EduCyber Presents on Twitter at Golden Chamber

Brian DeLaet of EduCyber will be presenting on “Twitter: is it Right for Business?” at Good Morning Golden for the Golden Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, September 1 at 7 AM (yes, in the morning)

Brian DeLaet, founder and CEO of EduCyber, Inc. will be addressing Twitter in the business context and speak to many of the concerns that business owners have regarding the time required and the purpose of using Social Media Marketing tools like Twitter.

If you haven’t registered yet, contact the Golden Chamber at (303) 279-3113 or visit the Chamber web site.

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Leveraging Your Physical Network in Social Media Marketing

How can I leverage my physical network to help in Social Media Marketing?

The 4th Question in our 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign is a bit counter-intuitive in that we leave the cyber world for a bit. In your business or in your life you know people. Whether you’ve thought of them as your network or not, they are.

Now it is time to look at this network of business colleagues and friends and see how they can help you in your social media marketing. There are three easy ways you can leverage them without losing a friendship:

  1. Invite them to join your fan (company) page on Facebook.  By getting them to join you quickly appear bigger and when they join, each friends’ network will also be notified so you have the opportunity to connect with even more people. Having fans on Facebook is very much akin to having subscribers to your email list: they give you one more opportunity to get the word out.
  2. Follow them on Twitter. Most folks will follow you back. When I see a friend or colleague retweeting someone I’m not associated with, I’ll often check out their profile and end up following them. This gives you the opportunity again to be in front of more people. The next time you tweet about a special or event related to your business, more people will hear about it. Just make sure you return the favor by following your friends’ friends.
  3. On LinkedIn you can join the same groups. I connect with lots of folks on LinkedIn through shared groups and a natural group for me to belong to online is the same one I belong to offline: the West Chamber serving Jefferson County. I can see who else is in this group and if I know one of my connections that is a chamber member but not on the LinkedIn group, I reach out to them and encourage them to join. By helping them in the cyber world, I further cement our relationship in the physical world.

So as you enter into the Social Media Marketing world, don’t neglect your physical relationships and especially don’t neglect leveraging those relationships to take you further faster.

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Social Media Marketing: How Much Time Does it Take?

The third question in our 10 Essential Questions to Answer for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign series is “How much time am I able or willing to spend on marketing?”

The best answer I can give to that question is to use the swim teacher / coach analogy. “Coach, how long is it going to take?” you might ask. If you are nine years old and taking swimming lessons, three hours a week will probably be more than sufficient for you to learn the basics of swimming and put them into practice. If you are Michael Phelps however, the answer might be closer to 10 hours a day.

Basically the answer to this question depends on your answer to question #1. If your goal is to make a lot of money online, you will spend considerably more time than if your goal is to sell five books a month through your web site. Having said that, there are FOUR rules to keep your time productive:

  1. Plan to spend more time up front to set up your account, learn the ropes, and build out your network.
  2. When setting up your profile in Facebook or LinkedIn, create a separate document (in something like MS Word) to keep track of the different parts of your profile. This will save time when entering into new networks.
  3. Log in at least THREE times a week to update your status and add new connections.
  4. Keep your goals in front of you as you engage. There are some very interesting but non-productive facets to these networks that can draw you in unless you stay focused on why you’re doing it in the first place.

Use these rules and stick with it. Those who engage in Social Media Marketing usually end up spending more time on it (not less) as they go because of the benefits.

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Finding the Best Social Media Sites

What media (or sites) are best suited to my goal?

Once you have determined what your goals are, it is time to determine which social networking sites will best help you meet those goals. There are literally hundreds of social networking sites available to you. Outside of three or four though, they all are designed to serve specific niches. The major sites that are available are:

Facebook: Until recently we recommended Facebook primarily as a Business to Consumer web site for Social Media Marketing purposes. No longer. You can create your own “Page” for your business and invite your connections to become “Fans”. When they become a fan, it appears on their profile which can get others to join and so on. Once established, you have the ability to interact with your fans, through posts to the page, events, importing your blog feed, and starting discussions.

Facebook can also be very good if your business targets consumers. One colleague who runs a travel company simply posted on his account about an upcoming overseas trip and got several new customers. The power of searching and matching makes Facebook powerful indeed. The matching comes in when Facebook suggests people you might know or other things you might like. As a business, you can target that matching by the kinds of content you write about. You can also try the Facebook Ads to target consumers.

LinkedIn: This site is definitely a business to business web site. If your goal is hiring people, LinkedIn could be a very good resource. It can also be a great way to connect with people in your industry or market so if your goal is to stay abreast of trends and innovations in your market, LinkedIn could be a good fit. We have found LinkedIn to be a very good way to stay on top of trends but also to connect with potential clients and with power partners. If extending your network beyond your physical reach is a goal, then this would be a good way to attack it. Basically, LinkedIn is an ideal social media site if your target is other businesses. It might also be within your goal if you need ot interact with others in your market segment.

Twitter: Twitter is still just a baby but is growing quickly. As such it is difficult to have long term goals for what you want to accomplish via this site. Having said that, we recommend it for both B2B and B2C purposes. If your goal is to get more exposure and learn of the latest trends it can be very helpful. If even 1/10 of the folks who claim they’re making millions on Twitter are close to the truth, it can fit into a goal of increasing sales to consumers as well as reaching out to businesses and consultants that need your goods or services.

What other sites should you consider? Do a search for social networking websites and you’ll find plenty of places to start but some other large ones include Plaxo, MySpace, Meetup and Ning. Another class of social media is social bookmarking. Sites to consider for bookmarking are StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Delicious and Technorati.

You can just jump in to Social Media Marketing but if you first determine your goals and then determine which sites will help you reach those goals, you will be more successful.

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10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

Everybody is all abuzz about Social Media Marketing Campaigns whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or some niche site that fits their needs. But we keep getting the same questions from customers and we basically turn the questions back around to ask them. Here are the questions that you should think through for your needs as you develop your plan. And of course, if you need help, give us a call at 303 268-2245.

Social Media Marketing Campaign Questions:

  1. What are my goals (What do I expect to get out of this)?
  2. What media (or sites) are best suited to my goal?
  3. How much time am I able or willing to spend on marketing?
  4. How can I use my physical network of contacts to help in Social Media Marketing(SMM)?
  5. What tactics will help me accomplish my goals?
  6. What niche social networking sites might be useful for my goals?
  7. What tools are available to make my time in SMM more efficient?
  8. How personal does the SOCIAL part need to be?
  9. How does my company reputation fit into SMM?
  10. How can I evaluate my SMM campaign?

By thinking through and writing down your answers to these questions, you’ll be able to keep a laser like focus on what you want to accomplish. It is important to do this so that  you don’t get sucked into the social vortex and find yourself spending all your time chatting with old high school friends or getting lost in the college daze.

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Twitter Success Story?

We resell the hosting services of a company called HostGator. We have used them for a couple of years and generally have found them to be quite good. We also talk about how to use Twitter for reputation management and customer satisfaction. So it was no surprise that I was following @hostgator on Twitter.

We recently finished a larger site that gets a lot of traffic and makes numerous calls to the database with each visit. For the first month, the site ran like a charm, with no errors. Then suddenly about three weeks ago, I came to work on a Monday and had an upset customer because none of the images were showing up. So I went to HostGator, they “resolved” the problem and, because of my questions and concerns, assured me it wouldn’t happen again.

And it didn’t happen again. Until the next weekend. On Monday I had a customer getting less patient with us. I turned to the HostGator online chat again and after they resolved the issue again “Oh, it was a different issue this time but we have definitely resolved it.” I was told. And it stayed resolved. Until the next weekend and on Monday, as I was going through the online chat, I also sent a tweet about my unhappiness with hostgator.

Soon I had a Twitter reply from @hostgator asking if they could be of assistance. After a couple of exchanges with @hostgator, I sent my ticket number. Within an hour I had both an email and a phone call from a level 3 technician at HostGator. He quickly helped me identify that the problem had not been resolved and that it was a coding issue that I needed to fix. I had asked, in each of my three chats with HostGator, if there was a problem on my end and had been assured that there was nothing I could or should do. Once I knew there was something I could do, I did it and had the issue fixed within a day.

This is definitely a Twitter success story. When working through normal channels I was not able to get my problem resolved. A few tweets later I was talking to someone who could actually identify the problem and point me towards a solution. Twitter is awesome and this is another example of how any company can use Twitter to monitor and maintain their reputation. But I have to say that HostGator let me down. I shouldn’t have had to start tweeting about this in the first place and I find it odd that I couldn’t get the support I needed from HostGator through their normal channels. Yet when I sent out a tweet, I was able to cut through the red tape and get right to the solution.

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4 Steps for Twitter Beginners

We’re going to skip over the what is Twitter questions and all the theory and get right down to how to do it.

1.       Create an account at optical amplifierhttp://twitter.com. This will only take a few minutes. You’ll need a username. I recommend using your name like firstnamelastname all run together. Alternatively you could use your company name like we do at http://twitter.com/educyber. You’ll also need your Full Name. That’s what folks will see. You don’t really need to use your name. I do for my personal account but I also added SMM so that other folks who do social media marketing can find and connect with me.

2.       Once you’ve created your account, make sure you are logged in and click on Settings. Set your Time zone, enter your web site (this is where people will go to learn more about you) and in your one line bio, be sure to use key words / key phrases that will help people of similar interests find you when they search. Some folks put goofy answers I the Location box. Resist the temptation and put your location. I went very specific and said Wheat Ridge, Colorado. I could have gone with Denver, Colorado and been just fine. Click Save.

3.        Make sure you have a good picture of your self ready to go and click on the Picture tab under Settings. Browse to the picture and save it. This might take a bit of tweaking to get the right size. Putting up a real picture of yourself helps people determine whether to follow you or not. “Is the Brian I met? Oh yes, I see his picture and it is.”

4.       Go to http://search.twitter.com and search for key phrases that interest you. Look through the results and click on the profiles of people that sound interesting. Once you’re on their profile, click the follow button if you’d like to follow them.

Don’t worry about following everybody that follows you. You don’t have to but you certainly can if you want (you’ll get an email from Twitter every time someone follows you unless you turn off this notification).

Follow people you know or are interested in knowing. I like to listen first and then join in once I understand what’s happening. I recommend that with Social Media like Twitter as well.

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Privacy and Protection on the Internet

Are you safe? In the “olden days” before the Internet, we often worried about Big Brother (our government) snooping on our every action and word. Now, in these modern times, we joyfully, willingly share, even sometimes in excruciating detail, our personal lives on Social Media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

I had to dial things back a bit when a younger friend and his wife began tweeting about their successes and failures in potty training their infant son.  That was going a bit too far – I can’t think of anyone, including Grandpa and Grandma, that would want to hear about that. Recently I’ve been asked a lot about protecting oneself and one’s identity while online. The first time it came up, I thought “Why would you not want to share?” The second time though, I began to realize that there were very real concerns.

Facebook is definitely sensitive to security concerns. In the privacy settings area, you have a very granular control over who can see what information. For example, if someone tags you in a photo, you can determine from four default choices who should see it OR you can customize the setting to meet your specific needs, even going so far as to detail which friends can access certain information about you. If you have agreed to use or install any Facebook applications, you can also go in and customize the privacy settings for each of them. If you don’t want people to be able to find you in a global Facebook search, you can either turn it off or change the settings as well.

LinkedIn also provides you with tools giving you a high degree of control over your privacy and what is available to the public at large and to you connections. They have seven different main links under Privacy settings alone that let you control what information others can view about you and your profile.

What we are faced with in 2009 is that Social Media networks are a fantastic way to communicate with others about your business or passion. We each have to determine how and what is appropriate to share in different circumstances and in different networks. Remember that they are SOCIAL media networks so it is important to share something a bit personal about you but that doesn’t mean you need to share every part of your life or even share everything with everyone to the same degree.

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Social Media Marketing Sites as Databases

The other day I was giving a seminar on Social Media Marketing. We went through three different sites, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as a part of the presentation. In the middle of the LinkedIn presentation, one participant got completely confused and needed to come up for air. Why?

The Internet is one vast database. Each of these sites is a huge database. The cool part about having a database is being able to retrieve information from that database that interests you. Because that is the cool part, those who create these databases have ways to interface or pull information and even re-arrange it or reformat it to meet your needs. These are called apps or applications.

That part is pretty easy to understand. That is the theory side of it. The part that begins to get confusing is the implementation side. Because if I am involved in, for example, both LinkedIn and Twitter, I might think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool to pull information from Twitter and embed it in LinkedIn?” You bet it would.

But we went the first to think of it. Actually the folks at LinkedIn thought of it and created an app called Company Buzz. So right in the middle of my LinkedIn presentation, as I was demonstrating Company Buzz and how it lets me see what people are saying about my company and, for that matter, about any other company or key word that I want, this participant asked if I was speaking about LinkedIn or Twitter.

Yes was my reply. Company Buzz is just one example of how applications can pull (or even push) information from more than one database to show you the information you want.

OK, I gave her more than a Yes. I took the time to explain pretty much what I just blogged about.

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Social Media Marketing Explodes

Whew! I actually have been so busy I haven’t posted on my blog in awhile. But I have been busy with social media. Have you been keeping up? It’s no surprise if you haven’t. Social Media has literally exploded.

Twitter grew by 131% in March. Yes, in the month of March. Not January through March and not in 2008 but just in the month of March.  In the last six weeks I’ve gone from about 100 followers to nearly a 1000 and growing rapidly.

Facebook continues its incredible pace of growth as well, adding 23 MILLION new users just in the United States this year.  And the numbers are interesting in that people aged 26 to 44 are the fast growing segment of Facebook users in the US, according to Facebook’s own numbers.

LinkedIn also is growing rapidly, doubling in size last year and reaching nearly 16 million users in the US.

Three quick observations:

  1. A few years ago, companies felt obligated to have a web site because, well, because everyone else had one and it was needed for competitive reasons. The same is rapidly becoming true for companies on social media sites.
  2. These social media sites are fun. No doubt about it. But if you’re doing it for business reasons, identify what those reasons are and then proceed accordingly. This will keep you from getting bogged down in areas that aren’t helpful for your business.
  3. When you create an account or profile, by all means jump in head first. But remember to listen first then speak. If you barge into the middle of a group and start “spraying” your wisdom around without first understanding where everyone is coming from, you might actually hurt your reputation.
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