Connecting with Customers Using Strategic Social Media

Connect through social media

Over the past 10 months or so, I’ve picked up the most profitable client of my copywriting career AND a client I’d only dreamed of working with (arguably the most prestigious organization in the world in its niche)…

…through social media. These two connections will be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for me.

That’s a weird thing for me to say.

I’ve been cautious about recommending social media as a marketing tool to others. I spend limited amounts of time using it myself. So how do I explain the undeniable client-attracting effect that social media has had on my business?

This is something small business owners and solo professionals need to sort out. Hopefully my tales of adventure will help you do that.

Social Media Is a Grenade…

…you have to make sure it explodes in the right place.

Here’s why I’ve taken a pessimistic tone on social media marketing in the past.

  1.  Social media is rarely the highest and best use of your time. It’s too easy to spend 3 hours on your favorite platform. In my experience, you have more control and get a better ROI with other marketing methods (direct mail, email marketing, content marketing). It may not always be true for everyone, but definitely something you need to constantly watch out for.
    • Be smart with your time. “Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” ~ Alfred Montapert
  2.  You can’t put the cart before the horse. There is a temptation among many entrepreneurs to think that social media will instantly put you in front of millions of eager customers. Doesn’t usually work that way. You have to get good at what you do first. Then, put stakes in your own digital real estate. A solid website is a strong foundation you can build on.
    • It’s hard to take any business or service provider without a website seriously. And it should be on a domain you own.
    • If you have subpar products, services, positioning or messaging, being active on social will just get you in trouble faster. First things first.
  3.  Your audience is probably not on Facebook or Twitter looking to buy something. Social media is part of the big picture. But using it for the leading edge of your sales process makes things more complicated. People have to go from looking for cute cat videos to buying your stuff in one step. You’re asking them to make a major shift.
    • It depends on what you sell. Fashion stuff seems to do fine on Instagram. And LinkedIn is made for commercial purposes.

The chances of “overnight success” are small, especially if your budget is also small.

You must be prepared to “show up” for an extended period of time. That includes your social media activity.

The most common advice/encouragement I give to entrepreneurs and marketers lately has been to trust in the cumulative effect of your efforts over time. Keep showing up, even when you feel like giving up.

This is especially true, I think, in social media. In our minds, social networks and instant feedback are synonymous. We’re vulnerable to despair if we continue to think that way.

How Social Media Has Worked for My Service Business

I’ll admit, I don’t have a detailed social marketing strategy. My approach has been strategic, though. Note: this is what’s worked for me. Results will vary.

Social media is an attraction device for me. I use it to educate my growing audience (demonstrating my expert status in the process) and connecting with like-minded people and influencers. I don’t go after prospects. That’s not my style. But I do try to establish a presence where people I want to attract hang out online.

Behind the scenes, I have created a mountain of content. I’m doing the work and sharing what I learn – not just talking about what’s trending – or answering questions (like this post). That’s how I earn the right to play in social media sandbox. Again, you can’t put the cart ahead of the horse.

I position myself as an expert in my field and produce the content to back up my claims.

I connect with people who can vouch for my character, share my content and let me appear on their stages occasionally. They also become great referral partners. I promote and refer them, too.

LinkedIn has been the best performer for me. I spent some time creating what I think is a decent profile. I share a lot of content, both my own, my friends’ and other interesting material I come across. And I engage with my network. It probably takes up an hour or 90 minutes a week.

I enjoy Twitter, and my content gets some traction there, but I can’t say that I’ve gained any client work there. Twitter traffic is also below average in terms of time on site, pageviews, etc. The primary benefits I get from Twitter are the goodwill I get for sharing other people’s content and the relationships that have formed as a result.

It’s another place I get to show my expertise.

Google+ has lost most it’s charm for me, but I still post most of my new articles with the hopes that Google will show me favor and index them quickly.

Facebook is all about relationships. You may have noticed. The biggest benefit I get on FB is in private groups where engagement is high-value. Everyone helps and supports everyone else.

Here’s the main point I’m making. Social media has worked well for me because

  1. I’ve been consistently persistent in showing up and providing the highest value I’m capable of creating
  2. Focusing on others – sharing their content, being helpful to them and
  3. Using the platform to attract and be attractive to people I want to connect with. I show off my expertise and let the content do the rest.
  4. I’m more worried about quality than quantity. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, two connections will put 6-figures in my pocket.

Your Action Steps

Decide what success looks like for you. Want to generate steady stream of traffic to your product page? Are you using the number of ‘Likes’ you have or the size of your following as social proof? Will you target qualified prospects individually? Don’t think that you have to copy someone else who seems successful. Decide what you want and develop a strategy from there.

Focus on the foundation. That doesn’t mean you wait until you’re the best in the world before you start promoting yourself. Just commit to getting better all the time and don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Social media should call attention to your awesome skills, but you have to have some substance behind the tweets and posts.

Have a plan for what happens after you engage socially. Will the person sign up for your email list? Buy your product? Show up for your next Periscope session? Be specific with what you want to accomplish and formulate an A to B to C plan to make it happen.

Make social one part of your overall marketing strategy. You should have multiple ways to reach your target audience.

Be persistent. If possible, be consistent, too. Make a plan, schedule some time, then go to work. Use automation tools that save you time.

Give. Be known for providing value to others. Not just tooting your own horn.

That’s my two cents.

 **This post is not a recommendation for Kabbage’s services. I’ve never used them before, so I can’t comment. I’m also not being compensated in any way for this post. Just sharing my experience.

 

 

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How to Earn All the Twitter Followers You Deserve

Last time I Googled “how to get more Twitter followers,” 579,000,000 results came up. This is clearly a topic on many people’s minds.

First, a question: Would you rather have thousands of followers who never interact with you or your content, or 100 raving fans who retweet regularly and click all your links? Do you value quantity over quality?

All things being equal, bigger is better. But the point is that the size of your audience isn’t the only factor you should be concerned about developing.

Real Life Matters
Your personality outside of Twitter has a huge impact on the size and type of following you attract. Just ask Tim Tebow or Ashton Kutcher. Celebrities get massive numbers of followers instantly because of who they are, even when they break all the “rules” of Twitter etiquette.

I believe the foundation of creating the audience you deserve is actually being someone worth following. Do you have something valuable to share? Do you offer unique perspective to the people reading your tweets? Are you actively brightening their day in some way? If not, you probably won’t attract or keep the kinds of followers you want.

Now you have to let the world know what you can do.

Get the Bio Right
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. In many cases, your profile picture and 160-character bio will determine what potential followers will think of you. It can make the difference between gaining attention and getting ignored.

You’ve experienced it yourself; when you see a profile that doesn’t have a photo, you second-guess whether it’s even a real person. With all the fake accounts, spammers and bots, you never know.

Beyond that, you have a few lines to tell everyone who you are, what you’re about and what they can expect when they click the Follow button.

If you have a website, blog, portfolio, etc., you should always include a link. That let’s you demonstrate how awesome you are without the character limitation. You can link to a free valuable resource to get followers to start consuming your content right away.

There’s an App for that
Your profile and your tweets should always be appropriate, appealing and applicable.

Appropriate: Know who your audience is and who you’d like to be in it. Share content appropriate for that audience. It wouldn’t do much good for Nike to share a video about pulled pork sandwiches.

Appealing: On the other hand, Nike’s followers want to know about sports, sports gear and health/wellness issues. What does your audience care about? What are they worried or excited about right now. Tweeting on those subjects, adding your expertise and sharing resources are powerful ways to you grow and nurture loyal, attentive followers.

Applicable: As much as possible, members of your Twitter community should be able to do something with the content you share. They can open hilarious videos that make them LOL. They can click links to help them fix them save on car insurance. Or they can see the world through your eyes for just a minute.

For the most part, no one wants to know all the intimate details of your daily routine. Tweet stuff that matters to your followers.

Are You Talking About Yourself…Again?
Some how-to articles tell you how often to send out different kinds of tweets. What percentage should be links? What tweet/retweet ratio should you use?

I don’t know if any of these figures can be proven to work better in every instance.

You’ll probably agree that high-quality content is always welcome. Good jokes go over well, no matter what percentage of your tweets they comprise.

If you create content for the purpose of educating, entertaining or otherwise improving your follower’s day or life, why hold back? You could probably get away with 100% of your tweets being links to your website.

That being said, interacting with your followers and your colleagues is usually a really smart thing to do. Everyone likes @mentions. Replies and retweets can only strengthen the bonds you have.

Developing a great Twitter following is less about learning techniques than most social media gurus would like you to think.

For example, a widely-taught tactic for growing a big audience is to follow people who you’d like to follow you, then unfollow the ones that don’t. Sure, you will get about half of those individuals to follow back, but think about it: you don’t follow them because you care about their tweets. You just want them to read and respond to yours.

If everyone on Twitter followed all the people they wanted to sell to but had no interest in listening to, what would that look like? It would be horrible. Everyone talking, no one listening. That’s not what social media is supposed to be about.

Naturally, knowing how to operate in any environment (online or off) is important. But if you don’t start with value creation, you’re neglecting human nature. People exchange their time for things that are more valuable to them than other things they could be spending their time doing.

Become a reliable source for those kinds of things and you’re on the right path to growing your ideal audience.

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How LinkedIn Passed Google As My Top Traffic Source

During the month of July, LinkedIn sent more traffic to my site than any other referral source.

I probably spend about 30 minutes a month worrying about SEO. I don’t worry about bots or spiders too much. But someone recently pointed out to me that there are some distinct disadvantages to being so negligent.

With so many other copywriters with online presence, there’s a good chance that potential clients will never stumble across my website while browsing for the type of services that I offer.

Time for a Change
I use is Google Analytics to keep track of my stats. Direct traffic is always my biggest traffic source, making up close to half of my total visits. Google comes in second, right around 30%, with the balance made up by all my other referrers.

But last month was different. As of the end of the month, LinkedIn holds the top spot, with to 27.64% of my total traffic. Direct traffic trailed slightly at 26.13%. Google dropped to third place with 22.11%.

LinkedIn also had the highest time on site figure at an incredible 8 minutes and 18 seconds. Direct traffic came in at 5:03. The site average was 2:46.

This took place during the busiest month my website has ever seen.

The Turning Point
What made the difference? How did LinkedIn gain such a big share of traffic, especially in a period when nearly twice as many people visited my site than usual? Satanic Sales Pitches. It turns out that the headline was very compelling, arousing enough curiosity to get a ton of clicks. (More proof that strong headlines are incredibly important to getting readership.)

I really don’t spend that much time on LinkedIn. About an hour a week. That didn’t change over the past month. My time was just being used more strategically.

Here’s a few tips:

1) The biggest single biggest traffic-driving factor was one particular blog post –

I pasted the link to this post in my Updates, and shared it in several of the groups I actively participate in. I didn’t post to every group I’m a member of, just where it was relevant. Copywriting, marketing and sales groups.

2) I checked for feedback and engaged commenters in conversation.

3) This is a bit of a cheap trick, but once the discussion died down topic died down, then I “Liked” the discussion. This puts the thread back at the top of Group Updates, to ensure it’s as visible as possible.

Corny, but I wanted to see if it would work. Apparently it does.

4) I optimized my LinkedIn profile for search.

Choose a search term that you’d like to rank at the top of search results for. If you’re a dog groomer for Hollywood movie stars, your keywords might be “dog groomer Hollywood.” In my case, I chose “direct response copywriter Chicago.”

Next, find a way to work those keywords into your Linkedin profile. Your headline, current position and previous experience are areas that have the biggest impact on LI’s search engine results.

The changes I made immediately placed my profile in the #1 position in search inquiries for my keywords, as well as a few related keywords. It also led to two interactions with potential clients and a few new connections.

Not too complicated, right? But the results where profound. How valuable would it be for your profile to be the top result when prospects search for your product or service?

Here’s a test: go to LinkedIn right now and do a search for the keywords you’d like to rank for. Where does your profile show up?

If you’re like me, my name didn’t show up on the first 5 pages for any of the keywords I’d like to be associated with. Optimizing my profile changed that right away.

Believe me, if I can triple the amount of traffic my website got from LinkedIn, you can do it too. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact me.

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5 Ways Twitter Improves Your Writing Skills

People keep telling me that the internet is making people dumber. To be honest, I don’t know whether or not that’s true. But did you know that Twitter can make you better writer?

If you are purposeful in your how you approach your use of any microblogging platform, there are 5 ways that you can they can skyrocket your writing ability.

1. You learn the value of every word — no, of every character. In writing, especially for marketing and sales, the tighter your message is, the better. When you have only 150 characters to work with, each letter has to earn it’s place. It has to pull it’s weight. This forces you to think carefully about your choice of words.

If you’ve ever gone over the character limit and had to edit your tweet, you know what I’m talking about. “How can I say what I need to say in the allotted space?” You have to be ruthless. If that comma isn’t serving a purpose, it’s gotta go!

2. You begin to break free from some of the “rule” forced on you by your English teachers.  The best writing is the plainest.  How many people do you know that speak with perfect grammar 100% of the time? In my neighborhood (Calumet City, IL, in south suburban Chicago), it’s probably less than 10%.

When you are communicating via the written word, sometimes there’s a desire to be super-formal.  Believe me, that’s not the best way to get your message across to the average audience. Unless you’re talking to English professors…

George Orwell’s sixth rule for good writing is to break any of  his other five rules before ”saying anything outright barbarous.”

Writers need to have the freedom to say what they mean, forsaking the rules when necessary.

3.  You have to learn to communicate in such a way that your reader will understand exactly what you mean. How many people do you know who don’t quite understand this principle? I see plenty of tweets that have no clear meaning, or that can be understood in multiple ways. Thoughtful writers will take the restricted amount of communication space to heighten their concentration. ”How can I eliminate any ambiguity and say what needs to be said so that the message is plainly understood?

This is great focus training for any writer.

4. You are forced to choose exactly what you want to say.  In an age where noisy chatter is constant, a Twitter message makes you strip your message down to the core. The way it should be. There’s no room to go off on tangents or talk about about non-essentials.

When brevity is required, you see who really knows how to communicate, and who’s just talkin’.

5. Twitter can give you extra writing practice. Tweeting is writing on a small scale. More practice is always a good thing. A high percentage of Twitter users access the social network with their cell phones. So even if you don’t have a pen and paper, you can practice crafting clear, compelling messages.

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