Sunday, October 31, 2010

Become A Social Media Master In 5 and 1-Half Steps

Thanks to Olalah Njenga, Marketing Strategist, Author and Columnist for Carolina Business Connection.  Visit http://www.olalah.com/  and http://carolinabusinessconnection.com/

Social this. Social that. But what does it all really mean? Here’s the short answer; to some it means absolutely nothing; to others, it means the world has changed forever. As a marketing strategist, I see the social space as a relevant environment for business growth. Varying opinions about what to do and what not to do in the social space continues to cause confusion. The truth is “best practices” for social networks are difficult to define because everyone who participates in the social space has their own agenda.

Whether you’re jumping into the social media space as a novice, or you’re a social media maven, I’ve outlined a few ways to help you get more out of the social experience. My hope is that you’ll see both the relevance and the value in the business of being social.

Here’s 5 ½ ways to master the social space:

1- Have A Purpose
If you don’t know why you’re doing something, how will you know if it’s working, or not? “What’s your purpose for using social media?” seems like an obvious question to me, but you would be surprised how many smart people look at me like I have two heads and respond “Because everyone else is”. That’s simply not a real answer. Knowing what your reasons are for having a presence in the social space is critical to leveraging a strategy and choosing the tactics to support your purpose. If you’re using social platforms for business, have a clearly defined purpose for doing so.

2- Know The Platform
Every social platform has an environment to respect. Spend a few weeks observing (sometimes called lurking) the behavior within the social networks. Watching the exchanges between people will give you insight into the environment of each social network. Observing also gives you insight into the micro-environments that exist, (sometimes referred to as cliques). Social platforms have an ebb and flow that is unique to their own eco-system (as I like to call it). When you know the platform, the nuances of it, and in some cases the unspoken rules of engagement, you’ll discover ways to add value to the environment.

3- Develop A Content Strategy
If I had a nickel for the number of well-intended business people who call me excited about social media, but don’t have a clue what they want to post, I’d have enough to buy the BMW 325i that I’ve had my eye on for months. While it’s acceptable to post to social networks ad hoc, having a content strategy gives a frame to your thoughts and your efforts. If you intend to use social platforms to support your business goals, then take the time to create a content strategy. A basic content strategy outlines which social networks you want to leverage, what the key topics are, how often you will post content and in what manner you want to post the content. If it seems like work, you’re right. It is!

4- Don’t Miss The Metrics
What’s the point in using a tool if you don’t measure the impact of it? If you’re using social platforms to support your business goals, then measuring your efforts is critical. What you measure will depend largely on your purpose for having a presence in the social place (see point #1). There is, however, some basic information to consider capturing. For example, measure the number of interactions, the number of inquiries, the number of mentions and the number of re-posts. This can help you determine which content gets the most traction. There are tons of software options to help you manage and monitor social media metrics and effectiveness.

5- It’s Called “Social” For A Reason
In the excitement (and the confusion) of having a presence in the social space, it’s easy to forget the most elemental component of the social space – they are social networks! People post. People tweet. People share. People read. People engage. People buy. If you’re going to have a social presence for the purpose of doing business, remember that people are not targets. People are people and they deserve to be heard, respected and valued.

5 ½- Keep the “social” in the social media.
When doing business in the social space, don’t make every post about your business. We’re all people and by nature we’re simply social.

About Olalah Njenga, YellowWood Group, LLC
Olalah Njenga is the CEO and Senior Marketing Strategist at YellowWood Group, a marketing firm that specializes in helping companies align marketing strategies with sales goals. She is also the creator of the Marketing With Ease™ System and the author of 37 What Were They Thinking Moments In Marketing. As a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), Olalah speaks nationally on business impacting topics, including strategic marketing, entrepreneurship, business planning, differentiation, social media and branding. In 2009, Olalah was honored as a Stevie® Awards Women In Business Finalist in the Lifetime Achievement category. Olalah sits on several advisory boards and serves as a volunteer counselor for SCORE. SCORE, the “Counselors of America’s Small Business Owners”, is a national association dedicated to helping small business owners form and grow their businesses.

Batson Group Marketing and PR invites you to visit our website at www.BGMPR.com
 
What are your tips for mastering the social media space?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Press Releases Aren't Just for The Press Anymore

David Meerman Scott wrote the award-winning BusinessWeek best-selling book The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly so I thought I'd do a quick share on key take-aways from his eBook.

Read on to see how you can get your free eBook on the New Rules of PR

Why you need to learn the new rules

Today, savvy marketing professionals use press releases to reach buyers directly.

While many marketing and PR people understand that press releases sent over the wires appear in near real-time on services like Google News, very few understand the implications for how they must dramatically alter their press release strategy in order to maximize the effectiveness of the press release as a direct consumer-communication channel.

The media has been disintermediated. The Web has changed the rules. Buyers read your press releases directly and you need to be talking their language.

This is not to suggest that media relations are no longer important; mainstream media and the trade press must be part of an overall communications strategy. In some businesses, mainstream media and the trade press remain critically important and, of course, the media still derives some of its content from press releases.

But your primary audience is no longer just a handful of journalists. Your audience is millions of people with Internet connections and access to search engines and RSS readers.

The new rules of press releases

• Don’t just send press releases when “big news” is happening; find good reasons to send them all the time.
• Instead of just targeting a handful of journalists, create press releases that appeal directly to your buyers.
• Write releases replete with keyword-rich copy.
• Create links in releases to deliver potential customers to landing pages on your Web site.
• Optimize press release delivery for searching and browsing.
• Drive people into the sales process with press releases.

Want to learn more?
Get David's free ebook on the subject visit http://www.bgmpr.com/ and click on USEFUL LINKS.
 
How have press releases helped you or your business?

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Power of Social Media

I have the great fortune to live in Raleigh, NC and able to know world class professionals in a variety of industries; Deidre Hughey is one. "The Power of Social Media" by Deidre Hughey was originally posted online at Carolina Business Connection (CBC).  Thanks Diedre and Tim Moore of CBC for the okay to share.

The Power of Social Media
By Deidre Hughey - Social Media Strategist and Radio Show Host

Last week, I sat down with a client to go over a strategic plan for his social media activities. As I was going over the details, a friend of my client’s walked into the room and stated, “I just don’t get it, I mean, seriously, social media is a complete waste of time.”

It’s true. Social media is a complete waste of time… (I know, you weren’t expecting a social media strategist to say that, were you!)

Wait! Let me finish the statement.

Social media is a complete waste of time…if you don’t have a strategy in place that you’re following.

Planning for a Trip
Think about it. If you decided you wanted to drive to Encino, California, would you just hop in your car and start driving? Most likely not (unless you’re a teenager…they do some pretty crazy things). As an adult, there’s some planning involved. You need to schedule time away from work, decide how long you’re going to be gone, pack your clothes, hire a dog sitter, plan your route, pack some snacks, etc. You don’t just hop into the car and start driving because it would be irresponsible.

Planning for Trade Shows
Let’s shift gears and talk about business. If you decided that you wanted to participate in 3 trade shows over the course of the year, would you just pick the first trade show that you saw and register? No, of course not! You would want to know some things about it. Who is the trade show marketed toward? What type of vendors are going to be there? Has this been a successful trade show in the past? Does it work into my schedule? What are the costs involved?

Not Planning for Social Media
A business person is told (sometimes, over and over) that they should get involved in social media. So, they start a blog or sign up on a social networking site and start typing. Unfortunately, many people jump into social media with little thought. Before you know it, the business person is frustrated and discouraged by the amount of time spent in social media without having monetary results to show for their efforts.

They start shouting, “Where’s my ROI?”

I shout back, “Show me your plan!”

Free Still Needs a Plan
Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan. And, don’t get me wrong, social media shouldn’t be your marketing plan. Social media should be a strategic piece of your marketing plan.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

1) How much time am I willing to dedicate to social media per week? Per day?
2) Is there any part of my marketing plan that social media may be able to replace?
3) Do the demographics of my clients match the demographics of the platform that I’m considering using?
4) What would my clients and prospects want to hear from me?
5) What action do I want my prospects to make as a result of our interactions?
6) Am I ready to be transparent in an online community of people that I don’t know?
7) Am I ready to spend the time to understand the social etiquette involved in social media that will allow me to get results?
8) Am I ready to be a “pull” marketer rather than a “push” marketer?

Take the time to ask yourself questions. Take the time to map out a plan. Know what you’re going to do when you show up. If you don’t, maybe your time would be better spent elsewhere.

However, with the right plan in place, and an understanding of what your prospects are looking for with your involvement in social media, you could develop a very loyal client base over time. A loyal client base that is able to let their connections know (quickly, I might add) how great it is to be your client.

Ah. There it is.

The true power of social media.

So, go ahead.

Get a plan in place and build a BUZZ about your business!

About Deidre Hughey
Deidre Hughey is the owner of The Buzz Builder and a Social Media Strategist and Online Relationship Expert. She helps people spread the word about their business without spending a lot of money. She is also a columnist for Women’s Edge Magazine, Vice-President of Women’s Business Owners Network (WBON) in Cary, on the board for the Knowledgeable Network of Women (KNOW) in Morrisville, founder and facilitator for Triangle Women’s Connection, a trustee for inSide919.com, and an avid, dynamic speaker.
Contact Information:
Deidre Hughey
The BUZZ Builder
Social Media Strategies That Make Sense for Speakers and Authors
(919) 924-3675
Website: http://thebuzzbuilder.com/
Author BUZZ: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/deidrehughey

What's your best social media strategy?

Friday, October 1, 2010

PR – Public Relations, Pet Rock, Perceived Reality

Who are you and why are you unique?

Without PR rocks from Mexico would have remained unknown.

Rocks – yes rocks. But, not just any rocks–Pet Rocks. Smooth gray colored stones about the size of an egg. Remember them?

So if you think I have rocks in my head talking about Pet Rocks, in a blog about PR, let’s take a look at how a bunch of smooth gray rocks from Rosarita Beach made advertising executive Gary Dahl a millionaire in 1975.

It’s a simple recipe really. Dahl took one bright idea, married it with clever copy, press releases that alerted the media and a marketing plan that created want in the public that made folks part with $3.95 to buy these non-descript stones in their cute little house-shaped boxes.

You would think getting these unloved and unknown marvels of nature well known, well thought of and the must-have object to those of us wearing mood rings, dancing to the Bee Gees and wondering whose bright idea was it anyway to put the US on the Metric System, had to be a challenge. Not so much, remember Dahl knew the value marketing and PR.

Dahl introduced the Pet Rock at the August gift show in San Francisco and then in New York. Neiman-Marcus ordered five hundred. He sent out homemade news releases of himself accompanied by a picture that showed him surrounded by boxes of his Pet Rocks. Newsweek did a half-page story about the nutty notion, and by the end of October Gary Dahl was shipping ten thousand Pet Rocks every Day. He appeared on "The Tonight Show," twice.

By Christmas when, two and a half tons of rocks had been sold, three-fourths of all the daily newspapers in America had run Pet Rock stories, often including Gary Dahl's tongue-in-cheek revelations about how each rock was individually tested for obedience at Rosarita Beach in Baja, Mexico, before being selected and boxed. A million rocks sold for $3.95 apiece in just a few months, and Gary Dahl - who decided from the beginning to make at least one dollar from every rock - had become an instant millionaire.*

What are the take-aways:

1. Be or have a product or service that is unique or present it in a unique way.

2. Know your customers and take advantage of events that will move you forward.

3. The media, show bookers and producers are looking for stories, so get the word out with releases that provide info in an interesting manner and are not a sales pitch.

4. Be Timely. Reporters are hungry for information that is timely and relevant. What are the current trends in your industry? How does your product/service relate.

So when thinking about PR, remember: It’s not about the rocks, it’s the story on the box.

* Thanks to Encyclopedia of POP Culture, by Jane and Michael Stern. Harper Perennial Press 1992 for the history.
 
What successful PR capers have landed you in the spotlight?