Social Media for Business: Is it Just for Conversing with Customers?


Is the Only Business Purpose for Social Media Conversing with Customers?

I was at Borders Bookstore the other night and I picked up a book titled “The Social Media Management Handbook” by Nick Smith and Robert Wollan with Catherine Zhou. These individuals work for the consulting firm, Accenture.

In the book the authors discuss the importance of organizations facing the reality that Social Media is not just a passing fad. Remember that lack of acknowledgement has been a recurring theme for anything new for as long as man has existed.

Do you recall the naysayers when the first micro computers were introduced and how they were identified as a “toy”, a passing fad, and nothing serious? Initially businesses gave them little attention; but we soon realized that was a mistake as we watched multi-billion dollar businesses sprout up around the technology and large companies that discounted or choose to ignore the technology fail as a result.

The same scenario is developing for Social Media as we see multi-billion dollar industries sprouting up; while again people, and many businesses especially, chose to ignore what is happening. Can you really afford to put your head in the sand?

Social Media Is for Conversing with Your Customers

In the book the authors spend their time talking about how advertising is changing. They emphasize the increasing importance of Social Media and how people are again getting their referrals and recommendations through word-of-mouth only this time it is from Social Media posts.

Do not get me wrong; I believe what the authors are saying. In fact I believe that in the next twelve to twenty-four months if businesses are not showing their Facebook “Likes” or other indications on Social Media that people are paying attention to their business; those businesses will be in deep trouble!

I also believe that Social Media, like the micro-computer technologies of the mid to late 70s, cannot be pigeon-holed to a single function. People will continually find new ways to apply the technology and that is where I believe the authors missed the boat. They were almost singular in their approach to the usage of Social Media, but the reality is there are many, probably unlimited, possibilities; as we let our minds explore the options.

Social Media Offers Opportunities for Internal Collaboration, Process Improvement, and Greater Efficiency

Scenario 1: Social Media can be a collaborative tool. I consulted for a large multi-national organization a few years ago. I watched as their different IT groups used the same computer technology in different locations. As new updates to the their operating systems and/or applications were released; each group would independently test and validate the updates.

I had a difficult time understanding why they were not using a Center of Excellence (CoE) to coordinate the effort and share what they learned. In fact, one of my recommendations was that they create a CoE and assign each location to test specific components of the software updates and then share the results with the other groups to make the process more efficient?

Although a great idea at the time; the collaborative capabilities of Social Media today would make this an even easier and more efficient process. In today’s Social Media environment assignments could be carved out, results could be posted, findings discussed, questions asked like “What Ifs”, and the list again goes on. Maybe you make the process even more informative and collaborative by bringing in the vendor or other experts in to contribute to the discussion. The possibilities are endless and Social Media can make it happen.

Scenario 2: Long ago I worked for IBM and when our Division released new hardware and application software we would hear rumors of what others were experiencing. Some would report a terrible experience that simply did not work and they would put out an alarm or warning; at the same time others would report the same application to be the cat’s meow. The problem was that the people having difficulty had no way to talk to their counterparts that had it working well. Social Media could have easily fixed that.

IBM/MIT Study Identifies $948 Value for Each Collaborator

In 2009, IBM and MIT released a joint study where they determined that each collaborator on a project added $948 in value to the overall project. It was determined that the quality of the solution improved, the efficiency of the process increased, and the project life-cycle was shortened because of collaboration and this was only using email. Imagine how Social Media could have had an even greater impact!

Emails can be lost or some people may not receive them; when you move to Social Media many of those problems are mitigated by the method of distribution. Social Media can improve the speed of delivery and response. Social Media is a dialog, not a monologue or series of monologues. Social Media can be a virtual real-time process.

Social Media Summary

Businesses must recognize that Social Media is not a passing fad. Social Media is here and what we see today, however sophisticated some may think, is still in its infancy. Business owners and executives must be getting involved today or they and their organizations will be left behind when tomorrow arrives.

Yes, there are concerns and issues that must be figured out; but the solution to figuring them out is not ignoring the existence of the technology.
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Tom Staskiewicz speaks and coaches on structuring Social Media and Professional Networking to help businesses, organizations, and individuals establish and manage their Social Media presence to increase efficiency, improve decisions, and respond to your audiences. Your Social Media presence doesn’t just happen and will not take care of itself. Tom helps you with those processes so your Social Media efforts will work for you.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can apply Social Media within your business you can download our Top Fifteen List of Business Uses for Social Media or email Tom for information.

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What Can You Do with an Email Service


What Email Service Is Right for You

Have you thought about using an email service to stay in touch with your customers and prospects? I’m sure you have, if for no other reason than the intensive marketing being done by Constant Contact.

Before You Select a Service; Know What You Want to Do

The truth is that all email services are not created equal. Some have features that others do not. Some charge based upon the number of emails sent and others charge based upon the number of subscribers you have.

How Many Subscribers Do You Expect?

Knowing how many subscribers you will have and how often you plan on contacting those subscribers can make a huge difference in the cost.

How Many Email Lists Will You Have?

Another factor is how many email lists will you have? Will you have both a list of active customers and prospects? Will it be a single list? Will you have a list for customers of each type or category of product or service you offer?

Are You Going to Do Email Campaigns?

Maybe you are asking what is an email campaign, so I will give you a brief overview. A campaign is typically a series of emails sent to subscribers.

The campaign starts with a letter of invitation to join the list (usually an opt-in or double opt-in) process to make sure you have the correct person.

Following the opt-in there is an immediate follow-up with the additional promised information. A few (7-10) days later there is another follow-up to ensure that they received the information and provide a second promotion. 12-14 days later there is another follow-up typically with some type of incentive to sign up. That may be it or 60 days later there could be one last follow up. It’s really up to you.

Some email services support email campaigns, some do not, and others only limited email campaigns or a limited number of campaigns.

To Opt-In or Not; or Will You Spam

Opt-In basically says do you want to participate and lets the reader know that they can opt-out at any time.

Do you want an opt-in or double opt-in process where the people signing up must go to a sight or respond to an email and confirm that they want to be on your list. If you don’t have an opt-in some, maybe many will report you as spam and can get you blacklisted; opt-ins are preferable to blacklists. Unless you are closely monitoring the service you won’t know that your emails have been blocked.

If the service isn’t offering an opt-in option that can be a problem. Maybe you don’t irritate the users but that doesn’t mean that someone else using the service won’t irritate their recipients and the backlash can hit you!

Opt-ins protect you as much or even more than they protect your recipients.

Will You Have Mini-Memberships?

A Mini-Membership has people sign-up typically paying a fee for a limited-term-membership (compare it to a four – 12 week class and sometimes up to one-year). Each week or month they will have the next part of their course delivered to their email box.

Some email services support this and some do not. Some will support several limited-term-memberships and others will support only one.

Before you select a service know what you services you are expecting them to provide.

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Tom Staskiewicz speaks and coaches on Social Media/Social Networking topics helping businesses, organizations, and individuals establish and manage their Social Media presence. Your Social Media presence doesn’t just happen and will not take care of itself. Tom helps you with those processes so your Social Media efforts will work for you.

Your Fan Page Needs Your Friends


Do My Fans Need to Know I Administer the Facebook Fan Page

Here’s the deal. You created a Fan or business page under your personal profile; that makes you the administrator of the page. Unless you post something on the Fan Page that gives it away as to who you are; your Fans cannot tell.

Two Steps to Better Hide Your Identity

If you are still worried the best way to hide the details about yourself is through the security settings on your personal profile. What you want to do is manage the information that you want to share with everyone, your friends, and your friend’s friends.

The other protection is deciding who you will accept as a friend. You can control this and if there are people that you do not want to have access to your personal information do not send a friend request or accept a friend request from them.

You can also classify your friends using the FB “list” process and create lists and then assign your friends. When you post you have the option to select the lists that you want to see the post you are leaving. That provides an additional method of restricting who sees what content.

Why You WANT the Two Connected

The last thing is that your business reputation and brand come for most of us from our personal reputation. What role does your personal reputation play in your business and how much do you count on your friends for referrals. The more restrictive you are the fewer the referrals you will receive.

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Tom Staskiewicz is a Social Media/Social Networking Coach helping businesses, organizations, and individuals to establish and manage their Social Media presence. Your Social Media presence doesn’t just happen and will not take care of itself. Tom helps you with those processes so your Social Media efforts will work for you.

Does Your Social Networking Answer the WIIFM Question?


What’s In It For Me?

The reality is that people are always looking to understand how they will benefit from any activity or action undertaken. They may be totally supportive of an idea or a plan, but their own interests will eventually come into play. With that in mind do you have the WIIFM answer for your customers and prospects?

Does Your Offer Answer Your Customer’s WIIFM Question?

If you can answer that question for them and answer it repeatedly with a benefit that they perceive has value and is of interest; you will get their attention. We are all bombarded with information constantly and one of the easiest ways to weed through the information is by looking for those messages that quickly tell them what is in it for them and make if very clear what they have to gain.

They will take that information and then weigh it against their cost. If the benefit out weighs the cost, they will be interested and act. If the perceived benefit does not outweigh the cost, they will move on to the next offer.

Do You Struggle with the WIIFM Question for Yourself?

So whether you are promoting yourself, your business, your service, or your product; you must be able to provide your reader with an answer to the WIIFM question. If you can’t or you don’t it is wasted effort on your part and you then need to look at the WIIFM question for yourself.

If you don’t want to put the work into your own activities then YOU must be failing your own WIIFM question. For whatever reason you do not feel that putting the effort into your own activities is worth the benefit you will receive.

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Tom Staskiewicz creates networking strategies that help you build your individual and business brands. Ask him how! Check out the UPPROACH website.

Social Media.. What Site or Sites Are Best for My Business?


Few Companies Take the Time to Select the Social Media Sites that Will Be Best for Them

I don’t know how many times I have read purported experts telling organizations that they should have a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Plaxo, Friendster, MySpace, etc. I have heard them specify up to 10 sites that they state are critical to your business. Do they really know? What is their proof?

If you go looking for sites on your own you will see that Wikipedia lists over 190 different Social Media sites. On top of selecting your Social Media sites; businesses are told they must be blogging and oh, by the way, you should do podcasts in your spare time.

The reality is that there are way too many options and no business, regardless of how well staffed they are, can effectively participate in all these sites or even 10 sites. To make it worse many so-called Social Media consultants or experts spend little or no time understanding your business or helping you develop a strategy. My experience is that their interest is to get you involved in Social Media Sites far more than helping you achieve Social Media success.

What Do You Hope to Accomplish with Social Media and Why?

Before you jump into any site you must first understand or determine what you are attempting to accomplish. You must be able to answer these questions:

  • Who do you want to talk to?
  • Where do members of your audience spend their time?
  • What Social Media sites serve your audience?
  • What is interests your audience?
  • What information can you contribute to meet their interests?
  • How often do you want to talk?
  • What of quality or value do you have to say?
  • What action do you want your audience to take?

I am sure you can come up with other questions that will help to narrow your focus and evolve your strategy.

When you can answer these questions you are then prepared to start evaluating which Social Media sites will best serve your purposes. Certain sites lend themselves better to one objective or another and none are a one-size fits all solution.

The mistake that you do not want to make is to spend time in places where you will not find your customers and prospects or where you have nothing to add to the conversation. My friend, Neal Shaffer, wrote the blog post 5 Reasons Why Your Social Media Strategy Isn’t Really a Social Media Strategy.

Your Social Media Strategy Must Be Evolving

Your Social Media strategy must be evolving. Social Media sites will come and go, customers will redefine their interests, and/or you will change your strategies. You must be prepared to adapt and change as your needs change.

The reality is that businesses must pick and choose their Social Media sites with care. Just like you take care in selecting your product or service lines you must be using the same care in selecting your Social Media sites.

Social Media Has Much to Offer Businesses, but They Must Do Their Homework First

If you take the time to do your homework; your chances of success will increase geometrically.

Does Networking Work?


Have you ever wondered if networking pays off?

Here is my latest experience. Approximately 8 weeks ago my contract was ended. I had been contracting at one company for the past 3 ½ years and it was only supposed to be a 1 year contract. That worked out well for me and I am happy that it lasted that long. I will get back to the end of the contract in a little bit.

Prior to this contract I had been looking for work for about 6 months. I had some things here and there that kept us going, but it was tough regardless. What is important, however, is what I did while I was with this company.

Take Action

The first action, not under my control, was shortly after I started I was called to a regional employment role in my church. The second action was I started using LinkedIn. The third actions was the more I learned the more I wanted to learn on how it could help me with my search.

Learn to Network

By learning how to network and allowing my network to get to know me I made many great contacts. I didn’t know everyone in my network at first and in many cases I am still getting to know them; but I will keep working on this.

Make Lots of Connections

About 1 1/2 years after getting into LinkedIn I started on Facebook. I had watched my teenagers use MySpace and then Facebook and thought they were wasting their time. I was wrong! At least with the idea that Facebook offered nothing for me. I started connecting with all kinds of people and it has been great.

I now have over 850 connections on LinkedIn connecting me to over 8 MILLION people and I have over 650 connections on Facebook. Some of the LinkedIn and Facebook connections are duplicated, but most are not.

After the Contract Ended

Anyway back to having the contract end… I contacted my and other recruiting companies to see what might be available. It wasn’t long and I had a couple of opportunities presented. One ended up panning out and I started the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Emailed Over 170 Contacts

The other thing that I did, however, was send an email to about 170 of my email contacts. That process generated over a dozen responses with possible opportunities. Where I went wrong was not sending that email out earlier in the process.

Let People in Your Network Know Who You Are and What You Can Do

When people in your network know you, know what you can do, and know what you want to do; they are there to help. My email went out a couple of weeks ago and I am still being contacted by members of my network to see what they can do to help. The truth is that I still have well over one thousand people that I could contact; a majority of whom I did not know three years ago.

I connect with new people all the time; it is my goal to be adding 5 – 10 new connections either on LinkedIn of Facebook every week. Sometimes it is as many as 20 per week and this is what YOU must be doing as well.

Networking works when you give it a chance.

Building Your Business Using Social Media


Does the World Know About Your Expertise?

I received email this morning from my friend Charlie Cook. Charlie helps small businesses with their marketing. In his email he was talking about a bike shop, Santa Fe Mountain Sports.

Charlie needed to fix the derailleur on his wife’s bike so they could take a ride. An avid biker, Charlie thought he was up to the task, but quickly realized he needed some help. He went to YouTube and searched on “adjusting front derailleur”. He found the video he needed and saw that over 400,000 other people had found it as well. All told this bike shop has over 1.3 million views of their videos that demonstrate their expertise.

Are you demonstrating your expertise? Are you getting your word out?

As Charlie points out even if each person viewed it twice that is 200,000 exposures to potential customers and it is all done for free!

I can help you make Social Media work for you! Contact me at tom@upproach.com and let’s talk!