A Practical Guide to Twitter, Facebook, Blogging and other Social Media Marketing
By Len Cercone
The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Social Media Marketing
And How to Avoid
C e r c o n e B r o w n & C o.
• B o s t o n • N e w Y o r k •
w w w.c e r c o n e b
r o w n.c o m
Table of Contents
Believing That a Facebook Page or Twitter Account Will Attract Prospec
Underestimating Time, Energy and Resources Needed
Creating Online Content That’s All About You
Viewing a Launch Date
s the Finish Line
Using the W
rong Metrics and Analytics
s of Social Media, And How to Avoid Them
: A Practical
Guide to Twitter, Facebook, Blogging and other Social Media Marketing
aily at Cercone Brown & Co
., we’re asked to help both consumer and B2B companies
better market themselves on the Internet. It’s both flattering and frustrating, as many
companies come with an idea of what they need, and almost always it’s from a specific,
tactical perspective with
varying degrees of vagueness thrown in for good measure.
Too often we hear
“We need to get on Facebook!”
“How can we begin using Twitter?”
“We need to be on THAT blog.”
hen we really should be hearing:
“Let’s develop a cohesive, dynamic app
roach to building our Web presence that
will help deliver a measurable, meaningful impact on our business. And let’s be
sure to bring all of our assets to bear
including sufficient resources, talent,
creativity and money
to ensure it’s successful in
a reasonable timeframe.”
Okay, no one talks like that. But still, the challenge is that too many companies are feeling
behind in online and social media marketing. Through fear, they are charging forward on the
backs of a few trendy tools (Facebook and
Twitter, mostly) with little or no understanding of
how to weave it all together
But with a little time, patience and planning, these same companies will realize that they
are not behind, but jumping into a still new a
nd developing marketing frontier.
The purpose of this paper is to help frame an online strategy where a wide range of activities
and assets work together to deliver real ROI. By all means, this is not a generic prescription,
rather an attempt to create
a common ground for discussion and planning which is based on
our many years of experience in PR, interactive communications, advertising and content
We don’t pretend that this is the definitive word on online and social media marketing. N
matter what the “experts” tell you, we are all learning on the go. Never have we seen such
a fluid, dynamic landscape…and that’s both scary and exciting. But one thing we can all
companies can no longer dabble in online and social m
arketing. It’s time to
take the plunge.
Quick, Slow Down!
Marketers are an impetuous bunch, and for good reason:
are on the hot seat to deliver
results like never before. With the average tenure of CMOs less than three years, it makes
that they want to push every button on the console. But like a master music producer,
the magic is in the mix. You wouldn’t cut a track with just drums and bass, would you? Nor
would most pop tunes sound good with just the vocal tracks (an understatemen
t for most
Online and social media marketing is just like a great song:
a balance of sounds, rhythm
and instruments across many frequencies balanced together just right. It’s about this point
where marketers want to skip to the pract
ical advice and how to
s. DON’T DO IT!
A successful online and social
media marketing program starts with developing the right
before a single byte is programmed. So, to get in the right mindset, let’s start by
pointing out what not to do when
approaching online and social media marketing, and then
create a framework for success.
We’ll look at the common pitfalls we see clients make. Making the leap from traditional
online marketing requires a new mindset and reference point. Avoid these m
you’ll be off to a great start
# 1: Believing That
Facebook Page or Twitter Account Will Attract Prospects
be it’s a hangover from the dot
com boom, but too many companies think that if they build it, they
will come. Sadly, it j
ust ain’t so.
Think of it like this:
you want to sell a house and your only promotion is a sign
the front yard, you
won’t get much traffic. But get your listing
multiple directories, agents and promotional vehicles,
and you’re suddenly
open to more prospects. The real key is the content in those listings. They must give
prospects the valuable information the want in a way that’s easy to use, pass to a friend or client and,
ultimately, act upon.
It’s the same thing with online and social
and every other
site on the Net is just a channel to broadcast your message. Each has
its own tone and tact, and each
serves a purpose for your mission. But it’s the aggregate of these places and forums that hold the power
of the Web. Ultimately, what you do, say and offer is the key to attracting and keeping the attention of
Avoid the Mistake: Build
With literally hundreds of social sites to choose from, start with the
biggies to build your infrastructure: a combination of a blog, Twitter,
and email marketing. Depending on your content,
you’ll want to add You Tube and a photo
sharing site like Flickr to your
Then, enable all of your online assets to be shared and passed
Chiclets (a fancy name for one
applications). Another simple but effective way to further your content
and share online content.
Build these pages with a clear strategy for the type of content that
you’ll use on each. Then keep it simpl
e. You don’t need to reach every
community across the World Wide Web. Hit a few key ones with
content they want to use and pass, and the rest will build on itself. (See
#5: Be a Publisher,
ot a Publicist for more information on content.)
Once you’re u
p and running, maintain activity using the
: post three tweets each day,
update your Facebook status or promotion
, and post at least one, well
each week. Of course, you can feel free to overachieve, especi
ally with the blog. But be careful not to
overdo it on Facebook and Twitter…no one wants to get too many updates.
Follow the 3
Daily, post t
at least one, well
free to overachieve
We’ve established that online and social media aren’t separate tools, but are
conduit to our prospects. So why do companies treat a blog, Facebook page, Twitter and their
own sites as separate entities? Too often
creating and posting content online happens in silos.
Or worse, some of the best assets and content with
in an organization aren’t leveraged at all.
In many cases, there’s even push back between departments or functions to try to “own”
elements, instead of working together to feed the online effort.
: Practice Centralized Broadcas
Think of your online infrastructure as an array of towers broadcasting similar messages across
varying frequencies. It’s not unlike customizing radio ads for different station formats and
demographics. No matter where your prospect chooses to liste
n in on the dial, you’re hitting
them with the right message.
The same is true with Twitter, blogs, forums, social networks, etc.
Take one piece of content,
ranging from a press release to a new user video, and disseminate it across your social media
form as one message.
Start by posting it on your blog, then share that
on Twitter and Facebook. Add the social
media sites and bookmarking, paying careful attention to use pitch descriptions in the “meta
tags” (the verb
age that will appear in
search engine results pages
The concept is simple. Each piece of content or n
ews triggers a series of events
posts to You
Pass to a
ake sure you are bringing all your assets to bear:
your online efforts by coordinating
with your media buy, website updates, press efforts, etc. Think of the online platform
central hub that gathers information, intelligence and content from all corners of the
#3: Thinking SEO
point of this paper
we’ll focus on non
paid (sometimes called organic or natural language)
earch engine optimization (SEO): the suite of tactics that get you ranked higher in search results on
Google, Yahoo! and others.
When asked about SEO, most marketers default to the expertise of the developers. “Oh yeah, they’ve
got that covered.”
ay even throw out some voodoo terms like “meta tags,” “indexing” or
“directories.” It’s true that how a site is developed will have a huge influence on search (and could
be a separate paper in itself).
Take control from the start of the development pro
cess. The content and copy on your site is the
single most important element to good search rankings, and it’s too important to leave to someone
o Avoid the Mistake: SEO is About Content,
For now, suffice to say that the big
gest influence on attracting visitors through search is creating
to see, not content
them to see. Simply filling copy with keywords or
writing snappy meta
data (the language that helps search engines properly index and report yo
pages) isn’t enough.
Tricks for search engines are fine, but in the end know this:
Creating content that fits their needs and interest is the first step to capturing
traffic from search engines
One thing to keep in mind:
do need to accommodate your writing style to optimize for search
engines, even if your content is great. It’s not hard, but there is a knack to it. You’re not writing
copy, you say? Do it anyway. SEO is the ultimat
e exercise in writing with your prospect in mind.
Knowing the rules will help you better plan your overall content strategy.
The key to any SEO effort is picking the right terms. Choose ones that both pertain to your business
(and Web content) and that
you feel you can own. For instance, with my firm, Cercone Brown &
Company, we’re never going to generate enough content to own our more commonly used name CBC.
Because no matter how much content we generate, we can never hope to break the search
nkings of the true owner of the acronym: The Canadian Broadcast
Instead, we work to rank for terms such as “social media agency Boston”… a much more ownable
term. See the end of this book for some tools and sites to help define the b
est keywords for your
When you write a blog or web page, there are some basic rules to follow if you want to catch the
attention of search engines. First, try to keep your pages or postings to 300
400 words. Then, decide
which keywords the cop
y will focus on, and sprinkle the word
(and synonyms and derivatives)
throughout the piece in a way that flows well to the reader.
here are a few important things to
word should make up between 2.5%
16% of the total copy. This me
ans it would
to 16 times for each 400 words
Headlines and subheads are very important. They should include your keyword, and if
possible, keywords should start t
he headline or opening sentence
Partial words and synonyms work toward total keywor
Use branded terms with unbranded terms, thinking of relevance to
Include your keyword at the beginning of the page title, page description and keywords when
iting your meta
To get an idea of what terms make sense
for your company, visit
. There you
can play with words, and get suggestions. Try to be somewhat specific to capture searches that are
more realistic. In the example below, “baseball
gloves” is the #1 searched for term in that market. In
the second column, it shows it’s also the most competitive, meaning lots of companies are
that word. However, if you focus it just a little, the odds begin to change. For instance, “ca
mitt” has 9,900 searches monthly (still a very healthy number of prospects). With less competition for
the term, your efforts are more likely to be rewarded with folks with a better understanding of what
they want to buy.
mating Time, Energy and Resources Needed
With traditional marketing, you created something like an ad or press release, and then unleashed it on
the world. Maybe you had an agency do some follow up; maybe you dropped a coupon or mailer. But
case, you created something, let it fly and then sat back and watched the magic happen.
Along comes the social Web, and marketers are all abuzz about “two
marketing” and “conversations” with customers. Guess what? If yo
u want to manage conversations with
thousands of customers and prospects, it takes a lot
and I mean A LOT
of time. And because these
prospects are busy people that are inundated with messages, it better be good, fast and specific.
e Mistake: Commit Time, Money and Patience and
ocial media doesn’t sleep
Day to day, there’s a ton of work that needs to happen to make a social media
campaign work. This job requires intuition, resourcefulness and folks that can dir
ect themselves. Why?
Because it’s not a simple list of to
do’s. A social media pro needs to be constantly experimenting with
techniques that are changing on the fly.
Companies need dedicated pros on the keyboard each and everyday, monitoring the chatter
disseminating content, Tweeting, postin
It’s much more intense than traditional PR and marketing, and
you want it no other way.
There are three main areas of activity that need constant attention:
Monitoring and Response:
Each day, you
need to know what’s happening on blogs, forums,
review sites, chat rooms, traditional media online, social networks, media sharing sites… the list
goes on. You need a robust, easy
manage system to know what’s being said, and how or if to
ll cover this more in another book, but suffice to say Google Alerts won’t cut it.
CBC uses a combination of
and Cision Social Media (running Radian6). Each day in
time, our social media pros k
now exactly what’s happening out there for our clients, their
competitors and the trends that affect their businesses. From one dashboard, we can parse
responsibilities to follow up on sales opportunities, press and even help solve unhappy customer
before they become an online firestorm.
button on any social media site contains more than 150
chiclets. To which should you post your blog entries, press kits, videos, etc.?
These days, it’s
more than just Facebook and Twitter, but even these two lions of social media require near
constant attention to manage two
way conversations with prospects and customers. Day
participation also covers your blog activities and con
tent distribution strategy. Again, more to
come on this area!
Beyond the day
day activity, the best way to attract attention online
is to create full social media campaigns. These are promotions, news items, sweepstakes or
dvocacy campaigns that have a strong call to action…all designed to proliferate your
content across the social media universe and
rive traffic back to a promotional site or even
your corporate site.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate how this
by example. Recently, CBC
launched the Nalgene
campaign to help strengthen the
brand’s reputation as a “badge of
environmental responsibility.” The idea is
that using a Nalgene w
ater bottle instead of
a single serve disposable bottle is an act of
more responsible consumption. So, to
expand on the notion
and give folks online
something to grip their teeth into
launched this campaign that measured
urban America’s wastefulnes
We started with a research study of
the habits of folks living in the top
25 cities in the USA. Everything
from using public transportation to
saving Ziploc bags was included.
applying a formula to the
results, we ranked the cities from
Wasteful (San Francisco) to
Most Wasteful (Atlanta).
Results were announced via an RSS
press release that targeted green
bloggers. We posted challenges on
Facebook and Twitter, all driving
folks to take the test themselves on
our campaign microsite.
he results were astounding! We reached nearly a million people on Twitter alone before we stopped
counting. We had 32 TV stories in 13 markets, and a more than 100 news stories online and offline that
The lesson here is that when you combine news media and social media, you get the best of both worlds.
And we’re happy to report that the campaign won
a prestigious Platinum PR Award for one of the “Best
Online Campaigns of 2
Yes, a shameless plug!
#5: Creating Online Content That’s All
roduct publicity is for media relations and your e
commerce site. Unless you’re
producing a catalog, forget attracting people to read about your latest r
eleases. Granted, if
done right, you’ll pepper all that stuff in there anyway; it just can’t be the obvious focus.
sell security software, you are really about identity theft. If you sell insurance, you
are really about protecting loved ones. An
d if you sell widgets…well, you get the point.
Avoid the Mistake: Be a Publisher, Not a Publicist
A good example of getting outside of yourself with content worth reading is
at these guys online
and you’ll believe that t
hey are part KGB (a Russian company,
after all), part MIT and part Marvel Super Hero. They are the good guys working tirelessly
across the global Internet to protect you from hordes of criminals, hackers, thieves and
Mafioso’s after your computer (
our very identity)
The founder Eugene
is an up
minute laboratory of anti
(malicious software) knowledge. It’s so valuable, I’m sure he has many subscribers at
Symantec! But look at the company’s Facebook page:
you will see its quirky
personality come to life in a whole new, sometimes playful
way. This is a company that
projects through wisely chosen content that they have an important mission, a real soul
and some incredible products. Now that’s worth followin
g if you buy, specify or follow this
segment of the software market.
Another great example is Briggs and Stratton, a manufacturer of small engines most often
found in lawn mowers. Their blog and email push campaign isn’t all oil, spark plugs and
r. They know that if you care enough to notice the engine in a mower (a branded
component), you are a lawn freak. Voila:
. Anything you wanted to know
about cinch bugs, Creeping Charlie and proper mowing techniques.
So what’s the take away
? Get to the core of your prospects’ interests and needs, and then
fill it with content they can’t get anywhere else. And then keep it fresh and keep it
#6: Viewing a Launch Date is the Finish Line
Up to this point, we haven’t talked mu
ch about your corporate website. Most companies are in
some level of development of redevelopment of their online identities (or at least SHOULD be).
But as much as a sigh of relief you may feel when the site is finally live, this is just the
to a long journey of content development, postings, SEO additions and many
things that make your site a dynamic hub worth visiting over and over again.
Avoid the Mistake: Have a Long
As you can imagi
ne by now, building more and more content on your site is essential to an
effective content strategy. But for many organizations, updating main corporate sites is a
quagmire of meetings, planning and approvals.
But there are much easier, and in many case
s more effective, ways to add meaningful
content. And none require huge ramp
up efforts, but thrive on smaller bits added over
time. Some include:
A Compelling Blog:
As we’ve seen, most corporate blogs start and fail. After
several entries, many executi
ves find it hard to keep up. But the key is to NOT
create a blog about your company. Instead, your blog should be a destination filled
with expertise, insights and original content about the things most interesting and
valuable to your prospects. For inst
ance, what will attract more people: a blog
about Quiksilver’s latest board short, or posts from Kelly Slater on a beach in M
complete with on
video and pictures?
Granted, not everyone has a seven
time world champion surfer to tap. But no ma
business, make your blog about your unique views and the passions of your followers.
And to make it pop, look into more advanced “blogazine” templates from Wordpress. A simple
chronological blog doesn’t allow you to create a hierarchy for your
posts, where magazine style
formats let feature items live longer. Check out
. Looks like
magazine online. Truth be told: two publicists in my firm run it in their spare time. Really
If nothing else, good
optimized blog copy is a great way to build your search rankings. Two
or three posts per week can do the trick. Just make them worth it.
Especially when you are using a cause or specific call
s part of
your content strategy, consider creating a promotional URL (Web address) to aid in promotions.
Typically, it’s much easier to get people to visit a site with a memorable address and focused
subject than to send them to a commercial site…even if i
t’s the same content.
Mind you, it’s okay to use an alias (an address that redirects to another website whose
address is hidden). In fact, it’s best to host the content within your site. But whatever you
decide, create an entire awareness campaign that
drives prospects to a site where they learn
more, participate in a poll, download a paper, etc. It’s just the sort of effort that builds your
social network in short order.
Contests, Polling and Promotions:
If you’re firing on great content as described
you’re ready to add in the shameless promotions. People love free offers, especially if they feel
exclusive. So take the time to segment a few promos just for your Facebook fans or blog
subscribers…and make them worth it. Free shipping just w
on’t cut it. Have them vote on a new
style, give an opinion of a provocative question or post a photo. And for the effort, give them
something tangible. Promos are a great way to build return visits.
: Using the Wrong Metrics and Analytic
for insights on how your site is performing, and
out of 10 will report generic
stats such as page views, visitors and time on site. But unless you can tell who’s coming from where,
what they are seeing, how much tim
e they spend on content and other telling behaviors, you aren’t
getting enough to garner real insights that are the lifeblood to an effective, ongoing campaign.
: Invest in the Best Insight and Intelligence
Whether you use Goog
le Analytics or third
pros like Public Insite, make sure you’re using the right
information about where your traffic is coming from and what they spend their time doing on your site.
For instance, I was convinced that for a firm like Cercone Brown,
most of our visitors would be from brand
searches (people who Googled our name) or
be direct visitors, referred as part of the review
process. I didn’t think that we’d ever get business from people randomly searching for “Advertising
agencies” or “T
op PR firms.”
Was I wrong! An analysis of site traffic finds that we are popping from directories and subject
searches. And that these folks have come from places like Microsoft, IBM and Ford (
two of which
ended up doing business with, in fact). But what’s
more, our analytics can tell us about bounces (a
second or two page view with an immediate back track) that indicate what may not be working, and
when and where each visitor delved more deeply.
Our advice? Outsource your anal
ytics. You’ll get more insi
free of politics or spin.
If nothing else, the purpose of this book is to shed light on three simple facts:
ocial media marketing requires a commitment of time, creativity and resources.
When approached as a single platform, the comple
xity of managing social media communications
is greatly reduced.
There’s no magic or voodoo here!
This stuff really works.
So if you’re a company that’s just wading into social media, take it slow. Choose a few tools and
techniques that you believe wi
ll help your business and that you can commit to. Deliver well
interesting, useful and/or entertaining content, and add on layers as the effort takes hold.
RESOURCES (A SHO
RT LIST OF LINKS AND THINGS YOU OUGHT TO KNOW)
Lots of these sorts of books end with a long list of sites in all types of categories. This does very little to
simplify the process of developing and maintaining a social media program. Trying to use and m
many services and sites is like indiscriminately advertising in every magazine on the newsstand.
Choose the ones that make most sense for your business and spend 80
90% of your time there first. As you
gain traction and bandwidth, add more as
you see fit. For now, we advocate the approach outline in this
which focuses on a content strategy deliver
through your blog, Facebook, You Tube, PRWeb or
Business Wire and direct/email. For now, here are a few sites and resources we like:
l Media Map
Of course there’s many more options than those outlined above. Only you will know the correct
combination for your business. The best resource to get the lay of the social media landscape is Overdrive
Interactive’s Social Media Map. It’s the
glance tool we’ve seen.
Analytic Tools and Resources
Institute for PR:
A wealth of information and white papers on measurement.
By far the most popular measurement tool around, and most likely used by the
folks that host and manage your site
or online ad campaigns. Take time to understand the metrics
and you’ll be more effective. (
An applications service provider
itors all chatter across the social Web. Can be
expensive, but it’s the pro’s choice for social media intelligence. (
A great third
party service to truly understand online beh
avior. Their Visitor Pattern
Analytics will change your concept of what you can learn from measurement.
Search Tools And Key Word Trackers
really touched on search
engine optimization techniques, but underlying all online marketing is
creating content that supports important search terms germane to your business.
: Get some ideas using Google’s free tool
This free tool also provides some direction on using the results
Blog List Sites And Directories
When you want to put together a great list of blogs, you not only want ones that are on
subject; you want
high traffic and lots of links. Two great sites to begin your research are:
traffic statistics and lots of top site lists by category
: The premiere blog search engine. (
Content and Applications
Add a polling feature to your blog in seconds (
Windows Live Writer:
For PC users only (I’m a Mac guy). All
ows you to write posts even without
: Free service to make URL links much shorter for Tweets and blog posts.
A must have for Twitter. Write and receive Tweets without having to log onto Twitter.
: A free Google Alert style notification for keyword mentions on Twitter.
: Like it
s name suggest, this free application can manage several social networks from one
he best application for easy, valuable email content. Generate tips in any subject, and
manage multiple databases. The best part:
a new user signs on, they start at Tip #1, so the
content you created for the meager beginnings of your database ar
e leveraged no matter when a
contact is made. (
These guys are no secret. The easiest way to create, measure and manage
email campaigns. Highly customizable and inexpensiv
Three Books to Read
The New Rules of Marketing and PR
(David Meerman Scott): Still the definitive guide to using
online media, this book’s subtitle says it all: How to Us
e News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral
Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Direct.
Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day
(by Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin): An easy
read to master SEO yourself.
Marketing to the Social Web (Larry Weber):
This guy built one of the biggest PR firms in the
world. Listen to what he has to say!
Cercone Brown & Co.