Updated April 1 at 4:01pm

Relating to the consumer will boost bottom line

‘[Share] a bit of you … then people will look at you as a thought leader’

“Sharing is caring” when it comes to customer-focused e-communications, according to the first of two panel discussions at Providence Business News’ Feb. 28 e-Marketing & Technology Summit. More

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TECHNOLOGY

Relating to the consumer will boost bottom line

‘[Share] a bit of you … then people will look at you as a thought leader’

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“Sharing is caring” when it comes to customer-focused e-communications, according to the first of two panel discussions at Providence Business News’ Feb. 28 e-Marketing & Technology Summit.

The first discussion focused on the basics of a social media strategy.

Corissa St. Laurent, New England development director for email-marketing firm Constant Contact, suggested that 80 percent of what a business posts on Facebook should be “sharing” – general information, your expertise, or offers - and 20 percent or less should be related to the product.

That way, you’re building a relationship with the customer. They might not be ready to buy a car right now, but “you’ll be on the front of their minds when they are ready,” she said. And, she added, you’ll be their first recommendation to a friend.

“[Share] a bit of you – whether it’s your personality, culture, or expertise because then, people will look to you as a thought leader,” St. Laurent urged. She noted that although most social networks are free, at the same time they’re not – “time is money.”

Since most people never have a reason to go back and visit a company’s Facebook page once they “like” it, the way you connect with your customers is through status updates. And because of a filter, only about 14 percent or less of those show up on an individual’s update feed, St.Laurent continued. She recommended that firms change their social-network campaign every two to four weeks.

Elizabeth Eckel, vice president of marketing at The Washington Trust Co., confirmed that thought, noting that you need “discipline” when it comes to social media – if you only push your product, you’ll be tuned out.

Her company took that to heart with its ‘I Luv RI’ campaign. The bank, she noted, does not push its products on the I Luv RI Facebook page, hoping that users will “subliminally” connect the campaign back to the bank.

“People are looking for a way to express themselves, which they can’t do through CD rates,” added Christopher Ciunci, CEO and founder of TribalVision, a SMB-focused marketing-consulting firm.

“If the experience with your company is only average … it’s not going to go viral,” he said.

Ciunci noted that in 2009, 2010, even 2011, it was “enough” to put up a Facebook page. But now there is a plethora of Web tools that allow businesses to start quantifying their social media results.

Despite previous practices or preconceived notions, content is hard work, he added. “There’s a dip [when using social media] and a lot of companies don’t want to go through that dip.”

Before engaging in social media, businesses should assemble the facts: about who you are, what you want to be and what your sustainable competitive advantage is. Are you a lowest-cost provider? Is your strength in the customer experience? Or, are you innovative?

“You can’t do all three; your resources will be spread too thin,” he said. Once you figure out the basics, you can decide on a strategy with long-term goals.

Brain Lamoureux, of Pannone Lopes Deveraux & West LLC, noted that a recent study on Twitter found that re-tweets and mentions are much more valuable than the initial tweet; he also talked about the 1-9-90 rule in which 1 percent generate content on social networks, 9 percent share and 90 percent simply “lurk.”

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you,” said Lamoureux, borrowing from an idea first espoused publicly by the late Dale Carnegie. •

030512 TECHNOLOGY, The Washington Trust Co, marketing, communication, technology, services, financial services, products, 2012 e-marketing & technology summit, Constant Contact, Pannone Lopes Deveraux & West LLC, , marketing, communication, technology, services, financial services, products, 26~48, issue030512export.pbn

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