I recently came across a couple of great posts by Jeff Bullas in which he shares compelling questions and information he uses to convince CEO’s about the efficacy of social media marketing.
A few of the questions that he poses to these social media skeptics highlight the changing behaviors of the general public when it comes to searching for and evaluating products and services:
In the last few months have you either professionally or personally…
1. Answered or responded to a direct mail letter or brochure? (Current research shows only 3% have responded to those types of marketing)
2. Did you follow up on a mainstream media advertisment on TV, Radio, Newspaper or Magazine? (22%)
3. Did you use the Yellow Pages to look up a company to buy a product? (3%)
4. Did you use Google or other online methods when looking to purchase a product or service? (97%)
5. Did you use your online network via Facebook, Instant Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn or other Social Media to get a URL to a website for a product that you were looking to buy? (80%)
And the “clincher” question…
6. So why are you still using marketing for your company that you yourself have not used?
We all know that it is hard to break long-established patterns of practice, especially when faced with an alternative that’s new and seems to be ever-changing. The good ol’ Yellow Pages and postcards have been around for a very long time and are easy to implement in the marketing plan.
It may be a long time before we finally see the death of the Yellow Pages. Direct mail is still very common (and apparently has seen a bit of a comeback). But both professional and anecdotal evidence has shown that we are using and responding to these forms of marketing less and less. And we are going online more and more to look at reviews, find local products and services, and ask our networks about their experiences and advice. Yes, using online and social media marketing for your business can be time-consuming, confusing and difficult to measure.
But you have to ask yourself- are your habits so very different from your customers’?
Would you like to increase the impact and reach of your small business through social media? Having a few “power partners” can bring much needed resources, support and validation to your marketing efforts.
Most small business owners and leaders do some sort of in-person networking; many even join organized networking groups through chambers of commerce or other business organizations where members refer business to each other. When small business owners venture into social media, however, they often forget that online networking can be (and should be) just as cooperative as in-person networking. Pulling together a few people who are committed to promoting each other’s businesses online as well as offline can be very powerful.
Here are a few ideas for using power partners in social media:
Commit to promote:
Every day, you and your power partners should seek each other out wherever you have profiles- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, a blog. Retweet, share, comment and increase your collective reach. You’ll keep in the habit of being “social”, which is crucial, and while you’re seeking out your power partners to promote, you’ll probably find other great content, businesses and people along the way. This has a snowball effect; when you see that someone’s content is being shared others, don’t you often take a second look to see why?
Obviously, you don’t need to promote everything that your partners say. Be authentic. In fact, you should also provide feedback, good or bad. We can all use a second or third set of eyes.
Being a small business owner or leader can be overwhelming. Sometimes social media marketing takes a backseat. Your and your power partners can provide encouragement and keep each other accountable. Is your power partner committed to writing a blog post per week? Hold him to it and let him know when he hasn’t written one for a while.
Share information and leads:
If you come across some great content, share it with your power partners. The same goes for a great lead. We’ve gotten some excellent referrals from power partners who saw an opportunity for us online.
If you feel comfortable referring a relative, friend or associate to a business, would you be willing to write a testimonial for that business? You and your power partners may want to write testimonials for each other that can be used on LinkedIn and review sites such as Yelp. You should only write what you know and believe to be true, but even a brief testimonial can be valuable.
Share your list of online advocates:
Most small businesses have customer lists. As you venture further into social media, you should also be picking up a list of valuable online contacts, such as folks who retweet, share and comment on your posts. Imagine if you exchange your list with another business that offers a related product or service to your company. Your power partner can follow, friend and connect with those people, using you as the reference. A “vetted” list of real people is a great resource.
Put links to your power partners’ sites on your website, and vice versa.
These are just some of the ways you can use power partners to help you increase your reach and stay social. Do you have a social media power partner? If so, how do you help each other?
If you feel like you are not getting much use out of LinkedIn, it may be because you are missing out on participating in some of the thousands of available groups. In many ways, creating a profile on LinkedIn but avoiding the groups would be like showing up and walking around at a big networking event with business cards and a nametag and then leaving without talking to anyone.
Groups can be important to your LinkedIn experience because they allow you to the opportunity to connect with new people and develop relationships that can lead to even more connections and new business. Many people are more apt to connect with others if they share a common group membership. Groups are also great because you have an opportunity to learn from others in your area of expertise or interest. You can ask questions, answer questions, share your expertise and knowledge, read news articles and blogs, and find out about events, seminars and webinars. Many groups, such as the Linked Local West Suburban Chicago group, hold their own real-life networking events so that its members can strengthen the relationships built on LinkedIn.
Thinking strategically about the groups you join is a smart move. The groups you join don’t have to be strictly business-oriented. If you like Ford Mustangs, for instance, there is a Mustang group (or two) for you. In fact, a financial advisor who is passionate about Mustangs can probably do more business and relationship-building with other Mustang enthusiasts than in a group of mostly financial advisors. If you’re the only Mustang-loving financial advisor, you’ll stand out. Putting some thought into the groups you join can make all the difference in your business development activities.
In order to find groups to join on LinkedIn, go to the search bar on the top right (pictured below) and enter in your search terms. You may be surprised at what you find. LinkedIn also will suggest groups that you may like based on your profile information.
A good rule of thumb is to join groups that have at least 100 members so that there is regular activity. You can also create your own group if you wish, but it’s probably a good idea to become active in a couple first so that you know what being a group owner and manager entails.
At this point, LinkedIn allows individuals to join up to 50 groups and 50 sub-groups. Joining at least a handful of groups and contributing to them on a regular basis can really expand your network. If you aren’t taking advantage of the power of LinkedIn groups, start now. With close to 1 million of them, you should be able to find at least a couple that meet your needs.
Twitter is a deceptively simple business marketing tool, until you make a Twitter faux pas. With any social scene or media site there are some unwritten rules, and if you cross the line then you may well find yourself losing followers. Below are five Twitter mistakes that you may make that cause you to lose followers and respect. Have you made any of them?
1 – You tweet in capital letters. In the worlds of forums, blogs and social media, writing the whole sentence in capital letters is considered shouting. It also screams of desperation and suggests to your followers that you are self-centered and don’t care about their tweets. This rule also applies to Facebook and emails, by the way.
2 – You promote your own products or services every two minutes. Twitter is not a selling tool. People are not going to buy your product just because they came across your tweet. Twitter is about sharing useful information, not promoting your sale pages. Don’t tweet every single product on your site, one after the other. You will labeled as a spammer and lose followers. You may be able to send out a lot of promotion tweets and not lose many followers, but only if you don’t make the next mistake.
3 – You promote ONLY your own content. In real life we share conversations with people as well as pass on hints, tips and any good recommendations that we have seen. The same applies to Twitter. Retweet other people’s content if you think it is good enough for your followers to see. You will gain followers as Twitter is about building your brand within your niche and becoming known as an authority figure. Once people see that you are tweeting their content, they will return the favor.
4 – You are not aware of the world around you. The recent tsunami in Japan provoked some very strong reactions on Twitter. While news was breaking, some people were still sending tweets to their own content. To be fair a number of these tweets were scheduled; however, these people were seen as heartless and in some cases, ignorant. If a major event happens in the world, the first thing you should be doing is canceling your scheduled tweets.
5 – You fail to follow people back. People want to be followed because that’s the only way their content is going to be seen. If you gain followers but fail to follow them back, eventually many of them will unfollow you. Unless you are a celebrity or major brand, you are going to have to follow back.
Have you seen anything else on Twitter that just makes you head off to find the Un-follow button?
For a business to succeed in today’s age of technology, using what social media has to offer is one of the best things you can do. Of course, there are several obejctions that businesses give for why they aren’t using social media, but there are even more reasons why they should.
“Facebook and Twitter can’t really help my business.”
It can and will help your business. For many years, businesses relied solely on word-of-mouth. Most businesses were stuck using direct mail, the radio and print ads and they often couldn’t use much traditional marketing because it was too costly. When the internet came along, consumers were able find out about your company from the comfort of their own homes. However, people were only able to view what you displayed on your web page. Now, as technology has progressed, you and your customers are able to do more through social media. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter let people learn about you from others, connect in open conversations with you and find out what other people are saying. People can contribute to discussions where people can now humanize you, your associates, and your business as a whole. Relationship are built online and made stronger through social media.
“People will post negative comments about my business on my page.”
If people are posting negative comments about your business on your Facebook page, then they are posting negative comments elsewhere on the web. If you can actually read what they are writing about you, at least you have a chance to respond. You have the chance to give the person a reason to reconsider their opinion. If that doesn’t work, at least you will show others that you respond, care, and want to meet people’s needs. If you have several negative postings on your page, then this can also be positive. It tells you that you need to improve something, such as customer service. Take those comments and do something about them. You can then post to Facebook and Twitter that you acknowledged their concerns and have fixed them. Negativity by word-of-mouth was a lot worse. Businesses failed because of it. Today, however, because everything is instant, you can fix any issues or concerns immediately.
“I don’t know what to post on Facebook or Twitter.”
Here is a good thing to remember: 80% of the information should be helpful and informative, and 20% should be promotion. This means that 80% of your posts or tweets should be giving information such as fun facts about your type of business, helpful tips and hints, personal information on management or employees or any other interesting information. The other 20% is reserved for promoting your services. Start posting now and grow as social media grows. Your business should be using social media on a daily basis. Practice using Facebook and Twitter, learn from what your customers are saying and keep on going. It might be difficult at first, especially if you are uncomfortable with computers, but when you start seeing the results of what you have done, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.