Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How Social Media Marketing is similar to Network Marketing

I gave a talk recently at the Wasaga Beach Women's Business Association. This is an active group of women business owners who are progressive and are interested in growing their businesses. Many of them already understand the benefits of marketing online and see the benefits of using twitter, Linkedin and facebook.

My topic was, "How to maximize your marketing in turbulent times". I focused on how to incorporate social media marketing into existing marketing plans. Below is the text of my presentation:



Good evening. Thank you for the opportunity to speak at your event this evening.

I am sure that you did not know that US President Obama had a summer place in Wasaga Beach. It has been suggested that I bear a slight resemblance to Obama. While I don’t see it, I’ll do my best to tell what’s really happening on the Internet and deliver a marketing stimulus package for your business.

With regards to Social Marketing, it feels like 1995 all over again. That’s the year the World Wide Web exploded. Everyone was talking about it, everyone knew they had to be on it, but very few knew what to do. It was very experimental.

We are in a similar place today with social marketing, social media, web marketing or whatever you want to call what we are experiencing with Internet marketing today.

This is a ‘good news/bad news’ story. The good news is that we will get used to it sooner or later. We will learn how to adapt to it in the same way we became addicted to the World Wide Web. The bad news is that we have some experimenting to do.

Tonight I am going to share some of the things I have learned about social marketing on the Internet that will speed up your learning. In the process these techniques will improve the effectiveness of your marketing. Inexpensively!

What is Social Marketing? A simple way to look at it is to compare it to what we are doing here tonight: networking with other people in a social setting.

Instead of being together in a physical location, the technology of the Internet allows you to connect with individuals on a one-to-one basis. Like this meeting, it is interactive: people talk to you. And just like every successful network meeting, the more you put in the more you get out.

Social marketing happens in a number of ways: through email from your customers (assuming you check and respond regularly), on network sites like facebook http://www.facebook.com/ and others, and on specialized web sites called blogs https://www.blogger.com/start

Blogs are web sites that contain stories or articles that are written about very specialized topics. The author publishes a story and people react either positively or negatively by leaving comments. Other people react not only to the article but also to the comments and so on and so on. Your community grows with people who want to connect with you.

Let me give you an example of social marketing to illustrate: A number of years ago we were planning a trip to Greece. We started our research on the web. We found a specific site that seemed much more personal than others http://www.greektravel.com/. It gave us lots of details on some off-the-beaten path things to see, and places to go. It even recommended a local travel agent based in Athens. That made sense to us: work with someone who lived and worked in the market. Without having met the agent, we contracted with them to book us the Greek portion of our travel. We believed that because they were local they would make better recommendations. And we trusted that because they came from a reputable web site that we respected we would be taken care of. We were not disappointed. And when we had a problem with a ferry, we had someone local to contact to help us with the problem. Think about how you could use that same technique to reach out to people who want to visit Wasaga Beach and may even want to move here to live. Wouldn’t it be great if you could begin to build a relationship with them?

And the kicker: Social Media is inexpensive. It allows a small and mid-size company to compete on a level playing field with larger companies.

At a network event and in social marketing, the etiquette is the same. There are three basic questions: Who are you? What do you do? What can you do for me?

WHO ARE YOU?
That is a favourite song from The Who http://www.thewho.com/(and the theme song to a favourite show, CSI http://www.cbs.com/primetime/csi/). It is the first and most important question you ask at a network event. It is also the first question you need to ask and answer when you get into Social Marketing.

From a business perspective, ‘who you are’ defines what business you are in. For example, “My name is Chris Morales and I am an Internet Marketing Consultant”. You immediately have an image of who I am. It begins to paint a picture of what business I am in and what my brand stands for.

Its all about ‘Brand Image’. It’s what we do at altered perception, the design studio I consult for in Barrie. We work with small and medium-sized businesses to create their brand image: we take their brand from perception to reality.

Your business is what you do. Let’s take a look at some familiar business names:

Tim Hortons: Business – Coffee http://www.timhortons.com/
Staples: Business – Office supplies http://www.staples.com/
Zoomer Business – retirement http://zoomermedia.ca/
Google: Business – Internet search http://www.google.com/
Starbucks: Business – Coffee http://www.starbucks.ca/en-ca/

WHAT DO YOU DO?
This is the qualifier, the elevator pitch if you will. Let’s use my personal example again: “My name is Chris Morales. I am an Internet Marketing Consultant and I specialize in Social Marketing”.

Now lets take a look at those businesses again, this time thinking what their Brand Image communicates:

Tim Hortons: Brand Image – Canadiana
Staples: Brand Image – Easy
Zoomer: Brand Image – Active Boomers
Google: Brand Image – the Internet
Starbucks: Brand Image – Exclusive club

These companies spend millions of dollars annually communicating their brand to consumers. They are now starting to move into social media. And unlike other forms of marketing and media, the cost is low…free except for your time commitment.

WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME?
The final piece of the puzzle is the obvious one. The Benefit. Again using myself as an example, it would go something like this, “My name is Chris Morales. I am an Internet Marketing Consultant and I specialize in Social Marketing. I show small to mid-size businesses how to increase the effectiveness of their marketing.

At this point in the conversation, the other person is either interested or not. But recognize that you can’t be all things to all people. Your best and most profitable relationships in business are with people who are interested in you and what you have to offer. They tell their friends and associates.

MARKETING YOUR BRAND SOCIALLY
So with increasing confidence and potential results, you can now start to use social marketing for your business.

You are all familiar with each other so you likely know each other really well. But the first time you came here, you had to exchange information. That is exactly what social marketing does. It just uses the Internet technology to do it on a more sophisticated scale.

On the numerous social networking sites, facebook being the most well known, each user sets up a profile or brand image as soon as they join. Putting in a lot of information allows the individual to get more out of the experience.

If I could offer one piece of advice to you on how to maximize your social media marketing, it would be to be honest, genuine and authentic. Just like you expect from the person whom you are talking to. And yes, I made this mistake. When I first started my blog, I didn’t put a profile picture up and I didn’t tell them where I lived. Very limited acceptance on-line. Once I posted my picture on the Beach and put my profile in detail, visitors to my blog increased from 300 a month to 1,200 per month consistently.

There are numerous web sites that you can market socially on. I recommend you start with “The Big 3’: facebook, twitter, Linkedin.

facebook http://www.facebook.com/ is more of a social network where friends go to keep in touch. It is evolving fast. Nike http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nike/language_select/ for example has a an extensive presence on facebook. Their primary profile page has over 1.4 million ‘friends’.

Twitter http://twitter.com/ is similar to a broadcast medium. You are limited to 140 characters to send your message, but you can include links back to your web site. Its called a ‘tweet’. You only communicate with people in your network. Back to Nike for an example. I am interested in marathon running. I follow Nike’s on twitter. Multiple times a day I see tweets from them noting a tip on training. It is relevant and interesting to me. Keeps Nike top-of-mind. What shoe am I likely to strongly consider when I need to buy shoes again.

Linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/ is more business-focused. You can think of it as facebook for business. You can follow in and participate in various business-related topics. In my case, I follow discussions on how to use social media more effectively. I also follow discussions on marathon running and the automotive industry.

All these social marketing networks are free to join and participate in. Think about that. To reach customers and build your brand presence doesn’t cost anything but time.

“Can the Internet benefit me here in Wasaga Beach?” I say ‘yes’ to that. Let me end with a recent, personal example:

“How social media got me into Macleans magazine”. I posted an article on my personal blog about customer service. I twittered it. I talked about it on my facebook and Linkedin pages. I commented on an article on macleans.ca. The writer saw my comments, checked me out and thought I would make a good story.

The article appeared in MACLEANS April 6 http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/03/31/retiring-into-the-unknown/ Since then awareness for my brand has continued to grow. Radio interviews, business opportunities. I could not have afforded the exposure if I had to pay for it. Through social marketing it has cost me time at my computer.

If it can work for me, it can work for you.

And to display proper social marketing etiquette, here is how you can follow me:

Facebook: Chris Morales

Linkedin: Chris Morales

Twitter: Chris_Morales

Personal web site: www.prepaidlegal.com/hub/spennock

I look forward to seeing you on-line.

Thank you very much for your attention tonight.

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