Monthly Archives: January 2012

Your Parents Were Wrong About Strangers

I finally tried out Pinterest and it assured me of two very important things. 1) I have an incredible sense of style, and 2) consumers will trust a stranger much more than they will a business.  Let’s rewind a little.  Pinterest is a site that lets you collect all the things you love and organize them in one place under themes of your choosing.  I pulled together several home décor items I’ve been coveting online and in minutes could see my kitchen and family room coming together.   I was thrilled when strangers appeared out of nowhere to Like, Comment on and Repin many of the items I found.  Much to my husband’s dismay I now have an army of online strangers that agree with my choice of yellow plates.  I had stared at these items online for weeks, but it wasn’t until a horde of strangers told me they loved my choices that I decided to pull out the credit card.

Consumers don’t trust businesses because they don’t have to anymore.  Instead they turn to friends and strangers on Social Media to get the real scoop.  It’s completely changed the way businesses should market to their audience.  You need your customers and fans to talk to strangers about your business and create a spotlight on your brand. This happens when businesses spark a conversation and then promptly hand over the reins to their followers.  Your marketing is much more powerful when it comes from a customer or stranger, rather than your business itself.   We trust the picture of a restaurant’s food that someone posted on Foodspotting more than the description listed on the restaurant’s website.  We’re more likely to visit the mechanic that’s been visited by hundreds of people on Foursquare than the one who promotes an oil change deal on Facebook week after week.

People will trust what strangers have to say about your brand, but you have to give strangers encouragement to post photos of your products and talk about your services.  Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Take the sales pressure off your Followers!  If all your posts start with “Buy this…” “Check out that…” “Visit this…” then you’re not staying true to your brand.  If you talked to a customer that way in real life, they’d be out the door as quick as possible.  Social Media is no different.  Use interesting posts that are 
    relevant
     to your brand without continuously trying to sell your brand.  This is much more fun for followers and allows them to let their guard down and get to know you a little better.
  • Use contests to encourage fans to talk about your brand, post pictures of your products, and share them with strangers.  Modcloth is promoting a wedding themed Pinterest Contest to encourage fans to create collages inspired by the Modcloth brand.  They are cross-promoting the contest with #wedding and #Modcloth hashtags and Facebook posts.  It’s a perfect combination of giving your current fans an opportunity to become brand ambassadors while spreading the word to strangers like wildfire on multiple social networks.
  • Let people know about your Social Media Pages!  This may sound obvious, but you’d surprised at how many people do not have all their Social Media icons listed on their website, forget to add them to their business cards and never mention them to anyone who steps foot inside their business.  If the people who already love your business don’t know you’re online, how can you expect them to turn strangers into customers?

Strangers are the key to promoting your business online.  Whether you like it or not, your future customers don’t trust your business as much as they trust strangers.  The best way to foster word-of-mouth is to create outlets for people to talk about your brand.  Give the reins to your followers, but point them in the right direction with interesting posts, occasional contests, and continuous interaction.  What they have to say about your brand is much more powerful than anything you could post about yourself.

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7 Resolutions to Make your Social Media Kick Ass in the New Year

It’s that time of year again!  Time to take stock of our businesses and establish goals for the year ahead.  Whether you’re determined to drive more sales, boost clientele, or expand your market, it comes back to a commitment to get the word out.  Social Media Marketing is not only the norm now, but is becoming more and more sophisticated and complex by the day.  No need to worry!  These Social Media New Year’s Resolutions will keep you on the right path all year round.

1. Post regularly and consistently

A lapse in posts is a kiss of death to your Social Media Marketing.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.  When people find a Page that no one has posted on in weeks (or worse, months) and sometimes several months, they assume it’s no longer active and move on.  You’re better off not having a Social Media Page than having one that’s inactive

2. Lay off the sales pitches

Social Media is not meant to be a billboard.  Social Media is meant to be… well… social.  It’s an extension of your business.  If someone were to walk into your store or office, you wouldn’t go straight into a sales pitch, would you?

A continuous stream of self-promotion may attract some of your current clientele but does little to generate new followers (aka new business).   Even your most diehard fans will get bored with uninterrupted posts about sales, products, and pleas to come visit.

3. Keep it interesting to keep them coming back

Figure out who your demographic is and what interests them, and then post about that.  Say you own a children’s store.  Your target market may be interested in more than your new shipment of stuffed animals.  They may be interested in healthy recipes for the kids and fun activities that keep them moving.

This may be a good opportunity to take on the role of educator.  Share interesting facts and resources.  Pretend you own a winery.  You could post interesting facts about the history of wine, feature articles about the proper way to taste wine, make wine pairing suggestions for specific meals.

4. Acknowledge your fans

Social Media is not a one way street.  Elicit fan posts with questions, polls, competitions and more.  Respond to every comment promptly.  When you build relationships with your fans, you’re also arming them to be your biggest evangelists.  Consider this:  Every time a fan comments on your Wall, it appears in their stream for all their friends to see.  Talk about word-of-mouth!

5. Market your Social Media Pages

Unless you have an extremely well-known brand, people will not just FIND your Social Media Pages.  This is the year to develop a strategic web strategy and attract new followers.  Mention your Pages in online forums, share the links whenever possible, and incorporate them into your other marketing efforts.

6. Claim your business Google+ Page

Google+ is expected to grow exponentially in 2012.  Don’t get left in the dust.  If you’re not ready to commit to Google+ just yet, try posting something once a week for now just to stay in the game.  This way you’ll be able to transition quickly when you’re ready to jump in with both feet.

7. Measure your results

All the time and effort you put into your Social Media Marketing is worthless if you don’t know how many people you’re attracting and whether they fit into your target market.  Learn how to make Facebook Insights work for you.  This also may be the year to invest some time and money into a dashboard or hire a Social Media Marketing firm, even if it’s just to measure your results.

A few things you should be measuring: Am I posting at the right times?  Am I posting enough?  Am I hitting my target market?  What posts do people click on?  What posts do people ignore?

Commit to these 7 Social Media Resolutions and you will have a successful marketing campaign.  The biggest commitment, however, is time.  Earmark the time needed to fulfill each resolution.  Figure out which resolutions you can realistically make the time for and hire someone to do the ones you can’t.  It’s that simple.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Franklin Park Library.