Local Network – Normal, IL

This Brass Tacks Article came up in my Google feeds today. It was convenient since I’ve been pricing quotes on garage door installation and tree removal.

I really am amazed that there are so few online reviews for any services in the central Illinois area.

The article touches on the concept of using reviews to improve business practices – and this may be a chance to tackle some great marketing potential. Instead of looking for good reviews to grade employees, encourage reviews by consumers that help you improve your company and practices – And here’s the best part, you can confront critical reviews in a positive way that improves your public image, ask these guys.

I mean, your other option is to keep a low profile and hope that people either post only positive public reviews or nothing at all, but that chancy and doesn’t leave much power in your hands.

The Most Important Thing You’ll Write

In a recent article Chris Brogan Mentions the most important part of Twitter is to reply as often as you can. I’d like to expand o this, a bit.

If you have a blog I’m sure you’ve spent a sizable percentage of time (that you should be using to develop content) looking at you analytics page – how many views did the site get, where did they come from. But consider an interesting social behavior. Most people, as they bump past each other and make first and subsequent impressions, are thinking one thing. They are focussed on what others are thinking of them. Imagine an entire room filled with people caught in the ironic conundrum that as each one worries about what others are think of him/her – those others are just concerned with how they’re coming off to someone else. No one actually focusing on that scuff on your shoe, or whether that tie makes you look serious or or out of fashion, they are only focused on their own shoes and their own ties. In these situations the individuals that see the irony and stop focusing on themselves are able to focus on more important goals.

The Same goes for online communities. Staring at your statistics page will get you nowhere. The only way to really get your page out there in front of people is to give them a reason to notice you. start looking at other blogs, reply to what others have posted on their page. Make other people your focus, and have something interesting to say in reply to their posts, eventually they’ll start reciprocating, and more so, many of their readers may start to take notice of you as well.

By avoiding the neurotic self counting and just getting out there, you’ll be in a better place to have people wondering what you think about them.

A Single Second

I went online today with the express intention of checking things out the local business administration’s web site – They’ve made a lot of improvements since I last looked. While exploring, I came across a link to Plow Creek Farm, at first glance I didn’t think much, but then a single big, blue sentence caught my attention…

“It’s Blueberry Season!”

And I thought, “Hey, someone is updating this!”

I then decided to have a look around the rest of the site.

Every second, that someone is looking at your site, that person’s brain (whether they are conscious of it or not) is taking every piece of information you’ve put up and they’re interpreting it (sometimes positively – sometimes not). Ambient Awarenes . No matter what you meant with your content, it can always be read differently and it can prompt action.

In the case of Plow Creek, I knew (in a single second) that blueberries were in season, I assumed (therefore, I KNEW) that Plow Creek sells blueberries, and I also knew that if I didn’t check back to the site, now and then, I may miss something. That Knowledge was enough for me to look at more of the site, and to write about it; I won’t say if I’ll be shopping Plow Creek, but I do love blueberries.

But the situation is not always so positive; i.e. Someone may look at your friend list and decide that you have too many, that and you’ll friend anyone and there won’t be a serious connection. Someone else may decide you have too few, thus you are in in trend enough, and thus not worth their time.

What are people reading when they read your content, and what does it tell them about you?
What does you friend count on your facebook page say about you? What does the Friend count on your LinkedIn page say about you?? What decisions are people making about you, in that one second?

Are you writing to your audience, or are you trying to please everyone?

Traditional Marketing Method : Pre – Mass Marketing

I ran across an older article by Jennifer Laycock. She’s suggesting that Social Media is technologically new, but its not a new concept – its a fantastic point – Much like her grandfather, whom she discusses in her article, I look back on my own family.

The Polish community on the south side of Chicago is very tightly knit. My father, a real estate agent, was very active in that community. He was a member of the local social club (kind of like an Elks Club but all about being Polish). Because he was a fluent English reader/writer/speaker, he translated for the club and handled a lot of the administrative paper work for people – helping people with licenses, visas, permits that kind of thing – He didn’t ask for a return on this, he was happy to help his community. He did get a return, though.

My father was a real estate agent, and his largest client base were the Polish community members whom he had helped in other ways. They trusted him because he gave to the community. He didn’t broker deals without a commission, that was business, but he brought his knowledge and commitment to the community in his off time, and people trusted him. That’s why they chose to do business with him, that’s why they recommended him to friends and family.

This is something to remember about trying to use social media to market yourself. Walking into a community and trying to solicit business is obvious. Showing up with an agenda and posting off topic info about yourself, or your business, is a perfect way called out for trolling. It’s all about fostering trust and respect. It’s about bringing something to the community whether or not people buy from you. The first question you should ask yourself when trying to tackle social media for your business is whether or not there is a community out there that could benefit from doing business with you. Next ask yourself if you have the commitment to want to be involved in the community or do you just want show them your billboard.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor…

I may be dating myself with the title reference, but I grew up on the classics – Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, pretty much anything channel 11 “WTTW Chicago” had to offer. So much so that I think the “WTTW Chicago” litany has become reflexive when I say channel 11 …

WTTW Chicago :-/

I’m sure those of you who remember our cardigan and sweater vest donning show host will remember his trademark line of, “won’t you be my neighbor.” I don’t think I ever thought much of the line’s meaning and when I did I assumed he just wanted me to watch his show, or move into the flat next to his. But this morning as I’m rereading my copy of groundswell I began to reconsider the meaning of “Please, Won’t you be my neighbor.”

In the Groundswell, Li and Bernoff Discuss the AFOL community online and how Lego has encouraged and nurtured the community’s presence. This Makes sense doesn’t it find the people who like what you do and develop a relationship with them. But what about those people who are over in left field; They like writing, and rock climbing, and video games and they aren’t toting what your company is all about?

Here’s where the tag line comes in. You’re already in the community, your company has a web presence, articles about you are being posted at dig, you come up on the Google News feeds (hopefully), and sometimes people you don’t know are talking about you (for better or worse). Your house is just down the street, and it may be time to start being a neighbor, a good neighbor; the kind that waves to others while walking the dog – the one that shows interest in the left fielders. But how do we do this?

Well is there someone in your organization who handles you social presence? Are there people in your organization who like video games, and rock climbing, and writing who you are willing to let get involved in those conversations while still representing you company? You don’t need to offer these left fielders anything, you don’t need to finance their next rock climbing trip, or sponsor them, you don’t need them to talk about you either. Being a good neighbor means showing interest in people other than yourself. Be involved. Please, won’t you be their neighbor.

Take It Seriously… if you won’t, we wont.

I recently came upon the facebook presence of a local organization. I realize that dust doesn’t really collect on a web page, but in some ways it does. This page lacked any significant posts over the course of the past few months, leaving old posts (dated and time stamped) lying around with little activity (dust). in addition to this some of the hyperlinks linked to places that, it could be guessed, were supposed to go somewhere relevant, but someone hadn’t bothered to check. It was as if something useless was left lying around (clutter).

The whole page gave me a sense that someone, whoever was running it, wasn’t really doing their job. Items of little relevance were scattered about, and the dust was settling.

This brings up a good point, and I know I have at times been guilty of this. The presence of an entity, or brand online, is like being a crowded room. Everybody is moving about, interacting. When your page is left to settle in the dust, it’s like you haven’t changed clothes or showered in weeks. You have nothing new to say, and there is probably a stale smell around you.

Sit there long enough and not only will a lot of people stop paying attention to you, but you may attract the wrong crowd; Metaphoric kids with markets are likely to stop by and draw on you, and you won’t be able to stop them, because you’re not paying attention; you haven’t paid attention in months. Even your friends will ignore the random comments and jokes that prankster are free to write on you, because your friends have stopped checking up on you.

Ok, so I get a little metaphor happy. What I am saying though, is that a facebook of twitter page, a blog, or a website – or even a store front is part of what makes up your identity. When you stop paying attention and keeping things in order, your audience stops listening; and here is what you have to remember… We’re not going to come to you and say, “hey, shape up,” if we do, you’re very lucky, because it’s rare that your directly told even when your doing it right.

Non of that should discourage you. As a person, commercial entity, or public figure, whatever you are, you need to work your identity because it’s important to you. When you don’t care… why should we.

Return of Investment

I was recently asked to quantify the results of a social marketing campaign… After all, how do we show clients their return of investment, how do we make it make “cents”?

I responded with a formal letter and I’m posting it here for everyone. hopefully this will help anyone trying to understand how we measure social media marketing, but more importantly I’m hoping to get some feedback on this one.

To address your question, quantifying the results of social media marketing is not an easy subject to tackle. More and more, people are demanding that the commercial entities with which they deal stop seeing them as numbers and see them as people; thus, when a company does not listen to consumers, or just blows them off as a fraction of a statistic, those consumers find a venue on the internet where others will listen, this happens through blogs, anti-corporate web sites, or even on consumer review sites. When others listen, reputations are effected; for better or for worse.

That is not to say that we don’t quantify certain actions, or that they can’t be. Several applications have built in quantifiers that can be used; Youtube keeps a running total of how many views a video has and of how many people embed that video on personal sites. When a thousand people have sought out the video that you posted for free, compared to the price of television advertisements, the return of investment can be considered immense. Facebook allows for the recording of comments and chatter, and the viewing of conversations between people. These comments can be quantified, though they should be qualified for content as well. In addition to this, daily statistics of how many times a Facebook Business Page has been viewed and how many of those views are original views (not the same person looking again) are in place to give business owners a general idea of how many people are showing interest. Forums and communities keep track of how many members there are, and with a little investigation one could learn how many active members there are, how active they are, and what it is they are saying about a brand.

But you have to remember that such quantification cannot be the goal of a social marketing campaign, because they’ll always come up short. Traditional marketing has always looked at the qualitative data; percentage of eyes balls; how many cars drive past the billboard; how many drivers that pass actually notice; and how many act. That kind of mass advertisement isn’t really what social marketing is about. Instead imagine that, where once you could hold a sign over a sea of eyes and just wait for the effect, now-a-days the eyes have learned that they are more than just eyes; they talk to each other, they give advice, and most of all they expect the commercial entity to be in the sea with them. And that is what social media marketing is all about, helping the client learn to navigate that sea, helping them learn to float and get their message, not to the most people… but to the right people; the people who will spread the message for you.