Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Oh wait… I AM!  And she’s the most wonderful woman on the planet!  But obviously I’m not talking about THAT type of engagement.  I’m talking about engagement where social media is concerned.
Did you know that nearly 90% of the people who “Like” your Facebook page will NEVER return on their own?  Did you also know that your links and posts have a “share life”?
What’s a “share life” you ask?  Basically, I’ll call it the average amount of time your post or link has before it’s lost forever due to lack of interest.  For Twitter?  Approximately 2.5 hrs.  Facebook?  An estimated 3.5 hours.  YouTube?  A whopping 7.5 hours!  These are rough estimates based on a number of different studies and reports available out there.  The point is… you have VERY LITTLE time to get my attention and one false move can kill our relationship altogether!
Here’s one of those false moves you can do away with and I promise you it will go a long way in helping you retain your online relationships with your fans and followers.  Quit trying to “SELL! SELL! SELL!”Nothing is more annoying and nothing will help you lose your fans and followers faster than trying to push your product or service down their throats.  Would you turn on your television and go watch the “ALL COMMERCIALS! ALL DAY! 24 x7 x 365!” (or 366 in a “leap year”) channel if there was such a thing?   Don’t know anyone who would.  So why do you think that your fans and followers want the same from you?  Guess what… they don’t.
Here’s what they want.  They want to be “engaged”.  They want to feel like they’re part of something… like they matter… like they’re someone special.  They want to see the face behind the Facebook page, Twitter account, or Blog.  They want to feel comfortable, safe, and NOT like all you’re after is what’s in their wallet.
So how do you accomplish this?  How do you engage your fans and followers?
  1. Get to KNOW your fans and followers. Make the effort to look at EVERY SINGLE PROFILE for anyone who has clicked “Like” on your Facebook page, “Follow” on your Twitter account, or has commented on your Blog.  You’d be surprised at how much information you can actually see.  What are THEIR interests?  Who do THEY follow?  What do THEY write about?Consider what you do as you network in person.  Introductions are made.  Business cards are exchanged.  Conversations take place regarding what they do… what you do… what their interests are… what your interests are, etc… It should be no different online.
  2. Lose the “It’s All About Me” attitude and make it about THEM. Publicly thank your new fans and followers.  When appropriate, share their business information on your page.  Post links to their websites, profiles, or other public information they’ve made available.  EVEN… yes EVEN if they’re in the same line of work!   I do it all the time.There are a great many “social media professionals” out there.  I constantly share their articles, content, videos, etc…  And you know what?  They do the same with my articles, content, videos, etc…  I don’t expect it.  But they do it.  And when they do, I’m humbled… and flattered.  And by doing this we are increasing our “social circle”.
  3. LISTEN! And Listen Effectively! Have you ever read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”?  If not… I suggest you do.  If you have, you’ll recall that Dr. Stephen R. Covey devotes all of Habit 5 to the fact that we have twice as many ears as we have mouths, and that we should consider this fact. Listen. Hear. Understand. That’s the big secret transition point inside the 7 Habits. The same applies to social media.What do THEY talk about?  What do THEY share?  Go ahead and post random questions.  Balance it between business related questions and non-business related questions.  Get them to respond and comment.  Allow them to vent.  Listen, understand, and learn from what they have to say.  Try asking “Good Experiences/Bad Experiences” questions where your particular business or industry is concerned.  Ask questions that have absolutely nothing to do with your business at all.
    Green Mill Restaurant and Bar, headquartered in St. Paul, MN with 28 locations in 4 states, is an excellent example of this.  And no… I don’t get anything for mentioning them.  It’s just that as I watch their approach to the use of social media, it’s an EXCELLENT example of how it’s supposed to be used!
    For example, as recent as today, Green Mill asked this question on their Facebook page: “Just finished watching Heroes on DVD. If you had a super power what would it be? Ready. Set. Go!”  Here’s another question they asked a few days ago: “Hey sports fans, you can only watch one sport for the rest of your life…football, baseball or hockey?”   These posts and questions show up in the news feeds of their followers.  Green Mill engages their followers.  They get their followers to comment and interact.  They have fun!
    I’ll tell you… it works.  Sure I know that Green Mill exists.  There’s an abundance of restaurants that exist where I live.  None of them stay first and foremost in my mind.  One day, while working, my fiance’ asked about lunch.  At the same moment I happened to notice my Facebook news feed update itself on one of my monitors.  Included in those posts was a random post from Green Mill.   I don’t even remember what it said… except that is was about an upcoming ball game or something.  All I know is that I’d instantly decided where we were going for lunch.  I posted a response about indicating such and I received an immediate response back reminding me to “Print out our coupons and we’ll make sure you have a great meal and an enjoyable time!”
    I remember thinking to myself, “They really have their act together!”  They “personalized” the experience with just a few words.  This is how you use social media effectively.
  4. Share interesting content that is unrelated to your business. Remember my first point about getting to know your fans and followers?  One of the reasons why this is important is so you can pass along content that will be of interest to THEM and will “engage” them.Do some of your followers enjoy NASCAR?  Hunting?  Fishing?  Sailboats?  Italian food?  Go find interesting articles, videos, or posts about those topics and share them on your wall or in a “tweet”.  So you don’t share the same interests?  Remember… this is about THEM… not you.
    By posting content that is of interest to your fans and followers, you’ll keep them engaged, bring them back to your Facebook page or your Twitter account and when the time comes and they’re ready to do business, who do you think they’re going to remember?
There’s a reason people have chosen to “Like” your Facebook page, “Follow” you on Twitter, or taken the time to comment on your Blog.  Don’t blow that opportunity.  Nurture the relationships you’re building online.  Listen.  Be sincere, honest, approachable, and available.  You’re trying to build trust in a cold, faceless, environment.  Be real.  The rest will eventually fall into place.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Going Social - It's ALL About Relationships... and Trust

Here’s a sneak peek at Chapter 8 from my new book entitled “Going Social – Business Success is at Your Fingertips”

It’s ALL About Relationships...  and Trust

By now, you probably have a good idea that social networking is NOT about “Sell! Sell! Sell!”  Unlike traditional advertising, social networking is more about building and maintaining relationships.  This is referred to as “engaging” your followers.  It’s about strengthening your reputation, improving your brand awareness, and building trust.  Whether it’s online or offline, building trust is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging aspects of business.
I think we’ll all agree that building trust offline is much easier than it is online.  Sure, it may take a few face to face meetings and some phone calls but eventually that trust is built, that person becomes a customer, client, or donor, and the relationship has been formed.
Building trust online can prove to be a bit more of a struggle, although it’s not impossible.  There are several things you can do to help in this area.
  1. Put a face to the name. It’s very common to want to show your logo, your products, your store, your show room, etc…  Avoid this if at all possible.  The first point of contact should always include a friendly face.  It will go a long way in helping build a rapport with your followers and future customers, clients, and donors.
  2. Make yourself accessible. Completely fill out all areas of your various profiles and include a variety of ways for people to contact you.  The quicker someone can access your contact information, the more inclined they’ll be to communicate with you.
  3. Respond… and respond QUICKLY! Not responding in a timely manner or not responding at all will quickly damage your online reputation and set you back in the “trust” department.  This is your golden moment.  This is your opportunity to engage and “personalize” the relationship.  Don’t blow it by failing to acknowledge or by responding with an obvious “sales pitch”.
  4. Be honest and sincere. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t immediately have an answer to a question or a response to a request.  Respond immediately anyway.  Acknowledge them and let them know you’ll get back to them with a response or an answer once you’ve obtained it.
  5. Be helpful. Now this may throw some of you for a loop and have many of you scratching your heads, but pay attention.  It works.  BE HELPFUL.  Do NOT be afraid to share the information of others.  This includes your “competition”.  Of course you should use a little common sense.  Obviously you’re not going to post links sending your visitors elsewhere to purchase something if you can provide it for them.  On the other hand, consider doing this if you can’t meet their needs.  Believe me… they’ll remember you and will not stop attempting to do business with you.
I will often post links in response to questions which take my followers to articles others in my profession have written on a particular topic.  And you know what?  My “competitors” do the same in return.  This helps build trust.  We’re human.  We’re not “know-it-alls”.  People get it and they’ll respect us for our honesty.
Remember you’re building a reputation and trust in a “faceless” environment.  Often the approach you take online needs to be a little different.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Going Social - Refuse to be Overwhelmed

Here’s a sneak peek at Chapter 5 from my new book entitled “Going Social – Business Success is at Your Fingertips”

Refuse to be Overwhelmed

It’s easy to allow yourself to get carried away as you research, read articles, and converse with others on this topic.  You’re inundated with websites and buzzwords.  You’re advised to “Like” this, “Tweet” that, “Share” here, and “Connect” there.

Today, there are more than 200 websites that fall under the category of Social Media.  This does NOT include online dating or gaming websites.

So where do you start?  This is where it can get a little tricky and overwhelming.  That’s where you’re going to find yourself torn in a number of different directions depending on who you talk to.  Your decisions, direction, implementation, integration, and launch are all going to be dependent upon your business, your audience, your habits, and your overall goals.  There’s no “one size fits all” template for this.

There ARE some basic rules and fundamentals that are applicable to everybody.  From there, it’s going to be as unique as a fingerprint.

That’s why you’d be doing yourself a disservice by listening to the advice of a novice, or trying to copy what your competition is doing. Large corporations make the mistake of turning their social media efforts over to a “part-timer” or an intern.  WHY in the world would you want to put some of the most important marketing and customer service tools in the hands of someone who’s just learning it themselves or who won’t be there for the long haul?

Perform an Internet search for “social media for business articles”.  Read five or six different articles.  You’re going to get five or six different opinions on what you should do and the direction you should take.  Are you really qualified to determine which one of those opinions is going to be best for YOUR business?

That’s why I believe it’s so crucial to get a professional involved.  You need the help of someone with a successful history in the internet marketing industry.  You need guidance from someone who has an in-depth understanding of all the tools out there and can help you select the right ones for you and your business.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always been an advocate of “baby steps”.  If there’s ever been an environment where I feel it’s necessary, this would be it.  You can’t do it all at once.  It’s impossible.  You can’t spread yourself too thin.  You also have a business to tend to… remember?

Rather than become frustrated and allow yourself to be overwhelmed because you feel like you’re behind, simply make the decision to start.  It’s not too late.  Remember this… every day that you wait you’re losing ground.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Going Social – But MOM! Everybody’s Doing It!

Here’s a sneak peek at Chapter 4 from my new book entitled “Going Social – Business Success is at Your Fingertips”

But MOM! Everybody’s Doing It!

Remember when we were kids? We’d want something, or we’d want to go somewhere, be part of the “in crowd” or participate in whatever the “fad” was at the time. If mom or dad said “no” or “not right now”, a typical response from us would be “But EVERYBODY’S doing it!” And a typical reply from the parent would be “If everybody wanted to jump off the Empire State Building, would you?”

Obviously I’m not here to encourage jumping off the Empire State Building. And, generally speaking, the fact that everyone else was doing something wasn’t necessarily a good indicator that we, as kids, should be doing it too. However, where Social Networking is concerned, I AM here to encourage you to take seriously the fact that EVERYBODY’S DOING IT!

Don’t fool yourself. I can assure you, with a near 100% degree of certainty, that your competitor or someone with a business or organization similar to yours is out there using Social Networking tools for their business.

I’ve heard ALL of the excuses and I hear the new ones as they emerge.
  • I don’t use computers. Well, THAT excuse has its own set of issues. Yes folks, believe it or not, in some parts of the country this remains a fact. I’ve witnessed it first hand and have simply scratched my head. However, to those of you who have made this decision, you need to realize one important fact. Although YOU have decided, for whatever reason, NOT to use a computer or embrace technology, the majority of your audience, your potential customers and clients DO! They’re using smartphones, smartbooks, tablets, laptops, and other devices to search for your products and services. Young and old alike are embracing technology at a rapid pace. Don’t believe me? See the chart on page 47 if you need more convincing.

    So, what’s your solution? I strongly recommend finding a professional to handle your social networking for you. Not your high school child or your young niece or nephew who “knows” Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or the other tools being used today. You need to enlist the help of someone who understands business and marketing. You can choose to never use a computer during your entire lifetime. Your business doesn’t need to suffer because of your personal preference and decision.

  • MY business is different. Using these tools won’t benefit me. Most everyone likes to think that their business is so unique, so special, their audience so “niche” the simple fact that the business exists is enough. The people will see it and they will come. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that thinking is a recipe for disaster.

    Isn’t business all about people? Relationships? Networking? Of course it is! From consumers, clients, and donors to vendors, wholesalers, resellers, etc… No matter how you slice it, you’re working with people in some, way, shape, or form. You know what? Social Networking is all about people, relationships, and networking. Whether you choose to use them as sales and promotional tools, customer service tools, or employee recruitment and retention tools, your business is not so unique that it can’t benefit from using these tools in some way.

  • I don’t know HOW to use them. I don’t have time to learn. I call this the “I don’t know it, I don’t need it” attitude and it can, quite possibly, be one of the most detrimental to your business. Nowhere is it written that you’re supposed to know everything.

    Don’t you consult with an accountant to handle some of the monetary issues surrounding your business? Don’t you utilize the services of an attorney regarding some of the legal issues where your business is concerned? This is no different.One of the worst mistakes business owners made in the old days was thinking THEY had to develop, design, and launch their own websites. They would take a great deal of time out of their day to day schedules to “play with” one of the most important marketing tools of the day! They didn’t understand nor did they comprehend some of the key elements associated with the process and their efforts were futile. The result? A great deal of wasted time and money.

    I can change the oil in my truck but that doesn’t make me a mechanic. I can sell my own home but that doesn’t make me a REALTOR®. Find a professional. As I mentioned earlier, this really is NOT an environment to “dabble in” or experiment with. Shouldn’t your business or organization, your reputation and your brand be more important to you than that?

  • It’s just for youngsters and kids. Look closely at the chart below. More specifically, look at the lower section in all green. Note the increase in use by the older generation. Enough said.
    Helping Chambers & Small Businesses Understand and Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube and other Social Networking Tools.
There are certainly plenty more excuses and justifications to be heard out there. As long as you keep coming up with them and using them, the more damage you’ll be doing to your business or organization. The more you resist, the further behind you fall. In this type of environment, days and weeks of procrastination can result in months and years of playing “catch-up”.

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