posted by on FaceBook, marketing, social media marketing

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(Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Feburary 2010 as Guest Blog for Palmettbug Digital. It has been modified from its original form.)

If you spend any time on Facebook, doubtless you’ve noticed all the business pages that are springing up. I bet you already “like” several. Restaurants, retail establishments, hotels and numerous others find Facebook a great way to “reach out and touch someone” – currently, over 500 million someones! Given its many functions which allow you to add pictures, events, applications, etc., have we reached a point where your business no longer needs a Website if you have a Facebook page?

I bring this up because I’ve heard both veteran and new small business owners say they think company websites aren’t as important as they once were due to Facebook, and even that they are becoming obsolete! Surprising and even more disturbing is this claim being made by a few self-titled ‘Social Media Gurus.’ My opinion? Wrong on both counts. Websites are considered a necessity, and people expect your business to have one. Period. They’re designed to be an owner-controlled presentation of vital, detailed info about your company that can have multiple sections and pages. Often included also are forms of inbound and two way communication, such as email link, blogs, file transfer protocol, and direct purchase ability. In essence, websites are the primary hub from which your company’s information should flow. They’re your online announcement of ‘Here’s who we are, what we do, and how to reach us.’

Well, you might argue, isn’t that true of Facebook business pages, too? Yes, and there are elements common to both, such as branding considerations, the imparting of key information, and two way communication. The differences between the mediums, however, lie primarily in scope, tone and use. Facebook is all about relationship building through real time exchanges between you and others about your business – an ongoing conversation. Websites are more comprehensive in nature, generally. While Web 2.0 has ushered in more two way communication on websites, most still do not lend themselves as readily to engagement the way a Facebook page does. Regards tone, your website is your business’s formal attire, while Facebook fits nicely into the ‘Business Casual’ category. In today’s business climate, each presence has its own unique value in getting your message to its intended audience. Some ways that each can complement the other include using Facebook to facilitate inbound traffic to your Website, and vice versa, through icon and text links. Also important are considerations of SEO for your website, and Google search rankings and indexing for both, making it easier for customers to find you in the first place. Additionally, many employers block social sites, meaning people can’t access your social media presence while at work. Why, then, would you want this to be your only online presence?

Finally, and most importantly, is a website’s key role in the ownership/control issue of your online business identity. If Facebook is your only presence on the web, then you don’t own your identity – Facebook does. Would you be comfortable with someone else governing your only form of identity online? Of course not.

Did I leave anything out? We’d love to hear your ideas on this topic, as well as how you use each of these mediums to market your business.

posted by on Social Media

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So your company has a social media presence. Great! This is becoming more prevalent as the number of people using social media grows. But there’s a big difference between being present and using it well.  Here are my Top Ten Signs Your Company Doesn’t Get Social Media. Do you see your company in any of these?

1. Your website has no links to your social media. Your website should be the main hub from which all relevant information flows because you own the space. Each of your online mediums should drive traffic to the others.

2. Your website has links to your sites, but there’s little to no activity. A few Facebook posts a month is not enough.  Ditto everywhere else.

3.  Your Facebook and Twitter accounts have no links back to your website. Think ‘reciprocity.’

4. Your Blog has only a few entries – spaced several months or even weeks apart. Implies you don’t have much to say and don’t understand the crucial link between fresh content and SEO.

5. Your Twitter stream is a series of blatant sales pitches or @userid posts with links back to your website. Occasional linking back with a relevant tagline is fine.  But if you’re not even talking with your followers – people like you – why in the world should they visit your website?

6. You have a lot more followers than people you follow. There are many worthy people, causes, and businesses with info of value you can use and retweet. If you’re not interested in following anyone, why should they follow you?

7. You follow a lot of people relative to the number following you means you’re either boring, a spammer, or both.

8. You take days to respond to questions or comments posted on any of your mediums. Are you kidding? Twenty four hours or less is a good rule of thumb.

9. You have no videos favorited or uploaded to your YouTube Channel. Newbies may need awhile to get a couple of videos there, but at least favorite some and subscribe to other relevant channels. It gives visitors something to do until you get your own videos on board.

10. There’s no common thread between your website and social media presence. It’s  fine to establish an online brand that differs somewhat from your entity’s name. Just be sure there’s some unifying theme such as logo, colors, and/or slogan from one medium to the next so people recognize you as one in the same.

So how’d you do? If you didn’t see your business anywhere here, great job! If you saw yourself in one or two, chances are you’re getting the hang of it and with a few tweaks can make your efforts even better. More than that? Don’t lose heart. They’re all fixable – starting now!

Did I miss anything? What would you add to this list?

posted by on FaceBook, Opinions, Social Media

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It’s not just for women 35-55, which happens to be one of Facebook’s fastest growing demographics. Facebook has caught fire with the teenage set. No surprise there since its humble beginning was as a social network just for college students.

Both my teens have Facebook accounts. My daughter loves it and communicates with friends regularly; my son, not so much.  If you think your young ‘tween or teen doesn’t have a Facebook page because you haven’t allowed it yet, think again. Unless you have the family computer under lock and key and your teens under unrelenting scrutiny every second they’re online, chances are they do – likely with a made-up name. Social networks are as much a part of today’s landscape for teens as TV and phones were for us. They will find a way to reach out and touch their friends across the social universe. Trust me on this.

If you’re pondering what age is appropriate, it may interest you to know that Facebook’s rules state you must be at least 13 years old to have a personal profile. So you’re on your honor. We had someone who posed as my daughter (no harm done, thankfully). This forced our hand a bit to allow her to start a profile prior to turning thirteen to clear up the confusion among her friends already on Facebook. The imposter profile disappeared soon thereafter – my hunch is it was a friend whose parents said ‘no’ to testing the waters. It just made sense in this case to fight fire with fire.

I’d be lying if I said it’s been smooth sailing. There have been no disasters, but I do have access and check their pages and that of friends routinely. Girls especially have a way of arguing online that’s not pretty. Boys seem to want to curse and converse and generally see who can “out cool” who. The shorthand, intentional misspellings, and texting lingo make the grammarian in me cringe. I’ve had both delete a few comments I felt ill-advised.  I’ve also counseled both kids not to air the family dirty laundry there. No angry or threatening comments, (even if “Suzy” or “Brian” did look at the object of their affections all wrong) no dissing on school and teachers. Common sense, good judgment, and discretion are the rules here – reinforced daily. There are of course concerns about online predators all parents have and must be mindful of, but frankly, that’s a whole other topic in and of itself.

I’m actually envious we didn’t have social media growing up. It’s nice when my kids click “like” on something I’ve said on my page, or make comments about how much they enjoyed the family vacation, or the dinner I made last night. It’s great to have pet and family photos posted and tagged, (speaking of, be sure your kids do not take or post compromising ones!) and even converse once in awhile.

Tell me about your experiences with your teens and Facebook, or social media in general.

Are you onboard? I’d love to hear your insights.

posted by on Foursquare, Opinions, Social Media

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Have you heard the latest?  Partnering with MTV, Foursquare recently announced a brand new badge to let the world know you’re checking in to be tested for STD’s. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, when people following MTV on Foursquare unlock the GYT (get yourself tested) Badge, they become eligible to win a trip to New York City and backstage passes to an MTV show. The objectives? To encourage more people to get tested, and remove the stigma attached to it.

So, there’s a stigma attached to being tested for STD’s?  Honestly, I didn’t know that. I always thought the stigma was attached to actually having an STD. My bad.

No matter. Foursquare and MTV just may be onto something here. Foursquare already has quite an array of badges, ranging from the general, such as checking into a venue for the first time, to specialized badges for specific venues, as well as the coveted title of Mayor.  It’s a fun and competitive way to recommend places you frequent to others, and businesses are beginning to capitalize on Foursquare’s ever-increasing reach to bring customers through their doors. Given these uses, it stands to reason that Foursquare can evolve to promote responsible personal behavior.  And make no mistake, getting tested for STD’s is a wise decision for many.  Abstaining from the types of risky behaviors that lead to getting STD’s in the first place is even wiser. So where’s the love and equal time? I have my suspicions on that one, but that’s another Blog post for another day.

How about this: An IJA (I just abstained) Badge to encourage more young unmarrieds to abstain from sex, and remove the stigma attached from doing so openly. If a GYT badge can be an effective means of encouraging openness, detection and treatment for STD’s, (and that’s a big ‘If’)  who’s to say an IJA badge couldn’t work for the prevention side as well?

But back to being onto something: Consider the even broader spectrum of opportunities for badges that promote behavior that is responsible, moral, and for the general social good. How about badges for all types of medical tests and procedures: immunizations, mammograms, cancer screenings, giving blood, etc.  Badges for volunteerism such as mentoring, working in homeless shelters, donations of goods and services, etc., are another idea. These are but a few examples – the possibilities are mind boggling.

Foursquare’s opened a big door here, and stuck its foot just over the threshold. The question now is: Will they walk through it?

posted by on FaceBook, Opinions, Social Media, Twitter

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It is with more than just a little embarrassment that I write this Blog post. Why? Well, check the date of my last one. Go ahead – scroll down – I’ll wait for you.

Did you see that? July 13th. Almost six weeks ago. Not good. I know all too well the value of business blogging. It is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field, share worthy ideas with others, and boost your search rankings. Content is king; therefore, it’s important to feed your website and other online presences with fresh information so you’re more readily found online. I love to share what I’ve learned; the how-to’s, the lessons learned and the “I’m-not-sure what-this-is-yet, but keep reading.”  (Pssst….that would be this post.)

I’m not going to make excuses about why I haven’t been here lately. If you’ve ever blogged, you know what those excuses are (think Life 101 – stuff happens) and have probably experienced them yourself. And guess what? None of these things are usually the real reasons people stall in their blogging efforts. My theory is that people who enjoy writing stall out because they’re just not ‘feeling it’ for some reason. (Hand raised.) Whether for business or pleasure, what you write has to really matter to you on some level. And, there has to be a bit of you in it. Even if it’s for business – yours, or a client whose Blog you maintain. A bit of your personality and know-how should permeate each post you write.

So, I’ve come to a few realizations about what it will take for me to ‘feel it’ and contribute here much more often. My goal is once a week minimum. (Feel free to hold me to that.)  While the main thrust will still be social media marketing – a subject I love – I’m not necessarily going to tackle such widely addressed topics as Social Media ROI or The Explosion of Mobile Geolocation Networks and What It Means. Yes, they’re important, but you can Google them as I have for a wealth of great info. There’s no need for me to add to the noise.  I’m just going to write about what helps and moves me, with my own unique slant, and the goal of helping and moving you, too.

I’d love to hear from you on ways you’ve re-ignited your own writing, or any other related insights you’d like to share. See you again real soon. I promise. (Oh, and please click ‘Read More” to go to comment section.)