Category Archives: Social Media

Increase Sales by Answering Customers’ Questions

increasing revenueA small business owner slashes advertising budgets and doubles sales by answering questions customers had about his product and industry

By early 2009, his company, River Pools and Spas, a 20-employee installer of in-ground fiberglass pools in Virginia and Maryland, had a decline in orders from an average of six a month to barely two. That winter, four customers who had planned to install pools costing more than $50,000 each demanded their deposits back. For three consecutive weeks, the company overdrew its bank account.

Around this time, Mr. Sheridan began to overhaul his marketing. The company had been spending about $250,000 a year on radio, television and pay-per-click advertising. It would now cut the budget to about a tenth of that and focus on generating sales through informational blog posts and videos, what has become known as content marketing. But Mr. Sheridan took an unconventional approach to his content.

As a result, River Pools has recovered to exceed its peak pre-2007 revenue, and Mr. Sheridan, a 35-year-old father of four, has become something of a Web marketing guru. While he still owns a 33 percent interest in the pool company, his partners manage it day to day while he concentrates on his new venture, TheSalesLion.com. He recently spoke about his marketing approach in a conversation that has been edited and condensed.

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10 Warning Signs Of Compulsive Networking

Adrian Miller, founder of sales consultancy Adrian Miller Sales Training in Port Washington, NY, says she’s always been a networker—but not always for her own good. In 2008 when the economy took a turn for the worse, Miller became nervous about the future of her business and went into extreme networking mode. “I started going to events morning, noon and night for five days a week hoping I would meet new clients,” she recalls. “I did it for months and was getting overwhelmed and just exhausted.”

On a vacation to Istanbul, Miller started thinking seriously about all the time she had committed to networking. She calculated how much revenue she’d gotten out of months of running around exchanging business cards and realized it was next to nothing. “When I saw I wasn’t getting a return on my time, I knew I had to get the compulsive behavior in check,” she says. “I had turned networking from a pleasant activity into a nightmare.”

While career coaches and success gurus expound on the virtues of networking—especially in a down economy—some professionals take it too far. Management and addiction specialists say they are seeing more people compulsively networking, obsessively growing the number of their connections online and wearing themselves out with little too show for it.

“Initially people want to promote their careers, but it can become obsessive,” says Dr. David Sack, an addiction psychiatrist and head of the Promises Treatment Centers in California. “Some people are looking for validation and recognition. It may be partly a self-esteem issue that gets gratified by numbers.”

Yet the compulsive pursuit of more and more connections will not ensure better networks. In fact, it will degrade them. “There’s an upper limit to the number of connections you can maintain of around 150 people,” says Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath, noting that many people too aggressively pursue initial connections without investing the necessary time to strengthen and maintain those relationships. “In whatever format, more than 150 and the relationships are impersonal and the connections are weak.”

Website Uses Social Media to Find Your Dream Job

Chances are you already know how difficult it is to find any job in this economy, let alone your dream job. Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticsrecorded 12.7 million unemployed Americans, and there aren’t any quick fixes in sight.

With millions of others looking for the same jobs, you don’t have time to scroll through hundreds of listings every day — you need to be able to optimize your search. Luckily there’s a new website that has found a way to utilize your online social circles to lead you to gainful employment: Jackalope Jobs.

Jackalope Jobs focuses on job seekers like you, helping you gain an edge on the competition by sorting through your social networks and pinpointing valuable connections. The way the site works is simple: You log in with LinkedIn, Facebook or Plaxo, and Jackalope Jobs imports all of your contacts, credentials and connections.

From the dashboard, you can search for a job and also search through your connections. You’re able to type in a job title or any keywords relevant to your search, and Jackalope Jobs will pull together listings from job boards, social media and other places in accordance with its “Jackalope Ranking” (best match according to your network and qualifications). You can also manually sort the job listings in any way you see fit — that is, by number of relevant connections, etc.

By clicking on any one job listing, you can see who among your connections could put you in touch with that particular company, and how exactly they are affiliated. You’re even able to reach out to those connections directly through the Jackalope Jobs interface, instead of needing to log on to the social network separately. Then, of course, you’re able to click through to the original listing for more information on how to apply.

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Consumers don’t expect brands to be flawless

Consumers will embrace brands that are FLAWSOME*: brands that are still brilliant despite having flaws; even being flawed (and being open about it) can be awesome. Brands that show some empathy, generosity, humility, flexibility, maturity, humor, and (dare we say it) some character and humanity.

Two key drivers are fueling the FLAWSOME trend:

  • HUMAN BRANDS: Everything from disgust at business to the influence of online culture (with its honesty and immediacy), is driving consumers away from bland, boring brands in favor of brands with some personality.
  • TRANSPARENCY TRIUMPH: Consumers are benefiting from almost total and utter transparency (and thus are finding out about flaws anyway), as a result of the torrent of readily available reviews, leaks and ratings.

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Facebook starts to deploy the new Timeline for businesses and brands

Facebook just started to make Timeline available for business pages, all pages will be switched to Timeline on March 30.  There is a lot to like about it and  some to dislike.

What to like:

  • For a start, Timeline has a more graphics oriented interface.  That will allow even small businesses to brand themselves at a much more affordable cost
  • The timeline allows businesses to tell their story, from birth, a great tool to build relationships with customers and prospects.  Everybody likes a good story and sharing the story of your brand or business will help forge stronger bonds with your audience, leading to more engagement and more sales.
  • The cover photo is now 851px by 315pix and can easily be changed to promote new services, specials, events, you name it.  A piece of advice, choose a high resolution image instead of picking a low resolution image already on your Facebook page.
  • You can now “anchor” stories for up to 7 days, anchored stories will be features at the top of your feed.
  • Highlight stories  with a star if they are important, hides the ones that are not driving engagement.
  • Show miles stones on your timeline, important events, number of fans, new stores, new campaigns, build your story
  • Timeline is based on engaging and communicating with your audience
  • Users will be see how many of their friends like your page and what their friends say about your business or brand
  • The admin panel is more extensive and notifies you of new comments, new “like”, messages and Insights in a single view, making it easier to see what is happening on your page

What’s not to like:

  • Branding is more limited than previously, Facebook wants uniformity in the interface, as a result, extensive branding options have been removed and it will be interesting to see how big brands that made extensive use of page customization will adapt.
  • Custom tabs have been removed and replaced by a limited number of apps (5), that’s including the Facebook preferred apps, you will have to be very selective)
  • More work and expense, the interface investment you put in your previous page is, well… gone
  • It will take more time and interactions to build followers, but again, interactions are what social media is about in the first place.

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Google Privacy Checklist: How to Check Your Settings and Control Your Privacy

You have been hearing about it for weeks, but the big day is. On March 1, today, Google is implementing its new privacy policy and terms of service, unifying 70 separate privacy policies and extending them across most of Google’s offerings.

This grand consolidation means that all of your Google account data will live in a single database that every Google service can access. Google Maps will have access to your Gmail data, which will have access to your YouTube history, and so on. Google insists that this change will ultimately benefit users, but privacy advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation fear that users will lose control over the personal data they’ve shared with Google.

If you’d like to exert control over your Google-based data, now is the time to act.

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