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!

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!”

 

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

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?