Where is the world are you?
How powerful is your social media strategy?
1. Identify Your GoalsFirst, you want to identify what it is you want to accomplish. You should make a list of each social media networking site you use and decide what it is you want to accomplish using each network. For Twitter, maybe your goal is to attract a certain number of followers or increase your follower by a certain percentage. Another possible goal would be for your 140 character Tweets to be so valuable that you get a certain number of ReTweets. Make sure you Tweet regularly and Tweet interesting comments/articles/facts. You don’t want to be the ‘spammy’ Tweeter. For your Facebook account, similar to your Twitter goals, you want to up your fan count by 50%, or whatever you think is an appropriate bar to set. Facebook also has great features that allows you to track the activity on your page – this way you can see if the content your posting is engaging your market. On your YouTube channel, you could set a goal of uploading a certain number of videos per month. Or you could set a goal of how many views you want for each of your videos. Identify what kinds of content you want to post and try to increase your followers with your engaging content. YouTube videos can also be integrated into your other social network accounts as well. For your LinkedIn profile, set a goal for how many connections you make per month. Contributing to conversations on LinkedIn is also a valuable feature for this network so make a point of getting involved in the buzz. Finding connections in groups is another aspect of LinkedIn that you could include in your social media goals. Whatever your goals might be, make them challenging, yet attainable. Be as specific as possible so you know exactly what your looking for in your results. You can always adjust this list along the way!
2. Plan of ActionWhat are you going to do that will make you achieve these goals? Decide how often you want to post on each site and where. Spending a few hours a week on your social networking sites will help build your social media presence and more activity will drive more traffic to your pages. Brainstorm a list of topics you think people would be interested in that you can talk about on your sites. Also, make a point of checking in on discussion groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. In giving valuable input, you are presenting yourself as a qualified and knowledgable contributor that could ultimately drive traffic to your page. Just remember to avoid being too ‘spammy’ and blatantly promote yourself- no one likes a spammer.
3. Ready, Aim, FIRE!Put your plans into action. And stick to your plan! Keep yourself on schedule with your plan and you will see results! Decide on how often you are going to check in on your social media sites and what results you are looking for – new fans, followers, active conversation or views. The great thing about social media networks is that they provide you with immediate feedback so you know whether or not your plan is working. If not, adjust your tactics and try again!
What are your goals for 2011?
What Are LinkedIn Company Pages?Company pages are free and they allow businesses to post information about their company, job openings or products and services. I am really excited about this because it allows small and medium businesses a new venue to promote themselves online. I am curious to see how well the LinkedIn pages rank in search engines. This could be another way for businesses to gain search engine rankings by creating LinkedIn pages for their products and services. According to LinkedIn:
Company Profiles are a powerful research tool that helps you find and explore potential companies to work for or do business with. Profiles feature a company overview, who you know at the company, and unique data from the LinkedIn network.I quickly set up pages for my business.
The Company Profile PageThe first page is the company profile page. What is new and different about the LinkedIN company profile is that it now includes more information about a business. You can see all of the employees who work for the business, basic corporate information and company descriptions. Twitter, blogs and maps are also integrated. One of the interesting new features is that you can now follow a company and stay up to date on their jobs, new products and activities on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Job PostingsYou can post jobs in the jobs tab of your LinkedIn page, providing more visibility for postings. Job postings on LinkedIn aren’t free, but they can give you a lot of targeted exposure. Including job postings on company pages can help people interested in your company stay up-to-date.
LinkedIn Products and ServicesThis is the feature that I am most excited about. LinkedIN now allows you to create pages with information about product and services. This could be powerful for search optimization, depending on how well these product pages will rank in search results. The cool thing about the LinkedIn company pages is that they allow you to recommend the products and services. This is an expansion of the recommendations that you can currently write about people. The potential here is pretty big since there are plenty of recommendation sites for restaurants and stores, but very few for BtoB services. This could have great potential if it catches on. Hopefully this doesn’t turn in to yet another spree of requesting recommendations
What should you do?Check out the company page for your business. Be sure that all information is accurate and complete. Set up product and services pages for one or two of your main products. Include as much information as possible – it will help your products show up in LinkedIn searches. I’ll keep you updated as I start to experiment more, and let you know what kind of results we see. – Krista
1. Share Deals and Promotions on TwitterTwitter is a powerful way to share deals and promotions with your patients (and future patients)! Big companies like Dell Outlet have sold millions of dollars through Twitter, but it works for small companies too. Naked Pizza, a small pizza store in New Orleans had their highest ever-sales day from a Twitter promotion. Vista Prints sold $25,000 directly through Twitter in their first year. Find and connect with your target audience and give them irresistible offers, such as free teeth whitening, on Twitter.
2. Share news and Updates on FacebookDon’t have a fan page yet? If you have fans or patients who are passionate about your practice, you should have a fan page. Use it to connect with prospective patients and keep them up to date on your new products or services. I was recently getting my car fixed and found that the mechanic frequents the same neighborhood bar as I do. He told me that he checks out their Facebook page every day to see what food and drink specials they have. This bar has a creative new drink special for Happy Hour every day and a different free food item available. Whether is it food and drink specials, new services in your practice, new practice news or regulations, a Facebook fan page can be a powerful resource to keep your patients up to date. Over 1/3 of people who are fans of practices on Facebook are fans for this reason – to stay up to date.
3. Network on LinkedIn GroupsLots of small practices as well as business professionals grow their practices or businesses by networking with people. Meeting people and sharing helpful knowledge drives business over time. People do business with people they know, like and trust. LinkedIn groups allow you connect with others based on a shared interest. You can join a group and contribute to discussions or share interesting news. By using LinkedIn to build relationships you can attract new patients over time.
4. Connect with Prospects with a WebinarWebinars are becoming increasingly popular ways to connect with prospects and provide value to potential patients. Webinars are virtual and web-based. A webinar is typically hosted around a specific topic and people sign up, call in and login on their computer and they can watch and listen to a live session on a specific topic. Webinars are very popular in categories that are high-information. Most B-to-B business fall in to this categoy, but it also works for consumer products and services. If people are looking for knowledge or information about some special service your practice offers, a webinar can be a powerful tool to share information with them and position your practice as a leader in the industry.
5. Be a Thought Leader with a BlogBlogs are very popular for a variety of reasons (we’ll discuss one more of them later in this post). One of the reasons is that a blog can establish you as an expert and thought leader in your industry. If people trust you and see you as knowledgeable they are more likely to join your practice. Run a gym? Share workout tips. Real Estate Agent? Share posts highlighting the people and events in your neighborhood. Restaurant? Show how you make signature drinks or menu items. For a dentist practice, share patient success stories or new procedures offered exclusively at your practice as well as some tips about oral hygiene.
6. Connect with Patients and Prospects with an email newsletterSo maybe *technically* this isn’t social media, but it is relatively simple and cheap for most practices to create a newsletter. Constant Contact and MailChimp offer services for under $25 a month and are easy to use. An email newsletter can keep your patients and prospects up to speed on news, deals and promotions. Email remains the preferred communication method of most people (1:10 preference over social media) to stay up to date.
7. Join an online communityThere are online communities for almost everything these days. Seek out a discussion forum or community that is specific to your business and participate! You can connect with patients (or potential patients) and really learn about them. What are they interested in? What do they talk about? What do they want and need in a dental practice? Participating and listening to communities that are comprised of your target market can improve your practice and also lead to sales as you build relationships.
8. Monitor and Respond to your ReviewsThere are many business review sites – from product reviews on amazon to restaurant and store reviews on yelp! to complaints on The Ripoff Report. For dentists, RateADentist.com is a site that offers a place for patients to provide reviews of their dentist. Whatever your business line, chances are there are review sites that are relevant. Even Facebook has included reviews on fan pages. Google has reviews in their listings. Look for and respond to reviews (both good and bad). Saying thanks to a good review can build an evangelist and encourage word-of-mouth. Responding to a negative review can help clarify the situation. Showing that you care about negative reviews and plan to take action shows your side of the situation to the hundreds of people who view the review.
9. Get Found on Search Engines with a BlogAnother great reason to start a blog is to get traffic from search engines. Because blogs are content rich (you typically create content for them on a regular basis) search engines give traffic to sites with blogs. In almost anything that you search for you’ll find a number of blogs show up in search results. If people find your practice through search a blog can increase the probability that you will show up in results. This leads to traffic and (hopefully) new patients.
10. Generate Awareness with a VideoVideos can be great ways to connect with your audience. A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a million! Video is a great way to share information – whether it is a video showing before & after interviews with patients, customers talking about their satisfaction or a video demo of your special service – videos are powerful tools. Create a video for your practice to make a deeper connection with your audience. There are many different creative ways to use and share videos. This list isn’t exhaustive – it is simply a handful of the tactics and tools that are included in the Social Media Action Pack.
How are you using social media for your practice?
Google AlertsGoogle Alerts is a service designed to send out email updates when relevant Google results surface based on your topic choices. These free alerts are set up through your Google account and can be sent to any email address you choose. This tool allows you to keep tabs on developing news stories, articles, blogs and other mediums that might mention your company or topic.
Yahoo AlertsJust like Google Alerts, Yahoo! Alerts also a personally designed service that alerts you about content you wish you monitor. Yahoo! gives you the option to receive notifications about articles and news linked to specific categories such as Health News or Stock Alerts. Alerts can also be useful in monitoring the news of your competitors and obtain information on their activity.
Twitter SearchTwitter Search is an option specific to Twitter users that allows you to search a keyword or topic and shows all the “tags” or mentions in the Twitter world. You will see results of what is being said about a specific company or topic that are making people buzz.
TweetDeckTweetDeck is an application for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Foursquare and MySpace. A typical TweetDeck screen is divided into a number of columns, specific to the different social media outlets you wish to monitor. In each column, you are able to see status updates, tags, tweets, photos and that which you wish to monitor. Each TweetDeck is specific to the individual user. The founders of TweetDeck describe this application as being the “air traffic controller for Twitter.”
Facebook StatsFacebook Stats can give you feedback on the traffic that your company page is receiving. You can find this information under Facebook Insights that provides you with a number of graphs displaying mentions, weekly activity, post quality, reviews and a demographic summary of your fans.
Answer LinkedIn QuestionsLinkedIn has a segment on their site called Answers that allows LinkedIn members to ask and answer questions in an open discussion forum. This is a great way for you to establish a credible foundation for your company by answering questions that are relevant to your specific service or product. By giving helpful feedback and advice, you are giving your company the publicity it needs through these social mediums.
How have you monitored social media?
I do a lot of social media training and strategic consulting to businesses of all sizes. The funny thing is that most business have the same barriers as to why they are not using social media. From fortune 500 countries all the way to small business owner, the excuses and barriers are the same.
The reality is that most of these barriers are only in their minds. They don’t want to use social media because they don’t understand it, so they make excuses. Deep down, they know that they need to use social media (or they wouldn’t be talking to me), but something in their mindset is holding them back.
The reality is that businesses that invest in learning how to properly harness social media see dramatic results. All signs show that social media is here to stay. You can’t afford to ignore it.
Excuse #1 – Social media is a fad
Social media is here to stay. Social media has mass adoption and continues to grow in popularity.
- More people check Facebook every day than read the newspaper or listen to the radio.
- Facebook has over 500 million users.
- There are over 30 million blogs in the US (that is about 1 for every 10 people)
- Twitter has millions of users including most celebrities and politicians.
- Social Media was listed as a key factor in winning the last US presidency.
Excuse #2 – Social Media is a shiny new object
Social Media isn’t really new when you think about it. People have been social since forever. We live in communities. We talk about things that matter. We give advice to our friends. This has all been going on for centuries.
The media part is new. Technology has allowed us to make social connections in a more powerful and scalable way. Rather than keeping up with a few people in person we can keep up with many people by checking out their tweets or Facebook updates.
So really, social media is an age old concept that is transformed by technology.
Excuse #3 – I can’t afford to hire someone to help me
Small business owners who hear me speak approach me afterward and ask me how they can get support to start growing their business with social media marketing. They often then say that they can’t afford to invest. That is a losing mindset, because if they are already struggling, they really, they can’t afford not to.
Businesses waste all sorts of money on things that don’t work any more. Yellow pages ads, newspaper ads, direct mail and coupons. Social media works better than any of these things. If you want to be successful make the choice to invest in something that will actually grow your business and get you results.
Excuse #4 – I don’t have the time
This is one of the most common barriers. I don’t have the time. Do you have about an hour a week? That is all it takes. 10 minutes, 5 times a week. If you are disciplined in your social media marketing approach you can manage social media without a lot of time.
Our clients that use the social marketing action program see results with just an hour a week (after setting everything up). The key is to use efficiency tools and be strategic in how you spend your time.
Excuse #5 – Social media doesn’t deliver business results
This one is just plain not true. Businesses of all sizes have seen dramatic results from social media across multiple areas of their business. Here are just a few examples:
- Lenovo reduced customer service calls by 20% with social media.
- Vista Prints sold $25,000 from twitter alone
- Golden Tee saved development costs with a free Facebook application.
- Naked pizza had their best ever sales day from twitter.
These are just a few. If you make the smart choice to invest in social media you will be on one of these lists one day.