How Will Social Media Impact My Profits?

The New Economy . . . a new marketing and communication paradigm is engulfing your customers and prospects.  Your ultimate success is dependent in good measure upon the effectiveness of your Strategic Social Media Plan embracing this new paradigm . . . the tone of your “voice” . . . the consistency of your brand message. . . and how well you create community by making fans out of customers – both your ultimate retail customer and your channel participants.

The cold hard fact is: A traditional website alone, no matter how impressive and informative, will not suffice in this new era. You must integrate Social Media and Social Networking into your marketing mix and public relations efforts. Toward that end, the last two blog posts focused on (1) definitions of Social Media and Social Networking and (2) the key ingredients for Social Media success. Now let’s answer question #3 – the “bottom line” Home Furnishings Executives have asked:

“But what does that really mean? What can Social Media do for me?”

Online Branding Depends Upon Social Media Success

9 Major Impacts On Bottom Line Profits – Effective Social Media Will:

1. Quickly build awareness of your desired online Brand image and web presence in the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketplace, with measurable results, and without the exorbitant cost of traditional image advertising whose effectiveness cannot be accurately measured.

2. Prevent potential image and customer service disasters that can destroy a Brand – by monitoring the online “buzz,” consumer ratings and customer comments . . . so you can respond quickly, pro-actively, engage in damage control, elicit more positive ratings and comments from satisfied customers to outweigh the negative ones (you must ask!), and turn negatives into positives. Word is going to be spreading like wild fire across the internet, so join in the right way, take control of your destiny, and make the virology of the social web work for you, not against you!

3. Increase your website’s organic ranking in the search engines, so people find you when they search for your product categories. Social activity on, involving, citing or linking to your web pages is a critical factor in Google’s new search algorithm!

4. Provide additional, SEO optimized web content that points to your webpages, company and products, so you can claim more than one position on top search results pages – more than one lane on this multi-lane superhighway – to be seen as the “authority” and supplier of choice!

5. Gather market intelligence quickly, at low cost, with higher participation using “Crowd Sourcing” – asking questions on social sites, using online polls and engaging your community (effectively outsourcing the query to them) for faster, more honest answers than you’d ever get with expensive, very limited and unreliable focus groups and poorly-attended, traditional market research surveys. This feedback on your new product development ideas can help you avoid expensive mistakes such as creating products, product features or pricing that consumers won’t buy!

6. Accelerate your time to market with new product lines and innovations by posting on social sites content about it that people will want to share with their like-minded friends, by creating short videos that can go viral, and simply asking your community of fans, followers and subscribers to help spread your message!

7. Increase traffic to your website, showroom and through retail doors for more new and repeat sales, new product introductions, special promotions, events, list building for follow-up communications and relationship building, etc.

8. Gain far faster media attention (broadcast media, print media, bloggers and others online and offline) through your social postings and selective distribution of carefully crafted online press releases and news releases on a consistent basis – generally reaching more people and at far less than a traditional advertising and public relations firm would charge!

9. Network for joint ventures, new channels, highly qualified officers and staff, resources and every other purpose for which you use your regular business association meetings, only you tap into a much larger network, faster, with broader information and opportunities.

How can you place a price tag on all that? You really have everything to gain by becoming better informed about Social Media and how it plays into your overall corporate strategy. We’re here to help!

To your success,

Margaret

Linda Carey and Margaret Hampton invite you to sharpen your
Strategic Vision and discover high-impact Social Media Strategies in
the Executive Internet Webinar For Home Furnishings Executives
See you there!

 

What Are The Ingredients For Social Media Success?

The last blog post highlighted the three most frequently asked questions about Social Media we’ve heard from Home Furnishings executives, beginning with definitions and examples of Social Media and Social Networking.

We continue here with an answer to Question #2:

“What Are The Ingredients For My Social Media Success?”

You should achieve a high ROI for your Social Media effort IF you engage correctly, consistently, genuinely. Like any good recipe, the end product depends upon the quality and order of the ingredients and how you handle them. Here are the essential ingredients for your Social Media Marketing (SMM) success.

Effective Social Media For Business Success

Effective Social Media For Business - Engaging with Consistency and Authenticity

Engage consumers online, building relationship and trust – because people do business with those they know, like and trust, and with the huge number of webpages and online participants, they will return to you only if engaged or intrigued.

Listen to your consumers and respond to their questions and concerns, so they know you care and provide primo customer service.  You’ll also derive more intimate, honest market research insights than you could possibly get anywhere else!

Monitor the buzz about your company and products, so you know who’s saying what, can build on positive trends, nip potential problems in the bud, and engage in damage control – because your reputation and future depend upon it! Consumers trust what others in their social group say far more than any corporate material, much less an advertisement (which they tend to distrust), so what’s in the “buzz” is critical. You need to know it, create or influence it, and respond to it!

Provide good, meaningful content on a reliable, consistent basis that makes the consumer want to engage with you, relate to you, follow you for more. . . Content that’s objective, educational, entertaining or otherwise valuable to them . . . So they seek you out (*pull* marketing)  . . . Because there’s a lot of “noise” in the marketplace with a bombardment of one-way, intrusive *push* ads . . . and consumers don’t want to be marketed to! They will share virally your good content, but rarely your blatant ads! (Unless entertaining, fun or novel, like the famous Budweiser ads at Super Bowl and Christmas.)

Employ SEO Best Practices, because without using key search phrases (“keywords”) intelligently and consistently in your choice of content, in your titles, categories, tags and text, as well as in your bios, descriptions and anchor text links . . . then how will anyone find you when they search for those terms?  How will your website and social pages rank for those terms, so they appear on page 1 of search results? After all, 90% of all clicks on search engine results (Google, Bing, etc.) are on the webpages appearing on page 1 when your prospect does an internet search – where you want to be with multiple website and social pages!

Call Attention To Your Social Pages to build Fans, Followers and Subscribers by explicitly, visibly inviting people to comment and “share” or “like” your content or to subscribe to your feed in their favorite news reader. . . making it easy for them to click a link to your Facebook – Twitter – LinkedIn profiles . . . providing familiar icon links to social bookmarking and social news sites such as Digg, Delicious, Mr. Wong, Propeller . . . and displaying your content from one site on another automatically, such as your Twitter “tweets” on your blog, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and your blog posts feeding your Facebook status, Twitter and a host of other micro-blogging sites, so you are found almost everywhere on the web!

Employ Special Niche Tactics such as engaging the major bloggers in your niche, having a presence on the top forums in your industry, conducting special campaigns to build followers from consumers that fit your target customer profile, channel participants, industry associations and others, and other special tactics custom tailored to your specific industry and where your customers and channel participants hand out online . . . so that you are truly “linked in” to the web of audiences important to every aspect of your business!

In sum . . .

Maximum profitability for your Home Furnishings Businessperhaps its very survival in the new economy! – requires that you have an effective Strategic Social Media and Internet Marketing Plan at the heart of your corporate communications and branding . . . your very corporate image! This Plan should project a consistent “voice” across all platforms and marketing systems, online and offline, and be clear, impactful, engaging and “trustworthy.”  For visibility online and top-of-mind brand awareness, it should be built upon the cornerstones of SEO Best Practices and responsive Social Media Monitoring.

It will pay off in a big way! In the next post, we’ll cover some of the major ways Social Media will deliver BOTTOM-LINE RESULTS for your home furnishings company.

Until then . . .

Margaret

Margaret Hampton of FloridaLocalSEO.com
conjoining with Linda Carey of Vibrant Business Today, LLC
to bring fresh insights and strategies for Social Media, SEO and Search Marketing for Home Furnishings Executives – and creative integration of online-offline tactics with mobile marketing and point-of-sale for ground-breaking success!

Top 3 Social Media Questions Home Furnishings Executives Ask

Manufacturers in the Home Furnishings, Decorative Accessories and related industries take heed: Today, Brands have integrated Social Media as an essential component of their marketing mix – a key driver in listening, connecting, engaging and collaborating with their consumers, building brand stature and trust and driving sales. Even Pepsi diverted its famed Super Bowl ad budget to Social Media campaigns instead of the TV broadcast with the highest viewership of the year.  They recognize that Social Media is not an option today!

Wholesalers, designers, distributors, interior decorators, sales rep’s and retailers: You need these tools, too, for your own business expansion, branding, reputation management, networking, sales, list building, community involvement and effective communications . . . unless you want to be left out of the “conversation” and the transactions that follow . . . so read on . . .

Here are the top three questions about Social Media that we’ve heard:

  1. “What Is Social Media – What Is Social Networking?”

  2. “What Are The Ingredients For My Social Media Success?”

  3. “How Will Social Media Help Me Be More Profitable?”

We will answer these briefly in three successive blog posts beginning here:

1.a.  “What Is Social Media?”

What is Social Media

“Social Media” refers to a variety of online media channels and web properties that enable two-way conversations between you and your consumers – including Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs and blog commenting, micro-blogs such as Twitter, social news sites like Digg and Reddit, social bookmarking websites such as Delicious and StumbleUpon, and many more.

The term “Social Media” also encompasses other collaborative sites such as “wikis” like Wikipedia, content sites like Squidoo and Hubpages, and photo sharing sites such as Flickr and PhotoBucket.  Slideshare is now a hit, too, for creating slide shows to dazzle audiences with your new product line, a procedure or features, special events, and more . . . slideshows that can rank in the search engines and attract viewers to discover you in new ways!

Popular “Social Media” sites include video sharing sites that Google and people both love, such as YouTube (among others), which is now the second largest search engine behind it’s owner, Google – meaning it’s one of the most popular sites on the WorldWide Web.  Your customers go there, so you need an alluring and vibrant YouTube Channel, too! You Tube has added commenting, subscriptions, friends and sharing elements (e.g., Facebook, Twitter and email), as well as ratings and Facebook “Likes,” demonstrating the interlinking of the Social Web today.

Your effective use of these web properties, and the addition of social elements to your website, are vital moves for your business.  This can be a vast jungle, but the right GPS can help you decipher which of these properties and tactics are mission critical for you, and how you can get the most out of them with the least time, with a high return on investment and a true measure of success – turning your customers into raving fans!

Social Media is truly “viral,” with people sharing information, links, photos and videos widely within their “social networks,” where they also might post comments and ratings, give recommendations, etc.  It’s powerful “word of mouth” advertising that spreads faster than wildfire – increasing geometrically from one person to their network, to each of their networks, and so on until it’s read or viewed by perhaps millions of people.

For example, videos “go viral” faster than perhaps any other content, spreading the word about you far and wide.  People simply love to share videos, and major social networking sites like Facebook have built-in tools that make it extremely easy to share them, even for a novice. (Videos also make people stay longer on your website, blog or other social property, wherever you post them, which enhances the Google ranking of both the video and your site, a double benefit!)

Social elements such as commenting, sharing, “likes,” bookmarking, rating, subscribing, etc. on your website, blog and Social Media properties interlink to create your total “Social Media Web.”

1.b. “What Is Social Networking?”

Social Networking For Business

Social Networking For Business

Social Networking is how you use social media channels in listening, engaging, and collaborating with your consumers.  Social networking is the new PR!

Your Social Network consists of all the people who join, favorite, fan, friend or subscribe to your website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube channel, and anywhere else you have a presence on the internet – where you now have an unprecedented opportunity to connect and communicate with them . . . and to be exposed to their friends and friends’ networks on through second, third, fourth generations . . . and everyone’s doing it. This comment really struck home when I heard it:

“Social networking is like radio was in the 80’s – if you’re not on it, you’re not on.” ~ Julia Rosien

“Social” literally means SOCIAL – where you’ll lose the game if you are loud and aggressive with traditional ads and sales language. Think of how much you would like it if you went to a cocktail party or church social and, instead of personal chat, someone aggressively tried to sell you on his business. You’d run the other way!

So your tone on Social Media properties must be social, fun or helpful – even in the newer paid ads on some sites.  People do not want to be “talked at,” barraged, pushed or sold!  It’s best if you speak as you would to someone asking you a question or discussing something of interest at a party or over coffee at Starbuck’s. You’re networking, sharing, building relationship . . . and trust!

People buy from people they know like and trust! They trust recommendations from “friends” in their social network far more than any paid ads and they need to feel they can trust you. They are cynical. So put a face on your business and Brand, engage your consumers on the World Wide Web, build that trust, create a positive “buzz” about your company or products – and turn satisfied customers and intrigued prospects into your best “PR team.”

Let Us Help You Plot Your Course Through Choppy Social Waters To Smooth Sailing Success!

You can get greater depth of understanding, a clearer vision and navigation chart to guide you through the haze of this maze by:

  • Contacting us directly with your questions, or for a free initial consultation, or to engage our team for an in-house presentation or training.
  • Participating in one of our Executive Webinars for Home Furnishings Executives, where you have the option of requesting a free, live diagnostic snapshot of your website and/or social properties.
  • Commissioning a full diagnostic of your online footprint and a customized prescription for your optimal, strategically sound, no-waste, integrated Social Media and Internet Marketing Plan . . . a low cost “can’t lose” investment that can save you thousands of dollars (hundreds of thousands?) while expanding your market presence exponentially!

Bottom Line: Your Strategic Marketing Plan must include Social Media and other online elements, or you are missing opportunities, leaving money on the table, and weakening your future. Toward that end, Linda Carey and I look forward to helping you grasp the dynamics of this “new world” – the constantly changing, ever expanding, consumer-centric new game you must play well to be a successful “player” in business going forward.

Wishing you every success,

Margaret

Margaret Hampton
SEO, Search Marketing, Social Media and Mobile Consultant
FloridaLocalSEO.com – Integrating Online Strategies For Offline Companies!