I spoke at PubCon earlier this week on the topic of social media, press relations and brand management. Judging by the well attended conference and the flurry of activity, social media shows no sign of slowing down. It may evolve and we may call it something different, but the idea that everything is connected – a networked economy if you will – is here to stay. We’ve all heard of the great case studies of social media success for consumer brands (large and small) and certainly personal brands, but what about for small businesses?
I recently had a conversation with the Small Business Solutions Marketing Group at Cisco to understand how they used social media to gain mindshare and drive product development, and am pleased to hear their great progress and success. Since the group started incorporating social media into their marketing efforts targeted at resellers and small business owners last year, they’ve seen great return including an approximate 200% increase in community growth across their external social channels.
How was this achieved? Marketing Manager, Jeanne Quinn, outlined the following four crucial steps:
1) Listening: Leveraging various social media listening tools, the group was able to identify their audience segment on Twitter and Facebook. In addition, they were able to assess the audience’s user behavior and information needs in these social networks.
2) Content Development: Based on the audience profiles and user behavior, they developed content that met the needs of their audience including how-to tips, product reviews and basic technology explanations.
3) Amplification: The content was then amplified across their Twitter and Facebook channels.
4) Engagement: Through their social channels, the team responded to feedback from their community and also participated in existing conversations from third party blogs and social networks.
While these steps may appear easy to implement in theory, in the real-time web where social media is about continuing the conversation, it can be more challenging in practice. I would add that consistency and repetition is key. So, it’s no wonder why Cisco’s Small Business Solutions Marketing Group was recently recognized by AMI Partners with the “Excellence Award in Demand Generation.” Congrats to the team again and feel free to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook if you are a small business owner or someone who is interested in learning more about all of the great things their doing.