Business blogging and social media can help attract sales. Before either can help, you need to know how to use it first. Let’s keep it simple though. Business blogging and social media can be distilled down into 3 easy steps. Not a silver bullett, but an understanding of the work needed to make it happen:
Connect. Converse. Share.
The first step with any social media strategy is going to be collecting and connecting. You want to start by attracting prospects, potential customers and contacts and essentially building that base. This one is pretty obvious. You can’t converse or share unless you have someone to converse and share with.
Here’s an example: I run a business and I have a lot of connections. Over the last 15 years, I’ve built up even more online. About a year ago, I connected with a fellow named Doug. I didn’t know him, he just found me on Twitter and started following me. I thought, “okay, Hi Doug,” followed him back and left it at that. We connected.
The second part is conversing and this is really going to depend on the medium. The tone of conversation on LinkedIn, for example, is drastically different than the tone on Twitter.
So, find a way to talk to this audience that’s both appropriate and engaging. And remember, the verb here is “converse,” not “speak.” Social media is a two-way street.
And what about Doug? Well, a week later, Doug replied to one of my posts with a great question. I retweeted it, responded and we started talking. It turns out that Doug’s a pretty cool guy. And so, we conversed.
Doug was asking about blogging for business, so I referred him to an article on my blog. What do you know? I have some expertise to share.
Let’s say you’re a musician. What should you be doing with social media? Sharing your music. Now, let’s say you’re an accountant, what should you be doing? Sharing your accounting expertise. The point being, you don’t have to be a rock star to share your talents. If you have experience in a field, then start blogging about it and start sharing it. (As an added bonus, the more you share, the more you’ll learn, and the more of an expert you’ll become.)
Sharing is really linked into conversing and it’s also a great way to reach out and attract more connections. Why? Because those connections want your expertise or talent. In the end, this creates a nice feedback loop.
Today, Doug’s both a friend and a client. Not everyone you connect with, converse with or share with is going to become a customer, obviously. But Doug is one of several clients who “found” me this way. So, yes, lead generation and sales can be done online, but you need a strategy
And it doesn’t get much simpler than: Connect. Converse. Share.
Answer: If you want to see B2B Social Media in action, make sure you get online every Sunday after 5:00 PM.
Every Sunday, your business blogging investment supports your participation in B2B social media and B2C Social media activity. Facebook participation is at the highest. Users are on Twitter getting caught up on the latest trends. Or, users are getting caught up on their favorite forum or interest.
If your Sunday evenings starts with “www,” you may have had more company than you think.
Last Sunday evening, I was online learning about how many other people were online. Nope, it wasn’t because my favorite team was out of the playoffs or because a bad storm was keeping me in doors…or even because I’m the CEO of a professional blog service company. Whether I’m clicking my way through business or catching up with friends on LinkedIn, internet use has become a regular part of my life. And I’m not alone.
That’s what I learned last Sunday evening while I was online. The UK’s Ofcom—or Office of Communication—just announced that more people are surfing the web on Sundays from 5-6pm than at any other time. According to Ofcom’s research, the weekdays’ greatest web traffic comes between 9pm and 10pm, but there’s even a surge of internet use after 3pm, when most kids get out of school.
When I stopped to think about it, this online traffic report isn’t really that surprising. Thinking about my daily “to do list,” it’s impressive how many tasks I accomplish through the Internet. Many of us go online to quickly check off those necessary items, like managing bank accounts, renewing library books, and checking the weather forecast. But we also open a web browser to read the news, share photos, update profiles on social networks, and even watch television and listen to music. And the list of tasks keeps expanding…
Reading about all my fellow web users doesn’t make me feel crowded, rather, I feel like part of an audience. With so many of us online—and so many of us online so often—businesses that want to spread the word about their services need to be where the people are. These days, the people are online…everyday…usually multiple times.
The most successful businesses have their ears tuned in to the sound of all those mice clicks and fingers strokes. They’re using the internet to meet that wide audience using the internet…and not just on Sunday evenings.
We love LinkedIn for both personal and corporate networking & promotion. However, we see a basket full of blunders that any informed networker would be ashamed to own up to.
Here’s Our List
1. End your title with the word “Expert,” or “Guru.”Exception: if your name actually is “Guru” or you are wearing a Karnac the Magnificent Hat in your profile pic, you are welcome to use the term Guru.
2. Toss the word “foremost” or “leading” in front of your title. Everyone loves someone who is humble enough to know what they think you should think of them.
3. Combine #1 and #2 – and become the “Leading Organic Fertilizer Guru”
4. Don’t recommend people. Unless, of course, you wouldn’t like it if someone recommended you…
5. Use your logo as your profile picture. Unless, of course, you actually look just like your logo.
6. Don’t connect with anyone. LinkedIn becomes more useful with more connections. Why? Because you only see LinkedIn members you have a connection to. More connections means more search results and more potential connections.
7. Join groups and post “I am growing my linked in network please connect with me” spams in discussions. No one joins LinkedIn to shrink their networks.
8. Decorate your name with funky characters. People really want your to see ___**>>> Beth Badass <<<***___ in their Outlook. Oh, and funky character break features that people use to find you in Outlook, like say SEARCH. If your name is Beth, it starts with the letter “B” not the “_” character!
9. Ask spammy questions like, “Did you know you can make millions with my secret process revealed in my latest ebook!?” That “report spam” link is really easy to click.
10. Begin your title with “Professional,” “Competent,” or “Qualified.” You wouldn’t have a job if you were an amateur, would you? Why would an adult be less than qualified?
11. Refusing all connection requests by clicking “I Don’t Know This Person.” While it may be true you don’t know that person, LinkedIn actually punishes people when you click “I don’t know.” And worse, LinkedIn tells the other side that you hate their guts and wanted them gibbeted. Hit the “archive” button instead of the I Don’t Know button. It has better karma.
12. Log in once a quarter. Unless you like calling people and finding out that deal they sent over back in September, it closed three weeks ago.
That is the question most marketers are asking themselves today. B2B Social Media and B2C Social Media is a completely different animal than traditional media. With Generation Y now exceeding baby boomers in population, social media campaigns are will be more important than ever.
Lead generation is a critical part of marketing, in fact – it’s why we market in the first place.
In the past, you might have bought a few radio spots, sent out some direct mail cards, held a contest or even made a few phone calls. And yes, a few people might have responded. You’d then send them some more information or an email hoping to keep that spark of interest alive along with your potential sale.
Take a jewelry store in my area for example. I recently made an inquiry there about having a custom piece of jewelry made for my wife. Over the last three weeks, I received three small catalogs, a pamphlet in the mail, and three emails all trying to sell me mass-market jewelry. Where does it end up? The trash.
What that jewelry store doesn’t know is that the world has moved on to a new method of lead generation – one that focuses on empowering the customers to make their own decisions and building relationships. Basically, being there and communicating with your potential or existing customers before the sales process ever begins.
Seth Godin calls it Permission Marketing. Hubspot calls it Inbound Marketing. Others call it Pre-Relationship Marketing (taking on the concept of building the relationship before you market). You can call it whatever you want.
The old ways involved beating your potential customers over the head with information, sales drives and an aggressive sales force. Now, it’s about letting your customers find you and empowering them to make their own decisions.
How Do You Do It?
Use the web. It’s the easiest way to start conversations with your potential customers, build those relationships and be there before a sale ever happens.
A blog lets you inform, Twitter keeps you in contact, social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn let you connect with people and niche message boards give you fast access to your target group – it’s beautiful.
So, let’s go back to that jewelry store example. While researching custom-designed jewelry, I also came across an independent artist working in my area. She had an Etsy site, a Facebook profile and a regularly updated blog with pictures of her past custom work and tips on planning a custom design. Not only was it informative and easily found, it was approachable. Who do you think I hired?
Converting the Lead to a Sale
Of course, converting those online relationships (or “leads”) into a sale is a whole other ball game. Just because someone comments on your blog, that doesn’t mean they’re going to buy your product.
So, how do you take those wide-funnel sales opportunities and turn them into hard, concrete sales? Do you focus on one-on-one communication? Or do you think it’s all a waste of time?
What are your thoughts on the new style of online lead generation?
One of the best social media marketing tools out there is Linkedin. It is a little tricky to learn how to use, but once you do, you can make connections and built a reputation online with like minded people and prospects. With Linkedin, you will find the people you need to connect with are there. Before you do, consider some of these ideas on how to best participate:
Don’t: Use Your Work or Primary Home Email as Your Public Email
Get a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail account, unless you really like spam with your email. LinkedIn provides some protection to your email address, but it does give your email to first degree connections and the owners of groups you join.
Do Understand How LinkedIn Search Works
LinkedIn has millions of users. LinkedIn’s search system is critical because it is what helps you find people and what powers the “people you may know” tool. The search tool is limited to:
First level connections – your friends.
Second level connections – your friend’s friends.
Third level connections – your friend’s friends friends.
People in groups with you
A random sample of the rest of the database – and you do not get to see names.
In short: the more connections you have, the easier is to find people you are not connected to.
Do Have a Strategy
Quantity over Quality
The idea here is to connect with as many people as possible so you have access to as many LinkedIn users as possible. This generally means accepting connections from anyone who wants to connect with you. If you are a marketer, serial networker or recruiter, then the quantity should trump quality.
Quality over Quantity
If you don’t need max our your visibility of LinkedIn’s database, then the best way to use LinkedIn is to focus on quality. Connect with people that you know or who have a reason (beyond being a prospect) to know you. If you do purue quality, you should connect with a few “superconnectors” (people with thousands of connections) to gain access to more people in LinkedIn’s database. It will be very hard to find people you know if you only can see 23,000 people compared to 453,000 people.
Do: Join groups
Groups allow you to find people with simmilar interest quickly. Joining in discussion is a great way to meet new people.
Don’t Spam Groups
On LinkedIn there are two kinds of spam: blatant self promoting advertisements and blatant attempts to get more connections. Take a minute to look at a discussion group before your post a message and make sure the group has posts like the one you want to make.
Do: State that you are open to connections if you are.
If you want to grow your network quickly, tell people that you are an “open networker,” or even become a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker).
Don’t break Outlook with your fabulous name.
LinkedIn allows people to download their freinds and their friend’s email addresses. If you make a fancy name like “>>>Bob “The NetworkGuru” Smith<<<” it will make a first impression. But the second impression will be that you can’t be found in outlook because your first name doesn’t start with “>” it starts with “B.”
We all hear about social media on the news. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube are changing our lives. Social media is the new buzzword that seems get lost in translation. I was at a presentation of the book “Unmarketing” by Scott Stratten. The takeaway for me is that we need to understand that social media is about having conversations with others. As companies are trying to understand what it means, it’s simple, it’s about having conversations. Today, those conversations can be had all around the world. iPhone, Android, IPads, Xoom make distance a non-factor in staying connnect. Social media is about conversation.
People’s lifestyles are changing. Gone are the days of people mindlessly watching TV. Newspapers are dying. Radio no longer delivers the soundtrack of our lives. Somewhere along the way, people decided the remote control wasn’t good enough.
What’s left? The Internet. Portable Media Players. Video Games. Cell Phones. TiVo… Devices that give people back control of their life. Devices that people control the content on, and have firm control of the power switch.
What does that mean to your marketing? Opportunity. And it’s not about branding. Or your image. Or even engagement. It’s about starting a conversation. It’s about helping people find what they are looking for. It’s about taking what you do, what you make and letting people discover, desire, own and control it.
Take a hard look at your existing marketing and ask yourself a few questions:
What do you do that helps customers understand your brands, products and services?
What do you do that helps you understand your potential buyers?
Are you talking? Are you listening?
Or are you entering into a conversation?
Positive relationships rarely happen without conversation. Negative relationships happen easily and often without dialogue. The question is, do you have an ongoing conversation or are you just one more reason to turn off the tv, put down the newspaper, silence the radio and fire up the iPod?
What have you done lately to strike up a real conversation with your customers?