The Reality of Social Media Marketing

Today it seems as if something-or-other goes viral every day.  And much like an Olympian, success doesn’t happen overnight; an Olympian trains all year,  if not most of their lives.   

So how does this relate to social media, you ask?

In keeping with the Olympian analogy, the truth is sometimes you can train endlessly and not make it to the Olympics. The key is to keep your sights on realistic goals — where you are now and where you want to go. Let’s face it, most of us will never experience what it’s like to compete in the Olympics, but with the focus on some key ideas we can have success with social media, in whatever way you define that.   

Oftentimes it helps to collaborate with a professional to get results, but the line of thinking goes something like this:

“Everyone else is doing this social media thing. So, we need to get on that.”

“Yeah, I heard that 87% of small businesses say that social media helps their business.”

“Well, my kid is on that stuff all the time. If my 12-year-old can do it then an intern should be able to handle it and we don’t have to spend extra money on it.” 

Here is an obvious but frequently overlooked question: Would you hire a young, inexperienced kid to run your marketing department? Probably not. Too often interns, familiar with social media for their personal use, are running social media for businesses. The two are remarkably different.   While there is no guarantee that social media will work (just like in regular marketing) a strategy needs to be considered and goals.   

Be realistic about what you should expect from it and how to measure that.  For instance:  

Facebook Analytics:  This data that tells you how people interact with your content and how you can apply this data to your social media strategy and business as a whole. 

Feedback: Instead of guessing what needs to be improved and what is working well, the answer is right there in the comments section in Facebook. How simple is that? Feedback can lead to some amazing progress for marketing and business in general. 

Relationships: Social media is conducive to conversation, something you can’t do with any other media platform. You can’t start a very effective relationship with potential customers through the TV or even radio, but you can through social media.                                

And social media can give your brand credibility and you the opportunity to lead the conversation.  Also, it gives businesses the ability to listen to customers.   

So keep your sights on realistic expectations and remember that quality not quantity applies here more than ever.

 

 

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It’s true. Social media takes time.

Let’s be honest.  Most small business owners don’t have oodles of free time on their hands. And we at AngCo know that to be successful with social media, it’s important to be realistic about the time you’re able to commit. For this reason, many small business owners outsource to online managers and virtual assistants. Business owners just don’t have the time to get the results they want from their social media. It takes time and consistency to grow a network and maintain it.

Here is the million dollar question to ask:  Is there enough time in my day to properly manage my social media?

As a general rule, it takes two to three hours a week to maintain and grow your connections.

As someone once said, “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.”

And there is a point to that. If you don’t have the time, don’t do it! It will end up being a giant waste of effort if you only commit halfway. Social media for business should be a priority if it’s going to work. Having a good strategy that aligns with your business goals, along with consistent follow through, are the key components to success with social media.

The beauty of social media is that it keeps you connected to your audience, customers, prospects and referral partners.  It’s an extension of your brand’s online personality, making others feel connected to you and your brand. I believe that alone is worth the time and energy to do it well. Please keep in mind, a neglected online presence doesn’t necessarily hurt, but it neither helps.  At the end of the day, it’s all about what you want out of your social media experience.
What if you don’t have the time or know how?  There are some alternatives to having a social media presence:

1.)  You can outsource to an online manager or social media virtual assistant who can help with strategy and overall management.

2.)   Take a smaller bite at first. If you’re just starting out, try Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, but not all three.  Play to your strengths.

3.)   Lastly, choose not do any social media.  Use the extra time in the areas of your strength.  Though I don’t recommend this as a long-term solution, let’s face it, social media is not going anywhere anytime soon.

So, think about it before you hop into every social media site you can find. Ask yourself, “How much time do I truly have available?”

 

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LinkedIn Groups and a Hot Prospecting Tip

1.  From your list of key people at the companies you’re targeting, look up each person’s profile on LinkedIn. If they are a third-degree connection and you’re unable to view full profile, do this:

  • Log out of LinkedIn.
  • Go to Google or Bing
  • In the search bar type  first name and initial of last, “title in quotes exactly as it appears in LinkedIn” site:linkedin.com. 
    • Example:  Betty B “digital marketing consultant” site:linkedin.com

2.  Check out the groups they’ve joined.  If one is a good fit for you too, join.

3.   Spend some time “lurking” in that group to see how it works, get the feel.  Then slowly start to engage in existing discussion threads.  Or consider starting your own, without being self-promotional or appearing self-serving.

It really is that simple.  This is one way to begin expanding your visibility with the key people you’re interested in collaborating with.

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The What’s-What for LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups– A place for professionals to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts. Where to look? The Groups Directory or view your suggested groups.

The How and Why

A study by Hubspot showed that LinkedIn business groups is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter. There tends to be more action for B2B businesses, but don’t let that stifle your opinion just yet.  LinkedIn may not be as popular as the other two, but when it comes to connecting and leads, it just can’t be beat.

To Start: First things first, join some groups in your industry and target audience. FYI, LinkedIn will allow you to join up to 50 groups.

The Stake-out! If you spend a quick 5 minutes before you joining groups you will save hours of frustration later.

  • Keep your eyes peeled for discussions that have many comments, this indicates an active group.
  • Make sure you are allowed to post links. Sharing links to your latest content in the group will help enhance your own website traffic.
  • Be sure to follow the rules! The owner of each profile has the privilege of setting the rules for the conversations.
  • Spend a little time scoping out which topics do the best; this will quickly and easily give you some much needed direction when you post in the future.

Traffic and Exposure

As mentioned above, a slick way of increasing website traffic is to post links to relevant content from your site. Groups can substantially increase your exposure to target demographics, if done right. When you gain more visibility by commenting or obtaining title (below), you will receive more requests to connect from members whose questions you’ve answered.

  • “Top Influencer” (TI)

Promoting and connecting others will earn you this title.

*Fastest way to gain more visibility. This should be in your sights if you are one of the many in a giant industry.

Steps For Success

After you’ve joined, use your RSS feeder and subscribe to your target audience, this will keep you up to date with where their interests lie, with little to no effort. When reading comments and questions; be on the lookout for the concerns, goals and objectives of your target demographic. This is the secret to having the most effective content and getting those well sought after titles.

How do I generate leads? Build. Influential. Relationships.

Be the networker that embodies the following: Networking = providing value, sharing, informing, and partaking in engaging conversations. NOT spamming, self promotion, and selling.

Do yourself a favor and provide some relevant and valuable content. The best groups for lead generation are ones that have zero tolerance for overly self-promotion.

Mind your Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Don’t let too much time pass.
  • Don’t leave a conversation open ended.
  • Do your prep work.
  • Do promote and connect others to build social influence.
  • Do strive for titles and recognition.

Class dismissed!

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Use Social Media to Find Resources

If you’re in search of a graphic designer, you may want to skip Elance and go directly to Twitter.  Finding recommended vendors and freelancers for your business may be as easy as asking the folks in your social media who they recommend. Here’s how:

LinkedIn. One of the most powerful elements of LinkedIn is the “recommendations” feature. You can write, read, and request recommendations from others in your network. It may take a little legwork, but you can use this feature to find a great copywriter and read what others have to say about them. Think of it as a Yelp for people.

Twitter. While you’re missing out on the depth of information available on LinkedIn, you can get instant responses on Twitter. For instance, tweet “Looking for a great online bookkeeper” and you may get responses within minutes. Give more weight to those that come from inside your network; oftentimes a request for referrals will generate automated responses from a spammer. It looks like as if it comes from one of your friends, but is actually an ad.

Facebook. You can post requests for referrals, just like on Twitter, and you can also search for people with those keywords in their profiles. Beware, though; just because someone is listed as “Penelope Bookkeeper” doesn’t mean they’re an expert. You could also post your request in groups that are associated with the topic (post a request for a logo designer on a graphic artists’ Facebook group wall, for example).

YouTube. It might seem a little strange to put out a call for resources via video, but why not? Especially if you have a significant following, you could get a tremendous response. Added benefit: If the project you have in mind has a visual aspect, you can demonstrate it right on the video (think office organization, website overhaul, bathroom remodel).

Even if eight people recommend the same web designer, remember to do your due diligence.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to find great resources with the click of a mouse.

 

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Make the distinction!

Not again.  Last week I stumbled across a business owner who is using their personal Facebook page for business.

Did you know….

Using your Facebook personal profile for business is against Facebook’s policy.  In the old days, Facebook would simply shut down those accounts.  Without warning.

If you have a business, create a Facebook business page.  You wouldn’t want to use your personal bank account for business (think about unsnarling that mess come tax time).

Are you missing something?

Making the distinction also helps with search engine placement. When it comes to search engines, you could be unintentionally holding your business back if you’re using your personal Facebook profile for business.  Here’s the deal.  Facebook business pages show up in the search results on the Internet and are visible to non-Facebook users. Personal accounts are not visible to non-Facebook users, so imagine what you’re missing out on if you use your personal page for business.

Make your time count!

Okay, so you’re all amped up to get your Facebook business page up.  If you’re going in, then you might as well be ALL in.  Committing to social media is a long-term deal.  Be realistic with your time and the support available to help you maintain your online presence. It’s okay to be on just one social network. When starting out, it’s better to focus your efforts and be amazing in one space.

One final thought; it’s not about the numbers.  The smaller the group, the larger the influence.  A lot of small business owners put too much weight into their follower and like count.  It’s all meaningless if there’s no interaction or if users don’t absorb your information.  Develop deeper connections by first focusing on those who engage and interact. Then focus on the lurkers next and draw those puppies out.  Make it a point to develop a small tight-knit group on your social media and everyone will want in.

Class dismissed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Social media is NOT the only tool in your toolbox!

I admit it.  I’ve been smitten with Google Reader for years. It’s been my weapon of sorts and depend on it to stay up on the latest and greatest content, keywords, and industry news for my clients.  A loyal fan, I’m sorry to see this go.

The loss of this beloved tool got me thinking…

What IF Facebook went away?  Or Twitter or LinkedIn?

A shocking thought, but altogether possible. Would your relationships with your customers be toast? I’m always surprised when a small business owner confesses that they solely depend on social media to stay in touch with their customers. Relying on just social media could be a huge mistake.

So why put the effort into other avenues when one seems to be working?

Customers are not like your family.  Family members are likely to reach out to you if they haven’t heard from you in a while. Your customers, on the other hand, forget that you exist the second you fall off their radar. How do you stop that from happening?

STAY. IN. TOUCH!   By all means utilize Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter but remember your customers exist outside of the Big Three Networks. The more often they see your name in their world, the more likely they feel a connection to you and your business. You are, after all, building a relationship. A well rounded presence is key.

Take a hint from the old-timers.  Before there was marketing and the Internet’s love child known as social media, businesses mailed newsletters and were creative with how they got customer’s attention. In this day and age, it’s easy to do the same via email. It’s a terrific way to stay in touch with your fans and followers.  Just encourage them to sign up for your newsletter and/or subscribe to your blog.

So top using social media as a crutch!  You can captivate your customers with variety.

 

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How To Connect with Experts on Social Media

Ever thought you could have a conversation with the founder of Virgin Airlines or the CEO of Zappos, one of the most successful online shoe and apprarel shops?  Did you ever think you could have a chat with the rock star experts within your own industry?   Well, you can, through social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Here’s how:

Check out their Twitter, Facebook Biz Page, LinkedIn Group and blog.  To get on their radar, see what they’re blogging about and sharing on social media.  Retweet them, comment on their Facebook page or LinkedIn group, share links to their content in your own social media.  The idea is not to become a stalker, but rather to let them know you’re out there, and you’re more than just a fan boy or girl.

Remember, they’re posting their content in a public forum, for public consumption.

Add value.   Leave insightful comments on their blog that expands the topic or discussion thread.  Write your own blog post and link back to theirs. Create a video response, letting them know about your experiences and results from the methods or techniques they taught. 

Ask a question.  Think about something unusual here, something you haven’t seen answered elsewhere, but something other followers might wonder about too.

Don’t get huffy.   I suggestested the above recommendations to someone and she got huffy when her question wasn’t answered by the expert within her industry.  Realistically, your question is one of dozens they’ll get and yours may not be answered.  It’s a matter of volume; it’s nothing personal. 

Keep at it.  The longer you work at establishing a connection, the more familiar your name will seem.

Give before you ask. If you’re hoping to establish a relationship with an expert –  as a possible joint venture partner or as a guest blogger — then you’ll have more work to do.  The top dogs get dozens of requests for help, so stand out from the crowd of favor-seekers by doing something for THEM first.

Getting noticed by the experts within your industry is possible by going directly to the source via social media.

Social on!

 

 

 

 

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9 Reasons To Do Email Marketing

As a new Constant Contact Solutions provider, I’m happy to announce the addition of email marketing services.  If you’ve been reluctant to implement this marketing tool in your own small business (guilty as charged) read on for reasons that may change your mind.

Permission-based.  Folks who signed up for your newsletter gave you permission to communicate with them. 

Effective.  Email marketing allows you to stay in touch and communicate with your prospects and current customers.  Deliver the right message to the right audience, lists allow you to easily target your emails, based on interest, source, etc.

Not everyone is on social media.  You may think everyone on the planet is on social media, but they aren’t.  Hard to believe, but true. 

100% Ownership.  Unlike Facebook or Twitter where settings and privacy options change often, you have full access to your list and more importantly, full control. 

Simple and Affordable.  Little production and no postage cost.

Build Awareness.  Regularly sent email messages with great subject lines reinforce awareness.

Drive Traffic.   Email marketing allows you to embed links and messages to drive traffic to your web site. And with clear call to actions, such as “click here to learn more about our service” or “attend this fun, interactive event” you can get immediate responses.

Expand your reach.  With a click of a button, your readers can easily forward your message to others or even share in in their own social media networks.

Measureable.  You’ll know the open rates, who clicked on the links, and forwarded your newsletter. 

An inexpensive marketing tool, consider putting email marketing to work for your business!   

Class dismissed.

 

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Discover What’s Going on With Your Audience

Earlier this month I posted a blog on how to tap into social media to get informal opinions from your followers, sort of like your own focus group.  Taking it a step further, there are a variety of ways to solicit more structured input  — and none involve printing and sending a paper survey  via snail mail to your audience.

A few options that are less expensive and much faster are:

Google Docs   Create simple surveys in Google Docs (docs.google.com) and get the results in spreadsheet format — for free!  You even have the option to brand survey with your logo and colors. 

Survey Monkey  Super easy, use Survey Monkey to email your surveys.  You can quickly create surveys and answers from up to 100 respondents are aggregated.  Also free.  For a small monthly fee you can amp up your surveys with more questions and other features.

Facebook Polls  Facebook makes it easy to add polls or surveys to your Facebook business page.  Use them.

WordPress Widgets   A number of available WordPress widgets and plug-ins can be added to your WordPress website or blog. Check out WP-Polls, Poll Code, Snap Poll, and Vizu.

Use polls to 

Increase engagement with your followers.  Not only are polls are a great way to gather information, you can use use that info to further the discussion.

Spark conversation.  Do you know if your audience thinks the latest Google algorithm will affect their business?  Do your blog subscribers agree with the experts within your industry?   Ask.

Get input from your followers and when the number of responses is more important than speed.  If you are in the process of developing a new product, ask what format they’d prefer — audio, video, text, or multimedia.

You want to gather demographic information about your followers. Want to know how often your followers golf?   Or how your customers feel about your products or services?  What their biggest challenges are?

Surveys are a great way to gather feedback and discover what’s going on with your audience.

 

 

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