Why Ask Why – a Tale of 3 Bloggers

social media marketing success“Why are you blogging?”

If you haven’t asked yourself this question lately, maybe you should.

Recently, I had back to back conversations in a single morning with three different types of bloggers and was struck by how different their individual blogging goals were.

While each fit a similar “demographic” profile and all three were business owners, their answers to the question, “Why are you blogging?” were all dramatically different.

The Conversationalist – blogging to build community and connection.

The first blogger’s journey into blogging began because she wanted to be able to easily update the content on her website.  Enter the WordPress self hosted blog as CMS (content management system).

However, as time has progressed, this client has been feeling “called” to begin blogging with building community in mind.  She wants to begin engaging in a meaningful conversation with prospective clients and visitors to her website.  Because we’re already using WordPress as the CMS for her site, this will be an easy transition.

Creating a community conversation blog means installing some plugins to encourage conversation (a.k.a. comments) – WordPress plug ins like:

It also means adding some “social media” plugins such as:

The change in direction also means setting up Feedburner for the “new” information sharing style web presence. (The easiest way to make sure all RSS feeds go through Feedburner, use the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin.)

All of these plugins are designed to make conversation and community “easier” on a WordPress self hosted blog.

This client has begun regularly “blogging” about a new “life design” she’s implementing.  She’s started blogging regularly and making sure that her blog posts encourage others to join in on the conversation.

While it’s possible that this will blogging project will ultimately net her more clients – right now, the primary reason this client is blogging is because she really wants to connect with others and have them join her on this journey.

The Capitalist – blogging to achieve superior SERPS

The next client’s reason for blogging was entirely different.  When I asked this client the question – “Why are you blogging?” –  there was an uncomfortable silence as she considered her answer.

I “rescued” her by interjecting, “if you goal is to make the cash register ring – it’s OK! It just means there are some elements that you won’t want to embrace in your blog.”

The Capitalist knew that creating search engine friendly content is WAY easier when you build your web presence using a WordPress self hosted blog – and I think she was afraid that I would “condemn” her for not having “loftier” blogging goals.

In my book – a blogger who knows WHY he or she is blogging is already breathing rarefied air!!!

For the Capitalist, we skipped the plugins centered around “encouraging comments” but we’ll still be using the social media plugins because this client is very active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s constantly making connections – not only to sell product but also has the goal of making joint venture connections via these valuable social media tools.

In addition to the tools above, we’re also using Viper’s Video to easily embed the informational videos she is creating for YouTube within blog posts. Creating YouTube videos is a GREAT way to leave  what I call “breadcrumb trails” back to your blog.

Of course, this clients product offerings are available on the static pages of her blog.  It’s amazing how many people I talk with who think that for some reason, a blog page can’t contain links to purchase products and services.

While the appearance of the blog is important to the Conversationalist – it’s even more important for the Capitalist. I can’t count the number of times I’ve “upgraded”  the design elements on a small business web presence and seen the conversion rate climb radically just because the design went from “home grown” to “polished and professional”.

The first time I witnessed the “design effect” was when a client came to me with a site that got nice traffic but sales conversions were dismal.  A simple “face lift” increased the conversion rate over 400% in a single quarter.

Content is king – but professional design is also important – especially to the Capitalist who wants to engender enough trust with visitors to get them to hand over their dough.

The Clueless Chump – blogging as a quick easy way to fame and fortune.

The first two conversations were with existing clients.  These are women who own successful businesses which they want to take to the next level.  The morning ended with a prospective new client call.  During the course of the third conversation I discovered that this woman is looking for a way to make a six figure income with a minimal investment of time, money and effort.   She’s obviously been infected with the “blogs as easy money” virus – which should be more feared than any strain of flu.  For that reason, I’m dubbing her the Clueless Chump.

Ah, if only she had opened the conversation with a quick, concise statement which communicated the information above- how much easier my life would be.

Let me be clear, this isn’t a woman who wants to launch or promote an authentic small business.  She’s not interested in adding value – which is what a blog with affiliate links must do to be successful. There’s plenty of value to be provided by the blog that offers reviews of products or services.

This woman is also not interested in selling products or services.   She’s also not interested in connecting with others unless they’re willing to give her money without her doing anything to earn that money.

I’ve been burned by this type of “money for nothing” client enough in the past that I’m getting pretty good at spotting these early on and steering clear.

This third call was not a reader of my blog.  When the Capitalist asked me why I blog – my response was I use my blog to try to “weed out” the Clueless Chump calls.  In this case, this particular Clueless Chump has never read my blog and probably never will – she found me by referral.

It’s days like this when I learn first hand why it’s so hard to give “one size fits all” advice around the issues of social media marketing and blogging.   As social media marketing emerges, it’s becoming obvious that crafting a social media marketing strategy is the most important step of all.

That’s why you should ask yourself “why”.  Asking yourself “why” can give you a solid foundation upon which to build your blogging strategy.

#1 Rule for Social Media Marketing Success…

social media marketingLet me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity” ~ Louis Pasteur

#1 Rule for Social Media Marketing Success has got to be TENACITY.   Without a doubt, tenacity ( the ability to persevere or stick with a task) is probably the most important ingredient in social media marketing success.

See, social media marketing is not a “set it and forget it” proposition.

For those of you who are actively PARTICIPATING in social media, you’re responding with a great big Homer Simpson style, “Doh!”

Anyone with an established healthy blog knows that social media “magic” doesn’t happen in 6 days – 6 weeks or even 6 months.  They will also attest that it takes a serious investment of time and effort to participate in social media – but most will also tell you that the investment is well worth it.

In the post, When Fantasy Meets Reality – Social Media Marketing Reality Check, I share what I think are the 4 “essential” ingredients for social media marketing success:

  • understand your customers GDP (Goals, Desires, Problems)
  • be able to express how your business  helps customers to achieve goals, satisfy desires and solve problems
  • be naturally social
  • be technically savvy

Yet – even if you are able to bring together all of those elements – you must apply a HEALTHY dose of tenacity to the mix.  Bringing these 4 essential elements together and expecting overnight success is  – well, it’s like mixing the ingredients to bake a cake but failing to place the mixture into a preheated oven.

Denise Zimmerman in the article 4 signs you’re a social media failure illustrates the importance of tenacity in social media marketing as she chronicles two weight loss industry heavy weights (pun intended) epic failures in the world of social media marketing.  Both Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers are committing “marketing sins” commonly plaguing much smaller companies and are acting as if social media marketing is a “set it and forget it” proposition.

Denise writes:

Weight Watchers’ Twitter page contains all of three tweets, all posted Feb. 22. It has been silent ever since, although it has 1,167 followers. Rather than interact with these existing followers and build its following, it directs folks to its Facebook page.

Contrast this “set it and forget it” social media marketing strategy strategy with how Dell Computers is using Twitter.  Dell is often held up as shining example of social media marketing success. Dell is serious about using social media marketing to promote and build their business.  This is from Dell’s dedicated Twitter page –

Perhaps you already use Twitter to communicate with your friends, find out about breaking news, and keep up with technology and social media (or even political) leaders.

Now you can also get great deals from Dell, stay current with what’s happening at Dell, and connect with other Dell fans and employees through Twitter!

If you go to the Dell Twitter page, you’ll find over 30 different Twitter feeds as options.  If you live in Ireland and are interested in the latest news about refurbished Dell computers  – there’s a Dell Twitter feed for you.

Perhaps you’re digital nomad – “For individuals that travel their world, their country, their city, their neighborhood, their office, their campus with their laptop and other electronic device,” there’s a Dell Twitter feed just for you.

Maybe you’re an online video aficionado – there’s a Dell Twitter feed dedicated to letting you know when Dell uploads new videos so you can learn more and most importantly, share those cutting edge videos with your family, friends and colleagues.

Go ahead – click on a feed – any Dell Twitter feed.   I’ll bet you won’t find a single one with only 3 tweets from last February.

Do you know what happens when you expect your social media marketing to operate on autopilot?

NOTHING!

I once worked with a client who, when he learned all the effort he would have to put into a social media marketing campaign decided that he would rather use television advertising to communicate with prospective customers.

I don’t fault him in the slightest.  As a matter of fact, it was one of the wisest business decisions ever made IMHO.  He weighed the value of his time and decided that paying for production of a television commercial PLUS air time was a better investment for his business than the investment of time needed to make social media marketing work for him.

Even though social media marketing is still a relatively new concept, the internet landscape is already littered with the tattered remains of inactive communities, stagnant Facebook pages and unused blogs.

The good news is that with a little time and effort, most of these inactive social media marketing tools can be revived and put to good use.

The bad news is that social media marketing will NEVER be a “set it and forget it” proposition – but maybe that’s not really bad news at all.  Maybe that’s the way that eventually we’ll use to separate the good from the bad.

Social Media: Same Shit-Different Day

If there’s one underlying “theme” to the blog posts around here it’s this – Social Media Marketing is all about communication.  If you don’t know what message you need to communicate to potential customers or clients, there is no “magical device” that will “improve” your marketing message.

The magic in social media marketing is found in the message NOT the medium!

Which is why I find this mockumentary so amusing:

In the mocumentary above – the expressed goal of the founders is not to solve a problem  – but rather to come up with the next “big thing”.   The tongue is firmly in cheek here.

There’s no POINT to Flutter… it doesn’t solve a real problem.

Twitter is a GREAT marketing tool for Dell Computers… because many of Dell’s target audience are early adopters of technology.  On the other hand, Twitter is a horrible marketing tool for many of my clients because their target audience members are not early adopters of technology.

Every successful social media tool solves a communication problem.

Blogs, Facebook, Linked In and Twitter all effectively “solve” a “communication problem”.

Blogging addressed the “problem” of how non-technical users could easily get information onto the web.  A blog removes the need for FTP software and the knowledge of HTML to use the web for communication.

In Facebook’s case – it began as a way for college students to connect online.  However, when you graduate from college, it’s easy to lose touch -which is the “problem” Facebook solves for people.   Facebook makes it easy to find and communicate with people from your past and your present.

Twitter solved the “problem” of how to reach your blog readers when they weren’t reading your blog.  While blogging made it easy to get your thoughts onto the web, your blog readers have to “come” to your blog to read it.   Twitter reaches out and allows you to speak to your readers when they’re NOT at your blog.  (If you don’t “get” Twitter – download and install Tweetdeck.  Without Tweetdeck or Twhirl, Twitter is pointless, IMHO.)

All of these successful social media tools solve a communication problem…. which is the foundation for business success.

What problem does your product or service solve?

I can’t tell you how OFTEN I get “pushback” on this issue.  I’ve had many clients who didn’t want to address what problems their product or service solved.   Unfortunately, many of those people’s businesses are either struggling or no longer around today.

I will admit that it is possible that your product or service doesn’t solve a problem.   It’s possible your product or service helps to satisfy a desire or achieve a goal.

A soft drink satisfies a desire  while financial planning services help to achieve a goal.  Those are but two examples of products/services that fall outside the “solving a problem” product or service.

Whether your product or service is solving a problem, helping customers achieve a goal or satisfy a desire, you’d better be able to articulate exactly WHAT it is your product or service DOES for your target audience if you want to make social media marketing (or any OTHER kind  of marketing) work for your business.

Social media is communication.  Figuring out WHAT it is you want to communicate is the key to success. It doesn’t matter if it’s radio, television or the web – getting the marketing message on target is the HARD part.

The magic is in the message NOT the medium!

Effective Selling Using Social Media

transparency in social mediaLet’s face facts- the reason many business owners are interested in social media marketing and are Twitterpated by Twitter is not that they’re anxious to make a “connection” with potential customers but rather that they’re anxious to close sales.

For example, most business owners who are “hot” to learn more about Twitter,  have heard the tales of how Dell uses Twitter to close millions of dollars in sales.  As a result, most businesses are interested in using Twitter to boost their bottom line in a similar fashion.

The problem is, many businesses are so focused on making a sale today that they fail to recognize that closing sales in the new millennium requires establishing a significant amount of TRUST!!

Trust isn’t earned in a single “transaction”.

Social media is a GREAT tool to build trust – but in order to do so, you must first be trustworthy!!!   In my post The REAL reasons why you should be using “social media” I state that:

The REAL reason you need to be using  [insert social media application of choice] is to establish TRUST with other human beings.

Trust – trust is the foundation of making sales in the new millennium.

Social media is as viral as it is transparent.  Just try being less than “authentic”  in the realm of social media and you’ll quickly discover how brutal the new social media based web can be.

My favorite illustrations of this principle are still Cash4Gold Social Media Meltdown and the Belkin Social Media Payola Scandal which both CLEARLY illustrate that when it comes to Social Media Marketing – authenticity is essential because transparency is not optional.

However, when you’re authentic – when you’re really serious about providing a product or service that addresses a customer’s GDP (Goals, Desires and Problems – you’re either trying to help them Achieve a Goal, Satisfy a Desire or Solve a Problem – learn more in my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results) then the new web – the social media web – can truly be the best thing since sliced bread for your business.

See, if your business model is based on “people are idiots – and easily parted with their hard earned cash” then you’re going to HATE the new web.  You’re going to HATE how people can share their experiences with your company.  You’re going to HATE how transparent and viral the new web is.

However, if your business model is based on truly meeting the needs of your customers or clients – well, then be prepared to work a little harder up front in building trust – because there are a lot of “slimy SOB’s” (that’s straight out of an email from a new client this morning) out there claiming to do what you say you do.  However, you can also be prepared to start getting new business falling into your lap thanks to the new web.

In her post “Selling isn’t Selling Anymore” Betsy Wuebker writes:

The masters of sales psychology […] have routinely stressed building rapport, listening skills, problem-solving, and other relationship-builders are a better path . The funny thing is, when you employ relationship-builders they – wait for this – build relationships. You become a colleague by virtue of the relationship you’ve cultivated. You don’t need to consciously ABC because you’re trusted. Trust will close the sale for you every time.

That’s part of the “magic” of social media.  Social media tools such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook are great ways to build trust with potential customers or clients.  Trust is the big kahuna – the big wave – the success maker.

Thanks to social media, I find I don’t spend very much time at all in “closing” new clients on my services.  They’re “pre-closed” thanks to my social media presence. It’s a beautiful thing – but it didn’t happen by writing 2 or 3 blog posts and then sitting back and waiting for my email to fill with client requests!!!

If you read the last line and thought “Doh!” then please, feel free to contact me about working together.  See, the 7th layer of hell in my business are the clients who expect to write two or three blog posts and then magically find those precious blog posts gaining top 10 SERPS on highly competitive keywords.

Social media doesn’t work like that.  Building trust doesn’t work like that.  If you can’t summon more than 2 or 3 blog posts on the topic which you claim “expert” status – perhaps you don’t deserve the “trust” of potential clients.

In the blog post Gain Readers by Selling Yourself, Barbara Swafford tells the tale of the days when she was employed to reach out and connect with customers – a.k.a. telemarketing.  She ends the post with a poignant admonition:

Today’s Lesson

For our blog to succeed, we must sell it. And, in selling our blog, we are also selling ourselves.

Yes indeedy doody.  Social media is ALL about selling ourselves.   You might think you work with “corporations” but trust me, you don’t.  You are an individual who works with other individuals employed by corporations.  Jason Cohen writes about this subject in his post “How to get customers to love you even when you screw up” and he writes:

If you pretend to be something you’re not, they’ll see right through it. Then what have you done? You’ve lied to those who would have loved you for who you are; that’s not how you build a relationship.

Relationships and trust are the KEY elements in social media marketing.

If there is any  “magic” in social media it is brought to the table – BY YOU!

Social Media Marketing can’t be “pre-packaged” and “canned”.  That’s not how social media works.

Years ago, when businesses started pre-packaging and mass delivering canned email marketing messages without any attempt to engage the end user or build trust – well, it quickly got dubbed as “spam”.

There are tons of tools being promoted to help you pre-package your social media messages.  Trust me, none of them will work nearly as well as sharing your true and authentic self.  That’s how you build relationships and trust that are essential to creating an effective sales tool.

Social Media and Communication: How your mindset shapes the mesage.

social media marketing communicationSocial media marketing is all about communication.

Communication is a funny thing in that such a small part of communication is the words we say, write or read.

The whole “context” issue is a huge one in communication.

I got a clear lesson in this today.

How I ended up with a brown paper bag filled with 10 multi-colored condoms instead of moist towelettes.

This morning, I had to take my oldest son to the health department to get a vaccine he’ll need to live in a dorm in college next year.  As we signed in, I was acutely aware that we were entering a place filled with “ill patients”.

I guess the recent conversations I’ve been having about a horrible flu virus that is going around must have been triggered as I was signing in.  One of our friends was actually hospitalized recently because of this “super bug”  and a client of mine was complaining that one of her trainers was sick with it yesterday.  I share this to properly frame what happened next.

As I’m signing in, I see a basket on the counter with a sign that says,

“Take one and protect yourself.”

The basket is filled with brown paper bags, neatly folded and taped shut.

Remember, the overwhelming thought in my mind at the moment is, “Oh please, I really don’t want to get sick with that flu.”

So I grab one of the packages, confident the “protection” it provides will be against the myriad of diseases being incubated in the life sized petri dish called a waiting room.  I pick up the brown paper bag along with the number assigned to us and I head to the crowded waiting room.

My son asks, “Hey!  What’s in the bag?”

I reply, “The sign says it’s “protection”.  Maybe it’s a shank!”

I’m not joking as much as I’d like to be.  A couple of the people in the waiting room were kind of scary looking and a shank might come in  handy.

My son snickers at my comment.  I continue, “No, seriously  it’s hand sanitizer.”

With that statement still hanging in the air, I open the bag and reach in.  I was expecting to extract those little packets with the moist towelette inside.  Instead, I pull out a brightly colored condom.

It wasn’t exactly the kind of “protection” I was expecting.

I guess my utterance of surprise was very audible.  My mistake was on display for all, much the distress/ amusement of everyone in the waiting room.

I spent the rest of the visit enduring relentless razzing from my 18 year old son.   I made sure to let him know that the proper use of one of those 18 years earlier would have meant I would have had this morning free to do what I wanted instead of dragging him to the health department.

I still defend my misconception… er, misunderstanding of the sign!

I mean,  my greatest concern wasn’t catching an STD or preventing pregnancy – my most pressing concern was making sure I didn’t contract one of the multitude of diseases being incubated in that waiting room!

By the way, I did eventually find an antibacterial goo dispenser when we entered the 2nd “inner” waiting room and I doused myself liberally.

The moral of the story and how this applies to social media marketing…

When people arrive at your blog, website or other advertising material, they already have a conversation going on inside their head.  If the conversation on your blog – on your website or in your advertising materials isn’t clear – you might be surprised at how “distorted” you message can get.

Had I seen that basket at the check-in counter of a strip joint, I probably wouldn’t have been confused as to what they meant by “protection”.  However, as I looked at the sea of coughing and visibly ill people – I wasn’t thinking sexy thoughts – I was trying to figure out how to escape without catching what they had!

I just wonder how many children have grabbed one of those bags and been treated to an impromptu sexual education lesson in the lobby of the county health department.  I’m just happy I wasn’t having to explain to a six year old why he couldn’t play with the brightly colored, individually wrapped balloons.

Context plays a HUGE role in communication…. both on and off the web!