Social Proof is in the Pudding

Social proof is a common catch phrase these days, but what does it mean?

It is being suggested by many “experts” that social proof is something new, something that business people didn’t have to think about before.friends talking

Perhaps I just think of social proof more globally than some other internet consultants, but I think that idea is crazy. Social proof is not a new local business marketing concept at all, but how it works today is quite different from the past when it was neighbors talking over the fence or over a beer.

Businesses have always relied on social proof in one form or another. It is just that the form changes and now we have a convenient label for it.

Word of mouth advertising has long been the standard for social proof, and is most certainly not a contemporary construct. Businesses large and small have long known that if they can get their happy customers to tell other people about them and recommend them that it is the least expensive and most successful advertising campaign they have.

Social proof has always been about customers indicating their support for your business. That has not changed.

What has changed is HOW they demonstrate their support.

Today your customers are online every day. They get most of their information from the internet, more than the television or radio, more than print publications. And this trend continues to accelerate as we are seeing the millennials and younger folks ever more tied to their electronic devices.

Whether shopping locally or buying something across the globe, more and more people are relying on the internet to gather information before making a purchase.

Social proof has always been part of that research process, it is just easier to get these days. You no longer have to talk to lots of different people to learn their opinions and experiences–it is all there online.

What is social proof in current terms then? It is how your business is supported online. This can be done by customers posting a review on Yelp, Angie’s List, or any number of other review sites. It can be comments left on your blog or your Facebook or G+ page. It can even be that someone links to your business website on their blog or Facebook page, or that someone shares a post that you have media icons

How do you get more social proof for you business?

Excuse me for stating the obvious, but you have to get social. Nope, you don’t have to do it all. Unless you have a lot more time on your hands then most business owners I know, you can’t anyway.

Learn a little bit about the various types of social media and pick one, give it a go and see if you like it. I’m a firm believer that if you enjoy it, you will have better results. If you find you aren’t enjoying it, you can try a different avenue.

If you are a visual person or you have a visual type business, then Pinterest might be a good choice for you. If you naturally talk in sound bites, you might try Twitter. If you are in a B2B field, or are looking for professional connections, check out LinkedIn. Facebook is gaining ground on the major search engines and gives businesses some more flexibility in their posts and pages. These are just a few of the many options that are available to your local business.

There is no one best social media, one that works for every single business in every single market. Find where your customers are online and start there. Then dive into that online “pudding” and get some social proof.

Local Business Reviews Update

Remember the old shampoo commercial where the woman is so happy she tells two friends and they tell 2 friends, and so on, and so on, and so on?

The point of the commercial is twofold (pun intended!)

First, if you have a great product, people will tell their friends about it! Word of mouth advertising is free, so all businesses can benefit from it, and afford it.

Second is the concept of geometric progression. When these happy customers each tell 2 friends the company isn’t adding just 2 need customers: they are quickly adding hundreds of customers because of this concept. 1 becomes 2 which becomes 4 and so on… 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256…

Bottom line, every happy customer can result in a huge lead pool for your business.

Today the way we tell 2 friends, and so on and so on, is through the internet and social media!

If you have a service that gathers customer reviews be sure it is easily found on the internet. Having a service that actively solicits reviews from your customers after they have been to your store can be a great benefit for some–as long as customers don’t feel harassed, which is a huge turn-off.

Don’t have a service? Don’t worry. One of the best ways to get reviews is simply to ask your customers to give you one!

The best situation is when you get reviews on a variety of sources. A few reviews on several different sites, such as Google+, Angie’s List, and Yelp! is better than having all of your reviews in one place. This also makes it easier for your customers. Gone are the days when all your reviews need to be funneled to one site–so wherever your customer already goes on line is the perfect place for them to write a review for you!

Remember–you want to make it EASY for customers to let others know how pleased they are with your product or service. Unhappy customers will make the effort to leave a negative review, but those that are happy with your work may not unless you ask for it. Let them know you could use their help in getting the word out.

If your clients tell you they aren’t online or don’t know how to leave a review online–have a card handy for them to leave you a review in writing. Ask their permission for you to post it to your website on a testimonials page and you are good to go!

To more happy customers leaving positive reviews resulting in more happy customers!



Successful Facebook Timeline Suggestions for Local Business

If you are a local business without a Facebook page you might not know what the big fuss is all about. And, if you don’t already have a Facebook page, then you might not think you need to care.

Unless you have more clients and money than you can handle, then you definitely want to care about Facebook. Google is constantly updating its algorithms and more and more weight appears to be placed on social media for ranking your business pages in the search engine rankings.

Depending on your specific industry there may be other social media venues that are important for your business, but Facebook is still the #1 place to be seen, and found, on the internet social scene.

The good news is that you can put your own personality or brand on your Facebook page much more easily now with the Timeline format. Big businesses are using Facebook Timeline to their advantage and so can you.

Read more (and see examples) here:

Of course, these are mostly BIG companies with big advertising budgets. And don’t kid yourself into thinking that Facebook is not advertising–it really is. And these companies prove that it is internet advertising that works.

Facebook Timeline for business

But just because they are spending megabucks on their advertising campaigns doesn’t mean that you should ignore Facebook any more than you would ignore other advertising media. You don’t buy full-page ads in national magazines that would suck up your ad budget for the next 10 years…but that doesn’t mean you never have a print ad out there. Same logic. Stick within your budget, but you must allocate some funds into advertising (that works for your business!) if you want to continue to grow and be profitable.

After all, you provide a service or product, but the purpose of business is to also make money.

Check out the Timeline ideas and start to think about how you might adapt them for your own Facebook page.

Of course, we are here if you want some help, whether it is building a page or tweaking it.

Unlike Netflix Check Social Media First When Creating Business Name

When creating a business name, it is smart to check Social Media first.

Case in Point: Qwikster the new company that was formed when Netflix split its home delivery and streaming video services.

The argument that Netflix is charging more for less service with this split is the subject of a different post.

Let’s just focus on the business name.

Businesses seek names that are unique, easy to remember, memorable, and often, but not always, are meaningful.

Qwikster meets none of those criteria–in addition it does nothing to capitalize on the brand millions of people associate with the successful video business: Netflix.

Not only is Qwikster not unique–it is alarmingly similarly to names that could be offensive to many of it’s customers.  Read Qwikster: Not to be Confused with Quistar, QuickStar, Kwikster, Quickster, Kwik Star, Quick-Star, or Kickstar for more on similarly named companies.

When hearing about the company by word-of-mouth, still the best free advertising there is, one wonders just how is it spelled?

People of a certain age are apt to type in the “most correct” spelling as a first effort, which would be q-u-i-c-k-s-t-e-r.

According to a “quickster” is someone who can get girls “in the sack quick”

A Quickster is also a type of sports net…and lots of other items.

BTW, “The Quickster” was a superhero that appeared in a single SpongeBob SquarePants episode. OK, maybe that’s not a problem for Netflix, but it does make you wonder about Sponge Bob…buy maybe that is why the character is retired.

Now the customer or potential customer is left to wonder if there are hyphens in the name or what “sounds like” spelling was chosen. And why?

Googling is a challenge when people don’t know how to spell your name...and there are so many variations. Today people want instant results–even people who want their videos mailed to them.

By Googling Netflix you discover the spelling is Qwikster. Ok, we can handle that, right. Well, the execs at Netflix must have been smoking dope, because they didn’t check Twitter for the availability of their new moniker. Nope. @Qwikster is already taken by a guy who mostly tweets about smoking dope and chasing girls. Not exactly the image the video giant will want to many of their clientele.

The lesson in all this? (Ok, there are LOTS)

Social Media is imperative to your business. If you already HAVE a business, check to see if your name is available on on the Social Media sites that your customers frequent–especially Twitter and Facebook. If it isn’t, get as close as possible, use abbreviations, whatever, but CLAIM YOUR SPACE.

If you are just starting your business, or considering a name change, check out the Social Media spaces where your customers hang out, including, but not limited to Twitter and Facebook. If the name is already taken there, TRY SOMETHING ELSE. Especially if it is claimed by a dope-smoking young quickster. Unless that’s your target market, of course.

Social Media Marketing is Fresh, Relevant Content

Effective Social Media Marketing is not merely putting up profiles on  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and every other social site you can think of!

In fact, your social media efforts may be more effective marketing tools in your internet advertising toolbox if you only choose one venue–as long as you are choosing the RIGHT one for your market AND you are updating it often with fresh, unique, relevant content.

If you are doing all this yourself, you can easily spread yourself too thin and become overwhelmed with all the different media, learning what goes where and how to utilize it all effectively. Especially if you are doing this for yourself, it is far better to start slow…begin with one social site if you don’t already have a social media plan in place. Become comfortable with that platform and use it appropriately. Then as you become comfortable with it you can branch out to other platforms. But even when you hire a Social Media Manager, it doesn’t mean that you should be on every social site there is.

Choosing the right site(s) is an important part of effectively using social media for business.

Whatever you do, do not merely put up a profile page and a couple of posts and expect to see dramatic results. These things take time. You are building a relationship with readers and potential customers. You must add value to their lives in order for them to friend/follow/connect with you. By providing good content that is relevant to your industry on a regular basis you position yourself as an expert–a person they can go to to learn more, someone they can rely on!

Bottom line is people want to do business with people whom the know, like and trust–I know you have heard that before, but it is still true. So let people get to know you. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through. Will everyone love you? Of course not…but they won’t in real life either, so why should cyber-space be any different?

I’m not suggesting you must create “controversy” as a strategy to gain followers. There are people who have done that effectively, but if you are not controversial by nature, if you don’t enjoy debating with others then this is not a strategy for you. I am saying to be yourself, and that may include having some controversial points of view at time.

Let your personality, style and knowledge come through. This will allow potential clients to learn why they should follow/learn from/buy from/listen to you as opposed to someone else in your market. You may have fewer numbers, but the followers you do have will be much more loyal to you. And after all, it isn’t about quantity, it is about quality!

By effectively using Social Media as part of your marketing efforts you can boost your website rankings with the search engines and increase your sales:

  • Post Regularly
  • Let People Get to Know YOU
  • Provide Good and Unique Content.

Social Media Marketing: Who Is Really Using It?

Sometimes a prospective client will ask who is actually using Social Media Marketing as part of their advertising methods. Interestingly, when the question is turned around they will generally give me one of two polar opposite responses. Most people seem to believe either:

  • Only big companies who have big ad budgets use Social Media
  • Only small companies who have no advertising budget use Social Media–and they do it all themselves

What I find most interesting about each of these beliefs is that often people are using this belief as a way to prove to themselves that they can’t use or don’t need to factor Social Media Marketing into their business plan!

Certainly there are large, national corporations who are using Social Media, such as Sam’s Club, Sears, OfficeMax and Office Depot, Walgreens and JC Penneys. And, many of these corporations may do this work in-house or through their advertising agency.

It is also true that small “Mom and Pop” type businesses are also using Social Media, either because they don’t have a large advertising budget or because they realize that they can reach their target audience cost-effectively this way.

There are lots of other examples of businesses using Social Media, businesses of all sizes with a wide range of advertising budgets. For example, here in Loveland, Colorado can find Facebook, Twitter and YouTube icons featured as part of print advertisements for local medical centers,  a regional farm supply store,  a local furniture store, an area health food store, heating and air conditioning repair service and real estate agents.

Why are all these companies, large and small, using things like Twitter and Facebook? Because they know that many of their customers do, too. For an advertising campaign to be effective it has to reach your potential customer base. So rather that throwing money at advertising media that no longer work for much more than a doorstop, you deserve to check out how Social Media Marketing can help your business find new customers and keep in touch with your existing customers so they keep coming back!


Facebook vs Blogging for Business

Both Facebook and blogging are powerful tools in the Social Media Marketing tool box, so when people ask if they should focus on Facebook or a blog the answer is a straight-forward: It Depends.

Pros of Facebook: the readership–there are over 600 million active users, you can reach out to people by searching on their name–great for finding people with unusual names like mine, maybe not so easy for the John Smiths of the world; advertising–you can advertise on Facebook relatively inexpensively when compared to Google AdWords; connecting–okay, this has to do with the readership, but it is such an important part of Facebook that it deserves a second mention, introduce yourself, your product, your service to lots of people; fun–people enjoy being on Facebook, it is viewed as a fun & friendly place, some of the games and apps may not be right for your business but they are there and they do bring people in

Pros of Blogging: control–as long as you host your blog (as opposed to the free blog options) you can put pretty much anything you want on your blog, content, advertising, photos, products, without the threat that it will be taken down or you will be shut down by Facebook; Branding & Appearance–sure we build Facebook FanPages and have them look consistent with your brand, but the look is still Facebook with your brand on it, whereas on a blog you can make the page look anyway you want–it IS your brand; Tools–there are so many more tools available to you on your own blog–and easy to use if you create a (not .com) blog, you can build a site to function in ways that no Facebook page can, at least not yet; Content Options--with a blog you can build an entire website around your information, it might be a membership site whether free or paid, you can schedule your content to be delivered in sequence or post it on a variety of pages, you have lots more options for organizing and delivering your content; Advertising revenue–sure you can advertise on Facebook, but with a blog you can actually have people advertise on your site if you desire and find it appropriate thereby creating a source of income for yourself and your business; Google search results–your blog is a website as far as the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo are concerned, and your blog will have a chance of showing up in those search results.

Truly, both Blogging and Facebook deserve a place in your marketing platform. They serve different functions for most businesses and like most business tools, should be used differently. Do keep in mind if your goal is to upload a lot of original content, to be a source of information, if you put it on Facebook you don’t technically own it. OK, in theory they have backed down and said you own your content…but since you don’t control the site it would be possible that your page could come down and all your content would go with it.

Bottom line, you want to have all your Social Media Marketing in place, including your blog and Facebook page and use each medium in a way that is best suited for it. Where you begin depends on your business and your marketing goals. Ideally both with guidance from someone who has been there before you, whether that is a mentor, experienced business adviser or a Social Media Manager.

Social Media Marketing: Outsource or In-House

If you are already participating in Social Media Marketing then you are on the right track for business today. The question then becomes should you keep it in-house or should you outsource it to a Social Media Manager?

From Mashable, a fantastic resource for business and marketing, there are four questions to consider when making that decision.

  1. Can effective social media drive your business growth?
  2. How well is your social media working today?
  3. Could outsourcing free up your time to focus on business operations?
  4. How do you measure ROI?

By answering these questions for yourself you can readily make the determination if it is worth your time to do your social media marketing yourself, or if you have an employee, their time, or if you are better off outsourcing that work so you can focus on other activities.

I would also add, do you enjoy it? Enjoyment isn’t the only factor of course. If you enjoy it but are not effective at it, then you still may want to outsource it. On the other hand, if you enjoy it but are not effective at it you may opt to receive some training on how to be more efficient and effective at it so you can continue to do it.

My philosophy is, do the income producing activities that you enjoy and focus on those–and outsource as much of the rest as possible!

Read the entire article for the details

YouTube Embed Button Gone MIA?

Don’t panic if you have gone to YouTube today and found the Embed button has gone MIA.

YouTube has NOT decided that we can no longer embed videos–they have just moved the button.

So button, button, who’s got the button?

Simply go to the Share button and click on it.

Then look below the button and you will see the Embed button located between the Email this Video and the Facebook & Twitter buttons.

Clicking on the Embed button reveals all the familiar options!

Happy Viewing!

Social Media Management, Not!

A lot of people are interested in Social Media for their personal use as well as for business. And we know, it can be a lot of fun…

But if you’ve ever been caught in the dreading loop as illustrated below, then you know it can also suck you down a rabbit hole, leading you to ignore other priorities…like flesh and blood people in your presence, and your business.


This comic is funny because it can be so accurate! It clearly demonstrates one of the pitfalls in using Social Media…it is addictive!

Whether you are loop from Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr or any of the thousands of other Social Media networks out there, stop the Social Media Mismanagement and learn how to really take advantage of the tremendous power Social Media can have for your business. Invest some time, energy and money in learning what you need in order to harness this potential tool. Or if  it is just not something that interests you, you can hire a Social Media Manager to help you, or even do it all for you.

If your business isn’t using Social Media Marketing then you owe it to yourself to learn how you can leverage your brand and get your name in front of the millions of people who are using this hot medium every day!