Stephanie Frasco loves few things more than social media. But content is one of them. “Content Is King," she stated enthusiastically. "It's everything … The key to attracting the right customers, the best tool for building relationships with prospects, the most powerful way to convert prospects into sales, the No. 1 way to improve the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, online and off.
Frasco, a social media marketing consultant, is vice president at Los Angeles based Convert With Content. In the past 7 years, she has worked with clients worldwide to help them maximize their efforts from social networking and blogging.
Through a rather tongue-in-cheek blog called Socially Stephanie, she offers advice like this to B2B businesses:
I want you to absolutely think about blogging within LinkedIn's new publishing platform. Yes, this is hot off the presses. LinkedIn's publishing platform is now open to the public. The possibility of getting in front of LinkedIn's 200 million plus users is exhilarating, but you have to do it right. Create unique content for LinkedIn. Look at it as a guest blogging platform and not a syndication network. Duplicate content doesn't bode well with the Google gods. I know that I'll be spending investing some good ol' blogging sweat equity there, and you should too."
Hooked on a (Social) Feeling
What else does Frasco have to say? Here's a sampling.
Sobel: Tell me a how you got started.
Frasco: I got started in marketing straight out of college when I started a celebrity fashion website. You could use it to search what celebrities were wearing and locate a place where you could buy the same looks. Because we were a startup with limited funds, I had to come up with innovative ways to market the site. I found blogs and forums to be the best way to connect and engage to build brand awareness.
Blogging was the first form of social media. Twitter and Facebook weren't around yet. Naturally that love for engaging, networking and using social media grew as these social media sites evolved. Everything I learned was all through trial and error, but when it came down to it, one thing stayed the same. And that's this: Building relationships with people online is the best way to increase awareness and conversations around businesses.
From there, I worked with Atlantic Records in New York City on the new media team, developing and implementing strategic ways to use social networks to increase sales and loyalty for the brands on the label. I did some pretty cool things for Diddy and James Blunt, including a few live webcasts. Because I'm entrepreneurial, I took the lead and handled social media strategy for a handful of businesses on my own. From there, the rest is history. Now my husband and I work together helping small businesses achieve the same results through community management, blogging and social media efforts.
Sobel: So you started your career on the entertainment side and moved to more of a business-to-business model. How similar or different are the strategies?
Frasco: They're similar in the fact that marketing is about telling a story. People, no matter what business they are in, relate to stories. It's part of our history as humans and it's what communities are built on. The more engaged with a story someone becomes, the less it feels like marketing. It's about building relationships. Relationships connect people.
Sobel: What are some of your challenges?
Frasco: It's challenging to communicate the importance of community building and social media strategies to business owners. Every business knows it needs to be active online, but fewer know how that effort will translate into dollars. From a social media marketing standpoint, it can be tough to showcase and determine the exact return on investment. That's because what happens online is translated offline through word of mouth, increased brand awareness and conversations. Click-throughs alone don't tell the whole story.
Sobel: How has community management evolved?
Frasco: Community management, the way we know it today, is all about identifying your most active members, engaging with them from a brand standpoint and encouraging conversations across different social platforms. There are more places online for communities to interact now. A single brand can have a community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and YouTube. But each community is different. You have to pull in your audience on each network with great content and then allow the community members to push your message further.
Sobel: Who makes a good community manager?
Frasco: Good community managers should know the ins and outs of your business like the back of their hands. Because their roles are to encourage conversations, they need to know what makes your community tick. The best community managers can create content that speaks directly to the audience and then leverage those conversations to make people feel like they are part of something larger.
Sobel: How does having a community enhance the experience of a customer?
Frasco: Communities bring people together. By having a community around your brand, you are able to create a movement. Everyone wants to be a part of something and connect with like-minded individuals. If you can create that atmosphere for your own business, then you are going to be able to create loyalty and lifelong customers. A good community manager creates this feeling of togetherness. When you feel like you belong, you don't want to leave.
Sobel: How do you see your work changing over the next five to 10 years?
Frasco: Messaging will continue to be a driving factor in increasing sales for businesses. But how we communicate them online and the tools we use will change. Perhaps we will be communicating via holograms? We will see. :)