Social Media Masters Session in Toronto with Nicole Schuman

Blogging is not dead and businesses are using Klout to help identify key influencers were some of the things social media Nicole Schuman said she took away from the “Social Media Masters” Conference in Toronto.

Nicole Schuman
Social media marketer and president of the Social Media Club of Buffalo Nicole Schuman

The conference, which was held on Oct. 7, was geared toward advanced social media practices for marketing and communications.  Sessions had such topic as “Lessons from the Facebook Trenches: Thinking Beyond ‘Likes,’”  “Making Sense of Measurement” and “Mobile Marketing Mastery.”

Schuman, who is also the president of the Buffalo chapter of the Social Media Club, said she found the talk “Corporate blogs – Trends, Best Practices and 10 Ideas to Make Them Not Suck,” particularly interesting.

“A lot of people forget about blogging; I think all social media stems from good content and the perfect place to house all your good content is on your blog,” said Schuman.  “Blogs are the first instance of social media in spreading content socially. Any business I have worked for in the past five years, one of the first things I always had on the (social media marketing) strategy has been to create a blog because everything on it could be shared so seamlessly and messages can be stretched so much farther.”

Schuman said that the session stressed the importance of having all departments within a company involved in their company’s blog.

“Companies think blogging should only be done by the marketing department, said Schuman. “You need to have the entire company involved and this goes for social media too. The marketing department can be in charge of it, but really the key is to get everyone involved in some way, shape or form. Start a committee and involve different representatives from around the company because there are new products that come out and customer services issues that the public should know about. All these difference can give your company leverage and not make your blog so one dimensional.”

Some of the more popular discussions focused around when business pages for Google+ will be launched, new Facebook features, R.O.I., Klout and knowing who are your engaged consumer. Schuman said the topic of Klout and influential users made her think about her own worth.

“I’ve given more thought to Klout now and people have asked me to tweet their events because I have quite an outreach on Twitter in Buffalo,” said Schuman.  “Why not charge for that? Why not charge for people to reach my audience? How do we monetize influence? This is my question in general.”

“Klout is the new word-of-mouth (advertising) and you can find your influencers through Klout. How accurate that tool is, no one is sure, but it’s definitely a step in the direction of being able to navigate word-of-mouth advertising. “

The conference also highlighted best practices for businesses online, like Caterpillar, makers of heavy construction equipment. Schuman said their blog is so successful because they created a business to business blog segmented by the different industries they are involved in, like marine and construction trades.

Another example used at the conference was for a company called Fiskars, makers of orange-handled scissors used in crafting and paper cutting. Schuman said they thought about who their audience was and how their product related to them in order to make interesting content.

“They thought about ‘Who loves using scissors?’ and the research said, ‘scrapbookers,’ so they created a blogging group of scrapbookers across the country called ‘fiskateers’ in the community,” said Schuman. “The fiskateers are their new R&D department and there are 8,000 bloggers involved. They have conventions and they not only blog; the company (also) asks them for ideas like ‘What would make scissors cool?’ Fiskateers came up with making colored scissors, making scissors that cut different shapes and patterns and this all came out of thinking about who their audience was.”

Despite the emphasis on engagement and being helpful, too many companies are still focused on the numbers and getting as many Twitter Followers and Facebook fans as they can, which might not be the best approach.

“It doesn’t matter how many followers or “likes” you have, what matters is, are you getting to the right people?” said Schuman. “How many people that like your page are coming back to your page? At the Social Media Masters conference, they said the number was very low, like 4%. Someone might be giving away a trip, but people might not care about the company, they come for the trip and never go back. You need to do things that stick. I tell my clients, ‘Let’s set a goal for three months, we are going to double your fans.’ I tell them, ‘You want to make sure you are hitting the right people.’ Unless you are reaching the right people; it’s not going to help your sales or marketing goals. “

View live tweets from the event at the Social Media Club of Buffalo’s (@SMCBuffalo) twitter feed #smm2011.

Nicole Schuman is available for freelance opportunities and can be contacted through her LinkedIn profile.  She will also be teaching a class this spring in “Writing for the Web” at Niagara University.