xanpearson

Are You A Social Media Snake Oil Salesman?

In Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter on May 3, 2010 at 3:44 am

As a child I used to watch old Western movies on TV with my dad.  I didn’t particularly like movies about cowboys and gunfights, but I enjoyed spending time with my dad, so I watched a lot of them.  In many of the Westerns, there would be a slick traveling salesman, peddling a fake elixir (snake oil) purported to cure all ailments.  The exaggerated character of the “snake oil salesman” was marked by boisterous, obnoxious marketing hype, typically bogus.

Now, as an adult, whenever I see a smooth-talking, insincere person trying to sell something, the image of a snake oil salesman pops into my head.  I see it every day: on infomercials, in business, at the mall, and in social media.  Sometimes the product is great, but the salesperson is too pushy or just comes across as disingenuous.  And therein lies the pitfall for many people and businesses using social media.   Whether you’re a large corporation, small business, or individual trying to drive traffic to a blog, how others perceive you can make or break your brand’s success.  Are you coming across as a social media “snake oil salesman”?  Here are 5 warning signs you may be harming your brand:

1.   You send out a DM to every new follower with a link to your site. Chances are most people will ignore your DM, and you run the risk of being blocked and reported as spam. Would you ask someone you just met face-to-face to do you a favor?  The approach appears pushy and your motives seem insincere.  Instead, start communicating with your followers and build a relationship of mutual respect and trust.  I have many friends in social media who know that I will always RT a new blog post or support them in any way I can.  I welcome their requests, but this came over time, after we had connected and gotten to know each other.

2.   All of your posts are links to your site. This comes across as desperate and, again, spammy.  Social media is not traditional advertising.  If you only want to talk about yourself, buy an ad.  The “social” in social media implies engagement.  Share insightful content with your followers, comment on or retweet their posts, and ask questions.  As people get to know you, they will be more apt to go to your blog or website.

3.  You post random shout outs in stream asking people to follow you, check out a site or RT a post. I see this a lot with newbies on Twitter who think it’s a fast way to drive traffic to a website or accumulate followers.  It’s highly ineffective and most people will ignore you.  It’s the equivalent of the peddler on the street corner shouting at passerbys.  Social media marketing takes time, and you need to put in the effort to establish a social network and loyal following.  If you aren’t willing to do that or don’t have the time, maybe you should reconsider whether social media is the best marketing medium for you.

4.   You use exaggerated claims. These are all over social media and they give the appearance of lack of confidence in the true merits of the products.  “Become the next Donald Trump”; “Earn $3,000 in one week”; “Get 1,000 followers a day”.  This is one of the quickest ways to destroy your reputation/ brand and become labeled a “snake-oil salesman”.   If you want to build trust, be honest.  Tip: If you only have 500 followers on Twitter, don’t post  “I got 2,000 followers in one week using *XYZ* site.”  Just sayin’.

5.   You ignore complaints. By ignoring negative comments on your blog or about your product, you fuel negativity rather than mitigate it.  In the Westerns, whenever someone shouted out “Charlatan!”, the snake oil salesman’s accomplice would come along and knock them out with the butt of his gun (all in front of a miraculously oblivious crowd), while the salesman continued to shout the merits of his product as though nothing happened.  In social media, no one is there to stifle your critics (and your audience will not be as oblivious to your lack of response).  Only you can quell negativity, by addressing complaints and detractors with professionalism and sincerity.  This exhibits confidence in your product and respect for your customers/followers.

Whether you are new to social media or wondering why you haven’t been able to drive traffic to your site, take a moment to reflect on your approach and how you may be perceived.  You can have the best product or the most insightful blog, but if you appear too slick or insincere, you will alienate followers.

Picture courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/ccohen/4064733771

Developing and Defining Your Social Media Strategy

In Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter on August 25, 2010 at 9:00 am

This article is cross-posted at TheeMailGuide.com

You’ve heard it before, “Conversations about your brand are happening…with or without you.”  Whether or not you have integrated social media into your company’s marketing platform, your organization is already “in” social media.  So what is holding you back from actively participating in this medium?

I was recently approached by a company discouraged with its lack of success in social media.  I asked the marketing staff to describe their strategy.  Their response was, “We set up a Facebook page, Twitter account, and blog.  We post daily and have 1,200 fans on Facebook, but discovered many are hiding our posts.”  Unfortunately, this is a common mistake made by businesses exploring social media.  While those are some of the tools needed to implement a strategy, it’s not a strategy.  Jumping into social media without having a clearly defined plan is an exercise in frustration.  Developing a comprehensive strategy is the first key to success and is composed of defining several elements:

Define Your Goals. Your strategy is the path to achieve your goals; so set your objectives first.  Do you want to expand your customer base, drive sales, build brand awareness, educate consumers, increase brand loyalty, gain insight into your customer, gather product development input or feedback, etc.?  Don’t try to do all of these things at once.  Choose a few viable and sustainable goals for your first year.

Define Your Brand. The social platform offers you an in-depth opportunity to tell your story.  Who are you?  What is your mission?  What do you care about?  Most importantly, what do you want to resonate with your audience?

Define Your Audience. Before you can engage your audience, you need to understand who it is.  Gather the demographics: age, gender, ethnicity, and income.  Where are your current and potential customers geographically?  How are they using social media?  What are they currently talking about and to whom are they listening?

Define Your Community. Your audience is part of a larger community.  This is not just which social networks they are using, but with whom they are interacting within those networks.  Who are the influential players within the community?  Who are the authorities relevant to your industry and which blogs are the most read?   How are your competitors involved in the community?  What is important to the community?  How will you reach out to other experts within the community?

Define Your Commitment. Interactive marketing is a long-term commitment which involves virtually every department within an organization.  From marketing, public relations, and corporate social responsibility to IT, product development and customer service, internal collaboration will be essential to a successful social media campaign.  Do you have the full support of upper management?  Have you discussed the initiative internally with all departments?  What is your time and financial allocation to this platform?

Define Your Voice. If you were selling children’s products, you wouldn’t hire the Marlboro Man to be the face of your company in a television commercial.  The same consideration needs to be given to who will be executing your social media strategy.  Your “voice” will be representing your brand, amplified across the web, in a medium which requires both professionalism and personal engagement.  Will you outsource or execute internally?  What qualifications will you require?  There are a lot of self-proclaimed social media gurus out there and having a Facebook page with thousands of “friends” doesn’t make someone an expert.

Define Your Success. Establishing business performance metrics is essential.  What metrics and benchmarks will you use to qualify and quantify success?  There are many ways to evaluate social media performance:  customer impressions, ROI, increased sales, influence, and engagement.

Whether you are new to social media or have ventured in with little success, proper planning is as critical as execution.  Employing social media marketing is a long-term commitment.  Developing a strategy by defining these elements prior to participation will save you a lot of time, frustration and financial resources.

In future posts I will delve into each of these fundamentals, as well as how to implement a social media strategy.  I welcome your feedback.  Have I missed anything?  What are some of the elements you include in your social media strategy?

Dear Brand…It’s Over.

In Business, Marketing, Social Media on August 23, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Dear Brand,

I’m sorry to have to write this in a letter.  I’ve tried to talk to you, but my pleas have gone unanswered.

There is no easy way to say this.

It’s over.

Please understand, it’s not you… it’s me.

Okay, maybe it is you.

I just don’t feel appreciated.  It seems our relationship is just all about YOU.  There was a time when I was fine with that, even embraced it.  We had some great times talking about you – like when we would laugh at that funny commercial you were in, or the time we were driving down the highway and saw your billboard.  That was hot!  My friends and I used to talk about that one a lot!

But I’ve changed.

I need more.

And, well, you are stuck in the past.  We never really “talk”, you know?  My schedule is crazy and I just don’t have as much time as I once did to do the things you enjoy – like watching TV and reading newspapers.  That’s okay once in a while, but I have new interests, too.  I know you don’t like how much time I spend on the web and in social networks, but it’s not just about you anymore.

I hate to hurt you, but I’ve met someone else…your archrival.

I didn’t plan for it to happen.  We met online in a social network and, at first, just chatted occasionally.  But then something happened…

We connected!  He told me about himself and shared interesting information.  And he wanted to get to know ME!  It wasn’t all about him.  He listened; he cared; and he made me feel valued.  I’d be lying if I said it meant nothing.  He had me at “Hello. How can I help?”

With you I feel our relationship has always been one-sided and you only care about one thing…

What I can do for you.

What about me?  What about what I want?  What about being involved in the things I enjoy?

I defended you to all of my friends.  When they were talking trash about you, I tried to be loyal.  You weren’t even there to defend yourself, and I just felt used.

So this is goodbye.  I hope you understand.  I needed more from you than you were willing to give.

I hope we can still be friends.

Well, maybe not.

Xoxo,

Your former customer

P.S.  This has nothing to do with your silence when I asked you if I looked fat.

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