Small Voices, Big Impact: Social Media for the Little Guy

March 25, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Good morning, New York City! It’s time for big talk about little things. Mega news about the tiniest communities.  Do big, big, big with small, small, small. And lots more big/small talk that my caffeinated brain can’t even think up yet. Huzzah!  Stoney deGeyter is moderating speakers Amber Naslund, Jennifer Evans Laycock, Christina Kerley and Tim Kendall.

Let’s talk small!  [delirious face]

Ooo, now I’m nervous because Bruce Clay’s Virgnia Nussey and Kim Krause-Berg are right behind me.  Make sure you check out Bruce Clay’s and Search Marketing Guru’s SES NY coverage as well.  (After ours, of course. Don’t go away. We love you more than they do.)

Stoney says we’re doing things different in this session. There will be a brief Q&A after each speaker. Hmm, okay. Let’s see how this works. :)

Up first is Jennifer.

She lets us know that this is the first time Search Engine Strategies is holding a Small Business Track. So if you like it, let people know. Little guy, woot!

While we call it social media marketing, that’s really not the focus of this. It’s about conversations and the chance to get your business involved in conversations with customers in a way that helps you improve your marketing among all channels.

Social media sites pop up left and right nonstop.  There used to be Twitter clones. People talked about them…and then we all went back to Twitter. There’s always the next big thing. Social media is about anything online that lets people connect with each other. You need to remember that it’s not necessarily about finding the next big thing. It’s about looking at what has already taken hold and getting involved there. If you would get involved on Facebook today, you’re going to have a very large audience to work with. If you went when they were new, you would have had a small audience to work with. There’s nothing wrong with going after the other established markets. The only people on new networks are marketers. That’s not who you want to reach.

Social media is essential in a recession. People are hunting for information.

Social Media Launch Point: Flickr

Images give you a completely different feel than just text. You can use Flickr to host your images, yes. But the people who get involved in Flickr are more engaged simply because of the time it takes to take a photo and post it.  Do some searches and look for forums on your topic at hand.

Say you run a dive shop. Search for scuba or diving. There are 100s of groups there that have hundreds and hundreds of members. And there are discussions that go with them. There’s conversation taking place about products, services and businesses. Reaching this engaged audience instead of just the lower level engaged gives you a whole different group of people.

She talks about getting links from Flickr to get engaged and direct traffic. People drop links in the photo descriptions to get the traffic. The engagement rates on that traffic tend to be really high.

[In case you missed it, I had a post on Search Engine Land last week about using Flickr to get content and links. You may want to check that out, too.]

Social Media Launch Point: Twitter

Good for getting information out there.  It allows you to create your listening board.

Retweeting is like viral marketing. You put a post out to your Twitter network. Then a few of your followers post about it, too. Then it gets out to their networks, as well.  If you build up a good network of followers, Twitter can be a good way to spread your message or even to ask for feedback.  It’s a direct line of communication.

Why should you love Twitter? It’s a really low barrier to entry. You can update by phone or by application. You get instant feedback.

Social Media Launch Point: YouTube

YouTube is second to Google in terms of a site people are running searches on. That makes it a really powerful place to go and get your message out.  You can optimize for YouTube the same way you’d optimize for Google.

She talks about the Will It Blend videos, which apparently only a handful of people in this room have heard of. They must be living in bubbles. Or under rocks.  Or their Blackberry’s are broken. BlendTech was trying to sell their $400 blender and decided to shoot a series of videos where they took everything and anything they could think of and threw it in the blender to see what would win out. All but once, the blender won out. The videos are engaging and funny…but they also prove how strong the blender is.

The first five videos they did cost them $100. They got coverage in the NY Times, iVillage, Newsweek, Playboy (Playboy? I don’t even want to know.), etc.  They’ve now seen a 700 percent increase in sales.  It was a good way to promote their product and get it more eyes.

Social Media Launch Point: LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the great social networks for business professionals. It’s overlooked because people don’t know how to use it.  There’s so much more to it than just an online resume site. You can get in and ask questions. But you can also see how you’re connected to other people. Say you’re looking for a contact at company X, LinkedIn will tell you how many degrees separated from someone you are and who you know who knows them. It can help get you introductions.

The Value Triangle

[Wanna play a game? Okay, pretend the list below is actually a triangle with the fat part (blogs and articles) at the top and thin part (microblogging) at the bottom? Okay? I can liveblog, I can’t draw triangles on the fly. Carry on.]

  • Blogs and Articles
  • Social Reviews
  • Discussion Forum
  • Search Results
  • Social News
  • Micrblogging

The context is higher towards the top of the list. However, the competition for attention goes in the other direction.  If you’re just starting off, start where you get the most bang from your buck (the top) and then work your way down the list.

Question and Answer #1

How has marketing itself changed?

Kerley: Overall, think of where we go for information now. We go online and see how people are enjoying the product. We get information from people. It’s a more transparent era. It used to be the company would have an advertisement to many, now it has messages but they go back and forth. What’ s changed the most is where we go for information before we make a purchase.

Krista: The sheer volume of places to go for information is what’s overwhelming for marketers.  People don’t have to sift through information and accidentally come across your messages. Now they have specific places to go. It makes marketers smarter, but their job harder.

Jennifer: She’s not sure it’s evolved as much as its taken things back to how they were a long time ago. A hundred years ago, things were about building relationships and trusting people based on the value of their work. And then we went through this phrase with big box corporations popping up. It was consolidation and cheaper. What the Internet did was to bring us back to the place where you don’t have to shop from the big faceless retailer.  You can go online and find someone else. It’s changed the way we do business by giving us new tools to do what we used to do better.

Kerley: She thinks the Web makes the world smaller. We don’t have the boundaries we once had.

How do you pull yourself away from traditional marketing to make time to nurture these communities?

Naslund:  They’ve spent less than $2,000 on traditional marketing. They don’t do print or broadcast media. As they’ve built their community organically over time, they’re customers are intensely loyal and the people who aren’t their customers yet are still fans of what they’re doing. It creates goodwill. For them, the ROI is there. They have a list of metrics that they track.

Kerley: We have the ability right now to teach people what we know and to teach it in a very simple language.

Jennifer: Social media is so much bigger than Twitter or Facebook. It’s anything online that people are using to share their opinions. It’s blogs and the Amazon reviews.  People use social media without realizing it. They do a search on Google and end up on a blog without realizing it’s a blog.

Naslund: Social media’s not for every business. Realistically, if you’re the guy with the corner liquor store and all of your customers are the people in your neighbor, you don’t need social media.  You have to find out if it’s good for your business.

Jennifer: You don’t have to use social media to push your message, but use it to listen to your audience.

Kerley: Not every company has to blog, but every company has to listen. Find out what people like, what they don’t like, what they’re asking for.

What are the top ways Facebook is monetizing their site and how are others monetizing on Facebook?

Kendall: It’s 98 percent advertising. That’s how Facebook brings in money.

They have two types of offering – A Brand/Engagement ad sold to big brands and a self-service CPC offering that people can go in, create, target an ad, target it to the appropriate demographic and go.

They’re seeing small businesses use their Facebook pages, which have just been upgraded. Then users can affiliate with them. They’re getting good distribution through that presence.

How does a small business get past the fear of losing control of the conversation?

Kerley: The biggest fear of going online is, “omg someone may say something bad about my business”. If someone is saying something negative online, they’re probably already saying it if you’re there or not. If they’re saying it to you, they’re doing you a favor. You now know how to improve the product and you now have a relationship with them. It’s just people.

Naslund: Social media didn’t create criticism. People have been complaining about businesses for decades.  They’re big on listening and engagement because when someone says something negative about you, they’re asking you to listen. They want to be heard. You can send people off helping them like you care about their situation.

Kerley: She’s always impressed with people who respond well to her criticism.

How do you reach out to people within a 20 mile radius of my location?

Kerley: You can geotarget on Twitter. If you’re doing a blog, you can be very aware of where your target it is. You can use local on Facebook.

Kendall: Twitter lets you filter comments by geo, which is pretty useful.

Next up is Tim.  He’s the Facebook hottie.

You can use Facebook Pages to create a presence on Facebook.  Businesses are creating profiles, celebrities are, etc.  These profiles behave very much like user profiles. They look the same.  The nice thing about creating them is that you can customize it based on which customers are coming to your page. People affiliated with your page go directly to your wall. People who are just seeing you for the first time, you can make default to a different tab to get across a specific message.  You can add photos, videos, other content, etc., which then shows up on your wall and is published out to all the people that are following you.

The cool thing about Pages is that you can get valuable insights about who’s on your page and who’s engaged with your page.  You can see page views, uniques, who’s posting, who’s adding discussion topics, etc.

Pages can be powerful viral distribution tools. Tim uses his John Grisham example from yesterday. You’re on the John Grisham page and you can say that you “like” (endorse) the The Appeal and that gets distributed out into his friends’ news feeds. They see a lot of pages that spread and develop big customer bases without spending any money on advertising.

They look at the world in terms of demand fulfillment (paid search) and demand generation. Demand search is about giving people what they said they want. But there are a lot of people who may not go to Google to search for something, but who may want it anyway. There’s always a set of people out there who could be customers but who just aren’t searching in the moment. Facebook can help you reach them.

Question and Answer #2

What about legal liability? We work in credit counseling so the conversations we have with people can affect them on a financial basis.  On a blog, you can put a disclaimer. There’s no disclaimer on Twitter.

Naslund: Just start your tweet of with “this isn’t legal advice, but…”. When she’s on twitter and talking about a client, she tells people its a client.  You have to be incredibly careful.

[This session ends in 15 minutes and we stil haven’t heard from two of the speakers. I’m not sure this Q&A format after each speaker is a good idea.]

They have a large product base and its tedious to upload one text ad at a time, will there ever be a large scale editor and what about conversion tracking?

Kendall: They’re working on an API to handle large scale uploads and yes, they’re working on conversion tracking.  The API can be expected by summer. The conversion pixel, he doesn’t know.

What about Facebook Fan Pages for publishers?  They have 300 unique individuals creating content every day. There’s not a good sense of how to employ it to support a pure local traffic play.

Kendall: He says to run an advertising campaign and target it to a very small geo-specific area.

Greg Jarboe wants Amber Naslund to start talking about Radian6.

Naslund: It’s a social media monitoring platform. They provide a browser and app platform to monitor your brands.  They help you aggregate the content and do analytics on it. They also give you tools to help respond to it.

[Oh, apparently the other ladies aren’t given presentations. Okay, then. Well done, panel!]


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