Archive for the ‘online marketing’ Tag

Twitter Power Tools

Now that the hype has settled and the new website smell has faded, let’s take a look at Twitter and how to maximize it’s effectiveness via third party Twitter tools.  These tools come in various forms; from websites, desktop apps to mobile phone applications, there are many ways to get your tweets in order.

Seesmic Desktop, along with Tweetdeck, is one of the exciting Adobe Air desktop apps to try for Twitter.

Seesmic Desktop, along with Tweetdeck, is one of the exciting Adobe Air desktop apps to try for Twitter.

Multi-Account Management

Twitter is a great tool, but their website is pretty simple – and that has it’s pros and cons.  The pros being the ease of using it.  For casual Twittering, it handles most of what you need.  But what if you have a personal Twitter account and a work Twitter account – or even more Twitter accounts to promote various aspects of your business.  Now having various browsers open to manage all those accounts at once is not efficient – time for a tool that allows you to manage multiple accounts at once in one user interface.  Their are numerous choices out there, but the ones I recommend looking into the most are HootSuite.com, TweetLater.com, TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop and Twhirl.  All these tools are fantastic to easily post a tweet from different accounts without switching browsers or logging in and out of the Twitter website.

Beautiful interface, great features, lots of fun to use - HootSuite is a hoot!

Beautiful interface, great features, lots of fun to use - HootSuite is a hoot!

Following more than a few hundred people on Twitter but have only a handful whose tweets you really want to read?  TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop let you group those you follow into smaller more manageable lists.  You could create a list just of family members and friends, just of business contacts or whatever other criteria you wish.  Then you can just view one of these lists so it is easily to see these posts without them getting lost in the Twitter stream.

One of the biggest problems I have with Twitter is having the time to Tweet.  My day is busy and I can’t spend my time at work managing my Tweets.  This is where TweetLater.com and HootSuite.com shine.  You can load up a number of interesting tweets when you have 15 minutes available and schedule these tweets to get spread out throughout the day.  Now you can look like you’re busy tweeting throughout the day!  Busy Twitterers are more likely to gain more followers and get more visibility within their current Twitter network.  HootSuite.com even allows you to track stats of your post’s links so you can find out how many people are clicking on the links you are sharing.

Manage Followers/Unfollows

When you get to hundreds of followers, at some point you’ll realize you are following a lot of people you don’t really need to be following.  Maybe you followed them simply because they followed you.  But their posts have nothing to offer you or are so infrequent you never see them.  You try and track them down in your followers list, but all that scrolling through pages is not an effective use of your time.  With a tool like Twitter Karma, you can easily see all your followers and those you are following on one page.  And unlike the Twitter website, you can see at a glance if the following is mutual.  What’s that, that person you were thinking of unfollowing is not following you anymore anyway – Twitter Karma is a good way to find those tricky individuals that follow you first to get you to follow you back only to then unfollow you afterwards to make their numbers look better.

Twitter Karma is an easy way to manage your friends and followers on Twitter.

Twitter Karma is an easy way to manage your friends and followers on Twitter.

Grade Your Performance

What is your influence on Twitter?  How do you rank overall?  Hubspot has a clever little tool to help you get an idea of your level of influence on Twitter.  Go to http://twitter.grader.com to see how you stack up.  This is mostly for fun, but you can pick up some tips on increasing your Twitter influence and find other Twitter users of interest in your area.  Best of all, it gives you a goal to try and beat which encourages more Twitter activity.

Secure Your Tweets

You have to have a backup plan for when things go bad.  That Twitter Fail Whale could surface at any moment and eat your tweets and followers.  Stories have been told of users accounts getting wiped out, either in full or partially, for no other reason than a Twitter technical issue.  So, if you are investing valuable time in your Twitter account, then it makes sense to get it backed it just like any other valuable data you have.  A tool to do this easily is TweetBackup.com.

Share Media

Yep, you can do more than just share 140 characters on Twitter.  The most well know media sharing tool for Twitter is TwitPic which lets you share photos.  TwitVid.io is a newer one that lets you share video.  The video you share can be an uploaded video or one you take on the spot from your computer’s webcam.  You login to TwitVid.io using your Twitter login and post you video to Twitter directly from the TwitVid.io website.  Another cool service is TwitDoc.com which allows you to share files on Twitter.  It works in the same manner as TwitVid.io, but it also has a Desktop Application available.  Say you want to post a PDF document of a business flyer up for your followers to see, TwitDoc.com allows this – just make sure if you’re on the receiving end of a TwitDoc that it’s from a trusted source.

TwitVid.io - a good site to share video on Twitter.

TwitVid.io - a good site to share video on Twitter.

Take Your Tweets With You

On the go a lot?  Have a smart phone?  Then get a Twitter application for your phone so you can Twitter from anywhere.  I can only speak for iPhone apps as that’s the phone I use, but I’m sure if your phone is smart, it has a Twitter app available.  The iPhone Twitter app I like best is TwitterFon.  It is easy to use and even ties into TwitPic if I want to tweet a photo from my phone.  Many of these apps are free, so try a few and decide for yourself.

Promote via Twitter

Got a great blog post or webpage?  Use TweetMeme.com to make it easier for your viewers to retweet the content by placing a TweetMeme “retweet” button on your blog or webpage.  If a viewer likes your info, they just need to click the “retweet” button to broadcast the content to their followers on Twitter.  In addition, your TweetMeme retweets get tracked and if you get enough viewers clicking on your TweetMeme retweet button you will get extra publicity on the TweetMeme website (can you say “Digg.com”).

Build Community

If you really want to connect with your Twitter community, try Mr. Tweet.  This is a great tool for two reasons; 1) you can recommend other Twitterers (people love getting recommendations) and 2) you can get recommendations of other Twitterers that you may wish to follow but aren’t yet.  When you recommend someone on Mr. Tweet, it is recorded on the site and you can also have your recommendation tweeted on Twitter.  Also, Mr. Tweet only looks to recommend people you should follow that have recommendations from others you already follow – in other words, recommendations from Mr. Tweet are really recommendations from those you already know on Twitter.  This leads to having a higher quality of overall friends in your Twitter stream.

I pity the fool who don't use Mr. Tweet.

I pity the fool who don't use Mr. Tweet.

Got More?

This is a very short list of all the Twitter-related tools that exist.  You may find some that work best for you differ from this list – if you do, tell me what it is and how you’re using it?

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Twitter for the Middle Ages

Surprisingly, it is not the kids that are doing all the Twittering – far from it.  New research shows it’s the middle age sector that is using it the most, and that means business – kids rank at the bottom of the list as the most common users of Twitter.  Full article from Web Pro News here:

http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/04/08/what-twitter-search-can-mean-for-businesses-0

The Brent and Brandi Show

bbshowlogo1Last Friday was the official launch of “The Brent and Brandi Show” – a collaborative online talkshow/podcast I am doing with Brandi Pierce, a website and branding specialist located in Seattle, Washington.  I met Brandi online on Biznik.com, a social networking website that is gaining popularity.  Brandi came up with the idea of a co-hosted podcast and was looking for the right co-host to help out.  Somehow I stuck out to Brandi and the invatation came my way.

Brandi first floated the idea to me in December and since then we have been working on putting the show together.  To actually have our first episode up is quite a treat!  What has been particularly interesting is the fact that we are located at extreme polar opposite ends of the country, so working through a 3 hour time difference via phone and email can sometimes get confusing.  But it makes for a nice East/West or even North/South contrast that makes things more interesting than if we were in the same location.

Our first show was on blogging for business – yep, it’s a business oriented talkshow that focuses on how to improve your business results via online marketing.  We already have growing list of guests for the show and a stockpile of information to share.  I hope you will join us live or check out our recorded shows after the fact as they become available.

The show is scheduled for every other Friday at 4pm PST and 1pm EST.  It is being broadcast on Talkshoe.com.

Social Networking’s Influence on Your Site’s Traffic – Part 2

Two weeks ago I shared my website stats for all to see and demonstrated how different things I’m doing online impacted my traffic.  Here is an updated look at my blog stats:

Weekly traffic on this blog

Weekly traffic on this blog

I’ve looked at a lot of website stats over the last 10-plus years, and although this is still a new blog at the low end of the traffic spectrum, I have to say “wow” to the quick progress it is making.

If you recall my post from two weeks ago, I discussed how my traffic has been influenced by different factors.  Early gains in traffic came from committing to a regular posting schedule and syndicating the blog via feedburner.com and technorati.com.  Then I created a linkedin.com account to further promote myself and started sharing my blog URL with clients and new leads which continued the positive climb in the stats.  Then big fall-out/bail-out in the stock market dropped my traffic for a week as more attention was taken up by this, but then I increased efforts in promotion by adding regular twitter.com posts promoting my blog and joining and utilizing biznik.com, in particular getting an article posted on biznik.com that generated a lot of interest.

Finally, just this last week, I posted an interview that was well recieved and I had my blog “stumbled” on stumbledupon.com which really spiked my traffic.

I’m not sharing these stats to brag, but to show as proof that social networking and online self promotion works.  Everything I’m doing can be emulated and none of it has cost me anything, except a commitment in time.

Mild Mannered Consultant by Day – Slightly Less Mild Mannered Consultant by Night

Yesterday while attending a panel discussion on social media that our company NetSource Technologies was hosting, I had a few people who know me both in person and online tell me that online in the various social networking sites I am involved in that I am funny and outgoing.  Now if you know me in person, you may note I’m not exactly an extroverted person – or more to the point I’m not a “hi how ya’ doing” type.  Now if you get me talking on a topic I enjoy and have input on such as the work I do, I can be quite talkative, but I’m not going to walk up to a stranger in a crowded room and introduce myself.

As a result, social mixers and other in-person gatherings have never been a comfort zone for me.  This is a bit of a problem since my occupation is in sales.  I’ve always been more successful by nurturing leads that come from other sources instead of generating my own leads.  Let someone else do the “hi how ya’ doing” small talk and I can then show up with my knowledge base and get straight to consulting.

With online social networking, the funny thing is is that all the social inhibitions don’t exist.  I’m very comfortable talking to or introducing myself to most anyone on Twitter, LinkedIn, Biznik, Facebook and elsewhere.  In fact, it is easy and I’m more animated.

Now the funnier part is that I’m becoming more comfortable with in person social gatherings as what I’m doing online is spilling over into the real world.  And that brings me to the point of this blog post – what you do online can benefit you offline.  There is a genuine payoff to the efforts you put into it.  With the work I’m putting into social networking I’m generating more of my own leads, communicating better with clients and increasing my creditability with potential clients.

Hi, my name is Brent Haeseker, website consultant with NetSource Technologies and I’d like to talk to you about how I can help you grow your business online.  Call me today at 352-390-7747 or email me or stop by and say “hi” if you’re in the area.

Social Networking with Rick Itzkowich – A 3,000 Mile Interview

Rick Itzkowich

Rick Itzkowich

Today’s post is an interview with Rick Itzkowich, the co-founder of Productive Learning & Leisure LLC in La Jolla, California, author of The Xtraordinary Living Blog and creator of Quote Actions.  I first meet Rick on Biznik.com where he has a number of excellent articles posted.  After furthering our communications via Twitter and LinkedIn, I knew Rick had some useful insight on marketing that would be beneficial to my readers.

Brent: You mention on your website quoteactions.com that businesses can lose 50% of their customers in 5 years, which I thought was a pretty humbling statistic. Why does this happen and how does a business keep this from happening?

Rick: Primarily because there is a lack of attention given to the customers. Think about anybody you’ve done business with – how many people have you done business with and never heard from them again?

Brent: Lots of people.

Rick: With service providers, I can count on one hand the companies that do follow up or stays in touch with me, except every now and again when they phone to try and sell me something. For the most part, people just get ignored.

There are certain factors that are out of your control, people move, people die, people no longer have an interest in what you do, so there is going to be an attrition no matter what. But I would say, at least 30% to 40% of lost customers could be retained if more attention was paid to them. And more importantly, if there was a system for people to stay in touch and stay connected. Most small business owners do not have any kind of systematic way to stay in touch with their customers. Those that do, have a few e-zines, a few… I did a survey about 2 years ago, and almost 8 out of 10 didn’t have anything formalized. Of the 20% that did, I would say anyway from 20% to 40% of them were in touch with people once a quarter.

Brent: We try to stay in touch once every month or two, but it’s not always that easy.

Rick: You would be among the top 10% of small businesses. Do you have some type of system that you have put in place?

Brent: We do, but it is admittedly hard to keep in place without slipping.

Rick: Another thing that is good is varying the channels, like if you have…. For instances, have you ever gotten a card on your birthday from Southwest Airlines? Southwest is very good about doing that.

Brent: I haven’t personally, as I don’t have much experience with them but I know a lot of people that really love their service so I wouldn’t be surprised that that is something they do.

Rick: Yeah, it is. It is something that they do and it is part of their system. It’s noticeable – even that you know it is a computer that sent it, it doesn’t matter. The fact is, if you do things like that… for example I get an anniversary card from a company I do business with every year of the date a I first started doing business with them and every year they would send me something. You know it’s all computerized and it’s a system, but so what.

Brent: Yeah, somebody had to think it out and put the time in to do it in advance.

Rick: That’s exactly right.

Brent: Say, if you’re staying in touch with a customer through an e-zine newsletter, do you find that an HTML formatted email or a text based email work better than the other?

Rick: It depends on what you are using it for. If you are just using it for information and it’s short and sweet people prefer plain text. But if you are using it to create an image or using it because the visuals are a big part of it to make it interesting and you want people to spend some time then HTML. The problem is that HTML is much more likely to get flagged by spam then text – so there’s that factor too.

Brent: In your case, which do you tend to use the most?

Rick: Our system can deliver both, so the ones that can only receive it in text get text and the other ones get it via HTML.

Brent: So you give the user the choice?

Rick: Yes, whenever possible.

Brent: Is there a universal marketing plan that you think businesses can adopt? If not, how much would it differ – say business-to-business marketing vs. consumer?

Rick: Well, I think custom always works better than universal, because businesses are really different. The more you can afford to direct your marketing efforts the more it’s going to pay off in the long term. There is a direct relationship between doing that. It is not always going to pay off immediately – it’s not like direct sales where you send something off and immediate know the results – it pays off over time.

I’ll give some examples, this year alone we’ve had 3 people… one of them was a client with us back in 1995 and hadn’t done anything since and 13 years later she came and signed up for a $6,000 course because we’ve stayed in touch with her through e-newsletters. And 2 people that have never done a class, and they’ve been in the database for 10 years – this year also they came and signed up for one of our learning vacations, each spending $6,000. So that’s $18,000 from 3 people because they’ve seen our messages over and over for 10 years. And if you had asked me about those people, I would have said no, they’ll never do anything. You just never know.

Brent: It’s funny, I used a quote I made up the other day on somebody – “Just because there’s silence, doesn’t mean nobody is listening”.

Rick: laughter I love that one.

Brent: laughter I think that’s the same thing in that we give up on people because we don’t hear from them but don’t realize they’re really hearing what we’re saying but we’re just not checking in with them to find out if they really are hearing.

Rick: You know one of the statistics that I also found fascinating is from Chet Holmes who writes in his book “The Ultimate Selling Machine” that according to research he conducted, only 3% of the people are in the market to buy your products or services in any given time. And there’s another 7% that is considering buying what you offer. So if you take those 2 combined that’s 10% of your market that’s ready to buy from you right now. The other 90% is either going to be divided equally into thirds: those that are not interested, those that are neutral –neither interested or disinterested- and those that think that they’re not interested. Which means if you don’t have some kind of a way for you to stay connected to them in-between the times when they’re not in the 3 to 10% ready to buy, you’re missing tremendously.

Brent: What social media platforms available do you see as offering the highest value to businesses looking to promote themselves?

Rick: You know, it depends. I can only speak from experience on that one. It all depends on the business and what they are trying to accomplish. For the solopreneur or the small business person who is doing everything himself, it doesn’t matter what they use as long as they find something that works. For example, I have gotten tremendous results out of Biznik.com. But the primary reason I have gotten tremendous results out of Biznik, I believe, is because of the approach that I take. And it wasn’t until recently that I changed my approach – and with my previous approach on one of the others sites I was using I would be bombing out at Biznik too. This is more because my approach than because of the site. The approach that people need to understand when it comes to social media and networking is that you’ve got to go in from the point of view of farming instead of hunting.

Brent: That’s an interesting way to look at it.

Rick: (Previously) I was going into hunting – I was going into sales mode. It’s all about building relationships.

Brent: Cultivating the soil.

Rick: Yep, and when you start doing that – that takes time but… For instances, look at us. We started from nothing but here we are chatting – I’m helping you out, you’re helping me out. You’re finding out a little about what I do. It’s all working but if I had tried to come right out and sell you something we would never be having this conversion because it would have been a total turnoff.

Brent: Exactly, I’d have tuned you out.

Rick: But, because I’m putting up articles, putting up useful information, I’m offering the quotes, the actions, the way for people to get to know more about me and something hopefully that they will enjoy then now we have the basis for a conversation. So, going to the social media, if you bring that approach, I think any platform that you use, whether it’s LinkedIn.com, Biznik.com or Facebook.com – you’re going to be far more successful (offering valuable information) than if what you do is go in there with a hunting mentality.

Brent: That is a good way of looking at it and it goes into a follow up question – say for example there’s a person who’s a locksmith, someone who’s only called upon in a time of need – there’re not really a day to day service that is provided. It seems that would be a hard business that can be marketed through social networking?

Rick: Well, not really. Here’s an example, if they were to create a blog, solving people’s problems with locks, like giving information that these locks are good for this and these locks are good for that, this is want you can do if your lock gets jammed, or whatever. What they are doing is starting to position themselves as someone who is giving good information as an expert and when the time is right… say the search engines may now be able to rank them higher. Secondly, if people subscribe to them, they already will have built a level of trust. So, they still can do (social media).

Brent: So even though they are serving a local market, it can still help because you mention the search engines can be impacted positively from social media so if somebody needs a locksmith and they happen to go on the internet – even on their mobile phone or whatever – this type of business can still have a payoff for doing social networking.

Rick: Yes, they can still have a payoff, and there may even be some people that subscribe to their blog because maybe they’re interested… the business can gain creditability.

The other thing that’s amazing is the questions that people are asking on LinkedIn and Twitter or some of these places – people are asking all kinds of questions and instead of Google’ing sometimes they’re (using social media sites) and you can actually put it so that if certain search words are typed in or put in you get notified. So somebody who’s scanning on that, say the locksmith, can identify if somebody is asking a question about that and immediately respond. So that is another avenue somebody can start using.

Brent: You’re a strong advocate for having a positive attitude in the things that you do – what I’d call a Zig Zigler attitude – but with all the hectic news that we are bombarded with everyday, what would be your advice on keeping your chin up and your focus strong?

Rick: My suggestion, first and foremost is stop listening to the media. The media will not report anything good. If you can’t quit cold turkey, then just scan the newspaper to find out what’s going on but stop paying attention to it. Other things that you can do is start doing different things than what you are doing. Right now when people become fear based, they go into what I call protection mode. When you’re in protection mode you’re not in growth mode. You need to go into growth mode – learning, changing, trying different things instead of doing the same thing you’ve always done. You’ll experience some success even if they are not monetary in some instances. Thinking of social media, someone links to you – adds you to their personal list – you’re accomplishing certain things and it will give you far more confidence as opposed to just focusing on everything that is not happening.

Brent: Sometimes the negatives can test you and make you up your game.

Rick: That’s exactly right. I’ve gotten some communications, people canceling stuff, nothing was happening and then all the sudden I got an email from somebody who had accepted one of my subscriptions and I went, that’s great and then one of my articles was published and that’s great and all of the sudden everything turned around.

Brent: I’m seeing the same thing in just what I’m doing with social networking and everything and just staying positive instead of worrying about what is going on. You know, making my future instead of waiting for someone else to make it.

Rick: That’s exactly right. And then you have, for instances, Quote Actions – those messages… they come in and if you do the action they have you focus on something positive and give you some perspective and it’s just about feeding your brain with that kind of stuff instead of some of the doom and gloom that’s out there.

Brent: Thanks Rick – I hope all my readers will join us online.

LinkedIn.com Tip – Pro-active Networking on LinkedIn.com

LinkedIn.com is a great way to connect online with other business professionals.  On the surface, after first joining, it might seem like LinkedIn doesn’t offer much in the way of communicating with other users – and to a degree, yes, it is not as instant communication gratifying as many of the other social networking sites.

Two ways that are working for me at meeting and connecting with new contacts on the site is to go to LinkedIn’s Q&A section.  Here members can post questions and answer other member’s questions.  Members can pose questions on a variety of different topics – and they do vary greatly.  I have been scanning the questions posted on a daily basis and throw in an answer post wherever I have some input to give, even if it not in an area I’m not an expert.  Since multiple members tend to post answers for each question, it leads to follow up conversations among the original questioner and various members who posted.

Another method of networking on LinkedIn is to find groups that members have formed that interest you or relate to your field of work and join them.  Once accepted into the group you will have access to all the communication that is going on within that group.  I get a daily summery of all my group’s activites emailed to me daily.  From this summery, I can click on discussions I want to get involved in on the website.

Don’t Get Lost in the Hype – Turn to Thrifty Marketing

With no intentions of belittling a legitimate economic situation, let’s not lose sight of all the opportunity that lies before us.  While some industries like real estate and construction have had it pretty tight for the last year or so, a good portion of us have been chugging along with good sales to speak of.  I don’t know about you, but the government or the stock market doesn’t determine my success or failure at what I do.

If you look at statistics for employment rates of small businesses as recently as last month, there has been an increase in job creation.  America is still doing business.  People are still buying things and somebody has to sell it to them.

If anything, this is a good time to out maneuver your competition.  While they stand still in a hyped up panic, you can run circles around them.

Web marketing has shown to be an effective and thrifty form of promotion for businesses.  Compared to many of the traditional forms of advertising, a lot of bang can come from a smaller web marketing buck.  How are you capitalizing on your website right now?  Are you utilizing it to its fullest extend?

Here are a few thrifty web marketing ideas to consider:

  1. Submit press releases to online press release syndication services such as PRWeb and PRLeap.
  2. Start a blog and a syndicate it through services such as Feedburner and Technorati.
  3. Create a page on Facebook and/or MySpace to promote your business.
  4. Put on a webinar.
  5. Optimize your website for relevant keywords that customers are searching on.
  6. Try a pay-per-click campaign, such as a Google Adwords, for very direct marketing to your target audience.
  7. Start an enewsletter campaign to your customer base.
  8. Create promotional videos that can be used on sites like YouTube.
  9. Use your website statistics to get a better idea of your market and how to better tap into them.
  10. Donate online to charity – not exactly a marketing tip, but it will yield a positive return down the road.