Connect With Customers

Today, business is all about relationships. We buy a car from the guy our neighbor's brother recommended. We hire the contractor our mother's accountant used. We go see the movies that everyone on Twitter talks about. So finding ways to take business relationships beyond transactional is a sure-fire way to cement yourself in the minds of your customers. Social media – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, – are all ways to connect with your customers, family and friends. And if you can use these tools to establish and enhance your relationships with your audience, you've got a leg up on your customers. Some examples are: The yarn store owner who tweets her new customer to ask how the new sweater is coming along… The car salesman who leaves a link for $10 off an oil change on a customer's Facebook wall… The homeschool curriculum vendor who records a short video showing how to set up a classroom in the home in a back bedroom… The golf instructor who holds a Skype party during the Masters… Possibilities are as endless as the world of Internet business. You will notice some commonalities between the ideas above: They're relevant. They are directly applicable to the niche or industry you're in (the golf instructor, for instance, isn't sending out oil change coupons; the yarn store owner isn't hosting a Masters chat). They're personal. Each interaction connects with the audience in a manner beyond a simple “buy my stuff” way. They're useful. Each interaction provides value to the recipient. In some cases, it's a dollar savings (the coupon); in others, it's informational (the video and the...

Sales Pitches Out: Social Advertising In

Are you considering just putting one of your existing banner ads on a social site such as Facebook? Don't. At least… not yet… It's important to remember you are dealing with two different mediums. What works on one – even if it's your strongest ad – may not work on the other. There are a number of mistakes I've seen marketers make, when creating their own social ads, and impersonal headlines beginning with anything even remotely close to: “The Untold Truth About…” – ones that sound like a sales pitch – will turn people off faster than a slap of ice water. It's important also to match the ad with the right social network.  There are now so many in play that it seems as if there's a social network for every market – and they're not all created equal.  Besides a difference in sales tracking metrics and flexibility, you also have to consider the demographic that uses each particular one the most. For example, Scribd‘s population leans more heavily towards young male professionals, with college education, whereas MySpace‘s demographic is the 17-21 year old age group (usually non-spenders, except on electronic items such as iPhones, music and gaming systems). But no matter what platform you finally pick, you won't get anywhere with the sort of sales pitches that sound like the beginning of a TV commercial: The sort that wake you up at night, while their presenters enthusiastically shout about the latest gadget. Remember that social advertising is just that… social. Nobody's really got the ultimate handle on it yet… but when it comes to social advertising for...

Social Media Advertising goes Mainstream

One way you can tell if social media advertising is really something you should be considering for your business:  The amount of top-drawer ad agencies that have sprung up or changed focus, shifting their attention from traditional advertising to zero in on social media. Even social media platforms themselves hire these agencies, to create ads for their clients. For example, New York-based Lotame, whose clients include Flixster and Bebo. Then there are Sometrics, Siteheart and SocialMedia.com… SocialMedia is geared specifically to social ad platforms, offering to render ads containing Twitter messages, comments from web communities and data from your site. Lotame boasts it “goes beyond industry norms by applying a social data layer to audience segmentation”. They call this a “zero waste” advertising solution – and their clients include Flixster and Bebo. In fact, visiting their website can give the do-it-yourself social ad creator some good clues as to what to focus on, when creating your message.  Just take note of phrases such as “interactivity over clicks”, “meaningful audience engagement”…  “The medium is the message and social ads are the solution”…  Their recent new hires include John Thomas, PhD, formerly with Crimson Hexagon, specializing in social media analytics. In short, there's some major money and brain power going into monetizing social media. Further proof is provided in a Knowledge Networks May 2009 press release, which gives statistics for: “Proportion of Social Media Users Who Turn to Social Media When Making Purchase Decisions“, giving the lie to nay-sayers who insist people aren't haunting social networks to buy.  (They aren't – but they do!)  This particular PDF press release lists the...

Why Go Social when you’re Not?

Do you feel stressed or discouraged at the thought of having to add social media to your business advertising mix?  If you do, then chances are you are one of the secret minority who have vowed never to join Twitter, and you're sick of hearing about Facebook (that thing your teenager haunts). Relax.  Social media doesn't have to mean huge learning curves and wasted hours, all in the name of networking. Once you realize that business networking isn't wasting time at all, it might make a whole lot more sense. Mind you, you might have to work a little at that shift in mindset… but you can do a few things to cut down on your social media climbing without losing valuable opportunities for free advertising. Start Small… You can't get much faster than Twitter for social media networking. Compare the three hours you spent writing that article; then the frustratingly glitchy load time, uploading it to your marketing directory… and waiting 4 or 5 days for it to be approved… Now write out a sentence like this (in less than 140 characters): “10 ways to French-braid your hair”. Add to it a shortened link to your blog post. Voila. You're done. The best way to shorten that link?  There's 2 schools of thought… Some say it's better if you used an optimized post title leading directly to your blog, like so: “http://www.just-an-example.com/brainstorming.html“.  Keyword-wise… yes, it is. But most people shorten their posts with bit.ly, because it allows you to add a button to your browser bar, and check your click-throughs instantly. (And remember, social networking is driven by...

Free Advertising Using 5 Social Media Sites

You've been realizing lately that you really need to spread the word about your business, website, event or product. But you don't have the largest budget on the planet. If you're looking for ways to advertise for free, you might want to consider making full use of social media. Most social media platforms offer paid advertising – and if you have the budget, it's always better to cover all the bases. But there are some free methods and techniques utilizing social media that can really increase your exposure (and even your personal brand). Here are suggestions that have worked well for many internet marketers and entrepreneurs on these 5 social media sites… It's not enough just spread the word by blogging: You have to also promote your blog. Do it by using Delicious or Digg. Link to your blog from your Facebook news feed. Send people to your blog by tweeting on Twitter about your latest post; shorten the URL with bit.ly – and then check your stats on the number of clicks. Upload a video to YouTube, and make sure links to your business are placed in the first and last frame of your video (appearing long enough for people to quickly make a note of the link). Have the same URL in as many places on your YouTube channel page as you can manage.   Make sure it either (a) is extremely helpful about one tricky subject for the niche you're targeting or (b) contains all the elements of a viral video:  Memorable, entertaining, personal, unique – if appropriate, perhaps even funny.  (A Singing Parrot is far...

How To Redirect Visitors to your Mobile Website

Facebook and Twitter are two of the most user-friendly sites on the mobile web – and that's great news for those who are going mobile with their websites, because it means people can right-click on bit.ly links in Twitter – and be automatically taken to a mobile version of your site, if they're accessing it from Twitter. The best way to accomplish this is to set up redirects, so that whenever a user is detected on a mobile, it goes straight to the mobile version of your site.  There are several ways to do this, all based on detecting browser screen size. The easiest method I've seen comes from www.justtechnika.com, and involves inserting a small piece of JavaScript code on your main website, “anywhere between <head> and </head>”.  (I'd recommend right at the bottom of your page, so as not to interfere with search engine bots and site SEO.)  I tried the piece of code provided – and it worked!  I don't have permission to reproduce the code – I only found it today, and there's been no time to contact the blog owner, but you can find the article with the code snippet at the following link:  http://justtechnika.com/articles/find-mobile-visitors-to-your-website-and-redirect-them-to-your-mobile-site/ Treat Your Mobile Website like A Tweet So you've successfully redirected them to the mobile version of your website – now what? If you're re-writing a shortened, condensed version of your main website, treat it like a Twitter tweet: Just hit the high points, and strip out all the filler. (One thing Twitter has done for us since its inception: Turned us into effective self-editors!)  Think of your mobile site...