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.
(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.
If you’ve got a Facebook fan page for your business, you’ve probably noticed that rather than clicking on “Become a Fan,” your page visitors are now clicking on a button that simply says “Like.” Facebook has done this as part of a much bigger empire-growth scheme that allows them to eventually take over the planet, but within our own smaller agenda of social media engagement, they may have just rocked our world.
It’s good, but it could be bad.
So, from an optimistic standpoint, there is something much less psychologically committal about saying you like something than saying you’re a fan. Apparently, Facebook has already proved this with their market analysis. So that’s good, right? More people seeing our news feed, more people to potentially engage with. My hunch, however, is that many Facebook users aren’t taking it seriously. I can’t tell you how many of my own personal friends are now “becoming fans” of the silliest, most useless, controversial, and downright raw pages. Do they know this is coming up in my news feed? My conclusion is that for the past two years, the action of clicking on “Like” has simply been our way to acknowledge a tongue-n-cheek status update without commenting on it, a way of pointing out that we’ve looked at a picture that was posted, or appreciate someone’s political satire post from a news source. So whereas we business owners and marketers know that this button is just a replacement of the word “Fan,” users overall just don’t recognize the difference.
So it’s bad?
Well, it feels bad. It feels like, at least when it comes to the viral newsfeed phenomenon, Facebook has diluted the power of the fan page and the overall willingness of our fans to ultimately engage with us. My hope is that Facebook users will catch on to the various meanings of the word “Like” throughout the network and adjust back to being more particular about the business pages they want to follow.
Let’s wait and see.
With every change comes opportunity (see last blog post), so let’s work with this. Facebook has given us an opportunity to coin a new term to replace “Become a Fan” in our marketing. I loved this, because it is so actionable! How can we use “Like” in an action statement that doesn’t seem needy? Let’s hear it!