Archive for May, 2010

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Start Crafting Your Social Media Strategy & Plan by Answering the “What”?

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Here’s a short list to help you begin addressing – What am I looking to achieve with social media?

• Rekindle previous business relationships with ______________

• Build new relationships with people on my target company list

• Exhibit my expertise and create more exposure to ___________ which is what I offer a client/company

• Use social media as a research tool to find people with whom to build relationships with (i.e. decision makers in companies in which I am interested in doing business)

• Find “hidden” business opportunities

• Or … you fill in your own “what” questions ___________________________

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john lynch

John Lynch also said… “You can’t tell people that you have X product and Z service to sell without first telling them who you are and why they should trust you”.

Think about this statement for a moment.  This pretty much sums up why so many “fail” to generate results with social media – they are selling before they are establishing who they are and why we should trust them.

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The Hand Shake

John Lynch of Cripple Creek Barbeque likens social media to shaking hands. He combined the cutting-edge technology of social media with an old-fashioned approach three months after launching his barbecue sauces and spice rubs in July 2009.

“When I talked to my Mom about growing up in the ‘30s and ‘40s, she would tell me about how her father and mother would deal with local store owners with a hand shake and honesty,” Lynch says. “The people knew each other and trusted one another. This is how social media is working now.”

Whether it’s a literal handshake or a symbolic one online, that gesture leads to friendship and trust — key ingredients that Lynch believes are essential to growing a business.

Getting Into Social Media

John wanted to get the message out that his company truly cares what people think. “We wanted people to get to know us as people first and as a company second,” he says.

Instead of blogging or tweeting about his products, he initiates conversation with people who share his interests and typically are relevant to his products. “Hard sell doesn’t work on most people,” he says.

He plunged into Twitter, set up a Facebook Fans page and a Tumblr blog page, and posted cooking videos on various platforms with embedded videos on the Fans and blog pages.

All of these establish links that drive traffic back to his Web site where he sells his products. As his fans and followers grew, so did the offers from companies to carry his products. As of January 2010, Lynch attributed 90 percent of his sales directly to his social media campaign, gaining three times the amount compared to traditional sales avenues.

John’s Advice

…find people who are relevant to your interests and relationship build with them!  He searches topics on Twitter such as BBQ sauce, barbeque, cooking, foodies and Seattle Mariners. He answers questions that people post on Twitter, blogs about his passions and has found the power of the retweet (i.e. those who tweet his tweet) to be “astronomical.”

Lynch encourages other businesses not to waste time jumping into social media. He points out that online sales grew in 2009, despite the recession. “The image of the Internet right now in the brick-and-mortar world is that it’s just for those Website stores or geeks with time on their hands,” he says. But the future of businesses is in the hands of the 20- and 30-something year-old consumers who are immersed online.

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gary veeGary, how did you create your strategic social media path?

You have to seek out the people that are out there already in your space. I spent many hours commenting in wine forums and on blogs, joining the conversation. If people were talking about wine, I was there to offer an opinion and to add value.

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Millions of people are currently making forays into social media, but the large majority are not leveraging the benefits that can be attained. Why?

There are certainly many stories of people being creative or strategic in their use of social media but not millions. One very creative approach we’ve seen is here http://bit.ly/bIskL4.  This is for a job seeker. If you take a thorough look at what he has done, he has chosen a strategic path to guide his use of social media and has integrated it.

However, for every creative and strategic use of social media, we’ve personally heard numerous stories about the challenges and unknowns that prevent those from using it.

These range from:

  • “I have to do WHAT?” After a successful 20 year career as a Senior VP at a fortune 100 company now I have to learn social media as one of the necessary tools to business? In the years leading up to this point, I had systematically rejected every invitation to join Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. etc. etc.  The last thing I needed was another ‘email address’ to keep up with daily.
  • It just doesn’t work – “I want to go online and receive specific benefits – but it doesn’t seem to work like that”
  • It takes time to learn, and I’m not clear on the optimum way to use a particular social media outlet. e.g. Determining the answer to “What is the best way to use Twitter or LinkedIn to further me and my business?
  • It’s too personal. If you have a Facebook account, or a Twitter account, the link to person’s views, politics, religious affiliations, and other areas of interest are too far in the public eye.
  • Reluctance to try something new / confusion about the “correct use of these tools” – For example, Twitter has gotten so much PR as a communication vehicle for celebrities and much less as a business or job search resource.

This is natural.  In some ways, it’s akin to the pleasure and pain concept.  People will seek to avoid pain rather than accept some pain to achieve a greater pleasure.  So what are you doing to make sure you are benefiting from.  For some more ideas check out this link – LinkedIn for Business – 51 Ways to Benefit  – http://bit.ly/cfGKt5

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A couple of months back, Chris flew in to speak to a crowd of business execs down in the Deep South. A larger than expected sized group turned out to hear Chris, and he started off that speech with a simple question – “What is Social Media?”

To some it’s simply the new tech tool on the internet, to others, it’s something their kids use, while others are completely befuddled by it. Unfortunately, with all the hype, the core of social media generally gets overlooked mainly because it is so subtle.

Social Media at its core is literally a “conversation on steroids”. These conversations can promote a business, impact business productivity and negatively shock a business too. Who’s already conversing online? Literally all the key parties to one’s business success – prospects, customers, employees, business partners, and most importantly competitors.

At the end of the presentation, a few CEO’s came up to Chris and with perfect southern hospitality thanked him for his time but mentioned it wasn’t working for them. They were offering discounts, upcoming sales dates and other insight about their products or services but getting zero results. Chris asked them if when they “conversed” in person, would this be all they talked about too. They laughed and said they would almost never bring this up… and herein lay the problem, while they were extremely hospitable in person, their business social media was the exact opposite and had the social media effect of bragging.

The takeaway – social media is a conversation. The goal is to convert that conversation into a relationship and build trust with your audience. Think about what trust generates… whether you are looking for a job or looking to do business with someone, don’t you select those you trust?

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