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Social Media Marketing – Flagging Down Customers
Social media marketing can be explained in many ways and most of them are very complex for someone who has never used it or been in the space. With so many new tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, articles, backlinks, message boards, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Vator, Pod Casts, video, YouTube, it can be very overwhelming for anyone.
I spoke with Wally Wang, author of the “Dummies” series last night on our radio show and he even said it himself: “It’s something I know I need to do to sell more books, but it’s too for me. There aren’t enough hours in the day.” Now Wally may know more than most because he’s an accomplished author and comedian, but he’s just part of “the norm” when it comes to business people in 2010. In my next article, I’ll outline what steps you need to take to build. a campaign and orchestrate its activities, but for now let’s do a quick analogy of how it works.
A long time ago I lived a block north of Wrigley Field in Chicago with 4 of my godfathers during my last year of bachelorhood, before I married my wife. We’ve had a great year. We were one of the only houses in the neighborhood and we actually had a backyard, with grass and a porch! This is a real rarity in big cities like Chicago. We were really looking forward to a great summer of cookouts and Cubs games (I’m not a Cubs hater, but I am a White Sox fan for the record), but when it came time to pick the pool, I always went realize more that people killed with parking fees in the neighborhood. So, being the entrepreneur that I am, I decided on other plans for the backyard.
So, I went to Home Depot and bought all the necessary tools and rented a dumpster and before we knew it we were laying down pea gravel and getting ready for the next game with excitement. We had turned our backyard into a parking lot, what? We did the math and found that we could all pocket our entire paycheck each month because we could charge $25 per spot and now we had 15 spots!
Well, the next day the Cubs played the Pirates and there weren’t many people at the game. Two of us had taken the subway back to the neighborhood on our lunch breaks and stood on opposite street corners signaling stragglers from other batches to our places. We ended up taking 6 cars and only made $20 a piece, what a disappointment! This went on for a week and after the parking lot was done each game, we walked to the other parking lots and noticed they were full. What did they have that we didn’t? They had 6-9 flags with bright red flags and signs telling drivers where to park. They had every nook and cranny covered and their lots were marked with names and colors.
So, we went to the police station and asked them where the busiest corners were during Cubs games. We hired more flags and gave them bright (yellow) signs and offered a free beer to anyone over 21 who parked with us. For the next game we had more cars than we could fit and were getting $35-$45 per seat!!! Now we had this good coverage and the right clientele coming to us, all because we had bright flags in the right places, that you couldn’t miss, pointing and driving parkers to our lot. See below for actual coverage:
Social Networks, the New Neighborhood
So, as I got into social media and learning how to use it for business, I started thinking about the easiest ways to explain how it works to those who haven’t gotten into it yet. Of course, there are a million ways to do this, but I try to keep things as simple as possible. Now, most people understand the following things about the internet and their business: they need a website, they need email, the internet, they need someone to do their “SEO” and they need HELP!
What they often forget to think about are all the things that go with these basics, such as: website, loading speed, great content, calls to action, a blog, and Web 2.0 connectivity to sites social. These must-haves are for the website only, which I’ll call “the parking lot” for this section. Your parking has to be good or people won’t pay anything. There has to be something that makes you better than all the other parking lots out there. Offer a free download in exchange for an email address to stay connected with your visitors, just like a free beer for parking.
Now having the lot and offering free stuff to keep people going, but the most important thing to be able to do is get people to park, right? Having a great website with all the bells and whistles is a wonderful thing, but not as important as it used to be. Remember that the Internet is nothing but a virtual world and everything has similar functions to the real world. So if this is true and your website is like your parking lot (or the direct representation of your business), is it more important to have a flashy design and little content or tons of good, fresh content? The answer is easy, content is king, always. So make the place people come to park fruitful and rich with information about you and your business so they want to learn more and spend money. The Web 2.0 generation is all about educating and creating informed buyers.
With a great content driven website, we now need to achieve something that 99% of the world can’t figure out, targeted and demographically targeted web traffic. There are two ways to go in this area, throw an inflatable bouncer on the roof or have people come out and shake people up. You should actually do both, but most people can only afford one or are afraid to try others.
Well, you can spend $10,000 on a big SEO package (the inflatable gorilla) and expect it to work. But what is the incentive for the visitor to come to see you? Is it because you appeared first on Google? They will click on it and check you out on every other area of the web right after they see your site, trust me. They’ll verify that you’re in good standing and that you’ve done something besides blow up a gorilla. They want CONTENT. So, the other way is to hire these flags! These standard bearers will be everywhere, even if it is the opposite direction of the gorilla! They’ll be wearing t-shirts that show your message, hats that show the last time you were in the news, pants with pictures of your company or your family or both, and they might even be playing a stereo with your last podcast or radio appearance. this
The route of social networks
The other way to think of these flaggers, or any flaggers, is to think of them as breadcrumbs leading a path back to your website or parking lot. Now, of course, breadcrumbs aren’t a given to work with, but they are very useful for hungry visitors to find their way around. The way this all works is simple, use your own experiences in the world to think like your consumers. What do you do when you’re looking for something to buy or a place to go or someone to hire for a service? Like 80% of the country, you probably go online and type a keyword into Google. Once the results come up, click on 5-6 sites and read 18% of the page, get bored and move on to the next one. If you have the option, watch a video instead of an article, instead of a website, a third-party endorsement instead of a website, etc.
Since this is the case, we need to think like our customers to start finding them! That means we have to play the game they play and be better at it. Social media can also be considered as a breadcrumb trail that leads to you and what you really stand for.
Imagine starting on the south side of town and trying to find a parking spot on the north side in your parking lot. To save time, let’s assume they start at the bottom right corner of the image below. In the example of social media crumpets, moles are also flag men. They attract hungry readers and point them in the right direction. In this example, the visitor or hungry parker sees something you tweeted (hopefully they followed you too) and it caught their attention. From there they took your username and found you in a chat room and started reading your blog.
The information they found attracted them and prompted them to look deeper, so they clicked on the Facebook button on your blog and it took them to your Facebook page where they read about the great things you do, they watched videos and even connected with you. They also saw a link to your podcast and clicked on it so they could listen to you speak. Let’s say they heard you doing your own online radio show about your industry and were blown away by how professional you sounded. Then they went back to Google and wanted to find more, read what they liked and ended up on your Flickr page or watching your videos on YouTube. After following your social media bread sizes, they eventually park in your lot, which equals money in your pocket.
The importance of being available
As you can see in this case, a good visitor to your website is one who comes prepared to buy. They come with information about you and what you stand for and intend to do business with. People no longer search websites like fish for shiny things, they’ve seen them all. What they do look for is information, content and attraction. More important than what they are looking for is the fact that they are looking. More than 50% of Facebook users on the planet are 38 years or older, this is the generation that created wasting time on the web and passed it on. The average internet user increases the time they spend on the web by more than 10 minutes a week every year. The fact is, they are looking, and what are you doing to be available when they are?
By Eric Rice
President, Boom Media
San Diego Social Networks
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