With so much buzz today about social networking, and with my own business experiencing such a growth in business because of it, I thought I’d share my latest article on social networking. I hope you find it beneficial. One thing … social networking does take time, no doubt about it. But when you start selling more books or landing more clients, you see that it’s so worth that time. Share your thoughts on social networking. Have you seen it increase your business? Any tips you’d like to offer. Diana Ennen / Virtual Word Publishing, www.virtualwordpublishing.com
Social Networking Changed Everything – The New Marketing & PR Model
It’s pretty obvious that the marketing of today has changed. You have newspapers going virtual/web only, Twitter and Facebook replacing postcards and phone calls, and potential clients now being the main target of your press releases as opposed to editors. It’s all changing and to do PR today, you need to change with it. The good news is that it’s never been easier. The bad news, you need to learn a new way to do things. Fortunately, there are tips that can make it easier and I’m here to show you a few.
First, no one can deny the power of social networking. And those that do are just plain wrong. I’ve been in business since 1985 and I liken this to way back when emails became a way of life. Many still contended they wanted to do it the old fashioned way and nothing would beat a letter. (I know it’s hard to even imagine this today.) It wasn’t long until they realized their error, but by then their competition was way ahead of them. Don’t make the same mistake now. You absolutely need to get with it and get on board. I can practically guarantee you within weeks you’ll be hooked and wondering why you ever hesitated. It’s so easy, and the potential so great, you need to start today.
Let’s break it down. Twitter first. Forget all the “I don’t care what they ate for lunch excuses,” that’s where your competition and peers are and you do need to be there too. Sure you do have a few tweeters who will update you on the latest hot dog they ate, but that’s rare. What you do have is more and more businesses networking and connecting with each other in ways never thought possible. It’s also more than just networking back and forth, you can have chats, host events, get more publicity for your articles and press releases & even announce your seminars and radio shows. And that’s not even the half of it. There are entire books written on this, so my first recommendation is to get them. Why struggle and find your way around when you can easily read the tips from those who know exactly what you need to succeed.
Also, while you are getting your feet wet, don’t jump in and start posting and selling and ranting and raving. Take it slow. Sign up, take a sit, remain quiet for a short time and read what others are posting. Follow the leaders in your industry and take advantage of their knowledge. It can almost feel like walking around with them all day and looking over their shoulders for their secrets. What’s cool is they give their tips freely, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that? As an example, if someone were looking for information on starting a virtual assistant business or getting publicity for their business, they could follow me at Twitter.com/dianaennen
Now the key many forget is that not only do you need to follow them, you need to listen earnestly to what they are saying. Go to the sites they recommend. Actually do the things they suggest. And most importantly, if you have the opportunity to contribute and honestly have something of importance to say, do! Even if they aren’t following you, once you list their twitter name @name, it will go to them. Best yet, you might get a retreat or even better a RT and follow back. As many say, those are the ultimate compliments.
Now it’s important to learn the social media lingo – Hashtags, Retweets, Fans, Follow Friday, this is just a few of the many names you need to know to do business better. It can be overwhelming. No, in fact it is overwhelming. However, if you keep it simple and take it a step at a time, you can do it. When you see a term you don’t know, look it up right then. Write down your interpretation and do the investigating to find out more about it. Here are just a few to help you on your journey.
What’s a retweet? That’s when you find somone’s information useful and you want to pass it onto your followers. So basically RT (retweet) is good content that you pass on. Many RT just to RT. Don’t be one of them. You know your followers and what they want and need, that’s what you should be RT’ing. We highly recommend signing up for TweetDeck for ease in doing this. A click of a button and you are there.
Next you need to know about Follow Friday. This is definitely one of my favorites. Think of Follow Friday as your day networking at a business get-together, only better. You get to stay in the comfort of your own home, and you get to immediately make the connections, not when you get home with a handful of business cards. Try and plan your week so you can participate. Remember this can be even more effective than a Chamber meeting or an expensive business seminar. So plan a lighter load on Friday whenever possible. You want people to mention you so mention them. Also, don’t just list 20 screens of twitter names that you want people to follow. Tell your followers why they should follow them. What do they offer that your followers would be interested in? Remember to put #followfriday in your posting. (By the way, see that # in followfriday. That’s what is called a hashtag. Cool huh!) And finally, you want people to retweet your followfriday postings, so keep your count to 120 instead of 140 so they can easily do this. In fact, do this for all tips or postings you wanted retweeted.
Finally, try and post on Friday mornings. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ll often go down my postings to find those I want to list. I know I want to list them before hand so it’s not that I’m just going down my friends column, but often times I don’t have their information readily available. By posting on Friday you are giving it to them.
Finally, sign up for Trilalerts for your keywords. Start following those of interest. For example, I’m a virtual assistant, so I’ve signed up for virtual assistant updates. Now I can follow other virtual assistants easily. I do the same for Publicity, etc. Who do you want to connect with? That’s who you sign up for. Follow the media. Sign up for Facebook and Twitter for the newspapers and TV stations in your area. Look for business reporters who tweak and follow them. Learn their style and what they are looking for in their articles.
Also, follow some of the owners of the many article and press release directories who tweet. Some of the best are on there and giving away secrets to success left and right.
Facebook is pretty self explanatory. The key here is to spend some time to expand your network. Fortunately you get notices when someone responds to your posts, so try and go and follow-up as soon as you can. However, be careful that you don’t get sidetracked doing this too often. Build relationships. You can have thousands of friends and fans, but can you honestly connect to all of them. I know I sure can’t. Twitter also now allows your tweets to be sent to your Facebook page too. This is definitely a plus. Just make sure that you don’t do this to all of your postings, only the ones you feel would interest your friends on Facebook.
Article Submissions, Press Release Submissions - I also say you need to send out articles and press releases religiously. Many question how some succeed with this and others don’t. What’s the difference? The main thing is that they know what to do. They realize the difference that page ranking can make and don’t waste their time on sites that don’t get results. They sign up for Google Alerts under their keywords and then check out the sites that frequently get spidered. Then they send to those places and add those sites to their database. We do have a fabulous PR informational package that is free to anyone who emails us.
Marketing a business and social networking doesn’t have to be expensive if you just remember to network and use all the tools available to you. In fact, it can be fun as you get to meet new people and develop new ways to sell you and your business. Also, keep in mind if you don’t want to do it yourself, there are excellent qualified pros and virtual assistants available to assist. You don’t need to do it all. You just need to do it!
Diana Ennen, specializes in publicity and marketing and is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com and author of numerous books. Ready to jumpstart your PR campaign, then email her at Diana@virtualwordpublishing.com. Free PR Informational Package available. Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/dianaennen . Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.
Having a blog is a great step in the right direction if you are looking for ways to dive into social media. Conversations are at the core of what it’s about, after all. However, there is a lot more that you can do once you’ve got that blog up and running. You can think of your blog as a hub connecting all of your social media activities-and you’ll want to encourage visitors to interact with you socially in as many ways as possible. Here are some ideas that you can run with:
Social badges, buttons and widgets (oh my!): Why not advertise your social presence while you have your readers’ attention? There are many different ways to do this.
Facebook recently introduced Fan Boxes for those users with Fan Pages. These allow Page administrators to embed the most recent activity from their Page right in their website or blog. If you don’t have a Fan Page and want to let people know about your personal Facebook profile instead, you can also add a badge to your site provided by Facebook. Use the “Create a Profile Badge” link all the way at the bottom under your picture.
Facebook Connect is another option-this is a tool that allows software, websites, mobile devices and more to integrate with Facebook and send information between them.
Want to encourage your readers to follow you on Twitter? A simple Google search shows that there are many different badges out there to add to your site. Twittercounter.com has one of my favorites-the “big bird button” has a sleek design that displays your number of followers.
Finally, Google Friend Connect and MyBlogLog are two online services that allow web users to connect with their friends on different websites. These free services help foster community around blogs and blog authors.
Submission buttons: If you use the WordPress blog platform, a wonderful plugin to use is “Sociable.” This adds a row of buttons to the bottom of your posts for various social sites and tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, StumbleUpon and more. This way, readers can easily submit your content to be bookmarked, voted on and shared.
If you aren’t a WordPress user, the ShareThis or AddThis buttons are a great alternative.
Share-friendly content: It goes without saying that you want to add content to your blog that provides lots of value for your readers. This is what builds your subscriber base and ultimately determines your success. Some content is more “shareable” than others.
As one example, people just love lists. “Top 10 tips on….” “7 Ways to….” -you get the idea. Consider adding these types of posts to the mix, because readers are more apt to share them.
It’s also worth mentioning headlines. Keep in mind what might be attention-grabbing when you write your blog posts’ titles. People will be more likely to not only read further, but to share it with others and have those people share it too.
These days, people expect to be able to interact with you when they visit your site. Make it super simple for them and they’ll be back for more!
Oh my goodness where oh where do I begin? First of all I want to apologize for the first part of the summer and my totally slackness in blogging. I am going to do better I PROMISE. Just to get you up to date on some major events in my life since we last spoke, I’m going to fill you in for those of you that don’t know. This has been the best summer and the worst summer of my life. Sounds like I’m being melodramatic, I know, but that is seriously the truth. It all started when I got a call saying that I had the chance to go to Los Angeles for a fantastic business opportunity. I arrived on July 8th and my event was not until July 11th. On the morning of July 10th while staring out the window of my hotel room in Beverly Hills, amazed at where I was and what I was about to do, I received a call from my mom back home in Charleston. My father had very suddenly and VERY UNEXPECTEDLY passed away from an abdominal aortal aneurysm. It was truly the most horrific day of my life. I am fortunate enough to have lived 37 years without knowing this kind of loss or pain. (My family is extremely close… we all still even get together once a week for dinner.) The folks in LA moved mountains to get me on the next flight back to Charleston where I went through (and am still going through) the process of grieving and loss. My mother told me one of the last words my father said was “please don’t call Leslie”. He knew where I was and didn’t want to be the reason for me missing the opportunity of a lifetime.
Apparently during my first few days of the trip out in July I made an impression on the folks out there because I got a call back a while later from them saying they WANTED ME TO COME BACK!!! I was so overjoyed that they would actually give me a second chance. The entire process was surreal. I had some anxiety when packing the night of August 6th because I had not touched any of my things since they were frantically thrown into my suitcase on July 10th while in a state of raw grief. When I got off the plane in LA on August 7th it felt like “Groundhog Day”. My bags came down on the same carousel, the van was the same, the place where the driver picked me up was the same; the hotel was the same… I felt like I was in a reoccurring nightmare and I knew how it ended, but there was nothing I could do to stop it. THANKFULLY everyone involved with my travel arrangements was SO thoughtful and considerate that they made sure my room was on the other side of the hotel, the room set up was opposite etc… They were very aware of how hard it must be for me and were AWESOME! Once I got to my room and saw that the “nightmare” was different, I was fine. Instead of being sad that my dad would never see what I was doing, I KNEW he was with me the whole time.
I can honestly say that both trips to LA were two of the most insane, surreal, unbelievable, out of body, crazy experiences of my life, just on totally opposite ends of the spectrum. Ironically enough, my long flight back Monday August 10th was EXACTLY 1 month to the day that I was on that same long flight back July 10th. WOW what a difference a month makes! Okay… so that sums up how the summer has been for me. Now things are settling back down, my oldest started 1st grade and the little one is home with me until her preschool starts next month. It’s been one heck of a summer and honestly…. I’m glad it’s over. I’ll write more often and be better with the blogging I SWEAR! Thanks for hanging in there with me, and I’m glad to be back!
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™ www.grillcharms.com
Well it’s final. I return to product development tomorrow Tuesday, August 18th, with my business partner/engineer Mark Deadrick with 3dyn.com.
After a complete four month hiatus from the ‘inventing world’, I am ready to hit the ground running full force with a simple plastic product for children.
Let me quickly recapture where I was before I took my break, and I promise to fill in many more details in subsequent blogs.
As many in my inventing circle know, I started my inventing career 2 years ago with a product called HipSnugger Waistbands, formerly known as Cinch-Eaze Waistbands, a way to adjust children’s waistbands without sewing.
After about a year of product development and a subsequent quick, successful three month sales period, I licensed this product to a Canadian manufacturer which also functions as a distributor. (So much more on this later.)
Finding myself empty handed, I intentionally diverted my attention away from HipSnugger Waistbands (because I knew sitting around and just waiting would not make any processes like manufacturing and sales go any faster) and threw myself into the fascinating world of the ‘inventor’ with activities such as writing for Inventor’s Digest as well as facilitating meetings for a local inventing group I founded called Parent Innovators.
About six months ago, I had another idea for a product, but found myself in debt. I was stuck. However, being inventive as I am, I created a joint business with my partner Mark who I mentioned above.
Mark needed someone to do his marketing and public relations for his products and I needed someone to design and make prototypes for my ideas. Naturally our business formed.
Before my hiatus, which I will talk about in another blog post, Mark and I came up with a solution (invention) to a big problem my children and I were facing on a daily basis.
We were so close to a licensing deal with this product with a major company, that the final ‘No’ we received was a big blow to me and my ‘steam’. After working two years non-stop, pouring my heart and soul into my work, burn-out hit me like a ton of bricks.
It was time for me to take a much needed break, and conviniently this realization coincided with my girls and their summer vacation.
So after enjoying a four month vacation from work, I am back in one piece and this time even more determined to get back into the game and make things work.
However, this time, Mark and I decided to bring our product to market ourselves. Licensing is NOT in the cards this time around. And you are all invited on our adventure.
The constant “market research” I do with my clients, blog readers and newsletter subscribers points to one major theme: it feels like there’s just not enough time in the day to devote to social media. Business owners and professionals logically know that it can benefit them, but they freeze up or freak out when they see all of the tools and options available out there.
I have written blog posts and articles in the past about this topic, but I thought it would be useful to give a few specific bite-size strategies you can implement daily-and in a quick and painless way. Assuming you have a profile set up on at least one of the major social sites-LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook-here are some simple tactics for “socializing” without stress:
* Drop in to Facebook and check out who among your friends is having a birthday and wish them a happy one on their wall.
* Update your status on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook all at once by using Ping.fm. Ping.fm is a free service which allows users to post to multiple social sites simultaneously.
* Scan the news feed on your Facebook Home page and comment on or “like” interesting tidbits posted by your friends.
* Comment on high-traffic blogs in your niche.
* Check out the activity in any groups you belong to on LinkedIn or Facebook and ask or answer a few questions there.
* Head over to Twitter and post a helpful link, return new follows, share a picture by using TwitPic or poll your followers.
* If you blog, set up the BlogLink and NetworkedBlogs applications on LinkedIn and Facebook to import your posts.
* Request or write a recommendation on LinkedIn.
* Send an update to your Facebook Fans or post an event to your profile.
The key is not to expect overnight results nor feel you need to spend hours a day on social sites in order to make any headway. Choosing a handful of strategies and implementing them on a regular basis won’t take a ton of time or energy. What it will do is build momentum gradually but steadily. This is what leads to relationships, word of mouth, traffic, subscribers and ultimately, more sales.
Pick one or two networks and focus on those-you don’t need to be everywhere! Once you have your profiles up and running, it only takes a small investment of time per day to interact and leave your mark. Remember, the more someone feels like they know and trust you, the more likely they are to buy. In the meantime, take small steps everyday to build and strengthen those relationships with your friends, followers and contacts.