Maj 2010


    5 Content Marketing Errors That Make You Look Dumb

    A great foundation of content marketing, whether you’re dealing with blogs or articles (and just good copywriting in general) is a sturdy conversational tone within your content.  This gives you the ability to snatch up the grammar rules and bend them a little.  Sometimes a lot.  The main point of it is not to generate the perfect thesis for college, it’s to emulate the way people speak – even if there is a dash placed somewhere it shouldn’t be.
    It may very well make a professional editor twitch, a college professor tug on his mustache curls and my own mother smack her forehead in frustration but it works.  Many people find it credible, and enjoy the conversational tone that flows through much of the copywriting these days.
    The problem with writing in a conversational tone, and content marketing in general, is that sometimes we don’t always use the brightest people to make our content sound like it’s written like people.  Content marketing is a big part of any business online, especially when you use content syndication in social media.  To anyone writing that content, a simple mistake in grammar might seem silly.  Unfortunately, the truth is that a number of people (especially educated ones) won’t bother with your content and likely won’t subscribe or continue through your marketing process if you make simple mistakes that make you look dumb.
    It’s harsh, but it’s extremely true.  Buying from dummies is out of the question.
    There are an uncountable number of mistakes to be avoided but not everyone has a bachelor’s degree in English.  Let’s simplify it for the crowd – 5 Mistakes To Avoid
    Here are five mistakes to avoid when blogging and writing web copy.
    You’re & Your
    I don’t even carry a degree in writing and this obvious flub makes me pull my hair.  Unfortunately the next generation of bloggers is, in my opinion, getting extremely lazy and this one is becoming a lot more common.  This is one of those “you forgot to proofread your content” errors and it tells your readers that you just don’t care.
    If you are having an issue differentiating, then here’s the basic rule:  “Your” is a possessive pronoun as in “your blog sucks”.  “You’re” is a contraction for “you are” as in “You’re destroying your content by mixing up your and you’re”
    Its & It’s
    This is another common mistake in content marketing and copywriting that can be avoided by taking the time to review your content and think about the message you’re trying to convey.
    “It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.”  “Its” is a possessive pronoun, such as “I think that monkey is about to fling its poo”.  Try to use this easy rule of thumb that’s common in the writer world – Speak the sentence out loud and use “is it”.  If it doesn’t fit then “its” is likely the right choice.
    There vs. Their
    I think short of the people in every generation that just don’t care about what they say or how they say it (I’m biting my tongue) this is more often a simple typo than any major “duh” issue.  It can be avoided with an appropriate proof read – that means stop rushing through your content and take 2 minutes to read the copy over you lazy git.
    Keep these examples in mind:  “There can be used a multiple ways – as a pronoun (“there is no spoon”) and a place (“I went there once”).
    “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun (“I was staring at their funbags”).  If you’re talking about more than a single person and something they possess then “their” is the way to go.
    Affect vs. Effect
    I think we can all claim a mulligan on this one.  Even I have to stop and think about which one is appropriate and mentally sort it all out.   Ignorance is no excuse, nor is laziness, so if you take the time to sort it out you’ll get this one right in the end.  Worst case scenario –
    “Affect” is a verb as in “My ability to haggle about my copywriting prices will directly affect how much I get paid for this content”.  “Effect” is a noun, plain as can be.  “The special effect left something to be desired.”
    If you still have difficulty remembering, just remember that you can’t put “The” in front of a verb.  No “The” before “A”.
    The Dangling Participle
    I once had a teacher who used to tell me that my participle was dangling, and I never understood it – mainly because I refused to follow the rules.  I’m an animal like that and I just can’t help it.  It’s probably the most egregious of writing errors and yet it does generate some amusing content.  Amusing, but almost impossible to understrand
    Check out this example from Tom Sant’s book Persuasive Business Proposals:
    “After rotting in the cellar for weeks, my brother brought up some oranges.”
    Please keep your decomposing family at a distance
    The issue with the example and similar forms is that the participial phrase beginning the sentence isn’t intended to modify or change what follows.  Readers however mentally expect that when it’s read.  They think everything is related.  When speaking in a conversational tone you need to set things up so that your opening phrase does modify what immediately follows otherwise you leave your readers hanging, and your participle danglin’


    Kamikaze Social Networking At Its Finest

    I had an interesting run-in with someone in Facebook this morning that made me realize that people still don’t “get” social media.  To put it in as few words as possible to explain the situation, I basically had someone run up on me and slap a sticker on my ass essentially turning me into their billboard.
    I’m not speaking in literal terms of course, since this occurred on Facebook, but it was equally offensive.
    I often talk about the benefits of someone new to their industry hitching themselves to the star of someone who is far more successful and established.  Learn from them, ride with them, educate yourself based on the actions and successes of that person.
    The dark side of this are the people who merely hitch to that star to be “in”.  To be considered cool.  These are the people who name drop, and it’s a vile practice.  It makes social networking a fugly practice.
    The individual in question found me through another group I’m a member of on Facebook that I “liked”, a group that related specifically to SEO Copywriting.  I accepted his add request because I’m someone who loves social networking.  Within seconds of adding him as a friend, he slapped a link to his copywriting company on my Facebook wall for everyone to see… and that was it.
    Not a “Hi, how are you” nor a question of “Can I do this?”
    As stated before, I got a slap & tickle (without the tickle) and he tried to use me as a billboard for his company.
    Unacceptable practice to say the least and it’s the Facebook equivalent to forum spam.  This person is contributing nothing to a conversation, nor attempting to generate any social buzz about what it is he does.  His entire purpose behind social netoworking is merely to dump as many links as he can to generate some kind of traffic.
    Social networking, regardless of the channel, is about engagement.  It’s not a place to hard sell, and nobody wants your business card when you lick the back of it and smack them in the forehead to make it stick.  When I say engagement, I’m talking about the good kind of engagement.  When you’re sharing something of value that is useful to people.
    It’s neither useful nor valuable to run up on someone and expose yourself.  The “look at me” mentality has the smelly undertones of a social networking strategy that completely lacks strategy.  This is what happens when someone decides to “do” social media without understanding its form or purpose.  They aren’t sure where to start, or what to say but they know that any exposure is good… right?  Hence the link dropping, the mass friending, the poor decision making and in the end – the negative branding.
    After I got the link stamped on my Facebook wall, I sent him a message and told him that it’s bad form to do that type of thing without first engaging the people.  He took his link down.
    5 minutes later he put the link back up with a message attached to the link that said “Hi!”
    I looked at his own Facebook page to discover that I was simply one aggressive linkstamp in a chain of kamikaze social networking.


    Book Review: The New Rules Of Marketing and PR

    In The New Rules of Marketing and PR, author David Meerman Scott wastes no time in telling people that they’re doing it wrong.
    I’m a straight shooter, and I can appreciate a good quick “stop it, stupid” when it comes from someone who has it right and Scott has it right.  This book takes you through a stream of case studies showing the success of businesses small and large as well as individuals that have applied unique tactics and strategies in the new world of Marketing.  It is a clear display of how people (consumers and businesses alike) have changed as a result of the web.
    Business is different, sales don’t work like they used to and new methods are required if businesses want to survive in this new medium.  If you don’t take the new rules of marketing into account, you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight and your competition will make short work of you.
    What’s worse is your customers will eat you alive – they just won’t stand for old hat anymore.
    Scott doesn’t just paint a picture of a Utopian shopping world online.  He gives clear direction on tools and resources that businesses can use to weave themselves seamlessly into various social media channels to both identify consumers through buyer profiles and connect with them.  If that weren’t enough, he also includes an action plan within the revision of this book to help readers leverage his ideas and take their own business to the next level.
    The unfortunate thing about marketing and social media is also one of the things that make it so great – it changes constantly as new ideas regularly develop.  This is the only downside to this book, as I already felt like some information was missing based on where the industry is at right now.  With that said, there’s no reason why this book shouldn’t become a staple on the shelf of every marketer – especially new ones.
    We all must start somewhere and David Meerman Scott delivers the quintessential text book for the every day marketer.
    What won me over was the conversational tone of this book.  Scott reveals in the book that many of the ideas and concepts were tested through his blog and he’s carried the same tone and style into the book.  Not only does it make the book easy to read, but it makes him approachable.  At no point did I feel, as an author, that he was on a pedestal doling out “do this” advice.  As I read through his book (and I did so more than once, and will continue to do so) I felt as if I had Scott sitting in a chair next to me discussing the information and sharing winning tips with me.
    The New Rules of Marketing and PR is a must-read for anyone, from peanut to corporate exec, that wants needs to understand the direction marketing is headed


    5 Tips For Providing Value In Social Media

    Have you been helpful to a customer lately?  When was the last time you did it through Social Media?
    Social media isn’t just a channel for firing off content at your consumers or prospects.  It’s far more than a conduit for putting an ear to the ground and learning about your industry.  It also shouldn’t be limited to the digital equivalent of a used-car lot where business and leads is concerned.
    Companies can gain a lot of value when they utilize social media as a method for being helpful.  With social media, a business has a chance to highlight professional services as well as the helpfulness, responsiveness and proof of accessibility.
    When you work in this manner, you’re providing far more value to those you connect with.  Through engagement and dialogue based on a foundation of being helpful and responsive, a rapport ignites that increases site visits, leads and ultimately conversions.
    A goal of helping and educating at the forefront in  any social media campaign will deliver successful results every time.  Here are 5 great tips to make that happen
    1. Share High-value resources on social networks
    When it comes to content, value rules over all.  This means thinking outside the box in terms of resources.  It may mean developing your own tool sets, or spending more time to generate in depth research for whitepapers that are far from “standard”.
    2. Setup a keyword watchdog
    Do some research and establish strings of keywords often used by visitors and other uses who need help within your niche or market.  Regularly searching for this content can help you turn up users that are looking for a service that you offer (or answers about a service you offer).  Your guidance can help lead them to a conversion
    Example: “looking for copywriter” “looking for writer services”
    Setup RSS updates from Twitter so that when tweets come in with these keywords, swift action can be taken to make contact with these users.
    3. Subscribe to LinkedIn Answers
    LinkedIn answers can also be used to establish an RSS feed.  Put a feed in place to monitor Q&A sessions among members that relate specifically to your niche.  When you see questions that you can answer and provide valuable substance, you can engage the user and provide direction by giving out whitepapers, tools, advice, etc.
    4. Provide easy contact means
    One of the primary goals for social media campaigns is to generate leads and customer contact – in particular to the website for a business.  Not all users want to find answers through the website.  Some simply prefer to deal directly with the company.  Ensure that visitors landing on a website from a Tweet, Facebook post or other site have immediate access to multiple forms of contact:

    • 800 number
    • Email
    • Physical address
    • Links to social profiles
    • Fax

    5. Setup a 24-hour response rule
    Part of being helpful means being prompt.  As more businesses move into social media, you won’t be the only one employing these tactics.  If you wait, another business can and likely will move in to take care of the customer.  Likewise, people will eventually the answer on their own or give up out of frustration.
    Anytime a prospect or user reaches out through social media, make sure you respond within 24 hours.  If you can’t get back to them directly, then pass the information along to a team member who can make the contact.


    Mastering Content Marketing – How To Be Interesting

    We all think we’ve got something interesting to offer, something witty to say, and some spark of knowledge to share.  That’s why we’re blogging and that’s why we’re engaging others in social media.  We feel we’re relevant, along with what we have to say.
    “Be interesting” is great advice, but it’s certainly nothing new.  We’ve been saying all along that if you want to run a great content marketing campaign then your content needs to be valuable, informative and useful.  That all circles around the concept of being interesting.  If it’s interesting, people will read it.  It’s pretty obvious that people aren’t going to stick around if you’re dull and boring.  Doesn’t matter how decent they are, they’ll go somewhere else.
    So how can you be interesting in content marketing?
    Here are some great tips to get your started, compiled mainly from other sites and tips from various copywriters and bloggers.  They’re effective and they play a big part of being interesting.
    Be Wrong
    If you want people to pay attention to do, do something wrong.  It works for little kids that need attention.  While it breeds the reinforcement of negative attention, there’s nothing wrong with being wrong once in a blue moon to garner some extra attention.
    Be Right
    Yeah there’s a lot of merit to being right over being wrong.  Just make sure that you’re more right that other people saying similar things to you.  Otherwise you’re just bugling the same babble.  Run faster than other people, be funnier, say it smarter, say it better.  People will notice.
    Do Something
    Anything.  Seriously, it might seem obvious but it’s not clear to a lot of people.  Everyone online is trying to say something but few people are actually trying to do something.  It’s staggering how many people can’t do for themselves so they turn to other media for expression.  If you produce that media, then you won’t lose their attention.
    Surpise people
    Take a surprising or outlandish position on something, or start dropping madcap analogies to garner the attention of people.  Make yourself unpredictable and people will stop and smell the feet.
    Make People Laugh
    Too many people online are too serious.  It’s nice that you want to be a thought leader and you want to teach as well as educate the masses but it’s just like we tell people that are marketing products online – no one cares about your product.  Same goes for your blog.  No one cares about your experience and your babbling all the time.  Mix it up and add some humor.  You might not be able to pull off a “ball gazer” with one of your readers but there’s certainly enough creativity floating around the web that you can make a bad joke or three.
    Paint Your Face
    Juvenile, I know.  I’m not actually directing you to do this very often (not good for your skin).  I’m merely saying that sometimes you should do something to appeal to the primal natures and desires of more people. Secretly I think everyone would love to paint their face once in life and dance and let out some primal screams (you do…admit it). Often life can be so predictable that a statement or gesture that sets you apart from the “me too” ordinary world will help you get the attention you seek .  I’m a KC Chiefs fan…so use RED paint.
    Drop Prophetic Wisdom
    You may not be a powerful soothsayer, but people like interesting predictions because they’re… interesting.  If you have any weight and authority in your marketing, people are going to pay attention to you, regardless of wild your forecast is.  Hell, someone once said the world was round and all hell broke loose.  I wish I could get that kind of outcry today for something I did.
    Be A Dork
    Deny it all you want, but you know deep inside you’re a big dumb dork.  We all are.  Our blogs are like tiny little text books.  We’re trying to be instructive and organized and perfect and all we want is to be popular.  The only things that’s missing a pocket protector, an erector set and an army of Warhammer figurines that we spend every weekend painting.  If you want to be famous, stop trying to be the perfect teacher and let people know that you’re a big fuzzy dork.  Impress them with your topical wisdom and they’ll pay attention.  Be an expert, yes, but be a dorky one.
    Be Honest
    I’m not talking about the type of honesty you dish to your mother in law, or your significant other when they ask you “is my ass big?”
    It really is.  We’re not telling you that though.
    That’s a bad habit to get into with your community.  Don’t lie, bowl em over with the truth.  Put yourself in a position where you’re so honest you’re afraid to hit the post button due the backdraft that’s going to hit in the comments.  Scare the hell out of your lawyer.  It’s great to vent on that level, and people will talk about you.  Maybe not in the best way all the time, but hey – branding is about pressing your image into the cement.  Sometimes that comes out a little fugly but it works.
    Be a Mangy Git
    Stir people up.  Swing a big ass stick at the wasp nest.  Make fun of religion, politics and everything people love.  Do it right and you’ve got yourself a great big roast – people will find it hilarious.  Do it wrong and you’re likely to get lynched.  Either way, someone is gonna find it interesting.  If you can’t stomach pissing off a portion of the world only to be loved by the rest then you probably shouldn’t be blogging.
    Tell A Good Story
    You don’t need to recite Fiddler on the Roof or start talking about Uncle Arthurs bedtime tales, but it’s necessary.  This is a common topic and while it probably doesn’t need to be mentioned, I will anyway.  Telling good stories can make you a legend because you’re entertaining.  It’s a big part of content marketing and making yourself memorable.  I don’t care about what you did last week when you were at the beach.  I want to hear the story about that time you woke up naked in a state park with a feather duster in one hand and someone else’s keys in your other.
    Break News, Not Wind
    If you’re gonna drop news on your readers, make it the good stuff and make it quick.  When Apple does something new, be the first blogger to make fun of them.  You’ll get all the links and traffic, everyone else is just echoing you.
    Master The Metaphor
    You can lead your readers much better with a strong metaphor that makes sense.  A well placed metaphor becomes a highway of attention, leading the blog readers right to you more quickly than any other technique.
    Put Readers First
    Ok, we know you’re the one with the talent.  That’s all well and good.  You work your tail off, but no one really cares about that.  Without the reader, the rest matters even less.  Sacrifice all to your reader, offer up your best, give everything to them and do it all for them.  If you don’t, they’ll know it, and you’ll never be interesting – your content marketing will subsequently go “flop”


    6 Twitter Tips To Boost Your Content Marketing

    People are still a little stumped at how something as simple as Twitter can cause so much head-cocking and consternation with businesses trying to market online.
    The overall concept of Twitter can probably be compared to that of another tool with a range of use – a hammer.  When wielded properly you can craft anything from a simple bookshelf to an entire home for a family.  It really boils down to how you wield the hammer.
    If you swing it in a wide, awkward manner you’re likely to get something that came out… not quite as you originally intended.  Apply more skill, precision and planning and you get something much more beautiful and effective.  This is true with Twitter.  
    If you use it poorly, you do little else but make a mess of things and potentially embarrass yourself.  If used properly you can make a measurable different in your content marketing strategy.  Thankfully for those people who are trying to leverage this social media network for their content marketing, there are some great tools and tips that make the process much simpler.
    1. Be concise – I can’t help but throw this in because Twitter kind of forces you to be concise due to the post limit size.  You would be surprised though just how many people still fail to get their message across in 140 characters or less.  Those of us who spend a fair amount of time blogging away the hours, cranking out thousands of words to share our knowledge would probably have the hardest time condensing the info down.  Keep in mind that a solid message can be reduced into 140 characters as long as you identify the subject of your tweet.  Make that the heart of the message.  Start with the subject and build around it until your point is made and you’re out of characters.  If done properly, you’re building solid food for a retweet that will resonate across the Twitter megaverse, effectively accelerating your content marketing campaign.

    2. Keep track of it all
    - Take the time to monitor which conversations are taking place with your niche market and what people are saying.  Your content marketing is as much about the conversations taking place over your content as it is about the content itself.  You should work to generate dialogue with customers, prospects, industry leaders, robot chickens – anyone who has something to do with your business.  By using tools like TweetDeck and TweetGrid, you can keep an eye on what’s being said in real time then dive in where you think it’s pertinent to do so.
    3. Follow the trends - Staying on top of your market means identifying the growing trends and adapting your business to include what people are currently interested in.  Twitter makes it easy for anyone to keep their ear to the ground in real time.  The newly refined Twitter has been optimized to show the most obvious and important trending topics.  You can also utilize Twitter search ( as well as Monitter to keep track of what’s happening in the areas that are relevant to you.
    4. Interest groups - Create and join groups with others who are interested and passionate about the things that resonate with you and with your customers.  These gatherings can be used as focus groups to weed out issues that are most pressing to members of the group at the time.  A great supplemental tool for this is Tweetworks because you can setup any group on the fly as you need them.
    5. Share the wealth – It can be tedious to have to manually link your blog to Twitter in order to share your content.  There are a number of plugins and other 3rd party applications that can go a long way.  Twitterfeed lets you pull the RSS feed from any source, including your blog, and plug it directly into your Twitter account.  Now, as soon as you make a relevant blog posts, it’s automatically posted to your Twitter account.  The added bonus, is that it’s free.
    6. Syndicate with authority – You can leverage the power of a content syndication network to push your content with Twitter campaigns.  By releasing content into a content syndication network, other users within the network can begin leveraging Twitter to spread your content through a mass of retweets.  This is a very effective tool to use for any content marketing campaign, and as long as the content you’re pushing is useful, informative and in some way entertaining to read then there’s a good chance your information will get carried pretty far.  SYNND is just that kind of network, and it carries with it a massive user network that can really push content with the ultimate result of relevant traffic screaming back to your site.
    There are handfuls of industry pundits claiming that Twitter is a passing fad.  These same people claimed that cell phones were a fad, so was texting, and television, jello, Disco dancing and the two piece bikini.  I’m convinced otherwise, however, because I’ve seen the power that is quietly thrumming through the Twitter conduit.  For content marketers, and any business really, it’s a tool that will be available for a long time to come.
    Just like the trusty thong…. er, hammer.


    Discover The Importance Of Social Media Strategy

    Did you have a clearly defined plan the last time you threw yourself into Twitter?
    A huge percentage of the businesses marketing themselves within social media are doing it wrong.  Not “wrong” in the sense that there is a measurable way to do it “right” all the time, but they’re essentially skydiving without inspecting their parachute.
    People are quickly realizing the power of leveraging social media in order to nurture relationship, develop a wider fan base and build on customer rapport.  In doing so however, you have a number of businesses and marketing professionals clamoring… for the sake of clamoring.
    Savvy marketers won’t have much of an issue with stepping into the new forum, however we’re seeing execution all over the place from skilled to poor when it comes to new entrants.  It leaves you to wonder how new, less experienced people should be approaching the concept of marketing in social media.
    If you’ve been in the game for a while then the answer is pretty clear:  Strategy comes before all else.  That is the logical approach for business within social media
    Would you blindly pick up the phone and dial a random phone number?  Not likely.  Like social media, the phone is a tool for communicating with others.  Before you make a call, launch your blog or start tweeting new content then a strategy is essential.  You know what you’re going to do before you do it and you generate a plan of action.
    Unless of course you suffer from the “drunk dialing” habit.
    It’s more common than many think to dive into tactics without a strategy.  So many professionals start dictating to staff and coworkers that they much get on Facebook, that a Twitter account is necessary and that they absolutely must start blogging.
    Without a strategy for any of these, it’s a bit like throwing a party without any planning.  You’re essentially waiting for people to show up before you decide what food and drinks to serve, what music to play and what entertainment you’ll have.
    Yet, in social media marketing and PR, it’s common for communications professionals to dive immediately into tactics without strategy “randomly dialing numbers” as Sarah notes above.
    A good start is determining where your customers are at in social media.  This will help you understand why you want to use social media and which tools you should be using to reach your target audience.  With the right tools and strategies you can join them in their activity online.  When you establish the goals for interaction (lead generation, support, feedback, sales, etc) then you can use those goals to shape your tactics and overall strategy.
    “Getting more Twitter followers” isn’t a good strategy.  That’s just a simple goal.  It might seem like a good idea initially but what do you do if only a small portion of your user base gathers on Twitter but the rest of them interact on forums or internet relay chat?  What if your target audience hangs out on Blogs?  If you throw into tactics or simplistic goals without a strategy, then your success will be minimal, if any at all.
    The strategy you select will be the deciding factor on your tactics and drive your decision.  In order for you to get from point A to point B you really need to know where point B is before deciding how to get there.  There are a number of routes to get to point B as well, and a proper strategy will help you choose the best route.
    All that strategy aside, the tactics really are an integral part.  Here’s Guy Kawasaki’s take on it:
    “Social-media strategy” is over-rated if not a downright oxymoron. The goal is to do more business. Social-media is a means to that end. Maybe you’ll use it to establish warm and fuzzy communal feelings. Maybe you’ll sell excess inventory. Don’t focus on some kind of high-level strategy because no one really knows how to use social media yet. Focus on tactics: Get more followers, make them happy, promote your stuff to them every once in a while. That’s all you need to know about strategy right now.
    That might sound like it contradicts everything said already, but it’s not. Guy isn’t telling us to throw strategy out the window, but he is telling us to stop using it like the massive buzzword that it’s become.  Just like it’s possible to function without enough emphasis on strategy, it’s also possible to have too much strategy.  Ultimately, you end up convoluting everything.  A solid strategy shouldn’t decrease the value of trying new tactics and experimenting.
    Ironically, Guy is offering his own unique approach to the concept of social media – “The No Strategy” Strategy.
    “Social media strategy” is a pretty big umbrella, and it’s true that many of us are still learning it.  That’s not due to a lack of knowledge, but because social media is still in its infancy stages.  That’s why strategy mixed with trial-and-error is extremely valuable in helping you determine what works best.
    A strategy will help you mix planned and improvisational tactics in an effort to control the dynamic flow of your campaigns.  Start throwing tactics around madly without planning and analytics and you might as well smack the horses on the ass, drop the reins and put your legs up in the carriage for the ride.  You certainly won’t be able to change directions quickly if you need to.
    Regardless of what you’re doing within social media, your process should involve bundling all your activities together (info sharing, intel gathering, content creation and syndication, etc).  Keep in mind that every resource you use in business should be justified, because every resource costs time and money.  Anything that is worth doing, needs to be measured so that once you do put something in place (planned or not) you understand why, how, the result, the reach, etc.
    When people ask the question “What now?” it’s a good idea to be able to offer an answer that makes sense, and it shouldn’t start with “um…”


    Top 10 – How To Connect In A Digital World

    I’ve noticed a bit of a conundrum as of late that has to do with the digital vs. analog existence of us all.  Mainly that you can have the most appealing and inviting physical location on the earth, and still have problems networking.  It points directly to an inability to be found online.  If your customers can’t connect with you, and other businesses can’t see you, then you lost the opportunity for social networking on both a B2C and B2B level
    If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it fall, does it make a sound?
    When a customer types a search term in Google using keywords that you target, and your website doesn’t appear, do you exist in the mind of that customer?  If people are trying to find you, and you aren’t there then, no, you don’t exist to them.
    If you’re not turning up, then that means someone else is there to take your place not only online, but in the offline world.  They will serve your customer, and would be happy to do so leaving you out of the social networking loop with that customer
    Point being, it’s necessary to take all the steps you’re capable of in order to be discovered and have people connect with you.  Once you have those connections, you need to make sure that they are solid, sturdy and have a strong foundation.  That relationship should flow seamless between your digital and physical presence continually.
    So here are 10 solid tips for discovering and building social networking connections:
    1. Kill your flash applications.  While the search engines are making advancements in the way they see data, content within flash applications is invisible to search engines.  If you can’t get rid of them, make them as unobtrusive as you can.  Make it a practice not to place all your content in flash.
    2.  Maintain a focus on content that is relevant, informative and unbiased that has your customers’ benefit at the core of the message.  Doing so will draw them in more closely, and a lot faster.
    3.  Make sure the keywords you target, meaning those that you want to rank for, appear consistently throughout your content.  As customers search for the content they need, they’re more likely to find what you’ve published, created a higher likelihood of social networking opportunity
    4. Start and maintain a blog.  Post frequent, relevant content about your business, your brand, products, services, marketplace and the community in which you work.  Educate your readers and aim for thought leadership.  Share valuable information, be genuine the kind of rapport you build will be amazing.
    5.  Keep content original.  Avoid the mistake of copying content, especially from pages within your own site.  And of course keep your paws off the content from other sites.  Originality speaks spades both to readers, and search engines.  Use your content to tell your story, and you’ll find connections will be made easier as people come to understand your company and the role you play.
    6. Listen.  Your ears should always be buzzing with activity from your customers to your own employees as well as the market and competition.  From the information you gather, you can improve your own practices and establish goals to help you and your content become more relevant.  Need help listening?  Setup a Google Alerts account and use it to put your ear to the ground on specific topics.
    7. Cut out the hard sell.  Completely drop it within your store, and for the love of all that is Holy, don’t do it online.  That is, unless you want to avoid connecting and your only concern is making a solid sale.  Not to say the hard sell will work for you.  It will more than likely drive negative attention and scare your customers right into the arms of someone more versed in networking.
    8.  Examine the success of your physical office or retail experience with the customer in mind.  How can you emulate that process in a digital environment?  How can you make your digital presence more inviting and relaxing?  You should be able to establish the same clean, inspiring and welcoming atmosphere to your digital presence that you maintain in your brick and mortar business.
    9.  Use physical communications means to promote your digital existence:  Brochures, business cards, direct mail, newspaper placement, etc.  If you already run physical advertising campaigns or ads I other media, figure out how you would like to integrate your digital presence into those ads to leverage social networking.
    10.  Offer newsletter subscriptions to individuals both in your analog and digital locations.  You can reach a wider audience in this manner, and have a greater opportunity to spread positive word-of-mouth as you deliver moving and inspiring content.
    We can’t avoid the integration of our physical businesses in the digital world.  Social media is allowing us to reach farther across the internet than ever before, at much faster rates.  What would add to this list to overcome the shrinking barriers between the digital and analog existence?


    Measuring Social Media ROI: Bring A Big Bucket

    Why does it always come down to measurement with people.  There are so many of us banging pans and kettles, demanding to know the best way to measure ROI in social media because it must be measured differently.
    Yes, there are varied behaviors and as such they require different measuring standards right?
    Riiiight.  Let me share with you K.D. Paine’s famous acronym – HITS
    How Idiots Track Success
    On one hand you have the long-living cliche of “Content is King” but there are some asking whether or not the “click” is still king.  Some people focus on a single action such as “The Almighty Click” and others are pointing fingers that there are a variety of ways in which users can interact and engage websites.  That would make one think that there are probably multiple ways (numerous is perhaps a better word) to measure success.
    Take a look at some of the top methods that the CMO Council indicated were important in measuring success

    Eh… I probably would have found that relevant about 10 years ago.  There are too many people treating the web like it is standard media from the 90’s.  Do we really care about the number of eyeballs we’re getting?  Businesses and marketers are celebrating because there are bodies hitting their sites.  Ok, that’s great.
    What are they doing when they get there?
    “Engaging” is kind of a vague measurement.  Technically by existing on the site they are “engaging” that very site.  The chart also lists other interesting ways to measure success such as content downloads, increased knowledge (are they testing people?), response rates (a little vague again), etc.  Those are all great for demonstrating the effectiveness of a content strategy that you’ve launched but when it comes down to it in the long run you have to customize your measurements for every unique goal.
    Each campaign you launch is going to utilize different techniques and tactics which all point toward small goals leading up to one final outcome.  Those campaigns are going to have different milestones in place for the measurement of success.
    Social Media as a whole doesn’t exist as a campaign by itself.  You run campaigns within it.  You can’t measure the success of the medium, you measure the success of the work being performed within it.
    Not to mention (even though I am) that click-through ratios and site hits are not a one-size-fits-all metric.
    If you want to start putting a regular metric in place, try these on for size:
    -How likely a customer will be in becoming an evangelist for my business and brand
    -The speed at which information being shared is traveling across social media
    -Whether or not my customers would want to hug me or shoot me after an online campaign
    Well… not every idea is perfect.


    Mom Taught Me Everything I Know About Social Media

    At least how to manage a business there.  Well, maybe not everything, but she got me off to a good start.  This came to mind in light of Mothers Day of course, and when those sentimental days come around I can’t help but think how certain people have profoundly impacted my business life in social media marketing.
    Mothers are gems for one liners and logic that can’t be reasoned away, but somehow they always seem to fit.  As such, I remember some of the most prominent little tidbits that my mother dished out.  While they certainly apply to everyday life, I’ve found that they actually work quite well with social media as well.
    Here are the gems I remember most…
    “Don’t go out dressed like that, you look stupid”
    Social media marketing is all about image, isn’t it?  Everything we do, we’re projecting an image of who we are and what we do.  What we say and how we design our content or “Dress ourselves” speaks spades about our character, ideals, opinions and position on many things.  We should probably take steps to make sure that when we interact with our fans, followers, customers and other random folk we network with that we don’t look stupid.  I had to retire my beanie cap a long time ago, you probably should as well.
    “If you don’t try harder I’m gonna strap you to a tree, cover you in honey and leave you for the bears!”
    That’s a terrifying image that haunted me when I was a child.  It forced me to throw myself headfirst into everything I did.  Not because I feared being eaten by bears, I knew better.  I wasn’t a gullible kid.  However I did believe that my mother would in fact tie me to a tree naked just to make a point.  That kind of mindset should apply to social media interaction just as it does with everything else.  If When you get your company involved in social media marketing, you need to give it everything you’ve got in developing a strategy, launching it then seeing it through.  If you fail in any way, or don’t apply yourself, you’re basically leaving yourself prone for the bears to eat you alive.   Or at the very least, lick you a lot.  I suppose that’s fun depending on your preferences.
    “When you meet a nice girl, you avoid that nice boy bull, you tell her straight.  Don’t go wasting time beating around the bush.  If she’s got nice Toodles, you tell her so.”
    God bless my mother, I had more dates end prematurely this way than ever before but I also had a lot of fun this way as well.  There’s some magic in being straight with people.  If you take 3 paragraphs to tell someone something when you can condense it down into one (or less) then you’ll lose people online.  This really applies to a call to action and telling people to do something specific after they’ve had a good introduction through content that’s led them through your sales funnel.  Don’t ramble, don’t stare at the floor, don’t look around shyly with your hands in your pockets.  If you want your customer to do something, tell them.  Assert what you want.  Just remember not to do it with strangers.  That CTA should come after an established relationship that’s built through proper thought leadership or content marketing.
    For the record, what I thought Toodles were and what my mother thought they were… were completely different.  Apparently in my mother’s vocabulary, they’re shoes.
    “If you keep doing that, you’re gonna go blind!”
    Yeah we can avoid going into any detail here, but the point is that self-gratification has its place and it’s not in social media.  You shouldn’t be here to flex your ego, show off your intelligence or rub it in to others that you’re superior in intellect or any other way.  There’s a lot of this that goes on, with some people arguing in comments as they try to assert their position on a particular topic.  Content marketing is about education and sharing, not gloating or stubborn debates.  If people are good enough to read your content and place a relevant comment, then feel free to thank them and discuss it.  Just remember there’s a difference between discussion and arguing.  If you’re only here to flex and pose, then you’ll be blinded by your own awesomeness and you’ll completely miss the fact that people are filtering out.
    “Your grandmother went to a lot of work to crochet that underwear, now you wear it and tell her thank you”
    It might be ugly, it might be itchy, it might smell bad, it might not suit you, but you say thank you anyway.  I’ve learned over the years that appreciation is important.  It’s equally important in social media interaction to let your fans, followers, consumers etc know that you’re thankful for having them.  For their comments, for their entertainment, their thoughts, suggestions, patronage, etc.  One of the best ways to do this is to provide value to them in return:  Good content, great coupons, discounts, contests, giveaways and more.  Regardless of how you do it, remember to say thank you.
    Even if it makes you sweat in funny places.
    “I don’t care if he eats bugs, you go play with that boy.  He’s lonely”
    In every neighborhood, in ever community, and every city around the world there is someone that is a social outcast either through unhappy chance or through their own choice or actions.  You will inevitably get some customers that annoy you to no end.  Whether that’s through odd comments, constant griping, buddy-buddy messages or other actions that border dangerously on stalking – you’ll get one eventually.  Other customers will likely avoid interacting with them, or tell them to go away.  You have to set an example however, and interact kindly with everyone that interacts with you.  Even the people that eat boogers, talk to trees and give strangers great big hugs.  When others see that you’re good all around, it will improve your image and brand.
    Don’t worry about whether or not people think you’re cool.  You know you are, that’s what counts.
    “You need to be successful so you can take care of your momma”
    If carefully done, you can gain a lot of success through social media interaction by handling your business properly.  When you build strong relationships, business will rise.  Profits will increase.
    This is why most of my money is in Swiss accounts, where my mother can’t find it.


    Missing The Key Element In Social Media Strategy

    This might sound a little odd, but in my experience the key element that most people are missing in their social media strategy… is the strategy.  A number of marketers and business owners fall into this easy trap of setting up plans, timelines, goals and listing a bunch of tactics to achieve that goal.
    That’s not a strategy.
    While those are essential elements that are included in the greater picture of what a social media strategy is, there’s a lot more to it.  A surprising number of people don’t know what strategy really means, or even how to create one.  When people start talking about making a social media strategy, they’re often talking about their goals, or their desired outcome if you will.  They also include the tactics for hitting those goals.  As mentioned, these don’t make a strategy.
    The reason strategy is so misused nowadays around the web is because everyone seems to have their own definition of what it means.
    There’s a reason that assassins on Wall Street, executives and the big Suits have red Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”.  Because THAT is about strategy.  Take this quote for example:
    “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what non can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved” –Sun Tzu
    ROI is not a strategy, it’s a goal.  Strategy is about winning in the long run.  If your strategy encompasses winning then you will generate a positive ROI every time.  When you’re examining competition in social media, you can’t ever truly judge what they’re doing because all you can see are their tactics.  It’s extremely difficult to build it all together into a model that will give away the overall strategy.
    If you want to build a well rounded strategy then it’s all about organizational alignment:
    A business strategy means you generate an operational alignment between all functions and duties within a business.  A communication strategy would be a child of the business strategy, as a communication strategy is an alignment of all the communication groups and their activities in supporting a business strategy.  The comm  strategy provides support to the business strategy by sending messages to those who hold a stake in the company – pretty much anyone who is directly affected by the company itself.
    Am I speaking Japanese yet?
    As that stands then, a social media strategy would be a child of the communication strategy because it should support the primary communication strategy, that in turn supports the business strategy in keeping the company afloat overall.
    With that said, businesses are missing the organizational alignment of strategy within their business in order to make them all function together.  Communications strategies are often not in alignment with business strategies, and because of this efficiency goes right out the window.
    That’s why so many social media campaigns don’t accrue squat.
    So I’m talking about business and communication strategy and social media strategy and you’re nodding your head secretly thinking “what the hell are you talking about?
    It’s alright.  Social media strategy is an extremely difficult concept to define or explain.  If strategy were simple, there’d be an abundance of Generals on the battle field and the soldiers would be changing tires on all their 4 star jeeps.
    It’s more of a creative process than charting anything or ticking off a list of tactics.  If you want to begin to understand it, look toward these steps:

    1. Understand your primary business strategy
    2. Clarify and comprehend the strategies that you think social media should align with – marketing? Customer service? Human resources?
    3. What are the guiding principles that you will use to extend this strategic alignment to the social web?  What are the rules of engagement?
    4. What do you want people to take away from interaction with your company in the social web?
    5. Will you be waiting for people to come and find you or are you planning on seeking them out?  Decide whether your strategy is proactive or reactive

    That’s a good start, and don’t begin to think that 5 simple pieces define the creation of strategy.  There will always be other points to consider that change with each battlefield, each opponent and each company.  Your focus on strategy will require a lot of mental prowess in maintaining focus because you cannot get mired in tactics and goals.
    If your strategy is just a list of tactics and goals, then that’s what it is.  A list of tactics and goals.
    People are ill focused on proving the business value of social media so they can hold up a big sign that says “yes, the ROI is good here! Told you so
    Instead we should be using social media to accomplish real business goals, and in order to do this we have to understand how our social media strategy aligns with our overall business strategy.  A list of tactics or goals just won’t cut it here.
    If all you try to do is get a 2% increase in business from Twitter, and you manage it, what then?  Do you know how you got there?  Do you know how to do it again?  Do you understand all the demographics involved and how the message was communicated?  Can you replicate it, in and out of social media?  How did the 2% increase affect the rest of your business?  How will other areas of your business affect that increase in maintaining it, boosting it or losing it?
    Hopping into social media and calling out “I am here!” isn’t enough.  It’s time to ask yourself “now what?


    Apple Launches Dating Site – Forehead Smack Heard Worldwide

    There are times when everything about the web is right.  Not “right, but I’m talking “just right”.  When everything is at an eclectic climax and all the pages throughout the world are singing in an orgasmic chorus that rivals the highest choir of angels.  When every site under your guidance suddenly pops up on page one of the SERPs.
    I love those times, because it is the signal of a beautiful and glorious day.  A day like that is rarely rivaled.
    Today isn’t one of those days…
    I received notification of a disturbance in the force, a ripple that was more like a cold shudder across the web.  You know the kind you get after a harsh vurp.
    A new site is launching called Cupidtino that is going to invade social media circles. It’s a dating site for fanboys and fangirls that love Apple products.
    The site name is a little play on words:  Cupid and Cupertino, California where the Apple deathstar headquarters are located. Here’s a “cute” little blurb from their landing page…
    Cupidtino is a beautiful new dating site created for fans of Apple products by fans of Apple products! Why? Diehard Mac & Apple fans often have a lot in common – personalities, creative professions, a similar sense of style and aesthetics, and of course a love for technology. We believe these are enough reasons for two people to meet and fall in love, and so we created the first Mac-inspired dating site to help you find other Machearts around you.
    …Machearts?  I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
    The site is set to launch in June 2010 and is exclusive on Apple platforms.  That means if you don’t use Apple products then your soul is free! you’ll never know if it would have worked out between you and the hot chick in Sociology who has that iPod touch and legs that don’t quit.
    Oh, wait – Yes you can.  Go up and talk to her.
    Apple fans can be a little annoying when they’re roaming around alone.  The thought of them reproducing, breeding and forming packs brings images to mind that look like something out of “I Am Legend”.
    It is a smart move by Apple honestly, as those who are involved in the network will be subjected to specialized ad content in one great big relevant market.  Companies that do app development on the Apple iProducts will likely make a killing off the desperate millions who are looking for love.
    I envision adcopy that reads “Size does matter to her, go big with the iPad”.  Not to mention with the inclusion of location based apps, it makes it even easier for Apple fans to stalk and kidnap one another.
    I suppose the bonus to this is that when you ensure that Apple lovers only date Apple lovers, you don’t have to worry about their iGenetics mingling with the rest of society.
    Maybe their social media invasion isn’t that bad after all.


    Want To Boost Conversions? Get A Business Hubby

    Put down your torches and pitchforks, I’m not being sexist… or stupid (though some have stated I suffer from both from time to time).  This is a very real and legit topic that comes from a strategic perspective.  Keep your ear to the ground and follow me.
    Being in the pilot seat for a social media company has put me in contact with various business owners, most of which have been desperate to increase their sales despite the recession that the world (especially the U.S.) has been wallowing in.  The approach to increased sales is the critical point, and has a lot to do with why so many businesses fail miserably at social media.
    They have the wrong strategy.
    Main Features Of Commonly Seen Strategies:

    1. Turn yourself into a universal contact magnet across the online networks
    2. Start engaging all the contacts by discussing your business
    3. Continue to pester them until they agree or die of a heart attack
    4. When they respond, but before they can say no, invite them to your sales funnel

    What you’re seeing is a mashup of the same process that literally millions of online businesses go through every day.  This is a failing failed strategy.  Because of this overused and ineffective strategy, people began to feel that social media wasn’t a good arena for anything other than self indulgence.
    Don’t feel bad, I was in the same boat.  Even though it’s been around for several years, which feels like a long time, it’s still a new realm.  This is how I started four years ago.  I had a LOT of contacts and very little money.
    Why This Strategy Sucks
    If you’re in the business to brag about how many people you’re connected to in the world, then the above process is perfect for you.  It also leads me to believe that you’re a 14 year old on MySpace.  You can even find products online that brag about being able to help boost your numbers in social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
    As if the numbers will magically transition into sales.
    If you’ve already tried this approach, then you know it’s not true.  Closing sales, hell even starting the sales process, is an extremely interactive and involved process that takes time to plod through.  Even when it happens quickly there’s a lot involved, it just means you have to work faster.
    If you know enough about the true sales process, and how it should work, then you can avoid falling prey to the B.S. tactics that come from simplistic, ineffective, village-idiot marketers who are only out to sully the good name of marketers everywhere.  If you want to monetize your network, it takes a more complex instrument and strategy.
    Bah.  </soapbox>
    Let’s examine some of these sales components:
    Sales and Marketing: Take it back to S&M 101 (Get your mind out of the gutter…) and we know from the fundamentals of this business that the best way to generate new customers is to get products and services that you offer right in front of people.  Not just any people though, but the people who want it and need it.  The ones that are searching for it, and must have it to satisfy an immediate need.  Does this help put into perspective the issue with a social network mashup?
    Unless that person connected with you because they’re currently looking to fill a need they know you can help with, then they’re probably never going to become a customer of yours.  A high number of social contacts does not equal sales.  That’s like putting 50 drunken Irishmen in an antique china shop.  No one is going to buy anything.
    The Immediate Sale: “Hi my name is Nick BUY SOMETHING FROM ME PLEASE!”  Just because a customer is aware of your product, doesn’t mean they’re going to buy something from you immediately.  Impulse customers are crap customers because they won’t likely ever return.  You want informed customers that WILL return.  We know this from several years of testing, case studies, and lose pocket change dealing with online and offline strategies.  People generally need to be sold on something before they’ll buy it.  That’s doesn’t mean sold on just the product either.  I’m talking about the product, the service, the person selling it and the company.  They need to read, see and hear something from you that is going to convince them that you can in fact fill their need because you empathize, you understand and you can improve their current situation with your product and service – and here’s how.
    That might sounds like a lot of work, but I’ll tell you what’s harder:  Wrestling the money out of someone’s hand. People are holding tight to the money they have and before they open that closed fist to you, you need to convince them that you’re offering a worthy investment.
    Customer Confidence: It’s kind of a myth, and it might surprise you to know that most customers have absolutely no idea what they want.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to a Home Depot where I told an associate what my problem was and left it to them to find the answer for me so I could take it home and pretend like I knew what I was doi-.. I digress.
    This sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true.  There are more options in most markets to make a customers head spin.  Never before have people had so many choices to pick from.  There is an unprecedented capacity here for people to compare and research and list and look around… and get confused.  Unless the customer you have is well versed in the market, then they more than likely feel inexperienced, and in no position to make an informed decision.
    Imagine if the only thing standing between your customer and the checkout was a simple lack of information on the product in front of them.  They’re not certain it’s the right one, they don’t know how best to apply it to their current situation, etc.  People want to know when they make a purchase that they’ll be able to talk about it, to brag about it.  They want to believe that the purchase is a secure one, that they’ll get the best price, so that it can become a part of the sharing within their social circle.
    What steps can you take to rid them of any confusion and instill customer confidence?  Considering ensuring that you have sincere and heartfelt testimonies on your site.  You must have a growing list of articulate, true-sounding testimonies in order to produce sales.  Couple those testimonies with enough information on the site so the customer understand the product you’re offering and can make an informed purchase that is a comfortable one.
    Guarantee Conversion: Just because the customer feels confident enough to buy, doesn’t mean that the process is done.  It’s underway, but not quite complete.  People are still fairly skittish about buying online.  There’s often worry about whether or not something will work, or if it will properly fix their need.  You need to reassure customers that they have some recourse if things go south – and sometimes that happens.  Make sure you offer a sales guarantee that is easily visible, and easy to understand. Let them know that any return/refund process is simple, and that there is a solid guarantee and you will increase your sales.
    Empty Checkout: Funnily enough, it’s possible to actually get all the way through the list and to meet all of the criteria for a good sale and still get nothing at the checkout.  There has always been a high number of shopping cart abandonment online.  It takes place every day, and I swear if I saw it happen in the world we live in, at a brick and mortar store, I’d probably fall over laughing.  Imagine over 30% of the people who walk into a checkout lane at Walmart suddenly slipping around their cart at the register and walking out of the store without a word.
    Thank God we don’t have to restock shelves in our online storefront.
    Many people use the shopping cart as a means of finding facts that aren’t on the sales page such as shipping info and tax, hidden fees, etc.  The only way to get this is to play around in the shopping cart.
    Another factor can be the difficult use of the shopping cart or product assembly therein.  If the checkout method is a pain in the ass, they’ll find somewhere else to shop.  People can walk into a store, drop their stuff on a counter, let the person ring them out then hand over their payment.  This is a 4 step process that really only requires 1 action at checkout.  Your checkout process should be as easy.
    And now to wrap it all up so that I make some semblance of sense out of this:  If a lot of customers never finalize a purchase even though you’re hitting on all the criteria of a truly awesome and dynamic sales process, what makes you think that the simplified 4 step process I mentioned at the beginning of the article would work, regardless of the scenario?
    It just won’t.
    It comes off like a desperate attempt by a broken individual who needs money.  Sales don’t happen this way, and you won’t tear don’t the social barriers that block the sales process from happening.  It’s naïve to think that you can tear down sales barriers with simplistic leg humping just because someone linked to you.
    The most productive sales take place through a finely tuned sales funnel that is attached to a business content syndication hub.  When I say that everyone needs a hubby, I’m referring to a central hub.  A central operation where everything and everyone can find you, your products, the services you offer, your written content, etc.  The hub would be your singular link at the forefront of your sales funnel.

    This kind of hub will overcome all the barriers in the sales process, and the people who make a lot of money online generally have this type of system in place.  If they’re good at it, they make a LOT of money with it.
    Once you understand what goes into the design, execution and continued maintenance of your central business hub, then you can truly begin to monetize your social networking traffic.  Then, and only then, can start turning contacts into sales regardless of how those contacts came to you.


    Avoiding Shortcuts in Social Media

    There’s an overwhelming amount of data milling about that shows a vast majority of people using the top 4 for their social media marketing efforts: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Linkedin. Duh, right? If the size of the active user base is what makes them the big 4 then it would stand to reason that most people are there.
    The question is – Are your customers there?
    I certainly don’t have any issues with social media marketing within the Big 4. That’s a big ocean with a lot of fish in it. You drop your hook in the water and you’re bound to pull up something. Really though, do you want to have that kind of “take whatever you can catch” model going on for your business? What you catch might be good, it might taste good. It might make a nice trophy.
    It could also come up out of the water and bite your boat in half.
    You don’t have to launch your small boat into that massive ocean when fishing. There’s more out there if you know where to look.
    Figure this: There’s something like 23 million Americans stuffing their face at McDonalds on a daily basis. That’s a huge number, and McDonald’s is one of the bigger chains of “clog your arteries fast” food. There are still almost 110 million Americans that don’t eat at McDonald’s every day that find their food fix elsewhere.
    While the Big 4 has the largest user base per social network, there are a lot more people out there either not engaging in the Big 4, or they are running a parallel social network account on a more niche-specific playground.

    There are a lot of strange networks out there, and I’m not talking about the fetish communities (unless that’s your business, heh). One man’s strange social network can be another man’s goldmine in a thriving customer community. When you limit your marketing efforts to the Big 4, then you miss out on all those opportunities.
    On the Ning platform alone there’s something like 2 million specialty communities. And while “Stiletto Mamas” isn’t a social community that every company would do well in it would certainly be a great target for a business that deals in specialty shoes for women… with attitude.
    The whole point of social media marketing is about meeting your customers on their terms, in their homes, on their streets with their interests. Raising a bugle and sounding a general sale alert is a vestige of the old marketing.  “That’s so 90’s, dude”.  We’re moving into a new age and that should be put behind us.
    That means if you’re a gun dealer, and a large part of your community hangs out at for fun then you can use that to your advantage. That’s where your customers are, go there – even if it means you can’t participate on Twitter.
    Please understand that in no way am I saying that you should be everywhere all at once, and I’m also not saying that you’ll do better on one site over another site. Doing either would be impractical. In the rush to keep up with social media marketing, many businesses are latching onto the Big 4 like a dog in heat. They’re completely missing the point in many cases that the most social communities, the communities that carry the most weight, are those that are niche-specific and focused on singular topics.
    If you’re planning that big fishing trip and you know there are Northern Pike in some floodwaters north of your camp, but you also know that if you launch out onto the big lake you might get a Pike but you’re more likely to get some Walleye (which tastes good, too)… which do you opt for?
    The answer is simple: When you’re fishing for Pike, go where the Pike are.
    Do you really know where your customers are in social media? Are you ready to look harder?
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