Over the last ten years, the marketing world has changed drastically with the ever evolving world of social media. As a result, marketing plans featuring television or print advertising as a primary mode of promotion have given way to marketing plans that integrate customer engagement, branding and more targeted promotion through social media. Some businesses may certainly survive clinging to old school marketing practices but for those in the computer and technology field, it is essential not only to market through social media but to do so effectively in order to gain an edge on the competition.
Bluespark, has truly found their niche in social media marketing while at the same time not appearing to be marketing their services at all. In addition to social media metrics, with clients that include big names like Ralph Lauren, Roomify and Trip Advisor, it’s a sure sign that you’re doing something right.
So what sets Bluespark, a North Carolina based Drupal and open source web development company, apart from the competition?
Aside from the obvious mastery of needed skills – it’s the company’s approach. The company says it “does the Web, and Drupal, differently.”
How so? Bluespark says it approaches building each site and application with the user in mind while many competitors are unable or unaware of how to execute a site that puts the user first. So it makes sense that when it comes to marketing strategies, the approach is once again, to think of the user first.
Lauren Seaton, Marketing Strategist at Bluespark says, “I don’t try to sell our services over social media. Instead, I try to reach the right audiences with valuable or interesting content. Since Bluespark offers a service and not a product, “selling” on social media just doesn’t work that well for us.”
She explains that what does work well is positioning the company within the right social media networks, such as LinkedIn and the Drupal community, to be able to provide assistance when a question or challenge arises. Having the information and skills to guide individuals in the right direction without any kickback is a simple yet valuable way to market the company.
Writer Mike Templeman spoke to the benefit of offering valuable content to consumers in his Forbes article, 11 Big Ways To Bolster Your Inbound Marketing With Content Repurposing, stating, “By creating compelling content that offers solutions, educates, and informs your target market, you’ll position your brand as an authority and increase exposure through repurposing.”
This has certainly worked for Bluespark who was named by Clutch as a Top Drupal Developer two years in a row. Bluespark is being represented everywhere it should be and even a few places no one would expect (see next paragraph for more on that!).
Blogging & Relationship Building
One of Bluespark’s most notable aspects of social media marketing is through blogging.
Members of Bluespark’s creative team regularly write blog posts in order to share ideas and contribute to industry conversations, or to highlight the successes of clients. Ms. Seaton says that by posting blogs on the website and then sharing them via social media, she has seen an increased volume in Bluespark’s website traffic.
The blog posts also allow for an opportunity to ‘cross pollinate’ or as Ms. Seaton says, ‘cast a wider net’. The number of links and hashtags, as well as sharing possibilities is invaluable.
As a regular activity, Bluespark is able to use its blogging space to allow for guest writers from various companies within the open source development field to share ideas and information and vice versa. An example Ms. Seaton shared was a digital agency sharing some of Bluespark’s content in their newsletter and in turn, Bluespark posting some of that company’s blogs on their website.
The blog posts also serve to provide unique insight into the company. For instance, the August 2016 blog post ‘Why a Web Development Company is Attending Outdoor Retailer’. The post is short, highlights some of the related companies that have already been in business with Bluespark, but most importantly, it shows how dedicated the company is to understanding their clients. It reads:
“We don’t design new waterproof fabrics or solar charging accessories, but we do build websites. Some of the projects we have are in ecommerce, with companies like Sticker Giant and Obermeyer. But there is a lot more that we can – and want – to learn about working with other retailers and the outdoor industry as a whole.”
Not many web development companies would have three employees hop on a plane to spend time at an outdoor retailer trade show just to get a better understanding of a particular field.
In addition, the company writes case studies featuring its clients and the work that has been undertaken. Work with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition was highlighted in a case study entitled Integrative Nutrition – Health Coach Websites. As with similar case studies, the focus is all on Bluespark’s client and the amazing new features the client can offer through the website or application. However, as a natural result, this feature also highlights the capabilities of Bluespark’s team while exposing them to new businesses through social media shares.
Quality relationships are what Bluespark’s success has been built on. Obviously a company needs to be extremely skilled, particularly when developing open source e-commerce sites, but without developing relationships there really wouldn’t be a market to serve.
“I try to build relationships over social media with people by liking their content, asking if we can share it, asking general questions, etc. Social media is a really good way to get the conversation started,” Ms. Seaton says.
Platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn allow companies to seek out influencers in particular circles, groups or communities. Searching through hashtags and trending topics can also be the key to starting interactions with companies of interest. Over time, relationships will develop and hopefully some give and take between companies with occur through social media.
On rare occasions, Bluespark may take park in some form of paid advertising via social media but even then, Ms. Seaton explains that it is never to promote the business directly. On these rare occasions she says it would be about marketing a specific product being utilized by the company.
“We do better if we can find someone who has a question or is interested in a particular topic, and engage on that. Even when I do Facebook advertising, it’s usually around a piece of content, not a particular service,” says Ms. Seaton.
Ms. Seaton said as an example she has done small Facebook ads with a case study Bluespark produced to help spread the word to targeted audiences that the company is doing two things: 1) working in ecommerce and 2) working with Drupal 8. “That’s probably as close as I get to selling services on social media.
The second example is advertising a Bluespark speaking engagement or conference attendance on social media. The goal with these is to reach a certain audience and drive awareness that Bluespark has specific skills and is engaged in certain communities.
Lessons for Others
In the digital era, with potential clients anywhere in the world, social media has become the primary way to market and in order to be successful in social media strategies, it requires more attention and planning than many companies realize. Social media marketing does not need to cost money nor warrant fancy graphics. What is important is your goals. It is also important to keep in mind that if you want to be successful in an industry, you need to be a part of that industry’s community. Without immersing your company into the community, you are losing out on myriad of networking opportunities that could both benefit your business directly and indirectly.
Industry: Web Development
Name of Organization Contact: Laura Seaton, Marketing Strategist
Authored by: SBirett
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
Bluespark (n.d.), http://www.bluespark.com/
Bluespark (n.d.), http://www.bluespark.com/portfolio/tripadvisor
Clutch (n.d.) https://clutch.co/profile/bluespark
Facebook, Bluespark (n.d.), https://www.facebook.com/bluesparkllc/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10152316311034562#
Templeman, Mike, Forbes Magazine (2016, October) article 11 big Ways To Bolster Your Inbound Marketing with Content Repurposing http://www.forbes.com/sites/miketempleman/2016/11/03/content-marketing-trends-what-to-expect-in-2017-and-beyond/#541294e850ca