Five Do’s and Don’t for Better Social Media Networking

Everyone is talking about social media, but what is the purpose of investing time in these efforts from a business perspective?

There are several reasons why it makes sense to invest time on-line. Here are three major ones:

  1. Learn what customers are saying about your products and services
  2. Make relationships with people you want to be your new customers
  3. Allow your current customers to fill your sales pipeline based on their advocacy of you

Unfortunately, many people jump into using social media without focusing on these reasons, and end up being the equivalent of a self-absorbed insurance salesperson at a cocktail party – they can start a conversation, but rarely does anyone stick around long enough to hear the ending.

Here are five tips to help you become the most interesting person in the room, combined with five tips on what to avoid saying if you want to be successful in this domain.

Do say something of value. Don’t spend all your time talking about yourself.
This seems easy enough on the surface, but the most common question that I get asked is: what should I say? On Facebook and Twitter, start off by talking about lifestyle choices that would be popular with your customers. So, if you own a pet store, talk about parks where pets can visit off-leash or how to travel with a pet. The worst mistake to make is to just send out message after message about your product or service, without creating a dialogue with other people.

Do listen to others. Don’t act like social media isn’t worth it.
Good social media is listening to what others are saying. Do a Google search on your business name, your industry, your competitors and see what comes to the top. Read the reviews for your business and your competitors on Yelp.
Even if you aren’t ready to jump in and start creating web content, it is a grave mistake to ignore the online community and what they are talking about – because they will talk. You will be in a better position to respond to your customers by spending a small amount of time listening to what they are saying.

Do invest more time talking to a few peopleDon’t jump into social media without thinking about your audience and where they can be found.Another question that I am frequently asked is, ‘What’s the ROI on social media?” In my world, we call it Return on Ignoring. That being said, some of the measures that people do track include numbers: how many friends they have for their Facebook Fan Page or how many followers they have on Twitter. When I sit down with a client, I disregard these measures because they mean nothing unless those followers are part of the target demographic and are helping the client to achieve a certain goal.

Usually, if you are a business to business operation, you should be spending your time cultivating contacts on LinkedIn and creating videos and blog posts for a very specific audience. For example, if you sell biotech equipment, you want to have video interviews with the scientists using your products. Likewise, don’t be afraid to write blog posts that are probably far too complex for the average reader – your audience will understand them. Use LinkedIn to build connections with hospital and research facility decision makers on LinkedIn. Your target market may only be several hundred people, but social media can help you connect effectively with them.

Do help promote, support and connect people. Don’t ignore your friends.
If you do something good for someone – they will remember you for that and repay your good deed. You can retweet their information, share it on Facebook and also create partnerships with them when appropriate.
Offering your own free information is critical to creating a loyal following. You can write articles for your blog, create videos or link people to cool things happening in your town. Look at every activity as a potential piece of content.

Do respond to promotion. Don’t keep doing what you have always done and think it will be enough.
Author and businessman Seth Godin talks about taking the traditional sales funnel and turning it on it’s side – so that it becomes a megaphone. You create systems on-line so that your happy customers can tell other people about their experiences and turn your future cold calls into warm calls.

One way to get them writing about you is to offer incentives for customers to write a review on Yelp, LinkedIn or Facebook. Ask people to comment or post photos on your website and Facebook Fan Page. Another way is to hold a contest – everyone loves to compete against others.

The main point is that you don’t have the option to ignore social media. Fifteen years ago, very few businesses had a web page – and now almost all of them have some sort of web presence. According to a recent University of Maryland study, social media adoption by small businesses has doubled from 12% to 24% in the last year. The next generation relies heavily on their phones for information – so digital content will be critical to being found by your future customers.

Get Your Business Noticed Using Google Tricks

This is part of our technical know-how to get your business noticed on the web. It won’t cost you a red cent to take advantage of Google Maps Local Business Center, and it will help you to go from being invisible on the internet to maybe even being on page one under your key words or phrases – in 24 hours or less. In this video, I show you how to validate your business listing on Google maps. This is the first step to help your business show up when potential customers do a Google search for your key words. The second step is to get your friends to leave reviews about how great your business is – once you have it listed.

6 Common Mistakes in Social Media

The more I work with clients, the more I see patterns emerging that can be easily corrected. Let’s take a look at six common ones.

1. No goals. Social Media should be an integrated part of your overall marketing plan. In order for it to succeed, you need to understand your audience and what you want them to do.
2. No measurement. You can’t pay the bills with fans and followers. The best bang for your buck is to engage your current customers at their point of experience with your brand. This builds their loyalty and facilitates great word-of-mouth.
3. No social culture. Do you really want to engage your customers and hear what they have to say? Facilitating relationships with your guests takes time and requires the efforts of someone that knows your business. Every person in your organization should be asking for feedback to make the experience better. Using social media is just a technological way to assist that discussion. The best organizations engage everyone in that process.
4. Nothing to say. This is the most common concern. First and foremost, you don’t talk about yourself non-stop. Stop pushing specials, coupons and discounts to your social media community because you are telling them that they are nothing more than a transaction. Talk about the lifestyle of your clients: if you are a restaurant, what do you guests do before and after they leave you? How about taking a picture and posting the names of your loyal customers? Any special events going on in your community that your guests support?
Every time a guest walks through your door, it’s a day in their life. First date, last date, engagement, divorce, birthday, anniversary, new job, old job, every success or failure is celebrated and if you can add to their level of enjoyment by making a significant difference in their day’s event, you can make an emotional connection that plants the seeds of real loyalty.
5. Trying to be everywhere. The only platforms you need to engage in, are those where your guests are. Which means you have to have a conversation, or use a survey tool at some level, to get a good understanding of where your guests socialize online (and offline!) . Where do they talk with their friends and family? That’s where you need to be, no place else.
6. Forgetting staff. The most important people in your social media efforts are those front-line employees who greet, shake hands, talk to, laugh with, engage with, celebrate with, encourage, and serve every single guest, at every single table, every single day. They know your guests better and they know your business better. They make or break every guest experience. Your guests know them better than they know you. Plus there’s simply more of them. Ignoring the impact that your staff has and can make is insane. Which is why the first people you need to dedicate yourself to are them. Don’t hold them back from being a part of your social media efforts. In fact, insist on it. It should be a criteria for employment. If you have a decent Facebook or Twitter presence as your main social media focus, then allow your staff to post to it. There’s nothing more powerful than a server commenting to a guest on your social media outpost with: “Hey George! Glad to see you visiting our Facebook Fan Page. I wanted to thank you for allowing me the pleasure of taking care of you and Helen when you were in celebrating your 40th anniversary last night. I’ll email you some of the pictures and video we took so you can share it with your family and friends.”

Based on a post by Jeffrey Summers, Pres., RestaurantWorx Consulting
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

5 Ways to WOW your Boss with Social Media

Everyone is talking about social media, but your company or agency refuses to jump on board. Well, your Boss does as least. How can you help change her mind? Be creative and focus on providing information to your boss about what your customers want. And here are 5 ways you can use social media tools to discover that information and “wow” her.

  1. No one wants to be left behind, so start forwarding interesting articles to your boss about what is happening in the online world. A good place to find articles is at Also, a great reference is the Center for Marketing Research at UMass-Dartmouth. In 2009, they updated their study on social media use in the fastest growing Inc. 500 companies and found that almost 45% of them blog, 52% use Twitter and overall, 91% of them use at least one social media tool.
  2. Looking at hiring a new employee? Use LinkedIn to help find someone that is a perfect fit, or do research on someone that has already applied. You can search a variety of ways: Search companies or competitors names to find people that previously worked for them, search by other keywords, or ask your networks and groups to recommend someone.
  3. Want to hear what people are saying about your company? Do a quick search on Twitter by your company name. You will be shocked when you actually get results! Even if you don’t send out tweets, convince your boss to set up an account in order to “hold” your brand name and then set up keyword searches so that you can keep tabs on what people are saying. Every morning, spend 5-10 minutes reviewing the previous day’s tweets.
  4. You can also set up a Google alert to look for any information posted on the web about your company, your top executives or your competitors. Google will send you the information as it appears, or send you a daily/weekly summary. Forward this information to your boss before anyone else and then go in and ask for a raise.
  5. Mention to your boss that you think customers would be happy to write good reviews of your products or services on Yelp. There may already be reviews there, so check it out first! Create a cute card to send out or put on the counter asking people to leave comments on Yelp. If you get feedback that is less than favorable, be ready to respond and correct the problem.

These are just a few simple ideas to get you started. Be sure and keep your own networks up to date because you never know when a great opportunity might be referred to you by an on-line friend!

3 Ways Cities Connect on Facebook

Cities are jumping on the social media bandwagon and creating Facebook fan pages as part of their social media campaign. But, what elements help fan pages build up large followings and what can cities do to emulate the success of others? Here is a list of specific elements to try:

Know Your Demographic. Looking at Quantcast statistics, the demographics of Facebook are focused on several groups: under 35, female, have teen children, more affluent and college graduates. An interesting note is that there are more African American visitors here than the internet average and the fastest growing group is women over the age of 45. Knowing your audience is a key part of building a successful Fan page. What kind of information can you post that will be of interest to these groups? For example, posting recreational activities for teens covers two areas: teens themselves and their moms.

Create Opportunities to Interact. Everyone loves a contest. Look for ways to allow your users to interact with you, including holding a contest. One idea is to have them add captions to a photo. In order to post a comment, they have to become Fans – so you increase your numbers. Another idea is to allow fans to post stories or photos of great places in the city. Hold special tours just for your Facebook Fans. The take-away is – make them feel special and give them a place to talk to you.

Network with Other Platforms. part of the key to social media is to go where people are. Some people like to look at photos on Flickr. Some like to watch videos on YouTube. Some like to read articles on your website. The key is to place content in each of those places, and then link them together. That way, people can find a video on last year’s midnight marathon or photos of the event on Flickr, which leads them to an article on your web page with a link to sign up for this year’s event.

All the people that choose to be your Fans are asking to receive information about your city or agency – so be sure and give it to them by updating your page frequently.

5 Small Businesses Successfully Using Social Media

Lauren Fisher is the co-founder of Simply Zesty, an online PR and social media agency based in Dublin.

Mashable: New research by Citibank reveals that social media has yet to penetrate the small business world, finding that 76% of the 500 organizations surveyed have not found social media useful in generating business. Maria Veltre, Executive Vice President of Citi’s Small Business Segment says, “Our survey suggests that small business owners are still feeling their way into social media, particularly when it comes to using these tools to grow their businesses.”

On the surface, that’s not very encouraging news for small businesses, however there are plenty of small businesses doing some amazing things with social media. The five companies profiled in this post show that making a splash using social media isn’t about the size of your budget and that the only limit is your creativity.

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