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What do C-level Exec’s Really Think About Using Mobile? January 1, 2011

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Web 2.0.
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I often receive the question, “I don’t market my products/services to consumers, I work in the B2B space.  How can mobile technology and mobile marketing help me increase my business? Isn’t it just for marketing to consumers?”  Therefore, I thought the results of a recent study by Forbes Insights would provide information that those in the B2B space would find of value.

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Business-oriented apps and m-commerce on the rise

Senior-level executives have been reliant on mobile for years, giving them a lifeline to work while on the go or at home. But as smartphones become more entrenched into all aspects of life for consumers and businesspeople alike, and younger, more tech-savvy executives move up the ranks, mobile opportunities for business-to-business (B2B) marketers are opening up.

Among C-suite executives surveyed in October 2010 by Forbes Insights, 82% had a smartphone—far above smartphone penetration in the population as a whole, which eMarketer estimates at 19.4% this year. And for a majority of executives, their mobile device is considered their primary business communications tool. Only respondents over 50 tended to disagree with that statement.

The oldest respondents were also the group least comfortable with making a business purchase via mobile, though even 48% of over-50s said they were comfortable. Overall, nearly two-thirds of respondents would buy items for work over the mobile web, a proportion that reached 78% among executives under 40.

Most US executives were also using mobile apps for business purposes. There was a dramatic drop in app usage among the oldest respondents, but a majority of all those under 50 used both free and paid B2B apps at least occasionally.

And the executives are paying attention to ads on their mobile devices as well. A majority (57%) said they noticed mobile advertising, and nearly as many had clicked on mobile web ads (56%) and paid search ads (51%).

“As optimistic as this may sound to marketers, senior executives also present a warning to would-be advertisers: 53% of executives—evenly distributed across age groups—indicate that they find mobile ads more intrusive than typical web ads,” cautioned the report. “As such, mobile marketers need to be careful to ensure they do not cross the line between welcome or at least acceptable advisory versus unwanted interruption.” Blog Editors Note:  The previous statement reinforces the need to insure that all Mobile Marketing guidelines and best practices are strictly adhered to in order to insure that your firm is not perceived as sending SPAM via mobile; the resulting penalties and negative response received by your firm can be subtantial when guidelines are not appropriately followed. If you would like to utilize mobile technology to market to c-level executives, let Strategic Growth Concepts guide you thru the process to insure you are compliant and that results are maximized.

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Twitter Soon to Provide Detailed Analytics – Hurray! November 19, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0.
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Great news recently announced by Twitter for all of you trying to effectively measure the ROI of your social media.  Twitter’s new Analytics Tool is detailed quite well by Diana Freeman of Hubspot with graphics by Mashable.  See below.

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by Diana Freeman, Hubspot

Want to be able to measure your Twitter ROI? Would you like to see how many clicks, retweets, replies, and faves your tweets have received? Soon you’ll be able to, right on Twitter.

Twitter has started inviting a select group of users to test their new Twitter Analytics dashboard. Users will be able to see all sorts of data about their account, such as which tweets are most successful, which tweets caused people to unfollow them, and who their most influential retweeters are.

How Twitter Analytics Dashboard is broken down: 

Timeline Activity

This view lets you see your tweets broken down by filters defined as Best, Good, and All, and see which of your tweets gained the most traction in terms of retweets, replies, and faves. 

Twitter Analytics Timeline

Promoted Tweets

 This view measures the ROI of all your promoted tweets, with detailed stats such as impressions, clicks, retweets, and replies over time. 

Twitter Analytics Dashboard

Screenshots are via Mashable.

Twitter hasn’t yet specified when they’ll be rolling out Twitter Analytics to all Twitter users. Although the analytics feature is expected to roll out by the end of 2010, Evan Williams did not elaborate on the official analytics product at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. 

Social Media for Crisis Management: Watch BP to learn what NOT to do May 3, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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Anyone who has watched the news lately is likely familiar with the horrors of the situation currently taking place as a result of an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which has resulted in 11 deaths and a continuing and ever-expanding oil spill.  This rig was owned by international oil company, BP Global, and several investors.

As I have continued to see news coverage of this horrific incident, I was struck by the fact that I’m hearing from the news media, various industry experts, politicians, and just about anyone else who has an opinion – the only one I haven’t heard from is the CEO of BP.  So I started doing some searching to see if I’d missed it.  First I searched the Internet to see if I could find any statements from BP’s CEO, then I searched their website to see what news releases had been issued.  My findings were interesting.

The incident happened on April 20th.  Three days later the company finally issued a news release with a statement from the CEO, stating that employees were the first priority and they were cooperating fully with the Coast Guard etc. to insure everything possible was being done for them and their families.  It wasn’t until today – May 3rd – that the CEO finally made a public statement himself on MSNBC (at least that I could find); and in that statement proceeded to indicate that BP is not to blame, to tell you who else should be blamed, and also noting that they would, of course, be responsible for clean-up.  From what I could find, I didn’t see any evidence that BP had made any effort to communicate other than basic posting of news releases to their website and some minimal distribution of them to the major news outlets.  As a result, very few of the search results came from BP, but rather from anyone and everyone else who has something to say on the subject.

Here are some of the articles I found:

For BP, Oil Spill is a Public Relations Catastrophe

Feds Raise Pressure on BP Over Oil Spill

Oil Spill’s Blow to BP Image May Eclipse It’s Cost

BP, TransOcean Lawsuits Surge As Oil Continues to Spill

BP Had Other Problems in Years Leading to Gulf Spill

BP Chief: Failed Equipment Caused Explosion, Spill

When I look at this situation from a PR perspective and consider how Social Media could have helped them – instead of the immense damage it has done to them since everyone else is talking, but they aren’t; I saw this as an educational opportunity for small businesses.

If you Google ‘BP Oil’, you can find hundreds of references to the incident – on blogs, on Twitter, on YouTube, but none of it by BP themselves.  This is not to say that active participation in Social Media could have made the problem go away, but it could have given them a chance to better inform, to answer questions, to gain sympathy from the worldwide community by showing that they cared deeply for the lives lost and the on-going damage to the environment, and the resulting economic challenges that will be faced by the regions affected.  Instead they have chosen to distribute limited information, and when they do speak, it’s all about trying to shift the blame elsewhere.  So much for the years they’ve spent crafting an image as an environmentally-conscious firm; that’s up in smoke now (or covered in oil may be a better phrase)!

The mistakes in their strategy are so numerous I can’t even begin to count them; therefore I’ll suffice it to say that the company has provided us with ample opportunities to learn from their mistakes.

So what are the lessons learned from observing BP? Let’s reflect (I will only comment on mistakes and lessons as they relate to Social Media, not BP’s specific message):

  1. Don’t wait until a crisis happens to think about the ways that Social Media can assist your company; establish a presence on all appropriate Social Media sites and incorporate them into your everyday communications strategy, that way, they’ll already be there when you need them.
  2. Place links to your Social Media sites on your website to insure that people interested in your company know that you have a presence on Social Media and they know where to find you.
  3. Right now –  develop a Social Media strategy for your firm that incorporates everyday communication and crisis management, and put it in place so that it already exists should you need it for managing a crisis situation; should you need assistance in this area, Strategic Growth Concepts will be happy to assist you.
  4. Having an established Social Media strategy in place prior to a crisis will enable you to build a constituency of customers and followers to which you can explain your position and provide information if and when a crisis occurs; this constituency will help you disseminate your message virally through the Internet.
  5. When a crisis does occur, immediately step up your communications!  Develop a message plan and start distributing those messages through every Social Media platform that is appropriate.
  6. Communicate as often as possible through every means possible; issue news releases and insure they are distributed to related blogs and Internet search engines – not just the standard press; utilize YouTube to show videos of the situation if its appropriate, or of your CEO making a public statement; use webcasting tools such as BlogTalkRadio to engage in two-way live conversation with those interested in talking with company representatives about the matter – and then distribute it as a podcast via Facebook and Twitter (assuming of course that your company already has a presence there!).
  7. Don’t talk ‘at’ people on Social Media, talk ‘with’ people; engage in conversations, answer questions, ask for input.
  8. Put a ‘face’ on the company; take advantage of tools such as YouTube to distribute a message and speak plainly about the company’s thoughts on the situation.  Allow people to see how it affects the executives at the company emotionally.
  9. Monitor all Social Media – even those in which you are not participating – so you can address any issues being discussed there about your firm and its crisis situation and pre-empt some of those discussions that are just getting started.

Obviously it’s unlikely that your firm will ever experience a crisis of the magnitude of the one currently being experienced by BP Oil.  However, situations are relative – while it may be an incident of a much lesser magnitude, its impact upon your company and its customers may still be significant.  The best thing you can do is insure that your company is prepared to handle it in the best way possible.

In closing, we urge you to be pro-active in considering how Social Media can assist your company in communicating, and insuring that you have a plan in place in case a crisis situation should ever affect your company.  Should you need assistance in developing a Social Media strategy, we at Strategic Growth Concepts would be happy to assist you by evaluating your needs, and then developing and implementing a plan with you.  You may easily contact us at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com or via our website.

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The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting and training firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

3 Local Marketing Initiatives with Higher ROIs November 20, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in marketing strategies, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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With most small businesses today seeking every low or no-cost marketing option they can find to promote their products and services, the publishers of this blog are constantly in search of information about new resources that can help.  As we have discussed in many previous articles, many Web 2.0 options abound to help businesses promote themselves, but most are unable to concentrate your firm’s efforts on your specific geographic area – at least not easily.  However, the following tools are ideal for promoting your business within your specific geographic region to insure that those potential customers closest to you are well aware of your existance and what you have to offer.

Take advantage of these tools that any small business can use to promote your business within your local community.

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Forget the Phonebook: 3 Local Marketing Initiatives with Higher ROIs

Gregory Go (Wise Bread), Nov 12, 2009 –

The phonebook is so 1998. Few people use it anymore, and yet in an ironic twist, advertising in the phonebook has become more expensive as telcos try to boost revenues. Don’t play their game.

Boost the ROI of your advertising budget by switching your local marketing focus to the following 3 websites.

The basic strategy for each of the following options is two-fold:

  1. The first step — making sure you are listed and have accurate info — is free for all three of the following sites. It’s equivalent to making sure your phone number and address is accurate in the free, basic listing in the phonebook.
 
  2. The second step — buying advertising — is equivalent to buying an ad in the phonebook. Versus the phonebook, you’ll get more reach and better tracking data, which helps ensure you maximize your local advertising ROI.

1. Yelp!

Yelp is the premier review site for local businesses. Consumers love it because it lets them easily share their thoughts on local service providers and retail outlets, and in return, get honest reviews of local businesses from their peers. Businesses love Yelp — honest, reputable businesses, at least — because businesses that receive positive reviews see dramatic increases in referral customers.

Start here.

Step 1: Control Your Listing (and Get Stats)

Yelp provides business owners that have “unlocked” their pages with lots of value-added features including messaging options (eg., post offers and announcements, reply to reviewers) and stats on how many people have viewed your business page. Check out this page for a screenshot of the business dashboard you’ll have access to as the owner of the business.

The biggest benefit of taking control of your Yelp page is being able to highlight positive reviews of your business and/or responding to reviewers privately.  However, don’t think that just because Yelp is willing to take your money that it means they will take down negative reviews of your business.  They won’t, unless it violates review guidelines (eg., contains racial slurs or is second-hand information).  As a good business owner, you should take comfort in this policy, because it means your less scrupulous competitors won’t be able to hide their shady practices for long.

Step 2: Buy Advertising

Yelp offers two advertising options for increasing your exposure:

  1. Top placement in search results.
  2. Showcasing your business on a similar business’ page.

You can see screenshots of both options here.  Pricing varies based on your city, business category, and number of impressions you want to buy.  You can talk details and pricing with a Yelp sales representative by filling out this form and waiting for a callback.

2. Google Local

Start here.

When consumers search for a local business or a local service (eg., “thai food”, “dry cleaner”) on Google, a small map and some business results appear at the top of the search results (screenshot).  Additionally, you get a business details page that can contain information like your phone number, email address, store hours, accepted payment types, photos and videos, and service or product categories (screenshot).

Step 1: Take Control of Your Listing (and Get Stats)

Adding business details and creating coupons is completely free on Google. Start by claiming your business at Google’s Local Business Center. Once you’ve verified your ownership, you can start adding details and creating coupons that will appear on your business details page.

Here’s where Google Local become more exciting than the phonebook. On your Google local business dashboard (screenshot), you can see what search phrases people are typing in to find your business and where those searchers are located on a map (abstracted to a zip code level to protect searchers’ privacy).

Click here for more information on Google’s Local Business Center features.

Step 2A: Buy AdWords Ads

AdWords is the program where advertisers bid on search keywords and have their links appear next to or on top of search results.  While the AdWords program is not specifically geared towards a local market, as an advertiser, you can limit where your ad appears based on the searcher’s location.

You buy AdWords ads by bidding on how much you’re willing to pay for clicks on your ad.  Your ads appear on search results for your targeted keywords (ie., phrases people type into the search box).  The more popular keywords (eg., “thai food”) will cost more per click than more obscure keywords (eg., “pad thai”).  

Balancing the cost per click versus the popularity (reach) of keywords is what makes AdWords advertising a bit tricky.  It does take quite a bit of management to maximize your ROI. Fortunately, Google allows you to set spending limits so you don’t blow your monthly budget, and offers plenty of tools and resources to help you manage your AdWords campaigns.

Managing an AdWords campaign is beyond the scope of this article, but here are some resources to get you started:

Step 2B: Buy Local Ad Listings

These are a new type of ads Google is selling specifically for local businesses.  They are currently available only in San Fransisco and San Diego.  To get a notice when they are rolled out to your area, fill out this form.

The difference between Local Ad Listings and AdWords is that you don’t have to bid for keywords or do any fancy campaign management.  Google charges a flat monthly rate for these ads, and shows them on local searches at the top of search results (screenshot) and in Google Maps (screenshot). 

The rate depends on your city and business category.  Rates are offered after you’ve claimed your small business listing in step 1.  Once you’ve claimed your local business and Google has rolled out these ads to your city, you will see a new “Ads” tab in your business dashboard.

An advantage of the Local Ad Listing — in addition to having your business appear prominently on related searches — is the call tracking.  When someone calls the phone number listed on your Local Ad Listing, the call is forwarded to regular phone number, and when you pick up, you will hear a short “this call is from Google” message. Counting up the number of calls you receive from your local Google ad, you can then determine if the monthly fee is worth the number of new leads you receive.

3. Yahoo Local

Start here.

Step 1: Claim or create your Yahoo Local listing

Just like Yelp and Google Local, you can claim your Yahoo Local business listing for free.  Claiming or creating the listing will allow you to enter additional information and keep your business details up-to-date.

The first step is to create a Yahoo login.  If you already have a Yahoo email address, you can use that login account to manage your local business listing.  If you already have a Yahoo account, login to your account.  If you don’t already have one, you can sign up for a Yahoo account here (it’s free).

Start by doing a search for your business at Yahoo Local.  If your business already has a listing, click on the “edit info” link on the details page.  Your business will then be linked to your Yahoo account, and when you go to listings.local.yahoo.com, you can click on the “Local Listings Account Center” link in the upper right hand corner to see all your business listings.

If your business is not yet listed, go to listings.local.yahoo.com and click on the “Sign Up” button. You will be presented with a form to fill out your business details like address, phone number, service description, and hours of operation.

For more information about Yahoo Local Listings, check out the help page for Yahoo Local Listings or visit the start page for Yahoo Local Listings.

Step 2: Upgrade to an Enhanced or Featured Listing

And just like the other options, Yahoo offers premium listings that you can purchase to give your business more prominence.  Yahoo Local offers two levels of premium listings: Enhanced or Featured.

An Enhanced Listing costs $9.95 per month.  You get to add up to 10 photos, a longer description of your business, and stats on how often people see and click on your listing.

A Featured Listing puts your business in the sponsored results section of Yahoo search results.  Pricing ranges from $15-$300 per month depending on the size of your city and demand for your service.  Click here to view current pricing details.

Check out this page for a comparison of features for the Basic, Enhanced, and Featured Listings.

Mogreet Debuts First-Ever Mobile Video Marketing Platform Across All Top U.S. Carriers November 4, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in mobile, Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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Hundreds of Millions of Americans Can Now Receive Targeted Mogreet Video MMS Messages From Marketers On Everyday Flip Phones or the Latest Smartphones, Including iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm Pre

By: PR Newswire Nov. 4, 2009

Mogreet, the company behind the world’s first mobile video messaging platform, today announced the debut of its game-changing mobile marketing solution, the Mogreet Mobile Video Marketing Platform. Mogreet’s platform can deliver short format videos to more than 200 million U.S. mobile devices, while measuring the effectiveness and ROI of each campaign in real-time.

Mogreet clients routinely experience open rates, video views and click-through rates 15 to 25 times higher than other forms of advertising media. And by virtue of the fact that mobile customers react to text messages in 20 seconds on average — versus hours or days for email — brands see results almost instantly. Marketers also benefit from the inherent virality of Mogreet Mobile Video Marketing, as mobile messages can simply and easily be shared amongst friends, which can result in 5 to 10 times additional reach.

“It’s 1993 all over again … only this time, rather than email, the race is on to harness mobile to build a direct relationship with the end consumer,” commented James Citron, CEO, Mogreet. “The ability to deliver your message in video to just about every mobile phone in the U.S., and not just smart phones with Internet plans, means marketers are not forced to sacrifice reach when they add mobile to their marketing mix.”

“Over 150 million U.S. consumers do not own a smartphone, and most have never seen a video on their mobile phone. With Mogreet, we have designed a way to reach these consumers and enable brands to communicate in rich, engaging media, creating an iPhone-like experience across all major cell networks and phones, ” explained Jay Goss, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Mogreet.

Mogreet is expanding marketers’ reach by harnessing the power of over four-billion text messages sent each day in the United States from consumers of all ages, including adults 35-44 who now send more texts than place calls. Mogreet’s platform has been utilized by leading brands in numerous verticals from hospitality — including the launch of a sixty-property line of hip hotels — to apparel, retail and entertainment, with four #1 box office film releases.

Who’s Using Twitter? Do You (and Your Business) REALLY Know? October 19, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Web 2.0.
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You’ve probably heard of the Morgan Stanley report that declares “teenagers do not use Twitter,” based on a sample size of one 15 year-old intern named Matthew Robson. Morgan Stanley rightfully disclosed that they do not claim that his study is representational or merits statistical accuracy, so we thought we could provide both with our NetRatings panel of 250,000 U.S. Internet users.

Twitter’s footprint has expanded impressively in the first half of 2009, reaching 10.7 percent of all active Internet users in June. Perhaps even more impressively, this growth has come despite a lack of widespread adoption by children, teens, and young adults. In June 2009, only 16 percent of Twitter.com website users were under the age of 25. Bear in mind persons under 25 make up nearly one quarter of the active US Internet universe, which means that Twitter.com effectively under-indexes on the youth market by 36 percent.

While the metrics in the chart above only represent the website and branded “front door” of Twitter, it would be a big stretch to assume that the gap in the youth demographic is being made up via other clients and platforms. For example, more than 90 percent of popular Twitter client Tweetdeck’s audience is over 25.  Furthermore, Twitter.com’s reach is 6.6 percent for kids, teens and young adults, whereas it is 12.1 percent for those over 25; implying that adults are trying Twitter at nearly double the rate.  To see more detailed information regarding Twitter demographics, click HERE, HERE and HERE.

But does it really matter if the kids don’t get it? The fact remains that Twitter has grown to be a major online presence and is being driven forward by significant buzz. To illustrate this point: the volume of Twitter mentions on blogs, message boards and forums has reached the same level as Facebook, a property four times its size. We’ve also seen that Twitter’s growth is very highly influenced by buzz around current events as they are happening such as the Iran election or the death of Michael Jackson. All it takes is one celebrity or major news story to rekindle the Twitter buzz machine, but do these one-off shifts create one-time curiosity seekers or lead to more permanent users?  That’s the unanswered question.

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Portions of this article were posted originally in Nielsen News.

5 Advanced Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses October 13, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in FaceBook, LinkedIN, MySpace, Naymz, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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by Samir Balwani

Social media marketing and the businesses that utilize it have become more sophisticated. More small businesses are beginning to understand how to best leverage online tools to build a community and recognize that engagement and interaction are the foundations of social marketing, but most don’t know what’s next.  What follows are five advanced strategies for small businesses that may already have small online communities and understand how to create an online presence, but don’t know what to do next.

What Is An Advanced Strategy?

The definition of an advanced social strategy is a technique that goes beyond the normal social media presence. It introduces or reinforces a marketing message while pushing a user to another profile or business site. Before moving forward with an advanced strategy, it’s important that your business understands social marketing, has experience engaging consumers, and that you possess a basic understanding of online marketing.

Strategy 1: Multimedia Usage

The term “A picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. Consumers are now using the web to look for product pictures and videos; they want more information and want to see what they’re considering buying. The good news is that it’s easy for a company to create and publish videos and pictures.

In addition to taking photos of products, you can also take pictures at office events as a way to highlight company culture. This not only helps convince others to work with you or to buy from you (consumers see that you are down to earth and one of them, instead of a stuffy company), it also helps your HR department recruit new employees. Who doesn’t want to work for a company that celebrates birthdays and has a good time?   

Videos are useful for explaining complex how-tos or concepts. Showing step-by-step directions can have a greater impact than even the most well written article. Businesses don’t have to invest huge sums of money to create good videos, either. I highly recommend the relatively cheap Flip camcorder, which takes great videos and is easy for even a non-technical marketer to use.  Multimedia can break down the faceless business-to-consumer sales flow and make your company appear friendlier. Use videos and images to show that your business is fun, you care about your employees, and most importantly, that you care about your customers.

Example: WorldMusicSupply.com

WorldMusicSupply.com, an online retailer of musical instruments and accessories, has used YouTube to build a strong online community. Their channel has built over 7,000 subscribers and has over 260,000 views.

Strategy 2: Integrate Offline and Online Advertising

Many small businesses do some sort of offline advertising, whether it be radio, print, or cable. Social marketing allows a business to extend their offline sales pitch.  Including your Facebook Page, Twitter ID or blog URL in offline ads act as social proof, inviting potential consumers to see your community and increase trust in your business. Not only can integrating online and offline advertising help the conversion process, but it can also help build your community. Introducing potential consumers to your social profiles means they may join your community now and buy later.

Strategy 3: Message Adaptation

As businesses start to become more sophisticated with social media they are starting to leverage more online platforms.  However, most deliver the same message over multiple platforms instead of tailoring communications for each individual site.

Social platforms each have an ecosystem of their own. What might be acceptable on Tumblr might be considered spam on Facebook.  A specific style of writing might spread on Twitter but fail on FriendFeed.  Understanding that each site is different and then customizing your message ensures they do well on each respective site.

Not only does customizing messages across sites help the message spread but it keeps users from receiving multiple identical communications. Be sure to maximize your potential by sending a user that follows the business on Twitter and Facebook two different messages, instead of the same thing.

Strategy 4: Local Social Networks, Beyond Yelp

For a small business, local search can be a big win. Being visible to consumers looking for a business in their area is extremely important. Make sure your site is included in local business directories in order to help ensure that consumers find you when they need you. Sometimes finding that many sites can be difficult, however. First, make sure you check your competitors.

Where are they listed? Check their inbound links to check for business directories you can add yourself to. Also, make sure your business has been added to Google Maps, using the Local Business Center.  Take the time to include all the information you can and update any old news. For many consumers, this will be their first interaction with the business.

Example: Bella Napoli in New York

Bella Napoli is a small pizzeria in New York that has done a great job of making sure they appear in as many local searches as possible.

Strategy 5: Contests and Discounts

Building a community is only the first part of social marketing. Using that community to drive sales, propagate marketing, or crowdsource operations is the true power of social media. One way to excite the community is to collectively do something to create a contest or offer an exclusive discount (i.e., the contest can create competition between users). Not only does a contest build buzz organically but if contestants need to, for example, publish an article that gets the most comments in order to win, the contest itself becomes viral.

A good social media contest should include some sort of sharing or virality as a requirement for winning.  Discounts are also a great way to connect with your community. By giving exclusive coupons to your social community, you’re rewarding and reminding them that you are not only a brand to engage with, but also to buy from.

Example: NetFirms.com

NetFirms.com decided to make it easier to register a domain by allowing people to do it via Twitter. Those who participated or spread the word by tweeting, were also entered into a prize drawing.

Conclusion

Creating a basic social media presence is easy enough, getting your community to actually do something is more difficult. Taking advantage of these strategies can help you build your community, make your marketing more effective, and incentivize buying.

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Samir Balwani is an emerging technology strategist at Morpheus Media, a firm specializing in Social Marketing, SEM, and SEO. 

You can follow him on Twitter @leftthebox and get his newsletter.

Do You Need Your Own Web TV Show? October 2, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Video Marketing, Web 2.0, Web TV.
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In our quest to continually bring information to our readers on the latest technologies available to aid you in marketing your business, today we present  another idea that’s beginning to gain traction for small businesses.  Thanks to technology, anyone today can be a “TV star” by hosting your own online television show to promote your business – and, you may even be able to make money doing it!

Below is an article from Business Week which reviews this latest marketing ‘tool’ and talks to small business owners currently utilizing it to promote their firms.

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Independent Web shows can attract advertisers, sponsors, and thousands of viewers, but marketing and profiting from them is a challenge

By Karen E. Klein for Business Week Smart Answers, 9/29/09

Yana Berlin dabbed on a product sample for a new perfume and liked it O.K. But when her three grown daughters got a whiff, they had one reaction: “You smell like Grandma!”

“I don’t think the manufacturer is going to like it, because it’s being marketed to women over 40 and no one at 44 wants to smell like Grandma,” Berlin notes wryly.

In the past, the perfume company might not have gotten direct feedback from people like Berlin, a San Diego entrepreneur who founded the Fabulously40 social networking Web site. But that’s changed now that Berlin and her daughters, Daisy, Sasha, and Stephanie, have started a Web TV show called, The Love or Hate Debate. It features product reviews and demonstrations from two generations of women.

$20 Billion in Ads at Risk

Like growing numbers of entrepreneurs, Berlin and her family produce the show themselves, edit it, and post it online using free or low-cost video-uploading and streaming software. These Internet-based videos—most packaged in short episodes no more than four minutes long—have the potential to transform marketing and turn small business owners into celebrities in their own right, experts say.

“It’s a fascinating shift and one of the more important ones we’ve seen in B2B communications,” says Daniel Taylor, lead technology and media analyst at The Big Picture, a research firm covering digital media, technology, and communications.

If Internet video continues to catch on as a marketing alternative for small businesses, Taylor says, $20 to $30 billion in advertising that currently goes to the business and trade press could evaporate. Small firms that typically advertise in their industry trade publications, business publications, the Yellow Pages, and on cable television could shift their marketing dollars into producing their own video content. “About 10% of the overall advertising spending in the U.S. could be at risk because of this” new phenomenon, Taylor says. “It’s largely small to midsize businesses that are involved in this, and the caliber of people and the quality of what they’re doing is really amazing.”

Starting in a Garage

Take Andrew Lock, a marketing consultant and former U.K. television producer whose weekly show, Help! My Business Sucks! provides entrepreneurial advice and interviews and attracts corporate sponsors.

The 74-and-counting episodes of Lock’s show attract 100,000 viewers each, have helped boost his consulting business to five-figure monthly revenue and brought him speaking invitations around the world, he says. “I go to conferences where entrepreneurs line up and ask for my autograph,” Lock says. “And I’m just this little British guy living in Utah who started a show out of my garage!”

That show proved so popular, he says, that he built a studio facility near his home in Salt Lake City where he houses professional sets, six employees, and a host of additional presenters who tape their own shows there.

Production Quality Improving

While it’s still very early in the world of Web TV, Lock says, there are myriad shows springing up that cover niche topics like wine, gadgetry, and scrapbooking and are building loyal audiences. “These are real people, not Hollywood, air-brushed celebrities, and it seems viewers respond positively to that real-ness that is very different from traditional TV,” he says.

All of this, of course, is only possible due to technology updates that have taken place in the last three years, says Steven C. Hawley, principal analyst and consultant at tvstrategies, a telecommunications consulting firm in based in Seattle.

In the earliest years of Internet video, picture quality was low, frames were tiny, and the action dribbled out herky-jerky. But now, new technology platforms, such as Blip TV and Vimeo, have sprung up and are maturing so quickly it’s difficult to track them. “The number and type of are proliferating and changing constantly. Internet technology competes head-to-head with cable and satellite, and the availability of multiple platforms makes it possible for just about anybody to distribute content over broadband,” Hawley says. “In fact, I’ve thought of doing it myself as a consultant and an analyst.”

All You Need is $100

It is also nowhere near as expensive as it once was to produce and distribute PC-quality video content. “You can build an audience through social media and through your customer database and drive traffic to your own site. All it takes is $100 for a video camera and a mike. You set it up on a tripod, talk to it, and upload it,” Hawley says.

He sees most small business people using Internet shows to do self-publishing and self-promotion. But entrepreneurs are also infiltrating—if not dominating—the entertainment side of the Web TV experience.

Leyna Juliet Weber, a writer and actor, moved to Los Angeles from New York City a few years ago hoping to break into the big time. But she found that opportunities were few and far between. “The TV climate is really bad, so instead of just waiting around, I worked on some student films at USC and met a fantastic gal named Annie Lukowski,” Weber says.

Launched at Funny or Die

The two stayed in touch, and after Lukowski attended Weber’s live comedy show, they decided to collaborate. They formed a company called Working Bug Media and produced two shorts that they posted at FunnyorDie and YouTube (GOOG).

“We funded them ourselves on a dime budget,” Weber says. After the shorts were well-received, they decided to write and produce a 10-episode show called Road to the Altar. “It’s a wedding story shot as a mockumentary and told from the groom’s point of view,” Weber says. “We pitched it around town and to Web production companies, but everyone is afraid to put money into anything.”

Eventually, the pair negotiated a deal with a company called MWD Media. When Weber was able to get Jaleel White, who played Urkel on the 1990s TV show Family Matters, to star opposite her in the series, they attracted corporate sponsors including Panda Express and Pier 1 Imports. At least 40,000 people have viewed the series on YouTube alone, Weber says.

Old-Fashioned Show Sponsors

Still, although independent Web shows can attract advertisers, sponsors, and thousands of viewers, marketing and profiting from them is a challenge, says Joshua Cohen, the co-founder of Tilzy.tv, a Web site that chronicles and reviews episodic Web series.

The options for Internet video advertising include pre-roll, post-roll, and mid-roll ads as well as overlay ads that pop up at the bottom of the screen. Then there are old-fashioned show sponsors that hark back to the early days of television, when one company or specific product would fund a show and often get a plug by the host. “There are thousands of these shows being produced by major studios, TV networks, film students, and amateurs. It’s everything from NBC down to the most independent, bare-bones productions,” Cohen says.

Episodes typically run from three to five minutes, because most Internet shows are viewed at work. “Lunchtime is the new prime time for online viewing. Technology is being developed so you can watch the Internet on your big screen TV, but it hasn’t broken through yet, so most of the viewing is still happening on the PC at work,” Cohen says.

Trying to Monetize the Shows

While some firms predict that Internet advertising will reach $1 billion by 2011, Cohen says, online shows are not yet pulling dollars away from traditional television advertising. “People are still trying to figure things out online, where they’ve been making money off of TV for 50 years and they’ve gotten very good at it,” he says.

Lock says that while he has used his Web TV show to attract sponsors, increase his consulting profile, and boost his revenues, many Internet entrepreneurs are not as good at monetizing their efforts as he has been. “The show enables people to discover me and what I provide in a relaxed and informal setting. I don’t have to sell. If people respond to the messages in the show, they’ll come to me. I don’t have to do any cold-calling or any of that silly nonsense,” he says.

While many entrepreneurs love what they do, and enjoy producing their own shows, he believes that many of them could make more money at it if they did strategic marketing and advertising campaigns. “There are extremely popular shows that aren’t making any money at all, because they don’t know how to monetize it,” he says.

“A Slow Process”

Lock predicts, however, that advertisers will be increasingly willing to buy into Web TV series in the near future. “It’s a slow process, but it’s definitely happening. Advertisers are looking for other avenues with people tuning out of television, fast-forwarding through commercials or watching their shows on Hulu,” he says.

Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues.

Email Marketing @ Mail Chimp Goes Forever Free September 27, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, Web 2.0.
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Those looking for cost-effective ways to market your business can now take advantage of one of the leading email marketing service providers thanks to the following recent announcement.  Now small business has no excuse for a lack of marketing to their customers.

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MailChimpEmail marketing service provider MailChimp made its service pretty much irresistible as the company announced the introduction of its “Forever Free pricing plan”.

The new service level allows subscribers to send up to 500 emails per campaign and 3,000 emails per month at no cost. That’s not a misprint folks – that’s a fact.

“We’ve always seen email first as a publishing tool and second as a marketing tool,” said Ben Chestnut, Co-Founder of MailChimp. “We’re aiming to empower smaller groups like artists, musicians, nonprofits, small businesses and hand-crafters to communicate effectively at no cost. That’s why we’re calling this Power to the People. We want to give everyone all the tools they need to send professional, permission-based email campaigns.”

The power of email marketing is well documented. If you’re not currently leveraging email as a marketing channel, this should act as good incentive to give it a try.

Virtual Events Can Generate Leads for Small Business August 23, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Strategic Growth Concepts, Virtual Technology, Web 2.0.
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Trade shows – you know what they are, a major element in business development and networking. Whether they be community events sponsored by the local chamber of commerce, or national events sponsored by a national professional or trade association; any business attempting to gain new customers is going to participate in some sort of trade show(s) at some point in time.

Some companies feel it’s imperative to have a booth, others want to attend the educational seminars (or present at them), still others prefer to ‘make the rounds’ and do extensive networking. One thing they all have in common is cost, including: booth rental, display development, staffing, travel costs such as hotel & airlines, and all the materials to distribute – frankly the list can be endless. According to Tradeshow Week magazine, mid-to-large size companies spend about $550,000 every year participating in the standard physical trade shows, with an average cost per show sometimes as high as $100,000 for the larger companies.  Small entrepreneurial companies can easily spend in the range of $50,000 per year.

And recent studies have shown – not necessarily productive enough to be worth all that time and expense, particularly in today’s economy.

So what options does a small business have? It turns out, more than you might think! Welcome to the world of VIRTUAL TRADE SHOWS.

BlogTalkRadio graphicAs part of Strategic Growth Concepts on-going education series for small business owners, the firm is focusing the next episode of their BlogTalkRadio program, Strategic Growth Concepts for Small Business, on Virtual Trade Shows/Expos/Conventions.  Read complete News Release HERE.

This new technology enables small businesses to engage with current customers and find new ones in a highly cost-effective and efficient manner without ever leaving their desk.  

We’ll provide a panel of industry experts including :

  • Kevin Carbone, CEO of 6Connex;
  • Brent Arslaner, VP of Channels at Unisfair; and
  • Cece Salomon-Lee, Director of Marketing at InXpo

to educate us on how virtual events work, what they cost, how to maximize their benefit, who’s using them, and how your company can get involved. Learn how your small business can put this technology to work for your company!

Those interested in learning about this new technology can listen to the show live on Tuesday, August 25th at 2:30 p.m. EDT by calling (347) 215-6955, or they can download a podcast of the show at their convenience by accessing the show’s website at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/StrategicGrowthConcepts .

Social Media Measurement Tools to Determine Value / ROI August 11, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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Social Media graphicWhile many of the Social Media tools are free to use, there is a cost involved in the time for development of the Social Media profiles and on-going management of Social Media activities.  Measuring that cost with respect to results against goals that have been identified will determine whether or not your Social Media strategy has provided an ROI at the level expected, and how it stacks up against more traditional methods of Marketing.  To help you achieve an accurate analysis of Social Media results that can be measured against those goals, please review the article below for a variety of tools to assist you.
Should you be interested in developing a Social Media strategy for your firm which has the ability to achieve a significant ROI against company goals, we at Strategic Growth Concepts would be happy to assist you.  Please contact us via our Website or via email at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule your FREE initial consultation.
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by Jye Smith

3 Steps to Picking the Right Social Media Measurement Tools

  1. Understand business outcome
  2. Identify the social media activity
  3. Analyse the relationship between social media activity and business outcome

Then pick a tool.

I cannot stress enough how important it is though, to understand that relationship between social media activity and business outcome. That’s where the expertise is, that’s where the ROI is.

Which tools do I use to measure social media?

This would have to be the most asked question of the lot – but honestly, it’s like asking how long is a piece of string. Last night I presented at Social Media Club Sydney (slides and notes now available) and still there was a call to look at which tools. Which one are essential to me? Google Analytics and Bit.ly for starters.  Katie Chatfield has done a presentation to look at some of the tools available – and you’ll instantly see how overwhelming it can be. But that’s ok – because you need to know what you are valuing first, and look at the tools  last.

MeasurementCamp also published another list of social media tools you can use:

  1. Addictomatic A cool search engine that aggregates rss feeds into a nice visual dashboard
  2. Blogpulse Blog search engine with conversation tracker tool
  3. Boardreader Search forums and message boards
  4. Boardtracker Forum search engine offering instant alerts
  5. Buzzmonitor Embeddable widget showing recent instances of your search term
  6. Compete.com Comparable site metrics for any website
  7. Del.ici.ous Social bookmarking engine. Search by tags and subscribe to feed results
  8. Facebook lexicon Searches facebook walls for words and phrases
  9. Google alerts Email updates of key search terms
  10. Google insights Compare search volume over time
  11. Google trends Compare search term trends
  12. Howsociable Gives a social media score for your brand, with email updates of your score.
  13. Ice rocket Blog search engine with results rss feed
  14. Newsflashr News search engine, presenting results in nice dashboard
  15. Sphere Related content widget
  16. Summize Search for keywords in ‘tweets’.
  17. Technorati Blog and social media search engine
  18. Twing Discussion board and forum search engine
  19. Twingly Spam free blog search engine
  20. Twitturly Track what urls people are talking about on twitter
  21. Xinu Shows how well your site is performing across different metrics. Also gives a site diagnosis.
  22. Quarkbase Fricking cool mashup tool
  23. Twitter Grader Enter your twitter username to get your grade and ranking
  24. Twist Graph Keyword trends in Twitter. Very cool.
  25. yExplore Not strictly social media, but easy access to see inbound links to a page.
  26. Trendpedia Excellent blog search engine that graphs results over time.
  27. Website Grader Not completely sure how accurate, but cool tool anyway!
  28. Yahoo Pipes Err, yeah, can’t believe I missed this off in the first place.
  29. Socialmention Real time UGC search engine, with social rank
  30. Bit.ly and Cli.gs – analytics for your tiny urls.

Mobile Marketing Now Aiding Non-profits in Fundraising August 5, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in mobile, Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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Mobile Marketing strategies are now being put to work to help non-profit organizations provide information to their constituencies and also, to RECEIVE DONATIONS! 

A recent article by Mobile Marketer Daily reviews a new Mobile Marketing campaign being implemented by the ASPCA (American Society for the ASPCA graphicPrevention of Cruelty to Animals).  They will be utilizing mobile strategies to disseminate animal health tips, shelter locations, and to receive donations.  Obviously, this new campaign will also assist them in increasing their database of those interested in animal issues so they may refer to them for future programs as well.  They’re accomplishing a lot by the use of Mobile Marketing strategies, and setting the bar at a high level for those non-profits who are struggling because of today’s economic environment and want to follow in their footsteps.

If you would like to learn more about the ASPCA’s Mobile Marketing campaign to consider how your organization might apply similar strategies, click HERE to access the full article.

EDITOR’S ADDED NOTE:  An additional example of Mobile Marketing being used for non-profit fundraising is the Red Cross campaign to raise funds for Haiti.  SMS (text) messaging was the mobile vehicle utilized, and the Red Cross did a great job of integrating the mobile donation option into their entire marketing strategy – TV, print, social media, etc.  Within 48 hours, $5 million dollars were raised, to-date, over $40 million has been raised for this effort – all in $10 increments via text messaging!

A more recent example was the ‘Restore the Gulf’ campaign implemented by non-profit organization in New Orleans.  This campaign utilized a QR code which allowed supporters to access a video and online petition in support of the cause.   This celebrity-supported effort has made national headlines due to the unique nature of the campaign; results are not yet available.

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If you work for, or volunteer for, a non-profit and would like to explore the ways in which Mobile Marketing can be utilized to market your organization, we would be happy to assist you in developing a customized program to aid you in increasing donations and providing information to your constituencies.  Please feel free to contact us via our website or via email at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

Go Viral. Go Visible. Go Video! July 31, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Strategic Growth Concepts, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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7 comments

Article by Lou Bortone, a long-time marketing and branding consultant who helps entrepreneurs build breakthrough brands on the Internet, with services such as online video production, video branding, coaching and creative support.  Lou is a former television executive who worked for E! Entertainment Television and later served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Advertising for Fox Family Worldwide, a division of Fox in Los Angeles.  Lou is an author and ghostwriter of six business books, a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach and a Book Yourself Solid Certified Coach. Visit Lou’s website at http://www.OnlineVideoBranding.com.

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“I see you everywhere!” Yup, I get that a lot!  Colleagues and clients tell me all the time that I seem to be “everywhere.”  They see me on YouTube, Facebook, on blogs and on Twitter.  I am definitely visible!  But my online visibility is no accident.   My visibility strategy is simple:  I leverage the power of video to increase my exposure – and you can, too!  Lou Bartone - video

Online video is the perfect tool to maximize your web presence because it’s highly visible and viral.  You can create one video and have it spread from YouTube to Facebook to your own website and beyond.  It’s the ultimate leverage resource, because you create it once and use it in many different ways, and in many different places.

Best of all, creating a video to enhance your visibility is quick, easy and inexpensive.  Armed with only a webcam or an affordable Flip Video camera, you can shoot a simple video message and upload it to YouTube in minutes.  All you need is a (high-speed) Internet connection and a free account on YouTube.com.

Once your video is posted on YouTube, you can send it to Facebook and MySpace with one click!  Other free video hosting sites like Blip.tv give you easy sharing and cross-posting functions to add your video to your own website, or to social sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon. To really leverage your time and energy, use another free service, TubeMogul.com, to blast your video out to over a dozen sites with one click!  You get the idea: One video to many sites means leverage and visibility across the web!

Keep in mind that even just posting your video to Facebook is going to give you video some mileage.  As others comment on your video on Facebook, the video then appears on their Facebook page in addition to your own.  That’s the “viral” in viral video!

And let’s not leave Twitter out of the video party…  While you can’t post the video itself on Twitter, you can certainly promote the link to your video on Twitter.  Better yet, there are several free services, such as Tweetube and Twiddeo, that will notify Twitter for you whenever you put your video on their sites.

Finally, if you want the ultimate, maxed-out, super-charged version of video visibility, be sure to get in touch with me about a free trial of Veeple.com.  Veeple is the video hosting platform that I use to make my videos clickable (with live links) and interactive. Veeple’s  new deal with TubeMogul means you can even blast your video from Veeple.com to a boatload of popular video sites.  It’s one-stop shopping for massive video visibility!  You can find more info on Veeple here: http://tinyurl.com/ltdjgv.

If you’d like more information or a quick crash course on video visibility, please feel free to visit my “Video Traffic Blast” website.  There you can find out more about my step-by-step viral video process.  Be sure to get your video online now!  Start sharing your video on the web and soon, you too can be seen “everywhere!”

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If after completing this article you’re still not certain how Video can be utilized to market your company, we would be happy to assist you in developing a customized program to promote your business.  Please feel free to contact us via our website or via email at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

Top 5 Social Media Tips for Small Business July 16, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, FaceBook, LinkedIN, MySpace, Naymz, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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19 comments

Some content in this posting is from an article by Mya Frazier for Bankrate.com

A few years ago, using the Internet to market a small business simply meant to create a presence online with a simple, informational Web site.  Then came the demands of search engine optimization to ensure Google and Yahoo searches yielded top-ranked results for your company. Was your business’s Web site chock full of the key search terms that would bring it to the attention of customers?

Social Media graphicToday, social media is transforming the small-business marketing landscape. Social media are Web- or mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information. It’s not just for seeing who your high school sweetheart married. Businesses can tap into powerful networking sites and other social media to drive customers to their shops or companies.

If done right, small-business owners might even be able to slash their traditional marketing spending to zero. Writing blogs (short for “Web logs”) or on-going online commentary using social-networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, can provide inexpensive but powerful online marketing.

Because it’s free, people think it’s easy to create a social media presence. But this attitude can lead to missteps. So before you dive headlong into social media, take some time to observe the customs and social norms of these new forms of communications, says David Spark, founder of Spark Media Solutions, a San Francisco-based firm that helps companies tell their story through social media.  “Also think about your strategy for effectively utilizing social media before you jump in,” says Linda Daichendt, CEO/Managing Consultant of Strategic Growth Concepts. “It’s easier to avoid costly mistakes before you begin than to correct them after they’ve done damage to your company’s reputation.”

“Think of social media as a cocktail party,” says, David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “World Wide Rave,” books about how to create buzz online. “You don’t go into the cocktail party and go into the middle room and scream at the top of your lungs and say, ‘Buy my products.’ … What works is you have some meaningful conversation first. And that’s just how social media works.”

If you decide to take the social-networking plunge, here are five ways to harness social media to help your business.

1. Use free sites. Use free online services, such as the mobile short-message site Twitter, and popular networking sites Facebook and MySpace, to post significant news, specials or events. For example, you run a small Italian restaurant with a loyal following. You could create a Twitter account and upload the lunch or dinner specials via “tweets,” or short messages of up to 140 characters, daily to customers’ smart phones or to other Web sites.

“All you have to do is give a (Twitter) handle and start a conversation. You could put the Twitter handle on the menu or in the restaurant,” says Chris Abraham, Abraham Harrison LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based digital public relations agency. Granted, social networking sites are still for early adopters.  “You aren’t going to get Aunt Matilda to tweet about the experience she had at dinner,” Abraham says.

Abraham considers Twitter one of the easiest ways for a newbie to social media to get started.  “It’s more challenging to do Facebook,” Abraham says. “You have to create a personal profile, create a page and so on. With Twitter, if you’re Joe Smith with Motorcycle Emporium, you don’t have to create a page. And you can create Twitter updates via a phone or mobile device easily.”

“Don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” he says. “There are lots of people sold on really expensive solutions, but two of the best investments for reaching out to people and engaging with them are free on Twitter and Facebook.”

2. Shift marketing costs to social media. After learning how social networking operates, use social media to free up traditional marketing dollars for your small business by putting it online. You can quickly learn which of your Facebook or MySpace “friends” or online “group” members received and responded to your message.

Stanya Doty has cut her print marketing budget to zero. As owner of Simple Indulgences, a wine and high-end gift shop in Delaware, Ohio, she began using Facebook in December 2008 to communicate with her brother but quickly realized the online marketing possibilities.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there are so many people here,’ ” she says. Indeed, Facebook boasts 200 million users worldwide.  In April 2009, she began promoting monthly wine tastings via a Facebook page for the shop that quickly attracted 100 members. Combined with an e-newsletter created using the do-it-yourself, e-mail marketing Web site Constant Contact, she keeps enough buzz going about her shop that her advertising budget for local print ads no longer seemed necessary. She usually sends out about 700 e-mails, with the response rate sometimes reaching nearly 50 percent. It sure beats a postal mailing.  “If I sent out a postcard with postage and paid for all that, I’d still have no idea who read it and who threw it away,” she says.

Indeed, unlike a print ad, Doty gets instant, measurable results. “On Facebook, you can see who has responded to invites,” she says. “It’s easy, it’s cheap and I’m actually appealing to people that at first know me from the store and then hopefully … pass the word along throughout their networks.”

3. Do your own social-media optimization project. Learn about the competition in your industry and geographic region that are tapping social networking. Spark recommends starting by researching the competition in the major search engines — Google and Yahoo.

“Type in keywords and phrases that people would use to find you, like ‘plumber’ and ‘San Francisco.’ If you don’t appear in the top percentage of pages, take a look at the Website of those plumbers that do show up,” says Spark. “Look at their pages, and usually they will have a lot of content on their sites.”

To increase a business’s presence on the Internet, Spark advocates companies create blogs, newsletters and other articles on their sites to bolster the number of keywords — terms that search engines recognize — to boost their ranking in all-important Web searches.

“That’s the way people discover you,” he says. “Take that plumber in San Francisco. The right search terms might just be ‘clogged toilet and San Francisco.'”  “That tells me I should write … in my blog about how to fix a clogged toilet and mention that I am a plumber in San Francisco,” he says.

4. Take social-network marketing to the next level. Create and post richer content about what your customers would expect from someone in your business. Don’t view social media sites as a place to simply hype your wares. It’s a place for conversation.

“Social media is about earning attention,” says David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “World Wide Rave,” books about how to create buzz online.  “What’s most important is to forget about what your company does. Instead, think about the people who are buying your products. Simply hyping products and services online and in social media sites completely backfires. People are not looking for products but for something fun. They are looking to make connections,” Scott says.

So it’s all about having something interesting to say or show. It could be a blog, or a video on the video-sharing Website YouTube.

For example, if you’re a caterer, instead of talking about your service, create engaging culinary content. Imagine positioning yourself as a gourmet magazine on the Web, complete with links to a video you uploaded to YouTube.

“A caterer could create a blog with information about how to create a fantastic party, and each blog post or YouTube video could be another installment,” Scott says. “On the Web, you are what you publish and being on the Web is about publishing information.”

So back to that plumber faced with the prospect of dropping an expensive Yellow Pages listing but worried about customers not finding him if they have a burst pipe or a misfiring shower head. Scott recommends the plumber post a list of “the 100 home fixes for common plumbing problems.”

“All of a sudden you are going to get indexed very highly in the search engines, and people are going to share that content with their friends,” he says. “When someone puts an update on Facebook asking if anyone knows a good plumber in Boston, a friend might point to your content.”

5. Use blogging to drive search results and help new customers find you. Lately, blogging has gained greater attention, with the advent of “micro-blogging” on Twitter. But consider the time commitment and strategy before launching an account.

Even with the spread of micro-blogging, Abraham remains a big fan of traditional blogs, which are lengthier and show up on Web sites. In general, no matter what form the blog takes, it should be consistent over time.

“If you can’t keep up one (blog) post a day or 12 tweets a day, do one tweet every Thursday. Consistency in blogging or tweeting will create a relationship of trust with your followers or readers. Do it once a week, but for the next two years,” Abraham says.

And don’t spend extra money on blogging software, technical help, or a ghost writer for your blog.  To get started, sign up with WordPress.com or Blogger – both are free blogging platforms which are easy to use for beginners.

Additional opportunities within the social media environment include:  online radio shows on platforms such as BlogTalkRadio, social networking sites such as LinkedIN, Plaxo, and FriendFeed, and a wide variety of additional tools as well depending on your type of business.

Following these social media basics for small business will get your company started on the right road to gaining new customers and increased revenue via social media.

If after completing this article you’re still not certain what your company’s social media strategy should be, we would be happy to aid you in it’s development – and implementation if you would like.  Please feel free to contact us via our website or via email at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

Top 5 Twitter Analytical Tools July 9, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Web 2.0.
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8 comments

As every marketer knows, if a marketing strategy is worth implementing, it’s worth measuring.  That includes social media strategies in spite of the fact that there is currently no cost involved in utilizing them.  It is still to your benefit to analyze the exposure that they are providing to your firm.  To help you in this endeavor, here is an excellent article that provides access to very useful tools to help you evaluate your company’s use of Twitter.  Check them out for yourself; you might be surprised at all the information they can provide you!

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by Ron Calleri, InventorSpot.com

What kind of footprint have you made in the Twitterverse? Do you know your Twitter ROI, your Twitter influence or stats that determine your Twitter psychographics? In the social media world, this data is becoming easier and easier to access as new analytical tools become available… and now you can track it.

Twitter Analysis Tools graphicBecoming more and more significant, social networking analytics will be used by companies to determine what type of consumer you are, and by prospective employees to consider you for hire. As a modernized version of the Kevin Bacon paradigm, social media has reduced our ‘connectivity to others’ from 6 to 3 degrees.

Most Twitter users are seeking exposure. Whether that reach is to sell a product or oneself, it’s up to the user. How they perform on Twitter to meet that goal will determine brand advocacy. The ones that work to perfect relationships and loyalty will thrive, while those that fall short of this goal tend to lose interest and drop off. One needs to know the value of the Twitter resource and the investment of time that is required to become a successful member of the Twitterverse.  

Similar to our every day lives, if one focuses on creating value, building transparency and becoming  authentic, the greater chance one has in making an impact on Twitter. I relate these personality traits to our newly elected president Barack Obama. He embodies these characteristics and could be the reason he was elected to highest office in the land  (also see previous blog that discusses Obama’s use of social networking)

So social networking analytics are the tools to both qualify and quantify our worth. Here, I have selected what I feel are the top five analytical tools that are available to us today. They will help us determine various aspects of our Twitter make-ups. Not totally perfected and some are still in beta format, I suggest you explore these tools to best analyze your brand and the value and reach of your tweets.

1) TwitterAnalyzer    
TwitterAnalyzer is one of the most comprehensive Twitter analyzer toolsTwitter Analyzer graphic out there. It tracks followers who are online when you are, number of readers that have been exposed to your message, your tweet habits, who is retweeting your updates, twitter follow statistics, growth rates, conversations being made about you, the size of your audience and your followers’ demographics. It will let you research the way your fellow tweeps behave. It will surface which messages they answer and which ones they paid attention to, drilling down to their occupations and which users and are in your line of work.

2) TwInfluence
TwInfluence is a  tool for measuring the combined influence of your Twitter account and followers, and then assessing your reach through the quality of Twinfluence graphicyour followers. Since all users and all followers are not created equal, this analysis will determine the “horizon of communication” that extends beyond your own direct contacts. This is demonstrated whenever somebody “retweets” your message and its influence begins to create ripple effect throughout the Twitterverse. TwInfluence uncovers one’s reach, elocity and social capital, and its worth the time to spend with this tool to learn how these components interact.

3) TweetStats
TweetStats will graph your total tweets by the month, by the day, and by the hour. It also tells you your number of @replies and which interface you used to Twitter your tweets. By calculating the volume of your tweets andTweetstats graphic retweets it quantifies your tweet density. Most people who say they get no value from Twitter should first look at their usage and consistency to realistically evaluate what they have invested in Twitter before they consider the results. This tool also allows you to spy on others or those that have amassed Twitterati fame, as long as you know their Twitter handle.

4) Twitter Grader
Twitter Grader graphicTwitter Grader is another third party app which calculates a grade for a particular twitter on a scale of 0-100. It will show you your ranking in your city, state, and country. It will also show you active and influential Twitter users that you may want to follow. The Tweet Cloud indicates the frequent user words in your Tweets with the most commonly used in larger print. This is very beneficial because its a quick overview of your content.In addition to the TwitterGrader, Hubspot also has a Facebook Grader, Website Grader and Press Release Grader that you should check out as well, if those stats are important to you.

5) TweetPsych
Still in Beta, TweetPsych is a work in progress. Its purpose is to build a psychological profile of a person based on the content of their Tweets. It compares the content of a user’s Tweets to a baseline reading that was built by analyzing an ever-expanding group of over 1.5 million random Tweets, and then highlighting areas where the user stands out. Dan Zarella,the developer behind TweetsPsych continues to expand his set of psychologicalTweetpsych graphic definitions, while also refining the system and its algorithm to better analyze Twitter-specific content.

Dan feels TweetPsych has great potential in matching like-minded users to identifying users that exhibit certain useful or desirable traits. He is asking users to provide him with feedback to improve the system and the technology and take TweetPsych to the next level. Check it out and report back to Dan.

Since all of these tools are free, I suggest taking them all out for a test drive to determine which ones work the best for you. In helping you qualify and quantify your Twitter efforts you can better define your goals. Sometimes, we get so caught up in what we are getting out of something that we often forget to look at we are putting into it. Are you worth following, do you create value for your Twitter followers? Are you an observer or an active participant that is part of a collaborative community? All these questions and more can be better assessed with the assistance of some or all of these tools.

If you honestly look at what you are investing in Twitter and continue to apply an analytical eye, you will slowly begin to benefit from the output and the fruits of your labor.