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!
The question I am most often asked regarding social networking and ways to leverage social media to market a business is “How can I possibly add this to my already overscheduled daily task list?” Of course, this question comes from those who currently use social media for their personal use and have experienced the time-vacuum phenomenon that often accompanies it. I’m not denying it’s easy to get swept out with the tide; however, with a little bit of will power and the following tips, you’re sure to improve your social networking productivity for your business and see results:
Set aside just a few minutes each day to log in and catch up with your SN (social networking), using a timer if you have to. As an alternative, set aside a larger portion of time on a less-frequent basis. Watch the clock, and get out and move on to your real-world tasks when time is up!
2. Keep it filed, not pouring in.
Set SN settings so that notifications do NOT come in to your email inbox. Getting these in real time is not productive and it’s distracting; you’ll see them at the designated log-in time. If there is certain SN info you want to see in real time, such as LinkedIn correspondence, consider using your email system’s push feature, which allows you to set up and name folders in your inbox and, based on where the emails come from, sends the messages directly to those folders, where you can see them waiting. This keeps you organized, too. If your webmail doesn’t offer this feature, consider a desktop program like MS Outlook that can handle it.
3. Complete your profiles.
Make your profile pages on each networking site as complete as possible. By doing so, visitors to your page can have many of their basic questions answered and you’ll have less back-and-forth to tend to. Also try to keep as much profile info as public as you’re comfortable with.
4. Be Decisive.
Respond to connection requests, event invites, and business inquiries during the allotted time on the clock. Be sure to transfer commitments to your calendar immediately.
5. Pick up the phone.
When you come upon important correspondence on your social networks during your allotted time, set up an appointment to speak on the phone (and of course transfer that appointment to your calendar immediately). Whether for business or personal relationships, using your actual voice is the most effective way to connect meaningfully and efficiently.