A few days ago Instagram announced that it was going to allow more people to business accounts which would give them the ability to schedule posts ahead of time, something that’s not allowed right now. I’ve subsequently read a lot of articles telling people it’s the best thing since sliced bread (not a direct quote lol).
I was thin once 🙂
As someone with 5 blogs who also writes for 2 others I don’t get paid for, I think I can speak about the issue of being overwhelmed by having too much exposure online. This time I’m not talking about the people who might view your content; I’m talking about your ability to keep up with all of it and whether it’s worth the effort. Continue reading →
I’ve known Scott Gardner since 2003 when we were both on a committee for the Syracuse Chamber. Back then he gave me a brief lesson on how real branding works; of course I didn’t use any of what he told me. He graduated with a BS in Marketing from the State University of New York at Oswego, has an associates degree in advertising art, and he’s been the sole proprietor of Agilé Marketing Services since 2003. I hope you enjoy his responses to my questions about marketing and branding.
1. What’s the difference between marketing you learned in college and marketing in the real world?
I had a different college experience. As I was taking classes in cinematography (making feature films), I needed a job, so I took one with an international cutting and precision tool company. I got a promotion in a few months, and the next thing I knew I was flying across the country to work a trade show. Continue reading →
A week and a half ago I bought a new mattress. It only took me 20 years to do so, and 20 years to realize how mattress technology has changed. Let me share the little video I did about it with you:
Kind of cool, right? For those who didn’t watch the video first, the company I bought this mattress from, Raymour and Flanigan, is the same one I bought my other mattress from along with the cool looking headboard. As a matter of fact, my previous dining room table, which is hidden somewhere in the basement, was also purchased from the same company; I’m saying it that way because the location of the main store has moved to a new and much larger location. In this area, this furniture store is one of the big names in town and because I’d purchased other things for them I trusted them much easier than I trusted a couple of the other stores I visited.
Also, because you might not have looked at the video (go ahead, look at it to see how neat it is lol), you may not know that I purchased a Beautyrest, which is a top brand name and one of the top ranked mattress companies in the country. I’d also heard of them so that also made it stand out in my mind and helped encourage me to buy it. Of course it didn’t hurt that it was on sale, and they threw in new box springs and added free delivery and they took the other mattress and bed springs away for free also; win! 🙂
The thing is, this isn’t where I started my research for mattresses. It started online, mainly because of my wife, who’d had some mattresses recommended to her. All of them were off-brands, and some of them were mail order only. Even with research I couldn’t imagine ordering a mattress that I couldn’t test first.
There were a couple other stores we checked out before I went to this store because one was closer and one we happened to walk by in our large city mall and decided to check out. I’d actually tested what I considered a perfect mattress, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on a $5,750 mattress! Maybe when I hit the lottery I’ll consider it. lol In any case, I didn’t know those stores all that well, so even if I’d found something I liked I probably would still have hesitated.
Let’s face it; we love what we love and buy what we know. I’m pretty loyal to foods and desserts that I’ve loved since I was a child. I still buy Tide because Mom bought Tide. I buy Ragu because it’s the first spaghetti sauce I liked. I’m a loyal Hershey’s chocolate fan, Miracle Whip fanatic and Velveeta lover because they’re foods I trust and the company’s behind them are brands I trust. It would take a lot for me to even think about trying something else, let alone switching permanently. That’s what branding does to and for us; it simplifies our life and makes us consumers for life.
This is one of the things most of us who blog or are self employed are working to be for someone else. I find it’s not all that easy to do, although I know it can be done. I know this because I can name names, although I’m not going to do it right now (I’ve done that before).
There are people making pretty good money online because they’ve been able to brand themselves well; I’m certainly not going to hate on them. I don’t want to be against them; I want to be in the place they’re in. I’m working on being seen as an authority in multiple areas, and I’m working on being more influential in those same areas. I don’t need thousands of people, but I’m definitely shooting for those 100 true fans to help me realize my long term goals.
I know what will work if I only want more traffic, but that takes a lot of time and effort and isn’t the best way to reach your target market. I know many people say success is in the numbers; that’s turning out not to be true anymore, especially for a lot of people on YouTube lately.
For once I’m not giving advice in one of these posts. Instead, I’m looking for a conversation to see what some of you think is the best way to build yourself as a brand. I know I’m not convinced in guest posting, email lists, Adwords or Facebook marketing. I’ve actually done all of those things and, because of stupid Google Panda I got smacked down like a lot of other people over the years. Who knows; maybe I did it wrong, so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all have to say.
I have a nice little series going on here concerning the topic of influence. I started out asking how influential we were online, and followed that up with what is influence and how can we use it. It’s time to go in a slightly different direction, that being how to grow influence, and since I’m trying to turn myself into the social media marketing guy, I’m going to use that as my premise for how I could possibly grow my influence. By the way, part of using social media marketing is also to grow your local influence, so I’m going to be considering that as well. I’ve been assuming this is all a part of marketing and branding myself at the same time; I hope you’re thinking along the same lines.
Before I go any further, I have to give credit where credit is due. Though I’ve been thinking about the subject for awhile, it never really hit my mind to start writing about it until this young lady named Mandee Widrick kind of started making it her business to grow her influence. Oddly enough, she’s trying to become what I’m trying to become, but I don’t see it as a sense of competition, hence I’m not afraid to talk about her. Anyway, she wrote a blog post titled Fast Company’s Influence Project, where a site is doing a project trying to help people figure out just how influential they are. You sign up, get a link, then you send your link out, trying to get people to click on it so that you can find out just how influential you are. I thought about it for a brief minute, then my mind said it was a lot like the Alexa Toolbar used to be considered, only I’d have to work at it. And I figured if I was going to work on something I’d rather work on my own stuff. Still, her site is good reading; so says I.
Back to the subject at hand; just how am I going to use social media to grow my influence? This time I’m going to start with talking about Facebook. Last Friday my business page finally hit 100 members, and I’m proud of that fact. I want it to continue growing, but I really worked on promoting that bad boy on Twitter and on Facebook itself. I’ve talked about it here, but not on my other blog, and I’ve totally forgotten to mention it on LinkedIn, so that’s coming as well. I’m going to begin using the fact that I’m up to 100 members as a promotional tool to get even more folks to join. Of course, I need to keep updating it with my information, which is mainly my blog postings, but I also need to occasionally pop something in there that touches upon a topic I discuss for business, which I try to do.
Next, I’m going to use this blog. Remember last week I said this blog was linked to around 14,000 other sites? Well, when I was going through that list a bit I saw I was on sites I knew nothing about. So I’m going to check those sites out, and if there’s a possibility to do so, I’m going to post a comment on those posts, and I’m going to then link some of them here so folks can see that I’m elsewhere in the blogosphere. I just hope they’re not scraped sites. lol Overall, however, I believe the mix of both business and personal topics has worked well with this blog.
I’ve already started a Twitter strategy, and I’m going to keep it going. This blog has a lot of topics on things such as SEO, blogging, and writing, some of them a couple of years old, and people have missed them. So, I’m going back, looking at them, and the better ones I’m popping on Twitter every once in a while. I’m doing the same thing for my business blog. I figure I have nearly 15,000 links between the two blogs, so why not use them? I’ve also popped an occasional oldie but goodie from my business blog onto my Facebook page; I just remembered that. And I’m posting links to articles I’ve written on other sites as well to Twitter; trying to show I’m a well rounded guy.
Here’s the thing about Twitter, if I may. It’s my best chance for growing my influence with the local people, who really don’t know what I’m all about. I talk to more of them all the time, and if in some fashion I can get them talking about me more, and not just because of the potential Syracuse wiki project, it can only turn out good.
As for LinkedIn, well, the best I can do is keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is going in every 3 or 4 days and posting something, anything to keep it live, and now I can post the thing about my Facebook business page; whew! And I’ve been trying to be a bit more active in some of the LinkedIn groups, which can be difficult because often there’s really nothing I’m in the mood to comment on. But it has to get done, as I work on this influence campaign.
Oh, there’s one final piece. One thing I haven’t really done is create a business profile of sorts. I have a bio page on my main site, and an about page on my second business site, but I need something a bit more business professional and direct that I can either print up or send as a pdf to potential clients. I need to work on that, with an image, and get that going, hoping to circumvent calls for a CV for interim projects. I hate producing a CV; I’m an incorporated business person after all, with a business license. But in this case we do what we have to do. But I’m not going to give up my humanity either; no, that’s not my daughter. 🙂
Have I covered everything? Probably not, but it’s a process that I’m going to begin. And though it’s going to be ongoing, I’m going to see if I can figure out a way to track progress over the next two months. This could be a great case study and could turn into a seminar of some type; let’s see what happens.
In deference to my online buddy Mike CJ, he wrote a post earlier in the week which he titled Why Businesses Shouldn’t Be On Twitter. His main point was that instead of businesses being on Twitter, they should have individuals representing the business on Twitter so that they can show some personality and communicate directly with people.
Whereas I agree with the last point, I disagree with the initial statement. In my opinion, businesses definitely need to be on Twitter, and for multiple reasons. Let’s take a look at some of these.
1. Branding. Businesses having a Twitter account get to make sure their logo is out there front and center whenever something is being written for the company. One should never overlook the importance of branding.
2. Customer Service. Last week I had an issue with one of my affiliates not paying me so I kind of called that company out by name on Twitter. Within 5 minutes I was being contacted by the company, or whomever was representing the company account on that day, and we got my issue resolved. I’ve talked in the past about other companies responding to the same type of thing, and last week my friend Josh Shear brought it home again.
3. Protection of name. If a company doesn’t sign up for their name, you can bet that at some point someone else will sign up and start using it, and unless they abuse it there will be nothing the company can do about it.
4. Marketing. Yeah, we all say we hate seeing marketing on Twitter, but what we really mean is we hate seeing someone pounding marketing message after message. If Sony had a Twitter account and suddenly announced that they were having a special one day sale where their 50″ HD TV’s were going on sale for $200, who wouldn’t want to know about that? Okay, I’ll admit that’s one of my special pipe dreams. 🙂
I agree with Mike that Twitter users should have personality. I’ve written about that often enough as well, how I’m looking for more “social” than “selling”. But I think any major business that doesn’t have a Twitter account is allowing their competition to get the leg up on them, and allowing those few people who might complain about them to get the message out without having the chance to offer any assistance and hopefully stem a bad situation.