Jul 28 2011

on the Basics of Social Media Marketing

Published by at 1:03 pm under Uncategorized

Originally published in the Larry Hunt Wide Format Newsletter

When a customer asks you what “marketing” means on your business card, you change the subject.  “Marketing?!  Yes, we do postcard mailers!”  86% of printing websites feature the word “marketing” because we know our customers want an optimized portfolio of print, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.  They come to you, but you no idea what they’re talking about, so you change the subject…

My purpose in this months’ special report is to give you a straightforward how-to guide that will enable you to harness social networking.  Networking is already your best bang for the buck, and combining that with the laser-targeted demographics of the internet brings unparalleled efficiency.  I write this as a printer who at one point had 6.5 million listings on Google, and who has a position at a high-profile Facebook app.  So when I say that with a small amount of effort you will have a visible spike in customers, I mean it.

This is meant to be an overview and in no particular order, allowing you to tag in wherever you like and skip whatever steps you like.

Facebook.  76% of people in the US aged 15-64 use Facebook.  You probably do to.  But how do you use it to make money?

  • Facebook Pages.  You can create a Facebook account for your company at facebook.com/pages/create.php.  On your page you can post pictures, thoughts, coupons, videos, or post to the wall of everyone who has “Liked” your page.  Once you have a page, decorate it, play with all the buttons, and make it fun and professional.  Then be sure to say something daily on your site.  (The pros write their comments in advance and schedule them to automatically post on a schedule.)
  • Friend everyone.  “Like” anyone who you want to like you—friends, employees, customers.  Don’t overlook the other stores in your complex, networking groups, and local schools.  If they have Pages, like those pages also, because everyone on each of those pages will then see a link to your page.
  • Facebook Places.  Imagine if you were at a baseball game, looking across 40,000 fans, and you could look up on your cell phone which of your friends were there.  That’s the dream of Facebook Places, and if 5 of your employees “check in” when they get to work, and they average 400 friends apiece on Facebook, that’s 2,000 wall posts of “I’m at Charlie’s Printing!” every day.

Google isn’t a social network, but it is the gatekeeper of everything online.

  • Search for your name on Google.  Search for the name of your business.  Search for your employees.  Search again in quotes.  (Quotes searches for an exact phrase.)
  • Search by [link:yourdomain.com] (without the brackets and inserting your URL.)  This will show any listed sites that link to yours.  The search engines predominantly assign you credibility based on how many credible sites link to you.  However, the search engines ignore links on most major sites that allow profiles.
  • Here’s a secret: Most people use the same screen name everywhere they go, so if you know the first half of their email address you often know the name they go by on every website.  Search for that.
    • In other words, searching by [Colin Jensen] (without the brackets) will yield 12M results, 1% of which will be me.
    • Searching by [“Colin Jensen”] will give 59,000 results, 40% of which will be me.
    • Searching MrColJ gives 25,000 results, 100% of which are me.

Know that you can do this for every customer, every job applicant, anyone you want a quick dossier on.  This will also allow you to figure out which customer matches each username that is posting reviews about you.

  • Once you have that down, visit google.com/alerts, where you can say “anytime someone mentions me anywhere I want it instantly emailed to me.”

Twitter.  Twitter is just status updates, but it has 95M monthly active users, so you need to be there.  You can announce deals and specials on Twitter or Facebook more easily, more often, and more effectively than you can on a billboard or shopping center marquis—and it’s free!  And people who sign up to receive your “tweets” do so because they want to receive short updates from your company.  Similar to Google Alerts, if a customer mentions you anywhere, the text will be forwarded to your cell phone and you can respond instantly, 24/7.  (That’s what you see on the news each morning, when a reporter posts live comments from viewers whose comments all have multiple @ and # signs.)

LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is a place for proactive networking, not for passive marketing.  LinkedIn is like Facebook would be if your only profile were your resume.  People only talk business, and people don’t mind getting business-related inquiries.  It is perhaps the most effective way to get a foot in with any company.

Yelp.  There is surely a review of your company on Yelp, because anyone can write anything on there, and if you don’t monitor it you won’t be able to dispute it.  Yes, that sounds like blackmail; but they have 15.3 million visitors a month, so it is what it is.  Googling yourself may find others of these blackmail sites, and you need to know they’re there.  So find a way to egg on customers who have given positive reviews online, link back to their site, give them discounts, swag, etc.  Anyone who’s given negative reviews, find out how to make them happy, make them take down their bad review, and/or make them go away.

FAQs/Blogs.  Once you’re all set up and your brand is managed, link from your website to each of these social networking sites.  Instead of having testimonials on your website, link to positive reviews off Yelp.  Instead of a guest book, link to your Facebook Page.  Then when you write something onto your website, you can “syndicate” it onto the social networking sites (and vice versa).  Each of these interdependent steps makes your sites more dynamic and easier to update often.  I told my employees that whatever they found themselves explaining often should be on our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list.  I’ll get you started with 3 topics that got me 500 visits a month apiece, consistently.  You may have them, and if you beat me in the Google listings, more power to you.  Each of these are common questions with mathematical answers that are absolute magic to customers.

  • How large can I blow up this photo?
  • How large should the letters on my sign be?
  • What is the difference between CMYK and RGB?  Why doesn’t it look like what’s on my screen?

Analytics.  Another major core of your social networking success will be having access to analytics.  Just imagine how your pricing would evolve if you knew the actual ROI of each business card for each customer.  Well, if you have a website, there is already a page on there somewhere that lists every person that’s ever been to your site, what they searched for to get there, how long they were on each page, and where they were coming from geographically.  Facebook, Google, etc. will have a million-dollar version of the same—they know exactly the zip codes and common interests of every one of your customers, and there is a page on each of their sites where you can use that information, for free, to optimize your time, resources, and money.

It’s probably obvious by this point which employee will be your Social Media Manager.  Just be sure they’re phenomenal writers who can maintain a professional tone.  You don’t want them soapboxing negatively about file formats they “won’t accept,” making controversial statements, or making spelling errors.

Bottom line, remember with all these options that you’re there to build relationships with your business contacts, and to get them into your office as often as possible.  So don’t spam them.  Write interesting posts that 1) relate specifically to them, 2) relate generally to them, or 3) buy them off with huge discounts.  Because at the end of the day, every one of these pages has a giant “unsubscribe” button.  We all have relatives who send us cat photos.  Don’t be that guy.

So jump on Facebook, find an enjoyable way to say something authentic or clever every day, and slow and steady will win the race.

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