Stop Twittering Your Life Away:
Trying to Figure Out Social Media Marketing for Your Small Business
There’s one thing you need to do if you want to make more money and keep your small business growing even when things are tough. In fact, if you do this consistently, you can keep your small business from feeling the effects of a slowdown in the future.
You may be asking yourself, "What’s this magical thing you're talking about?" It's not revolutionary. It's an old thing. It's something that used to be commonplace but now is a lost art.
What we’re talking about is simply creating more authentic relationships with your prospects and customers -- a connection, a friendship.
We all enjoy going somewhere we're recognized and appreciated. We frequent the places where people know our names and value our patronage far more often than those that don't.
The better your relationship with your prospects and customers, the more money you will make and the less susceptible you will be to feel the effects of an economic slowdown.
Today this is easier than ever. Technology allows us to connect with people from all over the world and connect with them like they were coming into our country store every single day.
The explosion of social media sites on the web gives you an even greater opportunity to create a connection with prospects and customers. If you've never heard of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter then you are certainly behind the times.
More than likely, you have heard of social media and these sites. You probably know someone who's on them. Heck, maybe you're on them yourself but don’t really know why you're there or what you're doing.
DON'T WORRY. WE’LL GET YOU UP TO SPEED BY THE END OF THIS REPORT.
Social media is information content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. It is intended to facilitate communications, influence interaction between peers and with public audiences.
That definition sounds complicated and convoluted doesn't it? Let us break it down. Social Media is basically water cooler chitchat going on 24/7 between a whole bunch of people regardless of geographic location or time of day.
Think about the kind of relationships that are formed by the water cooler, in the break room, golf course or at the Starbucks in the morning before work. Now these same relationships can be formed without leaving your home or office by "hanging" out with others on social media sites.
We’re aggressive implementers and testers. Especially when something can potentially be used as a cheap/free lead source. With that being said, we’ve been testing and researching to find out if social media is a valid small business marketing idea that can generate leads and make sales.
As of right now our belief is yes it can… but there are some pretty big butts. Because these sites are about building and leveraging relationships it's not fast. It takes time and work to build quality relationships, friendships, confidence and trust and that's what you need to be doing on these sites to get them to work.
Depending on where you are in your small business marketing, how much time you have available to invest and other resource issues, social media as a traffic source or business tool may or may not be right for you.
With that being said, here are some short cuts we've discovered by using and testing social media sites.
We’re going to cover Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter here. There are many other social media sites all over the Internet. But these are the 800-pound gorilla, mainstream monsters.
Facebook is the Myspace for professionals and "older" folks. Think of it as a virtual water cooler. You post a profile to let others get a feeling for who you are. People come and chat, pass notes, write on your wall, send personal messages. They interact with you in a virtual social environment.
You can create groups and pages in Facebook to promote your products and business. This can be a powerful marketing tool.
If you decide to use Facebook, you'll need to get some friends. To get friends fast, invite the people currently in your address book. Facebook makes this a pretty simple and automated process.
Another way to get friends is to search Facebook groups your target audience may be hanging out in. Join the group yourself and participate. Also begin to friend the people who are members of the group (limit this to about 25 outbound friend requests per day to avoid being labeled a spammer).
Once you have some friends, we highly recommend you start your own group. Make the group about something more than you or your product. Make it about a big benefit, make it edgy or controversial and make it specific and relevant.
Invite your Facebook friends to join and post content to the group. The beauty of having a Facebook group is that once you have a group, you can send a private message to each and every member of the group. This is like sending a message to someone's email box without all the clutter and spam.
It's like turning the clock back to a time where email was new and only your friends sent you anything. Remember back to a time when it was fun to get email. That's what the Facebook private message is today.
It won't be that way for long… JUMP IN NOW AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.
Once you have people in a group you can message them all with a single click.
Facebook pages and groups also rank in the search engines, which can give you an added boost in the SEO department.
We’re on Facebook. If you haven't already…friend us now.
LinkedIn is the social networking site for professional business people. According to the site, LinkedIn exists to help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return.
Think of LinkedIn has a virtual business-networking group that you can attend 24/7 with people all over the world. It's a powerful tool if you use it.
We’re not really using LinkedIn to its fullest potential at the moment. But it offers some very cool opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs. One of the biggest opportunities on LinkedIn is the six degrees of separation concept.
You've probably heard of that before. It's the concept that between you and anyone you'd like to meet or get to know are only 6 people. The problem with this concept is that normally you don't know who to ask or have an efficient way of asking all the people you know if they know who you're trying to get to.
LinkedIn makes this easy because it shows who everyone is connected to. You post out to your LinkedIn network that you are trying to connect with so and so and they can help you get there. It's a really powerful tool.
Another highly leverageble aspect of LinkedIn is that it gives you the ability to pose questions to or survey your network. Let's say you're trying to do some market research or something… you just post your question out to your network and they'll respond with great insight and feedback.
There are a million ways to leverage an extended network and if that interests you or you're a good networker then LinkedIn could hold a lot of potential for you.
Jimmy’s on LinkedIn. Connect with him here:
Twitter is all the rage right now. It's the hot new social media thang. Twitter is a bit different than many of the other social networking sites. We would describe Twitter's theme as minimalist. Short bio's, short posts, limited information.
Twitter has been called a micro-blogging because you write short (140 character max) posts – called tweets – to your followers. Many people's tweets consist of business tips, quotes, personal info and what they are currently doing.
If you've ever updated your status on Facebook or MySpace then you've basically done what people do on Twitter. It's like updating your status (what you’re doing right now, what's on your mind now) multiple times per day. Conversations and friendships ensue.
This can be an incredible tool for creating personal relationships and getting people to gravitate to you, fall in love with you and trust you.
That's powerful in moving people through the sales process faster and creating a better, longer lasting client relationship.
Remember, the goal of Gravitational Marketing is to create customers who pay more, stay longer and refer repeatedly.
We’ve been personally testing Twitter lately for its viability as a business and marketing tool. The early results look very promising.
We have discovered some strategies that will help you grow a rabid twitter following fast.
Obviously the more active you are, the more attention you will get. In our 7 B's in Sensational we call this being visible. It's important but it can be a double-edged sword. You can easily get addicted and waste a lot of precious productivity time "tweeting."
We try to tweet at least 3 times per day. Once in the AM before we start our day. Usually a quote or interesting link or story.
At lunchtime, we try to respond to and/or participate in a conversation already going on and ReTweet (repost) something we find interesting that someone else has posted.
In the PM, We’ll post again with a quote or tip and interact with a few people.
Don't try to be someone you're not. It is important to be yourself and show your personality as much as possible. It's tough in 140 characters but you'll get the hang of it. Boring is invisible and worthless everywhere… on Twitter it's completely lost.
Look for the things that make you unique, different and quirky and turn the volume up on those things so you make a splash whenever you tweet.
Think of the 140 character tweets as powerful headlines. They should be attractive, curiosity driven, newsy or benefit oriented. These of the kind of tweets that will be viral and attract followers to you.
Your Profile Picture:
Use an interesting picture of yourself for your profile. In Twitter your picture shows up next to every one of your posts. A big mistake people make is using a picture of some product or inanimate object for their profile picture.
That's a bad move. This is SOCIAL networking. It's about relationships. You can't make relationships with flowers, books, boxes, airplanes or anything like that. Use a picture of yourself and make it a good one… one that makes people want to know more about you.
The easiest way to stand out on Twitter (aside from having great content in your tweets) is to create a custom background and write a compelling bio.
If you're great with graphics then you can create your own custom twitter profile. If you're not, you can have a profile done for you. Check out the profiles created by http://www.twitterimage.com/.
They're awesome. We’re not graphic designers (even though we designed our own profile graphics) so we’re not going to comment here on creating a graphic. Our only advice is to be bold and be personal. We recommend using your likeness and personality. Brand YOU. Remember people do business with people. They are on these sites to socialize!
Just like with any copywriting project, the more compelling the copy the more results you'll get. Your Twitter bio is no different. The better your copy, the more followers will find you compelling and follow you.
We recommend combining personality and big payoffs in your bio. What is the biggest benefit reading your tweets can provide someone? What makes someone choose you over every other option? What do you do better potentially better than any other person on the planet? Highlight those things. Be brash, be bold. No one ever found success through timidity.
Also keep in mind who you are for. Don't try to be for everyone. If you are using Twitter for business and marketing purposes then you only want people following you that fit your target demo. Sure others can follow if they find you interesting but you want to write your bio and tweets for the group you're trying to attract and create relationships with.
Next we’re going to cover a couple of our favorite tools to make the Twitter experience easier, more effective and a whole lot more fun:
If you've been to the Twitter site and seen the interface you'll know that it's not very conducive to really keeping up with a lot of tweeters and tweets (you almost feel like an asshole saying that. It's a great example of creating your own terminology and vernacular, a persuasion and retention strategy used by savvy marketers and by cults… and should be adopted by you).
Tweet deck is an application that allows you to better manage your Twitter experience by breaking down Twitter feeds into more manageable bite sized pieces. You can also create groups with only certain people in that group. It will break out their posts in another column so they are easy to find, read and respond to.
We use this tool is to find key players with lots of followers and put them on a special group list called "Influencers." We then pay more attention to that list of messagse than all others and we spend a lot of time trying to interact with those folks. IF YOU CAN CREATE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TOP THE REST OF THEIR FOLLOWERS WILL FOLLOW.
We use it exclusively and like it a lot. You can shorten URLs right in tweet deck and can even shorten your post by making it more txt jargon friendly.
Tweetlater is an application that allows you to create an automated direct message that goes out to new people who follow you on Twitter. Many people think automated direct messages in Twitter are the spawn of Satan.
They are fools. It's a great way to have someone take a next step in a relationship with you if they are into what you talk about. The key here is to not be too overtly promotional. You want to be friendly and helpful. Be a provider of value not a sales slime ball.
Jimmy created a direct message that sends people to a special video message shot specifically for new friends on Twitter and Facebook. The video allows him to tell his story and give people a taste of his personality and how we can help them have a business and life that’s ESP – Enjoyable, Simple and Prosperous.
On the video he explains the reasons why someone would want to follow him and what they can expect to get from the relationship. We also direct them to join us on other social networking sites and to sign up for our main email list at Gravitational Marketing.
We find this works very well. It's a trick we seem to have pioneered. Will some people be offended… let's hope so. If not… it's not edgy enough. There has been some talk of disabling the auto DM feature but as of this writing it’s still operational. Even if they do remove the feature there are other services online that allow you to auto DM through Twitter.
TweetLater also allows you to schedule tweets to go out at a later date and time. Kinda like an autoreponder. Good stuff.
Is a cool tool. We use it on our iPhones but it's not necessarily a mobile app. What Twitpic allows you to do is upload a photo to the site and it automatically links to your twitter account. When you upload a photo it shares that photo and the caption you included with your twitter followers. It creates an automatic tweet and sends it through your twitter account.
The site also gives you an email address you can use to send photos to the site directly. Your tweet and photo caption is whatever you put in the subject line of the email. Email the photo to the address it uploads it into Twitpic and sends a tweet to your followers.
We take photos of interesting things with our iPhones while we’re out and about and then send them to our followers with a couple of touches on the phone. PRETTY CONVENIENT.
Facebook also has an application called "Twitter" that you can install. This app will link your twitter messages to your Facebook page as status updates.
The benefit of this is that you can keep both groups of folks updated without having to do twice the work. A real timesaver. There is also a program that will link your LinkedIn too… but we haven't done that yet.
There are even more tools to make this all work better or differently. We could be here all day. These are some of the ones we’ve used and experimented with personally and found valuable. Feel free to play around if you want to but be warned… time flies when you're wasting it on social media.
Final Thoughts About Social Media Marketing For Small Business
Even if you are using social networking for business, you should mix in pleasure. If you don't share the personal side of your life, people won't connect with you. People have to see that you're human.
The 3-point blogging method we teach in Gravitational Marketing also works extremely well on Twitter and other social media sites.
A quick recap for those who've never heard it. One third of your posts should be personal (about family and personal stuff), one third should be emotional (about the benefits you provide and how they can impact your prospects life), and one third about the technical thing you do (business mechanics, features, information, tips and tricks).
So that's it for social media for now. Hopefully you learned something. Be fun, be unique, Be an expert, Be you, Be SOCIAL!