Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Superfriends and Business: The Beauty of Influencers and Strategic Partnerships

In almost every big, successful campaign I’ve worked on, there was one thing in common – strategic partnerships. The client had a message to get out, but did not try to go it alone.

wordofmouthThe thing is, people are bombarded with information and advertisements   almost everywhere they turn – commercials on the radio, billboards on the streets, TV ads, flyers, Google ads, Facebook promotions, banner ads, and more! Chances are, if you’re a small business with a message to get out, it’s going to be pretty hard to break through that noise – unless you’ve got a million-dollar budget to hire the Biebs to sing at your new store opening, or whatever it is you’ve got going on.

Well, where do we get our most trusted and valuable information? Word of mouth. So let’s think of people we know who are loud, and give them something to talk about. I should note, when I say “loud,” I don’t mean obnoxious or speaking at a high volume. I am referring to the influencers of society – the people with large networks who trust them and wait for their next recommendation (kind of like Oprah’s Favorite Things…what I wouldn’t give to have gone to one of those shows!)

Find someone who is loud, who cares about your message. Make them an ambassador of your brand, of your message. Help them help you. And then do it again. And again. And again. Maybe the loud friend in this case is not a single person, but another business, or five other businesses.

Check out the Fiskar’s story from Brains on Fire for my favorite case study of brand ambassadors, but here’s another example: If you are a frozen yogurt shop and you’re rolling out a line of healthy sorbets, why not throw a party? Why not invite health bloggers, and create a competition or event benefitting a cause worth caring about, like children’s diabetes?  Why not invite similar businesses, like gyms, bike stores, athletic

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stores, and others to come out and partake in the fun? Maybe they will all agree to give something away in a raffle. Now, that’s a lot to talk about. It’s a good cause, everybody benefits, and it has the potential to be a lasting movement rather than a one-time campaign. If you’ve created sorbets to help people make healthy

choices, let that be your business mission. Let that be your way of life. It will make your business more than just a business, to both you and your customers.

So, think about it. Who are your “superfriends?” What are the neighboring businesses or groups with which you have a good relationship that you can build on? Who are the customers or friends that talk about your business on social media, or recommend you to others? Who are the bloggers or reporters who are looking for your industry news?

If you look around, I bet you will find you have more ‘superfriends’ than you thought!

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Joining the Smirk team: We go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong

 Chips and salsa. 
Angelina Jolie and little third-world orphans.
Olivia Newton-John and black leather pants. 
That’s right, I’m the newest member of the Smirk New Media team, and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’ve got a public relations background, and I’ve always felt strongly that PR and social media go hand in hand. After all, with social media, you can not only monitor what others are saying about your industry and brand, but you can speak directly with a group of people who have willingly opted to listen to what your organization has to say, and who can provide value in communication back to you!
Basically, social media is a huge PR opportunity that many businesses do not always have the time or know-how to get started.

That’s why I love the mission behind Smirk New Media – to help businesses grow relationships with their key audiences online.
I had the opportunity to work with the CEO and chief strategist Mike Koehler in 2009 as an intern at Schnake Turnbo Frank | PR, and since then I’ve jumped into the PR game, specializing in strategic social media for businesses.
The past few years, I’ve gained invaluable experience in social media strategy and management for campaigns, fundraisers, promotions and events, working in many different industries including technology, restaurants, retail, nonprofits and more. I’m thrilled to become a part of what Mike has created in Oklahoma City and to help bring it to Tulsa.
This is the beginning of what I hope will be a beautiful and lasting relationship.
 
**This post was originally created for Smirk New Media. See the original here.**

Can’t buy me love: Twitter adding services and PR ethics

It seems like every time I get on Twitter, I am bombarded with messages from sketchy “tweeps” inviting me to “gain 5,000 followers immediately!” by signing up for their services. I usually brush them off as spam, assuming such a service will give me some sort of horrible virus that will cause me weeks of headaches and a call or two to Geek Rescue.

Besides, even if the companies aren’t truly spam, I thought, isn’t buying followers still unethical? Social media is about engaging with real people, forming mutually beneficial relationships, and letting your connections grow organically through valuable conversation.

A few weeks ago, a client asked me to sign him up for one of these services.

His goal was not to immediately grow real, valuable followers, but to:
A) Appear more established at the first glance of a new potential follower – making them more likely to follow him, thus gaining more real, valuable followers, and

B) Increase the limit of friends Twitter allowed him to have so that he could add more real, valuable friends without being penalized – and hopefully, many of them would follow him back as well.

These seemed like reasonable expectations to me, so, still slightly apprehensive, I agreed. The client and I both felt that, at the very least, it would be a good learning opportunity.

After some research, I found there are basically two ways that these services work:

1. Mass following services (such as http://www.tweetadder.com/) follow a large number of users and let them follow your profile back. After a few days, they go back and automatically unfollow the people who have not followed you back. It has many bells and whistles but I’m fairly certain that Twitter penalizes users of these services.

2. Buying services (such as http://www.buy-followers.org/) that seem to have access to profiles of people who have opted into some sort of program. The cost is much higher per follower, but, supposedly, there are no “bots” involved. Some of

these services claim to bring in quality leads – users who have said they are interested in particular topics (so, hypothetically, if you’re a sales coach, and someone says they are interested in sales or business, you’re more likely to get that person.)

I chose a service like option number two and I have to say – although they turned out not to be “quality leads,” and some of their profiles are a little sketchy, (They might have a male Twitter name like @ChiTownDave and a profile that says “My name is Anna, I’m a nanny in the Dallas/FTW area!”) the client’s goals have been met.

What do you think? Is buying followers unethical PR practice, or a smart step toward reaching out to real, quality connections?

You Only Get What You GIVE

“I suspect that many corporations have begun to understand that they have an important role to play in the lives of their communities, and that allocating funds to support local groups helps them discharge that function and also burnish their image.” — David Rockefeller

During the holidays, we are constantly reminded of nonprofit organizations in our communities that need assistance. On a nationwide and global scale, we see big companies such as Pepsi giving good to causes.

Corporate giving is an old idea, but an important one.  Most of us will agree that it is “good” to be charitable, to donate, to do something philanthropic. However, many small businesses fall into the narrow mindset of thinking of giving as parting with their hard earned money for no ROI.

It is important when thinking about corporate giving to remember your end objectives. You may not see a spike in sales, but you could be creating an opportunity to:

  • Get people talking about your company
  • Cultivate prospects and nurture major client relationships
  • Talk about a new product or service

When you’ve decided that corporate giving is right for your business, here are the next steps:

1. Pick a cause you care about. What are your company values? What are your personal values? Pick something about which you can be passionate.

2. Pick something your target market cares about. Get them involved. Working together builds your relationship and makes them feel confident that your company shares their values.

3. Stick with it. Just writing a check is bland and expected. Once you have an organization that aligns with your values and mission and the values of your consumers, be dedicated to that group. Get creative. Run campaigns. Partner with your nonprofit on something. Give repeatedly. Nourish the relationship you have created with that group and let them and the public know you are serious about getting involved.

4. Integrate.  By combining your charitable donations with things like events, corporate sponsorships, employee volunteerism, marketing, advertising, and public relations dollars, your business will get a much bigger bang for its buck.

There are lots of fun, effective, and creative ways small businesses can give back. Helping a cause your customers and employees care about -– and one that is also relevant to your business -– can reap tangible and intangible benefits for your public image, your shareholders, and your community (via e-releases.com.)

This post was originally created for Consumer Pulse Marketing.

Putting the “face” back in Facebook

(You can also access this post on the  Consumer Pulse Marketing blog.)

Have you seen that Toyota Venza commerical – you know – the one where the girl is worried about her parents’ social lives because of their lack of Facebook friends, when in reality they are out living life to the fullest?

As funny as it is, Toyota is pointing out a very common problem with social media.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are about sharing information and creating or maintaining relationships. In order to use a platform to it’s potential, you must remember that real, face-to-face interaction is key to developing those relationships.

The same is true for businesses. It doesn’t matter if you have a million followers if they are never going to come to your store – but if you connect with the right target audience, get to know who they are, where they are and what they value, and continue to develop your relationship with them, they are likely to seek you out when they need what you have to offer.

I encourage you to utilize your accounts in a way where you are getting as much as you can out of them. How can you do this?

1. Get involved. You know those pesky Facebook Events that are probably dominating your page? Go through them and ask yourself if maybe this event could produce some valuable connections for you, or help you reconnect with key people – because you are your brand.

2. Don’t sell, but be a friend and resource.  Many businesses join social media networks with no real plan, and simply use their accounts as a platform for promoting their goods or themselves. This is not social media. This is advertising. Would you walk into a picnic and start peddling your merchandise or bragging to your neighbors? And if you did, would they want to be your friend?

3. Help out. Would you like to get more involved with a group or partner with another organization? See what their needs are, and if there is anything you can do to help. Share their blog posts. Retweet their messages. Donate to their causes. Chances are, they will return the favor.

4. Be approachable. Make it easy for people  to reach you. Include your email, blog, website, Twitter name and Facebook profile on all your sites. Respond to those who reach out to you. In today’s world of technology, a living, breathing, interacting connection is a rare (and much appreciated) thing.

Social media is about building relationships – not staring at a computer screen or messing around on your smartphone all day – but getting in the loop and staying there. Going out and taking part in your community.

Is social media going to get you there all on its own? Probably not. But when utilized correctly, it can certainly help.