Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Shift

I'm going to move away from just talking about Social Media today to talk about this whole Internet thing.

There has been a shift in behavior by the general population.

That shift is away from Newspapers, away from Phone Books, away from Encyclopedias and traditional books to electronic versions of each of these items.

There was no government mandate saying the publishing industry needed to conserve paper, this happened organically.

And businesses who spent money in these paper products are needing to make some changes, according to Roy H. Williams, in his Monday Morning Memo dated May 16, 2011:

The Internet is electronic print, instantly updatable and deliverable on demand. As such, it has effectively replaced the newspaper, the telephone book, the encyclopedia and the dictionary and it is rapidly replacing the bookstore. Product brochures and catalogues are becoming “virtual,” existing only as backlit images on a screen. Lost your instruction manual? Go online. You can download it as a pdf file.

Slash your Yellow Page budget
and get serious about your web presence. Are your business hours and phone number easy to find on your home page? Jeffrey Eisenberg told me recently that a high percentage of visitors to the web sites of local businesses are looking for exactly that information. Don’t frustrate these customers. Put your phone number and your store hours on your home page. Do it.

What does this have to do with Social Media?

You tell me in the comments section.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Social Media vs. Search Engine Optimization

Recently in my new position as Solutions Consultant at Cirrus ABS, we had a brainstorming session to further develop our Social Media Marketing Programs for current and new clients.

I admit, that a few years ago I thought that Search Engine Optimization wasn't necessary anymore, due to some of the results I was getting with Social Media.

For example, at one point, a story I wrote on one of my blog sites was appearing on the first page of Google when you searched "Starbucks History".

The Wall Street Journal even pointed web visitors from their site to mine for this one article I wrote.

I thought I stumbled across the Holy Grail of Fame & Fortune online.

I was wrong.

I was a one hit wonder, as we used to say in the radio business.

In reality, there are real, legitimate ways to use Social Media combined with S.E.O. to have an impact and get noticed.

In short, Social Media does NOT replace Search Engine Optimization, but it can enhance your S.E.O. results.

Don't just take my word for it, here's what has to say:

Has Social Media Killed SEO?

image of social media newspaper headline

I’m often shocked at how silly some smart people can be.

For example, there’s a guy I know who’s VP for the digital arm of a global PR firm.

He’s a blogger, true social media player, and marketing stud — like I said … a smart guy.

A while back, he threw out the proposition that social media was going to kill SEO, specifically because “social media signals” would replace keywords.


The language people use when searching is vital …

Just to make this abundantly clear, “keywords” and “keyword phrases” are simply the words people type in when they use search engines.

It’s the language real people use when looking for stuff.

Put another way, it’s the language of your audience, your prospects, your customers, and your clients.

For decades, copywriters and marketers have done anything possible to discover the words used by the people they desperately seek to connect with. Now, that exact language is available to anyone willing to do simple keyword research.

So, the language of the audience is valuable even if you don’t care about traffic from search engines.

But most of us do care about targeted search traffic, because it converts better than any other traffic.

Here’s the deal … Google can’t function without “keywords,” because Google is in the business of matching up the language people use when they search with the information they’re looking for.

Now, that doesn’t mean social media isn’t changing the world of search. It’s been doing that for over 5 years at least.

Social does impact search … here’s how:

The “social media signals” that are changing the search game, however, are not the words people use, it’s the content they share.

The Google algorithm was built with the premise that links determined value and relevance, and that’s still largely the case.

But now, retweets on Twitter, and to some extent Facebook likes and shares, matter too.

Social media definitely impacts search results, and the “voice of the people” is making it much more fair to those of us who create great content. And that’s how it should be.

And yet, despite the explosion in social media, SEO remains fundamentally the same:

  • Discover the language your prospective audience speaks though keyword research
  • Spoon feed that language to search engines by gently tweaking your great content
  • Build links and social media signals (sharing) in the places that deliver trust and authority

My next question is: are you serious about using the web, including Social Media to attract customers and client?

Contact me at : 260-255-HELP (4387) or email

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Winners & Losers

We are in a Social Media Bubble.

And most bubbles burst.

This one has been bursting all along, it's just that they were tiny bursts instead of a big explosion.

Social Media Channels will live as long as there is money to support them.

Facebook sells ads which generates money.

Other social media channels have financial backing and will do fine, probably.

Besides money, social media channels need another type of support.


You need both, people to use what you have created, and the money to support it.

If you have a favorite Social Media Channel, then let others know about it so they can try it out.

In other words, be social about your favorite social media channels!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Social Media is Mainstream

Friday I posted a story about the Online Revolution extends beyond Social Media. Click here to read more.

But Social Media continues to explode as I'm sure you'll agree after watching this 4 minute video:

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Online Revolution

There is a very good reason why I made a career move this month.

The move to Net-Centered Marketing, one of the hallmarks of my new employer, Cirrus ABS, has become mainstream in the business world.

Led by the growth of Facebook to 600 Million users and a goal of 1,000,000,000 (A BILLION), Social Media is impossible for small and large businesses to ignore.

But interestingly, not only is social media, but other forms of internet communication are growing at a remarkable rate according to this survey from Mediapost:

Social, Mobile and QR Codes Coming On Strong As SMB Marketing Mix With EMail

According to a new survey by Pitney Bowes, 76% of small businesses agree their ideal marketing mix includes a combination of physical and digital communications. 72%, say they would do more of it if they had the right customer communications management tools.

68% say they are choosing new channels such as email, and 54% say social media, because they are found to be cost effective in communicating information to their current and potential customers as compared to all other options. 51% say they cannot get further engaged in multi-channel communications due to limited resources and time.

Though the most popular marketing tool used currently is email, during the last year the most popular new channel being added by small business owners is social media, with 20% of those surveyed just beginning to use it, while 12% added mobile marketing. The newest tool to enter the marketing mix is Quick Response (QR) codes, which have become increasingly visible. While some respondents acknowledge a lack of understanding and perceived complexity toward them, among those using them, almost half are using them on their business cards, 45%, and integrating them in direct mail, 44%.

New Marketing Tactics Used By US SMBs In The Past Year (% of Respondents; April 2011)

New Tactic

% of Respondents

Social media




Mobile marketing




QR codes


Direct mail






Source: Pitney Bowes, SMB Owners Report, May 2011

Debra Thompson-Van, Vice President, Marketing, Pitney Bowes, observes that "... small business owners are increasingly challenged to effectively communicate with their customers and prospects in ways they want to be reached.... discovering that a combination of marketing channels is most effective in reaching prospects and customers... (and) need tools that are easy to implement and more information on how to use them... "

The study found that, while 68% of respondents used email and 60% used advertising most often, social media, with 50%, and direct mail, with 44%, are a tight third place.

The findings say 58% of small businesses surveyed use multi-channel marketing, and that traditional and new digital marketing methods are co-existing to create effective campaigns. Though business owners are integrating various channels, there continue to be barriers to integration for many.

Please visit Pitney Bowes here for additional information.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More about the Social, Less about the Media

From my friend Andy Fuller:

How to Succeed in Social Media Without Really Trying

Andy Fuller
Andy Fuller

My favorite quote from the great former basketball coach (and native Hoosier) John Wooden is, “Never mistake activity for achievement.” It’s sage advice that can apply to any endeavor in life or business, including social media efforts.

Too many take the term “social media” and focus on the “media,” foregoing the “social.” As a result, they’re infatuated with the newest Facebook and Twitter apps. They link their various accounts and push updates to all of them at once because they can, not because they should. They post indiscriminately and randomly, vacillating between news feed bombardment and news feed trickle. They talk about the same thing over and over again (usually themselves), and yet somehow, seem to be talking about nothing at all.

These social media accounts are the digital equivalent of the people you meet at a cocktail party and with whom you can’t break off the conversation fast enough. They’re trying too hard. What follows is a brief checklist to make sure your social media efforts are emphasizing the “social.”

  1. Listen. I know I’m not the first person to say this. And I hope I’m not the last, because this really does form the basis for any success you have in the space. In the social media context, listening does not mean simply limiting the number of times you post updates to convey a false image of meekness. This still puts the focus on the “media” in social media in that it deals with your frequency of usage of the technology.

    Active listening means monitoring the posts of people in the online community to identify their needs, concerns, and desires. In this form of listening you’re still using the technology, but the technology is not the focus; it’s the people using it.

  2. Help. This can only be done if you’ve effectively listened. Helping does not mean jumping into a conversation for the sole purpose of pushing your company’s product as a solution. The best way to engage with people in the social media space is to cleanse your content from marketing messages that instantly turn people off.

    This is easier for some brands to do than others. But if you’re actively listening and monitoring social media, you’ll probably notice that the content and accounts that go viral are usually the ones that are resolving a conflict in some form or another. They’re helping people in a given area of life. It sounds rather Zen-like, but the best way to promote yourself is to give others a hand up.

    Again, think of the cocktail party. To whom are you more likely to gravitate: the person talking about him or herself, or the person wanting to hear from you and solve your problem?

  3. Prepare for feedback. Several weeks ago, a local television station cut into programming to deliver coverage about imminent severe weather, and in the process denied viewers a chance to see an historic piece of sports television. Viewers rushed to their Facebook page to voice their outrage, but the only response from the station amid the profanity-laced tirades of their viewers…was more updates on the weather.

    The lessons here are many (for instance, this would have been an excellent scenario in which to move the conversation to your own website, rather than this much more visible forum), but the main takeaway is this: Be prepared to respond in-kind with your commenters. Hopefully you’ve decided ahead of time why your brand or organization is doing the things they’re doing. (You have decided that, haven’t you?) Refer back to those policies and directives to give direct answers to people when they need them.

    Back to the cocktail party, you wouldn’t waste your time with someone who couldn’t stay on-topic in a conversation. Similarly, social media accounts are quickly unfollowed when a relevant response is slow, if it comes at all.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but the main point is clear: don’t forget about the “social” in social media. As marketers and PR professionals, we’re used to the common rules of social interaction at networking functions and other social gatherings. In fact, they’re like second nature to us. If we can translate those principles to the world of social media, there will be no mistaking the achievement from our activity.

I urge you to subscribe to the Villing Newsletter by going here =

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Deep into the Bowels of the Twitterverse

Okay, I admit that I did not read the following article from Brian Solis in depth.

I skimmed over it.

Brian is more analytical than I am, and while we need those people, this was a bit much for me.

Still, it's worth reading it your want to dig deep into the world of Twitter:

The Twitter Paradox

Posted: 10 Jun 2011 10:03 AM PDT

There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Twitter is a paradox that redefines that old saying to, “If it’s broke, don’t fix it, because it works.”

For all intents and purposes, Twitter shouldn’t work, yet 200 million people (and bots) have created accounts in this thriving information egosystem. Now, news no longer break, it Tweets. Celebrities use it daily to connect directly with fans and also augment their income streams. Politicians and governments use Twitter to communicate with constituents and one another. Everyday people rely on Twitter to find information and share experiences. And for those more “influential” Twitter users, connectedness pays off in the form rewards, recognition, and compensation.

Twitter has evolved into a human seismograph that channels the pulse of business, politics, entertainment, news, and culture into the mobile phones and PCs and defines of our connected society. Twitter is a public confessional where screens become the window to self-expression, validation, recognition, with each contributing to a digital form of self confidence. And it is this new assurance that guides our actions in the real world. I Tweet therefore I am…whatever I want to become.

Indeed, Twitter shouldn’t work, but it does. What started as a hybrid public messaging service meets social network, is now a flourishing information network where people connect and disconnect based on interests and fleeting moments of intellectual, sophomoric and parallel intimacy. As such, Twitter forces the evolution of social networking from social graphs to interest graphs, where people are not only connected to those they know, but also those who share their interests.

While it’s often chided for its ability to assemble and syndicate irrelevant, irresponsible, and questionable activity, Twitter excels in aligning relevance with those who understand how to filter streams to their advantage. And this is where things start to get interesting, as I don’t believe we’ve seen Twitter’s true impact on our digital and IRL culture.

Twitter’s Awareness vs. Adoption

The state of the Twitterverse is in flux. Capturing its shape, genetic makeup and direction is akin to measuring the development of a baby in a womb. It’s growing, quickly, and even though we know that a baby will arrive and grow into a human being, we never know exactly who this person will ultimately become nor can we be certain of its personality through each of the development stages.

Twitter’s challenge with awareness versus adoption has plagued the fledgling company since the beginning. One of the top Google searches for Twitter after all is “I don’t get Twitter.”

The Pew Internet & American Life Project announced in June 2011 that Twitter usage rose from 8% of US Internet users in Fall 2010 to 13% in May 2011. Representing an impressive 62% spike in adoption, many question the significance of the bump in its migration toward mainstream adoption. As eMarketer recently wrote, Twitter has a problem with Awareness vs. Usage.

Twitter’s awareness has greatly benefited from the nonstop media attention it receives due to controversial and high profile users. Citing Arbitron and Edison research, we see that 92% of consumers ages 12 and up are familiar with Twitter, but only 8% actually use it. According to this graph, Twitter has an adoption problem. In contrast, Facebook adoption ranks at 57.1% of internet users as stated by eMarketer.

As we know, numbers don’t lie. eMarketer also projects that Twitter advertising revenues will soar from $140 million in 2011 to $225 million in 2012. In contrast, the once bursting place for friends, MySpace, will generate $184 million in ad revenue this year. As such, Twitter is focusing on improving (and defining) the user experience with Jack Dorsey rejoining the fold. And the company is building a sizable sales force. But even at this moment, Twitter has a model it can sell against. Since the launch of its Promoted products line, Twitter has worked with 600 advertisers on 6,000 campaigns. Twitter’s director of revenue Adam Bain puts things into perspective for optimists and skeptics alike, “Eighty percent of those marketers come back and buy from us again.”

Now, the cost of a Promoted Trends on Twitter has jumped from $100,000 to $120,000 per day. Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets are auction-based and a self-service model is due to arrive before the end of the year. Bain suggests that Twitter provides higher engagement levels that outperform not only traditional digital advertising products, but also Facebook ads.

In an interview with ClickZ, Bain reinforced the value of Promoted Products, “Paying $4 for a follower is a pittance because the ROI is insane. Because again once they have a follower, they can keep marketing to that guy as many times as they want without worrying about where they are across the web or what kind of mindframe they’re in.”

Certainly this is no mistake, but it is something that again, wasn’t anticipated. Attention has migrated to the stream and as we’re learning, that while money doesn’t grow on trees, it does in fact grow on Tweets.

Recently Mark Suster wrote about how the future of advertising will be integrated. In his post, Suster shared work by usability guru Jakob Nielsen that shows through heat maps where our eyes are focused. Attention zeroes in on text and not the banners around it, thus introducing an era of banner blindness.

And in social media, banner blindness is equally prevalent. Facebook Ads sell against interests and people you know. Twitter sells products that appear within your line of sight – the stream, your new attention dashboard.

The Twitter Paradox is fascinating to study. I don’t believe mainstream adoption is a metric that matters to Twitter or to those who understand its benefits. Surely mass adoption is important to investors. But as a human network, we make the world a much smaller place, creating a global culture that connects people to information and events as they happen. And, through a stroke of fate or democratized serendipity, people effect how information travels and how events unfold. But at a minimum, Twitter has become an infinite well of incredible insight and intelligence and for that, it is already an indispensable service to businesses, governments, educators, and anyone who is impacted by the words and impressions of others.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More LinkedIn Tips

Last Tuesday I was at a LinkedIn Lunch at Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana.

The presenter/teacher is my friend Anthony Juliano and he offered these tips on his own website which I suggest you subscribe to.

Slim down your LinkedIn news feed

ajjuliano | June 3, 2011 at 9:01 am | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

When you log on to LinkedIn, one of the first things you see is the news feed--a list of updates from your connections. It's a great way to efficiently catch a glimpse of what's important to those in your network.

There's one problem with the news feed, however, the default settings feed you EVERYTHING--status updates, new connections, events your contacts are attending, etc. Some of it's great, but a lot is just filler that makes your news feed less powerful.

How do you make sure you're only getting fed the good stuff? Like almost everything else on LinkedIn, you can customize it. Here's how:

1. Log in to LinkedIn

2. In the upper-right-hand-corner, hover the mouse over your name, then click “Settings.” (See below.)

3. Click on the "Accounts" tab on the left hand side and then click on "Customize the updates you see on your home page." (See below.)

4. Uncheck the boxes of anything you don't want to see. I omit "New connections in [my] network" and "Groups [my] connections have joined or created" (mainly because I don't use LinkedIn Groups all that often).

That's all there is to it. Feel free to post any questions you have about LinkedIn in the comments, or contact me directly.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Popularity of Social Media

Will Social Media replace ____________________ ?

That's a question folks have been asking for weeks, months, even years.

In most cases the answer is no.

We still use telephones, even though they clip onto our belt and have more computer power than our computers did 15 years ago.

Newspapers are still being published, although the industry is hurting.

Radio stations, tv stations, they all are doing okay as they have had to adjust their business model.

The rise of social media does not mean the end to stand alone websites either.

Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and all the blog type of sites are simply low cost communication tools.

Despite the popularity of these sites, and those who know me, know I'm a big Twitter, LinkedIn and Blog fan, there is still a need for these other mediums.

And despite what I have been able to accomplish online, I understand my limitations and the legitimate need for paying someone to create, enhance, and optimize your online presence if you are a legitimate business.

That is why today is my first day at Cirrus ABS, the top website development company in northern Indiana that truly understands Net-Centered Marketing and has a tremendous track record spanning from local to regional and national businesses for the past 15 years.

My role as Solutions Consultant will include helping those that have played around in Social Media, create a legitimate online presence that actually produces a Return on Investment.

Of course with my 25+ years in advertising and marketing, I'll continue to be the guy who will offer you some free advice, but I'll be upfront with telling you the truth about all your marketing and advertising including offering solutions thru Cirrus ABS.

Here's how you can contact me at Cirrus:

260-255-HELP (4387) is my new direct line, I selected myself last year, now it is my Cirrus Cell number.

Here to help & serve.... Scott Howard aka ScLoHo

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Twitter Tools

One of the marketing guys I follow online and feature on ScLoHo's Collective Wisdom regularly is Drew McLellan.

Last week he wrote about 5 Twitter Tools he uses:

Essential Twitter Tools

Posted: 10 Jun 2011 03:49 AM PDT

Twitter is an important part of my daily communications and community. I use it to:

  • Share great resources
  • Chat with friends and peers
  • Share my own writing/posts
  • Access resources, articles, and keep current
  • Test ideas, vent, laugh and connect
  • Give myself a mental floss — you never know what you’ll see, read or jump into

But…I have a day job so I can’t spend all day, glued to the Twitter screen, waiting for someone to say something relevant. So, I rely on a handful of Twitter tools that make it much easier for me to accomplish my goals and cover my day job as well.

Let me preface my tool talk with this statement: Twitter is not about automated conversations between your bot and mine. It’s about real interactions between real people. But that does not mean all automation is bad. It’s about finding the balance.

Twitter Tool #1: HootSuite.

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 10 43 48 PM
Re-arrange tweets into conversations

Much has been written about this software. It allows you to manage your Twitter activity (follow the main stream, when someone directs an update to you or sends you a direct message) but what I appreciate the most about Hootsuite is that it allows me to schedule updates (on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) so I can be sharing resources, blog posts etc. throughout the day, even if I’m in a meeting or asleep.

It also lets me “re-arrange” tweets into conversations, as you can see in the screen shot to the right.

Twitter Tool #2: Boxcar

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 10 53 04 PM
Keep me in live conversations 24/7

Boxcar is an app on my iPhone and iPad. It streams any message sent directly to me (I have it set just for Facebook or Twitter but you could set up Google Voice, e-mail and much more) right to my device and pops up with a portion of the message so I can decide if I want to read it, respond to it etc. It’s very elegant and simple and very easy to set up and use.

This allows to to respond in real time — no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 11 30 36 PM
Pre-set a handful of blogs to autopost

Twitter tool #3: Twitterfeed

This is a tool I use very sparingly. You create an account and then add URLs that post new content (typically blogs). Then, anytime one of those sites has new content, it automatically tweets it out on your account. (You can set it up to do Twitter, FB and others).

I would only add blogs that stick to their core content faithfully and consistently deliver A+ content. In my Twitterfeed account, there are only about 10 blogs loaded up. I can regulate how often it updates my status with someone’s new content and it tells me what my Twitter friends are clicking on. I don’t want to bombard my Twitter followers, but I also don’t want to make them wait until I get to my feed reader to share the best stuff.

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 11 24 28 PM
Manage your followers with a click!

Twitter Tool #4: ManageFlitter

Oh how I love this tool! With a couple clicks, I can see what tweeps I follow that have gone dormant, who are the super talkers (might be bots) and who has stopped following me, etc. Then, I can unfollow or add people very quickly.

This used to be one of my most laborious tasks… cleaning up my Twitter followers. But now I can do it in minutes and it keeps me connected to the people I want to follow and disconnected from those who got bored and haven’t tweeted in 6 months.

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 11 44 32 PM
What the set up screen looks like

Twitter tool #5: Tweet Old Post

This WordPress plugin allows me to tweet out some of my older posts from my blog. I’ve been blogging for over 5 years, so in theory, there’s some good stuff in there. This plugin randomly grabs an old post (I can identify categories I do/don’t want included) and tweets it out. I can add a prefix like A golden oldie… or a hashtag like #GreatestHits so my followers will know what’s up.

This is a great way to breath new life into old but still relevant content.

So there you have it….these five tools (along with some RSS feeds for listening by topics and Twitter lists for listening to my favorite people) are how I manage my life on Twitter. They let me connect in real time, share my favorite writers, schedule some of my tweets and manage my followers.

I hope that at least one of these tools is a new find for you and that a mix of them can make your Twitter experience even better!

What tools are your favs?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Social Media Expert

I've talked about this before.

Many others have too.

My idea is if you have to brag about it, you probably aren't one.

If others give you props, that is more legit.

This is from CopyBlogger:

image of a toy clown

Gary Vaynerchuk, in his usual low-key, mellow way, said last month that 99.5% of social media experts are clowns.

This immediately prompted a schoolyard-style kicking of the whole idea of a social media expert, with one prominent writer saying that anyone who does it for a living should “go die in a fire.” And that was one of the nicer responses.

The name-calling and vitriol are a little hard to watch. Here’s the thing, though.

Vaynerchuk’s making a point that needs to be made. But that’s not what interests me.

What interests me is what it takes to make that last 0.5%. What do the social media experts look like who aren’t clowns?

First, let’s talk about that hated title.

Is “social media expert” a stupid thing to call yourself?

On one level, of course it is. “Social media expert” is like being an “internet expert.” It’s too broad, therefore it’s meaningless.

There’s just one problem with that. Businesses that need help with blogging strategies, content marketing, social networking presence, and real-time PR usually don’t know enough to look for those terms.

They look for “social media experts.”

You can make social media pundits happy and change your tag line to something more precise. Or you can find customers by calling yourself a social media expert, then educate your clients about what that actually means.

I’m personally in favor of making the people happy who pay me money. Just a thought.

Sturgeon’s Law of Predominant Crap

Most graphic designers are pretty bad. So are most copywriters. And most SEOs. Add in most novels, TV shows, restaurants, general contractors, PR professionals, financial advisors, real estate agents … you get the idea.

Sturgeon’s Law, coined by the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, is that 90% of everything is crap.

Sure, it’s easy to find lots of social media experts who know nothing about either business or social media. Why should social media consulting be immune?

There’s more demand for good social media advice than there are practitioners who can give it. Any time demand outpaces supply, Sturgeon’s Law comes into play.

Do businesses really need help with social media?

Some believe that businesses don’t need help with social media at all — that if their products and customer service are good enough, the social media side just takes care of itself.

This is precisely as naive as thinking that if your social media relationships are good enough, the sales side will take care of itself.

(Here’s Sonia’s Law: Nothing Takes Care of Itself.)

There are thousands of businesses that do a pretty good job at what they do, and a spectacularly terrible job of using new internet-based communication tools.

90% of websites are wretched. 90% of Facebook pages are wretched. 90% of content marketing programs are wretched. 90% of social media-based customer support is wretched.

Saying that no one needs a social media expert is like saying no one needs a direct mail expert, or a radio advertising expert. It shows a lack of experience with just how badly otherwise good, smart companies can screw up when trying to use new communication tools.

Gary Vaynerchuck didn’t, in fact, say that 99.5 percent of social media experts are clowns. He said that “99.5 percent of the people that walk around and say they are a social media expert or guru are clowns” … because they don’t think like businesspeople.

Businesses need help from actual experts — people who really get the rules of engagement in social media, and who understand how to translate that to business success.

If you’re allergic to marketing and making money, don’t consult to businesses

One of the main reasons for all the Haterade is that too many high-profile social media pundits (who were then followed by vast herds of well-intentioned lemmings) loathe business. They imagine that sales are something that magically show up when you make lots of friends.

Any good salesperson will tell you you need to be able to make friends. Cultivating relationships has always been an essential part of sales, and it always will be.

But that’s not where it stops. You still need to demonstrate value for money, your product still needs to do great things for your customers, and you still have to ask for the sale.

Social media relationships don’t replace solid marketing strategy — they amplify it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is pontificating without benefit of experience or evidence.

Sometimes the best marketing doesn’t look like marketing. That doesn’t mean there’s no solid strategy in place — it usually indicates a strategy that’s absolutely brilliant.

How to get into in the 0.5%

Businesses need smart people who can help them figure social media out. That means they probably need someone who looks a lot like you.

If you’re smart about social media, then no matter what you do, your services got a whole lot more valuable in the last year.

So if helping businesses use social media is part of what you do, how do you make sure you’re in the effective, business-savvy, non-clownlike 0.5%?

  • Understand content marketing. Social media friendliness is great, but content scales, and it doesn’t depend on any one particular platform.
  • Understand direct response copywriting … in other words, writing that triggers a specific, well-defined action. Know how to write a great headline, how to make a call to action, what a landing page is, how to translate features into benefits. Learn what it takes to turn fans into customers.
  • Be specific about your tool kit. Yes, you may initially approach your clients with the title of social media expert, but you’ll quickly educate them about your own specific areas of expertise.
  • Partner with complementary experts. If you’re a Facebook and Twitter ninja, connect with a brilliant landing page and SEO copywriter, and maybe a smart PR pro who knows what a crisis plan looks like. You don’t have to know how to do it all, but you should be able to make it easy for your client to get everything they need.
  • And to that point, Know what your clients need. Fortune 500s, mom-and-pops, VC-fueled startups, and small service businesses all have different needs, and they speak different languages. Read the business blogs or magazines your clients read. Become an expert in how your clients do business. Learn what they desperately want, and give it to them.

The fastest way to get (and stay) up to speed

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If any of the points above is a weak spot for you, get up to speed fast by picking up our 20-part tutorial, Internet Marketing for Smart People. It will show you how to balance what’s new and shiny with the underlying business principles that make social media marketing work.

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About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Follow her on twitter and let her know what makes you one of kickass 0.5%.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Should Teens Tweet?

There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about Twitter.

One that I've heard include that it's just a "teen fad."

When Larry King was doing his nightly broadcast, he (or his peeps) were using Twitter!

Larry is not a teenager.

And so the question remains, should teens tweet?

Mediapost had a story about this recently:

Making Twitter More Relevant For Teens

We know that teens are mobile. They're always on their phones and expect most of their favorite online experiences to transition into mobile. Teens love to text, and Twitter is more like texting than Facebook is. They prefer short-form content and they like to share social experiences with each other. Teens like to keep it simple while also expressing themselves.

Even with all this, study after study has shown that teens just don't like Twitter that much, and many teens express no intention of using the platform. They're not as interested in sharing links or expressing their personality in 140 characters or less. Teens aren't trying to self promote, and most of them use it to follow celebrities (which may also become a vehicle for teen audience growth via the new "Follow" button).

So, how can Twitter make sure they don't lose that market potential as the teen audience grows up? The answer is starting to show up with Twitter's latest evolution as it becomes more of a content library than just a content-sharing platform.

Twitter isn't directly targeting teens with this new addition, but it is certainly tapping into a need state of that demographic. Teens are heavy adopters of photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Photobucket. They share pictures on Facebook, but typically stick to photo sites for their more creative and personal photo sharing, whereas Facebook is more about pictures from a party or driving in the car to the mall.

Teens also tend to have accounts on video sites like YouTube to share with their closest friends. We know that teens watch a lot of online video. YouTube is the go-to place for video search, but Twitter has the opportunity to become a resource for socially shared video among teens if the user base grows because, as we all know, teens trust peers as sources of information.

With the addition of photo and video hosting, as well as integration into the overall platform experience, Twitter could be the go-to place for teens who want to share photos and videos with select groups of friends and even connect with other teens doing similar things.

Twitter has a big opportunity to grow its teen audience if it finds ways to make these new features relevant to their needs -- especially now that teens are starting to experience social media fatigue with other platforms that are becoming more complicated and less personal. For now we'll have to wait and see the new features are rolled out and what's coming next.

David Trahan is a strategist at social marketing agency Mr Youth in New York, which was named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Marketing Companies in the World by "Fast Company" magazine.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Linking With Twitter

At the very moment this article is scheduled to appear on ScLoHo's Social Media Adventure, I am sitting in a presentation on LinkedIn.

Here's how it came to be, from Anthony Juliano:

What collaboration looks like on Twitter

June 14th, I'm making a presentation at Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana*. While I'll be speaking about LinkedIn, there's an interesting subtext: the event might have never happened if not for Twitter. Here's how it came about:

On April 27, I was part of an Asher Agency seminar at the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber's Jon Swerens got things rolling by Tweeting before the seminar. Then, when I was discussing LinkedIn, Asher's Lauren Zuber jumped in:

Shortly thereafter, others joined in the conversation as part of the backchannel that was going on while I presented. I didn't realize it was happening at the time.

After the seminar, I thanked Amber, Joe, Kristin and Lauren for their comments:

And then an idea--would anyone want to get together to talk a little more about LinkedIn?

The group was receptive, and then something cool happened: Jennifer (@23skidooooo) and asked if she could participate:

Which led to another idea: why not open it up to others?

And why not ask for a nominal admission fee, with the proceeds to benefit the organization Amber works for, Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana?

Jennifer said yes...

So Amber and I started to talk details via direct message...

And then something else really cool happened: Kevin Mullett offered to present another topic to benefit Cancer Services:

And the next day, less than 24 hours after it was first proposed, Cancer Services was Tweeting the details:

I think this example shows the true power of Twitter: a group of people with a similar interest quickly creating something out of nothing. Everyone had a role:

  • Jon got it started. The first Tweet sets the table for others to join in.
  • Lauren mentioned her need to do more with LinkedIn.
  • Joe, Amber and Kirstin, all of whom I trust, revealed the opportunity for a conversation about LinkedIn.
  • Jennifer showed that the interest may be broader than just a few people.
  • Kevin proposed that it didn't have to be a one-time thing.
  • Cancer Services presented an outlet and made it all come together.

All of this goes to show that while you can certainly waste a lot of time on Twitter, you can be pretty productive, too. All it takes is some good connections and the desire to listen and engage.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Making the World a Little Smaller & Better

Last Monday I shared with you the story of how my humble experiment with social media became a passion and a career changer.

Click here if you missed it =

Today, a story of how I saved at least $1200 Friday due to this thing called Social Media.

If you click on the names mentioned you will connect to each persons Twitter Profile. All Good People you should follow.

It was just after 11am and I was getting ready to meet a friend for lunch. I hoped in my car, drove out of the parking lot and stepped on the gas and heard a pop.

My car came to a coasting stop on the road. I turned on my flashers and had a sinking feeling in my gut.

I had some type of transmission problem. I tested all the options from Park to Reverse, Drive to the individual gears and nothing would engage. I got out, looked under the car, on the road and saw nothing out of the ordinary.

With the help of a police officer who stopped to help, we pushed my car into a driveway and he gave me a ride back to the radio stations where I still work, for about 5 more days.

I call my friend, he decides to come pick me up for lunch and I also call a well known transmission shop Russ Moore because I have met the owner at a social media breakfast.

Bad news. They don't work on Mercedes.

My car is nothing fancy, it's a 16 year old Benz that I paid cash for 6 years ago, so it is paid for, except for the repairs which are extremely expensive and sometimes it's hard to find someone who has the knowledge to do the work.

I'm not a mechanic by any stretch of the imagination, but I can make an educated guess that this is not the entire transmission taking a crap, but something minor. First guess is the transmission linkage snapped, which would be an easy fix. Minor fixes still equal Major dollars on this car.

I've been unhappy with the "Dreaded Dealership place" I've been taking my car so I decide to ask my friends on Twitter:

#FortWayne transmission repair for a 95 Mercedes? Recommendation? you have 5 min before I start calling around

I get a few responses but after 5 minutes I call the
"Dreaded Dealership place".

By the way, the "Dreaded Dealership place" is a local VW dealer that I used to like, but they lost some of my trusted mechanics and service has gone downhill.

The "Dreaded Dealership place" tells me if I can get my car towed to their shop, they might be able to look at it...Tuesday...or Wednesday. And if it is a major repair they would have to ship it to another town 90 miles away.

Now this is Friday, and I need a car to drive every single day. "Dreaded Dealership place" has no loaners available, so I'm looking at several days of rental car bills before knowing if the car can be fixed locally or not.

Thoughts are running thru my head, like maybe I need to work my old job and my new job to be able to afford this nightmare. I call the towing company and wait for 30 minutes and check twitter again.

Friends on Twitter are offering suggestions, warnings, and talking between themselves.

A few of the selected Tweets:

from Rick:

@ScLoHo Co worker with Mercedes says only 2 places are Mercedes Benz FW and Vorderman. He likes Vorderman much better.

from Amber:

@scloho How about Mercedes Benz Fort Wayne?

@ScLoHo u could also try import docs. My former boss took his Acura there for everything and highly recommends.

My answer back to Amber:

@amrecker Import Docs only do Asian imports

Amber again replying to me and Rick:

@longsre @scloho I have had TERRIBLE experiences with Vorderman.

And I was waiting to see if either the "Dreaded Dealership place" or the local Mercedes dealer would join in the conversation.

Sure enough, they did.Link
@ScLoHo Yes Mercedes-Benz of Fort Wayne !! 260-432-7200 :) came from @mbfortwayne

I get on the phone and call. They can look at my car and tell my what's wrong if I can get it to them soon. I tell them I should be there within an hour or less.

My thought process is that what ever the problem is, they will be able to fix it and I'll know something, (what the problem is & cost) today, even if I don't get my car back right away.

There were many others on Twitter joining the conversation including: Joe, Carrie, Kit, Jim, & Tyler.

One of the comments from Jim who works for another dealership recommended the service manager I was working with!

I met the woman behind the @mbfortwayne tweets who said, "You tweet a lot!"

And along the way, I was given some inside information about how I could trim the $1700 estimate down by $1200. I can't say how publicly, but it pays to have friends who can direct you to legitimate ways to save and if you ask me privately, I can share the website that I was directed to for parts.

Before I wrap up this long story, there is a side story to share.

As I was standing in the parking lot when the tow truck arrived, the driver, Steve Hire said to me, "I know you, you're Scott Howard and you used to live across from Klug Park."

It turns out, this was someone I went to Elementary School with in the late 60's- early 70's who recently connected with me on Facebook but I have not seen face to face in 35 years.

And now, let me ask you... What has your Social Media Adventure been like?

Friday, June 10, 2011

How to Connect with Moms on Facebook

I finally figured out why I get so annoyed at most businesses on Facebook, they are trying to sell me stuff instead of just connecting with me.

Most of these principles apply to guys too:

(From Mediapost)

To Have And To Hold: How To Optimize Your Facebook Relationship With Her
One of the key tools in the social media tool box that companies are likely to utilize these days, Facebook can be a powerful instrument in developing and maintaining a rich and lasting relationship with Moms, translating into a strong ROI, if executed correctly. The key is creating ongoing engagement with your fans.

Before jumping into our strategic recommendations, it is important to understand that Facebook is not just another media outlet for your company, as many like to refer to it. It is a unique media outlet allowing you to achieve goals you cannot reach utilizing "traditional" media. Smart companies recognize that Facebook can supplement what their other marketing tactics are accomplishing (or not, as the case may be).

Of course, setting up a Facebook page with a couple of cute pictures and a lonely post here and there is not enough! To successfully connect with Moms, the most important overarching Facebook page strategy involves offering Mom something, continuously communicating with her, and leveraging the flexibility of the channel to compliment your other marketing efforts. The net result: creating ongoing engagement with Moms. Here are eight ideas on how to achieve this:

1. Provide her with relevant information, possibly that she cannot get anywhere else.
Moms are natural information gatherers. Moreover, they crave it! They use it not only to make purchase decisions and to help better themselves as Moms, but also to be in the know and to share their tips and wisdom with other Moms. Partially because they genuinely want to help their fellow Moms, partially because it makes them feel good that they are ahead of the curve.

2. Ask for her opinion.
Moms love to be helpful (it comes with the job description). If they "liked" you on Facebook, it means that you are somewhat special to them (Moms are super busy and they hate to clutter their mail boxes or news feed with things that are not relevant to them or they don't care about). They are rooting for you and your brand and genuinely want to see you succeed. So use their enthusiasm to gain free and valuable research and then put it to use to fine tune all of your consumer touch points.

3. Show her that you are listening to her.
It always saddens me when I see fan posts, sitting on a company's wall lonely, unanswered or at best, answered days, sometime weeks later. Not exactly a good way to show you care about your customers. It's a little bit like a hostess of a dinner party disappearing from the room, leaving her guests unattended. Make sure you provide timely responses to your fan questions (same day at the minimum) or, if they are providing a comment, comment back to them in some way, showing that you are listening and paying attention. Moms love being heard! I'd like to brag otherwise, but the reality is that our kids (not to mention spouses) often don't listen to us; so making us feel heard gets you instant brownie points.

4. Make it easy for her to meet and connect with other Moms.
Creating a sense of community on your page is very important. Companies who are good at this establish more than a two-way dialogue, they facilitate sharing and "group love." In connecting your Mom fans with each other, they will feel more connected to you, "the facilitator." Just look at this example from Target. We give them thumbs up for two reasons: (1) smart awareness building -- the piece came to my door as part of direct mail coupon booklet, (2) clever approach -- the copy, both in terms of content and tone, shows that they get the reality of mothering babies; it reeled me in instantly and I was ready to go and check out their page.

5. Entertain her.
Moms love humor! Several studies support the fact that humor is a key break-through factor when attempting to reach the Mom audience. Whether it's a funny ad you've developed, a clever promotion, contest or poll, even a "joke of the day" you've posted on your wall -- you will not only gain and retain her attention, but she will be more likely to forward your post to her friends with a quick note "You've got to see this. It's hilarious!" Here she is, performing viral marketing for you, with a personal endorsement and at no cost to you.

6. Make her feel like she is an insider, a part of a "special club."
The Mom audience loves special offers, incentives or simply "inside information" ... it makes them feel cared about. And as mentioned in #1, she loves "being ahead of the curve." We advise companies to create an offer "exclusively" for their Facebook fans (who are then, of course, encouraged to forward to as many friends they want to). At the very minimum, give them a heads-up on an upcoming promotion or give them that discount a day early when there is best selection available. Make them first to know about a new product or service you are offering, a new ad that you will start running. It can be incredibly simple to come up with a few strategies that will make your Mom audience feel special and valued.

7. Provide her with customized (and more convenient) customer service.
Smart companies recognize that their Facebook pages are becoming a customer service tool for their audience these days and they handle this appropriately. This element is particularly relevant to busy Mom customers, who instead of searching for the 800# and battling through way too many aggravating automated options, choose the simplicity of going to the company's fan page and typing: "Dear Tazo, where can I find your Ice Tea Lemonade in Chicago?" Providing her with a swift and satisfying answer will not only win you her admiration and loyalty, but will also impress the rest of your ever present audience.

8. Show her that you are real.
It is a well-known truth that today's consumers are looking for real ... real products, real companies with real people with whom they can develop a real connection. This is especially important to Moms, who are always on the lookout for authenticity. In building your relationship with her, it can be very beneficial to show people behind your brand -- the owners, designers, the cooks, baristas, the store clerks. If the owner/founder is a Mom, by all means, make sure you proudly tell her story. This tends to come more naturally to small to mid size companies (usually told via "about us" or "our story"). But showing a human component is not impossible for large corporations either. A great example of adding such a personal dimension is the British clothing manufacturer Boden. As a company, they use several different tools, but perhaps the most important one is by humanizing their founder Johnny Boden. In this era of transparency, exposing yourself ever so slightly, can serve you as a powerful bonding mechanism with your Mom customers.

I hope you found some inspiration. The more of these tips you employ, the better. Wishing you a happy and long lasting relationship with your Mom Facebook fans.

Vera Holroyd is a partner at MomFocus Marketing, a marketing consultancy providing services to clients seeking insights and answers about marketing to today's Mom audience.