Social Business - Knowing Where To Start

This is a guest post by Jeff Roach (@JeffRoach)

When you walk into a room full of people, what’s the first thing you do? For myself, my goal is to find people I might know and just say hello.  Yet, when it comes to social media, most businesses still don’t see social networks as a place to socialize but as mediums to broadcast, which is a very big and costly mistake. Some businesses even forget that social is about connecting with people. Many, determined to continue operating as they always have, shove their ad messages through social mediums that eventually end up detesting them.

So how can businesses avoid making the costly mistakes mentioned above? Here are two key principles to starting off right:

In the Beginning: Focus

If you’re new to social media, focus on one network and only pay attention to it for a little while. For example, Twitter is my favorite and where I’ve learned and continue to socialize with the most enjoyment. Try Google+, Linkedin, Twitter or even Facebook and get to know that one platform really well before you branch out.

Then, discover ways to reach those people and access the information you need on that one network before expanding to the others. If you try to learn all the social media platforms at once it can lead to frustration at some stage.

Those of us who've found a way to enjoy being online, while having success in growing our careers, have discovered friends and mentors to learn with. At Sociallogical (Disclaimer: I am the co-founder of Sociallogical), we've designed online courses which are based on this very concept of mentorship and learning from a small group that you can trust and grow with.

Learn to Listen First

Don’t worry about what to say. Instead, pay attention to what others say and connect with those people you want to get to know better. That’s the most important thing to do in the beginning and always.

Observe the lingo, the method of sharing and the type of content shared by those who YOU are drawn to and you’ll learn what others are likely drawn to.

A lot of this advice may sound familiar. And it should - it’s the advice your siblings, parents, and friends gave you when you were growing up. Nobody gets social media in the beginning and we need to relax and enjoy the learning process or it will always feel like work.

Note from Dave:

We are being overloaded with social tools, networks, content, tweets and updates. It's becoming the "white noise" in the background of what really matters, which are the conversations being had about our brand, our competitors, and our customers. We need to always remember these two basic principles that Jeff has shared with us and remember that the essence of being social is to listen, learn, and engage with others.

Where do you feel the focus should be placed when starting off in social business?

Guest post: Jeff Roach (@JeffRoach) is a strategic connector for businesses and is the founder of Sociallogical,, a consulting company that educates social-media-inclined business owners on strategic online connectivity tools and practices.

Personal Branding 101: Branding YOU Online!


This is a guest post by Daniel G Hebert (@DanielGHebert)

What is personal branding anyways? There’s this big ol’ personal branding trend going on right now, and everyone seems to want to get on the train. But what is it really? And what do you need to establish a personal brand?

A brand represents the values that a company emits to its consumers. And the branding process comes from the consumer recognizing these values, and adding meaning to it.

Wikipedia defines personal branding as “a description of the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands.

Now that there are several different social media platforms out there, personal branding has become ever more prominent.

Here are four steps to establish your own personal brand:

1. Develop your Position
First you need to figure out what you want to offer. You need to determine what your brand’s position will be. Will you offer advice on a certain function – like marketing or finance – or will it be on a certain industry – like the automotive industry. Maybe you want to be known as a specialist – like a social media or branding specialist. Whatever you decide, you need to have an initial position developed before you establish your brand.

2. Choose your Headquarters
Facebook isn’t a headquarters. It’s a channel to distribute your position. You need a place that you can call your own. Establish a blog, like Wordpress, Tumblr, or Blogger. Or create yourself a website! If you don’t have the resources to create your own website, try something like About.me. You need this space to show off your flare. This is a place that is 100% your own, where you can share more information about yourself.

3. Choose your Media Channels
Now that you’ve established your headquarters (i.e. blog), it is time to choose your advertising channels. Most people choose the traditional channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But don’t forget the less traditional channels as well. Video blogging on Youtube is great! Don’t forget about websites like StumbleUpon (their SU.PR tool is absolutely wonderful!) and the new, hot, and trendy Pinterest. These are some less traditional channels that should not be forgotten.

4. Don’t Forget the Offline
Don’t forget about branding offline. Go to networking events. Not everyone you’ll meet on social media will be a customer. Maybe the majority of your customers don’t know about your presence online, or they don’t participate on social media at all (that would surprise me though)! So you need to try to bring your online world to offline, and vice versa. The easiest way to distribute your brand offline is with a good business card. Try MOO. You can customize your business cards, showing off your own form of ‘pizzazz’ to people you meet at networking events. And don’t forget to lead them to your headquarters (i.e. your blog)!

These are the basics of personal branding. There are other things you could do to make your brand more complete, but we’ll just stick to the basics for now. So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge? What are your opinions on personal branding? Is there something that I am missing for the basics of personal branding?

Guest post: Daniel G Hebert (@DanielGHebert) a 4th year Commerce and Marketing student at Mount Allison University and Social Media Manager with NuFocus Group (@nufocusgroup).

5 Things People Forget About Viral Marketing

This is a Guest Post by Josh Ledgard (@evolvingwe), Co -Founder of KickoffLabs and SiftSocial

If you sell something your dream is that one day each of your customers will bring you two more referrals.  In fact, any number of successful referrals on an average greater than 1 would be defined as "going viral". Some content, like a dad shooting his daughters laptop on youtube, (It's OK, I'll wait for you to come back) is naturally viral without any assistance.

But the rest of us have to grease the wheels a bit to increase our viral coefficient via customer referrals. Here are 5 tips that most people forget.

Tip #1: ASK for referrals

And I don't mean slapping Facebook and Twitter buttons on your site.

Here are a few examples:

  1. After successful customer support interactions say "Your welcome! Would you mind telling 5 or 500 more of your friends about the service you received with us!"
  2. Once someone is a satisfied customer ask them to put a link to your site on theirs.
  3. Ask for a quote about your service you can put on your web site. You can never have too much social proof.
  4. Include a personal message about your goals and how they can help. For example (see below) 

Tip #2: Use email

Being viral isn't limited to online social networks. Email was the first, and still is most widely read, social network. Don't leave it out of your social campaigns. In drip emails for new customers you should tack it onto the customers "next steps". We send an email that includes 3 things customers can do to improve their web sites… then we ask them to help us out, a bit of give and take, by telling their friends about us.  If it's worth putting in your blog it's probably worth sending out an email or at least linking in your newsletter.

Tip #3: Seed the virus

When you have something worth sharing you need to leverage your first order connections. I generally scan my LinkedIn contacts (they have some great filtering) to look for people I think might be most interested in what I have to say. I send them the link with a SHORT personal message and remind them to share it if they think it's worthy.

Tip #4: Target niche communities

The world doesn't revolve around Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Chances are that your product serves a customer that spends more time in a dedicated niche community. Find out where that is and seed the your campaign there.  Become a member of that community, start answering questions, commenting, and build up a good reputation as an expert… someone that they would want to share and buy from. This group will become your influencers that help push your campaign into the "mainstream" social networks.

Tip #5: Give people an incentive to share and convert

I'm not sure why people just focus on "likes". Skip it. Run a contest or incentive program that drives conversions.  Netflix knew how important this was. For years they used their envelope real estate to remind you that you'd get $10 off for every friend you referred that actually signed up. Several of our customers have run VERY successful lotteries where every customer referral is a ticket entered.

Conclusion

It used to be that just adding a "like" button to your content, product, or service was enough. Now it's not. You've got to stand out. Stand out by taking a more personal approach, seeding growth, leveraging email as well as niche communities, and finding just the right level of incentive to get people to convert.

About: Josh Ledgard (@evolvingwe), is the Co -Founder of KickoffLabs, an online service that enables you to make a stunning signup page in 60 seconds, and  SiftSocial, a priority inbox for Social Media. (Coming Soon)

6 Ways to use Pinterest for Your Business

Pinterest has become one of the newest trends to hit the social media world. With that said, I want to share my perspective on Pinterest and it's advantages.

Though Pinterest is the social "new kid on the block", it has already shown that it means business with more than 11 million people visiting the site each week.

How it Works:

For those of you who may not be familiar with Pinterest, it is an online social "pin board", where people post pictures of things they like and comments are added by others. Think of a virtual scrapbook that you would share with your friends.

There are categories that your ‘pins’ can be organized into. For example, these categories can be anything from architecture, wedding, technology, etc. People can post favourite recipes, designs, books, fashion trends, accessories, posters … the list is endless.

If you missed it, check out my radio segment on Pinterest.

Then Pinterest centres around images, and these images are linked to sites. As well, products can be searched for by price range, and people can re-pin items that they saw and liked, which will then show up on their board of interests.

Once you have a grasp on how use Pinterest, there are a variety of ways that it can be used for your business. Here are six ways that come to mind.

1. Identify Evangelists

With Pinterest you can identify who your evangelists and early adopters are by using it to monitor trends, gather customer statistics, and understand what items people search for the most.

Then you can strengthen relationships with those brand evangelists by reaching out to thank them, as well as offer special incentives, discounts, and promotions to foster loyalty.

2. Drive Traffic

Pinterest just so happens to be fantastic way to drive traffic. An image can be placed on the pinboard, linking out to your site.

If we look at the link highlighted in the image on the right, thetechlabs.com is mentioned and is clickable. People can see these images and ‘spread the word’ by re-pinning your product or service, or by tweeting, sharing, leaving comments, or visiting your site.

3. Leverage Communities

You can use Pinterest to promote your business by placing a "Pin it" link on your company websites or blog, leveraging your existing community to drive traffic and increase awareness through sharing, and potentially generate sales for your business.

Since Pinterest is primarily a visual media where ‘a picture can say a thousand words", make sure to post strong photos of your products or services so that your community are compelled to share them.

4. Consumer Insight

You can gain consumer insight by manually monitoring shares, re-pins, tweets, traffic and comment feedback, to see which products or services are well received and which ones are not.

Those insights can then be used to identify how to improve those products or services. Some of the metrics above would have to be tracked by Google Analytics, as Pinterest does not have an analytics dashboard....yet. Nonetheless, this can help you answer market research questions more efficiently.

5. Market Validation:

Similar but not the same as consumer insight, Pinterest can help startups and businesses gain insight on how target markets may feel about a product concept or service BEFORE developing it.

For example, if you are a new startup, you can create a mockup design of a product or SAAS, linking that image to a "coming soon" launch page, and then review the data to see if your startup idea is valid.

6. Drive Sales:

Pinterest can also help you market to a particular demographic. On the site, there is a pricing category, so a product can be marketed to a certain income bracket.

Also, since most Pinterest users are under 35, a certain age demographic can be targeted as well. Be sure to include the prices for your items so Pinterest users can shop by price.

Can you think of any other ways Pinterest can be used for business? How are you currently using Pinterest?

5 Lessons Learned from a "Please Hire Me" Blog Post to Radian6

Very often in the blogosphere we tend to turn to the A-listers (HubSpot, Chris Brogan, etc) for social media insight. But sometimes the best lessons learned are not from the A-listers, but from those who dare to demonstrate what "being social" means to them. And I happen to be fortunate enough to know one of those individuals.

Meet Daniel Hebert (@danielghebert)

A Bit of Background First

If you don't know Daniel, he is a fourth year student at Mount Allison University as well a Social Media Manager at Nufocus Strategic Group (and an exceptionally good one at that!). We worked together on the account, and I had the fortunate opportunity to train him for the role (yes, I'm now giving myself an unapologetic pat on the back :P ). I am VERY proud. Dan's understanding of social media is exceptional, and it's easy to train someone who is so brilliant.

See, Dan is a sponge. I can recall sitting down with him for our first training session. He absorbed the information so unbelievably fast that within a few days he learned what takes most individuals months. In other words, he gets what being social is all about.

Well, Dan demonstrated his digital acumen yet again through his application approach for a position with Radian6, a local social media monitoring firm.

Very impressive. There is so much insight that can be taken from Dan's post. Before you continue, take a few moments to read it here, "Why I Should Work For Radian6"

Here are 5 lessons learned from this ingenious post:

 

1. Talk Is Cheap

In this digital era, words are becoming increasingly cheap and taking action is becoming king. Dan demonstrates this very well by showing Radian6 why he is qualified, and not just telling them.

Takeaway:

Don't just talk about what you know. Give examples and show your expertise

 

2. No Guts, No Glory

Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith and not be afraid to be unconventional. That's how you get noticed. Yes, there will always be the possibility of negative press, but sometimes the reward is much higher than the cost.

Takeaway:

 Be unique. Step out of your comfort zone. It might be video blogging, podcasting, etc. Don't be afraid to try something different.

 

3. Reciprocity is Your Friend

Take a close look at Dan's post. You'll notice he applies one of the key principals of being social; Reciprocity. He mentions and links Radian6 in his post, and then shares it out on Twitter, tagging them in the tweet.

Takeaway:

 Include others in your post. Often they will be flattered you did, and it can place you front and center of the conversation. For a great example of this, check out " Are You A Social Media Superstar", where I apply this principle.

 

4. Don't Be Boring

Instead of a typical, boring resume, Dan orchestrates a dynamic portfolio of skills which align with Radian6 's requirements. As well, he highlights keywords and phrases which are important to the employer, and makes use of some excellent visuals to keep the post fresh.

Takeaway:

Keep it fresh and interesting. Use images, video, and highlighted text to demonstrate your skills.

 

 

5. Be Personal

I love how Dan shares a bit about his personal interests, and not just about social media. (see below). This is truly the essence of being social. Also, it demonstrates that Dan is a well balanced and confident individual.

Takeaway: 

People care about you, and not just what you know. Don't be afraid to share some personal details about yourself. And to demonstrate that I do practice what I preach, check out my personal blog

 

What are your thoughts on Dan's unique post? What other lessons can be learned? Have you done something similar in the past? Please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear your point of view.