Your Twitter Pitch

When I started VillageWorks many moons ago, everyone told me I needed to work on my elevator pitch. It made sense to me to have a short description of my business including what I did and the kind of customers I help, but I found so many were laden with buzzwords that you really couldn’t get a feel for what someone actually did. I use to think, “just get to the point already”.

Fast-forward to today where you often have less than 30 seconds and rarely get to deliver your pitch in person. As a matter of fact, your pitch is often limited to a number of characters especially in the case of social networks. Therefore I am changing the name to your Twitter Pitch. People are making decisions to opt-in to your message in mere seconds by looking at your profile, avatar, website and/or blog. Are you making a strong and positive first impression?

Social media and marketing, in general, is about relationships and fostering those towards your desired call to action whether it be visiting a website, visiting a store, making an appointment, etc. If your Twitter Pitch is overly pushy or salesy, people are likely to ignore you. As the use of social media becomes more prevalent, the noise increases making it harder for your signal to get through. What can you do to rise above?

Take a look at my friend Melissa’s great post on creating a profile bio that cuts through the noise and kicks off the relationship in a positive manner. Can you tell your story in 140 characters?

Getting My Ducks in a Row

Note: this is a very personal post, and I totally understand if you skip it.

Last year at this time, I was blogging every weekday of July and writing my book. I spent my vacation publishing posts, managing comments and working on my book. I feel like I completely neglected my family during this process. They are more than supportive, my daughter even has a copy of my book in her room. Have I mentioned how much I love that kid?

This year has been rough personally with a comedy of errors in our household. Nothing major, but enough for me to take my eye off my business to deal with a whole bunch of stress. I feel like I am coming out of the fog, but I need some quality time with my family before I can again focus on this blog and provide you with useful information. With that, I may or may not post to this blog again this month. I just need some time to be with family and recharge.

I have some big things planned for the second half of this year, but feel I need to spend some quality time with both Big and Little J as well as collect my own thoughts. I hope that you are still here when I get back.

Social Media Doesn’t Go On Vacation, But You Do

Spaceship Earth in EpcotWhat happens when the person in charge of social media for a company goes on vacation? As summer is upon us, this is something all of us that use social media for business should consider. As the sole employee of my business, I am always connected to clients and others no matter where I am. Even on vacation, I am connected via my MiFi and phone, so I can still monitor my social media accounts and email. For others, vacation, rightfully so, means a break from work. The email gets a auto-send vacation announcement, voicemail greetings get changed, but what about your social media accounts?

Here are some things you may want to consider putting into place before your next vacation:

Several months before your vacation, identify someone in your company that has experience using social media or an interest in learning. Train this person on the tools you use, how you use them as well as your overall strategy. In addition to how to use the tools and strategy, give them insight into the voice of your social media efforts. What type of language, tone and personality do you use as part of your strategy. This goes a long way to keeping the message consistent.

Create a more detailed editorial calendar for the time that you are away to serve as a guideline for your stand-in. Sure you hear people say that you shouldn’t schedule tweets or  Facebook posts, but sometimes, like vacation, it is better than silence. Give your stand-in, the prepared tweets and posts to publish while you are gone. Try to keep them pretty neutral in tone as you don’t want to stir up a controversy while you aren’t there to respond.

If nothing else, make sure that someone is monitoring your accounts. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your community is too. Wouldn’t that be nice if it worked that way? People may post questions or issues that can’t wait until you return. Prepare people to monitor your accounts and train them how to respond properly. Re-communicate the chain of command for responding to issues and questions, so people know who to go to in your absence.

Social media is a 24/7 proposition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a vacation and unplug. Plan ahead and you can relax on vacation knowing your community is still being engaged. What did I miss? What do you do when you go on vacation?

A True Social Media Rockstar

Katy Perry “gets” social media or at least the people she works with get it. I’m a fan of her music so I started following her on Twitter and “liked” her Facebook page. In the beginning of June, Katy introduced a character Kathy Beth Terry  and encouraged people to “like” her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter. Kathy Beth Terry is Katy’s character in her video for Last Friday Night, but she built a whole page and persona to lead up to the premier of the video. Great example of using social media as a campaign strategy and not just your ongoing communication.

There were several teaser videos to give a back story to the video and characters, again all leading up the the premier. Basically, they shot extra footage on the set of the video and used it strategically as teasers. This probably didn’t add much to the overall costs since everything was already set up. Now I know you don’t have a music video-sized budget, but I want you to think how you could use this type of approach for a product launch or event.

The video was suppose to premier on June 14th on Funny or Die, but she gave her followers a challenge on June 12th at 1:40 pm.  If they could get #KathyBethTerry trending, she would release the video early. By 2:30 it was trending and Katy released her video exclusively at FunnyOrDie.com.  Giving those that are most loyal to her the chance to get what they wanted (the video) earlier than planned and do some advertising for her as well. Win-Win.

After the video was posted, Katy took the next step to further promote the video by encouraging user generated content. She provided images from the video complete with green screen backgrounds, and encouraged her fans to Photoshop the images and upload them to the Facebook page. More content and promotion provided by the fans. Love it.

Just to provide one more example of this social media rockstar, she even used location based services in a unique way to reward concert attendees. She was at Merriweather Post Pavillion on June 15th, and she posted that the 1st 100 concert attendees that checked-in to the concert using Facebook Places and claimed the deal would get early entrance into the venue. Definite advantage to the general admission crowd. No discount or savings, just early access.

Why am I telling you all this? Even as a small business, we can look at what others are doing and tailor it to suit our own needs. If you break down what Katy Perry did, she put together a social media campaign to promote a product (video) before, during and after its launch (premier). As you look to promote an event or product launch what can you do before, during and after to reward those most loyal to you and encourage them to help with the promotion? Now get out there and show them that you “Baby you are a firework”. Sorry couldn’t resist 🙂

Where Do You Draw The Line?

If you have spent any amount of time using social media, you know that everyone uses it in their own unique way. Some strictly for work, some strictly for personal and many a combination of both. I definitely fall into the both category and my guess is that if you are reading this, you fall into this category as well. This leads to the question, where to draw the line between personal and private?

You want to show your personal side in social media because business is all about relationships, but you don’t want to cross the line that puts you and your family in harm’s way or alienates your audience. These decisions really come down to personal preference, but the safety issue is really something you need to consider:

  • Will you use your family members’ real names?
  • Will you post pictures of your family?
  • Will you post Foursquare and other location based updates?

Beyond the safety issue, is what content will your audience find interesting and what could turn them off? The last thing you want to do is change the opinion of your company from good to bad just through how you choose to use social media. This is why so many companies are initiating social media usage policies and require employees to display disclaimers stating their opinions do not reflect the company.

Obviously, this is going to depend on the type of business you have and your audience. A beer company is going to have a lot more freedom than a law firm as to what would alienate their audience. As businesses move to be more social with more voices representing the company, this is going to become an important topic of conversation. How do you draw the line?

My Dad: The Stealth Social Media Consumer

Train TurntableI share a lot of the same characteristics with my parents, especially the desire to always be learning new things. For as long as I can remember, my dad has been building an HO scale train platform (to the left is a picture of one section), but once he retired it really grew with the addition of an amusement park, campground and even a mountain rescue complete with helicopter hanging from the ceiling. You can see my whole photo set of his layout here.

Also, upon retirement my dad embraced the Internet, but not in the way that you may think. He is strictly a consumer of content with no accounts to be found anywhere online. This isn’t unusual, but it is something we need to keep in mind as we create content for social media and look at measurement numbers. We know not to rely on follower numbers and my dad is a great example of why.

I tout blogs as one of the most important pieces of your overall social media strategy and my dad is one of the reasons. He is always searching for how to accomplish something whether it is for his train platform, a DIY fountain/pond for the front yard or remote control car. If you are a hobby store, my dad is your best friend. If you are blogging on the topic, my dad will find you and consume your content, but you will probably never know because he will not comment and he will not shop online. However, if you have a local bricks and mortar store, he will probably walk through your doors and spend money. Blogs reach those that are not active in social media and rank high on search engines.

His social media consumerism goes beyond blogs too. Namely with Twitter and YouTube. Yes, Twitter. He does not have a Twitter account and probably has never been to Twitter.com, but he watches conversations that take place on Twitter. My dad is a NASCAR fan and more specifically a Matt Kenseth fan. On the Matt Kenseth website, they display tweets from the Fan Club account which contains a lot of replies and retweets. During a race, my dad keeps an eye on it to see what is going on with Matt. No way to track that follower…

Don’t forget about your stealth consumers. They will find you and your information through searches, but will never follow, like, share or engage, but this doesn’t make them any less important of a consumer. They will convert this into sales and providing them with an easy way to consume your content goes a long way.

Adding WordPress to Your LinkedIn Profile

One challenge businesses have is getting their blog in front of enough eyeballs. There are a lot of ways to promote your blog and LinkedIn gives you a great tool that allows you to set it up and forget it. If you have a WordPress blog, you can pull it into your LinkedIn account using on of their apps.

I put this video together for a client and thought I would share it with you. Let me know if you find this type of post helpful, so I can do more in the future.

My Favorite Mobile Apps – Presentations

I do a fair amount of speaking, which is something I really enjoy. In the past, I tried to manage notes either in the form of hand-written notes or in the little area for notes that PowerPoint provides. Either way they had to be on paper which caused a few problems:

1. I would lose them
2. They sometimes got out of order
3. If I didn’t lose them, I got tired of storing them.

While not every presentation is exactly the same, there are usually similar themes and ideas, so I tend to pull from previous presentations. Again, this made managing my notes difficult. What am I getting at? My presentation makeover using a few apps and my iPad.

I started using Keynote when I purchased it for both my Mac and my iPad. I could hook my iPad to a projector for my presentation, but mainly I use it to create Keynote presentations of just my notes for use during my presentation. That way I can have my notes right there on my iPad during the presentation. It’s an easy way for me to stay on track and store notes from past events.

I create the notes on my Mac and using iDisk I am able to easily get them onto my iPad. We have a family MobileMe account, so we can share documents with each other and the iPad. I simply drop the presentation into the iDisk directory on my computer and pull it down onto the iPad. Easy peasy.

The last mobile app I like to use when giving presentation is the remote for Keynote on my iPhone. If the projector is not in front of me, I am able to control my Keynote presentation via my iPhone.

These are just a few tools I like to use before and during presentations to keep me on-track and more organized. Do you have any tech tips you use when presenting?

Upcoming Livestream from Network Solutions

I don’t typically promote events here, but wanted to pass on an event that Network Solutions will be holding a Small Business Mobile Livestream on May 17th. Given the new trend of mobile, the more information we can all gather the better, so that we can better understand when and how to best utilize this technology.

From Network Solutions:

Our recent Small Business Success Index (pdf) reports that small businesses are widely embracing the concept of marketing their products and services on the web and through social media, but a new frontier will be mobile marketing.  Mobile marketing encompasses a range of activities ranging from sending text messages to creating mobile applications.  Most small business owners are aware of various mobile marketing activities, the best known including:  sending text messages to customers about a promo (73 percent) and listing the company on a location-based website (68 percent).  Most owners are aware of other applications, including creating their own mobile website, placing ads on mobile websites, and creating their own apps for their business.  While awareness of mobile marketing activities is high, usage is low. This could be due to a variety of reasons from time/budget limitations to a lack of understanding on how to get started.

While on the other hand, the use of mobile devices to find a local business is on the rise. One in three searches on mobile is local. After searching for a business: 61% call the business, 59% visit the business; 88% take action the same day.

Join Network Solutions on May 17th, 1:30-2:30PM (EST) to learn:

  • What exactly is mobile marketing, and why should you pay attention?
  • What is the current state of small businesses and mobile technology?
  • What are some simple and cost-effective steps to going mobile?
  • How can you incorporate mobile into your strategic marketing plans?
  • What are some small business mobile best practices that you can learn from?

For more details on the panelists and to register for the FREE Livestream, please visit http://smbmobile.eventbrite.com/.