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You’ve heard the buzz. But you don’t have any idea where to start. It starts with a strategy, rooted in a desire to forge better relationships with your customers. Your time is already crunched, and you’re probably wondering where you’re going to fit social media into the big picture. But instead of thinking of this as something new, look at social media as an enhanced way of doing the business you’re already doing.

There are thousands of resources across the web about social media about theory and practice. The best thing you can do to get started in earnest with social media is to educate yourself about what’s happening out there. Why this is important: The same reason that you need a license before you can drive. You have to learn the rules of the road. Immersing yourself in practical knowledge is important to having real world perspective about what works and what doesn’t. It’s not about theory. It’s about execution. How it fits into your plan: You’re probably already doing professional development work or research. Dedicate two hours a week to learning more about social media within these boundaries.

Understanding the Role of Social Media in Marketing What the heck is social media and what role does it play in my marketing? This is probably a question I wouldn't have received two years ago, but yet today it's the most common question that enters my inbox. First off, let's talk about what social media is. Social media represents low-cost tools that are used to combine technology and social interaction with the use of words. These tools are typically internet or mobile based. A few that you have probably heard of include Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. Social media gives marketers a voice and a way to communicate with peers, customers and potential consumers. It personalizes the "brand" and helps you to spread your message in a relaxed and conversational way. The downfall to social media, if you could call it that is that it must be a part of your everyday life in order to keep the momentum and attention you need for it to be successful. If you think that social media is only for the small business owners that are trying out an experiment, I have to correct you. Here are just a few companies that have become involved in social media: Absolut Vodka - Online Video on YouTube and Using Facebook to house their Top Bartender fan page. BMW - Utilizing Facebook to promote their 1-Series Road Trip and they have created a Rampenfest Page for fans. Dunkin Donuts - That's right they've found value in social media and have set up a microblogging Twitter account. Barack Obama - In my examples, I can't leave out future President Barack Obama. He has been seen as a leader in the use of Twitter during the Presidential Election. He has over 170,000 followers and is following over 165,000. Personally I remember the "twitter buzz" during the Presidential Debates as well as the election. As you can see we have adult beverage companies, exotic automobile manufacturers, pastry shops and our future President using social media tool, it's not to hard to figure out that there is something to it. What role should it play in your marketing? As most of you know my view of marketing is it's a tool we use to inform consumers about our products, who we are and what we offer. Social media does that. Here is how:


We can use social media to provide an identity to who we are and the products or services that we offer.

• • • •

We can create relationships using social media with people who might not otherwise know about our products or service or what our companies represent. Social media makes us "real" to consumers. If you want people to follow you don't just talk about the latest product news, but share your personality with them. We can use social media to associate ourselves with our peers, that may be serving the same target market. We can use social media to communicate and provide the interaction that consumers look for. As you can see social media carries with it a lot of value, but how do you do it right?

• •

You cannot just depend on social media, you must integrate it with other vehicles of marketing. While social media will create awareness, I'm not convinced that in the beginning it will sell a million dollars worth of product. That's not to say that one day once you've built up your social media "stardom" that it won't, but it probably won't happen tomorrow. Be yourself, reflect personality. There are no written "right" or "wrong" rules when it comes to social media, only you can determine what will work for you. Be consistent, if you do not plan on being consistent don't do it at all - it's a waste of everyone's time. Success stories are abundant when it comes using social media from headhunters that find job applicants to new businesses that want to introduce a new product as well as already established Fortune 500 companies that want to strengthen their brand. The role of social media in your marketing is to use it as a communication tool that makes you accessible to those interested in your product and makes you visible to those that don't know your product. Use it as a tool that creates a personality behind your brand and creates relationships that you otherwise may never gain. This creates not only repeat-buyers, but customer loyalty. Fact is social media is so diversified that it can be used in whatever way best suits the interest and the needs of your business.

Chris Treece Founder & CEO 615-415-0161

How to Manage Your Online Reputation If you've ever Googled your name, you know how important managing your reputation online can be. Each day, thousands of individuals are searching online for information about others simply by searching on Google or other leading search engines. With information being so readily available, managing your reputation is more important than ever. How to Manage Your Reputation Online Fortunately, managing your reputation online isn't all that difficult, but it does take work. Here are 7 basic steps you can take to ensure that your reputation doesn't become negatively impacted by what's being said about you online. 1. See where you stand. Start your reputation management initiative by Googling your name. Try it with quotes and with out (first and last name together). Look through each of your results on page one and page two of Google. Are there any negative items you wish to remove? 2. Set up a Google alert. Visit Google and set up an alert for your name. After setting up the alert Google will send you and email to confirm that you wish to receive the updates. Accept the alert and each time your name is published to the Web, you'll know about it. 3. Contact website owners for name removal. If there are sites that include your name and commentary that is less than desirable, contact the appropriate websites requesting that the information be removed. More often than not, website owners will agree to remove your name and/or inappropriate information. 4. Purchase a domain with your name. Add sites and WebPages associated with your name and watch negative search results get pushed lower on Google rankings. Visit GoDaddy or another provider of website URLs and hosting, and purchase a domain that contains your name. Even if your name is rather common, experiment with variations until your name can be established in the form of a dot com. Once you own a domain, publish a webpage with your personal profile. 5. Start a blog under your name. Blogger is a great tool for setting up your own blog which can be used to publish information about yourself. Popular blog sites are often picked up by Google and you can control the content. Be sure to sign up for Technorati after your blog has been published. Submit your blog for review and its popularity will increase, improving search rankings and continuing to push down negative search results. 6. Free press release. Use or a similar free press release site to publish favorable information about your and your reputation. This form of reputation management is easy and costs nothing. Be sure to use your name throughout the release and in the release title. 7. Author articles in your field. Publish article relative to a particular topic or area in which you've done some work or have experience. Use article distribution services to build online references to your content. Make sure your articles contain an about the author section that links back to your main website.

There are a variety of strategies you can use to manage online references about you, your family, or others that need to manage their reputation online. Other online sites like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, and Squidoo, offer ample opportunity to deliver favorable search results that can push unfavorable results down in search engine rankings. The key is to start today - proactively manage your reputation and put yourself in a favorable light.

Chris Treece Founder & CEO 615-415-0161

Be Seen in Social Media to Get Noticed According to recent data collected by comScore, GroupM and M80, display ad exposure on social media networking sites lifts consumer response to your ads in paid search. Consumers are more likely to recognize and respond to your paid Google ad if they have also seen your display ads on a site such as Facebook or Linkedin. Research showed a 19 percentage point increase in searches on the study group brand among users who saw social media ads relevant to the brand. In other words---if someone sees your business in an ad on Facebook or another social media site…..and then sees you’re paid in a Google search…they are much more likely to recognize you. “Every day consumers express their intent via search. Now, we better understand how that intent is established via social media and the interplay between the channels,” says Chris Copeland, the CEO of GroupM Search—The Americas. Better yet, shoppers who have been exposed to influenced social media along with a paid search ad had a 50% higher click through rate! Now, that’s something to get excited about! “This finding provides strong evidence that investing in social media marketing can both increase initial brand consideration and drive higher conversion rates once the consumer has decided to purchase,” says Graham Mudd, the VP of comScore. If you are still dragging your heels and not utilizing the amazing opportunities for social media marketing---get with the program! You can build your business tremendously with social media marketing. It’s HOT and it’s getting hotter every day! Catch the wave and get in on the action! Facebook and Linkedin are great social media communities to join, but there are quite a few others. In fact, if you have a more specialized niche, it would be a good idea for you to do a Google search for online communities with users who have interests relevant to your products. For example, if you are selling auto accessories, join a social community of auto enthusiasts. The word is out about how being seen on social media sites can boost your click-throughs in paid search, so get busy making your business visible!

Chris Treece Founder & CEO 615-415-0161

Social Media Marketing: Friends With Benefits Nowadays, social media marketing is very much akin to a friends with benefits type of situation. Always bear in mind when thinking about and planning social media marketing campaigns and strategy that you have to focus more on making friends than selling your products and promoting your business! Social media is just that, social. In order to utilize social media marketing effectively, it is important for you to understand and realize that fact. Be friendly. Be sociable. Be somebody that other people want to get to know better instead of only trying to be somebody people will buy things from. Actually, one of the basic tenets of salesmanship is that people will buy from those people they like. So, if you are likeable and friendly on social sites, you will certainly be much more likely to make sales to the friends and followers you acquire along the way! One word of caution: If you are not yet active in social media marketing but plan to be in the near future, you had better go ahead and reserve the user name you want to have on the social sites you plan to frequent. All of the major social media communities such as Facebook and Twitter are growing at astounding rates and adding new members daily. So, this might well be a situation of he who hesitates is lost, because if you wait long, someone else will probably grab the user name you want. When using SEO with social media, though, keep in mind that you are writing for real people, not a search engine. Remember that you are addressing friends, not Google. Make your Twitter tweets and Facebook Wall posts, etc. accordingly! If you go at social media marketing expecting to run it solely in a business-like way with lots of sales hype, you’ll be doomed before you even get started. Think of social media marketing more along the lines of friends with benefits that can help you grow your online business!

Chris Treece Founder & CEO 615-415-0161

How to Market Your Business on Facebook We all used to think Facebook was for kids; I’m with you I used to think the same thing as well, but it’s time to change our thinking. There are many companies using Facebook to market and seeing success in doing so. Consider the following statistics provided by O’Reilly Media. Between September 2008 and February 2009… • • • •

The number of Facebook users between the ages of 35 and 44 increased by 51% Facebook users among the ages 45-54 grew by 47% Facebook users ages 26-34 increased by 26% More than half of the 140 million Facebook users are out of college

As you can see Facebook is no longer for just college students. Why should you use Facebook as a marketing tool? The answer is easy; you can use Facebook to gain new clients, stay in touch with current clients and promote new products and sales offers. You can also use it to create buzz and PR that is specific about your business. How do you do this? Facebook offers you many tools, to be successful in marketing your business you must have an understanding of these tools. In this article we will look at two in particular: • •

Facebook Pages Facebook Groups

Facebook Pages Facebook Offers you Facebook Pages. What does that mean? You can use Facebook Pages to create and give your business their own profile on Facebook; the best thing is right now they are free. These pages give your business an identity on Facebook which strengthens your brand. Current customers or even potential customers can become fans of your page and by doing so this allows them to follow you and receive any updates that you post to your page. The great thing about Facebook Pages is that every time someone becomes a fan of your page all of their friends see that they have become a “fan.” This often attracts other followers as well as creates a buzz regarding your business and of course your Facebook Page.

You can use your Facebook Page to not only share your company information, but you can also use it to post photos, videos, applications and messages. Any activity that you perform on your Facebook Page is then broadcast into the mini-feeds of your followers. When creating your Facebook Page, there are things to keep in mind. You will be given a choice of three options when you start out. You will be asked whether your page is about: • • •

A Local Business A Brand or a Product An Artist, Band or a Public Figure

Which are you? Good question. This depends on what you want to promote. Do you want to promote your business locally, do you want to promote your brand or a product or are you working to promote an artist, band or public figure? Each of these categories will provide you with an opportunity to complete your “basic information”, “detailed information” or your “contact information.” Each option will provide you with a page that enables you to provide different ways of showing your information. It’s important to realize that you cannot edit your page type once you select it, and also remember that the page type that you select will categorize your page with other like pages in that category; this is why you want to make sure you select the correct category to be displayed in. Your Facebook Page, when done correctly can be used to bring in new customers as well as to help you maintain current customer relationships. Facebook Groups Facebook Groups, carry a similarity to Facebook Pages, the difference is they are built around a group of people rather than your business or your brand. You must be a member of Facebook to create a Facebook Group. In order to create a group just login to Facebook and then click on the Groups link in the main menu on the left hand side of the page. You can use Facebook Groups to create awareness, but they do not have the feature that allows users to become fans, they only become members. The downfall of this is it will not share as much information with friends of “group” members as they interact with the group.

Which One is Right for You? The question I hear most when it comes to marketing on Facebook is “Laura, do I need a page or a group?� The answer depends on the goal you want to achieve with marketing on Facebook. The truth is you will gain more exposure from a Facebook Page, because it can be seen by unregistered users, but a group page can only be seen by registered Facebook users. Now, that feature alone should make it easy to decide, right? Wrong. You must also consider that when you send a message to Facebook Page members, they will only receive an update notification, but if you are sending a message to your Facebook Group they will receive the message via their Facebook inbox. If you goal is to be able to communicate in a personal way, the Facebook Group option may be a better fit for you.

Chris Treece Founder & CEO 615-415-0161

Search Engine Traffic vs. Social Media Traffic? Which is Better? It's important to understand and know what is best for you and your blog, when you start blogging and invest your valuable time writing for your blog, you want good return over the time you have invested. The way you will gain your profits is by getting more and more visitors to your blog. Now which is a better way to gain visitors social media or search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and other.

Social media traffic - Positive side: • • • •

It can bring huge amount of traffic to a blog or website in a very little amount of time. Your blog get exposure to new visitors, readers and advertisers. It also gives you rise in your revenue sometimes. A popular story on Digg, Stumbleupon or Reddit makes people link your story with their blog or bookmark in other social media websites like Delicious, Netscape and more, which helps in creating backlinks to your blog.

Social media traffic - Negative side: • • • •

To bring traffic from social media you need a network of friends active in social media which demands lot of time investment, it completely depends on you if you want to invest your time to build a network in social media. Social media traffic is not reliable because some day you might get peak in traffic and the other day you might get nothing also social media will only give you traffic until your post is popular and visible to mass audience. Don't expect social media traffic to click on anything else on your page, majority of traffic will not even bother visiting any other web page of your blog which will lead to high bounce rate of your blog. Eats up lot of bandwidth with almost nothing in return other than lot of page impressions and large spike in increased traffic.

Organic Search engine traffic: •

• •

Search engine traffic provides targeted traffic to your blog, your visitors will look for more similar stuff on your blog if they like your posts and also will subscribe to your blog and more over spend time on it, all these factors will result in low bounce rate of your blog. Gives you a moderate traffic but the traffic is steady and you will not face ups and downs in your traffic unlike social media traffic. Search engine traffic pays you in long run.


Money makers: Search engine visitors are those visitors who come to your blog looking for something that they really want and if there is something you have which is useful to them then they would even won’t mind paying money to get it.

Social media has evolved as a very powerful tool in recent times and the traffic from social media is very tempting to every one and to achieve that level of traffic people don't mind spending hours getting their story voted by others to make it popular. I can only say that both the channels have their own power and importance in blog promotion. I prefer search engine traffic over social media traffic but also I like sharing some unique and interesting stuff with my social media friends once in a while because it also keeps my blog visible in social media also. You can't just focus on either one of the channel's because you will be missing out on potential visitors from the other channel, so it's ideal to manage social media and search engines on regular basis and you can do this by optimizing your blog regularly for search engines and also chipping some posts for social media freaks to gain benefits from all the available resources available to generate traffic.

Chris Treece Founder & CEO 615-415-0161

YouTube: Social Media Marketing via Video YouTube: Social Media Marketing via Video When we talk about social media we immediately think of Facebook, Twitter and even Myspace, but often overlook the video option of YouTube. To help you understand the value of YouTube consider the following statistics: In March 2008 there were 78.3 million videos uploaded and growing at approximately 20 percent every month. In one day there is often more than 150,000 videos uploaded. In July of 2008 there were over 5 billion videos viewed on YouTube. Over 75% of the U.S. Internet audience views online videos. This accounts for 558 million hours of online video watching on a monthly basis. YouTube alone has over 258 million registered users, 50% of them visit weekly if not more. Are you seeing value yet? Of course you are. We all know that we must be innovative and creative with our marketing techniques and initiatives, so if we are not using YouTube, are we missing out? The short answer is yes. How can you use YouTube to market your products or services? YouTube has several categories that you can upload videos to. They include:

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Autos and Vehicles Comedy Education Entertainment Film and Animation Gaming How-to and Style Nonprofit and Activism People and Blogs Pets and Animals Science and Technology Sports Travel and Events Your next step is to make the determination of what category your products or services fit into. Keep in mind that when it comes to social media marketing it's not just about uploading a commercial for your product, but it's interacting with potential customers. What type of video could you post that consumers would find valuable and interactive? Could you put together a how-to video? What about an entertaining video showcasing your products? How about sharing a podcast that is entertaining and informative? Remember value

and interaction are key when it comes to using social media to market effectively. There is a fine line, don't cross over it or you will do more harm than good and possibly detour potential customers rather than attract new customers. YouTube also introduced brand channels for companies to set up their own page that is branded by you and houses your videos. This is the YouTube concept of advertising and marketing, so while I would consider it more advertising than social media I do want you to be aware that it is an option. The problem with this option is YouTube is not very upfront about the cost, so you'll need to do some digging and make some phone calls to find out if this is a viable option for you. The fact is that YouTube is another effective way to utilize social media marketing and the cost are minimal if any at all. If you can create videos that share value and interaction with consumers you can post those videos to an audience of 78.3 million users. What you must remember is that your video will be one of 150,000 that are uploaded daily, so make it worth the time for users to view it. You also want to keep in mind that users 18 to 34 years of age frequently share videos with their family and friends, so there is a viral effect to be had here as well. As with any social media marketing strategies be creative, have fun but most of all do it because your competitors probably are.

Chris Treece Founder & CEO 615-415-0161

Social Networking Communities Provide Marketing Opportunities Social networking has never been as crucial and beneficial to companies. In our technical world your next business prospect could only be a mouse-click away. We all know that by participating in local organizations and being active in our communities we are often greeted with the perk of new business opportunities. However, you may not be aware of the business communities that are being developed and thriving online. These networks allow you to locate business opportunities as well as find companies that may be able to serve your business-to-business needs. Using these virtual networking tools you can connect with extremely talented and professional people, but don't just sit back waiting for others to come to you. You have to make an effort in building your online network, this means reaching out and building relationships with those that you have something in common with. You will be amazed at how quickly you will begin to get to know others. Here are a few of my favorite social networks: LinkedIn LinkedIn has become my favorite online social network for business purposes. It's easy to view profiles, get connected, and even recruit potential new hires. There is also a recommendation feature that allows you to see what others say about an individual. Facebook Facebook isn't just for kids anymore. The demographic of this social network continues to broaden. I've found that I love the features and the different applications that are available. It also carries with it a certain level of privacy that I have not seen in the other networks. With 600 million searches and more than 30 billion page views a month can you afford not to be part of this network? MySpace I'm still not fond of MySpace. It continues to carry that juvenile feel for me, but I have some readers that say MySpace works for them. Don't discount it - it's working for some perhaps it can work for you as well. VisiblePath VisiblePath is Silicon Valley-based. It is a lot like LinkedIn, but it automatically determines who your real network is, and how strong each individual relationship is, based on your emails and calendar items that involve them. VisiblePath is the new kid on the block; just having launched at Web 2.0 Expo in May of this year. SoFlow Prestigious, cream of the crop professionals. Great features, fantastic focus groups, and awesome business networking opportunities. This network launched in July 2004 with great buzz, but seem to have lost the excitement since then.

Ryze Large database of users, casual and more of a social atmosphere. A little difficult to navigate, but overall it's a great place to hang your hat. Take a few moments browse the networks and look for others that you have something in common with. Who knows you may just find your neighbor lurking around there. Orkut Orkut is owned and developed by the mega search engine Google, I have to say at first this network carried with it a lot of excitement, unfortunately I became uninterested when I started getting email messages from people I didn't even know. While the communities are nicely developed I find that I spend more time in the previously mentioned networks. However, don't let my opinion sway you - this network may just have what you are looking for.

Chris Treece Founder & CEO 615-415-0161

Social Networking Etiquette: Mind Your Manners to Grow Your Business Social media marketing is hotter than a firecracker, and growing hotter every day as online entrepreneurs realize just how effective this particular marketing technique can be. If you aren’t using social media marketing---you should be. However, a word of caution: Use social media wisely or you can end up doing more harm to your business than good. There are certain, basic, unwritten rules of etiquette that apply to social media. Before diving into the deep end of the social media scene, familiarize yourself with these rules of etiquette so that you don’t jump in there and start putting your foot in it. There is a lot more to social media marketing than joining Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin and trying to get friends or followers. First of all, don’t rush in and start requesting friends like somebody that’s been stranded on a desert island alone for the past 10 years and is desperate now for companionship of any sort. Take your time. Go slowly. You’re impatient, that’s understandable. You have probably looked around and seen some of your competitors with 3000 friends and/or followers and you want to catch up. But, quality is actually much more important than quantity, anyway. Think of your social community friends sort of like traffic to your online store. You want traffic, of course. But you want the right kind of traffic, not just a torrent of visitors who are not ever going to become buyers. This applies to your social media friends, too. Be a bit selective about who your friends and followers are and aim for quality. A big No-No is to go through your online address book and send friend requests to everybody on it. You will not win friends this way. In fact, you will antagonize many of those people to the point where it will damage any existing relationship you have with them. The correct way to go about letting folks know you now have a page on Facebook or whatever is to announce it on your website, or in an email newsletter, or in your email signature. This way, your contacts who want to participate will, and the others who don’t want to---won’t. You don’t want them, anyway.

Although you don’t want to bombard anyone you’ve ever emailed with friend requests, you do want to connect with net workers who approach you. If it seems like a real, live person and not a spammer, then friend them. Not to do so would be offensive and against the social media etiquette rules. Be professional at all times. Don’t tweet messages from Twitter that would offend some of your followers, for example. Remember that you never know who will read a message you post online or send out in a tweet! Don’t be too sales-y with your new friends, especially at first. People don’t like to feel used and it’s bad social manners to give someone the impression that you only want them as a friend to try and sell them something. You do want to build your business, naturally. But be tactful about it! Mind your manners in social media marketing and watch your business grow!

Chris Treece Founder & CEO 615-415-0161

Social Media 101-The Fad Is Over  

You’ve heard the buzz. But you don’t have any idea where to start. It starts with a strategy, rooted in a desire to forge better relationshi...