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Thoughts on Demystifying Social Media

Posted By Becky Hull, Sunday, January 17, 2010

SOCIAL MEDIA: When we first put social media on the agenda, I was a bit wary of the topic…not because I don't think we should use it, but more because I felt that it was one of MANY ways to market your business and should be considered within a larger context. However, for small business—for someone on a VERY limited budget, it is exactly the tool to consider!

Social media acts as a lightning rod for people. Though I consider myself somewhat technologically savvy, I had shied away from Twitter and Facebook until recently. I understood LinkedIn, thought it was incredibly useful and it met my needs as I networked my way to connect with colleagues I had worked with almost twenty years ago.

Facebook, like myspace, originally, was where my teens were, and therefore, I wasn't allowed. However, I logged on and created my profile. Even my twenty year old son became my friend. (Not my 16 year old daughter, though.)

I soon became sucked in to the Big Three (FB, Twitter and LinkedIn), spending way too much time on them. I had little to say but I did enjoy checking out what my virtual friends were up to. At some point, not too far along, I realized that I never really wanted to know what my BFF from third grade drank at Starbucks that morning. I swore Facebook off...for personal use.

Quite another story for business—when we launched B.I.G. back in September, Jackie Somers nominated B.I.G. for an American Express "Shine a Light” grant. The grant is terrific, awarding small businesses money each year. We shared our nomination with friends and colleagues through our Facebook personal pages as well through our B.I.G. page and in just under two weeks, we had qualified for the judging round (and we hadn't really launched the website yet). Just by telling our story and sharing, we had over 1500 people reading our endorsement! What a great way to get the word out. Since then, we have started a fan page!

So my take on it is this...we (as marketers) need to use social media wisely and carefully but we need to use it. Persona is everything and just like any direct mail package, press release or print ad you create for your business, stay on message and be consistent. And remember that 80% of social media is NOT selling—it is engaging.

Maintain all the tenets of the "old” way of marketing. Know your audience. Build your brand. Decide prior to launch what your goals are and work to make every marketing tactic lead toward those goals.

Five (relatively simple) Steps:

1) Create a page. The time commitment these take can be extensive. There are tools such as oomph.com, bit.ly.com etc, that can shorten what you want to say and schedule when you want to say it. Spend some time exploring the different sites and what they offer. Check out someone else's page with a similar business or lifestyle and see what you think. Learn from others. Read The Twitter Book to learn more about how to use Twitter.

2) Create your brand. What do you want people to know about you? Your product? Be innovative, try a few different things. The cost is time. Create different campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn and experiment with offers. Create purchase intent by driving your customers first to explore your site, then purchase.

3) Change it up. This is also where the issue of time comes in. But don't go crazy, if you are sick of your site, that doesn't mean your clients are. You see your page everyday, they don't.

4) Choose your friends wisely. Join groups and befriend those that make sense to you and your business.

5) Remember that social media is part of a larger marketing mix (if you have dollars to spend). In the meantime, enjoy and stay focused!

We are experimenting ourselves. Let us know how we are doing. We know we don't post enough, blog enough or twitter enough. We are working on it. We are introducing B.I.G. through Twitter, facebook and LinkedIn to build our membership in 2010. We have a YouTube video that we created when we had our launch party. We are trying to use that too! Work with us to help us reach our goal...you can follow us on Facebook at Business Ideas Group, and our B.I.G. fan page, on Twitter and on LinkedIn at Business Ideas Group (B.I.G.). Keep the conversation going....and keep it relevant.

Tags:  facebook  getting the word out there  linkedin  marketing  members  new members  pr for meetings  social media  twitter 

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Social Media - It's All About Making Relationships

Posted By Tara Gilvar, Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Social media” is our topic of discussion at B.I.G.  

Sounds simple enough.  As a woman, I definitely am attracted to the social part of the social media  equation.   But, when I hear terms like "blogging,” "micro-blogging,” "tweeting” and "re-tweeting,” my eyes begin to glaze over and I start to think that the entire thing may be just too intimidating to tackle.

 Despite my reservations, I have continued my research on social media and have discovered that the premise of social media isn’t all that complex after all.   With some hard work and a strategy for success, social media can be one of the best – and least expensive – ways to promote our businesses.

In a guide written by David Marine of Coldwell Banker, he boils down the definition of social media to this: "it is people having conversations on line.” 

Now, that’s something that I think all women – especially the women of B.I.G. - are more than capable of mastering.  Women thrive on building relationships.  If social media helps us use our power of building relationships to increase our business success, then it is definitely a tool we should examine more carefully.

Like me, you’ve probably heard of some of the more well known social media sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter.  Many of you may already be members of these free sites. But, do you know how they differ?  Are you using them effectively to further your business?   If the answer is no, then this month’s theme will help you break down barriers and encourage you to at least step into the social media pool. 

Let’s explore some of the basics: 


Facebook = Mall  

Facebook is probably the most common social media site for women like us.  In fact, statistics say that Facebook users have increased 276% among 35-54 year olds.  So, it’s likely that you are at least familiar with Facebook and have made a conscious decision to either join or not to join. 

 If you’re on it, you’ve probably already connected with people from your past, friends and relatives that live far away and have become "friends” with people who know people that you know.   According to Marine, we should think of Facebook as a virtual mall.  It’s an online place where we can encounter hundreds of people from various parts in our lives on a daily basis in both a casual and social way. 

 If used effectively,  Facebook could be a great on-line tool that enables people in your lives – otherwise known as potential customers – to get to know you and become educated about "how good you are at what you do.”  Because of its personalized nature and its ability to create relationships, Marine suggests that Facebook is a more effective marketing tool than any postcard you could design or  any promotional item you could manufacture.  Not to mention-- using Facebook is free!


LinkedIn = Business Lunch

Unlike Facebook, which is personal, casual and informal, the LinkedIn site is more professional and business-minded.  Marine defines LinkedIn as an "online business luncheon.”  It’s an online place to meet other business professionals and offers us the opportunity to manage our business contacts.  It is simply a great networking resource, a way to reconnect with old and new business colleagues, and friends of colleagues who you might be able to do business with.

It is here that you can participate in message boards, establish business contacts, find vendors and distributors for your products and services and search for job opportunities or for potential employees.  And you won’t have to eat the "rubber chicken” lunches or spend the afternoon checking out people’s nametags!


Twitter = Breaking News

There’s a lot of debate among marketing executives about the benefits of twitter.  Some simply do not understand what value there is in a message containing only 140 characters.   But for Twitter champions, Twitter is the best way to find breaking news in any industry in the shortest amount of time.  By "following” credible industry experts, you can acquire the very latest (even up to the minute) information on your business.  Keeping in mind the old adage "information is power,” Twitter can be a great tool to set you apart from the competition.  [As for those intimidating twitter terms  like "tweet” – that’s just a fancy way of saying you’re "updating your information.”]

Now, that you can see how simple social media actually is, it’s important to realize that it’s not magic.  It takes a lot of work to maintain your social media relationships and you will not get effective business results if you don’t know exactly what you are looking to achieve before you begin.  However, with consistent dedication  -- even just 15 minutes a day -- and a clear strategy, social media can be one the best (and definitely one of the least expensive) tools entrepreneurial women have to showcase their business, identify potential customers and generate real sales.   


Our B.I.G challenge for the month is to explore at least three social media sites that you never visited before.  We ask that the first place you start be at our www.justthinkbig.us website and create your member profile.  On our B.I.G. site, you have the ability to post your business information, share product photos, make connections with other B.I.G members, participate in forums and promote your business to other women -- just like you – in a safe and supportive environment.  If you simply don’t know how to begin, just contact Jacky Segovia on our B.I.G. HQ team at jsegovia@justthinkbig.us and she’ll be happy to set up a training call with you at your convenience.

Good luck and don’t be intimidated to explore!

 Tara

 

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Tags:  online relationships  social media 

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