Social Media: Is it Worth it?

A decade ago, social media was fun. It was new. It was fresh. Perhaps even exhilarating. But now we live in a strange new world of social media where jumping to conclusions, imputing opinions falsely and disparaging anyone who disagrees with your politics or religion or race, or even gender is the norm.

With the recent disturbance in Charlotteville, Virgina, the mob (on social media) incorrectly identified one of the participants in a picture as being from Arkansas. And they unleashed on him, publishing his home address and calling him all kinds of vile things. Only they had the wrong person. When his employer – the University of Arkansas – pointed out they had the wrong man, many still refused to back down.

We have a client in the Denver area who received a bad review from someone in Seattle. It turns out the someone in Seattle had a bad experience with a similarly-named company in the Seattle area. We actually helped them reach out to the individual so they could correct it. Guess what the response was? That person was so enraged at that other company and too busy to be bothered to find the right place to complain so they refused to take it down. Yes, they understood they were complaining about the wrong company but they wouldn’t take it back. That would be like going to McDonald’s and picketing because your Whopper wasn’t prepared correctly. And refusing to stop picketing even after it is pointed out that Burger King is a couple of blocks away.

But what to do? Your marketing team is telling you the company needs a strong social media presence. Can you navigate social media and survive? There is no cure for stupidity as the examples above show. But there are many things you can do depending on your brand, your audience, and your message.

Don’t be afraid to be sassy if it fits with your image AND if the medium is right. Wendy’s made their mark on Twitter by being (for the most part) funny but also pretty sassy:

But beware – you have to finesse this just right or you will get roasted.

But that is probably a bit too aggressive, amusing though it may be, for most of us. In a B2B (Business to Business) environment, establishing your company or your brand as the thought leader can move the needle in your direction. Two ways you can do this are

  1. Post original content and
  2. Share other good content.

Number 1 is the sexy answer. And a lot of folks seize on it – “Yeah, we’ll post one a week, maybe even every day!” and follow that regime religiously for a week or two. It takes more than a week or two to establish yourself as a thoughtful thought leader.  The easiest, by far, way to proceed, is to put into writing one or two of the conversations you find yourself having with clients or prospects each week.  That is, in fact, why I’m writing this right now. Had “the social media” talk several times over the last few days. By sharing, and sharing consistently, people know who to turn to for help and more importantly, you stay in front of them so they don’t forget who you are!

In a B2C (business to consumer) business, the obvious medium is Facebook. And it can be a great tool to get the word out.  The good news is that Facebook is working to stop clickbait (headlines that entice you to click the link only to be spammed with something other than what you clicked on or simply stupid stories) which is very annoying for users.

How can you use FB in a good way? Several quick tips:

  • Create (or review) your FB company page. It is still changing. Fill out as much of your profile as makes sense – the more the better
  • Get some happy customers to write reviews on FB for you
  • Add pictures and, if at all possible, videos
  • Post regularly. Some can be specials or products or events but some should just be fun. “Here is what we are doing the office today” along with a picture of a fun staff or customer event.

Social media is a great tool to connect with people in ways that weren’t available a few years ago. Instead of having the communication be one way – from the company to the target audience, there is an opportunity for that audience to respond.  So be prepared for the responses, keep your sense of humor, and keep it real by showing the human side of what you do.

 

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Templates and Web Site Design

There are web sites that are built on templates and then there are template web sites. Which would you prefer?

Many of our clients are uneasy with building a web site using a template – seems like anyone could do that, right?

The answer is ‘ You’re absolutely correct.” Templated web sites abound. I live in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and they city just implemented a program where you build your own web site from a template program. Here’s why we don’t build websites using templates:

  1. Templated web sites tend to all look the same
  2. The template programs used to create these sites are generally built without any way to customize the site.
  3. A template website builder limits creativity and options.

Having said that, I will proudly tell you that we build template web sites. What’s the difference?

Simple. We don’t start with a template. We start with a look that is customized to your needs and business goals. Once we’ve got the look designed to your satisfaction, we turn that look into a template. So it is sort of a chicken and egg deal. We design the look first and then create a template based on that look. We don’t start with a template and try to make your ideas fit.

But it is very important to turn the design into a template. We can then manage the look of the site from one or two files rather than having to touch (edit) every page of the site when we make a minor change to the look.

A good template for a good program is very powerful. Last week we converted a client’s site from a non-templated site to a simple template within WordPress. Last week the site wasn’t ranked at all for any of the targeted key words. This week we’ve already got 11 key words that the site is ranked for and one is already ranked 11 in Google. We’ve still got work to do but simply by creating a good template within WordPress, we’re already helping this client be successful.икони

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Online Cliques

Online Cliques

Sometimes you have to forget what you learned (or were told) in high school. Back then cliques may not have been good for you – contributing to peer pressure and leaving some of the “un-cliqued” feeling left out.

But in the online world, getting into a clique can propel you forward. There are several different ways to create or insert yourself into a clique.

There are three roles that people fill in online cliques. Each of them can help you:

  1. Leader. If you are the leader of your online clique, you get to be the expert. A good way to be an online clique leader is to create a Twitter following where others can’t wait to hear what you’ll say next. This could be appropriate for a restaurant (especially a mobile one), a thought leader (innovator in your field), or a producer of original content.
  2. Connector. If you are an online clique connector, you help others find the right online clique for their needs. This means that you’re out there in the online world and know what is the right spot to suggest for someone. This might be in Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups or even connecting people to each other on LinkedIn.
  3. Participant. If you are an online clique participant, you get to meet, interact with, and “rub shoulders” with others. To be a successful participant, you have to pay attention. Identify who you should be following on Twitter and then do more than just follow – interact with them and retweet them. On Facebook, choose the groups or pages you join carefully, pay attention to the conversation(s) and contribute as appropriate. The same applies for LinkedIn as well.

In high school you usually only had one clique – perhaps two – that you could be a member of. In the online realm, you can participate in several. In fact, you are only limited by the amount of time you have to put into it.

Having said that, I don’t recommend joining every group. You’ll spread yourself too thin. Remember the power of focus. Concentrate on a select few groups or perhaps just one and get engaged. How should you choose the group? Consider industry group(s) or geographic-based groups that are in your niche.

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Cultivating Customer Relationships Online

One of the most difficult things for most of us to wrap our minds around is that the cyber world of Social Media Marketing works very much the same as the physical world of marketing. Relationships rule. Cultivating relationships online is not really all that different than cultivating relationships in the physical world.

We like to be remembered. We like to hear our name mentioned. We like the personal touch.

But because, in the cyber world, things CAN be automated, many people do so. I have left my Twitter direct message notification on (I get an email when someone direct messages me). Many of the people that I follow have an auto-responder on. Some of these can even capture my real name and send me a response. But the response is general and impersonal enough that I’m turned off by most.

What would be a good response? “Hey Brian, read your latest blog post. Interesting read.” That tells me you’re taking time on our relationship. I confess that I don’t do this often enough but it is taking time for REAL genuine interaction that engages people, lets them know you care, and leads to building a relationship that can turn into business.
How can you cultivate relationships online?

On Facebook:

  • Interact with fans / likers (FB has new ways they are rolling out where, they say, the Fan Page will be able to interact with users just like users can – making comments and liking other’s posts)
  • Accept friend requests and then browse through their friends to see if you have common acquaintances that you might not have connected with yet

On Twitter:

  • Take enough time to respond to followers – this is obviously important for potential customers – in a meaningful way. “Nice Tweet” isn’t particularly meaningful.
  • Follow those who follow you. I actually take time to click through to my followers profile to see who they are and what they tweet about. This would be a good time to retweet something good they’ve said, reply to a tweet or direct message them with a genuine message.

On LinkedIn:

  • If you have a good experience with someone, right a recommendation – everyone likes to have their praises sung to others.
  • Find a good group to join in – one where you can ask questions and learn and then contribute.
  • If there isn’t a group (look around first, there probably is) create your own group and invite connections to join you.

On Social Media:

  • Keep in mind that Social Media is two way communication
  • Keep in mind that folks might be hesitant to interact with your brand at first. Find creative ways to get them to start – ask your physical network to help get this started by making a comment or responding to a quiz.
  • Provide value. That means providing real content that you have created – not sharing someone else’s or simply copying other’s content (this is usually illegal as well).
  • Search out people you want to connect with – movers and shakers or even potential clients – and, once again, interact with them genuinely. Be honest about why you want to connect (I’ve been following your work / blog / Facebook page, etc and would like to connect directly).
  • Provide original content – I know I just said this but a lot of folks get hung up on this point. “I don’t have time.” “There’s nothing new in my industry” etc. I disagree. There is something unique about you as a company or individual that provides your unique selling proposition. Turn that into original content.

And I would be less than authentic if I didn’t tell you that EduCyber provides these kinds of services, whether it is helping you create a plan (Social Media Marketing Plan), setting up your accounts (Basic SMM setup), or actually implementing your Social Media Marketing plan, we can help. Give us a call at (303) 268-2245 ext. 4.
 

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36 Ways to Market Your Web Site

  1. Put your web site on business card
  2. Incorporate your domain name into your letterhead
  3. Buy an ad in other ezines or email newsletters
  4. Engage in online communities and make sure you include your domain where appropriate (like in your signature)
  5. Include a link to your web site in your email signature
  6. Build a corporate Facebook page and post interesting information that links back to your site.
  7. Include a link to your site in your Twitter profile
  8. Include a link to your site in your Facebook profile
  9. Include a link to your site in your LinkedIn profile
  10. Include links to your site in your Tweets where appropriate
  11. Exchange links with a related site
  12. Develop an affiliate network where others get paid to market your site.
  13. Create press releases for anything new: staff, location, service, product, etc. Be    sure to mention the web site as the source for more information
  14. Write on your blog regularly (if your blog isn’t on your web site, include links to your site in each blog entry)
  15. Create an informercial video about something relevant to your company. Upload it to video sites like YouTube. Make sure the video finished with a link to the site and that the site is mentioned in the description.
  16. Create a podcast on a relevant topic and don’t forget to mention your web site in the audio.
  17. Use email marketing (like iContact or Aweber) to regularly communicate with your customers. Include links back to your web site
  18. Write guest blogs for other sites with links in the bio back to your site.
  19. Buy an ad in the local newspaper with your domain name as a prominent part of the ad
  20. Create a TV commercial and buy some spots on local TV. Include your URL in the ad.
  21. Run a radio ad that mentions your URL
  22. Create an amusing video that highlights how your company solves problems and make sure the video links to your site. Upload it to Youtube.
  23. Share company videos that you’ve uploaded on Twitter.
  24. Share company videos that you’ve uploaded on Facebook.
  25. Create a PowerPoint presentation about something your company is good at. Include your URL. Upload this file to a site like SlideShare.
  26. Create a new award like “Best <your industry service or product> in <your area>”. Advertise it on your web site asking for submissions / nominations.
  27. Create a press release to go with this new award and send it out to news organizations, pointing them to your site for more information.
  28. Use an email blast to all your subscribers to announce the new award and point them to the site for details.
  29. Read other blogs. Engage in that community by leaving comments (with a link back to your site)
  30. Devote time to write a really good white paper on a hot topic in your industry. Provide this as an incentive on your web site for users to sign up for your newsletter.
  31. Advertise this white paper on social media sites.
  32. Post the white paper download info on sites you have access to – don’t neglect chambers of commerce and other business organizations. They’ll often share your info for free.
  33. Offer a free seminar on a popular or useful topic. Post the details on your site and then refer people to the site for details.
  34. Use social media to promote your seminar and direct people to your site.
  35. Engage in or start a group on LinkedIn regarding your industry (better to engage in existing groups) or area of expertise. Establish yourself as an authority and regularly link back from the group to a pertinent part of your web site.
  36. Blog about current events and tie them back into your topic.

 

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Social Media Marketing Made Easy

Everybody wants to do it quickly. “How much time does it take?” is the number one question I’m asked. It can be fast and it can be easy. But first you have to invest in a plan. That can be investing time or investing money or both. Without a plan then your “investment” is about as solid as investing in the crap tables in Vegas. With a plan you are investing in the growth of your business.

What does a social media marketing plan look like? That depends on what you want to accomplish and on what social media is doing when you create the plan. Remember that this technology or medium is very much in its infancy so what works in August of 2010 might not work come November. It really does change that quickly.

So what is the easy part of all this?

The most crucial part of your plan is to decide what action or actions you want people to take. A good starting action is getting people to LIKE you. On Facebook this means to click the like button. In the olden days (April of 2010 for example) you wanted people to become a fan but it changed, just that quickly. Now you want them to LIKE you.

So folks say liking isn’t enough. I say that depends on your plan. Once they’ve liked you, you can communicate with them more directly. If your company or purpose is based on a particular event such as a charity run, then getting them to click the like button might be enough because now you can share information with them about the event.

Other actions that could help you get what you want out of social media:

  • Fill out the form to sign up for your newsletter (now these can be put right into facebook)
  • Click through to your web site
  • Click a link to a coupon or social media only special
  • Call you directly from info on your profile
  • Make a comment on your posting
  • “LIKE” a particular post
  • Start a new conversation
  • Respond to a poll question
  • Post a picture
  • Post a video
  • And the list goes on and on . . .

Now we’re to the easy part. Once you’ve got your goals and your desired actions, engage your friends / fans / followers accordingly. It really doesn’t take much time with a plan – or if it does take a lot of time, it does so because it’s paying off for you.

But don’t forget to measure the results. If they aren’t turning out as desired, then it’s time to revisit the plan.

Want help? That’s what we do. Call 303 368-2245 ext. 4 to get started.

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5 Biggest Social Media Marketing Mistakes

Everyone is joining in the Social Media Marketing blitz – or so it often seems – but not everyone is doing it well. Are you?

Here are the five biggest mistakes businesses make in Social Media Marketing:

5. Not being consistent
Some really good folks come up with a plan and start implementing it and then get distracted or busy and don’t consistently implement it. Using tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck can help you manage the flow and be more consistent.

4. Being too business focused
It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. People want to get to know you. They want to understand you from the human perspective, not just the business side. Take some time to tell people what has your interest, even if it’s watching your daughter’s hockey game.

3. Not measuring the results
I often hear “I tried Facebook and it didn’t work.” I follow up with a “How do you know?” and get blank looks or vague answers. If you’re going to engage in social media marketing, measure your results in as quantifiable ways as possible.

2. Not following the plan
It is easy to get distracted in social media. You log on to post about your next event or a special you have coming up and the next thing you know you’re chatting with your high school football buddies or “friending” your college sweetheart. Be disciplined. Tape your plan or goals to your monitor to remind you of what you’re doing. Then follow through.

1. Not having a plan
Simple as it may seem, a huge number of businesses engaging in social media MARKETING don’t have a plan for what they want to accomplish – or their plan doesn’t fit with their business goals. I met a recently laid off individual who went on to LinkedIn and established links with 1000s of people – and he only knew about 25 of them. He asked me “What do I do now?” I had no idea what to tell him because he didn’t have a plan that he could articulate.

Create a plan that fits your business. Include measurable goals in your plan.

You’ll see results.
 

 

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Your Web Site, Internet Marketing and this Funny Thing Called Twitter

We talk to lots of business owners who see the value in having social media accounts with Facebook and LinkedIn but who simply don’t see the value in having a Twitter account and doing goofy things like Tweeting or ReTweeting.

According to a recent eMarketer report, there are lots of reasons that businesses should embrace Twitter as a marketing tool. First they project nearly 50% growth in Twitter users this year – to a total of 26 million users and by 2012 that number is projected to be 36 million. And those are just the US Adult numbers. All total, Twitter has 106 million registered users.

In another eMarketer report, we learn that B2C (business to consumer) businesses that use Twitter get a MUCH better return on their marketing. For example with businesses of 1 to 10 employees, the number of leads Twitter users generated as compared to non-Twitter users was 100% more. A company not using Twitter would generate 5 leads. A similar company using Twitter would generate 10 leads.

Simple math suggests that if you can double your leads using Twitter, why wouldn’t you?

Other reasons to use Twitter:

  • Twitter recently signed agreements with Google and Bing to include real time tweets in their search results. So if you send a tweet with a link to your site, you’re getting more links back to your site – more opportunities for customers to find you.
  • Once you have a plan in place, sending out tweets and interacting with your followers doesn’t take a lot of time.
  • You can monitor your brand (company name, personal name) so that if you’re mentioned, you can respond.
  • You can “eavesdrop” on your competitors to see what they’re doing
  • You can network with key partners and vendors without having to make lengthy phone calls or meet in person.

So what are you waiting for? Visit www.twitter.com and get started.

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Your Company Reputation and Social Media Marketing

Question 9 of 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign is How does my company reputation fit into Social Media Marketing. If you haven’t figured it out by now, it is ALL about your reputation.

Social Media Marketing is about engaging others and building long term relationships with others.  This enhances your reputation as a company and establishes you as a player in the long term plans of your potential and existing clients.

There are specific things you can and should do to both monitor and build your reputation:

1.       Set up a Google Alert (www.google.com/alert) for your company name. You can try it with or without quotes to see what kind of results you get.

2.       While both Google and Bing have agreements to include twitter in their results, we still recommend setting up a twitter account to monitor your company name / reputation on Twitter. TweetDeck can be used to do this. Monitter.com can also be used to help you do this.

3.       When your company is mentioned online, engage with the mentioner, whether the mention is good or bad. If the comment is negative, see if there is some way you can reach out and change their mind or provide some kind of remedy.

4.       If your company isn’t mentioned or isn’t mentioned much, don’t quit. Engage and you will find that it will begin to be used.

5.       Set up a Facebook fan page for your company. Plan what you want to happen and make sure you implement your plan.

Why do it? Facebook has 300 million plus users. Twitter has around 60 million users.  You won’t find all of them becoming your customers but you will find a sizeable number that you can interact with to broaden your network.

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Tools to Improve Your Social Media Marketing

Question 7 from 10 Essential Questions for your Social Media Marketing Campaign: ” What tools are available to make my time in SMM more efficient?” can be answered in different ways.

There are tools and then there are tools. Every day there are thousands (yes thousands) of blog entries and tweets about all the wonderful tools available to help you leverage your Social Media Marketing time to maximum advantage.

This isn’t another one of those messages. Instead, let me tell you about two that I use and point you in the direction of finding others.

The tool that I use to tie things together is Friendfeed. Friendfeed lets you tie your various social media accounts together in such a way that you can post once to one account and the post will automatically be updated across all your accounts.  What does “all your accounts” mean? Friendfeed can talk to your blog, to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to name a few. If you use pictures, it can talk to Flickr and to Picasa. If you are into bookmarking and news, it will talk to delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg and Google Reader. In fact, there are currently 58 different sites that can be tied together through Friendfeed.

That sounds a bit overwhelming.  It doesn’t need to though. You can start with just a couple and still save time by using Friendfeed. Then when you’re ready to add, you can do so and tie them into Friendfeed as you add them to your repertoire.

The second tool I use and like is TweetDeck. While it sounds like it is just a Twitter application, it actually ties into Facebook and MySpace as well, allowing you to post once but push it to all those accounts. I only use it with Twitter but even then it helps. I have a personal account twitter.com/edubrian and a corporate account twitter.com/educyber and I can post to either or both at the same time through TweetDeck.

The power of TweetDeck comes from being able to create groups. I follow more than 1400 people but it works its power even if you follow a handful. For example, you can create a group called “My Industry” and add the people from your industry into that group. You can create a group called “Customers” and add your customers to that group. And so on. The simplicity of that makes life easier and will likely encourage you to follow more people because the flow of Tweets becomes more manageable.

What else is there?

Here are just a few links I found:

42+ Social Media Marketing Tools

4 tools for easier social media management

35+ Social Media Tools That Make Life Easier

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