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: email@example.com
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!
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.
Taking your company’s Facebook page to the next level doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here are five easy ways to take your business from simply having social media presence to being a relevant and savvy brand.
1. Auto-feed your blog. With Facebook’s NetworkedBlogs app, every time you add a new post to your blog, it lands on your fans’ newsfeeds. (Bonus: you can also add a “blog” tab to your page once you connect with NetworkedBlogs.)
2. Create Custom Tabs. It takes a little finagling or a friend that speaks html, or fbml, but with compelling labels on unique tab content you’ll be the coolest biz on the block! Consider different tabs for different product lines, target markets, locations, etc.
3. Record video right to your page. This is some serious immediate gratification when you want to communicate directly with your fans, and in seconds! Click on the + at the end of your tabs and drop down to “video.” Record right away with your webcam or upload something cool from your files. Don’t forget to post about it!
4. Run a contest or sweepstakes. There are apps available that create these classic promotional tools and then publish them to your fan page. This is a fun way to get your page viral. Check out www.wildfireapp.com. It isn’t free, but you can pull it off for as low as $5 a month.
5. Create a Fan Badge. Visitors to your website or blog don’t have to leave to become Facebook fans with this cool widget. To get one: click “edit page” from your fan page and look for a link to create a Fan Badge. In three steps you’ll magically have a “Become a Fan” shortcut on your web site.