Social Media Lessons From National Signing Day. Never mind that I graduated from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Political Science or that my graduate alma mater (The George Washington University) does not play football. There is a lot those of us in private business can learn from recruiting high school football players. Here are a few brief lessons.
Have fun. If you look at what the people at Houston did on Twitter the morning of signing day, it was clear they were having a good time.
Ask your famous friends for favors. If you are lucky enough to have famous friends, and they really are your friends, they will not mind.
Win. If you have won industry awards show them on line. People like to be associated with winners.
Publicize testimonials. If you have customers who like and appreciate what you do for them, ask them to go on the record with their recommendations.
Relate to the audience. In the case of head coach Tom Herman it was betting the team that if they won their conference championship he would get and wear a gold and diamond ‘grill’, a piece of jewelry popular with the young people.
Think big and act big. Houston is not in a Power 5 conference and should not get the attention it does. But by ignoring the old stereotypes about the school they have completely repositioned themselves as the place to be.
Ignore haters and trolls. We live in the age of the so called internet thought leader. One persons’ leader is the other persons’ troll.
There are more and more small businesses with Face Book pages and others still who join or start interest groups with the idea that these will help them promote their trade. I do not think Face Book is a good venue for corporate business or for those involved in business to business sales. On the other hand if you own a small or just starting put brick and mortar store, or professional practice then Face Book is ideal. Setting up a page on Face Book is free and easy and that is good. But getting it and you in front of potential customers will require some advertising. While not “free” it is very reasonable and a good value, in my experience.
If you own a business with customers that come to you based in some part on proximity, then here you go. Data supports the use of location-based advertising. Gannett’s G/O Digital released a recent survey and found that 60 percent of users viewed a local business’s Facebook page before visiting the business itself. Looking at the reviews on the page was also part of this process. According to a research study from Google, 32 percent of customers visited a store or made a purchase after viewing a location-based ad. Additionally, 19 percent of those customer visits or purchases were unplanned. As far as I know neither Gannett or Google have any direct financial stake here.
Face Book For Local Business
Face Book now has the capabilities that will allow the local merchant the ability to target his or her ads to people located near by. Face Book also allows advertisers the ability to target potential customers by different demographics. Face Book calls these “local awareness ads”.
These ads allow you, the advertiser, to target people who live in your area or even recently paid a visit. Previously the only way to target people on Face Book was via zip code. Anyone with a little experience in direct mail advertising knows this is not efficient. For example, if you owned an auto repair shop there are plenty of people who live in your zip code who could benefit from your service, but most will not. In that zip code are people who do not drive, do not own cars, lease vehicles, have company cars etc. And yes of course, the new local awareness ad targets people in your area now, whether visiting or living there. But wait, there’s more!
You can target your ads based on age, marital status, education, interests and zip code. Most people who own cars and need them repaired fit into a certain demographic category. And if you do not know exactly who those people are, make your ad choices based on the customers you already have. So if most of the people who come to you shop own vehicles that are less than 4 years old and were imported from Germany, bring children with them, wear gear from a university but are clearly too old to be students you can assign them the following on Face Book:
income greater than $100,000.00
age 30 – 45
Face Book will take that information and point your ad at others on Face Book who fit that profile. There are other options as well. You can assign your ad to an event, like a concert, parade or other special happening. This function can also be linked to the web site that sells tickets for those said events. More often though, the ad needs to point back to your web site where you offer some kind of value added information, coupon or other special offer. This will drive more traffic to your web site, which is almost always the best place to send a prospect.
The cost of ads is based on a few things. Broadly, the amount of time you want it to run and the budget you assign to it. Like Google Adwords, you can set the amount of money you are willing/able to spend and keep it to that. For the special event option, charges can also come based on the number of click-throughs, again just like Adwords.
Another plus is the reporting feature. Face Book will tally the reach, clicks and expense for all of the above. On top of everything it is really easy. If you can post a photo on Face Book, you can set up advertising. I do not mind sharing with you that I have advertised for clients and causes on Face Book with results that were very worthwhile. I hope you also have success with this channel to your prospective customers.
Five Ideas: Get Paid Writing Blogs/Podcasts. At some point whether blogging, podcasting, or posting videos on You Tube you will want to get paid. Sure there are people who will do these things simply for the love of it and we love them for being so generous. But most folks can ill-afford to make a commitment like this. The rest of us need to get paid.
Will you start your blog or podcast and have people lined up to sponsor you? No. If you work diligently for 6 months to a year, posting new, original material 5 days a week do you have a chance? Yes. Or maybe.
Advertisers want the same thing you do, page views or downloads from people who are involved with you. You could have guessed that, but what else? What about conversations about you on your social media pages? Could a sponsor benefit from being a topic of a post on your Face Book page? Assuming that the comments were positive, sure. But in any event, you have to bring the numbers.
Whether Twitter followers or downloads, advertisers want entrée to your audience. If your audience numbers in the dozens it is unlikely to attract a sponsor. So spend your time building an audience. The best way to do that is to be consistent with original content that is new or at least a new twist on something.
Traffic And How Much Is Enough?
So how do you know that you have “enough” of an audience to merit ads? Go to one of several ranking systems. The best ones are Google Page Rank (http://google.about.com/od/searchengineoptimization/a/pagerankexplain.htm) and Alexa (http://www.alexa.com).
Of course, raw numbers do not always tell the whole story. If you work in a niche that is very specialized you are not going to have millions of followers. My page on called www.collectorsshow.net attracts a lot of views from people who collect napkins. That is because I did a show earlier this year about that topic and they come to the site to listen to and read about napkin collecting. This fits that “small niche” category. While the number of these people ranks in the hundreds, most of them visited my site. Which brings me to the stat or measure that matters the most and that is engagement.
Engagement is the Best stat for a Blog or Podcast Sponsor
The most important stat to a potential podcast or blog sponsor is your influence. How engaged is your audience? Do they take action on your recommendations? This matters more to an advertiser than impression numbers, because they’ll not renew an advertising contract, even to a big audience, if the audience isn’t taking action (converting). The more likely your audience is to take action, the more valuable they are to a sponsor.
I was listening to Michael Berry on KTRH-AM in Houston. He mentioned that he liked a hat from a feed store called A & P Feed and talked about it on the air. Later in the broadcast, and probably not coincidentally, he received an e-mail from the owner who thanked him for the mention and told him about a big order he received as a result. If the people you attract are more followers than casual listeners, you can attract advertisers.
A good way to measure this for a podcast is by recommending relevant free or premium resources (maybe even an affiliate) with a trackable link, like from Pretty Link Pro or Better Links Pro. An affiliate will allow you to track both how many people visited through your link and—more importantly—how many people purchased.
So assuming you have the numbers to attract advertisers, here are some suggestions to actually attract them.
Figure out ways to get potential advertisers involved. Of course there are banner ads and payment for click-throughs. But what about polls? A sponsored poll or quiz will engage the sponsor and the people who participate. The results of the poll create a posting opportunity and even a news release possibility. You can offer all of these as a package to a potential advertiser as a value added benefit of working with you.
Give something away. A giveaway of a sponsors’ product will also involve the audience and give you the chance to talk/write about the product in your blog or podcast. Once you determine the winner, interview him/her about the product and how cool it was to win. Beyond the obvious, you also just provided your potential sponsor with a testimonial. If you gave something away from them once a week you deliver 52 testimonials. For merchants of any type, there are few things better than unscripted praise from an end-user.
Guest posts and interviews. Inviting the potential sponsor to be on the program or blog is a good idea because it will show them how professional you are and what is possible through further, albeit paid, involvement.
Adsense and Amazon Affiliate programs. These two companies specialize in blog advertising and are 2 of the leaders. But there are others and you will want to research the ones that are the best fit for you.
Podcast networks such as Mevio, Podtrac, and Wizzard Media welcome any podcaster that has an audience, because that means they can sell advertising against it. The networks collect shows, categorize them, and sell advertising on a CPM (cost per thousand) or CPA (cost per action) basis. Adam Curry, former MTV VJ, podcasting pioneer, and President of Mevio (interview), is looking for podcast producers that know their audience and can motivate them. Using either their show programming or social media, podcast producers promote show-specific coupon codes for their sponsors. Every time one is used, the podcaster gets paid. Of their network of 15,000 podcasters, Curry said he has three podcasters that will make between $500,000 to $1,000,000 this year.
Let me say, that this is not easy. It is anything but easy. As I have written before, you need to approach this like a job, you show up every day and post. You have to commit. I spend 2-3 hours a day researching and writing each one of the se posts. So on top of a 40-hour work week and everything else that is involved, add another 2 days to the week. Without a commitment, you have no chance. Even with a solid commitment, it will be incredibly challenging. I wish you well in your pursuit.
Public Relations for Small Business. NOTE: This article appeared on line in “Small Business Computing”. It is well done and so I wanted to share it with all of you! Enjoy.
By Julie Knudson | Posted February 06, 2015
Public relations can be an intimidating concept to small business owners. Talking with the media, branding, networking—how and when are these things supposed to happen? The Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed, by Jennefer Witter, is here to helpFor a couple of years, Witter, CEO of The Boreland Group a boutique public relations agency based in New York City, posted a PR tip each week on her social media feeds (you can follow her on Twitter: @JenneferTBG). She received so many requests for more tips that she decided to create one easy-to-digest book. Witter’s guide covers everything from speaking engagements to social media, cause-related marketing to networking, and offers small businesses the skinny on a host of public relations strategies and techniques that really work.
Public Relations Tips for Small Business
The very first chapter dives into an element of PR that many entrepreneurs haven’t quite embraced—self-branding. Also often referred to as personal branding, self-branding really came into its own in the late 1990s, when CEOs and other high-level executives put significant energy into putting a human face (typically their own) on their companies. “This can be done for small businesses, too,” Witter says. Her book offers tips for connecting with customers on this self-branding level. “It really helps to define who you are and what you stand for, what your values are,” Witter says. “Those are then translated into the company.”
As you might expect, Witter’s book covers social media extensively. She says entrepreneurs should engage more fully with social media. “These are free tools for the most part, and you can use them at your discretion in order to raise your visibility and to generate revenue,” she says. As a small business owner herself, she attests to the value of social media, saying she has generated tens of thousands of dollars in business revenue through her use of Facebook.
“If you are an entrepreneur who’s saying, ‘There’s no value for me in social media,’ shake that from your head, because your competition is out there,” Witter says, adding, “And if they’re using it, that means they’re taking away your own market share.”
Witter encourages small business owners to identify which social media channels fit with their business’s audience and objectives, and then dedicate their energy to those platforms. She also stresses that social media can’t be something that just happens when you have a few spare minutes. “Don’t ignore the page once you set it up,” she says. “You need to post on a regular basis.” Whether it’s linking to articles that you think will interest customers, or your own version of a tip-of-the-week, routinely offering posts relevant will help to build those virtual relationships.
The Need for Small Business Networking
Another PR component that can sometimes seem overwhelming to small business owners is networking, but Witter says it should absolutely be part of their business tool kit. “Will your business be a success if you don’t network?” she asks. “Yes. Will it thrive? No.”
She sees networking on the same level of importance as building client relationships. Making the time for networking is often viewed as an insurmountable challenge, one Witter says you can tackle with some thought and planning. “If you have only four or five hours a month, look for a networking opportunity that will take advantage of those five hours.” This could mean a couple of chamber of commerce luncheons or an industry conference, whatever makes sense for your business.
With her book, Witter gives small business owners ideas to overcome what she sees as some of the biggest hurdles. “Public relations is rather nebulous,” she says. “You don’t get the returns right away.” By themselves, the efforts small businesses put into public relations won’t generate additional revenue. Instead, they’re supporting players in a wider strategy.
“PR must be a part of your overall business plan,” Witter says. By using solid public relations tactics to ensure that your business has a presence online, on social media, at industry events and conferences, she says, “The returns will come.”
This isn’t the kind of book you need to read all at once, or even in order. Witter says entrepreneurs can pull out those chapters that fit their needs. “If you think networking works best for you, you can focus in on networking,” she explains. She wants readers to understand how what a powerful tool public relations can be in helping their businesses move forward. “To overlook it means you’re overlooking an opportunity to generate revenue,” she says.
Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from foodservice to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine