In today’s marketplace connecting with your “target” customer using Social Media is no longer an option – It’s a Must!

Today Having An Effective Social Media Strategy Is Crucial To Business Success

It’s a Social Media World

That message came across loud and clear at our Blockbuster Social Media event.

This recaps our Social Media Summit, where we had 4 expert presenters share insights and tips on the crucial role Social Media now plays in building an audience for our businesses. 

We started off with a strategic look at Social Media today and then focused in on Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest and on the what and how of building an audience worth engaging.

Kim Garst and Social Boom:

Kim Garst, of Boom Social, kicked our (Suncoast Internet Marketing Masterminds) event off with a Keynote on the State of the Union on Social Media.

Following are the highlights of her presentation, plus golden nugget tips from the other presenters. Kim’s portion was also captured on video. Here’s the link to it: http://youtu.be/-jL9uXmyhRc.

The New Marketing Paradigm:

One of the biggest mistakes still made with the use of Social Media or even our Websites today, is the tendency to push our products and services, rather than having our clients come to us – pull. Most posts we see are about “me” and “Buy from me”, “Buy from me”! This approach no longer works, in fact; it can kill your business. BTW, I’d also include Blogs in the Social Media mix.

Social Media Is About “Engaging in a Dialog”:

Social Media is our opportunity to engage in a dialog with others online. It’s that first hello and hand shake.

So, rather than having a cordial meeting over coffee or at someone’s business and getting to know them a bit better, we’re reaching out and engaging them online. The same courtesy and tact needs to be used for a successful online engagement as in person meetings. Don’t you find it annoying when you’re at a networking meeting and the first thing another does is stick a business card in your face and start talking about their business. Who cares!!!

Bring Value To The Table:

Engagement through Social Media is all about bringing value to the table and building that trust before inviting them to take a look at what you have. Through that initial dialog you’ll also learn whether you even want them as part of your community. Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” is an excellent discourse on how to do that right. In other words, value, value, value and then invite them to take a look at what you have to offer them.

Kim Garst has an 80/20 rule, 80% is pure value, such as tips or encouragement, no biz and 20% is about her business, which can be an announcement to an upcoming event or a book she’s preparing to publish. In the end, people buy from you because they trust you

Be Personable on Social Media:

When posting on Social Media, always include photos (be sure to tag them), show your personal side and share stories, especially when it’s food. Most everyone is attracted to food. Uplifting and encouraging messages are also very effective in engaging others. The goal is to share content that engages others and hopefully has them share it with their friends and go viral! 

This is also where the likes and comments, such as with Facebook, come into play. You’re gaining exposure, credibility and hopefully building a community. And don’t worry, if others are not engaging with you, they may just be observing.

The ROI of Social Media is the building of trust and connecting with your audience. A bit of wisdom that we all should take to heart, especially for us Solo-entrepreneurs and Small Business owners – “It’s Easier to Build an Audience Than A Brand“. What could be more powerful than having your audience build your brand?

Use Facebook to develop your marketing strategy

Facebook, the #1Social Media Platform

Facebook Is Moving to a Pay to Play Model:

Kim’s tips on Facebook were especially valuable, starting with “Facebook is moving towards a Pay to Play model”. It used to be that one out of six Posts showed up on your News Feed, now it’s one out of sixteen and expected to go to one out of fifty.

 

Facebook Fan Pages:

Another important mention was that with the use of Fan Pages; don’t expect people to come back once they Like you. The norm is that they will go there once and never come back. So, why even have a Fan Page? Because of the precise demographic and psychographic targeting, they can be very effective but, you’ll have to spend a little money and use Facebook ads to get results.

The mental hurdle for many of us in using Facebook ads is that so much used to be free and now we have to pay. BTW, don’t try to promote your business on your personal page, FB will shut you down.

Facebook Groups:

Groups are a great way of creating an online community on Facebook. Groups are normally built around a common interest(s) such as a theme or a cause. It doesn’t cost anything to form a group and they can be very effective.

The Focus of a Post:

Kim recommended that we leverage inspiration and motivation in our posts. This brings out emotion in others and a feeling that yes, I can do it. No matter what business you’re in, it’ll get you engagement.

People Don’t Care About Your Business or Non-Profit:

That’s right! In most cases, people care about “What’s In It for Me”. They first want to relate with you on a personal level. Our personal stuff will get much more engagement than any of our business related stuff. When you do share business related info, make it tips – something that will benefit them.

Use Linkedin in a professional and business setting

Linkedin Your 24/7 Online Resume

Linkedin and Being Found:

Although Linkedin definitely falls within the realm of Social Media, its use and utility is a bit different than Facebook. It’s primarily used in a professional and business setting. Liz Lopez, our Linkedin presenter, pointed out that an often overlooked area is the use of Linkedin being used as your 24/7 online resume.

I can attest to having been contacted for business because someone reviewed my Profile on Linkedin. I know of individuals that have gained new jobs because of their well-done Linkedin profile. For instance, a 2013 Jobvite survey revealed that 93% of recruiters, search Linkedin for compelling candidates. Wow!

So, the first and most important point about Linkedin is to set-up your Profile, so it’s easy to navigate and clear on how you can be of value to others. Let’s look at some pointers, from Liz.

A Good First Impression Is Critical:

A most important point to remember is that what a visitor first sees when they land on your Linkedin page will most likely determine whether they’ll click “next” or read on. Remember that in today’s fast paced society, unless something immediately grabs the viewer’s eye or interest, they are gone and probably will never come back.

With Linkedin, the first thing a visitor will see is the bulletized skills below your name and then the Summary of what you are about. At this point, the visitor is not interested in your background or what you’ve done in the past. Remember, as with any other online communication, the visitor is interested in WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Here’s how I have mine set-up: (http://linkedin/in/AndreKasberger

Establish Your Credibility:

Remember that the chances are great that the visitor to your page does not know you or anything about you. After the front page and the Summary, the visitor will most likely look for testimonials from others about you. So, be sure to have those testimonials and skill endorsements from others. They establish your credibility.

Making Connections Through Linkedin:

Although not much time was spent on this topic, Linkedin is an excellent tool to use when trying to connect to someone within another business. The chances are that they’ll have a profile on Linkedin.

If they are on your first level the connection is free and easy, should they be on your 2nd or 3rd level, you’ll need their e-mail, plus one of Linkedin’s pay to play options – the more access, the more the cost. Hey, business is business!

A good local resource to get you set-up and on the right track is Liz Lopez at (liz@lizmlopez.com). Dan Sherman’s “Maximum

Success With Linkedin” is also a great resource for do-it-yourselfers and highly recommended.

Use Pinterest when what you have can be shown better through the use of a picture.

The Increasing Value of Pinterest

Marketing and Pinterest:

Pinterest is the new Social Media kid on the block that’s gaining a lot of traction, mainly because it’s  visual – a plus in today’s “skim for and through information” world. Although still primarily used by women, to show fashion items, make-up and such, it’s catching on in other areas. Want to market a special auto or, real estate or, show a stat or Infographic? Pictures engage. 

Anna Vanlandingham, our expert Pinterest presenter, emphasized the need to stay focused with your pins. Separate your photos, which can include Infographics or drawings, into categories and for maximum impact set-up boards with multiple entries for those categories. And, oh yes, don’t forget to point your pin-up back to your Webpage, or you’ll miss the whole purpose of this very effective marketing tool.

Sounds simple but, without much practice, it may take some time to get the desired results. Contact Anna at pinterestpro1@gmail.com.

What About Google Plus?

Google Plus For Professionals and Business Use

Yes, You Need To Be On Google+

Sometimes Google Plus gets lost in the shuffle among all the other Social Media platforms. Although G+ is very rich in features, its best fit appears to be in a professional or business setting, where through posts and comments there’s an opportunity to engage others around a common topic.

An important point made by Kim was to always post your Website posts on Google Plus. For some magic reason your site or pages moves up in ranking. Go figure, Google own most of the search, plus they own Google Plus and YouTube. Hmmm!  

Build your audience through Social Media

Build Your Audience

Inbound Marketing Strategy and Building Communities:

Bringing up the rear and wrapping the session up was Joe Malinowski, a Senior Internet Strategist with the M David Katz Company. Joe has been at the networking and on-line community creation business for many years; starting with Business Networking Life, then on to Downtown Tampa is Awesome, next to Tampa Bay is Awesome and now HomeFinder Tampa Bay, which unexpectedly materialized out of the other projects and has become a “hot” new business.

A big lesson to learn here, when you apply yourself, are consistent, pay attention to results and adjust to what the marketplace is telling you; you never know where it will lead you.

You Need to Pay to Play but, be Smart About It:

Joe took us through the steps he has and is implementing in creating his successes, with the bottom line being that “it takes effort and feet on the ground”. As an example, for his Downtown Tampa is Awesome, Joe’s intent was to bring people into Downtown Tampa. So he went out to the various businesses, especially restaurants and began promoting them without requesting anything in return. As a result, the viewership on his Websites grew, he received feedback and soon the businesses were chasing him for services and over time, one thing led to another. Yes, it’s work but, it should be fun and if you’re smart about it, will bring surprising and sometimes unexpected payback. Following are the steps Joe uses in building his audience.

Building an Audience Worth Engaging:

  1. Bring Facebook Ads into your plans. You’ll use them to test your idea and doing this will save you much time, effort and cost in the long run.
  2. Look for a business segment that’s trending and look at the Facebook Ad costs and click through rates for that business.  This will give you an idea on how hard it may be to break into a market.
  3. Select a keyword or a set of for your idea and use the Facebook ad option to show you an assessment of the audience and what else is trending around that keyword.
  4. Once you’ve honed in on a favorable keyword(s), create Facebook ads and test the response to your offer.
  5. Based on the results, develop your strategy and determine how you’ll engage the audience you’ve just identified.
  6. Next you’ll need to determine what work has to be done and who will do it. Here outsourcing may be a good strategy.
  7. Then, Test, Track, Review and Refine. This is not a one-time process; it needs to be on-going and repeated. The market and competition is constantly changing and so do you.  

Last words from Joe and applicable to about anything we want to succeed at: “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do!” No truer words can be spoken, especially when it comes to engaging your audience through Social Media. Reach Joe at : Joe@mdavidkatz.com  

About the Author: Andre Kasberger is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and advisor to Internet Challenged Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners. As the founder and facilitator of the long running and very successful Suncoast Internet Marketing Mastermind Meetup group, he and his group have helped hundreds of individuals get a grasp on what it takes to make progress in the new Marketing paradigm. This Post addresses one of the major challenges observed over the years. Andre can be reached at: Andre@suncoastimm.com or Andre@bestyouyet.com