I’ve been telling my clients for years, “Don’t get too comfortable with your Social Media marketing, it’s going to change tomorrow.” You may have noticed Facebook’s recent plethora of changes. They’ve changed the newsfeed (again), added a timeline (questionable usefulness), and they’re reducing the value of the Like button. Wait… what was that???
That’s right. The ubiquitous Like button, which has become so much a part of our online lives, is evolving into more of a voting mechanism. In my opinion, this is great news.
So what does this mean to you? You’ve spent countless hours and maybe thousands of dollars, increasing your “Likers” on your Facebook business page. It always seemed almost ridiculous to me, that we as marketers should be practically driven into a frenzy of getting people to “follow” our brand. 90% of our messages get ignored anyway. This is why small business marketers say their Facebook page doesn’t work for them. At least not in the sense that it gets them any business.
Users will now have a way to “vote” on content. To me this makes a whole helluva lot more sense. It means the boring, all-about-me promotional content that we see so much of can now get voted down into oblivion, while the interesting cool stuff will get promoted to the top.
This is one Facebook change I can hang my hat on. From both a consumer’s side and a marketer’s side. From a consumer’s side I will no longer have to tolerate crap on my Fb feed. From a marketer’s side I will have a lot less competition, and my truly authentic and valuable message will clearly shine amongst the drivel.
Not that I think for a moment that the spammers won’t come up with some way of getting around it. Like hiring legions of $2/hr off-shore teenagers to Vote Up the crap content they post for their clients. Black hat will always exist, but somehow the brains behind the beasts (Google, Facebook, etc.) will continue to find ways to combat it. Good for them. And for us.
I invite you to read Mashable’s blog post, which was my source for this post, at: http://mashable.com/2011/09/22/facebooks-changes-marketers
You may already know that IBM is big into social media, and doing a bang-up job of it (in my opinion).
IBM created a policy (but of course!) for their employees to understand how to use social media properly as representatives of Big Blue. The interesting thing about this policy is that it was created using a Wiki. Now THAT is cool. If you’re wondering why it’s cool, I’ll tell you. It’s cool because a Wiki is a mechanism for creating user-driven content. It’s a self-policing, crowd-source model. That essentially means that the employees themselves wrote the guidelines, and did it in a collaborative way, all online.
I’m sure this is an oversimplification of the process, but the underlying concept is there. They would not have used a Wiki if IBM did not want the employee collaboration and input. It’s a very forward thinking approach, particularly so for such an old and monolithic company.
Another very interesting fact is that this policy is public.
Not only is it public but IBM encourages other businesses to review the policy and use it and make it their own. How big of them! And how handy for us!
I found a copy of the policy online and I’m happy to share the link with you:
You’ll note that this is not the official IBM web site, but it does a good job of reviewing and recapping the guidelines. The most valuable thing for me was the executive summary. It is a 12-point summary that nicely outlines all the core components of the policy. These are quick, easy takeaways, and in my opinion they completely embody how any business should conduct their social media activities.
I would encourage every small business to have your entire staff print it, put it on their desk, and read it every day.
Talk about being stuck in a rut.
I recently ran across the web site of a local company here in Northern Virginia. I won’t name names, but it is a PR company based here in my town. They’ve been around for a while — longer than I have anyway.
First of all, their web site is not that great. It uses bleedy jpegs and old-fashioned table-driven layouts. It’s OK if you don’t know what that means, just trust me it’s very last decade.
According to their About Us page, they don’t do web design (but they do do web development), so I guess they can be excused for the 90′s design.
Basically they are a traditional PR company. Everything about their list of “What We Do” items screams WE ROCKED TEN YEARS AGO.
Oddly enough they did tack on Social Media to their Interactive Advertising line item (“Interactive and Social Media Advertising”). Wow, that says it all.
But the biggest sore thumb is the content. Everything on their site talks about them. What they do, how they do things, how great they are. “Our unmatched market knowledge”… really? “Our focus”… seriously? What about the client’s focus?
It’s completely impersonal, almost barren of personality. I wouldn’t trust my advertising campaign with this kind of company. Now, in reality, they’re probably much better than their web site indicates, but how would anyone know?
The point is their web site is not only not working for them as a sales tool, but it could actually be a turn-off.
I hope you don’t fall into this trap with your own business. Just look at your copy — for every time you say the word “We” or “Our” or use your name in the third person, that’s an opportunity to turn that sentence around to focus it on your customer, his pain, their challenge, or her need.
Last year I was using Twitter to invite people to get a free account on Grouvia, our Meetup-like web site (long story). It worked fairly well, although I did get accused of being a spammer once or twice.
The way I had used it back then was to do searches for certain keywords, like clubs, small non profit group, group management software, stuff like that. I would find people talking about their club or group and send them a message about Grouvia and how it might help them manage their group.
I know, it sounds kind of spammy, but we did it in a very non-intrusive way. Technically it’s not spam, but that’s a subjective topic these days.
I hadn’t used Twitter in several months, so I decided to check it out again. I’d heard that there are a lot of new features, however upon visiting the site and looking around, I didn’t see all that much that was different from my last visit. At least nothing apparently mind-blowing.
I decided to do some simple searches to see if I could find people talking about my subject. I started with a specific local keyphrase: “internet marketing fredericksburg”. Nothing. I tried “internet marketing northern virginia”. Nothing. Then I tried “internet marketing virginia”. Three results. Aha! But none of them had anything to do with internet marketing.
Then I noticed a tab called “search tweets near my location”. Apparently it knows where I am. Maybe I told it at some point, or maybe it knows from my IP address. At any rate, I tried “internet marketing” and got 43 gazillion results. I clicked the location tab and got nothing again. Hm. Maybe it doesn’t really know where I am.
I felt like I was chasing a rabbit down a hole so I dragged myself back up for air and went back to standard searching with more specific keywords. I tried “small business internet marketing” and got a bunch of results, and started scanning. It was a long list of promotional tweets. Overwhelming to any user looking for useful information.
Then I tried searching for “small business marketing help” and got the same thing, a bunch of “click me!” type tweets. But I also noticed another odd thing… The same tweet text over and over again, by different people using different links. My guess is that it’s an affiliate thing and all these people are trying to sell some program because they get a commission. Egad.
Well, that was an hour of my life I’ll never get back. I did get a good blog post out of it though .
Conclusion: Twitter does not work for the kind of small businesses I work with. It’s just not worth the time and effort — the ROI (return on investment) is way too small.
But there must be other uses for Twitter or it wouldn’t be so popular. Any and all comments about this are certainly welcome!
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