13 Jul 2010
Fancy yourself a social media guru? Think you know it all when it comes to implementing a successful social media strategy? Are you a business or brand, just now thinking of taking a bite out of Twitter and Facebook? Quick Bites (Rick Bakas, Baldwin Press 2010) book has something for everyone.
I first met Rick Bakas in November 2009 when I jumped into blogging. Being the new kid to the playground I knew enough to watch the other kids to see who was an influencer, who was a bully and who the popular kids were. I quickly saw how Rick used social media to engage people in his work with the St. Supery brand. In fact, this very concept is bite number 61 in the book, “Engage Influencers.”
“Find people on social media sites that align with your brand who can become brand ambassadors…” (There is more to it, but I’ll let you discover it yourself)
Rick was even kind enough to provide a quote for an article I was writing. I misspelled his name in the article and to make matters worse, I did it again about a month later by misspelling his title. Feeling slightly embarrassed, I reached out and offered my genuine apology. Rick was gracious to forgive.
Forward the clock several months into the future, Rick announces the launch of his new book, Quick Bites 75 Savory Tips for Social Media Success, on May 6 during one of his signature Twitter tasting events. I immediately ordered the book. Why? Why would I order a book, having very little knowledge of what its contents would be?
- I know Rick and I’ve seen him in action. Whether you agree with his approach or not, he is seeing results.
- He has a track record of success. From his days at NIKE to working on accounts like the Denver Broncos and Oregon State University, Rick has shown he knows a thing or two about branding.
- Trust. Over the month’s I’ve grown to trust that Rick’s message through twitter was consistent, sincere and engaging.
When you receive the book, be prepared…it is not something you necessarily sit down and read like a self help book or novel. In fact, it’s only 80 half sized pages in length. This is a book of aha moments, reminders, and behavior motivators. I would venture to guess that even the majority of the top “gurus” out there could be reminded of a few things.
I’m going through a crisis of action with my brand as I work through the next steps of leveraging momentum for business ideas. I have to say, I keep a copy of Quick Bites next to my PC just as a friendly reminder. Whether it’s from the seemingly no brainer #8 “Don’t be a Spammer,” to the ouch reminder #24, “Be Humble,” I’ve been inspired to create a more consistent brand and message with every bite that I digest.
Quick Bites is a cookbook full of ingredients to be successful using Social Media. I highly recommend it for anyone serious about developing their brand using Twitter, Facebook and other social tools. If you’re a business that doesn’t know a tweet from a twit, consider this your first bites to chew on. One important reminder that crosses over from cooking to social media is the last item in the book:
Know When to Turn It Off
Just like in cooking if you forget to turn it off, you’ll end up burning out and ruining the whole thing.
I recently learned a few things about social media on my quest for a person to mow my lawn. I own a rental home that fortunately pays for itself every month. The tenants are good, the rent is low and the tiny little 650 sq foot home and 180 sq foot loft have been a good investment so far. Last summer (pre wine blog), I was eager to mow the yard, lay bark, pull weeds, and clean up the house. This spring, and now summer, more demands have been placed on my time (reviewing wine can be a full time gig, but someone has to do it). This got me thinking about the small business owner and social media.
There are usually two reasons to pay for any service. The first is lack of knowhow; the second is lack of time. I pay someone to change my oil because I never paid attention to my dad when he was trying to show me (that and I don’t want to monkey with it in the Lexus). I do my own taxes because I know how to do it. Plus, I find it kind of challenging to see how much money I can keep the government from getting each year. Now, I understand the second reason to pay someone…lack of time. I know how to mow yards. I actually enjoy the sense of accomplishment. This year, I find myself lacking the time to do it. The yard needs to be mowed. No one needs to convince me of the importance of a mowed yard. I just don’t have the time. $100 per month to keep the yard mowed now seems like a value.
This brings me to the comparison with Social Media and its integration into a business’ overall customer service and marketing strategy. No doubt you realize the importance of an integrated marketing and customer service strategy. No doubt you’ve heard the importance of social media, search engine optimization, and monitoring your brand. Chances are you just don’t have the time or you don’t have the knowhow. Unless you want to be the only business on the block looking all ghetto with weeds and ten foot tall grass, it might be time to hire a consultant to help get your social lawn in order.
Five Social Media Tips Learned From My Lawn Mowing Service
1. Just because someone calls themselves a lawn mower, doesn’t mean they should mow your yard.
The first guy I called had an ad on Craigslist. I called him, told him what I needed, and we agreed to meet at the house for a consultation before noon on Saturday. I postponed my Saturday plans to start at 1pm. As the morning progressed, I still hadn’t heard from Mr. Craigslist. Finally at about 11am, I got a call. No kidding, the dude seemed hung over from the night before. He barely remembered anything we talked about and wanted to stop by at 2PM. I told him I already had plans and that we agreed to “before noon” and said, thanks but no thanks…click.
Be discerning in your search. Make sure your “consultant/guru” follows through and is professional. There are a lot of flakes in the world.
2. Talk through the job so you know which lawn to mow and how you want it done
The second guy I called was from the phone book. His voice message was professional and he indicated that he would call back if I left a message. About 20 minutes went by and I got a call. We talked through the job, address and timing. We exchanged a bit of information and I waited for him to call back with an estimate. 30 minutes later I get a call back, “Did you say 4804 E 33rd?” “No,” I replied, “2804 E 33rd.” Okay, let me give you a call back in a few minutes. Luckily he didn’t mow the wrong house!
Be sure to clarify your struggles, objectives and goals. Don’t just hand over the reins and let someone take over your brand, voice and customer interaction. If you don’t make these clarifications, you may just end up mowing someone else’s yard and starting over again later.
3. Negotiate the price to fit what you need done
Once the guy found the right house, we connected to negotiate on terms and price. He offered to mow the yard for $50 the first mow and then $30 every week after that. Personally, I wasn’t ready to pay that. We negotiated it down to $40 for the first mow and $25 each week through June and then every other week in the hot months of July/August/September. I knew my budget. I know that paying to have the yard mowed every week in the hottest months of the year is a little overkill (especially since the tenants don’t water very regularly and I don’t weed-n-feed).
The point here is don’t just accept what the consultant/guru is offering. Do you really need ALL the bells and whistles to begin with? It’s okay to start with some of the basics and work your way into more consultation. Start with a Facebook page and some regular page updates. Move forward a little later with brand monitoring and SEO. It’s your business, move at the pace and budget you’re comfortable with.
4. Follow up with the work and clarify objectives
I rarely have a need to go to the rental house. The renters are great and the units pretty much run themselves (except that one time when the sewer pipe froze for 3 days. $6000 later…never mind). In this case, I was hiring a company that I knew very little about and I wanted to make sure they were following up on our agreement. For a few days I decided to alter my morning run so I could run by the house. The day after the agreed upon date I ran by and the lawn wasn’t mowed. “Hmmm, very curious,” I thought. I didn’t have time to follow up that day, but the next day the lawn still wasn’t mowed. Granted, I hadn’t paid any money, but I was still curious as to why things hadn’t been done. The grass wasn’t going to stop growing. As it turns out, I misunderstood the timing. When he said Thursday, I thought he meant the one we had coming up. He actually meant the next one in the line-up. All has been perfect since.
The thing to keep in mind here is don’t just hand over the task to someone and walk away. It’s important to follow up and check in to make sure that your agreed upon objectives are being met. If there is miscommunication, re-clarify goals and timelines.
5. Make payment on invoice and not up front
There is no way in hell I was going to pay a lawn mowing service up front for mowing the yard. The business I hired was great, they sent me a bill at the end of the month that was due upon receipt. I’m not paying up front for that type of service. Do the job and then get paid.
I believe this is true when hiring a consultant/guru too. Set an objective. Clarify the work with your expectations. Agree on a price for the work. Receive an invoice at the END of the month. If you’re not happy with the work or they’re not meeting your expectations, talk it through. We’re not talking rocket science here.
One other little bonus to add that I want to pass on that I learned from my Dad…watch and learn. I wonder how much money I could have saved in life, if I just would have paid attention to my Dad. Don’t just let the consultant/guru take over, watch and learn. Someday, you might be able to fire his ass and do it yourself.
12 May 2010
The goal of this series is to connect with wineries and wine business that use Social Media (Twitter and Facebook) effectively. These interviews can serve as a catalyst to help other wineries and wine businesses to see the benefits (and pitfalls) of joining the social revolution. See all the wineries on Twitter posts here.
How long have you been using Twitter?
Personally I’ve been on Twitter for almost 2 years. We decided to set up the Twitter account for O Wines in January 2010.
What prompted you to dive in?
We started the O Wines account to engage and interact with the people who love our wine and social cause. O Wines is unique in that it is a charity winery whose sole purpose it to fund educational scholarships for low income, high potential youth. In fact O Wines donates 100% of net profits toward their cause. People want updates on the scholarship recipients, new releases, and ways that they can be involved. It is a very social company and wine is social by nature.
What type of strategy or approach do you use when posting content?
Our strategy is to find ways for people to interact with the winery owners or come to tasting event where they can interact with other people. We also try to post information about blogs that have been written about O Wines and other news worthy information.
What have been the benefits of using Twitter/Facebook? (increased traffic, increased brand awareness, customer connection, etc)
We think the most important part for using Twitter/Facebook has been staying connected to our customers. Being able to interact with them and share our successes with them is important. Without our customers and fans we would not have a business and 29 young people would not be getting a college education right now. We also feel it is important to make sure you “own” your brand on line, be responsible to the things people are saying about you, and make sure to thank people for helping you out.
Is there a single success story that you can point to with using Twitter/Facebook?
There is no single success for us. Wine is social and it just makes sense to go where your customers are.
What do you think is the single biggest barrier to why we don’t see more wineries actively using Social Media tools?
Using Twitter and Facebook takes time. If you are busy trying to make, brand, and sell all by yourself it probably isn’t the right time for you. I was a volunteer for O Wines so it was easy for them to justify the time. Now that they see the benefit of all the followers and interactions they compensate me for it.
What advice would you give to wineries joining the stream or getting back into the stream?
Have fun! Don’t try too hard to “Get it right” we are all learning and this is just another way to interact with your customers. We want to know about YOU, that is why we are following you. Share with us what you are up to, keep it simple. If we send you a message or publicly acknowledge you, please try to respond.
Briefly tell us about your winery, a new release, or something unique about you?
Stacy Lill and Kathy Johanson have made it their mission to donate 100% of net profits from the sale of O Wines to establish scholarship funds for low income, high potential young men and women. Each State they sell wine in provides for local scholarships.
The vision is much more…they want to eventually establish an academy for girls where they are safe to learn and experience their dreams of higher education. The model has already been established with what Oprah is doing in Africa. She has paved the way for others to follow. By establishing a similar infrastructure right here in Washington State we hope to encourage others in the United States to follow the lead and begin building for the future of America through knowledge and education.
What is your favorite rock band and why?
Depeche Mode, I am an 80’s girl at heart….
07 May 2010
From the team that brought you WAMerlot on March 25, DrinkNectar, Washington Wine Report, and 12 prominent Washington wine writers are bringing Washington wine to the world through Twitter, Facebook and one hundred on location events.
The June 3 event is a connection between the virtual wine tasting community using social media and wineries across the state. WAWine allows people from across the world to interact with each other while drinking and celebrating Washington wine. Wineries also use the event as a springboard to bring people together inside their tasting room. WAWine is an opportunity to learn, connect and engage regardless of where you are in the world.
The event is sponsored by Washington Tasting Room Magazine and the Washington Wine Commission and will leverage the collective reach of 14 wine writers and Washington wine events Wine Rocks in Seattle, Taste Washington in Spokane and the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla. “Hundreds of wine loving eyes will be on Washington during June. This is a perfect event to kick off the month and connect people,” says the events co-creator, Josh Wade. As wine writers descend on the state, WAWine will get their palate primed for great Washington wine.
The first event in the series, WAMerlot saw millions of brand impressions for Washington state merlot, over 2000 tweets from 500 people on Twitter and over 1000 people in 80 locations across the state! Leveraging the momentum from WAMerlot, WAWine will bring even greater exposure to the variety and complexity of wine that grows in Washington.
HOW DO YOU PARTICIPATE?
Participation is simple. Visit the event site for details and tips. Support one of the participating wineries by buying one or more bottles of Washington wine and join in one of three ways:
- Join in person at one of the participating wineries! Follow this link to see who is hosting an event.
- Log on to Twitter at 5pm Pacific Time on Thursday, June 3 and follow the hashtag #WAWine. To be connected with other participants be sure to use the words #WAWine in all your tweets.
- Lot on to Facebook and join the community at http://facebook.com/tasteandtweet. You can use this page to upload photos, share your experiences and connect with others.
Visit the WAWine for Wineries page to see how you can maximize the event.
- Social Media Tutorials
- Media Packet
- Downloadable print materials
- 7 ways to maximize sales
- and more…
Attention Wine Writers and Trade
We will be intentionally connecting YOU to Washington Wineries. Please register at the event site so we can connect with you, or leave a comment below.
DrinkNectar.com is an independent blog dedicated to exploring wine and coffee. Using primarily video reviews, DrinkNectar begins its focus in Spokane, WA and moves out to cover the Northwest and the rest of the wine world. DrinkNectar.com began in November 2009 and is now ranked among the top 10 wine blogs in the country by traffic and engagement (according to PostRank.com/wine). Josh Wade is the editor and also contributes for Corkd.com.
ABOUT WASHINGTON WINE REPORT
Washington Wine Report is an independent blog focused on bringing Washington wine to readers and bringing readers to Washington wine. The goal is to help readers select Washington wines at a variety of price levels, to keep up-to-date about the state’s wineries, vineyards, and individuals, to help plan trips to wine country and to connect people to the larger wine community. Washington Wine Report blog began in June 2007. Sean Sullivan is the editor.
|Washington Tasting Room Magazine
Wine Commission www.washingtonwine.org
Twitter: @tastewashingtonDonate Dine & Wine
|One Sponsorship Available|
|Washington Wine Writers|
|Josh Gana; Clive Pursehouse
Additional Sponsorship by:
13 Apr 2010
While I’m not an expert, what I can base my suggestions on are things that I see work for other successful business. This list is meant to be SEVEN “no brainer” social media tactics to bring your Twitter/Facebook and Web presence into 2010.
Each of these items are quick and simple to implement and will bring a cohesiveness to your entire social media strategy. Why is it important? Each Twitter follower or Facebook fan you have is a direct connection between you and your brand and is less money that you have to spend on traditional marketing.
#1 – Add your Twitter / Facebook information to your business cards. You have your phone number, web site and address, why not your social media contacts. For a percentage of your customers, social media is how they interact with businesses. Neglecting this information means neglecting a natural contact point.
#2 – End every email with ALL of your social media contacts. Use visual buttons to draw the eye that entice people to click through them. Chances are you have a significant mailing list. Most likely you connect with your mailing list with a monthly newsletter and periodic events. Broaden that connection by enabling your existing fans and customers to connect with your social media pages. This brings your interaction with them to a more regular occurrence.
#3 Make sure your social media contacts are front and center on your web page. A) People are already online B) They’re on your web page C) Make it easy for them to connect with your fan page, twitter page, You Tube page, etc. It’s simple, it’s free, and all it can do is INCREASE your customer connections!
#4 Make sure your Facebook Fan Page is set to show your posts AND your fans posts. The default is “Just Your” posts. It is simple to change and it allows more interaction between you and your fans and between your fans. If you leave the page to just show your posts you run the risk of missing your fans posts, not responding to their interactions, and coming across as a spammer. The fix is easy…click options and change to show ‘yours + your fans.’
#5 Respond to your tweets and interactions. Now more than ever we live in a small town economy. Please, thank you and you’re welcome go a long way with social media interaction. Your customers understand you are busy but would you NOT return a voice mail question? Would you leave an e-mail unanswered? You can’t afford to neglect a customer’s tweet or Facebook post. When your fans interact with your Facebook page, respond. A general rule of thumb is you should be either the last or one of the last posts on your Facebook interactions.
#6 Don’t sell. Facebook and twitter are not about selling, they’re about relationships, brand building and customer service. A general rule of thumb is sell 1 out of every 10 interactions. Talk to people, ask open ended questions, do market research, ask for opinions, share your business process, provide insight into your trade.
#7 Be yourself. The most effective social media strategy is to care. No one cares more about your business or product than you. Hiring a “professional” to represent your social media presence may seem like a good idea but will not generate the same kind of passion as you. Hire a consultant to get you up to speed. Rely on a firm to help you with a strategy. Look to professionals to measure your ROI and market penetration, but only YOU can represent your company. If all you can commit is 10 minutes per day. Be transparent and let your fans know that. Use those 10 minutes to post one new insight into your business, respond to fans and build relationships with others.
Success is not 100,000 followers or 26,000 fans. Success is building brand ambassadors, deepening relationships, and customer service 1 fan at a time.