business

The Urgency of Engagment

Although not everyone understands that engagement is an absolute necessity in any social media marketing efforts, I’d say the vast majority of people are either on the bandwagon or they’re at least starting to climb on it. Why, you ask? Excellent question. The answer is simple, really. If you don’t engage – then there’s no social aspect to your social media. At that point, it’s just media… In which case, it would probably be more effective for you to paint your face on one of those bus benches and pray for clients.

People no longer buy from you simply because you tell them to. They buy from you because they’ve built a relationship with you. What’s most important in ANY relationship is trust. That’s what you’re focused on building with your existing and your potential client base.

Now comes urgency. Let’s say you pose a question on Facebook to promote engagement. People start answering that question – or – they start asking questions back. You let the post sit…. and sit… and sit… ya know. Until you finally get the time to answer those questions or comment on those responses. NO! As [Robert Caruso], CEO of [Bundlepost] has said on many occasions in our phone calls, social media is REAL TIME. You need to be engaging your following consistently and actively. Your lag time should be no longer than an hour. Much quicker if at all possible.

The screen shot posted here is used with permission from one of my high school classmates. She very recently returned from a trip to Mexico and had an awful time trying to make it back home to her two kids. This was her tweet – which she then screen captured and posted on Facebook. While it didn’t make her experience any better, per se, US Airways did respond to her rather promptly – asking her if they had deplaned yet. If nothing else, that response let her know that they cared that she was on a return trip from hell and that they were addressing it. Reassurance does wonders for your customers.

So you can’t respond and/or engage while you’re in the back cooking, working on payroll, handling employee discipline problems, dealing with the state tax issues that have been haunting you for the last 2 months? Understandable – but as with anything else, understanding where you are weak and where someone else is strong is absolutely imperative in making a successful business. If you don’t have the time, hire someone. Hire someone who knows what they’re doing – AND has the time.

If you think you don’t have the budget to stay on top of your social media – look at where you’re spending your marketing dollars now. If you’ve done any research at all on marketing today, you’ll know that this is where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck. So you either find ways to trim in other marketing efforts to make room for Social Media Marketing or you absolutely MUST find a way to make time in your day to respond and engage.

What Does The Fox Say? YouTube and Your Business

I’ve heard the question asked over and over again.  Why would I want to use YouTube as a channel to market my business?  I’m going to take the unconventional approach here.  I might get my throat figuratively slit by a few social media gurus when I say this.  You don’t necessarily have to.  Now wait.  I didn’t say you SHOULDN’T.  I said you don’t necessarily have to.

Lemme ‘splain myself.  If you’re a social media professional and your target clients are tech based, gamers, musicians, artists, etc… Then yes.  You should absolutely have a YouTube channel and you should actively use it to market your business.  Maybe you should consider that – even before you should consider blogging.

My target client is altogether different though.  My focus is on the mom and pops.  The small, home-grown, local businesses of Indianapolis and the surrounding towns/cities.  They don’t spend copious amounts of time browsing YouTube for Flula’s latest misunderstood colloquialism or Hannah Hart’s latest episode of My Drunk Kitchen – although they’re both two favorites of mine.  They’re busy making sure that stack of bills dwindles to zero, only to watch them stack back up tomorrow.  MY clients are on Facebook.  Why?  Let’s be honest:  They have little to no time to maintain relationships with people face to face.  Sometimes, this is all they’ve got.  Small business takes a TON of time to manage and run.

Now… ALL that being said:  If you do, indeed, find yourself with a little spare time on your hands, that time would be wisely spent on YouTube.  Here’s why.  What’s the #1 search engine in the world?  You betcha.  Google, baby.  So popular it’s now a verb.  “Google it.”  What’s #2?  Any guesses??  Most people don’t consider YouTube a search engine because of the content it displays – but it is.  YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.  Now I’m going to weave a tapestry of mind-blowing goodness.  Who owns YouTube?….. (It’s ok, I’ll wait for you to Google it.)…………. (hint, hint.)

Yep – GOOGLE owns YouTube.  So what does that mean?  Adding your videos from YouTube to your website (of course with proper tags, etc…) is perceived integrity in the eyes of Google. Perceived integrity then moves you up in the rankings of google (aka – SEO – Search Engine Optimization)  In other words, this gets you one step closer to being on the front page of Google when people search for your product or service.

Then of course – there’s the opportunity for your video to go viral. And let’s be honest. We all know what the fox says, right? :-/

Allodoxaphobia and other (not so) Wonderful Things.

I’m kind of excited to write this.  I don’t pretend to fully understand this phobia because I am on (close to) the polar opposite side of the spectrum.  You may have realized that I’m not really your conventional professional blogger.  On Fridays, I veer off on this weird tangent about fears.  Then, Monday-Thursday, I just … talk.  Not techie jargon.  Not hard to understand information.  I try my best to put things in a way that is easily understood.

There’s a method to my madness.  I think, for reasons sociologists would only be able to explain, as a society we are scared stiff by one another.  More than that, though – my personal observation that it’s more about us being afraid of ourselves.  Why would anyone want to listen to us?  What makes our opinion valid?  Ummmm…. YOU make your opinion valid.

So what is this [Allodoxaphobia]?  Well, I’ve hyperlinked it, so you can click there to get more info – but the part I’m going to focus on is the fear of confrontation.  Ok, so, sad as it is – I guess that here’s the part where I divulge that I’m not a medical expert.  If you need mental health help, seek a professional… blah, blah… legal jargon… blah. (I’m not making fun of anyone here.  Just think sue happy people are ridiculous.)

This problem – the lacking of ability to speak things the way they are – has many of us literally living in fear every day of our lives.  I should divulge here that I used to care MUCH more about what people thought of me than I do now.  Here’s what I thrive on now:  Open, Honest, Communicative, Genuine relationships.  If we can’t have open dialogue – then we absolutely can’t be friends.  Seems closed minded, maybe, but I just don’t have time to waste trying to tiptoe around you.  I have been given (?) days on this earth.  That question mark is HUGE!  My last day could be tomorrow.  Who knows?  You think I want to spend it with all this negativity building up in me because you pissed me off and I’m too afraid to say so?  Ummmmm…. No.

So how do I approach it?  It’s not all that complicated, really.  I’ll give you an example.  I won’t change her name to Bob but I will change it because I want to respect her privacy.  I used to work with a woman.  Her name is Tenisha.  Tenisha was (and maybe still is, by some) easily misunderstood.  She just came out of a horrid marriage, had raised all of her children and had been out of the traditional workforce for a number of years. Divorce left her job hunting and she landed in my department as a department head.

Now, when I say she’d been out of work for a number of years – we’re talking over a decade.  I can’t begin to wrap my mind around how much has changed professionally in over 10 years.  Her mindset about how things were supposed to run was kind of old news.  And to be honest, having a business degree, it wasn’t easy on my ego watching a noob with no degree take a leadership role.  I’m self-aware enough to know that sometimes I have to get out of my own way to be productive.  I did get out of the way.  I wasn’t entirely convinced, but I was open at least, to her direction.  Tenisha and I had a few moments when I had to call her out on issues.

So what do you do? Now – here’s the “guide”, if you will, to confrontation.  Do not approach someone in a combative fashion.  So:

  • Cool down.

Don’t you dare move until you can do so in an open, calm, approachable way.  If that’s tomorrow – then it’s tomorrow.  (disclaimer – don’t wait too long because then you’ll just talk yourself out of it.)

Next:  The ever dreaded “We need to talk”…

  • Find an entry statement.

Mine was, “Hey Tenisha, so you have a couple of minutes to chat?”  Chat indicates friendly, right?  I don’t say it with laser beams of hatred piercing her heart or through a locked jaw because I took time to???  That’s right.  Calm down.

The rest is kind of a cake walk.  Once you make your entry statement, you’re fully committed.  If you’re a highly emotional person, make notes about what you want to talk about so you don’t leave anything out.  Please don’t make it a grocery list of everything he/she has ever done wrong in life.  You won’t get your desired result that way.

So the last and most impactful confrontational talk Tenisha and I had went like this:

Tenisha:  Hey Amber, Did you know this (fill in random assignment) was here on the printer?

Me:  Oh, yes.  I did.  I’m sorry, I’m happy to take care of it.

Tenisha: Hey, I know your mind is probably occupied with a lot of other things since you only have 2 weeks left to work here, but maybe next time one of these is printed you could put tape around your finger so you remember to do it?

Me:  O_o  *Biting tongue*  *Biting Tongue Harder* *Tongue MAY be bleeding.*

Tenisha exits to complete task that I  miserably failed to do.  Commence cool down period.  I gave myself about 20 minutes, fuming for at least 10 of those minutes.

Then it dawned on me.  Maybe she just doesn’t know how to communicate with me.  I’m kind of an in your face, please for the love of Pete, would you just SAY WHAT YOU MEAN kind of person.  After mission cool down, I went to find her.  Conversation went something like this:

Me:  Hey Tenisha, do you have a minute?

Tenisha:  Sure!  What’s up?

Me:  Let me preempt this with the fact that I’m a very direct communicator.  I don’t like backbiting or any of that so I’m bringing this right to you. Remember what you said to me a few minutes ago about the task not being complete?

Tenisha: Yes

Me:  Here’s what my brain interpreted through that conversation.  I’m telling you this because we need to have understanding and not discord: My brain interpreted that this is an ongoing problem if it’s so bad that I have to tape my finger in order to remember.  That’s #1.  #2 – If that’s the case, then I NEED TO KNOW IT!  Don’t pussyfoot around an issue and treat me like a child by telling me to tape my finger.  Tell me what the issue is so I can fix it. I am a very proud person.  I take an immense amount of pride in my work.  If I’m doing it incorrectly, I want to know so that I fix the issue.  That leads me to #3 – like I said, I take great pride in my work.  While I’m employed here, I will work my tail off as I always do.  The fact that I have 2 weeks left to work has nothing to do with it, so please don’t insinuate that because I have a limited time here – I feel it ok to slack.  That’s not the case.

Tenisha’s eyes filled up with tears.  I questioned her.  Her response was that no one had taken the time to question her statements like that so as to understand where she was coming from.  It touched her.  It did what?  Yes – people LONG to be understood.  She told me exactly what the problem was.  Directly to my face.  I fixed it.  I kept it fixed.  The conversation ended with a hug, her crying on my shoulder and telling me that she loves me.

That’s what communication does.  Yes, it makes you vulnerable – but it opens you up to being understood and understanding others.

The Marriage of PR and Marketing

I skimmed through an article today about the importance of making sure your social media team is also well versed in public relations.  My first thought was, “Well, crap. Someone else got to it before I did.”  It’s alright though.  It just lit the fire under my butt to write it myself.  Every person’s experience is different, right?  Right.

Names and company names will be changed (or eliminated) here to protect the…. less than innocent.

I offer my social media services in different ways.  I can be the person who hovers over your different social media platforms and pats you on the back when you do something great.  I will also tell you when you’re wrong.  But in this role – I’m pretty much hands off.  Merely a consultant.

Then there are the clients that I do everything for.  All of their marketing.  I look for trade shows that would be good for them.  I’m the voice at the end of their client’s line.  I do all of their social media, including engagement, etc…

Well – I do all of it until they decide they want to muck things up a bit. And here’s where the fun begins.  Social media is…. well… it’s social.  And so, it involves many things – one of which is emotion.  There’s something to be said for being transparent (some of the time.)  However, when being attacked by what seems to have been coined as “haters” – you HAVE to let that slide (to a certain extent.)  There’s a lot of ambiguity in the last two sentences so let me clarify by using an example.

One of my clients was recently targeted by a group of people.  They claimed his business practices were less than ethical.  Let me start by saying I wouldn’t work for such a client.  While he may not always be the brightest crayon in the box (hey, I keep it real) – he’s not morally or ethically inept.

So let’s call my client “Bob” – because that seems to be what I like to call my clients  (ADD moment:  All clients, male or female, from this point forward – will be called Bob. I like Office Space.  What can I say?)  Bob used to do business with another entity – a not-for-profit.  This group and he parted ways in one of the least amicable ways possible.  I knew things would blow up – and they did.  An anti-Bob Facebook page was started.  The anti-Bobs started harassing the Bob fans on his Facebook page.  Bob was called a thief, a liar, all sorts of nonsense.  It was a PR disaster.  It got so bad that it warranted being addressed, in a non-emotional, only the facts, ma’am sort of way, on his Facebook page.  And so, I did.  I gathered the facts and I wrote the letter.  I knew Bob was far too emotional to do so himself.  The letter was working exactly as it was supposed to.  It had a reach of over 15,000 people by the time it was all said and done. His following, at the time, was only around 4,500. About 95% of the comments that came as a result to that letter were positive, uplifting messages about how Bob helped them or someone they knew. Woo-hoo! Success!!

And then Bob’s family and marriage started coming under (written) attack from the anti-Bobs.  Keep in mind, this whole time, Bob was replying back to their hateful posts, then I’d call him and tell him to take them down.  Down they came.  Next day – same thing.  It was like babysitting a toddler for a week and a half of my life.  “Bob, ignore them.  They’re trying to get a response out of you and you keep feeding them exactly what they want.”  “Ok, Amber.  You’re right.”  Next day – any guesses?  Yes.  Same game.  I was one worn out shit storm stopper by the end of that week.

After a long conversation with Bob about what PR is and how his fans were viewing him because of his emotional outbursts toward the anti-Bobs – he chilled.  He got it.  Finally!

If I had been someone else, say just a Facebook poster… this story would have a much different ending. He’s called and thanked me more times than I can count – telling me that if it weren’t for me, he’d be out of business. Thirteen plus years in Marketing AND PR prepared me for what I handled.  If you’ve hired someone that can post on Facebook and Twitter and make it look nice, but doesn’t have any sort of background in marketing or PR, please… PLEASE…. for the love of….. well, Bob….. think about switching it up.  It’s not all about the posts.  It’s about being knowledgeable, implementation, engagement, staying one step ahead of the game – and if worst comes to worst – putting out fires.

Signed,

Fire Marshal Amber…. “Let me show ya something.”

The Never Elusive MLM

Pick a product.  Any product.

Perhaps you’d like to lose 20 pounds in the next 60 days. Well – post it on Facebook.  I dare you.  Within a day (depending on the size of your network), I’d guess you’ll have private messages trying to sell you the latest, greatest product. You’ll likely get messages from people selling [Advocare][Herbalife] or [ItWorks].

No?  Perhaps, instead, you’d prefer a handbag.  Or jewelry. You know they have MLMs (Multi – Level Marketing Companies) that sell [Jewelry in candles]?  They have MLMs for … I think… nearly everything.  In fact – you can [click here] to get to a list of the 7 most Hilarious Products sold through an MLM.  Apparently not even our galaxy is the limit, let alone the sky.

Am I here to say all MLMs are scams?  Heck no.  I’m not an MLM pro, but I am a professional marketer.  What I do know is what works and what doesn’t work in marketing.  I’ve seen three posts just today on people being fed up with spam from people who are involved in MLMs.  I, too, have been turned off from pushy, spammy people.  The truth is that the product that many of these people are quite literally pushing – is good!  If they’d do subtle marketing and let the product speak for itself, their results would show it!

Instead, often times what happens is this person… let’s call him Bob… sees a product from a friend.  He gets really excited about selling it because of the benefits he’s seen personally.  That excitement gets harnessed by Bob’s “up-line” and is used to fuel his way to the top.  That’s all great so far.  No rules broken.

Until now.  Bob has asked each of his family members three times each if they want to be a part of this business. No?  Friends? No?  That leaves Bob feeling like he’s going to fail so he starts coming up with what he sees as creative ways to reach people (aka spam.) *sad face*

Not only that, but he also starts bullying people into joining.  “I just got a check for $350 and you’re over there whining about how you can’t afford show choir for your daughter?”  Oh yes.  This stuff gets slathered on thick – and on social media.  Do people actually think this is effective?  Do they think this represents their product and/or their company in a positive light?  Cyber bullying sucks no matter what mask it wears.

The moral of the story is this:  If you are part of a MLM, your company likely has marketing guidelines,  it may even have hard and fast rules about what you can and can’t do on your own, including on social media…FOLLOW those guidelines.  Your company spent good money to hire marketing professionals that know what you should be doing – and likewise, what you shouldn’t be doing.  Listen to them if you want long term success.

The Magic of Social Media

There really is something magical about it.  Not in a hocus pocus kind of way, but in a connectedness kind of way.  I’ve said before on this very blog that it’s of utmost importance that we not hide behind social media.  It’s so easy to do.

Instead of using it as a shield, use it to bring you out from behind the shield.  Some time ago, I was a hider.  I wanted to be heard, but not seen.  I hid behind my witty comments and clever posts.  My following on Facebook (the only platform I used to use) started to grow with friend requests from people I didn’t know from Adam… or Eve for that matter.

They saw a glimmer of who I was and they must have liked what they saw.  I started getting invited out by new friends.  There was anxiety and most definitely hesitation. I was imposing judgements that they would have about me upon myself before I even met them! (All of a sudden I feel like this should be a Face You Fear Friday post.)

One of the people that got me to step out of my comfort zone was a co-owner of a little mom ‘n pop on the east side of Indianapolis – [Papa Roux].  Papa’s wife, Colleen, reached out after many posts bantering back and forth with lots of laughter.  “I have to meet you.”  And so, we did – at another little mom ‘n pop in Greenwood – Vino Villa (you should ABSOLUTELY check both of these places out by the way.)  We sat and chatted like we’d known each other for years.  And so, I thought, this whole getting out thing isn’t quite as scary as I thought it would be.

In fact, I started watching them (Papa Roux – the business, not the man) run as a company.  It really has grown because the owners know how to develop a relationship as a community and WITH their community.  Another thing I’ve mentioned is that in social media, the reason it works is because people want to feel like they belong somewhere.  When you let people know they matter – it shows.  You can’t fake it either.  People can absolutely sense when you’re being less than genuine.

I’ve fancied how [Papa Roux] has done social media since I became a follower. It boils down to this:  they’re real and they keep it real.  I talk about the restaurant a lot on my personal Facebook page… and I’ve had quite a number of my friends ask who this [Papa Roux] character is… So about a week ago, I organized a field trip so they could experience it for themselves.  To my knowledge, not one of them left disappointed.  The food (as always) was amazing.  The owners came in just to hang out with the 20ish people that showed up for the field trip.  They sat, they chatted – and then they threw ice cream sandwiches at my guests.  Haha!  All in good fun.  Keeping it real – it’s what they do.  Give it a shot – my bet is… it’ll work for you too.

Who’s the Hero? NOT You!

Well hello fellow Social Mediaites.  I just made that up – feel free to make it your own.

Today is NOT about you.  Neither was yesterday, but yesterday you didn’t know it yet – so starting today – it is no longer about you.  What the HELL is this woman talking about??

I’m talking about how you market to your clients.  I’ve stated it many times before – your relationship with your clients is….. ???  That’s RIGHT!  It’s a relationship.  Think back to one of your worst dates ever.  You know – where the guy/gal on the other end of the table was all like, “me me this, and me me that, oh and also there was this one time where I, I , I and me me me …….” And oh. my. GOD will the endless droning ever stop??

Well it did stop and I hope you never called him/her back because they need a wake up call.  Maybe a wake up call a little like this one.  Your business as a marketing professional should not start and end with you.  Should you be mentioned?  Absolutely.  Not to do so would be equally asinine.  While your current pitch to get Social Media work might sound a little like this:

“I’m a marketing professional that has worked with the likes of ___(fill in the blank)____.  I took over his marketing efforts in June of 2010 and have single handedly grown his business 10-fold.”

When it should sound more like this:

“As a marketing professional, I was given the opportunity to work with ___(fill in the blank)____.  In 12 months time, his business grew 10-fold. If you’re interested, I can walk you through the steps he followed to make that happen.”

It’s amazing what results come from someone who really knows what they’re talking about – with a side of humility. Give your client their due – it’ll come back in your favor every time.

Social Media ROI objections

As a marketing professional – if you have any focus in Social Media Marketing, you’ll no doubt get the “but we can’t measure ROI” argument.  Big ups to [Olivier Blanchard] for putting this slide show together.  You saved me some serious time!

[slideshare id=1902502&doc=olivierblanchard-basicsofsocialmediaroi-090824230322-phpapp01]