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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. 

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Mobile Integrated Into Marketing Strategy = Success & Increased Revenue, Part V June 13, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in marketing strategies, mobile, Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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Part V – The Etiquette and Legalities of Mobile Marketing

Those that have been following our multi-part series on Mobile Marketing know that so far in our series we have covered:

In Part V we’re going to examine Mobile Marketing Etiquette and the Legalities involved in utilizing Mobile as part of your marketing strategy.  As we review these two issues, you will begin to see how closely related they are in affecting the way in which a company implements a Mobile campaign.

There are two things that make Mobile Marketing extremely effective:

  1. Mobile is direct one-on-one communication with a targeted customer
  2. The person receiving the message must have already ‘opted-in’ to receive messages from you, therefore, they are receptive to receiving the messages you send them which will typically increase the message’s effectiveness.

In order to insure that the best things about Mobile Marketing are not abused, it is imperative for companies utilizing Mobile to adhere to the guidelines and industry standards that have been developed and are strictly enforced.  This information can be found in the M-SPAM Act of 2009 and the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA’s) Best Practices Guidelines.  Adherence to these policies not only helps you avoid legal issues and huge fines, but it also helps you maintain the trust and loyalty of your customers.  To help you understand the importance of this, let’s examine the cases of some companies who forgot.

Case #1

A 2009 article by Adam Broitman in iMedia Connection, details the case of a wireless carrier who forgot to follow the rules they helped draft.

“Recently, AT&T sent out text messages to a large number of its 75 million customers. The message was a promotion for “American Idol,” a show that AT&T sponsors. (The company also plays a key role in the show, as only AT&T customers can vote for their favorite singers via text message.) Many of the mobile customers had not opted in to get this text, and the Twittersphere was, well, all atwitter!

Have a look at some of the conversation:

Sure, Twitter has been known, at times, to have a bit of a mob mentality. But in this case, it is apparent that these people were angry, and the ripples that began on Twitter created waves across the web.”, Broitman states.

While legally AT&T was allowed to do what they did (the M-Spam Act allows carriers to send messages to their subscribers), they lost a great deal of trust from those subscribers who had never agreed to receive messages about American Idol from them and they probably lost a great many future subscribers who didn’t want to be subjected to such practices.

Case #2

In a 2007 Mobivity blog posting by Greg Harris, Greg tells us the story of another extremely credible brand that didn’t adhere to industry best practices when communicating with those who have ‘opted-in’ to their mobile list.  Here’s Greg’s story:

“SPAM has all but killed email marketing, and has made the acceptance of mobile marketing more difficult to both the marketers, and the consumer. On a daily basis we have to win over customers, and explain that SMS and mobile marketing will not have the same problems as email. We explain how the carriers have control of what is sent over their networks, and about the MMA Code of Conduct.

And then a reputable company comes along and does something stupid that sends us a step back.

I just read a post on Greg Verdino’s marketing blog that just made me shake my head in wonder. Apparently Fast Company, a well known brand, took what could have been a great idea and ruined it for all of us.

According to Greg Verdino:

I was reading a great article about authentic business and marketing in this month’s Fast Company .  A sidebar invited me to (and here I quote) “Text In, Get Real.  For exclusive tips on what it takes to be authentic, text the word BACKSTORY to 30364 from your mobile device.”

So I did, and immediately received a WAP push pointing to some good content that complemented the piece in the magazine.

But here’s where it went wrong.  I also received a text message informing me that I was now subscribed to Fast Company’s monthly mobile alert program.  The problem is that neither the magazine sidebar nor the related webpage make any mention of the monthly subscription.  And I simply wanted this month’s content, not an on-going mobile alerts subscription.

One thing that we make clear to our customers is that if you are putting someone on a list, you must let them know. I’m not sure how Fast Company missed that. Just because someone sent in a text message to get the local weather, doesn’t mean you can send them offers and follow-up messages.

Give the consumer a reason to opt-in and you have built a mutual relationship. Provide them something of value, and in return they will let you send them messages once in a while. Don’t just assume that because they requested something from you once that you can now contact them at your convenience.

As Greg puts it:

If I invited you to dinner once, would you invite yourself to show up on the third Thursday of every month to eat again, forever or until I told you to stop coming?  I hope not…

Well said! ”

And Greg is right.

So let’s be clear, the rules of mobile are really not all that complicated, and they’re really not that hard to follow with a little strategic planning.  To help you have a clear picture of the guidelines that are imperative for you to follow, here is a list provided by Mobile expert, Kim Dushinski, author of The Mobile Marketing Handbook:

  • ALWAYS GET EXPLICIT PERMISSION
  • Opt customers in
  • Tell them specifically what they are ‘opting-in’ to
  • Give customers the option to ‘opt-out’ in every message
  • No false advertising
  • Never use a third party list – PERIOD
  • Never hold a contest or sweepstakes without legal advice
  • Never collect data on anyone under 13 years of age
  • Never use the word FREE unless everything is 100% free in the campaign
  • Follow MMA’s Best Practices Guidelines

You see, it’s really not that difficult.  However, if you don’t have a clear understanding of the right way to proceed with Mobile Marketing for your company, then you should hire the expertise of those who do understand it in order to prevent your firm from experiencing such consequences as:

  • Lost trust of customers
  • Loss of your short code access
  • Lawsuits
  • Significant fines

I should state for clarity’s sake that I was driven to explore this particular aspect of Mobile Marketing as part of this series as the result of a recent conversation with a business associate.  We had a meeting where I was explaining the concept of Mobile Marketing, its value, and how it should be used.  When I’d finished, my associate relayed to me a recent experience she’d had with a national retailer and their use of Mobile, it was not a positive experience.

Apparently this national retailer had set up a program within their stores designed to obtain ‘opt-ins’ for their Mobile list.  They had signage throughout the store offering customers an immediate purchase discount if they provided their cell number to be added to the chain’s ‘opt-in’ list. When my associate hesitated to give the number because the clerk could not provide clear information on how the phone number would be used, who would have access to it, what type of messages would be received, and how often, the clerk became quite agitated and said, “Well if you want the discount you have to give me the number, otherwise you don’t get it”.

So, based on what you’ve learned in this article, what are some of the problems you heard in this story? Here’s what I heard:

  • The store’s signage did not in any way clarify how the cell phone number would be used, ie:  how often customers would receive messages, the store’s privacy policy, what type of messages would be received, etc.
  • The store’s staff had not been educated about the details of the mobile campaign and was unable to answer the most basic customer questions about the promotion.
  • The store’s clerk needed an education in appropriate customer service behavior; his response to my associate means that not only did the Mobile campaign not work as it was intended, but in fact it caused the chain significant harm as I know for certain that I am not the only person who heard the story from this individual (and we who heard it directly know the name of the retailer).  I know for me personally, it’s unlikely I’ll be visiting them anytime soon, and I’m guessing others who have heard the story probably feel the same!

So, the moral of the story is this, Mobile Marketing is an EXCEPTIONAL and effective method of marketing, however, it requires you to do your homework and plan the details of an effective marketing strategy.  “Cross the T’s, dot the I’s”, and make sure you are adhering to the appropriate standards in implementing your Mobile campaign.  And if you don’t feel confident of your ability to do it on your own, hire an expert to assist you.  And then, sit back and reap the reward of a Mobile Marketing job well done!

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The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant for Strategic Growth Concepts, a marketing / management consulting firm focused on start-up, small and mid-sized businesses.  Areas of specialization include:  Mobile Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Virtual Events production.  Linda is a recognized small business marketing expert with 20+ years of experience in a wide variety of industries. 

Linda is available for consultation on Mobile Marketing and other topics, and can be contacted at Linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com.  The company website can be viewed at www.StrategicGrowthConcepts.com .  For more information on Mobile Marketing please visit the Mobile Marketing section of the Strategic Growth Concepts website.

Even Santa and NORAD Understand the Value of Social Media Marketing December 4, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in FaceBook, marketing strategies, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter.
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2 comments

Just when you might think you’ve heard it all, now small businesses can take a lesson from Santa!  A recent article describes a comprehensive social media strategy recently put in place by NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) to track Santa’s progress this holiday season. 

While obviously meant to be a fun activity, closer reading of the story actually displays a well thought out and comprehensive Social Media Marketing Strategy that small business owners would do well to emulate in their own marketing efforts!

Click HERE to learn how Santa and NORAD are on the cutting edge of Social Media Marketing, and how you can put a similar strategy to work for your company.

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.

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.

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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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.

Mom-and-Pop Businesses Succeed with Social Media July 26, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter.
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By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Three weeks after Curtis Kimball opened his crème brûlée cart in San Francisco, he noticed a stranger among the friends in line for his desserts. How had the man discovered the cart? He had read about it on Twitter.
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Curtis Kimball, owner of a crème brûlée cart in San Francisco, uses Twitter to drive his customers to his changing location.

For Mr. Kimball, who conceded that he “hadn’t really understood the purpose of Twitter,” the beauty of digital word-of-mouth marketing was immediately clear. He signed up for an account and has more than 5,400 followers who wait for him to post the current location of his itinerant cart and list the flavors of the day, like lavender and orange creamsicle.

“I would love to say that I just had a really good idea and strategy, but Twitter has been pretty essential to my success,” he said. He has quit his day job as a carpenter to keep up with the demand.

Much has been made of how big companies like Dell, Starbucks and Comcast use Twitter to promote their products and answer customers’ questions. But today, small businesses outnumber the big ones on the free microblogging service, and in many ways, Twitter is an even more useful tool for them.

For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing. It is far easier to set up and update a Twitter account than to maintain a Web page. And because small-business owners tend to work at the cash register, not in a cubicle in the marketing department, Twitter’s intimacy suits them well.

“We think of these social media tools as being in the realm of the sophisticated, multiplatform marketers like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, but a lot of these supersmall businesses are gravitating toward them because they are accessible, free and very simple,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst who studies the Internet’s influence on shopping and local businesses.

Small businesses typically get more than half of their customers through word of mouth, he said, and Twitter is the digital manifestation of that. Twitter users broadcast messages of up to 140 characters in length, and the culture of the service encourages people to spread news to friends in their own network.

Umi, a sushi restaurant in San Francisco, sometimes gets five new customers a night who learned about it on Twitter, said Shamus Booth, a co-owner.

He twitters about the fresh fish of the night — “The O-Toro (bluefin tuna belly) tonight is some of the most rich and buttery tuna I’ve had,” he recently wrote — and offers free seaweed salads to people who mention Twitter.

Twitter is not just for businesses that want to lure customers with mouth-watering descriptions of food. For Cynthia Sutton-Stolle, the co-owner of Silver Barn Antiques in tiny Columbus, Tex., Twitter has been a way to find both suppliers and customers nationwide.

Since she joined Twitter in February, she has connected with people making lamps and candles that she subsequently ordered for her shop and has sold a few thousand dollars of merchandise to people outside Columbus, including to a woman in New Jersey shopping for graduation gifts.

“We don’t even have our Web site done, and we weren’t even trying to start an e-commerce business,” Ms. Sutton-Stolle said. “Twitter has been a real valuable tool because it’s made us national instead of a little-bitty store in a little-bitty town.”

Scott Seaman of Blowing Rock, N.C., also uses Twitter to expand his customer base beyond his town of about 1,500 residents. Mr. Seaman is a partner at Christopher’s Wine and Cheese shop and owns a bed and breakfast in town. He sets up searches on TweetDeck, a Web application that helps people manage their Twitter messages, to start conversations with people talking about his town or the mountain nearby. One person he met on Twitter booked a room at his inn, and a woman in Dallas ordered sake from his shop.

The extra traffic has come despite his rarely pitching his own businesses on Twitter. “To me, that’s a turn-off,” he said. Instead of marketing to customers, small-business owners should use the same persona they have offline, he advised. “Be the small shopkeeper down the street that everyone knows by name.”

Chris Mann, the owner of Woodhouse Day Spa in Cincinnati, twitters about discounts for massages and manicures every Tuesday. Twitter beats e-mail promotions because he can send tweets from his phone in a meeting and “every single business sends out an e-mail,” he said.

Even if a shop’s customers are not on Twitter, the service can be useful for entrepreneurs, said Becky McCray, who runs a liquor store and cattle ranch in Oklahoma and publishes a blog called Small Biz Survival.

In towns like hers, with only 5,000 people, small-business owners can feel isolated, she said. But on Twitter, she has learned business tax tips from an accountant, marketing tips from a consultant in Tennessee and start-up tips from the founder of several tech companies.

Anamitra Banerji, who manages commercial products at Twitter, said that when he joined the company from Yahoo in March, “I thought this was a place where large businesses were. What I’m finding more and more, to my surprise every single day, is business of all kinds.”

Twitter, which does not yet make money, is now concentrating on teaching businesses how they can join and use it, Mr. Banerji said, and the company plans to publish case studies. He is also developing products that Twitter can sell to businesses of all sizes this year, including features to verify businesses’ accounts and analyze traffic to their Twitter profiles.

According to Mr. Banerji, small-business owners like Twitter because they can talk directly to customers in a way that they were able to do only in person before. “We’re finding the emotional distance between businesses and their customers is shortening quite a bit,” he said.

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If after completing this article you’re still not certain how Twitter 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.

Tweeting for profit; Smart entrepreneurs are now doing deals in 140 characters or less on Twitter. June 27, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter.
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By Jennifer Alsever, CNNMoney.com / Fortune Small Business, June 15, 2009

Always on the lookout for examples of small businesses making effective and profitable use of the valuable social media tools available today, we were very pleased to find this excellent article from CNNMoney.com / Fortune Small Business about several small businesses that have identified productive methods of utilizing Twitter to increase revenue.  It bears noting that each of these companies understood the need to make an investment of their time in building up relationships on Twitter, and that after having invested that time consistently, they were able to identify opportunities to achieve product sales on a continuing basis at what they consider to be an excellent ROI (the investment being the value of their time).

Reading this article should provide you with ideas for ways in which their strategies might be applied to your specific business, but if you need assistance in this area, we’re here to help.  Please feel free to contact Strategic Growth Concepts via our website or via email at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com for assistance in developing marketing strategies to grow your business utilizing social media strategies.

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A year ago Kris Drey couldn’t care less about Twitter.

With 13 years of Web site experience, Drey is no technophobe. He serves as vice president of product marketing at Fliqz, an online video-hosting service with 20 employees in Emeryville, Calif. But when he first skimmed Twitter, the popular micromessaging service launched in 2007, Drey saw a lot of mindless chatter and very little that seemed useful to a video business.

Still, with the economy taking a dive, Drey persisted. He was looking for ways to spread the word about Fliqz without spending any more of his maxed-out $15,000 marketing budget. Not only was Twitter the fastest-growing social media service around — its user base grew by a whopping 1,841% in 2008, to 14 million — but it also wouldn’t cost him a dime.

“The only overhead is your time,” says Drey, 40. “You need to pay attention.”

bird2_03He did just that. Drey started posting three or four updates a day as @Fliqz (all Twitter IDs start with “@”) and subscribed to (or “followed”) the 140-character updates (or “tweets”) of anyone he could find who seemed interested in the online video industry, even if the person was just posting links to stories on blogs. One Saturday afternoon Drey spotted a Twitter post from a Fliqz customer who was having trouble encoding video. After exchanging a couple of tweets with him, Drey called the customer on the phone, figured out that the guy had a corrupted file and fixed the problem. The customer posted a tweet of happy surprise.

 

 

Talk back: Are you on Twitter yet?

Fast-forward a few months, and @Fliqz now boasts 1,358 followers. Thanks to Twitter, Drey snagged 21 new sales leads, and Twitter also helped him seal one $6,000-a-year contract. Fliqz signs or renews up to 30 deals a month, so the company is hardly tweeting its way to massive growth. But it’s not too shabby a return for a free tool. Drey estimates that he spends eight hours a week on Twitter, or the equivalent of 2% of his marketing budget every year.

Call this the year business invaded Twitter. The service — which can be used on any cell phone or computer — has been a hit almost since its inception, with celebrities as diverse as Richard Branson and Britney Spears using it to tout their appearances and correspond with fans. But in the past year, @Comcast has set up what has effectively become a help desk on Twitter, while @JetBlue (JBLU), @Zappos, @WholeFoods (WFMI, Fortune 500) and @Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) interact with hundreds of thousands of their followers.

“It’s the most conversational medium in the world,” says Jackie Huba, an online marketing consultant, blogger and co-author of the book Citizen Marketers. “It’s immediate, public and searchable. It’s never been easier to know what your customers and your prospects are saying about you.”

A handful of small retail stores rave about their success on Twitter. In Wichita, tea company 52Teas (@52Teas) has more than doubled its sales of handcrafted teas of the week since it started tweeting. The company has 3,403 users following its weekly announcements of new blends.

“In 2007 we shipped one or two packages every two to three weeks,” says Frank Horbelt, 38, founder of 52Teas. “Now we ship 52 packages a week.”

In San Francisco, Mission Pie bakery (@missionpie) sends tempting tweets about its seasonal organic pies. “If there’s a special and I tweet about it, it’s pretty common that we sell out,” says Ashleigh Cole, operations manager at the 14-employee bakery.

Of course, these are the outliers. Twitter has plenty of potential to be misused. For one thing, you get to sign up with any name you want that hasn’t already been taken. This can lead to confusion: A search for “Starbucks” reveals 16 Twitter users with that word in their IDs, such as @starbucksgeek and @starbucksgal. The coffee giant owns only @Starbucks, but Twitter has no way of telling you that. In theory, a competitor could use your name and post harmful messages from that account. You could sue, of course, but Twitter is a legally untested arena.

Such business-name theft hasn’t happened yet, and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone says one of his product managers is looking into setting up some kind of account-verification service.

“We’re hearing stories about these businesses using Twitter that are so inspiring, and we want to figure out how we can help more,” Stone says. One of his favorites concerns is Kogi Korean BBQ (@kogibbq) in Los Angeles, which sends updates to its 2,100 followers telling them where its taco truck will go next, prompting customers to line up before the van arrives.

Another problem: There aren’t many sophisticated ways to filter the increasing Twitter chatter, and the service can become a major time-suck. When Drey did his searches for “online video,” he had to spend hours crawling through tweets from teenagers about funny YouTube videos — not exactly his client base.

“You will waste a lot of time if you go about it haphazardly,” says Brent Arslaner, vice president of marketing at Unisfair, a virtual events company in Menlo Park, Calif. After hearing that friends and colleagues spent hours on the site, Arslaner limited his Twitter usage to a maximum of 30 minutes a day. He followed relevant industry peers and did searches for anyone mentioning Unisfair — and for tweets that might lead to new business, such as “event canceled.”

Even with that small an investment of time, Arslaner found 160 key analysts, partners, prospective clients, bloggers and other industry influencers. On Twitter he also came across a prospective customer who was asking the network for references on Unisfair. Arslaner responded immediately with a list of references, and his sales team closed the deal.

Tweeting too aggressively is a surefire way to become a Twitter reject. Use the service as an advertising channel or a newswire for press releases, says Huba, and you’ll blow your chances with a lot of users — who won’t even tell you it’s a problem. “There’s not a huge revolt, but people will stop following you,” she says. Your pitches may ultimately be heard by no one.

Other caveats from experts: Be responsive, especially to users who send you private “direct” messages. Be yourself, but as with any other business communication, be careful what you say. Some users have software such as Tweetdeck that download tweets, so there’s a permanent record of your ill-advised joke even if you delete it. Be timely and relevant, and cyberspace will reward you.

“Always bring massive value to the conversation,” says Joel Comm, author of Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time. “Good things will come back at you.”

bird_03Erik Oberholtzer, a co-owner of Tender Greens restaurant in Los Angeles, got his good karma in March when he tweeted about construction delays at his new West Hollywood location. The city would not sign off on the building because of technicalities involving flushless toilets. A few tweets later, one follower called his uncle, who works in the health department. The pressure worked, and Tender Greens opened the next month.

“Twitter creates this culture that can extend way beyond your store,” says Oberholtzer, 40. “It’s really powerful.”

Cheap-TV-Spots.com Now Incorporating Social Media in its Package June 19, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Marketing Plan, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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Cheap TV Spots, the award-winning, international, Internet-based discount TV advertising agency for entrepreneurs, says it’s aiming at Twitter these days.

“While Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and the like are all interesting ways for businesses to communicate with customers, we’re really fascinated by Twitter’s ability to take social media by storm,” says Ann Clark, Cheap TV Spots co-founder. “Twitter is doing for the web what Disco did for the dance floor. It’s all about stayin’ alive.”

Cheap TV Spots has developed a unique advertising methodology for entrepreneurs that helps link their television campaign with their online presence, creating a cohesive message that resonates with consumers. Cheap TV Spots can use the power of the bigger screen to channel customers to a Twitter page, website, or just about any online or mobile destination. Also, Cheap TV Spots can design TV commercials to be online-friendly, to complement a social website, company home page, blog or email campaign. With over 180 international awards, Cheap-TV-Spots.com has the proven expertise to design the ultimate media convergence.

Clark says, “It’s important to have an integrated plan. Social media is a great customer destination after you’ve gotten their attention with TV.”

Cheap TV Spots offers this recession-busting tip: To save money, stay away from automated, choose-it-yourself air time buying sites where the advertiser presumably picks her own airings from a list. Such sites can be deceptive, charging extra commissions in addition to the network air time cost, and selling air time that may not be available. That means the advertiser may get very little for her advertising dollar.

Ms. Clark says, “These so-called do-it-yourself sites give the impression that you can pick your airings from a list and pay a guaranteed price, when in fact the site cannot make such promises. It’s up to the networks whether air time is available, and whether they will even accept your commercial for broadcast.” Cheap TV Spots helps advertisers overcome these hurdles by negotiating with the networks on their behalf, and Cheap TV Spots never adds extra commissions. 

Cheap TV Spots produces award-winning, custom-made, national quality TV commercials for its low, flat rate. Cheap TV Spots also offers air time placement services scaled for start-ups and small- to medium-sized businesses.

Serving entrepreneurs since 2001, Cheap TV Spots is the world’s first global, Internet-based, discount TV ad agency. Cheap TV Spots is a registered trademark of Academy Leader, Inc., a privately held, multinational media company, which spans TV, motion pictures, radio, outdoor, publishing and mobile media.

Franchising and Social Media: Integrated for Bottom Line Profitability June 17, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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BlogTalkRadio graphicToday’s broadcast of Strategic Growth Concepts for Small Business, featured franchising expert, Paul Segreto of FranchisEssentials discussing social media and its importance to the franchising industry. Areas of discussion included:

  • The ‘new’ franchise development business model
  • The ways social media can aid in franchise development efforts
  • What are the best social networks for a franchise to utilize and why
  • The importance of integrating social media marketing with traditional marketing
  • The role of women in social media and franchising

The interview with show host and CEO of Strategic Growth Concepts, Linda Daichendt, included a wealth of information providing value to franchises and other small businesses with regard to effective utilization of social media in growing your business. Be sure to download and listen to the interview at your convenience.

A Basic Guide to Social Media Tools Geared Toward Small Business June 14, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in FaceBook, LinkedIN, MySpace, Naymz, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Web 2.0 technology in the form of social media tools empower you to maximize your business’ exposure and interaction with customers, potential customers, vendors, employees, and the community at-large; allowing you to connect and stay in touch more often, and with more people, than was ever possible utilizing the previously standard methods of Marketing your business.  These tools are currently typically free, and therefore, the only investment required is that of time to insure that they are utilized effectively to promote your firm.

However, as I speak with small business owners, the question inevitably arises, “how do you utilize social media to market your business?”.  The answer begins with having an understanding of which social media tools are available, and of those tools, which are most useful for your business. In fact I’m often asked “what are the best social media marketing tools for small businesses?”.   So in this essay, we’ll provide a bit of an overview and our recommendations.

Social Tools

Communities   Social Bookmarking   Video Sharing
LinkedIn Facebook

MySpace

Friendster

Plaxo

Naymz

Hi5

AIM Pages
Badoo
Bebo
CyWorld
EarthFrisk
ECpod
Faves
Grono
iBritz
LiveJournal
Lovento
Multiply
MyWebProfile
NetFriendships
Netlog
Orkut
Passado
Skyrock
Tagged
Tribe
Trig
Windows Live Spaces
Yahoo! 360
Zaadz

Professional

APSense
Biznik
CitiAlly
Cofoundr – Entrepreneurial
CompanyLoop
DoMyStuff
Doostang
Ecademy
Fast Pitch
JASEzone
KillerStartups
Konnects
Lawyrs
MeetIn
MyCareer.ge
NetHooks
Ryze
Small Business Brief
StartupNation – Entrepreneurial
Startupping – Internet entrepreneurs
Synergy Street – Entrepreneurial
Tapped In – Educational professionals
Upspring
Venture Capital Network
Xing
Ziggs

  Digg    del.icio.us

Stumbleupon

Reddit

Newsvine

AllMyFavorites
Backflip
Blinkbits
Blinklist
Blogmarks
Blummy
BuddyMarks
BookmarkTracker
ChangeToLink
Chipmark
De.lirio.us
Diigo
Dogear
Favoritoo
Feedmarker
Foxmarks
FreeLink
Furl
GiveALink
Hyperlinkomatic
iKeepBookmarks
Jack of All Links
Lilisto
LinkaGoGo
Linkatopia
Linkroll
List Mixer
Lycos iQ
Mister Wong
Mobilicio.us
MyBookmarks
MyHq
Mylinkvault
MyPip
My Stuff (from Ask)
MyVmarks
Namakkal
Netvouz
Online Bookmark Manager
OnlyWire
Oyax
Shadows
Simpy
SiteBar
SiteJot
Snipit
Socializer
StartAid
Stufflinker
Sync2it
SyncOne
Turboclip
Windows Live Favorites
WireFan
Zurpy

  YouTube Blip.tv

Vimeo

Metacafe

Stickam

Broadcaster
Panjea
Revver
Tubearoo
Viddler
Video Bomb
Video Sift
Vimby
Xillian TV

         
Photo Sharing   Blogging / Micro-blogging / IM / Mobile    
Flickr    Fotolog

SmugMug

Zooomr

Photobucket

Webshots

  Blogger      Wordpress

Typepad

Twitter

BeeMood
Feecle – Japanese
FlickIM

Frazr – German & French
IMified
Jaiku
Komoo – Chinese
loopt

mbuzzy
Numpa – Dutch
Pownce
Radar
Robisz – Polish
Rummble
Zannel

   

Additional categories of social media include:

CONNECTING WITH FRIENDS:

Classmates
ConnectU
Friends Reunited
Graduates
Meetup
MyYearbook
Reunion
SKOUT

CONSUMER REVIEWS:

Cork’d – Wine reviews
Chowhound
– Food
Epinions

RateItAll
Yelp

All of these tools enable you to interact with people, but in each group a different kind of content is the focus.

Social Communities – in some ways the simplest because it is the content focus is YOU. Each individual creates a profile and the directory enables you to find and connect with people based on the information they supply about themselves in that profile. This has extended beyond individuals to “entities”. So that a company or group can also create a profile. One thing to be aware of about these social communities – that not all of them approach “entities” the same way and most of them don’t make it very easy to figure out how to create a profile for your entity. Facebook invites you to create a Facebook “page” for your business but does not want you to create a “profile” for your business even though pages and profiles can use many of the same features and tools (but not all). On the other hand, LinkedIn has a very limited “page” for businesses providing very limited functionality. Small businesses often struggle to figure out which kind of existence they should have in these communities (should it be me? Should it be my company? Should it be someone else within my company?) that allows them to stay within the terms of service and yet still maximize the tool’s marketing potential.

Social Bookmarking (also called Link Sharing) – these tools allow you to highlight and share individual Web pages you like by sharing a link to them. People can “vote” on each link that has been shared and the links with the most votes move to the top of the page making the site a portal to the “best” content as filtered by the participants of the community. Note that an individual profile is connected to the posting of each link so over time you can get to know your fellow bookmarkers by their sharing habits, genre, frequency etc. These sites are useful if you post a lot of content and would like that content to be found and read by more people.  Be aware though that in order to gain a following in these communities, it is best to post content of general interest and value rather than “promotional” content for your business.  Community participants can be rather unforgiving of those seen as “self-absorbed”.

Video Sharing – sites like YouTube are usually very straightforward in functionality. They make it very easy to upload your own video and once the video is uploaded, it is also easily viewed and commented on by others. YouTube also provides ways for the video to be shared and embedded in other sites increasing the video’s ability to turn “viral”.  Using video to market your business can be done easily with a minimal investment in equipment.  While editing can be an expense, it’s not really necessary for educational, promotional, or testimonial videos – shooting them live tends to give them an authenticity that is appreciated by consumers.  A recent video and PowerPoint presentation by Hubspot gives excellent information on ways to effectively use video for small businesses.

Photo Sharing – these sites are usually quite simple in functionality. Members can post photos which then can be viewed and commented on by the general public, or only by those who are invited to see them. Small businesses sometimes use these sites to share photo galleries instead of building photo gallery capability into their own Web site.

Blogging – the content is your creativity, your voice. You post content on a regular basis whether it’s text, video, photos, podcasts or all of the above. Blogs enable you to be an individual publisher, and usually enable readers to participate in the conversation by posting comments.

Of all the tools available, the top 4 in my list for small businesses to utilize would include:

  • Blogs
  • FaceBook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Tips for Using Twitter to Grow Your Business June 10, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Twitter.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
3 comments

twitter_logo_headerOne of the most effective promotional resources a small business owner has at his or her disposal today is Social Media.  And while that medium is comprised of many different tools, one that has leaped to the forefront is Twitter.  This ‘micro-blog’ tool has been embraced by major corporations, national news organizations, government, small business owners and individuals, and has shown itself to be an extremely valuable tool for sharing information in a timely, accurate, and profitable manner.

As small business owners, it makes sense to insure that your firm has developed a social media strategy in which Twitter plays a substantial role.  A recent article by Ploked.com provides an excellent step-by-step approach for getting started, and for maximizing your results.

____________________________________________________________

by Ploked.com 5/19/09

Whether you love the concept of Twitter, or hate the idea of it, if your business is not taking advantage of this opportunity, you are only hurting yourself. Yes, Twitter may not be a marketing method right for every type of business, but at the very least you should explore the potential Twitter opportunity.

Twitter is a great resource for smaller or sole proprietorship businesses to get exposure on a world-wide level with a minimal investment (time). While you may be timid to jump into Twitter pool with your business, don’t worry, everything will be ok…there are lifeguards nearby to help you out should you get in trouble.

Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to establishing your business brand on Twitter:

  1. Complete your Twitter profile by filling out the various information it asks for. It can help give a good overview to your followers of what you and your company is about.
  2. Brand your profile with a custom Twitter background so that you stand out from the crowd. Custom backgrounds are a great way to establish your brand among your followers.
  3. If you are the sole proprietor or face of the company, you can add a more personal touch to your Twitter profile with a picture of you. However, should you want to use your company logo that is ok as well since it helps establish your brand.
  4. Add your Twitter link to your business cards. This can serve as a great offline conversation starter with potential clients and customers.
  5. Find other Twitter users who are interested in your niche or products. To do this, simply head on over to the good old twitter search.
  6. Be efficient with your daily Twitter use. Although it may be difficult, try to not to spend the entire workday on Twitter. It can distract you from more important business matters. Try designating an allocated amount of time, or a certain time each day where you login to Twitter.
  7. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (or girl). Just because it is a “business” related Twitter account does not mean that you can only talk about business related topics. If possible, try to mix in a bit of info about you so that your followers can learn a bit more about you. Who knows, you may find out you have more in common with your followers than just business.
  8. Do your best to reply to anyone who replies to your tweets or posts an @yourname. While this may not always be possible, it can definitely strengthen the relationship between you and your followers.
  9. Thank users who retweet one of your tweets. Be sure to retweet others when possible.
  10. Create surveys or ask questions to your followers about your products and services. This can be both good and bad, so be ready for honest responses.
  11. Follow the leaders in your industry. If there is not a defined Twitter leader for your niche, now is the time to step up and grab it for yourself.
  12. Provide free insight and help on Twitter. The vast majority of Twitter users do not appreciate being hounded to buy your product or services. However, should you be known to help out others, chances are your goodwill can result in future business.
  13. Track your Twitter referrals to your website. Google Analytics is one great free source to analyze and track your website traffic. Aside from tracking the traffic from Twitter, Google Analytics can provide you with some very useful info about your site.
  14. Share beneficial and relevant information with your followers. Whether it is industry related news, or information about a new service your company offers; sharing great content is king. Please note, that you don’t need to tweet about what you had for lunch today.
  15. Invite your employees to create an account and take part in Twitter. This can not only help ease the workload for yourself, it can also help increase your brand and company awareness on Twitter.
  16. Monitor your brand. There are a few ways to do this so you can keep on top of what others are saying about your business. One of the easiest is to use Twitter Search and type in your business name. Then simply grab the RSS link for the results and paste it into your favorite RSS reader.  You can then be aware of what is being said about your name on Twitter.