As if to further reinforce my previous post - Facebook is down this morning. Don’t panic and whatever you do - don’t make any sudden face to face contact with your customers and colleagues!
Online vs. Face to Face
Much of the social media hype these days promotes the idea that social media interaction has supplanted other forms of interaction with clients, guests and colleagues.
So is it true? Does social media trump in person conversation, or vice versa? It’s not an either/or answer. It’s about taking the time to develop all your avenues of communication so that your audience of clients and colleagues is hearing from you with consistency and authenticity.
My experience is that all these forms including social media, traditional marketing (advertising and public relations), phone calls and face to face, are important. Successful businesses must excel in all of them to really connect and establish durable relationships with their intended audiences.
Not only that, but those professionals who are personable in their face to face and phone interactions also tend to have engaging personalities online. Conversely, those who tend to shy away from personal interaction in their business are also more reluctant to engage people online.
I’ve seen real-world examples of businesses who were great at reaching out via social media only to leave clients cold during face-to-face interaction. No amount of blogging, posting or tweeting will overcome this. Online interaction may give businesses the chance to learn about grievances or bad experiences and provide them with the opportunity to turn things around, but the goal is to deliver great service so as to not need to do this in the first place.
In other words: you can’t hide from your reluctance to pursue face-to-face interactions just by being friendly online.
It’s too simple to diagnose this as and introvert, extrovert issue. You don’t have to be chatty and hyper social to successfully engage with people. It’s all about conversation and successful businesses have professionals with emotional intelligence and a willingness to listen and respond with empathy and honesty. Be real, be understanding and put your best foot forward both in person and online.
It’s no surprise that I’m a big believer in the power of social media to expand your reach and engage your audience, but consistency of tone and personality are the key regardless of the platforms you choose. Likes and reposts won’t be replacing smiles and handshakes anytime soon.
iOS 7 - Great Update!
Just a quick note to say I’m enjoying iOS 7 on my phone. The interface is slick and looks great. I’m still getting accustomed to it and exploring how the updated apps work. I’m going to love the automatic updating of apps. No more messages to constantly update!
For me, Apple still makes the phone that I want most to use. I don’t need a larger screen than I already have, and I appreciate being able to stow my phone in a pants pocket that doesn’t look ridiculously huge. Always having an 8 megapixel camera in my pocket doesn’t hurt either.
No I just need Apple to open up Siri to third parties so I can ask my phone what time the next bus arrives!
The Big Picture - or Why Does Social Media Matter?
Social media and blogging take some time, there’s no denying it. Why should someone invest the time when they’re busy running a business?
It all comes down to getting noticed and making your business stand out from the crowd. There are lots of real estate professionals in the Valley, all eager to buy and sell homes. They’re all advertising, all making phone calls and all working connections every day.
What they’re not all doing is creating a presence for themselves online. They probably have websites but they’re not deploying them properly. They’re missing an opportunity to drive traffic to their website and generate new leads.
90% of people online in the U.S. now use the Internet to search for things instead of the yellow pages. 67% of them use Google.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – a.k.a. the whole point of this social media stuff
Long story short, the more blogging and social media you do, the more Google notices and rewards you by bumping you up their rankings.
The more your website and your blog posts take advantage of keywords like “snowmass real estate” and “aspen homes for sale,” the more Google rewards you and bumps you up. The more times Google (or Bing or Yahoo) notices that you’re using those terms in your posting in a natural way, the better off you are in that people looking for “snowmass real estate” are going to find you more easily.
Okay – so what should I talk about?
Should I only talk about keyword topics directly connected to my business? Not always. Your range of topics can be much broader. If you do choose to focus on your main keyword topics add a sentence or two with those keywords in those posts.
Hear are some ideas from a recent salesforce.com blog post:
The idea is to establish that you are a trustworthy, relatable person with experience who stands ready to help people.
Posting – it can be short and sweet!
Posting does not mean writing the great American novel. It just means coming up with a couple of short paragraphs on something you think your clients would find interesting, amusing and/or noteworthy.
For instance, if you work in the local real estate industry, the Aspen Times just ran a story recently about occupancy rates in Snowmass:
“More people stayed in Snowmass Village in June than in the same month last year, and they paid more per night’s stay, as well.”
One to two paragraphs with your thoughts on this article along with a link to the Times article and you’re all set. You could even keep it as short as one sentence saying, “Glad to see things are busy in town!”
Where should I post? – What goes where?
The answer to this is your blog on your website. Why? Because this is where you want people to come to read what you’ve written.
What about all those other Social Media places like Facebook and LinkedIn?
Now that you have your own blog right on your homepage, you will use those places to spread the word about what you’ve just written and direct people back to your website using a link to the post. Those over 300 contacts you have on LinkedIn? Each of them will see that you’ve written something and be encouraged to visit your site to read it in full. If they like it, they’ll share it and create an even larger audience for you (one possibly containing future clients!)
Why Everything to Everyone Doesn’t Work
I came across two great articles the other day that highlight the failure of “Everything to Everyone” quite effectively. One came from Seth Godin about working on changing the people that matter and the other was from Charlie Kindel about Apple’s tight focus on their customer.
Seth’s main point was that we’ve become fractured in so many ways and marketing is increasingly becoming targeted. Companies now question the importance of running mass market ads when they can more effectively target their appeal to those potential customers predisposed to buy what they sell (or are already customers). The Super Bowl ad is now a branding device, not a sales device. Don’t you feel better about Jeep as a company after their “Welcome Home” ads about our returning veterans?
Charlie’s take away was that nobody in tech does a better job targeting individual consumers (not businesses) than Apple does and this very fact explains their success. Everything they do is organized around the principle of delighting their customers.
Knowing who your customer is, what your customer wants and delivering it is perhaps the most fundamental rule for success in business, but so often large companies forget this as they feel to need to compete in areas that not anywhere near their core just to “be in the _____ space.”
Small companies, by necessity, can’t be everything to everyone. They have no choice but to focus on their niche market. As Seth maintains, when it comes to advertising and marketing decisions this focus must always be top of mind. Does my customer really read the paper or listen to radio? Do they spend time online? Are they fans of anything in particular? Where should I target my limited marketing funds? Does it make more sense to catch them when they’re searching online for something related to my business or to be in print in the yellow pages?
The more you know about your customers (and potential customers) the easier these decisions become. Are you taking the time to get to know them and if so, how?