The Need To Blog

As you know, I write a weekly blog here at Digital Brand Marketing Education, covering all aspects of social media.  I really enjoy it, but sometimes, it is incredibly hard work.  So hard, in fact, that my blog (which is due by Thursday) is written on a Friday morning, to the consternation of our Executive Director and Senior Editor (I’m sorry).

Today is one of those days.  It’s really bad for me.  Terrible writers block.  Nothing coming out.  Even this is difficult.

So, it got me thinking that in all the classes I teach I talk about how important blogging is, and how if you really want to make use of SEO all you need to do is “Write.  Good.  SH*T.” (thanks, Guy Kawasaki for this quote).

But, where does the average small business owner find that good information to write about?

The first thing any small business should do is to write about what they know and are passionate about.  This will most likely include the business they are involved in or any topics relating to that business.

They should subscribe to blogs within their industry, comment on them, and react within their own blog.  Everyone has an opinion on something, and you shouldn’t be afraid to share it.  It is ok to disagree, even if it is with someone that you feel has more knowledge or experience.

When you have exhausted the general topics, it is time to search for things that will be of interest to your audience.  There are several sites available for content curation, but my favorite is Alltop.  They search the internet for articles covering almost every imaginable topic.

Blogging Frequency

How often should you blog?  The saying goes, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.  I know people who blog daily.  The more you blog, the more potential you have for Google to see your posts.  The more you blog, the more content you have to share within your social networks.

So, how often?  Minimally, you should be blogging once per week.  But it is what works for you.  I know that Scott Stratten from UnMarketing blogs infrequently.  His view is that he blogs when he has something important to say.  His last blog was April 15, 2012.  And before that?  February 11, 2012.  But they are worthwhile blogs.  Interesting and entertaining.

So, blog when you have something to say.  Blog once a week.  Blog when it works for you.

But, no matter what.  Please blog.  Even if it is hard.

Author:

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.

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Boosting Revenue with Social Media

For many marketing companies, management of corporate or small business level social media has become a full-time endeavor. For this reason it can be vital to learn what impact your efforts are actually having on your brand awareness. Gaining this knowledge will help you to understand what it may take to boost your business’s bottom line.

The Noisy Social Media Environment

Social media networks are busy places. Once a user has built up a large friend or fan following, the information can stream by at light speed. There are plenty of opportunities to place ads to garner that extra attention from those who may not be able to meticulously pick through their social media networks information, but still scan it for an overall idea of what the internet world had to offer today.

In a recent release of a study by the Adobe Digital Marketing Team, some statistics may have shown why consumers and businesses may not be benefiting from social media like they could.

  • 36% of tweets with valuable content are swallowed by a more boring majority.
  • 37% of those who do use social media networks say that the ads they see are not very useful.
  • 63% of social community managers spend more than 30 hours per week.
  • 26% spent 41 to 50 hours on their community administration and management.

Account proliferation seems to contribute to the overload currently experienced on social media networks. The Adobe study showed that many companies with over 1,000 employees, had an average of 178 social media network accounts. Not only can this clog up the networks, but it can also make full brand analytics rather difficult to test in some cases. Many social marketers also report that they feel they lack resources. Many of those also reporting that they often struggle to measure ROI, which ironically, does not help for getting new resources.

Measuring Social Success

There are obviously many business, large and small who are utilizing their Facebook fan pages to great benefit for their businesses and brands. Facebook and YouTube both have emerged as leaders in social marketing successes. These two market leaders dwarf their competition with an unparalleled critical difference in terms of time spent by users on those sites.

The study also showed that recommendations from other social users can affect the level of enjoyment a possible consumer may feel about a video.  When it comes to websites and content, the study also showed that users tend to stay logged in more than twice as long when doing so with social plug-ins.

Many other social networking and social media statistics found in the study can also be vital to understanding how to implement

Social sharing increases email click-throughs

CTR without sharing shows up around 26%.

  • Twitter – 5.0%
  • Facebook – 5.4%
  • LinkedIn – 9.6%

People use social networks to find local business

In 2008 4% of consumers reported they used social networking sites to find local business.

  • 2009 –  7%
  • 2010 – 9%
  • 2011 – 15%

Social Drives Sales but Faces Perception Challenges

During a self-assessment of women’s marketplace influence, 73% of young adult women described themselves as influential information sources. It also showed that orders that come in via social media networks are commonly larger than those through more traditional digital means such s email, search engines, or even ad displays. In the same realm, the study showed that social sharing can actually trickle down to orders. A quarter of online shoppers who shop at least quarterly, and log into their Facebook accounts at least once a month have made purchases based on a social recommendation.

Author:

@BasilPuglisi is the Executive Director and Publisher for Digital Brand Marketing Education (dbmei.com). Basil C. Puglisi is also the President of Puglisi Consulting Group, Inc. A Digital Brand Marketing Consultancy that manages professional and personal branding for Fortune 500 CEOs, Hedge Fund Managers and Small Business Owners.

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A Revolutionary Approach to Start-Up Social Media

At thіs advanced stage оf Social Media development, mоst wоuld agree thаt major companies hаvе embraced thе nеw opportunities wіth gusto аnd success. Fеw experts wоuld dispute thе fact thаt companies lіkе Ford аnd Starbucks аrе ahead оf thе Web 2.0 power curve. Іn fact, іt соuld bе argued thаt Social Media іs reinventing thоsе companies, spurring enormous innovation, nеw products, аnd renewed market strength.

The last time I blogged here we discussed a strategy that should allow any fresh start-up to establish themselves on the social media field with 7 Weeks to Establish a Start-Up Social Media Presence for Your Business. Before that we had gained a new perspective with the basics of understanding social media marketing. But whаt аbоut thе small businesses – thе lone entrepreneur wіthоut thе capital аnd thе staying power tо experiment wіth Social Media? Whаt аrе hіs options аnd prospects? Аnd реrhарs mоrе importantly, іs thеrе а viable opportunity fоr thе sole entrepreneur tо break оut оf thе pack wіth а creative аnd revolutionary approach usіng Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon оr thеіr countless counterparts?

Brush up on your understanding of what social media marketing presence really means in this 2-minute video.

Try to remember the Social Presence Theory mentioned in the video above and you should do pretty well for yourself in the start-up phase.

Is Zuckerberg the Leading Social Media Revolutionist?

Like thousands оf оthеr interested moviegoers, І fоund mуsеlf іn а rapt audience watching Тhе Social Network again rесеntlу. І wаs fascinated; nоt bу thе intriguing story оr masterful screenplay, аnd nоt bу thе surprisingly diverse demographic оf thе audience; but rаthеr bу а subtle message wіth huge implications fоr thе small entrepreneur.

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

Mark Zuckerberg, thе Harvard genius аnd founder оf Facebook, bесаmе thе youngest billionaire іn history, nоt thrоugh business acumen but nеаrlу bу accident. Ѕоmе wоuld sау dumb luck. Whо knоws whеrе thе truth lies? Іt іs, аftеr аll, а Hollywood production nоt а documentary. Вut thе оnе unmistakable theme оf thе movie fоr mе, wаs thаt аftеr twо hours оf watching І wаs left wіth thе sаmе question thаt wаs bothering mе whеn І threw it in the DVD player. “Ноw саn thе typical small business usе Social Media fоr sіgnіfісаnt sales growth аnd predictable profits?”

Of course, undеr thе perfect set оf economic conditions, wіth а spark оf genius, hubris аnd аvаіlаblе venture capital, thе nехt Zuckerberg саn invent thе nехt Facebook. Вut, whаt аbоut thе average businessman оr woman whо іs simply trуіng tо usе Social Media tools tо sell products оr services?

The Ultimate Social Media Innovation

The Ultimate Social Media Innovation - Barring а sudden flash оf brilliance, thе answer fоr thе entrepreneur іs а decidedly unglamorous combination оf creativity, persistence аnd hard work. Аs І hаvе sаіd frequently оn thіs blog, Social Media іs simple, but іt іsn’t easy.

Creativity – Оvеr thе lаst year, І hаvе tweeted thousands оf articles frоm thе best thinkers іn Social Media, but wіth fеw exceptions from top-notch innovative talents, thеу hаvе bееn а rehash оf whаt wе аlrеаdу knew. Formulas exist fоr thе successful building оf а large Twitter fоllоwіng, but fеw smaller entrepreneurs саn claim notable sales success frоm Twitter followers. Facebook hаs proven effective for start-ups, but often оnlу whеn Facebook ads аrе usеd tо generate nеw business, аnd whіlе financially reasonable, thіs іs stіll а luxury fоr mаnу entrepreneurs. StumbleUpon саn generate windfall web traffic, but оnlу wіth immense effort.

Creativity саnnоt bе taught аnd іt іs іn short supply. Researching thе existing ideas оf оthеrs іs nоt thе solution еіthеr. Аll оf us-the entrepreneurs, thеіr stakeholders аnd advisers must spend time creating solutions thаt аs уеt dо nоt exist. In short, mоrе creative solutions must bе fоund bеfоrе thе typical entrepreneur will realize thе level оf success experienced bу thе large companies.

You can take a few lessons away from mind mapping sessions if you are desperate to formulate some new ideas. A quick Google search will likely show you several free mind mapping tools, you could also use a variety of chart graphing capabilities such as those found in Ms Office or Open Office tools.

Persistence – Еvеn аs wе develop nеw solutions, success will оnlу соmе wіth muсh trial-and-error. Тhеrе іs а proverbial pot-of-gold аt thе еnd оf thе Social Media rainbow, but іt can be very elusive for some. То find іt аs аn entrepreneur demands а lengthy period оf sustained effort, requiring persistence.

Hard work – Еvеn Mark Zuckerberg spent countless hours pounding аwау оn hіs computer. Іt іs а long-lived cliché, but thеrе іs absolutely nо substitute fоr hard work.

Our job аs professionals – Аs professionals, wе must view еvеrу nеw Social Media campaign wіth renewed creativity, lооkіng fоr nеw аnd innovative solutions. Wе must persist untіl оur customer’s goals аrе achieved. Аnd wе must nеvеr shy аwау frоm thе vеrу hard work thаt will аlwауs bе nесеssаrу. Аbоvе аll, іt shоuld bе оur quest tо find nеw аnd productive tools tо assist thе entrepreneur. Оur combined expertise shоuld bе focused оn helping thоsе whо аrе lеаst аblе tо help thеmsеlvеs.

Marketing Techniques for Small Businesses That Work

Many people have the dream of leaving their corporate position behind and starting their own business.  However, many never reach their goal of business ownership due to the lack of a real plan.  Owning a small business has many challenges…but if business owners focus on the customer and develop a cohesive marketing plan that reaches their target audience effectively, then they have nothing to worry about.  How do you market a new business?  It all starts with building your business by securing a customer base through the following marketing activities:

Referral Networks – Most people do not see the value of networking.  It’s huge!!  By getting out and mingling with companies in your area…you are building valuable relationships that will set the stage for your business.  By attending local networking events, it helps build your name and relationships without spending a fortune. It’s a no brainer….networking works and should be done regularly.    One relationship can bring in many new customers and referrals.  Think about each person and how many people they are connected to…it’s endless.   Face to face meetings are as important as social networking and needs to be part of your marketing plan for small businesses.

Cold Calling– Who wants to sit on the phone and make phone calls…not me!  But guess what…it works!  By being proactive and reaching out to a targeted list of companies, you are adding to your network.  All it takes is one lead to turn into a customer.   Prior to starting a call campaign, a script should be produced and used for all calls.  You want to call with a purpose and offer something attractive to potential customers.  It also helps you be creative and adapt to various questions you get from your prospects. You will be surprised with the results and how many people you end up building a relationship with.  The best time to call is in the morning before people start their day.  You should dedicate 1-2 hours per day on making calls and prospecting.  There are also classes that offer training on how to make calls and succeed.

Inexpensive Marketing Materials  – A quick flyer that explains what services/products you offer is a great way to spread the message about your small business.  You can print out on your office computer and develop a nice template in Word.  Again….you don’t have to spend a fortune on hiring a designing and going to a fancy printer.  As long as you create a flyer that has the correct messaging for your target audience and great images…you are good.  Also…a unique business card will grab attention. Use a different color or shape.

Free Press– Write a press release on your small business and send it out everywhere!  Guess what…it is free!  You can send to your local press list and even splurge on an online pr site.  It can cost anywhere from $50 – $200 per release…but it’s worth it.   It’s a great way to announce your company to the world.

Co-Marketing – Work with other small businesses to share marketing costs.  You can create a direct mail campaign or print ad together.  Perhaps….your services complement each other.  Be creative and come up with some new offers that are out of the box.  You can offer discounts and bundle your services together.  Also, you can share a booth at a trade show to cut costs.

Seminars:  Create a seminar series on various topics that build your credibility in the industry.  You can host an event at your office or select a venue that wants to bring people into their restaurant.  Schedule events after work and include your target customers.  Seminars are a great way to build your network and business.  It also creates a buzz about your business.

Building a business is a process that takes time and can’t be rushed.  As long as you have an effective marketing plan in place, you will succeed.    The time you put in today will be rewarded tomorrow.  Don’t give up!

Author: 

Monique Merhige is the President of Infusion Direct Marketing & Advertising, Inc.  She has over 15 years of marketing communications experience with technology companies ranging from small service firms and equipment manufacturers to a 1.5 Billion dollar division of Motorola.  Infusion is a marketing consulting firm that specializes in the security industry and delivers marketing solutions that include Public Relations, Direct Marketing, Branding, Collateral Development, and Social Media Marketing.  Visit:  www.infusiondirect.com or call 631-846-1558

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Is Junk Mail, Spam and Hard Selling Hurting Social Media for Business?

c/o sme-blog.com

Social media is all about being social.  It’s not about hawking products and services or distributing information directly into people’s streams.  We know that social media sites are meant to provide an online venue people to connect, engage, share and much more.  Many have also flocked to social media as a way to connect people and businesses together.  So we now have a paradox.  Social media is supposed to be fun, but now capitalists want to be a part of the action.  There is nothing wrong with capitalism; the American entrepreneurial spirit is what makes our nation and the world economy run.  Without capitalism, there would be no social media to begin with.

According to a Nielsen 2011 social media report, “53 percent of active adult social networkers follow a brand.”  Social media interaction between people and business was inevitable because people identify themselves with brands, and social media is an ideal place for brands and businesses to engage their customers and fans.  This interaction is a good thing, allowing people to find the products and services they like and their friends recommend.  Social media allows individuals to demonstrate brand loyalty and get access to discounts, special offers and prizes.  However, the problem arises when businesses or individuals motivated by sales start pushing unwanted advertising and direct messages to make sales pitches or offers.  Didn’t many of us sign up for social media to get away from spam and unwanted hard selling?

Social media is an opt-in medium, meaning people choose which information, people, brands and content they want to engage with.  In social media, communication or contact with a brand or business must be initiated by the individual.  If you like a product or company on Facebook or LinkedIn, no problem! You can connect, and businesses want you to do this.  However, a line can be – and often is – crossed.  Most people do not want to be contacted by someone trying to sell something on social media…unless they ask.  Social media is a platform where businesses and individuals must market themselves indirectly through interaction.  Social media participation is about giving information and engaging, not selling and soliciting.

Businesses should focus on using social media to provide information, demonstrate expertise and offer a forum for interaction.  By maintaining a positive flow of information and helpful interaction, a business, brand or professional salesperson will accomplish their goal: sales.  Yes, sales!  Sales will eventually come directly or from referrals, but only after a relationship is built.  Building the kind of relationship where individuals get to know, like and trust the individual or business is the goal.  People do business with those they know, like and trust.

What should businesses be aware of when trying to sell or market directly online?  Social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have policies against direct sales pitches.  LinkedIn’s User Agreement has a list of do’s and don’ts, which states that, “the user will not upload, post, email, InMail, transmit or otherwise make available or initiate any content that is unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, “junk mail,” “spam,” “chain letters,” “pyramid schemes,” or any other form of solicitation.”  Failing to follow this policy and the many others can result in having your profile suspended or terminated indefinitely.  Yes, terminated. Think of how much time and money goes into creating a social media site or account.  Do you want to risk losing it all?

Direct sales messages are annoyingly commonplace in social media, as many businesses are drawn into the possibilities and the exposure opportunities that it offers.  Social media sites’ news streams and walls are not intended for direct sales messages. This is an area that should remain uncorrupted by overzealous and scavenging advertising.  Some experts disagree, but I believe in reporting and blocking all inappropriate sales contact made through direct messaging.  If it’s a friend you may wish to tell them that it’s not appropriate, but we all need to fight against this practice.  We don’t want to have our LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter direct message mailboxes fill with unwanted sales spam.

I have been bashing selling on social media, but there are some exceptions.  Not all “sales messages” on social media are inappropriate.  For instance, advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn is, for the most part, unobtrusive and helps to keep most of the services offered free.  These ads are not direct messages and are usually chosen based on their relevance to your likes and interests and content that you post.  Divya Rawat, a content writer with a reputed SEO Company, says that Facebook ads can be customized as per age, location, gender, industry, interests and more. (http://www.vast9.com/facebook/facebook-advertising-5-tips-design-effective-facebook-ad/).

Selling is an art and a skill.  Online selling is evolving and, in the business to business arena, selling via social media is difficult when compared to the business to consumer market, where online selling is more ubiquitous and accepted.  Retail brands, including clothing and restaurants, can use social media to advertise extremely effectively.  This is a less intrusive approach, allowing individuals to opt-in.

People need to know that hard sales messages on social media are counter-productive and will turn people away instead of attracting them, which is just the opposite of what social media is intended to do.

Author:

This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm.  For more information, go to corbettpr.com or to his blog corbettprblog.com.  He can be reached at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com or @wjcorbett.

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