Monthly Archives: August 2014

3 Deadly Social Media Mistakes

by Gail Z. Martin

Recently I had a call from a business owner I’ll call Jane (not her real name). She had been referred by a client and friend of mine, and Jane was shopping around for new talent to handle her PR and social media.

The problem, Jane said, was that while her PR folks were getting her into the news and the social media people were driving traffic to her web site, people weren’t buying. And that, she felt, was the fault of the PR and social media folks.

Hmmmm….maybe. But the longer Jane talked, the more I heard a full-blown case of the three most deadly social media mistakes.

Mistake #1: A hammer is not a chainsaw. It’s not the hammer’s fault you can’t cut down trees with it.

Different tools have different functions. You don’t use a waffle iron to iron shirts, and you don’t use a steam iron to make waffles. If you tried to do so, it wouldn’t be the tool’s fault if it didn’t perform according to your (mistaken) expectations.

Social media and PR are not advertising. Social media is a tool to build relationships, increase engagement and raise visibility. PR is a tool to raise visibility, cement your professional platform and increase credibility. Both tools can also work to drive traffic to your web site. But neither tool is intended to directly increase sales. That’s advertising’s job, as well as good web design.

Too many people are like Jane, thinking of social media and PR as another form of advertising, and then they’re upset when their “ads” don’t result in sales.

Social media and PR are indirect reputation builders. They give you the “I’ve seen your name everywhere” viral buzz, and they help you establish yourself with the credibility of being in the news and the accessibility of being interactive online, but they are not meant to create direct sales.

Paid advertising and direct mail are tools to create an immediate “buy now” incentive. A well-designed e-commerce web site can also encourage shoppers to become buyers. Don’t assume that all promotional tools do the same thing.

Mistake #2: One-size-fits-all metrics don’t work.

Jane went on to tell me that she was unhappy with her current social media and PR people because while they were driving traffic to her site and resulting in news placements (which means they were succeeding at what they set out to do!) they were not resulting in a three-to-one payback of her investment.

Where did she get that 3:1 ratio? Who knows? Someone along the line told her that, or she read it somewhere. Once again, she’s mistaking an advertising metric with a social media and PR metric.

How do you know if your social media is working? Here are some metrics:

  • Your business page is seeing steady growth in page “likes” or Twitter followers
  • Your posts are getting consistently high numbers of likes/shares/comments/retweets/favorites
  • People commenting on your posts have a genuine interest in the topic (you are reaching your ideal audience)
  • Your posts are consistent and on-topic, and you are responding to comments and new followers.
  • Your Facebook ads are getting click-throughs and a large number of views.
  • Your posts about upcoming webinars or links to articles or other resources on your web site are getting click-throughs and sign-ups.
  • Your page is helping you increase your newsletter opt-ins.

How do you know if your PR is working?

  • Your news gets into the desired media on a fairly regular basis. (Awards, promotions, new hires, product launches, events, etc.)
  • You are getting a steady stream of requests for interviews, profiles and Q&A.
  • People say “I see your name in the news all the time!”
  • You are getting articles and blog posts you’ve written placed regularly in the appropriate industry media.

Social media increases engagement. PR increases visibility. These are long-term investments, not quick sales gimmicks. Sorry, but the mystical/magical 3:1 ratio Jane was using doesn’t apply.

P.S. If you are using any metrics from before the 2008 economic crash, they’re out of date.

Mistake #3: Believing you don’t need to understand PR and social media because you have people for that.

I explained to Jane that my current focus was coaching and consulting on social media and promotion. She was quick to tell me that she didn’t need that, because she hired out those functions.

I told her that most of my clients hired someone to do their PR and social media, but that they discovered they could manage those resources much more effectively after they had been coached on how social media and PR really work.  Think about it. If you don’t understand how something works, how will you know if your people are doing it right? How will you decide whether a campaign they propose is a good idea or not? You’re flying blind, and you’re at the mercy of anyone with a good pitch.

Bonus Mistake #4: If your web site is getting a lot of traffic but not generating sales, then you’ve either got a problem with your site’s usability, or your products aren’t attractive to the traffic you’re getting.

Jane was upset that the people who came to her web site because of social media and PR weren’t buying. I told her that social media and PR had done their work delivering the traffic, but it wasn’t their job to make the sale—it was up to the site and the products/services to do that.

Maybe the site is difficult to manage. Maybe the shopping cart is wonky. Maybe the pricing is not competitive or perhaps the services weren’t compelling. Or maybe the audience being delivered wasn’t ready to buy, or even a good fit. (Numbers alone won’t make the sale. You have to be getting the right people, which is a targeting issue.)

Before you pull the plug on your social media and PR services—especially if they’re delivering traffic—step back and ask a few questions.

  • Who are we targeting with our social media? Are they my ideal prospects? (If not, change the targeting.)
  • Who reads the media where we’re getting our PR placements? Are they my ideal prospects? (Again, fix the targeting if need be.)
  • Do the people going to my web site need an intermediate step between coming to the site and buying to build trust? (Like downloading a free ebook or getting invited to a webinar?)
  • Is my web site easy to use and my shopping cart hassle-free?
  • Have I validated that the market still wants/needs what I’m offering and that my pricing is competitive?

So before you use a flame-thrower to make coffee or a coffee pot as a weed-whacker, remember: know what each tool does best and use it for its intended purpose, then judge its effectiveness accordingly!

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To Get More Business, Go Where the People Already Are

by Gail Z. Martin

Want to find your tribe? Start by going to their favorite campfires.

The people you want are your tribe.

The places they gather, I call “campfires.” Just like the cavemen.

Your tribe is already gathering around other people’s campfires, where there is a common interest, and they’re waiting for you to join them.

This is SO much easier than trying to find your tribe one person at a time.

And I know so many people do that—looking for potential customers one at a time. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. I bet you’ve done it, too.  And it drives you crazy. It makes you frustrated.  You feel like you’re never going to find the people who are interested in your business.

And the truth is, those perfect prospects—your tribe—are just sitting around another campfire, waiting to meet you, and you can find dozens—maybe hundreds—of them all at once.

And once they get to know you and you have a relationship with them, they will come over to your campfire.

You will be more successful building relationships that lead to sales if you focus on finding the campfires where the tribes you serve are already gathering, and go there to meet your tribe.

It’s a lot harder to build a campfire and then try to get total strangers to come hang out with you.

Instead, find your tribe at the campfires where they’re already gathering, and get to know them. Let them get to know you. Then you can invite them to visit your campfire, and they’ll come gladly, because you have a relationship with them.

Now let me be clear here.  I’m NOT talking about joining a mastermind group or an expert’s Facebook page and trying to poach their clients.  That’s not professional, and it will backfire on you. I’m NOT talking about posting spammy links on people’s blogs or hijacking the conversation to turn it into a sales pitch.  If you do that, your tribe will run the opposite direction.

So where are these campfires and how can you meet your tribe without getting into trouble?

Look for groups where people are united by their interest in a particular topic, but where the group isn’t owned or run by any single person or expert. So, for example, on Facebook and LinkedIn, there are groups on just about every business topic. There are groups on marketing, investing—all kinds of topics.

Join the groups and be a good neighbor—not a salesman. Answer questions. Make referrals. Suggest resources and solutions. Don’t sell.  You won’t need to sell—if you give good, helpful answers that aren’t self-serving, you will earn the respect of the group. The people who are really your tribe will begin to like and trust you.  They’ll feel a connection because you’ve invested in building a relationship.  And if your responses include a short signature with your name and the name of your company and a tagline that makes it clear what you do, the people who are drawn to become your tribe will make a connection outside of that group, and that’s when you can invite them to come over to your campfire—your web site, your Facebook page and blog.

Not only that, but people who find what they need around a campfire invite other friends who will be a good fit.  Your tribe will invite their friends to become part of your tribe. That’s the magic.

Now this is where a lot of people get lost.  You’ve been out on Facebook and Twitter trying to make good connections and you feel like you’re wandering around in the dark.  You can’t find the right people.  You feel like you’re wasting your time.  Or you attract followers, but they don’t buy anything.  It really hurts. You start to feel overwhelmed and ready to throw in the towel, but you can’t, because you’ve got a mortgage to pay and college tuition to pay and kids to feed. It really hurts. And it makes you want to scream.

Cindy was one of those people who got lost.

Cindy owns a national company that sells craft supplies.  She knew that teachers are always assigning craft-related projects.

She also knew that teachers and homeschooling parents are always looking for fresh project ideas—and she had a ton of them to share.

But Cindy was overwhelmed when it came to social media.  She knew who she needed to reach, but finding them on Facebook seemed worse than looking for a needle in a haystack.

She was trying to find teachers and homeschooling parents one at a time, and it was burning her out.  Cindy was pulling her hair out.  She was wasting HOURS hunting through random strangers on Facebook, following every Tom, Dick and Harry on Twitter—and not getting any results. She was ready to give up and walk away from social media.

She needed a blueprint.

And then I let her in on the most powerful secret.

Find your tribe around other campfires. Then invite them to join your campfire, too.

You do this in real life.  If you want to find people who like to play tennis, you don’t start calling through the phone book asking if the person you’ve called likes tennis.

You go join a tennis club.

So Cindy started to connect with her tribe on Facebook groups for teachers and homeschooling parents.  They welcomed Cindy with open arms.  She won their trust by sharing first—project ideas, ways to use craft supplies to do more, last longer, tips for saving money on craft supplies—all the things those teachers and parents NEEDED to know.

They were HAPPY to go to her web site to download craft supply shopping lists and project designs.  They were THRILLED to get coupons for her company’s craft supplies.  They COULDN’T WAIT to go to the store and BUY her products.

Cindy didn’t just find new customers.  She created raving fans.  And those raving fans not only bought Cindy’s products, they introduced their friends to her who bought even more products.

Then I shared a secret with Cindy that blew her mind.  Facebook isn’t the only game in town. It’s only one campfire—but there are lots more!

I showed Cindy how to find other campfires outside of Facebook—websites, blogs, forums– where teachers and homeschooling parents were already gathered, people who were DESPERATE for her project ideas and craft material tips.

So Cindy joined those groups, became a helpful good online neighbor, and attracted more people to her tribe—and ultimately, to her campfire.

It all starts with finding those places—campfires—where your tribe is already gathering. And when you find the right campfires, it’s like finding a gold mine.

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Surprising Reasons Why People Are Too Intimidated to Ask For Your Help

by Gail Z. Martin

Do you know why people don’t ask for help when they need it?  Why someone would continue on, in pain, watching their business fail…and not ask for help?

There are usually two reasons: They are ashamed to ask for help, and they’re afraid to spend money.

Often, people won’t ask for help until they’ve tried to do everything themselves and it didn’t work and now they’re really, really scared and their back is against the wall.  And that’s a shame.

So how do you turn that around?

With stories.  Make sure your stories make it easy for people to see themselves doing what the clients in your stories have done. Knowing that other people have faced those problems and asked for help makes it easier for your clients to do the same. Not only that, but social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube are fantastic places to share your stories.

And when your clients see an outcome in your story that they want for themselves, money stops being an issue. It’s that simple.

 

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Get Creative with Social Media Solutions

by Gail Z. Martin

Adele and her husband had worked very hard to build a wireless telecom business and it was growing.  But she wanted to find a way to stay in touch with her customers between orders, so they would be the first people those customers would call the next time they needed more supplies.

But because of the nature of their kind of business, that created a problem on social media because Adele didn’t want to be talking about rates and industry gossip.  Those things were very sensitive.  That information was proprietary. And she was afraid that they wouldn’t be able to have a Facebook page because of it.

And it was driving Adele crazy.  When she came to me, she said, “I know we need to be on Facebook, but I don’t want people talking business.  How do we get our customers together and not talk shop?”

So I asked Adele to tell me about the business she and her husband had built.  I was really impressed. And one of the things that impressed me the most was what they did at the holidays.

Every year, instead of sending out cookies or wine baskets, Adele and her husband would select a business book that they had found meaningful and send that book to all their clients, with a note about how it meant a lot to them and they hoped it would help the client’s business.

I got chills down my back.  I jumped up and started pacing like I’d just downed a couple of Red Bulls.  And I said—“That’s it!”

Adele’s customers all knew about the gift books.  That was a story they were familiar with.

So Adele created a Facebook page where she invited all her customers to come have a discussion about the book and what it meant to them.  No talking shop, no spilling the beans on sensitive pricing….the story was all about the books.

In other words, Adele was able to create a way for her to have an ongoing conversation with her customers to keep the relationship warm between sales. That’s essential, because if your buyers only need your product a few times a year, no matter how much they like you they can forget about you if months pass without hearing from you.

And when the relationship goes cold, it gets harder for your customers to get past the twin obstacles of not wanting to ask for help and being afraid to spend money. These two obstacles are the biggest speedbumps to getting prospects to move past window-shopping to make a purchase.

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