Brand Building Through Social Media Marketing

  • Time: Friday, 02 January 2015 00:00

Using social media is a great cost effective way to help build your brand on the internet. It's different from most forms of advertising because it is a form on inbound marketing rather than outbound marketing.

That means that you use it to be found by customers rather than looking for customers. It doesn't blast your name out to the world, it gets others to whisper it. While you think about that for a moment, remember your days back in the fourth grade. When the principal made announcements over the PA system, how much of it did you listen to? More than likely, you were whispering with your friend s. You were thinking about your own conversation, what you will say, what you heard or who you wanted to talk to. The same holds true with social media and advertising. What your friends or trusted sources tell you have far more weight than any advertising you see, hear or read.

So what do you need to do to get people talking about you in a positive way? Start with these ideas:

Connect with people who can help you. These people are called influencers in the social media world. People who don't use social media are not going to help you very much here. Sure, if they happen to be asked by a friend, they will recommend you, but's that's not enough. You need to talk to people who are listened to and respected by other people.

Your brand needs to have a place to live online. People chose how and when they will look into what your brand is all about. "Call us for more information" is a good call to action, but it is not an online home. When they want to know something about you after hours, calling you and leaving a message for a callback is not going to happen. They will look elsewhere. Your brand needs to be on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. These are great places to start, they are free, well known and popular. You can use these places to help people find your website when they want more information. Remember, this is a pull not a push world. When they get to your website, you better have a story to tell, people don't like advertising mixed in with their research.

You need to cast your net into new waters while continuing to fish your usual waters. Sound like a lot of work? Not! Here is where you leverage yourself by leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for people to follow. By attaching a blog or articles to your website (you must have a good one here, not a old one or do-it-yourself ones), the search engines will find you. The search engines are your friends because they connect people who are looking for information with places (websites) that have relevant information. When someone searches the internet for information about left-handed widgets, your blog or articles explaining the workings of widgets will appear in the search results. This is different from a product listing from a supplier of widgets. The first is information, the second is data. People want information. If you are regularly writing about widgets and related subjects, people will come back to read more. With a link back to a website that continues to interest them, you will be regarded as an authority on widgets and a great place to buy from. Optimizing this search is a whole other subject that I won't get into today.
Talk about what you have written, go out and search for online conversations on widgets, and then join in. As appropriate, you can work a link into your conversation that references your blog and articles. The most important concept here is not to point to your product, but point back to information that readers want. Information, not advertising! Think of it this way, you go to a networking cocktail party to meet new people. If you start pitching your products and services, no one will talk to you. As you get to know people though, they will get to know you and what you do. At some point in their lives, they will have occasion to discuss widgets and hopefully they will say "Hey! I know someone who is an expert on widgets, let's talk to them".

Networking is changing, so must you. Traditionally, when you network, you go out and meet 20 people hoping that someone remembers you and calls you. If you include social media in this picture, things change a little. Suppose you spend some time writing about widgets and then you search out and join conversations about widgets. Let's look at the differences here. At the cocktail party you met some nice people, but for the most part, they have little to no interest in widgets. In the second case, everyone you meet is interested in widgets. Which group will yield better leads? Which group will regard you as an expert? Which group is motivated and most interested in your brand?

Give the readers value. Just as no one will listen to you talk about your products and services at a cocktail party, not many people will read your advertising. Talk to them on the subject of widgets, tell them something they didn't know and you have provided them a great service. They will remember this and come back for more, if they value what you are saying.

Building relationships with social media is a long term strategy, not the short term "all about me". You will invest time and effort today, growing your business in the long term. I used the term "invest" because that's exactly what it is. With an investment, you will measure what you put in and what you get back (we call that an ROI). If your ROI is disappointing, you make adjustments to your strategy. The same applies to social media. You may need to get out there more often, go to different places to find out where your target audience is pending their time or you may need to change your message. You need to apply business sense to the problem.

Good luck! If you have any questions or any comments, feel free to post them here. For more information, visit my website and read some of my other blogs.

Social Media ROI - Why Can't We Measure It?

  • Time: Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Social media is a great technology for connecting brands to consumers, professionals to clients or people to people. But is it worth the effort?  Does the effort pay off?  The answer most often heard from business is "I just don't know!"

If you ask companies that use social media why they use it, only about 1/3 say that it has helped their business. Almost 2/3 say that the value is in the candid feedback they get from their customers. These answers reveal a fundamental fact about social media, few people know how to use it properly and fewer still know how to measure it. Why?

To answer that question, let's take a look at social media as a business activity. Normally, whenever a business begins a new activity, it does so with clear objectives. Right away we run into a problem with social media. Social media is a new medium that business is only beginning to embrace. Most businesses are not sure what it can do and how to do it. So how do they know if it's right for them, how do they know if it is working? The answer is metrics! Businesses say "We can measure social media", but can they? There are hundreds of metrics out there. Some, like the number of followers, are very soft metrics which is like measuring the number of people that you talk to at a networking meeting. There are more substantial metrics such as the number of on-line sales, but how do you measure the link between a follower and a sale? Some others are very difficult to quantify and measure, such as the value of listening.

This is why it is so critical to have clear objectives when starting a social media campaign. Social media is a very flexible tool that can do alot of good for your company. But without a clear idea of what you want to do, you can't measure, you won't know if it is working and you certainly won't get the results you were hoping for.

Many companies, in their haste to jump onto the social media bandwagon, find themselves on a runaway train. After struggling for a while with Facebook accounts, Twitter tweets and LinkedIn connections, they drop the whole idea, saying it doesn't work for them. What they don't consider is how these same tools work so well for their competitors. The answer is that their competitors planned their approach, set clear objectives, measured their results and adjusted their plan.

Getting Media Attention Through Social Media

  • Time: Monday, 02 February 2015 00:00

One of the best ways to get attention for your business is to get others to write about your business. While happy customers are great word of mouth networking sources, they don't compare to ratings a respected journalist brings. Compare a mention in a local flyer to an article in a national newspaper. The first is nice to have, the second one makes you money. It's the same on the Internet, get someone respected in the industry to write about you and the search engines will raise your ratings. "Great" you say, "but I don't know any journalists or influencers!" As the old adage goes, not having is no excuse for not getting. Here's a few ideas on how to find and talk to these people.
Before you go out to search the cyberworld, you need to understand a few things. Influencial people will not be very proactive in seaching you out. Few of them, if any, are actively searching for people to write about but most are listening for things, relevant things that their readers will find valuable. They have many people talking to them, so they can afford to be very selective. Now, how do you get them to listen to you? There are two key actions you need to take.
First, go out and find people that are writing about your industry or products right now. You can search Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn for people and group discussions that you can join. You can use sites such as Twitter Grader, Muck Ruck, Journalistic Tweets and others to help point you in the right direction. Spend some time on Technorati and Examiner.com to find blogs and articles on relevant subjects.
Once you have found the right people, you are ready for the step two. Reach out and follow the people you found. This is a journey not a destination. Most of them have a link to Twitter, FaceBook or some other way to stay in touch with them. Get in touch and stay in touch, develop a relationship with them. You will need to impress them with what you know in such a way that they will want to have you as a contact. This means that you will need to give them information of value for their readers. You do this by Tweeting or writing on their wall or commenting on their blog or whatever. Talk about their articles, maybe adding some details they weren't aware of. Tell them how you feel about a topic they wrote about, or suggest a new angle or topic. Remember, they won't listen to an advertisement about your business. Sometimes you might get lucky, the writer may be gathering thoughts and may be searching for material to write about. Here's is your opportunity to show what you know on the subject.
Your goal with all of this is to gain the respect and trust of the writer and not to sell them or their readers something. You don't build trust and relationships with a prospect with ads, you do it by providing them with something of value. When they have a problem or need, they will think of you as a solution provider, not a salesman. Good luck and good hunting!