Blogging & Social Media

Building a social media following is a long, tedious process, and even once you have a decent number of followers, you’ll probably find that human nature dictates that you’ll want more (we always want more, don’t we?).

Case in point: “I see that we have 1000 Twitter followers,” told me the new Marketing Director. “Great! Now, how do we get to 5000?”

It’s a good question, and one worth asking. But before devising a plan to increase our number of followers, it’s important to remember that quality is always better than quantity, and what’s generally true in life also applies in social media. It’s better to focus on using Twitter to reach out to, and build relationships with a handful of loyal, vocal fans, than to chase after lots of uninterested followers.
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A client called me yesterday, asking me about an email they had received. In the email, a furious commenter was complaining that they had left a comment on the client’s blog, and the comment was not approved by me, even though “It contained no profanity!”

The comment did not contain profanity – that much is true. But it was extremely negative, attacking one of the blog’s guest writers, basically calling them a charlatan. There was no way I was going to approve this type of comment, I explained to my client. Moreover, the client has no obligation whatsoever to approve all comments unless they contain profanity!
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Good news: More and more small businesses are getting into social media. Of course, you don’t just start tweeting or posting on Facebook – you need to have a plan, or a social media strategy. How much are you willing to spend (in time and/or in dollars)? What are your goals? Are your competitors using social media? Are your prospects? What do you want to say, and how will you handle vocal criticism?
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As consumers spend less and less time on email and on traditional websites, and more and more time on social networks, the inevitable question is, has the corporate site become obsolete?

My answer is no. I can’t imagine a brand giving up their corporate site entirely. Companies need addresses on the Web, and they can’t allow themselves to rely on a fickle social network to be that place. When you have a Facebook page, the page belongs to Facebook. They have the power – the right – to shut the page down, to change the rules, to start charging you for the page (could totally happen, and arguably already happens when Facebook will only distribute your posts to a significant number of fans if you pay to promote them).
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Many social media campaigns are very exciting, and many will provide you with a return on your investment that can’t really be measured with dollars and cents, such as enhancing your brand image or getting the word out there about your product.

But sometimes, you can and should try to estimate the benefits of a social media campaign before giving it the green light, and in fact, whenever you CAN measure with dollars and cents, you should.
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How to get more Facebook fans becomes a major issue once you create a new Facebook page. Unlike a Facebook profile that enables you to reach out to people and friend them, with a Facebook page you don’t have a similarly simple way of growing your fan base. A Facebook page can’t reach out to people and initiate a relationship with them.

Here are a few things you CAN do to get more Facebook fans:

1. Use Facebook ads to advertise your page. This includes either running an ad for your page, or paying to promote individual posts. This is obviously what Facebook wants you to do (hey, they need to make money too!), and the reason they’ve made it so hard for pages to recruit fans in the first place. It is also the reason most Facebook pages have been seeing a steady decline in the number of people that see each of their posts. Facebook definitely wants you to pay.
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Generally speaking, social media is not the best way to generate new leads. Social media IS great for branding. It enables you to create or strengthen an image, to establish your brand as a pioneer, as a thought-leader, or simply as a very cool brand that people genuinely want to follow and interact with.

Social media is also very useful when it comes to building loyalty and retaining existing customers, turning them into fans and ambassadors for your product or service.

When it comes to lead generation, however, the connection between using social media and acquiring new leads is not that clear, and the connection between social media use and growth in sales or revenue is even more vague.
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