There are two best uses of social media for business: to attract new leads and to keep customers over the long term. These uses are indirectly related to your profits, in that they bring the market to you but, like the proverbial horse, you can’t make them drink. Many will, nonetheless, if your offer is solid. But social media value is usually measured in terms of new and returning traffic, rather than sales.
On the other hand, thousands of businesses make millions of dollars in online sales, often using social media channels as part of their campaigns. Because they use the internet to make sales, they approach social channels as advertisers. It’s a one-way conversation, and it can be wildly successful if the hook catches on. Who cares if it bears no relation to authentic social interaction? It works, right?
I think the personal dialogues and the obvious ads can coexist. SM channels struggle mightily to present them to us cleanly. I just hope we won’t lose interest in social media as a place for interpersonal interaction. If we stop chatting, we regress, forfeiting the enormous gains for individual expression that the web has promised these many years.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest: the requisite vehicles to bring you success in internet marketing efforts.
Interesting how the first two have been leading the social media scene for well over five years; the third was recently purchased by the first; and the fourth burst on the scene only last year, gaining popularity faster than any before.
Note the trend towards graphics. No question that people love pictures.
Also note (once again) Zuckerberg’s prescience in purchasing Instagram. He didn’t just know how important images are; he also knew that the social media times they are a-changin’.
Because it seems obvious that right now there’s dwindling innovation on the social media scene. We’ve been sitting with the giants for several years now without major upheaval (Google+ is cool, but no contender). And the newcomers are decorative rather than substantial.
The reason for this slowdown is, I suspect, providential. We need time to assimilate. A large percent of people in business are not connected yet online. And those who are – who have Facebook pages and/or websites – have a long way to go before they’re gunslingers. Social media is a complex, learned technique and we have a way to go yet.
In my virtual assistant business, I find it is most satisfying to work with business owners/managers or entrepreneurs who know what they want, and can articulate it clearly. People who haven’t defined their needs do not know what to ask for, and we often end up at an impasse.
It’s the same with social media. If you don’t know what you want from it, the results are likely to be unsatisfactory.
Though it may seem contradictory, I suggest this: forget about social media and think about what you need to make your business more efficient and profitable.
• What tools would help? I bet there’s software you can find that will fill the bill.
• What market share are you missing out on? You can tap into it online.
• What skills do you need in partners to advance the scope of your business? Find perfect matches on the internet.
Surely ‘social media’ is an inadequate label for the manifold uses of internet resources in commerce. There are traditional ads (Google AdWords, banners, and the like) and social networks; but also tools, inspiration, education, guidance, and a host of other opportunities.
When planning internet strategies, consider what you want before you seek solutions.
The whirling universe of social media seems to have slowed down lately. With Facebook gone public, Google+ creeping toward rigor mortis, and Twitter degrading to a boring barrage of promotions, the old excitement just isn’t there.
There are a million reasons for this. The channels themselves are limited. While large followings are admired, the more updates in your stream, the less likely you are to see any particular person’s messages. How can relationships take root? All of us in the sandbox together does not mean we’re actually relating. Maybe we’re just getting in one another’s way.
Each social network asks for the whole story: bio, contact info, picture, work history, and all your lists of friends. The more we upload to one site, the less we’re likely to want to move all that data to another site. I may not adore Facebook, but that doesn’t mean I’d be quick to replace it with a competitor.
Twitter’s my favorite, and yet it’s far from realizing its full potential. Why are relatively few people using this marvelous tool for inter-connectivity? It could be connecting citizens, and instead it’s become merely a revolving billboard.
Has social media failed us? Have we failed it?
On the phone with a prospective client the other day, I suddenly realized that my hand was making a repetitive circular motion as I explained the way internet marketing for small business works.
Well, after all, it is circular. One event touches off another, which creates another, and so on. Every thing affects all the other things in the cycle.
Your description of the process may vary, depending on basic orientation. But roughly, it’s going to be something like:
- website leads to
- changing content, which leads to
- social media, which leads to
- subscriber list, which leads to
- sales, which leads to
- new website content.
Your online branding, shared via social media, works unceasingly to bring buyers to you. It’s a relatively simple formula.
- Figure out how to represent your biz via recorded media of some kind (written word, audio, video, etc.)
- Create a schedule for ongoing creation of this content – and follow through!
- Offer subscriptions and send valuable information to opt-ins.
- Follow up with honest selling and obsessive customer service.
- Get a recorded testimonial from your thrilled customer. Use the experience of actual sales to create new content.
What’s the infatuation with gamification? In an otherwise stupendous presentation by Charlene Li today, she proclaimed gamification to be a major wave of the future in the working world. Briefly, the term refers to awards programs, in which badges, points, testimonials and such accumulate to the individual’s credit. These “games” are located on a company’s proprietary social network, and involve employees in what is labeled “social” ways.
That’s where I get stuck. Why are the words competition and social taken to mean the same thing? Gamification reminds me of Girl Scouts, where she who dies with the most badges wins.
The internet is awesomely amazing to me because it allows us to transcend competition. There’s room for every individual to build their unique brand, and thereby attract a market. You find customers through affinity, not through brute strength.
They’ll send me a link to Li’s webcast transcript*, and I’ll post it as an addendum here. It’s absolutely on the edge. It includes Li’s visions of how smart phones will get smarter; the assertion that Watson will fit in our pockets within the decade; and a look at how social will come to be the driver of business at all levels.
* Here’s the re-play. Strongly recommended!
After returning from a trip last weekend, I posted some photos to Facebook. The last time I uploaded any photos there was many moons ago, so it’s a notable event. Similarly, though I often post links on Facebook, you won’t see many simply chatty updates from me.
Ah, well, you caught me. I must confess I just wasn’t born that way. Talking about me is definitely not one of my skills. Ask me a question and I’ll respond enthusiastically; but lacking a direct query I’m not likely to pipe up about my life.
Thank goodness so many people do like to share their impulses and off-the-cuffness. Social media would be dull indeed without it!
Before you bust me for a deadbeat, let me point out that being spontaneous and freely sharing is a breeze for me when it comes to commenting on other people’s updates. It’s completely natural for me to participate in discussions that others start. I’m a player and supporter as much as anyone.
Every show requires an audience. There are the extroverted types who lead online, and the introverted types who arbitrate between those leaders. The internet is made up of both speakers and listeners.
In a F2F networking group recently, we talked about how it’s helpful to identify a highly specific target market for your business. One person, an insurance salesman, told about a colleague in his industry who works exclusively with dog trainers. By combining the sub-culture of dog trainers with the universal interest in insurance protections, he is able to reach a high degree of success in his business; and to build a loyal clientele who know and proclaim him as the go-to person for anything to do with insurance.
I loved that story because it shows how social media is supposed to work. Too many companies remain faceless, all-business, and always selling. They ignore the miracle of the internet, which allows us to be real people, with diverse interests and talents.
Online, the truest way to establish your brand is to show your humanity. No one is simply an insurance salesman. No one is just a bus driver or janitor or CEO. Everyone has a life, too.
Do you love dogs and also sell insurance? Do you play golf and also run a travel agency? Do you enjoy going to spas and you work as an accountant?
Tell us about it.
If you have trouble adjusting to change, you may have problems with the internet, because the overall beta mode of everything online is nothing if not subject to change.
Sometimes I fear that my clients’ patience will give out. We set up some app or site and then the rules shift.
I wonder how anyone who doesn’t study the internet in depth can understand what’s going on, much less trust any of it. When you are there everyday, the pieces fit together; but if you check in only sporadically, it must seem a crazy tangle of nonsense. How can you keep up with all the changes?
This is why the person you select as consultant for your business needs online must be someone you deeply trust. As with your broker, your lawyer, or your doctor, you may at times trust them to take actions on your behalf whether or not you completely understand the rationale. You’re too busy to stay on top of all that: you trust your advisor to handle it.
Look for technical and communications expertise in an inbound marketing consultant; but far more important is to know the person sincerely has only your best interests at heart.
I’m going to continue the copyrighting discussion because it’s definitely top-of-mind. It’s a delicate and difficult issue.
My client, for instance, is an author. She posts exquisite updates, but is relatively innocent of the ways of the web. We were chatting the other day when she suddenly realized that anything she posts might be copied and used by another person. This shocks and frightens her.
I murmur rationalizations, saying that an impostor won’t get far, won’t make any money or curry any fame. They can’t be my client, can’t actually produce on her level. Their gains in stealing her content are so short-term as to be worthless.
But we’re talking about a mother’s pride, here; the tender love of a creator. That some stranger should seize her babies … well, it’s intolerable.
This is eminently understandable. According to everything we’ve been taught, what we produce must be protected from theft.
But online we give a lot away. Online, our approach is the opposite of hoarding. Anything we post we are providing for free. Some things you sell, while a nice percent of the basics you offer as pure giveaways.
This new viewpoint requires an emotional as well as practical recalibration.