2 Words Confusing Most Business Owners

These days, the words “Social Media” seems to be somewhat intimidating to most business owners.  It is relatively new technology (comparatively speaking) wherein they do not have full control over what’s happening and where everything leads, not to mention, it’s very hard to determine which specific social media outlet is responsible for generating leads for the business.

Most business owners understand how a website works, and they appreciate they can have an online store that can take customer orders, sell their products, and allow their customers to get in touch with them or get to know their products or services better.  With a website, communication is one way, everything is under their control.

The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report has some good news for small business marketers. Small business owners are seeing the greatest results from social media marketing. Michael Stelzner authored the third-annual industry study in which he surveyed 3342 marketers, 47% of whom were either self-employed or small business owners. This group reports some amazing results from social media marketing.

Here’s a quick summary of their primary findings:

  • Marketers place high value on social media: A significant 90% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business.
  • Measurement and integration are top areas marketers want to master: One third of all social media marketers want to know how to monitor and measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media and integrate their social media activities.
  • Social media marketing takes a lot of time: The majority of marketers (58%) are using social media for 6 hours or more each week, and more than a third (34%) invest 11 or more hours weekly.
  • Video marketing on the rise: A significant 77% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube and video marketing, making it the top area marketers will invest in for 2011.
  • Marketers seek to learn more about Facebook and blogging: 70% of marketers want to learn more about Facebook and 69% want to learn more about blogging.
  • The top benefits of social media marketing: The number-one advantage of social media marketing (by a long shot) is generating more business exposure, as indicated by 88% of marketers. Increased traffic (72%) and improved search rankings (62%) were also major advantages.
  • The top social media tools: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, in that order. Facebook has eclipsed Twitter to take the top spot since their 2010 study.
  • Social media outsourcing underutilized: Only 28% of businesses are outsourcing some portion of their social media marketing.

I would encourage you to read this full report. You can download it here (no opt in or registration required).

All the hype around social media tends to discourage a lot of business owners.  They set up a Facebook Fan Page, then wait for new customers to pour in, just as the hype promises.  But when it does not happen right away, then they forget about their Facebook pages.  Same goes for Twitter.

Here are the best practices we at Hudson Enterprises always implement in any social media effort.

1. Social Media Takes Time. Social media, like other marketing practices, needs to be done right.  Planning, implementing, measuring, controlling and then revisiting every step of the process is essential in making it work.  A Twitter account will not make your customers flock to your website or store a few hours after you start tweeting.  You have to take time and get involved with your social media efforts before you will see the fruits of your labor.  You have to become “The expert” in your niche first. But trust us when we say, it really is worth it!

2. Get the “FREE” Mindset Out of Your Mind. One of the draws of social media is that people think it’s free.  I hate to pop your bubble, but it isn’t Free.

You may not have to spend any money to join Twitter or create a free-account blog, but you will have to somehow spend time and money making this endeavor fruitful.  You, a member of your staff, or someone else would have to be responsible for the blog posts, or to keep an eye on your Twitter account.  Remember that it’s useless to have a blog that has outdated entries, or a social media profile where inquiries, conversations and complaints are left unanswered. I see it all the time. A website saying, “Visit my blog for the latest updates…”  Then I go to the blog and the latest update occurred 4 months ago! Or I get someone who follows me on Twitter, and when I look to see who they are, they have 3 tweets, the last being 6 months ago. They just decided to activate some auto-follow software to help them build up their following (for free).

3. It’s NOT All About Numbers. Many large corporate Facebook Pages have millions of followers.  While it’s great to get that many people to Like you, you should not measure your success by the numbers.  As a small business, you will probably not get past a few hundred or a few dozen followers or Likers.  Instead, measure your success by the quality of interaction you give your customers who took the time to look you up and follow you or Like you.  From the Social Media Marketing Industry Report (mentioned above) finding showed that 72% of marketers who have been using social media for more than 3 years report it had helped them close business. More than half who spend 11 or more hours per week find the same results. The self-employed and small business owners with 2 or more employees most achieved this benefit (48%).

We have several clients we manage with less than 100 followers (or Likes) but yet, have several clients and sales out of those small numbers. Quality, not Quantity!

4. Take It From the Experts. Take a look at what big brands are doing and try to see which feature, interaction, and promotions are being done by these companies for their own social media efforts. Social media is a dynamic area where new things are always happening.  Business owners should be on top of these changes so they can take advantage of them as soon as they become available or as soon as these changes start to take place.

5. Don’t Hesitate to Ask For Help. Between running your business, meeting with clients, and getting new customers into your business, keep in mind there is only so much you can do.  Most businesses pass up on the opportunities presented by social media because they feel they are just too busy to interact with customers or to go along with the newest trends, like Facebook and Twitter. Most businesses cannot effectively manage a real Social Media presence, and run their business effectively too. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do both, and to do them well.

Don’t try to be a hero, get help when you need it.  You can hire an employee to do your social media marketing, or get a consultant or a company to help you. We actually offer these services, so contact us at our website HudsonEnterprises.com if interested.

6. Catch Up With The Times. If you’re still using a cell phone that is 2 to 3 years old… time to upgrade. If you’re not using a Smart Phone (not just a phone with a web browser), time to upgrade. If you’re not using Text Messaging and SMS, time to upgrade.

Listen, you may consider yourself “Old School”, and think you can still run your business the way you did before anyone had cell phones. But if this is your way of thinking, you’re sadly mistaken.

Most of your clients are already using their cell phones to do a lot of things. Not only do they expect you to be there too, many will choose not to work with you if you aren’t. Many potential customers and clients will look for your mobile website. Don’t have one? You better get one!

Mobile Marketing is the wave of the future (at least for the next year or two, until something else comes along to uproot it as the place to be), so you’d better be there. If you’re not, get started!

Have a QR Code on your business card? What’s that you ask? “What is a QR Code?”  If you have to ask, you’re behind the learning curve. You’d better get a QR code for your website, blog, Facebook page, etc., and start putting them EVERYWHERE!  (More on QR Codes in my next post.)

I will be the among the first to admit, often times, I’m so busy helping all our clients run their social marketing, blogs, websites,  and their businesses, that my own goes into major neglect mode. The same held true for me on deciding to finally upgrade to a smart phone. Once I did, I wonder why it took me so long, and how in the world I could manage my business effectively now without it.

The Final Word: You Have to Start Somewhere!

As a business owner, whether you’re just getting into social media, or if you’ve been involved with it for a while, you might have a lot to learn and a lot of things to think about, but the most important thing is you have a plan.  With that plan, you can start little by little.  You do not have to join and try out every social media site there is. I HIGHLY recommend you focus first on the “Big 4,”  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Know your customers and make an effort to interact with them. Build relationships and follow the 90/10 rule of 90% relationship building and 10% marketing.

If you have a comment or question about this article, or anything having to do with Social Media, use the comment link below to sound off about it. We truly do love comments and questions.

Strategies for Getting Your Facebook Fan Page Found

How does a professional use Facebook to build their business, generate leads, and meet potential clients?

First, you have to set up a fan page for your businesses or brand. After that, you have to get the word out. The page won’t do the work for you. So here are some tips on finding an audience and keeping their interest …

Give it a Proper Name: Sure, seems easy enough…but choosing a smart name might mean something entirely different to you than it does to a search engine. The best name to use, if you’d like to be found more often in searches, is the exact name of your business. Using clever phrases or your web domain may seem like a good way to separate yourself from Facebook’s 600 million active users, but more often than not it’ll make you less likely to be found by the very people you’re trying to attract.

Promote Your Page: Like anything else, if you want people to know about something, you have to tell them. So take advantage of Facebook’s widgets and badges and add links to your page on your business website, your blog, your email signature, and anywhere else you can think of. The more opportunities you create to promote your page, the more likely you’ll have a burgeoning fan base before long. The easiest of all these suggestions is your email signature. It amazes me how many people DON’T use this 100% free method of self-promotion. If you don’t do anything else today, add your Facebook Fan Page address to your email signature file!

Advertise: Facebook offers an advertising platform allowing you to buy a simple ad you can target by location, age, or interests. That means, your ad appears before exactly the audience you want to attract. It’s not free, but if you’re serious about building your fan page, it’s a good way to start adding fans that aren’t in your family or social circle, and it can be done amazingly cheap, compared to some PPC methods like Google and Yahoo/Bing. I’ve run campaigns and cost per click were as low as $.05. That’s pretty darn cheap advertising, and I would challenge you to find advertising any cheaper than that anywhere!

Treat Your Fan Page Like an Online Ad and Optimize: Fan page administrators have access to reporting tools and can use the tools to optimize the performance of their page. All posts are given a quality rating based on how many people comment, like, and write posts in response. You can use this quality rating to get a better understanding about what fans want to see from you.

The Facebook Pages platform provides the most effective way for businesses to engage fans on Facebook. But to be successful, you must remember, pages are a two-way conversation, and you need to be present and active. The rewards are great. Embracing this form of interaction will build deeper connections with your most loyal advocates.

If you don’t already have a business Fan Page, visit http://Facebook.com/GetACustomFanPage for more information on how you can have a professionally designed page without all the programming hassles and struggles.

Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you!

Fan Page Updates – What They Really Mean to Your Fan Page

On Thursday February 10, Facebook made some much anticipated changes to their Fan Pages.

For a good part of the day, confusion reigned supreme. Some were excited, some were mad and many were just plain confused. Let’s explore the changes and what they mean to you if you have (or are thinking about getting) a Fan Page:

There was a glitch that caused pages to be truncated and there was a lot of speculation about the width of the tabs being changed. We heard they were being reduced to 500 pixels, 491, 492 and 493 pixels. Don’t worry – it’s not true. It was just a glitch during the upgrade. From everything we’re seeing and hearing, that has been fixed.

This reminds us of one key element: we are at the mercy of Facebook and you need to stay current on their changes and be prepared to maintain your page according to whatever changes they may make (with or without advance notice). It’s the cost of doing business online but it’s still frustrating when changes hit us out of the blue. But we breathed a sigh of relief when we found out it was just a glitch.

Now, onto the other changes (most of them really good):

The navigation (links to other tabs) is now on the left side. Facebook says they did this because they feel that is where people expect the navigation to be, since that is where it is on personal profiles. Lots of people aren’t crazy about this change (myself included). It makes the tabs less prominent and obvious. Like most changes, we’ll get used to it and in a few days, most of us won’t even notice this change. I think the old style was a little more “idiot proof” – which is always a good thing. But people adapt and they figure things out so ultimately this shouldn’t have a huge impact.

But, just in case…it’ll be really important that you set the tab you want people to land on because if users aren’t seeing the nav menu and clicking on other tabs, the tab they land on may be all they see on your Page. You may want them to land on the Wall, or a custom FBML tab – you need to decide and make sure the settings are in place.  (In the new layout, go to Edit Page, then Manage Permissions and you can set the tab you want them to land on – we have chosen to have people land on our FBML tab called Our Facebook Home Page).

Another new change is pictures across the top of the page (like on the personal profiles). This makes pictures much more important than they were before.

There are lots of cool tricks you can do to play with the photos and how they appear. I’ll play around with that as soon as I find the time! Make sure you check out your page and see how your photos look and get some added if you need to. Just be careful, or you could accidentally replace any custom side banner you have on your Page now.

Some other cool changes:

You will be able to receive notifications for your Page, view a News Feed for your Page, and “Like” and post on other Pages as your Page. That means when I am logged in and comment on someone’s post or photo or whatever, I will have the choice to have the post be from “Ed Hudson” (my personal profile name) or “GetACustomFanPage” (the name of our Fan Page). That creates another way to get exposure for your page when you are commenting on other pages. You can flip back and forth between the 2 – so don’t worry you don’t commit to one or the other permanently. This is a cool new change and people seem really happy about this one.

You can now change the Category you list your page as. This is great. Lots of people don’t really understand the category and the impact when they set up the page. You can now go back and change it. (you go to Edit Page, then Basic Information and it’s right there on top). If you’ve upgraded to the new Page format already, be sure to go in and check to make sure your page hasn’t been thrown into a default (and incorrect) Category. Seems to be happening to a lot of Pages.

You can choose to receive email notifications when someone comments/posts on your page’s Wall. (Go to Edit Page, then Your Settings, the second option is Email Notifications)

There are now two publicly visible Wall filters: “Posts by Page” and “Everyone.” So people can choose to only see the posts done by the Page Admin or posts done by anyone visiting the page.

Page admins will be able to view additional filters, like “Most Recent” and “Hidden Posts.”

When people visit your Page, they will be able to view their friends who also like your Page. They will also see other pages both they and you like. This feature reinforces mutual connections.

The text in the little box under your profile pic now appears on the Info Tab (I’m not crazy about this one, I liked having a little blurb there to introduce the page and welcome people).

Although there was no change to sizing of the tabs, there is new sizing for your profile pic (or banner) on your Page. They have been adjusted from 200×600 to 180×540. This change was made ahead of last week’s new format, but just throwing it in here for anyone who had not already picked up on this change.

Static HTML is going away (sort of). Here’s the scoop:

From the Facebook Developer Blog:

“With our recent launch of Requests and the support for iframe on Pages Tabs, we are now ready to move forward with our previously announced plans to deprecate FBML and FBJS as a primary technology for building apps on Facebook. On March 11, 2011, you will no longer be able to create new FBML apps and Pages will no longer be able to add the Static FBML app. While all existing apps on Pages using FBML or the Static FBML app will continue to work, we strongly recommend that these apps transition to iframes as soon as possible.”

This means if you already have the Static FBML application added to your Page before March 11, 2011, it will work and your custom tabs will work.

This change will make it a little harder for amateur coders to create the custom tabs themselves. They will need to be familiar with uploading HTML and CSS files to their server and they will definitely need to know how to set up iFrames. That’s where we can help!

You can feature other Pages that your Page likes, or you can show the Admins of your Page. You’ll see this in the new “Likes” and “Page Owners” sections on the left side of your Page.

One change that is causing a lot of rumbling involves the order in which posts appear on a Page wall now. Used to be chronological, but Facebook (at least for now) seems to think they know best, and have come up with a weighted system for deciding which post carries the most relevance or importance, and lists that first. Challenges will prevail for Page Admins trying to keep up with comments and posts on a busy wall, and like with everything else Facebook does, this one is certainly subject to change in the future, so stay tuned!

So that pretty much covers the changes. We’ll see what other surprises Facebook comes up with!

Doing business on social media sites has its own set of challenges (the cost to make changes and stay current if you don’t handle the work yourself, the time needed to stay current and learn new features, etc.) but that’s all minor considering the benefit you get. So while I was one of the ones ranting last week about the sizing glitch, I had to remind myself that Facebook is offering us a platform to get exposure and build connections – and it’s free! (Sorta). So if we need to update from time to time, it’s really not that bad!

It’ll be interesting to see the introduction of iFrames and to see the feedback after people start using that to create their tabs. Stay tuned, I foresee another post or two on that in my future.

As always, questions and comments are encouraged!

Backing Up Your Social Media Accounts

Have you ever wondered how you can back up all the data that you put onto Facebook, Twitter, and your blog?

You never know what could happen to Facebook, Twitter or your blog. By backing up your accounts on a fairly regular basis you are less likely to lose any important info that keeps your business running.

There are tons of quick and easy ways to back up your social media data.

Facebook: Facebook recently allowed all users the ability to download all of their content – the info on their wall, photos, videos etc. This is how you do it:

  • Go to Facebook and log in
  • Go to Account Settings
  • Click on “Download Your Information” and allow Facebook to download your info
  • Wait for an e-mail that will let you know your info is ready
  • Go through the security test that allows you to download your info onto your desktop
  • Once it’s downloaded, double click it to unzip. From there you can open it and view all your information.

Twitter: There are many ways to back up your tweets. Even the Library of Congress is categorizing and storing tweets. So how can you store yours?

  • TweetStreamApp.com:  This site has a free version which allows you to sync up to 3 Twitter accounts and provides detailed analytics, or you upgrade to the paid version which allows an unlimited amount of accounts for only $5 a year! The only downside is I found it takes quite a while to sync your data, but the site is really easy to navigate
  • TweetBackup.com:  This site is free and super easy to use. No bells and whistles but it is super easy to navigate and it’s nice being able to sync and save specific hashtags.

Your Blog:

  • WordPress Blog: If you have a WordPress blog, download the plugin WP-DB Manager, this plugin gives you the option to optimize, backup and restore your entire database. If you want to just backup specific parts of your WordPress blog, in your Dashboard, click ‘Tools,’ then click ‘Export’ and you can then choose which posts you’d like to backup
  • Non WordPress Blog: If you don’t have a WordPress blog you can use BlogBackupr.com. This service works for all other blog formats, provides a daily backup, runs over the internet, and there is no need to install anything!

So now that you have the tools, I highly recommend before the month is over to go backup your data.

I’d love your comments or feedback on backing up all your Social data. Leave me a comment below.