The Social Wave by Starr Hall by Starr Hall - Read Online

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The Social Wave - Starr Hall

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@michaelport.com

PREFACE

It wasn’t more than a decade ago when businesses large and small were investing hundreds even thousands of dollars in advertising and paying people a lot of money to write powerful marketing copy for their campaigns. Now businesses are starting to invest not only their money but their time in a new form of marketing…social media. However, most businesses have no idea what they are doing with this new form of marketing, let alone how to make this marketing vehicle work in growing their brand exposure and ultimately drive sales. This book aims to solve these problems and guide you—the business owner, marketing director, brand manager, entrepreneur—in how to utilize quick, easy strategies about online marketing and social media, and how to avoid what just doesn’t work. My first book, Get Connected: The Social Networking Toolkit for Business, was created to highlight the basics of social networking and online marketing, along with a few get-started strategies to get you better results right away. The emails, posts, feedback, and comments I received have been somewhat overwhelming, so I figured that I had struck a cord with most readers. Therefore, I am back with The Social Wave—basically social media and online marketing on steroids, a more intermediate and advanced approach than Get Connected. Some of our greatest lessons can come from our attempts and tests. Therefore in this book, I will share my journey, mistakes, suggestions, hair-pulling-out social interactions, successes, and challenges. Basically this is me being transparent: a teacher, friend, mentor, student, and well . . . marketer. I will also share stories from studies, surveys, and a few friends of mine that have been successful online with their efforts. Take what you want and what feels right to you. Although I should say leave the rest behind, I would like to ask that you consider all approaches, suggestions, and resources in this book to help you grow your business and take it to a higher level financially and/or emotionally.

So why me? Why am I writing on social media and online marketing? Well, I didn’t just fall into social media and online marketing. I flew into it. More than five years ago, when I decided to sell my public relations agency and travel the globe to present and train business owners on their branding and public relations, I was completely motivated by the social movement. I started to notice a shift in the communications industry when dealing with the media as they were moving to less phone pick-up and more email answering. As I began to move my own communications online, I noticed conversations forming and, more important, how easy it was to contact decision makers, and movers and shakers—and get almost instant media coverage for clients and me. This online world was moving at a speedboat pace, and I wanted to be on board. I was ready. I embraced it. I dug into it. I learned all I could and continued to become a part of the conversations more and more every single day.

As I began to move online and get more involved, I met thousands of important people in a matter of months. I noticed very quickly that a lot of people within my center of influence were not embracing this new movement. In fact it was quite the opposite. They were ignoring it, some even running from it at the speed of light. This aroused my curiosity. I could not understand why businesses and entrepreneurs were not embracing this change (or what some people are referring to as a shift), because their consumer sure was! Brand consumers embraced it way before the actual brands, which is why I feel that they have more influence and more of a voice as compared to the businesses that fought it. Why fight exposure?

I came to understand that businesses and entrepreneurs alike were ignoring this new form of communication and marketing because they were either intimidated and didn’t know where to start, or they didn’t understand the power behind the voices online. Either way, they were soon going to find out what the ROI (risk of ignoring) would be for their business, which is where we are right now as I write this book.

Businesses are now trying to buy a boat, jump in it, and steer it in a thousand different directions with no chart, no compass, no real destination, and more importantly no basic understanding about how this online social ocean even works. Some businesses are throwing thousands, even millions, of dollars at social media and online marketing. When doing this, there is one key point that is missed: money alone cannot buy a space in this place online. A transparent voice, however, can start a movement and become viral, which in turn can build some pretty amazing relationships with a focused market. Hiring people, agencies, or younger-generation family members to be the voice for a brand because they happen to understand the technology in itself is not necessarily a problem. However, when you have no idea what your voice is online and you are not using it to engage with people instead of sales bitching (aka sales pitching), or just talking to be present on a social site, then you are completely missing the point. But don’t worry, that is why you have picked up this book: not only to understand using social media as a marketing vehicle but also how to take your brand voice and message and start to make some waves online.

I am going to dig into your branding and image because these are key foundation items a majority of businesses seem to be missing completely. These areas need to be looked at in depth before you even consider boosting your social media and online marketing efforts. And last, but not least, you need to decide who in the heck is going to manage your marketing actions and journey online, as well as what you are budgeting to make this ongoing. From my personal experience in marketing both online and off, or traditional and new, businesses do not allocate a set minimum budget to continually invest in growing their businesses, but they should. I am not talking about a large amount here, my reader friends. I am referring to just committing to some type of budget. Without a growth budget, you are just playing with a hobby or possibly a company that has no long-term plan to stay in business. So, let’s dig into what I call the investment of moola part of your marketing, because it needs to be addressed whether you like it or not. I would rather help you get to a place of happiness with marketing investment than be in a place of anxiety and uneasiness. Although I do not want you to put all of your eggs in one basket in regard to your marketing, I do want you to have a seriously big egg set in the social media and online marketing basket, because communication and technology will continue to grow every single day. (Oh wow, as I type this, Apple just came out with a new product. Surprise, surprise!)

I eat, sleep, and drink marketing every single moment of every day, and I have tried, tested, re-angled, tried again, asked, surveyed, and studied to bring you the best, proven marketing and branding strategies that get results. My constant curiosity and what I call Shiny-Object Syndrome are driven by my passion to get businesses known around the globe for the betterment of this planet, our health, and our well-being. My goal in this book is to teach you a minimum of five new things that you have not yet tried to expand the growth, exposure, and revenue of your business. Also be on the lookout for Wipeouts throughout this book; these are little side notes that will highlight common issues that people have with social media online, followed by a Wave Tip on how you can work through the situation or get better results.

Throughout this book, I encourage you to reach out online and ask me any questions, share insights, or just say hello. You can do that by either Tweeting me @starrhall with the hashtag for this book,

WIPEOUT

I am not getting people to respond to my posts.

WAVE TIP

Change up your postings by asking questions that you need specific feedback on, keep the post less than two sentences.

#socialwavebook, or visit my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/starrhalldotcom to post a message to me. I will mention the blog site (www.socialwavebook.com) for this book several times as another option for you to reach out and get further support, ideas, and updates. I am looking forward to your thoughts, lessons learned, and feedback on this book, as well.

Are you going to be prepared and embrace the social wave along with your customers and prospects, or are you going to ignore it and hope it goes away? Because you picked up this book and you are still reading my preface, I am assuming that you are an action taker, that you are ready for a change, and that you are ready to make sense of the social media ocean. Let’s do this—together—and make marketing magic happen.

1

SAILING THE SOCIAL OCEAN

top strategies on how you can make social media work for your business

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

—WALT DISNEY

I have been socially active online for over five years now and been on email for closer to ten. I remember the learning process I went through just to understand email, let alone each social site. When I first started to become social online, I spent months digging into the layers of the online social world because I knew that it had to be done. I had to learn not only because I was curious about these shiny new objects (yes, I have Shiny Object Syndrome) but also because I knew that communication (also known as marketing) was moving online—and fast. Because I was in the communication industry, if I wasn’t involved in this movement or at least informed, I would surely be left behind. As much as I wanted to fight it in the beginning by ignoring invites on LinkedIn and throwing my pen at the computer trying to understand exactly what in the heck Twitter was for, I knew in my gut that I eventually would have to embrace it like I embraced the computer so many years ago. (I will leave out the painful computer memories to spare you an extra 40 pages of reading.)

As I made the move online, it all started to make sense and it was feeling really, really good. Why was it feeling so good you might be thinking? No, it wasn’t because I gained thousands of new friends overnight; it was because the result I was getting—finding high-level contacts, making sales, and getting media coverage—was blowing my mind. I could hear angels singing as new emails and requests for consulting, speaking engagements, and more information came in. I started to speak to clients, encouraging them, even begging some, to make the move as well.

I found an unusual resistance to social media as a valuable tool in the communication industry for the first few years; looking back now I realize it was mainly because it was unfamiliar territory. There was a feeling this was an unchartered marketing approach with a bunch of hype, and fears based mainly on the dotcom crash in the ’90s seemed to justify the widely-held belief that it was only a matter of time before these social, time-wasting chatter sites would follow. As these fears subsided, a new one somehow has crept in. As businesses begin to move forward and become more involved online, there seems to be a common misunderstanding of social media across the board. Social media is actually not really marketing, it is more like a vehicle to get your message out there, whether it be to the masses or a specifically catered to group or public. I’ll explain further. But first, let’s talk about the shift. Over the years I have seen a shift in how we market and how we interact. Social media continues to evolve and become a powerful force and way to reach new and existing customers, clients, and markets. One of the biggest problems with this power vehicle is that businesses do not take the time to understand what happened with this shift. Communication changed, and along with it, our consumers. Because there is a lack of understanding on the brand’s side, there is a complete disconnect when a brand attempts to go online and market socially.

How social media fits into marketing

To explain where social media fits in, there is an old story that illustrates the differences between advertising, promotion, public relations, marketing, sales, and now social media:

If the circus comes to town and you paint a sign that says Circus Coming to Fairground Saturday, that’s advertising.

If you put a sign on the back of an elephant and walk him into town, that’s promotion.

If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flowerbed, that’s publicity.

If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.

And if you planned the elephant’s walk, that’s marketing.

If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions, and ultimately, have them spend a lot of money at the circus, now, that’s sales!

Where does social media fit into this illustration? Social media is the vehicle to get your message out there. But, it’s no elephant; it’s your shiny speedboat! How could you have met the mayor and asked him to either participate in the marketing or give permission to use photos? Why he is on LinkedIn, of course. Where were the pictures posted of the elephant walking through the mayor’s flowerbed? On Flickr, Facebook, and, yes, even Twitter, my reader friends. You might even do a blog post on the incident.

Furthermore, you can advertise in specific regions and to specific demographics through Facebook advertising and add some keywords into your blog post for better search engine optimization results. (Don’t worry, SEO is covered in Chapter 15. No, don’t skip ahead just yet; we need to cover a few other things first.) Many other social sites such as Skype (Skype launched a new advertising platform as of March 2011. http://mashable.com/2011/03/07/skype-ads-this-week/) and LinkedIn are testing and launching new advertising models. These site vehicles are becoming way more niched just for you, so you can have a better target focus when advertising and reaching out to new prospects. They not only have it narrowed down to demographics, they now have psychographics, as well as spending habits and an individual’s center of influence.

center of influence: circle of most influential friends. They are the ones that post and interact with you the most, online or off. They might also be considered connectors and influential in their community, again both online and off.

An ongoing problem with social media as a vehicle is that most people only test drive it a few times. They then leave it parked at the dock. They might visit the bay a few times to look at it here and there, but they do nothing else with it. They don’t even really buy it. They just visit it occasionally to ponder whether they should buy it or not. They might even get in and sit, look around for a few minutes, and then go back to what they were doing. To that add the saying, If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got. made famous by Anthony Robbins, world-renowned motivational guy. You can’t just cruise around the bay, either. You need to go into new areas out there in the ocean to find new fish, go explore new territories, because you can’t meet new fish in the same circle of friends or in the same area of the ocean ( apologies for referring to us as fish, but hey, for the purpose of illustration in this book, we are running with the wave metaphor).

Although we are learning about social media in this book, a main focus is to teach you how to create waves (aka buzz) using these social vehicles online to build your brand exposure and show you how you can get powerful publicity by jumping into that speedy boat, riding it up and down the blue coastal waters, and getting a ton of people to post and write about your brand journey and message. This in turn will increase your brand exposure and get people back to your site. You will also learn you what you need to do to build mutually beneficial relationships with site visitors and social connections. So in a nutshell, you will be learning how to get more publicity and exposure online by building quality relationships and utilizing some pretty amazing tools to make marketing magic happen.

You see, publicity builds credibility. As marketing author Al Ries says, Advertising maintains a brand. Once they are at top of mind, publicity builds them. A great story in his and Laura Ries must-read book, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, is the explanation of Red Bull vs. Coca Cola. It demonstrates how Red Bull built its brand to top of mind and created a new category—the energy drink—all through publicity. Coca Cola decided to go up against Red Bull and launch its own energy drink by investing $31 million in advertising. Hmmm . . . do you know what Coca Cola’s original energy drink was? Can’t remember it, can you? Red Bull still owns the market. Pick up Reis’s book to get the details of that story. It clearly demonstrates the power of publicity vs. advertising. One of the main disconnects that I see in brands online is that they try to be Coca Cola, going online and advertising to launch a brand’s presence, which totally defeats the purpose. There is no credibility in advertising. It is just a brand talking about itself and tooting its own horn. Publicity gets other people talking about you and tooting that dang horn for you, which is the key to brand building. (Yep, it’s the dang horn thing. That is the key!)

There are dozens of amazing social media-focused experts online that have a large following. Who knows how they get any sleep with all of the posting and engaging that they do? Some people apparently don’t need much sleep. Some true experts include Gary Vaynerchuk, Scott Stratten, Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, and Mari Smith.

Using social vehicles as a listening channel

What is even more mind blowing to me about social media is that businesses continue to ignore it hoping that it will go away. Wetpaint/ Altimeter, which specializes in online research, released a 2010 study that found companies deeply and widely engaged in social media significantly surpass their peers in both revenue and profit. The study also found the companies with the highest levels of social media activity had sales that grew on average by 18 percent, while those with the least amount of social activity saw their sales decline by 6 percent.

In addition to becoming a part of our marketing musts to increase exposure and profits, social media vehicles have also changed our everyday language, from Tweet me and Tag me, to some more interesting lingo such as Bump me, or Send me a wiki. Five years ago, who would have thought we would be asking to bump or tweet each other? No matter what way you choose to look at it, the online world has become the age of information, and because we are all hungry for information and constantly craving more, the information world (IW) is here to stay. This information age is now evolving through fancy new ways of delivery known as technology. New technologies such as iPads, iPhones, and text and video messaging allow us to have a voice and share it with whomever the heck we want. Because we all want to be heard, whether it is sharing a great experience at a restaurant or hotel, or a not-so-pleasant interaction with your mobile company, people are talking online about you or to you. Are you listening? Furthermore and even more important, are you there to answer?

So many companies, large and small, are not even online yet. They are still struggling with their 1990s brochure of a website instead of taking time to utilize these social vehicles as a listening tool to help grow their brand presence and consumer loyalty. If you Google or Bing search your company’s product or service, you will most likely find that somewhere, someone has been talking about you or trying to find you. If for some off-the-wall reason you do not find any conversation about you, then that is another problem in itself.

Fortune Inc., an online news outlet, studied ten major brands online from Zappos to Bank of America to find out which brands had better online customer service. What it reported was very surprising. While Zappos is referred to as one of Twitter’s brightest corporate stars, the old-fashioned telephone still won the day when it came to Zappos’s most effective customer service problem-solving method, and this was also true at