Chats and Ads

Posted October 2nd, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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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.

Growing Pains in Social Media

Posted September 10th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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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.

What Do You Want?

Posted August 20th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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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.

How Attractive Are Your Updates?

Posted July 30th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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As social media matures, it becomes more generic and predictable. Which is not necessarily a good thing.

It’s natural for any system to level out to a low-key commonality eventually. But predictability is the enemy of marketing. In that split second of recognition that tells me I’ve seen this before, I tune your message out.

How many of the updates on your Facebook stream do you gloss over because they fit a recognizable formula? How many posts from given people or organizations do you generally ignore because you know what they’ll say? How many tweets do you skip because they’re from certain people or they follow a formula?

I have noticed that tweets without links tend to pull my attention. If there’s no link, it must be an original statement of some kind. This is refreshing and welcome. Your referrals are great, but I love reading your thoughts.

The increasingly sophisticated world of social media suggests that messages must become more attractive in one way or another. It’s not good enough to suggest cool sites and link to your own. You must devise an overarching strategy that builds a compelling ubër message with every post.

And every post must tantalize.

Looking for Your Target Market

Posted April 16th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications
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I’ve been listening to online preachers of internet and inbound marketing for the past five years and there’s one phrase that has never been replaced with a better one. Lingo should become more precise over time, but this term remains obtuse.

I’m referring to our habit of insisting that in order to get a leg up with your internet presence, you need to identify where your target market ‘hangs out.’

Now, you’re a professional, you have responsibilities and a helluva lot to do. You may party down once a week or month, but ‘hanging out’ is not something on your daily list. Oh, you visit Facebook every day, but the chance you’ll see a certain update is small.

So now we have to face the fact that it’s far less a matter of figuring out “where your target customers are hanging out” and much more a matter of ranking for a large number of keywords, being ubiquitous online, turning up around every corner.

Alright then. How do I connect with my ideal customers online and get them to opt-in to my list? Simple. Content, content, and more content. Title it, tag it, publish, rinse and repeat. Give, then get.

Brand is a Many-Splendored Thing

Posted April 4th, 2012 by admin and filed in Branding, social media
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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.

Social media as lifestyle

Posted April 17th, 2011 by admin and filed in social media
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I think it was in a LinkedIn Group discussion where I read the statement boldly put: Social media is not a campaign.

I wonder if this is the aspect of online marketing that is most difficult to grasp. Social media is not a campaign. It’s a way of life.

We always used to do campaigns to advertise. But with the internet, instead of campaigns, we maintain consistent online rapport with an endless string of connections. We keep up a social calendar and strive to establish a trustworthy image. Our authentic daily activities and caring conversations serve to keep our brand on the radar. We can no longer depend on the cleverness of sporadic ad campaigns.

If the traditional campaign is a show, an extravaganza, a revival, the internet offers instead a way of life, an everyday routine, a constant connection to your market.

The implications are manifold. We must think of our involvement in social media as a relationship for which we are responsible, as if social media was another member of our family.

Though internet ties are created virtually, they are still ties between real people, and your commitments online truly mean just as much as your in-person promises.




QR codes

Posted March 17th, 2011 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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Tipped off by a savvy local business owner, I looked into QR the other day. If you’re not familiar with the technology, QR (Quick Response) is a barcode-like icon that can be ‘read’ by a smart phone, sending the visitor to a designated web page.

Home-bound geek that I am, I’m ignorant of most mobile technologies, which is why I missed the QR phenom. I don’t even own a smart phone. But it’s evident to me that the internet / real world interface that QR provides is more awesome than the average digital advance.

For the first time, with QR the brick and mortar street scene is blended seamlessly with internet data. A restaurant’s menus, specials, and reviews can be shown when the passerby scans a code affixed to the front window.

Or – how about this – your QR code printed on your business card lets the viewer instantly see your website, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or whatever you web page you want to show them.

Seems to me the QR function is a giant step to the future (though it’s been around since 1994, apparently!) Want a step-by-step tutorial? See this excellent video by my esteemed colleague, Janine Gregor.



If not a blog, then what?

Posted February 9th, 2011 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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I’ve been experiencing a crisis of confidence around blogging. Not for myself, because my blogs serve me as the meta cognitive personal challenge that Seth Godin talked about in that video clip with Tom Peters. But concerning the vast majority of businesses, lately I’ve been doubting the ability of blogging to win them over.

Why? It’s too demanding. Blogging requires nimble responsiveness that is frankly beyond the capacities of most organizations.

So you sell insurance or maybe you own a bakery. Not only is the time required to blog a serious barrier to someone with your daily responsibilities: more daunting is the challenge to think actively all the time about your business’ interactions with the world.

Your insurance is reliable; your cakes are tasty. What more is to be said?

This question is a biggie. Inbound marketing and search engines both rely on news being consistently delivered, content being created nonstop.

In a digital world, how will you attract eyeballs unless you are out there waving your flag every day? What are alternatives for the everyday small biz?

Social media participation might fill some gaps, but not all. If marketing is now publishing, how can companies realistically meet these needs?

Should every business have a blog?

Posted February 1st, 2011 by admin and filed in Branding, Communications, social media
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A recent Quora question asked: Should every business have a blog?

Currently, I’m hoarding all commentary about blogging because I have a community college class to teach this spring, centering on inbound marketing with a special focus on blogging. So the Query (Quory?) was pertinent.

But I was amazed that the answers (before my input) were all effusively in the affirmative, with the top vote-getter claiming that doing without a blog is okay if “you don’t actually sell to humans,” but de rigueur otherwise.

How insular we can be in the vastness of cyberspace! How proud, forgetting that the vast majority of humankind has no inkling of blogging or anything of the sort. What blind arrogance to suggest that every manicurist and bagel joint will fail without an online presence.

The point is not that every business needs to have a blog. Blogging must be guided by the top minds, the recognized leaders and the challengers to leadership; the innovators, reporters, and socialites.

No, every business does not need to produce a blog. But every business, sooner or later, will need to read blogs, to stay current with their market and peers. Blogging isn’t mandatory, but respect for blogging is.