I know first hand social media can be a valuable, income generating tool.
My social media efforts have landed me business (a million dollar contract in 2008), sold books and products, aided my international media presence and hooked me to important resources and new friends.
Social media can provide a garden of goods that are aligned to your goals, or it can make you feel like your endless efforts produce no more than a crop of crappy connections that suck time and don’t produce a worthy return on your investment.
Follow these tips and your odds of success will increase.
1.) Tend your efforts based on a plan with goals, strategies and tactics. I write 80% of my content in one scoop at the beginning of the month. I also update a content bank in Excel to store future ideas.
2.) Automate as much as you can. I use Hootsuite to manage scheduling and tracking.
3.) Carefully mix personal with professional content along with your strengths and your vulnerabilities. This strategy will keep you interesting and human.
4.) Promote others. It’s the best fertilizer around.
5.) Provoke. Progress doesn’t happen when everyone agrees with what you think.
6.) Have the big guns ready behind the seductive links, lines and comments. A click through means nothing without the real value you provide. Your website, blog, products and services must walk the social talk.
7.) Master the craft of being a concise, punchy, smart and entertaining word smith or hire someone who is.
Results from a 25-point social media reach-out research project.
Last month, September 14th to be exact, I posted a blog about such a social media research project. With all the hype around social media marketing strategies and available tactics for businesses, I was curious if a full throttle social media approach would make a difference for a small business with my revenue model. I earn money from consulting, speaking and writing.
Objective: Determine if a 25-point social media effort is worth the investment and results.
TOP LINE FINDINGS FROM STUDY
Is a social media blitz on 25 different points of contact a good use of time and money that produces a meaningful return and results vs. the cost?
In my opinion, to date, from these efforts, NO. Could this change in 6 months, YES. It’s too early to track long-tail results such as if the Fox News report touches a book buyer, another media source or a future client from the visibility.
We invested over $3,800 in time, and that time could have been used for higher income generating activities. (As a side note, I realize my current business model has limited online revenue channels to convert, monetize and track.) But with our current model, the time and money resources we spent on social media, I believe this investment could have been better used and generated more of a return if we had spent that same amount on direct sales initiatives, ad words and media buys to produce better results.
Could these efforts payoff later?
Yes, the good thing about social media is, once it’s out there, it’s pretty permanent, so future clients could stumble upon our past efforts, articles and links. Additionally, the new visitors who come back to the site can buy products and services in the future now that they are aware of my site. And all of these social media efforts do aid in Search Engine Optimization. And for me SEO produced over $100,000 in fees this past year alone.
Was there one powerful means of social media that I believe is really worth it’s weight in gold from this test?
Our Mailchimp newsletter, (which is an aggregation of our blog feed) drives the most traffic to our site. Our Google analytics also shows that the top referral sources include: Twitter, TalentZoo newsletter and key media coverage.
If you decide to try monitoring your efforts and results from social media, you must first define what good results look like. For my companies, success from a marketing effort would look like: More value than investment.
Our value framework was defined as:
- An increase in unique visitors to site
- An increase in new opt-ins to our mailing list
- An increase in affiliate sales
- An increase in book and product sales
- An increase in speaking engagements
- An increase in consulting projects
- An increase in (a top-tier, media source calling me for an interview)
Our value achieved that we can quantify:
- We’ve had an increase in unique visitors to our site by 100%
- We had 20 opt-ins to our mailing list in last 30 days (value $10.00 each)
- We sold 7 affiliate items and earned $7.00
- New book sales (can’t track yet)
- Product sales via tools store (our store was not up at the time of this test)
- New speaking engagements from blog (0)
- New consulting projects from blog (0)
- Top-tier media source interview (1) – Live.Foxnews.com booked me for 10/25
Investment is defined as time and money:
I look at time invested as actually paid time, plus the cost of missed opportunity because our time was tied up on this social media project, other tasks were put to the side.
Time expense on this project was calculated at: 17 hours at $300 an hour = $3700
My time includes: writing of the initial blog that we were touting (Branding and the Beast – How to not get bullied.), the blog about our 25-point study, I planned and did analysis of this project, completed items 1-8 out of 25 on the list and wrote this follow up blog of our results.
My staff‘s time to do list items 9-25 and participate in planning and analysis of our project was equal to 10 hours at an average of $60.00. Billable rate = $600.00.
Total cost of project: $4,300.00
Results that you can take to the bank = 0
Soft results that possibly can translate in future earnings = $500.00
Bottom line: Loss of $3,800.00
The 25-point social media activities we did to promote the blog and gain meaningful results, see original post for list.
Bottom line – should businesses bank on this type of expense?
I believe strong brands are cumulative efforts and any business’ marketing should include a diverse mix of touch points including social media.
Do you think social media efforts should have the same pull as a sharply designed direct response campaign where the credibility helps and sometime just the right placement turns into a home run at the end of season?
HeyWire, the new Facebook app for texting in one place, may be the perfect option for you.
HeyWire, a service that has been offering free SMS (short message service) and recently partnered with Twitter to develop HeyTweet, is now debuting it’s Facebook application that allows users to send both texts and tweets from a cell phone (while using Facebook, of course).
HeyTweet is free, available in multiple languages and offers free local and international text messaging from a phone number. The reason why this service is so compelling is because when users normally send a tweet though SMS text, charges would incur. But with HeyTweet, a tweet through this service has lower carrier fees internationally. As of this month, 2 million tweets have been sent around the world via HeyTweets. If you are a business owner who is Twitter obsessed, this might be exactly what you’ve been looking for – no more high priced texts and messages to people internationally. Want a convenient way to send one message out to friends via text, Facebook Chat, Google Talk and Twitter all at the same time? They can do that too.
Here’s how it works with Facebook.
Similar to other free texting apps, HeyWire users are given a phone number to send and receive unlimited texts with friends and family worldwide. Users can send messages via HeyWire Facebook App or the HeyWire applications for iOS (iOS is the Operating System on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. It’s the “thing” that makes your device run) and Android devices. Texting conversations will follow you, as a user, from the HeyWire Facebook App to your smartphone application or tablet and vice versa. This app is the only Social Messaging Hub designed specifically for Facebook users. Do a lot of business via Facebook? Now you can run your business directly from your phone.
But, unlike HeyTweet, this new Facebook/HeyWire partnership comes with a small price. It’s about $2.00, or 20 credits in Facebook dollars, a month for unlimited texts on any device, anywhere.
Will you be using these applications, or will you be continue to message your family and friends with old fashion way?
Do you use texting to market your business?
Let us know!
According to a recent survey by Pew Research, the commercial use of the Internet among Americans continues to grow: 58% of US adults say they conduct research online about products and services, up from the 49% who said so in 2004, while roughly one-quarter (24%) have posted comments or reviews online about products they buy. (thanks to MarketingProfs for posting)
I am one of the 58%. I am a research nut who conducts online searches for both personal and professional products and services several times a day. I came across two companies yesterday while conducting online research. One of them is now a contender for my business. The other, sadly, lost terribly.
Here is some background. I am looking for a new washing machine since mine has decided that it no longer wants to clean my clothes. At this point, I don’t want to search by features, colors or price. I need to know which ones will fit into the predetermined and unalterable spot for the washing machine. All the major and local appliance stores’ websites offered the same search parameters: color, price, most popular, highest rated.
I went to Google and typed in “appliance by size.” The results listed, among others, a site that “aims to make it as easy as possible to find the products that fit your space – be it furniture, home electronics or even large appliances. You can find all the products you need for your new apartment in a size-friendly search environment.”
Great! I thought, that’s exactly what I’m looking for, so I went to the site and entered “washing machine” in the search box. The auto-fill suggested the following: combination microwave & wall ovens, convertible dishwashers, countertop microwave ovens, double wall ovens, waffle irons (aside: how big do they get?), and wall air conditioners.
When I typed in “washing machine,” I received the reply “no entries found.” What I did find was that I was annoyed that the site didn’t work. I would have been happy to spend lots of time on the site looking for what I needed. This might have provided them some ad revenue and perhaps some affiliate income if I purchased on line. I likely would have highly recommended the site if it worked. Instead, I went back to the google search results and found www.ajmadison.com. Kudos to them on a website well done! Not only is the site super easy to navigate and search, (they allowed me to search by appliance size!) but they have also embraced social media. The highly informative and engaging social medial channels are FREE and cost them only their time to assemble and post content. Under the AJ Madison Community umbrella, they have the following channels and descriptions listed. From the AJ Madison site:
Facebook: The AJ Madison Facebook Fan Page is updated every day with the latest deals and product specials. The AJ Madison Experience (found under the “Boxes” tab) presents a simple, ever-changing interface with deals and links to the site, while Shop AJ Madison allows you to browse and buy from our entire site, all while logged into Facebook. Become a fan today!
Twitter: For information about promotions, as well as general appliance news (and some surprises), follow us on the official AJ Madison Twitter page (@AJMadison). On average, we tweet several times a day, and deals are normally announced in the morning.
YouTube: We periodically update our YouTube channel with new informative product videos. In the near future, we’ll have a steady stream of content and new videos to keep you apprised of the latest appliances and how to use and maintain them.
Tumblr: Every weekday, we update our Tumblr page with information on a new “just-in” product. This is a supplement to the New Products RSS Feed, with our own views on the featured appliance thrown in for good measure.
Flickr: Each week, we showcase a new product from the AJ Madison showroom on our Flickr page, giving you original images and in-depth looks at our newest appliances. Subscribe to our Flickr stream or follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.
Appliance Authority (blog): You’re on AJ Madison’s Appliance Authority blog right now! We update our blog several times a week with how-to guides, top rated product spotlights, buying tips and more. Check back here every weekday for a new post, or you can also follow it via this RSS Feed.
Google Buzz: We’re proud to be one of the first companies on Google’s new Buzz network. Though we’re currently experimenting with this brand-new platform, Buzz integrates all of our other profiles (Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and more), and we add daily deals, news and information right from our Brooklyn office. If you’re a Buzz or GMail user, or just generally curious, visit our Buzz profile and follow us today!
And, it gets better! I tweeted, “@AJMadison I love your website! So well done and informative. If I still lived in NYC, I’d be purchasing my new washing machine from y’all.”
In less than an hour, they responded, “Thank you, friend! We still deliver to your neck of the woods.”
By being on top of their social media channels, they created a direct, personal, immediate dialogue with a potential customer that lives 800 miles away. That kind of responsiveness makes them a top contender for my business.
Key takeaway points:
1. If you sell a product or service that people are likely to research, write rich content and reviews and create lots of search parameters that will attract researchers to your site.
2. Leverage social media channels. Distribute all that great content through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.
3. Monitor those channels. Read and respond to potential buyers. Read and contribute to discussion boards and forums in which your products and or services are the subject. Become a trusted authority.
4. Provide solutions. I tweeted that I would buy from them if I lived closer. They responded, “no problem, we can do that.” I went back to the site and saw that FREE DELIVERY was offered to my zip code on the item I was considering.
5. Read the bad stuff, too. You might find that unsatisfied customers posted their complaints online. If possible, try to reach out to them and resolve the problem. Research shows that customers who complain and are satisfied with how the complaint was resolved are up to 8% more loyal than if they had no complaint at all.
Twitter is definitely a viable method for communicating to prospects, clients, and business fans but, like many new social platforms, it can be overwhelming. Not just how it works, but also how to utilize all the handy applications that are available to enhance your experience and value gained with it.
Twitter is a microblog that enables real-time messaging to the world via your computer or mobile device. The only rule—your message must be under 140 characters.
Start slow and simple. Add apps as you get comfortable with it.
Here’s a rundown on some of my favorite Twitter tools and how I use them. If you have discovered a Twitter tool that really rocks, please share it in a comment on the Oddpodz blog, so others can learn about it.
1) Grade your Twitter profile. Try Twitter grader learn to see if your tweet power, authority, and reach are working for you. This grader not only gives you a score, but tells you how to amp things up.
2) Organize and manage your tweets Better. Check out TweetDeck. This cool tool is your personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now; connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, and more. TweetDeck shows you everything you want to see at once, so you can stay organized and up to date.
3) Analyze your tweets. Twitter analyzer is amazing. This is a great tool to see what type of professionals are following you, how many people you are reaching beyond your followers, who is tweeting about you, and lots more.
4) Track the Twitter addicts by location. Twitterholic lets you find people in a geographic area and also ranks you in the world of Twitterers. For example, since I live in Tampa, I searched with http://Twitterholic.com/top100/followers/bylocation/Tampa/ and learned how often Tampa folks were tweeting and who they were. I also learned that I am #52 in active Tampa tweeters.
5) How does your profile compare to others (like your competitors) and how do subjects compare. Twittervolume provides a great snapshot. Type in your handle along with competitors; Tweetvolume shows you the volume tweets. Want to find the best key word? Type in several like I did: sales, marketing, branding, and women business. Guess which ranked highest? I won’t tell—you’ll have to check it out.
A blog post on Twitter tools could go on for days. Every day, new and improved Twitter tools are hatched. If you need more good ideas, check out my pal Chris Brogan’s blog, he has a great post called “50 ideas for using Twitter for Biz”
Also see my other super-smart marketing friend John Jantsch of “Duct Tape Marketing,” at ducttapemarketing. John’s blog is filled with sound insight.
Have an awesome week! And don’t forget to check out Oddpodz Free Biz Findz. This week we are adding 20 new super, cool, and FREE items.
About the author: Karen Post, a.k.a. The Branding Diva® is an international authority on branding, marketing, and entrepreneurial matters. She has been featured as a business expert in print publications; on TV, radio, and on Web channels. Karen authored the best-selling book Brain Tattoos, Creating Unique Brands That Stick in your Customers¹ Minds and she is co-founder and CEO of Oddpodz.com.