Archive for August, 2010

What Are Your Social Media Goals?

socia-media-goalsI’ve been thinking about goals lately. Which means you should be too. Why? Because if you don’t know what you’re striving for, how will you ever reach it?

So ask yourself why you are reading my blog. Is it because your goal is to start a blog in order to grow your customer base? Is it to start a blog because you want to have another medium in which to introduce new products? You need to know what you want. And you need to know your strengths and limits in order to make that happen. Are you incredibly creative but can’t write to get your point across to save your life? Are you able to get your point across but can’t figure out how to get the traffic to your website? Are you paralyzed at the thought of starting this social media adventure to the point where you are doing nothing except think about it and bite your cuticles?

Whatever you are thinking to yourself while reading my questions is probably your truest answer. Don’t be afraid to find help. Even if it’s just your mom to proofread your posts before publishing them. And whatever your goal turns out to be, be prepared to put in a lot of work.

Another piece of advice? Write down your goal.

I did that when I first started my business and blog. Would you like to know what it said? Here you go:

My mission: To help small businesses learn how to use social media in order to get the word out about their products and services and build a larger and more loyal client base.

If you tell me what your goal is in the comments section, I’ll help you figure out how to achieve it.  So, what is your goal? How do you think you’ll go about reaching it?  How can I help you get to where you need to be?





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social_media_and_communityI had another post planned for today, but last night, while watching the Emmys, I realized there was a lot to be learned from this classic awards show.

I have always been a lover of awards shows, the Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes, etc. It is a mixture of the red carpet and the fact that I have three hobbies and two of them are watching TV and watching movies.  It was also something about the fact that the Emmys felt so exclusive, and I wanted to be a part of it.  But unless I moved to Hollywood and roomed with Courteney Cox, I was never going to be invited.

Last night while watching Jimmy Fallon slay it as host (singing, playing guitar, and relaying tweets), I went online and saw that there were communities of people watching the Emmys with me.  Twitter was overflowing, EW.com was hosting a live blogging of the event, run by one of their writers, but all were allowed to chime in, and my friends on Facebook were posting status updates whenever they were moved.  Basically the Emmys went from feeling exclusive to feeling like a community.  All because of social media.

What’s the take away from my long-winded observation?  That everything is more fun in a group.  The great thing about social media is it brings a sense of community and allows people to not just watch, but to participate.  I would be an irresponsible blogger if I did not challenge you to answer the following question: how can you apply this to your business?  I’ll tell you my take.  You can make the active decision to use the powers of social media not only to promote your business, but to promote a sense of community amongst your customers.

I truly believe that if you can help your customers feel part of your community, you are creating opportunity.  Use social media to do this.  Don’t forget, a definition of social media is people having conversations online.

With this in mind I issue a challenge to all small business owners who are reading this blog.  Over the next week brainstorm ideas of how you are going to make this happen, and start taking the steps towards the implementation of your plan.  Whether this is setting up a Twitter account, or utilizing your existing account more effectively, change something for the better.

Below I offer several of my own ideas, and I hope you will add to them and participate, because I know everyone loves a challenge.

  1. Host an open house.  If your business has a storefront, decide to host an open house with free snacks and wine.  Use Facebook, Twitter, and a blog to draw customers into your store.  What you do with them once they’re there is your prerogative.
  2. Use Facebook Fan Pages more.  Nothing feels more like a community than lots of people “liking” the same thing.  For more, read about Facebook marketing.
  3. Host at Twitter chat.  Give out a hashtag and invite all your followers to join you at a specific time so you can either answer questions, have a conversation, pick your customer’s brains etc. This is a great way to both be useful to your customers or else ask your customers to be useful to you.
  4. FourSquare/Facebook Places lets your customers notify your friends when they visit your business and sparks conversation on and off line.
  5. Listen to your community.  This may seem counter-intuitive to being part of a community, but listen to what your community wants, and you will be a better member of it.  If you listen to your customers and deliver, you are more likely to build your community with new members and retain loyal old members.

Those are just a few of my ideas.  What do you have to add?  How do you build your community?  For an interview with a real life business who tries to foster a community among customers, read about The Needle Shop.





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Small-business-facebook-marketingOver the past few weeks I have been working with a company, helping to improve their website and get them familiarized with using social media to increase their sales and visibility. After setting up a Facebook page, the owner asked me three specific questions.

  1. What is the main benefit of having a lot of “likes” on Facebook?
  2. How can I utilize Facebook for marketing?
  3. How can I advertise my Facebook page so others can find me?

I thought these were excellent questions for any small business owner just starting out on Facebook to know. So I am sharing my email response, in the hopes that you find it helpful and it encourages you to jump on the Facebook bandwagon.

Before the email, I have two quick points.

  1. When creating a Facebook page for a business, make sure it is a fan page, not a personal page. Here is a very simple explanation as to the difference and why having a fan page is so important.
  2. Once you set up a fan page, make sure to go ahead and get a vanity URL for your site. The difference would be having a URL address that looks like this:

vs

https://www.facebook.com/JoeysSandwichShop

To learn how to obtain your vanity URL, read here. The only rule is that you must have 25 “likes” before you can claim it.

On to my email response. (The company sells shoes, but you probably would have figured that out. And just because the company asked, I changed what they sell. They don’t really sell shoes. The Facebook advice still applies).

Remember, these are the questions:

  1. What is the main benefit of having a lot of “likes” on Facebook?
  2. How can I utilize Facebook for marketing?
  3. How can I advertise my Facebook page so others can find me?

The main benefit of having lots of “likes” on Facebook is when you post something on your wall, it appears in all your fan’s news feeds. So if you have 30 friends and you post news on a sale, then 30 friends will see that. If you have 3,000 fans then 3,000 people will see it.

Facebook is utilized for marketing in a lot of different ways by companies. But I think it primarily works best when companies use it to forge a community. So instead of just posting about you, make it about those people who are your fans. Use it to ask questions, what is your favorite boot we make and why? Or hold a contest, everyone who responds to this posting with the top five reasons they love their boots will be entered in a drawing. It’s really a great way to communicate with potential customers and have a conversation with them. Also, it’s basically having your current customers write reviews on your Facebook page, which is a fantastic way to get potential customers to buy.

The best way to get more fans is to have a link from your website to Facebook. You can add the Like button to your website with just a bit of code. There are many tutorials on the Web explaining how to do this: here and here are just two.

You can also advertise on Facebook. They have some inexpensive ads. All you have to do is go to the Facebook ad section: http://www.facebook.com/adsmarketing/ and create an ad. Facebook will set it up for you.

Also, remember it doesn’t always have to be about shoes. So you could say something like, it’s Friday, our favorite day of the week because it means new movie day! Let us know what your favorite movie of all time is, ours is You’ve Got Mail and has been since 1998 because Meg Ryan wore a pair of our shoes in the first scene. Something like that. That will foster conversation, and keep you in the forefront of people’s minds. The more fans, the more conversation.

Videos are super popular now too. You could take fans on a tour of your office or show people wearing your different shoes. You could do a shoe fashion show, have an employee model a pair of shoes with three different outfits. Look how versatile our product is!

There are tons of ways to use Facebook, but it’s definitely the more fans, the more impact.

Do you have a mailing list of all your customers? If so, you could do an email blast with a newsletter which is all about your business taking the leap into social media. And then encourage everyone to become a Facebook fan for prizes and deals. And again, putting the like button on your website is huge.

There really are a lot of ways to market through Facebook, but my favorite is the community feel. So you don’t just pop up in the newsfeed when it’s about you, but you pop up to engage and converse with those who follow you.

And that’s the end of it. I hope you were inspired to make Facebook work for your business. I’d love to hear if you use Facebook, and if so, how. And if you don’t, why not?





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Mad Men Guide To Social Media

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Pete, Don, and Roger hard at work

Like millions of others, I am swept up in the Mad Men phenomenon, watching with fascination as the advertising men (plus Peggy and Joan) drink whiskey, and then more whiskey, and then even some more.  After starting this blog, I began wondering how Don Draper would react if he was in the world of social media instead of advertising.  I think of social media in 2010 as the television advertising of the 60’s.  People are just starting to notice its power, and many are wondering if it is just a fad.

So instead of Don sitting at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, I’m going to pretend he’s in front of an iMac with his Twitter and Facebook open, and his blog in front of him.  What would his rules be?  If he was my mentor, what would I do differently?  Here are the top five lessons I think Don would try to teach me.

1. Take risks

I won’t give anything away for those of you who still have to watch, but Don is a risk taker.  He will do what he needs to do to land an account and play fierce with his competition.  I am not a risk taker by nature, but when breaking into a business like social media, it can’t hurt to throw a little caution to the wind.  In such a saturated market, it will take some risks to get noticed by those who matter.  I am still working out what my big risk will be, but if I had Don on my team, I would have done it already.

2. Trust your team

One of my favorite parts of Mad Men is the relationship between Don and Peggy.  He knows she does good work and trusts her to do so.  Since I don’t have a team, I am applying this to trusting my fellow bloggers.  I trust that those who I make a point to follow are putting out the best content they can and that they are hoping I am going to learn from it.  I usually do.  And I am working hard to reach the bar that many talented people have set so high.

3. Get inspired

Peggy and her fellow copy writers are shown lounging about, thinking.  They sit and let ideas come to them, wash over them, before deciding to pounce on them.  What a glorious notion.  I bet nobody in today’s world of constant status updates has considered thinking before typing.  What if instead of posting our every thought, we posted only the really good ones?  What would Facebook and Twitter look like then?  I try to follow this rule, but I am definitely guilty of some spontaneous tweets.  Don would not approve.

4. Engage with others

Don knows it’s part of his job to schmooze with the clients, take them out for chicken kiev and at least a dozen whiskeys.  I think of this as the time I spend commenting on other blogs, keeping up with Facebook, making connections on Twitter.  I use it to really make connections, forge relationships, and if one day I am lucky enough to meet some of these people face-to-face, I will make sure to buy them a drink.

5. Have fun

The workers of Mad Men work hard and play hard.  They reward themselves at the end of a long day or a big sale.  They work hard to achieve, but then they take a break.  If I see a big increase in blog readership, my first reaction is to say Yippee and then work even harder to see it go up more.  Perhaps first I should take the time to savor my victory and allow myself a few hours to revel in my accomplishment.  I honestly don’t know when the last time I did that was.

I know Mad Men is just a TV show, but it’s a show about work (most of the time), and I can see the beginning of social media mirrored in the advertising world of the 60s.  There is a lot to be learned from watching Don and company work (besides how to be a functioning alcoholic).  Do you agree or do you think I’m totally bonkers.





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The Needle Shop

In this installment of Success Stories I talked with Rachel Epperson, owner of The Needle Shop located in the Chicago neighborhood of Bucktown.  Rachel uses Facebook, Yelp, and Flickr to promote her business.  She is also expanding into a blog later this month.  Read below to find out how she uses social media to grow her DIY sewing school and fabric store.

1.) Why did you first start utilizing social media for your business? How did your store change from before Facebook, Yelp, Flickr etc. to after you started using them?

I was on Facebook like everyone else and it came up a lot in class.  I friended a few students and they would ask me sewing questions via FB.  Or, when they posted pics on Facebook of stuff they made I could see it too.  Then, it seemed logical to make the Fan Page so we could all wow over each other’s projects and share tips.  Now we just feel a lot more connected to our customers/students and in turn can know more about what they’re looking for.

2.) Do you use social media primarily to connect with customers you already have or to also draw in new ones?

I’d say to connect, but I’m always happy when someone chimes in who I’ve never seen before.  I do think students post pics of projects and their friends see and want to join in too.

3.) Which is your favorite social media application that you use?

Right now, Facebook.  It’s kind of catch-all.  It funnels right into Twitter, so we get 2 birds with one stone.  I’m really looking forward to the blog as well.

4.) How does Etsy play into your social media usage? How does Flickr?

We link to our own Etsy pages a lot through FB and in our newsletter, so folks can see what’s new in the shop.  I have a few complaints about Etsy, but overall, it’s been a HUGE bonus for us and saves us a lot of time selling fabric online, not to mention exposes a ton of people to our stuff.

5.) What are the biggest challenges to your social media usage? And what are your biggest lessons learned?

Hm.  I’m not sure it’s been challenging.  It took a while to see what posts had the most impact and figure out what info people are interested in, but it was a natural learning curve.  I think it’s fun, so it doesn’t seem like hard work.  My job is always more fun when I’m connected to my students.

6.) What are your tips for a small business owner who wants to start using social media?

Really consider who you’re talking to before you start.  And listen carefully to their reactions.  It’s such a give and take that you can’t get too many preconceived ideas about what to do.  The point is to give them a voice, so you actually want to hear them!

7.) It looks like you are about to launch a blog. Why did you make that decision? What are you hoping to accomplish by attaching a blog to your business?

In our industry, folks love tutorials.  There are just an endless number of tricks to share that we can’t get them all into classes.  I think our readers will always be excited to learn more stuff.

8.) What are your social media plans for the future?

The blog, of course.  And, I’d love to get more students posting pics on our Facebook fan page.  I encourage them all the time to show off and remind them it’s how we all get inspired.  They’re getting less shy, slowly, but surely.

Thanks Rachel for talking to me!  To learn more about The Needle Shop visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.





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