Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ZoomInfo, Chris Abraham and Me - A Social Media Case Study

Sure, almost every business on the planet is now using social media in some manner, but do you ever wonder if it really works? And if so, how? I get those questions, and while I generally avoid writing about myself (preferring to stick to topics that are actually interesting), a recent post here on how to use Twitter for business was part of interesting and illustrative social media experience.

It started with a webcast on using Twitter effectively for business and advocacy hosted by Chris Abraham, social media guru and principal at social PR firm Abraham Harrison, and Anamitra Banerji of Twitter. After the presentation, Chris posted his content on SlideShare, a leading social media sharing site. I then wrote the above-mentioned blog post summaring the presentation, which was published here and also syndicated on MyVenturePad, part of the Social Media Today network. The syndicated piece caught the attention of the marketing folks at ZoomInfo.

ZoomInfo is a highly-regarded online directory of people and companies used by recruiters, sales pros and direct marketers. It's also helpful for SEO and for online reputation management. They also publish a enewsletter, the ZoomInformer, a recent issue of which linked to my blog post about using Twitter for business.

That newsletter mention produced the second-highest single day traffic ever to this blog (exceeded only by a post on the social media email signature which got some nice Twitter exposure from Guy Kawasaki of "online magazine rack" site AllTop). And that burst of traffic led to this blog post, which Chris will probably Tweet about.

The end result was increased exposure for everyone involved: Chris got his content in front of my blog readership and Twitter followers plus the ZoomInformer subscriber base; my blog was brought to the attention of Chris's SlideShare visitors and 10,000+ Twitter fans as well as ZoomInfo's newsletter readers; and the ZoomInfo newsletter article was promoted here and to followers of Chris and me on Twitter.

Three key points to note

Social media is valuable. The type of exposure that social media provides—third-party endorsement from a source that has high credibility with its audience—is arguably far more valuable than advertising. Yet the exchange above didn't cost any of the participants anything other than a bit of time.

Promotion wasn't the original intent. Chris's presentation, and my follow-on blog post, were aimed at helping businesses and other organizations to use Twitter more effectively. ZoomInfo linked to my post in their newsletter to share that guidance with their subscribers. None of us were focused on spreading our own "marketing message."

The spread was spontaneous. None of this was orchestrated. Social media is like that; it goes off in unpredictable directions. Spreading the word is what's important, not controlling the medium.

The bottom line is that trying to use social media as just another channel to spread your message is doomed to failure. But if you focus instead on using it to provide and promote content that helps others, your message will ultimately come through.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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