Archive for Social Media

Facebook Pages Offer an Online Store – Do I Still Need a Website?

A while back, Facebook partnered with Shopify to create a “Shop” section for Facebook Pages. This enabled businesses to sell their products directly, making it a little easier for some of those businesses to have their Pages become true online stores. If your visitor clicks on a product, they can either be pushed from Facebook to your primary website, or you can let them check out directly on Facebook. Payment processing and transaction tracking is handled by Shopify. Facebook will not (at least for now) take a cut for items sold on the site. So the question is; do you still need a website if you’re selling on Facebook?
The answer is a resounding YES. And here’s why;

It may be hard to envision, but Facebook could eventually lose favor. As social media continues to evolve, other sites, like Google+, may become more popular or an entirely new site or technology not created yet may emerge. It’s impossible to predict. But by choosing Facebook instead of a website, you are favoring the short-term over the long-term. You are investing your time and energy in a platform that may not pay you back over time. It may benefit your short term goals but you can never be sure that it’s going to benefit your longer term goals.

In the meantime, without a website, people who don’t use Facebook become incredibly difficult to identify and reach. Not to mention that they may not be able to find you as easily.

You can’t control what Facebook does with its design, its user interface, its functionality, or ad displays. You’re limited in how you can optimize the experience, and your insights (or metrics) are only what Facebook itself decides to pass onto you. Using Google Analytics on your website provides many valuable metrics to help understand your visitors so you can make the most out of your site.

Many businesses received a rude awakening when Facebook adjusted its algorithms so that only the most popular status updates would be seen by most fans of a page. Statistics range anywhere between 8% – 16% of fans see your posts. If you want to reach ALL fans who’ve liked your page, you now have pay for it. If you post 40 times per month, you could spend hundreds of dollars per month to get your message to all your fans.

That said, it’s true that Facebook, with over 1 billion users, has attractive qualities to anyone building an online presence. So you can’t ignore Facebook, but just realize that you don’t call the shots.
At the end of the day, a website is the most effective way to deliver information to your audience. It is a storehouse of information, customized in any way that you choose, to deliver information to your current and potential customers. This is because you are in total control over what is presented.

When people seek information, they usually use Google, or another search engine, to find it. People won’t be inclined to visit Facebook if they have a specific goal or information they’re seeking. Why? Because Facebook is a connection tool for people to stay in touch in a very organic way. It’s not about structured information delivery, but conversation and social engagement. At least that is the current perception. A website, on the other hand, serves as a hub for all people who are interested in your work and are seeking more information or updates directly from you. It doesn’t matter if they heard about you online or offline, people are trained to use their mobile devices, tablets, and desktops to search for more information, and your website is a 24/7/365 resource waiting for them.

Many times, people find out that you’re on Facebook because they’ve visited your website, which also offers many other benefits for your visitors. Aside from having an e-mail newsletter, you may offer ancillary materials they would enjoy, such as additional resources, e-books, Q&A, etc.

Sure, you may need to invest some money for a developer to build your website and assist with an upgrade, redesign or functionality add-ons over time. But for anyone with a long-term goal, this is one of the best and most critical investments you can make.

So yes, use Facebook as ONE of the many arrows in your quiver of marketing methods but don’t discount the need for a website. You might be cutting off your nose to spite your face (as my Mom used to say), and end up being sorry in the long run.

Life in the SMART-THING Age (MVP Editorial)

OK, time for a rant. I read an article that quoted a statistic that 80% of divorces today are attributed to social media. As a deterrent to that, quite a few Attorneys are drafting what is being called a “Social Media Prenup”. Basically this is an agreement that outlines the boundaries or social media restrictions each person has, relative to what can be posted on social media. This new version of a prenup can potentially be used to prevent nude or embarrassing photos or posts that could likely harm a spouse’s professional image or reputation. What is the penalty in a case like this? It could be as much as $50,000 for each offense. Yup. That’s what I thought.

In a traditional prenuptial agreement, the intention is to reaffirm each spouse’s property ownership as well as financial responsibilities during, and after, a marriage. Contracts in general are more palatable to courts when obligations or penalties are in terms of money and not nebulous or ill-defined roles. According to the article I read, monetary fines are more common for “post-breakup violations,” but “in-relationship flubs” merit something like “scrubbing the toilet.” A court is far less likely to enforce a toilet-scrubbing punishment than a monetary fine.

OK dear, if you say something I don’t particularly like on social media you have to do the dishes for two weeks, AND make the beds. Are you kidding me? A social media prenup not only complicates the situation, but can really muddy the marital waters.

What’s wrong with a good ole’ fight? Like… “You shouldn’t have said that on Facebook you dumbass!!!” “Now you get to sleep on the couch for the next couple of nights”. Most of these things will blow over and hopefully won’t cause a marital breakup. So in case you haven’t guessed, I’m not a fan of the social media prenup.

Here’s another thing that chaps my butt… How many times have you been with a few people and everyone is on their smart phone or tablet either looking at email, finding something on the internet, or texting someone? This is REALLY prevalent with the younger set, who would text someone rather than call them. Hell, they’ll even text them if they’re standing five feet away. Why spend so much time typing on that little keypad back and forth when you can just call them and have a conversation? I just don’t get it. We should have parties where we “check all smart devices at the door” like we used to do with car keys. That way we will be forced to actually look at each other and talk to one another, just like in the good old days before all these smart-things.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an iPhone, and an iPad, and even an iPod Touch. I have a Bluetooth headset and a Bluetooth extension speaker. I use them all the time to get things done, look things up, listen to music, set appointments, I use GPS to find places (because I get lost easily)… you know, productive things. I hate texting. For one thing, my fingers are too big for the keypad and it takes me forever and a day to text anything. I know that on my iPhone, Siri can text from voice but I would rather just call the person, say what I have to say and hang up. DONE. You can’t tell what someone is really thinking in a text many times because there is no emotion or inflection i.e. no voice. When you talk to someone you can read their feelings in the way that they say things. There is much less room for misunderstandings when you actually talk to someone. OK, I digress… maybe I’m just showing my age… life is getting too impersonal. Don’t get me going… I’ll just start up on something else.

But I Don’t Have Time for Social Media

I can’t tell you how many times we have heard someone say “I don’t have time for social media, I’m too busy”. Everyone is busy, but when you actually sit down and think about it, are you really?

Do you have 20 minutes every day or every other day to spend on something that could improve your business? In the past, we have helped clients put together organized and well-branded social media programs and trained them on their use only to see them wither and die on the vine from lack of attention.

Remember the old saying

“You can lead a horse to water…”

Would you attend a networking event and choose to sit alone and say nothing? Probably not. That would be a waste of your time and money.

Social media is not an attempt to add more to your already full plate. Online marketing is the way of the world today, and using social media to promote your business has become not just a good thing to do but a required component. When you think you don’t have the time, ask yourself if what you really mean is that you feel uncomfortable with social media, or that you consider other activities more critical than social media, or that you would just “prefer” to do other tasks.

There are some things that you can call a professional and get help with;

  1. Setting up social media profiles
  2. Branding your presence for a professional look
  3. Linking the proper sites such as your website
  4. Training you on the best practices of using the particular channel(s) you’ve decided to use
  5. Social Media Management Services (posting, monitoring, etc.)

We tell our clients that once they have a well-designed presence and know how to use the tools, the only thing left is to just do it. We recommend putting an appointment on your calendar just as you would for a business meeting and when that time arrives, DON’T BLOW OFF THE MEETING. Sit down and do it. Once you get into a regular routine, you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier.

If you have problems, don’t give up. Consult a professional for guidance or training.

Using social media for business today is as important as using email for business was 10 years ago. Everybody wants to expose their products and services to a larger audience. The more people who are aware of your business, the greater the chance you have of turning those connections into referral sources, leads or even paying clients. Remember though, first things first. Be social. Don’t oversell. Opportunities to promote your business will follow in due time.

Why Use a Single Service Provider for Marketing and Branding

An integrated marketing strategy is something most businesses would say they want because it sounds good. However, many are not really sure what that is, what it looks like or why you need one.

The Approach

An integrated marketing strategy is an approach that delivers a consistent message across all marketing channels. Its objective is to insure that your target market receives the same brand image and message about your goods or services, no matter where they see it.

Here are examples of marketing and branding a business might use:

  1. Business Logo
  2. Letterhead/Stationary
  3. Business Cards
  4. Promotional Brochures and/or Flyers
  5. E-Newsletter
  6. Website
  7. Blog
  8. Online Business Directories
  9. Social Media Sites
    1. Facebook
    2. LinkedIn
    3. Twitter
    4. YouTube
    5. Google+
  10. Magazine/Newspaper/TV/Radio/ ads

And this list can go on, and on depending on the business…

In theory, it sounds pretty simple. In practice, it can be surprisingly difficult. Especially if your implementation is fragmented and different people/vendors complete various components. Consistency in colors, fonts, text, graphic styles and message are more difficult to integrate.

The Single Service Provider

The right service provider requires a diverse set of skills. These include web design, graphic design, branding, search engine optimization and social media marketing, just to name a few. Working with the right firm provides the opportunity to develop a branding and marketing strategy that is consistent across all marketing channels before you begin. To find the right service provider, make sure to research your options. Look at their past work, look for reviews or comments on the quality of their work and ask questions.

The Vision

Start with a common vision of what you are trying to achieve. Whether your organization is large, medium or small, the key is to make sure that all decision makers share and agree upon a similar vision of what you are trying to accomplish and why.

The Process

Identify your current position. Quite often, a business will already have one, two or more of these components in place. This requires analyzing the quality of the existing components/materials and determining whether they can be integrated with the overall vision or whether they need to be altered or replaced.

The How

Identify the channels you will use to communicate with your target market. Where will you need to be so that wherever your potential customers look, you are there with a consistent brand appearance and message? This doesn’t mean that you need to be everywhere, or be all things to all people, it just means that you should prioritize your efforts so that the largest part of your target market gets your message.

The Team

Plan for the resources you will need. An integrated marketing approach needs to be worked consistently and across all channels which requires coordination and effort. When you look at failed marketing strategies, as we often do, you find that a top reason they fail is due to a lack of priority. Other factors come into play taking focus away from the plan. Consistency is not easy. One approach many clients use, especially smaller ones with limited resources, is to outsource part or all of the program. This not only brings additional resources to the table, but also objectivity/accountability and specialized skillsets.

The Monitoring

Consistent monitoring and occasional tweaking are necessary. We continually refer to the old adage “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Successful programs always monitor their implementation, measure their success, and make “tweaks” as necessary. Marketing is never a “set it, and forget it” proposition.

The Conclusion

The bottom line is that working with a single qualified service provider to guide you through this maze of tools and techniques is more cost effective, more consistent, you have a single point of contact which reduces confusion and finger pointing, and it typically results in a more cohesive approach with better outcomes.

So I’m on Facebook, Now What Do I Do?

If you are a small to mid-sized business that started up a Facebook account because, well, that’s what all the “in” companies are doing these days, then this post is for you. Good for you for choosing this high-impact, popular social media option as part of your brand identity and communication strategy. Of course it’s only strategic if you implement and operate it well. Here are a few guidelines to help increase your impact and improve your returns on Facebook.

Who Are You?

With the advent of the “Timeline,” Facebook pushed businesses to become more human. Now a company is expected to act more like people. The focus on building relationships has grown from there and now it is likely that a place of business will add pictures from the company picnic or party to the timeline, and perhaps both informational and entertaining links to other websites. Facebook offers a big chance to build a relationship with your customers. You’ve probably heard or seen this quote:

“People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

~ Maya Angelou

You can’t “feel” a machined product, a technology, a building, a telephone wire, a baked good, or whatever your business. Ask yourself “what would I look like on this Facebook page if they took away my product?” What remains is exactly what you talk about the most. Your ability to inspire, connect, communicate and build real relationships. Now you don’t want to be completely devoid of shop talk, but this deeper approach allows you to present your products and services by way of your unique, personal bond that you develop with the audience member.

Think, “How does my product/service connect with the reader to make their life better? How does my company’s existence enhance life for somebody out there; what do we do to make things better in the world?” Rather than opening with “here’s what’s interesting about ME,” let your customer know, “We understand our customers…,” “We are motivated to create the blah blah blah because of these specific things our customers need,” Talk about how connected you are with your readers. On top of that, maybe you donate something, or recycle on a large scale, or fund some kind of research or aid education. Perhaps you are involved in some way that stretches beyond the scope of your product or service. Whatever it is, it is part of your values and says something about who you are. All of these connections are important building blocks between you and your customers. Talk about it and get them talking about it.

Focus on Value or Forget it.

When it comes to online content, keeping customers engaged and wanting more is a balancing act with a focus on quality. Is specific attention placed on high-value content based on serving your customers’ needs? Or are you primarily collecting “likes?” Research shows that 98% of folks who click the “like” button do not return to the Facebook page again*. In the digital marketing game it is critical that a business maintains a high value paradigm or not even bother. To push idle chit chat and fun games is okay for a coffee break, and certainly not every Facebook page has to be too restrained. But if value-driven take-aways are not the priority, your audience will move on to some else’s page where their needs are king. According to Moore, if you are not investing in long-term value relationships by providing content your audience trusts you just might be short for the digital world of business.

Is Facebook Enough?

Be watchful when planning your social media strategy. While employing Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn makes for wise marketing moves, you are playing by someone else’s rules. Absolutely take advantage of the reach and impact these sites offer, but be certain that your website is up-to-date too. The company website, if well-designed and well maintained is the one online marketing source that you own and control in this mix. No one knows what happens to your Facebook page in 6 months. Would your readers seek you out if Facebook ceased to exist and a new social media site went up suddenly? How can you ensure this? It always comes down to building trust, offering relevant high value, and creating strong relationships. Also be sure to point all of your social media messaging to your website where you have complete control of your representation of your brand and values.

So long as you keep your communication efforts aligned with building trust and long-term relationships, you will be likely to make good choices for your online content. Be sure to keep writing and stay on top of your news and information. An up-to-date source of information is much more likely to garner trust and better business. The bottom line, make Facebook, other social media, and your website work for you – and not the other way around.