Please enjoy this article that first appeared in the Asbury Park Press, Aug. 21, 2011.
For 20 years I traveled a marketing communications career path. I loved the spoken word, the written word, the concise, sales-converting language of print ads and brochures. It started with a bang; fresh out of Skidmore College I was hired as an editorial assistant at Merrill Lynch. One post quickly led to another and before long I had leap-frogged into a marketing VP position at DLJ Asset Management (Credit Suisse) and then recruited to account executive position at a boutique advertising firm. But as my personal life evolved (marriage and kids) and priorities shifted, the marketing career was on hold until after the kids were out of diapers, and I launched a home-based marketing consultancy for small businesses.
With children at my knees and shirts buttoned askew, I spent many of the past several years in search of that perfect job fit. You know the saying: “Do what you love for work and you’ll never work another day of your life.” Trouble was, as is often the case with SAHMs (stay at home moms), I was running into other issues, such as feeling isolated, being hyper-aware of time passing, and wondering if I could ever get back to my 20-something life.
Then it happened. I received my first invitation from a friend to join Facebook. Skeptical at first, I was keeping privacy walls up, not posting my picture, etc. But then curiosity took over and I began searching for classmates from high school (Peddie) and college. Within days I was losing sleep as I corresponded into the night with people I hadn’t seen in 25 years. Heck, I didn’t even know where they were or what their married names were until Facebook served it all up with ease. Day after day new doors to old friends would open, and week after week I was having coffee or drinks with people from all chapters of my life, kicking off reunited relationships. The internal change that grew in me was so positive, so life-altering; Facebook became my connection to the world.
Then something else happened. On the wall of the Facebook newsfeed in early 2009 was a simple item that read “Your friend Sue became a fan of Coca Cola.” The words Coca Cola were a hyperlink so I clicked and was taken to the beverage brand’s very own Facebook profile. Eureka! There it was. The realization that business could be done on Facebook, that relationships could be built between consumers and brands, and that all businesses were created equal here. This was my calling. To put my marketing hat back on for good with a specialty in social media, helping brands, local businesses, personalities, and organizations reap the rewards of this historical culture shift.
It’s been a few of years since my discovery of Facebook, and I am now a seasoned social media strategist and coach. I’ve had the pleasure of introducing many businesses and organizations of all sizes and industries to the vast aspects of social networking and Internet Marketing, which is no longer limited to Facebook, but also includes Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and video marketing, email capture systems and drip correspondence campaigns. For some I create strategic plans, others I do live training. The biggest part of my business is daily management of the social sites of clients so that they can focus on what they do best.
It’s a job that doesn’t sleep or take vacations. It’s a job that requires juggling many e-mail accounts and mobile devices, and relies on technology that changes so rapidly that I make a weekly commitment to continuing education. But I haven’t “worked” a day since 2009.
There is tremendous opportunity for individuals with marketing or communications experience to develop a social media business. To learn more about how to get the right training, >>click here<<.
The stats listed in Kip Bodnar’s 13 Mind-Bending Social Media Marketing Statistics are truly crazy when you think about them. The full list is below. Take a read and just think about the opportunity here. What great times we live in!
1. 20 % of daily searches on Google have never been searched for before.*
2. There are more than 3.5 billion pieces of content shared each week on Facebook.*
3. 43 % of all online consumers are social media fans or followers.*
4. 53 % of people on Twitter recommend companies or products in their tweets.*
7. 56 % of LinkedIn’s users are outside of the U.S.–and there are 100 million of them.*
10. 200 million Facebook users access the service from a mobile device.*
11. There are more than 5 billion pics on Flickr.*
12. 45 million people view SlideShare presentations monthly.*
13. $3.08 billion will be spent to advertise on social networks in 2011, a 55 % increase from 2010.*
This year’s Facebook changes are on—full throttle—and there’s been a wee bit of backlash, particularly about the news feed. Seems that some people preferred the more streamlined, Facebook-curated content chosen for you on the news feed wall. But now those pre-chosen posts (Top Posts) as well as “Recent Posts” are in your main news feed AND there’s a real-time ticker of the minutial activity of the friends and businesses you follow running constantly down the right side of your monitor, which can be a bit overwhelming for some.
Here’s the good news! You can create categories or “Lists” of specific people and pages you follow and when needed click on them and instantly clear out everything in your news feed that doesn’t pertain to the specific list you’ve created. Imagine the possibilities for lists like “Business Contacts,” “Favorite Stores,” “BFFs,” or “My Hobbies.”
Here’s your quick “how to”–
- Go to your Facebook home page where you see the news feed of everyone you follow.
- In the left-hand navigation area, click on LISTS. You’ll see some default categories that have been set up for you and you can create new ones for yourself like the ideas above by clicking “Create a List.”
- Click on “Add friends to list to see their updates” and you’ll be given a drop-down option box. Drop down to “pages” or “friends” as appropriate. Make sure you hit “Done” after you’ve added all the pages you want to the list so that it’s saved.
- Each time you log on to Facebook and are brought to the home page, just click on the list you created on the left-hand side and you’ll see only the news from those friends and pages you’ve added.
Change isn’t easy for everyone, but within a few weeks I guarantee you won’t remember how limited your news feed was before. Enjoy!
Social media is providing a fantastic return on investment for countless businesses, organizations and individuals. With a steady and controlled campaign to build up a brand and a positive reputation, no matter what your budget, the result is an online presence that is priceless. But what happens when something goes wrong or some group attacks your brand or reputation (right or wrong, truth or lie) in the public networks? Like acid, just a little bit of strong negativity can quickly disintegrate a well built foundation.
Fortunately, there is someplace to turn and it doesn’t always have to involve your attorney. To the rescue is Reputation.com. As a business with an online presence, here’s what you should know about their main product, Reputation Defender. As they put it,
You need this if you:
o Are being attacked or smeared online
o Have been wrongly accused online
o Have negative reviews online
o Get mistaken for someone else online
o Are dogged by outdated info online
The service provides a two-pronged approach to both delete the negative content where possible, and primarily to build up the positive content so that it rises to the top of the search engines and pushes the bad content below page 1.
What struck me about their service is that it is less like radical surgery to remove a fast-growing virus and more like reconstructive surgery where they fix the problem by restoring you to your previous self. It also seems to reflect a basic social media strategy in that it focuses heavily on reiterating your positive attributes to build (or in their case, rebuild) good reputations.
Reputation.com’s resource center is chock full of great articles and references on security, privacy, search engine optimization, and many other interesting perspectives for those of us engaged in social media and for parents. For example there are resources regarding protections for children from cyber bullying and tips for reputation development for new college grads.
I’m particularly impressed with, fittingly, with Reputation.com’s reputation. If you haven’t already heard their radio ads, their recent $41 million dollar investment will assure that you hear lots more about them, and this is just another indication of the strength and growth of the social network.
Reputation.com Founder and CEO, Michael Fertik, comments “With the explosion of social computing — including gaming, social networks, online sharing, social media — we increasingly live our lives online. But that doesn’t mean we have to hand over our life’s keys to the Web. Digital identity control is a necessary antidote to the architecture of the Web, and one that consumers are demanding.”
Here’s hoping you never need it, but in case you do, it is good to have a reference.
So the word is out, the “chat” feature of Facebook, which you may or may not have been using (or even known you had), now has a video chat feature! This is seriously cool—it takes all the awesomeness of Skype and puts it right into Facebook for you to use with your friends in real time. No setting up a Skype account, no asking for Skype names, and no coordination of effort. And you can really start using it right away. How to get this going has been a bit of a mystery, but let me be the one to tell you how easy this is right now…
Good to know first:
- Don’t try to do this with your mobile device. This is for desktop and laptop experience only right now (and possibly tablets!).
- Your “chat” feature on the bottom right side of your screen has to be on with a green dot. If it says you’re offline, pop it open.
- You can only video chat with other friends who are online at the time.
- You can video call from the chat platform or from your friend’s profile (upper right, where it currently says “send message” and “poke”. The Video Call button will only be displayed if that friend is online.
- The other friend does not have to be set up with video chat for you to make the call. If they haven’t set it up yet, they’ll be prompted to when they are notified of your call with the tell-tale “ring” and dialog box that tells them you are trying to call.
How to set yourself up:
- Make sure you’re logged into Facebook, chat-ready.
- Enter this address is your address bar: http://www.facebook.com/videocalling
- Click “get started” which will prompt you to first find a friend to call in the chat area and click “video call.”.
- “Save” the Facebook Video Chat application.
- Find your downloads file folder, find the Facebook Video Chat application and hit “run”.
- Your chosen friend’s PC will start ringing and notify them to answer. If they aren’t set up yet, they will be prompted to go through the quick set up process you just went through and then they can answer.
- Count to 15 before panicing it didn’t work. The box with your friend’s smiling face will appear soon.
- To end a video chat, just “X” out the video box.
Have a GREAT time! Shoot me an email if you have any questions: email@example.com
Have you heard yourself saying or thinking any of these statements?
1. Social media costs a lot of money. Let’s get this out of the way right now. It doesn’t cost any money to establish a presence and a marketable following on the social networks. There’s an investment of time, for sure. But as far as your marketing budget is concerned, there doesn’t have to be any impact.
2. Social media marketing doesn’t apply to my business. To understand the opportunities that exist with social media, you have to know that social media doesn’t mean just hanging out on Facebook. While Facebook may be the leader of the pack and most popular social network, there are other platforms and strategies to consider depending on your business, market, and goals. Let’s put it this way, if your company has a web site, there’s social network marketing to do.
3. Social networking is a fad, so I’m not going to invest the time. Denial about how social networking is effecting the Internet, and therefore effecting business, is not going to serve you well in the long term. The population of Facebook users makes it the 3rd-largest nation on the planet, and its reach is very quickly becoming integrated into all other social networks and Internet marketing applications. If you’re not represented in this nation, you can kiss your business growth goodbye. This is not a drill, social networking is here to stay.
4. My assistant/brother-in-law/teenager can do it for me; they’re always posting and tweeting. Herein lies the biggest mistakes companies make when they decide to set up shop on the social networks. The activities of playing on the social networks as an individual or consumer are not the activities necessary to incorporate social media into your company marketing plans. Think of your most-travelled highway as a sea of your target market (social network users), and your business’s social media efforts as the billboard you put up to capture the attention of the traffic. Does it make sense to ask one of the drivers on that highway to create your billboard for you? Does driving a car on the highway daily make him qualified to create and design an effective marketing message?
This age of social media is an amazing era for entrepreneurs and business owners. The advent of social networks has leveled the marketing playing field for you and handed your company the opportunity to compete locally, nationally, even internationally. I am VERY passionate about transforming local business owners from social media doubters to enthusiastic opportunists. Do you need a transformation? Talk to me about private coaching for you or on-site training for your team. Take a look and see if this is for you. You are always free to email me if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like many other business owners, I’ve had plenty of proposals rejected on price. And like those other businesses, I know that there will always be someone less expensive than me out there, and there are plenty that cost a whole heck of a lot more. I tend not to focus on these losses as losses at all. I know in my heart that they’ll get what they pay for, and of course that I’m worth every penny (solid recommendations and testimonials will prove it).
However, today I hung up with a friend who was pitching me to a senior partner at his company. He wanted to give me the inside scoop on what was happening. Apparently, management had gotten a bid from another vendor who came in about 30% lower than I did and, in his words, “offered the same exact service. It was an apples to apples comparison.” As he was my friend, he answered my questions about the competitor. “They’re our web site development company,” was the response. I questioned the qualifications of this company; it’s difficult to be in the graphic design/web engineering field and also in the copywriting/social media marketing field, unless they’re a larger, full-service agency. I couldn’t find anything substantial about social media services on their web site (though their site design portfolio rocked), so I headed to this company’s Facebook and Twitter profiles to see what they were up to.
My discovery? They had no profile image on their Facebook page other than a logo, their posts were infrequent, and every other one had typos. I went to Twitter and was even more shocked to discover that in the past five months they had only tweeted a dozen times, and each tweet was a sales message about their own services. The icing on the cake? They only had 16 Twitter followers.
Now I KNOW that social media is a new world, and it’s hard as a business owner to even understand the language, let alone know what questions to ask. But what my friend thought was an “apples to apples” comparison was not one, in any stretch of the imagination. My gift to my friend and to you, a busy business owner with little time to do research, is a list of questions to ask social media strategists and service providers, BEFORE you sign the dotted line and questions to ask yourself during the campaign once they’ve started working for you:
1. Is your background technical, design, marketing, or copywriting?
2. What social networks do you think I should be on, and why?
3. What would your goals be for my social media campaign?
4. How often will you post on each of those platforms?
5. When might I expect those posts to happen each day?
6. From where will you get content?
7. Can you give me a few samples of posts you might use?
The answers you receive will help you determine a few things. A, if they know what they’re doing. B, if they are marketers or technologists. C, if they understand the platforms they are using to promote your business, and D, how they compare to other service providers. Most importantly, you’ll illustrate that you know a thing or two about social media.
Here’s the other gift. Once you’ve gotten your consultant posting for your company, ask yourself these questions:
1. How’s the messaging online?
2. Do the posts have publicity/share-ability built into that?
3. Is there original content from your company on the social networks?
4. Is there sharing of others’ content?
5. Are you/ your company being positioned as an expert?
6. Are the profiles optimized for the search engines?
7. Are contacts being converted into sales and inquiries?
8. Are the posts generating good feedback numbers and high impressions?
9. Is traffic increasing to your site, services, and products every month on a consistent basis?
I know I’m good at what I do; my clients tell me so. And I also know that budgets are real and everyone wants a fair deal. As far as that other proposal goes that my friend received, clearly he’d be overpaying at that price, even though it was 30% less than mine.
Take those questions to your proposal reviews. I have several clients that have come to me after rejecting my proposal and hiring another team to do the work based on price. The difference that they discovered immediately upon engaging my services made them regretful that they had turned me down in the first place.
Does this mean that I’m the answer for you? Not necessarily. But I’m a righteous chick, and I want you to get a fair deal, no matter who you hire. And you can always reach out to me for advice or with questions. Let me see what you’ve got going on. You already know you get what you pay for, but you may get more if you ask the right questions.
Marketing managers, business owners, listen up! It’s been a long time since we talked about how important Twitter is for your business (see To Tweet or Not to Tweet), but if you haven’t accelerated onto this highway because every time you open Twitter it scares the kumquats out of you, fear no more! Scale the following down to business-card size and laminate it. You’ll thank me later…
As you know, Twitter posts are 140 characters or less, so use your text-messaging skills to abbreviate whenever possible (unless it’s a key word–you need to leave these intact so it is searchable).
Good ones to know: W = with, R = our or are, U = you, ur = your or you’re, $ = money, & = and (duh).
Common Twitter symbols (see uses below)
RT = Retweet
@ = denotes a Twitter account
D or DM= Direct message
# = denotes a hashtag
What to do:
1. Get in there. Fill that profile in accurately and immediately! Use your own profile image. A default Twitter avatar will not earn you any street cred, I guarantee it!
2. Search users and start following those that suit your target market or your own info needs.
3. Search posts for key words and see who’s saying what.
4. Add value daily by posting useful insights and links to good content, link back to your own brand urls regularly.
5. Develop relationships by “replying” or “mentioning” another user within your post by using “@accountname. “ You can also build your audience by “retweeting” others’ tweets regularly if you value the content provided by using “RT” in front of “@accountname”.
6. When needed, send a non-public message to another user using “D” or “DM” in front of their “@accountname”.
7. You’ll come across terms in posts preceded by a # symbol. These are called hashtags, and they represent a common theme that the poster intends to be discovered. You can ask your customers to use a particular hashtag in their tweets for a period of time for contests, conversations, and more! Add an actively used #hasthag to your posts; this is another great way to get exposure.
- Always follow followers back. This reciprocal gesture is the foundation of Twitter’s culture. No matter how great you think you are, you aren’t above following others.
- Always give credit with an RT identification if you are copying another person’s post and re-sharing the concepts they’ve presented. It’s better to edit what they’ve said than eliminate their credit to save on character count.
- Don’t power post! The name of the game is not to post 14 times in five minutes. There’s no faster way to get un-followed. Keep your posts at least an hour apart.
- Don’t dupe posts too fast. If you want to share out important content and make sure you hit different viewing times, keep them at least eight hours apart.
- Don’t @mention just to get the attention of their following with content that has nothing to do with that user. This is called SPAMMING, my friends!
- Auto direct messages are crap. Period. Some apps out there let you automatically send direct messages to new followers. At this point, “thanks for following” goes without saying. One DM out of every 100 or so in my message box is a sincere message meant for me specifically. It really burns my __ that I have to comb through the spammy auto-messages to get to the poor guy who has a legitimate question.
Have I confused the kumquats out of you? Just shoot me an email. I’m happy to answer your questions!
(or How to Monitor and Engage on Social Networks)
If you were at a cocktail party and overheard someone mention that they were looking for a product or service in your industry, wouldn’t you step over and introduce yourself? Ask some questions to get a feel for what that person was really in need of, and then explain that you can help? Now wouldn’t it be cool if you could eavesdrop on the millions of updates and posts on Facebook and Twitter to find conversations there that you could introduce yourself to?
Well hold on to your hat! You can do the same thing on Twitter and Facebook that you do at cocktail parties! Monitoring the world-wide conversation and poking your head into the room is perfectly legit, and a great way to gather future customers. Here’s how to do it:
Search—You have two methods to search on Twitter: 1. the search box that’s right on your home page or 2. the url: http://search.twitter.com/. The key here is to search for phrases. For instance, if you’re a career consultant, you could search for “need help with my resume” or “I need a new job.”
Engage—When you find the right status posts to reply to, you can get their attention with an “@reply” post with a response. An example would be “@Susie246 I can help you with your resume. Do you want to talk?” Be sure to also start following this Twitter account if you aren’t already. If they already follow you there’s the option of sending a direct message (DM). I actually prefer the public response because I find these get noticed more quickly than the DM. Now be sure to watch for an @reply back, or they may reach out to your business email .
Search—Search for key phrases in the Facebook search box. When the results come up, filter them by then clicking on “Posts by Everyone,” which can be found in the left-hand navigation area of the search results page. Here you will find all relevant status updates posted by anyone who doesn’t have privacy settings set on their wall.
Engage— Next step, click over to that Facebook user’s page. Even if you aren’t “friends,” you can click “Send a Message” which can be found right under the Facebook user’s profile picture. Now you have an opportunity to say anything you want via private message. But be careful not to come off as the eavesdropper you are and don’t come on to strong. Try this for a subject heading: “I may be able to help you with your resume.” As far as the message goes, be honest: “Hi, Jeffrey. I’m a career consultant and while doing a Facebook search I came upon your post about…” Be humble and helpful, not sales-y.
Tools for monitoring it all:
Of course, with every need to work better and smarter on social platforms comes an app that fits the bill. Kurrently (http://www.kurrently.com/) is a simple and straightforward website that lets you plug in the phrases you want to search and then it searches both Twitter and Facebook simultaneously to provide you with results for both! The best part is that each poster’s ID is a live link and takes you directly to their Facebook profile or Twitter page to begin the engagement process.
So, pretty neat, huh? Now you know why social networks are so cool for business, and how to really start to leverage them for building your empire. If you feel like you just found a little hole in the wall for eavesdropping, or like you developed super-hero powers for listening to every conversation going on in the Twitosphere, good for you! It was my pleasure to be the one to let you in on the secret. Let me know if you need help : )
We all need a break once in a while, but your social media strategy really ought to be contuing even if you’re on the other side of the world, feet in the sand, drink in your hand. But if the rest of the social media world goes on without you, how do you not skip a beat? Well with a little planning and some free ninja-trick application shopping, you’re good to go!
Step 1: APPLICATION SHOPPING: If you’re not in on this secret, you’re just going to love me! Did you know there are web-based social media management applications that allow you to not only permanently search and monitor your industry within social media platforms and post from there, but that also allow you to schedule your posts, tweets, status updates, etc. for a future date and time? There are some that are free and others with fantastic analytics capabilities that you’ll appreciate for sure with a price tag attached. My two favorites are HootSuite (free) and Objective Marketer (fee-based). Once you find one you like, sign up and play!
Step 2: POST PLANNING: While of course your posting strategy is always mapped out in advance (isn’t it?), a few days before your bags are packed, plan out the types of tweets and updates you would post if you weren’t going away. Consider what is happening at your company, in the industry, or promotions you have going on. Here are some examples for a local business owner vacationing July 3 – July 10:
Day one- 1 fun store happening post
Day two- 1 holiday message/office hours
Day three- 1 promo reminder
1 funny staff member quote
Day four- 1 how-to link
1 industry bite
Day five- 1 promo reminder, etc. etc.
Day one- 2 local happenings posts
4 following re-tweets
Day two- 3 holiday info re-tweets
Day three- 1 promo reminder
2 industry content links
4 re-tweets, etc., etc.
Step 3: SETUP, SEARCH, and SCHEDULE:
Log in to your chosen social media management app for your vacation posting. Start typing up your originally-authored posts and schedule accordingly throughout the vacation week. Remember not to neglect any of the networks you are active on, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ping, etc. You can even automate your WordPress blog posts and Foursquare updates with HootSuite.
Most apps have a search box for industry content posts and retweets. Simply search on a phrase and all recent posts with that phrase will show in a column (that you can—and should—make it a permanent search column if it’s relative to your business). Select content you want to share and schedule it! Select tweets to re-tweet and then schedule each one!
While this strategy is fantastic for keeping your business in the loop and staying in the newsfeeds of your followers, it’s a good idea to take a peek at your notifications halfway through your trip or ASAP when you return to make sure you don’t let any un-responded-to engagement opportunities slip past you.