If you missed Online Marketing with RSS Ray on WS Radio this week, I did a segment on Twitter for Business. Listen now at:
2) On iTunes
If you ever needed a clear example of how fast social media evolves, note that on the Wednesday we recorded the show, Twitter was still feeding Google the full firehose. Two days later, Twitter pulled the firehose access to immediate tweet indexing by allowing the Google deal to expire, meaning that Google search results for tweets are now just as useless as, well, Twitter searches for tweets or Bing searches for… well, anything.
It wouldn’t be such a big deal for Twitter to kill the access (I’m betting in either bid for more money from Google’s deep pockets or as a preemptive strike against the very slick Google +), if Twitter’s own search worked well. But it really doesn’t, and hasn’t for some time. It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out, especially in light of some of out other favorite tools, like Twellow, also revamping themselves to be less useful lately.
I took a quick scan of my article for Business NH Magazine in April 2011 about Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for Business for those of you not in NH. Enjoy!
Transcript (Submission, Pre Edit – Article Clipped Above Has Editor’s Changes)
Make Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Work for Your Business
Businesses have been hearing consultants and the media urge them to jump into social media
for years now. Many business owners wonder how the productivity time sinks of Twitter and
Facebook or the business networking site LinkedIn can be beneficial to their bottom line.
Simply put, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are to businesses now what Microsoft Office and it’s
tools like Excel and Word or Lotus 1-2-3 were to businesses in the past: new tools to master.
These tools can increase your internal productivity and communication, help you find and
hire good help, expand your business reach, stake your claim as a leader in your field, create
avenues to new markets and increase your revenue stream.
Tweeting Your Way To Bigger Reach, Better Employees, Increased Revenue
Twitter can be overwhelming to the new user. It’s not uncommon to feel as though you are
wasting your time in the beginning. It takes a bit of time to build a valuable network on Twitter.
The interactions themselves are easy and instantaneous, but the creation of a solid Twitter
network needs a good foundation or it won’t produce results. How can you be more effective on
Twitter as a business?
1) Be a Human Business: As you embark on this journey, know that people like interacting
with a “human” business these days, feeling like the people that power the company are within
reach. Instead of having your logo as your avatar (the little picture that follows you around
everywhere on Twitter), have the face of the CEO of your company, or a group shot of your
employees, and place your logo as part of the background image. This humanizes your
company to the consumer. Also, sign your tweets with your initials! This helps the consumer
know who they are talking to.
2) Tweet Ratio: Before you get started, keep in mind that a good ratio of sales tweets to
engagement tweets is key to success on Twitter. Business that only advertise their sites and
services without ever having a conversation with people in their Twitter stream, being helpful to
others or promoting others in their field will find no success on this platform.
3) Be consistent! Avoid becoming a social ghost town that dies after only a few interactions.
Have a Twitter engagement schedule and stick to it, even on the days when you don’t think you
have anything to say. At a loss for words? Share something amazing that someone else did, or
simply join someone else’s conversation for the day. The key to growing your Twitter following
and seeing results in your bottom line over time is to remain active and engaged, in an authentic
and believable manner.
Optimizing Facebook for Business
Facebook can be a challenging environment to engage as a business. They tend to change the
way the site looks and operates on a regular basis, which can create time management issues
for the people in charge of managing the corporate account as they try to keep up.
Regardless, Facebook has become invaluable to a business for reaching specific
demographics, for creating targeted and effective ads, for customer investment in a brand, and
for increasing your search engine “juice” via social media optimization on top of typical keyword
search engine optimization.
Some things to remember about Facebook:
1) Always create a fan page (now a “like” page) for your brand, never a personal profile.
Creating a profile for your business as if it were a person is a violation of the Facebook Terms
of Service and gives you access to too much personal information from people who connect
with your brand. A fan page gives you connection but also distance from any privacy and legal
issues that could arise.
2) Use Facebook’s custom tabs tool and FBML (Facebook Markup Language) to make a
landing page for your fan page that converts customers immediately into “likes” for your page
and customers for your business or that adds them to your newsletter mailing list. Remember,
the goal of using all three of these tools is conversion! Your time spent on these sites is only
valuable if, after a few months of engaging, you have increased sales as well as awareness.
3) Once you have 25 likes on your page, grab a custom Facebook URL! Keep in mind that
social media URLs and handles are always first come, first served, so if you are late to the
game, you may not be able to get your exact company name.
Reaching New Business Heights with LinkedIn
LinkedIn has recently decided to emulate Twitter and Facebook by adding more social features.
There are many features now added, but two are the most relevant to a small business owner:
public company pages and public groups.
Public company pages give you a place to tell your LinkedIn network about your company,
services and staff. Of more relevance to you: these pages are visible to new businesses and
people outside of your network, and can include recommendations of your services. This is
huge news – no longer do you have to have people connect with your personal page to give
you a recommendation or endorsement on LinkedIn, now you can have them connect with your
company page instead and recommend the services themselves for all to see.
The advantage of having a topical group or a group for your company or association is that
it gives you a searchable and public platform for customer engagement about your brand or
subject of expertise, and allows your customers a place to talk to you that is not as busy as
Facebook or Twitter and that can have longer, searchable threaded topics.
Time Management Tips For Busy Business Owners
Time management is the number one issue for businesses embarking on an online presence.
There are several steps you can take right now to grow your presence and bottom line online
without giving up your valuable time.
1) Editorial Calendar: Have an editorial calendar for your blog posts, Twitter posts, LinkedIn
updates and group discussion engagement, and Facebook wall posts and then stick to it. One
major post per day on Facebook, minimum; two – five on Twitter (not counting conversations
with others; and one per day on your Linkedin group or page will be a great start. You may find
you need to increase this as you become successful online.
2) Multiple User Management: Trying to have one person in charge of updating your accounts
will only lead to burnout. While one person can and should spearhead the effort online to keep
the brand on course and help direct the engagement, you should have someone form each
department helping you engage. By spreading the work around, you are more like to be diverse
and interesting and to avoid becoming a social media ghost town.
3) Scheduled Checkins: Schedule your social media check ins and brand monitoring to coincide
with other already ingrained daily activities like checking your email. Plan to check in online at
least three times per day. Remember, this includes weekends and evenings (social media never
sleeps!), another reason having many people helping will do wonders to share the load and
4) Use Tools To Manage Your Activity: Tools like Seesmic.com (seesmic for web), Hootesuite,
CoTweet, Tap11 and more can help you manage your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts
as a company. This helps you schedule posts, and lets everyone on the account see how the
company is engaging and when, to avoid duplication and make sure the right person addresses
the right questions as needed.
This advice has only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding value and success
using the social media tools, but it should get your business started in social media. If you
already had a presence that was not as successful, this should help you get over that hump and
start seeing conversions from engagement to sales and brand awareness.
Article by: Leslie “@leslie” Poston, best selling co-author of (editions 1 and 2) Twitter for Dummies,
speaker, and former owner of Magnitude Media, an emerging media and business development
consulting service. She not only helps businesses grow with these tools, strategy and
adivce, she also offers classes and seminars on social media, which you can read more
about at twitter.com/leslie
For Portsmouth, NH’s Foursquare Day, I gave a brief talk about Foursquare to kick things off. The talk was intended to inspire folks to think beyond marketing when it comes to location based services.
Are businesses and their adoption of the service driving a large part of Foursquare’s success? I’d say yes. Even so, people seek more than just a simple deal or special when they interact with a company online. The companies who put themselves into their customers’ shoes to understand why they visit their location, and why they might check in to that location beyond getting a simple deal, will succeed far greater than those who treat Foursquare like another billboard.
Location is interactive. You are receiving data from someone, and they are publicizing their location voluntarily to hopefully include and connect with their friends and family while there, or to earn rewards like badges, mayorships and more. This sharing of location data is much more intimate than sites like Twitter – it’s allowing brands to track someone’s habits offline. That’s worthy of a little more creativity than average on your part as a business, don’t you think?
Think outside of your sales quotas. How can your business use location to educate, interact, inspire, help, and reach out beyond your brick and mortar walls?
Part of this talk was intended to inspire, and part was intended to highlight some brands I applaud for being creative and consistent with the way they use Foursquare. I could only include a few brands due to time – there are so many being innovative that I had to leave off. Did I leave off your favorite?
Reading: Foursquare Day in the News from the Portsmouth Herald
*Note: I did record my audio from this, but due to a glitch in the way the room held sound, it wasn’t usable. This is too bad, since I relayed a lot of fun data not shown here, and managed to sneak in a wide variety of humor (including a Snooki joke, on a bet). I’ll just have to tell you the jokes and info in person next time I see you if you feel left out.
I keep reading about schools adding social media degrees and about new courses in social media being offered from schools all over the country lately. Whether they are a local college like Southern New Hampshire University or Harvard Business School, the news makes me cringe.
You’d think the news would make me happy. The more social media is accepted as a profession the easier it should be to do my job, right? Wrong! Social media is not a profession, a discipline or a vocation and it is not where the focus of my work lies. It is only a part of the whole picture of being a full-stack marketer. Teaching it as separate encourages wrong-thinking about what it is and how it should be used.
Social media (and again, I prefer to call it adaptive media) is a whole business solution. It can not be separate to find success, especially in a small business environment. To teach that it is a stand alone thing in our schools is doing us all a disservice.
Social Media is only a versatile tool, not a discipline or vocation.
Social Media is one part of a whole business and education solution.
Social Media implementation must be shared across departments and integrated into classrooms – it is not it’s own silo.
The first place to teach social media as a part of a whole business is to implement it in action in every classroom and administrative department and teach by doing, using the whole set of tools as they evolve instead of parting out the process and isolating it, which goes against the grain of what these tools are great for – building bridges, connecting and collaborating.
For more on social media in the classroom, see this post with slide decks and more information.
One thing I’ve noticed speaking at things like Filmmakers Get Social: the film industry has a lot in common with the music industry and with business when it comes to social media. What I mean by that is that every event seems evenly divided at this point in the game between those who’ve been aware of social media concepts for years but perhaps not using them effectively, and those who just woke up to the fact that 3+ year old Twitter and other tools are out there at all and still need 101 level help.
It’s incredibly difficult to tailor a talk or panel to a room evenly divided between the more advanced users and the social media “noobs”. I like to think I do a good job, but I know I leave as frustrated as my audience when I’ve spent an hour or two trying to address both sides of the coin. Workshops and seminars I offer, educational things I do like PodCamp NH and classes and seminars via Magnitude Media do address the issue, but only a few people at a time.
Learning how to take the temperature of the room at the start and how to read the crowd as you go helps a bit as well, but even then you have half of the room who thinks you’re going too fast dispensing information (and this while your discussing the basic trifecta of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and not even scratching the surface of the much cooler, more advanced stuff), and the other half who craves more detail, more help – more meat.
My call to action in this post for event planners: make a conscious effort to offer two tracks for your attendees if possible: 101 and Senior Thesis, so to speak. Then take it a step further and really screen the folks in each. Don’t be afraid to gently suggest to someone that they may want to attend the other workshop or session based on their knowledge level or skill set. I know social media is all about helping each other out, but at some point that comes with a cost for the more advanced folks in the room as every discussion devolves to answer simple questions.
My call to action for speakers and teachers in this space: let’s make our own tracks when the event planners don’t do it for us. If you want to teach advanced tools, and you have a room of advanced level folks ready to learn that includes a few 101 level students, set the time up to reduce questions (offer to take them at the end, for example) and allow yourself to teach to the advanced level. If a 101 level student wants to insert a question that will veer the discussion off course, gently remind them that questions will be at the end – don’t allow them to derail the discussion for others. Then at the end, offer to help them with their questions between sessions or over drinks at the after party. If, on the other hand, your room is full of beginning social media stars, teach to that level, and make the same offer of a more in depth discussion to the handful of advanced users who may be in the room.
If you are speaking or educating in this space and are careful with your time, aware of your audience and perceptive, you can make a room of mixed knowledge attendees happy. It just takes care and practice.
Several fantastic panelists are getting together tonight in New York at the Roger Smith Hotel to share advice on a fabulous panel. Ultimat Vodka is sponsoring free booze, also, so if you haven’t signed up yet for the speakers, you might want to sign up for THAT.
I’m on the panel, and I can’t wait to talk about the nitty gritty of marketing, distribution, fundraising and festivals with a group of like minded people. Will I meet you?
Here’s where to sign up: Filmmakers Get Social Registration