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:
“What Is Social Media – What Is Social Networking?”
“What Are The Ingredients For My Social Media Success?”
“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?”
“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 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,
SEO, Search Marketing, Social Media and Mobile Consultant
FloridaLocalSEO.com – Integrating Online Strategies For Offline Companies!