Rethinking LinkedIn; It’s a Tool, Not a Toy

ToyIt has become apparent to me that at the same time many laud the value of LinkedIn, very few wield it as the exceptional tool it is to generate opportunities. While I see many profiles with hundreds of connections most will admit that few if any opportunities avail themselves merely by having large networks. Is it even possible to continuously stay in meaningful communication with such a large number of individuals and if not what is the point? Continue reading “Rethinking LinkedIn; It’s a Tool, Not a Toy”

Selling – Are You Pitching Too Hard?

Several months ago a new neighbor moved into my complex. I, being my friendly and effervescent self, stopped by after I saw curtains up and introduced myself. We hit it off and within a few weeks began dropping by each other’s apartments for chit chat.

At about the same time I was having a problem with the windows in my living room and the building’s management team wasn’t very responsive. This came up in conversation one afternoon and my new neighbor asked if I had a lawyer. I laughed it off and said I didn’t think it was going to get that serious, but before I knew it I had a lapful of brochures and a hard sales pitch for prepaid legal services aimed right between my eyes. I remained amiable, told her I wasn’t interested at the time but took the brochures anyway. Continue reading “Selling – Are You Pitching Too Hard?”

Social Media 101 – Funnel Then Expand

NVS TipsFrequently, I’ll sit across from a prospect or new client filled with enthusiasm about using social media to build a following and present a brand to the world.  Regardless of the industry, age or knowledge of social media clients such as Twitter, Facebook and even memories of MySpace, the angle initially is always the same.  Everyone wants to be everywhere.  Right now.  Today. Immediately. Continue reading “Social Media 101 – Funnel Then Expand”

5 Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Biz

Actionable tips from our friends at Small Business Computing:

Social media, popular Web-based technologies that let people socially interact with one another online, has changed the way small businesses  communicate with customers and market products and services. Social media lets many businesses — especially small businesses that cannot afford to launch private online communities — interact with customers in a more personal way to build better customer relationships.

One thing a small business owner should know is that using social media for marketing is a time-consuming task, and there is definitely a right and wrong way to deal with customers in online social spaces.

While your efforts may be derived from a marketing perspective, your online social interactions with customers needs to be honest, open and provide value to be successful. You need to focus on building relationships more than blasting customers with marketing messages and sales pitches.

The following top 10 social media tips for small business marketing will help you understand how to interact with customers in online social spaces and also guide you in building better, smarter relationships with customers on social networks.

1. Plan Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

As with any small business marketing campaign or business strategy, you have to create a plan and stick to it in order to be successful. Outline the goals and the steps you will take — in addition to the tools you will need — to meet your marketing objectives.

Your plan should outline how your small business will integrate social media marketing into existing marketing strategies. Some social media-specific issues you will need to think about include:

  • Delegating the daily tasks and updates to an employee with marketing and social media experience
  • Deciding on whom within your organization will create profiles andaccounts and which individuals will have access to the accounts
  • Choosing tools that will help automate the social media marketing process and finding social analytics tools to help you track success
  • Reviewing your current small business marketing strategies and deciding where an expansion into social media will be the most beneficial

2. Find Your Customers

With so many social networking platforms available to consumers, it can be difficult to choose a social network for your business to use. Before you randomly log on to Twitter or Facebook to start your small business marketing campaign, research to find out where your customers already congregate online.

Existing communities of customers  will have formed the basics of the “social glue” that holds online relationships together. It takes less time and effort to join customers where they are, compared to creating multiple profiles and accounts in the hopes that customers will find you.

3. Schedule Social Time

Once you become a social resource for customers you have to stick with it and be there on a regular and frequent basis. Using social networks is time consuming, so schedule social time for yourself and your marketing staff.

You want to have enough time each day to monitor conversations, converse with customers, and to send out new messages. Splitting the time up throughout the day will be a benefit as it shows customers you care enough to check back and respond quickly.

4. Be Authentic and Human

People are more likely to create relationships with other people more so than with businesses. You can encourage customers if you use a “human” voice — not a corporate presence — when connecting in social spaces. You can do a few simple things like show a picture instead of a business logo on your profile, and assign one or two people within your small business to be your social voice.

Another big part of being human on a social network that businesses often find challenging is to “own up” to customers in public when they make a mistake or someone posts criticism. If a customer complains about your shipping, don’t ignore it or follow-up outside the social network. Keep the conversation public; drop the corporate tone and converse with the customer on a personal level.

5. Be an Expert

One of the best ways for a small business to interact with customers is to be an expert in social spaces. By joining existing communities where your customers are, you can easily insert yourself into the community by being a voice of expert advice.

For example if your small business is plumbing hardware, find those online social communities on Facebook, Twitter, discussion forums and blogs and start answering questions and offering advice. Remember to let people know you are a business owner — never pretend to be “just another consumer” when you participate in social discussions.

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