Are women more likely to listen when other women speak?
Before we get into our SEO services with a client, one of the first things we say is “Do you have analytics installed on your site?” We aren’t the only ones; in fact, some form of analytics is preferable for thousands of professional SEOs. Why? What’s with Google Analytics and other analytics programs? What can we learn? (read more)
While perusing my Twitter feed the other day, I came across a post with over 160 Twitter applications. I had to break them down into 5 post. Some are great while some are ... well useless is the only word that comes to mind. Here are all five.
Sure it's a powerful tool, but will it accomplish want you want it too?
Take a look at these four scenarios.
1. A teenaged boy in Cleveland is sharing strategy secrets on a Playstation 3 Facebook group.
2. In San Diego a father is posting photos of his family’s day at the beach to Flickr.
3. A mother in Toronto is uploading a video of her daughter’s dance recital to You Tube.
4. In New York, an HR consultant is twittering about recent changes in employment law.
Which one of these people stands out as being unique from the others in the way they are using social networking?
If you answered number 4 you would be correct.
That’s because the first three people are using social networking web sites for the purpose of social interaction. They are keeping in touch with friends, family and people of similar interests. Their goals are nothing more than to belong, share, and socialize.
But the HR consultant is networking for a different set of reasons. This person has chosen to use networking sites as a tool to position themselves as an expert – an invaluable source of reliable information. Beyond Twitter, this person may also be on Facebook, Linked In, Plaxo and others. This sharing of information would, in theory, impact on how they are viewed within their industry by current and potential clients. Over the long term, these efforts could materialize into new business. That is why they are there.
When business people use social networking sites, they often do not understand why. And that is a big reason why so many of them see no positive return from it. Although a positive return can mean different things to everybody, for most business people a positive return usually involves making a sale.
The problem is that for the last couple of years, experts have continuously preached that the success of a business is dependant on participating in online social networking. They will try to convince you that you need a Facebook page, that you need to regularly update your Linked In profile, that you should post articles to a myriad of resource sites, and of course let the world know you are doing all this by Twittering at least 5 times a week.
What every expert has forgotten to share with you (or just don’t know to) is that this is not social networking. There is in fact nothing social about it. You are not trying to make friends, get in touch with old school chums, or keep tabs on the ex. You are trying to grow your business.
So maybe it’s time to stop referring to all this as social networking and start seeing it for what it really is: social marketing.
Any form of communication you perform on behalf of your business is a form of marketing. Regardless of whether it’s a business card or a Facebook page, your are building an image - a brand identity that will help you convey your values allowing people to better understand the advantages of doing business with you.
Think of social marketing as just another tool in your marketing toolbox. In many ways it is no different than web sites, yellow page ads, trade shows or promotional items. Each of these is important in their own way depending on your needs, industry, budget, and time. One tool should not be favoured over another simply because it seems like the right thing to do.
But as this article is specifically about social marketing, we will try to determine if it should be a key component to your marketing program.
It seems I come across a lonely blog at least once a week. I can tell they’re lonely because the last entry was from 2008 or earlier. The owner of the blog no longer posts and people no longer visit. The same can be said for Facebook profiles that have no personal information or photos. Or Linked In sites that have outdated employment history.
So many business owners jumped on the social marketing bandwagon because they felt compelled to. Yet when they finally spent the time and money to create those blog sites, they had nothing to say, no information to share, and no time to maintain it.
Time is one of those things the experts rarely bring up. But for anyone who runs their own business will tell you, finding time each day to write about who-knows-what can be impossible. I have always believed that the most successful people in business do not invest a lot of time in networking sites because they are too busy making money doing their real jobs.
On the other hand, networking sites have contributed to making countless people famous and wealthy. And it can be argued that many of whom possess no real skills in the first place outside of being able to successfully exploit their following. I have to wonder where celebrity gossiper Perez Hilton and socialite Kim Kardashian would be without the internet. (Of note, Kim Kardashian charges $10,000 to mention a product in her tweets to her 2.7 million followers.)
So should you be jumping into the social marketing pool? Only you can answer that. But here’s some things to think about before getting wet.
1. What are your goals? Are you looking to increase sales or just to build a list of contacts? Both can be important depending on the type of business you own. A restaurant can use Twitter to let people know about specials available only for that evening. Whereas an accountant might want to build a list through Linked In as a vehicle to let people know about changes to tax laws.
2. Content is key. Not actively participating in social marketing is like being a wallflower at a party. If no one will know you’re there, what’s the point in even going? Being an active participant means contributing relevant content. Depending on the sites you choose to join, this can involve submitting articles, industry news, anything that your contacts, friends, or followers will deem useful or worthy of reading. This means avoiding Twittering about what you had for lunch or posting photos of your trip to the beach (unless you’re a travel agent).
3. Time commitment. Like other types of marketing, frequency is important in reinforcing your message and getting people to remember you. Just as you would not place an ad in a magazine for just one issue, you must also contribute to your social marketing presence on a regular basis. For many business owners, this can be anywhere from 15-60 minutes per day. Are you ready for that?
4. Know your audience. A hair salon creating a Facebook page sounds logical until you find out the average age of their clients is 55, most of whom do not even use the internet. So are they trying to keep in contact with current clients or attract new ones? (Refer back to #1)
5. Coordinating with conventional marketing. Social marketing should not be treated as a stand alone program. To be effective it should be combined with traditional marketing. For example, if you send out a flyer by mail, mention that people can get notice of additional promotions by following you on Twitter. Or use Facebook to post photos of special industry events you were involved in.
6. The return. Even with conventional marketing, many business people are guilty of thinking they can expect a certain return for every dollar spent. If they don’t see that return in a specific period of time, they deem the campaign a failure. Social marketing can be even more abstract. In many cases, your posts or submissions will not be focused on generating sales, but instead providing information. As such, readers would be less likely to contact you looking to spend money. However if you choose to create a social campaign focused on driving sales, you may find yourself ignored as many people get turned off of sales pitches made through social media sites.
Using the analogy of farming (for some reason people like to compare business to farming), if a sales presentation is like harvesting fruit, then social marketing is like planting seeds. That is, in sales, the harder you work the greater the immediate gains. An effective sales presentation will generally result in more sales.
However social marketing is less about what you can get and more about what you can give. More information, more posts, more contacts, more referrals – all of these can lead to an increase in business over time. How much time and how much business no one can say. It can take months just for people to take notice of you. But like a farmer planting seeds, if you plant enough of them, invest the effort, and be patient, eventually you will bear the fruits of success.
Marc Gordon is a professional speaker and marketing consultant based in Toronto, Ontario. His firm, Fourword Marketing, specializes in helping businesses create a brand identity and developing effective marketing campaigns. Marc can be reached at (416) 238-7811 or visit www.marcgordon.ca. Follow Marc on Twitter at twitter.com/marcgordondotca.
Saturday, April, 17, 2010 - Alexandria Echo Press - News
Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook allow people to communicate more loosely, but many companies are tightening their grip on how employees use these channels at work.
Thirty-eight percent of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed have implemented stricter social networking policies -- more than twice the number (17 percent) who say they have relaxed the rules. A larger percentage (23 percent) of technology executives are reining in personal use of social media than are placing limits on social media use for business (15 percent). A previous study found that more than half (55 percent) of companies have social networking policies that ban the use of social networking altogether.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.
CIOs were asked, “As social networking has become more of a business tool, how have you had to re-evaluate your IT policies surrounding its use by employees in your company?” Their responses (multiple responses were permitted):
More strict with respect to personal use -- 23%
More strict with respect to business use -- 15%
More lenient with respect to business use -- 10%
More lenient with respect to personal use -- 7%
No change -- 55%
Don’t know/no answer -- 2%
“The challenge for companies is balancing the benefits of social media in the workplace with the risks,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Firms are evaluating how to help employees use social networks to keep pace with developments in their industries, stay connected with business contacts and promote their organizations without sacrificing information security or employee productivity.”
Added Willmer, “There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to social networking policies. To be effective, guidelines should include input from stakeholders throughout the organization, including IT, legal, human resources, marketing, public relations and front-line employees.”
About the survey
The national survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. In order for the survey to be statistically representative, the sample was stratified by geographic region, industry and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportions of the number of employees within each region.
All writers go through lean periods in writing when words just freeze inside, like water in subzero temperatures that refuses to flow out as it should. It might need some external heating to melt the writing block and push the words out. The problem is more pertinent with blogging than with writing of a general nature; for a blog to remain alive, it has to be continuously fed.
The problems with such blocks are even more pertinent when one is into social marketing because, in this form of promoting, it’s not always a tangible product being marketed. While social marketing may involve the promotion of tangible products like medicine or medical equipment, it’s more often an idea that is being promoted. This is especially true with ideas related to social behavior, health or fitness. It differs from conventional marketing in that, here, the promoters are primarily giving the customers ideas and advice after sensing what their requirements are.
Since blogging is a great way to make the to and fro connection in social marketing, the blogger cannot afford the blog content to go dry and has to use ways and means to keep it alive. Given below are some of the tips for managing blogging blocks:
One way to forestall a blogging block is to have a few spare topics always ready at hand. When you start blogging, make a list of interrelated topics. When you fail to get matter for a blog, you can use a closely related topic in a way that the readers will not feel that the blog content is too much at a tangent to the main blog thread.
For example, if you’re writing about diabetes, you can use blog content topics like endocrine glands, juvenile diabetes, exceptionally successful diabetics, naturopathy for diabetes, homeopathy for diabetes, insulin resistance, insulin pumps, and so on. When you start making a list, you will find that the list is itself unending. So far as you have a lengthy list of such reserve topics, matter for blog content is unlikely to be a problem.
New trends and ideas in the field have to be introduced to the readers instantly while doing social marketing. It’s true that not all new ideas and initiatives are bound to be successful. However, there is no harm in conveying the new information to the consumers and getting feedback from them, as long as you are not forcing any tangible product on them. Most readers are happy to participate in new ideas and put forth their own opinions on its usefulness. These reactions will help the blogging process to continue through the back and forth viewpoints.
Social networking sites have to be effectively used to ensure that you do not run out of blog content ideas. When you log on to Twitter or Facebook, it’s easy to understand the topics that are the current favorites. Try to connect your blog title to any one of these popular topics in a creative way to make sure that search engines will pick it up and people will glance at it.
When something momentous happens in the world, try to mention it in your blog even if it’s not connected in any way to your social marketing theme. A fine example of a company that did this and was featured in the NY times with the Title How We Got a Link from The New York Times I love this... Ties into my rant about discovery, timing, analysis, and execution.
It’s important to communicate to others that you are an ordinary human being like everyone else, sharing the joys and sorrows of the world, and not someone restricted to the realms of diabetes, or hygiene, or acupuncture, or whatever you are blogging about.
While blogging for social marketing, it’s important to alter the blog content now and then to address the audience of different educational levels, types of inquisitiveness and economic standards. This means that the same content can be introduced and explained in three or four different ways on different days. This will ensure that there is no shortage of blog content. To make sure that the repetition doesn’t make the blog awkward, you can make it clear that the subject is produced in an altered form to cater to a different set of readers and that the original thread will be continued the next day.
Everyday around the world, more and more people are joining social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Technorati etc… My question is why? Read more