Tag Archives: social media


Social Media: Great Resource for Small Business

Are you taking advantage of social media in your small business? According to a recent report by the Social Media Examiner, you probably should.

89 percent of the respondents said social media was providing them greater exposure and 75 percent claimed it was increasing traffic. Although only 43 percent suggested that social media increased sales, I think social channels should be looked at more as a brand building play anyway—which is very consistent with the survey results. That’s not to say social channels don’t generate sales, they do. I just don’t think the social channel should be treated the same as a Google Adwords campaign or direct mail.

I was surprised to read that about 25 percent of the small business marketers surveyed had been doing anything with social media for a year of less and only 30 percent had been doing anything for a couple of years or more. For many small businesses, I think the social bandwagon is a wagon you should likely get on, provide you take the right approach.

Nevertheless, before you jump in with both feet, here are five questions you should ask yourself:

1) Do you really want to do this?

Before you spend time on strategy, before you set up any social media accounts, ask yourself, “Am I willing to invest the man hours that will be required to make the effort a success?” Most small businesses won’t require a full-time social media person, but they will require someone’s time. For example, if you plan on posting a blog every week, plan on three or four hours to research and write. Once you get in a groove, you might be able to cut that down a bit, but if all you’re doing is once a week, you won’t see much time savings. What’s more, it takes about 50 posts before Google starts paying any attention to you, so you’ll want to commit to a year’s worth of writing before you’ll see much search traffic.

If you’re going to have a Facebook or Twitter account, you’ll want to make daily updates — which don’t add much time to the day but can add up to an hour or more if you’re updating Twitter, Facebook and any other social media — to build a following. Best practice suggests a couple of posts in the morning and a couple of posts at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean you can ignore that media the rest of the day. You’ll want to make sure someone is regularly (every hour or two) monitoring your accounts in the event a customer or prospective customer tries to interact with a question or concern. This person might be you, but doesn’t have to be. Just remember, whoever interacts with the world on social media becomes a spokesman for you and your company. Choose wisely. However, if nobody’s there, you lose the interaction and the value of the social medium. Do you really want to do this?

2) What do you want to accomplish?

As I said before, being social just to be social is time that could be better spent someplace else. Do you want to establish yourself as a thought leader? Do you want to keep your customers up-to-date on what’s happening in your company? Do you want to keep customers and potential customers educated on industry best practice? Do you want to leverage social media as a customer service tool? You’ll need to build a strategy around those objectives and execute accordingly. Some media do a better job at some objectives than others.

3) Are you prepared to air your dirty laundry in public?

None of us like to deal with public complaints, but maybe this question is put the wrong way. A better question might be, “Are you willing to watch your dirty laundry aired in public?” Whether you’re part of the social conversation or not, people are talking about you and your business online — the good, the bad and the ugly. If your business is like most, you’re going to be exposed to some pretty intense negative feedback from time to time.

One of my friends purchased a shed from a big box home improvement store a while back. It was to be shipped in a couple of days, but somehow his order got lost. After several frustrating phone calls with no resolution, he decided to try complaining on the business’s Facebook site. Within a few minutes, he had a very friendly social media person try to take his complaint offline to “shut him up.” You may want to establish an official policy regarding how this type of interaction will take place. Don’t wait until it’s time to make those decisions while in the heat of battle.

He suggested they work it out on Facebook. Not long after that, he had confirmation of the shipment and the issue was resolved. Like most of us, they didn’t want this dialog to take place on a public forum — they had behaved badly and wanted to hide the misstep. However, publicly making things right probably helped them with their Facebook followers. We all understand that mistakes happen. This retailer demonstrated publicly that it was willing to help its customer (although it would have been much easier to have dealt with the issue before my friend escalated the issue to Facebook).

4) Who is going to be responsible?

If nobody in particular is responsible, your social media efforts aren’t going to go anywhere. A few years back I did some social media consulting for a local nursery. They had volumes of tips to help gardeners and we started sharing them three times a week in a blog that invited them to visit one of their gardening experts to make sure they got the best advice for their particular yard. It was so successful that they decided to bring the effort in-house. Unfortunately, they lost whatever momentum we had gained when they stopped posting daily on their Facebook and Twitter accounts and quit contributing regularly to their blog. My guess is that nobody was really responsible to make sure the effort happened every day (see point No. 1.

5) How are you going to eat the elephant?

Launching a social media effort can feel pretty daunting for a small business, but it’s a lot like eating an elephant, you need to do it one bite at a time. Once you’ve discovered where your customers hang out the most, start there. If it’s Twitter, spend your time there. Once you’ve got that down and feel like you can take the next step, move forward. You might be surprised at how quickly you’ll have a robust social media presence.

If you were waiting for the fad to go away, I’m not convinced it will. Sure, we might be using different tools that Facebook or Twitter, but the way we communicate with our customers is changing for many small businesses and I’m convinced it’s going to continue. You might be interested to know that Facebook, Blogging, and Twitter round out the top three social media channels according to the survey. If you’d like to read more about it, here’s eMarketer’s take. What do you think? Is social media a great resource for small business?

A small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty Kiisel makes small business best practices, tips and advice accessible by weaving personal experiences, historical references and other anecdotes into relevant discussions about leading people, managing a business and what it takes to be successful. Ty writes about small business for Lendio.


The 10 Keys to Social Media Success

Social media has become an important part of many company’s small business marketing efforts. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that there are many folks who don’t really understand the impact of social media generally and aren’t careful about how they approach the medium. The following are 10 tips that will help your social media efforts be a success:

1. Get in the Game: Whether you think you need to or not, people are talking about you and your business on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. At the very least, you need to be online so you can follow, learn from, and respond to what they are saying. Social media is a great way to learn from what your customers and potential customers are saying about the products they want and an even greater opportunity to engage in a two-way dialog with them.

2. Learn from Donald Trump: Be thoughtful about what you say and how you say it. Following the election, Donald Trump said a number of things that didn’t cast him in a very good light.  You might not have the millions of people watching what you say on social media like the Don, but running off half-cocked is never a good idea (even if your network is only 200-300 people). My own personal measure for whether or not I post something on social media is this: 1)Will it embarrass my company and 2) will it embarrass my Mom. If the answer to both of those questions is “no” I feel OK posting. Every time I have ignored one of those rules I have regretted it.

3. Be Consistent: I don’t think it’s important that you be everywhere—especially at first. If you feel like your customers are mostly on Facebook, spend your efforts there. The same goes for Twitter, Google+, or YouTube.  As a rule of thumb, a couple of posts before noon and another couple of posts in the afternoon is a good place to start. If you only update your Facebook (or any social media status) every week or two, people will lose interest and nobody will follow you. Give your customers a reason to keep in touch with you by providing information that they will find interesting, will be helpful, or is fun.

4. Your Social Media Presence Comes to Represent Who You Are: When I first started working with social media, I decided that my professional and personal personae would happily co-exist. I talk about my hobbies and what I’m doing—I sometimes even share my opinions about current events. However, I don’t post anything personally that would make me look bad professionally. You might think, “My personal persona and my business persona are different.” They may be different, but anyone interested in you will be able to connect the dots. There is no hiding in the social media world (refer to #2).

5. Mind Your “Ps” and “Qs”: Make sure you take just a second or two before you send out a status update that you’ve read it at least once. Although I have made the mistake a time or two, I know of a couple of highly competent professionals who regularly misspell words and use poor punctuation. I know they may be in a hurry and it’s “only a Tweet” but it reflects poorly on their personal brand (particularly to people who don’t know them). It doesn’t take much time to review an update before you hit the send button. I’ve even had someone point out a proofreading error in a blog post before. It’s embarrassing and doesn’t instill confidence in whatever I might be talking about.

6. Don’t be Offensive: Take another look at #2. A great example has been the last year of offensive tirades made by my Facebook and Twitter friends. I get their passion and I understand their political point of view—they made it a point to jam it down my throat over the last many months. Unfortunately, although I still consider them to be my friends, because they didn’t care whether or not I (and others) might be offended by their pontificating, I think a little less of them. Sarcastic diatribes are not a good idea—unless you don’t care what people think of you. I try to keep the dialog civil, even if I disagree with you. What’s more, even if I think you’re an idiot, I likely will not say so on Facebook or other social media—just like I wouldn’t say it to your face over the dinner table at a restaurant. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

7. Choose Your Friends Wisely: A couple of years ago an old friend from high school reached out to me on Facebook. Of course I friended him. A couple of months later I got a call from my son who asked why I was publishing porn on my Facebook stream. This old friend had made an obscene status update and it was on my wall. Because many of my Facebook friends are professional colleagues (and I am personally offended by pornography), I quickly deleted the post and blocked him from my stream. It was very embarrassing to have one of my adult children call me to ask me about what I was doing online. A word to the wise is sufficient.

8. Some Things are Better Left Unsaid: Several years ago I was in a marketing meeting where we were talking about a great campaign idea. I loved the idea and thought I’d test the message out on my blog audience. It went over really well until the V.P. of Marketing saw the post and felt like I spoiled the campaign by tipping our hand. I probably should have thought twice before I did that. Additionally, if you take a sick day and check in at the spa or ski resort, it might not go over well with the boss.

9. Be Positive: I have a professional colleague I’ve known for years who spends most of his time on social media complaining. I have another friend who is incredibly positive about everything. I find myself paying more attention to the updates of my positive friend and often ignoring my negative friends posts. It’s easy to get sucked into the idea of talking about what’s wrong with the way someone does business or a political point of view, but if that’s all you talk about you soon are considered a “Debbie Downer.” That’s not the image you or your business want to portray.

10. Don’t Rely Exclusively on Social Media: Although I’m an advocate of social media, I wouldn’t pin my company’s marketing success exclusively to the social media bandwagon. Traditional marketing media and approaches still have their place, although I happen to think that social media and content marketing are fast becoming a key driver to creating dialog and establishing a brand. Lendio online marketing via pay-per-click drives a lot more leads than this blog, our social media,  or any of our content marketing, but it’s an important part of what we do everyday to share information and build relationships with our customers and future customers.

I’m convinced that social media should play a part in the marketing efforts of almost any small business. These 10 tips will help get you started in the right direction.

Flash Websites

Stand Out in Local Search Directories

A powerful local search strategy for your business is an essential component to a well-developed local marketing plan. Local search directories have improved in recent years, with the integration of Google+ and Google Places as well as updates to directories such as Yahoo, Yelp, Bing, etc. Incorporating local search directories into your marketing mix can improve your search rankings and help your business gain higher visibility online.

Maximizing Google+ Local: The Integration of Google+ and Google Places

Google is one of the most important directories to provide accurate and up-to-date information about your business. Google has recently integrated Google Places local listings with Google+, transitioning to a seamless Google+ Local listing. This new approach to local directories provides a social component and allows businesses to capitalize on this budding social network to improve search rankings, drive more local business, and increase sales.

Tips for Managing Your Business’s Google+ Local Listing

Updating your Google+ Local profile requires just a few steps. The first step is to define the main product or service line that you offer, e.g., furniture company in Scottsdale, Arizona. With this, compile the following information about your business: brief description, photos, place of business (physical address), and link to the business website. You will enter all of these details about your business before submitting your Google+ Local listing. You will also be given the option to select categories that are relevant to your business so that Google can better determine when to display your listing to search engine users. Once you have filled out the basic information requested by the local search directories, you should also update the rest of the information on the form such as service area, payment options, operating hours, and videos.

If this is the first time you have filled out a Google+ Local listing or your address has changed, you will also need to authorize your address. After you submit your information, Google will mail you a postcard with additional instructions. Once the postcard arrives after about two weeks, complete the steps listed on the postcard to finalize your Google local search directory listing.

Claiming and Updating Other Local Directory Listings

In addition to Google, there are several other local search directories such as Yelp, Yahoo, Merchant Circle, Angie’s List, Bing, etc. that you should submit your directory listing. Be sure to use the same information that you used in your Google listing so that all of the information aligns across online directories. Consistency will help you maintain quality and will improve your local search rankings.

Do’s and Don’ts for Managing Local Directory Listings

Finally, there are a few things to remember as you complete your local directory listings.

The Do’s

  • Incentives. Local directory listings are a great place to list special offers or discounts to new customers online. List any specials that you are currently running to encourage prospective customers to try out your products or services.
  • Visuals. Upload pictures that accurately represent the products or services that you offer. This will allow search users to identify what you do quickly and easily, and it will also provide insight into how your business operates.
  • Reviews. Manage your reviews periodically to maintain a positive reputation for your business online. Respond to every review – positive or negative – in a polite and professional way. Being responsive to customer reviews about your business shows prospective customers that you care about the satisfaction of each and every customer.
  • Accuracy. Ensure accuracy across your local directory listings. Consistency is imperative to maintaining a high local search ranking for your target keywords.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t use a non-local phone number. Make sure that the phone number that you use is a local landline and not a toll-free number. Toll-free numbers can make it more difficult for the search engines to track your place of business.
  • Don’t use a P.O. Box. Make sure to use your business’s physical address and not a P.O. box, as this can also make it more challenging for the search engines to track your location.
  • Don’t change your business name. Instead of adding location keywords to your business name, make sure to keep it intact to achieve the best search results.
  • Don’t falsify reviews. Search engines are getting better at identifying false reviews so it is important to ask for reviews from your satisfied customers rather than to create mock reviews that the search engines will notice and eventually de-value.

If you would like to learn more about how local search engine optimization can help your business, please contact Net-Craft.com at 480-563-0558 for a free local SEO consultation.




social media day

Social Media Marketing in Times of Tragedy

If you’re using social media for marketing, what should you say following a tragedy like the deadly blasts at the Boston Marathon on April 15?

The horrific elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn.?

The October storm that took lives and devastated communities across the Northeast?

Sometimes, nothing at all.

The age of digital marketing brings with it new challenges, including how to respond during a national tragedy. Remember, as recently as Sept. 11, 2001, we had no MySpace, much less Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Except for email, no vehicle for delivering instantaneous marketing messages existed. After 9/11, one of the most painful days in American memory, most of us had time to pause, reflect and put on hold print, radio and TV marketing campaigns that might be viewed as inappropriate or offensive.

In recent months, there has been lively debate on this topic in the marketing community, including how and when to tie – or not to tie — a marketing message into the news of the day, a  widely used strategy.

Gaffes can occur with the most innocent of intentions in any media content, marketing or not. Earlier in April, a new episode of the musical comedy “Glee” upset and angered parents in Newtown, Conn., because the plot featured a student bringing a gun to school, where it accidentally discharges.

“A lot of people were upset about it and that I feel horrible about,” Jane Lynch, one of the stars, told Access Hollywood Live days later. “If we added to anybody’s pain, that’s just certainly not what any of us wanted. … We’re always rather topical and rather current.”

Usually, however, simply applying your own sense of decency and good taste can help you avoid a blunder. Consider American Apparel’s notorious “Hurricane Sandy Sale – in case you’re bored during the storm,” advertised as tens of thousands of people endured freezing temperatures without power. Most of us wouldn’t have even considered such a ploy!

Here are a couple more suggestions for do’s and don’ts:

• If you use automated posts scheduled through a site such as HootSuite, turn them off immediately. If people don’t find them insensitive and uncaring or silly, they’ll likely conclude your messages come from a robot – not a real person – which is just as bad.

• Can you be helpful? Hours after the blasts in Boston, with cell phone service out in the city and family and friends desperately trying to connect with loved ones, Google.org launched “Person Finder: Boston Marathon Explosions.” There, individuals and organizations could share information about the status of marathon participants and spectators for those trying to find them.

If your community has suffered a tragic event, perhaps you have helpful information to share. Here in Florida, which is affected by hurricanes, people use social media to help evacuees and their pets find shelter, and to alert others to danger, such as downed power lines. Depending on your area of expertise, you may be able to provide more general information or commentary. For instance, an educator can share tips for answering children’s questions about the event. Philanthropists might comment on those selflessly step up to help.

• Of course, social media is also about reactions and, for many, that’s a sincere expression of sympathy for and unity with those affected.

If you want to post something and you’re unsure about what to say, take a look at what businesses and other brands are sharing, and how online users are reacting. You may decide to just say nothing for a day or two, or whatever time seems reasonable given the nature of the event.

Sometimes, saying nothing at all speaks volumes.

Marsha Friedman is a 23-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms.


SRP helps Entrepreneurs Learn to Grow Business

Humberto Contreras owns Gorda’s Baja Taco in Phoenix. It’s a tall order for Contreras, like most small-business owners, to operate his restaurant day to day. However, he’s savvy enough to know that to get noticed in the competitive culinary world, you have to get on social media, pronto. Contreras recently enrolled in the free Facebook for Business 101 workshop offered by his utility company, Salt River Project (SRP), to get started.

“I learned Facebook is the ‘in’ thing, and if you’re not on it, you are falling behind,” Contreras said. “I learned what to do, how to post and attract customers, and how to stand out on Facebook.”

Contreras, along with hundreds of other small-business owners, took advantage of the series of free workshops led by Ken Colburn, founder and CEO of Data Doctors. From September 2012 through February 2013, SRP conducted five free workshops about social media and key channels:

·        Social Media for Business 101

·        Facebook for Business 101

·        Twitter for Business 101

·        LinkedIn for Business 101

·        Google AdWords for Business 101

The final social media workshop for SRP small-business customers, Lifecycle Marketing for Small Business, is scheduled for April 30 at the Fiesta Resort Conference Center in Tempe. To learn more or watch the complete video series now available online, go to srpbizresource.com.

“It is no longer a luxury or an option for small-business owners to decide if they are going to engage in social media or not,” Colburn said. “It’s a must to remain relevant. You have to understand this communication tool. It is how people are making buying decisions in virtually every business.”

The social media guru offers his top three tips for entrepreneurs:

1.      Don’t procrastinate. The longer you wait to get started, the further behind you will be.
Don’t let the overwhelming nature of social media keep you from stepping forward.

2.      To start, pick one social network. Learn the basics, stay focused until you feel comfortable and then move on to another network.

3.      Start small. Set aside time. Keep it simple with no more than 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening to get familiar with social media and understand the basics.

“The three keys to social media are to listen, engage and measure,” Colburn explained. “A lot of people make the mistake of using social media as a megaphone to shout their marketing message. Social media is not a monologue; it’s a dialogue. If you are not having conversations with people, you are not doing it right.”

In 2011, SRP launched its Business Resource Center (BRC) to offer small and midsize entrepreneurs a valuable online business resource to help them grow and sustain their businesses. The one-stop resource is packed with critical information in the following categories:

·        Economy at a glance
·        Business success stories
·        Local and national business resources
·        News and research
·        Current and pending legislation
·        Advice from business experts
·        Workshops

Business customers requested more information about social media, which spawned the series of free workshops designed to help small-business owners harness the power of social media.

“I think it’s great for SRP to step up and recognize this is one of the challenges for small businesses and try to help educate people,” Colburn said. “And this is one of the ways Data Doctors also likes to try to give back to the community.”


Local Search Engine Optimization

Better rankings in search engines can have a significant impact on any business. For local businesses, higher visibility can result in more sales, more exposure, and accelerated business growth. From doctor’s offices to dry cleaners, local search engine optimization (SEO) has influenced the way customers are interacting with local businesses online. With the ever-expanding popularity of the Internet, more people are turning to search engines to locate local businesses. Local businesses that seize the opportunity that local SEO offers can experience measurable results and unprecedented growth.

How Search Engines Rank Websites

Before launching a local search campaign, it is important to understand the basic methodology used by search engines to rank web pages. Several factors are used to determine which websites are more relevant to a user’s search. Based on available evidence, there are two main components involved in how websites are ranked: relevance and popularity. These two components are also referred to as on-site factors and off-site factors respectively.

Search engines determine the relevance of a web page based on the content of that page, which includes the body text of the page, the title tag, meta description, alt tag, etc. Relevant keywords are strategically placed in the content and code of the website to alert the search engines to what the page is about and what users can expect to find when they visit that page.

While on-page factors are important, off-page factors also play a significant role in how the website is ranked in the search engines. The popularity of the page is determined by off-page factors such as the volume of incoming links to the website, the quality of those links, and the relevance of those links. In order to gain higher rankings in the search engines, it is important to ensure that the website is appropriately optimized and that a quality link building strategy is used.

Five Best Practices for Local Search Engine Optimization

While there are several known factors such as title tags, meta descriptions, and incoming links that play a role in rankings, each search engine has a unique algorithm that they use to rank web pages, and as such, rankings on separate search engines can be quite different. The algorithms of search engines are updated constantly, which means that the factors that they use to rank websites today could be different than those used tomorrow. For this reason, it is imperative to utilize the following industry best practices when implementing a local SEO campaign.

Titles & Descriptions. The titles and descriptions on the company website should be properly optimized to include relevant keywords. The title tag is considered the most important on-page factor, as it is usually given the most weight by the search engines in determining what the page is about. Optimizing the title tags and descriptions is a key step to good local search engine optimization. Here is an example of how your site should appear in Google’s search results:

Location. Make sure to include the city and state in the content of the web page that the search engine will index. The location should be included in the title tag, meta description, alt tag, and the body copy.

Sitemaps. A good HTML/XML sitemap can go a long way in helping to build search rankings. The sitemap provides a list of all of the web pages so that the search engines can quickly index all of the pages on the website. The sitemap is one of the most important elements to a properly optimized website.

Local Directories. Local directory listings can help a business reach their customers directly, and it can also provide relevant, quality links back to the website to improve the website’s search rankings. There are hundreds of local directories on the Web, and businesses can enjoy increased visibility and exposure from including their business in as many of those directories as possible. In Part Two of this three part series on Local Business optimization, we will be exploring the Do’s and Don’ts of local directories and what it takes to stand out in Google Places.

Fresh Content. Search engines love fresh content, so updating the website on a consistent basis can help gain and maintain good search rankings. The best way to keep customers updated about recent news, events, product updates, etc. is to create a blog. The blog can serve as a platform to inform, educate, interest, and inspire customers and readers, which is a great way to gain more exposure to the business. The blog also serves as the social media hub, and the content on the blog can be shared on other social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, etc.

Why a Pro is Often Necessary for Best Results

A successful local SEO campaign requires dedication, persistence, patience, and a powerful strategy. A professional can correctly optimize the website while also providing expert guidance on ways that businesses can achieve more visibility and growth. With a robust link building strategy along with on-page optimization, businesses can improve their website rankings, drive more traffic to their website, and connect with more customers. A professional can help eliminate the guesswork in working with website code and can also implement a natural and effective link building strategy.

If you would like to learn more about how SEO can help your business, please contact Net-Craft.com at 480-563-0558 for a free consultation.

Is Facebook Worth the Effort for Small Business?

I’m a big advocate of social media, including Facebook, but whether or not it’s right for your business depends largely upon what you expect it to do and the type of business you’re in. Having been active in social media in the B2B space for the last several years, I often compare what we’re doing on social media with some of my favorite brands (most of which happen to be B2C brands) and the audience we’re able to build, the engagement we’re able to experience, and the results we’re able to see pale by comparison to a strong B2C social media presence—but I’m pleased with the growth we see when compared to other B2B brands in our space.

We also regularly experiment with advertising on social media with limited to moderate success when compared to other direct marketing channels. Nevertheless, I’ve seen and read about the same marketing approaches reaping great results for consumer brands. In fact, I’ve even responded to adds that offered me products I might be interested in—and have even made purchases. But, I don’t want to be a focus group of one.

According to Erik Sherman, “Facebook marketing? A must according to many companies. Not worth the trouble to some. But most of the voices you hear are in the business-to-consumer space.” He continues, ” After all, people go onto Facebook for fun. But what if you’re trying to reach other businesses, making the seemingly reasonable argument that the users don’t stop being involved in business just because they’re taking a break?”

I have yet to be convinced that social media like Facebook is a viable direct marketing channel in the B2B space, but it’s definitely a good vehicle for promoting content. Social media has proven to be a good media for building an audience that’s interested in your industry, interested in learning, and willing to engage with you online. And, they often become some of your very best customers.

Three or four years ago I think it was Marketo’s Phil Fernandez who suggested that people who engaged with their social media before entering the sales process were better informed and prepared to make a purchase than those who didn’t. He suggested that it was time to stop thinking about the sales cycle and start thinking about the revenue cycle. He suggested that social media was a great vehicle for planting seeds that eventually became prospects and entered the sales funnel. He also argues that the traditional linear approach to marketing handing off a lead to sales and sales closing the deal doesn’t seem to work as well as when marketers continue to nurture, educate, and inform all throughout the revenue cycle.

I’m convinced that social media and content marketing play an incredibly valuable role within the revenue cycle. With that in mind, I believe social media is worth the effort for small business—I’m just not convinced that it makes sense to advertise there.

Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty makes small business best practices, tips and advice accessible by weaving personal experiences, historical references and other anecdotes into relevant discussions about leading people, managing a business and what it takes to be successful. Ty writes about small business for Lendio.


CTCA hosts Blogger Summit

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) will be hosting its 2013 Blogger Summit on March 22-23 at the organization’s Western Regional Medical Center in Goodyear. The event will span two days, with an agenda of events and speakers that will provide bloggers with valuable information about what’s happening on the forefront of cancer care and treatment.

This year’s theme, Innovation in Cancer Care and Personalized Medicine, will include breakout sessions covering topics such as: precision cancer medicine, natural ways to manage side effects, quality of life and a survivorship discussion with Matthew Zachary – founder and CEO of Stupid Cancer, the largest support network in the United States for young adults facing cancer.

“It has been such a pleasure to partner with CTCA to support young adults affected by cancer,” says Zachary. “The blogger summit is yet another example of how we empower those affected to get busy living every day.”

At the age of 21, Zachary—then a concert pianist and composer—was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer as a college Senior. Throughout the course of his treatment, Zachary found there weren’t any resources focused on cancer patients/survivors his age as they were all skewed too young or too old for his age group.

In 2007, Matthew founded Stupid Cancer, a nonprofit organization that empowers young adults affected by cancer through innovative and award-winning programs and services. Today, Stupid Cancer not only provides support to young adults facing cancer, but also acts as an expert resource to its vast global following.

Since 1988, CTCA has been helping patients win the fight against cancer using advanced technology with a highly personalized approach. The 2013 CTCA Blogger Summit will present influential cancer and health-related bloggers with information and resources to share with their readers, and allow them to keep their blogs on the cutting-edge of cancer related topics. If you are a blogger interested in attending the summit please email: Laura.Malamud@ctca-hope.com.

Stupid Cancer (formerly the I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation) is a non-profit organization that empowers young adults affected by cancer through innovative and award-winning programs and services. We are the nation’s largest support community for this underserved population and serve as a bullhorn for the young adult cancer movement. Our charter is to ensure that no one goes unaware of the age-appropriate support resources they are entitled to so they can get busy living. For more information, visit http://stupidcancer.org.

social media day

Is Google+ Better for Business than Facebook or Twitter?

In the world of social networks, innovation can quickly change the field of frontrunners — remember LiveJournal?

We just saw it again as Google+ overtook Twitter to claim the No. 2 spot behind Facebook. And the new kid is already better than Mark Zuckerberg’s baby for small businesses, professional firms and entrepreneurs, says Alex Hinojosa, vice president of media operations for EMSI (www.emsipublicrelations.com).

“I knew Google+ would attract a big following because it really lends itself to business uses and SEO,” says Hinojosa, who has witnessed the value of Google+ grow exponentially in the daily operations of his PR firm.

A new Global Web Index study show Google+ grew to 343 million users globally in December, or about 25 percent of global internet users. Facebook still accounts for 50 percent of the pie.

“Facebook continues to go through self-imposed changes that are seeing mixed responses from longtime users,” Hinojosa says. “The new No. 2 has much, much more to offer than simply being an alternative to the big dog.”

Hinojosa reviews the merits of Google+ as a business tool, and why he believes the social network will continue its meteoric rise:

• Power: Google+ may be the new kid when it comes to social media – it’s not even 2 years old yet — but Google has become synonymous with anything online. The “new kid” offers something that no other social media platform can: Google power.

• Overwhelming advantage: “Google loves its newest offspring and it favors any post, article, picture and link posted on Google+,” Hinojosa says. “If you post a link on your Google+ about asthma remedies, and one of your connections is logged in to Google+ and searches for asthma remedies, your post will show up high in his Google search results.”

• In action: Let’s say you own an art gallery full of nature photos. Your website for promoting the gallery highlights “mountain photos,” “wildlife photos,” and “waterfall photos” and you’ve created matching URLs for each page, such as bobsnaturephotos. com/waterfallphotos. Now you head over to post your newest update on Google+. You post a message about the waterfall, then you add the link to your waterfall page, bobsnaturephotos. com/waterfallphotos. Now, whenever one of your connections types “waterfall photos” into a Google search, whether it’s days, weeks or months later, there you are on page 1 of the results. Your post shows up, your profile picture shows up, and your link shows up.

“Once upon a time MySpace was king, but over a period of about a year the world made a seamless transition onto Facebook, which may very well see a mass exodus of users,” Hinojosa says. “If your business or employer is not already on Google+, it’s time to make the move.”

Alex Hinojosa is the Vice President of Media Operations at EMSI Public Relations, where he oversees the creative process and execution of print (traditional & online), radio, TV and social media campaigns.  He has an extensive background in radio, working as a national talk-show host and executive producer for CBS Radio, Clear Channel Media & Entertainment and ESPN in major markets.  Alex is also a (social) media coach and fill-in talk show host for Genesis Communications Florida.


Super Bowl power outage shines light on PR opportunity

One of the biggest victories that came out of this year’s Super Bowl was not the Baltimore Ravens win, but the fast thinking public relations and creative teams that seized the moment when the lights went out. When the players were side lined due to a 34-minute power outage viewers immediately took to social media. According to Twitter, users sent an estimated 24.1 million tweets during the game, with a bulk of postings taking place during the blackout.

While television ads during the Super Bowl broadcast were at an all-time premium at $3.8 million for 30 second spots, outreach and engagement on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube was a fraction of the cost.

Quick turn around

Two major brands that pulled out all the stops and generated considerable buzz were Tide and Oreo. Tide posted an image with a simple headline reading, “We can’t get your blackout. But we can get your stains out.” The image was retweeted more than 1,300 times. Oreo generated even more interest with its post showing on Oreo cookie illuminated on a dark page with copy reading, “You can still dunk in the dark.” This tweet was retweeted approximately15,000 times and was still being talked about the next day.

While fans waited for the lights to turn back on and for the game to resume, there was an estimated 231,000 tweets taking place per minute.

Looking to the companies and brands that recognized the opportunity serves as a valuable lesson in PR communications, and aptly demonstrates the advantage of a timely response. Having the ability to seize the moment and turnaround clever content quickly, paid off. While the NFL covered the blackout with banter about the game, viewers and ticket holders turned to their smartphones and tablets to access social media sites to receive updates and share.

Expanding reach

Unlike any other televised event, the enormous publicity building up to and surrounding the NFL championship takes on a life well beyond the match-up of teams. Viewers have equally as much interest, if not more in the half-time entertainment and the commercials. It may even be safe to say that the Super Bowl is the only televised program where viewers do not consider the commercials or half time as an optimal time for a bathroom break. Nor do most viewers set the DVR just so they can fast forward to get to the “good stuff.”

Most notable is the significant amount of pre and post publicity coverage centered on the ads themselves. News teams on local and national stations discuss which companies will be advertising during the game and in some case go so far to show video clip teasers. In the days after the game the buzz continues with post game dissection of which ads were deemed favorites.

On YouTube this year’s award-winning Budweiser ad featuring the Clydesdales has received more than 11 million views and 56 thousand “likes”. In addition, while we don’t have access to the statistics, we know they also benefited from viral email, Facebook, and Twitter shares. In other words, the $3 million plus price tag for ad time may be warranted not just because of high program viewership, but because of the added value received from PR and the viral viewing via social media.

Super Bowl XLVII proved to be an exciting game full of entertainment, surprise blackout and all. While the city of New Orleans and the operations team at Mercedes-Benz Superdome were not prepared for an electrical outage, some savvy marketing and PR professionals were certainly prepared. Let Super Bowl XLVII be a lesson to us all in how to maximize PR and utilize the increasing power and up-to-the-minute connection of social media to engage and expand a campaign.


4 Keys to effective Small Business Blogging, Social Media

A week or so ago I gave some marketing advice to a small business owner trying to promote his fly-fishing lodge. It’s an incredible lodge, with access to world-class private fishing as well as being nestled smack dab in the middle of a National Forest—the perfect spot for a fly-fishing vacation.

“Facebook is just for teenagers,” he said. “I’m wasting my time with social media, right?”

For his situation, it was an easy answer. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging offered him a real opportunity to promote his lodge—provided he did it right.

The last several years of my career have been focused on content marketing (social media, blogging, PR, etc.). With my direct marketing background, if you’d told me I’d be doing anything as “fluffy” as writing a blog or spending my day in social media, I’d likely have laughed you out of the room. Because offers drive response—wasting time on anything like a blog or contributed article was a waste of time. I was wrong.

Fortunately, old dogs can learn new tricks.

Should small business owners consider blogging and social media to promote their businesses? Yes—and maybe, provided you do it right.

I’m convinced there are four keys to successful small business blogging and social media. If you’re going to invest in this channel, these tips will give you an idea of the commitment you should be prepared to make:

1.     You’ve got to be consistent: I write every day. I’m publishing something someplace almost every day. Most small business owners don’t need to write every day, but they need to be consistent. I suggested to my friend from the fishing lodge that he should publish something new on his blog three times a week. What’s more, he should be posting on media like Facebook and Twitter at least a couple times a day. It’s not really the volume of content, but how consistent you are. Your readers will become accustomed to your cadence and will anticipate your next post.  You might also be interested to know that it takes 50 posts before Google will index you. At a post a week, it will be a year before Google’s search engine starts to pay any attention to you.
2.     Write it yourself: Some executives hire ghostwriters (hired guns who write for them as if they were them). It’s no secret that some CEOs are better writers than others; or might not have the time to invest in a weekly blog post or monthly-contributed article. Particularly for a CEO who is trying to establish him or herself as a thought leader, I think a ghostwriter is a little disingenuous. It should be you, not your publicist writing for you. I started blogging years ago because my CEO at the time didn’t have the time or the chops to pound out a daily blog (which is what we did to get our 50 posts as quickly as we could). He also knew that pretending to be him would ultimately be discovered and would reflect negatively on him, our company, and me. He chose, to his credit, to allow me to write under my own name and establish myself as our company’s thought leader. As a result I was invited to write and speak at different industry events all over the world. Rather than face the potential embarrassment of being discovered as a fraud, he was lauded for being a savvy and innovative CEO.
3.     Make it personal: Here’s where we can really learn something from the lifestyle and mom bloggers. They talk about their families, the products they use, and how they use them. Over the years, my readers have come to know me because I share some of the details of my life. For example, they know I waste too much time on my Harley, drive a Jeep, and enjoy fly-fishing. Because business is personal, sharing a little of yourself when it’s relevant to the discussion at hand, makes you more accessible. People like doing business with other people. If you can’t do that, find a trusted employee who has the skills and allow them to become the public face of your company. If they are trusted and respected, people will do business with you because of your association with them.
4.     Be credible—don’t waste your time: You can’t always be a salesman. I recommended to my friend with the fishing lodge that he should share tips and hints for catching more fish regardless of where you were. You should do the same. Share information about your industry that will help your readers be successful—even if they don’t use your products. It may feel counter-intuitive, but there are numerous examples of companies that have very successfully leveraged this tactic within their content marketing strategy. I’ve seen competitors treat social media like their other marketing channels and flood the medium with sales messages that get ignored. If you share information that will benefit those who could be your customers, they will become your customers because they trust you and the information you freely share. We see those results at Lendio and monitor them on a weekly basis.

Is blogging and social media right for your business? Depending on your approach it could be perfect for your business. Thanks for reading.

Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty Kiisel makes small business best practices, tips and advice accessible by weaving personal experiences, historical references and other anecdotes into relevant discussions about leading people, managing a business and what it takes to be successful. Ty writes about small business for Lendio.


Technology expands meeting and conference industry

We don’t catch up over coffee anymore, we catch up on Facebook.

Technology has changed the way we date, invite people to parties, and even watch TV. It’s only natural that technology will change the face of business meetings and conferences.

“As a chapter and in addition to our website, we utilize social media outlets — Facebook and LinkedIn — to promote our meetings and events and to share information industry-wide,” says Donna Masiulewicz. president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “We also use these means to educate those outside the industry about the power of meetings.”

Mara Weber, global marketing and communications director for Honeywell Process Solutions in Phoenix, has taken the use of technology a step far beyond Facebook.

“We held a global sales and service kickoff meeting on a virtual platform, with live broadcasts of a general session in two time zones,” Weber says. “The objective was to align our global team on growth initiatives, portfolio offerings, key messages and how to sell the value to our customers.”

While Weber says virtual meetings — which experts expect to triple in the next five years — give companies the ability to create a global footprint and bring content to an audience when and where it’s convenient for them, there are logistical challenges that need to be overcome.

“To be honest, the time and energy required and cost is far more than people realize,” she says. “You need to start with a very specific plan of attack, keeping goals and results in mind and making sure you are creating the right content in the right format. Video format, platform format, firewalls, testing in varied browsers and software versions, ability to convert files and stay flexible at all times is just the start. You also need to think past the technical to the end-user experience and also branding to create a visual environment and help messages that guide attendees or they quickly get frustrated and jump off. It’s not like being lost at a trade show and being able to view a map and ask people for directions. The audience is largely on their own and you have to think about their experience every step of the way, how they behave, how you want them to behave, download, ask, engage.”

Weber believe the best use of virtual meetings are as a component of a live, face-to-face event, extending the value of the content through the web to attendees who cannot travel or have abbreviated schedules.

“We chose to do a fully virtual kickoff meeting because we have over 3,500 sales and service team members in more than 100 countries,” she says. “The cost and logistics of face to face meeting is not reasonable.”

Weber says Honeywell has piloted virtual meeting a couple of times with customers when they can focus on a specific, targeted topic. And even in the high-tech world that Honeywell does business in, change isn’t embraced easily.

“Our customer base does not seem to be accepting,” Weber says. “By nature, they are engineers and like live demonstrations, talking face to face with experts and networking.”


Here are five way ways experts say the use virtual technology is changing the face of the convention, conference, meeting, event, and trades how industries: ways he says you can use virtual technology to enhance your meetings.

WEB CONFERENCING: Connects meeting attendees and speakers in different locations by using VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), which allows real-time streaming of audio and video. More hotels and business centers are also adding high-definition virtual conference rooms that can be used to host hybrid sessions.

ONLINE COLLABORATION TOOLS: Open source your meetings and events by allowing virtual participants to share documents, Web pages, whiteboards, slide decks, audio, and video … all in real-time. Some Web conferencing systems allow you to record your events, thereby creating a collective knowledge base. These tools can be used for small meetings or for larger groups of thousands.

SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS: Often called the “backchannel,” social media represent the virtual conversations taking place in the background before, during, and often long after your live meeting or event. Take the time to set up and promote social media activity through things like assigning a specific Twitter hashtag for your event, creating event-specific Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and setting up Foursquare check-in locations.

REMOTE PRESENTERS: Use a streaming video feed of a speaker who is in a different physical location. This can be done as a realistic 3-D hologram, or a live feed of your guest speaker. Remote presenter options can be a great way to attract high-profile speakers who may not have the time to travel to a physical event.

LIVE WEBCASTS: Broadcast your keynotes, general sessions and breakouts by streaming your live audio and visual presentations via the Internet in real-time.

feminine aspect

Top 3 Evolutionary Trends: Impact Of The Feminine Aspect On Business Industry

As 2013 approaches and we say goodbye to 2012, I’d like to share some of my thoughts regarding what I view as a huge transformation that is transpiring in the business world. This transformation or shift is the result of entrepreneurs, male and female, embracing their feminine aspect and bringing it into business. The feminine aspect taps into our compassion, our ability to nurture and our creativity. In 2012, certain evolutionary trends were established and will continue to shape and shift the world of tomorrow.

Here is my list of the top three evolutionary trends that show the positive effect the feminine aspect had on the business industry in 2012 and how important it will continue to be in 2013:

1. Compassion

To be able to see the true needs of a consumer, businesses need to think about the consumer compassionately. With the limitless use of instant information at our fingertips, the customer can see right through the typical “sale” and are more cautious in their role as a consumer, especially in light of the turbulent economy. Businesses recognized this and brought in compassion to solve the problem.

Businesses now care more about what the customer actually needs and care less about making the sale. Businesses and marketing gurus now ask themselves questions like: “What does the costumer need, not what do I think they need?” and “what does the individual want, not what I want them to want?” Prior to 2012, that kind of compassion didn’t exist. With that compassion comes loyalty, and with that loyalty comes an evolutionary way to make a sale.

2. Nurturance

The name of the game is no longer just in keyword research, but in building rapport over time with each customer. As always, technology has simplified the way businesses do, well, business. The trend we see in technology now is that it bridges the gap between the business aspect of self and the personal aspect. For instance, small businesses now cannot thrive without the use of certain social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, etc. There is more emphasis on nurturing customer relationships because these relationships are the key to success.

3. Creativity

There is no longer a set of rigid rules to follow. Business planning and business strategies are shifting more and more into a creative process. The reason being that the brand has become more important to customers than the product itself. Any marketing guru will tell you that each demographic is different, each process is unique. Spending more time on thinking outside of the box is essential as we go into the New Year.

It is this feminine energy that is shifting the business world and consequently transforming the way we connect with one another, bringing us all closer to a more compassionate, nurturing and creative world. Let us all be aware of what feminine aspects we use in our businesses that have improved our success so we can attract more of that energy into the New Year.

Happy Holidays!


Pope’s on Twitter – If You’re Marketing, You Should Be, Too

His handle is @Pontifex and 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI can tweet in eight different languages on his brand new Twitter account.

On Dec. 12, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church tentatively typed out his first tweet on an iPad. It read, “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”

(For those of you counting, that’s the maximum 140 characters allowed per tweet. Once His Holiness gets the hang of things, he’ll want to shorten them up a bit so they’ll be easier for his followers to re-tweet.)

And followers he has — more than 1.8 million and counting. The pope is already a hit in the Twitter-verse, which makes one wonder why he didn’t sign up a long time ago. And that thought leads to a more important question: How many of small business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals and authors are not yet using this marvelous social networking platform?

It’s time to take a lesson from the Vatican — whether or not you’re Catholic.

The pontiff took to Twitter for the same reasons anyone with something to market should:

• He needs to generate leads. “Part of the pope’s job description is to spread the word,” Greg Burke, senior communications adviser for the Vatican, has said. “Twitter is turning out to be a very effective way of doing this.” Like business owners, the Catholic Church must generate leads to bring in new “customers.”

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, while there are 66.3 million Catholics in the United States, the growth rate has slowed in past years, and only 24 percent of those Catholics attend Mass every week.

The church also has a problem with declining numbers of U.S. priests. The shortage has left nearly 3,400 parishes without a resident pastor. And book and product sales? Word of mouth to the world’s more than 1.2 billion Catholics can only help.

• He wants to keep the customers he has. It’s not just about growing his clientele; the pope wants to keep his existing church members coming back. Interacting with them regularly through the give-and-take of a platform like Twitter helps him create a more personal relationship with them. (On his first day of tweeting, the pope responded to three questions posed by followers using his #askpontifex hashtag.) It will also keep him in front of his target audience if he posts tweets regularly, responds to followers, and occasionally re-tweets their messages.

• He has an important message to share. The pontiff had thousands of followers even before his first tweet! Why? Because many people were already interested in his message, and they expect his posts will have value for them. So far, they apparently have. The third and final question from followers that he answered on his first day tweeting was, “Any suggestions on how to be more prayerful when we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?” His response:  “Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you.” It had been re-tweeted nearly 20,000 times by Dec. 14. The pope has a message he wants the world to hear.  That’s a good sign he’ll be successful on social media.

I find it fascinating, but not surprising, that Pope Benedict XVI is embracing social media. While the Catholic Church is a centuries-old institution steeped in tradition, it recognizes the need to be where its audience is if it hopes to remain visible and relevant in their lives.

For anyone in business, or anyone marketing anything, that’s not only true for you, too, it’s essential.

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself: The 3-Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3:00 PM EST.


10 Tips to Write a Social Media Policy in Business

Most business owners are now aware that having a social media presence is important for the success of their businesses. While social media presents unthinkable growth opportunity, it also opens the company up to risk.

Thus, it is critical for a business owner to create and implement a strong social media policy that gives the company and its employees the freedom to grow through social media, while putting a set of concrete rules and guidelines in place that will keep the troops in line.

However, when you consider that no two social media policies will be the same because different organizations will have their own unique environments, it is important to call in the experts.

Steve Nicholls, author of Social Media in Business, international speaker, and social media strategist offers 10 tips to write a clear, well-defined social media policy.

1. Create a Task Force: Opinions and ethics may vary between different people; it is preferable that all members of upper management be consulted when developing a social media policy so that all reach agreement on policy content.

2. Define Appropriate Internal Use: It is important to outline what is acceptable and what is not to your employees when it comes to using social media platforms in the workplace. How much freedom employees will have when interacting on social media needs to be clarified based on your workplace environment in order to avoid any confusion.

3. Define Appropriate External Use: As we have seen time and time again, one slip on Facebook or Twitter can ruin a career or a business. Thus, it is important to define who will be allowed to communicate with the public and put an approval process in place.

4. Confidentiality: Content posted on social media platforms need to comply with the organization’s confidentiality and disclosure of proprietary data policies.

5. Accountability: Employees need to be held accountable for everything they write on social media sites.

6. Protect Employers Reputation: Employees have the duty to protect their employer’s reputation. It would also be useful to make employees aware that competitors might read what they post and thus that sensitive information is not to be disclosed as a consequence.

7. Be Clear on Copyright issues: It is advisable to include a clause dealing with copyright, plagiarism, libel and defamation of character issues.

8. Regularly Review and Update Policy: Regular reviews need to be organized and performed. A policy is not always consistent with what is actually taking place and the company need to pay attention and adjust accordingly to make sure it is a relevant and effective policy that promotes growth and safety.

9. Work Hard, Play Less: It is important to stress that social networking sites cannot interfere with primary job responsibilities so that employees do not lose perspective

10. To Whom Does it Apply: The social media policy needs to clarify who to treat as internal staff and thus who will follow the social media policy rules when external resources are brought in.


Home builder uses social media to attract buyers

Lennar Arizona has just surpassed 250,000 “views” on YouTube, has nearly 5500 Facebook “likes”, and 4,000 Twitter followers.  In fact, social media has become such a critical component of the Valley home builder that it has created a new “I Team”, standing for Information, Integrity and Internet. The five member I-Team is a strategic addition to the marketing department and will dedicate themselves to the on-line dialogue with customers.

In any given day, you can watch 30videos of their YouTube that take the viewer through a visual tour of any number of Lennar model homes available in Arizona, provide insights into the company’s innovations such as the new NextGen Home Within a Home® series, or point you in the direction to clear up a troubled credit score.

Lennar has a number of communities in the greater Phoenix area including Montecito in El Mirage, San Tan Heights and Skyline Ranch in San Tan Valley, Lone Mountain in Cave Creek, Evans Ranch and Layton Lakes in Gilbert and Stetson Valley in Phoenix.

In the era of 24-7, second by second streaming information, the communication begins long before that prospective buyer walks into the sales office. For the uninitiated, social media is a group of Internet, web based and mobile applications that have redefined the way many people communicate.  The user-generated content has put the general public in the forefront of defining the conversation, compared to the traditional methods such as newspapers, magazines, broadcast and websites that were controlled by professional journalists and company marketers.

For buyers Linn and Kelly Shaw who purchased a Lennar home at the Layton Lakes community in Gilbert, the social media presence made their search process easy.  “The ability to look at financing options and view new model homes prompted me to look into Lennar as a builder.  I really enjoyed the YouTube videos of the models.  With my wife’s and my busy schedules, we didn’t have a lot of time to tour model homes or communities, so their social media content streamlined the process for us.  Access to the homes through the videos and online detail description of the homes was a huge benefit to us,” said Linn Shaw.

Mike Lyon of the real estate sales training company Do You Convert says that content is the key in the success of social media.  “If the information a company presents is entertaining or educational, it will spread.”  And that’s the key.  “Social spaces are not about selling; it’s about educating and spreading information naturally, and Lennar was one of the first home builders to really commit to creating and spreading content,” he noted.

A number of the big home builders have embraced social media, but Lennar has taken the communication to a higher level. The company has tremendous visibility online whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, FourSquare, or LinkedIn, Lennar is all over it. The company also has four very active blogs.

“For several years now, Lennar has aggressively pursued the social media path.  “There is no question that our social media initiatives have created relationships that have led directly to home purchases,” said Mike Dowell, senior vice president of marketing for Lennar’s Arizona operations.

Buyers who have utilized the social media connections often pass along those tools to friends. “I watch real estate closely and haven’t seen another builder do what Lennar does on-line.  It was so easy to share the Lennar YouTube videos with our friends who were also looking for a home,” homebuyer Lin Shaw added.

The cultural shift is well underway. For many people of all ages, social media is becoming a preferred communication method. Social media is an effective way to communicate facts. “The customers seem to appreciate the ability to research the home opportunities on their own, and to review comments from current Lennar home owners via the company’s Facebook page, blog and other social media sites,” noted Dowell.

A home builder with nationwide presence, at the national level Lennar has more than 800,000 YouTube views, over 200,000 “likes” on Facebook and over 130,000 followers on Twitter. Additionally, each of Lennar’s Divisions across the nation has a strong and growing social media presence in their respective markets.

Lennar, founded in 1954, is one of the nation’s leading builders of quality homes for all generations. The company builds affordable, move-up, and retirement homes primarily under the Lennar brand name. The company has been building in Arizona for nearly 40 years and owns considerable land holdings in the state. For the latest Lennar information, visit any of the following: Lennar.com, Facebook.com/LennarPhoenix; Facebook.com/LennarTucson; YouTube.com/LennarPhoenix; YouTube.com/Lennar Tucson; Twitter.com/LennarPhoenix, Twitter.com/LennarTucson.

Does Your Online Presence Pass the Truth Test?

What’s the fastest-growing marketing trend on the Internet?

I’m sad to say it’s the “fakeosphere.” Yes, fake blogs (called “flogs”), fake web news sites and fake testimonials. They look like the real thing, right down to comments posted by “bloggers” and their supposed readers. Those comments appear to be written by people discussing the pros and cons of a particular product or service, and they even include some naysayers.

“But in the end, the bloggers and their readers always win over the skeptics and persuade them to buy the product from a convenient nearby link,” writes Bob Sullivan in his blog on msnbc.com.

He cites Internet marketing analyst Jay Weintraub, who believes the fakeosphere has become a $500 million-a-year industry.

These fake sites and phony conversations are often more than simply misleading – OK, fraudulent – marketing. For consumers, they can be downright dangerous.

“The end game for most of these sites – no matter what they sell – is to persuade a consumer to sign up for a ‘free’ trial of a product, then make it incredibly difficult to cancel before the trial period ends,” Sullivan writes. “A similar technique … is to offer a free product and charge a web user a token shipping and handling fee, just to get the consumers’ bank account information. Larger charges soon follow.”

Consumers are – and should be – increasingly wary. They’re scrutinizing websites more closely, especially if they’re considering making a purchase there. They’re avoiding social media interactions with anything that smells less than genuine, and they’re more careful about who they share information with online.

What would they say about your online presence? Do you look like the real deal, or a potential cyber threat?

Here are some ways to ensure you pass the reality test — and some missteps that will ensure you don’t.

On social media:

• Real people have real friends and family among their connections. They can’t resist sharing photos of their vacation, the newest baby in the family and their genius dog (not necessarily in that order). They have interests that may have nothing to do with what they’re trying to market, and they comment about them (“I shot a hole in one today!”) or share a photo (“Here I am buying everyone drinks after my hole in one today. That was the most expensive golf shot ever!”) They also respond to all comments, even if it’s just to say, “Thank you.”

• Fake people generate mostly sales copy – “Buy my product! It’s great!” They don’t engage in conversation, they don’t appear to have a personality – or friends or loved ones or hobbies, for that matter.

On your website:

• Real people have text that informs and entertains users while offering them helpful information. The copy is professionally written – no typos or other mistakes – and provides answers to anticipated questions. It’s easy to learn more about you or your business and to find your contact information. Testimonials are from real people whose existence can be verified through a simple Internet search. They write blogs that are updated regularly and/or post articles with helpful information.

• Fake people have websites with lots of pop-up advertising banners and text urging users to “Buy my product!” Testimonials are from untraceable people with vague titles or credentials. The site may be hard to navigate; contact information may be missing or difficult to find; and there’s no link to media about the person or company.

In your newsletter:

• Real people share valuable information in their newsletters (which can be as minimal as a “tip of the week” email). Their newsletter (or tip) includes no overpowering sales pitch or self-promotion – or, at least, includes that only occasionally. It conveys a personality, whether warm and friendly, authoritative, or humorous.

• Fake people blast newsletters and promotional emails that may identify a problem but offer as the only solution hiring them or buying their product. They may seem unprofessionally written (errors, etc.) and lack personality. They offer nothing of value to the reader.

All of these things will help you create an online personality that conveys your authenticity. But the No. 1 thing you can do – what I value above everything else – is to be, actually … genuine.

In my book, “Celebritize Yourself,” I write about identifying the passion that led you to start your business, create your product or write your book. Maybe you became a financial adviser because you found it gratifying to solve people’s money problems. Or you developed a product that you know will benefit others. Or you have expertise that can help people live longer, happier, or more productive lives.

Whatever it is that got you going, that’s what makes you genuine. Identify it and make it a part of your message, and no one will ever call you a fake.

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms.


Man Brings Social Media Business to Chandler

The front of his business card reads, “Poet, world traveler, human being.”

The smell of old books and antique belongings emanate throughout Patrick Smith’s apartment. A bottle of prohibition Whiskey sits on display next to an ancient looking hieroglyphic stone.

After many years of traveling internationally, Smith, a Chandler resident, has decided to bring his business, BiBoBu, to Arizona.

“There is something that spiritually connects me to the mountains in the desert,” Smith said. “This is where I want to live permanently.”

He relates his love of the desert to the same landscape of Israel, where he lived for seven years. For over a decade, Smith traveled to more than 15 countries including Greece, Egypt, Israel, Spain, Morocco, and France. For work, he owned and managed restaurants, nightclubs, and cafés in those countries.

While living in Israel, Smith experienced discrimination as an American in a foreign country where the population was primarily Jewish. Many landlords didn’t want to rent him a home or hire him because he wasn’t Jewish.

For a short period, he fell on hard times and was forced to live in a cave where he read books, wrote poetry, and studied the Hebrew language. Practically penniless, and living off the little money his father was sending, he could barely afford food. Smith eventually found a job at a café in Tel Aviv, and later managed restaurants and eventually owned a nightclub.

Now, Smith owns a marketing company and website, BiBoBu, which uses social media sites — such as Facebook and Twitter — for companies to help advertise their products. BiBoBu is a marketing tool that companies can use to tailor their advertising campaigns in order to fit their customer base. It groups all of the social media sites together in one place, making it easier for companies to utilize. College campuses such as Northern Illinois University use BiBoBu to recruit students, spread the word about alumni fundraisers, and engage students in campus events.

Smith’s people skills from working in the hospitality industry abroad and in the U.S. for so many years seem to be what sparked his interest in social media outlets and the business world. “Communication is key in working with people, and that’s what I’ve learned,” Smith said. “This is the generation of social media.”

Smith said he met many different people throughout his travels, and one day he wants to write a book.

Now settled in Arizona, Smith runs his business from a place he can finally call home.

AZRE- November/December 2012

AZRE Magazine November/December 2012

AZRE Magazine November/December 2012

Face it, new media has us all atwitter

Peter MadridThis is how far technology has come since my journalism career officially began in 1980:

I was sent to cover the “Show Me Bowl,” the state high school football championships in Missouri, at the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

I remember lugging this Texas Instrument “portable” computer the size of a small suitcase. It had a teeny-weeny screen, and transmission required a dedicated line and a rotary dial telephone. To send a story to the newsroom, you put the receiver in a set of couplers, and hoped for the best.

During the baseball season, I sat in the press box at Chase Field and watched as a new generation of sportswriters posted news on Facebook pages; tweeted the latest trade rumor; and chatted with fellow sports scribes at stadiums across the country.

AZRE magazine is all about social media now, too. We have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, we send out a weekly “eblast,” and of course — we have azbigmedia.com, a site that lets us break stories affecting the local and national commercial real estate industry.

If I’m at a Valley Partnership breakfast, for instance, and the speaker says something noteworthy, I tweet about it. If I’m at BOMA’s TOBY Awards or AIA Arizona’s Design Awards, I post winners on the Facebook page.

Our goal is to inform — and entertain. Sometimes I post photos from the various events — tastefully done, of course.

Editors Letter Signature

Peter Madrid, Editor

Take it with you! On your mobile, go to m.issuu.com to get started.


LifeLock Unveils New Facebook App: ‘LifeLock for Life’

LifeLock Unveils New Facebook App: ‘LifeLock for Life’

LifeLock, Inc., an industry leader in proactive identity theft protection has launched ‘LifeLock for Life’, a Facebook application enabling fans to explore different life stages and events to test their security knowledge. Upon answering correctly, users can enter for a chance to win prizes. The foundation of the game educates consumers about the threats looming from infancy, adolescence and adulthood.

“Here at LifeLock, we are always working to educate consumers and advocate for their rights,” said Marvin Davis, Chief Marketing Officer for LifeLock. “LifeLock for Life is an educational and entertaining tool that allows us to reach a wide range of consumers and share information that could potentially benefit them. In addition to the education opportunity, there’s also a chance to win some great prizes, from gift cards to travel vouchers.”

According to the 2012 Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy and Research, overall identity theft rates were constant among all age ranges; however the type of fraud did vary between age groups. Being aware of the risks is the first step in combating the rising crime. ‘LifeLock for Life’ will demonstrate how consumers can best protect themselves and their families at every life stage.

The LifeLock Facebook page also provides consumers an opportunity to defend themselves with knowledge. Followers can find the latest identity theft stories and news of what advocates like LifeLock, law enforcement and elected officials are doing to protect consumers from becoming victims of identity theft. Fans are alerted about breaking news of identity theft reports, the latest data breaches including tips and advice on how to stay protected and can even submit a request for an identity theft expert to present at their next group meeting.

To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/LifeLock.


Use the ’10 Cs’ to create winning social media strategy

It is incumbent on business executives to stay ahead of the social media curve in order to compete efficiently in their respective industries.

However, when you consider where social media was just five years ago, it is impossible to imagine where it will be by 2020. This can be daunting for CEOs and other top executives who were not taught social media when they went to business school or worked their way up the ranks of their organizations.

Senior executives need to embrace social media and integrate it into the DNA of their entire organization.  It needs to align with the business goals and permeate throughout each division and employee in order to fully maximize the benefits.

In order to do this, Steve Nicholls, author of Social Media in Business, international speaker, and social media strategist offers a list of 10 Crucial C’s that will lay a foundation for senior executives to create a winning social media strategy

1.      Conversation: social media, at its core, is a conversation taking place online. People share content in all kinds of forms – words, videos, music and webinars amongst many other kinds – between each other. Passive intake of information is not the name of the game any longer; social media instead allows constant interaction and sharing of content between Internet-users.

2.      Coordination: coordinating projects across geographical boundaries and time zones is made much easier by social media. A project manager, for instance, has many business tools that he/she can use to manage and coordinate a project online between different participants, different locations and different time zones. Social media is like the glue bringing different parts of a project, or different projects, together.

3.      Cooperation: social media pairs very well with cooperation as it allows more cooperation to take place between different participants in a project, job or office, amongst other contexts. As we just saw, social media is by definition the sharing of information, this means that by definition, it is a cooperative process, and this cooperative process, transposed onto a business context, has much potential.

4.      Communication: social media creates and enhances communication amongst a company’s staff, between staff and clients, between sales and customers and between upper and lower management, to give just a few examples. Social media thus generates and develops communication both internally – within a company – and externally, between a company and external players in the business. Also, it allowed both formal and information communication to take place, where the fomer is owned by the organization and the latter by the employees. Maagemetn however needs to be cautious not to push information communication underground by attempting to control it.

5.      Collective intelligence: user-generated online content equates to business intelligence for companies. Taking advantage of this information is invaluable leverage and can help a company improve and perform better by accessing new ideas, finding solutions and getting feedback of its business directly from customers or clients. Moreover, this kind of business intelligence can be collected at virtually no cost, which means that companies have the opportunity to gain business insight in a highly cost-effective way.

6.      Communities: social media allows a company to find, create and interact with pools of customers, clients, suppliers and even competitors, amongst other key players in a given business. Communities can take shape both internally, within a company’s employees for instance, and externally, between a company and its clients for example. Taping into communities is a very efficient way to reach as many people as possible in a very fast, inexpensive and efficient way.

7.      Collaboration: social media helps creating more efficient collaboration between co-workers, partners and stakeholders. Social media facilitates teamwork through a range of tools that can be managed across geographical limits. This can take place between employees, teams and departments, but also between bilateral groups like business/customers, business/suppliers or business/stakeholders.

8.      Content: social media is all about sharing content. Through social media tools, you can create, share, change and have access to all kinds of content. It is this freedom in generating and sharing content that makes social media so powerful. This is what makes it possible for someone working from an attic somewhere to create a ‘viral video’ about a particular food recipe that will reach millions across the globe, for instance.

9.      Context: it is the context that will define how a social media project will take shape. Looking at a company’s business environment, company culture and business goals, for instance, will shape a social media project according to the specific business context in which the company operates. This will prevent companies from going enthusiastically in the wrong direction and adopt a social media project that has no beginning or end.

10.  Culture: culture is a crucial component that will determine how successful a social media project can be. A company culture generally fits somewhere between a closed to open continuum, and the more open it is, the more a company will have the freedom to take advantage of social media. Opening a company’s culture is perhaps the single most important thing to do in order to engage with social media project. Banning social media is not a solution anymore, even autocratic political regimes have failed to do so, but using it within a conducive but regulated cultural framework is the ideal response to the Internet revolution.

Steve Nicholls is the author of the best-selling “Social Media in Business,” international speaker, and social media strategist who helps business executives implement a winning social media strategy into their organization. 


Social Media Changes Driving Some Marketers Buggy

Social media is the most rapidly changing aspect of communications to begin with. Throw in an IPO (Facebook) and a major overhaul (LinkedIn) and modifications are barreling ahead so fast, even the techies seem unable to keep up.

“I’m a big believer in social media marketing for my business, so when I started having a lot of problems with LinkedIn, I didn’t wait – I sent an email to the Help Center,” says Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations, (www.emsincorporated.com), in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

“Last week, a ‘customer experience advocate’ finally emailed me back. He wrote, ‘I apologize taking so long to get back to you. We are currently experiencing an unusual high volume of requests due to our recent site enhancements.’ “

Many of the changes were implemented Oct. 16 and, as EMSI’s social media specialist, Jeni Hinojosa, observes, “It’s a great overhaul.”

But, she adds, “It must not have gotten much of a test run because the site has been very buggy.”

Over on Facebook, Friedman says she’s noticed advertisements popping up everywhere – even in her news feed.

“Now that the site has gone public, it’s trying all sorts of new tricks to make money for shareholders, but it’s creating some problems,” she says.

One of her employees got this error message while trying to post to her wall: “The server found your request confusing and isn’t sure how to proceed.”

Hinojosa offered a brief overview of some of the changes and a solution people are turning to – at least in the case of Facebook.

LinkedIn: “One of the new features I like is that you can check for comments and other activity without getting notices sent to your email,” Hinojosa says. “Just go to your LinkedIn page and you’ll see the notifications at the top, just like on Facebook.”

“The bugs I and others have encountered include being unable to check private messages; sporadically unable to get into groups; and being notified that invitations to join others’ networks are waiting – but when I look, I don’t see any,” Hinojosa says. “When we report the problems, the responses we’re getting sound like they’re working on them but they’re overwhelmed.

“Hopefully, they’ll get them worked out soon. The good news is, they’re aware.”

Facebook: “Sadly, I’ve been down this road before – and it didn’t lead to a good place,” Hinojosa says. “Remember MySpace?”

Since its initial public offering in May, Facebook has been making a lot of changes designed to add revenue. The newest of these are a $7 fee for “promoted posts” from your personal page and a $5 to $15 fee to promote posts from your fan page. They’re not yet available to all 166 million U.S. Facebook users, according to tech bloggers, because it’s still experimental.

Now, those with the option will see a “promote” button next to the “like,” “comment” and “share” buttons. Click “promote,” put the appropriate fee on your charge card, and that post will go to the top of your followers’ news feeds a few times in the days ahead. (It will also wear the Scarlet S label of “sponsored post.”) The promise is that more of your followers will see it.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense when applied to personal pages,” Hinojosa says. “How many people will pay to show off their vacation photos? But people using Facebook as a marketing tool may be motivated to pay for more reach.

“Soon, everyone will be scrolling through a bunch of ‘sponsored’ posts before they get to the ‘free’ ones. If you want someone to actually see your post, you’ll have to pay.”

That’s why, she says, people are jumping to …

Google+: “If Facebook and Twitter had a baby, it would be Google+,” Hinojosa says.

This toddler network, which launched in June 2011, combines Facebook’s capabilities for sharing news and photos and Twitter’s searchability.

“It allows you to designate one or more “circles” for your friends,” Hinojosa says. “One co-worker might be ‘business’ and ‘close friends’ while another could be just ‘business.’ So everyone sees what’s appropriate for them based on your relationship.”

“Like Twitter, Google+ uses hashtags to help sort information and allow people to search for posts on particular topics,” she says. “For instance, if you type #cutecats into the search box at the top of your page, you’ll see everything with that hashtag – including comments that incorporate the label.

“What makes me happiest is, Google had its IPO way back in 2004,” Hinojosa says. “So we shouldn’t have to worry about this company suddenly drumming up ways to make us pay for what we previously got for free.”


Phoenix artists tap the internet to fund creative projects

“If my life depended on it, I would die.”

Safwat Saleem, 32, isn’t your average graphic designer – at least he doesn’t think so. He claims that if he had to rely on a career in art, the paint and brush kind, that he would die.

This isn’t because his is lacking in talent but because his talents are not super focused in one medium. “I’m not great at any one thing, but I am not bad at many things,” he said.

In January 2012 Saleem put his second project up for funding on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website that been helping artists procure backing for their creative projects from everyday people since 2009. He raised $32,000 in just under one month. That was a whopping 1,066 percent more than his goal of raising $3,000.

The project, “Oh Expletive!” was featured in Kickstarter’s newsletter and thus gained the attention and support from 678 backers. Although very happy about the outcome Saleem calls it a fluke and doesn’t imagine he will be able to recreate those kind of numbers with his current project.

It has been the combination of many skills that has helped him fund his projects, Saleem said. One part humor, one part comedy, one part filmmaking and two parts graphic design seems to be the sweet spot in his recipe for success. Without being decent at several media the outcome may have been different, especially since an attention grabbing introduction video is all but required to see success on Kickstarter and similar sites like Indiegogo.

Saleem, who was born in Pakistan and became a U.S. resident in 2002, works at Arizona State University as a creative director for the College of Technology and Innovation. That is his day job anyhow, putting in 60 to 70 hours a week. Nights and weekends are a different story. Between weekend tongue and cheek plottings to take over the world, Saleem uses his spare time to work on personal projects.

His current endeavor involves him using Kickstarter for the third time for a project called “Greetings from Nowhere: (In)Appropriate Letterpressed Cards.” A project that currently has 122 backers and has exceeded a goal of $4,000 three weeks before schedule. Saleem’s third Kickstarter project will end on Nov. 19 and from current numbers it looks like he will continue to see funds being pledged.

Having reached his goal of  $4,000 all of the backers will be charged what their pledge amount. As standard with Kickstarter projects if he were to have failed to reach is goal none of the backers would have been charged. Any money collected over the goal mark is his to keep with the expectation that it goes to fund his project and not a vacation to Hawaii, or a trip to Pakistan to visit his parents.

If a project goal is met Kickstarter takes a 5 percent cut of whatever total funds were raised.

Other sites like Indiegogo are similar in nature but offer a choice between keeping the funds even if the project does not reach its goal. Users though who take this route should expect to pay 9 percent back to Indiegogo, 4 percent more than if the project had reached it’s goal.

“I’m not a popular artist. If you ask people in the art scene they probably won’t know me,” said Saleem while sipping his drink at Echo Coffee in Scottsdale. “With each (Kickstarter) project I am exposing my art to a new audience, or at least a few new people.”

Sebastien Millon, 30, an artist from Phoenix will soon be collaborating with Saleem. The project, which they plan to launch in February 2013, will be Millon’s first experience with Kickstarter and will raise funds to launch a book his illustrations.

“I think most people like supporting projects, especially projects they find interesting or like. By donating, even just a little, they are automatically connected with that project and becoming an integral part of that project and a part of the process of creation,” Millon said in an email interview. “That is a rewarding feeling. You don’t need to try and tap banks or investors for money anymore, it’s more democratic”

Millon said that a lot of his own successes have stemmed from using the internet as a marketing tool.

“I think the main key for me has been social media. I spend quite a bit of time on it, and I feel that if people like one of your drawings or pieces enough, they will share or “like” it.” Millon said. “It is a form of free advertising, so long as you can create content that people connect with and want to share with their friends.”

Millon said that for every two hours he spends creating art he spends one hour using social media to promote himself in various ways.

Isaac Caruso, 24, is an artist as well, with prominent mural paintings transforming the exterior of buildings in downtown Phoenix. A recent and colorful piece on the MonOrchid Gallery on Roosevelt Road has brought life to the formerly whitewashed warehouse.

While Caruso has not used Kickstarter to fund any of his own projects he has thrown his money into the pool to help support fellow area artists, he said in an email interview.  Caruso has donated to The CREATIV Movement’s creators from Scottsdale, who are currently using Indiegogo to try and raise $20,000. Although with six days left and more than $17,000 to go, they probably won’t be reaching their goal.

Crowdfunding isn’t just for your typical local artists. David Fincher, director of “Fight Club,” currently has a project open for funding on Kickstarter.

Fincher hopes to use donations from his fans to raise $400,000 so he can make an animated film called “The Goon.” With 12 days to go on his campaign he has nearly hit the half way marker of $200,000.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing's Facebook page

The Benefits Of Social Media For Small Business

No matter what product or service you’re selling, you’re always in the business of relationships.

Fifteen years ago in the entrepreneurial world, all you needed was a name and a phone number. That was it; that was all you needed for customers to find you. Then, having a website became necessary for building the reputation of your business. Today, we have moved into yet another realm of the Internet known as social media; sites include: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Each has their place and has become yet another layer of building and maintaining relationships, both personally and professionally.

Many of you already use Facebook in your personal lives to keep in contact with family and friends. It’s a great way to share up-to-date information and photos. Extending this to business, this outlet allows your customers or potential customers to get to know you on their level, and at their own speed.

Facebook and Twitter posts allow you to reach your customer base without becoming intrusive. As a business, you can also use social media networks to follow your target customers to find out what how they spend their free time, where they have dinner, what they like, etc. Having this additional insight allows a business to specialize thank-you gifts and gear its products to its customer’s needs and desires.

The faster a business uses social media to help champion its successes and get to know its audience, the faster the business will see a return on its investment. Since becoming active on social media, I’ve seen an immense increase in overall brand awareness.

Having a great business reputation on social media is a huge asset to your business portfolio. It’s also a great place to build good relationships with your vendors or business partners, to network and build business together.

My business has grown by maintaining and creating relationships. We have customers who have used our services for more than 20 years! Social media is just one more way our customers can keep in touch with us. I’m in the service business, utilizing social media allows our customers to get know us beyond the time we spend in their home. Oftentimes, checking my business out on social media makes new customers feel at ease.

Another important aspect of social media is helping others for the sake of helping. For instance, I’ve noticed individuals out of my market area searching for the best water filtration system on Facebook and Twitter. Does that mean I don’t respond because there is no potential sale for me? Absolutely not. Social media is not just about selling a product.

Gary Vaynerchuk, author of “Thank You Economy,” is a great resource and inspiration on how to make social media work for you and your business. He teaches that social media has the ability to make a brand or a business human. Each business has the potential to out-care everyone else via social media by helping others.

Adding social networks to your already-busy work day might seem daunting. It can be time consuming and is an investment. But when used consistently, it becomes a valuable asset. If you decide to outsource social media to a firm, set rules for when/what to publish on your networks to ensure your social media profile matches your business’s reputation.

I know social media may seem scary at first, but I believe it is a positive and effective way of reaching your target audience on a day-to-day basis and keeps your business top of mind. If you are still unsure about social media networks, there are several great tutorials online and local seminars to help you get focused.

If you’re on these social media networks, I would love to connect! Look me and my business up:

Twitter: @asktheexpert, @benfranklinaz
Facebook: facebook.com/BenjaminFranklinPlumbingAZ
YouTube: youtube.com/benfranklinaz