Encouragement to Anyone Who Doesn’t Understand Social Media Marketing

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Are you concerned that you don’t understand these things called “social networking” or “social media marketing”?

You are most definitely not alone.

I’m doing some study of social media marketing these days – talk about an industry that is changing rapidly! I think one could spend a few hours a day soaking up the developments and new opportunities in this area.

In the process of my study, I came across an encouraging quote from one of the authors of books on social media. In the book The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott says, “And remember, there is no such thing as an ‘expert’ in marketing using social networking – we’re all learning as we go!”

I almost gave a sigh of relief when I read that line. And it’s true. The subject is just too new to have solidly established authorities. There are a few people who know what they are talking about, Meerman Scott obviously among them. Along with Chris Brogan, Ann Handley, Robert Scoble, Brian Solis and others.

Definition for a New Subject

I’m looking for definitions of social media for you and I’m finding words like “overarching” and “encompasses.” Not so much. I like this definition of social media because it relates to life, not technology:

Here is a quote I like: “Social media is a shift in how we get our information. It used to be that we would wait for the paper boy to throw our news on the doorstep (or into the flowers) and we’d read the paper, front to back, with our morning coffee before going to work. Now we get information, 24/7 and on the fly, from anywhere. In the more traditional senses, online, on our phones, and through the social platforms [like Facebook, LikedIn, MySpace and others]. Social media allows us to network, to find people with like interests, and to meet people who can become friends or customers. It flattens out the world and gives us access to people we never would have been able to meet otherwise.” Arment Dietrich

Social media is about interaction. When you meet a friend in a restaurant, you interact with him (or her). You talk about your car repair, a great concert you went to, a new restaurant in your neighborhood. He talks about his vacation, his kids’ school and his plans to open a small business. Social media is just the same, it’s just online. People talk, people share.

The Difference Between Marketing and Social Media Marketing

There is a fundamental shift in the way you use social media for marketing purposes. Your job now is to engage people, create opportunities for interaction, invite people to respond, vote, review, and to express themselves.

Marketing in the social media world no longer consists of that one-way flow we’ve all grown up with: “Here’s my ad, read it.” This new marketing involves giving people a reason to be interested in your products, your news and your articles. You are building a community of loyal fans by engaging them and giving them content that they appreciate. You’ll have to get over the idea that it’s about advertising in this venue. Sure, some people are still pushing ads into the social media environment, but the most successful social media marketers are creating interested communities. And then when they need something that you sell – well – you’re already friends, aren’t you? Who are they going to call?

Morgan Fagerman 

Pinterest is Not Just for Women

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Pinterest is Not Just for Women

I ran into someone the other day who told me, “Oh, Pinterest… that’s just for women.” If you’ve ever looked at Pinterest, you might agree. But that would be shortsighted.

Pinterest is a photo sharing site that allows you to create your own boards – like a bulletin board where you can pin images of a certain topic. You can create any number of boards under your own profile.

Just for the purpose of explanation, let’s imagine a young woman who is engaged to get married, who wants to have kids. She creates a profile and then adds separate boards for wedding dresses, wedding rings, hairstyles for her wedding, baby nursery ideas and so on. She selects images of dresses, rings, baby clothes and such that she would like to refer to later. It’s sort of a “wish list.”

Business Applications?

But the use of Pinterest and other image-sharing sites has a much wider application than this. Let’s look at some of the applications for small to medium size businesses.

Try this. Visit www.pinterest.com and use the search window in the upper left corner to look for images in the categories I talk about below. And then think about how you might be able to use images from your own business on Pinterest and similar sites.

Custom Cars: If you want a real treat, go to www.Pinterest.com and do a search for images featuring custom cars. You’ll find custom paint jobs, custom bodywork and some cards that are so unique they are unrecognizable. Even a search for “engines” will bring you plenty of results.

Landscaping: If you’re a landscaper, this is a great place to showcase your work. Homeowners will be looking in this category to get ideas for their yards.

Kitchens: If you’re a remodeler, place some pictures of your finished projects on Pinterest.

Fitness: If you’re a fitness instructor or have a gym, try a search for “fitness” and see how many results you get. Post pictures from your classes some “after” shots or images that contain your fitness advice in a text format.

Photography: Give classes or lessons in photography? Post examples of shots your students took in your classes.

For categories like hairstyles, jewelry, clothing, furniture and similar subjects, it’s easy to see how posting pictures of your work can reveal your talents.

Even a company that builds trade show booths can display their work on this site.

Why Post Images?

There are three reasons.

1. Business can come directly from the image. I was sitting with a friend of mine the other day when she saw a necklace on Pinterest that she fell in love with. Within a couple of minutes, she had ordered it by following the link that was posted with the image.
2. Promotion. Someone who sees your work can track you down if you add your web address to the comments field. If your business is localized, add your city and state to the description field.
3. Strengthening your website. Google and other search engines take your other social media accounts into consideration when they are ranking the strength and authority of your website. If you have a strong Facebook page with plenty of “Likes” and your Pinterest images get “Liked” and shared by plenty of people, this popularity will strengthen your business website.

Photo sharing is part of the bigger world of social media. And taking advantage of the promotional opportunities in social media is part of the bigger world of search engine optimization.

I hope you do take the time to browse some of the photo sharing sites out there and get a feel for the way it can help you reach more customers.

A Brave, New, Interconnected World

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According to Google, the world’s most popular search engine, 97% of Americans who use the Internet at all are using it to search for local goods and services. But more than half of America’s small businesses don’t have websites.

The other (almost) half of small businesses in this country DO have websites, but few of these websites are really being utilized to their full potential. That’s because the online world has been changing so rapidly over the last few years. This rate of change will only continue or accelerate.

A dozen years ago, all you really had to do was get a nice-looking website designed and add some content relevant to your business or activity. That was enough to make your site serve its purpose. It’s just not enough any more.

It’s not so much that there is now more competition for that little bit of virtual real estate, although that is true. It’s that both the functionality of the internet and the thinking processes of users have changed. People need and want different benefits from the information on the internet. Those changes have guided the front edge of development of the internet (and vice versa), the way searches work and the interconnected nature of many of the resources out there.

Social Media Enters Right About Here

People are sharing information at a truly mad rate these days. People are posting their activities to Facebook, tweeting updates on Twitter, splashing their photos across Instagram or Flickr, perhaps blogging about their experiences and writing reviews, reviews, reviews. Consumers are checking for ratings on the products they want to buy, looking at reviews from other customers and browsing the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List before they commit to a home or auto repair.

Amazingly enough, Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines manage to keep all this information straight. So if a person in Cincinnati, Ohio wants to check out Lou’s Auto Repair, located around the corner, that person can quickly have a long list of reviews, Facebook comments, photos and other information about that business in a matter of seconds.

Old style websites that simply offer the same information, day after day, will not be able to compete with sites that link in to all these rich resources. To keep up, a company now has to keep their online presence alive, fresh, connected and fully functional. Some of the actions a company would need to take to keep their online presence in tip-top condition:

1. Have a Facebook page that is well liked (which means hundreds or thousands of

likes, depending on the potential audience for that company)

2. Post articles to their Facebook page that all link back to their business website

3. Monitor and respond to reviews, both positive and negative

4. Add fresh and very relevant content to their business site regularly

5. Keep all links and pages fully functional

6. Utilize any other social media that would be relevant, such as Pinterest, Flickr or

Instagram for photos

7. Enlist the help of an up-to-date web development company (such as Visual Edge

Design, of course) to keep the out-of-sight details used by search engines fully up to current standards.

A little more on this last point since it is significant. Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines look in certain places for information on what your site is about and other facts, such as location and what products or services are offered. This fairly technical content is never seen by a visitor to your website, but is critically important to your ranking in search results. No matter who built your website, it needs to be updated on a regular basis just to keep up with the changes in technology. It needs to be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure all the pages connect properly.

If you have a website, you now need to be thinking with maintenance of this basic type and other types that we will cover in future articles. This is just scratching the surface of optimizing your website for search engines. Stay tuned to learn more.