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45 All Tweet and No Cattle

CattleToday I’m going to take on a topic that may not be altogether popular in some social media circles, but it’s a message that small business owners need to wrestle with.

Like me, you are probably sick of hearing about twitter like it’s the next coming of Sidd Finch. Social media experts will have you believe that if your business is not on twitter for hours each day, then you don’t exist.

Here’s my take, I use twitter to meet a handful of objectives, I try to write about it in practical ways, I enjoy some of the interaction, get some nice insights, get decent return on the time I spend, but it’s not for everyone, not right now at least, and here’s why.

While the odd restaurant or coffee shop may be grabbing some headlines because of their tweeting strategy, most small businesses have far greater pressing foundational needs when it comes to the limited time and resources they can allocate to marketing.

    Do not bother with twitter or Facebook or any other social networking tools right now unless:

  • You have perfected a simple point of differentiation that a narrow market truly values and gets
  • You have a killer white paper that clearly demonstrates your 7 steps to blah, blah, blah expertise
  • You have built relationships with 5 journalists that routinely call you for quotes and tips
  • You are presenting workshops, seminars and web conferences based on white paper above
  • You have a roster of strategic partners that you automatically refer and who refer you
  • Your web site/blog is chock full of education based content, articles and tutorials
  • You have a fully scripted/automated lead conversion process that you can measure
  • You have a marketing action plan and action step calendar that is focused on marketing objectives

I know the fun is in the new thing of the moment, but spending your precious time on something like twitter is likely a giant waste of time for your business if you have not build the foundation that can tap social networks as outposts for your marketing hub.

Now, to some this message may actually be refreshing, so let me throw a little cold water. I am not saying that social networks are on their own waste of time as an essential marketing activity, far from it. My real message is that social networks, including twitter are growing in importance for small business, but hold little value to the business that has not built a strong marketing foundation.

This message gets confused when people see social media gurus, some with thousands of followers and nothing but time on their hands to tweet all day, stand up and condemn those not yet in the twitter fold as somehow strangely out of touch. Here’s your test – follow the tweets and see if you find any cattle before you succumb to this line of thinking. Some of the largest advocates of social media have no real foundation, no return on their tweets, and little business, other than the occasional speaking gig at a social media lovefest – and that should be your warning to keep your eye on the real prize – your business objectives.

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4 The Power of Colliding Channel Experiences

Smart marketers are plunging headlong into social media and extending their brands and ecosystems to boldly go where no brand has ever gone before. The digital landscape is exciting, it’s where the buzz seems to be, but the true catalyst of growth and change, I believe resides in the place where your digital and analog worlds collide.

In other words, when you can build a network by conversing with seemingly like minded individuals on your blog and then turn one or more of those individuals into strategic alliances built on a burgeoning relationship of truse, and finally, get a chance to introduce that person to a good customer over lunch, well that’s what I call the ultimate cross channel experience.

colliding ecosystems

To me, twitter is not simply another extended world to manage, it’s an opportunity to initiate community based on ideas instead of geography or industry and then potentially explore ways to move members of that community into other exciting and profitable relationships.

I had a brief conversation on this subject over the weekend with David Armano, author of a great blog called Logic+Emotion. David creates incredibly effective illustrations of ideas and concepts. Visual thinkers will love his work. – Spend some time with this set of illustrations.

What I’m really talking about here of course is integration of marketing messages, campaigns, opportunities and channels, but I think the ability to do this in planned, impactful, and scalable ways has increased dramatically through the addition of social media. But, not to the total exclusion of the conference, chamber social or MeetUp.

Bottom line: we need to think intentionally about the ways to use online to create richer offline opportunities.

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18 Are You Too Online?

Even a casual reader to this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the growing set of low-cost online tools available to the small business owner and marketer.

Blogging, RSS, podcasting, social and local SEO, online PR, social networks, video services, and other online branding tools have leveled the playing field for the entrepreneur wise enough to tap this awesome toy store.

But, the ease at which these tools can be accessed can lead some businesses away from proven offline marketing strategies and tactics at the expense of true marketing momentum.

The beauty of a solid Internet presence is what it can do to enhance your overall marketing footprint. Your overall marketing momentum and growth can lean heavily on new media, but should not do so at the expense of a fully rounded effort.

  • Direct mail can be enhanced with online offer fulfillment
  • Magazine ads can be enhanced with webinars
  • Blogs can help you build a local community of partners
  • Networking offline can help you move people to network online
  • Pay-per-click advertising can help refine offline headlines
  • Social networks are a great place to locate offline strategic partners

The trick is to leverage all the tools available to you (on and off) to meet the overall objectives of marketing – building know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.

To neglect the awesome power, reach and control still available through many offline vehicles is a little like mimicking the dog with a bone who sees its shadow in a reflection of water and drops the bone it has to grab the bone it sees as somehow bigger and better.

Use online and offline tactics to support each other and watch your marketing results grow exponentially.

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31 Top 10 Business Applications for Facebook

Introductions ApplicationIn it’s very generic, vanilla form, Facebook is just so-so as a business tool. Lots has been written and said about its use for business, but to me the real power comes when you hang the proper accessories, known as applications, on it and really trick it out for business and professional use.

There are thousands of application available with one click once you have a Facebook profile. But, don’t get caught up in adding every goofy dodad, just because you can. Think logically about your goals for being on Facebook and then choose the tools that will help your communicate, achieve and amplify those objectives.

Here’s a directory of Facebook applications

And, here are my favorite applications for business use.

  • Telephone – With Telephone you can call, send and receive voice messages through Facebook, just like having voicemail on your phone. All you need is the application and a microphone and you can start sending messages to your friends.
  • Slideshare – SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. You can upload your own PowerPoint, OpenOffice, Keynote or PDF files and view presentations shared by others. This is a great way to spread thought leadership and expertise through presentations you may have delivered locally.
  • CircleUp – For Groups and Events is a lightweight collaboration app for groups and events. This tool facilitates some of the communication needed to promote your group activity and events on Facebook and elsewhere. This is particularly useful if you’ve created and maintain your own group on Facebook or often promote teleseminars and workshops.
  • Free Conference Calls – Use Free Conference Calls to organize a business meeting on the fly. With free conference call you can call in from anywhere; your home, mobile, Skype, or any VoIP service. Using this app inside of Facebook can help make some immediate connections a little deeper.
  • Facebook Video – Facebook Video provides a high-quality video platform for people and pages on Facebook. With Video, you can upload video files, send video from your mobile phone, and record video messages to your friends. This application is so easy to use that it makes sending video introductions or message a powerful way to network on Facebook
  • Testimonials – Use Testimonials to gather your personal and professional references in one place. Encouraging customers and contacts to post testimonials about your work and expertise adds great marketing content to your profile.
  • Introductions – Introduce your friends to each other and make new ones. Ask for an introduction to a web programmer or good lawyer. Then make introductions for your friends. This application speeds the process of effective networking by helping focus on giving and receiving introductions in a systematic way.
  • Business Cards – Business Cards helps you network better on Facebook. Personalize your card and attach it to your Facebook messages! View postings and network with others! This application is much like the signature common in email messages. It’s just one more way to say business when using Facebook.
  • My LinkedIn Profile – Makes it easy to promote your LinkedIn account with a badge on your Facebook profile. Cross promoting social network activity is a great way to extend your reach.
  • What I Do – Allows you to promote your services/products to your Facebook network. Display your skills/wares on your profile box and list yourself in a business directory. Recommend your colleagues services and products too.

So, I would love to hear how you have effectively used specific Facebook applications for business.

If you liked this article you might also like to download my free Twitter for Business ebook