I have been asked to be on a panel of “experts” who will provide a Social Media Makeover for an Atlanta business this fall. The SMB Social Media Makeover Forum will be part of Digital Atlanta 2011 – a week long (November 7-11) calendar of events that will focus on the digital and social media scene in Atlanta. Last year’s inaugural celebration attracted more than 3,000 people including business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals from various industries, non-profits and educational institutions. Organizers expect an even bigger turnout this year.
Dan Greenfield of Listen Interactive has put together this makeover event which will take place on November 8th. To start building some buzz for the event, Dan has asked his panel of experts the following questions. I thought I would share my answers to these three questions with you.
- What is the biggest lesson you have learned from doing social media?
- What do you think is the most common social media mistake that most newbies commit?
- What is your best makeover tip for a small company (with limited funds) looking to get more fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter?
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from doing social media?
I have learned the power these tools offer. We are living in an amazing time where each and every business has the ability to get their message, products, services, out to people who are seeking them locally or worldwide, even on a very small budget. What is possible today is unprecedented in that before, small businesses were limited by not being able to afford the amount of advertising, PR, or Tradeshow presence needed to reach even a fraction of their niche. Using social media in conjunction with a content management website has allowed me to develop a strong reputation and following that has translated into finding my “right” clients and having as much business as I want. My simple strategy has been to use my WordPress website with a blog as the hub of my marketing efforts. I am consistent in adding frequent free, informative content to my website and interacting with people there. I then use e-mail marketing, Twitter and Facebook as well as strategic off line activities to engage with people and build a community. My website is structured to appeal to my “right” clients. I give them the information they need and if they need me to help them I have clearly defined my services so that people who visit my website feel like they know me, and know what I do and whether they are a fit to work with me. When these tools are used strategically, in conjunction with each other magic can happen.
What do you think is the most common social media mistake that most newbies commit?
The most common mistake is the “all about us” syndrome. In order to really grown your brand with Social Media you must engage with people in a way that does not feel salesy. I believe a 80/20 rule is helpful. 80% about interacting with others; tweeting and retweet their posts and tweets, responding to people’s questions about your brand, making comments on their blogs, taking part in Twitter chats and generally participating in a personal way with your interactions online. This builds up a great deal of good will and you develop a strong following of online friends who are big supporters and they will return the favor when you post important info that you want to be shared.
What is your best makeover tip for a small company (with limited funds) looking to get more fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter?
On Twitter, I would first make sure I had a great bio and start posting interesting information and connecting with people I knew were on Twitter and knew me. Next, I would use Tweepi to look up people that are friends or competitors in your niche who are very active on Twitter. I would then look at the list of their followers or the people they follow. I would follow a couple of hundred of those people. 40% may follow you back. I would wait a couple of weeks and use Tweepi to clean out people that did not follow you back since Twiiter won’t let you get your ratio of the number of people you follow to the number of people that follow you back get too far out of balance. Keep this up for a month or two as you are also continuing to have good information and connections with your twitter followers. People are more likely to follow you back when they see you are for real and are tweeting about things they are interesting in and not spamming or pushing out automated tweets.
This is definitely a “Do As I Say Not As I Do” tip. As a small business, I have to juggle my various social media and marketing activities within the time available and also be able to get my client work done. In order to decide where to spend your limited time, assess where you will get the biggest bang for your buck, time wise and concentrate your efforts there. In my case, Twitter has been the place that I have found effective in creating relationships with people that are gatekeepers and referral sources for me. A lot of my clients are new to Social Media so may not yet be on twitter but neither are they on Facebook pages. If Facebook is more pertinent to your niche then I you may want to take following advice.
Instead of automating your Facebook Page entries using an RSS feed, I suggest adding your posts to your Facebook Page by hand. Write something personal to introduce each post from your blog and add other posts that are not on your blog. People are much more willing to engage with your content when it has that personal touch. To get more likes, comments and interaction on your page, ask for and answer questions, hold a contest, invite interaction in some clever way pertinent to your brand or niche.
How would you answer these three questions? I would love to hear your favorite makeover tips.