being web2.0 as a company, is paramount to success in social media externally.

Maria Poveromo, of Adobe mentioned that organising as a team internally was a large challenge. After consulting with @Jowayang and @BrianSolis at the veteran start-up Altimeter, they adopted their more advanced model – a hub and spoke social media management community in late 2009.

The hub and spoke being adopted by many of the pioneers in social media such as Dell with their Social Media and Community University.

  A Framework for the Social Business

The model focuses around a centre of excellence that:

  • Listens and measures their engagement over social media,
  • Enables hubs with the right technology,
  • Empowers employees to use social media via training of tools and technology and the best ways to engage,
  • Innovates, staying on top of industry best practices, pilot trials and then feeding this out to the spokes.

With the hub in place, Maria urged that the first communications she and every organisation needs to make is around a crisis framework. With decision trees, noting who do they need to call in a crisis on the weekend.

Measuring success is key to going beyond good training and being able to close the loop on what you learn from social media. Good measurement is, ideally, giving the right data and metrics to the right audience. Executives at the top of the pyramid received a high level summary, and those tactically using social media receiving a very granular level of reporting.

Maria also has a nice KPI cheat sheet that can be used when planning your Social Media activities.

Maria’s parting notes:

“You can’t be successful externally without aligning internally.”

“Move from content aggregation to storytelling.”


Customers expect to be surprised – you must innovate constantly

Carla de Preval, Digital Marketing Manager for Yves Saint Laurent.

She explained that luxury is not just about story-telling and craftsmanship, but also very much about innovation: “When you look at the history of almost every luxury brand, the kick-off thing was always about innovation… Saint Laurent invented prêt-a-porter clothes, bringing haute couture to women in the street for the first time, and that’s what we continue to strive to do today.”

Carla framed the commonalities in best practice that luxury brands have with all brands. In that they tailor their message to the platform, be it Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. They try to be everywhere their customers are and mobile is a large focus as they try to digitise all of their marketing and offer ‘thematic value add’ experiences of the brand.

She also talked of an ongoing VIP blogger relationship program, that involves daily contact with the brand. Carla emphasises that their ‘blogger outreach’ succeeds because they give innovative content with an angle that is novel. They like to co-create and in each country have a ‘Luxury’ top three or so bloggers that they work with. Her advice is to be open and transparent, they are looking for REAL breaking news, not marketing fluff.

Their Heathrow airport campaign is an example of their innovation, which ties to my belief that content needs not only to be sticky to keep people on your website but also slippery. In that it can be shared to social media. They ran an Xbox Kinex screen that let visitors ‘Paint’ or ‘Splash’ with their products. You could then scan a custom QR code to share it online. They then gave away samples, to those that shared and checked in on foursquare – a full experience that connected online and offline.

You can play an online version of the “splash” at the web site.


Apps going deep in verticals will attack mainstream classified and social media platforms

Getglue, is a second screen network that lets you check into shows and movies rate them and comment on them.

Fraser Kelton COO of Getglue discussed his product and (perhaps biased opinion) that niche apps will attack the current dominating players. The irony being that many will still rely on share to: Facebook/Twitter functionality in order to gain popularity and momentum.

Foodspotting, Getglue, and the infamous Instagram are but a few that spring to mind. Yet if you take a look in the app store, for any of the verticals on Craigslist “there’s an app for that”.

So how popular is third screening and checking in?

Getglue not sits at around 10million check ins a months. And they get as many check ins to a single episode of Glee as Nielsen’s gets on their entire network of TV sets.


Finding value in big and little data

Regardless of the size of your organisation these will be items on the agenda this year: the management of social media internally, using the qualitative insights it brings, and understanding big data trends.