Social Media

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I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

Social Media: Empowering Word-Of-Mouth

posted this on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at about 4pm.
Jeepers - It's a Steal!

There are many different methodologies for fostering growth in a company. The key to realizing success is to implement a process that will bring the maximum growth with the least effort and resources.

Social media can be used to enhance word-of-mouth marketing as much as (or better than) good customer service. Social media encompasses technologies such as websites, blogs, RSS feeds but really comes down to the big three social media giants of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Because of the ever-changing nature of new technology, the tactics for social media shift regularly. Even with the changing tactics, the core principles stay the same.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing has been around in essence since the invention of the first product that needed to be sold. On a placard near the door of a local physical therapist’s office, I found the sentence “The best compliment our patients can give is to refer a friend.” This form of marketing is inherently word-of-mouth. It is not about doctors referring patients because the doctor’s have been wined and dined. It is about patients referring other patients because they feel an emotional connection.

In an effort to increase revenues, many companies conduct customer satisfaction surveys to find out how they can increase these levels. They have a hope that if the customer satisfaction levels increase, revenues will soon follow. Gallup has conducted research that indicates, “If you don’t make an emotional connection with customers, then satisfaction is worthless.” Creating that emotional connection is key to developing customers that are willing to fight for your cause.

Your goal should be to create customer evangelists. Customer evangelists will sell your services for you. Customer evangelists will stick with you during your hard times. No matter what product you sell, whether you are selling to customers or businesses, everyone buys on emotion. You have to connect your cause with something that your customers care about. Whether you’re a Mac owner and your cause is sticking it to the man (i.e. Bill Gates), or Disneyland and your cause is fun, wholesome entertainment for families, your evangelists have to have something to believe in.

Websites are a critical component to building a business in today’s marketplace and are a great tool that can help to build the emotional connection with customers. Customers are more sophisticated than ever so the key is to ensure that the website has relevant content that adds to the user’s experience and provides information that the customer needs/wants to see.

Building relevant content that the customer needs to see can be difficult. As difficult as relevant content development can be, your website is really the foundation for your social media efforts. For your website, it is important to remember that something looking pretty has never been enough of a reason to include it on a website. The website needs to be pertinent and relevant to what customers need and want to know. You can then use social media to properly distribute that content.


Blogging is one of the purest forms of word-of-mouth marketing. Blogging allows for the marketer to develop a website that provides customers with relevant, timely information and, by using the website, the marketer can publish that information. Traditionally, blogs have been published via RSS, which allows people to subscribe to content via an RSS reader or email. More and more often, customers are turning to social media outlets to find their new information. They expect their social media timeline to give them the information they need when they need it.

Blogs are not limited to just editorial content. Blogs encompass any type of timely information such as news stories, client case studies and other routinely updated content. Blogs can help shape the way clients use your website to gather the most relevant information when they need it. Social media allows your customers to more readily find that information and engage in conversation surrounding that content.

Social Media

Both the company and customer benefit from a more personalized account of what’s happening. The reason this is true is because of the sophisticated nature of customers today. Customers do not want to be spoon fed information; they want to be a part of the conversation. Treating customers as an equal instead of people that just do not have the knowledge or understanding will allow them to feel a part of the conversation.

As mentioned before, blogs allow you an opportunity to create postings that are timely and relevant to today’s news and information. Social media allows for customers to return back comments to allow for an online two-way conversation that all can be a part of.

The best part about social media is that it works both ways. In order to provide the most relevant information to your customers, you can post comments to other blogs and social media postings just as easy as you can create your own post. You have the ability to contribute to conversations that others have started just as well as starting your own conversations. People want to talk about what you are interested in… you just have to find them.

What next?

What is the best way to move forward from here? Developing a website that incorporates constantly updated content that integrates with social media is not as simple as creating a static site on the Web. It requires planning. The content needs to be relevant but it also needs to be presented in a way that customers want to see it. Developing a strategy for what information is important to your customers is more important than how to incorporate the technology. The technology is the easy part once the content is understood.

Your next step is to ensure that your company has an appropriate Web presence that encourages your evangelists to talk to you and more importantly, talk positively about you.


Word-of-mouth marketing is the most efficient and effective way for growing a business in today’s sophisticated marketplace to increase brand awareness as well as increase revenues and profits. Social media empowers word-of-mouth marketing by growing your message virally and organically because your message spreads from user to user rather than every customer hearing directly from an advertising source. Incorporating a blog and social media with your website, then actively managing them, can help to distribute relevant content to customers that are most interested in hearing what you have to say. A marketer just needs to identify what he wants to say.

Word-of-mouth marketing does require your customer to spread the word on behalf of the your company. When your customer feels an emotional connection, the word will spread virally and organically. A website integrated with social media can help to unite people of like minds in a two-way conversation that can lead to transactions.

Three Reasons for Social Media

posted this on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at about 3pm.
social icons sketched

Too often, I hear people complain about social media. I’ve heard all the reasons why social media is bad:

“I don’t want people to know what I am doing.”

“I can’t mix personal and business.”

“I don’t understand why anyone would want to hear what I have to say.”

“None of my contacts are on social media.”

I’ve heard plenty of other reasons, too. In fact, the list is as long as the day.

I think that these reasons for not wanting to participate in social media show a level of shortsightedness because it means that we aren’t willing to look at social media from an objective or realistic point of view.

I wrote before that social media is about being social but that is only part of the picture.

In reality, there are three primary reasons why businesses need to seriously consider social media as a part of their overall marketing strategy. Failing to understand these three critical aspects will cause you to miss out on spectacular marketing opportunities for your business

Search Engine Optimization

When other websites link to your website, you get a vote for your credibility and relevance. It has been a long-standing tactic for search engine optimizers to generate in-bound links to your website to help build credibility. In fact, spammers love this tactic as they can often get many links in comments on other people’s blogs and websites.

When you post a link in your social media channels, your link becomes another in-bound link to your website. If those in your network share that link, it means that you have even more in-bound links.

However, link building is not the only benefit. Social media posts (profiles, articles, etc.) are indexed in the search engines (assuming your privacy settings don’t prevent them). Many times, your social media profiles and status updates (tweets) will even appear above your website in the search engines… which will then have a chance of driving traffic to you.

But, don’t forget… search engine optimization does not mean you’ll get traffic.

Traffic Generation

When I started this new blog, it should be obvious that I had no rankings in the search engines. Long before Google even knew this website existed, I was able to garner a fair amount of traffic. I was able to gain this traffic through posts to my social networks.

I can look back and analyze my traffic and see a direct correlation of traffic due to posts in social media. When I post a link to my blog, depending on what time of day and how compelling my message is, I can see a reasonably consistent amount of new traffic. If the post on my blog is particularly compelling, then I can see that number double or even triple because of the sharing of other people within my network.

Remember… just because you get traffic, it doesn’t mean you are going to make a sale.

Relationship Building

The most compelling reason, in my opinion, for social media is the social aspect to it. But, it’s more than just the social aspect… it’s about actively fostering relationships with new people.

I think it’s laughable when I hear the comment that, “None of my friends are on social media.” To presuppose that the only people you know are the only people you should connect with on social media is a major fallacy in the way social media is intended.

The biggest hallmark of social media for business is that you can create and build new relationships. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, you have an opportunity to build new relationships with people that you don’t already know.

The catch?

There is a catch to all this. While it’s great that you can gain a stronger presence in the search engines and you can garner new traffic to your website, there is a requirement.

That requirement is that you have strong relationships. Google, Bing, etc. understand the influence of your network. The stronger your influence, the more weight they will give to your posts. The more people you influence, the more traffic you will generate.

You can also destroy your influence by posting only links to your website and never providing any value. No matter how many people follow/friend you, if you are always asking them to do something (go to a link) and never return anything (information, engagement, humor, etc.) they will begin to ignore you. That will negatively impact your search engine optimization and traffic.

So, the moral is… be social.

Social Media is About Being Social

posted this on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at about 5pm.

The other day I heard, “I need help building a social media strategy.”

To that question, I responded, “Tell me a little about your social strategy for your company.”

I received a blank stare because, of course, they did not have a social strategy for their company… that would simply be absurd.

Jumping into any new thing, especially something new technologically, can be a challenge because it seems harder to understand than it really is. Most businesses have a hard time with social media because it is still reasonably new so therefore it really hasn’t been properly defined in our minds.

The operative word in social media is social. Social media is simple a way to be social online. It is an opportunity to talk to many people in a much shorter period of time than it would take to talk in person.

In business, including marketing, we need to focus on our primary objective. When we fail to focus on our primary objective, it is not hard to miss our goals. Social media’s primary purpose is to facilitate conversations. Its purpose is not to help you make money or sell your widgets. It is through those conversations that relationships are formed. It is from those relationships that transactions occur.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be plenty of opportunities to sell online and through social circles. You’ll have more than enough chance to pitch your product to those in your circles of influence. However, if you start using social media with the intent that it will solve your marketing issues, then you’ll lose opportunities to build meaningful relationships online that can lead to greater business and marketing potential later.

Let’s look at a metaphor for social media as a networking event filled with people. You’ll have varying levels of familiarity with those in attendance. From those you know very well to those that don’t know you at all.

Imagine, if you will, walking up to people, shaking their hand and saying, “Hello, my name is John, would you like me to build you a fence? I have a special running today.”

Unfortunately, that is what happens all too often in social media. Businesses start by becoming friends with people then immediately begin to pitch their products.

Social media finds it’s best adoption in active storytelling. It is through story telling that relationships are built. Yes, you can find prospects on social media. Yes, you can offer support to your clientele. Yes, you can allow your brand exposure. But story telling will allow your customers and prospective customers to learn who you are and why they should consider doing business with you.

The most common question I hear is, “Okay, that’s all good and well, but how do I get started?”

The most important first step is to be willing to experiment. Everyone’s experience will be different and it may take you some time to find the path that works for you. Don’t assume that because a consultant says that a certain approach is the right approach that it will work for you.

The most effective way that social media is utilized is by being people being engaging. The technology is reasonably irrelevant. There is no truly scientific approach that if you do A then you’ll sell B. It is an art form that will allow you to be successful as you gain greater experience.

In order to start on your path, there are four key steps to take. After you have created your account on your chosen social media platform, you’ll take these four steps:

  1. Post messages that are relevant to your audience
  2. Find people you like and follow them
  3. Comment on other people’s posts
  4. Genuinely work to build relationships

Everything else is dependent on your skills in developing conversations. It’s dependent on you being social.

Remember that social media is not about the pitching products. It’s not about the Internet or technology. Social media is about talking to people. It’s about building and maintaining meaningful relationship one tweet or status update at a time.

Technology Doesn't Matter

posted this on Monday, September 19, 2011 at about 9pm.
Flux Capacitor

Running your business in 2011 requires a bit of understanding of technology. Even the least technical jobs, such as lawn care professionals, are sporting smart phones to check email, talk to his staff and connect to his clients.

The challenge is that technology can be a bit unnerving for some business owners. It’s not unnerving because it’s technology, per se. It’s unnerving because of the need to understand, yet again, something new.

Social media, blogs, iPhones and Android, search engine optimization, flux capacitors… how do we keep it all straight?

Let me suggest that technology is only a tool. It’s no different than a hammer or drill except it’s a tool that solves a different problem. Until we understand that the technology we use is meant to solve a specific problem, we’ll continue to focus on how hard it is to integrate technology into our business and marketing efforts.

People NOT Social Media

Social media isn’t a new concept. Connecting online in a social setting has been around since the first public bulletin board system was born on February 16, 1978. It’s only been the last few years that social media has really exploded.

The problem is forgetting that social media is really about the people. All online bulletin board systems, discussion forums, blog comments, status updates and tweets are about connecting people with people.

Social media is the tool. How do you connect people together is the problem it solves.

Story Telling NOT Websites

Websites are more common now than ever. It’s been a little over 20 years since the first website was published. On August 6, 1991 Tim Berners-Lee, a CERN physists created the first website. It didn’t take too long before Yahoo, Netscape, AOL and Amazon were part of the daily lexicon.

In the beginning, story telling wasn’t as important because only the innovators and early adopters could even access the Web anyway. However, now with billions of websites, competition is fierce to get your message out.

Websites are simple a tool for telling stories. Your story will come in many ways. The best stories are very creative told with picture, graphics and interactivity. But, stories can also be very technical, dry and boring. The better your stories, the more people will come to learn about you.

Communication NOT Email

Since the first email was sent in 1971, it has changed the way business is conducted. It’s been nearly 20 years since it really became a mainstay of corporate communication. Unfortunately, email has been an escape from reality for too many business people. It’s becomes a place to hide from the challenges that face us. If we don’t want to talk with someone, we send an email. It allows us to measure our words to the point that we end up being too vague or too rude. To make matters worse, most email writing is poor, at best.

Communication is a two-way street. It takes a listening and a speaking side for communication to happen. Most business people make the mistake of thinking that communication has taken place when the other person is not really paying attention.

Email is simply a tool that helps to facilitate communication. However, it still can not replace a simple conversation via the phone or face-to-face. Even other technological tools, such as video conferencing, can help to facilitate communication more effectively.

Creativity NOT Computers

In 1984, Apple Computers released the Macintosh and the face of computing hasn’t been the same since. Software has enabled the average computer user accessibility to professional quality tools. Even simple tools such as a word processor or a photo-editing package allow the least adept feel like a pro.

Computers, in fact, have a tendency to stifle creativity. Leaning on clip-art, copy-and-paste and photographic filters prevent us from coming up with our own, new ideas. We tend to favor the tools that offer the least resistance to getting our job done.

The result? We generate the same drivel as we’ve done in the past.

Computers are tools. Computers provide us more availability to things that will help us be creative but we have to be careful to not limit our own minds. Sometimes a pen and paper or whiteboard can allow us to be unencumbered in our imagination and then we can take it to the computer when we are ready to put our ideas to work.

Accessibility NOT Smart Phones

By 1930, land-locked telephone customers could place a call to an ocean liner in the Atlantic Ocean. In the 1990s, texting began to become another effective way of communicating short messages quickly.

In 1996, Nokia released the first phone that could be classified a smart phone. In 1997, the term smart phone was made official. With the release of the iPhone in 2007, the smart phone officially became a household term. Now, walking down the street, sitting in a coffee shop or even at church, you see people glued to their phones.

The argument for a smart phone is the ability to be accessible to anyone at anytime. However, it often results in more people playing Angry Birds and checking email in the middle of a movie instead.

Smarts phones are tools that provide greater accessibility. If you aren’t careful, the very thing that promises greater accessibility could actually prevent it.


These tools are not new. These tools have been around for many years. We seem to think of them as new because they are shinier now than there were in the beginning. They have become mainstream. They have come to the point where they now mean something to a greater percentage of the population.

Don’t get hung up on the technology but, instead, take the time to understand what the tools are meant to do. If you focus on people, story telling, communication, creativity and accessibility, you’ll find greater success in everything you do.

I Tweet There I Consult

posted this on Thursday, August 4, 2011 at about 11am.
Twitter Sketch

Social is a buzz word right now.

First, let me say one thing loud and clear… I am not a social media consultant. I can’t even begin to say how tired I am of everyone that thinks they know social media and how they can help everybody succeed by being social. It is to the point that anyone with a Twitter account and a pulse claims to be a social media expert.

Now, I am not talking about the PR agency that develops real strategies for getting the word out through social media. I am not talking about the web marketer who has a clear understanding of how to integrate social media into search engine marketing strategies.

I am talking about the “consultant” that wants to charge a ridiculous fee to set up a Twitter account or a company Facebook page. This is the one that started using social media a year ago then suddenly says, one day when employment problems start, that he or she is a Social Media Consultant.

So, I am going to demystify the whole thing in three quick and dirty steps.

Step 1. Sign up. Go to or and set up an account.

Step 2. Start writing. Just start updating your status. Start finding friends and talking to them.

Step 3. There is no step 3.

That’s it.

Don’t over think it.

Down the road, you can start making things pretty and can start focusing on how to continue to cultivate relationships.

For now, just do it. (Don't sue me, Nike)


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