Taking advantage of loaded bases with monitoring and promotion
As springtime awakens, and the flowers and green grass return, I think about growing up with a dad who loved the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Texas Rangers baseball teams, while I loved playing softball. (Before the kids came along, Paul and I even adopted a beagle we named B. Dodger.)
I relished playing first base. I must’ve not been too shabby of a ball player, as I recall only one game when the coach wasn’t happy with me. In a rare moment, I missed a catch, and the batter arrived safely on first.
(Oh, there goes that Abbott and Costello routine in my head.)
After the team got its three outs and came off the field, the coach took me aside and joked with me about my mistake. Half teasing, I asked him if a home run would help.
What do you know? It did.
Gosh, I miss those days of looking at a fresh baseball diamond with undisturbed white lines and smooth, brown dirt waiting for action.
Missing out on trying new things
It breaks my heart to report this: The sports of baseball and softball have shrunk so significantly that my city has replaced some of its baseball diamonds with soccer fields. Part of the problem: It’s hard to play multiple sports like I did back in the day. Every sport had one season with little overlap. Now, they’re year-round, or close to it.
Today’s kids choose other, more action-oriented sports over the too slow moving game of baseball. Well, that, and they’re pressured to pick one sport and stick with it. Otherwise, they fall behind with no chance of staying on the team or becoming a starter. Even with overloaded schedules, families can’t make room for more than one sport.
It’s a shame, because playing various things allows kids to find what they enjoy. I’ve tried soccer, basketball, golf, tennis, gymnastics, bowling (yes, I even got a trophy) and volleyball. If I had to choose one sport at age six, it might not have been softball. The sport didn’t click with me until I was eight. I didn’t discover volleyball until middle school.
Imagine being forced to pick one marketing strategy for your business. That’s like missing a leg on a three-legged stool.
Marketing strategy field of dreams
Smart businesses play multiple sports. You could say baseball represents a social media strategy. Football represents an email marketing strategy. Basketball represents content marketing strategy. Soccer represents search engine marketing. And so on.
Statistics continue to show email marketing offers one of the best ROIs in marketing. Still, no business would make it the only strategy. An integrated marketing strategy allows you to catch your audience in multiple places. You can let people know how to sign up for your email list in social media. Help people find your website through search engines. Teach them valuable things through your blog.
But here in this marketing field of dreams, baseball gets to be the star. In this game, Twitter is the pitcher, Facebook is the catcher, and LinkedIn is the batter. You may substitute the catcher with a different tactic like Google+. Or have the two catchers take turns playing. Social networks are tactics, tools that support a company’s integrated marketing strategy.
Winding up for the pitch
Let’s turn our attention to the pitcher, Twitter. Many experts advise pitchers have two or three strong pitches in their arsenal. It improves their chances of success over trying to learn four or five pitches.
Not every business can pull off more than a couple of pitches to get by. And that’s OK. They may not become a powerhouse on Twitter, but it lets them have skin in the game. In the world of Twitter, these two pitches are monitoring and promotion.
Granted, Twitter success takes more than these two. Yet monitoring and promotion provide the biggest bang for the buck. Monitoring means listening to Twitter for mentions of your company, competitor or industry. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
Every business desires more clients. So companies want to use the promotion pitch often. However, throwing all promotion pitches all the time hurts your business. The batter will catch on and adjust. Except in Twitter; they’ll ignore you when you talk about yourself all day.
Even a single type of pitch can have variations in velocity and trajectory. How a company does promotion alone can affect the outcome of the game.
Monitoring the game
When people run into a problem with a product or service, they’ll tweet about it. If they have a bad experience with customer service, they’ll tweet it.
Don’t fret — not all tweets are negative. People do tweet about great experiences and why they love a company.
People struggling to find answers to a problem will ask for help in Twitter. What would happen if you solved their problem without mentioning your product or service? You may gain a new fan. And that fan may just buy from you or mention you.
Tweets like “I’m looking into ABC and XYZ. Which do you like better? Why?” appear all the time. What if one of those is your company? Or both are your competitors? You want your company to have a fighting chance. Listen for tweets like this and speak up.
Just like I recovered from making a bad play with a home run, your company can recover from negative tweets. In one case, a customer tweeted her disappointment in a company’s lack of response to her email for help. Within a few minutes, the company responded with a link, so she could submit a trouble ticket.
It took only 15 minutes from her first tweet to get the problem solved. After that, she wrote two positive tweets about the company. Two positive tweets to one negative — that’s a good deal.
When you find a complaint or negative tweet mentioning your company, acknowledge the tweet ASAP even if you don’t have a solution. Clients want to know they’ve been heard. Then, use follow up tweets as needed to resolve the problem. Every situation is different. Listen and be ready to pounce.
Promoting the team
Every major league baseball stadium has ads. But they don’t dominate the baseball experience. If they do, it turns off fans who want to watch the game without too many distractions. Businesses on Twitter, of course, want to promote their products, services and content. You can do that as long as it doesn’t take over your Twitter stream.
Experienced users share their formulas on how much self-promotion to do in social media:
- Post one self-serving tweet for every 10 tweets. (Another says 12:1.)
- Follow the 4-1-1 rule: For every self-serving tweet, retweet a relevant tweet and four useful resources.
- Use the Pareto principle: 20 percent of the tweets are about you, and 80 percent are about others.
No single rule stands out. Besides, people always break rules in social media. You’ll find Twitter accounts that tweet nothing but the latest articles and blog entries from their own websites.
You can make your self-serving tweets more helpful. For example, if you want to share your company’s latest blog post, tweet more than the post title and link. Give people a reason to check it out by telling them what’s in it for them. Yes, the old standby of WIIFM applies here.
Go the distance
Twitter gives companies the chance to take off their baseball caps, wipe away the eye black and change into street clothes to reveal their true selves. It’s hard to say no to an employee who answers your question, shares useful resources and helps out. Beware of the opposite: People can’t connect with a company that talks to no one and promotes itself.
Winning the baseball game of Twitter is simple. Listen, engage and help. Balance self-serving tweets with plenty of useful ones. (Here’s a Twitter cheat sheet to help.)
Go the distance, ease their pains, and the people will come … to your company.
In the meantime, here’s hoping the Rangers go the distance with their new manager.
About the author
Meryl K. Evans is senior editor at InternetViZ and the content maven behind the Organizational Excellence Journal and Professional Services Journal. Contact her or connect with her on Twitter @merylkevans or elsewhere.