Social Media Leads to Sales

Paaleads has revealed that 17% of advisers expect to see new business from social media activity in 2010, a rise from 0% in 2009.
In its monthly member survey, the lead generation firm found that the majority of advisers said
lead generation would play a major part in how they would secure business from social media.
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Advisers also expressed their confidence over their 2010 business prospects with 62% saying the outlook for their business will be very strong. Only 8% forecast a negative outlook for their business.
Dean Jones, head of Paaleads, said the survey proved that advisers are embracing social media as they look to diversify their business methods.
He added: “They are responding to consumer trends in a more dynamic way than perhaps
expected as we head into what will hopefully be a more prosperous 2010.”
Anthony Badaloo, manager at Church Hill Finance, said he believed social media had advantages
but would soon become another method of complementing how advisers generate business.
He added: “At the moment, social media is new and if advisers use this method early, it may be an advantage for them. However, most intermediaries will adopt it soon; the advantages will fade and traditional differences such as the quality of advisers will prevail.”

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Question be asked before devising a Social Media strategy

Small and medium-sized businesses tend to be so focused on keeping their businesses going that it can be difficult to brainstorm on ways to leverage the dynamic social media environment. Here are nine questions to help you think about your business in ways that enable you to maximize your social media marketing efforts.

Does your business tap into people’s passions and/or hobbies? With hobbies and special interests, customers may make different spending tradeoffs, particularly with “staycations,” where customers look for local activities. From a social media marketing perspective, this translates to ways that people can share their hobbies and special interests using photographs, videos, and blogs. For example, I suggested that a tea purveyor in the SES audience create a Flickr account to show off unusual teapots people collect, and invite the public to participate in this community.

Can your business show off its work? While this tends to focus on visual portrayals, like photographs and video, it can also include audio and text. Sharing photographs and videos helps businesses where prospects perceive there are high risks. For example, beauty salons and tailors can show before and after photographs. Remember to get patrons’ permission or offer a free bonus to incent customers to participate. Flickr contains many bakeries showing off their finished product’s visual beauty.

Can you give prospects information they find useful? Think broadly to help customers use your product. For example, a food specialty shop’s blog may describe new foods with recipes and menus to use them. A resale shop can use a blog to show how to make wardrobes and living areas snazzy using its current product.

Can you extend your expertise to a broader audience? This can work very well for professionals like lawyers and accountants. Leverage videos, presentations, and Webinars giving how-to tips to explain wills or budgeting.

Does your business provide reasons for people to gather? In a virtually connected world, give people a reason to congregate in person. This may drive additional revenues. Examples include wine tastings for local wine shops and cooking classes for food specialty shops and/or restaurants. Use Meetup.com to organize the community and post comments. Where appropriate, add a Flickr page to gather related photographs.

Can your business disseminate fun or related information via social media? Think in terms of bite size chunks of content. This information doesn’t need to be your business’s main focus. For example, a massage therapist can create a Twitter stream and blog for meditations to put people in a more serene state of mind.

Are there targeted or niche communities where your prospects and customers naturally congregate? If so, set up a group in this social media site. For example, yarn shops participate and socialize on Ravelry, a knitting community.

Do major blogs cover your business’s area of expertise? If so, actively comment and add to the conversation. Offer to create guest posts to share your knowledge and broaden your audience. This means adding real value to the conversation.

Does your offering lend itself to creating a small online community and/or bulletin board? For example, many religious organizations leverage Yahoo Groups to communicate with members. These interactions can move online and offline.
Seven Tips to Extend Social Media Marketing Efforts

As a small or medium-sized business, it’s important to think about how to extend your social media efforts and to integrate these initiatives into your ongoing marketing plans. (For more information on developing an online marketing strategy, click here.) Here are seven tips to help you:

Listen before you participate. While social media can help small and medium-sized businesses appear bigger than they are, it’s critical not to promote, promote, promote.

Monitor what’s being said about your business. This includes a variety of social media offerings including blogs, review sites like Yelp and niche communities, and discussion groups.

Integrate social media efforts offline. Provide retail prospects with a similar experience through an old-fashioned bulletin board with photographs or handouts containing how-to information.

Promote social media efforts online and offline. Include your Web site, e-mailings, direct mail, local advertising, in-store postings, flyers, business cards, and correspondence.

Socialize social media marketing. Ask visitors, prospects, and customers to visit your social media installations and share their experiences. Don’t overlook traditional ways to extend your business such as local events like Rotary and local sports teams such as Little League.

Create a content strategy. (For additional insights on content strategy, click here.) Develop an editorial calendar for content creation to ensure that you don’t get stuck thinking of what to write, especially when using Twitter and blogs where customers expect regular servings of information.

Make content search-friendly. Use relevant search keywords and tags and add text to photographs and video to aid findability.
Measuring the Results of Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

Since many small and medium-sized businesses don’t spend lots of time using fancy metrics, here are the main factors to keep your business on track.

Revenues. Have sales increased? It’s important to note that it may take time to build up a social media following.

Expenses. Track actual costs as well as the time involved in participating in social media marketing.

Prospects and customers. Track the number of people who are engaging with your social media efforts. Often, there’s a 90 percent readers/viewers, 9 percent commenters, and 1 percent active content creators breakout.

Feedback. Monitor the type, amount, and quality of feedback you’re receiving.
Remember there are many ways to engage your business in social media. Consider the options and test what works best for your offering.

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Who is willing to tolerate free content with Adverts

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Social Media Marketers help the companies grow

The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has followed up on its 2007 and 2008 studies of social media usage by the Inc. 500. Adoption and awareness continue to trend upward, with 91% of firms using at least one social media tool in 2009 and three-quarters describing themselves as “very familiar” with social networking.

Social networking and blogging have seen the most growth in adoption, while other technologies have flattened or even declined in use, including wikis and online video. Twitter usage, of course, has caught on quickly—more than one-half of businesses reported tweeting in 2009. This was the first year respondents were polled about Twitter.

One impressive change over time was in the percentage of Inc. 500 companies that did not use any form of social media. It dropped precipitously from 43% in 2007 to just 9% in 2009.

The Center for Marketing Research also noted that the Inc. 500, a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the US, is outpacing the larger, more traditional companies in the Fortune 500 in many social media activities.

Is the rush to adoption bringing marketing success? Respondents overwhelmingly believed it was. The companies polled were mostly measuring hits, comments, leads or sales as primary indicators.

Companies were also monitoring mentions of their brands in the social media space, at 68% this year. That figure was climbing steadily, up from 60% in 2008 and 50% in 2007.

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How to survive in 2010

2009 was a banner year for social media. Fueled in large part by the impressive growth of Twitter and Facebook and the adoption of both by major brands and recognizable individuals, it’s safe to say that social media truly went ‘mainstream’ this year.

That means new opportunities, and new challenges, in 2010 as social media finds its place in the overall mediasphere. Here are five tips for companies looking to take their social media efforts to the next level in 2010.

Get creative. Just being on Facebook and Twitter isn’t enough. As social media matures, companies will need to do more to stand out and stay relevant. That means going beyond “We’re on [site name]” to “We’re using [site name] to do x, y and z” and developing strategies relevant to those objectives.
Bring on the right people. Many companies have relied on outside social media consultants and agencies (and unfortunately a few gurus) to help them get started with social media. That can work in the beginning but it’s hard to be truly ‘social’ and ‘authentic’ when somebody who isn’t part of your company is managing your social media presence. For companies that see social media as a long-term must, it’s time to consider building a competent in-house team that focuses, in whole or in large part, on social media.
Make measurement a priority. 2009 was the year that many companies really got involved with social media in a big way, or at least became far more comfortable with it. Now that initial experimentation is out of the way and social media is more than a new toy, measuring what social media delivers should be a priority. In other words, this is the year to face the social media ROI issue head on.
Specialize. Right now, the majority of companies I see have what I’d call a broad social media strategy. They have a presence on most of the popular sites, but depth is lacking. In 2010, companies should determine which platforms are best-suited to their needs and consider jettisoning those that are being used just for the sake of using them.
Prepare for the end of the honeymoon. If you’re serious about social media, you’re serious about turning it into something sustainable. At some point, the media honeymoon will be over and novelty alone won’t attract the attention it often does today. That means companies should start thinking less about how they’re going to get into relationships with consumers via social media and more about how they’re going to foster long-term relationships.

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Trends for Social Media in the Middle East for 2010

Middle Eastern spin.

Social Media Will Become a Single, Cohesive Experience Embedded In Our Activities and Technologies: “While I do agree that “everything we do will be gathered and streamed together, allowing people to view their world of activities as if it were projected in front of them, open to change, review and input at any point in time from any device or online tool,” this applies only to those people that actually opt-in to multiple services that then aggregate that activity. Otherwise, as the majority who seem to confine their social media activities to Facebook, their activity will be aggregated and collectively streamed in totality based on the structure of the site. Facebook has recently defaulted to open this means that more and more people will be publicly sharing, and since Eric Schmidt doesn’t give a damn about people’s privacy, then the Google behemoth will also exert publication preference on people as well. We will be more open whether anyone asks us or not. The statement that, “Users will access content from any device or platform, co-create and mashup their photos, videos and text with traditional content while interacting with each other” is wishful thinking since the majority are not creators and remixers, but viewers and perhaps commenters. Social Media in the Middle East is even further behind in terms of the participation hierarchy, so interaction around mashups will just be inching into the region by the end of 2010 for early adopters.
Social Media Innovation Will No Longer Be Limited By Technology: 2009 saw the emergence of Twitter and the maturation of Facebook. Any business owner or marketeer would have to have dug a serious hole in the sand to avoid talk of social media marketing, new ways to listen to your customers, engaging with users, going to the where people are interacting rather than trying to attract them to corporate sits, extending the brand, etc. 2010 will be the time to “[turn] information to wisdom and insight to action.” If not a single new social media tool was developed in ‘10 we’d still do alright with keeping ourselves building social media competencies. If we use these tools 50% over the year then the online landscape for companies, brands and users will be remarkably different. In the region, we are behind. There is less online voice, the voice is fragmented, and the channels for the voice that does exist are technologically archaic. In the developed world, there is talk so people seriously need to listen. Here, the more and more ‘people’ make it clear that they are listening, (hopefully) the more people will talk – and use the channels that enable discussion and engagement (read: kill all forums).
Mobile Will Take Center Stage: Are you listening my Middle Eastern friends?! “IDC predicts the number of mobile web users will hit one billion by 2010. As the technological barriers come down, people will increasingly use their phones on-the-go to access social networks, search, read content and find location-based information.” Start building…!
Expect an Intense Battle As People and Companies Look To Own Their Own Content: “Instead, content relevance and quality will become the key focus.” Given that Demand Media, Associated Content and AOL and are all churning out huge amounts of content, quality will be an issue in 2010. These companies are selling content to other sites and trying to win the search battle putting relevant, long-tail content in front of users, and wrapping this content with relevant ads. it’s less about finding great content, and more about winning the battle to be best positioned to be found in that search, and then monetizing that discovery space. A new flight to quality could empower niche site owners. In this region we are content-poor. Any good, localized content is great content. A content factory like Demand Media could seriously disrupt the Arabic online world and take the online landscape forward and drive usage = opportunity!
Enterprises Will Shape the Next Generation of What We’ve Called “Social Media”: as much as your mom will have an iphone, social media will grow-up and companies will increasingly make it their own…bringing social media platforms into the enterprise and empowering companies to adopt social media tools to grow revenues. As the enterprise takes on social media do the young rebel from ‘the man’ and fragment into ‘underground’ social networks away from brandization? Watch for it…
ROI Will Be Measured — And It Will Matter
Finally: Real, Cool and Very Bizarre Online-Offline Integration
Many “Old” Skills Will Be Needed Again
Women Will Rule Social Media: Fine. I could wait, so I skipped ahead to this point. You didn’t hear it here first, but never ever forget: “Women make 75% of all buying decisions for the home, and 85% of all consumer purchases.” If you can combine #4 and #9 in a manner that brings eyeballs with quality content and leads to the growth of an affinity community for women that respects their unique needs and online behaviours…then let’s talk. The opportunity to cater to women in the Middle East online is an opportunity diverse and comprehensive. There will be many winners here, but very few players here. A year from now we will see some winners…will you be one of them?
Social Media Will Move Into New Domains
What’s the biggest trend in social media that will take hold in the Middle East in 2010?

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What Is Your Social Plan of Attack?

When working with businesses on putting together a social media campaign, I often find that the number one issue that they face is simply just being too “confused.”

What I mean by that is, many of these businesses have the intelligence, determination, money, employees and plan of action to bring together a strong social media campaign. However, what they all seem to lack is a solid plan on who actually is going to what, and when they are going to roll out their campaign.

For example, one company…let’s name it, “Company XYZ” knew exactly what they wanted to do. They knewthey wanted to begin to use Twitter on an daily basis and even what they wanted to tweet about. They also knew they had to use other social media sites like, Facebook and Linkedin and the other groups associated with their business, along with posting to a blog.

Trouble began however when I asked them, “Okay, so who exactly is going to do what?”

This is the response I got:

“Well Barbara will gather the information for the tweets and send it off to Bob who will then tweet it on twitter. Brad can then do the random tweets about different things and we can see how that works…” Kathrine can write up some blogs, send them to Matt to check and then after Steve is done he can post it, but we can also have Scott re-check the blog once its posted and make sure there are no further mistakes..” Karen should be checking LinkedIn once a week and explore the area and then report back to Bill for suggestions…” and then Facebook can be maintained by…”

Okay, I think you get the idea: It was a mess, actually more like a hurricane moved in.

My recommendation to all businesses who are thinking about or already using social media tools, is to pick one or two people who are passionate, who can maintain the voice of the company, and knows how to already work and monitor these tools. Those 1 or 2 employees should be your go to social media gurus.

To keep everything in check it is wise to give these duties over to two people whom are trust worthy and will get the job done accurately.

But there are many people out there that are one man or one woman shows, and wear many hats. But they still need a well thought out plan of action. There are just so many hours in a day, and some times it can be very time consuming.

What is your plan of action, and how do you plan out your social media campaigns?

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