Social Media Marketing – Flagging Down Customers

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Social Media Marketing can be explained in many ways and most are very complex to someone who has never used it or been in the space. With so many new tools including Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Articles, Back Linking, Message Boards, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Vator, Pod Casts, Video, YouTube, it can be very overwhelming to anyone.

I spoke with Wally Wang, author of the “Dummies” series last night on our radio show and he even said it himself, “it’s something I know I need to do to sell more books, but it is too much for me. There are not enough hours in the day”. Now Wally might know more than most, because he is an accomplished author and a comedian, but he is just part of “the norm” when it comes to business people in 2010. In my next piece I will describe what steps to take to build a campaign and orchestrate its activities, but for now let’s just go through a quick analogy of how it works.

The Parking Lot

A long time ago I lived a block north of Wrigley Field in Chicago with 4 of my groomsmen for my final year of being a single man, before I married my wife. We had a great year. We were one of the only houses in the neighborhood and we actually had a back yard, with grass and a porch! This is a real rarity in big cities like Chicago. We were really looking forward to having a big summer of cook outs and Cubs games (I am not a Cubs hater, but I am a White Sox fan-for the record), but when the time came to make a choice on the pool, I noticed more and more that people were making a killing with parking fees in the neighborhood. So, being the entrepreneur that I am, I decided other plans for the backyard.

So, I went to the Home Depot and bought all the needed tools and rented a dumpster and before we knew it, we were laying pea gravel and preparing for the next game with excitement. We had turned our back yard into a parking lot, what? We did the math and figured out that we would all be able to pocket our entire pay check every month because we could charge $25 a spot and we now had 15 spots!

Well, the next day the Cubs played the Pirates and there weren’t many people at the game. Two of us had taken the subway back to the neighborhood on our lunch breaks and stood on opposite corners of the street pointing the stragglers from the other lots into our spots. We ended up getting 6 cars and only made $20 a piece, what a disappointment! This went on for a week and after the parking was done every game we walked around to the other parking lots and noticed they were full. What did they have that we didn’t? They had 6-9 flagmen with bright red flags and signs telling the drivers where to park. They had every corner covered and their lots were branded with names and colors.

So, we went to the Police station and asked them where the most heavily trafficked corners were during Cubs games. We hired more flagmen and gave them some bright signs (yellow) and offered a free beer to anyone over the age of 21 that parked with us. For the next game we had more cars than we could fit and were getting $35-$45 dollars a spot!!! We now had this good coverage and the proper clientele coming our way, all because we had bright flagmen in the right places, that you couldn’t miss, pointing and leading parkers to our lot. See below for actual coverage:

Social Media, the New Neighborhood

So, as I got into social media and learning how to use it for business I started to think of the easiest ways to explain the way it works to those that have not been introduced to it yet. Of course, there are a million ways to do so, but I try to keep things as simple as possible. Now, most people understand the following things about the internet and their business: They need a website, they need email, they need internet, they need someone to do “SEO” for them and they need HELP!

What they often forget to think of are all the things that go with these basics, such as: website, loading speed, great content, calls to action, a blog and Web 2.0 connect-ability to social sites. These essentials are just for the website, which I will call “the parking lot” for this section. Your parking lot has to be a good one or people won’t pay anything for it. There must be something that makes you better than all the other parking lots out there. Offer a free download in exchange for an email address to stay connected with your visitors, just like a free beer to parking.

Now having the lot and offering free things to keep people in the loop in great, but the most important thing to be able to do is get people to park, right? Having a great website with all the bells and whistles is a wonderful thing, but not as important as it used to be. Remember the internet is nothing more than a virtual world and everything has similar roles as the real world. So if this is true and your website is like your parking lot (or direct representation of your business) is it more important to have a flashy design and little content or tons of fresh good content? The answer is easy, content is king, always. So, make the place people come to park one that is fruitful and rich with information about you and your business so they want to learn more and spend money. The Web 2.0 generation is all about education and creating informed buyers.

With a great content driven website we now have to get that one thing that 99% of the world can’t figure out, demographically driven and targeted web traffic. There are two ways to go in this arena, throw an inflatable Gorilla on the rooftop or get people to go out and wave people in. In reality, you should do both, however, most people can only afford one or are afraid to try the other.

Well, you can spend $10,000 on a big SEO package (the inflatable Gorilla) and hope it works. But what’s the incentive for the visitor to come and see you? Is it because you popped up first on Google? They will click on it and check you out in all other areas of the web right after seeing your site, trust me. They will verify that you have a good reputation and that you have done something besides blow up a gorilla. They want CONTENT. So, the other way to go is to hire those flagmen! These flagmen will be everywhere they look, even if it is the opposite direction of the gorilla! They will be wearing shirts displaying your message, hats that show the last time you were on the news, pants that have pictures of your business and or family or both, and they may even be playing a stereo with your last podcast or radio appearance on it.

The Breadcrumb Trail of Social Media

The other way to think of these flagmen, or any flagmen, is to think of them as bread crumbs that lead a trail back to your website, or parking lot. Now, bread crumbs aren’t a given to work of course, but they are very useful for hungry visitors to find their way. The way this all works is simple, use your own experiences in the world to think like your consumers. What do you do when you are looking for something to buy or somewhere to go or someone to hire for a service? Like 80% of the country, you probably get online and type in a keyword to Google. Once the results pop up you click on 5-6 sites and read 18% of the page, get bored and move to the next one. If you have the choice you look at a video instead of an article, instead of a website, a third party endorsement instead of a website and so on.

Since this is the case, we must think like our clients in order to start finding them! This means we need to play the game that they play and be better at it. Social Media can also be thought of as a bread crumb trail leading to you and what you really stand for.

Imagine starting on the south side of the city and trying to find a parking spot on the north side in your parking lot. To save time let’s assume they are starting in the lower right hand corner of the picture below. In the Social Media breadcrumb example the crumbs are also flag men. They attract hungry readers and point them in the right direction. In this example the hungry visitor or parker, sees something you have tweeted out on Twitter (hopefully followed you as well) and it caught their eye. From here they took your user name and found you in a chat room and started reading your blog.

The info they found attracted them and pointed them to look deeper so they clicked of the Facebook button on your blog and it took them to your Facebook page where they read about the great things you do, saw videos of it and even connected with you. They also saw a link leading them to your podcast and clicked on it so they could listen to you talk. Let’s just say they heard you doing your own online radio show about your industry and were blown away at how professional you sounded. They then went back to Google and wanted to find more, read what they liked and ended up on your Flickr page or watching your videos on YouTube. After following your social media breadcrumbs, they eventually park in your lot, which equals money in your pocket.

The Importance of Being Available

As you can see in this case, a good visitor to your website is one that comes ready to buy. They come with some information about you and what you stand for and have the intention of doing business. People do not look for websites like fish look for shiny things anymore, they have seen them all. What they do look for is information, content and attraction. More importantly than what they look for is the fact that they are looking. More than 50% of the Facebook users on the planet are 38 years and older, this is the generation that created wasting time on the web and passed it on. The average internet user increases the time they spend on the web by more than 10 minutes a week every year. The fact is that they are out there looking and what are you doing to be available when they do?

By Eric Rice

President, Boom Media

San Diego Social Media

write by Eugene

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