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

Why Do I Need The Internet Marketing Webinar For Home Furnishings Executives?

As a Home Furnishings Product Manufacturer or Channel Executive, you’re probably asking yourself, “WHY do I need an Internet Marketing Seminar?
Isn’t that just for a social media or communications staff member, the advertising agency or our Marketing Director . . . ‘below my pay grade,’ perhaps a nice-to-know item but hardly a priority in my overwhelmingly hectic schedule?”

NO! This may be a very critical element at your company’s “tipping point” in the new economy, and how can you LEAD successfully without it?

Consider The Facts:

  • YOU are the Leader with leadership challenges at a higher level of complexity than others in your organization, and that requires a higher level of understanding of essential dynamics.
  • YOU are charged with using your critical thinking and imagination to create new possibilities for your company and products – a strong, clear, effective Vision for your company and the consumer wants and needs your products satisfy!
  • Cultural Intelligence, marketplace awareness, technological integration and communication channel usage are YOUR ultimate responsibility – critical to the development and communication of a powerful, creative, penetrating Vision.
  • Effective Communications are a “must” for you to position your company in the marketplace, sell your products, and even to stay in business.  They require you to reach and engage multiple audiences in multiple waysinternally to directors and partners, officers and employees – externally to all in the Channel (wholesalers, distributors, marketers, interior designers, retailers) and the ultimate Consumer.

Clearly, you must have a Customer Focus. It’s not optional. You might have the best product in the marketplace, yet go out of business without the attraction and retention of a buying audience.  And that includes not just your direct Buyers, but all in the Channel, especially the Consumer!

Bottom Line:

The Consumer is WHY you are in business! Everyone else in the chain feeds off the Consumer, and the Consumer is the one for whom your products were created.

So even if you have never before really interacted with the “end of the food chain” – the individual product user – or some others in your Channel, your effective Corporate Branding and Communications which genuinely engage all of these audiences are paramount now at the CEO level!

. . . Especially effective use of multiple, new media and communications channels with Consumers to engage them, build “social” relationships with them,  make them want to seek out and demand your product from retailers, decorators or your eCommerce store. . . rave about it in Reviews and Comments on Blogs, MicroBlogs (like Twitter), Social Sites (like Facebook) and Online Directories where thousands or millions of viewers might navigate, creating a “buzz” about you that spreads virally throughout the marketplace and gives that third party credibility on which the majority of purchasers rely!

You know the old adage about gossip, and how word of a bad report travels six or more times faster and more widely than a good report. Well, it’s with lightening speed on the internet!  So your essential Branding and Reputation Management require you to have a working knowledge of what we will teach you in the Internet Marketing Seminar for Home Furnishings Executives!

You must influence, mold and manage these things from the top down for it all to work right, reaching your audiences WHERE they are, WHEN they want it, and HOW they want it!

So The Real Question Is:

How Can Businesses Use Social Media Successfully?“How can you create an effective Vision of serving your constituents – stakeholders and those who need your products – if you lack a more complete understanding of the major market trends and millennial paradigm shifts shaking your marketplace?

. . . Of the vast changes in how people access the information they want, in order to find the products that meet their needs?

. . . How they compare products and make purchase decisions?

. . . Changes in the very modes of communication where they seek help with their needs and concerns, seek recommendations from “friends” in their “social circles” on the internet, and broadly proclaim in Social Media their satisfaction – or dissatisfaction – with your products?

It’s Inescapable:

You MUST adopt and integrate the new media channels – internet marketing, search marketing, social media and mobile marketing – into your traditional corporate communications and branding systems, or you will:

  • Fail to have your Voice effectively heard in the noise of the marketplace;
  • Fail to convince Consumers they need your products, with resulting negative repercussions throughout your Channel;
  • Be highly vulnerable in online Reputation Management, where negatives about you will be posted (there’s always a “fluke”), possibly without your knowledge and remediation response, and without your having elicited a more overwhelming list of positives from your satisfied customers (… and you must ASK for that in the Social Space!), and
  • Lose ground to competitors who communicate and engage more effectively, even if their products are inferior.

So Control Your Corporate Destiny!

Sharpen your Strategic and Marketing Vision! Get the Cultural Intelligence and Media Understanding you must have for effective Communications, Branding, Sales, Profits . . . for your business’ Survival!

Sign up for the Internet Marketing Webinar for Home Furnishing Executives today, and let us give you tools and insights you truly need. That’s why we’re here! You have nothing to lose but a mere pittance and a very little time – and so very much to gain that could change the way you communicate and add yet untold bottom line results!

Here to help you to survive and thrive in the New Economy!


Margaret Hampton
Business Strategist with Integrated Offline-Online Marketing Focus
Search Engine Optimization, Search Marketing, Social Media, Mobile Marketing – Integrated with your POS, Print Media, Broadcast Media, eMail and Snail Mail Marketing and Corporate Communications for Powerful Connections and Success!

P.S. You Need The Integration of Multiple Marketing Media – That’s our specialty, drawing on our extensive, proven experience in Business Strategy at the CEO level, time in the trenches with the Consumer, and coverage of all the new marketing channels.  Home Furnishings Industry Veteran and Creative Marketing Strategist, Linda Carey, and I bring you a truly unique blend of insights and talents to pull it all together at the Executive Level! –  We know what’s being done out there, where to find and engage your customers and prospects online and offline on their mobile phones, how to integrate it all, plus the strategies, tools and tactics to make it happen for you.

We have creative Retailer joint ventures, point-of-sale Consumer campaigns that utilize and feed multiple marketing channels, strategies for engaging Buyers in your showrooms at trade shows, and so much more you won’t find anywhere else!

P.P.S.  You’re happy with your current marketing? Even if it’s effective for now, wouldn’t you like to see if there are any tweaks that could make it even more profitable and more “trackable and measurable?”  Or it might be working now because of a short “window of opportunity before your competitor catches on more completely and penetrates the Search Marketing realm to dominate Google and the Social Space, putting you then in a very tough and costly catch-up battle.

So why not have an outside critique and recommendations? As Bob Goldberg, CFO of Merrill-Lynch-Hubbard said about my trouble-shooting the entirety of a major project way back in the 1980’s, “It’s the best money we ever spent!”

It’s like a brick layer starting on the wall of your Online Fortress . . . laying one brick at a time. With everything we do, we add more bricks that STAY there in cyberspace serving you long after we’re gone – essentially forever! – unlike paid advertising, TV and radio, billboards and print media.  Think about it.  If you lay more and better bricks and start building up your fortress’ wall before your major competitors do, they will be hard pressed to knock you off the hill – Because for every brick they lay, you’re adding more to your own wall, growing it higher and higher!

P.P.P.S. We provide website critiques, online competitive analysis, keyword research, and develop or critique your Total Online Business Plan before recommending and/or implementing Search Marketing, Social Media and Mobile Marketing campaigns for you or with you as your Team Member.  Linda aptly says:
“No Prescription Without Diagnosis!”
– and I always started the Strategic Planning retreats for $Billion companies with:

“The best plan and tactics, if not strategically correct, make about as much sense as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!”

P.P.P. S. What’s more – I have rarely seen a website for which I couldn’t improve the Search Engine Optimization – critical to getting you high rankings in the search results when someone looks for what you have to offer!  And I have rarely seen a Search Marketing campaign we couldn’t match or better with more effective or additional techniques, usually at lower cost for my client. Why not have yours reviewed?

Further, we’re not happy with just ONE Google “Page 1” listing for a page on your website – but multiple “Page Ones” – for more than one critical search term. . . pointing to more than one page on your site. . . and claiming ranking positions on any given Google Page One for multiple web content pages (blog posts, videos, press releases, internal website pages, web 2.0 properties, etc.). . . so multiple listings pointing to YOU and your products, creating the marketplace image of YOU as the Authority and your products as the ones of Choice!

FINALLY – I have rarely seen more creative and effective convergence of Corporate Strategy with custom tailored campaigns integrating Multiple Marketing Channels online and offline than we can provide. But even if you don’t choose at this time to let us help design your Plan or complement your own outstanding Team with a little or a lot of our consulting and marketing services –  You still NEED the Internet Marketing Webinar for Home Furnishing Executives as a foundation piece in order for You to be a highly effective Architect of your company’s Online Marketing Blueprint!  Sign up today!

High Point Home Furnishings Show – WITHIT ‘Best Of Market’

Hot Topics At High Point International Home Furnishings Show, April 5th

“Best Of Market Scoop”
WITHIT Market Intelligence Wrap Up

WITHIT Market Wrap Up in Outer Limits Furniture showroom at High Point Market

Waiting for WITHIT's Market Intelligence Wrap Up at High Point Market hosted at Outer Limits Furniture

High Point Market guests were in for a great treat Tuesday night as Women In The Home Furnishings Industry Today “unpacked” the Best of the Best that Market had to offer. During the evening, WITHIT members and Guests alike shared what they saw, heard and liked during Market.

Taking the lead in the discussion was Ellen Gefen of Ellen Gefen Productions, a home furnishings reporting company.  Ellen has covered the International Home Furnishings Market for the CBS MORNING NEWS and NBC’s WEEKEND TODAY, reporting on styles and trends in the home furnishings industry and offering tips for the consumer on smart furniture buying.

Attended by retailers, designers, manufacturers and industry business leaders, WITHIT’s Market Intelligence Wrap-Up is an event not to be missed each Market. Packed full of tidbits and the “Best of Market Scoop,” attendees get a chance to find out if there are “hot topics” they missed during their own Market navigation. Of course, since getting around this mega market is a huge time sink, no one can be everywhere all the time. WITHIT’s market intelligence powers up the collaborative eyes and ears necessary to identify the “Best of the Best.”

Tricia Bellocci, Outer Limits and Daniel Silva, Temahome sponsor WITHIT Wrap

Tricia Bellocci, Outer Limits Furniture and Daniel Silva, Temahome, Sponsors of WITHIT Market Intelligence Wrap Up

Owner-designers Mike and Tricia Bellocchi of Outer Limits, 220 Elm in High Point, hosted the Market Intelligence Wrap in their lovely showroom, where they feature modern furniture. Outer Limits Furniture is a 20 year old, custom upholstered furniture design company whose cutting edge designs successfully represent the epitome of modern American furniture design.

Also sponsoring the event was Daniel Silva of Temahome – sleek, modern, inspiring and exclusive stylish design furniture and home decor by top European designers, made in Portugal.

Mega thanks to our most generous hosts and sponsors!  See you at WITHIT’s Market Intelligence next year!

So…do you want to know the market scoop?  If so, contact the lovely Sara Lyke, Executive Director of WITHIT – Women In The Home Furnishings Industry Today at www.withit.org and get involved in WITHIT!

Thanks to Linda Carey, Live from High Point!

Linda Carey of Marketing Home Furnishings and Vibrant Business Today, LLC has been a WITHIT member for 10 years. She has served as the Northwest Regional Vice President and on the Board. She is “Withit!”


Sustainable Furnishings Hot Topic: Design Legacy Launches ‘Goods Made Good’

Design Legacy’s “Goods Made Good”

A Truly Great High Point Market
“Hot Topic” In Sustainable Furnishings,
A Responsible Idea Whose Time Has Come!

I always knew I liked Kelly O’Neal from the first time I stepped foot in his showroom in High Point, when he welcomed me with a big smile and gracious handshake.  Now this man is now elevated to a Prince for “doing well doing good!”

With the launch of Design Legacy‘s new recycled pillow and upholstery line, Kelly is literally giving new life to cast away fabrics from Goodwill Industries which cannot be sold on their floor. Not only is Kelly now officially part of the sustainable furnishings movement, but the program also provides work for local populations of disabled people among other “employment compromised” groups.


Congratulations Kelly! I hope every consumer out there finds your products at their local retail store.

To all home furnishings retailers:  Please consider carrying and promoting Kelly O’Neal’s recycled pillow and upholstery line.


Linda L. Carey
Vibrant Business Today, LLC
Home Furnishings Veteran & Consultant
Internet Marketing Webinar Co-Leader

P.S. – Hey, don’t forget to share this post with your friends if you like it!

P.P.S. – And leave a comment if you’re at High Point Market . . . and even if you aren’t. Kelly O’Neal would appreciate knowing what you think about his socially responsible and environmentally responsible new product line.

Sustainable furnishings combined with employing the disabled …
Now that’s a win-win that can’t be beat!

Views From High Point Market – Surya Rugs Ride

Decorative Accessories:
Why I Love Surya Rugs!


Interior designer shares ride fun with son at High Point Market

Interior Designer with son at Surya Rugs ride in High Point Market

I do love area rugs, don’t you? Not only do they help define interior space and provide comfort for feet, a non-skid surface and other use benefits, they provide innumerable options in color and design to pull together the whole look and feel of your décor.

But that’s not all these versatile decorative accessories do. It may not be a magic carpet ride, but…

Other than the obvious choice of area rugs, look at how wonderful they are to a young Mother, an interior designer accompanied by her 3 month old son, Tim, and sister-helper at High Point Market!

Surya Rugs sponsored free rides around the Market in rickshaws.

Yep! That is “Raleigh Rickshaws” those girls are riding in with a 3 month old bebe!


Linda L. Carey
Live from High Point Market
And loving it!

P.S. Why not share this home furnishings delight with your friends on Facebook and Twitter?  Can you Digg it?

Sunday Home Furnishings ‘Hot Topic’ At High Point Market

Designer And Author, Thomas Jayne’s “Finest Rooms In America”

My Choice For Sunday’s ‘Hot Topic’ From The Home Furnishings Show At High Point Market

The best seminar I attended at High Point Market on Sunday was sponsored by WITHIT – Women In The Home Furnishings Industry Today – an exciting professional group of which I’m a Former Board Member and Regional Vice President.

The featured speaker was the amazing Thomas Jayne, author of the book:  “The Finest Rooms In America.”

Thomas Jayne is a super talented designer who possesses a wonderful blend of humor and humility as he disarms his audience with ease.  I’m impressed with how masterfully he seals their hearts and souls as he shows excerpts of fine rooms taken from his books!

Simply beautiful.  I can’t recommend Thomas Jayne’s book enough to anyone interested in home furnishings – whether designer, manufacturer, distributor, retailer, marketer or simply a home owner.  It doesn’t matter.  Get the book!


Linda L. Carey
Vibrant Business Today, LLC
Home Furnishings Veteran
Marketing Webinar Co-Leader

P.S. If you like this post, why not DIGG IT and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter? Thanks!