Three MORE Social Marketing Avenues For Small Business.
In our first post we discussed three of the primary avenues for small businesses to get involved with social media marketing. We outlined Facebook, Twitter and Blogging and explained the pro’s involved in leveraging them for inexpensive brand exposure.
Today we will be continuing with that theme as we dive into yet another three avenues that can provide excellent marketing coverage for small business.
When discussing LinkedIn one of the most common descriptions we have heard for it is “Facebook for Professionals”. LinkedIn is an online social network designed distinctly for business professionals. Profiles consist of resumes, cover letters, references and so forth. It is an excellent place to showcase yourself as a professional.
LinkedIn also hosts a bevy of job opportunities, easily searched based on industry, category, background etc. Many businesses use LinkedIn to post job openings and to head hunt top-notch talent. It currently plays host to over 50 million users in 50 different countries.
More than that, LinkedIn also offers “Business Pages”. A tool that, much like Facebook, allows businesses to operate pages centered around their brand. LinkedIn is quickly growing and has been marked as one of the top places to generate sales leads.
Cold: Sign-on and generate a personal LinkedIn profile. As with an Social Media platform, it is important to understand the tools and resources available. Take a look at how connections with other individuals are established, explore some of the job postings, and check to see what your competitors are doing – do they have a business page?
LinkedIn hosts’ “Groups”. These groups consist of business professionals from similar backgrounds. There are groups for Graphic Designers, Social Media Marketers, Salesmen, Mechanics… just about anything. These groups can be a good place to start, try joining one or two and getting a feel for how it all operates. This is where to begin developing connections.
Note that there are often multiple groups for the various categories. Some of these groups have little or no activity. LinkedIn will display the “Activity Level” for each group, allowing you to see before joining.
LinkedIn is good about policing spam, but it is not unusual to see users abusing these groups by posting redundant or spam links – don’t worry, these are easy to weed out and the users don’t last long.
Medium: As you get comfortable with LinkedIn, start working with more of the tools. Use the search option to find other professionals, or potential clients and begin inviting them to connect via LinkedIn. Remember DO NOT SPAM people, but be genuine in your intent for connecting.
For example, when we seek to connect with a potential client we will communicate something to this effect: “Hi there ________ we are a small business marketing group here in the Okanagan, and we are looking to establish connections with business professionals like yourself, would you be interested?”
Note that there is no cheesy sales pitch, just a polite explanation of who we are and what we are doing. We will often do some research on the individual or business first and include a reference to their specific industry or background – this helps to breed familiarity.
LinkedIn is a great intermediary spot to connect with people. There is little risk and less obligation when connecting – this offers an advantage, as people are more willing to connect.
For this reason it can make sense to use LinkedIn as a place to locate and generate first impressions with potential clients and businesses. Once you have found these potential leads and generated some awareness and recognition of who you are, you can begin to generate actual leads. Visit their place of business, invite them to an event – whatever sales tactics you use, you now have a target, a direction and a doorway to potential sales.
Get out and build those connections.
Warm: LinkedIn offers a diverse array of tools that often go missed by typical users. Encourage your customers, clients or vendors to provide an online “recommendation” on your profile. These recommendations can quickly set you apart from other professionals and competitors. It is all about reputation after all.
Get more active with the various groups available and explore starting your own. The more active you are within the online communities the more buzz will be generated around you.
Join in group conversations and make yourself known.
Answer questions and share educated opinions.
Start establishing yourself as a leader on specific topics within these groups.
Begin your own conversations and invite others to pitch in their two cents.
Long term it may make good sense to create a business page for your brand. These take a high level of resources to maintain and succeed in, but the end results can prove well worth the while.
Above all, and as with all Social Marketing, remember that you are a voice of your brand as a whole. Ensure consistent and measured communications – never misrepresent your brand!
2. Connecting With Other Blogs.
Time is valuable. It is the one thing we all run short on. As such it may seem backwards to take that time and spend it on other people’s blogs. However consider this: Every time you offer an insightful comment or share with others, you are promoting yourself and your brand to them. This establishes recognition (visibility) and credibility.
Remember, people are not going to flock to you – you need to go to them. Getting involved on THEIR blogs and profiles is a one of the primary means of doing this.
Cold: Find 3 -4 blogs that are relevant to you and your business. The best way of doing this, is to use the “Reader” option on your particular blog site. The “Reader” option will allow you to search the site’s database of blogs for specific terms. Another option is to explore specific terms via Google as the best blogs SHOULD always be near the top of their lists.
When determining which blogs make sense consider the following:
Is the blog highly active? When was the last post? What amount of time is lapsing between posts? Look for high activity bloggers.
Is the content relevant to what you, yourself will be sharing? Even if the blog states it is about one thing, that does not mean the content will match.
What type of audience does that blog currently have? (Most blogs will display how many followers are currently subscribed). The higher the number of followers, the larger the audience that will see your comments.
Are they generating a lot of comments already? If so, feel free to also comment on existing these comments.
Now that you have a handful of blogs to follow, get involved. Share educated opinions and participate in the conversations. One surefire way to generate interest, is to include personal experience, stories or case studies.
Medium: Use these interactions to develop relationships with the various authors. Since beginning our blog, we have established some great relations with PR, Marketing and Branding folks all over the globe. These relationships span other profiles as well. Many of the bloggers we have gotten involved with, have connected with us on Twitter and Facebook as well.
Warm: Developing these relationships as well as brand credibility and trust brings other perks as well. Once you are comfortable with the various authors consider asking them to allow you to guest post on their profile.
Guest posts are a common occurrence with many blogs. This positions you as a trusted source and places you in front of an expanded audience.
Make sure to communicate and agree on a topic ahead of time. Expect to provide a draft of your article well in advance, with time built-in for their review.
In return consider offering them a similar opportunity. Allow them to guest post on your blog. This provides them with the same perks and is a great way to draw further attention to your own efforts.
Remember it is all about reputation, it may take some time to develop any sort of renown, but keep at it and the perks shall come.
3. Comments and Conversations About Your Company.
It is important to note one thing: “Whether you are on social media or not, people already there and they are talking about your brand”
“It is becoming apparent to many brands, how important it actually is to maintain a presence on Social Media, if not to promote, then to monitor.” – Ben Erickson
Like it or not, your business and brand will be discussed on Social Media, can you afford to not be a part of those conversations?
Cold: Establish a presence on the main Social Media sites. Twitter and Facebook are two great places to begin. Familiarize yourself with the built-in tools available for tracking and monitoring. Both of these platforms (and many others out there) provide easy to use tools and searches to track what is being said about what.
Facebook now provides a real-time search engine. The search box located on the top right hand corner of any Facebook page. To start, search for your company’s name to see who is talking about you. Facebook is already planning integration with “Bing” which long-term will allow you to search for Facebook updates directly from the Bing search engine.
Twitter currently allows users to search for real-time results on just about anything (if you do not have a profile with Twitter, you can visit their homepage). As with Facebook, try searching your business name to see what pops up. You may also want to search words and terms that are relevant to your brand or business.
Additionally, Bing catalogues Tweets and Google has plans to roll out something similar.
Once you have a bead on the conversations taking place, make sure to join them where necessary. Don’t shy away from discussions and above all be honest. The worst thing that can happen to a brand on Social Media channels, is for them to lose their reputation as being truthful and reliable.
For an example of Social Media catastrophes resulting from questionable conduct visit either of these posts on the Chick-Fil-A fiasco:
Medium: Begin understanding the outside resources available for monitoring and tracking.
Programs like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Seesmic all come with built-in search, catalogue and monitoring tools. These systems not only track Twitter, but can be used for Facebook and LinkedIn also,
Google Alerts is another option. Google Alerts updates you free of charge, via email anytime results you wish to track, have been “Googled”. You may wish to track competitors names, your business name and/or specific search terms related to your industry. Anytime Google adds something to its index that mentions any of the terms being tracked, you will receive an email advising, and providing a link to that content. Google Alerts can be set up for blogs, websites, videos, images, updates or groups searches.
Google Analytics (or similar programs) are the next step. Keep tabs on the results in your web analytics in order to measure your impact. We ourselves like the free Google Analytics tool. This free tool provides detailed and insightful information pertaining to your website traffic, meta-tags, search terms etc. It is a great way to gauge SEO and measure your online marketing impact. Google Analytics also allows you to attach specific tracking tags to your various online marketing campaigns. This is crucial to getting an accurate measurement of your marketing results.
Once again, the purpose for monitoring is to get involved in the discussions. Once you have ascertained who is saying what, get your voice into the mix.
Hootsuite Display Screen
Warm: As you gain experience you may want to consider consolidating your various monitoring strategies into one. Several applications exist for this purpose.
truVOICE provides excellent keyword monitoring for social media platforms.
Radian6 collects information from Social Media sites, dissects it, and provides easy to understand metrics related to your brand.
These just scrape the top of the proverbial iceberg, and many other programs exist to measure, monitor and record.
Monitoring of course is simply the means of accurately determining who to engage, on what topics and when. You cannot be everywhere at once. It will take some time to determine which conversations to tackle, but as you negotiate the various Social Media sites it will become easier to do.
Experience and time will hone the edges of your communications. The key is to remember that you speak for something bigger than yourself, you speak for a brand (even if that brand is JUST YOURSELF ).
Brand Representation on Social Media.
These are all no more than tools to enable you to broadcast, communicate and position your brand before the masses. In order to succeed with these tools, there is a dire need to understand the big picture involved in BRANDING.
We have discussed branding a few times in the past and you can view our thoughts, and those of others we respect, on the following links:
The key to remember, is that regardless of how many profiles you choose to use for your brand, they all need to be CONSISTENT.
In other words, no matter where your brand can be seen or heard, the audience should see and hear the same thing.
Your Twitter presence should match your Facebook presence, which should match your Website, which should match your Business Cards, which should match your Brochures, which should match you Office Space…. and so on.
Branding Consistency pertains to both:
Aesthetics (how your profiles look)
Communications (what your profiles say)
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE OF CONSISTENCY TO BRANDING! (Yes this is all caps, yes we are shouting – this is important).
Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds.We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.