#FocusFriday – Foolish Friday Edition

It’s April Fool’s Day. I have written a few blogs on April Fool’s Day and here is my in the context of #FocusFriday.abraham-lincoln-quotes-it-is-better-to-remain-silent-3

There are plenty of quotes about being a fool or looking foolish. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “A fool and his money are soon parted.” – Thomas Tusser an English poet and famer
  • “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” – Chinese Proverb
  • “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln

In a day and era when personal branding and personal marketing have become so important can we afford to look foolish? Will looking foolish hurt your brand or is being foolish sometimes worth the risk?

henry_ford_quoteNobody wants to look like a fool. If you do, people laugh, they call you out and they certainly remember it. A reputation as a fool is something that no one wants or strives for. However, to truly succeed we need to try, fail and learn.  Sometimes you may look or sound foolish. Can you recover?  In my view if the effort was well intended and if you had a goal in mind the answer is yes. Why can’t you recover? 2ae8593ca4e95aa4bb15be5b28a63382Trying and failing is essential; the recovery process may be long and it may come with pain and remorse. There is a road to redemption if the effort was well intended to begin with.

quote-i-didn-t-like-the-idea-of-being-foolish-but-i-learned-pretty-soon-that-it-was-essential-daniel-day-lewis-17-43-30Here is what some great business leaders of past and present have said about looking like a fool or being foolish:

  • “Too many men are afraid of being fools.” – Henry Ford
  • “Who’s the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?” – Alec Guiness (as Obi Wan Kenobi)
  • “Dare to wear the foolish clown face.” – Frank Sinatra
  • “I learned pretty soon that it was essential to fail and be foolish.” – Daniel Day-Lewis, only three-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor
  • “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

To achieve significant success and to stand out there is a possibility or likelihood of looking foolish. However, without risk there may be no reward. If you believe in what you are doing and are willing to take the risk of looking foolish, you may be rewarded opportunity and success. For many the experience alone is worth the journey.

steve-jobs-quotes-wallpaper-stay-hungry-stay-foolish-3Today there is a greater risk if your endeavors become a fool’s errand. Videos and all sorts of images when posted are seen by people all over the world. If you post something foolish, remember it will remain online for years, reverberating and potentially damaging your personal brand or career indefinitely.

  • “A fool is the one who fails to think about the ramifications of their actions and how they will reverberate and echo throughout his or her career.” – Bill Corbett, Jr.

The intent of my #FocusFriday blogs is to have people thinking about their actions. It is important to plan and act deliberately. Focus on what you are doing and how you are doing it.

Take the time to focus on what actions you will take and how this will impact our success and your career. Consider how each deliberate act will impact our plan and how you approach goals. Will this action impact your brand or your reputation?

Certainly plans and action can go awry and be misinterpreted. This is to be expected, the likelihood of them happening will be reduced by taking a slower and thoughtful approach before the action is taken.

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.

  • Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich” – “I believe that those who don’t think, practice and plan run the highest risk of looking foolish in the worst way possible.  Those who think, plan and execute, may fail or miss the mark, however they will not look like the fool or be the fool. They will learn, grow and advance. The fool is the one who does not learn from these lesson or mistakes. His is destiny for fail and continue to look foolish.”

For more quotes on foolishness check out this story in Entrepreneur by Bill Murphy.

Focus Friday is all about being more effective and successful in business and life activities. Focusing will allow you to save time and achieve goals in both your personal and in your professional life.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

Join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

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No More Excuses, Sales People Must Leverage LinkedIn

Why is it that many salespeople don’t understand LinkedIn? In my personal branding and LinkedIn seminars I have had many people who are in sales offer answers to this question. The top answers: “I am not getting any leads.” “No ROI.” “Too much time is needed.” “I don’t have time” and finally, “I can’t find or reach prospects.”  There are many excuses; too many to list here.

Let’s consider some important factors before moving forward: competition exists in every industry and business is lost or gained based on opportunities and relationships. Salespeople must do everything that they can to beat or at least keep up with their competition. LinkedIn research has shown that half of all businesses will not work with vendors’ salespeople who have an incomplete LinkedIn profile. This point alone should be enough to motivate a salesperson to immediately work on completing their profile (with a professional photo headshot, of course.) Finally, in respect to competition, a salesperson who thinks that LinkedIn is not important should be aware that in most cases their competitors are active on LinkedIn and so are their prospects.

As a business owner and salesperson myself, I understand the frustration. We live in a time where we want immediate gratification and success. For highly focused and driven salespeople, a long lead time strategy that requires investment in time, energy, creativity and effort is a real challenge. However, any form of marketing success takes a plan, an investment of time and consistency.

In terms of consistency, Tony Robbins sums it up perfectly:

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”

To succeed with LinkedIn you can’t just “dabble in it” or create a profile and “set it and forget it” as Ronco’s Ron Popeil would say. A well written and complete LinkedIn profile has many competitive advantages which certainly should not be overlooked. However, expecting a tidal wave of leads to come simply by having a complete profile is a dream.

Bill linkedin sales 1Click here for Part 1 of my video of secrets for LinkedIn Salespeople that nobody is telling you. Click here for Part 2.

So let’s examine each of the excuses salespeople (and many others) have given to me.

I am not getting leads or a limited number or no ROI. As mentioned above, the “set it and forget it” strategy will not work on LinkedIn. You must transform your LinkedIn profile into a living entity and use it as a marketing tool to communicate with prospects. Start by visiting your profile to see who has viewed it, respond to messages and answer connection requests and endorsements. As part of your plan you should have a system for how you will respond to each of these relationship development triggers. Yes, each of these interactions allows you to interact and start conversations with people who are the most likely to become your clients or referral sources. Investing the time to build relationships will lead to success, but this success will take time and regular effort.

Too much time is needed/I don’t have time. Time is money. We all know this, especially people who work on commission. They have to spend their time as efficiently as possible. Studies of salespeople indicate repeatedly that their greatest frustration is wasting time or spending time educating prospects just to have them go someplace else. What’s the solution?  It starts with a LinkedIn marketing plan. Your plan must outline how you will use LinkedIn, what you will do, when you will do it and how much time you will invest. Your marketing schedule is critical for success and consistency. Put on your schedule the specific times you will spend using LinkedIn. However, before you actually do this you should create a “time budget.” A time budget is a clearly defined amount of time you will spend on LinkedIn each day, week or month.  Keep track of your time; you want to invest time but you don’t want to get sucked into a time-wasting vortex. Adjust your schedule but stay within the time parameters you have set. When you start seeing success, invest more time; if you see limited success keep to your schedule but try to work more efficiently.

Not having enough time is a little tricky to address. We are all faced with time constraints and pressure. This is a function of the fast-paced and high pressure society we live in today. The fact is that “not enough time” can no longer be an excuse. Salespeople need to make time to use LinkedIn and, in a more general sense, create a personal marketing plan. Fewer than 5 percent of salespeople, while they have sales goals and plans, lack a personal marketing plan. Time is needed to focus on marketing activities and actions in order to succeed. Start by creating a “time budget,” make a commitment to invest the time you need in the same way you allot a certain amount of time at the gym, making cold calls or networking. Investing time is not easy – nobody said it would be – an extra hour at night, getting up at 6 a.m. or focusing on LinkedIn on the train commute to work may be what works for you.

Still challenged? Here’s a secret: you don’t have to post on LinkedIn during the week and you don’t even have to do live posts. Your prospects and contacts will be using LinkedIn on weekends and there are programs such as Hootsuite that allow you to schedule posts on LinkedIn any time. This means that you may not need to spend as much valuable work week time marketing and building your brand on LinkedIn.

I can’t find or reach prospects. Nobody wants to spin their wheels and get frustrated. This is why consistency and a plan matters when using LinkedIn. A key part of any marketing plan is identifying who your targets are, your ideal clients/customers, referral sources and brand ambassadors.

To effectively reach these individuals or groups you must explore LinkedIn communities (groups) and learn how LinkedIn’s advanced search functionality works. Searching has become easier and more refined, with over 100 million Americans on LinkedIn, the likelihood of prospects being on the site is high. The key is finding them, connecting with them, communicating with them and presenting to them a value proposition or building a relationship with them. Create your ideal client profile and start searching. I recommend using as many filters as possible and geographic boundaries. Create your lists and get into the process of connecting. Connecting with people you don’t know is a challenge and certainly a hard selling approach is not the right method. Start by examining a person’s profile for commonalities, see what and how often they are posting and seek who they are connected with and what groups they belong to. Groups give you the best access to connecting with somebody you don’t know or don’t know well. However, your chances of connecting and doing business with somebody are greatly increased when you share a group affiliation.

Still struggling to reach the right decision makers? Here are two additional approaches that you can take. Remember, your competitors are also doing this. First, InMail. InMail is part of LinkedIn’s premium services. InMail allows you to communicate with anyone you are not connected with on LinkedIn. This type of communication has proven to be effective especially for people impossible to reach in other ways.

You’re standing out because your message is received in their personal email inboxes, and you’re standing out because receiving an InMail is still somewhat novel. It’s also very unlikely that your prospect is getting bombarded with LinkedIn mails from spammers and others trying to “sell” something.

Prospects will get messages, and you will enter their stream of thought. You have your shot at making an impression, so make the most of it. Craft a well thought out message and make sure that your profile is complete and ready for viewing.

Second, a recent paper issued by Sandler Sales Training in partnership with LinkedIn found that prospects are 100 percent more likely to positively respond to a call or message if they are called or communicated with within 5 minutes of posting on LinkedIn. If you are having trouble getting to speak with a prospect, by simply monitoring them and communicating with them right after they have posted will give you a much better opportunity to reach them on the phone.

There are no real excuses for not leveraging the power of LinkedIn. The process of making the sale using LinkedIn marketing is likely to take time, energy and effort. This investment is worth it to you, particularly when you have a plan and a commitment to consistency and understand that competitors are on LinkedIn may be using some of the same approaches. There are plenty of other secrets, strategies and marketing approaches for using LinkedIn to effectively grow your personal brand and business even more.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Marketing Lessons from Beach Wrestling

Beach Wrestling.

Beach Wrestling.

On a hot Saturday afternoon I went for a stroll on the boardwalk in Long Beach, Long Island, New York. Thousands of people were enjoying the beach, walking, biking, playing volleyball and wrestling. Yes, wrestling.

It is commonplace for concerts to be held along this iconic Long Island boardwalk. From a distance I could see a crowd gathered in front of a stage. I approached the stage but did not hear any music. I thought to myself maybe the performers are between songs or sets. As I got closer I could see there was some sort of competition going on. When I arrived, my assumption was correct.

I saw three rings. These “rings” were basically rope circles about 20 feet across. I wondered what was happening. Then a young Asian woman entered one of the rings. She warmed up and stretched. A few moments later a young man entered the ring. Before I knew it they were grappling. The match was quite good; as a high school wrestler, I appreciated the skill and the dedication of athletes like these two young people. A minute later another wrestling match started in the second ring. Two very large young men squared off. It was more akin to sumo wrestling than the match in the first ring with the smaller athletes.

Both matches lasted just a few minutes. I can’t see how they could go very long in the 90-plus degree heat. The young lady, by the way, did not win, but it was close.

You never know where you will be when you see something remarkable. I vaguely recall someone mentioning wrestling at the beach. I thought this was just a bunch of friends getting together and going at it. I learned that it is considered a real sport and that right here on Long Island people of all ages and both sexes are enthusiasts. It’s great to see people compete in sports that they love.

Beach wrestling at the Jersey Shore.

Beach Wrestling

What I watched was remarkable in another way. Although it was not the first time for me to see men and women compete against each other, this was not any ordinary competition. The young lady was obviously there to compete and no doubt she loves this sport. She appeared dedicated, skilled and fearless. She had the crowd on her side and she got the attention of those – like me – walking by. The lesson here is don’t be afraid to pursue your passions and don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something. You may not win the match, but you are in the ring. Simply being in the ring allows you to make an impression on others and gain valuable experience.

Every week I talk with business people who relate their ongoing struggles to achieve the level of success that they want and need. Many fear taking chances with their marketing and marketing dollars. They sit on the sidelines; they don’t jump into the ring so they fail to get the attention they need to grow and succeed.

If you are not ready to wrestle (build your brand and market yourself), then find a coach, get some training and start preparing (read books, blogs and listen to podcasts or attend seminars). Business is a wrestling match; you must get in the ring with your competition to show the audience (your prospects) your skills and abilities. When you make a positive impression in the ring, you will gain respect and this will stimulate business growth.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Revisited 2015 – July 4th Independence Day – Lessons from the Founding Fathers for Social Media and Personal Branding

I wrote this blog 5 years ago it is still relevant today.  However, the world has changed.  Today Americans have more ways to market and communicate.  With smartphone technology in our hands we have enormous power to broadcast our messages and engage with others. I call smartphones, PMD’s Personal marketing Devices they can also be seen as your own personal broadcast center. (More on this in a future blog)

The technology we have however is not being leveraged effectively by small business people.  Many don’t see the opportunity because they are overwhelmed with time pressures and lack of understanding of the power that they have. Understanding marketing and why and how it must be done is also a challenge.

It’s time for small business people from across America to take charge of their destiny and bring their brands and messages to target audiences.   Failure to utilize the marketing tools that are available (for free) today will see many smart and capable people struggle to succeed in the new economy and within the new marketing paradigm.

As we look back at the lessons of our Founding Fathers below, consider what they would do today.  I believe that they would be regularly leveraging social media, blogs and video to get their message to the masses. They would engage in conversations and share their vision for the future.  They would be making connections, building relationships and beating their competition.

The pursuit of happiness lies in our hands both literally and figuratively.  Use marketing technology today as a vehicle for achieving success and your American dream.

First Published 5 Years Ago 

Today we celebrate Independence Day, July 4.   Beyond the fireworks and BBQs, we all should think about the great nation that we have the pleasure to be part of, and the many people who gave up their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy.

Exactly 234 years ago, a group of brave, brilliant and industrious individuals met in a steamy Philadelphia room and agreed to do something that had never been done before—start a revolution.  The risks were great; the price that was paid was high in terms of lives lost, lives destroyed and money, but in the end the reward was unmatched in human history.  The American Revolution gave us a country where freedom is sacred.

Today despite a challenging economy we have the freedom to express ourselves and pursue our business as well as our personal dreams.  For many the dream is being an entrepreneur or a small business owner or simply pursuing a career in a chosen profession or industry.  Having this choice is an integral part of our national character and a driver of the entrepreneurial spirit.  While entrepreneurs and small businesses are under attack from many directions, the American entrepreneurial spirit lives on.

The information age has brought with it new media vehicles which are allowing individuals to voice their opinions, develop creative ideas and start new businesses.  Like the minutemen of Lexington and Concord, individuals can stand up, and take control of their own destinies like never before.  Like the “shot heard around world” that started the American Revolution a simple Facebook post or Tweet can literally be seen around the world just in seconds.

Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Adams, Hancock and the other Founding Fathers all understood the importance of individuality and expression.  They were passionate individuals with a mission, and the creativity and drive to achieve their goal – a free and independent nation.

While the Founding Fathers did not have social media vehicles and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Youtube, Flickr and Foursquare I am sure that they would have taken advantage of them as mediums for communicating with contacts, public, friends and others interested in “the cause.”  Social networking and marketing did not exist, but these individuals knew the importance of publicity, having a personal brand, word of mouth marketing, networking, effective writing, publishing and public speaking. Do these skills and approaches sound familiar?  These techniques and others are the same that individuals need to capitalize on today to build their own personal brands, the foundation for a success in life, in business and in any community.

Did Franklin and Madison have a Blog?  Not exactly, however they did have a printing press.  They were able to create a buzz using well written content, printed books, flyers and newspapers. Papers and printed materials were circulated in pubs and homes across the 13 colonies and beyond.  People held discussion sessions and analyzed the information they were provided.  They debated and came up with their own comments and then shared materials with others who they thought would be sympathetic to their dreams of an independent democratic nation.

Today’s social media and personal branding gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)Dan Dchawbel (@DanSchawbel),  Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki), Peter Shankman (@skydiver), Seth Godin and others are taking similar approaches as the Founding Fathers.  The Founding Fathers published articles and spoke to small and large groups to educate, motivate and inspire individuals to become part of a movement that included the individual but also was much larger than any single person.

Let’s look at some of our Founding Fathers and how they relate to personal branding and communications.  There is much we that can learn from them and ways we can apply these lessons to social media marketing and personal branding efforts today.

George Washington – Founding Father and First President of the United States of America.  Washington is also

known for his leadership abilities, speaking skills, political savvy and ability to stand out in crowd.  Although he did not sign the Declaration of Independence his leadership of the Continental Army made him a front runner to lead the country after the war.

During the Revolutionary War era it took weeks or months to get information or important messages out to thousands of people, or just one letter from one colony to another.  Hand written copies of the Declaration of Independence were circulated by hand around the 13 Colonies and read in front of groups gathered in pubs and in front of churches and other community buildings.

Today we can disseminate messages and blog articles in seconds using social media sites and digital communications.  The speed of distribution may have changed but the goals of communicating ideas messages and attracting attention remain the same.

We can learn from George Washington an important lesson, humility.  When offered the opportunity to become king of the new nation, he turned it down.  He also turned down the opportunity to run for a third term as president; instead he retired.  In today’s world full of online and off line self promoters and overexposed celebrities seeking the lime light, humility is a trait that seems to be in short supply.  We could all benefit from more people following Washington’s example of humility and grace.

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, agonized for weeks to find the right language and consulted with other Founding Fathers to craft this historic document.   We learn from this example that writing passionately and choosing the right words is important.  On Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other writing quality has certainly suffered. Today it remains true that quality writing and compelling content will attract followers, and poor and uninteresting content will drive them away.

In our fast paced mobile technology society we are constantly on the move. A telling example of this is that on average there are more than 3,000 Tweets being placed every second.  Jefferson’s quote: No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing,” is apropos for today.  Many people are always “doing,” (communicating).  However, how much doing is actually wasting time? How much time is being spent on social media marketing with no measured results? Social media marketing programs must be planned and have goals. Without goals or a plan, the “doing” is nothing more than wasting time.

John Hancock – We know the name and we know the signature, he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence and did so in large and bold script.   John Hancock knew the importance of standing out, making a statement and doing something different.  My favorite quote from Hancock is: “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” This statement is especially true today. To be successful in business relationships and trust need to be built.  To influence people to act, purchase products or services, information and proof of abilities need to be conveyed to the target audience.  Be bold, but also have objectives and consider how relationships are being forged.

Benjamin Franklin – Frequently clients ask what should be said or what information should be put out on social media streams?  This quote from Benjamin Franklin answers the question perfectly: Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.”

Benjamin Franklin was truly an original and individual who understood celebrity and personal branding.  His exploits, scientific experiments and inventions as well as his larger than life personality made him a celebrity in France before he arrived to solicit their support for the “cause.”

We have much to learn from Franklin but for now, his grasp on being relevant and authentic can be our take away.  If something interesting or newsworthy is done write about it, don’t just write something for the sake or writing something.

John Quincy Adams – Are you a leader or do you aspire to be one in business, politics or in another field? If your answer is yes then this quote from John Quincy Adams is most appropriate:If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” To be a leader you need to be relevant and interesting.  Self-promotion and self-serving actions will not attract the right attention or inspire others.  Remember that being successful is not what inspires; what motivates and inspires others are the stories and examples of overcoming challenges and hardships to become successful.

There is much we can learn from studying our Founding Fathers.  From humility to creating relevant content their lessons can be applied to many facets of business and life today.

Every day of the year we should celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have been given.  We continue to enjoy this freedom because of the sacrifices of those who came before us and those who fight for us today in foreign lands and on other fronts.  We can honor them by embracing the American entrepreneurial spirit and following the examples set by our Founding Fathers.

All comments welcome, Happy 4th of July.

Don’t be a Fool – an April Fool’s Day Reminder

It’s Foolish to forget the importance of a having a personal marketing plan.

Many American business people work hard each day to be successful within the companies in which they work or in their own businesses. Countless hours of time and energy are spent networking, attending trade shows, using social media, sending emails and cold calling. Each of these activities has the goal of generating leads and developing business. However, most people who are in sales or business development do not have a personal marketing plan.

I have been on a personal mission to educate people about the importance of having a personal marketing plan and to grow their personal brand. America is a great country and the marketing activities that I listed above can all be effective. However, most people do not approach them with a system or a plan. For many, business and referrals come through these efforts but often it is a matter of pure luck. With even a basic plan a networker or salesperson can improve their lead generation and business development by 20 to 50 percent. Here are some quick actions you can take today:

  1. Create a personal marketing plan. Remember to write your plan down. As part of this plan set financial goals but also set marketing goals such as:
    1. Number of new LinkedIn contacts made per week
    2. Number of new names added to email marketing list
    3. Number of follow-up calls or emails made to people who you meet at a networking event or trade show
    4. Number of social posts you will do each week
    5. Number of videos you will film each quarter
    6. Number of blogs you will create each quarter
  2. Create your personal mission statement. What do you stand for and why should people work with you when they have so many options and choices?
  3. Review and clearly identify your target audience/market and who are the key referral sources.
  4. Create your system for following up with new contacts. You goal should be to turn contacts into prospects or to build trust which leads to referrals or opportunities.
  5. Review all of your social media sites and make sure that all photos, bios and job descriptions are up to date. It is critical that your real world brand matches your online brand.

We live in a highly competitive world for business as well as attention. Business people need to rely on action and effort and less on luck. With a simple personal marketing plan efforts will be focused and greater success will be achieved.

If you would like an outline to help you with the personal marketing plan process, please email me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Stop Using Social Media Now…If You Don’t Have A Plan

Your Social Media Plan: Why you need one and first steps

(This blog was origionally published on the Digital Brand Marketing Education Blog – www.digitalbrandmarketing.com )

Over the years I have conducted workshops and sat on panels discussing social media and marketing.  From these interactions it has become clear that many businesses and individuals struggle with understanding and using social media to market effectively.  However, social media is an important marketing tool for every business and an element that needs to be incorporated into every marketing plan.  According to an August 2011 survey Marketing in the Digital World conducted by Zoomerang.com, nearly half of the small businesses surveyed are utilizing social media to market to customers.  This survey noted that the most effective tactics for businesses to reach customers through social media is with wall posts and direct messages.  The survey stated that the most important reasons small businesses use social media are to connect with customers, enhance visibility and self-promote.

Social media strategies need to be tied together with a comprehensive marketing plan.  Without a plan, social media marketing can be a colossal waste of time. However, with the right approach it can reap tremendous branding and marketing rewards.  A social media marketing plan outlines the proper use of time, effort and money.  Unfortunately most small business owners are not marketing professionals and do not approach social media with a marketing perspective.

It is impossible to outline a complete plan in this blog, but I will discuss the first important steps needed to get started.  A successful plan does not have to be complex and it can be created and implemented quickly.

To successfully harness the power of social media for marketing, users need to understand it, understand how their customers and contacts are using it and how they are going to use it.  I purposely did not mention sales because one of the greatest misconceptions is that social media is a sales tool.  Social media is a branding and marketing tool used to build relationships and brand awareness, which can lead to referrals and sales.

The first step in the process of creating a plan is education.  Individuals and businesses must learn how their target audiences use social media and what sites they use.  It is essential to find out as much as possible about the behavior of clients and prospects.  Collecting and reviewing this information is an important part of the process.  For example, LinkedIn can be an ideal site for your business if you want to connect with other active business networkers.  According to a Lab42 survey of 500 Americans who were registered with LinkedIn, 35 percent check the site daily and 42 percent update their profiles regularly.  From this we can see that a large number of LinkedIn users are active on the site. These users are interested in keeping their profiles up-to-date for others to view.  Therefore LinkedIn’s business-focused online community is an ideal social media platform that should be included in a business’ social media marketing plan.

The research and information gathering phase will allow you to understand target audiences and choose the right social communities and sites to use.

Ask questions such as:

  • Where do clients, potential clients or referral sources interact online?
  • Where are my clients and prospects gathering, posting and commenting?
  • Who are the leaders in my sector and where can I find and listen to them online?
  • Where can I listen and participate in conversations online to grow my personal or business brand?

With this information in hand, strategies can be implemented and goals can be set directing where, how often and what messages should be posted.

Based on the research and information gathered about current and potential followers and customers, set up or expand your social media accounts.  This may mean creating a Facebook business page and/or group, a LinkedIn company page or group, a YouTube channel or a Flickr account for photos.  Twitter, Google+, Stumbleupon, Tumblr and other accounts may be part of this initial effort as well.   Each site has its advantages, and each has strategies for its use.  Currently, Facebook remains dominant in many categories including time spent on any U.S. website according to the NM Incite – Neilson State of Social Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011.  The numbers are truly staggering to look at.  Facebook visitors spent over 53.5 billion total minutes on their site in 2010 according to the Neilson, Netview, Home and Work (May 2011) study of the Top 10 Web Brands.

Successful plans set realistic goals.  Goals should include consideration of ROI (return on investment), but must also consider the amount of time and effort put forth, what I call ROE (return on effort).  Social media marketing ROI is difficult to measure in terms of direct sales, but can be achieved when time and budgets are set.  At the beginning of a social media marketing campaign or program it may be difficult to judge how much time should be spent.  Start slow and allocate a specific number of hours necessary to achieve desired results.  Only add time when warranted.  Social media is not a waste of time, but it can be a tremendous time-waster.  You limit your exposure and potential losses by managing time wisely.

The investment of time and resources is worth it.  According to information published by CrowdSpring, 51 percent of Facebook friends and 64 percent of Twitter followers are more likely to buy the brands they follow or are a fan of.

This outlines the first steps in the process of creating and implementing a social media marketing plan.  Stay tuned for additional posts in which I will cover topics such as creating social media campaigns and marketing messages, personal branding, strategies for monitoring success, enhancing the power of media coverage with social media, online reputation management and protection, crisis management, business development strategies using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and others.

Don’t stop using social media – start using it now with a plan and goals.

Sources:

CrowdSpring
Lab42
Marketing in the Digital World
Neilson State of Social Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011

13 Scary Social Media Mistakes to Avoid This Halloween

Nothing is scarier than watching people continuing to make social media mistakes.  It frightens me to think of all the time, money and effort wasted with ineffective and inefficient approaches to social media marketing.  Unfortunately many businesses and business people approach social media in a nonchalant way with no planning or goals.   At Corbett Public Relations we see this happening every day.

I offer many workshops: Grow Your Personal Brand and another on using social media to grow business are the most popular ones. Most attendees are eager to use social media, but almost all have no social media or marketing plan.  They are also overwhelmed in regards to where to start.  Whether you are already using social media, or just getting started, these are some common scary and time wasting mistakes you must avoid:

1) Don’t go in there! – Just like a group of unsuspecting teens who venture into a haunted house, remember you need to have a plan when approaching a social media marketing effort for yourself or your business.  Would Van Helsing go vampire hunting without a plan and wooden stakes for their hearts?  Start your planning with an assessment of what marketing you are doing now; research the social sites where your customers interact; completely set up your sites; link your social media sites, website and blog; and create goals with methods for measuring them (for a copy of my six week social media start up plan e-mail me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com).

2) Boo! –  Using social media to sell or, even worse hard sell, is a major mistake.  By doing this you will do the exact opposite of two of the major goals you want to accomplish with your social media activities – attract followers and start conversations.  If you try to sell you will scare many people away, probably forever.

3) What was that? –  This is a line often heard in scary movies.  Freaked out teens in an abandoned building are obviously scared, but what are they doing? They are hypersensitive to their environment and listening for danger. In the case of social media everyone needs to listen to customers, competition and other online influencers.   If you do not listen you will never understand your customers, the marketplace or know how to position your business and your messages.   Listen and you will avoid the danger of communicating messages nobody is interested in.

4) Scream – Social media is a two- way street with multiple intersections.  If you stand on the corner and shout your message at passing cars few will hear you and even fewer will care.   Your screaming (touting yourself, your

products or services) will eventually fall on deaf and uninterested ears.   People will listen to you if you speak with them and listen.  Answer their questions and give them a reason to pull over and listen to you.

5) The Swarm – There have been many scary movies about killer bees.  What we learn from these movies is that the saying, “never disturb a bees’ nest” is true.  The same goes for getting involved in cyber wars, arguments or discussions of religion and politics online.   As part of your social media activity you are seeking to show your expertise and build your brand.  Discussing these taboo topics can and will bring unwanted attacks and many negative comments.  This will drive people away and potentially hurt your brand and social media efforts.

6) Rotten Eggs – With Halloween comes mischief and unfortunately some destruction.   Throwing eggs is part of this tradition and is a practice that should be frowned upon by everyone.  Like an unwanted egg, an unwanted direct message or a poorly thought out,  error-filled post is equally undesirable.  Avoid sending direct messages asking for sales or with direct selling offers.   Build relationships before you ask for anything or even attempt to sell something.  The same goes for posting; if there is no purpose to it, don’t do it.  Posts should have interesting content, photos and videos whenever possible.    To build relationships and followers social media users need to be interesting, fun and informative.  You may only have one chance to make a good impression, make sure it’s the right one.

7) Trick – Don’t get tricked by high expectations for social media.  While social media can be very helpful and for some a strong business driver ROI (Return on Investment), for many, especially in the business to business world, this remains elusive.  Create a plan and look at social media as a long term investment in marketing and branding.   If you expect immediate gratification then you really have been tricked.

8) Trick or Treating – Did you ever plan out your trick or treating route when you were a kid?  Did you know the best blocks or houses for getting the most and best kinds of candy?  I bet many of you did.  For social media focus

on activities that work, spend time in communities (groups) where you can enhance your brand and attract followers.  Complete goals before moving on to new ones or developing new strategies.  Track your success with different social media sites and different communities and return to them.  Don’t go back or invest too much time on communities that proved to be more of a trick than a treat.

9) The Black Hole – Whether it’s a portal to another dimension or a black hole in space, it is important to avoid them.  Social media also has its own black hole – the black hole of time.  Social media can be a major time waster for many, like a vampire with a craving to suck blood social media sucks time away. Set specific “time budgets” for social media activities and only add time when you see efforts reap rewards or when they clearly demonstrate they are helping to achieve goals.

10) Your Costume – Have you ever won a costume contest?  Why do people win costume contests? The winners are usually creative, visually interesting, memorable and fun.  Your online image needs to have the same qualities.  Make sure you have a photo of yourself; one that makes you look good.  Spend the extra money to get a professional headshot done.  This image is important; studies show and social media experts report that without a photo people are less likely to connect with you or a business, follow you, comment on your posts or even read or look at what you post.

11) Zombies – What do zombies do?  They roam the earth looking to make a meal out of a live person.  In the social media world we also need to avoid zombies.  Zombies come to us in the way of viruses, spam and those engaged in fraud to get personal financial information.  Thankfully, viruses are less common via a social media but they do happen.  If you receive a direct message that looks strange, from someone you do not know or a message that suggests you check out a video or photo with you in it, delete this right away.  Knowing your enemy is important, but also be prepared.  If you use social media regularly make sure that you change your passwords from time to time, never share information that can be used by others to create accounts, make sure you back up your data remotely and often, and finally be prepared because you eventually will get a virus, malware attack or get hacked.  This is scary to think about.  Make sure your zombie (virus) protection plan is in place and software updated.  Protecting yourself will also help stop the virus from infecting others you are connected with on social media.  Spreading a virus is not a good way to attract friends, fans or followers.

12) Your Halloween Party – Who do you invite to your Halloween party?  Certainly friends, family and people you think will have a good time.  Would you invite people who you know would not wear a costume?  In social media you need to know who you have and who you want to have at your party.  The wrong people at the party could spoil it for everyone.  From people posting inappropriate content on your Facebook wall to LinkedIn “connections” who mine your client base for business, or worse steal your ideas (it’s happened to me), monitoring and carefully analyzing who follows you is important.   Take the time to review your followers on all social media sites; don’t let any questionable people into your community.  This does not mean preventing people you don’t know in, but do your best to vet them and watch what they are saying to members of your community.

13) Treats – A successful Halloween for me when I was young was all about having fun, maybe getting a little scared, collecting some great candy, and engaging in some harmless mischief.  A great costume attracted attention and some extra candy.  In addition, friends and family took photos and remembered the best costumes for years.   Social media can lead to treats or as I like to call them followers, referrals and business.  With a social media plan in place reputation and followers can be built on a growing basis.  By listening to followers and others, conversations can be started.  This will lead to relationships, real world meetings and eventually referrals and the best treat of all business.

Don’t be scared of social media.  For the new user it can be a little frightening but the rewards, both personal and business-related, can be significant.

What scares you about social media?  Let me know.

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