Posts Tagged ‘Realtor Marketing’
At its core, social media is about communication. It’s about keeping contact with friends, family, clients, customers, and whoever else you’d like on the list of people you keep in the loop. For business purposes, that means staying close to your list of professional contacts. Sounds easy enough. But the trick is doing it in a way that doesn’t make you a nuisance or an annoyance.
Here are some thoughts and tips …
It’s A Conversation: That’s the easiest way to think about your social-media campaign. You’re trying to start an ongoing conversation with a group of people that are connected to your business. These are people that you’re either currently doing business with or hope to be doing business with in the near future. In other words, you want to keep it professional and geared toward making a case for your services. For example, if your business was blankets, you’d post links to stories about how cold this winter will be rather than turning your blog, page or profile into an advertisement. In other words, everyone has an interest in the weather but someone who isn’t currently in the market for a new blanket is going to get tired of receiving your ads rather quickly. Then, when they do need a blanket, they will have already deleted and forgotten about you. Keep it conversational, interesting, and geared toward your audience.
It’s A Two-Way Street: In order to achieve some success with social media, you have to get your contacts involved and participating. Not only does this help them familiarize themselves with you and your business, it also provides an opportunity to do market research and receive feedback. For starters, you should probably interact a little with the social-media profiles and pages of your contacts. Reply or comment on something they posted or “like” an article or picture they uploaded. This encourages reciprocity and generates some goodwill. Also, ask for opinions and feedback from your online fans and followers. It will provide you with ideas for bettering your business, encourage interaction, and make your contacts feel included and valued. Which is, after all, the whole idea.
It’s Not A Chore: The trouble a lot of businesses have when starting a social-media campaign is their approach. If you’re trying to establish a personal relationship with your clients, contacts, and partners, you don’t want them to feel like you’re doing it out of obligation. Enjoy yourself and it’ll shine through. Try to have some fun with your online properties and it’ll be noticeable. That doesn’t mean posting unprofessional pictures or off-color jokes. It means approaching your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page the same way you would approach a phone call with a client. You wouldn’t mumble your words or seem unhappy to hear from them, you’d try to put your best foot forward and make them feel appreciated and eager to do business with you.
The key to successfully marketing your business through social media is to make it seem like you’re not. Which is to say, social-media marketing requires a little slight of hand, a lot of patience, and some faith. You can’t expect to put up some pages, upload a bunch of sales material, and wait for new clients to come knocking down your door. You’ll have to build a community of followers, fans, contacts, and customers the old-fashioned way.
Here are some tips to marketing your business without seeming to …
Think About Your Approach: So you registered for some social-media pages and are eager to start selling your services online? Well, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. In fact, there’s no quicker way to turn off potential online leads than to hammer away with sales talk and solicitations. Social-media marketing requires a little finesse. That means, rather than posting everyday about your business and services, you should be offering information and help. Approach your online contacts as though you’re doing it out of the kindness of your heart and the familiarity and goodwill you generate will lead to word-of-mouth and business.
The Content Conundrum: What do you post when you’d really rather beg for business? Well, there are a number of things. The quickest and easiest way to generate some good content is to share interesting info you’ve found that may help someone in need of your particular services. Pass along some industry news that a consumer might not know but should. Explain and add context to any numbers, stats, or trends that a potential customer would benefit from knowing. Approach your updates and posts as though you’re a good friend hoping to assist someone with an important decision. Answer questions and ask for feedback. All of these things will generate a back-and-forth with your online contacts that can only benefit your business.
Turning Contacts Into Clients: Of course, to some people, the process of luring in business through social-media may seem like a wasted effort. After all, who has the time to be posting to Facebook or LinkedIn when they need to generate real money in the real world? With time and consistency, however, social-media can – and will – lead to business. It’s just a matter of targeting the right audience and keeping up with your contacts. Social-media is a word-of-mouth machine. Give it time and you’ll soon see that your contacts are not only turning into clients, but are also recommending you to their contacts and online communities.
Management skills are an important part of having an effective social-media presence. Not only do you have to manage your content and keep up with contacts and comments, you have to effectively manage your time – which can be the biggest obstacle for someone new to online marketing. Here are some helpful hints and tips to making better use of your pages and profiles, as well as your time.
Get A Calendar: This may seem obvious but keeping a schedule will greatly increase your odds of staying on top of your social-media profiles. If you’re continually trying to find 10 minutes to update your Facebook page while juggling yet another busy work day, there will always be something more important to take care of. If, however, you block off a time of day or week to handle all of the notifications, emails, and updates you need to address, you’ll be more likely to get around to it. How often you need to check in with your social-media presence, depends on your business and client base. What works for one person won’t, necessarily, for another. Make a schedule and stick with it.
Put Your Followers To Work: Successful social-media pages are driven – not by their administrators – but by the fans and followers that tune in to what is being posted on the page or blog. In other words, when you’ve got a lively community of people engaged with the information you’re offering, your page will begin to take care of itself. Sure, you’ll need to stay on top of things, but having people reading and commenting on what you’re posting online will encourage others. And, with any luck, your page will become a forum for like-minded individuals exchanging ideas and questions. To get things going, offer a discount or prize for people who comment or contribute to your page. Along with your content, ask a question or take a poll related to the topic. Get people involved and your page will soon take on a life of its own.
Minimize And Simplify: If you’re someone who’s prone to feeling overwhelmed or tends to value results over patience, start small and don’t try to take over the Internet overnight. That means, taking one step at a time. Don’t register for 12 different profiles, fill out half of the info requested, and throw up your hands when nothing’s happened after one week. Start with one page and get familiar with the way things operate. Get used to updating your page and promoting your content. Once you start to have success on one site, try another if you’d like. As always, there’s no universal rule. Maybe Twitter works for you and Facebook doesn’t. Maybe you need both. Only trial, error, and time will determine the answer to what works for you and your business.
Despite what they say, you can argue with numbers. You can also argue with chickens. Neither of these activities, however, is likely to produce a positive outcome. That’s why, though it may be easier and more convenient to ignore reality, you’ll always do better if you acknowledge the facts.
To that end, here are some facts about social-media marketing …
Nielsen estimates that social media and blogs reach 80 percent of active Internet users in the U.S.: Not only that, Nielsen also found that nearly a quarter of all Internet usage is spent on blogs or social-media sites – double the amount spent on gaming. That means, almost half of all Internet usage is split between people playing games online and those perusing social-media pages, profiles, and blogs. And since you likely won’t be able to effectively market your business through online games, you should probably take a look at registering a Facebook page or setting up a blog. The potential upside is huge and there is little to lose. Having a shot at a new audience of potential customers and clients is ultimately what marketing is meant to accomplish. Social media provides an excellent platform to reach new people and generate business.
60 percent of consumers say they are willing to post about products or services if they get a deal: In other words, social media is a viable avenue for promoting and marketing your business. By interacting with your clients and customers over social-media, you are able to appeal to them directly, while offering them exclusive deals and bonuses. It takes a little creativity, but finding a way to get your Facebook or Twitter followers to spread the word for you is worth the effort. Offering Internet-only promos is a great way to boost interest in your business among current and potential clients. Just don’t overwhelm your connections with sales pieces and drive them away.
91 percent of experienced social marketers see increased traffic to their website and 79 percent say they’re generating more quality leads: Doubt all you want but more and more businesses are finding success marketing their services through social-media channels. The key word here, though, is “experienced.” In other words, you’re not going to see boosted traffic to your website and a bag full of quality leads during your first week online. It takes time, effort, and a bit of practice to learn what works for you and put it into action. Those who have had success with social media, have had patience with social media. Give it time and pay attention. After all, the stats say your efforts will ultimately be rewarded.
Among the top social-media sites, Twitter seems the most frivolous. It’s hard to imagine something that involves tweeting being a worthwhile thing to do with your time. And yet, there a countless examples of businesses that are successfully incorporating Twitter into their social-media marketing strategy. Used correctly, Twitter can help you boost brand awareness and familiarity, customer loyalty, word of mouth, and visibility. Here are some of our top tips, hints and help for businesses looking to capitalize in the Twitterverse.
Just Tweet: Okay, if you’re just starting out on Twitter, the first thing to do is tweet. You aren’t likely to attract anything but spam with an empty page. If you’re having trouble thinking of something to say, re-tweet something you found interesting or informative that relates to your industry or area. You can’t expect to gain any followers unless you’ve got something to share. Starting from scratch can be difficult but keep it professional, relevant, and regularly updated for best results.
Use the Hashtag: If you’ve heard the term but haven’t yet understood the concept, here you go … Hashtags identify the topic or subject of your tweet, making it easier for people to find it through searches. For example, if you’re tweeting about real estate, follow your tweet with #realestate. That way, it’s more likely your tweet will be found by people searching for real estate on Twitter. But think it through, as a hashtag for something as general as real estate will likely be among thousands of others.
Nearby Tweets: See who’s tweeting what in your area with nearbytweets.com. The simple setup delivers search results based on a keyword and a location. Search for anything anywhere and see who’s tweeting what near you.
Make Friends: The more people you follow, the more people will follow you. Choose some interesting people and businesses in your industry and region and follow them. Check their followers and follow some of them too. Not only will you have access to any tips and info they share, you’ll boost your visibility and attract your own followers.
Engage: Build a community by commenting and re-tweeting what other people have posted. Post something that isn’t directly related to your business. Talk about other businesses in your area. Point out interesting things in your community.
Be Thankful: Using Twitter properly – or any other social-media site for that matter – requires a bit of old-fashioned etiquette. Much like they do in everyday life, people online appreciate a simple thank you from time to time. For our purposes that means turning on email notifications from your Twitter page. Twitter will send you an email any time someone new follows you. Be sure to send a thank you. It’s a good way to encourage communication and requires nothing more than a short message.
Contaxio: A tool to help manage, track, and interconnect your Twitter account. With Contaxio, you’ll be able to find contacts with similar interests, review your activity, scan stats about the people you follow and those who follow you, and even keep up with new contacts from your Facebook page.
You’re an Expert: Now, you may not think of yourself as an expert. Few people do. However, if you’ve spent any time in your current business, chances are you know more about it than the people paying you for your services. Otherwise, they’d do it themselves. That means, at the very least, you can add insight, context, and explanation to any information you’ve tweeted. If, for example, you tweet a link to an article related to your industry, follow with another tweet that adds background or explanation. Give your Twitter followers some of your expertise for free and they just may end up paying customers down the road.
Interact: Twitter is about communication. It’s meant to be conversational, which explains the character limitations. Ideally, you’d encourage a back-and-forth with your followers and those you follow, using tweets to respond and reply to questions, concerns, and messages. Twitter allows for direct messages, which operate a lot like email. Respond to the messages you receive and to people who tweet about your or your business. It may sound like a lot of work but, if done correctly, the benefit to your business will outweigh the time you invested building a following. Keep your expectations reasonable.
Social media can seem like a relatively painless proposition until it comes to creating content for your pages. Content is the difference between success and failure online. But it’s also the part of social networking that takes the most time and effort – which is why it trips up so many would-be social-media marketers.
Think of it like throwing a dinner party. You want to have an interesting guest list and hope to dazzle them with your entertaining skills. But – in order to have a successful gathering – you’ll need dinner. Provide good food and a comfortable atmosphere and your guests will be clamoring for an invite the next time you’re having people over. Skimp on the appetizers and deliver a mediocre meal and word will get out, ensuring future invites go ignored. In other words, what you serve your guests matters whether you’re throwing a dinner party or promoting your services over the Internet.
Here are some tips on creating compelling content …
Go With What You Know: If you’re creating content for a business blog or fan page, this one should be easy. After all, your content should relate to your business and you, presumably, know something about your business and industry. Having to write blog posts can seem like homework. Make it easier by writing something you know well. Try industry news and updates, answers to frequently asked questions, or explaining something about your business that your clients and customers should understand. If you’re writing something you know well, it won’t be as difficult to think of what or how to say it. Make it easy on yourself and stick with topics you’re familiar with.
Write The Way You Speak: Writing doesn’t have to be a chore. If you’re writing something for your blog or social-media site, start by thinking of the way you’d say it if you were telling someone in person. You don’t have to change the way you communicate. Keep it simple and conversational. Don’t worry about the sophistication of your sentence structure. Pay more attention to whether or not you’ve effectively communicated what you set out to say. Ultimately, you want visitors to read it, not grade it. Keep it short, easily consumed, and professional.
Use The Internet: Ideas abound on the Internet. If you’re having trouble creating content, there are countless ideas, topics, and resources available to you online. Social media is about sharing and communicating. So post a link to a story or article your read that relates to your industry or region. Link to a video or re-tweet something. In other words, don’t always feel like you have to write 500 words on some challenging topic or issue. Keep it simple and light. You’re not producing a manifesto, you’re trying to deliver interesting content to encourage visitors to interact with you and your business.
It’s been said that everyone makes mistakes. But that’s only half the story. After all, it’s not whether you make a mistake, it’s the severity of the mistake you make that matters. There’s a difference between locking your keys in the car and accidentally parking your car in the living room. One is an understandable error and the other – under most circumstances – isn’t. Like anything else, when starting a social-media campaign for your business, you will make mistakes. But avoiding the type of mistakes that will leave your page barren and ignored are more important than worrying about a typo in your bio.
Here’s a quick list of some things you can do to avoid making some of the most inexcusable social-media mistakes …
Use It or Lose It: When it comes to social media, the number one mistake people make is not using the pages and profiles they set up. Whether from lack of interest, time, or understanding, many social-media pages serve as nothing more than a placeholder. They’re like online business cards with little more than an address, a phone number, and a photo. But the difference between success and failure in social media is participation. If you bothered to set your business up with a Facebook page or Twitter account, use it. Contact people, promote your site, produce some content, join groups, comment on someone’s post. In short, interact. It doesn’t take much to get someone to like or follow a social-media profile. You don’t have to take them to dinner or earn enough of their trust to be given a key to their house. All you need to do is participate and not be rude, aggressive, annoying, or mean spirited.
Make A Good Impression: You’re introducing yourself to a whole new audience. Act like it matters. You want to present yourself as professional, experienced, consistent, and efficient. Make sure anything you put up online showcases only those qualities you’d like associated with you and your business. That means, no beach photos, questionable jokes, religion or politics. Keep it focused on business and make a clear distinction between any personal profiles you maintain and those specifically for your business. Google your name and scroll through some of the results. Those are the same things potential clients will see if they look you up online – which they likely will. Having a professional online presence is a great way to make a good first impression. More and more, people check the Internet before deciding who to do business with. Don’t scare them away before you even meet them.
Location, Location, Location: Much like anything else, where you set yourself up makes a difference. Which is to say, location matters whether you’re opening for business on Main St. or on the Internet. Make sure the accounts you register for make sense for your business. You’re fairly safe if you stick with some combination of the most popular sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The membership numbers alone make them worthwhile. Outside of the that, do a little research before you register your business name and slap some info together. Make sure any sites you join serve a legitimate business purpose and can be used to your advantage. You’ll be most successful if your Internet presence is focused and consistent. Only take on what you can handle. And only go where there are potential business benefits.
If you feel you aren’t getting the most out of your LinkedIn profile, you’re probably right. Maybe you added your resume, contact info, and photo and are now wondering what else you can do with your page. Maybe you’re not sure – beyond job hunting – what purpose LinkedIn serves in the first place. Or maybe you’ve seen other peoples’ pages and wondered how they made them so dynamic, interesting, and interactive. Well there are a number of ways to boost your LinkedIn presence and become more effective that don’t require a degree in computer programming or a high level of Internet savvy.
Here are three ways to get the most out of your account …
Take It Offline: Sometimes social media can feel limiting because it all takes place behind the veil of the Internet. Which is to say, it’s a little impersonal. But, if you’re the type of person that feels more comfortable doing your networking the old-fashioned way, LinkedIn provides an easy way to take your social-media contacts into the real world. Search the events section of LinkedIn and you can locate actual gatherings of like-minded individuals in your region and industry. Search keywords that apply to your business and then find some events in your area. It’s a great way to make new connections, network in your area, and boost your LinkedIn contacts all at the same time.
Install Some Applications: Though LinkedIn doesn’t offer as many applications as some other social-media sites, there are still a number of useful tools available to you. For example, LinkedIn provides a WordPress app that will automatically retrieve and display your posts from your blog. It’s an excellent way to add interest to your page while increasing the number of people who see and read your blog. There are also applications to help you share documents, collaborate with colleagues, display your Amazon.com reading list, and share your business travel plans. Which is to say, there are plenty of available ways to customize your LinkedIn page. Don’t be afraid to install a few and test them out. Through trial-and-error you will soon have a much more interesting and attractive page to share with your contacts and connections.
Join, Participate, And Repeat: The good news is LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals. That means, there’s no confusing personal contacts with business clients, customers, and partners. It also means an impressive selection of groups and forums you can join. Like the events section, you can search groups by keyword and join a few that relate to your industry or region. Participate in the conversations you find there or start a few of your own. Remember, this isn’t the place for advertising or promotion. Be polite, professional, knowledgeable, and eager to help with information, answers, and ideas. It’s a great way to focus your attention on the people that are most likely to appreciate your services and need your expertise.
Some people fall into the trap of thinking a Facebook or Twitter page will promote their business without them having to do anything at all. Meaning, they register for a page, fill out their information, and believe their work is done. As if the Twitter fairy will come along and deliver their tweets to the masses without them having to do any of the heavy lifting. Well that’s not the way it works. Part of a successful social-media campaign is promoting your pages, blog posts, and online activities. You have to let people know what you’re doing if you hope to have anyone take an interest in your social-media efforts. Here are some hints, tips, and ideas on promoting your online properties.
The Real World: Promoting your pages and blogs in the real world is the most effective way of boosting your social-media success rate. Asking people to like your Facebook page or follow your Twitter feed is made infinitely more effective if you’re doing it in person or offline. It’s why you’re seeing an increasing number of businesses including their social-media info in their advertising, on billboards, and on their business cards. You have to promote your pages the same way you would anything else. Let people know you’re online and ask them to have a look. The more interest you create, the more contacts you’ll make. The more contacts you make, the more business you’ll generate. In other words, remember your Facebook and Twitter pages next time you’re networking or sending printed materials. Ask people to connect with you online and you’ll see an instant increase in activity on your pages.
Via Email: Because nearly everyone uses it, email is a great way to spread the word about your pages, profiles, and blogs. Sending out an email with a link to a new blog post or social-media profile, is a good way to introduce your contacts and clients to your online properties. Even adding your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn address to your email signature can lead to an uptick in visitors to your page. As long as you aren’t bugging your contacts every other hour, asking them to read something you wrote or to stop by your pages is a good way to keep in touch with your contacts while increasing activity on your social-media profiles.
Groups, Forums, And Comments: Participation is another way to get the word out about your social-media properties. Joining groups and forums on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn gets you in front of like-minded people with similar interests and concerns. As long as you’re not too self-promotional and you take an honest interest in the discussions and questions being offered, your presence will be appreciated and your familiarity among people likely to have an interest in your business will increase. It’s an indirect way of promoting your business, but commenting on other people’s pages or questions in forums can boost your reputation, generate new contacts, and increase word of mouth. Stay professional, knowledgeable, and accessible and you’ll soon see results.
Signing up for a page on Facebook doesn’t cost anything. But that doesn’t mean it’s free. In the end, social media is a draw because it seems simple and inexpensive. But, though it may save dollars and cents, it’ll cost you time and effort. In other words, things aren’t always what they seem. Once you’ve registered for an account, the work begins. And that’s where a lot of us stumble. Who has the time? Where are the immediate results? Why bother? Fortunately, a few tips to help organize your efforts and boost your effectiveness may be all you need to help get you through the disappointing realization that it may not be as easy as it seemed.
Find Good Sources: Creating content is difficult. It’s time consuming and involves choices. It requires you to decide what topics will be interesting to your contacts and then provide information on that topic in a compelling way. So what’s the best way to do that? Well it starts with your sources. Find websites, Twitter feeds, blogs, news sites, and anything else that provides inspiration and information you can use. Posting a link to a news story or a list of stats and trends you’ve come across is a great way to create quick, appropriate content. If you’ve got a good list of feeds and sources, you’ll have an easier time finding things to discuss and write about. If you’re starting from scratch each morning with nothing more than your brain and a cup of coffee, you may be in trouble.
Create a Schedule: Disorganization costs you time and creates stress. The best way to avoid this trap is to make a schedule. If you’re having trouble finding time to post to your sites, respond to comments, and check in with your contacts, set aside a block of time in the morning or evening and use it for maintaining your social-media pages. Depending on how much time you’d like to devote to your efforts, you can schedule time every other day, twice a day, or weekly. Just stay consistent. If you stick with your schedule, soon you’ll find a rhythm and won’t have to worry about finding the time to focus on Facebook. Sitting down for a half hour at the end of every day will make keeping your pages fresh and updated easier. It’ll also make you less likely to give up on things after two weeks.
Keep It Simple: It’s easy to get swept up in enthusiasm and try to take over the Internet. But that’s not the goal. You’re only trying to make it easier for your contacts, and potential business, to find, familiarize, and get in touch with you. Build your social-media presence in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you or your audience. If you keep things manageable, you’re more likely to succeed. That means, focusing on only what you can handle. If you’re going to set up more than a page or two, link them together so they’re sharing content. You’re not going to see much success if you’ve got pages that aren’t being maintained.
If there were a shopping plaza that had 900 million regular customers, you’d be among the thousands of businesses clamoring for a storefront on the property. After all, the chance to offer your services to that many people at once would make closing new business almost a mathematical certainty. Chances are there are a handful among those 900 million that are looking for exactly what you’re offering. This is the thought behind social-media marketing and, specifically, marketing on Facebook. Sure, naysayers will tell you it’s a waste of your time and won’t develop anything other than a penchant for procrastination. But with that many potential customers within reach, it’d be crazy not to give it a try.
Here are some thoughts on social-media marketing on Facebook …
Focus on the Goal: Everyone wants other people to like them. It’s human nature and the reason behind Facebook’s ever-expanding popularity. But just because there are 900 million members on Facebook, doesn’t mean you have to make friends with each and every one of them. Focusing on the goal means focusing on business. You’re reading this because you’d like to find new ways to drum up business and make money, not because you need more online friends. Use your fan page to target opportunities and potential clients in your industry and region, not to boost your self-esteem and build your virtual ego. Keep it straight and professional. Making a connection with three people in your area will do more for your bottom line than racking up big numbers of out-of-state admirers.
Avoid Sloppy Mistakes: Fill out your page. Don’t leave it blank. We’ve said it before and we’ll likely say it again. Nothing makes you look more uncertain, unprofessional, and unattractive than a half-filled out fan page without a picture or logo. Keep your info fresh, sharp, and easy to digest. While you’re at it, make sure anything you post is short and easy to read too. Include pictures and stick to a somewhat regular schedule. In short, don’t keep ‘em guessing. Avoiding sloppy mistakes means paying attention to detail. And details often make the difference between success and being totally ignored.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help: One of the great things about social media is that it’s like math. It’s not so much the equation, as it is the answer. There are multiple ways to gain a business advantage on Facebook and other social-media sites. For example, it’s great to share your knowledge and build your reputation but Facebook can also be a tool for learning. So if you’re stumped or curious, ask someone. Sometimes posting a question about something related to your business or your clients’ interests can be an excellent way of, not only starting a dialogue, but learning something from your online fans and followers. Listen closely to their answers and you may discover a trick or two that leads you to new business.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple reminder. After all, it’s easy to forget the basics and fundamentals of anything once you get going. So being reminded of the seemingly small details can often make the difference between success and failure. When it comes to social media, the ever-expanding list of apps, plugins, widgets, websites, and platforms can confound even the savviest online observer. But, at its root, social media is about communication and community. In other words, before you get overwhelmed by the bells and whistles, spend some time getting back to basics.
With that in mind, we collected another list of simple do’s and don’ts for social-media success …
Don’t Be Too Self-Promotional: There will be a temptation to overload your pages with flattering facts about your business and services. But social media isn’t for advertising. It’s for socializing. Your social-media profiles should be a place where you share info and updates that are professionally relevant and of interest to clients and potential clients. Don’t overdo the self-promotional posts.
Do Join Groups: Sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, offer the ability to join groups formed around interests, industries, communities, etc. In other words, joining a group means meeting like minded individuals and sharing thoughts, views, and ideas. It’s a good way of finding your target audience, making new connections, and learning something along the way.
Don’t Confuse The Personal and The Professional: This one seems easy enough. After all, if you’ve registered a social-media account under the name of your business, you already know that isn’t the place for posting vacation pictures. Right? Well, if not, consider your social-media profiles and blogs an extension of your business website. Keep it professional and save the personal tidbits for a profile your clients can’t see.
Do Like, Recommend, Follow, And Fan: If you want to make connections quickly, initiate. Take some time and leave positive feedback on the pages of people and businesses you’ve interacted with in the past. Chances are, if you make the effort to say something nice about someone, they’ll return the favor.
Don’t Ignore Your Contacts: When you’ve made an effort to get people to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else, you have to follow through. If you don’t, you’ll lose the connections you have. This means, you have to be responsive when someone comments on a post or sends you a message. It means you have to log in regularly and share interesting info with your contacts. It means, you have to be social, interactive, and available.
Do Think It Through: Most importantly, you have to give some thought to anything you post online. It’s easy to forget that you’re publishing something on the Internet under your business name and, once it’s up, there’s no telling who will find it or where it’ll appear. Make sure whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it in a way that properly represents your business and enhances your professional presentation.
Blogs are to social media what Elvis was to popular music. Now before you declare this post ridiculous and stop reading, hear us out. Sure, Elvis didn’t invent rock-and-roll but he popularized it and inspired so many young musicians that he could rightly take credit for giving birth to everything from The Beatles to Black Sabbath. In much the same way, the basic idea behind blogs goes back much further than the late 1990s. But the popularity of blogging gave rise not only to social media but also the general idea that businesses could enhance their brand and Internet presence through a properly maintained and regularly updated online property.
Here are some tips and ideas to help build your business blog …
The Beginning: In the beginning, blogs were the domain of the self-absorbed. Developed as a sort of online diary, blogging soon became the Internet-based past time of anyone who believed they had something to say. And thus, the idea of the basement blogger sitting in his or her pajamas, cluttering the Internet was born. But the blog also became something more important than that. Blogs are easily updated and quickly customized websites. And businesses interested in having a presence online soon figured out that their static business website wasn’t drawing enough attention. So keeping a blog updated regularly with interesting content and relevant info became a way of expanding on their business’ online reach.
The Strategy: Social media, of course, isn’t really anything other than a way to share information with a group of friends, family members, clients, or connections. In other words, blogs stressed the importance of having content to share and social-media made it easier to share it. Which means, having a blog and a social-media presence is the most effective way of getting word out about your business and services. Posting information to your blog that will be interesting and helpful to your clients and connections is the first step. From there, share your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social-media sites you are using. That will maximize the number of people that see what you’ve shared and also the possibility that they will then pass it along to their list of online contacts. Do this consistently and you’ll see an uptick in the amount of attention your online properties receive.
The Results: Developing a consistent posting strategy and sharing it across your social network will undoubtedly lead to an increase in traffic to your sites. But getting the right traffic is the most important part of any blogging strategy. If you’re running a business in Topeka, Kansas and your blog and social-media sites are receiving the majority of their traffic from Japan, you’re not doing it right. Targeting your region and industry is important. Share content that pertains to the people you want to attract and actively seek out new connections in your area, rather than waiting for them to come to you. Once you begin receiving some attention from the right audience, you’ll have an easier time converting blog visitors into business. Be patient and avoid the temptation to use heavy-handed sales tactics. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. Give it time.
There’s a good reason many social-media articles compare a successful online strategy to working the room at a cocktail party. It’s because, much like a cocktail party, social-media sites offer opportunities to meet new people, learn new things, and network among people from your community, industry, and region.
Here are some ways to reap business benefits from Twitter …
The Eavesdropper: Let’s say you’re someone who isn’t enthusiastic about opening a Twitter account and regularly thinking of something to tweet so you’ve ignored Twitter altogether. Well there’s even something in for you. Searching keywords related to your town or industry gives you a live-time look at what’s being said about your community and business. It’s a great learning tool and may even change your mind about the usefulness of Twitter. Much like eavesdropping, it allows you to listen in without having to engage. Look for trends among the tweets and use anything you can. Search keywords related to your industry and get a feel for how much enthusiasm or demand there is for your particular product or services. If your leery or uncertain how things work, it’s a convenient way to get a feel for the powerful potential of Twitter. Use it to research your market and better your business without ever having to log in.
The Networker: Now that you’ve done some eavesdropping on Twitter, you may be more interested in trying it out for yourself. Start by setting up a profile using your real name and business info. Then follow a few of the Twitter users you found in your earlier search. Choose people or business that had something insightful to offer or lent a useful link or tip. It’s a great way to painlessly introduce yourself to people without them having to feel any obligation to reciprocate. They don’t even have to approve or accept you. And not only will you begin receiving their tweets in your feed, which will provide you – if you’ve done a good job – with a steady stream of interesting info every time you log in, it’ll also lead to a few people following you back and receiving your tweets. That’s when the social part of the social media kicks in.
The Conversationalist: This is the hard part. It’s not always easy to come up with something to say that’s relevant, interesting, and short enough to meet Twitter’s 140 character limit. One way to start is by sharing interesting links to news or relevant articles you’ve seen online. Another is to re-tweet something someone else posted. Another is to reply to something you’ve seen on someone’s page or to ask a question that will solicit a bit of back-and-forth. Keep it professional, consistent, and mostly non-promotional. Sure, it’s a good idea to offer a deal or discount to your followers here and there. But you shouldn’t overdo the directly promotional tweeting. For one thing, it’s not going to be too interesting to anyone stumbling on your page. It’s called social media for a reason. And much like going to a party and trying to sell everyone you meet, you aren’t likely to have much success if you approach it as an advertising opportunity.
If you’re someone that thinks of livestock when you hear the word branding, you may be a bit behind the times. Or you’re an actual cowboy. Either way, some simple tips on branding your business and building customer loyalty may help.
Here are some thoughts to get you started …
The Branding: The primary reason to brand your cattle was to help make them more easily identifiable. The same goes for corporate logos, advertising, and marketing campaigns. And, with the growth of online marketing, branding has become an important part of marketing even the smallest of businesses. Ultimately, having an online presence that is consistent, easily identified, and interactive will help you find new customers and keep current clients coming back. The trick is having your info where it can be easily found and making sure it’s consistent on all of your Internet properties, whether it’s a blog, Facebook page, or business website. Branding is about being identified and remembered. And a social-media campaign focused on keeping all the details, logos, and contact info consistent and presentable is one that will be more easily found online and more memorable.
The Messaging: Branding is a pretty simple concept. You want people to recognize your business and feel a sense of familiarity with you. What you do with that brand, however, is a bit more complicated. Sending the right message is about content. Once you’ve got your info, photos, and logos in place and your pages looking the way you want them, you have to have content that keeps people coming back to your page, to make it stand out from the rest of the Internet noise. For example, if you’re in the cupcake business, you don’t want a page that’s purely self-promotional and a bore for anyone other than you and your employees. You want a page that makes people think about how much they love cupcakes and would love to buy some. In other words, you want to share content that’s interesting, educational, and not directly self-promotional. In this particular example, you’d likely want to have some large, attractive pictures of cupcakes and stories touting their health benefits and how they’re particularly delicious this time of year. In other words, info that makes it more likely that visitors will feel familiar with your brand and a desire to do business with you.
Setting up a social-media strategy for your business is a lot like buying a box of donuts. After all, no one donut can fulfill all of your sugary needs. Maybe you’ve got a taste for chocolate and sprinkles but also need something plain to go with your morning coffee. This explains why they’re sold by the dozen. Now you won’t need a dozen social-media sites to properly harness the power of the Internet and propel your business forward. You may, however, want to consider your choices, your purposes, and which options make the most sense for your business and what you’d like to accomplish.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is fairly cut and dry. It’s the largest social-media site devoted to professionals and that means you won’t be sharing space with your 13-year-old niece. It’s Facebook for business and it provides a platform to get in touch with other professionals in your region and industry. If you’re looking to meet people, network, and maybe get some referrals, LinkedIn is a good place to start. It’s also a good place to learn. Joining groups and asking questions can lead to new connections but it can also lead to knowledge. Have a look around and see how other professionals are benefiting from LinkedIn. It isn’t all resumes and job hunters. But it is drawing 33.5 million users a month.
Twitter: Twitter is also pretty simple to understand. It’s just like having a blog, only your posts are limited to 140 characters. That means, it’s designed to publish information in quick, continually updated bits. That’s why it initially gained a reputation for being the tool of self-involved Internet-addicts needing to share each and everything they’re doing as they’re doing it. Well it’s evolved from a site where you find out what your friends are having for breakfast. Everyone from neurosurgeons to politicians to your next door neighbor has a page. Which means, it’s all in how you use it. Type the name of your industry and scroll through the most recent tweets related to your business. It’ll provide a glimpse of what Twitter is and why it’s good for your business.
Facebook: Facebook is the trickiest of the big three. It started as a purely social site for college students but is now so large that it’s almost its own micro-Internet. And because it’s the site Americans spend most of their online time browsing, it’s become an important part of any businesses’ social-media strategy. More and more, businesses include their Facebook fan page’s address in their marketing and advertising. Use it for promotions and educating your customers. Offer them a deal or discount for liking your page. Carve out a spot so that you have a platform on the world’s most popular social-media site. It may not pay off in a week but not having a presence on Facebook means ignoring the fact that nearly everyone is using it and the time they spend on it is time they won’t be looking at your website.
On the Internet, content is currency. Having a website, blog, or social-media profiles without content is like having a car without wheels. You’ve got the foundation but you don’t have the means to make it go. Successfully marketing your business online means you have to, not only be part of the conversation, you have to start some yourself. You have to stay active and continually engaged. The Internet values quantity over quality and, if you have both, you’re golden.
Here are some things to think about …
Types of Content: The mistake a lot of people make is feeling like their content has to always directly relate to their business. It doesn’t. Your content has to appeal to your target audience but doesn’t have to have a direct link to the services you provide. For example, if you were selling skin-care products to teenagers, you wouldn’t have to fill your Facebook fan page with posts only about teenage skin and ways to keep it healthy. You could use anything that might appeal to teenagers. Posting about issues and topics interesting to teens would be more effective than posting only about skin. After all, teenagers may want clear skin but they likely aren’t interested in reading article after article about it. Mix it up and keep it interesting.
Ways to Use It: Content is a general word. What does it mean exactly? Well, it means anything you share anywhere you share it. It can be blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates, or emails. It’s not about where, it’s about what. In other words, once you’ve created some content, think about the most appropriate ways to use it. Twitter, for example, has a very specific format. You can’t tweet a paragraph, so quick updates, links, and photos are perfect. But a blog post may also work well as an email blast. If you’ve got something to share on your blog and you’d like to share it with your email list, you’re going to boost the number of people who see it. And numbers, after all, mean more opportunities for business.
How To Think About It: Here’s the trick. Stop thinking of your Internet properties as having to compete against everything else on the Internet. If you’re in real-estate, you don’t have to worry about your real-estate blog competing with the top sources of industry news and information on the web. You’re never going to surpass the number of people looking at the top news sources and industry sites. You’re never going to become CNN. You’re goal isn’t to have the number one site on the web. You’re goal is to have the number one site among your clients and customers. If you’re sharing your content with the people you’re hoping to do business with, it doesn’t matter how many hits you receive. If you have one visitor to your blog and they end up your client, you’re an Internet success.
Nobody likes a poorly timed call from a telemarketer. Answering a call about having your carpet cleaned when your house has wall-to-wall hardwood floors is never welcome, least of all during the dinner hour. But, what if that telemarketer, rather than trying to sell you something you didn’t need, gave you some information you could use? What if every time you answered a call from a telemarketer they didn’t try to sell you anything but, instead, told you something fascinating and then left you alone. You may be more opened to future calls. This is the theory behind social-media and content marketing.
Here are some tips on content creation and building a presence and reputation online …
Know Your Audience: You’ll find articles suggesting you need to post multiple times a day to your blog, Twitter, and Facebook page. And yeah, the more you post the more attention you’re likely to get. It’s the old quantity over quality argument. In order to drum up some new business, however, you needn’t follow any arbitrary number of posts per day, week, or month. More importantly, you need to determine what kind of content your customers and potential clients would most benefit from receiving. Sending out a tweet every hour that doesn’t appeal to your customers and has nothing to do with your business won’t gain you any respect or attention. Posting something of value, however, can result in a new connection regardless of the frequency.
Know Your Topic: It’s tempting to get online and fill your pages with everything from the personal to the professional. And when you’re starting out and having difficulty finding appropriate content, posting about your favorite hobbies and habits may seem like a good way to get going. But nobody shopping for your particular services is going to choose you over your competition simply because you share the same taste in television, food, or sports teams. They will, however, take a longer look at your page if you’re consistently posting educational, informative, and interesting content aimed at helping them make better decisions. Give your audience what they’re looking for and they’re more likely to come looking for you when they’re ready to do business.
Know Your Purpose: Because it’s easy and free, setting your business up with a social-media profile may seem less valuable and vital. In other words, it may not seem like something that requires time, effort, planning, and forethought. It does. Spending a little time figuring out how you want to present yourself, what kind of content you’d like to offer, and who your target audience will be, can make the difference between a successful campaign and a half-empty Facebook fan page. You wouldn’t, for example, take out an advertisement without considering what it says, where it runs, and how it brands your business. So the same amount of consideration should go into your social-media properties. Keep them professional, up-to-date, consistent, and timely for best results.
Living in the Internet age is a lot like being around for the gold rush. There’s a lot of buzz about the limitless opportunities and possibilities but there are no guarantees that it’ll make you any money. Fortunately, unlike the gold rush, the Internet doesn’t require you to cross the country on a brutal horse-and-carriage led trip through the mountains and you won’t have to do hours and hours of manual labor in order to try your luck. Which is to say, if mining gold were this easy, everyone would have done it. And yet, there are those that are still hesitant to take their business online.
Here are some tips and ideas for those of you still on the fence …
Social Media Is Local: Stop thinking of the entirety of the Internet and start thinking about it as a way to get in touch with people in your area and region. The Internet may be able to reach all four corners of the known universe but its users generally are engaged with their friends, family, and community when they’re online. That means, social media is actually more efficient and valuable to small businesses than large corporations. After all, no one is going to pay too much attention to a tweet from Coca-Cola but they’d be more likely to read a post or click a link sent from a local business they know and trust. If you’re not doing business in India, there’s no need to set up a social-media campaign aimed at world domination. Keep it focused, targeted, and small to start.
Social Media Is Participatory: Here’s the part that trips a lot of people up. Despite being named “social” media, many people are turned off by the idea that they will actually need to communicate and reach out to other people. They want their social-media campaign to function like an online advertisement waiting to be seen by the right people. Unfortunately, there’s no quicker way to become lost in a pile of forgotten social-media profiles than to set up a page and quickly abandon it. You needn’t feel like you have to constantly be updating and refreshing your pages but it does help to have something to offer. And always be polite and engaging with the people that follow your pages and posts.
Social Media Isn’t Going Anywhere: Fortunately, the opportunities and possibilities of the Internet will be around a lot longer than the gold was in San Francisco. Which means, there may not be a rush, but there’s also no reason to wait. The early adopters will have the advantage of offering something their competition doesn’t. If you wait five years to take your goods and services online, your Facebook fan page will still be beneficial but it won’t give you a competitive edge. Which means, not only can a properly executed social-media campaign benefit your business but the sooner you start the better those benefits are likely to be.
Here’s a stat for anyone that believes blogs aren’t a viable lead generator … More than half of businesses that blog report having acquired a customer specifically through their blog. According to HubSpot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing survey, 57 percent of company blogs have pulled in a new client, that’s better than Facebook or Twitter. In other words, if you’re thinking of starting a social-media campaign for your business and you’re convinced business blogging is a thing of the not-so distant past, here are some things to think about …
Sharing is Marketing: The percentage of businesses with a company blog has risen in all of the past three years and has now reached 65 percent. In other words, if you’re not blogging, you’re behind the times. You’re a dying breed. A dinosaur. And there’s a reason the majority of companies are maintaining blogs. First, they’re a cheap way of increasing your web presence. Secondly, in the Internet age, marketing means getting your content passed along. Sharing is key. And a blog gives you a place to begin generating content and an audience. Once you’ve gotten accustomed to producing content set yourself up on a few social-media sites to syndicate your content even further.
More Is More: So you set up a blog, posted twice, and when it didn’t result in any new business, gave up? Well what did you expect would happen? According to the HubSpot survey, among businesses who reported acquiring a customer through their blog, 92 percent posted multiple times a day. In other words, the more you share, the more likely you generate traffic, make new contacts, and build new business. Now you may be thinking you don’t have the time to post multiple times a day. Well, 66 percent of those business blogs acquired a customer while only blogging once a week and, among blogs that only updated monthly, 56 percent gained a customer. In other words, even if you’re too busy or too lazy, chances are a business blog will benefit your bottom line.
The Future Is Now: Among respondents to the HubSpot survey, 62 percent say social media has grown more important to them in the past six months. And, on the flip side, only 14 percent named trade shows and nine percent said telemarketing. In other words, if you believed social media was a passing fancy and there was no need to participate, you’ve been proven wrong. More and more businesses are incorporating and benefiting from social media and blogs. And more of them are reporting their successes. The same survey found 81 percent of businesses said their blog was useful or better, with 34 percent calling it important and 25 percent saying it was critical. Yeah, critical.