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Affiliate Summit Central Keynote Speaker – Maribel Sierra

Affiliate Summit Keynote Speaker Maribel SierraVenturing to the heart of Texas for a conference isn’t a hard sell and as WrightIMC’s first Affiliate Marketing Summit, we’re quite pleased to be here.

Our keynote speaker is Maribel Sierra, the Director of Social Media Services at Dell. She has been with the company for ten years and been featured as an authoritative voice on ZDNET and Mashable.

Maribel starts her presentation with the widely popular Social Media Revolution video by Socialnomics.

Social Media Revolution

It gets a few laughs, indicating that this a relatively green crowd but sets up Maribel’s point that social communication, not just social media is a moving force for companies. Internally and externally as a way to empower employees and your customers to work for your brand.

Maribel launches into her talk about the power of social media and whether it’s changing the fundamentals of business. In my opinion, not at all. If anything, it’s raising the value. The internet used to be about guiding users to your website. And then it became the Google era of optimization but now we’re in a cloud and social movement Maribel believes.

But what does that mean?

It’s not about the shiny objects. People are jumping right away to the next new gadget or site. Maribel’s advice, don’t follow the shiny object. We need to go back to the future instead. Back to your neighborhood and back to the fundamentals. Think of this, what was your family’s favorite restaurant growing up? What was the attraction to that particular place that made it special? For most, it’s the same 6 core principles.

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Convenience: People knew you by name, close to where you live, you didn’t have to wait in lines. The comfort of home anywhere else.

Products & Services: What was your favorite meal? Activity or maybe a secret area.  New technology is all about personalizing the customer experience. Broad product choices, experience

Recognition and Personalization: Do you know your customers by name? You might not think it’s practical for your business but one-on-one relationships are what people value. Dell treats returning visitors with special perks. Especially gamers who have influential places in their industry. They invited them to a company forum, giving them a front row to what’s going on in the industry. The result? Influential pieces walking away with a broader understanding of the company and brand advocates. – CRM, tracking history personalized.

Thank You & Appreciation: Acknowledgment and follow-up email coupons, offers. Mother’s were on to something by teaching their children manners. Surprise & delight fans.

Listening & Conversations: Actively listening. Where is your brand in the marketplace? There’s a lot of noise going on but if you’re ignoring it, you’re behind. Get started Maribel says. Interactions: expert answers, rating reviews

Keep in mind, that active listening and responding can be a little bit tricky. Sometimes people don’t want to be engaged on certain channels. Choose the right one. Dell had to learn the hard way with Facebook. They would scan the web and find customers on Facebook talking about their products. Trying to be proactive, they reached out to these customers on their wall only to get an unexpected response.

“Omg, why are you talking to me on my Facebook wall? I wasn’t asking for help!”

Their solution? Create a tab on their Facebook page and direct people to voice their concerns there and focus on Twitter as their real-time helpline.

Suggestions & Actions Box: Some of your companies’ best ideas can actually come from the people who use your product. Social is a real-time suggestion box. Not every idea can be viable to your business plan but who better to tap as a resource than your consumers? Ideas, voted by the crowd.

 Ten Points for Internet Marketers

  1.  Social media is best as a team sport: You have to know this by now. Even affiliate marketers who are a team of one recognize that social is not a game of golf. Even if your presence is small, back and forth communication can go a long way.
  2. Empower your rock stars: Customers want to talk to people who know your products and tools. Not a PR filter or a help desk who vaguely goes through steps. Make your employees subject matter experts and you’ll find out many are willing to share their passion and knowledge with consumers.
  3. Listen and engage in real-time: This is only half the battle. If you’re going to manage your brand or keywords in your industry, you have to act on it in real-time. Dell’s listening program started small to gather the momentum in house.  The 5 member team achieved results and eventually, it grew to 80 with enough company buy-in.
  4. Map out a disciplined regimen: Make your policies really simple for your employees to engage in. Social moves so quickly and you need to be able to adjust quickly. Bulky guidelines can hinder what your employees can do. Dell also built a leadership and governance council to oversee manage what’s going on in their social space.
  5. Take a step back: It’s hard to do. Believe me. But even in a social environment, you need to see what other people are doing, even in unrelated industries.
  6. Content quality over quantity: This is an easy one but just to stress the point, you have quality content when your consumers are engaging in it.
  7. Prepare your crisis management plan: If you’re in a crisis and looking for a solution, you’ve missed the boat on this one. Crisis management is proactive. Dell had to learn this the hard way. Their social program was born out a social crisis as a blog was set up to discuss/complain about Dell’s supply chain management problem. Like most flies, we ignore them but this fly made such a buzz that Michael Dell himself charged the PR team to kick it into gear to appease the blogger’s following. Nowadays, businesses have too many examples of this to not have a crisis strategy built into their social plans.
  8. Consistent customer experience: When you only had to manage your website, having an online presence is “easy” but now, companies have to keep their hands on several other properties. Keep it consistent with the same message and branding. Remember social is a team effort so your home courts should reflect that unity.
  9. Measure your business value: ROI ROI, oh why ROI? It’s a continuing theme in nearly every meeting I’m in about social media. You have to define what it means for you. You need trust in social media to build long term value. If you’re only looking for dollar signs, you’re fishing in the wrong pond.
  10. Establish a Center of Excellence: Where is your community? Dell has championed this idea to provide consumers with a physical space on their site to provide them with information and the 50 most influential people in a given area. It’s empowering your advocates.
“Marketing is becoming the profession of not researching your customers and breaking them into simple groups anymore but for listening to what they saying inviting criticism and communication by the media the customers choose.”

A great quote to end the opening session by Dell’s Director of Social Media Services Group, Maribel Sierra. Follow her on Twitter @MaribelSatDell. You can check out her strategies in action by visiting the Dell social pages as well, @Dell and Facebook.com/Dell. Thanks to Shawn Collins and the Affiliate Summit team for bringing her over. I’m sure she enlightened many of the industry newcomers who filled the room.

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