Bring Your Brand to Life

Through the Power of Story

Category: Social Media

People Don’t Go To Facebook To Be Sold. Why Social Media Isn’t Driving Sales

Data collected by Gallup’s new State of the American Consumer report, shows that “relatively few consumers consciously take into account what they learn from social media when making purchases.”

We do know that 93 percent of businesses use web search to begin the information discovery process, according to the Acquity Group. What pages are they looking for? Pages with solutions. This is why it’s vitally important to have customer stories, with quantifiable facts and data, published, and ready to be viewed on your website.

While social media may not be driving sales directly, social media is a critical strategy in positioning, market leadership and credibility. Let’s take a look at some of the business leaders and how they employ social media as a strategic business tool.

Customer Success: A study by Dianna Huff and KoMarketing Associates found that the number one piece of missing content when making purchasing decisions was customer success stories. These stories give prospects quantifiable results from peers that validate their purchase. If you take a look at Oracle, IBM, Intel and Honeywell’s Facebook pages, you’ll see a feed that is focused on customer results.

Customer Focus: American Airlines, SmartPak, Oracle, and UPS are just a few of the companies who receive daily complaints on their Facebook and Twitter pages – and aren’t they lucky to know about them. These companies aren’t afraid of these valid concerns, even though they know they’re being watched. And that’s precisely the point: what better place to showcase their responsiveness and commitment to the customer than by addressing the concern swiftly – right in front of an audience.

Be An Informational Resource For Your Audience. When you see a question pop up in your industry, answer the question. Look at how Cisco, Intel, Oracle and IBManswer with depth, relevance, data details and solutions. Showcase stories that reveal how you helped a customer solve this issue. Post the answers on your social media channels. Create a solutions database on your website, and share these posts through multiple social media channels and platforms.

Content-rich posts, full of customer successes with data and facts, are the types of posts and updates that generate shares and likes. This is also the strongest, and probably the only way, to build up the search engine keywords on your site that will drive traffic to your website.

No Social Media Yet? Here’s What It’s Costing you.

Insights. Competitive Intelligence. Those signs, signals and subtle influences that start as waves and soon swell into thunderous changes in the market. Looming industry trends and market disruptions – the signs that tell you things are changing and this is what customers will want.

Their value? How closely was Kodak paying attention when people began uploading digital images of their photos? Could Kodak have avoided bankruptcy?

What is that subtle shift that’s happening right now, under the radar, in your market?
Oh, yes. You know it’s there… you just don’t have time to pay attention to it, right now. You’ll get to it later.

Some companies do, however, manage to survive, or even prosper, despite a radical change in their business environment. How? Intelligence. Sometimes companies notice the shifts by looking at analytics. More often than not, the data is too small, too tiny, to appear in an analytical report.

Yet, those insights are right under your nose; they’re in that social media stream.

Think about this: Are you willing to pick up a phone to call a help line? You don’t have time for that. Your customer doesn’t either. Your customer has already figured out a much faster way. Post a complaint, with photos, on Facebook. Better yet, put it on Twitter. Did you see how quickly Air Canada got that wheelchair fixed after Tanner’s mother posted her complaint on Twitter?

Social media is a source of competitive intelligence. It is often faster and more accurate than any other method you have for generating consumer insight.

Are you prepared to apply what you’ve learned to influence the changes called for in product development, or operations?
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What’s The Shortest Distance Between You and Your Customer?

The latest social media figures reveal there are:

  • 751 million Facebook users
  • 288 million monthly twitter users
  • 238 million LinkedIn users

SmartPak says that Facebook is the number 7 revenue referrer to their website. If you visit the SmarkPak Facebook page, you’ll find nearly 110,000 fans come there to find answers to common problems on equestrian care.

So how can you harness those millions of social media numbers to generate more revenue for your business?

Simple: SmartPak uses Facebook as a place for customers to vent their problems and frustrations. SmartPak listens, and uses that information to build web content that solves problems, positioning SmartPak as a leader, and an advocate to the industry.

How can you get those Facebook and twitter users to share your stories, and promote your brand? What’s the secret to getting users to actively engage with you online and spread the word?

Southwest airlines did not gain 1.61 million (so far) twitter followers through a well-crafted about me page. Instead, Southwest Airlines knows the power of story, and that actions speak louder than words, and used the story to create resonance with its readers.

When a client reaches out for help in building an engaging social media presence, I know I can usually find the “gold” in the customer story archives.

Stories connect people

  1. Build trust

  2. transcend generations

  3. engage our emotions

  4. inspire us, and

  5. Are contagious…social-med

Get Them to Contact You After the First Visit To Your Website

When prospects want to learn about you and your products, the first place they head to for more information is your website. You may have gorgeous graphics, catchy phrases and easy navigation – but that’s not going to convince them to stay, and contact you.

If you’re clever, you will anticipate your prospects’ need even before they open the browser. Follow the example of these four companies to be ready with the exact information they’re looking for.

Just open this webpage to Canon USA for a picture-perfect example. Instantly you’ll notice right smack in the middle of the page is a virtual slide show with entrancing headlines:

  • Counterfeit Accessories are more destructive than you think. “learn more…”
  • Cannon Education: In-depth tutorials, education and more… “learn more….”

If you’ve spent, or are considering spending, a significant amount of money and time on copy machines or photography, how could you resist learning more about these topics?

A quick visit to the web page of FedEx, (one of the Most Reputable Companies of 2013), instantly reveals timeliness – with its “Quick Access” login, FedEx reinforces its reputation and image as the one who keeps tabs on the pulse of its packages. – The customer says, “Yes – show me how much it will cost me to get my package there!”

When you open the Stanley Black and Decker homepage, you’ll see a live feed of news and broadcasts and several links to analysis and investor reports. Clearly, Stanley knows investors frequent their website, and Stanley is catering to these important visitors by making it easy for investors and reporters to find exactly what they need – fast. Notice, also, Stanley’s emphasis on safety — this reassures not only buyers, but investors as well.

Kellogg’s website draws readers in with links to nutrition, offers for a free book, and of course printable coupons.

Each website example I’ve listed here has clearly identified it’s prospects, and has provided an offer to give each visitor something valuable and unique. The key is to use your website to fill a need the prospect wants – as soon as your page is opened. The customer is actively engaged, willing to fill out any online-necessary online forms and quick to join any social media outlets the company offers.

If you’d like help in doing the same, contact us.

Use Your Blog To Be Your Customer’s Biggest Hero

Facts, specifications, dollars and black and white data each have their place in the sales cycle. Yet, buyers need an emotional connection to motivate them to buy. A story provides a powerful impact when building an emotional connection with your customers. The blog is the quickest, fastest medium to share your story.

Blogging shows your customers that you are accessible. That “contact me” button is an invitation to connect. More importantly, blogging is profitable. “Fifty six percent of businesses that blogged at least monthly acquired customers through their blogs. Blogging three times a week increased the percentage to 70 percent; daily blogging upped it to 78 percent,” according to a 2012 study from HubSpot.

Here’s how to use your blog to generate an emotional connection with your customers:

  • Choose topics that solve problems. You already know the key issues your customers face. Show your customers exactly how familiar you are with the challenges they face, with specific, personal stories that reveal your own insights and experiences.
  • Give your customers a happy ending – show them how your proficiency solved your customer’s problem. Use specific facts and measurements.
  • Let them know what’s coming. Position yourself as the industry expert you are by revealing what new issues and challenges they can expect to face, and how you are already poised and ready to take them there as painlessly as possible.

Each blog post you publish gives the reader a dynamic update on your business, your industry, and helps to sharpen your business focus. Your blog creates an instant searchable on-line keyword archive, easily accessible by your sales and marketing staff, to target a customer’s specific needs and close a sale. More importantly, Google indexes your blog posts, via key words, so that future Google searchers will find your page.
If the idea of coming up with a new story every day – or every week, seems daunting, simply contact us.

Do You Have These Two Vital Social Network Tools?

With a click of a button, your webpage can appear on thousands of screens, reaching targeted markets that even your best direct marketing list could fails to provide. A single reader can, in seconds, spread your web page across intimate social network circles, giving you vital, targeted “screen exposure.”

Readers make decisions quickly. If the social network buttons aren’t there, your opportunity is gone. So let’s get started:

There are two types of social networking buttons to add to your webpage.

  1. Buttons that allow readers to subscribe to all of your updates on specific share sites. 
  2. Buttons that allow readers to share a specific article on their own share sites. 

The first is a set of buttons that allow readers to join your social networks. These buttons usually appear at the top of a webpage – with the words, “Follow us on… twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.” See the photo below of GE’s Healthcare webpage.

When a reader clicks on the FB icon, the reader’s  own FB page will automatically open (not yours), and the prompt will appear, “Like this page.” Once the reader clicks OK, all of your Facebook entries will now appear on the reader’s FB home page. The process works the same with Linkedin, Google+ and Twitter. Once connected, your reader will never miss another tweet, post or update you post on the social network.

The second tool for social networks is one that allows the reader to share one specific story from your site, to the reader’s private social network pages.

Let’s say you just posted a great article on how to increase employee productivity, full of valuable tips that managers can implement instantly. The reader likes this so much, he wants to post a tweet, send out an email to his peers, and he  even has a comment about it he’d like to share with his private LinkedIn group. To accomplish this, the reader will look for the social icon buttons that are usually found on the top, bottom or side of a post, with the words, “Share This.” The photo of the Scientific American photo below is a perfect example.

Once the reader clicks “IN” his own personal LinkedIn page will appear, with a snippet from your article, all neat and ready to post. There will be a place for the reader to add his own comments. Once the reader clicks post, all of the members of the reader’s LinkedIn network will see your article. When anyone clicks on the link appearing in the social network, the link will carry the reader directly to your webpage, where they can discover more about your business.

There are dozens of social networks to consider. Spurl, Myspace, Technorati, Stumbleupon, Google+ — and more. You can’t show them all – so think and study your market and give your readers the Social Network options they use. Looking at the selection of icons chosen by Scientific American, I’m wondering – why is there no “email this” button?

Finding Followers, Expanding Influence

The quickest way to effectively ramp up your FB/Twitter/LI following is by seeking out people who are most likely to care about what you’re putting out there — your target audience, customers, colleagues, others in your industry — and follow them.  But who are they?

Finding the right people to follow isn’t always easy to do, when you consider the 145+ million SM users, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, and it can be a major time eater. You can always invite Fans via your address book from the Facebook icon — however, it’s a good idea to add some quality content first. Invite them once you have started to add some more content, stories and news updates, to your page.

It’s important not to overstretch your SM program with updates that only self-promote you. Give your followers quality content, without always asking them for a sale. Your SM campaign cannot consist only of customer success stories and news releases about AccBen — you’ll need to include some relevant industry news too.

Most important, however, is to remember to keep SM active and responsive, and to focus on the relationship part of social networking. It’s not going to happen overnight, but the more you put into the process, the more you will get out of it.

I’ve refined and streamlined the process of developing a SM following to save time, and to build a quality network.  I usually follow these steps:

  1. What the Trend: Shows you what’s trending on Social Media and why.  This is a great way to search for users who tweet about specific topics, and get your own account found when someone else searches.
  2. Industry analysts/reporters. These are found by looking at the bios of relevant stories in trade publications and subscribing to their Social Networks. We want these sources to follow you, — and they probably need to follow you (they need the stories!). Let them know your SM activity. .
  3. Who else do the industry analysts/reporters follow? A goldmine of potential followers.
  4. Once you begin posting regularly on LinkedIn, FB and are active on Twitter, you will naturally find a steady a steady stream of people who like you, retweet you and mention you in LinkedIn. Although you may already be following some of these people, these likes and tweets can make you aware of new people you should be following.
  5. Invite your friends go to your business page via your address book. Again, it’s important to wait until your page has a collection of solid content.
  6. Sharing a page. This can be done with the customer success stories, as well as any other page on the web that you believe could benefit your followers. We can create a great deal of SM synergy by cross promoting customer success stories, via SM with our customers.
  7. Offering an incentive. A great way to encourage friends to ‘like’ your page is by offering an incentive. This might be a free ebook, a complimentary analysis,  — whatever it is that you can offer so it connects to your business.
  8. As your followers begin to grow, look at their profiles and examine their own SM network. This gives you a new collection of people to analyze to determine if these might be good followers.

If you would like me to help you handle all or part of this, contact me. I’ll be happy to put together a proposal for you, based on your needs.