Experience {plus} Technology {equals} Results.

Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

4 Sites to Get You Started in Social Media

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

There are so many great resources to help you get started with social media it can be very overwhelming. Below are a few places that I like. What are your favorites?

Mid-America Trucking Show Got Social Last Week

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Of the different segments that make up the U.S. trucking industry, which ones are more rapidly embracing social media?  Some insights were revealed at last week’s Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

First, an interesting record was achieved at MATS – the largest ever gathering of women owner-operators in one place at one time.  Twitter played an instrumental role in getting the word out before and during the show.  This leads us to insight #1 – there is a solid base of owner-operators and drivers using Twitter and Facebook, and this will only grow through word-of-mouth.  These two social media platforms provide a great way for truckers to stay in touch with their families and with each other.

As is common these days at conferences and trade shows, a Twitter hashtag was set up for MATS and provided a great way for Twitterers to share information, make connections, etc., at the show – not to mention Twitterers interested in MATS but unable to attend this year.

Insight #2 is that a growing number of manufacturers are increasing using social media as an extension of their marketing programs.  Companies such as Michelin, Cummins and Arvin-Meritor Tweeted about their products and events at MATS.  Look for manufacturers to continue using social media to get the word out but also to begin capitalizing on the true value of social media – creating conversations with customers and potential customers and energizing an army of brand advocates.  Check out Peterbilt’s Facebook Fan Page.

Finally, fleet professionals are increasingly using LinkedIn and Facebook but have been slow adopters of Twitter.  Adam Ledlow — http://twitter.com/AdamLedlow — of Truck News magazine had an interesting insight – with more and more drivers using social media, fleets should be employing it to snag qualified drivers.  What a great recruitment tool!

Not as Sexy as Victoria’s Secret? Don’t Worry, You Should Still Be on Facebook

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

We get numerous questions from tire dealers along the lines of:  “Why does my company need a Facebook Fan Page?  We’re not targeting coeds and we’re not a sexy brand like Victoria’s Secret.”

Here’s why:  Facebook’s U.S. user base grew from 42 million to 103 million last year.  Facebook currently has an Alexa ranking of 2, meaning it is the second most trafficked website next to Google!  This means your Facebook page will be indexed faster on Google and other search engines.

And while Facebook started out on college campuses, it has obviously gone way beyond that.  In fact, the 35+ demographic now represents more than 30 percent of the entire Facebook user base. The 55+ Facebook audience grew an astounding 922 percent in 2009.  Women still make up a higher percentage of Facebook users than men, but the male audience is growing rapidly.  Anyway, there are lots of women who buy tires and automotive services.  And, generally speaking, women will become extremely loyal customers if they trust you.  Guess what?  Facebook and other social media platforms are all about establishing relationships and trust.

Be forewarned though — If you build it, they will not necessarily come.  Even Victoria’s Secret has to work it. If you are not actively soliciting fans and engaging them, what’s the point? Build good content, make it easy to share, let people know about it, and over time your community (and customer base) will grow.

Here’s three key Facebook tips:

Use Other Platforms

You need to promote your Facebook Fan Page on all appropriate landing pages and media – your website, print advertising, POS materials, news releases, etc.

A Reason To Join

Give a coupon, enter new fans into a drawing, make a donation in their name . . . give consumers a reason to join your page.  Cheerios gave away a book to school libraries for each new fan.  Pedigree Dog Foods is donating a bowl of food to animal shelters.  You could give a sweet deal on an oil change to each new fan, or enter them into a drawing for a set of tires.

Be A Resource

If your Facebook site only includes your promotions and sales, it will not be as successful as it could be.  Provide useful content on getting your car ready for spring, etc.  Become a “trust agent” in the tire and auto services industry.  Promote your fans.  Wish them happy birthday.  Include a congratulations on a new job, graduation, etc.  You’re building relationships here.

SOME WORTHY FACEBOOK SITES

Some tire manufacturers and dealers have launched Facebook sites because they recognize that Facebook is not a fad, but rather a tsunami-size force that, along with other social media platforms, is changing the rules of marketing.

We like the Kenwood Tire Facebook site which was profiled by Mike Manges in the March edition of Modern Tire Dealer (MTD has a Facebook site as well).  Sure Kenwood Tire has their share of promotions on their site, but they’re doing a good job of providing advice, interacting with fans and putting a human face on their organization.

Bridgestone and Kumho have recently launched Facebook sites.  The Bridgestone site features their current TV commercials and is rich in visual content (photos and videos).  Kumho, not surprisngly, is targeting auto/racing enthusiasts and gearheads on their site.

BUT THERE ARE ONLY 24 HOURS IN THE DAY!

The other frequent comment we get from dealers is:  “That is all well and good but I don’t have time to devote to social media.”

Building relationships does take time, but what is the value of one loyal customer who does all of their business with you?  A good social media program will help you buld many loyal customers — over time.

Managing an effective Facebook Fan Page requires an average of 1 hour per day in our opinion.  But don’t make the mistake of thinking that your grandson or granddaughter can do it.  Sure, they know their way around Facebook, but do they know how to incorporate it strategically into your marketing and business objectives?

If you are a one- or two-store operation, we suggest you hire a qualified social media consultant to set you up and train you or one of your people on best practices.  There are many efficiciences to be gained if you know the latest apps.  If you have multiple stores and a dominant presence in one or more markets, carve out some of your marketing budget to hire a social media marketing firm.

Please visit our website or fan page for more insights.  Or give us a call at 615-477-3099.  We would be glad to give you some free upfront advice.

Share

Twitter Basics

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Twitter

If you know me, you know how much I love twitter. If you’re already on Twitter, you know it’s more than just talking about what people have for breakfast. It’s more like “conference call IM” to me. Link sharing, conversation, personal connections that break the ice before in-person meeting, professional networking.

If you’re just getting started on Twitter, you’re probably a bit overwhelmed and looking for a few ways to help optimize your experience. So here’s my take on Twitter, how I use it, and what I think you should pay attention to.

Getting Set Up

Use your real name and a picture on your profile. It lets your followers know that there’s a real person behind the profile. I’m not a big fan of business names for handles (i.e. your Twitter name), but they can work if you have a real picture. In general, I’m of the mind that you should use something related to your real name if not your name itself, and stay away from things with tons of numbers (they can smell spammy to the casual observer).

Let your bio be a little fun, but have it there regardless. We want to know who you are. I encourage people to use their bio they way they’d introduce themselves in person, not as a 140 character “elevator pitch”. That turns off followers that might like to connect with you, especially if they think they’ll get pitched if they follow you. (Unless it’s a purely business account, in which case a description of your company is probably the best approach.)

Following and Being Followed

When you’re just getting started, you can search Twitter for people you know by entering their name. Twitter also has an option to search the contacts you have on Gmail, Hotmail, AOL and some others. Also, there are tools like Twellow, Twitter Grader, SocialOomph, Mr. Tweet that can help you get connected with people with similar interests or that are local to you. Use Twitter Search to plug in topics that interest you and see who’s talking about them. There is a local app that I am currently looking at called TweetSurge.

As you get more followers, check out who *they* follow and connect to others you see them conversing with on Twitter. To me, that’s the most organic way to build your network, and the way that I did it. If you do use an app to build followers be sure and check for spam and porn. I am relentless with the “block” key.

Be aware that if you run out and follow a slew of people out of the gate, Twitter is very likely to mark you as an account with spam potential and suspend you. It’s not a race. Follow a handful of people, start talking to them. Grow from there.

I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that more is better. I have a large network personally, but I built it connecting to people slowly over time, and it matters much more to me that I’m having a conversational, interactive experience.

I don’t put much stock in ranking/scoring/grading tools that claim to say who’s a good follow and who isn’t. And I don’t fret if someone unfollows me; again, it’s about each person’s personal experience, even if I’m not their cup of tea. I encourage you to consider following people as reaching out and shaking hands, connecting individually rather than just an accumulation of numbers. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s a communication experience.

Participating

The best advice I can give here is to treat Twitter like a conversation (because largely that’s what it is). Start with 30 minutes, twice a day (say morning and after work). There’s no “right” way to use it and your own feel for it will emerge over time, but there are a few tips. 90% of what I do on Twitter is conversing with other people. If you look at my profile page, you’ll see that “@ replies” comprise the bulk of my interaction. The other 10% is sharing links I find across the web that I think are interesting or useful, and about one out of a dozen times, I’ll drop a link to my recent blog post. The important thing is that your links are much more likely to get attention – yours or otherwise – if you’ve spend the time to build the relationships behind the connections before you ask people to look at your stuff.

The best way to build relationships and a community on Twitter: participate. Spend some time sitting back and listening, then join the conversation. Jump on in, say hello. Don’t beg for followers – trust me when I tell you that if you’re interesting and interested in others, they’ll show up. It’s really that simple. Talk, share, contribute. And above all, have a little fun.

The Lingo

Twitter has it’s own lexicon of sorts. Here are a few terms you might see tossed about.

@ replies: This symbol precedes people’s “handles” or screen names on Twitter when a tweet is directed at them. Want to reply to someone’s comment? Start your tweet with @<their twitter name> so they’ll know your reply is meant for them. You can track your own replies in the “@ Replies” tab on your Twitter page, or many of the Twitter clients will do so automatically for you.

RT: Stands for “retweet” and means that the tweet is being reposted from someone else. If I retweet something of yours, that means I’m passing it along for others in my network to see. When you see a tweet that starts with these letters, it means that the person is passing along something that someone else wrote. Many of the third party applications have a one-click button to retweet a post.

hashtags: You may often see tweets that end with a hashtag, or a pound sign followed by a term, such as #marketing. The purpose is to keep track of tweets that are all part of a single subject, event, or topic. If you head to Twitter Search and type in the full hashtag, you can track all the tweets related to that term. You don’t need to do anything special to use a hashtag, just make one up and tell folks to use it if you want them to tag their tweets for your event or discussion.

link shorteners: Twitter’s 140 character limitation makes posting big links impossible. So you’ll see shortened urls from services like TinyURL, Bit.ly, is.gd among others. They take a long URL and condense it down to a short version. Again, clients like TweetDeck, Seesmic and Hootsuite have this built in, but you can use the web versions as well, many of which have a bookmark button you can use in your browser. Personally, I use HootSuite.  It allows me to track analytics.  My most popular tweets by clicks, date, time, country, etc.

DM: This stands for Direct Message and is Twitter’s version of a private message. If you DM someone, you send the message directly to them and no one else can see it. To send one, type the letter and a space followed by the person’s Twitter name (or use the Direct Messages tab on your profile page). The recipient of the DM needs to be following you for the message to go through.

Favorites: If you “favorite” a tweet, it’s like your bookmarking it for yourself. You can see your favorites on a separate tab on your profile, and others can see them too.

Most of the above post and additional information can be found below.

Altitude Branding

More Twitter Apps

How to Power Up Your Twitter

Top 10 Websites for you to post more than 140 Characters on Twitter

It’s A Google World!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I was in Chapel Hill, NC, the other day visiting my Tar Heel daughter and was reminded of the importance of Google rankings for tire dealers (or any retailers for that matter) – not that I needed reminding.

My daughter’s very reliable Nissan Sentra needed an oil change and state inspection.  I was in a hurry.  I Googled “best value in tires in Chapel Hill, NC” and called the dealer that ranked first in the non-paid search.  Never heard of them before.  Didn’t look at any other options.  I called them, booked a time and took the car in.  I know a thing or two about tires after 20 years in the business, but again, time was short.

If you’re a tire dealer, you need to rank high in Google, preferably on the first page.  Consumers are in a hurry.  In a low involvement category such as tires, most consumers are not going to spend a lot of time surfing, reviewing one website after another.

So how do you achieve the high ranking?  You can pay for it of course, but more and more consumers are becoming savvy to paid searches and prefer to patronize businesses that earn their Google rankings by having an SEO-rich website, by answering questions on Twitter, by recognizing their customers on Facebook, receiving testimonials on Yelp, etc.

Once you get them in the door you still need to provide good old-fashioned customer service, which by the way, will help your Google rankings because social media super-charges the power of word-of-mouth.  This dealer, by the way, provided excellent service and had a couple of Mac computers  in the waiting room ready for surfing – nice touch!  They will be at the top of my list next time I’m in Chapel Hill and need tires or auto services – that is, if they keep their Google ranking up.

Share

I’m Dumber Than I Thought.

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I have always believed that the essence of a good leader was to recognize what you don’t know and hire people who are smarter than you.  I still believe that is mostly true.  However, I learned  this past year that  my lack of detailed knowledge hurt me and my ability to give clear and precise directions to my vendors.

My New Year’s Resolution is to change that.

Tamara Weinberg just gave us (for her birthday) a great list of the Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2009 and I am methodically re-posting each article on the JTMarCom Facebook FanPage. As I do that I am reading all the postings.

One posting from Louis Gray is:

40 Key Elements to Getting Started In Social Media

Tip number 5 is where I am starting.

1. Familiarize yourself with the basics of web-mastering. If you have not already done so, learn how to use FTP.

2. Learn the basics of HTML, and  the basics of  DNS how to configure it for your domain names. (How to Guide)

3. Learn how to configure a POP email account, and how to take a screen shot and edit and resize images.

The less you have to rely on someone for these basic tasks, the better off you will be and you might even save some out of pocket expenses.

I know you may know most of this but as I go through these list I always learn that I am not as smart as I think I am.

What do you want to learn or re-learn this year?

Share

4 Tools to get started in Social Media

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

There are so many great resources to help you get started with social media it can be very overwhelming. Below are a few places that I like. What are your favorites?

Share

Generate A PDF eBook of You or Your Clients Tweets as a Holiday Gift!

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Give the gift of knowledge.

I don’t know about you but I try and provide helpful information to my Twitter followers. (@chrisgtaylor) Information that I find useful in my business and information that will help other people navigate the new media landscape. I am growing to like the term “new media” rather than “social media” because the more I learn the more “new” stuff there is to learn.

I also feel the “new ” label fits because we are seeing a dramatic shift in the way people do business. All the folks out there who call themselves gurus, experts, mavens are full of %$%&! There are just some people more ahead of the curve than others.

One such person is Young Yang from China. A Chinese man who is dreaming to be a professional full-time blogger. On Twitter @freenuts. I recently saw a tweet that peaked my interest and I went to his blog Free Nuts. What a wealth of information! What a nice guy. He also took the time to answer some questions I had.

He introduced me to Tweetbook . Tweetbook , is a FREE web app that lets you generate  a PDF eBook of all your tweets or favorites and share it to Twitter easily.

I am in the process of creating such a book for all of our clients.

You sign in with Twitter OAuth, to create your book. It can be down loaded or shared on ScribeD.

You can decide whether the PDF eBook will include the replies or not, you can generate a PDF eBook of your favorites, and you can download an XML file of the tweets or the favorites .

Besides downloading, you can share your PDF eBook to Twitter, so that your friends can see it on Tweetbook. The only problem….Tweetbook is so popular that it often reaches its maximum limit of users it can service at this time: so be patient.

Merry Christmas! We can now all be published authors. 🙂

Share

Tracking Twitter Keyword Lists

Monday, December 7th, 2009

How to Track a Keyword within a Twitter List

I recently saw a post on “Search Engine Journal” about Listiti is a new tool that sends you an email alert once a word is used in Twitter list.

Here’s how it works:

1. Create a Twitter list of people who Tweet about the topic you are interested in;

2. Go to Listiti and create an alert by providing:

The Twitter list slug,
Key terms (you can choose to track the exact match or any of the words);
Your email to send the alerts:

3. You should now go to your email box and confirm the alert:

4. After confirming you will see your alert status:

5. Now, once the Twitter users within the list (or any of them) mention the word you are tracking, you’ll receive an email alert.

I am still in the process of using this feature and developing list and key words to follow. I will let you know of lists I have put together as they are developed.

I am (@chrisgtaylor) currently creating a list of “mommy bloggers” and influential Twitter users who may be interested in my clients Pacifier-B-Gone product.  Pacifier-B-Gone just won the PTPA award. (Parent Tested Parent Approved). We are very excited.

If you have a great list I’d love to know about it.

Christine

Share

Twitter for the Holidays!

Monday, November 30th, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009  |  Modified: Sunday, November 29, 2009, 5:00am CST

Businesses using Twitter to build brand, bring in customers

Nashville Business Journal – by Eric Snyder Staff Writer

James Yates, Nashville Business Journal
Mitzi Maynard, left, and Lori Paranjape of Redo Home and Design in Franklin update the store’s Twitter status. The retailer is an avid user of ‘micro-blogging.’

View Larger

Just as the image of Santa Claus has continuously evolved — from the skinny patron saint of Greece and Russia into today’s jolly-sized chimney diver — merchants have continued to find new ways of connecting their wares with the public.

This holiday season, many local retailers will continue reaching out to shoppers where they live — and via Twitter feeds, where they work, play or pick up grocercies.

Twitter is a free “micro-blogging” service that allows users to send bite-sized info blasts to subscribers, more commonly (or ominously, depending on your perspective) referred to as “followers.” Tweets can be sent or received via computers or smartphones.

Spurred by breathless media coverage and celebrity adopters like actor Ashton Kutcher and NBA player Shaquille O’Neal, Twitter has enjoyed exponential growth. According to eMarketer, more than 18 million American adults will have used the service this year, compared to 6 million users last year.

And while reports suggest Twitter’s growth may not be sustainable — up to 60 percent of users quit after one month, Nielsen Online said in April — many local retailers say you have to remember one thing: It works.

And it’s free.

“It is, by far, our best (return on investment),” said Lori Paranjape, a partner in Redo Home & Design in historic Franklin, citing a primary reason it has proven popular with retailers.

Lori immediately began “tweeting” when she joined the business in January, thinking the company might just put a toe in the water. No longer.

“When we get new inventory, we tweet. When we get an interesting new client, we tweet,” Paranjape said. “It’s just how we communicate.”

Paranjape said Redo got multiple clients, whom they had never previously met, via Twitter. When Redo joined A Shopping Soiree, a Franklin fundraiser for several local charities — an invitation they received via Twitter, of course — they tweeted. They’ve tweeted Christmas shopping tips and holiday gift guides.

She doesn’t, however, make the same mistake some retailers do; Paranjape’s advertising button isn’t always on.

“There’s consequences in the Twitter world,” Paranjape said. “It’s not all business.”

It may seem paradoxical. To receive messages via Twitter, you must sign up for them.

But they also want to be entertained, or innocently informed, not just sold to.

“There’s a kind of 9-to-1 rule,” said Christine Taylor, vice president of social media marketing for local firm JTMarCom. “You need to be marketing other people nine times more than you’re marketing yourself.”

Taylor said clients sometimes have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept, but she used the example of a big-box store pointing a customer to another store if they don’t have a particular item in stock. Perhaps the competing store gets that sale, but the original business earned trust and built a relationship.

“You have to develop a relationship with your customer base,” Taylor said.

Even if it is transferred over a so-called social media, traditional advertising will be found out.

“We have a good b.s. radar,” Taylor said. “Traditional advertising is tuned out.”

Paranjape, tweeting for Redo under the account redodesign, promotes other events around Franklin, solicits advice from followers on things to do and offers moments of levity, as she did in response to a jogger that ran past the shop window: “Please stop jogging by our door. We get it. We should jog, too. At least say, ‘Hi.’ Don’t just fly by all exercisey.” (Paranjape also advertised this article, twice, tweeting on Nov. 23, “We’re awkwardly having our picture taken right now by the (Nashville Business Journal) for article about Twitter.”)

A quick perusal of Twitter reveals numerous Nashville businesses advertising everything from contests to coffee, including Dunn Bros Coffee, Fido, 12th and Porter and Sambuca, among others.

Taylor said some companies, particularly larger ones more entrenched with traditional, top-down advertising, find Twitter intimidating. While JTMarCom also advises several clients on how to wield their Twitter accounts, Taylor herself manages the accounts of nine clients, ranging from a pet food company to an executive coach. While that does negate a prime benefit for some retailers — the fact that Twitter is a free service — help from Taylor saves the businesses another, if less tangible, investment of time.

“You have to nurture it once you have it,” she said.

Rachel Lowe, owner of Two Elle, a boutique home and clothing store that recently moved into Green Hills’ Hill Center, feels no intimidation from Twitter.

With a love of writing, and an English degree from Columbia University, Lowe said she uses the Two Elle Twitter account, twoellerabbits, to reinforce the personalities of their sales staff.

“We would never just say, ‘This T-shirt came in,’ end of sentence,” Lowe said. “It always has to have a story behind it.”

Like Paranjape, Lowe said Twitter is her store’s most effective form of advertising. While she tweeted constant updates about the store’s relocation this summer, Lowe said the business didn’t run any print ads announcing the move.

As Paranjape put it, with Twitter, “We are our own press coverage.”


You can reach Eric Snyder at esnyder@bizjournals.com or 615-846-4254.

Share