facebook

Sooo – Jesus Goes Social??

That’s right. In case you’ve been asleep for the last few years, let me fill you in. Nearly EVERYONE is going social. You can keep up with Billy Graham’s happenings on Facebook.  Heck, even the Pope has a Twitter account!  Ps – whoever landed that gig (because I guarantee he doesn’t do it himself) – nicely done!  So let me ask you this: If the Dalai Lama has an Instagram account, why isn’t your house of worship following suit?

Times, they are a-changin’. If you’re  a part of a house of worship… a church, a temple, a synagogue, a mosque… they should absolutely be present on social media. Why? Well, primarily because this is how people engage now. It’s how churches are getting volunteers for their large events. It’s one of the ways they evangelize. One of the reasons people attend religious services is because they want a sense of community. That’s also a large reason the number of social media users is expected to surpass 2.55 billion in the next 4 years (stat taken from mediabistro.com). As humans, we crave connection.

As a place of worship – you should absolutely be using this to your advantage. This is your chance to connect your congregation more than one time a week. Churches all over North America are known for building Small Groups to get everyone to begin growing relationships. This is just one more way to do exactly that. It provides members the chance to be “fed” throughout the week instead of waiting until their Holy Day. It provides many a sense of accountability and others – who may be new to your congregation – it allows them to get to know others without feeling intimidated.

So where should you be engaging your flock? Well, I suppose that depends on the demographic of your church. According to Pew Research, 74% of online adults use social networking sites. Of that 74% – 71% are on Facebook.  Moral of that story? If you’re not on Social Media already – Facebook is probably a safe bet as a place to start. As you get comfortable with that – you can venture off to Twitterland, play amongst the Pinners of the universe and/or Instagram yourself silly.

Once you learn the ropes and have comfortably settled in to this whole idea of reaching your following through social media – then comes the fun part. This is where you really get to shine. Record guest speakers – upload those videos to your website then share them on social from your site. Start recording Sunday sermons so your shut-ins can watch them digitally. Do a daily segment on your YouTube Channel – but keep it short. We live in an A.D.D world. Our attention span is short. You should also absolutely be blogging, even if it’s only monthly. If you have a large congregation, ask your members to become an active part of blogging. Maybe that’s one of your ministries?? Food for thought.

Just do yourself and your congregation a favor and make one step every day to become more involved socially. There may be someone out there that needs to hear exactly what you have to say.

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.

How to Annoy Fans and Lose Followers

As you can imagine, I spend A LOT of time online. The internet is a vast universe and I enjoy studying companies, large and small, to see what they are doing with their social media. How active are they? How consistent? Are they posting content that is relevant to their audience? Is it not just relevant – but quality? It’s not hard to see when content is merely slapped on a social media outlet just to say it’s been done.

Consumers these days are smarter than ever. They expect quality and anything less than that is going to alienate them. They also don’t want to be bombarded with the same boring message.

In the words of Jay Baer, from his book YOUtility (used with permission)

Top-of-mind awareness requires companies to send messages consistently, but today’s consumers are besieged with every company of every type, size, and description jostling for attention, making pleas to friend, follow, subscribe, read, watch and click. Unimaginative marketers attempt to stand out with message frequency, or by exchanging bribes for attention (resulting in an explosion of Facebook contests and giveaways, among other tactics.)

But sending messages too often can have unintended consequences. Exact Target’s 2012 United Kingdom version of “The Social Breakup” study found that the most often cited reason consumers “unlike” a company on Facebook is that they felt “bombarded by messages.” And, as noted by Jeff Rohrs, Exact Target’s vice president of Marketing Research and Education, all consumers “have to do is just ignore the messages over a period of time, and they slowly get suppressed by Facebook. You simply won’t show up anymore, even if your brand is technically “liked.”

And there it is, my friends in small business. While your intentions, I’m certain, were to build your following and build relationships – one of my life mottos is “All things in moderation.” There are some social media professionals that will tell you there are specific times to post – be it to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other platform. They’ll also tell you there’s a magic number as to how many times you post in a day. I personally think that’s a bit bogus. It’s not about how MUCH you post anymore. It’s about how CONSISTENT you are.

Sure, analytics can tell us when the majority of our audience is online – however – you need to keep your eyes open. Watch what you post. Pay attention to the content, the reaction of your followers, amount of engagement. Idle posts get you nowhere. Once people start seeing others talking – they’re going to want to be heard as well – and YOU need to listen. No computer can replace human contact, interaction… relationship building. This is all dependent upon you, someone who knows you and your business or someone you trust can learn it.

Moral of the story – Is marketing via social media a science?  Of sorts – but the truth is that there isn’t a cookie cutter approach to it. Each business is different as its audience is different from one to another. Audience = people. As we each are different, our businesses must cater to that uniqueness. This is the joy of relationship building, therefore, the joy of social media.

Why, Social Media, Why?

From the Forward of “YOUtility Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype” by [Jay Baer] of [Convince and Convert] (with permission)

I was officially scared to death. It was November 2008. The stock market was in a terrible nose dive. Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama debated what should be done about failing banks and financial institutions. To say the U.S. economy was in a tailspin would be an understatement, and consumer confidence was suddenly, almost overnight, shaken to the core.

Within days of the market collapse I had four customers withdraw their deposits. More would follow in the coming weeks. What had appeared to be a healthy late spring and winter for my business was becoming a nightmare.

I was a “pool guy,” as homeowners often call us. Along with my two business partners I had owned River Pools and Spas in Warsaw, Virginia, since 2001. We started with a beat-up pickup truck, three guys, and a dream. By 2008 we had become a formidable in-ground swimming pool construction company with more than seventy fiberglass pool installations a year in Virginia and Maryland.

Going into 2008 I was oozing with confidence. Our brand was expanding, and we were pushing growth as hard as we possibly could. Finally, after years of physical, mental, and emotional sacrifice we were going to experience the fruits of our labors. But no amount of sacrifice or experience could have prepared us for the economic collapse. The faucet that had been flowing wide open during the previous decade suddenly refused to allow even a drop to fall.

By January 2009, our company was on the brink of complete financial ruin. The phone simply wasn’t ringing. It stood to reason; one thing consumers rarely do in the worst economic times since the 1930s is sit around the dinner table and decide to purchase a swimming pool. Even in the rare circumstances when there were interested customers, banks had made luxury-lending nearly impossible with the tightening of credit and the evaporation of home equity due to the collapse of the real estate market. We had almost no projects for the foreseeable future. Our credit lines were maxed out, our sixteen employees were sitting at home with nothing to do, and our bank accounts were overdrawn for three consecutive weeks.

I was depressed, scared and out of ideas. I found myself turning to the one place we seem to go to find the answers we’re looking for – the Internet. Since I certainly wasn’t installing pools, I had plenty of time to research new marketing and business concepts; as I did, concepts like “blogging,” “inbound marketing,” content marketing,” and “social media” kept coming up again and again.

Like most of us I had an inherent sense that business and marketing were shifting to the web, but, as a not particularly computer-savvy guy, it wasn’t something that had ever seemed applicable to my business. But, I’d never been more ready to try something new. Unless we figured out a way to generate more leads and sales without spending money on advertising, we were going to close our doors, and my business partners and I would lose our homes.

It was time to sink or swim.

What I discovered first, and what will become exceptionally clear in this book, is that consumers of all types expect to find answers on the Internet now, and companies that can best provide that information garner trust and sales and loyalty. Success flows to organizations that inform, not organizations that promote. It’s a fundamental change in how I think about business, and you’ll think differently too, after reading Youtility.

So this one’s going out to all you small business owners out there. You’re my people. You’re the ones that have everything to lose by remaining stagnant. You might have thoughts similar to those of Jay’s at the time… feeling technically inept. There is more than a sufficient supply of contractors out there who can teach you. If you fear you’re just not teachable when it comes to technology – maybe you’re right. In that case, find a contractor to take care of your efforts for you. I’ve said multiple times on this blog that you absolutely must know what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you don’t – chances are you’re wasting YOUR time and energy (which equals cash by the way… YOUR cash) that could be focused where you excel.

I have two clients that are older gentlemen. One in his mid-sixties – the other in his mid-seventies. The gentleman in his mid-sixties is like a bag full of ADD mixed with good intentions. He is insanely good at what he does – working with animals. He is insanely bad at anything technically related. Instead of trying to figure it all out, he hired me. He gets to spend his time doing what he loves, I get to take care of what he doesn’t excel at. Likewise with the 75 year old. While he can’t afford to have someone take over his entire social media presence (which I can appreciate), he can pay me to meet with him once a month to fine tune his SM strategy, and while he has to take care of all logistics himself, we take out all the guess work of what needs to be done, when and how, with setting monthly goals and creating a plan for him to follow. This works great!

My rule of thumb is this: If I have to sell  you on the fact that as a business, you NEED a Social Media presence (and a strong one at that) – I likely won’t take you on as a client. Why? ‘Cuz ain’t nobody got time for that! ;) My time needs to be focused on coming up with content for my current clients, not spent on trying to reassure you (after two days) that SM is a valid and vital form of marketing. One of my friends says this in regards to finding clients: “If you get a potential client that wants to see immediate results….. RUN. They need to understand that Social Media Marketing is not a sprint. It’s a marathon.” Oh how right she is. This beast is all about building relationships. I don’t know about you, but if there is a man who is interested in me – if he tries to go from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, he’s going to scare me off. Why? Because as a (somewhat) rational human being – I understand that solid relationships take time to build if they’re going to be sustainable. Friendships are the same way. If I just met you and all of a sudden you want to spend every waking moment together – it’s quite likely that this is going to be a turn-n-burn friendship – which I quite honestly have no time for. Social media is the same way. Take the time you need to build rapport with your audience. Make it your job to care about what they care about. Be genuine.

What I DO have time for is what Jay talks about a bit later in his book – spending time on MY content. Coming up with content that makes me an expert in my field so that I’ll be the resource everyone wants to come to. My number one client is me. It has to be. Why? Because if I’m not consistently staying up on what’s happening in social media – my clients suffer. If you take time to blink in this field, you’re behind your game. If you’re looking for a Social Media professional – I’ll leave you with this – make sure you ask them this question: “What client do you spend the most time on?” You might be surprised at the answer you get.

Until next time – where I’ll be reviewing more of YOUtility – You can get your own copy of the NY Times Bestseller ——>HERE<——-

But I Don’t Wanna.

Too bad.  You have to. Choose, that is. You have to choose. I spent most of my adult life thinking that I could not only be everything to everyone, but that I could also do everything that my little heart desired. Here’s reality:  You can’t. That’s absolutely not pessimism. It’s reality. The good news is that you can still be a lot of things to a lot of people and you can still do plenty!

Here’s a little story about me.  I didn’t know (and quite frankly, still don’t) what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I had passion for so many things in life and it was hard to nail down ONE.  When it comes down to it, though, is life really supposed to be about what you want to BE (your occupation) when you grow up or is it supposed to be about what you DO (how you experience life)?  I’m going to have to cast my vote for “do.”  And that’s how I landed where I am today.  Yes, I still work for other people, but they don’t dictate my schedule.

You see, when it comes down to it, I can do pretty much whatever I want to do.  I’m a quick study and I take great pride in doing my work and doing it well.  I could be a janitor, a drummer for a band, a surgeon – any number of things.  I have absolutely no doubt about it.  Here’s what I know though:  Any one of those occupations, while fulfilling in their own ways, would nail me down – geographically speaking.  After much contemplating about what am I passionate about in life – it boiled down to one general subject: Culture.

I. LOVE. PEOPLE.  I love learning about the cultures of other people.  I love learning about their history, their faith(s), their traditions, customs, fashion, food…. and then there’s their language. *SWOON*  I’m a language FREAK. I love it, I pick it up quickly and I just feel this sense of community.  So it was then that I understood that it wasn’t what I did for a living that was important. It was that I needed to do something with my life that not only paid the bills, but allowed me to connect with people of all races, cultures, languages, etc…  No desk job will EVER allow for that.

My laptop and I can travel anywhere we want though.  We can engage audiences globally. We can post on behalf of clients no matter if we’re in London, Dakar – or even Alaska.  Do you need to like what you do for a living and be good at it? Yes, absolutely.  If you’re stuck behind a desk and want out, find a way. Your life is entirely too short to waste wishing you were somewhere else or doing something else. Get creative.

Warning:  This will NOT be easy.  I was having a conversation with a friend on Saturday after doing the Shamrock Beer Run.  I mean – what fun is running if there’s not beer 1/4 mile away?? Anyway, we were talking after the run.  She’s involved in martial arts. That is something that has always intrigued me.  Is it a passion? Nah. I’d like to do it for the fitness aspect and for self defense purposes, but it’s not a passion.  She told me that it wasn’t too expensive – blah blah blah (not to discredit what she was saying – just don’t want to bore you with the details.)  Truth is that I pay $20/month for my gym membership.  I train with a personal trainer 3 days a week.  I don’t NEED to fork out more money to anyone else for fitness reasons.  Not when I have goals of traveling globally.  That money is best put toward my goal. It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to say NO a lot more frequently than you’re used to most likely.  There WILL be reward though.  I personally find one of the best rewards is having that ah-ha moment when you realize you’ve grown professionally and just as a human.

Find out what it’s going to take to start that bakery and make it the best damn bakery there is.  Find out what it’s going to take to get yourself to be a certified personal trainer so you can start impacting the lives of those around you.  Whatever it is that you want – staying in that chair, making the same decisions day in and day out is only going to keep you… in. that. chair.  So move.

What’s Your Poison?

Hi.  My name is Amber and I’m a prisoner to my schedule.  I’m also something of a social media addict.  I don’t know which came first: the job or the addiction to be quite frank.  Neither here nor there, truth be told.  There’s something I’ve noticed as a trend with social media pros.  Our job is also our entertainment.  While there are times that I definitely enjoy just breaking away, the reason social media has exploded the way it has is because we love being connected with others, right?

I don’t have a family, but I do know myself well enough to know that I’m a workaholic.  Workaholics often get their priorities all sorts of screwed up.  I wake up at around 7.  Immediately, I pick up my phone to check my morning schedule, see if I’ve missed texts, emails or social media messages from clients.  Return said calls, texts and emails.  Some days, I’ll then reach over, pick up my laptop and start working right there in bed before even getting up to brush my teeth and start my morning routine.

We live in a world obsessed with technology.  It feeds our never ending narcissism.  The more we get, the more we crave.  In the meantime though, what we’re doing is alienating the very people we’re trying to stay connected via a multitude of social media platforms.  We’re so sucked into our computers and phones that we fail to recognize the beauty of the person that’s sitting right in front of us.

I’ve found that what I have to do (as bad as I know it sounds) is schedule alone time.  I said at the beginning of all of this – I live by my schedule.  If I don’t set aside 30 minutes to step away and go for a walk, I’ll end up a vitamin D deprived mess.  If I don’t schedule time to spend in prayer or meditation, my spiritual walk goes straight down the toilet.  If I don’t schedule time to be with friends, I end up alienating them.

I know this isn’t much of a “how to” guide to making your social media more effective – but sometimes we have to take care of each other.  Give one another a gentle reminder that there’s more to life than the monitor we sit in front of 12-14 hours a day.  Hopefully I’ve given you a swift kick in the butt to push back that chair, open the front door – and appreciate the life we’re helping other people live.

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]

To Hash… Or Not To Hash… THAT Is The Question.

I recently saw a question posed about whether or not an established business should be using hash tags as part of their social media marketing strategy.  Great question!  I’ll give my opinion in two parts.  Before I begin though, you may be unaware of this hashtag phenomena.  Click [here] to get a better understanding.

First, not everyone is an established business.  Regardless of whether your business is established or not, it’s important that you look professional.  You’re not a teenager, so hash-tagging every trending tag is not so much going to earn you business.  It might earn you a spot on [Top 10 Worst Marketing Gaffes, Flops, and Disasters] though.  Just kidding.  Just be thoughtful when using hashtags.  Don’t overdo it or you might get a response something like this:  “#HolyHashTag – I’ve seen it.  Multiple times.  Everything in moderation – hashtags included.

Hashtags USUALLY won’t make or break your business, but can be an integral part of keeping your marketing momentum.  If you’re a large established company, you want to maintain that image.  Hashtags certainly have their place, but they should be used minimally.  One way that corporations use them – and use them well – is for campaigns.  Beware:  Please think campaigns through or you might end up with something like [THIS.]

A little brain power  when it comes to campaigns… and always seek advice.  Two minds are better than one and three certainly couldn’t hurt.

I Have to Choose between Email and Social Media? … No.

I’ve heard some marketing gurus say that email is soon going to be the dead language of the marketing world.  I say something different.  Language doesn’t die if you know how to keep it alive, so keep email alive, we shall.

Marketing via email and marketing via social media typically reaches two very different audiences.  However, there is absolutely some overlap.  In fact, there’s quite a bit of overlap.

As with any post, any blog, any newsletter, you absolutely MUST keep your audience in mind.  Just because it’s interesting to you doesn’t mean it will be to the people who’ve requested to follow your business… so here’s the plan:

Your first goal is to get your email newsletter list compiled.  Your subject matter needs to be something that is so compelling… So inspiring… So shocking (in good taste of course)… that your audience can’t help but forward it.  Here’s the thing though – you also need to provide a way for your audience that uses both social media AND email to share the story – EASILY.  Humans – we’re such a lazy group! Give us an “easy” button and we’re set.  Make us save a picture to our hard drive, find said picture, upload it to Facebook – then post it… and we’re spent for the day.  So we’d rather just not.  Provide us a button.  Approve.  There it is!  And like magic – more followers.  And you look all the more genius for it.

Looks like you’ve got some writing… or research… or editing to do.  I’ll leave you to it then.

Don’t Play By the Rules! Make Your Own!

No doubt by now, if you’re involved in social media in any way, shape or form, you’ve heard the buzz about Facebook beginning to nearly demand money if you want your business page promoted the way you’re working to promote it. One would think that with the time and effort put into their posts, the people who have literally asked to see their business’ content – would. Seems logical enough to me.

Logic, however, doesn’t seem to be the driving force at Facebook. The driving force is, naturally, what the driving force is with nearly all massive companies: The almighty dollar…. or Euro… heck, maybe they’ll even take bitcoins soon.

Facebook was quoted on Ad Age Digital as saying,
“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”
Aka – You no pay, your audience no see. Or – fewer and fewer will see.

So what do we do with this information? My best suggestion right now is to do what other companies are starting to do. Fool the book. I’ve seen a number of companies go back to just a plain ‘ol Facebook profile page. You’re allotted 5,000 friends and my guess is that a larger percentage of your friends are going to see your posts. Especially if you’re keeping your audience engaged.

One very successful page I’m following right now has actually reached their 5,000 limit and has created a fan frenzy by starting a friend waiting list. People are itching to have others knocked off the friends list so they can be “Facebook official.” And in the meantime, the business directs them to their Business page. Don’t throw in the towel. Get creative. Chances are you don’t run a cookie cutter business, so don’t do cookie cutter marketing. Make your minutes count.