Thursday, 22 August 2013

3 Strategies for Finding Customers With Social Media

social media how toDo you need a strategy to reach your ideal prospects with social media?
Are you overwhelmed by all the social media options?
If so, you’re not alone. Social media overwhelm is one of the biggest challenges businesses face.
In this article, I’m going to show you three social media strategies so you can focus your efforts on the channels that best align with your business objective and target audience.

The Simple Solution

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution for it: only focus on where your customers are.
Where are your customers on social media? Image source: iStockPhoto.
Once you find out where your customers are on social media, it becomes easier tocome up with a strategy that will help you find your future customers.
Here are three strategies you should consider:

Strategy #1: Ask Your Customers

Asking is the low-hanging fruit that’s easy for small business owners to overlook. It’s such a simple thing to do and allows you to further cement the personal connection you have with your customers.
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, when your customers visit your location, ask whether they use social media. If you have another type of business, figure out the best time and place to ask your customers whether they use social media.
If they do use social media, ask them what channels they spend their time on. Is it FacebookPinterest? Maybe it’s LinkedIn.
Maybe they don’t even use social media. By asking, you’d know.
If your customers are using social media, take it a step further and ask them how they like to be engaged on those channels. This will give you invaluable insight into how you can best add value in a way they’ll find useful.
You can also take the same approach if your business is online.
Most online businesses have an email listSend your customer contacts an email and ask the same questions. It doesn’t have to be the subject of an entire email, necessarily; just a simple “P.S.” at the end of your weekly newsletter or part of a quarterly survey you send out should work wonders.
email ps
Ask you using a P.S. in your email.
Implementing this strategy can separate you and your business from your competitors, because so few businesses make the effort to ask. Asking removes any assumptions you may have about where your customers are hanging out online and shows them how much you care.
This is an easy way to get the important information you need to set up a successful social media strategy for your business.

Strategy #2: Use Google Alerts

I’m sure you’ve heard of Google Alerts, but are you using them?
If not, you’re missing a simple and free way to monitor what’s going on in your industry and find where your customers are online.
Google Alerts are updates you can set up in Google that allow you to keep track of a specific topic anytime it’s mentioned on the web.
For example, you can monitor if you or your business is mentioned across the web or keep track of industry news. When there’s a mention of your topic, you receive an email with a link to that search result.
How does this help you find your customers on social media?
Say you’re a small toy company that specializes in locally made wooden toys. You have an online presence but want to expand it and you think that social media might be an effective strategy. You’re unsure, though, which channels your target audience is using.
You could use Google Alerts to find this out.
You decide to enter “birthday gift ideas for kids” as a search query in Google Alerts. And the results show Pinterest boards and articles on “mommy blogs” that are relevant to your business.
When checking out the Pinterest board, you also find several other boards that are similar to your niche. Bingo! Pinterest may be one social channel you want to focus on.
Here’s how to set up your Google Alerts:
  • Go to Google Alerts.
  • Enter the term or phrase you want to monitor in the Search Query field.
  • Choose the type of results you’d like to get in the Result Type field. (I recommend starting out with “Everything.” You can always change it once you see the type of results you’re getting.)
  • Then choose how often you want to receive the results, how many results you want (I recommend “Only the best results”) and the email where you want to receive them.
    google alerts
    Here's how to set up Google Alerts.
Google Alerts require a little market research, but can get you the valuable information you need to find the social media strategy that works best for your business.

Strategy #3: Use the Search Function Within Social Channels

Sometimes you may want to take a deeper dive into researching your customerson a specific social media platform. Or you may love using a certain social platform and want to know whether your customers are there too. You can use the platform’s search functionality to quickly find out if your customers use the same one.
Each social channel has a search function that gives you the opportunity to instantly determine whether your customers are using it. And this can be as simple as entering the names of some of your customers in the search box on the social platform.
You can also search on things like your niche topic, relevant industry leaders, brands within your niche and any competitors you might have.
Using the search function is another simple and effective strategy that’s often overlooked, yet it will give you great insight into whether your customers are actively using that platform.
If you have a large customer base, consider pulling together a short list selection of the typical customers you want to reach on social media, and thensearch for them on a social media platform. This would give you information to work with.
google+ community search
Google+ Community search.
Or use the LinkedIn Search:
linkedin search
LinkedIn search.
Twitter’s Advanced Search is especially effective because not only can you search by all the attributes mentioned above, you can also search within a specific geographic region.
twitter search
Twitter Advanced Search includes geographic locations.
Remember to stay up to date with changes on your favorite social platform. For example, there have been developments recently with Facebook Graph Search.
Conducting a little research on your customers using the search functions on the social platforms can help you determine where you should invest your social media marketing.
Finding Your Customers Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
Use these simple, effective (and free!) ideas to find which social channels your customers are using.
As a business, if you’re not engaging with your customers on their terms, you’re missing a huge opportunity to add value and ultimately grow your business.
Focus your efforts on the few channels that align with your customers andbusiness objectives and let your competitors be overwhelmed by thinking they need to be on every social media platform.

What do you think? Have you used any of these simple strategies to find out which social channels your customers are using? What other strategies have you used to find where your customers are online? Let me know in the comments below.
Author: Rick Mulready.  Article source:

Thursday, 8 August 2013

5 Social Media Tactics to Increase ROI

Social can be one of the most challenging platforms for brands to measure return on investment. Companies that grew up on traditional advertising and metrics often have trouble making sense of the value of the online ecosystem. But with 52% of U.S. consumers using the web as their primary purchase tool, it's an area brands can't afford to ignore.
Last week the commenting and social curation platform Livefyre hosted an evening chat with a handful of influential analysts, marketers and publishers, sharing thoughts on need-to-know ROI growth tools. It's a formula Forrester Senior Analyst Kim Celestre calls "social depth," a fancy phrase for discovering, exploring and engaging with online consumers, eventually leading those conversations back to brands' websites.
Here's the social depth formula broken down into five, easy tips.

1. Engage

User-generated content, blog posts, videos, tweets and chatter are all over the web. Harnessing the power of brand advocates, addressing customer concerns and fixing problems empowers participation. It's easier to put out a fire than it is to ignore it.
People want to interact and create relationships with brands online. Catering to those fans via product giveaways, social interaction and real replies separate the companies that get it from the ones still in the dark.
"The consumer is boss, so we have to match that," explains Andrew Backs, P&G's manager for global business development. "Look for solutions to unlock the consumer voice."

2. Be Authentic

You can't fake it online, says Sid Shuman, who runs social media for Sony Playstation. "They can smell that a mile away."
The same die-hard brand advocates championing your product will be the first to call out shady behavior or content that doesn't reflect brand culture. When in doubt, ask your community for help when it comes to content. Shuman suggests crowdsourcing content for in-house interview and articles. Because they live and breathe the brand, fans "come up with better questions that we could any day," he says.

3. Keep Content Premium

Hitting "publish" is social suicide if the material isn't quality. Take advantage of Wordpress, Tumblr and social media to craft strong messages. Know the rules and follow them: Every network requires a specific approach and language (tweets are written differently than Facebook posts).
Stick to a calendar for posting, and focus on making followers feel part of the brand's family. Using platforms solely as selling tools quickly alienates customers. Hire professionals—and fight the urge to turn sites into content farms or automate feeds.
Peter Yared, CBS Interactive's CTO/CIO suggests using your sites to curate and amplify positive content about your company. "Find the interesting content that’s being posted and use it to bring value to your audience."

4. Integrate Real-Time Apps

Incorporate social into every aspect of what you do, says Jordan Kretchmer, Livefyre's founder and chief executive. Kretchmer's company reports 88% of businesses using Twitter feeds, comments, ratings and reviews on homepages increases user engagement. Forty-two percent boosted their average time on site.
It may sound painfully simple, but adding these tools are the equivalent of a restaurant showing off a top health code letter grade. It empowers consumers to interact and share content. Plus, constant updating improves search engine visibility much more than static pages.

5. Experiment

Nothing risked is nothing gained, especially when it comes to social. Fail and see what works. Test tone, style and new monetizing tools, such as native advertising, which serves sponsored content, tweets and Facebook stories. eMarketer reports 73% of U.S publishers now offer some form of native advertising. But be careful: This hot topic still often fails to hook users, as do most click-bait attempts.
Did we miss something? Engage with us and share your tips in the comments below.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Generate Leads

Are you unsure about where and how to focus your efforts to meet your lead generation goals?

social media how toDo you use social media to generate inbound leads for your business?
According to HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Annual Report, social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail or PPC.
If you’re starting a lead generation campaign, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are all excellent places to begin, but knowing how to pull leads from the conversations that happen on these platforms takes some knowledge and practice.
In this article, I’ll share 4 ways you can use social media to generate inbound marketing leads for your business.

#1: Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are frequently scheduled discussions hosted by a Twitter account. Each chat uses a particular hashtag so that other Twitter users can follow the conversation even though topics change with each discussion.
Because of the focused audience communities that participate in Twitter chats, they are a great place to generate leads for your business.
small biz chat
The #SmallBizChat is an example of a Twitter chat that successfully engages its community every week.
How do you start? You can participate in Twitter chats in two ways: Join existing Twitter chats that are related to your industry or create and host your own Twitter chat. Whichever route you choose, join in on relevant chats that potential customers would be participating in to make sure you gain visibility with the right people.
You can find industry- and subject-specific chats that relate to your business in this extensive library of existing Twitter chats.
likeable chat
#Likeablechat is a weekly chat that offers social media tips and an opportunity to network with other marketers.
When participating in a Twitter chat, it’s important to be a good participant. This will help you to attract the leads you want for your business.
Use the hashtag set by the host. Ask and answer questions with contributions that are insightful and illustrate your understanding of the industry and your business offerings. Stay on topic and remember—this is not the forum for pitching your services.
Twitter chats are a place to establish thought leadership and credibility.
twitter chat participant
Join conversations in chat with valuable tips and insights to establish yourself as a credible source.
Here’s how to get the leads you’re looking for.
Once you’re taking part in a chat, research other participants who have tweeted you as part of the discussion or have participated in the chat overall.
conversation with other chat members
Friendly conversation with other chat members can help strengthen your ties and build long-lasting relationships on Twitter.
Follow individuals who could be potential customers down the line and keep tabs on any of their conversations that relate to your services.
Tweet with these connections outside of the chat and, when the time is right,direct message them to share additional links to content or marketing materials you have that will further establish your expertise and what your business could offer them.
Be sensitive and strategic in your pitch. Don’t oversell, spam, over-tweet or be vague with these relationships.
Wait for the right time in conversation to message someone about your business offerings. When you focus on building the right relationships through your Twitter chats, you’re sure to gather leads.

#2: LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups are made up of a variety of subject areas, bringing together professionals of similar interests to discuss topics that relate to business. Again, you can find potential leads by either creating your own LinkedIn Group or by joining an existing group that focuses on your area of expertise.
While it’s possible to join up to 50 groups, I suggest you focus your efforts on a few of the right groups for your business.
linkedin group
Join LinkedIn Groups where potential customers or clients may be active, then engage in relevant conversations.
Browse the directory of groups to find the right match, join the discussions and connect with existing members. Begin by consistently posting your own content or others’ content that’s on topic. Participate in existing conversations by answering questions and providing resources.
ask questions
People ask questions in almost every LinkedIn Group, answer them to bring value and help establish relationships.
Here’s how to get the leads you’re looking for.
Identify group members who continually ask questions about your line of business or members who are generally looking for help. Publicly answer their questions from within the group, providing value and using brevity, then follow up with a more in-depth message by using the Reply Privately feature. This way you have both a public and a private point of contact with them.
reply privately feature
The Reply Privately feature is an often-overlooked tactic for generating quality leads from a one-on-one conversation where you’re able to provide value and build trust. This feature is found below a group member’s question under the More tab or by hovering over one of their comments in the discussion.
In your private message, answer their question in full and let them know you’re available to chat more extensively on the topic by phone, if need be. Phone calls within the right context, like a LinkedIn intro, are more likely than a cold call to turn this conversation into a potential lead-builder for your business.
When you focus on establishing credibility with the information you share and then take the relationships you make in LinkedIn Groups to the next step and one-on-one conversations, you’ll gather leads.

#3: Facebook Advertising

Running ads on Facebook can fulfill many different goals, one of which is generating leads from the right audiencePromoted Posts—an engaging form of Facebook advertising—highlight your content in the newsfeed of that audience.
promoted post
Promoted Posts generate more views of your content than it would organically receive on its own on Facebook, giving it that extra boost.
While Facebook isn’t often conducive to direct sales, you can build trust with Facebook users when you consistently distribute quality content and engage in one-to-one communication through long-term interactions.
Use Promoted Posts to highlight quality content from your Facebook Page or your website. Share a link to your latest contest, ebook, instructional video, blog post, lookbook or other content that doesn’t send Facebook users directly to a product or services landing page.
sign up form
Signup forms like this one from Offerpop require Facebook users to enter information about themselves in order to enter a contest or see original content.
Here’s how to get the leads you’re looking for.
To help you capitalize on the click-through of a Facebook user, use a signup form that reveals the content on your website or Facebook tab only after the user fills out any required information that you define. This could be an email address, demographic data or geographic location information.
The more information your business has about a Facebook user, the better you can personalize your future messaging to match their interests, making it more likely that they will convert from lead to customer in the future.
With a content strategy adapted to your audience on Facebook and the consistent visibility offered by Promoted Posts, you’ll likely gather leads from your community on Facebook.

#4: Google+ Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts on Air give you the ability to communicate directly with your audience online, in real time.
Consider hosting a hangout focused on your offerings as a business to show the audience your unique value and, most importantly, to show a human face behind your business.
The types of hangouts that are beneficial for lead generation are:
  • Customer service sessions
  • Interviews with experts and leaders
  • Giveaways and contests
  • Free product demos
    sephora hangout
    Sephora hosted a Google+ Hangout on Air to discuss what’s happening behind the scenes and to talk with beauty bloggers and experts about the latest trends in beauty.
There are many ways to host a Hangout on Air with your audience. You can allow anyone to join in the conversation or limit the discussion to a few individuals. Choose the approach best suited to your the goals.
From the beginning, define what you’re looking to achieve from your hangout and how you plan to connect with your audience before, during and after the event.
Here’s how to get the leads you’re looking for.
Offer value above all, and use strong calls to action throughout your Hangout on AirEncourage participants and viewers to interact with your business, learn more about your offerings and give people the tools and information they need to make an informed decision about their purchases.
Record your Google+ hangout and save it to YouTube so you can use the video in a blog postshare it across social media and add it to relevant YouTube playlists.
To further drive leads for your business, add links to the products and services discussed on the hangout in the description of the YouTube video for easy reference.
sephora youtube links
In the YouTube video from their hangout, Sephora included links to the products they discussed to make it as easy as possible for people to become customers.
Google+ Hangouts on Air offer businesses a great opportunity to create content and connect with potential clients.
Over to You
Social media offers many untapped opportunities to connect with potential leads for your business. These are just a few suggestions on how you can activate your social audiences and generate leads that can affect your bottom line.
What do you think? How are you using social media to drive leads for your business? What social media channels have you found most successful for generating leads? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Author: Brian Honigman  Source: