Tag Archives: business

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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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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Social Media Segmentation, Content, Reach, Frequency, Engagement

Modern social media marketing still requires some traditional media campaign methods. Even though the channels and mediums are changing, successful new media campaigns depend on thoughtful target audience segmentation, media selection content strategy reach, frequency and engagement.
Target Audience Segmentation
As the social web matures, rich actionable data is emerging for B2B and B2C marketers. Who are your buyers? Who is are the brand influencers? What geography? Demographic profile?
Media Mix Selection
Start with a campaign that addresses a discreet audience and then select a compatible media mix – Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and blogs are the biggies.
Content Strategy
What are you going to say? How will you say it? What format? Is it portable (easily shared)? How will you track and measure message efficacy? Each must be considered across each medium. Fortunately, we have countless tools, methods and technologies available to synchronize and automate content management and syndication.
Reach
Each medium will require specific tactics to “reach” your target audience. Ultimately, we’re attempting to isolate each segment based on their interests and habits. Where are they congregating? What communities have they joined? What are they reading, watching and commenting about? Monitoring tools can isolate these conversations within each medium.
Frequency and Impressions
Even social media has noise and dilution challenges. Your message may not always be heard. So “frequency”, a legacy concept form the one-way communication era, is still a factor. Message frequency is critical because, subject to etiquette and cultural boundaries, it is a multiplier for impressions and engagement opportunities. The trick is to do it without being spammy nor annoying.
Engagement
Unavailable as an objective during the one-way marketing era, “engagement” is the holy grail measurement with new media. Now marketers can accelerate opportunities for brand relationships, a conversation or a positive brand experience. Short of lead-generation, it doesn’t get any better. Ahhh.

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6 Social Media Predictions for 2010

With 2010 fast approaching, there’s lots of talk about the social media predictions for the coming year. Although we don’t have a crystal ball here at SocialMediaExaminer.com, we do have recent social media studies to support some very likely trends.

David Armano recently published his social media predictions for 2010 on the Harvard Business Blog.  Here’s a detailed analysis on whether his predictions will likely come true.

Trend #1: Social Media Networks Become Exclusive

Armano predicts we’ll begin to see more exclusivity of networks as users focus more on specific niche content.  Indeed, research supports the prediction that people will be willing to pay for access to specialty networking groups.  Payment models by their very nature will exclude many spammers and create higher-quality networks.

“The bottom line is that users are willing to pay for social network content as long as sites cater to specific market niches as opposed to broader, mainstream audiences,” according to eMarketer.

Trend #2: Corporations Scale Social Media Efforts

Armano predicts corporations will begin to incorporate social media initiatives on a larger scale, moving beyond their one-off marketing experiments and general communication activity.

Research also supports this prediction.  For example, 94% of companies sponsoring online communities plan to increase their social networking support as well as engage with other social media tools, according to the 2009 Tribalization of Business Study by Deloitte.

Trend #3: Social Media for Business Becomes… Fun

Armano predicts businesses will focus more on adding entertainment to their social media efforts to incentivize user activity.

There’s plenty of data to support this trend:

Games rank #1 in top-performing mobile applications, followed by social networking apps, according to a recent report by Distimo. Games and networking are often closely related in many social media environments (I see this often on Facebook fan pages).

Here’s a great example of a mainstream company taking advantage of this emerging trend:  Volkswagen recently went 100% mobile for their GTI launch and created a virtual game via the Apple App Store.  It includes a chance to compete to win one of six limited-edition 2010 GTIs.  This is a great example of social media “game” marketing—and relates to trend #5.

Word of Facebook caution! Companies that plan on running contests on Facebook need to proceed with caution. Facebook just announced that brands, advertisers, and marketers that want to run contests or sweepstakes on its platform have to go through an approval process first. And it could get pricey.  For more information, check out this post by Mari Smith.

Trend #4: Social Media Policies Become Standard for Businesses

Armano predicts in the coming months, your company will release the “rules of engagement” for social media activity. These will be social media guidelines.

Here’s some data to support this trend:

  • 40% of companies actively block employee access to social media for any purpose and only 26% of companies actually encourage social media use to further business objectives, according to a report by Russell Herder.
  • 54% of chief information officers (CIOs) do not allow employees to visit social networking sites for any reason while they’re at work, according to a similar study by Robert Half Technology.
  • 19% of businesses permit social media use for business purposes onlyand 16% permit social media activity for limited personal use, according to the same study by Robert Half Technology.

Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, points out,“Professionals should let common sense prevail when using Facebook and similar sites—even outside of business hours.  Regrettable posts can be a career liability.”<

Trend #5: Mobile Becomes a Social Media Lifeline

According to Armano, with the banning of social media activity increasing in the workplace and smartphone sales on the rise, the social networking addiction will be carried over to mobile devices.

Here’s some research to support this trend:

Trend #6:  Social Networks Reduce Users’ Reliance on Email

Armano predicts sharing of content will be sent via social networking sites instead of via traditional email.

Here’s data to support this trend:

  • 32% of Gen Y consumers share promotional offers with members inside a social network, according to a report titled Participatory Network Marketing Methodology.
  • 34% of marketers feel integrating social media and email marketing is by
  • Universal McCann.
  • 81.5% of social network users (those who use the Internet at least every other day) say messaging friends is the top activity when visiting social media sites, also reported by Universal McCann.

Here I’ve highlighted the studies and articles that support Armano’s conclusions.  The research seems to affirm his predictions.

Do you agree with these predictions? Are there any you predict won’t surface as trends in 2010? What other trends would you add to the mix?  Please leave your comments below.

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