Left on the table or deep in your pockets. Where do YOU want the money to go?
Low hanging fruit. Every business wants to capitalize on revenue that can be more easily generated from a large common denominator of consumers. Too many are unnecessarily missing a golden opportunity to leverage Social Media as a very effective way to capture this low hanging fruit.
If your company sells directly to consumers (B2C) and has an e-commerce website, -but isn’t leveraging it through social media – you may be leaving important new business on the table! If so, you are likely missing a critical opportunity to drive revenue to dedicated buying pages on your e-commerce website! You are also missing a mechanism to develop and grow the customer base that may otherwise follow your company. You can then create Facebook specific offers for both existing and new followers. Your website becomes the-spider-in-your-web of on-line marketing. The various social networks become the sticky “spider web”, serving to extend a wider net driving traffic to your website. You also have the opportunity of maintaining a relationship with your new consumer and influencing their next purchase by offering Facebook specific offers while maintaining a “top of mind” relationship with your Facebook Friend that even extends to their friends.
Is your company B2C, but without e-commerce capability? Well, even if you don’t transact online, you should be making use of Social Media as an important lead generating tool. Facebook affords you the opportunity to build a community and to influence prospects to transact their upcoming purchase at particular retail locations by supplying them with content such as value added offers. It’s a win/win! You generate revenue and build your community. The consumer receives an incentive to purchase your products. You then can benefit from the newly offered opportunity to follow consumers interested in your products throughout their purchasing life cycle.
Are you a business that sells to other businesses (B2B)? In most cases, a Facebook presence can generate revenue for you too! You likely have no idea of the extent of the business you may have been losing! As a product manufacturer or distributor, once your merchandise had left your doors you historically had little opportunity to enjoy feedback about how consumers used them and what they thought about them. Well now you can educate them as to your products and services and continue to engage them throughout their buying life cycle.
Regardless of whether you manufacture garments or shower doors the opportunity to drive consumers to retail locations where you’ve influenced them to purchase your products creates a true win/win/win. The consumer can receive an incentive to buy your product that they are looking for. Your retailer is happy because you’ve driven business to their location with the opportunity to generate incremental purchases from that consumer. You’ve made a consumer happy because they bought what they wanted… your product. Your win is that you’ve supported your brand, built your customer community and generated a sale. Moreover, you now have the opportunity to create brand loyalty by continuing your relationship with consumers of your product in a way you could not before Social Media. And you can further develop specific programs to reward customers to promote your company or product through viral word of mouth.
There are very few companies that are not suited to Social Media as virtually all consumers now look for their products or services online, read reviews online, or verify with friends on Facebook to inquire about their purchase experiences. Consult with your Social Media consultant (hi there!) to find out how to best leverage Social Media for your company and begin to generate new revenue that is presently there on the table for the taking.
Not sure about any of this? Challenge me about YOUR business situation. What are your businesses products or services? Let me help you understand not simply what you’re missing, but how to get a bigger piece of the purchasing action! Take the money from the top of table, and put it in your pocket…. where it rightfully belongs!
HOW DOES YOUR COMPANY LOOK ON-LINE?
So, you want to get started with Social Media! If done effectively, it can build your brand and generate new streams of revenue while delivering ROI unlike many off-line marketing strategies. But, don’t even consider posting to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or any other social media platform until your website represents your company in a positive way.
Clearly, the first action any consumer takes when considering a product or service purchase is to search on-line. The scariest is that there are still companies with no website! In today’s world how can you expect to be found if you’re not even there? Your company itself or its product category is being Googled… and if you’re either not there or look like you’re stuck in the 90′s, chances are consumers will move onto your competition that presents a contemporary image of their company. We’ve all been on-line and have been referred to someone or something. First thing we do? We Google them… right? No different for your company. You don’t want to have a disconnect between your company, its website and its on-line or off-line marketing vehicles.
Your website is your on-line connection and very often the first touch point for new business. It is the cornerstone of your business and your most important selling tool. As marketers our ultimate Social Media goal is to drive traffic to your website. Face it; the value of Social Media is significantly constrained and limited if you don’t have a good website. An equivalent situation for a brick and mortar retail location is if you effectively advertised in the newspaper and drove scores of people to your store, but they had such a frustrating time trying to find your products on your store’s shelf that your prospects simply left. This happens online too, and all too often. Social media can be great at generating leads, but your website has to be well conceived so as to ultimately benefit.
Evaluate your website with fresh and informed eyes. Was the content developed so as to optimize the page viewing on google’s search engine? Do you have multiple call to action opportunities at every strategic site location? Are your headers appropriately named and in the right sequence. Have you minimized click-throughs to achieve a sale? Is the navigation easy, simple and highly intuitive? Is the site itself clean, modern, contemporary and friendly? Does it capture attention and direct the focus?
Not sure? Well, I know of one consultant who can help! He also writes blogs about this kind of stuff!
Don’t be Social Media’s best kept secret!
If you were to open a brick and mortar store would you advertise it in efforts to motivate consumers to visit and shop there? The answer should be a resounding yes! The same should apply to your Social Media initiatives. Just because you build a Facebook page it does not suggest -much less guarantee- that consumers will find it. As a business, if you’re not going to invest some modest marketing funds to promote your Facebook page in order to drive traffic to the site, your success may be limited or constrained versus your opportunity. Just as every retail store needs to make customers aware of it (and its product offerings) so as to stimulate visits, so does your Facebook page. We’ve all seen the Facebook pages with almost no “likes” and very few people “talking about it.” And those few “likes” are usually generated by the company’s employees, and their friends. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? It’s called “Social” media for a reason. You want to be finding and engaging new prospective customers. Simple solution, don’t wait for them to find you… go get ‘em!
Be proactive! Provide incentives to your targets so they’ll have a reason to be engaged. Try promoting offers from sponsored posts or use Facebook advertising to invite consumers to “like” your page to receive an incentive. That becomes a win/win! The consumer gets an incentive and you benefit from a sale once the incentive is redeemed. Wait, it doesn’t stop there! You also begin to build a database and new followers to your page. In time, you’ll have developed a list of interested customers who you now get to engage on an ongoing basis. You can then develop a relationship where you might influence repeat purchases, establish loyalty, and generate good will and good buzz!
Content may be king, but if nobody sees it does it really exist?
Do I need a Social Media agency?
I don’t know about you, but if I wanted to learn how to swim I’d hire a swim instructor. Speaking English doesn’t make you a writer and knowing design and Photoshop software doesn’t make you a graphic designer, knowing how to post to Facebook or tweet, doesn’t make you a social media professional. An ever-growing number of companies who are looking to succeed at social media marketing, online social advertising and ROI for their business will call upon the services of a social media agency.
A social agency can demystify what social media is and which platform may be suited to your business’ strategies and objectives. We’ve all soon the Facebook pages with “likes” limited to the people who work there… And a few of their Friends. The company that, day after day, posts information about itself offering it’s latest widget to the people who work there. The me, me, me marketers! Integrating social media marketing successfully into your existing mix is often more complex than it appears.
Creating accountability through metrics supporting the effectiveness of your campaigns so that you can generate the same tangible results you get from your other marketing efforts. What each company takes away from the metrics is dependent upon predetermined objectives. Your agency should be able to show you how they’ve:
* Built database
* Increased traffic to your website
* Enhanced user engagement
* Increased the number of customers reaching out for information filling in online forms, calling, downloading (creating database)
* And much more
A social agency will improve your company’s brand exposure and put your image out there in a positive light. Your agency will communicate with users who are interested in your products or services by disseminating information, engaging consumers in a positive way, turning negative comments into a positive experience. Out of sight does not mean out of mind. You should maintain an awareness of your Social Media. Social promotions, user engagement campaigns, social outreach and more must always reflect your business marketing plans.
Each social platform is unique and the way you communicate on each will be different. Social media engagement is a unique skill that is developed and different from how you communicate on your website, on the telephone and in face to face encounters. Creating and maintaining your social community is time consuming. There is no short cut to success and creating for each platform is custom tailored to fit each client. Make sure it fits your company like a glove!
Social Media; a customer service game changer!
As a consumer, just because we now have the power through Facebook or Twitter to call out bad service doesn’t mean we should. Before Social Media became mainstream, complaining about poor service started with a simple request. “May I please speak to your manager?” The ensuing conversation was usually low key between 2 people rather than a high octane rant.
Twitter has now given us 140 characters to rant to a potential audience of millions instead of that quiet conversation. As you wouldn’t scream in a store, restaurant or office (or shouldn’t) don’t spew on-line either! Social Media has changed customer service because it gives us the power to influence the masses. Just because you have that potentially huge audience to complain to doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.
My daughters were discussing a restaurant experience recently. As they were finishing their meal a manager asked them if they’d accept desert, on the house, in exchange for moving to a smaller table as there was a larger group waiting. They declined as they were planning to leave anyway & weren’t in a desert kind of mood… No desert, what’s up with that?
Anyway, they differed in opinion and took it to the Twittersphere. Without naming the restaurant they asked their followers to weigh in. A few wanted to know the name of the restaurant. Not wanting to damage the reputation of the restaurant they decided not to divulge the name of the establishment. No problem with taking the issue to Twitter. They wanted input from others but there was no need to tarnish the reputation of the manager or business.
How do you get your point across? You’re in the situation. Why not make it a one on one conversation? Beyond that… Cool down. Realize the implications of an on-line rant to the livelihood of the employee and business. Constructive criticism is useful both to the the business & other consumers. Name calling however, helps nobody. Personal attacks are harmful and hurtful.
Another example of the power of the media? Fundraisers went into a neighborhood restaurant asking for a small donation to help their cause. The apparent response was a racial slur. A very influential person within the community was told of the incident and, in anger, posted the name of the restaurant and the incident only to find out later that the story wasn’t true. The damage had unfortunately been done, The incident was forwarded throughout the community. Within 3 months the restaurant was out of business… based on a story that wasn’t true and the emotion of the person who made the first post and the others who shared the post!
Don’t let anger and emotion get the best of you! Your words do matter and can’t be taken back once they’re out there in cyberspace! You may have 10 followers or 100,000 followers, something you post, tweet or share can easily be shared by many or by someone more influential. Always ask yourself: How would I handle this situation if Social Media didn’t exist?
The takeaway… Take a breath, rant responsibly, Social Media gives you power… Use it wisely!
Can you generate sales through Social Media?
Customer conversion and generating sales through social media channels is not the slam dunk most business owners think it should be. Your customers ask themselves “Why should I engage with this brand on Facebook?” The reply is usually not “Because I want to buy from them.” Consumers tend to see a brands Social Media avenues as support to their buying decision by providing valuable information pre-purchase & then as customer support post-purchase.
The mistake that brands make is when they try to engage their Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter or Pinterest audience with constant offers to purchase products. For all those out there that say Facebook fans don’t convert my guess it’s because their content didn’t give a compelling call to action or a reason to click, download or buy. You have to give your fans the opportunity & reason to convert. Use the 80/20 rule when it comes to content. That means 80 percent of your content should be on broader topics other than your services or products. Nobody likes repeated, desperate attempts to make a sale. Only 20 percent of content should be self-promotion. Your followers have already clicked “like.” High-five! Your focus must now turn to keeping your fans engaged. That’s not to say that you can’t drive conversions or build a customer base using social media. You must first understand that’s not what customers are turning to many social networks for. If you have the right demographic, message, time & place, you can!
All aboard the Social Media train!
Ok… you’re a small business, you’ve heard all this buzz about Social Media & ask yourself “should I climb aboard?” Well, yes! Brands must embrace and join Social Media since this is where consumers are having conversations. Facebook is by far the largest and most significant of the Social Media and therefore should be your first whistle stop…. own it before moving onto the others. Facebook offers you, the small business owner, a way to get in touch with and communicate with the end user of your product in a way that didn’t exist a few short years ago. Be social! They’re right there for you to talk to! Communicate with them, answer questions, deal with problems in a positive way so that other consumers see how you stand behind your brand. Mine them for information. Thinking of line extending? Use your free on-line Facebook focus group as a sounding board. Beyond that, content is king! For the consumer who has already liked your page, seeing post after post of the same type of information gets old in a hurry! As the conductor of your Social Media train realize that your followers want content that is compelling, that may not relate directly to your business directly but is nonetheless interesting to the demographic following your page. The already “like” your company. You want to give followers a reason to continue to visit your page. Building data base through incentive based vehicles is a great way to grow your page. Also, promote your page. You’re on the right track but your followers aren’t climbing aboard because you’re doing nothing to drive traffic! Advertising on Facebook is affordable compared to all other media and you can geo-target traffic driven to your page where you build database, generate new fans, brand awareness and generate income. Get in touch with your Social Media strategist to help you navigate your Social Media course. Keep in mind that speaking English doesn’t make you a writer and knowing design and Photoshop software doesn’t make you a graphic designer, knowing how to post to Facebook or tweet, doesn’t make you a marketing professional.
Ignoring Social Media complaints….. big mistake!
One of the questions often asked when meeting with a new Social Media client is “What do we do about negative comments?” I had one client tell me that he wanted them taken down immediately. Doing that misses out on a golden opportunity for your followers to see how you react to negative issues and stand behind your brand. Social media is providing people with all new ways to share, collaborate and communicate. You now have the opportunity to connect one-on-one with anyone, anywhere in the world, and turn a negative into a positive. A huge downfall of many Social Media initiatives is in not replying when confronted with an issue, good or bad. I grant you that there’s no place for profanity and I would remove any hurtful or profane posts but a negative comment gives you the opportunity to right a wrong as well as take negative momentum and make it work for you. If a product is defective, offer to repair or replace it…… even offer a value added extra. Other followers of your page will then see that you have corrected the issue and even offered a good will gesture going, above and beyond. Ideally, respond to every post almost immediately, get the customer to connect offline if there is no quick fix and get them a resolution quickly. In a lot of cases, the customer comes back with a retraction, positive update or “thank you.”
Don’t ignore negative comments, own them! Don’t ignore, be social, it is social media after all!
Why your teenager or intern shouldn’t run your Social Media!
“We should get into this Social Media thing.” Most companies have at least had the conversation. “My 16 year old (or intern) can get us started on Social Media. She (or he) is on Facebook all the time and I don’t have the time to do it!” Although that sounds like a great idea…. it isn’t!
What you’d be in effect doing is putting your company’s message and voice in the hands of someone with very little knowledge of your strategies, objectives and of your business in general…… OMG….. I bet you never thought of that! Social media for business is really so many things wrapped into one: marketing, customer service, public relations, crisis management, branding. How deep is the experience of a young person in delivering any of these things? Why would you entrust your brands presence on a new platform to someone without the ability to establish clear and measurable business objectives? Although Social Media looks rather simple, it’s not. As with all new marketing initiatives, it involves a strategy around which you create tactics and measurable results. Based on those results you then have the opportunity of making corrections to your Social Media initiatives as needed….. much like you would in your other marketing programs. The game changer though is that unlike other marketing channels, it’s multidirectional. Unlike traditional advertising, Social Media marketing is a one to one conversation between your brand and the marketplace. This is an incredible opportunity for any business….. one that didn’t exist a few short years ago & must be leveraged! Don’t entrust the conversation you have with your demographic to someone who isn’t privy to your business needs!
Don’t get me wrong though, there are ways you can get your kids or intern involved. While they alone shouldn’t be responsible for being your company’s Social Media voice, they can certainly help out as you become involved with the various channels. Working with the people in your company who are responsible for strategies & objectives, they can learn more about your business and apply his or her social media insights as digital natives to your objectives. They can also direct you to new Facebook features or depending on your business needs, to complimentary networks such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. With guidance on your strategies and a firm understanding of your corporate voice your intern or teenager can also assist with your Social Media presence. You can’t make every post or tweet yourself!
The takeaway from this is that rather than saying your teenagers or intern can’t handle being the Social Media voice of your company that you should be taking Social Media seriously and not as a trivial side project. Work with professionals who understand both the media & the marketplace who will partner with you in a relationship where your strategies and objectives are leveraged through the channel that best suits your business needs.
I look forward to your comments and please share!
QR codes; Bridging the gap between on-line and off-line
By now we’ve all seen those square computer generated codes that appear in ads, posters, direct mail etc. Some don’t yet know what they are, or their capabilities. Are they a good thing? Can they create interest and engagement? I think that if used properly they can bridge the chasm between print media and the on-line world. The advent of QR, or Quick Response codes should make the print industry giddy with joy!
The first obstacle & huge issue the mainstream use of QR codes faces is that the user must have the free reader app on their smart phone. I’ve seen people point their phones at the codes and say they don’t work; not realizing that they must have the reader. The second issue is the incorrect use of the media. I had a perspective client tell me that they tried them and that beyond the esthetic of the code they found that it got them very little feedback. I asked them where the code drove users and the reply was “to our home page.” It’s called Quick Response for a reason! The lesson to be learned is that regardless of the media used the code that appears must drive users to a dedicated landing page talking directly to the reason the ad or promo piece was produced in the first place. An example would be as simple as an article of clothing in a magazine ad. After scanning the code the user should be driven to a dedicated landing page with information about that piece of clothing, fabric content, color, sizing ranges with the ability to purchase (which is a great way of harvesting database information). By driving that same user to a home page they must then search the website for the garment, taking several clicks to find what they were looking for…. taking the quick out of the response.
A great example of how QR codes can be used in an effective way can be found with a Korean grocery chain called Home plus. They went from number 2 in their market to number 1 by revolutionizing the grocery shopping experience for Koreans while they are traveling to work at their local subway station…. VERY COOL! Click on the YouTube video clip to see their story…… so interesting. In a time strapped and over-busy society, this fascinating experiment to create virtual stores in their local subway stations seems to have worked. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGaVFRzTTP4
What do you think? Have you come up against the same obstacles? Do you have examples of positive uses for QR codes to share?
Please comment and please share with your Social Media contacts.