Let’s Chat & Be Social – #SocialChat

“With great power, comes great responsibility …”

Ah, the wisdom of Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, if only we all had a mentor like Spiderman’s, especially in the world of social media marketing.

As marketers who encourage and train businesses to engage in this powerful medium, we do possess a great power, the power to reach people in a very personal way. With that power comes the responsibility to respect the community of users and their communication space.

As discussed by Jason Daley for Entrepreneur Magazine, social media has the potential to tear down barriers to communication and remake the way businesses communicate within their own corporate structures as well as how they communicate with their customers.

A common concern among many social media experts is how will business communication and marketing affect the potential of social media to connect people. Do we really want to see our Twitter streams clogged and polluted with spam?

We have come to a fork in the road, and leadership is now required. As we harness the power of social media, we must take on the responsibility to respect what social media truly is and why people have taken to it in mass.

Social media has become so popular so quickly because, at its core, it fulfills the basic universal human need to reach out and connect with other people. It fulfills our overpowering need for relationship. That is where the impact of social media derives its power, the ability to facilitate the formation of relationships.

It is the relationship factor that we need to both encourage and respect.

But as leaders, how do we do that? What kinds of marketing practices will we put into place to maintain the integrity of social media?

Those were the questions that have gotten people talking and sharing and learning. It only took one short conversation to realize that this should be an ongoing process, and that lots of people should be involved.

Welcome #SocialChat, a moderated Twitter discussion group started to explore all the latest trending topics related to social media and social networking. The official discussions are scheduled each Monday at 9:00pm EST with topics and experts voted on by those interested in taking part. Anyone can nominate an expert they would like to learn more from. Or if there is a particular topic or question that is of interest, it can be posted to the SocialChat Moderator Board. Each Friday at noon, the topic/speaker with the most votes on the SocialChat Moderator Board will be announced for the following Monday’s chat.

Beginning Monday January 24th at 9:00pm EST Alan K’necht and I will be kicking off what is sure to be a very lively discussion session. Alan, @aknecht, is an expert in his own right and has much to say on the historic roots of social media and marketing communication. What a great way start the discussion than with a look at where we’ve come from.

Take responsibility. Be a part of the discussion. Join #SocialChat.

Are You Using Twitter for CRM?

Almost a decade ago who would have thought there could be so much power and usefulness behind 140 characters?  During the last five years with the explosion of Twitter there has been a lot of clout in short little messages and more businesses are using “tweets” to take care of their customers on a daily basis.

If you are not using Twitter to take care of your customers you may want to seriously think about getting started.  During the last few years customer relationship management has been gravitating toward the use of social media to improve customer relations.  This is because social media provides an immediate way for customers to communicate with you and receive quick answers to their questions.

Benefits of Using Twitter for CRM

So, it is obvious why social media would be the preferred choice by your customers but what are the benefits of using it for customer relationship management?

  • Quickly Resolve Customer Complaints – By using Twitter for CRM you can stay on top of when and why your customers are dissatisfied and then quickly resolve the issue with direct messages that address the issue.  This is a lot easier than some of the older methods where you discover well after the fact that there was an issue that needed your attention.  There are also free tools you can use such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite that help you stay on top of what your customers are saying right from your PC desktop.
  • Keep Your Customers Engaged – So you do not become a statistic of “out of sight out of mind” you can use social media to actively engage with your customers by offering special promotions and discounts as well as keep them on top of the latest developments in your business.
  • Personalization – You can address customers personally if you hear they have expressed something wrong with the product they received.  For example, if you sell athletic shoes and the customer received a pair that had defective seams, you can follow up with that customer personally to take care of the issue.  Through the older methods of CRM you may never know if a customer has an issue with your product.
  • Ask for Feedback – You can involve the customer in new product decisions by using Twitter to ask for feedback. By querying your customers you will be able to target their needs when you revise a current product or introduce a new product or service.  They will also appreciate your concern for their needs.
  • Help Customers Find Products – If your customers are having trouble using your product locator or they cannot find what they are looking for, you can use Twitter to help your customer find exactly what they are looking for.  Without social media your customers may otherwise click away from your site and move on to a location where they can find what they are seeking.

Twitter as Your Customer Service Representative

Like other aspects of customer relationship management you should have a process in place for dealing with customers on Twitter and engaging them in the process of doing business with you.  Whatever type of strategy you come up with remember that consistency is key, even if it is necessary to hire workers to manage your customers on Twitter for you.


Debra Leitl is the Mentor in Residence at eMentormarketing.com you can find her on twitter @MentorMarketing. Her specialty is interactive marketing with a focus on ecommerce and online marketing strategy. She has over 15 years of professional work experience in retail business management, strategic management consulting, and new business development.

Social Media Strategy for Local Business

Are you a local business owner?  Are you on Social media?  If you are not, I bet you are thinking about it.  You probably already heard that75% of online business searches have local intent. You also noticed that news stories and Twitter posts are displayed at the top of the page of Google search results.  You would like to see your business in those real time results, right?  Right.  That is one of the reasons you want to be a part of social media.

Another reason is branding, of course.  You have heard many times, “people are talking about you on the internet” and “You have to join the conversation”.  Perhaps, you also wondered, what does it mean exactly – “join the conversation”?  In other words, what is it that you need to do?

Well, local business owner, let’s talk about strategy, shall we?  I assume, your website is already optimized for local search.  There are very few reasons why you should not invest in SEO.  I also assume, that you are serious about dominating social media in your niche and have allocated a sizable budget to this effort.

Lastly, keep in mind, that my main focus here is social media.  It should be incorporated into your overall online marketing strategy to help achieve main marketing objectives.

Local Business Strategy to Rule Social Media.

1. Know your audience.  Customers you meet in real life might have different personalities online.  You have to do some digging.

  • Where are they on Social media?   Use tools like RapLeaf or FlowTown to find out.  If you can reach your customers where they are – learn their habitat and start participating.
  • Who is an authority?  People who have established and trusted profiles on social media can be your biggest advocate on those channels.  Interact with them, ask for advice, listen and learn.
  • What do they want to share with others?  Track your posts that people share with others.  Figure out, why and give them more.  It is all about what is interesting to your customers, not to you.

2. Set goals. Social media goals should be supporting your overall marketing goals. Decide what to measure to track how successful you are. Finally, set some realistic targets. For example, your goal could be to improve customer service. Tool like Twitter will allow you to provide almost real time support. Or your goal could be to improve your product. In this case you might want to use Facebook and survey your fans, ask them questions, find beta testers, etc. Put some human face on that logo of yours and interact with your customer.

3. Figure out what to measure. For crying out loud, stop counting your followers and focus on something meaningful and actionable.  Measure how much money you are saving for your phone customer support by incorporating Twitter.  Or, how many messages on average it takes to solve a problem and try to reduce the number.

4. Take Care of the Basics.

  • <Claim your business everywhere. Most importantly, on Google Places.  Make sure you fill out all your business information.  Then, you can ask your customers for reviews.  Post pictures to your Google Places profile.  But don’t stop there.
  • Get a Flickr account. Your community will comment on your pictures.  You will be able to include them in your Facebook profile.  Make sure you are doing it right – post good, professional looking pictures to represent your business.
  • Not on YouTube yet?  Get there.  Don’t just tell the customer – show them.  Focus on “how-to” videos, answer frequently asked questions.  You do not need to invest a lot of money in video equipment, but make sure that the quality is good and your customers can watch your videos without getting dizzy.
  • Mobile is the next big thing. But you already know that.  People are checking in on Gowalla and Foursquare.  Should you get on the band wagon?  The answer is, it depends.  If your business is in a hip and popular place (like New York), then yes.  People would want to check-in when they visit your business because they want to brag to their friends.  If you are located in the middle of nowhere or your business is boring, don’t waste your time.  Instead, post on your blog.
  • Blog. Write about something  your customers are interested in.  Share your opinion about latest developments in your industry that affect your clients, not you.

5. Know where to focus. Always refer to your goals. Is your blog post or Facebook poll or new picture on Flickr going to bring you closer to your goal? If yes, absolutely do it. If not, reconsider.

6. Expand your social media horizons. You are building a community online.  Internet is global.  Think big.

  • Do not just target your local market.  Global customers will help you get recognition and credibility.  Focus on the local community, but do not dismiss global opportunities.
  • Start a meetup.  If your potential customers are united by a passion relevant to your business (love for a muscle car, cooking, running, etc.), you have a golden opportunity to channel this passion into sales.  Sites like Meetup.com will help you organize meetings on the cheap.  Local people will be there – I guarantee it.
  • Seize the moment - utilize local events: marathons and walks, food drives, charity events, etc.  You can Tweet about an event, provide information that is missing (like, where to park), etc.  The information is already out there.  You can just put it all together for the customer’s benefit.

Takeaways

Know your customer, go to them on the internet and offer what they are looking for. Be a person, talk to people. Social Media is about relationships, interaction, and making friends. Social Media gives you an opportunity to become a celebrity to your customers – a trusted friend. Don’t waste it.

Lyena Solomon is an internet consultant who helps businesses make money through effective websites and profitable online marketing and advertising. Lyena is a website analyst and strategist with extensive development and website usability experience. When helping companies, her main focus is on return on investment, profitability, goals, targets and visitor engagement. She has been in internet business for 15 years.
Website:
http://www.netspritner.com

Using Social Networking Sites To Improve Your Online Business

Social networking sites are now in vogue. Most of the people participate in the various social networking sites. Thus, if you participate and promote your website through the social networking sites, more visitors will come to your website. Promotion of your website through the social networking sites is one of the most important online business strategy involved in search engine optimization. This is one of the easiest online business strategies to better the ranking of your website in the search engines.

What are social networking sites?

A social networking site is the one that allows people to join a virtual community based on a particular subject. Such sites help in increasing your acquaintances. There are various kinds of networking sites based on friendship, dating, marriage, business, finance, books and many more. Some of the known social networking sites are Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Digg, Dweet, Idea Café, JIGSAW, Xing etc.

Using social networking sites

  1. Understanding the usage – It is important to understand the usage of the different social networking sites as different sites operate in their own way. Facebook is different than twitter, and twitter is different than MySpace. Again MySpace operates differently than Digg and so on.
  2. Use only those that you understand – Use only those networking sites that you have an understanding of.
  3. Know why you are using the site – It is important for you to know why and for what you are using this site. Consider the primary goal toward using the site.
  4. Use the sites to draw attention – Use the social networking sites to draw attention rather than operating through those sites. Promote your business through the networking sites.
  5. Control access to your networking accounts – You should determine if all the employees can have access to your social networking account and pages.
  6. Determine on the target audience – You also need to determine on the target audience for your website and your products. Then you can promote your website accordingly in the social networking sites.

However, there are some risks too of using social networking sites for your online business strategy. It is necessary to be aware of the risks and weigh them accordingly.

SERPd.com to Replace Sphinn

The last few days, I’ve been testing a new social voting site named SERPd.com. It’s a replacement for Sphinn since they removed voting earlier this month in an effort to increase participation; seems counter-intuitive. I haven’t been to Sphinn in a few weeks and will likely return less and less for stories because it’s editor-fed.

SERPd, however, is open to submissions, voting, tagging, and convenient sharing features. It’s more socially aware and less publisher-deemed important. More about the announcement here.

serpd social news and voting site

It operates very well and includes features like image inclusion (with visible cropping) and a familiar format to social news sites. There’s a bug that throws a PHP error when a non-jpeg image is used for submission inclusion. I’ve found I can back up and choose another image (jpeg) or the default image.

You can see from our most recent post on the upcoming #seochat with Joe Hall, we’ve already installed the SERPd voting button to promote stories from Search Marketing Weekly.

Setup a free account and start submitting, voting and discussing great online marketing stories. If you’re familiar with Sphinn, you’ll be right at home. If not, it only takes a few minutes to get started.

Keep up with the latest news on their blog and you can follow on Facebook or Twitter.